Culture Category RSS Feed | Culture RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network GameSkinny Weekend Download: Stadia, The Division 2, Vampire The Masquerade, and More Sat, 23 Mar 2019 09:45:58 -0400 GS_Staff

We know you're busy AF and don't have time to read everything we publish. We also know that like most of us, you probably like having things delivered straight to your digital doorstep. 

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup, including all things Stadia, The Division 2, and Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2.

We've added links in case you find a headline that tickles your fancy and want to read more. We've also broken things down by category to make it as easy  to find what you're looking for. And finally, we've left out posts that are now meaningless because the event or sale has already ended. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy.  


  • Devil May Cry 5 is Getting a Brand-New (Free) Survival Mode on April 1
    Capcom said the new mode, dubbed Bloody Palace, is not an April Fool's joke, and players can look forward to timed arena battles facing off against hordes of enemies and bosses. Read more

  • The Division 2 Tops UK Charts, But Sells Just 20% of Division 1's Initial Figures
    Ubisoft's latest game gets off to a rocky start, with some strong figures in the sales charts that fall far short of expectations. Read more

  • Ubisoft Fixes The Division 2 Skill Bug, But Problems Remain
    The Division 2's skill-busting bug gets a fix, but Ubisoft says it's still investigating the cause of the problem and why Extra and Overlap talents seem to be creating glitches. Read more

  • Division 2 World Tier Glitch Still Affecting Players After Patch
    The Division 2's World Tier bug keeps players from progressing through the endgame content, and has defied Ubisoft's attempts to fix the problem. Read more

  • The New 8-Bit Heroes Introduces NESmaker, Software That Lets You Create NES Games
    NESmaker requires no programming knowledge and lets you make NES games from scratch for emulation or on physical cartridges. Read more

  • Microsoft's "Halo Insider Program" Gives Fans A New Way To Offer Input On Games
    Halo fans can now sign up for the Halo insider Program and participate in special early testing for upcoming games, products, and services. Read more

  • Generation Zero Takes Players To Alternate 1980s Sweden Filled With Hostile Robots
    THQ Nordic's Generation Zero is set to release later this month. Here's a look at what players can expect from the open-world co-op FPS. Read more

  • Splatoon 2 Getting Special Demo, Free Trial, and Digital Discount
    One of Nintendo's hottest evergreen titles is getting a special timed demo that lets you experience some of the game's most popular modes and offers a 20% discount on the game's digital version as well. Read more

  • Roguelite Sparklite Gets Shiny New Teaser Trailer
    A brand-new indie roguelite adventure is making its way to consoles and PC this fall, with action, exploration, retro graphics, and plenty of gadgets. Read more

  • Get Your First Look At SHODAN In The New System Shock 3 Teaser
    Get your first look at the upcoming installment of the System Shock series in the teaser trailer dropped at GDC. Read more

  • Google Announces Cross-Platform Gaming Service Stadia at GDC 2019
    At its GDC 2019 keynote, Google announced Stadia, a game streaming service set to release later this year. Here's what we know about it so far. Read more

  • Stadia's Wi-Fi Controller Looks Familiar, But Features Google Assistant
    In addition to its cloud gaming service Stadia, Google also announced a controller for the platform, with features created around YouTube and the Google search engine. Read more

  • Former Ubisoft And EA Exec To Head Up Google's Stadia Games Division
    Former EA and Ubisoft exec joins Google to head up the Stadia Games and Entertainment Division. Read more

  • Just Like We All Thought, Stadia Will Require High Speed Internet
    As expected, you can't run Stadia well on just any old internet connection. Here's what Google said you'll need for 1080p and 4K. Read more

  • Google Stadia Will Support the Xbox Adaptive Controller
    There's some good news for players looking for accessibility options when using Google's Stadia. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is compatible with the service, at least on PC. Read more

  • Xaviant's The Culling Closing Online Components
    The early battle royale/survival mashup had a history of stops and starts, but lack of interest and funding means it's finally time to say goodbye. But is it? Read more

  • Konami Whips Up Hardcore Classic Collections for 50th Anniversary
    Including some of the company's most iconic games and franchises, three new collections from Konami will bring the nostalgia in 2019. Read more.
  • Apex Legends Season 1 Introduces Battle Pass, New Legend, More
    The long-awaited Wild Frontier update is here at last. We detail all the Apex Legends Season 1 rewards, battle pass pricing, new Legends, and more. Read more

  • Anthem Ranks as February's Best Selling Game
    It comes in as BioWare's second biggest-selling game in its first month sales, despite encountering a range of problems and poor reviews in that month. Read more

  • Indie Studio Brace Yourself Games Making Legend of Zelda Title, Cadence of Hyrule
    Cadence of Hyrule — Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda combines Zelda tunes with Crypt of the Necrodancer gameplay. Read more

  • Epic Steals More Titles Out From Under Steam in The Outer Worlds, More
    Epic Games has a few more notches to add to its, "we got this game before Steam," belt, snagging The Outer Worlds and two other games. Read more

  • Tripwire Announces Killing Floor Double Feature For PlayStation 4
    A special Killing Floor bundle is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR in May. Read more

  • Cuphead is Coming to the Nintendo Switch This Spring
    Cuphead and Mugman are bringing the Dark Souls of Platformers to the Switch very soon. Read more

  • Oddworld Soulstorm, a Brand-New Oddworld Game, Gets Cinematic Teaser
    The long-awaited Oddworld Soulstorm finally gets a new teaser trailer, complete with an accompanying graphics breakdown video. Read more

  • Playcrafting Announces Speakers For 3rd Annual Women In Games Night
    Playcrafting will end its celebration of women in gaming with a special panel at the Microsoft Flagship Store on March 28. Read more

  • Metro: Exodus Outsells Its Predecessor on the Epic Store
    Deep Silver's Metro: Exodus saw a strong first month in sales, despite the controversy surrounding its change to the Epic Games Store. Read more

  • Check Out The Latest Mortal Kombat 11 Trailer Before Closed Beta Starts
    Mortal Kombat 11 enters closed beta in less than a week. Before that, check out the latest character reveal trailer. Read more

  • Paradox Announces Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2
    The wait is over. Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines fans are finally getting the sequel they've been waiting for. Read more

  • Georgia Esports League PantherLAN Event Hosts 11-College Tournament
    Watch college teams from all over the South compete in the Georgia Esports League PantherLAN event at Georgia State University on April 6. Read more

  • PlayStation Hosting State of Play Livestream Presentation on March 25
    It's Sony's first Nintendo Direct-style presentation, and it promises to deliver information about upcoming PlayStation 4 and PSVR software. Read more

  • Cyberpunk 2077 On Track To Release By 2021
    Cyberpunk 2077 fans will get their hands on the game by 2021, according to information released by CD Projekt Red. Read more


  • The Division 2 Review: The Best Looter Shooter in Years
    The Division 2 is an improvement on the first game in almost every way, and it's both a fun game and a satisfying investment. Read more

  • Ape Out Review: Crushing Guns Set to Crashing Drums
    An Ape on the run looking for a way out is fierce to face, and fun to play as. Guide your ape to freedom, smashing any gun-wielding captors who get in your way! Read more


  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is Already a Steam Top-Seller
    The ascension of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 to the top of Steam's top-sellers list further proves the community is thirsty for a new bloodsucking RPG. Read more

  • Epic Games Wants to Police Its Content Better Than Steam
    The Epic Games Store won't feature as many games as Steam, partially because it refuses to allow any game that doesn't meet its quality standards. Read more

  • Olympus Has Fallen: How Ubisoft Made The Division 2’s Washington Siege, Weapon Sounds Realistic
    Game Director Mathias Karlson talks about the lengths to which Ubisoft went to make The Division 2 as realistic as possible. Read more. 

  • Early Impressions: Outlaws of the Old West Brings Survival (And Bugs Galore) To The American Plains
    If you ever wished Ark was set in the wild west, you've found your perfect survival game as long as you can look past a laundry list of bugs in early access. Read more

  • The Gaming Community Is Pensive About Google Stadia for Good Reason
    People are unsure about Google Stadia's capabilities, but does it even matter to core gamers anyway? Read more

  • Final Fantasy XV Proves Even Flawed Games Can Be a Great Time
    FFXV isn't the game the community wanted, but in its current state, it's still a greatly enjoyable experience. Read more

  • 8 Games and Franchises with the Biggest Translation Gaffes
    Video games are made or broken by the text that tells their stories. This is the story of 8 different games and franchises with some serious translation problems and how those errors came to be. Read more

  • 11 Best Weapons in The Division 2
    Not every gun in The Division 2 is created equal. This list shows you the best of the best, sans exotics. Read more


  • The Division 2 Guide: How to Upgrade the Crafting Bench
    Need to know how to bring your crafting in The Division 2 to the highest level? Then check out this full guide on how to upgrade the crafting bench. Learn more

  • The Division 2 Guide: Leveling and End Game Preparation
    Check this guide out for everything you need to know about leveling and getting ready for end game in The Division 2. Learn more.

  • How to Share Items, Gear, Loot in The Division 2
    Learn how to share items, gear, and loot with your teammates in this guide for The Division 2. Learn more

  • How to Get WW2 Uniform in The Division 2
    Follow this step-by-step guide to complete the Navy Hill mission and unlock a secret WW2 uniform in The Division 2. Learn more

  • How to Get the Chatterbox SMG in The Division 2
    The Chatterbox SMG is one of the most powerful exotic weapons players can get in The Division 2, but it involves some cache raiding in specific places. Learn more

  • The Division 2 Hyena Key and Chest Locations
    Faction keys are your ticket to rare and powerful loot, and this guide tells where to find Hyena keys, while also touching on Hyena chest locations. Learn more

  • Guide To Winning Every Match
    This guide shows you exactly how to use the map to your advantage in, as well as how to get the killshot as the hunter, and how to unlock skins. Learn more.

Check back next Saturday morning for more. 

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is Already a Steam Top-Seller Fri, 22 Mar 2019 15:00:29 -0400 Jonathan Moore

In other unsurprising news, the just-announced Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is already a top-seller on Steam, coming in just behind Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Out of the Park Baseball 20

While it's true that Steam's top-sellers often fluctuate as often as the wind changes direction, Vampire ascending so quickly is news indeed. A game that won't launch before March 2020 pushing its way above recent releases such as Far Cry New Dawn and Devil May Cry 5 on the digital platform is evidence that series fans are thirsty for a new installment, and the Vampire's power still endures all these years later. 

First unveiled at GDC 2019 just last night, Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is a direct sequel to the 2004 darling, Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. From what we know so far, the game will take place in Seattle during what developer's have said is the "Mass Embrace", a time when "countless fledgling vampires were created."

Pre-orders for the game are currently live on a handful of digital storefronts. 

Although the original game received mixed reviews when it released because of its seemingly unfinished state and technical issues, it has gone on to become an enduring classic within the horror genre. Because of its writing, exploration elements, and role-playing elements, Vampire continues to make "Best of" horror lists year after year. 

According to SteamCharts, Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines still has a following on the platform, if small, bringing in around 62 players a month on average. Not too bad for a 15-year-old vampire RPG. 

In 2015, Paradox Interactive purchased White Wolf Publishing, the company responsible for creating the Vampire tabletop games, as well as other horror-centric analog RPGs, from CCP Games.

Following news of the acquisition, many thought a new Bloodlines announcement was imminent. However, Paradox remained mum on the subject until recently. 

Epic Games Wants to Police Its Content Better Than Steam Thu, 21 Mar 2019 12:19:22 -0400 QuintLyn

As the Epic Games Store continues to grow, picking up exclusive after exclusive and announcing a long list of features that players will see over the next year, it continues to be compared to Steam. There's no doubt that Valve's long-running digital store is a behemoth in the PC game market, and has had a long time to develop many of the features players take for granted as part of the experience.

But there's something else Steam users have come to take for part and parcel as part of their gaming experience  dealing with an unwieldy store that often buries gems under a pile of garbage.

While Valve used to vet the games that release on its store, it has long since quit, even allowing games that draw outrage from its own community to appear on the store only to be removed after backlash.

But those games aren't the only problem. Players also have to dig through games that are just poor in quality, scams that ride off the popularity of other games hoping players aren't smart enough to realize they've spent $30 on the wrong thing.

Epic has no intention of dealing with these kinds of issues. In fact, when Epic's CEO Tim Sweeny spoke with PCGamer earlier this week, he made it very clear that Epic intends to police the games that appear on its store, making sure they meet a specific "quality standard."

We'll have a quality standard that doesn't accept crappy games. We'll accept reasonably good quality games, of any scale, whether small indie games to huge triple-A games, and we'll take everything up to, like, an R-rated movie or an M-rated game.

Sweeny went on to add that the store won't be distributing porn games, either something that does appear on Steam, mostly in the form of Hentai games. Nor will the store allow "bloatware or asset flips, or any sort of thing that's meant to shock players."

For those that might be upset by this fact, he noted that since the PC is an open platform, developers of any game that don't meet Epic's standards can still find other ways to reach players.

As for how Epic plans to assure games meet their quality standards, Sweeny didn't have a clear answer for that. He simply noted that the company will "be aware of the quality of what's submitted prior to making a decision to list it in the store somehow."

He also noted that humans will most likely be making the call. As the store grows this is going to become a rather large endeavor, but it will be interesting to see how it works out.

Outlaws of the Old West Brings Survival (And Bugs Galore) To The American Plains Mon, 18 Mar 2019 16:42:23 -0400 Ty Arthur

Bleary from a night of hard drinking and trying to outrun the law, a truly unruly feller's eyes crack open slowly. As the fog fades, he realizes with a sudden onrush of dread that he's lying in a coffin and a raven is trying to peck through to get to his eyes.

Breaking free of the plywood prison, he stumbles out into the wide open plains of the great American West, having been left for dead by whatever two-bit posse thought they'd done him in. Bastards hadn't even bothered to bury him correctly.

With only his long underwear and a strong will to live, Gangrene McFiddlesticks begins searching for wood and stone to try to craft a shelter or some kind of hunting tool.

Sadly, his escape from the grave will be short lived as he immediately stumbles upon a rabid badger. With no weapons or proper clothing of any kind, our doomed outlaw McFiddlesticks decides to turn yellow and high tail it in the other direction... directly into the waiting maw of an angry black bear.

The bear and badger feast on Gangrene's corpse. It's for the best -- he was never cut out for life on the frontier as a rancher or farmer.

My opening moments in this horse and lasso-rendition of the survival genre were baffling and hilarious, but before long I'd have Gangrene 2.0 up and running to build a sprawling ranch estate and conquer the west. 

 Behold... the harbinger of my demise

Survival In The Wild West

Given the popularity of recent titles like Far Cry 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 it was only a matter of time before we saw the wild plains and mountains of the west turned into a survival game.

Here's the one main thing you need to know before trying out the early access Outlaws Of The Old West -- if you've played Ark, you already know the ins and outs of nearly everything this game has to offer.

The harvesting items and crafting recipes are astonishingly similar, which shouldn't be surprising because the same developer is behind both titles. The laser rifles and dinosaurs are just replaced with lassos and horses to tame.

Now, that being said, there are some key differences worth noting. Outlaws features noticeably better animations when harvesting crafting sources like trees and rocks, which become broken up and collapse.

The survival aspects are (at the moment anyway) also much, much more forgiving than other games of this style. In all my time playing in either a single player or PvE server, I never once felt like there was a chance I would die of thirst or dehydration.

Crafting has seen a bit of an overhaul, as you can now queue up crafting projects and they keep running even when the menu isn't open. Individual crafting recipes don't have any animations, but this does free you up to fight, run around, or do other things while objects and resources are crafted.

 Getting started putting together my own homestead

Its A Buggy Ride To Reeksburg

There's still quite a bit missing from the full experience since this is an early access launch, but a tutorial really would have been nice, even for people who are coming over straight from Ark.

Some items are crafted straight from the inventory menu for instance, some can only be crafted at specific types of benches, and others are crafted by holding right-click to bring up a separate crafting wheel while holding specific objects like a log mallet.

That segmented, non-streamlined system could be extremely frustrating for new players to figure that out through trial and error if they haven't played all the other survival games before.

After a week of playing I still don't know how the shovel is supposed to work, which is annoying, because sometimes foundation objects don't line up properly on the rolling landscape when you're trying to build a house or a wall around your property.

Mechanics and UI aside, Outlaws is plagued by an absolute horde of bugs that need to be worked out in the coming months, from animals flickering in and out of existence to truly bizarre AI behavior.

At one point before finding a spot by a water source to start building a town, our friend McFiddlesticks found himself cornered by two wolves while armed only with a makeshift spear. Death number 2 seemed imminent... but after being whacked once with a spear, they both just stood there and let me stab them to death without ever attacking.

That bug worked out in my favor, but others are far more infuriating. The worse was logging in one afternoon in to discover my inventory was completely empty. The 5 hours of crafting and harvesting I'd engaged in the night before were all wiped out in an instant, for no apparent reason. If I hadn't been working on this article, I would have rage quit and never picked Outlaws back up.

Inventory item bugs are plentiful beyond that instance, as sometimes crafted items stay in your inventory after placing them, so you can just set down an infinite supply of whatever object you just made. You'll find yourself falling through floors and getting stuck in walls if you build multi-story buildings as well.

After learning the ropes on a single player server I went into the actual online games to find a mostly empty wasteland. Despite the currently low player count, griefing is still a problem, but not in quite the way you might expect.

Rather than having a menu option to dismantle your crafted objects, cowpokes are supposed to craft a sledgehammer to destroy building segments in a single hit.  The problem is that sledgehammers aren't keyed to your structures -- they work just as well on other player's buildings as on your own, and are incredibly simple to craft. 

You just need a metal work bench and a handful of wood and iron ore to make one of these wrecking balls of destruction. One guy who has a sledgehammer equipped can swiftly take out an entire town in minutes that took days for a team of people to build. 

 The budding hamlet of Reeksburg is starting to come together

Outlaws Of The Old West's Current Status In Early Access

The game has only been in available early access a week and there have already been four big patches released, which is both good and bad. Obviously, the developers are committed to making this a game that works while quickly respond to fan feedback for fixes.

On the other hand, the fact that it needed so many patches in such a small amount of time -- and there are still so many major bugs -- makes it clear most players should steer clear for awhile until the game is more stable and closer to ready.

When you look past the bugs, you get a big satisfying map, with lots of different biomes that will frequently make you think of Red Dead 2. That's easily the biggest selling point, in fact. If you wanted more control over how to build your ranch in the epilogue of Red Dead 2, or if you just weren't keen on how Red Dead Online played out, then there's plenty of reason to try Outlaws... in a few weeks when more patches have arrived.

Unfortunately, the setting and a few crafting tweaks are the only elements really different here overall. Everything else is exactly what you could get from Ark, Dark & Light, or Atlas. If you like that style of game where you have to figure out how to build up an encampment while surviving the wilderness, there's no reason not to try out the wild west version.

If you frequently find yourself wondering exactly why you are chopping down a billionth tree to craft a bigger component in these types of games, nothing about Outlaws Of The Old West will make you re-think your stance, however.

Olympus Has Fallen: How Ubisoft Made The Division 2’s Washington Siege, Weapon Sounds Realistic Fri, 15 Mar 2019 12:14:17 -0400 Benjamin Kratsch

The White House is on fire. Rockets hit the East Wing as black smoke clouds the sky over Washington D.C. Bullets fly and explosions rock the ground. 

The core story idea of The Division 2, Ubisoft's recently-released third-person shooter, is basically Olympus Has Fallen: you are Gerard Butler, you kill everyone, and, hopefully, as the last line of defense after the Secret Service has been wiped out, you save the day.

In fact, in a recent trailer, you can even see Air Force One getting hit by multiple rockets and going down. So yes, Massive Entertainment and its partner studios, such as the inventor of the squad-based tactical shooter genre Red Storm Entertainment (Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon), is playing with pure Hollywood fantasy in The Division 2.

From a story perspective, they have no problems admitting that. Game Director Mathias Karlson explains: 

It’s been seven months since the virus outbreak. Large parts of the military have been killed, there [is] chaos and anarchy all over the country, and The White House, Capitol, and other important government buildings in Washington D.C. get hit by wave after wave of attacks.

The attack forces are mostly using ground troops, remote controlled C4 drones, and helicopters get added later into the mix.

Ubisoft knows that taking The White House would be a mission impossible, but in the storyline of The Division 2, the President, Vice President, and Secretary of Defense are dead or missing, and as Division agents, players take control over all units protecting D.C.

You might be surprised that despite the pseudo Olympus Has Fallen scenario, Ubisoft is taking authenticity very seriously.

"We Want Washington to Feel as Realistic as Possible" 

At an event in Berlin, Karlson explains that Ubisoft's teams used GIS data to rebuild the government district of Washington D.C. almost 1:1.

"It’s GPS data used by Google Maps for example," he says. "It allows us to know exactly how long and wide streets are in DC, how large every building is, the length of The White House complex with its multiple gates."

And he is right: If you’ve ever been to Washington D.C., you can even find pizza parlors and coffee shops at the exact same positions, just with different names on Pennsylvania Avenue. Ubisoft has also gone through a great deal of painstaking research with its TD2 advisors, some of whom are ex-military or former government agents from organizations they won't disclose.

Using experts plays into the game's environmental storytelling, such as coming across a stranded Marine One near Andrews Airforce Base, just a dozen miles southeast of The White House. 

Knowing that Marine One always travels in a group of three Sea Kings or White Hawks that regularly change positions midair to confuse potential attackers and protect the President, Ubisoft created a realistic scenario in The Division 2: Division agents in charge of D.C. can't locate the President, something real agents train for. 

We don’t tell you the entire story, what exactly happened. A lot of it is going to play out in your own mind. You can retrace information via recordings and conversations, but it’s mostly based on environmental storytelling.

This interesting creative choice plays into Ubisoft's goal to imbue The Division 2 with a sense of chaos and realism. 

Ubisoft also used the knowledge provided by its advisors to build the fortress seen around The White House used as a base of operation by JTF (Joint Task Force) units, CERA (The Ubisoft version of FEMA), and Division agents.

In the game, these forces have built a massive security wall surrounding the compound, and all entry points are protected with a steel cage. Players must pass one gate and another to access White House ground.

This is how Ubisoft's consultants think the military would secure the most prestigious building in a siege situation. They’ve even taken into consideration from where military units would arrive, from where they would fly in, and from where enemies would intercept them.

However, since Ubisoft wants to focus on ground-combat and not tread the same ground as the Battlefield franchise, Ubisoft is taking a ton of creative freedom here, too. 

Despite all of the realism Ubisoft has created in The Division 2, a real-world defense of the White House would also include M1 Abrams and Bradley tanks as the first line of defense.

An army consisting of mostly ground forces, helicopters, and drones would have a tough time laying siege on The White House for multiple days considering, too, that F16 and F35 fighter jets would reach the location within minutes. And there are more than a couple of thousand soldiers stationed as Andrews, not to mention the Pentagon and Secret Service. 

Military Logistics Might Be Fantasy, But The Atmosphere is Stunning

The atmosphere of The Division 2 still works great because Ubisoft managed to capture D.C. in a way that feels real. So many buildings are correct, their sizes are right, the way parks are structured is realistic, and even streets are accurate and wide.

You walk through the Lincoln Memorial and it feels real; the same can be said of the Capitol. Karlson says, "We’ve used all of this GPS data to rebuild an exact footprint of Washington D.C. Every park bench, every light pole sits where it is is in reality." 

Additionally, D.C. feels much more like a war zone than the New York of The Division 1. While that city was captured with great detail, Ubisoft had forgotten to lay over the city a real war scenario. Looking back, it was almost baffling that only a couple of hundred soldiers were left to defend New York City; there wasn't even an entire platoon had to secure key positions against waves and waves of enemies.

That’s different in D.C. Now, you will see burned out Humvees and MRAPs literally everywhere. If you take a closer look, you can even find destroyed armored SUV convoys in the government district.

Taking things further, there are dozens of downed helicopters of all sorts everywhere: Black Hawks, Apaches, Chinooks. Some of them lay crumpled in the streets, some of them can still be entered and hold powerful and useful weapons.

Where, for example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 shows how an invasion looks in real time, The Division 2 is all about the aftermath. Every street is littered with ambulances and police cars, Capitol, Park, and Metropolitan. A lot of them are empty, but in some, there are dead bodies. 

While the first game was all about snow, The Division 2 plays in summer. There is rain, but mostly it’s hot. Parts of the city have been flooded and there is a lot of greenery everywhere, taking over the city. 

"When I’ve traveled to Washington the first time in August, I was surprised,“ recalls Karlson. "It’s super hot and humid. If no one takes care of the city, nature will take over fairly quickly."

Shots Fired: Why Guns Sound Far More Realistic in Games Now

Weapons used to sound weird in games. Sometimes they were not punchy enough, and when used with suppressors, they were often too silent. To fix that in their games, Ubisoft acquired Red Storm Entertainment, a studio built by Doug Littlejohns, a former captain of the SAS (Special Air Service), the most elite military unit in the United Kingdom.

Littlejohns moved to Cary, North Carolina, to build a studio dedicated to developing more accurate tactical shooters like the old Rainbow Six games, ones where players could pre-plan every step — and hear what weapons of war really sounded like. 

So, for The Division 2, Massive Entertainment and Red Storm decided to team up with the legendary Pinewood Studios, who are responsible for the epic sound design found in all of the Stars Wars and Mission Impossible movies.

So while Ubisoft could have simple hired ex-special forces to understand how they would operate in D.C., they went the extra mile to also let them fire guns on specific studio sets at Pinewood to get an accurate representation of how the reverberation and echo changes from a narrow street to a major one.

Audio Director Simon Koudriavstev explains in a video shown at the event  how they've achieved that:

They’ve used a total of 65 microphones located in all locations possible to record gunshots of long caliber sniper rifles, assault rifles, LMGs, Shotguns, MPs and their exact reverberation. Every gun has a very iconic, unique sound that we want to portray in the game.

To get an even more authentic sound, crucial parts of government buildings were rebuilt and shot at. For example, the marble used in the U.S. Capitol building has a particular reverberation that other buildings do not. So when you shoot the walls of that particular building in The Division 2, you'll hear a very specific sound depending on which of the more than 50 weapons you're using. And this even includes the specific attachments for each gun. 

"This [part] was important to us because suppressors simply aren’t as quiet [as] most games made them be."

Aside from bullets bouncing off objects and lodging into walls, players will hear helicopters approaching, footsteps clattering over wooden panels, and the reverberation of voices in long halls and buildings just as they would in real life. 

"When you walk through the streets of Washington, it gives you a sense of power. We strip that away with The Division 2. The country feels very vulnerable and we want you to feel that. All those bullet holes in SUVs, that maybe belong to the government, maybe even The White House. The trash on the streets, burned out military convoys.

This is a game, it clearly is. The shooting part is supposed to be tactical and fun. But we want Washington DC to feel as real as possible" concludes the Game Director.


The Division 2 is out now. Considering the studio's attention to detail, a 40-hour campaign, and a robust post-launch plan, The Division 2 looks to take what made the original game to the next level. 

Our review of the game is currently in progress. Until then, be sure to head over to our closed beta impressions to see what we think about Ubisoft's latest third-person shooter so far. 

How Does Blockchain Currently Work in Video Games? Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:53:15 -0400 DGaming

Note: This post is sponsored and written by DGaming. 

Just a few years ago, the growing popularity of blockchain technology was only associated with the rapid growth of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. The hype was for a serious reason: in just five years, the Bitcoin market increased almost 6000 times — from approximately $0.04 billion in the first quarter of 2012 to $237.62 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Now, after the initial buzz around digital currencies has waned mostly due to the cryptocurrency market decrease starting around the beginning of 2018 more and more people in various industries see the technology not as a sure way to make more money by investing in cryptocurrencies, but as an alternative tool to improve their business processes.

Similar to markets in retail, healthcare, financial services, and the public sector, the gaming industry has experienced some influence also.

But before we explore how blockchain works in gaming, what is blockchain in a nutshell?

Behind the Blocks

The blockchain is simply a data structure where each block is linked to another block in a time-stamped chronological order. Every new record should be validated across the distributed network before it can be stored in a block.

Once the record is stored in a block, it can’t be erased or edited, but it can also be easily verified and traced. In short, the technology was a fertile ground for creating Bitcoin as the first cryptocurrency and influencing the entire field of banking and finance in terms of decentralization.

The idea of placing trust not in a single centralized entity like a bank or a multinational company but in the network itself has become a feature, which is considered by technology supporters as revolutionary.

For example, the main advantages of decentralization in the finance sector include empowering users with more control over their information and transactions, enabling them to make an exchange without the intermediation of a third party. This speeds up some processes and removes additional costs, making the whole ecosystem more transparent and less corrupt with publicly viewable and inflexible transaction histories.

Today, examples of blockchain technology applications go far beyond the finance industry. In the healthcare area, as another example, a blockchain system can allow doctors and healthcare providers to access a patient’s health records securely and easily. Voting systems secured with blockchain technology would be resistant to hacking activities. And, in general, the peer-to-peer nature of the technology would allow users to eliminate the need for middle-men companies in many other industries as well.

But how exactly can blockchain technology benefit the gaming industry?
Money flow and security issues.

With the growth of cryptocurrency market capitalization, more and more developers began considering the implementation of cryptos for the sake of in-game monetization.

Exchanging Goods In Games

The peak of that market has brought to bear some big DGames titles (decentralized game titles) like Cryptokitties, which went viral with more than 14,000 daily users just a month after its launch in November 2017; more than $25 million was exchanged on the platform for a period of 10 months after the start of the project.

The main task of gamers in this situation is to collect unique digital items known as “cryptocollectibles” or “non-fungible tokens,” which cannot be copied. That is where blockchain technology comes into action. Since there are many rare “kitties” in the game, and players are bidding for them, some of these cryptocollectibles can reach the mark of hundreds of thousands.

In fact, there were more than 10 kitties that sold for more than $100,000 during that time frame, with the most expensive one going for $172,625.

Another decentralized game, called Decentraland, has seen another major deal worth $215,204, when a player bought a virtual piece of land.

With such significant amounts of money circulated between players, the security of these transactions and purchased assets is a crucial concern for those involved.

Since blockchain technology doesn't have a single point-of-failure, a decentralized game is not a subject to DDoS attacks, for example. And this fact especially makes sense for gaming, considering that 50-99 percent of all virtual good purchases in the traditional gaming industry were found illegitimate due to fraud.

A Game as a Marketplace

Another distinctive feature of blockchain-based games is greater control of characters and in-game items.

Anyone who plays games knows that most of the time, a game's characters and in-game items don't technically belong to the player. The Ancient Legendary Katana in Diablo 3 and the Primal Fire Sword in World of Warcraft are the legal property of Blizzard, something that’s explicitly stated in their End User License Agreement (point 2A).

In the case with DGames (decentralized games), however, the player has full ownership over every item they buy.

This means that players can sell any purchased game item whenever they want without any limitations from the developer. What's more, every blockchain-based virtual asset in the game is assigned with a proprietary hashtag, which tracks the item's history; this prevents scams from taking place by making the history of in-game assets fully visible and open to the public.


Another feature of decentralized games is that they allow gamers to play with each other and use their characters and items across several decentralized games. Called a gaming multiverse, it’s possible due to blockchain’s distributed ledger, which verifies all data through smart contracts.

Some blockchain industry experts state that a multiverse controlled and governed by a single entity would always be bound by restrictions, so the decentralization provided by blockchain is a must.

The makers of Enjin Coin have already implemented a multiverse principle in six blockchain games: Age of Rust, 9Lives Arena, CryptoFights, War of Crypto, Bitcoin Hodler, and Forest Knight. All games use Enjin Coin’s blockchain development platform to integrate gaming assets stored on the Ethereum blockchain to maintain their gaming multiverse.

That means their worlds, characters, and items will be tied together. So players who own assets in these games can use them across the “multiverse.” Such innovation has some benefits for both parties: it enables developers to cross-promote their titles while offering players a unique inter-universe experience.

What is Next?

Blockchain represents a fundamental shift from value extraction in closed ecosystems to value capture in open ecosystems. And even though many blockchain-based gaming projects are still experimenting with their mechanics and gaming features, the technology, in general, has a lot to offer.

The fact that some big industry names are entering the world of blockchain gaming only confirms that statement. Square Enix, for instance, has announced that it considers blockchain a big part of its strategy in 2019.

In the meantime, DGames allow players to:

  • Make and spend money while playing video games
  • Complete transactions in a decentralized secure network
  • Have full control over their in-game assets 
  • Use these assets between different games 
  • Trade and exchange the assets at any moment without any restrictions

For more news and in-depth analyses of the most exciting blockchain projects and DGames, check out

Monster Super League's New Event Charges $700 For One Character Mon, 11 Mar 2019 13:00:09 -0400 Adamo Umbra

As many will know, free-to-play mobile games are often under fire for being loaded with microtransactions — real money expenditures that players are frequently encouraged to engage with if they want to continue playing these titles. Monster Super League is one such mobile game, and while I have never had an issue with its microtransactions before, the game's latest event has changed that for me.

This new event, called Monster Super Mileage, features one particularly egregious offering. That is its Merlin character, which is available for $700. Yes, you're reading that right — if you spend $700 you will receive one single character in Monster Super League.

To make matters worse, there is no detail provided on the character, which may mean purchases will receive an Evolution 1 Merlin. To briefly explain, there are three evolution levels in the game, with Evolution 1 being the weakest, and players need characters in multiples to evolve them further. 

If players that buy the character through this new event due indeed receive an Evolution 1 Merlin, that means that they will need 14 more of them to get to Evolution 3. As such, I think it's safe to say that an Evolution 1 character is simply not worth $700.

For that matter, nothing in this event is worth the amount of money being asked, but there's also something else going on here: Monster Super Mileage only lasts eight days. This means that you can't just put some small amount of money in every month and build up to what you want — instead, you'll have to pay the entire amount now if you want to get the reward.

With all of this said, it's understandable that the community's response to the event has been mostly negative. Personally, I haven't a clue why 4:33 Creative Labs, the developer behind the title, is even trying to pull something like this off.

While it may have little impact on the average player, the fact that the company is trying to charge $700 for a digital character, in its weakest form, is absolutely ludicrous. Only time will tell how far 4:33 attempts to push these ridiculous microtransactions, but this behavior needs to be called out now before it becomes an even bigger issue.

10 Dormant Resident Evil Plots Waiting to Rise From The Dead Fri, 08 Mar 2019 15:58:30 -0500 Thomas Wilde

On March 22, we’ll be celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the original Resident Evil. That game’s release began an unexpected franchise for Capcom, which went on to span seven direct sequels, 14 spin-offs, and three computer-animated films set in the same universe as the games.

Over the course of those two decades, Resident Evil has become justly infamous for its story. Even the simpler games in the series tend to be a hodgepodge of betrayals, conspiracies, secret government organizations, evil corporations, surreal architecture, mad scientists, and, of course, exploding helicopters.

Explaining the overarching plotline of Resident Evil often sounds like you’re talking about a lost season of 24 that involves a zombie outbreak. It's all further complicated by Capcom's history of, let's say, interesting storytelling decisions.

Surprisingly important background details are often thrown in a file that’s deliberately hard to find, locked behind collectibles, or stuck in Japan-only supplemental materials that don't get officially translated for years afterward, if at all. It’s a degree of deliberate, unnecessary complexity that you usually don’t see outside of American superhero comics.

Much of the time, this goes back to several behind-the-scenes issues at Capcom, particularly early on:

  • many core games go through multiple wildly different versions of themselves during development
  • RE’s head writer, Noboru Sugimura, passed away in 2005
  • the somewhat acrimonious departure of series creator, Shinji Mikami, in 2006
  • multiple creative teams and writers, many of whom don't last for more than one game

Because of the chaos around the series, Resident Evil is littered with abandoned plot arcs, forgotten characters, canceled projects, and untold stories.

However, in the last few years, Capcom has made a distinct effort to mine that history through the newer games in the franchise. Resident Evil 7, in its final couple of hours, connects its storyline to a mysterious organization that was last mentioned in 2000’s Resident Evil: Code Veronica. 

2015’s Resident Evil: Revelations 2 features Moira Burton, who first appeared as a child in an obscure file in the original 1996 Resident Evil, and while 2012’s Resident Evil 6 was a mess, it brought back Sherry Birkin after 13 years.

It’s been a little over a month out from Capcom’s successful remake of Resident Evil 2, and the rumor mill has begun to churn regarding what’s next for the series.

With that in mind, here are 10 of the most potentially interesting plot hooks that could appear in future RE titles, including Resident Evil 8. These are plot points that Capcom has introduced, then proceeded to leave alone for at least a couple of years, if not a decade or more.

Naturally, this article involves major spoilers for many of the games in the Resident Evil series. 

10. “Jenny K”

The first four games in the Resident Evil series are all about dealing with the underground activities of the megacorporation Umbrella, which was a billion-dollar drug company by day, weapons manufacturer by night.

After all four of those games ended with characters walking off into the sunset, promising to bring down Umbrella, it was eventually taken out by a government lawsuit, rather than one last heroic adventure, according to the opening text crawl of Resident Evil 4.

Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple, and several later games dealt with the events that surrounded Umbrella’s closure.

Near the end of Resident Evil 5, you can find Spencer’s Notebook, a file that discusses the measures Spencer took to protect his interests after Umbrella was shut down, which included having the rest of Umbrella’s executives quietly assassinated.

There was one exception: “Jenny K,” who disappeared without a trace.

Every high-ranking Umbrella executive we’ve seen in the series so far has been a billionaire psychopath with a plan for world conquest. Jenny K, whoever and wherever she is, is the last survivor of Umbrella’s original upper echelon, and she could show up again at any time as a new, major player.

9. The Raccoon City Testing Ground

2003’s Resident Evil: Outbreak was at least a few years ahead of its time. It was a four-player cooperative survival horror game, which was mostly held back by the PlayStation 2's technology barrier and janky matchmaking.

Outbreak wasn’t confirmed as part of Resident Evil canon until relatively recently, when a few references to it appeared in RE7, the RE6 prequel manga Marhawa Desire, and the 2019 RE2 remake. Now that we know it definitely is canon, it means that one strange scene in Outbreak is suddenly relevant.

After you complete "Decisions, Decisions," there's a bonus scene after the closing credits. It shows that, a month after the bomb dropped at the end of Resident Evil 3, an unspecified agency has set up a laboratory in the ruins of Raccoon City.

Whoever the organization is, it's conducting tests and has gone to the trouble of making sure its lab doesn’t show up in aerial photographs of the area. As the setting for a back-to-the-beginning plot, this has a lot of promise, particularly since we don’t know who or what was running the lab.

8. Steve Burnside

2000’s Resident Evil: Code Veronica is an interesting sort of mess. It came out on the Dreamcast after a troubled development history, and has a lot of weird quirks that are particular to that period of game design.

Among all of its other missteps, like that glass cannonball "puzzle" near the end, its biggest is arguably Claire’s NPC sidekick, Steve Burnside. A trembling ball of Matrix shout-outs and adolescent angst, with the most Canadian accent this side of Bob & Doug McKenzie, Steve creates almost exactly as many problems as he helps the player solve.

In the end, he’s infected by the ant-derived T-Veronica virus, mutates into a lizard monster, and dies in Claire’s arms.

That’d be it for Steve, except his body is subsequently stolen by Albert Wesker, who tells Claire that there’s a chance Steve might come back from the dead someday, just as Wesker himself had.

That was 19 years ago. Since then, Steve’s name hasn’t come up outside of a flashback level, set during the events of Code Veronica, during 2009’s Darkside Chronicles.

It’s probably safe to assume that Steve got thrown into a meat locker somewhere and forgotten. That being said, HCF, Wesker’s mercenary squad from the same game, was mentioned in Resident Evil 7, and that's far more obscure than Steve was.

It’s also worth mentioning that Steve was infected in late 1998 with a virus that, according to the main plot of Code Veronica, takes a full 15 years to mature, and it’s been longer than that in-universe. Not only could Steve still come back at some point, but he could have bizarre new powers and abilities when he does.

Steve Burnside riding back into the series on top of his giant ant steed, firing a submachinegun into the air with either hand, might be the kind of crazy nonsense he needs to overcome nearly 20 years of fan jokes about how awful he is.

7. Corporate Masterminds

It’s been a plot point in the series for a long time that Umbrella was the leader in the bioweapons industry, but wasn't the only company in the business. There are multiple other companies working with the T-Virus, and their version of corporate warfare usually involved mercenary squads and quiet assassinations.

A lot of these companies have popped up in the series over the years, and they usually end up somehow dismantled by the end of their first appearance.

Resident Evil 5's Tricell is officially dead by the time of Revelations 2, which is set two years later, and the vaccine manufacturer Wilpharma goes out of business after the events of the 2008 film Resident Evil: Degeneration.

Currently, the last identified corporation in the bioweapons black market is a Chinese company called Shen Ya, which was introduced in the 2015 Heavenly Island manga. It had a well-funded paramilitary force working for it, as well as a particularly dangerous undercover agent, although none of them survived the events of the manga.

With mainland China in bad shape following the events of Resident Evil 6, the time may soon come for Shen Ya to consider expansion. There's also the Connections, the criminal syndicate responsible for creating Eveline in Resident Evil 7; "Blue Umbrella," the original Umbrella reincarnated as a black-market weapons dealer, as seen in the notoriously poor Umbrella Corps; and whatever other companies might still be waiting in the wings.

6. The Remnants of the FBC

The Federal Bioterror Commission was the American organization that predated the BSAA, Chris Redfield’s anti-bioweapon task force that first appeared in Resident Evil 5.

In 2011’s Resident Evil: Revelations, it's revealed that the original version of the FBC was basically one step up from park rangers, and was virtually powerless. To fix that, the FBC’s commissioner, Morgan Lansdale, purchased a handful of bioweapons on the black market and duped a small-time terrorist group into using them to take out an entire city in 2004. A year later, and thanks to the ensuing panic, the FBC is a well-funded and respected international task force, with Lansdale as its dictatorial leader.

Thanks to Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, this is eventually brought to light and Lansdale is sent to jail. The FBC’s assets and personnel get folded into the BSAA, which turns it into the international organization it's become by the start of RE5.

However, in 2015’s Revelations 2, one of the major twists is that Claire’s friend and boss, Neil Fisher, is still loyal to Lansdale. Fisher has a plan to set off another large bioterror event in order to bring back the FBC, and it fails spectacularly.

There’s every chance that Lansdale, wherever he wound up, has a few more obsessed underlings out there, and any one of them might be willing to start another serious outbreak in order to prove that Lansdale was right, bringing about another interwoven plot for a future Resident Evil installment. 

5. The Other Wesker Children

2009’s Resident Evil 5 told the origin story of the series’ primary antagonist, Albert Wesker. It turned out that he was one of 13 children who were products of Umbrella’s secret “Wesker Project,” which was named after its chief researcher. Its goal was to create a more advanced breed of human through a winning combination of brainwashing, child endangerment, and genetic engineering.

The other 12 Weskers were named in RE5’s Lost in Nightmares DLC, including Albert’s “sister” Alex, who would go on to be the villain of 2015’s Resident Evil: Revelations 2.

Since both of the Weskers shown in the series so far are brilliant mad scientists with personal body counts like a natural disaster, it could be inferred that the other Wesker kids would be similarly gifted and/or damaged.

According to Revelations 2, however, the other 11 Wesker kids are all dead. Although that information comes from Alex, a somewhat unreliable narrator, one of the primary characteristics of Weskers is that they don’t stay dead.

After all, Albert famously got his spine clawed out by an angry Tyrant in the very first Resident Evil, and Alex dies twice in Revelations 2.

Therefore, any time Capcom feels like it, they’ve potentially got another 11 backup Weskers on deck, ready to continue their family legacy of smugness and murder for another console generation.

4. The Family

One of the more infamous details of 2012’s Resident Evil 6 is the existence of “The Family,” an international conspiracy that draws its influence and power from financial manipulation. Its primary goal is maintaining the global status quo for the sake of continued profit.

Derek Simmons, one of the major antagonists of RE6, is a member of The Family, and considering the organization’s stated goals, he couldn’t have failed harder on a bet. Not only does he have the U.S. president assassinated as part of a major bioterror attack, but Simmons' girlfriend Carla Radames nearly ends the world just to spit in his face.

The Family is barely a presence in RE6 outside of Simmons, Carla, and a couple of stereotypical Men in Black (the conspiracy-theory version, not the ones from the Will Smith movies), one of whom shoots Carla dead near the end of Chris' game.

As a theoretical “final boss” for the Resident Evil series, however, you couldn’t do much better than The Family. The series has run heavily off of conspiracies and underground organizations since nearly the beginning, and The Family, which is basically the Illuminati with its serial numbers filed off, is depicted as the ultimate conspiracy.

3. The Biosphere

The setting of Resident Evil is an Earth a lot like our own, with much of the same history and culture, a few different nations, a couple of extra cities, and a biosphere that is intensely warped.

From the very first game in the series, the T-Virus has been capable of infecting just about anything organic. We’ve seen it turn humans, crows, dogs, crocodiles, sharks, spiders, insects, bats, elephants, lions, tropical birds, and even plants into zombies, mutants, and monsters.

In1998's Resident Evil 2, there are several files explaining that the mansion from the first game was located in the middle of a national forest. As far as the T-Virus is concerned, that’s one big infection vector, conveniently located somewhere in the American Midwest.

In subsequent games, there have been biohazard incidents involving the T-Virus or one of its derivatives all over the world. Here are just a few instances: 

  • Resident Evil 6 ends with a massive bioterror attack with the C-Virus on the Chinese mainland
  • An ocean liner full of infected humans goes down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 2002’s Resident Evil: Dead Aim
  • The wreckage of Terragrigia in the Mediterranean Sea is still heavily contaminated at the start of 2011's Resident Evil: Revelations 
  • the T-Veronica virus is let loose in the South American rainforest during the main story levels in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

There’s even a handy map at the start of the Degeneration movie (see above) that highlights 27 separate bioterror attacks spread out across six continents, all before 2005, when the movie takes place.

What this means is that in the Resident Evil universe, the T-Virus and a couple of its later derivatives have been loose in its biosphere for years. Capcom’s already laid the groundwork for monsters or outbreaks to show up virtually anywhere on Earth at any time, without any need for a villain to set them loose.

2. The Umbrella Archives

Several of the scenarios in 2007’s Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles are about Albert Wesker, as he tries, initially fails, and eventually succeeds at stealing the only remaining backup of Umbrella’s cumulative research data.

The next time we see him in series continuity, Wesker is incredibly rich — he has his own personal stealth bomber in Resident Evil 5 — and has been quietly selling bioweaponry to dictators and lunatics around the world.

After his death, however, it’s never been established what happened to Wesker’s archives. This includes the single most valuable thing in Wesker’s arsenal, the P30 drug, which is about as close to an actual super-soldier serum as the series has ever had. It’s why Jill is a mind-controlled superhuman assassin on Wesker’s team in RE5 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. P30 in particular would be the most valuable bioweapon in the Resident Evil franchise, and it isn’t even close.

The hunt for where Wesker stashed his personal research archives could be fuel for a world-spanning adventure, trying to keep his most dangerous secrets out of the hands of the last people who should have them.

1. Natalia Wesker

Even in the “good ending” of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Alex Wesker has technically won. Her plan throughout the game is to "test" various survivors to see who would make a good host for a copy of her memories and personality, allowing the terminally ill Alex to cheat death.

While it doesn't quite go according to plan for the original Alex, she does manage to capture 10-year-old Natalia Korda and imprint her personality on Natalia's brain. Six months later, Natalia already has abilities and memories she can't explain, and two years after that, in Revelations 2's epilogue, it seems as if Alex has begun assuming full control.

This plotline would provide the series with a new primary antagonist in the wake of Albert Wesker’s death, and one who’s been growing up in Barry Burton’s household for the last few years. Not only does that imply she'd have a lot of weapons training now, but it means that she's already undercover.

"Natalex" prepared for all of this six months beforehand. She also has substantial financial resources, a brilliant mind, and no scruples whatsoever. Forget all of the conspiracies and monsters: the scariest thing in the Resident Evil franchise as of right now could conceivably be a teenage girl.

Of course, Capcom might decide to ignore any or all of these for another decade or come up with something entirely new. What's impressive, however, is the sheer amount of potential that's still left in the series after all these years.

Warhammer Chaosbane Beta Impressions: Action Comes To The Old World Thu, 07 Mar 2019 16:15:02 -0500 Ty Arthur

Woah, wait, another Warhammer game?

Yep, they just keep coming, and I think we all know that many of the Games Workshop licensed titles flat out aren't that great.

However, we were able to try out the Warhammer: Chaosbane beta over the past several days and can confidently say it doesn't fall prey to that unfortunate trend, even if it does have a few rough spots to iron out. 

Based off of forum chatter, many players seem to be under the impression that Chaosbane will offer the same basic four-player co-op hack 'n slash action as the recent Vermintide 2, but that's not actually the case.

While online co-op is available, Chaosbane is very much a single-player ARPG more in the vein of Diablo.

Games Workshop's tendency to throw out as many titles as possible to see what sticks may not always work out, but it is a boon for fans of the franchise to see all of these different takes on the Warhammer universe between various game genres.

If you don't want the complexity of huge-scale battles from Total War, or the high difficulty of the online-co-op-only Vermintide, or the slow turn-based play of Mordenheim, this iteration gives you some of the same aesthetics and familiar lore but in a more fast-paced, action-oriented version.

Chaosbane Class And Skill Options

The full game will start with four main classes to choose from, but unfortunately, Wood Elf Scout and Dwarf Slayer were unavailable in the beta. That second one, in particular, was a disappointment, because playing a mohawked suicidal dwarf seemed like the most fun in an ARPG. 

Despite that, I played both of the other two classes extensively and came away with a clear favorite: Imperial Soldier.

This class is basically the Guardian from Hellgate: London. Here, you want to be surrounded by enemies while swinging wildly as often as possible. The more monsters in your immediate vicinity, the less damage you take and the more damage you dish out.

Aside from the frenzied nature of the Imperial Soldier's skills, the developers really nailed the look and feel of Old-World combatants with this class.

High Elf Mage, on the other hand, offers a somewhat unique play style because its special class skill lets you control the direction of your spells. Essentially, this turns every spell into a guided missile, although you have to stay stationary while controlling where the spells zip around the area.

That's a cool idea, but overall, Mage feels the most like the typical ARPG character and the least like a unique Warhammer avatar.


Rather than a skill tree where you pick your new skills at each level like in typical ARPGs, all classes automatically unlock skills at predefined levels. There's a twist though: you can only have a limited number of skills active at once, and each skill costs a different number of points to equip.

That's where customization comes in.

You could use the basic, non-upgraded version of your normal attack for instance, but then beef up several high damage-dealing secondary skills, or do the exact opposite. You could equip a ton of lower ranked skills for more versatility, or just use one or two more powerful versions of skills that fit your play style better.

I can see a lot of players hating this system at first because in the beginning, it feels limited. That is until you realize this is basically culling out the middle man and letting you respec your character on the fly.

Anyone who plays ARPGs knows they typically limit respec opportunities, requiring you to start a new character, use a rare item, or pay a fee at a specific NPC to swap out skills. In Chaosbane, you can instead change your abilities at absolutely any time during any dungeon by simply opening up the skill screen.

It's kind of a genius change, actually, and plays really smoothly.

The system is like combining the best features of the sorcerer and wizard D&D classes at once: you have a limited number of points to utilize, but a vast array of abilities to choose from to spend on those points.

Aside from the abilities that unlock as you level, some skills can only be learned by donating items rather than selling them, which adds another layer of management besides just hoarding equipment and gold.

Finally, the Blessings of the Gods skill tree is where you have more control over how your character develops. Multiple paths are available along the tree, with each node either giving a flat bonus or opening up a new power.

This tree opens up at Level 15, after completing a certain quest, and is essentially the equivalent of the devotion constellation from Grim Dawn, except you get shards to spend on advancement as random drops rather than by finding hidden shrines.

(War)Hammering Down The ARPG Formula

Changes to the skill system aside, Chaosbane, for the most part, sticks to the standard ARPG formula of exploring dungeons and wiping out hordes of enemies.

There are a few twists here and there, like limited-time quests (save all the kidnapped soldiers before they can be sacrificed to Nurgle) or tracking down specific locations to unlock inaccessible areas (activate shrines to get past the magic barrier), and so on.

Of course, there are epic boss fights scattered throughout the game, and in the beta, we squared off against a Great Unclean One in the sewers.

One major change from the basic ARPG style is the lack of mana potions. Instead of quaffing blue vials to use your skills, each class instead gains energy by landing basic attacks or utilizing specific energy recharge skills.

You'll notice a few other differences from your typical Diablo clones while exploring the bowels of Nuln as well, like enemy bodies remaining on the ground in ever-increasing quantities, which is a nice touch in this bloody, grim world.

Speaking of enemies, some of the monster animations are simply outstanding. The nurglings, for instance, occasionally gather together into a giant nurgling swarm (think the of the ball of mouths from Critter, but significantly grosser) before they fly apart across the screen in a green chunky spray when you destroy the swarm.

Vermintide 2 players will also likely delight in seeing larger beasts like the Chaos Spawn interpreted as a different style of mini-boss.

Areas For Improvement

There are plenty of elements to love about Chaosbane for ARPG fans, in its current state, some areas still need polish. In particular, the game re-uses the exact same sewer layout far too often in the quests from levels 1-16.

Apart from location repetition, the game could desperately use more variation in items. Loot a-plenty is to be found, but most of that loot is similar in both name and look, but features different stats. 

Armor or weaponry with killer aesthetics and legendary properties are a staple of this genre, but that seems to be lacking so far in Chaosbane.

In the beta, I never came across any distinctive items that would warrant me placing them in the personal stash while trying to build up a themed set across multiple dungeon runs.

Some of the beta's other problems are basic, obvious things that will clearly get patched. For instance, in my first dungeon, the shield and boots section of the character doll were swapped, showing the opposite item. In some cases, item comparison numbers also seemed to be wrong, but those are both relatively easy fixes.

The map and UI could also use a general overhaul. Clicking the light under a door doesn't always work well when trying to switch between rooms on the main hub area, for instance. While it's not a game breaker by any means, there's no ability to zoom in or rotate the camera, which makes some areas difficult to see. 

While many of the enemy animations are top-notch, I often felt like the High Elf Mage animations still needed work. Most of the spells don't quite match the background color scheme and don't really feel like they solidly connect with anything when they hit an enemy. 

Warhammer: Chaosbane As It Stands in Beta

There's plenty of good and some bad in Chaosbane, but the bottom line is this do you dig the idea of mowing through hordes of chaos daemons, deranged cultists, and beastmen?

If so, checking out Chaosbane is a no brainer. Chaosbane is only going to improve before full release, and fans of Grim Dawn or Torchlight 2 will love nearly everything about this new Warhammer outing.

Until a proper text-heavy, character-focused, real-deal RPG is set in the Warhammer universe, I'll be content slaughtering hordes of poor fools who gave their souls to the ruinous powers in Chaosbane.

Hands-On Preview: A Plague Tale is a Historical Adventure With Some Horrifying Twists Thu, 28 Feb 2019 08:32:21 -0500 Thomas Wilde

When I spoke to the developers of A Plague Tale: Innocence at last year's E3 in Los Angeles, they were hesitant to call it a horror game.

To be fair, they aren't exactly wrong. For a lot of its initial running time, A Plague Tale is more like a historical drama. Set during the Hundred Years' War in 14th-century France, you play as Amicia de Rune, the daughter of a minor nobleman whose family suddenly ends up on the Inquisition's hit list.

Shortly thereafter, Amicia and her little brother Hugo are forced to flee across the countryside toward safety, at a time when hostile priests, invading Englishmen, maddened villagers, and the Black Death are all competing to get the chance to kill them.

It's a slow burn of a game with real human stakes, and it takes the time to build up its world and its characters. There's real thought behind the portrayal of Amicia and Hugo's family, the life they've built, and the time they're in. There's a touch of Hollywood cleanliness to the proceedings, of course, but the opening hours of A Plague Tale feel like a careful period piece, even once the action begins.

That being said, our hands-on preview proved one thing: this is also a game about being chased at every turn by demon rats.

The rats first show up right at the title screen, but take their time in making their onscreen debut. Once they do, however, they're almost inescapable, boiling up from every unattended crack and shadow; they act like little black land piranha with eerily glowing eyes. Anything that gets caught by them is reduced to a wet red skeleton in seconds.

Every time the rats appear, A Plague Tale jumps into an entirely different genre-pool. The Black Death is ravaging the area, the Inquisition is breathing down your neck, the English are about 10 minutes away from yet another full-scale invasion, and somehow, thanks to the rats, things are about to get even worse.

Early on, the rats are an obstacle. They're easily distracted by simple meals, so you can get a bunch of them off your case at once by throwing them meat, and they won't get anywhere near bright light. Getting through an infested area is mostly about finding ways to illuminate your path with lit torches, burning sticks, or unlit braziers.

Later on, the rats also become a weapon, which was a big part of the level that the developers, Asobo Studio, were showing off back at E3. If there's a hostile soldier in your way and you can figure out a way to put out his torch, then you've just rung the rats' dinner bell and solved two problems at once. It's clever, sure, but the game's also not at all shy about letting you know that you just did something terrible to a guy.

I've played through the first couple of hours of A Plague Tale, and the easiest point of comparison is probably The Last of Us. Like that game, this a linear story about the relationship between its two leads as they navigate an exquisitely terrible situation, all with a special focus placed on the consequences and aftereffects of violence.

It also emphasizes stealth as a way to survive against overwhelming odds, although here, it's usually your first and best option.

A Plague Tale is much more of an adventure game, however. The go-to obstacles in your way require a bit of creative thinking and some exploration of your environment before you can proceed. There is some combat, although it's clunky by design.

Amicia begins the game equipped with a sling, which can break distant objects and stun people if you get a clean shot on their heads, and it turns into an okay weapon after a few crafted upgrades. The sling takes time to spin up, however, and is nearly useless against somebody who's already close enough to take a swing at you.

Most of the time, if there's going to be a fight at all, you'll win it with a surprise attack or a clever environmental kill. You eventually learn how to create alchemical ammunition for your sling, which you can use to set distant targets on fire. That, in turn, widens your options for both basic combat and problem-solving.

I do think that this game's likely to turn some people off right from the jump, though. It's a full-length escort mission where you're stuck babysitting for a relatively realistically-depicted young boy. If you get too far away from Hugo, he'll pitch a fit that alerts nearby enemies, so you can't just stick him in a bucket and come back for him later Resident Evil 4-style.

A lot of the time, you can hold his hand and he'll obediently follow you wherever you go, but I can't say that it wasn't occasionally obnoxious, especially when he constantly argues with Amicia about what their next move should be.

I get the feeling that the design intent here is to try to invoke the unique blend of protectiveness and sheer teeth-grinding rage that only an annoying little brother can provide, and in that, it's reasonably successful. In practice, however, story-appropriate player aggravation is still player aggravation.

A Plague Tale was developed by the French studio Asobo, which has made its bones for the last 15 years or so contributing to other companies' projects, or making licensed games like Monopoly Plus and Disneyland Adventures. A Plague Tale marks the company's first foray into original IP since the obscure 2005 PC/Xbox shooter Nemesis Strike.

With that in mind, I'm genuinely impressed that Asobo chose to make something like A Plague Tale. It doesn't have that mass-market feel where it exists to chase a market trend, but instead, it feels like a passion project, set in a period that few other games ever explore, with some risky creative decisions involved.

I'd like to see this succeed, if only because it's a novel experience. We'll just have to wait until later this year to see if its uniqueness can achieve that. 

Early Access Impressions: Subnautica Below Zero Lists in Tepid Waters Tue, 26 Feb 2019 14:53:51 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Although it's still early days for the Early Access expandalone, Subnautica Below Zero's ultimate place in the survival subgenre is currently murky. Much like an estuary, where the river meets the ocean to form a convoluted brine, Below Zero works and it also doesn't. 

Combining both old elements and new, Below Zero simultaneously clings to heritage while attempting to expand the boundaries of its predecessor. From the surface, such a description seems obvious for what Unknown Worlds calls a sequel to 2018's Subnautica. Often, sequels occupy the muddy waters between what came before and what's to come. 

But being in Early Access, Below Zero isn't finished, so that mixture is currently imperfect. Many of its new features work, but choppily, and those that remain from Subnautica are incomplete, even considering the game is still in early development. 

Coming off of the success that was Subnautica, where Unknown Worlds leveraged the power of the survival-game community to create an indie classic, Below Zero feels very much like the expansion many thought it would be, not the full-fledged game it will (hopefully) become. 

Let Me Tell You a Story

Whereas a large portion of Subnautica's narrative was conveyed through in-game lore and radio transmissions, Below Zero takes a different approach by putting players in the boots of Robin Goodall, a researcher who's come to Planet 4546B a year after the events of the first game.

Like Subnautica, players are once again alone on the planet's surface. The wrinkle this time is that they have the support of their sister orbiting 4546B in the space station above. In some ways, having someone to talk to is a welcomed change to the isolation of Subnautica; exploring Below Zero's icy depths is now part of a larger, seemingly more cohesive narrative. 

However, the greater emphasis on story comes at a price. In Subnautica, story progression was tranquil, often unhurried; there was wreckage to explore and there were milestones to meet, but very few narrative beats were pressing. For the most part, progression was carried out at the player's pace, and the moments that triggered narrative progression were often subtle.  

I don't want to imply that Below Zero is all talk and all story; it does have its quiet moments, ones that harken back to the placid exploration of Subnautica. Instead, I mean to convey that Below Zero's quiet moments are more infrequent, with fewer beats triggered by the player interacting with elements in the game world.

To say it's immersion breaking would be pedantic and overdramatic, but to not acknowledge the impact of uncontrolled triggered events in a world built around such expansive freedom would be disingenuous. 

A Large World Made Small, But Not Less Interesting

As it stands, Below Zero has only a few areas to explore. Thankfully, the game's unique topography once again makes exploration a delight.

Icebergs sink into glacial waters for fathoms; winding rock bridges clamber over underwater canyons; phosphorescent florae ignite the depths with wondrous light; and new variants of towering creepvine emit haunting shades of red from their bulbous clusters. 

Among the familiar fauna, such as bladderfish and eyeye, there are new species to find. Some are dangerous, some are benign, but all are intriguing and unique. New plant species sprout from the sea floor and run across megalithic cliffs; some provide oxygen at greater depths and some provide new crafting materials for old items and gear.

Outside of exploration, most of Below Zero's gameplay revolves around harvesting plants or mining various metals such as titanium, copper, silver, and lead. 

While crafting supplies are plentiful, Below Zero's craftable tools and items are not. In a groan-worthy early-game development, your PDA is wiped of all blueprints. Starting with only the most basic of items, you're forced to rediscover key items as part of the exploration loop. 

Although such a mechanic is a survival game staple, starting the game destitute feels like nothing more than an obtuse MacGuffin, something lumpishly reinforced as the space station above slowly delivers tools and supplies piecemeal. 

The logical disconnect between the survival loop and such a narrative contrivance can be jarring and nonsensical. Having access to all of Subnautica's base blueprints needn't compromise Below Zero's exploration elements; instead, if added to a stock of new blueprints and craftable items, those elements would logically build upon what came before.  

Where Below Zero Stands Right Now

Despite what I've said above, I want to make something abundantly clear: I very much like Subnautica Below Zero because it's more Subnautica. Knowing what Unknown Worlds has accomplished with its original survival darling makes me hopeful for Below Zero's future. 

Looking back to Subnautica's early days, Below Zero casts an eerily similar reflection. Unknown Worlds has navigated these brackish waters before, molding an Early Access title into a finished game that currently has over 88,000 positive reviews on Steam. 

With its narrative clocking in at around six hours, Below Zero already has enough content to warrant an early look. Outside of that, there are still hours to be had exploring the game's depths and, if you dare, unfinished areas of the map.

The lack of tools and nagging bugs are worth noting, but certainly not damning. Although I can't shake the feeling Below Zero should have been a Subnautica expansion instead of a sequel, Unknown Worlds can count on me jumping back in throughout its development. 

Subnautica Below Zero is available now on Steam for $19.99. There is currently no word on when or if the game will be released on console.  

The Division 2 Closed Beta Impressions: Endless Loot, Endless Fun Tue, 12 Feb 2019 13:57:03 -0500 John Schutt

This past weekend saw the private PC beta of Tom Clancy's The Division 2, and there was a fair bit of content on offer. Between two main campaign missions, the Dark Zone, a handful of side missions, side activities, and random world events, we got a good taste of what gameplay in the full release could have in store.

In something of a counter to the Anthem beta, and Anthem's marketing in general, the look we got at The Division 2 even gave us some of the end game.

With all of the latest details under our belts, let's take a look back on what we saw and what it could mean for the future.

Loot, and Lots of It

Like any member of the looter-shooter genre, The Division 2 will live and die by how fun it is to gather new items and grind for the best overall loadouts. I can say with certainty that there is plenty to see and do when it comes to loot in this new title from Ubisoft. 

The short version is this: new gear is plentiful and rarely useful, but even garbage-tier items can teach you a lot. Early leveling is also fairly fast-paced, making what you do find obsolete very quickly. For players that love seeing a shiny new thing drop from a foe when it dies, this game delivers.

Concept art of two fighters walking through a derelict building

You'll Never Be Want for Gear

Unlike games such as Destiny 2The Division 2 showers its players in gear from the very start. If I were to put an unofficial number on loot drops, I would say you'll get something — probably something terrible — about 20% of the time when you kill an enemy anywhere in the world.

The saving grace here is that there are so many opportunities for lootThere are numerous gear cases littered across the map; every mission gives you a number of items, every world event has a drop, you get a loot crate for actual in-game, usable gear just for leveling up. And that's just the beginning of things. 

Most importantly, as with the first Division, are the named enemies. These are your bread and butter, as they drop the good stuff, or at least they have a higher chance to drop some.

There are always downsides to an abundance of items, of course. The UI makes it a little cumbersome to sort through everything, and with so many different gear types even within the nine main subcategories, things quickly get overwhelming if you don't know what you're looking at.

 And even if you do, there's a lot to unpack.

Three fighters holding guns while looking at the Washington monument

The Loot is Complex

Also unlike Destiny 2, there was a ton of build variety on offer in the Division 2 beta. Every item had more than just a couple of unique stats or effects, and synergy went deep depending on what loadout you wanted to run. 

What impressed me most was the detail on each weapon type, and how much information the game gives you in plain words and numbers. I mean, there's even a damage falloff graph for every weapon, not to mention various armor effects and how they stack.

The gun variety, for a beta, was a little staggering. There were a lot of the weapons we'd seen in the first game, but there were also some notable additions, from the MP7 to several new bolt action rifles, a couple of new shotgun types, and some new pistols that might be usable in a pinch. 

From an armor standpoint, the gear sets available in The Division 2 beta came from the same basic formula: backpack, mask, gloves, holster, kneepads, armor.

The differentiating factor this time around was the inclusion of synergies even at trash-tier loot (uncommons and rares). The top tier equipment, of course, had a lot to say for itself, but there were plenty of chances to make something interesting even in the early game.

In a strange twist, weapon mods are no longer drops. Rather, they are static rolls earned through play that apply a fixed bonus, and accompanying detriment, to whichever weapon it's equipped to.

From what I could tell, most attachments worked for most primary weapons, within reason. If you were a fan of the extended magazines in Division 1, I don't think they'll be making a triumphant return, but that might be a good thing, if only for the sake of balance, primarily in PvP. 

Three soldiers in the division 2 looking out over a Washington on fire.

Progression is Quick... get used to scrapping or selling your old gear for parts or credits; you'll be doing it a lot. Every level you gain increases everything about the loot that drops, from its overall score to its effectiveness and its rarity. 

The biggest boon The Division series gives its players in this arena is a mass deletion feature that games like Anthem and Destiny desperately need. Just mark an item as trash, then press one button to sell it or dismantle it all.

Now, levels don't increase so fast that you won't get to use what you find for more than a minute. There's probably about a 30 to 45-minute gap between each level, so you'll have time to collect new gear, give it a whirl, and decide what you want to get next level.

Some weapons and gear are even good enough to keep around for a few extra levels. Or, at least, they are if the game doesn't give you something better, like, ever.

Which is the nature of a loot game. You could be stuck with the same two pieces of armor for hours upon hours, even if you have the crafting materials to make something better or the credits to buy something more your speed. Without a blueprint or worthwhile vendor stock to fill a void, that green-level loot might muddy your selection of blues and purples for a good while.

Two soldiers ducking behind cover while in a firefight.

The Division 2 is Fun to Play

You won't be waiting very long to have a good time in The Division 2. There are a few things you'll have to get through first, though.

  • The storytelling won't win any awards, but it's serviceable.
  • The gunplay isn't on the level of your DestinysTitanfalls, or even Battlefields, but it does the job.
  • I think the abilities lack a certain punch (not a new problem).
  • Explosions are somewhat muted.

What saves this game, at least from the beta, is how all of its features come together at the end. The storytelling in what will be a 40-hour campaign is just campy enough to be enjoyable, and because it takes itself so seriously, it has the kind of charm a classic '80s style action film carries. 

Sure, the guns aren't the most responsive things on the planet, but combine them with plenty of tactical movement options and enemy AI that makes you think before you shoot, and there's something to be said for the moment-to-moment gunplay.

And while the abilities on their own don't push the same kind of bombast we might expect from such an '80s film, they aren't meant to. Rather, they're supportive options that add variety when a fight is becoming a little to cover-shooty. 

Most of all, though, I think my favorite new thing is the armor system. Both players and NPCs now have an armor value that must be chewed through if you want to deal damage. Because armor has weaknesses and can be destroyed, focus fire or flanking to get to the chinks isn't just an option: it's a necessity. 

Yes, you can still shoot enemies in the head with a .50 caliber bullet and not kill them, so the bullet-sponge problem isn't exactly fixed, but there's at least some reasoning behind it all now.

Concept art from the diivision 2.

Verdict on the Beta

The Division 2 beta experience bodes well for a solid looter-shooter experience that will give the likes of Anthem and Destiny 2 something to think about. However, I don't think it will kill either of them.

Instead, the three (or four if Borderlands 3 suddenly appears) should all scratch the same gameplay itches in different ways.

If it really wants to stand out in a crowd of other highly anticipated titlesThe Division 2 needs to hit the ground running with an end game worth grinding, have a massively expanded gear set compared to the first game (which it looks like it does), and not stray too far from what made the first title a success.

From the info I could gather, Ubisoft Massive took most of the feedback they got and incorporated it already, plus some improvements people didn't ask for but that will be appreciated nonetheless.

In other words, I'm hopeful. I think you should be too.


Last month, Ubisoft unveiled that The Division 2 would be skipping Steam for the Epic Games Store. However, it will still be available through Ubisoft's Uplay when its March 15 release date finally arrives. 

The Division 2 will cost $59.99; it will be available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. 

Project Winter Early Access Impressions: There's No Reviving This Dead Survival Sim Tue, 12 Feb 2019 12:27:34 -0500 Ty Arthur

With the Polar Vortex busy wreaking havoc in North America, it might seem like the opportune time to simulate a survival experience in the frozen wasteland of Project Winter

But in this instance, "might" is the operative word. 

This 8-player, subzero excursion mixes cooperative action with secret subterfuge; a traitor infiltrates a team of survivors forced to work together (or sow distrust amongst the group) while surviving with no supplies in a harsh wilderness. 

The abstract polygonal aesthetic of Project Winter will quickly bring to mind Necropolis, and that's perhaps not a bad place to start, as that was another high concept niche indie game that died pretty quickly.

This Project Is DOA

It might seem too early to make such a definitive call, considering Project Winter only had a brief alpha test and has only been in early access for a handful of days. But this game is dead on arrival for the vast majority of players.

That isn't because of the concept, however, which isn't bad at all. There's a reason games like Betrayal At House On The Hill are so popular. Mixing co-op and PvP with a randomized element that obfuscates friend from foe makes for compelling gameplay when done right.

If you dig co-op survival games with an asymmetric element, there may be reasons to lay down the cash on Project Winter, but only if you've got seven friends who are willing to also buy it and agree on a time to play. 

Don't even bother if you plan on going into public quick matches; matchmaking is pretty much dead right now.

If you can get into a match (good luck!), you'll be greeted with constant crashing and disconnecting, with groups trying to troubleshoot issues in chat because there doesn't seem to be much official help right now.

When you do finally start a game, there are two other big hurdles:

First, because of low player counts and poor matchmaking, it's unlikely you will find a team who all speak your language. North American players are frequently put in predominately Russian speaking groups, for instance. Regional matchmaking could help fix this issue, but then we're still left with the issue of "few players."

Second, some players are reporting (and I had this issue myself) that even if you disconnect from a lobby and come back repeatedly, you will frequently end up with the same group of seven people  which is a problem for myriad reasons.

For a game like Project Winter, those are bigger issues than you might think. That's because players have to repair items and complete objectives as a group; if your team isn't communicating and working together, the game falls apart.

Collecting food, resources, and parts can be daunting alone, and repairing anything by yourself to escape the game's frigid maps is nearly impossible. 

The game is inexorably built around multiplayer, with many necessary areas cut off by computers and panels that can only be accessed by multiple players in concert. 

Team Work Makes The Dream Work... Sometimes

That problem is made even worse by poor voice chat sound quality, with all sound coming through on a delay, distorted by an echo, or falling victim to constant stutters.

During one game, my entire team was screaming at me to not abandon the group while rushing for the escape hatch, and I had absolutely no clue until someone started typing the message manually.

Part of that is by design, as communication is meant to be spotty at long range unless players craft specific, color-matched radios, which allow for communication at distance. In many ways, though, it's a prime example of a cool idea that doesn't translate well to execution, as it makes the game less accessible to new players and constantly causes frustration.

Which leads me to my next point. 

Project Winter's learning curve is another major stumbling block impacted by team and chat issues: new players have no clue what they are supposed to be harvesting or crafting. The overly lengthy tutorial doesn't translate well to Winter's chaotic gameplay, either. 

That makes your first few matches actively un-fun, as players who have figured it all out will get impatient and leave you behind. Inherently, this gameplay loop screws over the team as a whole worse than if they'd just be patient and help out the newbies.

Despite all those problems, sometimes you can get really exciting matches where all players gel together. This is where the game works as it's intended to. In one particular match, my team figured out who the traitor was, but he was already armed to the teeth while most of us just had axes and bear traps.

We basically had a low-tech survival version of the insane, up-close shootout scene at the end of Wind River... and then things got really bizarre when two bears and a herd of moose decided to get into the mix at the same time, forcing everyone to disengage and seek safety.

That was one of the crazier moments in my various matches, as absolutely no one died in that nutso battle of man versus man versus nature (well, except a bear).

Apart from those randomized scenes that can't be relied on, there is some reason to keep playing with a progression system to work through. By completing various tasks you can unlock cosmetic items for different character types (personally, I'm partial to the arctic Santa body style myself).

The Bottom Line

Taking into account that this is early access and may go through major changes by its official launch, and after weighing all the pros and cons above, there's one big issue that Project Winter likely can't overcome.

Frankly, it just isn't particularly fun to high tail it back to the cabin and wait out a mega blizzard with your group, then rush out and try to complete an objective before it happens again.

Over and over and over again. 

In theory, it seems like the developers are trying to create a sense of claustrophobia and paranoia with Project Winter, forcing players to interact with each other and try to puzzle out the identity of the traitor. In practice, it just never happens that way.

In every match (if you are lucky enough to get into a match), you essentially end up with this gameplay loop:

  • two or three people who know what they are doing are pissed that everyone else isn't cooperating
  • a random, awful griefer bugs everyone for no reason
  • a handful of people are useless, simply running around
  • a traitor either gathers weapons to annihilate everyone or gets hopelessly lost, becoming a boring non-factor

Maybe this more a social construct sim aiming to teach us the cold, harsh nature of reality while showing that gamers can't be trusted to construct workable societies? Maybe? 

In the end, I think my experience in Project Winter is best summed up with a single screenshot. There goes an uncaring moose, sauntering by at a leisurely pace while I'm bleeding out and freezing to death after being mauled by a homicidal bear.

I'm about 20 yards from escaping after my team radioed for rescue. None of them are going to come revive me.

Volcanoids First Impressions: Great Game That Needs Content Thu, 07 Feb 2019 22:44:53 -0500 Sergey_3847

Volcanoids is a new steampunk-themed survival game available through Steam Early Access. It introduces a cool type of vehicle called the drillship — your own private subterranean vessel that can dig through the crust of the earth and take you basically anywhere.

There is no time to waste, however, as your character has a very important mission: to uncover a mystery surrounding an erupting volcano. It is a dangerous task, and you must prepare well before getting into it.

If this little synopsis grabbed your interest, then you can find out more about Volcanoids by reading our early impressions on the game below.

Story and Setting

Imagine an island populated with an idyllic society and everything a human soul needs. However, out of nowhere, strange tracks appear on the ground. Nobody knows where they have come from or what their discovery might lead to.

Shortly after finding the mysterious tracks, a volcano that was lying dormant in the center of the island starts erupting like it's the end of the world. Everything that people built gets destroyed in the blink of an eye, and living on the island becomes impossible.

But somebody has to find out why these eruptions started in the first place, and if there is a way to stop them. This is where the game starts, and you, as the main protagonist, must go out there into the danger zone, collect resources, and build your own drillship to help you investigate.

Once constructed, you can use your weird new machine to traverse the island's underground world, entering caves under the mountains that serve as lava sources for the volcano. In the process, you'll begin to unravel the mysteries of the tracks and the volcanic eruptions.

As you progress through Volcanoids' missions, which are carefully laid out on the screen, you'll get to see the entire island of Adranos. While the world does look quite good for an Early Access game, one thing really sticks out as reminder that the title is not finished: the lack of content populating it.

Specifically, if you follow the main storyline, and don't spend too much time on exploration, the whole campaign will take only four to five hours to finish.

Gameplay Mechanics

Most of your time in Volcanoids is spent gathering resources for your drillship. Fortunately, the game kindly shows you the direction and the distance to the closest source of coal, copper, iron, and the other materials that are used to craft all the necessary modules.

On your way to these resources, you will face opponents that have their own drillships. These enemy crafts can be raided for resources, and, at times, you can find entire modules that can be used in your drillship.

Unfortunately, the weapons available for combat are lacking, as you have only a shotgun for dealing with adversaries. At least that's something though.

The journey for resources is made additionally challenging by the volcano, as eruptions happen every 20 minutes or so. You really need to find cover inside a ship before an eruption occurs, or a massive heatwave will kill you in an instant, forcing you to load your save game. The good news is that there is a timer on top of the screen showing you the countdown towards the next eruption.

In time, your drillship will grow to significant sizes, which will require more and more resources. This is where the game stumbles, and you start to feel the limits of the design. That said, it's, of course, understandable that the Early Access game is only the preliminary version of the game; an introduction before the actual release.

The crafting system is also a bit clunky. For example, in order to craft anything, a player is required to switch between different modules. This means that you will spend time and energy changing from your storage module, where you keep all of your resources, to your refinery module, which processes all the raw materials, to your production module, which is responsible for the actual crafting.

Furthermore, you need to carefully balance all the modules and maintain energy at a high level. This involves frequently switching off modules after certain operations have been executed, and, if you forget to do it, then it will keep draining your ship.

Simply, there's a lot to keep in mind when dealing with all of these gameplay mechanics. In the end, you may be left with doubts if all of them are really necessary.

The Verdict

  • Drillship is an exciting new concept vehicle
  • Managing ship's modules can be a lot of fun
  • Gorgeous environments
  • Main campaign is too short
  • Resource gathering and crafting can get annoying
  • Lack of weapons

It would be wise to wait on purchasing this game until the developer adds more engaging content and significantly expand the story mode.

The latest reports indicate that Volcanoids will have a multiplayer component in the future, which is really exciting. Also, it would be a great idea to let players drill freely under the ground, which is currently not possible. You can only travel towards given coordinates.

This wishlist can go on for a long time, but it simply shows that the game has a lot of potential. Volcanoids has many great ideas, but it is just too short on content at this stage.

[Disclosure: Writer was granted a copy of the game for the purpose of this article.]

Getting High With Weedcraft Inc Mon, 04 Feb 2019 13:16:51 -0500 Joey Marrazzo

In a world where several states have legalized marijuana, and many others are on the verge of doing so, some people may be curious about what happens behind-the-scenes in the industry of cannabis production and distribution. This is where Weedcraft Inc steps in.

Weedcraft Inc is a tycoon-style game developed by Polish studio Vile Monarch and published by Devolver Digital. In this title, you create your own weed empire, starting from your basement and growing over time.

While you might be thinking that Weedcraft Inc is just another point and click game that will get boring after a little while, that is not the case. This tycoon game is a totally different experience. 

In preface of the title's release, I sat down with Lead Writer Scott Alexander to play some Weedcraft Inc and learn more about the story behind the game itself. 

The Story

Weedcraft Inc. features a 25-30 hour story centered around two brothers, one who has an MBA degree and the other who grows and smokes weed in the basement. Their ill father is depending on medical marijuana to help with his cancer treatment, and the two brothers decide to partner up and sell weed to help.

Together, you start small, selling your weed in Flint, Michigan. However, over the course of the game, you can expand and ultimately become the biggest weed dealer in all of New York City.

Additionally, one aspect of the game that I was really interested in was the ability to go to certain states, like New Jersey, to advocate for the legalization of marijuana. While I didn't get to demo that part of the game, I am eager to check it out once the full game releases in April.

The Gameplay

The gameplay is as you would expect from a tycoon game. You click to plant, water, and trim your crops, and you must maintain your planting location by making sure that grow lights are working. Once a plant is ready, you click to cut it.

From there, you can sell your harvest at a marketplace. A lot of different characters will show up at the marketplace, and they are willing to buy your goods.

As is common in most tycoon games, Weedcraft Inc allows you to speed up time. I did use this feature in my time with the game, but I was still required to continually check on my plants, ensuring that they were all sufficiently watered.

As you progress in the game, you can hire employees to take care of the growing and selling for you. You can even hire characters that will dig up dirt on your competition, assisting you in running these adversaries out of town. Furthermore, each employee has different perks, and you will need to give them tasks based on their strengths.

While you begin Weedcraft Inc with only one type of seed, you will also get new types as time goes on. With these seeds, you can alter the chemical balance to make your harvest stronger, but it may take you a few tries to find the perfect formula.

This task becomes easier once you are able to open a lab, as you will be able to spend research points in order to discover these potent combinations. You will also be able to unlock traits on the Project Tree, which will improve your cultivating, selling, and growing abilities.


As your weed empire grows, problems will arise. For example, you will be introduced to competition several times, and you will have to decide how you want to respond. Perhaps you will choose to take them down by lowering your prices or blackmailing them, or you may decide to just let them be — a decision that could mean the end of your business.

Another problem that will arise is the police. As you grow weed in your basement, the police will sense heat coming from your building, and they will begin to suspect your activities. This will force you to change up how you grow your weed, requiring you to install fans or change lightbulbs so the temperature goes down. 

Alternatively, you can also make a generous donation to the Retired Police Officers Fund to get them off your back. Alexander told me this isn't really a bribe, but just a really nice gesture (wink).  

Play Your Way

One part of Weedcraft Inc that really interests me is its shady/decent mechanic. While growing your weed empire, you can dictate how you want to handle certain situations. You can either be shady about it, or you can be decent about it, and you will receive different rewards based on your decisions.

This system ties into how you can introduce legislation in the game. Perhaps you choose the shady route and fight for states to keep marijuana illegal, thus making your stock more desirable. Or you can be decent and lobby for legalization so that you can bring your business to states like New Jersey.

There are also other choices to make in Weedcraft Inc. Maybe you decide to setup your business in a state that allows medical marijuana, reducing your competition but requiring that you pay more taxes on your stock. Or you can go to a state that allows recreational marijuana, where you will have more customers, and can make more money, but you will have more competition as well. 

There are a lot of different scenarios that can happen in Weedcraft Inc, and you have control over many of them. 

Final Thoughts

When I first sat down to play Weedcraft Inc, I figured it would be a regular tycoon game that doesn't have much depth to it. Boy, was I wrong. This is a game that is simple to understand at first, but, as you play, it gets so much deeper and features gameplay that is distinct from other titles in the genre.

The amount of gameplay aspects that you can customize, and the ability to create your own path to greatness, is amazing, and it will definitely have you playing for hours on end without even looking at a clock. 

As mentioned, Weedcraft Inc. features a 25-30 hour story, and there will also be two expansion packs coming out this year. It is currently scheduled to be released in early April, and maybe Alexander will take my suggestion and release the title on 4/20.

WeedCraft Inc will release on PC and Mac. When asked about a Switch release, Alexander said that he could see the game on mobile platforms, due to its simple controls, but there is no concrete information on that at this time.

Thank you to Scott Alexander and Devolver Digital for allowing me to check out Weedcraft Inc. 

Rage 2: Hands-On First Impressions Wed, 30 Jan 2019 10:00:01 -0500 Joey Marrazzo

In 2011, Bethesda came out with a brand new IP titled Rage, which was developed by id Software. It was an open-world adventure game set in the post-apocalypse, and it received decent critical response.

However, at first glance, many players may have thought it looked bland and not that exciting. I for one passed on the game due to it seeming pretty boring.

Fast forward to 2019 where id Software has partnered with Avalanche to develop a sequel to the game in Rage 2. I was able to get hands-on with the new title last week to see if it feels more interesting than the original from eight years ago.

The Story

You play as a character named Walker (who is a lefty by the way), and you can decide whether you want Walker to be a male or female at the very beginning of the game. You are now in the post-post-apocalyptic world where you have the basic necessities to survive and go on with your day.

The Authority from the first Rage entry is back and taking on your home town. You and three other secondary characters work together in order to bring down the Authority with something called the Dagger Project.

Despite the return of the Authority and the Wasteland itself, you won’t feel lost in the new game even if you didn’t play the first Rage, as Rage 2 is set up to be a stand-alone title.

The Missions

While there is a lot of story you can play through, there are a lot of side missions available as well. The two optional mission types that I was able to play were a bounty mission and a car race.

To find a mission, you can pause the game, look at your map, and see a bunch of different icons appear on what seems to be a pretty big area of land. When I asked id Software Studio Director Tim Willits about the size of the map, he mentioned that it wasn’t the company's goal to create a big map, but instead it focused on making the world dense with a lot of activities and side missions to play.

Whether you are taking down enemy camps or just driving around in the Wasteland, you will always find something to do in Rage 2.

The Combat

Killing enemies, whether they are weird looking creatures or just ravagers in camps, was a lot of fun. Using a combo of weapons and abilities, taking down opponents never got old in my time with the game.

Furthermore, there are a vast array of weapons available in the game that you can access through your weapon wheel (think Doom). Each weapon has an iron sight equipped and an alternative fire option. 

My favorite weapon was the Firestorm Revolver, which allows you to shoot charges at enemies, and then you get to watch the enemies blow up. It was always a satisfying view.

There is also something called a Wingstick. It basically acts like a badass boomerang that can do serious damage and sometimes kill the enemy. 

Then there are the abilities that I mentioned — freaking awesome. These abilities are called Nanotrites, and they are the core of the progression system in Rage 2.

Throughout the map, you will see Arc Centers, which can be a bit difficult to complete, but they reward loot and Project Points. Those Project Points allow you to upgrade your group's stats on the Project Tree and unlocking abilities — Willits mentioned that you will be able to deal serious damage once your abilities are fully unlocked.

There are a few abilities that stood out to me. One of those abilities is called Slam, which allows you to rise above the ground and then slam down, killing or injuring the surrounding enemies. Another one is called Shatter, where you basically use the Force to kill any enemies that are right in front of you.

You are allowed to continually use these abilities, but there is around a 20 second refresh time. You can’t just spam the same ability over and over again.

A refresh timer is in place for the dash mechanic as well, but it is only around five seconds here. Dash allows you to quickly move forward, backward, or side to side with a press of a button, and you will definitely want to use it in combat when a giant monster is running towards you.

Furthermore, after using your guns, grenades, and abilities to go on a nice killing spree, your Overdrive meter will fill up. When filled, you can unleash your Overdrive to get full health and make your weapons do extra damage. You should definitely save this for when you are surrounded by a good amount of enemies, or a single enormous one, because it helps out a lot.

The Gameplay

This game is a lot of fun to play, and while I didn’t get to choose a difficulty, the game had challenging moments. For example, enemies don’t just stand there and wait for you to move, they rush you and will deal damage.

The part of the game I played was about 25% into the story, and I had to get into a club owned by Klegg Clayton, a rich, celebrity loving egomaniac. Why does that sound so familiar?

In order to get into his club, I had to be famous, and, in order to become famous, I had to go on two television shows. The first TV show turned out to be test to see how good I was at killing enemies, and, using a combination of the rifle, shotgun, and abilities, I was able to take down most of the enemies.

The next TV show I had to appear put me in a car race. Casually driving around the Wasteland was a lot of fun and felt pretty good — it wasn’t wonky to me like the driving in Just Cause 4 — but, when I was racing, the controls did feel a little weird.

To be fair, I was boosting to gain extra speed for most of the race, so that could be the reason for the strange handling. Or I may just be a terrible driver in video games. In either case, I was able to win the race, despite being in last place and getting derailed for the majority of it.

The World

The world in Rage 2 is something that you want to take in. There are different biomes throughout the map, and you will see many items that can assist you as you explore. 

That might be giant barrels that you can shoot to blow up near an enemy or ammo and health crates that always come in handy. There is also some humor here, and I found a box that was labeled "Just a Box." Of course, I had to pick that up.

This humor extends to talking with NPC’s and reading signs that say things like “Don’t clap back. If you basic, you basic.” You can immediately tell that this game is a lot of fun from its world.

Additionally, the characters that populate the world have a cartoony look to them and varied personalities. The graphics are not in the style of The Last of Us, but they are good and fit with the tone of the game.


In a Q&A, Willits basically said that there is going to be DLC for Rage 2. He couldn’t say what the DLC will be because even the developers don’t know at this time, but they are going to create the post-launch content based on what the players seem to be enjoying. So if players say they are enjoying going to enemy camps and causing chaos, then that may be the focus in future DLC.

It was also stated that there will be free and paid DLC. This was not elaborated on since the developers are still finalizing details. It is also being decided if microtransactions are going to be included in the finished product.

The Specs

If you are an owner of the Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro, you will be playing Rage 2 at 60 FPS. It will not be in 4K because they wanted to focus on making the game super smooth to play.

Before I even asked if the game was coming to Nintendo Switch, Willits led off the Q&A session by saying that they are investigating it. While they were able to put Doom and the upcoming Doom Eternal on Switch, I really hope that they find a way to bring this open-world craziness to Nintendo's console as well. 

Final Thoughts

Rage 2 is Sunset Overdrive if it had a crazier and edgier cousin that loved the color pink. The open-world of the Wasteland is full of entertaining people and a lot of missions to complete besides the main story. This is a fun game. 

Rage 2 releases for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 14.

I definitely had a great time playing Rage 2, and thank you to id Software and Bethesda for letting me check out the game.

Fans Petition for Shaggy to be in Mortal Kombat 11 Tue, 29 Jan 2019 15:57:48 -0500 Joseph Ocasio

The internet is an odd place. One minute, we'll be talking about how a reviewer didn't mention a single feature in a game, and they're no longer "credible," and the next we'll be talking about why a child-friendly character from a '60s cartoon should be in a video game that's all about dismembering each other into chunky, gory giblets.

Now, thousands of fans want to see Scooby-Doo's Shaggy appear in the newest installment of Mortal Kombat. And the simple reason is: memes.

In 2017, a video was released that showed Shaggy from the most recent Scooby-Doo film kicking biker ass. Someone had edited the scene and set it to "The Ultimate Battle" from Dragon Ball Super, the same battle where Goku becomes Ultra Instinct Goku.

The video currently has over 5 million views.

Over the weekend, the meme took off, and fans have been demanding Ultra Instinct Shaggy make it to MK 11.

Mortal Kombat is no stranger to including third-party characters. Kratos from God of War and Freddy Kruger were featured in the 2010 reboot, while Leatherface, Jason, and The Predator are in MK X.

As of this writing, the Change.Org petition has currently over 100,000 signatures.

7 Healthy Snacks for Gamers — And an Entire Category to Avoid Thu, 24 Jan 2019 17:49:08 -0500 Chris Gronkowski

Video games and unhealthy snacks, like chips and cookies, are easily associated with each other. That is particularly because of the evidence that watching TV or playing video games can lead to binge eating and consuming too much of these types of foods, which, in turn, can negatively impact your physical health.

Most commonly, gamers who find themselves eating an abundance of unhealthy snacks while gaming will notice an increase in weight, especially if they’re not engaging in exercise.

Weight gain can open the door to a plethora of more dangerous health conditions, including increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and serious cardiovascular issues. In order to stay in top physical condition while still enjoying long gaming sessions, it is wise to practice a regular workout routine and swap out your unhealthy snacks for some of these nutritious foods instead.

Why Should You Avoid Unhealthy Snacks While Gaming?

Aside from the obvious health risks associated with unhealthy foods, these snacks are often full of empty calories, which means you’ll quickly become hungry again, causing you to overconsume. Plus, snacks like chips have little to no nutritional value, meaning that you’re intaking a high number of calories that aren’t actually providing your body with useful minerals, vitamins, or other nutrients.

While it’s okay to indulge in your favorite unhealthy snack from time to time, you should make a conscious effort to replace these nutrient-free munchies with more beneficial, and filling, snacks.

Types of Foods to Avoid

When determining which types of snacks to eliminate or reduce from your diet, you should try to avoid any overly processed items. Most processed foods contain a dangerous level of unhealthy fats, especially when consumed in large amounts. These fats, particularly trans-fat, are closely linked to increased chance of heart disease and can cause inflammation.

Added sugars are another feature of processed foods that are also known to cause heart disease, and many times these sugars can be found in products you may not expect to be sweetened, such as bread.

Whenever you’re trying to select healthy snacks to munch on during your gaming sessions, be sure to review the product’s ingredients and look for natural components.

Healthy Snacks for Gamers


Almost every type of nut can offer some nutritional benefit to your body. Some nuts are known to be high in protein, which will help fuel your body and satiate hunger. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and hazelnuts are among the nuts with the highest protein content.

Many gamers also enjoy snacking on seeds while playing — sunflower and pumpkin seeds being two of the more popular choices. Not only are nuts a great source of protein, but they are also high in fiber, which many processed snacks lack, and they are also associated with lower cholesterol levels.

Protein Shakes

Another excellent source of nutrition, protein shakes can be a filling and healthy snack for any gamer. With a protein shaker bottle, you can mix up shakes in seconds and easily sip on one without needing to pause your game.

Because protein shakes pack in tons of nutrients and minerals without many added calories, they can help manage your weight and encourage healthy eating habits.

In order to keep your body in top physical condition, you should be taking even a small amount of time each day to exercise, and protein shakes contain everything you need to power through a workout before returning to your console.


Pita Bread and Hummus

If you find yourself drawn to potato chips when seeking out your favorite gaming snack, then indulging in pita bread and hummus may just satisfy your craving.

Warm pita bread dipped in hummus, which is available with an assortment of toppings including red pepper, jalapeno, and caramelized onion, is an enjoyable snack. Derived from chickpeas, hummus is packed with protein and fiber as well as a list of vitamins your body needs to function.

Veggies with Different Dips

Though pita and hummus is a delicious combination for a quick, easy snack, some potato chip lovers may not be satisfied as pita bread tends to lack the gratifying crunch of a chip. Instead, replace the pita (or your chips) with veggies that can have that same crunchiness without the unhealthy ingredients.

Carrots and hummus are a popular combination or fill a plate with carrots and celery to dip into tangy ranch. Vitamin A, biotin, and potassium are among the many nutritious vitamins found in carrots, and the veggie’s antioxidant properties are said to help prevent cancer and other serious health conditions.

Frozen Grapes

For those with a sweet tooth, frozen grapes are the perfect alternative to sour candies, eliminating unnecessary sugar and artificial ingredients. If you’re prone to binge eating while gaming, you should try adding frozen grapes to your nightly snack regimen.

Low in calories, frozen grapes can be consumed by the handful and still provide your body with important nutrients. Grapes are said to help prevent a number of health conditions, including cancer, eye diseases, and cardiovascular problems.


Fresh or Dried Fruits

Though fruits are high in sugar, they contain natural sugars that can be good for your body and that provide healthy nutrients.

Fresh and dried fruits are another great replacement for sugary snacks like candy. Some dried fruits are made with added sugar — you want to avoid these types if you’re looking to lead a healthier lifestyle — but many dried fruits become naturally sweeter in the process.

Bananas are easy to eat while gaming and contain high levels of potassium, which promotes bone strength. Citrus fruits can provide you with vitamin C and apples are a crunchy snack high in antioxidants and fiber.


Gamers who crave a sweet snack while they play should consider digging into a bowl of oatmeal when it’s game time. Though there is some added sugar to certain oatmeal packets, you can find brands offering less sugar that still provide a plethora of health benefits. Plus, you can easily eat your oatmeal while still maintaining your place in the game.

Oats are high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, which help to lower your blood pressure and lose weight. Select a tasty flavor like apples and cinnamon for a sweet snack that satisfies your hunger and benefits your health.


Editor's Note: Chris Gronkowski is contributing to GameSkinny through our guest writer series, where we provide a platform for thought leaders to share great ideas with you, the reader. 

About the author: A former 3-year starter in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos, Chris Gronkowski is now the CEO of Ice Shaker. Ice Shaker has been featured on ABC's Shark Tank, Good Morning America, HLN morning express, Forbes, and others. Chris is the middle of the five Gronkowski brothers and has started writing about his athletic and entrepreneurial experiences.

Healthy Gaming: 6 Tips for Getting Fit Without Compromising a Gamer Lifestyle Thu, 24 Jan 2019 16:34:43 -0500 Chris Gronkowski

Gaming is truly a way of life for many people, but leading a too sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to your physical wellbeing. Integrating healthy habits into your daily life doesn’t mean you need to compromise your gaming routine.

Here, we'll talk about how to plan breaks from gaming to stretch, exercise, and practice healthy eating. We'll also look at certain stretches that can target issues that arise from repetitive gaming, such as carpal tunnel. 

Negative Impacts of a Sedentary Lifestyle

The human body was designed to be active. While video games are an entertaining hobby, they require sitting for extended periods of time. If you’re a serious gamer, you probably spend a significant chunk of time each day playing on your console or PC.

You don’t need to sacrifice your gaming habits, but you need to be aware of the side effects of a sedentary lifestyle to understand the importance of incorporating active tasks in between gaming sessions. 

One of the most common side effects of being inactive is weight gain. Without physical activity, your body has no way to burn off excess fat and keep you slim and lean. Gaining weight can itself lead to more health complications, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

The lack of exercise is the main cause of weight gain, but extended periods of immobility can also lower your metabolism, which makes it more difficult for you to lose weight. A slower metabolism makes it more difficult for your body to burn calories and may even cause your body to be unable to break down fat. 

The longer you sit in one position, the less flexible you become. Your muscles in your back, glutes, and abs will become tightened and inflamed — an uncomfortable and unhealthy situation.

This tightness also leads to a loss of flexibility, one of the reasons that stretching breaks are so vital during long gaming sessions. Inactivity not only leads to a decrease in flexibility, but it can also diminish muscle strength and endurance.

Including healthy exercise and eating habits throughout your day can aid in maintaining your strength and flexibility, keeping your body healthy and in shape.

Swap Unhealthy Snacks for Nutritious Ones

Gaming is sometimes associated with binge eating and unhealthy snacks like potato chips, cookies, candy, and soda. Some research suggests that playing video games, or even watching TV, can have an effect on how people eat. It’s easier to eat more than you need to while focused on gaming or watching a show.

If you’re consuming unhealthy snacks and not integrating physical activity into your everyday life, you’re more likely to suffer from some of the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. To avoid this, try replacing these unhealthy snacks with nutritious ones like

  • Edamame
  • Frozen grapes
  • Pita bread and hummus
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Various types of nuts
    • almonds, pistachios, and walnuts

Shakes made with protein powder are another way to keep your energy up without adding unhealthy, processed ingredients or ingesting a high number of calories.

Stretch While Gaming

To avoid inflammation, joint pain, and muscle stiffness, stretching breaks during video gaming sessions are essential. Spend at least three to five minutes every hour stretching your legs, back, arms, and chest.

Your wrists are another area that experiences a lot of stress from video gaming, but you may want to develop a specific hand and wrist routine to avoid further health issues. Toe touches are a creative way to release tension in your back and can also help stretch your hamstrings.

Any variety of arm exercises will get your blood flowing again and encourage muscle stimulation. 

Exercise Your Hands and Wrists

If you consider yourself a serious and frequent gamer, your wrists and hands may be particularly susceptible to developing issues in the future. Carpal tunnel is one of the most common effects of repetitive motions like using a controller. Try some of these wrist stretches for gamers to prevent problems in the future.

Try Exercising While Playing

Exercise is vital to optimal health because it keeps your metabolism in check, builds muscle, and burns off fat. Believe it or not, there are actually dozens of exercises you can perform while you’re gaming.

Many of these workouts are performed in a seated position to allow you to still focus on your game, but even if you do these exercises while playing, you still need to integrate other stretches and exercises that involve standing to make sure that your legs are engaged.

Practice workouts like ab squeezes and stationary biking along with these other gaming exercises to improve your physical health.

Drink Protein Shakes to Ensure You’re Consuming Enough Protein

As mentioned, dietary habits are important to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise plus a nutritious diet are mandatory to reach your highest level of fitness.

One concern gamers may have is in regard to their protein intake. Though snacking is typically associated with gaming, these unhealthy, processed foods often lead people to feel full when in fact they are not receiving enough protein.

Invest in some quality protein powder and a protein shaker and then try to integrate shakes into your daily diet. This will ensure that you’re receiving the proper amount of protein and provide you with the energy to complete your workouts. 

Invest in Interactive Exercise Video Games

Another great way to get your body engaged while playing video games is by purchasing one of the many interactive gaming systems or VR devices, which allow you to move around while playing.

The Nintendo Wii was the first gaming system that really let you move around while playing video games, but now other major console producers have created similar products to get gamers moving. Xbox offers a wide variety of active video games, including Xbox Fitness, Kinect Sport, and a number of dance games, among others. If you’re a PlayStation user, you can also take advantage of similar interactive games and help maintain your body’s fitness without sacrificing your gamer lifestyle.

If you can afford a VR headset, such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, games like Beat Saber are also great ways to get in shape. 


Editor's Note: Chris Gronkowski is contributing to GameSkinny through our guest writer series, where we provide a platform for thought leaders to share great ideas with you, the reader. 

About the author: A former 3-year starter in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos, Chris Gronkowski is now the CEO of Ice Shaker. Ice Shaker has been featured on ABC's Shark Tank, Good Morning America, HLN morning express, Forbes, and others. Chris is the middle of the five Gronkowski brothers and has started writing about his athletic and entrepreneurial experiences.

John Wick Inspired Katana Zero Poised to Slash Onto PC, Consoles Fri, 18 Jan 2019 15:16:06 -0500 Jonathan Moore

According to numerous reports, Akiisoft's upcoming side-scrolling action title, Katana Zero, might be the John Wick-inspired video game we've all been waiting for. Set to release for PC and consoles this March, Katana Zero is heavily influenced by the revenge film, even if its protagonist is a sword-wielding ninja named "The Dragon." 

While the game does not tie into the John Wick franchise in any tangible way, one look at the demo footage coming from publications like Polygon and Destructoid shows that the game's developer, Tadakuni Amano, is a big fan of twitchy side-scrollers, gratuitous gore, and vengeful assassins. 

In a 2017 interview with TechRaptor, Amano confirmed that was the case; Katana Zero is heavily influenced by revenge films such as Drive, Sin City, and John Wick. Although we've yet to dive into the game ourselves, Katana Zero looks to be a worthy representation of those movies, albeit in a 2D, pixelated format.

Unsurprisingly, the game has also drawn comparisons to the criminally-good Mark of the Ninja and the carnage-heavy Hotline Miami.

Like those titles, Katana Zero's gameplay centers around a mixture of visceral hack and slash action and platforming. The protagonist can also use time-manipulation, which allows the game's them to slow down time and set up attacks as an integral part of the gameplay. Amano has said that this specific mechanic, called Chronos, is both a gameplay and narrative device.

"It gets around the narrative problem of meaningless death in video games, where you die, but you can just come back to life magically," he told TechRaptor. 

Although Askiisoft is not a household name, the company has been developing hard-as-nails platformers for the better part of 10 years. Its first title, Tower of Heaven, was released for web-based PC platforms in 2009, generating buzz from fans and critics alike.

In a 2012 feature, we named Tower of Heaven one of the best flash games ever made, noting its difficulty and score as primary strengths. Since then, Askiisoft has released two more unforgiving platformers, Pause Ahead and OverPowered, both of which are free-to-play flash titles and available on the developer's website. 

For Askiisoft, the neon-tinged tumult of Katana Zero has been a long time coming. While it's hard to pin down exactly when the game began development, we do know that it was first shown at PAX Prime 2015.

In the past three-and-a-half years, the game has been shown off numerous times, gaining the attention of a growing number of fans as well as publishers like Devolver Digital, which on January 16 said it would be working with Askiisoft to bring the game to Steam and currently unnamed consoles in March. 

More information is available on Gamasutra and the Askiisoft website

Upcoming 2019 Games Release Date List Wed, 09 Jan 2019 16:48:43 -0500 Ashley Shankle

What games are releasing in 2019? Look no further. 

We've compiled a list of all the known game release dates for 2019, at least to the best of our knowledge. The listing will be updated as more games are announced and as release dates shuffle around and are revealed.

The release dates here are the standard dates. Ports are also listed, for those of you anticipating ports to your preferred platforms, as are notable expansions. The first few months already have several known release dates, the rest will be fleshed out as more are announced.


January 2019 is starting out slowly, but the releases are coming in hard and fast starting in the middle of the month.

Some of the more notable releases for this month are Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition -- which will finally bring the extra content the game got on PS3 in Japan but we never saw on the Xbox 360 -- Travis Strikes Again: No More HeroesAce Combat 7 on consoles, Life Is Strange 2: Episode 2, the Resident Evil 2 remake, and the eternally-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3.

1/10 Sega Ages: Outrun (Switch)
1/10 Bury me, my Love (Switch, PC, iOS)
1/10 BlockQuest Maker (Switch)
1/11 Hitman HD Enhanced Collection (PS4, Xbox One)
1/11 Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
1/11 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch)
1/15 The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - The Final Season Episode 3: Broken Toys (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
1/15 Vane (PS4)
1/15 Onimusha: Warlords (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
1/15 Smoke and Sacrifice (PS4, Xbox One)
1/17 YIIK: A Postmodern RPG (PS4, PC, Switch)
1/17 Hell Warders (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
1/18 Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Switch)
1/18 Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4, Xbox One)
1/22 Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal (PS4, PC)
1/22 Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience (PS4)
1/22 Realm Royale (Switch, Xbox One)
1/24 Life Is Strange 2: Episode 2 - Rules (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
1/24 SMITE (Switch)
1/24 Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 (PC)
1/24 Doodle God: Evolution (Switch)
1/25 Resident Evil 2 (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
1/29 Kingdom Hearts: All-in-One Package (PS4)
1/29 Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4, Xbox One)
1/29 Genesis Alpha One (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
1/29 Mages of Mystralla (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
1/30 Dragon Marked for Death (Switch)
1/31 Robotics: Notes DaSH (Switch)


February's not holding back the punches. Winter won't be over yet, but it might feel like it. Some notably hot releases in February are Ace Combat 7 on PC, Etrian Odyssey Nexus, God Eater 3, Civilization 6's Gathering Storm expansion, Metro Exodus, and Anthem.

2/1 Song of Memories (PS4, Switch)
2/1 Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PC)
2/5 V-Rally 4 (Switch)
2/5 Etrian Odyssey Nexus (3DS)
2/5 The Occupation (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
2/5 Riot: Civil Unrest (Switch)
2/5 The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (Switch)
2/5 Train Station Renovation (PC)
2/6 ASTRONEER (Xbox One)
2/6 Overkill's The Walking Dead (Xbox One)
2/7 BlazBlue: Central Fiction (Switch)
2/7 Defense Grid 2 (Switch)
2/8 Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2 (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
2/8 God Eater 3 (PS4, PC)
2/12 Jump Force (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
2/12 The Liar and the Blind Prince (PS4, Switch)
2/12 Descent (PS4, Xbox One)
2/13 Away: Journey to the Unexpected (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
2/13 Prison Simulator (PC)
2/14 Code: Realize - Wintertide Miracles (PS4, Vita)
2/14 Degrees of Separation (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
2/14 Sid Meier's Civilization 6: Gathering Storm (PC)
2/15 Crackdown 3 (PC, Xbox One)
2/15 Metro Exodus (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
2/15 Dreamworks Dragons Dawn of New Riders (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
2/15 Far Cry: New Dawn (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
2/19 Steins: Gate Elite (PS4, PC, Switch)
2/19 Death end re:Quest (PS4)
2/19 Fate/Extella Link (Switch)
2/21 Yume Nikki: Dream Diary (Switch)
2/21 Hell Warders (Switch)
2/21 Devil Engine (PC, Switch)
2/21 NieR: Automata - Game of the YoRHa Edition (PS4, PC)
2/22 Aragami: Shadow Edition (Switch)
2/22 Anthem (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
2/26 Child of Light: Ultimate Edition / Valiant Hearts: The Gear War Double Pack (Switch)
2/26 Trials Rising (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
2/26 The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
2/26 RemiLore: Lost Girl in the Lands of Lore (PS4, PC, Switch)
2/26 RPG Maker MV (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
2/26 OPUS Collection (Switch)
2/26 Dirt Rally 2.0 (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
2/27 Deponia Doomsday (PS4)
2/28 Ape Out (PC, Switch)
2/28 Deltarune: Chapter 1 (Switch)
2/28 Constructor Plus (Switch)


The release onslaught continues into March, with games like ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove, Dead or Alive 6, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Devil May Cry 5, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Tropico 6. Black Desert Online will also be making its way to the Xbox One in the start of this month.

3/1 ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
3/1 Dead or Alive 6 (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/4 Black Desert (Xbox One)
3/5 Left Alive (PS4, PC)
3/5 Move or Die (PS4)
3/7 Total War: Three Kingdoms (PC)
3/8 Path of Exile: Synthesis (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/8 Devil May Cry 5 (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/12 The Caligula Effect: Overdose (PS4, PC, Switch)
3/12 The Wizards: Enhanced Edition (PS4)
3/14 Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker - Special Episode (Switch)
3/15 One Piece: World Seeker (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/15 Tom Clancy's The Division 2 (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/19 SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (PS4, Switch)
3/19 Zanki Zero: Last Beginning (PS4, PC)
3/20 Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! (Switch)
3/21 The Sinking City (PS4, Xbox One)
3/22 Unravel Two (Switch)
3/22 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/26 The Princess Guide (Switch)
3/26 Outward (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/26 Danganronpa Trilogy (PS4)
3/26 Generation Zero (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
3/26 Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn (PS4, Xbox One)
3/26 The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame (Switch)
3/26 MLB The Show 19 (PS4)
3/26 Final Fantasy VII (Switch)
3/26 Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World (PS4, PC, Switch)
3/26 The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - The Final Season Episode 4: Take Us Back (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
3/28 Gwent: The Witcher Card Game - Crimson Curse (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
3/29 Tropico 6 (PC)
3/29 Yoshi's Crafted World (Switch)
3/31 Car Mechanic Simulator (PS4, Xbox One)


Here's what we know about the rest of the year so far. Of course, this will be updated as more games are announced, and games that are currently TBA get firm release dates.  


4/2 Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Switch)
Sword & Fairy 6 (PS4)
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission (PC, Switch)
Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS, Vita, Switch)
Zanki Sero: Last Beginning (PS4, PC)
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain (PS4)
Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster (Switch)
World War Z (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
Truberbrook (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
God's Trigger (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
Our World Is Ended (PS4, Switch)
Crystal Crisis (PS4, Switch)
4/23 Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (Switch)
4/23 Mortal Kombat 11 (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
4/26 Days Gone (PS4)
4/30 Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Switch, Xbox One)


5/7 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 2 (PS4)
Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package (Switch)
Rage 2 (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
5/21 Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland (PS4, PC, Switch)
5/21 Team Sonic Racing (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
5/21 Assassin's Creed 3 Remastered (PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One)
5/21 Resident Evil 0: HD Remaster (Switch)
5/21 Resident Evil HD Remaster (Switch)
5/21 Resident Evil 4 HD (Switch)
5/28 Lapis X Labyrinth (PS4, Switch)
5/28 Guacamelee! One-Two Punch Collection (PS4, Switch)
5/31 Warhammer: Chaosbane (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
5/31 Among the Sleep: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch)


6/4 The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)


7/12 Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4, Switch)
7/26 Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)


8/6 Age of Wonders: Planetfall (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
Shenmue 3 (PS4, PC)
8/30 Astral Chain (Switch)


9/3 Catherine: Full Body (PS4)




Why Some Folks Just Can't Let Melee Go Tue, 01 Jan 2019 06:00:01 -0500 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out, and despite the fact that it has proven to be the best-received entry in the series thus far, some folks are already over it.

If you've spent any time around the competitive Super Smash Bros. scene, you know that there is a relatively small, but incredibly vocal, contingent of players that swear that Super Smash Bros. Melee is not just the perfect Super Smash Bros. title, but that it's the pinnacle of fighting games in general, the most perfect and complete competitive fighting game ever made. You've seen them.

So the question, then, remains, what's so special about Super Smash Bros. Melee? Why can't players at both the casual and competitive levels just move on to a newer, shinier game with more content? Why do people keep playing Super Smash Bros. Melee when other, better options exist?

There are a bunch of answers to this question. A few are satisfying, a few aren't.

It Came Out In 2001

This is probably the least satisfying, but most compelling answer to why folks still play Super Smash Bros. Melee. The simple truth is that the game came out over 15 years ago, and fans have used that time not just to hone their skills, but as a whole, to refine Super Smash Bros. Melee's metagame to the point where it has pretty much been mastered in a way that few other video games have.

And when I say metagame, I don't mean mind games that players use to get an edge. For competitive gamers in the fighting game community, the metagame is the set of rules that exists one layer deeper than the game itself. This includes advanced strategies, sure, but more importantly, the concept of a metagame deals with which strategies are optimal at any given time. Metagames for titles get refined as folks play the game at high levels and learn, say, which characters are more powerful than others, or which moves are the quickest, or what combos can confirm a kill.

All this is to say that age is on Super Smash Bros. Melee's side here. Professional players like Leffen or Mang0 will be hesitant to jump ship and move to another title specifically because so much time has been spent essentially solving Melee. Which brings us to the next point...

Almost None Of The Advanced Techniques from Melee Will Help You In Later Titles

One of the biggest knocks on competitive Melee is that the barrier for entry is insanely high. In order to even move around the stage fast enough to keep up with the competition, you have to master wavedashing – and that's just moving around. God help you if you want to actually learn how to string combos together.

For new players, this is intimidating. It's a lot easier to jump in to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate where the game holds your hand a little bit as you learn the advanced techniques. Not only is there more room for error, but the techniques themselves make more sense logically than air-dodging into the ground to skip across the platform.

On the flip side, for players that have spent years mastering these Melee techniques, it would be patently insane for them to jump ship and essentially start from scratch in a new game, since none of the advanced techniques carry over. Melee was so fun to learn because these techniques were discovered by players; many weren't even intended by the developers. It was like a treasure hunt, and when a new technique was found (like the now-questionably-legal Ice Climbers infinite grab) it was something special. It felt like the player was bending the game's rules to their will, because they kind of were.

Newer titles don't have that kind of mystique, since they're patched so often. Again, moving from Melee to Ultimate would really represent a major step backward from players at the most competitive levels. The games play completely differently, and that works in Melee's favor. It's unique, singular, and frozen in time.

Brawl Was (Mostly) a Competitive Dud

I firmly believe that, had Super Smash Bros. Brawl not featured Meta Knight as a playable character, or taken the misstep of introducing random character tripping as a game mechanic, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Though The Subspace Emissary was one of the best things the Super Smash Bros. series ever gave us, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was underwhelming as a competitive game, so much so that when the game was released and Nintendo was pushing it as a competitive fighter, players almost immediately returned to Melee, much to Nintendo's chagrin.

Comparing competitive Melee to competitive Brawl is almost unfair.

Melee is violently, nauseatingly quick. If you blink, you'll miss something – a gigantic combo, a frame-perfect technique, or a heartbreaking edgeguard. It's the kind of competitive game that keeps a viewer on the edge of their seats at all times – there's literally never a dull moment because every player is in danger of losing a stock at any time.

On the other hand, Brawl is painfully slow and floaty. Sure, there are some quicker characters, but as the metagame developed, it became clear that the optimal strategy in Brawl was to wait for your opponent to attack. Not to mention the fact that organizers had to outright ban an entire character from the game in worldwide competition because he was so overpowered (to this day, no other Smash title has done this – even Bayonetta in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was only banned in certain areas). And on those rare occasions where something cool does happen, a character will trip over nothing and render everything moot.

The result of this is that competitive Melee players dropped Brawl pretty quickly, which in turn meant that those players spent that entire Wii console generation refining and perfecting their Melee skills. By the time Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was announced, it was too late. Players had already committed to Melee for too long.

But Here's The Thing...

Folks often pooh-pooh Melee players as old, entitled, and elitist. That may or may not be true – certainly, the Melee scene is harder to break into since any new player will have to put in a whole lot of work to catch up with folks who have a 17-year headstart. But for that reason, that insane barrier to entry, the Melee scene is not as large as it once was.

Around the country, the trend has been established: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a young game. That's not to say that it's a new game, though that's certainly true, it's to say that the competitive player base is incredibly young. Speaking from personal experience, a good majority of the folks I see at weekly tournaments in Chicago are under 20 years old.

Many weren't even born when Melee came out.

In contrast, Melee players certainly aren't old (Hungrybox, the current #1 player in the world, is just 25) but they are definitively older than the Ultimate player base, if only by a little. None of the top 10 Melee players in the world are younger than 20.

This makes sense – it's an older game, so the player base will be older, but it's also a bit of a problem for Melee moving forward. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was an okay competitive game, but was hamstrung somewhat by a smaller install base. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, on the other hand, is moving copies at blazing speed on the red-hot Switch. Even more staggering is that this is the first time a competitively viable Super Smash Bros. game came out on a widely successful Nintendo system since Smash 64. Both the Gamecube and Wii U struggled to compete with competition from Sony and Microsoft.

All this is to say that Ultimate is primed to have the largest competitive player base in the history of the series, and that doesn't bode well for Melee tournaments, at least at the local level. The game is already siphoning folks from the competitive Smash 64, Project M (a fan-made mod for Brawl that made the game play more like Super Smash Bros. Melee), and yes, even the Melee scene. Of course, some of this is to be expected when a new game comes out, but if those players stick around for the long haul, Ultimate's success could cannibalize smaller Melee events.

Having said that, Melee tournaments at major events like EVO will always be amazing, hype-filled bashes, and that's not going to change anytime soon. Folks at the top level of play will be enjoying Melee until the heat death of the universe, something that was assured as soon as the magic words “Wombo combo” were uttered on that fateful day so many years ago.

Top Fortnite Memes of 2018 Fri, 28 Dec 2018 12:49:11 -0500 Victoria B.

Whether you love or hate it, Fortnite has stuck around as one of the most played games in 2018. Some live for the next victory royale and others condemn it as one of the worst games. Sounds like the perfect content for the internet to eat up and spit back out for our entertainment.

With the fame and notoriety, comes with it an infinite amount of memes. Here are our top picks for this year’s best Fortnite memes.

Fortnite Memes of 2018

Did you find these relatable? Were there any favorites we missed? Let us know or share your memes with us. We'll look forward to the new one's to come in 2019.

Super Smashed Bros! 5 Ultimate Drinking Games for your Next Party Night! Fri, 28 Dec 2018 05:00:02 -0500 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been out for a little bit now, and most folks have finally been able to get to grips with the latest, greatest entry in the series. Sure, you can buffer, shorthop nair, RAR, and pivot with the best of them, but what else is there once you've mastered Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Well, allow us to suggest you get casual with these 5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate drinking games! 

We've created these games from scratch with the game's new mechanics in mind, and most work best with a larger group, so call your pals, fix up a nice big bowl of Falcon Punch, and get ready to get smashed! Just remember to drink responsibly, and that if you choose to play on 75m, even casually, you are a horrible person and I hope you get a horrific hangover tomorrow morning.

Classic 3 Minute Smashed

Perfect for beginners, this mode is a riff on the classic Nintendo drinking game Beerio Kart, where players must balance their game and drinking expertise simultaneously.

  • Set rules to time, with a time limit of 3 minutes. Set pause and score display to off
  • All competitors must prepare a 12-oz beer
  • Pick characters and stages. Items are okay, but do not pick stages that are easy to camp in, like 75m, Hyrule Temple, Duck Hunt, or Great Cave Offensive (among others)
  • All players MUST finish their beer before time expires. Players must put their controllers down in order to drink
  • Get smashing!

Super Smashed Bros.

For those of you who crave a more traditional "drink when you X" style experience with your gaming, we've got you covered. This ruleset works across all game modes, even adventure mode (if you're trying to drink alone tonight).

  • Drink if you're KOed.
  • Take an additional drink if you self-destructed or suffer a star or screen KO
  • Take 2 drinks if you pick up one of the following items: Beetle, Boss Galaga, Ore Club, Gust Bellows, or Beam Sword
  • Finish your drink if you're spiked into oblivion
  • Finish your drink if your shield is broken
  • 3 drinks if Captain Falcon lands a Falcon Punch, Ganondorf lands a Warlock Punch, or Bowser lands his dropkick
  • While the crowd chants, everyone drinks for the duration
  • If Waluigi, Shovel Knight, or Isaac appears in an assist trophy, all players must immediately drop their controllers and pour the remainder of their drinks in the sink to show respect for our brothers that got left behind
  • If you're hit by a Final Smash, drink for the duration
  • If a player ends the game without being KOed, everyone else takes a shot at the end of the match

Handicap Match (Smashdown)

Though this drinking game works best with the Smashdown rule set, you can adapt it for any other game mode! Unlike some other games on this list, this one is set up to level the playing field between more skilled players and folks who might be new to the game.

  • Begin a match in Smashdown mode
  • Turn mercy rule ON
  • Smash as normal for the first match
  • After the match ends, the winner takes a drink
  • Repeat until a winner is declared!

Spirits Battle

In this mode, first activate Spirits in your options. After that, the rules are simple.

  • Put together your favorite spirit team
  • Prepare a drink made with spirits. I recommend a gin and tonic with a twist of lemon! So refreshing
  • 1-stock, no items
  • Winner stays
  • The loser takes 1 drink for a loss, plus more depending on how powerful their team is
    • 1-999: No additional drinks
    • 1000-4999: 2 additional drinks
    • 5000-9999: 4 additional drinks
    • 10000+: 1 shot

Showdown with Rando Calrissian

"Rando Calrissian" is one of my favorite house rules in any party environment. Originating with Cards Against Humanity, Rando Calrissian is a non-human competitor who acts completely at random.

In the case of CAH, you play by adding the top white card to everyone else's submissions. Now, the key is that if Rando Calrissian wins a round, everyone feels deep, deep shame. 

It's pretty easy to modify this rule for inclusion in Smash!

  • Set up a Smash game with custom rules
  • Hide every UI element that you can, including score/name display, and percentage display
  • In the character select, every player must choose "random"
  • Add a computer player set to an appropriate level (I like Lv. 7 for drunken shenanigans) and set it to random as well
  • Nobody is allowed to talk or look at other controllers. Players shouldn't know who other players are controlling
  • When you lose a stock, drink
  • At the end of the match, if the winner is displayed and they're not a human controlled character, you must chug the rest of your drink while feeling intense shame

You and your friends will get smashed in no time playing these games, believe you me. Play it and drink it safe this New Years!

Top 10 Gifts for Fortnite Fans for the 2018 Holidays Tue, 11 Dec 2018 14:17:55 -0500 Victoria B.


Consider adding these gift ideas to your list as you start a shopping spree for that special Fortnite Fan this holiday season, and let these top 10 choices inspire you as you sneakily find your loved one's favorite in-game content. 


Check back at GameSkinny for more nerdy gift guides and Christmas news.


Fortnite Squad Mode Action Figures


Price: $39.97
Buy it at: Walmart


Looking for more traditional toys? Consider these figurines. This pack comes with four of the most popular characters in the game along with interchangeable guns. Whether you’re a young fan or a collector, this would be a great toy to receive this year.


This gift is only 12 years or older though, so keep any of these tiny pieces away from toddler curious grasps.


Fortnite Llama Plush


Price: $9.99
Buy it at: Target


Another great option are some cute plushies to bring a smile to your loved one’s face. One of the best cuddly toys to consider is this Pinata Llama, a fan favorite from the Fortnite universe. This wide eyed stuffed animal is about 7 inches tall and the perfect huggable size. If you're looking for a cute and inexpensive toy, this is a one of the best options.


Fortnite Game Guides


Fortnite: The Ultimate Guide to Dominating Fortnite Battle Royale by Supreme Game Guides


Price: $9.73
Buy it on: Amazon


Fortnite For Kids: 5 In 1 Book: The Complete Guide To Becoming A Fortnite God With A Fast And Flawless Victory by Pro Gamer Guide


Price: $19.76
Buy it on: Amazon 


If the person you're gifting to is both a gamer and a reader, a strategy guide book is one of the best gift options you can go for. Players are always trying to find ways to improve their chances of winning in battle royale modes. Some even go to the extent to hire coaches to help them improve their skills, but you don’t have to.


Use this Christmas as an opportunity to give a gamer some useful tips about how to improve their strategy and win ratio. Here are just a few options to choose from depending on the age and skill level of the reader.


Controller Skins


Price: $7.46
Buy it on: Etsy


One of the best gifts you can go for with any gamer is a skin/sticker. These removable skins add a form of customization to an otherwise carbon copy controller. 


Check out KO Custom Creations AU for some really awesome Fortnite skins for PlayStation and Xbox controllers that fans have highly rated. One of the most popular is the Slurp Controller, a reference to the slurp power up juice available in the game. You can find this and more awesome skins for players on Etsy. Check them out to find the best fit.


Fortnite Fan Hoodies


Llama Hoodie Sale Price: $27.95
Lamma Hoodie Regular Price: $50.99
Buy it on: Gearrora


Straight Outta Tilted Towers Price: $26.98
Buy it on: Amazon


You can keep your friends and family warm this winter by opting for clothes that reflect their love of Fortnite. One of our favorites is this hoodie that has one of the most iconic figures from the game, the pinata llama. Another popular choice on Amazon is the Straight Outta Tilted Towers youth hoodie, a reference to one of the locations in the game.


You can find all kinds of cozy hoodies that have the Fornite logos and references. Do some subtle research to find their favorite character or items from the game before buying.


Fortnite Backpack


Price: $25.89
Buy it on: Amazon


A practical gift for any Fortnite players who are in school is definitely a backpack. This bookbag not only has the logo for the game but also glows in the dark. It has plenty of pockets and is made from a sturdy canvas material as well, making it the perfect gift for any fan to carry their gear in. It is fitted for elementary to middle school students. This could be a great gift before everyone returns to their studies in January.


Light-Up Boogie Bomb


Price: $14.99
Buy it at: Spencer's


One of the best and most recognizable explosives from the game is the Boogie Bomb. Fortnite fans won’t be disappointed with this disco light up grenade that also comes with sound effects. It's the perfect decor for any player and is definitely a cool one to add to the shopping list.


Funko Pop Figures


Price: $7 - $11
Buy it on: Amazon


It seems like everyone has to have at least one Funko Pop figure, and if you know someone who is an avid Fortnite player, you can’t go wrong with any of these adorable figurines. It’ll be a cute addition to place next to their PC or console.


Be sure to snoop and check if your friend or family already has started a collection so you avoid buying a figure they already own. You may also want to do some digging to discern which character they like the most. This will help you decide which of the many figures to choose from.


All of the traditional figures range from $8 - $11. Another option in the $7 range are key chain figures that can be used as stocking stuffers.


Monopoly: Fortnite Edition


Price: $15.88
Buy it at: Amazon


If your Fortnite player likes both video and board games consider getting them the monopoly version of Fortnite. This edition of Monopoly for ages 13 and up has elements inspired by the popular royale mode, including the storm, map locations, and loot chest cards.


Players earn and take away health points instead of money and every time a player passes go, the storm is unleashed. Fortnite fans will love you for bringing this to family game night as long as no one flips the table from losing.


Gift Cards


Price: $10 - $100


(PlayStation) Buy it on: Amazon
(Xbox) Buy it on : Amazon


Good ol’ fashioned money is sometimes your best bet, so why not go with a gift card? In order to obtain in-game cosmetics in Fortnite or battle passes for access to skins, weapons, emotes, and more, players can use money available on their account. If you want to add funds to a player's account and let them spend how they please, you should snag them a gift card.


Know what system your loved one is playing on before you by them a card though. This will only work for those who are on consoles. PlayStation and Xbox gift cards can range from $10 to $100 and are a great choice for console Fortnite players.


Epic Game's Fortnite is one of the most played and streamed games this year, so it's no surprise that it's no surprise that wish lists will be filled with Fornite themed gifts. You likely have someone in your life obsessed with this battle royale-style game. With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to hurry and find that perfect gift for your friend, family, significant other, or secret Santa.


Scroll through our top 10 picks to find the perfect surprise to give your loved one this year with these Fortnite gifts.


Full disclosure: This article contains Amazon affiliate links that directly benefit GameSkinny. Just letting you know!

When Far Cry 6 is Announced at The Game Awards, Will it be a Sequel to Far Cry 5? Wed, 05 Dec 2018 14:16:04 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Let's face it, we all knew Far Cry 6 would be happening at some point. Despite Far Cry 5's mixed reception, there was never any doubt Ubisoft would return to the FPS cash cow; after all, the game did break franchise sales records, becoming the company's second best selling game of all time while raking in some $310 million in its first seven days on the market.  

However assured we were that the series would return, we weren't necessarily ready for a new Far Cry announcement this soon. 

Shared today on Ubisoft's official Twitter account, a fresh teaser trailer for something Far Cry shows the aftermath of Far Cry 5 where (spoilers) the bombs dropped on Hope County changed the world forever. 

Set to be shown during tomorrow's The Game Awards, what's presumably a longer, perhaps more elucidating trailer will unveil the next "installment" in the Far Cry universe. But will it be Far Cry 6? And if so, will it be a direct sequel to Far Cry 5

Right now, it's just too early to tell. However, we can look back at the franchise's history and glean a tiny bit of insight.  

To this point, the franchise has never had a direct, mainline sequel. Each game, from the original Far Cry onward, has been its own self-contained story with new protagonists and villains.

However, several of Ubi's other series, such as Assassin's Creed, have had direct sequels, while other series, such as Watch Dogs, have taken the shared-universe route, as Far Cry has in the past with the recurring character of Hurk. 

We do know based on the trailer that this Far Cry will be shaped in some way by the Far Cry 5 ending that saw Joseph and parts of his cult survive the initial nuclear blasts (that's because they didn't happen at all in the game's other endings). Will we see Eden's Gate 2.0, bigger and badder than ever? 

From what's been shown so far, we can't tell if the teaser trailer is simply recounting the events of Far Cry 5 for dramatic effect, leading to a full-blown post-apocalyptic sequel, or hyping the reveal of a new spin-off game or set of DLCs. 

The latter two options could also be in play for Ubisoft as the company has released quite a few series spin-offs over the years. The most popular of those was 2013's Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, an '80s acid-trip of a game that saw Snake Plissken impersonator Rex Powercolt taking on cyber soldiers and robot dinosaurs in a psychedelic futurescape. 

The spin-off shared the same environment as Far Cry 3 (except one that was highly stylized), as well as its controls and mechanics. It was released five months after Far Cry 3, but its trailers were decidedly more in line with those of Far Cry 5's expansions than what we see from Ubi's latest tease. 

Then, of course, there was Far Cry: Primal ... 

If what's announced is a mainline game -- whether it's a direct sequel or not -- it will most likely be creatively titled Far Cry 6, and it will be set in some type of post-apocalyptic scenario. Dare we say it will be Far Cry 6 Battle Royale: Post Apocalypse Edition or Far Cry: Wasteland Survivor 76? With Ubisoft, one can never be certain. We'll just have to wait and see.

The Game Awards begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, December 6, and will be streamed on a dozen platforms, including Twitch, YouTube, Caffeine, Steam, PlayStation, and Xbox Live. 

Red Dead Online Beta Impressions: Wild West But Not a Wasteland Sun, 02 Dec 2018 11:34:55 -0500 Ty Arthur

You can officially put down any other online-only games right now and clear your schedule for the next week because Red Dead Online just launched in beta for everyone.

While the base game has its share of flaws, it's hard to imagine Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't going to make a whole lot of year-end lists and probably be nominated GOTY 2018 across the gamingverse.

Adding a real Wild West of an online mode just catapulted this already-awesome game into a whole new level of addiction. 

Here are our thoughts after playing for a few days. 

Creating Your Own Outlaw Legacy

Didn't care for Arthur's old western drawl and wanted to play a different kind of outlaw? No problem, because now you get to create your own character.

I went with a 60-year-old housewife who has absolutely had it with everyone's shit and is going to start robbing trains and murdering people who tick her off. She gets a hilarious reaction from other players, which has only made the whole experience even better.

My only regret? When I saw that the starter horse is named Scrawny Nag, I wished I had named my character that rather than Norma Jean.

Despite being focused on random events and multiplayer battles, Red Dead Online starts with a string of single-player story missions somewhat separate from the base experience. The whole thing kicks off when your character is rescued from a prison wagon (and yes, I did wonder when the dragon would show up or a king would ask me to save Tamriel). 

But instead of slaying dragons, you're helping out a mysterious benefactor who wants you to track down some crooks who killed her husband. Simply having single-player story missions is a big plus for a multiplayer mode, and there's plenty of humor in the online storyline, like frequent quips about how the main character never speaks or a few extra jokes if you decided to play a female outlaw.

Taking The Red Dead Experience Online

Of course, as this is an online mode, the main story is more in the background; you'll spend most of your time exploring the world and engaging in western shenanigans with and against other players. 

The entire map from the base game is here, and as with the single-player mode, there is a simply astounding amount to do while you cross the country on your trusty steed.

A new progression system is added in as players unlock different equipment (like fishing rods), weapons (like explosive arrows), and even types of horses when ranking up. That gives you a reason to keep logging in beyond just playing deathmatches or robbing other players.

There's also a limited card-based ability system that will bring to mind Fallout 76, but here you won't randomly lose your progress for no reason or get stuck on your mount permanently, so there's that...

If you're an achievement junkie, there are also awards to unlock for spending money in the catalog, visiting locations around the world, getting so many kills, and so on.

Your newly-freed outlaw can roam the wilderness doing all the things you'd do in the base game, like hunting, robbing, building up your camp, and so on. Best of all, its actually easier to explore certain areas since you can select where you want to start in Free Roam mode, which is essentially free fast travel with a slightly longer loading screen.

While crossing the bayou, heading to the snow-shrouded mountains, or visiting familiar locations like Emerald Ranch, the map is littered with stranger quests and events so there's always something to do.

Of course, and as would be expected, other players can screw with your missions, which is significantly more fun and less obnoxious than I thought it would be.

In one stranger mission, a posse decided to try to prevent me from delivering a wagon load of supplies within a limited time frame. That led to a tense, fun confrontation where I ended up taking them all down and still arriving at the barn before the timer was up, despite driving a slower wagon loaded down with crates.

If you aren't keen on free-roaming the landscape, you can instead engage in the Showdown Series in either small groups of 16 players or large groups of 32 players for entirely new ways to experience Red Dead.

Free-for-all battles with special weapons at certain locations, team-based deathmatches, and even horse racing are all on tap to vary your online play.

Out of these, I was a fan of Name Your Weapon, as you accrue different points depending on the weapon used to achieve a kill. Trying to get the tomahawk kill is an exercise in patience, but when it happens and you hear a player scream in rage, well, it's worth it.

Of course, you should have known there's a battle royale mode, although Make It Count offers something a little different. Since you cap at 16 or 32 players and only use bows and knives, this is a whole different beast from Fortnite, Realm Royale, Black Ops 4, and so on. The open wilderness map and weapon changes make for a tense, brutal battle royale match.

At this point, Make It Count rotates throughout the multiplayer Mode Series playlist and can't be manually selected, so you can't just endlessly play battle royale and neglect the other elements.

That may have been on purpose so battle royale can't overtake the other modes (like it sadly did with Fortnite - RIP Save The World mode), or it could be changed as beta progresses.

Other players pop up automatically on the world map while you Free Roam and take part in random map-based missions, but to take part in either the 4-player story missions or the large scale Series you have to go through some matchmaking.

That's always going to be a bottleneck in a game like this, but so far, I'm glad to report matchmaking has been quick and smooth for me at all times. I've seen a handful of complaints over at Reddit about slow matchmaking issues on the very first day of the beta launch, but so far I've gotten into any kind of match in a matter of seconds.

Some Stumbles While You Gallop

There's an absurd amount of fun to be had in any of Red Dead Online's modes, but of course, as with the base game, there are some missteps worth mentioning.

The domino or poker style mini-games with other players are noticeably absent, which would be fun to add in so you can do something other than shoot each other (although it may run afoul of actual gambling laws once the in-game store goes live).

As with any online game where mics are on by default, you've also got to occasionally deal with awful players. In my playtime, the most noticeable was when two guys got into a heated debate about whether or not America is about to go into a new recession.

Easily the biggest problem that needs to be addressed right now is the insane grind for gold bars, as well as the economy in general. You get so little gold from most missions or events that you could play 40 hours a week and just barely acquire enough to buy a fancy upgraded horse.

Aside from gold nuggets to convert to gold bars, you need regular old cash, and that's hard to come by in decent quantities as well. This definitely isn't like the base game where missions are available to quickly rake up large sums of money. Robbery and murder aren't nearly as lucrative as they used to be.

Players have had to come up with some borderline-cheating ways to net worthwhile amounts of money by farming re-spawning creatures stuck in pens, over fishing specific locations, or even repeatedly deleting characters and starting over to keep your starting cash.

If there's one specific issue that Rockstar needs to look at, its changing how the gold and money economy works, and bumping up the rewards from random encounters and regular quests (although that may be alleviated somewhat once the in-game store becomes available).

The Bottom Line

For a beta that was just launched, Red Dead Online is remarkably stable and lacking in bugs, unlike a certain other AAA online game that just launched its full version...

Since they came out so close together, the comparisons obviously have to be made: if you were underwhelmed by Fallout 76's lack of NPCs, lack of major storyline, constant bugs, just pick up Red Dead Online instead.

Considering the online mode is free for anyone who already bought the base game, that $60 price tag is more than worth it at this point in time.

Spyro Reignited's Motion Blur Makes it Unplayable for Some [Updated] Wed, 28 Nov 2018 15:16:16 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Imagine turning on a game you've been looking forward to for months -- and dreamed of for years -- only to get a knot in your stomach and a weird buzzing sensation behind your eyeballs. Is it excitement? Anxiety? No, my friends. It's motion sickness, and it's what has kept me from playing Spyro Reignited.

One aspect of Spyro Reignited that you may have seen mentioned in reviews or the online community is its heavy use of motion blur. For most, motion blur isn't a huge deal. Some people think it makes a game look more cinematic. But some can't stand the way it looks -- and it's a big deal. 

[Editor's note: As of 3/13/2019 Spyro Reignited has received a motion blur toggle option! Finally, I and others with motion sensitivity can play the game.]

I've never cared about it much, but I had also never gotten motion sickness before playing Reignited. Neither had my husband -- but we both feel ill after about 10 minutes of playing the remasters.

Before I realized it was the game making me feel poorly, I actually stepped away and ate dinner because I thought the headache and nausea were just a byproduct of not having had dinner yet. Unfortunately, they were not, as I found out when I came back to the game an hour later and got an intense headache and a distinct dizzy feeling soon after.

Spyro Reignited makes heavy use of motion blur when panning the camera even a bit, regardless of the camera option you choose. The game's Active and Passive camera options both end with the same result for me.

That result is what one might call "misery."

It's with a heavy heart that I can't recommend Reignited to fans who are susceptible to motion sickness. The game needs a toggle or slider for its motion blur.

This really bums me out. Spyro was my jam on the PlayStation. I poured more time into them back in the PSX days than Final Fantasy 7, more than the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, more than pretty much every other game series on the platform except maybe teenage me's long-running addiction to Monster Rancher 2.

I'm not the only one having this problem, either. There are plenty of threads throughout the game's online community, even scattered across the Spyro subreddit, of people who cannot play the remastered trilogy because the motion blur makes them sick.

Just consider this a PSA if you haven't gotten the game yet or are considering buying it for someone else. If there's a chance you or the person you are buying Spyro Reignited for might be prone to motion sickness, save your $40 and avoid the literal headache.

This is all a huge shame because, from what I've played, Reignited is really wonderful. It ticks all the right boxes... I just can't play for more than 10 minutes at a time. I haven't uninstalled it from my PlayStation 4 just yet. A fan can't help but hold out hope for a solution.

(Header image from a Reddit post showcasing the motion blur)

Paladins World Championships 2018: Na'Vi vs Team Envy Wed, 21 Nov 2018 10:31:01 -0500 Victoria B.

The Paladins World Championship brought fans and pro players alike swarming into Atlanta for this year’s DreamHack and Hi-Rez Studio Expo. Though the World Congress Center was filled with BYOC crowds, shops, and panels, the main events were for esports championships.

Teams who made the cut to compete in the quarterfinals for Paladins include:

  • Virtus.Pro from Russia
  • G2 from Germany
  • Kanga representing Australia
  • Seden’s Ninja’s in Pajamas (a.k.a NiP)
  • Fnatic
  • Spacestation Gaming from Brazil
  • Team Envy from the United States
  • Natus Vincere (a.k.a Na'Vi), the previous summer champions

Each of these talented competitors battled it out for a place in the grand finals and a piece the $300,000 prize pool, but only one could walk away with the championship title.

The Quarter and Semi-Finals

Day one

While each team made it to the championships for a reason, it was clear that not all of them would be able to hold their own in the early stage of the competition. In the quarterfinals, all the matches resulted in easy wins for some and devastating losses for others. The first face-off between Na'Vi and Virtus. Pro resulted in a swift victory for the past champions with a 3 - 1 score.

With similar results, G2 could not compete against Fnatic who won 3 - 0. Team Envy mirrored this victory in their results against Kanga with a 3 - 0 victory, and despite some predictions, Brazil’s Spacestation Gaming defeated NiP with a 3 - 1 score.

Day Two


Day two began with the first semifinal match against Na'Vi and Fnatic. However, out of the gate Fnatic seemed to have lost their fire and aggressive play style from their previous match on day one. Fnatic just wasn’t dealing enough damage with their team composition the first two rounds, and Na'Vi recognized this. They were able to wipe out their opponents easily, but rather than rushing in for kills, they lured their opponents in and staggered their deaths to keep them from regrouping.

In round three, however, Isbittenner demonstrated why he is a young force to be reckoned with and revitalized his team. He went on rampages and led Fnatic to a 4 - 1 victory on Ascension Peak. This would be the only match Fnatic would find success on though because Na'Vi were not going to give up an opportunity for another championship title. Na'Vi moved on to the finals with a 4 - 1 score.

Spacestation Gaming vs Team Envy

Though this face-off was an easy win, the same can’t be said for the intense battle between Spacestation Gaming and Envy. Many predicted the US team would find quick success against SSG, but they were sorely mistaken. The Brazilian team defied expectations and gave one of the strongest performances in the championship. The crowd was split with enthusiasm for this underdog team and with support of the remaining US team.

RandomNoob from Team Envy performed well throughout the first match, sneaking behind enemy lines and wiping out players before they could realize what hit them. However, SSG retaliated with a victory led by FRZGod in the second round. On Frog Isles, Ar3z landed constant headshots as Kinessa, picking off Envy players and contributing to another victory. The two teams continued trading wins and losses until in the final seventh round where Team Envy secured their spot in the grand finals.

Grand Finals

Day Three

Na'Vi vs Team Envy

As the finals approached, fans and commentators alike were split on who would walk away as the grand champions, Na'Vi or Envy. Envy’s coach Metapusher seemed enthusiastic about taking on “Goliath” and was confident from their preparations to face Na'Vi. Faenex the captain of Na'Vi expressed his gratitude for making it this far and believed that both Na'Vi and Envy were the “top two teams in the word” who deserved the opportunity to duke it out for the grand championship title.

The first match was set in Splitstone Quarry, and Envy seemed to have the superior team composition since Na'Vi had no flanks to deal with Kinessa, but Mutu helped his team narrowly snag a victory with a risky flank play as Vivian. The close round went to Na'Vi 4 - 3.

It was the first loss out of the gate that Envy experienced in the world championships, and it could have shaken their confidence going into Brightmarsh, but they enter match two strong-willed. Despite Na'Vi’s strong defensive line, Tulky kept up the pressure as Ruckus to deliver the payload and Randomnoob led the fight with a total of 18 kills. The team evened the score here.

Na'Vi picked up the pace at Jaguar Falls with Mutu as Zhin completely melting through Envy in their spawn and Laizy as Khan nearly delivering the payload all on his own by tossing opponents off the map and blasting through the defense.

Na'Vi won 4 - 0 this time but don’t find any ease in the next round with constant comebacks from Envy who narrowly captured the point twice after Na'Vi reached 99%. Randomnoob was the player to beat this round as Evie when he continuously wiped the objective clear. Na'Vi continued to struggle to win the objective fight in Serpent’s pass where Rockmonkey plowed dealt massive damage as Cassie while also somehow managing to stay alive at the brink of death.

The final round for the Grand Championship turned dismal for the previous champs as they barely contested the point on the Fish Market map and gave little resistance to Envy. Rockmonkey once again brought the heat with 15 kills and no deaths, and the North American team won the match 4 - 0.

All the players had their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately, Envy played the better game and managed to come back time and time again to eventually claim the World Championship title.

Best Fallout 76 Memes to Survive the (Review) Bombs Wed, 14 Nov 2018 17:51:11 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Fallout 76 only released around 24 hours ago and the game is already getting heavily reviewed bombed on Metacritic. Players far and wide are roasting the latest entry in Bethesda's long-running post-apocalypse for everything under the mushroom cloud.

I'm not going to say these are the freshest Fallout 76 memes we could dig out of the internet oven, but they are some of the tastiest in the review-bomb wake.

Cheese is basically old milk, and almost everybody loves cheese.

Where words can't express the sheer joy or anger we feel when discovering a game is or isn't exactly what we feared or hoped it would be, memes are there to remind us that in the end, there's always something to laugh about. 

Da Best Fallout 76 Memes



Like Fallout 76, this list isn't complete. Unlike Fallout 76, it probably won't ever be. Such is life.

We'll be adding more to this list but if you've got something good, pop it in the comments below and share. Don't be greedy!

And stay tuned for our official review of Fallout 76 -- and the inevitable counter review from an office divided. 

How Will Artifact Perform in a CCG World Dominated by Hearthstone and MtG? Tue, 13 Nov 2018 11:23:37 -0500 Sergey_3847

Artifact, a brand-new CCG from Valve and Richard Garfield, will enter its beta testing stage on November 19, and it will get a full release on November 28. Invariably, these two dates will mark the beginning of a new CCG era, one that has the potential to dethrone the two CCG mammoths on the market: Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering.

Artifact offers innovative card game mechanics that combine the best elements of Hearthstone and Magic, which makes its gameplay highly engaging and never boring. But more importantly, Valve's new CCG will provide a unique card trading system that will prevent pay-to-win schemes that cripple games like Hearthstone and Magic

However, an obvious hurdle getting Artifact's way right out of the gate is that the base game will cost $20, and later, when the new expansions come out, players will have to buy each pack for $2 each. While free-to-play can often hide pay-to-win on the backside, a priced CCG can alienate potential players before they've even had a chance to play it. 

But pricing is not the only concern CCG players have when it comes to Artifact -- there are always concerns regarding systems, economies, and more. Let's take a look at what other surprises Valve's new card game might have and if players should be concerned. 

Artifact: The Rules of the Game

Artifact's three lanes show cards being played

Before discussing Artifact's future and comparing it to other card games, it's important to understand the mechanics of the game, as they are quite complex. This should come as no surprise since Artifact's lead designer is Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering.

If you thought that one board was not enough for a card game, then how about three? These correspond to the three lanes found in games like DoTA 2, where there are three towers at the end of each lane. 

Each turn in Artifact includes four phases; we'll take a look at them below. 

Action Phase

At the beginning of each turn, both players are able to start playing their cards (using mana) on each of the three lanes. Mana count starts at three and grows by one each turn. Hero and item cards don't cost any mana and can be played for free each turn.

When players use all of their mana, they can pass their turns. Then, the Combat phase begins -- for both players at the same time.

Combat Phase

Cards that have been placed on the board in the previous phase can now attack each of their opponent's towers simultaneously. If there is a card blocking an opponent's card, then the damage goes to the defending card instead of the tower.

When the Combat phase on one lane has been resolved, the game automatically resolves combat on the rest of the lanes.

Shopping Phase

After combat comes the Shopping phase, which serves as a sort of a "break" in the match. 

If during the Combat phase players manage to destroy some of the enemy cards or cast spells, they earn gold coins, which can then be spent to buy special items that are either generated by A.I. or manually put in the shop by the players themselves prior to the match-up.

These item cards cost no mana to cast and can enhance the performance of the players for the remainder of the match.

Deployment Phase

During this phase, players can also add two creeps on each lane. What's more, hero cards are immortal in Artifact, and during the deployment phase, players can replay them on lanes even if they've already played them on prior turns. 

This phase also begins the card drawing phase, but instead of one card, each player draws two cards. There is no limit on the amount of cards players can hold in their hands.

That is how complex one turn is in Artifact. It includes a vast number of decisions that need to be made on each of the three lanes, as well as devising quick strategies for placement and use. 

In the end, a winning player will have to destroy at least two of the three towers in order to claim victory.

How Artifact Fares Against Hearthstone and MtG

The Tinker card is shown with a cyberpunk robot on its face

Will Hearthstone and/or MtG players see any interest in Artifact?

First of all, it's already clear that Magic players will have a blast playing Artifact because of its complex gameplay. Richard Garfield is a genius game designer and he knows how to engage players with all kinds of mechanics, including the infamous RNG.

Hearthstone players, on the other hand, will most likely find it difficult to keep up with three boards at the same time. Some of the more experienced HS players do grind on several servers at the same time, but most casual players just want a quick rush of adrenaline.

The time required to finish a game in Hearthstone can be as short as a few minutes, while it's already obvious one match-up in Artifact may take up to an hour. This fits better with the MtG world, where players tend to spend long turns, pouring over possibilities and strategies.

But time consumption and complex decision-making aren't the only two factors that will influence how Artifact connects with CCG players. There is one more factor, which is probably the most important one -- the game's monetization system.

Artifact Economics vs. Hearthstone and MtG

The Artifact shop shows the cards players can buy

Monetization schemes in all three games are very different. Magic and Artifact are tradable card games, meaning that you can buy and sell cards on the open market. Hearthstone, on the other hand, is a collectible card game that requires players to buy packs and craft cards using dust. 

Hearthstone also stands out from the other two games because it's free-to-play. Artifact will cost $20 for the game client, two pre-constructed decks and 120 cards.

Magic Online will cost you $10 for a game client, but you pay nothing if you decide to play Magic Arena instead, which is a far more limited experience.

Artifact cards will be available for purchase on the Steam market and will range from $0.15 to $1. In comparison to Hearthstone, this is decent pricing, as one HS card also costs around $0.30, taking into account the cost of one pack.

MtG in this regard follows a completely different pattern, where cards sell on an extremely volatile market and can reach $1,000+.

This means that if you are ready to spend some cash in Hearthstone, you will be ready to spend the same amount of cash in Artifact -- and get a decent amount of good cards. However, if you've never spent a single cent in HS, then Artifact might not be your cup of tea as Gabe Newell told PC Gamer in an interview that:

"If time is free, or an account is free, or cards are free, then anything that has a mathematical relationship to those things ends up becoming devalued over time, whether it's the player's time and you just make people grind for thousands of hours for minor, trivial improvements, or the asset values of the cards, or whatever. That's a consequence. So you don't want to create that flood of free stuff that destroys the economy and the value of people's time."

Although it doesn't look like Artifact will ever have any free components, Newell also said in the same interview that Valve will make sure Artifact will be protected from malicious pay-to-win schemes: 

"There are plenty of very common cards that are going to be super powerful. The whole point is to steer away from pay-to-win and that kind of approach. We always want to reward investment. You always want to feel like, as a player, that the more time you spend on it, you're getting better and you're enjoying it more."

This is a good sign and shows that Valve really wants to create something valuable for their fans and not just another clone of Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering.

Final Thoughts

We can now say for sure that the economics in Artifact is far better in many respects when compared to both Hearthstone, which promotes a shameless pay-to-win system, and MtG, which exploits card markets with its insane prices.

In the case of Artifact, Valve (or the market) will regulate the prices and will not allow the most powerful cards to soar in prices. In this way, everyone who is ready to pay will get the chance to play the game at the highest competitive level.

This is a really smart system that should make many players satisfied. And all of those CCG fans who want to play for free can keep grinding for gold in Hearthstone or Magic Arena.

So, taking all this into account, will Artifact gain any traction after release? The answer is most likely "Yes", even for the simple fact that it's a Valve game -- the name alone will draw players from far and wide. 

It will be interesting to see what niche it carves for itself in the CCG space, and if players are willing to move away from Hearthstone and MtG to play it -- or at least give it some space at the table. 


What do you think about Artifact's gameplay mechanics? Do you find them too difficult to understand? What do you think about Valve's monetization system? Let us know in the comments section below.

11 Best Gaming Mice 2018 Edition -- Top Wireless, Wired, And Budget Options Wed, 07 Nov 2018 14:42:30 -0500 Ty Arthur


Whether you prefer a slim, light wired mouse or a large wireless option with dozens of programmable buttons, one of these 11 gaming mice options will be the perfect fit for your usage, grip, and hand size.


Which one of these 2018 gaming mice models are you picking for the gamer in your life this holiday season?


Let us know your favorite gaming mouse in the comments below, and be sure to leave a comment if you've seen any killer peripherals we forgot to include!


Want even more picks? Look below for a complete list of all the roundups we've ever done on gaming mice. Alongside the options in this list, many of the mice in the lists below are still very much viable options: 


And if you're wondering what to look for when buying a gaming mouse, or why certain gaming mice are better for certain genres, head over to our tips for buying a gaming mouse guide to learn more. 


ROCCAT Kone Gaming Mouse


Price: $80.99
Buy it on: Newegg


Most high-end gaming mice try to go as compact as possible, but there are other ways to achieve ergonomic, comfortable designs.


ROCCAT does the exact opposite here with the Kone, going for a rounded, larger design for bigger hands.


The weight remains the same, however, with the inward grooved tri-button thumb zone. Like this flared design? You may also be interested in these models:

  • Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse AW958\n
    • Price: $80.49
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Razer Basilsk\n
    • Price: $67.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Corsair Dark Core Gaming Mouse


Price: $69.99
Buy it on: Amazon


The Dark Core gaming mouse has a similar rounded design to the Kone, but with a textured grip for enhanced comfort.


That's not the only reason for the high price, though. This bad boy includes the Qi charging system. It literally charges wirelessly just by gliding across the mousepad. You can also swap out the side grip manually for ultimate customization.


Wand to know what other models feature wireless charging? Be sure to also check out:

  • Logitech G903 Lightspeed\n\n
  • \n
  • Razer Mamba Wireless Chroma\n
    • Price: $99.89
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

SteelSeries Rival 600 Gaming Mouse


Price: $69.99
Buy it on: Amazon


With this SteelSeries gaming mouse, we're starting to get into the high end, more expensive models. But if you are serious about eSports, this is an investment worth making.


The weight balance here is perfect, and the ergonomics are entirely on point if you game for long periods of time. For FPS players in particular, this is a winner. Head over to our review of the Rival 600 to learn more. 


There are a few alternatives if this design doesn't work for you however, such as the:


Corsair Scimitar Pro Gaming Mouse


Price: $69.99
Buy it on: Amazon


Corsair has -- hands down -- one of the best mice on the market with the side button design.


What sets this one apart is the key slider system, which lets you re-position the buttons on the side to fit your grip.


The side buttons also have textured grips to help you distinguish the feel of each button and ensure precision.


If you love this style of gaming mouse with the buttons on the side, be sure to also check out these models:

  • Razer Naga Trinity\n
    • Price: $79.95
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • UTechSmart Venus\n
    • Price: $38.99
      Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Redragon M901\n
    • Price: $32.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Logitech G Pro Hero Gaming Mouse


Price: $69.79
Buy it on: Amazon


Not all gamers trust a wireless mouse, as connections can get dropped at inopportune moments. If you are in that boat, the Logitech G Pro Hero version may be a better bet than the wireless G305.


It has the same minimalist aesthetic and comfortable hand design, but gives you an absurdly smooth and responsive experience thanks to the 16k sensor.


Want a top notch responsive mouse but don't care for Logitech? These are some great alternatives:

  • SteelSeries Sensei 310\n\n
  • \n
  • Razer DeathAdder Elite\n
    • Price: $54.97
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Logitech G305 Gaming Mouse (Wireless)


Price: $51.99
Buy it on: Amazon


This little guy looks unassuming, but let me assure you, it will do everything you need it to, especially if you don't require the flash of RGB focused models.


You get comfort, plenty of button options in a minimalist design, and best of all -- extremely responsive wireless gaming. I could gush about this one a lot, as this is my personal gaming mouse, but instead I'll just point you to my full review here.


Want a different style of wireless? Check out these options instead:

  • VicTsing Wireless Gaming Mouse\n
    • Price: $16.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Razer Mamba\n
    • Price: $65.09
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Logitech G502 Proteus Gaming Mouse


Price: $49.72
Buy it on: Amazon


OK, so the Proteus isn't new to 2018 by any means, but there's a reason it continues to appear on best-of lists year after year.


Simply put, the design here is sublime. You get 11 buttons but without the huge back end of many other mice, and of course, there are removable weights.


The responsiveness of the Proteus is constantly touted, and this is easily one of the best overall gaming mice experiences you can get in a wired model. 


Want something in a different design for different grip styles or hand sizes? Check out these models instead:

  • Logitech G602\n
    • Price: $36.17
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Corsair M65 Pro\n
    • Price: $48.16
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

UtechSmart Venus MMO Gaming Mouse


Price: $38.99
Buy it on: Amazon


Are you all about extra options? This is the gaming mouse to pick if you don't want to spend $70-$120 to get a ton of additional buttons.


The main selling points here are the removable weights and the 18 (yep, 18!) programmable buttons, with a whole matrix of buttons on the left side.


Why would you need that many? This level of customization is particularly useful for MMORPG players who have tons of skills and attacks that need to be used regularly.


I promise, once you realize you can tap the button with your thumb rather than searching for a number on the keyboard, you won't want to ever go back to the old way of playing again.


The only downside is that the increased size on the back end can get a little uncomfortable during prolonged gaming sessions if you have small hands.


If you like this style with the matrix of extra buttons on the side, be sure to also check out these models (although the Razer and Scimitar are a tad more expensive):

  • Razer Naga Trinity\n
    • Price: $79.95
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Corsair Scimitar Pro\n
    • Price: $69.99
      Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Redragon M901\n
    • Price: $32.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Piktek Wired Gaming Mouse


Price: $17.99
Buy it on: Amazon


Piktek's offering is rather sleek and minimalist compared to the previous two gaming mice, but it boasts full RGB backlighting that can be programmed to flash in seven different modes.


When paired with a backlit keyboard, you get a much stylish gaming experience -- especially when playing at night.


This is also the model where you start to get adjustable DPI settings, which is extremely helpful if you play games that require more precision in certain segments (like zooming in with a sniper scope after running and gunning).


Like the idea of this mouse but want to see what else is available? These are two comparable models worth considering:

  • Accro Xtrem RGB Gaming Mouse\n
    • Price: $13.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • HIRALIY F300 Gaming Mouse\n
    • Price: $16.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Redragon M601 Gaming Mouse


Price: $11.99
Buy it on: Amazon


The Redragon M601 is actually fairly similar in design to the Lenrue, but it's a little less ostentatious, offering the dragon motif instead of the robotic style.


This model comes with removable weights, which is sort of crazy at this price point, letting you change the heft and feel of the mouse to better fit your gaming style.


Between the weights and the programmable buttons, you won't find a better wired mouse at this budget-friendly, cheap price point. There are a few other options available if you don't care for the design though, such as these models:

  • EasySMX V18\n
    • Price: $11.99
    • \n
    • But it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Redragon Ergonomic 7 Button\n
    • Price: $15.99
    • \n
    • But it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Redragon M711 Cobra\n
    • Price: $16.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

Lenrue Laser Gaming Mouse


Price: $7.99
Buy it on: Amazon


Here we start with the lowest low-budget option. But if you couldn't tell from the image above, Lenrue didn't miss out on making something truly eye-catching.


If you just want to dip your toes into what a serious gaming mouse can offer, this is a great place to start, especially if you are a claw grip gamer who likes a little bump in the back for increased palm comfort.


Like the price but don't care for the layout or color scheme? These are some other solid low-cost options that don't skimp on the aesthetics:

  • Rii Professional 7 Color Gaming Mouse\n
    • Price: $5.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Vosense M Professional\n
    • Price: $6.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n
  • Havit HV-MS672\n
    • Price: $8.99
    • \n
    • Buy it on: Amazon
    • \n
  • \n

The ability to swap out hardware for better graphics and increased speed isn't the only way that PC gaming's modular nature beats out consoles.


You're missing out on a whole dimension of improved gaming performance if you skimp on the peripherals -- that's just a fact.


It may sound like a small, simple thing, but I guarantee that once you've used a serious gaming mouse, you won't ever go back to standard stock mice ever again.


From side buttons that help you build walls faster in Fortnite to the ability to switch DPI on the fly to slow down or speed up aiming, a high-quality gaming mouse really does give you an edge.


There's just one problem -- there are hundreds of them on the market, most available at wildly different price ranges and with a huge range of features.


Don't worry, though, we've got your back. Here we've rounded up the 11 best gaming mice in 2018, sorted by price and feature, and we've also included a host of additional options to cover any sort of user, whether you're looking for something high-end or something cheap.


Want even more picks? Look below for a complete list of all the roundups we've ever done on gaming mice. Alongside the options in this list, many of the mice in the lists below are still very much viable options: 


And if you're wondering what to look for when buying a gaming mouse, or why certain gaming mice are better for certain genres, head over to our tips for buying a gaming mouse guide to learn more. 

Mutant Year Zero Beta: Our First Look Impressions on Turn-Based Mutant Mayhem Thu, 01 Nov 2018 11:15:01 -0400 Tim White

If Fallout and X-COM had a baby, it would be Mutant: Year Zero. The upcoming turn-based strategy game from The Bearded Ladies Consulting combines some of the best elements of both games in a light and snappy experience that looks highly promising.

I spent three hours and change with a beta build of the game's first few missions, paying particular attention to gameplay and mechanics—and my early impressions are pretty favorable.

If you're looking to see Mutant: Year Zero in action with your own eyeballs, we've got some gameplay trailers here and here.


As far as I can tell from the demo version of the game, Mutant: Year Zero's world is a relatively near future post-apocalyptic one inhabited by a few normal humans and lots of mutants (mostly just bipedal talking animals). My initial two-man squad consisted of a shotgun-wielding boar and a duck with a crossbow, and I had no problem taking this premise seriously—the game is that confident in its presentation.

The initial disaster that sparked The End of Times isn't clearly explained right away, but what I do know is that there's not much left in the way of civilization. On top of that, a very important person has vanished from one of the last remaining cities, and you've been volunteered to venture far into the wastes to find him.

The plot could go just about anywhere from here—we'll have to wait for the full version to learn more.


I'm a big fan of X-COM, but it has some frustrating quirks. My most prominent thought within 20 minutes of starting up Mutant: Year Zero was that it's done a fantastic job of emulating X-COM's best gameplay elements while leaving out most of what I don't care for.

For one thing, X-COM is notorious for two things: fudging its own RNG numbers and its strange method of seeding pre-made rolls for various actions, which heavily encourages save scumming. Mutant: Year Zero appears to make RNG checks dynamically and fairly, eliminating a good deal of the unnecessary frustration that X-COM veterans may be worried about.

On the other hand, Mutant: Year Zero appears to know that you don't have to fix things that aren't broken. 

X-COM isn't shy about punishing rashness or impatience; the same can be said of this game. Charging blindly out of cover to hose down the battlefield before you've carefully scouted the area will get you killed every time in both games. However, in X-COM, sometimes even the most carefully laid plans can be completely unhinged by its wonky math. In contrast, Mutant: Year Zero rewards and punishes players more fairly and consistently.

Outside of combat, your squad is controlled in real time. Things shift to a turn-based setup only once enemies — which range from human outlaws and wildlife to other mutants — have detected you. You're free to stealthily pick off lone enemies before combat officially starts, which essentially translates to free turns as long as you stay quiet and patient. I can see this mechanic becoming a crucial strategy later in the game as combat gets tougher.

It's hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this blend of real-time and turn-based systems. It fixes one of the biggest problems with X-COM: the inability to precisely position your troops for an effective ambush while retaining the ability to move quickly if the enemy changes position.

In games like this, where you're consistently outnumbered and outgunned, planning and position are of the utmost importance, and I greatly appreciated being able to move about freely.

Additionally, your mutants can be upgraded with various skills and gear, which seem to be relatively few in number but not overly simplistic.

Gear options currently available include various grenades, armor that can partially negate damage, and a wonderful selection of silly hats. Skills are mostly straightforward and often lifted directly from X-COM, such as the ability to take an action after sprinting or navigate difficult terrain more easily. Perhaps the full game will offer more choices, but even if it doesn't, I think it will stand on its own just fine as an "X-COM lite."

Visuals & Sound

While the demo version didn't expose me to many unique areas, the ones I did see were reasonably pretty. Character animations are a little clunky, but only a little. Cutscenes are rendered in 2D static panels and stand out as the demo's prettiest visual elements.

Voice acting was solid all around, even if it left me wondering how a duck could enunciate so clearly. Music and sound effects are generally effective, but it's hard (at least for me) to accurately judge the sound design in such a relatively short demo.

The content I was allowed to play consists mostly of a slow buildup to something grander and still unrevealed, so there isn't much to see in terms of how the music and sound might support different moods and settings.


Mutant: Year Zero ran just fine on Ultra settings on a GTX 1080 and i-7700 processor, though I'm confident it would perform well on mid-range rigs too; it doesn't appear to be very demanding on modern hardware.

I experienced a very small number of seemingly random frame rate hiccups, but chalked them up to pre-release wrinkles that will likely be ironed out soon.

Overall Impression on the Beta

I don't get excited about new games as often as I did ten years ago, but I'm definitely keeping an eye on Mutant: Year Zero. It's challenging enough to demand some level of thought and planning without being ridiculously hard or overly reliant on chance, and that's a sweet spot I can appreciate.

I'm keen to see where these giant animal-people are going and what they're up to. Mutant: Year Zero will definitely be one of my holiday gifts to myself after it releases for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on December 4.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more on Mutant: Year Zero as we approach launch. 

Every Red Dead Redemption 2 Mission, Graded -- Chapter 1: Colter Thu, 01 Nov 2018 10:41:00 -0400 William R. Parks

The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is filled with life. Hunting down its legendary beasts and searching for buried treasure is engrossing, while small tasks like getting your hair cut turn out to be more fun than fruitless.

But what about the game's more structured aspect, its missions? Are they as compelling as the meticulously crafted world in which they exist?

In this multi-part series, we take a look at each of the game's missions, separating those that sink from those that soar. In the end, we will have a detailed outline of Red Dead 2's highest highs and lowest lows.

We hope that you will come along with us for the ride.

Grading Scale

Before we begin, let's have a look at the grading scale we will be using from here on out:

A: These are the missions that are as impressive as Red Dead 2's immense and nuanced world. Transcendent moments that validate video games as art.

B: Exceptional sequences, these missions create moments that leave a lasting impression.

C: *The bread-and-butter of Red Dead 2. Filled with straightforward action and character development that keeps the game moving forward and the player engaged.

D: Forgettable missions that serve just to introduce a character or mechanic without many frills.

F: Painful. The game would be better without these missions.

It's important to note that the "C" grading is not meant to imply that a mission is average compared to other games. Rather, "C" should be considered a baseline for Red Dead 2 relative to its exceptional "A's" and "B's" and its lackluster "D's" and "F's."

The primary goal of this investigation is to create a hierarchy within Red Dead 2's missions, not to provide a definitive stance on how the game stacks up against others.

And, without further adieu, let us begin by looking at the missions in Chapter 1: Colter.

Note: Mission descriptions and heavy spoilers follow.


A wide angle night shot of Arthur Morgan riding through a snowy forest

Red Dead 2 Chapter 1: The Missions

Outlaws from the West 

Grade: B

Red Dead 2 starts off as you might expect: a gunfight with a rival gang (the O'Driscolls) and burning a house to the ground.

While Rockstar is not winning any awards for originality here, the game's technical magnitude is immediately apparent in this mission -- tromping through the Grizzlies' snow is something I won't be forgetting any time soon.

Enter, Pursued by a Memory 

Grade: C

John Marston is missing, and his wife has asked you to track him down.

This mission primarily functions to establish Arthur and John's relationship, but it's notable for its introduction of the game's beautiful "cinematic camera," a wonderful addition that enriches the game's more dialogue-centric passages.

Also, executing some in-pursuit wolves gives players a bloody first-taste of Red Dead's rich fauna.

Old Friends 

Grade: C

The O'Driscolls are planning a train robbery, but Dutch (your gang's leader) feels like the spoils would be better in your hands. Time to invade their camp and steal the intelligence they've gathered.

A standard shootout ensues, but, as I went to loot the bloody corpses of all of my foes, I was struck for the first time by just how committed Red Dead 2 is to realism.

Emptying the pockets of a pile of bodies is a pleasant slog, and I felt as tired as Arthur must have felt after liberating the belongings of the recently departed.

The Aftermath of Genesis

Grade: D

It is time to bow hunt with Charles.

A tutorial mission that teaches you about tracking and stealth, I would love to have seen a bit more from this one. Although you get the bow for later hunting missions, nothing particularly stands out in this slow, plodding mission. 

A more exciting target or something to throw a wrench in the works could elevate this hunt, but, without it, this standard mission falls flat.

Who the Hell is Leviticus Cornwall?

Grade: B

In the climax of Chapter 1, the gang is off to perform the heist the O'Driscolls had planned.

However, due to some faulty dynamite, the train robbery devolves into a shootout, which culminates with your first real role-playing decision: do you want to execute innocent men or set them free?

While the mission is a bit deflated by the defective explosives, it feels good to be making decisions that are consequential -- and doing outlaw business that is not just killing O'Driscolls.

Eastward Bound 

Grade: C

Your gang is ready to pack up and move camp, and you will be riding with one of the head honchos, Hosea.

Some breathtaking vistas reveal themselves in this mission, and a mishap with your wagon makes it more than just a ride-along.

I was also impressed by the in-transit dialogue showcased in this mission -- a sentiment I have often while playing Red Dead 2.

Outlaws riding horses in the snow

Chapter 1 Summary

As is typical, Red Dead 2's beginnings are focused around teaching game mechanics. However, Rockstar finds ways to couch these lessons in missions that feel like more than just tutorials.


With "Outlaws from the West" and "Who the Hell is Leviticus Cornwall?" in the lead, Chapter 1's more action-packed missions stand out as highlights.

However, that will not be exclusively the case as the vastness of New Hanover begins to open in "Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook".

We hope that you will join us for a look at that next chapter in the upcoming days.


If you want to know what we think of Red Dead 2 as a whole, be sure to check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 review. If you're looking for tips and tricks for the Wild West epic, be sure head over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 guides page

Red Dead Redemption 2 is Gorgeous - Screenshot Gallery Mon, 29 Oct 2018 10:26:11 -0400 William R. Parks

Red Dead Redemption 2 is filled to the brim with beautiful vistas, bustling towns, and brutal kill shots.

As fans begin to discover the majesty and savagery of Rockstar's newest world, they are sharing some breathtaking images along the way.

Let us have a look at some of our favorite captures from release weekend.


Note: In-game images with potential spoilers follow.













Have a screen capture you are particularly proud of? Share it with us in the comments below. If you've got the time and the inclination, you may also want to take the opportunity to check out some of the Red Dead Redemption 2 guides we have here on GameSkinny.

Does Soul Calibur 6 Have Unlockable CaS Armor? Mon, 22 Oct 2018 19:03:55 -0400 Jonathan Moore

There's a lot to love about Soul Calibur 6. From Libra of Souls to the online stage of history, SC6 is one of the best entries in the franchise in a long time. 

But one bugaboo that's got veteran plays riled up is the fact that, well, the venerable fighting game doesn't have all that many options when it comes to armor. Whether they're wanting to change the default outfits of their favorite fighters or kit out their custom character creations, it's painfully obvious that options are limited. 

So can you unlock armor in Soul Calibur 6? Well, kind of.

As you play through Libra of Souls, you'll unlock quite a bit for the museum, and as you play through Chronicle of Souls, you'll unlock Inferno as a playable character. 

But armors? Yeah, that's no dice, my friend. 

The only caveat here is that you'll get 100 extra pieces of armor for Create a Soul (CaS) if you buy the season pass (you can also "unlock" Tira this way). That armor piece number a bit less than the 183 found in Soul Calibur 5 but more than the amount found in Soul Calibur 4. Currently, the armor pieces aren't available. 

You can also "unlock" armor in CaS with Soul Points. However, you're not finding new armor in any of the game's modes, but instead accessing armor that's already available in CaS. While technically, yes, you're unlocking armor, we all know how we really want to get new items for character creation. 

Even as a casual player, I find it a bit disappointing that the game's two story modes don't unlock any additional items or armor for CaS (that's aside from my overall qualms with the mode which is the topic of another article entirely). 

Part of the fun of playing through Libra of Souls and Chronicle of Souls is unlocking items. The museum is cool and all, but that's not the draw here. And while it's unlikely Bandai Namco will "patch" in unlockable armors (I chuckle at the thought), it's a nice pipe dream to have.  

Best Fan-Made Custom Characters We Love From Soul Calibur 6 (So Far) Mon, 22 Oct 2018 11:09:27 -0400 William R. Parks

Only three days after the release of SoulCalibur 6, we're already seeing some amazing character creations from the game's community. From obvious characters such as Ciri of The Witcher fame to more off-the-wall creations such as one simply called Pistachio, it's clear that SC6 fans are creative. 

Here are some of our favorites.

Be sure to check out our SoulCalibur 6 review while you're here, as well as our Libra of Souls guide

Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

u/RancidHyena brings us the last airbender (albeit a bit more grown-up then you might expect).

Unfortunately, not all of Aang's body-markings are accounted for, as the character creator limits the number of stickers that can be applied to skin, but this is a bang-up job none-the-less.

Jynx (Pokemon)

The level of creativity in u/PatBeefy's Jynx is through the roof.

While this first Gen Pokemon is unlikely to gain an edge through intimidation, maybe inciting confusion is a valid battle tactic in its own right.

The Dragonborn (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)

Simple but expertly executed, u/CatchingZzzzs' depiction of an iron-helmed Nord is spot on.

Tommy Wiseau (The Room)

Fans of The Room, a film described by many as the "worst movie ever," will love u/think_with_portals' depiction of "writer/producer/actor/director" Tommy Wiseau.

If players are able to channel the unbridled mania of Wiseau's performance into their combat, it is hard to imagine them ever being defeated.

Skeletor (Masters of the Universe)

u/FunRedGnome's Skeletor looks primed and ready to conquer Castle Grayskull.

A handy guide is available if you are looking to add He-Man's nemesis to your roster.

Zoidberg (Futurama)

A round of applause for u/slugwurth's use of Voldo's claws to craft the lovable Decopodian doctor.

Is there anything more threatening than an alien crustacean in sandals?

Krumm (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters)

Another creation that gets maximum points for creativity, u/ReverendPopoff's Krumm is wonderful.

We especially love to see him assume the monster's standard position in the preview pane.

BoJack Horseman (BoJack Horseman)

While I am not certain that a self-hating, alcoholic horse would be my first choice for a battle partner, u/Dudelbaum's BoJack Horseman is a delight.

I suppose he might stand a chance in combat as long as you are not horsin' around.

Solaire of Astora (Dark Souls)

u/faranoox brings the Warrior of Sunlight to battle.

Praise the Sun!

Xenomorph XX121 (Alien)

Most of our featured creations use the Humanoid model as their foundation, but u/Maniels has done some great work crafting THE Alien.

Hopefully we see more players working with the Lizard Man model in the days to come.

Ciri (The Witcher)

The Witcher's Geralt of Rivia is featured as a guest fighter in SoulCalibur's latest entry, and it only seems fair that Ciri has her chance to shine as well.

Reddit user Anemeros, Ciri's designer, shares that he used the Warlord's Belt and Silver Gauntlets to make the Oiran Kimono appear like a standard top, and it really has a wonderful effect.

Illidan Stormrage (Warcraft)

u/Feldrassil's version of "the Betrayer" looks great. Creating these massive horns requires stacking multiples horns and finessing their size and position until they look just right. The extra effort is definitely worth it.

Now, if only the first Demon Hunter had access to his Twin Blades of Azzinoth.

The Hunter (Bloodborne)

Hunters do what hunters do -- they hunt. But apparently, that is not limited to collecting blood from the beasts of Yharnam.

u/fliplock_ used three sets of the Horns of Calamity to make the Hunters Hat -- an impressive attention to detail. The rest of the outfit isn't half bad, either. Adding in Ivy's fighting style is also a nice -- if somewhat different -- touch. 

2B (Nier: Automata)

Earlier this year, rumors were circulating about the inclusion of the battle android as a guest fighter in SoulCalibur 6. Unfortunately, that didn't happen -- officially. 

u/Hydrangeabed has decided to take matters into their own hands, and the results are wonderful. We especially love the inclusion of the Pod, which was made with a box, Allegiance Spines, and a horn.

A Pistachio

It's a pistachio by u/TheMightyBellegar... That's basically it. Gaze upon its uniqueness with a furrowed brow. 


We'll be adding to this list as more great character creations come out. Have you made any characters you are especially proud of? Share them with us in the comments below, and we'll be sure to add them. 

Hands On with Just Cause 4 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC Thu, 18 Oct 2018 17:10:57 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

Over the past several years, New York Comic Con has been host to some great demos and video game showcases. Last year, we were able to get our hands on The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, both of which turned out to be very well-received.  

This year, we were able to catch up with Square Enix and get a look at some of the studio's upcoming releases, including Just Cause 4 and the forthcoming DLC for Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Here's what we found out about each of them. 

Hands on With Just Cause 4

Just Cause 4 is a wild ride -- let's just get that out of the way right now. You might have thought the previous iterations in the series were insane but this newest installment takes everything to the next level.

Everything that you love about the Just Cause series -- such as the gunplay, driving, and high-dive parachuting -- is back and exactly how you like it. 

When I asked one of the Square Enix representatives why they insist on pushing the envelope of crazy in the series, he replied, "Just cause." (Pun not intended).

But when you can put weather balloons on a tank and battle mid-air, you can't really complain. 

Aside from what we've come to expect from the Just Cause series, there are also quite a few new elements in Just Cause 4

The introduction of attachment mods drastically increases the catalog of weapons and accessories in the game. You can change the behavior of some of the mods and even affect behavior by changing the button controls in the settings.

Riding Out the Storm

The introduction of the Extreme Weather also makes things chaotic. One of the missions I was able to play involved Rico, the storm chaser. Featuring a tornado, the one we've seen in some of the trailers, it's easy to get sucked inside because why not? Don't worry, though, getting sucked in doesn't mean instant death -- it just means you'll be going for a fun ride, latching on to flying cows or debris. 

Seeing the tornado rip apart buildings, planes and anything else in its path is so much fun to watch, and at the end of the mission, you get caught in a lightning storm that, well, makes things even trickier. 


You'll get to have your taste of Just Cause 4 when it comes out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 4. The team at Avalanche Studios is already working on DLC, so keep your eyes open for that in the future after release. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider DLC: The Forge

Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third in the rebooted Tomb Raider series, released in early September on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. You can read our review of the game here.

While sitting down with the team behind the game, they shared some info about the DLC that will be coming to the game.

Starting in November and going through May 2019, there will be a new DLC pack released each month. These packs will feature new narrative missions starring some of the secondary characters that you met in the base game. Each pack will have a challenge tomb, a new weapon, a new outfit, and a new skill.

If you wanted to play Shadow with your friends and were sad you couldn't, great news! Five of the seven DLC packs will support co-op play, and only one of your friends needs to own the DLC for the both of you to play. 

There will also be three modes for each of the DLCs: Exploration, Score Attack, and Time Attack. 

To test things out, I was partnered up on the first DLC coming out in November, titled The Forge. The goal of challenge DLC is to get to the top of a structure while inside a tower.

Needless to say, communication is very important in completing this mission. 

The DLC plays the exact same way as the base game. Solving puzzles, jumping off ledges, climbing to new heights.

If you had some gameplay problems in the base game, those problems are, unfortunately, in the DLC, too.

The climbing still seems a little weird and you will be jumping up and down trying to get to certain ledges. The camera can get in the way sometimes, too, clinging to weird angles when running around the tower. Even if none of these issues ruined the experience, they are worth noting for those who have played the base game. 

The mission took my partner and me around 30 minutes to complete, but if you don't communicate well, it could take longer.

The puzzle was pretty hard to figure out at first, too, and involved you splitting up with your partner in order to move forward. 

The Forge is one of seven upcoming DLC's coming out over the next couple of months. Here is what that DLC schedule looks like:

  • November: The Forge
  • December: The Pillar
  • January: Devil Inside
  • February: Unwilling Savior
  • March: Serpents Heart
  • April: Grand Caiman
  • May: Paradise Lost

If you don't own the season pass, you can purchase it for $29.99 or you can buy each DLC pack separately for $4.99.


You can start playing the Shadow of The Tomb Raider DLC starting with The Forge in November.

Just Cause 4 is looking to be crazier than the previous entries of this series and you definitely don't want to miss this one.

Thank you to the Square Enix team for letting me hang out and play these two amazing games.  

Interview with Oscar Brittain, Developer of Indie Racing RPG Desert Child Wed, 17 Oct 2018 16:01:08 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

Best described as a racing RPG set in the near future, Desert Child is an indie title that I've been looking forward to for a long time. Set to release later this year, the game follows a hoverbike racer on his quest to win the ultimate race. 

Sporting a punk aesthetics and an old-school inspired art style, Desert Child looks like an interesting racing title full of action and fun. 

To get a better feel of what under the game's hood, I sat with its developer, Oscar Brittain, to talk about the development cycle, the game's quirks, and unique style. 

GameSkinny(GS): So what inspired the idea of Desert Child?

Oscar Brittain (BS): I guess Cowboy Bebop was a big initial inspiration, but the game changed so much since I started back in 2015. The bounty hunting thing is just a part of a larger game now. I kinda had shelved that idea, then I drew the main character on his bike and was like "YES" and just stuck him into the design for the Cowboy Bebop game.

GS: Desert Child seems to be very punk inspired. Is that the main theme at hand?

BS: I like to say I subscribe to "loose game design theory", also known as "winging it". I do try to keep the spontaneity of the early days going throughout the whole project. It's easy to do when you're a one-person team and you don't need to convince anyone that you should make some drastic change a month before a deadline.

GS: Are there any specific non-game inspirations for Desert Child? Films? Books? TV shows?

BS: Cowboy Bebop was the big one. Redline and Akira were pretty influential for the race sequences.  Other than that, my favourite kind of story is one with a reluctant protagonist, or just some really low-stakes conflict that really just serves as a reason to have cool shit happen. I like JunkyThe Rum DiaryHitchhiker's Guide, Clerks, just that kinda thing.

GS: What inspired you to be a game developer?

BS: I wasn't very good at anything else. We'll see if I'm any good at this when the game comes out I guess haha.

GS: How long have you been developing/conceptualizing this game?

BS: Roughly for about three years? The title has changed a lot over from it's original concept over time though.

GS: What other hobbies are you into? Do they help you with game development?  

BS: I make music, which is usually a big part of game development. I can do sound design from that as well. I also happen to collect old leather bandoleers but I don't like guns though. It's kinda silly I know. I also tried writing a book but it kinda devolved into just referencing videogames and 1980s movies. I suppose learning to write -- kind of -- has helped me with game development.

GS: What games do you like to play when you have time?

BS: I've been loving my time with Digimon World Re:Digitize lately. I like weird games like that with unique systems and mechanics personally speaking. I've also been playing Getting Over It With Bennet Foddy, and Deity Driving. These are pretty great. 

GS: What has been the best feedback you've received about the game? 

BS: I received a comment on the YouTube trailer for Desert Child. It was an interesting critique on the music in the trailer. The music featured is Australian hip-hop music so it was pretty funny to see a comment about that in particular.


GS: What aspects of indie game development people should be more aware of?

BS: Dedication of time. Everything will take longer than you think it will.

GS: Can you tell us about what kind of music we can expect from the game? 

BS: If you head to Youtube and search for "Lofi hiphop beats to chill/study to 24/7", whatever comes up first will be pretty close to what you'll find within the title.

The indie racer and punk-inspired Desert Child is set for release in Q4 2018. If you can't wait you can check out the demo now to hold you over for now. 

Big thanks to Brittain for answering our questions about the game. 

'Tis the Season: The Best Couples Cosplay for Halloween Mon, 15 Oct 2018 10:44:09 -0400 Stephanie Tang


That's all for now!


Did you imagine Halloween to be one of the most romantic seasons of the year? If the answer was no, you weren't thinking deep enough - it's getting cold out there, and even full-body cat suits get cold when you're walking around in them alone!


Got any other ideas for hit couples cosplay? Be sure to let us know!


(image source: We Heart It


Another DC pair that will last the ages. Batwoman and Catwoman don't always see eye to eye regarding pesky matters like legalities and their choices in friends (who may or may not spend an inordinate amount of time locked up in Arkham Asylum) their romance is both explosive and exciting.


Whether you choose to go the iconic Batman Returns route of dressing up as Bats and Selena Kyle like @harley_sinn_87 & @kevindcosplay above, or prefer one of their countless other movie/comic book/video game/cartoon counterparts, I guarantee you will be instantly recognizable by anyone you meet on the street. 


It's also super easy to dress these two up and down depending on your time and budget constraints too!


(image source: Picdeer)


Okay, so maybe this particular couple doesn't actually exist outside of our collective imaginations, but wasn't it just made to be? 


Frozen blew everyone's collective minds when it came out, and the carpool karaoke of "Let it Go" may have died down (for now, wait a few months), but it's simmering just under the surface. And with no canon love interest for Queen Elsa to be found, the internet went ahead and did it for her. 


Enter Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, the personification of ice and snow, stuck forever in the body of a 17 year old. While this is a couple that will never happen for real, it won't stop the rest of us from dreaming!


For those in the know, make this romance a reality with costumes that are either super simple to put together (Jack's) or super easy to find on the market (Elsa's). 


(image source: Fanpop)


So the Overwatch community has a love/hate relationship with shipping of any kind but the dissenters are usually outnumbered by the vastly more talented people who dress up, take photos, and draw fanart, so it's still pretty easy to enjoy what you want.


This particular game with its attempts at rich back story (that is mostly forgotten once you have anything to do with actually playing it) doesn't really have any canon pairings. You could frankly throw a few darts at the hero select screen and come up with a pairing that will have as much canonical backing as any other... not that the internet hasn't tried.


Of course, this makes the game particularly conducive to large group cosplays, or even smaller threes or twos. Soldier 76 and Mercy as seen above are a popular pair, first because of character, but also because they are two of the most commonly picked characters in the game. You can also find the officially licensed costumes and props available through Spirit Halloween (along with Reaper and D.Va) if you're looking for something quick, easy, but undeniably pricey. 


(image source: ACParadise


Choice one if you're on the hunt for something to dress up in with a pal and no romantic feelings attached -- or at least we hope not, since Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are brother and sister.


(Yes, there have been some occasional references in canon that might suggest a little too much co-dependency between the two of 'em, but we're not going to get into that squinchy kind of debate right now, okay?)


While I'm not going to spoil the Avengers movies for any poor soul that still hasn't seen them, suffice to say that Scarlet Witch is pretty much a badass. Always. And you are hard-pressed not to love her.


Quicksilver is a little harder to appreciate due to his, sigh, lack of screen time, but I assure you that having a complete set of Maximoff siblings is a heck of a way to make an entrance to any party. 


(image source: Xcoos)


If you're looking to show off with a dash of real romance, how better than with Final Fantasy X's tragically romantic lead pair, Summoner Yuna and her guardian Tidus?


While Tidus might be bit of a blonde and a bonehead to boot, there's nothing he won't do to make sure that Yuna achieves everything that she's determined to. That forced laughter on the way to the Mi'hen Highroad will ring in your ears forever with cringe and second-hand embarrassment, but you have to admit that the scene above was positively beautiful and the stuff of daydreams. 


A little dated, these costumes might be a little more difficult to find on short notice, so you may have to resort to needle and thread if you really want to do these lovebirds justice!


(image source: DeviantArt


Despite being one of comic bookdom's biggest power couples on the planet, DC's Joker and Harley Quinn are also crazy, maniacal, and if you really thought too hard about their power dynamic, probably not nearly as romantic as die-hard fans think they are. 


And yet you can't help it. You love them. Admit it. You do. 


Whether it's in the traditional harlequin suit and true-white clown skin or Margot Robbie's killer turn as Daddy's Lil' Monster in Suicide Squad and Jared Leto's shiny teeth, there's no denying that you knew these two were showing up on this list, didn't you? 


The Suicide Squad Harley may have been last Halloween's most popular costume, but these two will always, always be a staple at any con, any time of the year, forever and ever.. thanks in large part to huge cosplayers like the ones shown above, Anthony Misiano and Alyssa King (aka Harley's Joker and Joker's Harley, respectively). If the names didn't give it away, they are best known for their ultra-realistic Joker/Harley shoots, and their prolific con-going adventures. 


Check out the link below for more awesome photos if you're looking for inspiration! (The photobooth series is my personal favorite.)


(image source: Geek Chic Elite)


Is it love, is it friend-zoned affection, or wistful thinking? The fandom is split on just how romantic the Link and Zelda thirds of the Triforce really are. 


Regardless of which side of the fence that you land, you're hard-pressed to find two more recognizably nerdy costumes than the Hero of Time and "what would it be like if Zelda was a girl?" 


Perfect for whether you want to insist you're "just friends" or leaving things ambiguous, there have also been dozens of different iterations of the Link and Zelda costumes over the years, so piecing one together could be super easy or super detailed depending on skill, cost, and time considerations. 


The original link for this picture is gone, but some internet sleuthing has me fairly sure that it is part of this photo shoot with AdelCosplay. Check it out for some more inspiration!


(image source: Pinterest


(If you want to get to the real superhero duo action, skip to about 1:15 above.)


Somehow Spider-Man is in Los Angeles. He bumps into Deadpool. On a rooftop. Chemistry ignites. The Merc With the Mouth makes a move. The fight, the struggle, the passion. The screen fades to black. 


--Fine, well then how were you going to retell it?


By now it's pretty canon that Deadpool would love to get in on some of that sleek, Spidey action, but it's also pretty canon that our favorite web-slinger just ain't about that life. Ah, doomed romance. Is there anything more heart-wrenching to be imitated and captured IRL?


Because, you see, as temperatures begin dropping and the leaves start falling, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of cosplaying with his lady love.


Or something like that.


The above may or may not be a shameless bastardization of Tennyson, but that doesn't change the fact that with the cooling weather, cuffing season opens.


So whether you want to celebrate your newly minted love affair by showing up hand in claw at the biggest (nerdiest?) Halloween bash of the month, or whether or not you and your best bro are looking to steal the show in your sexy zentai suits and choreographed moves (and catch the eye of the hottest Harley in the crowd), now is the perfect time to get planning. 


Here are some of the best, the wackiest, and the funnest cosplay ideas for couples on the internet. 

Supehero Blitz: The Best Crime Fighter Cosplays! Sat, 13 Oct 2018 13:26:53 -0400 Stephanie Tang


That's all for now! 


This last-but-not-least take on our favorite God of Thunder may not look as polished as all the rest but it's something that you can actually DIY at home without heading out and paying for something off the costume racks (you know the prices are going to be as jacked as Thor's manly biceps right now just before the holiday). Check it out for some more ideas of your own!


Have any other suggestions for awesome superhero costumes? Let us know!


All right, you are probably not going to be pulling together an Ultron costume just in time for the big Halloween bash in a couple weeks. You are probably also not going to confuse Ultron for a superhero, not even a dance-between-the-lines kind of superhero/villain like Catwoman. 


But seriously. who doesn't dream of showing up in a shiny, glowing, show-stealing getup like this? These in particular are by Village’s Hope who partnered with Disney to amp up the crowds at the Thailand premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron


Even cooler is the fact that all that shiny chrome isn't actually shiny chrome at all, but a mix of EVA foam, PVC leather, and LEDs. Wow!


(image source: Geek Tyrant)


Wakanda forever! You didn't think we'd make it through a superhero cosplay post without a little Black Panther thrown in for style, right? 


While there may be very little point by now (who still hasn't watched this movie??) to hold back the spoilers of Infinity War, suffice to say that CutiePieSensei had some pretty good reasons for feeling like baby sister Shuri needed to step up into her big brother's Black Panther shoes. 


This isn't exactly a super canon costume that she's donned since she pulled design inspiration from both the comic books and the movie, but between the wicked styling and the fact that it lights up(!!), it is too rad not to place on this list. 


You should also take a look at some of her other work, including this WIP Starfire (take notes, Titans) and super-stylin' Domino. Super worth. 


Pull some creativity from this talented artist, cosplayer, and gamer. Get inspired by the the designs that excite you, make up some designs your own!


(image source: Instagram)


Can I really think of any one Deadpool cosplayer? (Well, yes, actually, but as much as I love D Piddy, I can't resist the lure of a million convention Deadpools all conga line dancing around the showroom floor.)


Is there anything quite like a Deadpool cosplay? It is such a wacky, oddball, utterly freeing experience where you can pretty much do whatever weirdo thought comes into your brain and somehow it translates into something 300x funnier. 


We're keeping it fairly easy to glam up like this in time for Halloween - with the super success of Deadpool and Deadpool 2, costume stores are stocked for everyone who comes in wanting to play the Merc With the Mouth. Why not join the dance party?


(image source: Geeks and Sundry)


On the topic of nostalgia, the recent wave of Aquaman hype had me thinking back to Adella's fantastically shot series of photos for her Mera costume that she released last year.


It stands out from the pack because of her choice in location and also because her son was just about the right age for Aquababy… and looked so stinking cute dressed up with her! (Check out the link at the bottom to check out the full gallery.)


Adella has been in the cosplay scene for years and is most well-known for how good she looks when dressed up as Aeris/Aerith Gainsborough from FFVII and Malon from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time


If you're thinking of filling in these slick, shiny green shoes, you'll probably be able to put together all the pieces for a decent Halloween costume from easy places like Amazo


(image source: Adella Cosplay)


I don't know what it is about Australian cosplayers this round, but here we're clocking at 3 out of 3! Kyle Parmley's Captain America is somewhat dated at this point (3 calendar years which approximately equals 10 in internet years) but with the end of the Chris Evans era fast approaching, a little nostalgia is good for the soul. 


An actor and performer, Kyle Parmley has got a ton of other priorities before cosplay so he hasn't popped off as many mind-blowing superhero shoots over the years as some of the others on this list, but that hasn't stopped him from taking a turn as both Superman and Batman ("MARTHA!") as well.


If you're thinking of pulling together a Cap costume in time for Halloween, chances are you'll find all the pieces you'll need at your local costume shop or Hot Topic long before you have to buckle down and hunt something down online.


Pint-sized Mary Jane is suited up and ready to kick some serious Green Goblin butt. A dancer and prolific cosplayer (especially for her age!), Nevada Newman's an official model for cosplay store Hero's Time, and hails from Australia.


When she's not playing Spidey's redheaded bombshell, she's also sitting through the tedious body paint process for her amazing Starfire from Teen Titans, smacking mallets around as Harley Quinn, and absolutely slaying as Hela from Thor: Ragnarok. It's a tough schedule, but evidently Nevada is in it to win it. Who says kids can't cosplay as well as the best of 'em?


If you're looking for this exact costume, you can find it on the Hero's Time website, or you can check around for a solid Spidey costume as well. Those are certainly not hard to find either!


(image source: Instagram)


Okay, so villain, superhero.. Catwoman straddles that line most of the time. I think that counts. 


If you think there's something familiar about this face but can't quite put your finger on it, it's probably because you just saw her in the last slide as well as a fantastic genderbent Aquaman. If you didn't even notice, I think that stands as testament to how good she is at her work!


A Melbourne native, Yeliz (or Just Yeliz on Facebook and Instagram) frequents a number of different Aussie cons, and has pulled off a ton of different costumes (check out her Kassandra from Assassin's Creed Odyssey for example, she's an official cosplayer for Ubisoft Australia).


I'll also level with you here. I don't know what iteration of Catwoman this costume comes from. This cowl is reminiscent of the worst-fated Catwoman to date (poor, poor Razzie-winning Halle Berry) but to be honest, it was the best part of that ripped-up leather mess of a costume. The rest of it definitely looks a lot more contemporary. Is it from something? Was it pulled together? I don't know, and I must know!


This particular version might not be the easiest to put together in time for Halloween, but that won't stop you from whipping together something similar from a number of different Catwoman eras. She has been a popular costume for many years, and for good reason!


(image source: Instagram)


New York Comic Con has just finished wrapping up, and so has the summer blockbuster season. It's been a smash hit for the superhero genre.. more on the Marvel side of the fence than DC with runaway winners like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, and some smaller but very profitable successes in movies like Deadpool 2 and the recent release of Venom.


DC has been keeping its cards a little closer to its chest with only a few animated releases scattered throughout the year, pushing only to make upcoming Aquaman the big DC hype machine of the year. Of course, we can still hope that the DC-led Titans (the Teen Titans live action show that garnered so much fan rage over the actress choice and costume styling for Starfire when behind the scenes photos leaked earlier this year) will pleasantly surprise us. 


But with the cooler weather and the fall fever starting to creep up on us, our thoughts to more important questions... what are we going to wear on Halloween? (Totally an adult question.)


Take a look at some of our suggestions, and some of the best versions of these costumes that we've seen!


(image source: GeekxGirls)

EXCLUSIVE: Preview of Toki Remaster on Switch Wed, 10 Oct 2018 18:06:26 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

During New York Comic Con 2018, we were able to sit with Vincent Gallopain of  XOGO Consulting and get some hands-on time with the remaster of the original 1989 arcade game.

If you were somehow in arcades in 1989, you may have seen the original Toki, an arcade-hard run and gun.

In 2009, it was announced that Toki would be remastered for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Cue 2018: It's finally getting its console release, and it's not on either of the aforementioned platforms.

Earlier this year it was announced that a remastered version of Toki will be coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch in 2018, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on the game while at Comic Con.

With the brief time I had to play the game, I was able to play three of the six different stages. One was the typical stage you would find in every platformer, followed by a water stage and a fire stage. 

Let me tell you this, you will die a lot. Just when you think that you blew an enemy up and you're in the clear, remnants of that enemy will shoot at you and take away one of your lives. Luckily enough, you get three lives but even that is not enough. 

Every platform you jump on, everything you climb, you should be aware at what's coming towards you. Because there will always be something. This game was designed for you to die and they did a tremendous job doing so. 

After each death (and there were many) I learned how the stage worked and was able to get a better idea of how I'm supposed to approach each enemy and item that is trying to kill me. The more you die, the easier it will be to successfully complete each stage. At the end of each stage, there is a boss fight that will only rack up your death toll.

When asked about why it is only releasing on Switch, Gallopain said that the Switch is such a nostalgia machine. From the Neo Geo ports to the older arcade classics that are showing up on the console, the Switch is the perfect platform for a game like Toki. The Switch also being a huge platform for Indie games and the ability to play it anywhere were big benefits for having Toki on Switch. 

If you were a fan of the arcade version of Toki then you will be delighted to hear that besides the updated graphics and the re-orchestrated music, Toki is exactly the same. The gorgeous level design and hard difficulty are still centerstage of this remaster.

One of the coolest things about Toki is that it is being released along with a Collectors Edition of the game. The Collectors Edition or what they call the 'Retrollector Edition' comes with the physical copy of the game, an exclusive comic, sticker sheets, exclusive prints along with an Arcade Machine that you can slide your Switch into. 

Toki comes to the Nintendo Switch on November 22 of this year. We would like to extend a huge "Thank You" to Vincent Gallopain for giving us the opportunity to go hands-on with Toki.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news on Toki as it develops. 

Marvel Battle Lines Preview Tue, 09 Oct 2018 15:49:23 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

Marvel is getting into the card battling business with its newest game Marvel Battle Lines.

If you are thinking that it is going to be hard to learn and difficult to master, you are wrong! To learn how to play Battle Lines, you need to know how to play tic-tac-toe. That's right. It's as easy as that!

You have a deck with your favorite Marvel heroes and villains, over 100 to choose from to start and you have to battle against your opponent to make straight or diagonal lines. If you have two or more lines match up, your cards super ability activates and damages your enemies lineup. 

There are two types of cards in this game. There are action cards which act as a power-up for heroes. Character cards feature your favorite Marvel characters, each with their own stats and unique character art.

Marvel Battle Lines features a campaign mode created by Alex Irvine. The first chapter of the campaign will introduce you to the story and how it involves the cosmic cube. A highlight of the campaign being that before and after each chapter, you get a brief scene made to look like a comic book. 

Another mode feature in Battle Lines is a Special Ops mode. Here is where you battle to solve puzzles and fulfill certain win conditions. There are three win conditions and if you achieve all three, you earn better rewards. If getting those three conditions was too easy, there will be a hard mode for you to complete which will give you even better rewards upon completion. 

If you aren't that interested in the Campaign or Special Ops modes, don't you worry! There is a lot of PvP and PvE content which will allow you to win the same amount of rewards. 

Over time, there will be expansion packs released which will feature new Marvel characters along with new locations. Also featured in those packs are new special ops missions as well. Those packs may feature movie tie-ins in the future but they will certainly have comic book tie-ins.  

One reason the team went with the tic-tac-toe gameplay method is that they wanted it to appeal to a broader audience. They want this game to be easy to learn but hard to master, rather than hard on both fronts. With the number of different strategies you can use to defeat the enemy, it will take a while to master this game. 

Marvel Battle Lines comes to iOS and Android devices on October 24. If you would like to receive an exclusive Dr. Strange card and 5,000 in-game gold, you can pre-register for the game at the official website.

I would like to thank the  Game Designer Pine and Product Manager Kiho for talking with me.

Will you be checking MARVEL: Battle Lines out when it arrives on iOS and Android at the end of the month? 

BlizzCon's Schedule Suggests Big Things For Diablo... But What? Thu, 04 Oct 2018 14:09:50 -0400 QuintLyn

Earlier this week, Blizzard released the full schedule for its (kinda) annual convention, BlizzCon. The idea, of course, is to give everyone a chance to plan their weekend ahead of the festivities, but we all know what happens when people start to look and speculate.

This time, fans noticed that the company's long-running fantasy-themed ARPG series, Diablo, holds the place of honor, following the BlizzCon opening ceremony on the main stage in Hall D.

Diablo will be the first in a line-up of "What's Next" panels covering all of Blizzard's IPs throughout the day. But as we all know, if you want con-goers to pay attention to announcements, you make them while you have their attention -- before they wander off to buy stuff or watch esports tournaments.

So, what kind of Diablo announcement should we expect from Blizzcon this year?

Great question! The answer, unfortunately, is that we don't know for certain. But we do have some ideas thanks to the rumor mill that is the internet -- and maybe a bit of common sense.

"Unannounced Project"

First up is the most obvious guess. Diablo 4. It's been more than six years since Diablo 3 first launched on PC -- and over four years since the last expansion, Reaper of Souls, was released. By this point, Diablo fans everywhere are pretty convinced that some form of new game content must be in the works. Right?

Well, they are right. In fact, back in August, GameSpot wrote an article stating that "an unannounced Diablo project of some sort" was in the works. They even backed this assertion by pointing out a job listing for an artist that was needed to work on an "unannounced project".

When looking at the full job description they found it stated Blizzard was working on a "new, unannounced Diablo project."

Unfortunately, the listing is no longer available, and every other listing with "unannounced project" in its description avoided anything that would indicate what game the position might be for.

It should also be noted that the listing never actually said it was for Diablo 4. So, for all we know, it could have been a Diablo mobile game... or perhaps a Battle Royale?


So, what else do we have to possibly confirm that this will actually be the next edition in the Diablo story?

Well, It depends on if you believe 4chan posts or not.

Back in August, a thread appeared on the forum linking to an AMA held by someone claiming to be a "medium level developer on Battle for Azeroth." According to this person, he'd been working on the new Diablo project before moving over to BfA, and he had a few things to say on the next Diablo game.

Probably one of the most interesting things noted in the post is the assertion that the new Diablo game will play more like The Witcher or God of War. There will be no classes, just a single protagonist. 

Most importantly for our discussion, he added that the new game will be announced at BlizzCon.

Now, while mulling over this, do keep in mind that it's an anonymous 4chan post from someone claiming to be a dev. So there's about an 80/20 chance it's just someone trolling.

But hey, that still leaves the 20% chance it's right.

Goldman Sachs seems to think we're getting a Diablo sequel

This is slightly older news, but in December of last year, experts from Goldman Sachs -- the investment bank and financial services company  -- told CNBC that they believe Blizzard's stocks will go up over 2019 and 2020 due to the release of a few new games -- including "Diablo sequels", Overwatch 2, and mobile games.

They didn't explicitly state the Diablo sequels would include Diablo 4. And if you really want to speculate, there is a chance some of the new mobile content could be Diablo related. 

There is another option

Granted, all the things I've noted so far indicate we should probably expect a Diablo 4 (or some sort of game) announcement at BlizzCon this year. But there could be another reason for Blizzard to give the series the spotlight in the convention lineup. 

In case you missed it, back in August, the internet was buzzing with the rumor that Blizzard was working with Netflix on a series based on the Diablo universe. Now, I'll admit, it seems more likely to me that the main-stage post-opening ceremony slot would go to a game announcement, but we do have the Warcraft movie to look back on.

Like all of Blizzard's games, there's a lot of story to Diablo, which means it could translate well into a series of some sort. That said, is a Diablo Netflix series as big of a deal as the Warcraft movie? Is it big enough to push a game announcement out of that prime convention panel spot?

In the end, we'll just have to wait until BlizzCon to find out. But in the meantime, feel free to speculate to your heart's content!

What do you think we'll get at Blizzcon? Will it be a Diablo 4 announcement? A Diablo series announcement? Or something else entirely? Let us know in the comments below. 




10 Cheap DIY Fortnite Costumes for Halloween 2018 Thu, 04 Oct 2018 13:41:58 -0400 Victoria B.


Whether your favorite Fortnite skin is Raptor, Love Ranger, Rex, or any of the ones we've put on this list, hopefully, this cheap, DIY costume rundown will help you find the right costume for Halloween. 


Be sure to share your creations with us as you get ready to celebrate. Oh, and don't forget to wish the driver a Happy Halloween as we dive into one of the best months of the year.





Costume: Rex

It’s not quite as massive as the classic inflatable T-Rex costume, but it is still a fun one to wear.


The most complex part of this costume is the T-Rex mascot head and backpack, but the rest of this classic skin is simply an orange scarfgreen onesie (or pants and T-shirt), and green gloves.


Spirit Halloween has a full costume available for purchase at $49.99, but if you would prefer to purchase separate pieces for a slightly better price, you can find a dinosaur mask on Amazon, as well as the items listed above.


Here's what you'll need:


Costume: Dark Voyager


Dark Voyager has always been a favorite skin for Fortnite players, but it's also a favorite costume choice for cosplayers and Halloween shoppers. Spirit of Halloween has two costumes for the dark masked figure. The cheapest, however, is a $49.99 suit. Sizes range from adult to kids.


Helmets will cost extra, but if you’re a dedicated fan, it may be worth the extra money.


If you don’t want to spend more than you have to, try checking your garage for old motorcycle helmets or ask a friend. Once you have your hands on one you can get crafty with the color highlights by spray painting the lines.


You can also purchase black jumpsuits (or onesie) on Amazon and add neon fabric paint to finish the designs.


Whether you choose to purchase the finished suit or craft your own is up to your budget and time.


Here's what you'll need: 


Costume(s): Bunny Brawler and Rabbit Raider


If you want to be cute and cozy in your Fortnite Halloween costume, look no further than this pair of bunnies for inspiration. Though it could be seen as a simple bunny costume, adding the unsettling buckteeth and whiskers to a hockey mask will get you into the fall feeling rather than the spring spirit.

All you will need is a bunny onesie, bunny slippers, an optional hockey mask, and some paint for the whisker nose. If you want to spend a little extra to bring the Fortnite skin to life, you can use an Easter egg style backpack for your egg grenades.


Here's what you'll need: 


Costume: Love Ranger


Are you a hopeless romantic? If so, Fortnite's Love Ranger skin is the perfect choice for your costume.


However: Do be wary of this one if you have sensitive skin because it’s going to require a full coat of body paint over your face, arms, and torso. Get ready to stretch to reach all those hard to reach spots on your back.


Using grey hairspray and body paint, you can cover yourself to imitate the stone figure. 


You can also use any set of grey wings to strap onto your back. The only other clothes you need are pink sweatpants and grey gloves. If you aren’t spooked by putting contacts in your eye, you can also find white color contacts to match the Love Ranger’s.


Here's what you need: 


Costume: Bush Disguise


There are a lot of popular Fortnite skins you could model your costume after, but one really fun idea is to go as a player in a bush disguise. Not only is it easy to pull off, but this clever costume will give your friends a good laugh as you sneak around this Halloween.


Fake foliage can be purchased on Amazon for $14.48, and once superglued to an old set of clothes, you can camouflage yourself to fool your foes and perhaps jump scare a few strangers.


To get the look above, you can also buy a pair of cheap brown shoes, and cut up some cardboard to tape to your jeans as shin guards. 


Here's what you'll need: 


You probably already have a pair of old jeans and you can get four boxes from the USPS for absolutely free right here


Costume: Leviathan


Though this one will be a little tricky and time consuming, the outcome will be an awesome Leviathan skin costume -- which will totally be worth it.


The key components to this one will be a breathable clear helmet ($18.90) and a fish mask ($6.00). But before you put on the clear helmet, make sure it's safe and breathable.


To recreate the fish himself, you can either get creative with green and pink face paint as well as color hairspray or you can purchase cheap printable fish masks from Etsy.


The main hiccup you might run into is with the suit. Despite there being few suits available that are identical to Leviathan’s, you can pull it off with a grey/white onesie or jumpsuit and tan gloves from Amazon.


Here's what you need for this Fortnite costume:


Costume: Skull Trooper


You can’t go wrong with a skeleton costume on Halloween, but make yours stand out by getting combat ready. Skull Trooper is the perfect Fortnite skin for All Hallow's Eve, and it can even be a lot of fun to make.


This look can be created one of two ways. You can either purchase clothing that already has skeleton outlines printed on them, or you can paint your own.


Using black and white face paint, create an eerie skull and bones along your arms. Next, outline a rib cage and spine on a sleeveless shirt with fabric paint and continue painting the pants legs for a complete skeleton costume.


Be sure to dig out a pair of black combat boots from your closet, and don’t forget to buy a white ski mask and black scarf to mirror this skin.


Costume: Raptor


Not only is this Raptor one of our favorite Fortnite cosplays, it's also one of the easier DIY Fortnite costumes. The best part is that you can get creative with items you might already have lying around the house.


You will need brown combat boots, a shovel, cargo pants, and knee guards. If you don’t have a brown leather jacket, you can find a pleather pilot Jacket for around $40 on Amazon, along with a cheap yellow ski mask for $6.


Finish it off with a pair of yellow gloves and a headset, and you’re good to go. This will be a warm costume so save all those layers for a cold Halloween night.


Here's what you need from Amazon: 


Image source: SilentPillar


Costume: Teknique and Abstrakt


If you’re the crafty type, you’ll have fun designing bright splatter for the skin duo, Teknique and Abstrakt. But don’t worry; It won’t require too much money or time since the core components are simply a grey jacket and purple sweatpants.


Surprisingly, gas masks will only cost between $15-$20 and teal hats are as low as $2.00 online. Though the Abstrakt skin has an additional blue vest, the two will pretty much require the same amount of effort and materials.


Here's what you need from Amazon: 


Costume: Kitsune-Drift


One of the more recent Fortnite skins to release also happens to be one of the most affordable to buy (or even make). With a red vest jacket, a fox mask, and some dark clothing, you can effortlessly pull off this Kitsune Drift Costume for pretty cheap.


Though you could spend extra time crafting a mask such as cosplayer Gibson -- or shelling out some extra money for hand-made, 3D-printed masks -- you can also find masks from as low as $9.50 on Amazon.


Pair that with fingerless gloves, a long-sleeved dark shirt, and a red jacket to match the skin and you're all set. Essentially, this costume would be perfect for anyone on a tight budget and in need of a unique, yet fairly easy-to-make costume.


Here's what you need from Amazon: 


Image source: Justgibsonnn cosplay 


Since its release, Fortnite has steadily released skin after awesome skin. Some are generic, while others are clever and just downright funny. 


As a result, fans have spent dozens of hours putting together fantastic cosplay, like the ones found here, and costume shops around the country have spent dozens of hours stocking their shelves with Fortnite costumes. 


With Halloween just around the corner, we've collected some of the cheapest costume options and easier DIY alternatives spare your wallet and keep you from scrambling at last minute on All Hollow's Eve.


Here are some of the most popular Fortnite skins you can buy or recreate to impress your squad this Halloween.


Image source: Wikimedia Commons 

Call Of Cthulhu Preview Impressions: Hooked, Line & Sinker Mon, 01 Oct 2018 09:00:01 -0400 Ty Arthur

Cosmic horror fans have a whole lot of sanity-blasting mayhem to look forward to in the near future. Just like we had Agony and Lust For Darkness dueling over the top spot for sexed-up horror earlier in the year, now we've got Call Of Cthulhu and The Sinking City vying for mythos supremacy.

These two titles are intricately intertwined, and they were originally supposed to even be the same game! Frogwares shunted the official Call Of Cthulhu off to Cyanide Studios and instead switched gears to the open world Sinking City instead.

While Sinking City isn't coming until early 2019, we get to hear the call of the great old one Cthulhu in October, and I had the pleasure of trying out the first two hours in an extended preview.

From what I've played so far, Call Of Cthulhu is radically different from what anyone may have been expecting. This is nothing like what the advanced trailers or gameplay previews may have led the gaming populace to believe.

Walking Sim Or Investigative Adventure Game?

There's been one question in all the forums: is this a walking simulator or a defenseless horror game where you just run from the big baddie?

It's important to note that Call Of Cthulhu is based on the Chaosium pen and paper RPG rules, and that's a distinction that may change your perception of the game entirely.

It wouldn't be fair at all to compare this cosmic horror entry to something like Layers Of Fear, which seems to be the biggest worry from genre fans. Although the focus of the game is most assuredly not on combat, this isn't just about walking around and occasionally avoiding an un-killable enemy.

The best way to describe the gameplay would be a mix of the investigation aspects of Observer meeting the non-combat parts of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines.

This is an RPG, there's no question about it, its just an RPG that is (vastly) more focused on dialog, solving puzzles, and finding objects than on pulling out a gun or getting into fist fights. In fact in the preview section, there was no combat at all.

Translating PnP To The First Person Format

If you're wondering about the aesthetic, rest assured Cyanide gives us an unhealthy green pallor to everything, and plenty of that "Innsmouth look" is found among the characters and locations. You can also expect to come across a whole lotta rotting fish carcasses.

Visuals aside, there's a big shift in style as this pen and paper system is translated to the first person 3D perspective. The d100 skill system is sort of there still, but it's more hidden under the hood and presented as different ways to handle situations.

For instance, using Spot Hidden might help you find an object for bypassing a puzzle entirely, while you could instead use Strength to intimidate someone into revealing a clue or Investigate to pick a lock.

There's a very low chance to succeed on skill checks in the early segments before you start earning extra points to add, so your starting build is critical to your play style. A jack of all trades will truly be master of none here.

Like with the pen and paper game, investigation is the focus, whether that involves questioning the locals, digging up dusty tomes, or finding clues to the scene of a crime.

There are plenty of instances where you can get more information by returning to characters and questioning them again after you found some clue or object in a different area.

That's huge -- because there are parts of the map you can just flat out miss entirely, so fully exploring a section before moving on is critical if you want the whole story.

When you find particularly important locations, you get to enter "scene recreation" mode, which is actually a really interesting way of visually representing the discovery of clues. This mechanic will definitely make you think of Will Graham piecing together crime scenes from the Hannibal TV show.

Once you've found all the clues, what's there to do in an investigative adventure game on another playthrough? It seems like replay value in the full game will come from two main areas.

The first will be in tackling the early segments of the game in various ways with different builds. For instance, there were several rooms I wasn't able to access in my first playthrough as I didn't have the ability to pick locks.

Based on missing dialog wheel sections, it seems pretty clear there were clues in those rooms that would have opened up new conversation paths.

I'm guessing the second way to create a desire to replay will be in the ending, which appears to have two major branching points.

Based on a few choices presented in the preview, it seems like the main character's ultimate fate will likely either be drunk and drugged (but with their mind safely harbored away from the awful truth), or sober and with their mind fully engaged. That second option will almost certainly lead to permanent madness.

It also seems pretty clear from a few hints in the preview that this story will follow the tried and true path of revealing the protagonist has uncomfortably ichthyic parentage.

Give Us More Madness, Please

After wrapping up the preview playthrough, I sincerely hope what was presented wasn't the entirety of the first four chapters in the full release version, because they are all extremely short.

There needs to be more to interact with, more to learn, and more ways to use your skills in all four chapters. The sanity system also wasn't explored much, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing where that goes.

It seems like as you experience more mind-breaking events, the detective's thinking shifts away from rational A to B thought processes and expands out into more creative jumps in logic.

I definitely want to see more of the interactions between the different factions on the island, as well. Cops, smugglers led by a murderous woman, local whalers, and an underground cult are all on a collision course here, but we just got the barest of a hint of what's going on between those groups in the preview.

Dead But Dreaming... Of More Polish And Bug Fixes

The game isn't finished yet, so take this next section with a grain of salt, but there are some major bugs to be worked out still.

In particular, the dialog quality varies wildly, with the sound raising or dropping between sentences and making it very clear these snippets were not all recorded at the same time.

There are also times where it seems like this style of game might have been better off in a 2D dialog-driven presentation without voice acting. For instance, in games like Tyranny, Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2, etc. the developers spent a ton of time making sure all the branching dialog paths interact as intended. 

Here, it's more hit or miss. In one particular conversation, an NPC spoke as though they knew me and we had been introduced. The only problem with that is that I picked the dialog choice to introduce myself last, so the whole conversation made no sense and ended very awkwardly.

There were furthermore several times where the dialog wheel just stopped working. I could move it with my mouse, but couldn't click any options or press anything with the keyboard, so I just had to re-launch the game. 

The Bottom Line, And What's To Come

In the beginning, I really wasn't sure what to make of this version of the Call Of Cthulhu rules, but by the end of the tunnels beneath the mansion on Darkwater Island I was hooked and wished it hadn't ended.

With some polish and bigger areas, this could be one of the better representation of the mythos in video gaming, and hopefully, it's just the beginning.

It would be a very welcome change to see these rules translated into more modern tales down the line, rather than the typical 1920s setting. That stellar first season of True Detective showed the world you can have a successful investigative story with the mythos firmly planted in the background, and you don't even need tentacle monsters to show up at all.

Call Of Cthulhu will also serve as a sort of a test run for the upcoming PC rendition of the pen and paper Werewolf: The Apocalypse RPG, currently being developed by Cyanide Studio. How this game is received will certainly have a big impact on how Werewolf performs when it finally sees release.

Horror fans are getting a little spoiled with two major mythos entries arriving in short succession. If you want a dialog-based investigative game centered more on the pen and paper style, Call Of Cthulhu will be your pick. If you prefer a more action-oriented open world style, then Sinking City will likely be your top choice instead.

Me? I'm gonna play 'em both for double the madness.

Breathedge Early Access Impressions: Fart Jokes, Survival, and the Great Void of Space Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:25:28 -0400 Oscar Gonzalez

There's little doubt survival games have grown in popularity in recent years. With the likes of Ark: Survival Evolved, The Forest, and Subnautica making waves, the serious struggle of surviving the elements, as well as man and nature itself, has turned into a compelling genre in gaming.  

Then there's Breathedge

Recently released into Steam Early Acces, Breathedge is a game that takes the survival game formula on turns it sideways. Instead of worrying about a zombie apocalypse, cannibals, or of the frigid wilds of Canadian wilderness, players will do what they can to survive in space. 

OK, sure. There are survival games in space, too, like Osiris: A New Dawn and Take On Mars, but unlike other games in the same subgenre, Breathedge throws seriousness to the wind by adding in a hefty dose of comedy to make for an interesting change of pace.   

A Space Story

Developed by RedRuins Softworks, Breathedge is what happens when someone plays Prey and thinks it needs more fart and pee jokes. Currently in Steam Early Access, the game puts players in the shoes of a Russian astronaut carrying his grandfather's ashes into space for a star-studded funeral.

Of course, as space is wont to cause, an accident invariably happens and the player will try to survive out in space -- and that's where the seriousness ends. 

After the intro involving two mobster robots that could have shown up in any episode of Futurama, players find themselves in a leaky airlock. The first option is to plug the tube using a prized chicken, but unfortunately, the chicken has another "hole" in it, causing air to escape.

This leaves the second option as the only viable alternative: plug the hole with chewed bubble gum. 

Once out of the airlock and in the "station" proper, pictures and other interactive items help give some background on the player's character, the grandfather, and this strange future where condoms and lead paint are required to improve everything from your spacesuit to your oxygen tanks.

Don't Die, Comrade

In typical survival game fashion, hunger and thirst will be two of your biggest enemies in Breathedge. Both will tick down as the game goes on, while oxygen will deplete once you step into space. When either of the three drops to zero, the player's health starts ticking away and could ultimately lead to the "Comrade, You Are Dead" screen.

Oh, and there's radiation to consider because space. 

However, it's something you'll have to deal with because stepping outside into the void of space is where Breathedge really takes off. RedRuins captured the beauty of outer space with nearly pinpoint accuracy. It's beautiful and expansive, serene and still.

Well, up until the point when warning sirens blast through that serenity, screaming that you're running out of air.

Oxygen plays a big role in Breathedge, hence "breath" in the title. Early on, players will have to time their trips outside appropriately or else they'll find themselves running out of oxygen. It makes for a unique addition to the survival game formula as running out of air can cause a quicker death than going hungry or thirsty.

It requires a bit more planning and can lead to tense moments of rushing back to base on a quickly depleting clock, something you'll quickly get used to because space is where you'll have to gather the resources needed to survive and build tools. 

The more resources you gather, of course, means the more tools and equipment you'll have available to build. Building more equipment means the ability to improve oxygen reserves or build oxygen stations in space to explore even farther away.

There are a dozen or so areas to scavenge that contain more resources and blueprints for new equipment, so exploration is always pushed further and further out. The farthest area currently available for exploration is a ship that will officially end the first chapter available in Early Access, but there are surely more to come in future updates. 

Floaty Controls 

The controls in Breathedge are fairly basic since most of the actions involve clicking around to pick up items or collect resources. However, movement can leave a lot to be desired in this early stage in the game. 

Get too close to a floating resource and you can knock it away. Far away. Move a bit too fast and you can whiz on by an object or landmark, forcing you to whip back by and a (hopefully) slower speed.

There's a certain amount of finesse needed with the controls to get the timing just right. It adds a certain "reality" to the game, but with all of the game's other "unrealistic" elements, it can be a bit grating. 

(Un)Intuitive Inventory Management

There's also a lack of intuitiveness in regards to inventory.

In Breathedge, there are a lot of items to collect and only a limited amount that can be carried on your person. After a while, players will have to make use of the container located in the main room or simply leave the junk all over the floor.

Like other survival games, this type of "inventory management" is likely part of the struggle to survive, but there could be some changes to make it a better experience for the players -- can we get another locker, please? Or, you know, a backpack? 

Along with all the resources you need to carry around with you, there's also a need to make multiple tools. Every item or tool you plan to use, from a drill to a key, needs to be equipped in one of your four item slots -- so there's a lot of opening up the inventory screen to get the tools needed.

Since tools have a durability number attached to them, once they break, players will have to pull up the inventory screen and equip the item again. Although there's a shortcut you can take, any method comes off as a bit on the tedious side. 

In Space, No One Can Hear You Fart

Breathedge's big selling point is the humor.

I felt it was a bit gauche, but without the humor, this constant gathering and building of tools would become incredibly mundane. It's a much different approach from the doom and gloom of most survival games.

Most of the humor will come in the form of item descriptions, such as the Accelerator that uses bodily gases to propel you faster in space. Or, for example, a dead, floating astronaut can be found chained to a bed while in the middle of some kinky act before an accident threw him into outer space.

Other jokes will occur via the spacesuit computer as it describes impending doom, provides an endless amount of bad advice, and has players complete a mission that requires to build an item aptly called "Crap Imposed by the Developers."

In the end, it makes life and death a bit less serious. 

The Verdict (For Now)

If you want a game filled with humor then Beathedge has plenty. It's enough to make the repetitive tasks seem not so banal (that is if they hit you just right).

Those interested can find it on Steam for $15.99. RedRuins Software said in a recent update that chapter two will release by the end of 2018. 

Call Of Duty Black Ops 4: Blackout Battle Royale Open Beta Impressions Tue, 18 Sep 2018 10:31:08 -0400 Ty Arthur

After releasing a trailer for Blackout just over a week ago, Treyarch finally let the wider world in on the mode's beta over the past two weekends. 

Along with Rapture Rejects and Fractured Lands, Blackout has easily been one of the most anticipated Battle Royale entries of the year. With the beta on PC finally launching last Friday, we finally got a taste of what to expect in this new twist on a familiar recipe.

If you didn't get a chance to play this weekend, here's what you need to know about the battle royale mode coming with Black Ops 4 on October 12. 

Battle Royale Mode, Call Of Duty Style

A lot of players weren't really sure what to expect from Blackout mode based on some of the early news trickling out from Treyarch and Activision. Would it be a wacky, wild time like the more colorful and outlandish BR games? Are they trying to emulate the realistic survival shooters but just add in some high tech equipment and vehicles?

After playing the open PC beta, its clear Blackout mode is much more PUBG than Fortnite, which is probably bad news for the former considering their dwindling player count. There's no harvesting resources or building structures, and not much in the way of silliness either.

Many of the COD standbys are here, however, like flash bangs and some familiar weapons. If you think you've mastered Call Of Duty's multiplayer, get ready to re-learn your strategy, as there are significantly increased health and armor from what you'd expect. There won't be any instances where you can knife a guy and he goes down in one hit, and headshots aren't an instant kill if the other player has full armor.

Beloved locations from across the series are built into the extended map size, including the infamous Nuketown. Sadly, that area is on the far edge, so it's usually one of the first to be swallowed by the shrinking circle.

Much like Fortnite, your strategy can change radically based on where you landed, from tense vertical office building firefights to open landscape sniping.

The speed of the game essentially splits the difference between Fortnite and PUBG. Battles are hectic and frantic if a group lands in the same area, but firefights will slow down as the herd thins due to the slow shrinking of the circle. I'd expect some tweaks on the circle speed by release. Battles do tend to last longer in Blackout than other BR games, however, due to the higher health and prevalence of armor.

Since Black Ops 4 is all about the multiplayer, Treyarch made the decision to have each mode collide in certain ways, which adds a little something extra. For instance, zombies appear in some matches of Blackout mode for a further challenge (or for using to your advantage if you lure another player into them).

In most ways, this is a very standard Battle Royale experience. You jump off the aircraft and pick a landing site, hoping to find loot quickly before getting into a brutal firefight.

If you've played any BR game, you know exactly what to expect. The wingsuit feels more responsive and has better control on the way down than many other games, however.

Equipment and weapons are currently everywhere, with dozens of options in larger buildings. It's extremely unlikely you'd ever be without a weapon immediately in the first structure you enter.

Loot is currently so plentiful that it seems item counts will likely be reduced in the full version, as inventory management becomes an issue.

A Fistful Of Guns

Besides all the typical shotguns, assault rifles, and sniper options, Blackout mode features an array of high tech gadgets to utilize.

The sensor dart is nifty, letting you know where nearby enemies are located, but personally, I had the most fun with the grapple gun.

Like with most crazy gadgets, you can accidentally kill yourself by attaching to the wrong surface, as I learned early on. That actually ended up being my first ignominious end, not at the hands of a homicidal fellow player, but by misjudging my grapple.

In my very first round, I didn't take into account the speed of the collapsing circle and ended up taking a bunch of damage while sprinting into the safe zone.

I made it with -- and I kid you not -- exactly one health remaining. Even a single stray bullet would mean my imminent demise, so I figured the right thing to do was grapple to the top of a building and wait for a wounded player to pass by below. It should be easy to kill someone low on health and loot all their items, right?

Sadly, I grappled onto the exact wrong edge of a building and ended up falling off instead of landing safely on the ledge. I took at least one point of damage from falling, and that was the end of my first Blackout match. Hey, at least I made it into the top 10!

 This is me, at exactly 1 health, just barely escaping the circle

The Bottom Line

Visually, Blackout mode isn't up to the par with other COD games, but I can see how that would be necessary to have such a huge map with so many players on at the same time. Sadly, it also lacks the vibrant colors and cartoon style of either Realm Royale or Fortnite.

In terms of controls, the scheme is basically split evenly between standard Call Of Duty style (aim down sights, vault through windows, etc.) and the typical Battle Royale options (pick up items, open/close doors, hold key to heal, etc.)

It's a smooth transition once you wrap your head around the fact that you are playing two types of games mashed into one. Other than the graphical downgrade, it didn't ever feel like one style was sacrificed in favor of the other. If you're used to Call Of Duty's gameplay, you'll be at home, and if you're used to PUBG or Fortnite's gameplay, you'll still get the hang of it right away.

In its beta form, Blackout was quite a bit buggier than expected. I get that betas exist specifically to iron out those kinks, but I was surprised that a AAA game due to launch next month still has so many issues.

While the frame rate was stable, on the PC version I had multiple crashes during my evening of play. Hopefully, that will be fixed by the Black Ops 4 October 12th release date. 

Bugs aside, if you love the Call Of Duty gameplay and like the Battle Royale genre, this is a no-brainer. Obviously, you'll dig this and want to pick it up on release day. If you didn't care for how the COD games played before this entry, then adding BR probably won't convince you to jump in.

Want to know what else is in store with the other game modes? Check out our impressions of the other multiplayer Black Ops 4 betas here! Not sold on this year's COD entry yet? Take a look at our definitive pre-release guide for everything you need to know about Black Ops 4.

Life is Strange 2 Theories: Our Predictions for Characters, Plot, and Gameplay Mon, 17 Sep 2018 17:56:16 -0400 Victoria B.

As fall quickly approaches, so does the release of the anticipated third installment to Life Is Strange. The first game was a much-needed success for Dontnod Entertainment and introduced players to Max and Chloe as they searched for a missing Arcadia Bay student using time travel.

The episodic series was a hit and spawned a prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which hinted at the newest game, Life is Strange 2.

Though the developers have revealed some information to fans over the past several months, there are still quite a few mysteries surrounding the game.

Here’s what we know about Life is Strange 2 so far and predictions for what to expect from the next game in the franchise. Of course, there will be spoilers ahead, so tread carefully or turn back now. 

Digging Into Character and Plot

While some fans approved and others did not, the developers at Dontnod Entertainment have made it clear that Max, Chloe, and Rachel’s stories are completed, meaning they're not likely to appear in Life is Strange 2.

While we're sure to get a few nostalgic Easter eggs, players should expect to meet new characters this time around. In fact, we already know who the narrative will focus on based on the end of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, as well as the Life is Strange 2 trailers that have already been released.

What We Know About the Characters of Life is Strange 2

The protagonist of the new game is Sean Diaz, an awkward 16-year-old living with his 9-year-old brother, Daniel, and his single father, Esteban, in Seattle, Washington.

The first episode starts in October 2016, three years after the events of Life is Strange and roughly two months before The Amazing Adventures of Captain Spirit.

The gameplay trailer (which you can see below) reveals the first act of the game and gives audiences a look into each of these characters.

From the footage, we learn that Sean is still finding his passions in life, similar to previous protagonist, Max Caulfield. Sean's father encourages him to settle on one interest to invest his time, but things are, of course, not that easy. This small, but essential thread is something that already ties the series' stories together. 

Along with these pivotal characters, Sean seems to have a close bond with his friend Layla, and though it’s unclear how she'll be involved in the overall story, the amount of screen time she gets in the trailer indicates it’s likely we’ll see her play a larger role in the plot.

Who is the Telekinetic Force in Life is Strange 2? 

The gameplay video below concludes following an intense altercation between an aggressive neighbor and a policeman. When Esteban is murdered by the policeman, Sean's telekinetic abilities are awakened ... 

Or are they Daniel's? 

The footage focuses on Sean when a telekinetic force pushes the officer away.  However, that doesn't mean that Sean is the one with supernatural talents. If we know anything from film -- and Dontnod's previous efforts -- camera angles can be used to deceive the audience. 

We know one of them has abilities, but we'll have to wait and see which character actually holds them. 

Off to Mexico? 

After the altercation with the police officer and Sean's neighbor, the two brothers are forced to run away. From what we know, it's a safe bet they'll be going to Mexico. 

Early in the trailer, Sean's father says that Mexico is his home country, so it would make sense for the boys to seek out family members or, perhaps, even friends there. 

On top of that, we know that Dontnod's writing team traveled to Mexico during development, further suggesting the plot will involve the two brothers traveling there. 

Trailers and comments by the game's writers have also indicated that the brothers will be running from the law.


Predictions for Life is Strange 2

Through careful analysis of the trailers, experience with previous Life is Strange games, and conventions of the genre, here's what we think will happen in this sequel.

Unlike the original, Life is Strange 2 will be taking place in multiple locations and span more than just a few weeks. The brother-duo is often depicted in the wilderness and walking on foot, indicating their physical and emotional journey will be long and rigorous for many months.

With just their journey from Seattle, Washington to Beavercreek, Oregon -- a trek of some 200 miles -- it's evident the two boys will likely be on the road for a majority of the game.

Based on the themes we've seen so far, the story will delve into the classic mold of the road trip, albeit with much heavier connotations than is typically depicted.

It wouldn't be a Dontnod story is there were some antagonists along the way. 

The Antagonists of Life is Strange 2

The Law: We already know the brothers have a "dust-up" with the police, so it's not a stretch to assume the many members of the law will be after the duo. 

Evading arrest and questioning, especially when escaping Washington, will likely be the primary form of opposition the player will face. This could also create a few interesting when it comes to narrative and choice throughout the game.

Layla: OK. Hear this one out. While Layla is clearly an ally to the two and in no way a villain, it doesn't mean she won't get in the way of their journey. Concerned about her missing friends, Layla may desperately seek to find out where they are and inadvertently expose them to the authorities.

Nature: Nature is a common source of antagonism in these types of stories. The overcoming the environment, escaping the wilderness, and struggling to survive all play roles in many coming-of-age or adventure narratives. Now that the two protagonists are without money, parents, or food, it's clear that not all of the game's antagonists will be flesh and blood.

Relationships: There are bound to be some bumps in the road with the brother's relationship. The two, exhausted from travel and dealing the loss of their father, probably will have trouble adjusting to the new power dynamic of their relationship. Also, Sean's influence on Daniel could backfire in the future. As the developers have stated, everything Sean does affects Daniel's behavior.

Daniel's Power: Though it's a little unclear who wields the telekinetic powers, I predict it's Daniel mainly because of the images in the gameplay footage and the twist it would give to the plot. It would also be a smart choice for writers to have Daniel be supernatural since he is still a young child. The power will be even more dangerous and difficult to control. The players will need to help Daniel manage his newfound abilities. However, Daniel's emotions led to the first catastrophic destruction and could lead to more throughout the story.

We predict players will have to overcome each of these struggles as they make their way to the destination.

Gameplay and Mechanics

Many of the mechanics in Life is Strange 2 are going to be similar to previous installments, but the newest game does have a few changes up its sleeves.

For example, Sean will be able to interact with other characters, and you can select his dialogue or actions, thus affecting the narrative in real-time. Most dialogue choices and narrative decisions function the same as previous Life is Strange games, but your choices in this story affect what Daniel learns from his older brother.

Whatever Sean does will teach Daniel what is right and wrong.

Sean will also carry his sketchbook around, which is similar to Max’s journal in Life is Strange and Chloe’s letters in Before the Storm. While the sketchbook includes journal entries and gives the player a look into the character’s inner thoughts, it also acts like Max’s photographs or Chloe’s graffiti tags.

Sean will find opportunities to observe his surroundings and the more things he notices, the more detailed his drawings will become. We imagine sketches will be a new collectible for completionists to seek out.

Also like other games in the franchise, the protagonist also has a phone, which will be used to show interactions with other characters, such as those with Sean's best friend, Layla. 

Another new addition is Sean's backpack, which the game's designers have suggested will impact the brothers as they travel. Players can decide what to store in their backpack, but there may be limited space, forcing the player to choose what to take and what to leave behind, adding another wrinkle to the gameplay.

The mechanic that has peaked most players interests, however, is the new supernatural abilities. Life is Strange’s other titles have demonstrated how they can work without Max’s time control powers, but we all know superpowers -- and the mechanics they bring with them -- can be a lot more fun. 

If Sean is the character who actually has the abilities, you will likely be able to use it in the game, but if it is Daniel’s power, you may instead be instructing the younger brother on when and how to use his powers.


With new characters, story, and gameplay, Dontnod wisely seems to be aiming for a fresh new experience that also feels familiar.

Once the first episode of Life is Strange 2 is released, fans will have the opportunity to dive back into the world as Sean and enjoy the Life is Strange universe in a new way.

The first of the five-episode series is set to release September 27 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for our review of the game, as well as more news and information on the Life is Strange universe as it releases. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider's Photo Mode Broke My PS4 Share Buttons Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:56:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Even if it means I need a separate savings account just for new controllers, every modern game should have a built-in photo mode. After spending 60+ hours in the gorgeous world that is Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I'm in the market for two new Dualshock 4's if I want to continue my escapades as an armchair paparazzo.

With more than 175 screenshots, it's no wonder that two share buttons on two Dualshocks have given up the ghost. With so many breathtaking vistas and interesting NPCs -- not to mention the Tomb Raider herself -- it's hard not to pause the game very few seconds to grab a snapshot of the environment or of the game's many explosive moments. 

God help me, I've not even played Marvel's Spider-Man yet. Excuse me while I take an advance on my next paycheck. 

In the past year and a half, games like Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, the recently released Spider-Man, and Assassin's Creed: Origins have proven that most gamers secretly midnight as well-trained professional photographers. Just check out these spectacular community shots of your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, and you'll see there's a growing number of us that could should have second careers in white-collar game photography. 

While it's most certainly not as robust as the mode found in Spider-Man, and it has a few annoying limitations, Shadow of the Tomb Raider's photo mode makes for stunning, funny, and sometimes "creepy" shots.

Earlier this year, the NPD Group affirmed that the Dualshock 4 was the best-selling controller of all time. It could be because so many console gamers own PS4s, which inevitably inflates the controller's sales numbers. But it could also be that like me, many PS4s owners just like taking pictures and keep breaking share buttons.

OK. Probably not, but it fits the weird angle of this article, so let's just go with it.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

However, one thing that's for sure is this: developers would do well to make photo modes more ubiquitous. Take the pulse of gamers and it's obvious that regardless of platform, we want the ability to not only make our own content from the games we love, but we also want the tools to do so right at our fingertips. 

Regardless if our controllers and equipment hold up shot after shot, we want to share game worlds with our friends and families, as well as the developers that spend so much time making them. It might seem inconsequential on the surface, but in a culture heavily predicated on everyman content creation, gamers demand the ability to share their exploits in multiple ways at the touch of a button.  

It's true that many of us could only dream of having the talents and abilities of true professionals like Duncan Harris of deadendthrills or Justin Pollock of Virtual Geographic, both of whom take truly breathtaking images used for marketing assets across the industry. But for the average gamer, having access to the tools those specialists have at their disposals is mostly out of reach. 

In-game photo modes increasingly help bridge that gap. 

Just like many that spent hour after hour taking amazing shots of Kratos and the frigid world of this year's God of War, and those who took picture after picture of a spandex-clad Peter Parker swinging through the Big Apple in Marvel's Spider-Man, most of my time with Shadow of the Tomb Raider was spent behind the lens. 

And even though I'm going to have to drop $60+ to grab a few new controllers, what I came away with after 60+ hours in SotTR was well worth the price.

That's because sometimes, playing video games isn't about blowing shit up or pounding other players into submission. Sometimes it's not about high scores or leaderboards. And sometimes it's not even about a good story. 

Sometimes, it's about getting so immersed in a world that you come out the other side feeling like you're somehow a part of it -- that you somehow affected it in a unique way. 

If you want to see some of the photos we took in our time with Shadow of the Tomb Raider's photo mode, take a look at our gallery on Imgur. Now, I'm off to add a few Dualshocks to my cart.  

Top Video Game Cosplays: Dragon Con 2018 Tue, 11 Sep 2018 10:18:41 -0400 Victoria B.


This year's Dragon Con brought talented artists, fans, and cosplayers together to celebrate multiple facets of nerd culture including film, literature, comics, TV series, video games, and more.


We're all sad to see the convention come to a close but are excited for what the next year will bring. We'll be anticipating more amazing costumes from various player based communities in the meantime.


Thank you to all the wonderful cosplayers and artists included and not included in this list.


This towering Anthem cosplay is one of the first of its kind and definitely one of the most impressive costumes at Dragon Con 2018.


Cosplayer Elliot, from the couple cosplay group, Irradiant Cosplay, attracted tons of attention with a massive bright yellow Javeline suit from the upcoming EA and Bioware game, Anthem. Bioware even showed their appreciation of the costume by reposting the images on their Instagram.The third person shooter RPG is set to come out in February 2019, but this costume made players even more excited for its release.


Irradiant's carefully crafted gear and elaborate suit make the it one of our favorite video game cosplays. We can't wait to see more from this cosplaying duo.


(Photo: Irradiant Cosplay -


Photographer: World of Gwendana - )


One of the most challenging cosplays to pull off from Overwatch is Bastion, but this cosplayer took on the challenge. He handmade his massive omnic suit with Ganymede, Bastion's bird companion, on his shoulder. The cosplay is equipped with an internal cooling system and working LED's, which shift between colors to express his mood. His back carries Bastion's large turret and his right arm is also a gun. We were shocked when this costume didn't win at the video game cosplay competition, but it definitely was a crowd-pleaser. 


Another fitting display for the Georgia Aquarium were these little sisters and big sister Bioshock cosplays. The cosplayers accurately depict the eerie, atom collecting, little sisters of the undersea world of Rapture. Big Sister, the protector of the little sisters, is also quite detailed with needles at her arms and a deep diving helmet. The three garnered quite the applause at the aquarium's costume contest, and it was well deserved.


These Dark Souls and Bloodborne fans teamed up to recreate one of the best and most recognizable memes.


Celestial_Requim (right) wears a custom suit as the Atorias the Abyss Walker and holds hands with his fellow Dark Soul's cosplayer, Johnny Goodwill (Sunlightofastora).


Johnny, an artist, prop maker, and cosplayer is in a full set of armor as an Elite Knight from Dark Souls. Abyss Walker watches in jealousy as his disloyal Elite Knight eyes a Hunter Bloodborne cosplayer, Antique_Doll.


All three put countless hours into their detailed and intricate costumes of leather, chainmail, plated armor, and weapons. Not only do they don some of the most interesting costumes at the convention, but they also had one of the best collaborative photos.


Check out their work at the following Instagrams.


(Elite Knight - John Goodwill: Sunlightofastora - )


(Abyss Walker - Celestial_Requiem -


(Hunter - Antique Doll -


Jennifer, an artist and cosplayer, surprised us with her incredible talents using makeup, body paintwork, and costuming that brings the cartoonish and harsh lines of Borderland's art style to life. Her cosplay of Gaige, a high school student who created the dangerous robot, Deathtrap, caught many Dragon Con goers' attention. This is just one of Jennifer's many cosplays that utilizes her art and makeup skills to recreate memorable video game characters.


(Cosplayer and Image: GoldVesterCosplay - )


Married Makers, a cosplaying duo, both work with 3D printing to create high-quality props and armor -- like these Diablo 3 Crusader and Hunter costumes.  Each costume is impressive from a distance, turning the heads of attendees and video game fans around the con, but when closely examined viewers can notice the fine intricate designs of the armor pieces. The sheer volume of these costumes and the attention to detail put these cosplayers on the top of our list. Check out their other work and props at the following links.


(Married Makers: Instagram -


Facebook: )


What better place for a Sidon costume than the Georgia Aquarium. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fans were thrilled to see their favorite shark prince brought to life and walking past creatures of the sea. The prince of Zora is a positive and supportive companion for Link during his journey through Hyrule, quickly making him a fan favorite. This cosplayer does the character justice with her detailed makeup, shark headdress, and Zelda garb. 


The con was filled with some amazing sets of armor, including this Dark Souls Silver Knight costume. Kyle, the designer and cosplayer, crafted this piece over multiple months of rigorous work. The process required shaping foam, which was dipped in plastic. Finally he sprayed it with filler primer and began sanding for hours.


Kyle enjoyed his time as this dreaded enemy from Dark Souls and loved the reactions from players who recalled dying from his bow in Anor Londo.


Along with his amazing Dark Souls cosplays, Kyle performs as a knight in jousting tournaments at renascence festivals.


See more of his work on his instagram: 


It's unsurprising that we found this cosplayer roaming the isles of classic arcade games, considering the run and gun arcade gameplay of Cuphead.


Fans will immediately remember the dreaded King of Dice as a formidable opponent when seeing this con-goer and have flashbacks to rage inducing deaths at his hands.


The cosplayer recreated the the antagonist's 30's cartoon style look with white gloves, large eyes, and a cartoony grin. He even emulated his gestures and movements from the game as he strolled through the arcade. We're just happy he's posing for photos instead of shooting a deck of cards at us.




Crowds erupted in cheers for this Pac-Man costume at the video game costume contest, despite the fact that he was in the audience as a viewer rather than a contestant. The judges questioned why he would not enter the competition himself with such an elaborate and entertaining cosplay. He simply responded with a built-in Pac-Man game over sound effect, creative miming, and the flashing LED glowing ghost on his chest. Instead of joining the stage, he enjoyed the show from the seats, but he received just as many photo op request as the contestants after the show.


Warframe has a massive following of players, one of which could be spotted a mile away at Dragon Con. This colossal "Golden Warrior" could be seen above the crowds with his hefty golden armor and red accents. It's surprising that the cosplayer could even move underneath the weight of his plated armor while carrying a heavy weapon, a guandao, as well.


Though the suit is massive, the cosplayer himself was incredibly tall, making him the perfect candidate for this Warframe costume.




Artist and cosplayer, Annie Dean, reminded players of one of the best PlayStation exclusives by That Game Company, Journey with her Dragon Con cosplay.


In just two weeks, what began as scattered red cloth in the dining room soon turned into this carefully crafted costume. Her cloak, mask, and hood are identical to the iconic traveler and emulate every detail of the character. Despite the Georgia heat, she pulled off this costume well.


We look forward to seeing more work from this artist at future cons. See her cosplays and artwork in the link below. 


(Cosplay and Image: Annie Dean -


These dedicated Destiny fans gathered at Dragon Con to celebrate and share their intricate cosplays. Each one created sets of detailed armor for the con and fit into the three classes: hunters, titans, and warlocks.


Darren (left), expressed how the Destiny community, made visiting Dragon con "feel like coming home every time."


They look like they've stepped right out of the game with customized helmets, cloaks, shields, pistols, and rifles. All four have their own unique color scheme while still being authentic to the game.


These cosplayers deserve a victory cheer emote for their meticulous work.


(Cosplayer: Davdia - Instagram -


Angel Griuffian offered one of the best Overwatch cosplays as McCree at the convention. Her costume consists of the classic BAMF belt, poncho, and cowboy hat. She's also rocking his weapons of choice, a revolver and stun grenades. The actress/cosplayer is also using a custom arm prosthesis and bionic hand, similar to the beloved gun slinger's.


She states, "I’m so happy I got the opportunity to #cosplay another awesome badass limb different character. As a person with a limb difference, it’s always exciting when there’s a character that 'looks like me' on tv, film, video games, and comics."


Angel is an advocate for representation of amputees in media and uses this cosplay to show her appreciation of inclusive games like Overwatch.


Check out her cosplays and other work at her Instagram.


(Angel Griuffian: Instagram-


Dragon Con is known for its celebration of fantasy, science fiction, arts, comics, gaming, and so much more. It's one of the largest events in Downtown Atlanta, and this labor day weekend was no different, bringing in over 80,000 attendees, many of whom donned amazing and intricate costumes. Cosplayers filled the halls of the five host hotels and walked the streets for five days of events, parties, and photo shoots.


Our favorites could be found at the gaming tracks, and we've compiled a list of our top picks. These are some of the best video game cosplays at Dragon Con 2018.


All images listed were used with cosplayers' permission. Support them by following available links.


(Photo: Irradiant Cosplay)


Photographer: World of Gwendana)

Twitter and Reddit's Most Spectacular Spider-Man Pics From Photo Mode (So Far) Fri, 07 Sep 2018 17:00:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Much to the delight of Spidey fans the world over, Marvel's Spider-Man is finally out. To celebrate ole' Webhead's return to form, Twitter users and Redditors have already started showing their love for Insomniac's vision by posting some truly awesome pics from the game's robust photo mode. 

As others have pointed out, what makes Spider-Man's photo mode stand out is that it allows players to not only take spectacular photographs of our friendly neighborhood wallcrawler, but to put those photos on everything from billboards to comic book covers, the latter of which is really the biggest draw. 

From the looks of it, players are taking to it with gusto, giving Peter Parker a legitimate run for his money by using the camera mode to take some great shots.

Here are some of the very best we've seen on both Twitter and Reddit so far. We'll be updating this list as more players get their hands on the game. 

Best Spider-Man Photos From Twitter









Best Spider-Man Photos From Reddit

Reddit User: Semajjohnson473

Reddit User: Smoke4issa

Reddit User: Hadu-Ken12

Reddit User: Bustacapshaw

Reddit User: THE-WARD3VIL

Reddit User: Azeema_

Reddit User: DickDatchery

Reddit User: Disordo

Reddit User: fujbuj

Reddit User: UnknownNinjaPew

Reddit User: Super-Sam1995

Reddit User: AceAttorney719

Reddit User: Zireael1993

Reddit User: Crowleeyy

Reddit User: GoldieHand

Reddit User: Puddin--

Reddit User: Tykon420

Reddit User: Ogsvenom


Got your own Spider-Man photos you'd like to share? Know someone who's a regular Peter Parker with the in-game camera? Hit us up in the comments below and we'll feature them here. 

Stay tuned for our official review of Spider-Man, and as always, keep it tuned to GameSkinny for all your gaming news, reviews, and expert guides. 

Header image via Redditor Hazardez

Why We Need a New Katamari Damacy Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:57:22 -0400 Bryant Pereira

According to a post on ResetEra, Bandai Namco recently filed a trademark for Katamari Damacy Reroll. While no information has been officially announced, the title of the trademark hints at the possibility of a remaster or HD collection. The last Katamari game to release on consoles was Touch My Katamari for the PlayStation Vita in 2012. Two mobile titles, Tap My Katamari and Amazing Katamari Damacy were released in the past two years.

Other than the obvious reasons -- like six years passing since a console release and giving me an excuse to sing the incredibly catchy theme -- there couldn't be a better time for a new entry to the Katamari series.

In a console era brimming with hyper-violence, realistic graphics, and a focus on competitive gaming, giving gamers the opportunity to unwind and lose themselves in a world of quirky wonders is especially welcome. Of course, games like Donut County and the upcoming Untitled Goose Game, are scratching that itch a bit, but they still don't satisfy that feeling of rolling up every object and person in sight.

For those unaware, Katamari Damacy is a game that puts players in the minuscule shoes of The Prince of Cosmos, as he takes his magic ball and rolls different objects up around the world to increase the size of said ball. The reason for doing so? Well, your father accidentally destroyed all the stars in the cosmos and needs to replace them. Simple enough, right?

One thing that made the Katamari games so enjoyable is the way they plop you into this vibrant world with the most outrageous, nonsensical background story you're expected to live and breath from beginning to end. From the King of the Cosmos' hilarious and belittling conversations with you to the bizarre cries and sound effects of picking up stray cats and alarm clocks on the side of the road. Did I mention the phenomenal soundtrack?

Controlling the magical Katamari ball with dual stick controls is surprisingly smooth and intuitive. While it takes some getting used to, running across town picking up pieces of candy (at first) to literally pulling out homes and trees from the ground is extremely satisfying from beginning to end. The artistic flair and inescapable charm will only be accentuated on modern day consoles. 

The PS4 and Xbox One are capable of displaying vast worlds with amazing detail and superbly realistic graphics, but that doesn't mean that the additional graphical power wouldn't make a new Katamari title striking and breathtaking, too. We've seen that games like Breath of the Wild and Persona 5 can push console capabilities to their limits while staying true to their specific art style. Series creator Keita Takashi was so impressed by Bluepoint Games Shadow of the Colossus remake he tweeted them asking to remaster Katamari as well.

Pushing graphical fidelity aside, the current console generation can also give Katamari fans more of what they really want -- objects to stick to their Katamari. With better processing power, the outlandish levels can be filled to the brim with even more unique and creative items to get in the way and ultimately become a beautiful glowing star in the sky. 

Don't think we've forgotten about how Katamari and the Switch would be a match made in heaven. The pick-up and play capability of the Switch suites the gameplay of Katamari perfectly. Each level only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete (not including collectibles), and the low-stress, wacky play style fits excellently with handheld play. Touch My Katamari and the mobile games gave us a taste of what portable Katamari can be, but we're ready to see that taken to the next level. The delay of the Nintendo Direct this week has us on the edge of our seat when it comes to possible announcements.

Whether an HD collection, a full-on remaster, or a new entry to the series, the time for a new Katamari Damacy game is upon us. Unless of course, it's a gacha-styled game playing on the 'Reroll' part of the title, in which case, we'll be patiently waiting for our beloved King of Cosmos to bless us once more.  

Battlefield 5 Trailers, Gameplay Show Potential Power of Nvidia's RTX Line Fri, 07 Sep 2018 10:18:43 -0400 Jonathan Moore

If you're keyed into tech or just like visceral first-person shooters, there's little doubt you've already seen the eye-popping Battlefield 5 trailer that came out of Gamescom back in August. Chances are, you've also seen the 15-minutes of alpha gameplay PC Gamer was able to get at PAX West. Both videos show Nvidia's new RTX graphics cards really are that powerful and that developers like EA are already implementing the tech in their upcoming games to stunning effect. 

With the most recent Battlefield 5 beta already in full swing, we won't be able to get our fix of ray tracing goodness at least until the next beta (if there is one). That's because Nvidia's 20 series doesn't release until September 20 -- not to mention it'll be some time before many of us get our hands on the tech anyway. However, we can use the current beta as another practical litmus test for how powerful the 20 series will actually be. 

Regardless of if we have the cards in our slots now or not, Nvidia's new GPUs will undoubtedly make bellwethers like Battlefield 5 more realistic tent-pole experiences. In a nutshell, the hardware allows for more true-to-life reflections and in-game renderings, providing us gamers with more realized worlds, narratives, and gameplay moments. 

The thing about ray tracing is that it has tons of upside, especially if you're a graphics snob like me. Lighting is more vibrant, shadows are darker, explosions are more electric, and reflections more vivid. A good dose of expert lighting goes a long way in conveying a game's environment and tone; it can even support other elements such as a game's story and, especially, its gameplay. The difference between clearly seeing an enemy and not seeing an enemy can quite literally be the difference between night and day, winning and losing. 

While we most certainly could, let's not get into the technobabble that is ray tracing specifics, cube maps, specular reflections, and the like. Instead, let's focus for a moment on more practical aspects of the technology. Aside from everything mentioned above, a world with ray tracing means a world with entirely new possibilities we don't fully know we need. Currently, there are aspects of games that go relatively unnoticed or underutilized without ray tracing, especially if you aren't directly looking at them.

For example, muzzle fire. If it happens to your right or left in an FPS without ray tracing, you rarely, if ever, see the flashes at all. If you do, they're infinitesimally less brilliant than they could be. With ray tracing, particles of light from those flashes are reflected off other in-game surfaces to give the illusion of peripheral vision, for example. Because reflections off of mirrors, windows, and even rifle scopes will accurately mirror your environment in real-time, you'll even be able to potentially see enemies sneaking up behind you, helping you keep that K/D pristine or adding to the immersion. 

None of this even considers the power Nvidia's new RTX line brings in terms of pure processing power, using more CUDA cores to generate better overall gameplay at higher settings even if you don't consider ray tracing. 

If you put your eyeballs back in your head and re-watch the footage above, you'll also notice that Battlefield 5's animations are ridiculously crisp and clean. There's not a single tear or stutter in sight. Of course, you'd expect that out of a trailer being used to showcase brand-new tech, but BF5's Pax West gameplay footage backs that up.

Think about how Shadow of the Tomb Raider "ran" at Gamescom for a second. The game looked great in its showcase demo, but in comparison, Battlefield 5 looked (and looks) even better with RTX power behind it. In many ways, EA's new shooter acts as a superior barometer for what we can expect out of Nvidia's new RTX line. Shadow of the Tomb Raider had difficulty hitting 60fps even at 1080p while implementing ray tracing tech, according to hands-on previews of the game at Gamescom. There are many reasons why, but one thing is certain:

Battlefield 5 didn't.*

Of course, it's still early in the learning cycle for these cards; games like SotTR struggling to hold steady framerates during demos is somewhat expected, especially considering most devs didn't actually have RTX cards on hand when making the games in question. There are also various optimizations to consider and, on top of that, we have to consider how each game was built -- either with or without RTX in mind at all. There's also the fact that, well, these graphics cards are new.

Invariably, Nvidia will tweak and balance the hardware post-release. 

Regardless of all that, we know Battlefield 5 looks and runs fantastic at 1080p 60fps with default ray tracing settings. Higher resolutions are going to take some creative problem solving based on what we know (spoiler alert: full ray tracing at 4K is hard for any game right now and it's hardware intensive). Battlefield 5 did stumble a bit in its demo when pushing ray tracing at higher resolutions, so there's still some kinks to work out. However, the future for the PC Master Race is bright -- and BF5 proves it.  

We won't know exactly how the game runs at maxed settings on a 2080ti with ray tracing enabled until we have one of those cards in our rig. It'll definitely be interesting to see how the lower echelon cards will handle the technology with such intensive games. Right now, we know their processing power is considerably higher than the current 10 series, but one of their main draws for some is ray tracing, so for now, we'll just have to wait. 

The potential for immense power is there. All Nvidia and game developers have to do now is harness it.

Both already seem to be well on the way. 

Green Hell Early Access Impressions Thu, 30 Aug 2018 13:07:36 -0400 Sergey_3847

Fans of survival games like The Forest and Stranded Deep will be pleasantly surprised by Creepy Jar studio's new game Green Hell. It offers a different view on a survival genre that really makes you meticulously think out all your actions during the gameplay.

It has everything that a survival game needs, including collecting/crafting items, hunting, and building mechanics. But what makes it stand out from other survival games is an attention to detail that makes the survival aspect of Green Hell quite challenging.

The game is currently in Early Access, so if you'd like to learn whether it's worth buying the game now or waiting for a full release, keep on reading our impressions of Green Hell's first playable version.

Story and Setting

Currently, the game has two playable modes: Survival and Challenges. There's also a Story mode present in the main menu, but it's not playable just yet. Instead, you can get a taste of the story during the first part of the Survival mode that offers a glimpse of what the Story mode can be all about.

You begin stranded on the shores of an Amazonian jungle. Two young scientists land in the unknown area to get to know the Yabahuaca tribe that resides somewhere in the jungle. Your job is to get to the first camp and search for the tribe.

In the first camp, you're given tasks that serve as a tutorial to understand the basic game mechanics such as collecting and crafting, eating and taking care of your wounds. You can read more about these aspects of the gameplay in our beginner's guide here.

The most fascinating part of Green Hell is its visual presentation. The game looks absolutely gorgeous. Well, at least the nature part is really awesome. You can tell the developers took their time to create realistic textures for the foliage, water, and surrounding areas.

The lighting is perfect in this game. You can see every glare and ray as precisely as in real life. If you wander too deep into the jungle, it gets really dark and hard to see anything -- creating the need to craft a torchlight or set up a small campfire.

Apparently, the developers have studied actual Amazonian forests and carefully recreated the atmosphere and setting of the jungle with all its intricacies.

The jungle is thick and full of various plant and animal species, which you can gather or hunt. But things aren't as sweet as they seem at first glance, and sooner or later you'll get bitten by a venomous snake or eat an unknown mushroom that will make you puke.

One more thing that makes the jungle alive is the ambient sound. It's really subtle and doesn't distract you from the game, but every little rustle or gust of wind adds to the realism. Eventually, you'll find yourself completely immersed in the gameplay.

At this point, it's hard to say how big the island actually is, since there isn't a map in the menu. The area will probably increase when the game is finally ready for the story, but right now it's still a mystery.

Regardless, the general area is big enough to explore for hours upon hours. Sometimes you'll stumble into other campsites that are likely abandoned, and the only NPCs you meet are the aborigines of the Yabahuaca tribe.

It's easy to spot them in the jungle by their characteristic songs. So if you hear tribal singing, and you're not ready to accept a fair fight, then it's better to quickly leave the area for good.

Gameplay Mechanics

The mechanics in the Early Access version of Green Hell offer enough to survive on such simple things like wooden sticks, stones, and liana ropes. Out of these three basic materials, you can craft everything from a simple axe to an entire shelter.

Building a shelter is especially important if you want to save your gameplay, as that's the only place where you can do so. The shelter also provides an opportunity to rest in order to keep your sanity levels from falling. Let them fall too low, and you'll be vulnerable to wild animals.

Another classical survival feature is hunger. Eating and drinking are absolutely required for survival. You can find food almost anywhere: on the trees, on the ground, or by hunting animals. The meat has to be cooked as well, or you might get sick.

Speaking of getting sick, healing wounds or sicknesses is also a huge part of the gameplay. One little mistake of drinking a dirty water or falling off of a cliff may result in low levels of energy and sanity. But fortunately, there are well-designed mechanisms to treat wounds in the game with the help of special plants.

All the information about valuable plant species is collected in your notebook. You can gather these plants and keep them in your backpack for further application. On all other occasions, you just need to be careful and remember what is safe to do and what isn't.

One of the most unique mechanics in Green Hell is the body inspection. If you notice that your health is rapidly reducing, you can activate an inspection tool in your menu and examine every part of your body for any possible injuries. Most likely you will see a scratch or a wound that needs to be patched.

The hunting and combat mechanics are really simple in Green Hell. Right now you have one basic attack and one basic block action when using a melee weapon. You can also throw melee weapons at any target by pressing the mouse wheel.

Most animals will run away from you, but others, like Jaguars, can be a bit more dangerous. It's better to avoid them all together since their meat isn't too nutritious anyway.

Hopefully, this aspect of the gameplay will be improved for the full release of the game, but for now, you can practice throwing hand-made axes at wild boars and birds.

The Summary

At this stage the game runs really well, no bugs and glitches detected yet. So the only thing that developers need to do is to add actual content -- because right now endless survival without any purpose gets boring really quickly.

You could try out the Challenges mode for three types of challenges that are limited by time, but when those are done, there really isn't much more to do in Green Hell. But that's probably the purpose of the Early Access titles -- to introduce the possibilities of the gameplay and nothing more.

Well, Creepy Jar managed to create something really cool and very much playable. If the Story mode will be fully realized and the game turns out to be as good as it seems at first glance, then the developers have another winner on their hands.

[Note: An Early Access copy of Green Hell was provided by Creepy Jar for the purpose of this article.]

Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Demo Reveals New Details, Looks Absolutely Incredible Mon, 27 Aug 2018 14:36:44 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Everything we heard about the E3 and Gamescom trailers was true. Cyberpunk 2077 looks absolutely incredible. 

Although it was a work-in-progress demo, CD Projekt Red unveiled the first official gameplay footage of Cyberpunk 2077 on their Twitch channel after an hours-long preamble of complete gibberish. The gameplay demo follows the game's protagonist, V, as she goes on a mission to retrieve high-tech combat gear stolen from one of the game's many factions. 

The demo showed, in depth, how player choice lies at the center of Cyberpunk 2077. Players can approach missions from multiple directions, whether they use subterfuge or violence, choose to buy weapons or steal them, and choose to lie or tell the truth. Players will have multiple chances to change the course of each mission at specific junctions, but those choices come with consequences myriad consequences that not only affect specific missions, but the entire game world. 

Choice Matters in a Fully Realized World

Set in the fictional Night City, North California, the world of Cyberpunk 2077 looks extremely realized and deep. The streets are urbane yet violent as the city's multiple factions and corporations vie for control over the populace. Players can seemingly interact with much of the world around them, with NPCs and environmental objects shifting in real time to the changes in the world around them. The world is unbelievably unique, but also an homage to the pen and paper RPG of similar name, and from which CD Projekt Red's development process took inspiration.  

As the demo moved from an apartment to the streets below, it quickly became apparent that Cyberpunk 2077 is focused on world-building and seamless movement. Non-intrusive tutorials and events gave a sense of realism to the world, adding to the idea that customization and choice are primary gameplay mechanics.  

The demo's narrator said the game will not have any loading screens when it releases, and that the team has focused on creating a seamless interactive world. While that remains to be seen, that did appear to be somewhat true from what was shown in the demo. Moving from one section of the city to the other, through doors and elevators that didn't go dark, it looks like much of Cyberpunk 2077 will accomplish that goal. 

Finally, the dialogue system is purely gameplay driven according to CD Projekt Red. Not only do your choices appear to have real consequences on the world around you and the missions at hand, but players are presented with unique strategies when certain NPCs get involved. For example, enemies can hack into player cybernetic systems and bio-mods to subject players to lie detector tests, knowing whether players are, in fact, telling the truth or not.

From what was shown, this type of interaction deeply affects the gameplay and changes how you approach missions, completely locking paths and opening up others. These choices can even impact how factions and gangs interact with players in the world, requiring players to either be more cunning or resourceful. 

Get Locked, Loaded, and Customized

Combat in Cyberpunk 2077 is frenetic and violent. Bullets ricochet off walls and appendages fly in all directions. You'll blast corporate thugs and gang members in alley ways, on bridges, and in dank, shadowy factories. 

Since everything is organic in the game, upgrading your skills and weapons won't be locked to menus or skill trees. When making V more powerful -- or, if it's your playstyle, more cunning -- players can visit Ripper Docs, which are essentially NPCs that splice into V's bio-mods to give her upgrades such as improved optical scanners and enhanced sub-dermal weapon grips. 

For example, the former allows V to better see enemy weaknesses and in-world information. The latter allows her to be more efficient in combat, showing the ammo count for a player's currently-equipped weapon or increasing a weapon's base damage. It's essentially a more interactive and engaging skill upgrade system found in many RPGs, but damn, if CD Projekt Red doesn't make this system look fantastic when you jack-in. Some docs will even provide gear that others don't, meaning the player won't be able to just change things on the fly or in one specific location.

Moving on to combat itself, the first-person perspective (which is 99% of the gameplay, combat or not) looks absolutely great. Shooting everything from handguns to assault rifles and shotguns, aiming down the site, hip-firing, double-jumping, and wall-running look just as good here as they do in a pure-bred FPS like Doom, Wolfenstein, or Far Cry. There are also bullet-time, time-slowing mechanics that allow players to line up shots or take out multiple enemies at once. 

Near the end of the demo, high-level abilities were unlocked to show the breadth of Cyberpunk's frenetic and violent gameplay. One of the cooler aspects shown during this section was the ability to hack into NPCs and wreak havoc on the larger group. Players can take-down enemies and jack into their specific neural networks to "deploy software that affects the whole squad" or implement "quick hacks", which open new ways to complete missions or unlock certain abilities. 

Players will also be able to drive "many" vehicles, according to the developer. During the demo, V was shown driving a car in both first- and third-person. Of course, there was the quintessential vehicle chase, shootout scene, where V let her compatriot drive the car while she shot a group of gang members while hanging out the window. 

Again, it's not something super special, but it looked damn good. 

At the end of the day, Cyberpunk 2077 looked as different from other open-world first-person RPGs as it looked similar. There are a lot of things here we've seen before -- or been promised before. But a lot of those things also looked incredibly awesome against the backdrop of a dystopic, cybernetic future that's so incredibly realized. 

Only time will tell, but from what we've seen from the demo and trailers, we're more excited than ever to get on the streets of Night City -- and into the boots of V. If you're a fan of Bladerunner, this is a game you're not going to want to miss. 

Cyberpunk 2077 does not yet have a release date. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on the game as it develops. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Pre-Order Editions Guide Mon, 27 Aug 2018 11:53:46 -0400 Bryant Pereira

All great things eventually must come to an end -- and the conclusion of the Tomb Raider reboot series signifies that. Preceded by two incredible entries, Shadow of the Tomb Raider marks the end of the reboot trilogy with its debut on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 14.

If you're planning on joining Lara's journey to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, it's dangerous to go alone. Use this pre-order guide to overcome the challenges of the deadly jungle and tombs to become the ultimate Tomb Raider.

From pre-order bonuses to special editions, we've got everything covered for you in this guide.

Pre-Order Bonuses

Pre-ordering any physical edition of Shadow of the Tomb Raider from most retailers nabs you a collector's steelbook case with three art cards. All digital versions of the game come with a skills booster pack that enhances skills in all three skill trees. 

You also get access to the game 48 hours early if you pre-order any edition above Standard.

Here are the retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses. These only apply to all pre-order options except the Standard Edition and its Limited Steelbook variant.

Standard Edition

Price: $59.99
Retailers: Amazon, GameStop, Square Enix Store

For a time, you will be able to pre-order Limited Steelbook variants of the Standard Edition. These are the same as the Standard Edition, just with a Steelbook case.

The Standard Edition of the game can be purchased either physically or digitally for $59.99. It comes with the pre-order bonuses seen above, along with any retailer exclusives when purchasing physically. There are no additional bonuses. The Limited Steelbook is a good choice but is not available for PC.

Digital Deluxe Edition

Price: $69.99
Retailers: Amazon, GameStop, Square Enix Store

The Digital Deluxe version of the game is the lowest tier that gives access to the 48-hour early access. Additionally, this version comes with a digital game soundtrack and an outfit/weapon pack. Each digital outlet comes with a small platform bonus as well such as a theme or avatar outfit.

Croft Steelbook Edition

Price: $89.99
Retailers: Amazon, GameStop, Square Enix Store

For those who are confident they'll be raiding and exploring for a while, the Croft Edition of the game comes with all the standard pre-order bonuses along with the Season Pass ($29.99 value) and three additional weapons/outfits.

Season Pass content will release on a monthly basis starting in October 2018. For seven months, each update will come with a new "Path" -- including a new story, missions, a Challenge tomb, a new weapon, new outfit, and a new skill. Some of the Challenge Tombs will come with new co-op features.

Ultimate Edition

Price: $199.99
Retailers: Square Enix Store

The most dedicated, hardcore Tomb Raider fans may have already nabbed up the limited amount of Ultimate Editions available, but there is a waiting list on the Square Enix Store for $200. If you're lucky enough to get this edition, it will come with a statue of Lara, a climbing ax bottle opener, a flashlight, along with all of the extras from any of the cheaper editions.


Planning on pre-ordering Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Let us know what you're looking forward to most below along with which version you'll be picking up!

The Tea: A Long, Slow Steep in the Twilight Princess Prologue Thu, 23 Aug 2018 12:04:41 -0400 Jackson Ingram

Editors note: Spoiler alert for a very old game.

I knew almost nothing about The Legend of Zelda before Twilight Princess. I mean, I knew it was about Link and Princess Zelda saving the world and/or each other from an evil dude with a fire-engine-red dye job. And I knew that in this particular game, Link was also a furry. But I certainly didn’t know that its prologue was controversial. In fact, for the first two or three hours, I thought maybe running farm-boy errands around Ordon would be the general vibe for the rest of the game, too.

In my defense, I picked the game up in 2014, amid one of my epicly long Animal Crossing benders. Unfortunately, Ordon Village’s long to-do list didn’t captivate me the way AC’s did. Maybe I would’ve spent longer on it if I could’ve redecorated Link’s tree house (really so much underutilized space) or if Zant’s curse turned the hero of Hyrule into a wolf villager instead of a “noble beast” or whatever.

Imagine my surprise when, four years later, I dove back into Twilight Princess to discover over 40 hours of dungeon-crawling and monster-fighting awaited me beyond Ordon Village, with barely any tedious chores to do along the way. 

Dawn of the First (Long) Day

Really, when Link isn’t saving Hyrulians from the Twili monsters, he’s saving them from the humdrum frustrations of daily life instead. Those initial hours of herding goats and tracking down lost cradles were the perfect primer for some of Twilight Princess’ long-game side quests. If the prologue hadn’t taught me that every little peasant worry was not only important, but also Link’s personal responsibility, do you think I would’ve spent more than two seconds tracking down bugs for Agitha’s “ball”? Or single-handedly funding bridge repairs? Not in this economy, baby. The value of the rupee is going down with each HD remake.

And yet, while it wasn’t necessarily a joy to rescue Ordon’s brat pack again and again, their dependence on Link injected our blank-slate hero with some badly needed character. Unlike in Wind Waker (to which TP is frequently compared), this Link has all the lifelike proportions with none of the life. He kind of just goes with the flow, drifting from quest to quest until it seems like he saved Hyrule just because he didn’t have anything better to do that weekend.

Twilight Princess’ cast is very hit or miss for me. Arguably, the pushiest characters are the ones that exude the most personality. I remember wanting to strangle Milo (that is, if I could find his polygonal baby neck), but at least I could remember him to begin with. Meanwhile, each time Colin sniveled back onto the screen, I had to Google who he was and why I should care.

That’s a dichotomy that extends well beyond the prologue. The subtitular Midna is (rightfully) listed as one of the most interesting support characters of the franchise, while this iteration of the series name-maker Zelda is as beautiful as she is bland.

The side quests might start to pile up fast in this one, but Link wouldn’t be the hero (and there wouldn’t be a story) if he weren’t singularly driven by an innate desire to help people -- no matter what. So I caught ever stupid bug in Hyrule and I got Midna back on her Twilight throne because I could get behind a Link that would see value in both. His heroics might make for a one-note performance, but these tasks, no matter how small, keep him in tune with the world's much larger symphony.

Yeah, But Who Cares?

“Okay, sure,” you might be thinking. “The Twilight Princess prologue might thematically imbue the story with meaning, but does it have to spend so long teaching us how to do everything?”

Maybe not. But entering the series with very little base knowledge of Zelda puzzles and items, it was nice for me to ease into things (even if I would never, ever use that slingshot again).

Besides, as a launch title for the Wii, it couldn’t have been a bad idea to give us some guidance on how we were supposed to control the (newly right-handed) Link using the Wii remote. Think of it as the warm-up before we completely exhausted our noodle arms trying to get all those poorly explained sword techniques down.

At the end of the day, I’m glad Twilight Princess kicked off this infamous “gritty, edgelord” Zelda title with a Weenie-Hut-Jr. mode. It made us slow down and consider the world we're tasked with saving. Like the Shire, Ordon Village is a a home for LInk to come back to (and then leave again… after the epilogue).

As far as prologues go, it’s much more goat than G.O.A.T., but it gets the job done.

Fandom Freak-Out

For an old game, I have an old freak-out. This concept fan art for Midna’s Twili armor is everything I wanted for my snarky warrior queen. While the Twilight Princess could serve up all kinds of realness in any outfit, I have to admit I was deeply disappointed when my fave imp (whose cursed form is a fascinating departure from the typical mold of female character design) glowed up into just another slender, scantily clad video game babe.

Silverwolf05, if you're still out there in this post-DeviantArt era, I hope you’re doing the Lord's work: boldly designing practical, stylish outfits for ladies of all body types, classes, and platforms.


Weekly questions: Which Zelda prologue stands out for you? Are we supposed to remember any of the Ordon villagers' names? Minda for Smash 2018?

Until next time. Stay steamy.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of steamy content.

Spider-Man PS4 Pre-Order Guide Tue, 21 Aug 2018 14:13:39 -0400 Bryant Pereira

With less than three weeks to go, one of the biggest titles on everyone's mind is Spider-Man for PS4. Releasing on September 7Spider-Man highlights the life of a veteran Peter Parker who's been working the streets for a few years now. That means you'll be able to swing smoothly through the open-world of New York City and combine a vast array of abilities and techniques with the most advanced Spider-Man yet.  

Heading into release, Sony is giving gamers an array of choices with different editions and pre-order bonuses to choose from. If you want to get the most out of your purchase and get a hold of some sweet goodies, then check this out this pre-order guide.

Pre-Order Bonuses

Pre-order any edition of the game to receive exclusive skins, experiences, and more.

  • Spidey Suit Pack -- Gain instant access to three original costumes that will affect your abilities and give your Spidey a fresh sense of style.
  • Skill Points -- Gain skill points to improve abilities like web swinging, combos, and more.
  • Early Unlock of a Spider-Drone Gadget -- Use this gadget to distract enemies and stealthily take them out.
  • Spider-Man PS4 Custom Theme
  • Spider-Man PSN Avatar

Now that you've seen the freebies, the real decision making is in what edition you want.

Spider-Man Standard Edition

The standard edition of the game can be purchased either physically or digitally for $59.99 and comes with all of the pre-order bonuses above. This edition contains the full game without any extra DLC.

Pre-order on Amazon

Spider-Man Digital Deluxe Edition

This edition can only be purchased from the PlayStation Store for $79.99. It comes with the full game, all pre-order bonuses, and the following:

  • Spider-Man: The City That Never Sleeps. A post-launch DLC pack with three story chapters featuring new characters and missions. This DLC is slated for release by March 2019.
  • A custom, one of a kind physical pin. (Must be pre-ordered before release, shipped by a third-party supplier, FAQ here.)

Pre-order on the PlayStation Store

Spider-Man Collectors Edition

For the real hardcore Spidey fans, we have the Collectors Edition. Coming with the full game and all of the digital content above, the extremely limited Collectors Edition costs $149.99 and comes with the following:

  • Custom Steelbook
  • White Spider Sticker
  • Mini Artbook
  • Spider-Man statue by Gentle Giant

Pre-order on Amazon

Spider-Man PS4 Pro Bundle

For those looking to upgrade, or are buying a PS4 for Spider-Man, the limited edition Spider-Man PS4 Pro might be your best option. At the standard PS4 Pro price of $399.99, the system comes with a fully customized "Amazing Red" PS4 Pro console and Dualshock 4 controller with the Spider-Man logo, along with a physical copy of the game and all the pre-order bonuses.

Pre-order on Amazon


Be sure to check back with GameSkinny as Spider-Man's launch approaches for more news and info on the game. 

The Tea: Ecco the Dolphin's Intro Was a Sad, Lonely Chunk of My Childhood Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:41:58 -0400 Jackson Ingram

Game prologues are infamous for being long and boring and holding your hand way too tightly when you really just want to keep both on the controller. Like, can’t you just trust I know how to jump and move forward?

No, actually, you can’t. I’m one of those babies who needs prologues (and walkthroughs, and mid-game snacks, and sometimes short pauses during  scary parts), and I’ll admit that in all my years of gaming, I’ve spent far too long just existing in them. Prologues are the virtual wombs of video games, and I'm never fully ready to leave the relative safety of quirky, introductory mini-games for the unknown, outside world.

In this special miniseries, I’ll be taking (quick) bites out of four prologues that I remember not as appetizers to a larger adventure, but as the main course itself. In the case of Ecco the Dolphin, it’s because I never made it past the tutorial.

"Try this dolphin game. Kids like dolphins, right?"

Ecco was one of three Sega Genesis games I remember playing in my family's attic. Unlike the shoot-em-up Sunset Riders or the blink-and-you-die classic Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco seemed like it’d be more in line with my five-year-old tastes and eye-hand coordination.

It started out okay. I was just a ‘lil dolphin, boppin’ around the ocean with all my dolphin buds. One of them, clearly the pod's resident hotshot, challenged me to jump as high as I could out of the water. This was apparently the triple-dog dare of dolphins, because the game would not let me refuse on the principle of modesty or stage fright.

So after a few failed skims of the surface, I did it. And Ecco launched high, high, high into the air, and I got a taste of what any shred of athletic ability must've felt like for other kids who actually went outside. In that moment, my bottlenose body was like a missile, unstoppable, flying toward the heavens.

But like Icarus reaching for the sun, my joy was not to last. While I was getting the sweetest dolphin air you could imagine, a huge vortex opened up in the water below. Five-year-old me watched in mute horror as my dolphin friends and family were slurped into the black hole like long strands of spaghetti.

A Swim with Dolphin Death

Growing up, my biggest fear was the loss of a family member. I’d end every night and start every morning with a ritualistic prayer for the safekeeping of my mom, dad, sisters, dogs, grandparents, cats, aunts, uncles, and friends, in that order.

I’d mouth the words the same way each time, and would start all of it over again if I skipped anyone by mistake. I was convinced that if I didn’t do this exactly right, God would smite them on the spot. So just to be safe, I started doing it anytime anyone left the house. “Please, please, please, in Jesus’s name, Amen,” I’d repeat in my head after Dad left for work or my sisters for school or Mom for the grocery store. I’d try to finish it before the garage door closed, so I could still see them in the car and trust that it wouldn’t be the last time I did. 

You can imagine how I felt splashing back into the water as Ecco after the vortex had closed its mouth over my pod. The ocean was empty and I was alone.

For the longest time, I thought it was my fault, like maybe my jump had triggered the vortex, and I was responsible. I restarted the game again and again, trying to avoid it, but eventually I accepted that to jump and lose everyone and everything was the only option the game had given me.

And after that, all there was to do was swim. 

I explored every pixelated reef and cove, holding down the C-button and singing out to no one. I never figured out where I was supposed to go. I rammed poor Ecco into rock walls and leapt onto the beach and fired myself back into the air again and again and again, hoping to find whatever pocket my family had been tucked into.

I gave up eventually, and since these were the days before the internet (at least at my house), that was it. I never found out what happened next. For me, Ecco’s lonely, empty prologue was the whole game. I shut off the Sega and resigned him to a life of dolphin solitude.

It wasn’t until years later that I stumbled onto the game again on some online forum. “Aliens??” I thought. “Those were aliens???” It turns out, the vortex hadn’t been my fault after all, but rather that of an intergalactic colonizing race that fed off the Earth’s oceans. Ecco had some deep lore, apparently. Once we’d made the switch from dial-up to high-speed, I made sure to watch the ending, and found myself tearing up once the credits started to roll. After all these years, Ecco had found his family.


Now I’m just waiting for the next E3 so Sega can announce the long-awaited reboot in which Ecco takes on the big oil companies.

Fandom Freak-Out

Did you know there are only 52 Ecco the Dolphin pieces on Come on, people! Start generating that sweet cetacean content! While y’all get to work writing the Ecco/Doctor Who crossover you know the world needs, I’ll leave you with this, a fan poem that would’ve blown five-year-old me’s mind. 22-year-old me is just a little confused, but I hope its author is living their truth.

Oh, and #EccoForKingdomHearts3.


Are there any prologues you’ve never made it past? Did you know there were aliens in this weird dolphin game? Who is responsible for that? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time. Stay steamy.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of steamy content.

Black Ops 4 PC Beta Impressions: Explosive Multiplayer With a Few New Twists Thu, 16 Aug 2018 09:52:42 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Black Ops is back. As what could be the capstone to the wildly popular Call of Duty subseries, Black Ops 4 impresses in its early stages. 

That doesn't mean everything's perfect or that Treyarch doesn't have a few wrinkles to iron out between now and release, but if this past weekend's beta is any indication, Black Ops 4 will deliver the same visceral thrills fans of the series have come to love. 

There is a lot going on here. Aside from the expected team deathmatch and control modes, there are trappings of gaming's latest trends in this year's multiplayer offerings. From MOBA shooters like Overwatch to battle royales like Fortnite and PUBG, Black Ops 4 takes cues from the titans of industry to craft "new" grooves into a familiar framework.  

If you've jumped off the CoD bandwagon over the years, these changes may not be enough to bring you back to the fold. Black Ops 4 still holds tight to the series' tedious grind towards better weapons, attachments, and perks. And as usual, it's more noticeable if you happen to start playing "late" or don't play for hours on end each and every day.

On top of that, the matchmaking in Black Ops 4, at least at this point, isn't any better than its predecessors, meaning you'll most certainly go toe to toe with prestige-level opponents even if you're a lowly Level One. 

However, even if you're remotely interested in what Treyarch's selling in Black Ops 4, I would suggest at least trying the game's next beta period, which begins September 10 on PS4.

Here's some of what we know so far from our hands-on time with the game. 

Specialists Are Back in the Fight

Carrying over from Black Ops 3, the newest Call of Duty also has what are called Specialists. Akin to heroes in Overwatch and champions in Paladins, the Specialists in Black Ops 4 have unique abilities that make them (more) useful in certain situations on the battlefield. 

Here's a list of the Specialists in Black Ops 4, as well as their specific loadouts: 

  • Battery
    • War Machine: A highly explosive -- and devastating -- grenade launcher
    • Cluster Grenade: A sticky grenade that releases a cluster of smaller explosives 
  • Ajax
    • Ballistic Shield: A defensive riot shield that comes with a machine pistol
    • 9-Bang: A flashbang on steroids that stuns and blinds enemies
  • Torque
    • Barricade: A placeable barrier used for cover. Built-in microwaves damage enemies that approach it 
    • Razor Wire: A defensive structure that hurts enemies while slowing them down
  • Ruin
    • Grav Slam: A weapon that uses kinetic forces to displace and damage enemies
    • Grapple Gun: Helps Ruin gain verticality and quickly escape encroaching enemies
  • Seraph
    • Annihilator: A revolver that uses bullet penetration to devastate enemies
    • Tac-Deployer: A beacon that allows teammates to spawn near objectives
  • Firebreak
    • Purifier: A flamethrower that damages enemies
    • Reactor Core: A device that irradiates enemies; can penetrate through walls; compromises healing
  • Recon
    • Vision Pulse: Goggles that allow Recon to see through walls and tag enemy players for teammates
    • Sensor Dart: A dart that attaches to surfaces and shows enemies that come into its radius
  • Crash
    • Tak-5: A device that buffs team members by healing them, increasing their health meters, and removing wounds
    • Assault Pack: A pack of ammo that not only replenishes ammo stock but also gives buffs for subsequent kills
  • Nomad
    • K9 Unit: A tank of an attack dog that can follow the player or patrol a specific, attacking enemies on site
    • Mesh Mine: A placeable explosive trap
  • Prophet
    • Tempest: A rifle that shoots shock rounds (yes, shock rounds)
    • Seek Shock Mine: A moving device that electrocutes and paralyzes enemies on detonation

Players Have Lives In Control

One of the more obvious things that's changed with Black Ops 4 is that Control is more nuanced than before, adding lives and disallowing spawns near the end of matches. It's not draconian by any measure, but instead makes combat feel more organic and, depending on the situation, more dramatic than Control and Capture modes of the past.  

Each team begins with 30 lives, and each time a player goes down, a life is removed from the team's overall scorecard. Get down to your team's final five lives, and players won't be able to respawn after they've been killed. 

Teams can win the mode by capturing both objectives, contesting zones and letting timers run out, or depleting the other team's pool of lives. In some ways, it's a hybrid King of the Hill/Capture the Flag mode that franchise players will be mostly familiar with as soon as their boots hit the ground, but there are few wrinkles to keep it interesting.

Overall, it's nice to Treyarch adding these ingredients to the formula, and aside from team deathmatch, I found Control to be the most interesting mode in the Black Ops 4 beta. 

Heist Mode

One of the bigger additions to the multiplayer in Black Ops 4 is Heist Mode, which is essentially exactly what it sounds like. Ten players are divided into two groups of five, each of which is tasked with securing a randomly-generated bag of money and getting it back to the extraction point. 

The longer players take to get back to their respective extraction points with the money, the less cash they end up with at the end of each round. The more money a team makes, the more money they have to spend between rounds to get better weapons and upgrades. 

Many players have already compared it to games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While the similarities are rather striking, Call of Duty is much more fast-paced and chaotic than CS:GO.  

Fog of War

If you've ever played a strategy game, you know that fog of war can make combat difficult. In Black Ops 4, fog of war doubles down by making combat more difficult and more stressful.

But it does so in some really great ways.

In other modern Call of Duty games, your minimap mostly acted as an all-seeing radar, which was able to pick out enemy movement and positions much more "accurately" than the minimap in Black Ops 4

Here, the minimap in Black Ops 4 only shows you the action immediately around you. Unless you have a special attachment, which takes up one of your gear slots, you won't be able to tell from which direction enemies are coming if they're in the fog of war. 

In my time with the beta, the reports I've seen saying this mechanic enhances the teamwork and communications aspects of the game were confirmed. Playing by myself was a completely different animal than playing with a well-coordinated team.

In other words, because of the game's fog of war mechanic, the multiplayer in Black Ops 4 is going to be much more fun with a group of friends on comms. 

Healing is Kind of Old-School 

Really all you need to know is this: auto-healing is gone. Where you could once hide behind a barricade or duck into a side street to heal (as long as you didn't get hit again), Black Ops 4 changes that. Now, each player gets an unlimited-use stimpak to heal their wounds in battle. 

As of the most recent beta, the stimpak seemed to work fairly well. It healed any damage fairly quickly, and cancelling into it from another action was fluid. The only thing to keep in mind is that the stimpak isn't an instant-heal -- there's a second-or-so delay between activating it and when the healing process starts. 

The mechanic adds a nice subtlety to battle, where using the stimpak becomes a strategy in and of itself. It not only requires a full action to pull off (which can be cancelled if need be), but it also requires an additional hand-movement to activate, displacing your left hand (at least on PC) from its home at WASD. 

MMR is Still Kind of ... Blah

I mentioned it earlier, but the match-making in Black Ops 4 still leaves a lot to be desired. While other genre games have made strides to at least fashion their MMR into some semblance of logical sense, Black Ops 4 continues down the tried-and-true road of matching you with basically anyone that's playing the game at any given time. Regardless of level. 

Sure, I'm salty (#getgood), but after 14 games in the franchise, I would like to see something that doesn't pair Level Ones with Prestige Levelers right out of the gate, especially when those Level Ones are woefully outmatched just in terms of perks and gear. 

Can we please just not do that anymore? Thanks. 

What's Ahead

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is set to release on October 12 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 

On September 10, the Blackout Beta will begin on PS4. As of this writing, it is not known when the Blackout Beta will make it to the Xbox One and PC. However, it's a safe bet the beta for those platforms will begin on September 17.

To get into the beta on PS4 and Xbox One, you'll need to pre-order Black Ops 4. The Blackout Beta will be free for PC players. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more coverage on Black Ops 4 as it develops.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Review (In Progress) Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:41:27 -0400 Nick Congleton

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth launched Monday, August 13 at 3 p.m. PDT in the game’s first ever simultaneous worldwide launch. BfA is the venerable MMORPG’s seventh expansion pack, and it’s already seen more than its share of both hype and controversy. So, how is it?

For the most part, and from what I've experienced, excellent.

It's true that World of Warcraft expansion launches can be unpredictable. Those prior to Battle for Azeroth, Warlords of Draenor and Legion, couldn’t have had launch events that were any more different. Legion boasted one of the smoothest launches in the history of the game, while Warlords was an unmitigated dumpster fire.

Where does BfA fall? Well, it certainly wasn’t perfect. Plenty of people experienced login issues for hours after launch, where Blizzard almost immediately posted a message alerting people to watch their customer support Twitter account for updates.

In testing the game, the login issues did persist, but multiple attempts eventually resolved the issue -- and there weren’t any further problems.

Battle for Azeroth's Opening Scenario

When you log in to Battle for Azeroth for the first time with a Level 110 character, a quest will instantly pop up on your screen. You'll take this quest to get your new Heart of Azeroth necklace from Magni Bronzebeard, who speaks for the planet itself. The quest chain is short, and only serves to set up this expansion’s new iteration on Legion’s artifact system.

From there, you begin your faction’s intro scenario. Both scenarios are pieces of individual content that are very story driven. They set up the entire leveling experience, introduce new characters, and highlight some old favorites.

Take your time and enjoy these. You can only do them once per character, and they’re actually very fun. Of course, their job is to get you excited for the expansion and the new leveling zones that you’re about to experience, and they more than succeed.


World of Warcraft has always had a unique art style. Its semi-cartoonish looks are part of what have made the world uniquely its own. Even in the game's early days, players fell in love. Over the nearly 14 years that WoW’s been running, the in-game visuals have undergone a significant overhaul.

In BfA, WoW retains its signature style, but that style has evolved to a place fans could only dream of back in 2004. The game looks stunning, and the visuals help to build a degree of immersion that makes the world feel organic. Every aspect of the new environments boasts an exceptional degree of detail, and it’s hard not to stop and stare.

Battle for Azeroth has no shortage of diversity in its atmospheric visuals either. You can find a bustling sea port, a gleaming city of gold rising from a dense jungle, a vast desert littered with the ruins of an empire, and a creepy haunted forest complete with witches and wicker monsters -- all in the same couple of islands. It all makes sense though, and fits perfectly with BfA’s story.

As you play through, take some time and appreciate the immense amount of work that went into bringing this world to life.


Blizzard stated early on that they wanted the story of BfA to take a more prominent role, and it really shows with the final product. From the second you start on your faction’s intro scenario, you’re thrown into a complex and ever-evolving plot.

Both factions arrive on a new island controlled by an allied nation. In both cases, you quickly realize that your new allies are dealing with some serious political turmoil, and you’re stuck in the middle of it now, too.

Beyond the core plots, each zone you visit features a whole cast of side characters and plot lines that interweave with your primary goals. There are some real gems mixed in to those quests, and it’s absolutely worth playing through as many quest lines as you can while leveling. Watch the cut scenes and read the dialogue. You’ll appreciate the experience so much more.


With each expansion, Blizzard has improved WoW's leveling experience. The story and visuals have played a huge role in that. However, BfA is a mixed bag, when it comes to leveling.

First off, leveling is slow, and it feels slow. If you don’t care about topping out your character ASAP, this won’t matter much to you. However, if you’re like most players, you want one character at level cap before the first raid unlocks. That should still easily be possible, but players who don’t have that much time to invest might lag behind.

Part of that increased time can be attributed to the terrain and placement of quests in certain zones. For example, in the Horde continent of Zandalar, leveling through Nazmir feels much smoother than Zuldazar. Nazmir’s quests flow naturally into one another, and the terrain is mostly flat. Zuldazar is heavily mountainous, and the quests are fairly scattered without a lot of continuity between them outside of the main quest chain.

Late in the BfA beta, Blizzard also increased the amount of experience needed for each level. While this was intended to keep players from blowing through the leveling experience too quickly, it had an additional consequence. Unless you complete every quest in every zone, you risk running out of quests before hitting the level cap. The best solution is the War Campaign. Complete each section as you go, and establish your three footholds on the opposite faction’s island. Do that, and you shouldn’t have a problem.


While all of that sounds pretty bad, remember that the stories that play out in the quests are top notch, and the environments they take place in are amazing. Leveling in BfA isn’t really bad. It’s just kind of… clunky.


There hasn’t been too much time to test the dungeons in BfA, but initial impressions are positive. Right now, the queue times for nearly every dungeon are very long. Some were up to an hour. If you want to run a few dungeons, especially for completing the final quest in each zone, queue and keep questing.

That said, the exceptional art direction carries through into the dungeons. They’re all varied, with their own unique aesthetics and enemies to fight. The layouts follow a similar design philosophy to Legion, making them simple to navigate and run efficiently. Boss fights have actual varied mechanics. It’s clear Blizzard is taking Mythic+ dungeons and the Mythic Dungeon Invitational very seriously this time around, and it reflects in the design.

War Campaign

The Battle for Azeroth War Campaign was easily one of the highlights of the questing experience. The War Campaign follows your faction’s efforts to win its war against the opposing faction. The early quests get you set up with many aspects of the endgame content that you’ll be playing over the next couple years in BfA.

The more interesting quests take you to the enemy faction’s home island to establish strongholds for your faction. They’re short chains that pair you with heroes of your faction as you arrive in completely new zones (the opposite faction’s leveling zones).

Don’t worry about running into other players, though. Early stages are instanced, and the base you establish does have guards and friendly players. Chances are, you won’t see enemy players, at least not yet.


It’s very hard to say much about Warmode this early in the game. It’s one of BfA’s new features with the most potential. It places players who want to fight each other on the same servers and rewards them for fighting with gear, honor levels, and other useful things. Warmode also includes features for encouraging players to fight, like placing a bounty on enemy players who have killed your allies.

Warmode is dependent on the players, and if a majority of players don’t use it or abuse it, there’s plenty of room for failure.

Before the expansion’s release, the BfA pre-patch event introduced Warmode to the game and created a new zone geared for full-fledged Warmode as it appears in Battle for Azeroth. That zone, Darkshore, erupted into a warzone with players grouping up with members of their faction for large- scale battles or just hunting the enemy faction. For people who enjoy open world player vs. player (PvP) combat, it was mostly a great success.

BfA’s release brought something unexpected to Warmode, though. Since the beginning, players on PvP servers expected to get killed by higher level players. It came with the territory, and it’s something players were expecting heading into BfA with Warmode turned on. Only, that’s not at all what started happening. Lower-level players started killing higher level ones.

BfA introduced a new scaling system in Warmode that prevents high-level players from killing other players in one or two hits. It makes lower-level players more robust than they normally would be, giving them a fair chance to survive. At the same time, Legion’s now infamous legendary items retain their special effects until a player reaches Level 116. The result of both factors gives characters below Level 116 a strong advantage over higher-level players in BfA. In fact, groups of low-level players even formed to go hunt higher levels.

Clearly, this is a problem, and it’s one that existed in the beta, to a lesser degree. It remains to be seen whether this pattern will continue into BfA’s lifespan or what level gear will prevent it for max level players, but it’s something that needs to be corrected in order for people to take Warmode seriously.

Island Expeditions

Island expeditions are the return of Mists of Pandaria’s three-player scenarios, but in a much more dynamic way. Island expeditions put you and two other players against a team of NPCs of varying difficulties on a search across an uncharted island for the sought after substance, Azerite.

The islands are dynamically generated and feature different layouts and encounters with each visit. If you want a real challenge, you can actually take on three players from the enemy faction in a PvP-flavored version of the scenario.

Island expeditions are quick, fun, and provide you with something different to do, even when you don’t have loads of time to play.

What’s To Come

Battle for Azeroth just launched, but there’s plenty lined up for the near future. On September 4, Blizzard will unlock the main end-game content; raids, Mythic+ dungeons, and the first PvP season. The first raid, Uldir, builds largely on the Horde’s leveling storyline. The next set of allied races, the Dark Iron Dwarves and Mag’har Orcs will be available through the War Campaign at that time, too.

Like with any WoW expansion, BfA is going to be around for about two years. Very little is known about future patch content, but the mysterious queen of the Naga, Queen Azshara, will finally make an appearance as a raid boss in one of them.

You can also expect several new sets of allied races coming in future patches too. That includes the Zandalari Trolls and Kul Tiran Humans that you’ll be building relationships with as you level.

Is Battle for Azeroth good? The content that’s available now definitely is. Old fans and new players alike will no doubt enjoy most aspects of the expansion. That said, it’s always hard to say how a WoW expansion will be judged by history at this stage. Despite its technical issues, Warlords of Draenor was beloved in its early days. It wasn’t until the infamous content droughts of later patches that it earned its negative reputation.

It seems unlikely, though, that BfA will follow that path. It‘s a pretty safe bet that if you liked Legion, you’ll like Battle for Azeroth.

[Editor's Note: This is a review in progress and will be updated accordingly.]

Got Floppy Disks? Now You Can Play Them on Your Droid Sun, 12 Aug 2018 11:32:35 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Perhaps you're a collector, or perhaps you're a procrastinator that just hasn't cleaned out that desk drawer for the past 25 some-odd years. Either way, if you've got any old 3.5-inch floppy disks lying around, you'll be glad to know you can dust them off and run them on your android phone because technology. 

In a video recently released by Lazy Game Reviews (which you can watch in the header above), host Clint Basinger shows us exactly how to fuse outdated technology with modern technology to create something unique and dare I say new(?). 

To get things started, you'll first need an Android phone. Basinger uses a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but presumably, any Android phone will do the trick. You'll also need a USB Type-A to USB Type-C converter, a USB-enabled floppy disk drive (you can find a selection here), and, of course, some floppy disks. 

Get all that together and you'll be playing some of your favorite retro games on your expensive handheld screen in no time.

I joke, but honestly, it's pretty cool -- especially if you're someone who grew up in the floppy era on classics like Commander Keen, Castle Wolfenstein, and Zork

It's most certainly a novelty that will be a small flash in the pan, but for those of us who sometimes wax nostalgic about those blocky little squares, it's a nifty combination of eras that reminds us these influential technologies won't simply be swept under the rug.  

The Biggest Moments From QuakeCon 2018 Saturday Showcase: Fallout 76 Reveals! Sat, 11 Aug 2018 14:18:06 -0400 Ty Arthur

Yesterday brought us that long-awaited Doom Eternal gameplay footage, along with news about ESO and Rage 2, while today QuakeCon continues into the weekend with a highly anticipated Bethesda panel.

The big draw today is more detailed info on the genre-hopping Fallout 76, which has some fans very nervous and others quite excited for the change in style.

Did you miss the panel? We've got the rundown on the biggest moments and most shocking Fallout 76 reveals below!

QuakeCon Fallout 76 Reveals

After the E3 reveal, today members of the Fallout 76 team re-iterated that all characters in the game are players (not NPCs or bots) which leads to an experience they describe as 80% what you are used to, and 20% radically different.

If you weren't stoked about the game before the panel, you may still be in that same camp afterwards. While answering fan questions, Todd Howard from Bethesda seemed to have balked at saying this is the right game for Fallout fans. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Other elements of the panel should pique your interest more, however; like confirming that private servers and mods will be a part of the finished game. In other words, if you don't like the vision Bethesda has come up with here, someone else will fix it down the line.

It was also confirmed that characters can acquire mutations from radiation, which may offer new abilities at the cost of stat penalties. One called Bird Bone for instance lets you jump higher than normal but lowers your strength.

We got a glimpse of the new photo mode for changing field of view and getting snapshots of events in game. You will want to take advantage of that feature, as players can change character attributes -- even gender and hair -- on the fly in the game at any time.

As an online game, there are many changes to the Fallout formula. There's no more targeting specific body parts in VATS anymore, with Perception giving an increase to hit and making it easier to find other players.

S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats now have a limit of 15 instead of 10, and each stat has a pool of perk cards with associated point costs. New cards are picked when leveling up, and those cards can be powered up to higher levels with higher costs.

Charisma curiously remains a stat in this online-only game, but Charisma perks are now used for increasing the abilities of teams, rather than unlocking dialog options, since there are no NPCs.

With hundreds of cards and no level cap, it seems like there will be a ton of customization options. 

Much of the panel was dedicated to talk of anti-griefing, and all the problems that come with online survival games. Here's the basics you need to know:

  • The first shot fired at any other player is an invitation to fight, with very little damage dealt.
  • Double cap rewards are offered to kill someone who previously killed you, so other players will seek revenge.
  • If you kill someone who doesn't want to engage, you are flagged as a murderer and have a bounty on your head. The bounty is taken from your own supply of caps, so there's a penalty for griefing.

The Fallout 76 beta is coming to Xbox One players first in October, then to other platforms later, and the full game drops November 14th, 2018.

What did you think of the panel, and are you looking forward to trying out Fallout 76? Let us know in the comments below.

Don't forget there's still time to jump on the QuakeCon sales over at Steam and other digital platforms! Absolutely everything Bethesda-branded, from their in-house developed games to anything they have published, is available at deep discount all weekend long.

QuakeCon 2018 Friday Showcase Recap: Quake Champions, Doom Eternal, and More! Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:59:30 -0400 Ty Arthur

For id Software and Bethesda fans, QuakeCon is probably a bigger deal than E3, and the 2018 edition hasn't been a let down so far with its reveals, announcements, and exclusive trailers.

The Doom Eternal trailer is of course what everyone wanted to see, but major news arrived even before that anticipated reveal, with the Quake community managers revealing that Quake Champions is now free to play permanently. If you haven't tried it out yet, jump on Steam and give it a go!

Below we've rounded up all the info you need to know if you missed the first day of QuakeCon. Don't forget that Bethesda is also celebrating the festivities with all their releases on deep discount at the usual places like Steam, GOG, etc. so now is the time to pick up anything you don't already own.

QuakeCon Elder Scrolls Online

If the audience reaction and Twitch comments were any indication, most people weren't exactly stoked to have to sit through the ESO announcements before getting to Doom.

For those who love exploring Tamriel in an MMO however, there was plenty to get excited about. All new werewolf-themed dungeons are due to arrive in the Wolf Hunter DLC for Elder Scrolls Online coming Monday, August 13th to PC.

Console players will sadly have to wait a bit longer, with the DLC arriving August 28th on PS4 and Xbox One. If werewolves aren't your favorite, you'll get to delve into Argonian culture with the Murkmire DLC this fall as well.

Although there weren't any specific details yet, we also discovered new in-game events are slated to arrive later this year, with greater rewards if more players take part at the same time.

QuakeCon Rage 2

If you want open world mayhem with loads of weapons, then the Rage 2 trailer will have gotten your blood pumping!

We discovered today there will be no in-world load screens and saw a sneak peak of the many factions to fight against, from the Shrouded to the Goon Squad.

Much of the trailer focused on vehicular combat in particular, with convoys of enemies clearly playing a large role. Fans of the first game will also be quite pleased to know the wingstick is returning, with a few upgrades. You can expect Rage 2 to land in the Spring of 2019.

QuakeCon Doom Eternal

it was very clear this is what people were really at QuakeCon for, going nuts when that Doom logo appeared after a very tepid response to the ESO reveals.

We got that first Doom Eternal teaser at E3, but it's been radio silence since then. While it was a cool teaser to be sure, it didn't really show us anything about how the game will play.That issue has officially been rectified at QuakeCon today.

It's clear Hell has left Mars behind and made its way to a shattered earth. Destroyed skyscrapers and broken concrete make for some interesting level design that has a much different aesthetic than the previous Doom entry. 

A new game needs new ways to kill, and we weren't disappointed there, with major upgrades and modifications to the Slayer along with a slew of new weapons.

If you missed some of the classic creatures, we got advance looks at concept art for monsters from the early games re-imagined in modern graphical style. Of course there are now even more ways to tear apart demons, with the Destructible Demons system letting you hack apart and blow off specific parts of each creature before they die.

The gameplay looks to still be as fast and frantic as ever, with loads of ways to execute zombies and demons. The biggest reveal wasn't on the weaponry or creature models though, but on how Doom is changing to be a larger universe where players can now invade each other's playthroughs.

Anyone will now be able to take control of a demon and invade another player's campaign. You could even team up for a Slayer hunting party of demons chasing down a poor Doom Marine.

What do you think of the changes to the Doom universe, and are you looking forward to playing Doom Eternal?

Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to come back tomorrow for the roundup of Saturday's festivities, where we can expect to see a whole lot more on Fallout 76!

Interview with Christopher Ekins Of Indie Shmup Risk System Thu, 09 Aug 2018 12:36:40 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

Recently, a new demo for the ambitious shmup Risk System was released by developer Newt Industries. With each update, the title boasts new mechanics not seen within the genre. So, to get a real feel for the bold indie title, we got sat down with Chris Ekins, the game's leader developer -- and half of the developer studio.

We got to talk about what's under the hood for the arcade shooter, as well as look inside the more intimate side of indie game development and its set of unique hurdles.

GameSkinny (GS): When/how did the name Risk System pop into your head for this title? 

Chris Ekins (CE): Risk System became the name by means of being a descriptive working title that never ended up changing, similar to Monster Hunter. The game's systems were all to be about rewarding the risk you take. So the name just ended up sticking.

GS: Can you pinpoint when you realized you wanted to develop your own games?

CE: Playing the original Sonic The Hedgehog in second grade. I used to draw out levels on paper that I'd have my friends "run through" via moving a finger across the page. When they'd encounter an obstacle, I'd hold up the paper to a classroom window so the traps drawn on the other side would become visible.

I didn't immediately commit to game development as I dabbled in visual art, animation, and music into my 20s. I started teaching myself the programming end in 2010, 2011.


GS: Were there any specific games you looked at as inspiration for it? Those within the genre? Those outside of the genre?

CE: The primary inspirations for Risk System are actually Crazy Taxi and Burnout Takedown. Both games used narrowly missing collisions, risk reward systems in scoring, which I wanted to see applied in other places. I kept the focus of Risk System on movement and improv tied to offense. The closest shmup inspirations would be Einhander and Ikaruga.

There are other shmups that use grazing mechanics, but they're very adherent to all other genre conventions. At the same time, universal binary movement and alternate fire modes are meant to de-emphasize the need for defensive movement. Because of this, making a game with an emphasis on movement, stunts, and offense is unexplored territory in the genre.

GS: Game development can be rather stressful. When during development, what activities do you participate in to offset that stress?

CE: I'm really bad at self care. I know I need to do better as I've been sick for a good 30-40% of Risk System's development time. When I finally do give in to not working on something for a bit, I like to watch speed runs, play Monster Hunter, or write music on my phone.

GS: You're a skilled multi-talented artist and game developer. What other hobbies/skills did you incorporate interchangeably when developing?

CE: First, that's really kind of you, thank you. I write the music for the game and create the sound effects as well. I also contributed some voice acting and built a portable recording booth out of PVC and old blankets to get a fairly noise-free area to work in.

GS: With your latest demo, the music selection changed. Shmups generally use grand, soaring music. Can you explain why you decided to go a different route?

CE: My first approach to the music was almost more like a sci-fi mecha/anime score. It sounded good in isolation or passive listening but it didn't really hype anyone up the way I thought it would while playing. I rewrote the soundtrack to be more techno/industrial/euro beat/poppy to give the game the kind of pulse you'd find in a racing game.

I also used FM synthesis via Deflemask to create a sound font that was like a hi-bit Genesis/MegaDrive. People have enjoyed the new soundtrack a lot more than the old one, and have had very favorable comparisons to music, which I then went home and got the chance to listen to.

Note: The prior demo featured music which was more ambient in nature. The music is now more pulsating. The change is to emphasize a feeling of engagement instead of passivity.  

GS: Recently, you implemented more quality of life features. Can you explain further why and how important it was to have this as an option?

CE: Once I realized that games could be made more accessible, I had to try. The very subject came on my radar when I saw halfCoordinated's speed runs. Once you're aware of that world, you find yourself trying as best you can to make things more accommodating, so more people can experience your work as intended.

The control customization took a very long time due to the age of the engine the game has been constructed in. Currently, I'm working on how to make the game playable without looking at the screen.

Audio-only play was impossible for the first version of the game. This was due to the engine having a limitation on how sounds can be assigned a stereo field position. Now we're porting the game to a more modern engine as we complete it, so we're trying to implement all the measures we drafted up to make it possible.

Some sizable speed bumps have been hit, though. Also, it's looking like if it is going to be possible for this game, we're going to have to do it as a separate mode. A mode where all collisions are calculated differently (circle based) to work with our sonar system and the enemies will be invisible as to not create hit box dissonance. Other quality of life feedback that we're implementing is from live events or from our comments.

Note: halfCoordinated is a speedrunner that plays games one-handed because of hemiparesis. He's an advocate/consultant for gaming accessibility and a consultant. 

GS: From the ace pilot, her commanding officer, and more, all the characters appear to be women. Even in 2018, an entire female cast is rare. Were there any particular influences that inspired the story? Shows, books, etc?

CE: There are two male characters in game, boss three and a background character in the game's endings, but otherwise, the cast is predominantly women.

Absorbing the works of Kenichi Sonoda as a child probably had a great deal to do with me not even noticing that the game was almost entirely populated by women. The Phantasy Star series, in particular, and other JRPGS in my youth, had a wealth of well-realized and engaging female characters. That sort of set a standard for me, that I wouldn't realize wasn't the norm in a lot of places until well into my teens.

I think I just happened to be born at a particular time with a particular make up of friends growing up and into adulthood that these choices didn't feel very deliberate.

I feel I must acknowledge the fact that I am a man regularly writing stories and making games with women as the main characters. Though there are many women in my life I can run ideas by and defer to/ask for advice, I'm writing from a belief of universality that doesn't always 100% square up with our lived reality. Everyone in Risk System has the same potential for emotional depth, desires, and faults, as well as the potential to be heroic or a villain regardless of gender.

I tend to write stories in worlds that are much less sexist so this universality of being can exist unimpeded, even though these worlds can still speak to some truth or ill of our own world. The setting of Risk System is kind of like the submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, something not yet fully realized at the time of writing but entirely possible and which allows for the story to be told.

I acknowledge that this can be seen as problematic as the world in Risk System doesn't have institutional sexism or racism built into it, so in that way, it doesn't resemble our own world. My hope is that in presenting a world such as [this], that is absorbed where it makes sense to players. In that way, my submarine analogy is more apt.

Ending A of the game also carries with it some subtext on the subject. I won't get into specifics. I want people to be able to feel it on their own and how it may apply to them when they reach it.

GS: The subject of game difficulty is touchy. It either scales, is ruthless from the start, or requires trial and error. How would you describe Risk System's approach?

CE: The approach for Risk System isn't to make the challenge a matter of basic survival but of pushing toward mastery. Risk System wants you to become an ace. Death leads right back into a retry so players don't lost emotional momentum/focus.

Just surviving isn't terribly difficult but playing well is a challenge and one the game pushes you toward. As long as you're having fun and experimenting/taking risks, you're going to get better.

GS: Anything about game development you think would surprise people? 

CE: The toll it takes on you physically. I work a separate full-time job and often have to sacrifice sleep in order to get work done. This isn't out of poor time management but literally having no choice as everything else I have to do to support myself financially takes up so much of any given day -- and if I had a healthy sleep schedule, Risk System wouldn't be out until 2027.

GS: Any idea on a release window?

CE: That's tough. I absolutely believed it would be out two or three months ago, but illness and working on accessibility options have pushed things back a great deal. Soon. Not too much longer.

Bonus question: What's your favorite game to wind down with?

CE: At the moment, Monster Hunter Worldthough I haven't had time to play for a few months now. Phantasy Star 4 and Phantasy Star Online are both games I like to relax with, too, but currently I don't have any consoles to play them on hooked up.

We'd like to thank Newt Industries for their insight and helping to fuel our excitement for a release soon. Fans of shmups and challenging games can check Risk System's newest demo here.

The Tea: 10 Characters That Should Never, Ever Be in Super Smash Bros. Thu, 09 Aug 2018 10:11:32 -0400 Jackson Ingram

I’m not here to add to the never-ending hot takes of who I think should be in Super Smash Bros. I'm neither interested nor qualified to choose more Nintendo warriors to beat the snot out of each other in the upcoming (glorified port) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

After the recent Nintendo Direct, there's already going to be more fighters than there are Harley Quinn cosplayers at Comic-Con. It's a swollen roster, people. And besides, there are only so many cases one can make for Waluigi before we have to give up.

Enough of that! Just get your Waluigi fix in Mario Tennis and on like the rest of us!

Anyway, I'm instead here to stir the pot. I’m going to start controversy!

I’m going to make a listicle because Buzzfeed has conditioned me into thinking that's an acceptable way to make an argument. So without further ado, here are the Top 10 Characters who absolutely should not be in Super Smash Bros. under any circumstances.

Fight me.

1. Pauline (Donkey Kong, Super Mario Odyssey)

The Original 8-Bit Damsel has really made a name for herself as the mayor of New Donk City. She has an infrastructure to run, city council meetings to schedule, jazz bands to lead. As much as I’d love to kick DK’s monkey ass while rocking that (iconic) red pantsuit, my girl Pauline, is too busy fighting the unemployment rate to throw down in Final Destination.

2. The Titular Hollow Knight

Yes, it’d be so baller to throw down as the little bug dude, except Hollow Knight is just so hard. In my clumsy hands, I'd just send the Knight scuttling off the nearest edge again and again and again, all while better, worthier platformers used their Knights to do backflips over me. And then they'll turn me into a bug-kabob. My self-esteem doesn’t need that.

3. Epic Mickey Mickey

Despite how much Kingdom Hearts conditioned me to like this game, I now have the hindsight to see what a mechanical mess it was. I just wish I could’ve realized this before I bought the sequel, which I recently exchanged at GameStop for a whopping $1.99. Thanks, Disney.

4. Kingdom Hearts Mickey

“Say fellas, did someone mention the Door to Darkness?” No, GOD, get OUT OF HERE. And stop making my Kingdom Hearts obsession more embarrassing than it already is. Every time "the King" mouse-rolls into the scene to dual-wield more hamfisted wisdom, I fondly think back to the days when Mickey was a mute.

5. Professor Layton (Professor Layton Series)

Okay, he had a few sword fights, just two or three, among countless hours of puzzle-solving and mystery-cracking. That doesn't make him Indiana Jones, folks. Just because P. Layton could skewer me (and I’d probably thank him afterwards) doesn’t mean the good Professor should have to go toe-to-claw with Ridley. Let the poor man retire to some quiet cottage in the English countryside. That goes double for you and your watered-down spin-offs, Level-5.

6. The Enormous Eel From Super Mario 64

The eel isn’t on this list because I think it’s a bad idea. I’m just thinking about screen space here. Back when Smash forced you into hyper-competitive four-person friend groups, this could’ve worked, but now that Nintendo has merged those friend groups into a whopping octet, Eely just ain’t gonna fit onstage.

7. Tingle (Legend of Zelda Series)

Out of the laundry list of reasons why Hyrule Warriors shouldn’t exist, Tingle floats to the very top, like a spandex-clad, homophobic caricature of a hot-air balloon.

8. Tony (Earthbound)

On the other end of the spectrum, Tony would be the gay icon I’ve been waiting to join Smash. But just because he would totally die for Jeff, that doesn’t mean he should have to. For the greater good, he should stay side-lined while my friends and I fight over who gets to be Peach.

9. Any of the Arms Characters

Um, pardon me, no one invited you, Betty Spaghetti.

10. The entire cast of Homestuck

This is from the dystopian future AU in which Nintendo not only buys out MSpaint-adventures, but decides to completely lean into Smash overpopulation. Super Smash Bros X will include all 900 Homestuck characters, moving en masse. Instead of attacking, they just obfuscate the whole screen and suck other fighters into massive plot holes.

Fandom Freak-Out

Instead of giving you a thought-provoking, artistic piece of fan culture this week, I’ll leave you with this, the greatest Smash Bros mod ever made, and then drop the mic.


What characters don't you want in Smash? Does using "smash" as a verb sound vaguely dirty? And finally: did anyone actually like Hyrule Warriors?

Until next time. Stay steamy.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of steamy content.

Hitman 2: Everything We Know About Agent 47's Newest Contract So Far Fri, 03 Aug 2018 14:27:11 -0400 Michelle Valens

Set to release in November, Hitman 2 promises to deliver more of what we loved about the episodic "reboot", Hitman. While the previous title did experience a few hiccups, many fans loved its take on Agent 47 and the world. And from what we know, the sequel will once again send us across the world to take out bad guys and live out our very own James Bond fantasies.

Based on the popularity of the last game -- and the franchise as a whole -- It's safe to assume that much of the core Hitman gameplay will return in Hitman 2. But instead of prognosticating about what may be in the upcoming game, let's take a look at what we do know so far. 

Hitman 2's Continued Story

Though the Hitman series has never truly been revered for having the best narrative in gaming, for those of us who are into spy rings, assassins, and subterfuge, the series does a pretty decent job of checking all of those boxes. 

2016's Hitman presented an intriguing story where Agent 47 and his ICA handler, Diana Burnwood, find themselves in the web of a shadow client, manipulating the pair throughout the game. From what we know, Hitman 2 looks to continue that story in interesting, and sure-to-be bloody, ways.

Hitman 2's Gameplay

In Hitman 2, there are still going be plenty of garrotes, sniper rifles and silenced pistols to go around. Lavish locales will still provide the exotic backdrops for our assassinations. And we'll still need to stick to stealth instead of Rambo through the various levels if we hope to make it out alive -- and with the best scores.

What we do know about Hitman 2 is mostly tied to the video above, which shows one of the game's missions, which is set in Miami. However, there are a few other things worth pointing out.

Better A.I. 

It can be fun killing with clunky A.I., but that fun quickly wears off. So, IO Interactive have spent some time polishing Hitman's artificial intelligence. Though there have only been small details released by IO Interactive and through the game's E3 beta game-play, it does appear that Hitman 2's NPC A.I. has been improved immensely from the first game.

As an example, if you sneak up behind someone in a mirror, they will react accordingly (yes, enemies can now see you in mirrors), which means you'll need to be much more careful if you're gunning for that silent assassin rating.

Crowd Blending

IO is also making use of Hitman 2's big, NPC-filled levels by letting you blend into a crowd if a guard gets too close. Boasting many more NPCs and fuller levels than the previous game, blending in will allow you to keep a low profile and hide from "Enforcers" who would be able to normally spot you normally in a level.

Crowd Blending was first utilized in 2012's Hitman: Absolution but was ditched for the 2016 release.


Similar to the double image mode from Blood Money, in which you could see what was happening off screen, picture-in-picture promises to give more context while you work through your missions, helping you see what specific location(s) you should go to and showing you what happens when you distract a nearby guard.

According to IO, this is not an optional feature and will not be able to be turned off. While a useful feature, I do hope that in the final release, the player has more freedom to turn off features that may seem intrusive.

Hitman 2's Pre Order Bonuses

Of course, Hitman 2 will have pre-order bonuses and editions. Below, we'll outline what those bonuses are and what systems the game will appear on and the PC specs. Finally, we'll also provide links to all stores currently offering pre-orders. 

Note: Make sure to check each edition's release date as some release on November 13 and some on November 9. 

Standard Edition

Hitman 2's standard edition release on November 13 and comes with the base game -- that's it. If you pre-order the Standard Edition, you'll get instant access to Hitman: Sniper Assassin

Silver Edition

Hitman 2's Silver Edition is digital only and will also be released on November 13. When you pre-order the Silver Edition, you will get: 

  • The Executive Pack, which contains the ICA 19 Blackballer Pistol and the Italian Leather Briefcase

  • Expansion I, which includes currently undisclosed add-ons, such as missions, locations, weapons, outfits, and maps. 
Gold Edition 

Hitman 2's Gold Edition will release on November 9 for those who pre-order it. You'll also get access to the following items: 

  • Everything in the Standard and Silver Editions

  • Early Access, which lets you play the full game four days early

  • Expansion 2, which contains even more currently undisclosed locations, maps, weapons, and outfits. 
Collector's Edition

Of course, Hitman 2 also has a Collector's Edition, which is only available at GameStop for $149.99. It will release on November 9. If you pre-order the Collector's Edition, you'll receive: 

  • Everything in the Standard, Silver, and Gold Editions of the game

  • Collector's Pack, which includes the Concussive Rubber Duck and Midnight Black Suit

  • Gun Case Replica and collectibles, including a steel game case, bullet keychain, rubber duck, and signature coin
Release Systems & PC Specs

Hitman 2 will release on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 13, developed by IO Interactive and published by Warner Bros. Interactive. 

The game's minimum PC specs are: 

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 940
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 660 or Radeon HD 7870
  • DirectX Version: 11
  • HDD Space: 60 GB

The game's recommended PC specs are: 

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7 / 64-bit Windows 8.1 / Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 3.4 GHz or AMD FX-8350 4 GHz
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 770 or Radeon R9 290
  • DirectX Version: 11
  • HDD Space: 60 GB
Where Can I Pre-Order Hitman 2? 

Here are all of the places you can get the latest Hitman game: 

Sniper Assassin Game Mode (Multiplayer)

Sniper Assassin is a brand new game mode that also serves as a pre-order bonus. It introduces the series' first co-op game-play, and has so far, received positive reviews.

In the mode, you can choose to go it alone and play as Agent 47 or play with a friend, taking the roles of Agent Stone and Agent Knight. The first mission of the mode takes place overlooking a large mansion in which you must take out three targets and all of their bodyguards before time runs out.

There is still an element of stealth gameplay to be had here, and you'll be rewarded more if you can keep things clean by shooting targets into bushes, off ledges, and into places they won't be discovered, but there is also a time-attack feeling that can be either positive or negative depending on your style.  


Hitman: 2 will officially release with its Collector's and Gold Editions on November 9, with its Standard and Silver Editions releasing on November 13.

It will be released as a full game with live updates promising elusive targets, escalations, and future DLC. So get ready for more stealth action, explosions, and our favorite cheeky British handler. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on Hitman 2 as it develops. 

An Interview with Mark Mowbray of KLab Games Thu, 02 Aug 2018 14:19:46 -0400 Erroll Maas

Although mobile games have often been criticized because of their lower graphical qualities, micro-transactions, and pay-to-win mechanics, they've still been able to find an large audience over the years. With that rising prevalence, many gamers have put aside their past views due to improved technology and higher-quality development as the games in question have begun providing experiences closer to console games, with some mobile games even being ported to consoles themselves.

At Anime Expo 2018, we talked to Global PR Director for KLab Games, Mark Mowbray, about worldwide releases, the different anime and manga based mobile titles they've released in the past few years, how they handle different IPs, and what's next for them.

GameSkinny: Captain Tsubasa is much more popular in Japan and Latin America, with very few English translated versions of the source material, so what made you decide to release Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team worldwide?

Mark Mowbray: Captain Tsubasa is very big in Japan and also Latin America, but I'd also like to mention that the series itself is really famous worldwide, especially in Europe. A lot of people there grew up with the series, and now they’re adults and some are even professional soccer players who talk about how Captain Tsubasa inspired their love for the game.

The game is also very popular in the Middle East. When we released the global version in December of last year, there were six languages --English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and traditional Chinese. Once it was out, we were very surprised to see that we had a ton of players from the Middle East and North Africa. We ended up getting a lot of requests for Arabic language support, so we actually just added Arabic and Brazilian Portuguese to the game in June.

Thanks to that, we’ve reached more of South America and Latin America. Of course, in Asia, it’s been very popular -- Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao. I can't thank all our players enough for how well they have received the game.

GS: For Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team, do you have a specific favorite character just in general from the series? Personally, mine is Genzo Wakabayashi due to the struggle he has to go through with his leg injury.

MM: That's a good question. Personally, I think Taro Misaki might be my favorite character just because of what he's had to deal with. You know, he grew up raised by a single dad who was an artist following his dream, and they had to move around from city to city so he could paint different scenes.

He met Tsubasa, our main character, in elementary school and they played soccer together, but then he had to move away and say goodbye to all his friends. Over the course of the series, Tsubasa and Misaki stay friends through the power of soccer and their love of the sport. I really respect that about him.

GS: In the past few years there has been a stigma against mobile games, but it seems to be going away a bit. Why do you think that might be?

MM: I think mobile games have evolved significantly over the past few years. When you look at mobile games in 2012 and 2013, a lot of them were just puzzle games, quick one-pop apps that you could only play five or six times before you were done for the day. Mobile games now are much closer to the console games and PC games of yesteryear.
Everyone's got a smartphone these days, the games are easy to pick up and play, and you can play any time, whenever, wherever when you want.

It’s the future of gaming. I have nothing but love for console games and PC games, but mobile games are now a legitimate gaming platform, and I'm very happy to see that that stigma is going away, especially in North America. There is none of that stigma in many other markets around the world, so I think North America is one of the last markets where that's finally going away.

GS: Most of your games are adapted from different manga and anime series such as Bleach: Brave Souls, Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team, and the upcoming Japanese release of YU☆YU☆HAKUSHO 100% Maji Battle. Is there a certain selection process for which series you choose to make a game out of and how you get the rights to these properties?

MM: We work with Shueisha, the publishers of Shonen Jump, on many different projects. We also work with the Love Live! and Utano☆Princesama series. When there's a series that makes sense for a game and there's an entrenched fanbase who we feel will enjoy the quality content we can offer them, we’re very actively open to making a game based on that. 

GS: Which of your mobile titles do you think had the most difficulty during development?

MM: As someone who is not on any one development team, what I can say is that each title has its own unique development process, with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and, most importantly, love that goes into everything. Every game takes years and years to develop, and the feeling when it finally releases to the public is amazing.

I think Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team has blown me away because it came out of the gate a winner. The global version came out December of last year and its success has been stunning."

GS: KLab has an upcoming mobile online RPG, Magatsu Wahrheit. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

MM: Magatsu Wahrheit is a KLab original title that we’re really excited about. If you’ve seen any of our previews, you know that this game has stunning visuals for a mobile game. It’s slated for release in Japan later this year; pre-registration started on June 7.

We've got an animated project in the works for it as well, so it'll be touching on multiple genres of media. I think if the game is a hit, it could mean big things for KLabGames."


A big thanks to Mark for taking the time out of his busy expo schedule to allow us to interview him. Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team, Bleach: Brave Souls, Love Live! School Idol Festival, and Utano☆Princesama Shining Live are all available worldwide for iOS and Android.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on Magatsu Wahrheit as it develops. 

The Tea: Majora's Mask is a Surprisingly Smooth Intro to Legend of Zelda Thu, 02 Aug 2018 12:09:54 -0400 Jackson Ingram

I picked up Majora’s Mask sometime last year. It was my first Legend of Zelda game. Like, ever.

For a long time, not-playing Zelda was kind of a point of pride for me, and also just a killer fun fact for “Never Have I Ever.” But finally, after Majora got its 3DS remake, I decided to see what all the hype was about. It was only after I stumbled through my first three apocalyptic days in Termina that literally everyone (including my boss) told me that I’d chosen what might be the least accessible entry-point in a franchise that spans three decades.

There are a million Zelda games to choose from, and I had to pick the one in the bizarro off-shoot timeline, with the Hell clock and the dead-eyed statues and the cow-stealing aliens.

Apparently, Ocarina of Time (essentially the host body off of which Majora propagated) would’ve been a slightly better first choice, but it hadn’t even occurred to me that the two were connected. I thought Zelda was an anthology series. Y’know, like American Horror Story or something.

But apparently, it’s exactly like American Horror Story in the sense that anyone can retroactively connect the dots of the whole franchise and, if you squint hard enough, it makes a whole picture.

And Lord, what a picture Majora made.

If at first you don't succeed... Die, die again

I initially gravitated toward Majora because of a little story called “Ben Drowned.” Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s one of the worst Creepypastas to ever infect the internet, convincing children around the world (myself included) that their Nintendo 64 cartridges could not only be dusty, but also demonic.

Now that I’ve grown out of my internet horror phase (and am definitely not still terrified of Slenderman), I have the distance to see "Ben Drowned" as just a goofy ghost story. But at the time, it messed me up, and maybe turned me off Zelda until I could work through that phobia to find more mature things to be scared of. Like my electric bill. Or spiders.

By comparison, Majora itself isn’t so scary. It’s full of campy, cartoony moments, and it populates its world with weirdos who will send you on more errands than a full morning of Animal Crossing. Of course, all of the comings and goings happen under the looming threat of the moon’s collision course with Termina. But even knowing that they’re all high-key doomed at the end of the three-day cycle, the quirky residents of Clock Tower Town carry on, business as usual.

These mundane, personal moments really force you to care about the lives you’re supposed to be saving, and give a much greater weight to the adventure on the whole. If if the moon is super ugly. I mean, just look ... 

To be honest, if I knew the world was going to end in three days, you know what I’d do? I’d set my alarm to get up on time. I’d eat the same cereal I eat every morning. I’d drive to work and chat with my friends and go grocery shopping and probably stay up too late playing video games. To cling to a routine is deeply human. It’s a point of stability, even when things are hopeless.

So I get it ...

But boy are they hopeless. Link takes it upon himself to help the people he meets, knowing that anything he does for them will inevitably be reset before the end of the three days. The swamp will become toxic again. The music box girl’s father will re-mummify. Anju and Kafei, after finally being reunited and resolving to die together, will be torn apart. And yet, we keep helping them, again and again, knowing it might be fruitless, because it’s the only thing you can do.

This game exists in the difference between “hopeless” and “meaningless.” It is enough that these characters have these fleeting scraps of happiness. It is enough that the world is as it should be, if only for a moment.

So yeah, maybe the game isn’t scary. But geez, it can get heavy.

Song of "X-Y-R-X-Y-R"

Of course, aside from the three-day doom cycle, Majora is best known for the masks. Y’know, it’s kind of right there in the title.

On the surface, they’re just mechanical spice for the gameplay. Each one serves a different function, from granting the gift of speed to acting as a cow-shaped entry-ticket to the most exclusive Milk Bar in Termina. Three special masks, however, transform Link completely from a human to one of the other three primary races in the game.

And the only way to get those is to play the “Song of Healing” on a corpse.

Link, it stands to reason, should not go into the medical field if that’s his idea of “healing.”

Instead of bringing back the dead, the Ocarina condenses their likenesses down to masks that encapsulate the identities of the departed. People literally mistake Link for whichever dead guys he’s masquerading as, and he just kind of rolls with it. The game doesn’t frame this as identity theft, but as a thoughtful tribute. For each, Link chooses to carry on the parts of their lives that were left unfinished. 

The only form Link doesn’t take on voluntarily is that of the Deku. Instead, it’s forced onto him at the beginning of the game in a horrific transformation sequence, one that sets the tone for the rest of the adventure. Unlike the mighty Goron or the sleek Zora, the Deku doesn’t feel like a power-up. We’re used to Link as a strong, able-bodied hero. To turn him into a little impish tree-dude feels like a limitation, at least at first.

But even after Link is transformed back into the tights-clad hero we know and love, he keeps the Deku mask to use throughout the adventure. Eventually, we see the Deku not for its limitations, but for its unique strengths. With its light, feathery body, the Deku can ride the wind currents or even skip across the surface of water. By the time we run into the Deku Butler, who implies that his dead son is the source of the Deku mask itself, we can better appreciate Link’s role in honoring that image.

Majora’s themes of remembrance hit me hard every step of the way, especially as I find myself missing my own deceased loved ones in similarly tangible ways. Every day, I wear my uncle’s too-big golf jacket to work. And when I go home, I can feel the cool kitchen tile through my grandpa’s hand-me-down socks, whose heels he wore thin after decades and decades of standing at work.

These are small things, which maybe didn’t mean much while my uncle and grandpa were alive, but now they’re little pieces of them that I can take with me throughout the day. The masks of Majora embodied that for me on the screen in a way that felt deeply personal. Link isn't dressing up as these three characters. He's honoring their memory.

Fandom Freak-Out: Terrible Fate

The masks I’m referring to here, of course, are the dope power-up ones. Not the titular Mask, which was just a huge asshole to everyone, though I have to give kudos to Majora for breaking the usual big-bad mold.

The vicious spirit of the mask is no dark lord Ganondorf or even bumbling Bowser. It has no ambition for domination, no craving for power. It only desires suffering. And what better puppet for a chaotic demon than a trouble-making brat? Give godlike powers to any child, and they could easily become Skull Kid, one of the most compelling video game villains I’ve recently thrown down with. Which leads me to my freak-out of the week.

Terrible Fate” is a beautifully rendered cinematic of the events leading up to Skull Kid’s possession. Here, we’re introduced to him not as the OP little demon who turned us into a Deku, but as a scared and lonely kid who got caught with his hand in a cosmically malevolent cookie jar.

It also answers the age-old question: do Skull Kids actually have beaks? Spoiler: no.

Final Swallow

Majora’s Mask was a frustrating, often obtusely intricate maze, one that I needed a walkthrough to navigate at almost every sharp turn. In the 25-ish hours I spent hobbling around Termina under the nightmare-fuel moon face, I don’t think I relaxed for even a second.

And I loved the crap out of it. Each heart-pounding tick of the clock was another unique beat in a lovingly dense world. I couldn’t wait for another dip into it, so I grabbed my old Wii from my parents’ house last weekend and now I’m neck-deep in the dungeons of Twilight Princess, which… I’m also told might not be the best representation of the series as a whole. But who cares! I’m living for it.

If these are the most difficult Zelda games to get into, then I’m looking forward to a long backlog of incredible adventures to come.


Questions for y'all: What was your first Zelda game? Did you find Majora charmingly weird or too-weird-to-be-charming? Why do the Great Fairies all wear the same outfits? These are the hot takes I need in the comments below.

Until next time, friends.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of steamy content.


Torque Drift Promises to be the First Triple-A Mobile Drifting Game Mon, 30 Jul 2018 16:29:26 -0400 UltimateWarriorNot

Grease Monkey Games, a small mobile games developer based out of Melbourne, Australia, have recently announced that their new game, Torque Drift, will be hitting beta very soon. The game looks to be a blend between arcade and simulation, all centered on the world of drifting.

Even with the likes of the Fast and Furious franchise, a la' Tokyo Drift, we haven't seen all too many games focused solely on drifting. Instead, the sport of drifting is often incorporated into other racing games. Grease Monkey seeks to change that with both single player and multiplayer available in their game.

Throughout racing game history, we have seen drifting slowly incorporated in racing games with titles such as Burnout and Need for Speed. But rarely have we seen a game devoted to the sport itself, one that delves deep into the mechanics and technical aspects of the sport. It seems quite odd that we haven't had drifting focused games, considering it seems to be something players love to do in all games that allow it.

While a game focused on just drifting is enough to raise an eyebrow, the idea of a AAA racing game on mobile goes to show the leaps and bounds that have occurred in mobile gaming over the past few years. The developers are promising "console-quality graphics" and an intuitive control system that will delight racing fans worldwide.

As drifting fans ourselves, we have gone into this creation as fans, looking to create something that's fun and true to the sport.

-- Arran Potter the Director of Grease Monkey Games.

Admittedly, the game, in its early trailer and screenshots, is shaping up nicely, but one does get concerned about the controls on a touchscreen device. When I reached out the PR rep about the controls and the overall quality of the game, CEO of Vicarious PR Michael Brown's response was simple:

Mobile games have come a long way from what they used to be. The technology is changed constantly which allows developers to ramp up quality, content and design. Torque Drift is going to be the drifitng game that sets the standard for some time to come.

Luckily, it won't be long to see the game in action; the developers announced that open beta for both iOS and Android devices has already begun. Players can sign up on their website

Once launch comes around, Grease Monkey has promised that a host of content and real-world drivers and their cars will come to the game, so if you are a big fan of the scene, that is sure to be a nice treat.

No firm release date has been given, but the developers have said that a soft launch should be hitting within the next few months. Only time will tell if Torque Drift does become the next mobile racing game standard, but even at this early stage, it certainly has potential.

If Torque Drift manages to be a hit with both fans of the sport, general racing fans and potentially gamers who don't traditionally enjoy racing games. It could be the tip of the iceberg for future games focusing on drifting as its very own thing and not as an attractive sideshow to a traditional racer.

Rapture Rejects Alpha Impressions: A Rapturously Good Time Mon, 30 Jul 2018 13:12:00 -0400 Ty Arthur

After annihilating the competition on the card game front (seriously, throw away your Cards Against Humanity box and pick up Joking Hazard instead), Cyanide & Happiness decided to tackle the last-man-standing genre.

We managed to get in on the latest alpha gameplay test and are pleased to report battle royale fans have another killer entry to look forward to soon.

With a whole new approach to this already-crowded genre, Rapture Rejects offers some hope that the battle royale bubble may not be popping, especially if more innovative entries like this show up to keep the formula from going stale.

Offended Mode: Activate!

If you couldn't tell by the title, Rapture Rejects puts you in the role of someone who missed the rapture and was left behind on Earth. The only thing left to do is horribly murder as many of your sinful brethren as possible to impress God with a wicked kill count.

You immediately know that you're in for a good time during character creation when you un-check the "dong" box and your avatar gapes in open existential horror at the area where his genitals should be.

The game's post-rapture hijinks had me thinking of the Guilty Remnant from The Leftovers, so of course, my avatar was wore all white, and I just assumed he chain smokes and bothers everyone silently.

Rapture Rejects avatar creation screen This is not a game for the easily offended...

When you finally get into a match, there is plenty that will be familiar for battle royale aficionados. For example, sound continues to play a surprisingly important role for an isometric, top-down game as you listen for sprinting players or gunshots in the distance. 

Of course, you can play mind games by closing doors to looted buildings, and there's the threat of the closing circle (which this time around is Armageddon lava forcing the homicidal rejects ever closer together).

A player with yellow hair holding a shotgun stands on top of a dozen wrecked cars in the middle of the street ...or for religious folks who can't handle some good old blasphemy.

Re-Thinking The Battle Royale Style

Switching from 3D, third-person mode to a 2D, isometric style results in some changes you might not expect. Since you are looking down at the map, each player has a wider field of vision than in a typical battle royale game.

You can usually see enemies when they run into your area of the screen, but that issue has been handled with some clever gameplay tweaks. The map zooms in and out as you move from streets to wide open areas, and you can't see in or out of buildings (although you can hear running and reloading from outside).

A series of satellite dishes is strewn across the post-apocalyptic landscape, which can be used to see larger segments of the map, but activating them leaves you vulnerable for a few seconds.

Weaponry in Rapture Rejects has undergone a radical redesign as well to fit in with the typical Cyanide & Happiness tone. For example, the game's SMGs and shotguns are replaced with the spork rifle, CD launcher, nail gun, toaster full of knives, and explosive F-bomb.

 A Rapture Rejects player searches for loot in a house The blunderbuss and the spork rifle are where its at,
and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise

Sadly, you don't get to choose your landing location at this stage of the alpha, and players instead just appear randomly across the map.

This more randomized take on battle royale leads to some truly zany situations. In one alpha match, everyone found guns galore, but there wasn't enough ammo, so each player was frantically throwing F-bombs and then rushing up to punch each other to death.

Echoing the bush from Fortnite, RR's disguise kit was easily the best item for sneaky players. Hiding as a box or chair in the corner of a room with an un-opened chest became my go-to strategy for racking up kills on unsuspecting players.

A player pretends to be a box as he hides for unsuspecting players in a warehouse Pay no attention to this inconspicuous box in the middle of the room

The Bottom Line On Rapture Rejects Alpha

As an alpha playtest still in active development, there were, of course, crashes and missing effects (the F-bomb in particular was pretty hit or miss when it came to explosion graphics).

Those are things that will surely be fixed, but there is an issue that may be more of a cause for concern -- RR only features groups of 40 players, which is quite a bit lower than Fortnite's 100 or Realm Royale's 80 player death matches. At this point, it's unclear if that number is going to stay put or if larger matches will become available later down the line.

The problem with smaller matches in a more niche game is that there will be a tendency for players who know each other to group up to win, which goes against the spirit of a last-man-standing game. This was such a big issue that the developers repeatedly stated in emails and chats ahead of the playtest that anyone caught grouping would be immediately banned.

Small group size and alpha bugs aside, Rapture Rejects is a very solid (and hilarious) new take on the battle royale genre, and it just may convince more adventurous players to move away from the bigger titles.

Rapture Rejects is just one of 11 battle royale games coming soon that you should be keeping your eye on. Check out the master list of impending BR games here and strap into the battle bus for a killer good time!

The Tea: Falling Out of Love with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Thu, 26 Jul 2018 11:10:01 -0400 Jackson Ingram

I put Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp down about two weeks ago and haven’t opened it once since. That’s kind of big for me.

I’d been playing it every day since it’s release. Every. Single. Day. I was even one of those Americans who gamed the system by registering for an Australian iTunes account so I could get an early crack at what I thought could be something really special. Something just like every AC before it (except for maybe City Folk, which felt a little meh, to be honest).

And for a while, I loved it. But just for a while.

I’ve written before about how Animal Crossing has been a critical form of self-care for me. In my sophomore year of college, I spent an hour of every day in New Leaf. This was an hour I absolutely did not have. I had way over-committed myself that year with advanced coursework, extracurriculars, and internship applications. Each day was a numbers game: nine cups of coffee, three hours of sleep, one hour of Animal Crossing. Clearly, I could’ve been using that time more wisely, but I wouldn’t have traded those 60 minutes for anything.

It was a step out of my life and into something better. It was like releasing a breath I didn’t know I was holding. For that one hour, I felt unconditionally safe and loved and accepted -- and it got me through the other 23 hours of the day.

So when Pocket Camp came out, and I was back on my usual BS of counterbalancing sleep deprivation with caffeine, I thought I was downloading a new kind of salvation right into the palm of my hand. By then, I’d basically put my New Leaf town on hiatus, just like so many negligent mayors before me.

I was a Responsible Adult™ with reverse senioritis (that’s when you start taking school way too seriously in the last year) and I just couldn’t afford that time anymore. I had to power through without it. But with a mobile game, I could escape whenever I had a spare minute. If I was waiting for a meeting to start or getting ready for bed or just eating breakfast, I could log into my campground and breathe. And for over half a year, Pocket Camp was the breath of fresh air that I could take with me wherever I went.

Lining Tom Nook’s Furry Pockets

For a long time, I ignored the criticism. Yes, it did seem like Animal Crossing had bought into the then-recent trend of releasing a free-to-play, watered-down mobile game to buy themselves some time (and rake in some “Leaf Tickets” from in-app purchases) before fans could start demanding a new main title.

Okay, we had already been demanding one before that point, but this was Nintendo. If Super Mario Run could capture the spirit of its side-scrolling plumber with just a single button mechanic, surely AC could take me back into the warm, magical world I’ve come to love. It would be enough just to feel like a valued part of that community and to see my familiar animal friends (still waiting on Alli though, tick tock, Nintendo).

Plus, the new furniture themes were (are still) incredible. From modern to historic to elegant and shades of everything in-between, it’s been such a joy to mix-and-match the new materials. If only Queer Eye’s Bobby could see me now. And if only moving furniture in real life could be as easy as swiping it from one corner of the room to the next. My apartment would basically decorate itself.

The only real issue in Pocket Camp is space. We have a whole new palette of options, but essentially only one (tiny) canvas. There are worse problems to have, of course, but with just a single campsite to makeover (and over and over), I looked ahead to when a Switch announcement would promise me the mansion-sized expansions of a main series title.

So while I waited, I went all in with Pocket Camp. I did every event. I collected ALL the things -- even the really hideous fish chairs from Chip the Beaver, all of which I’d very much like to stick right back into the ocean. I redesigned my camp again and again. Just when I thought I had it perfect, Isabelle would slide into my DMs telling me about some new furniture series that I just had to have.

Gothic Roses. Alice in Wonderland. Jello. The special event themes piled up, each more demanding on my schedule than the last. Sometimes I’d even set an alarm for 3 a.m. to wake up, replant my garden, and then fall back asleep, knowing I’d have new flowers waiting to be picked in the morning. I was obsessed. Once again, Animal Crossing’s cartoon brand of capitalism owned my soul.

Shut Up and Stop Taking My Money

But now I, too, have finally felt the event fatigue that’s been plaguing so much of the AC community. These timed contests and tasks just… don’t mean anything. Especially when it’s one right after another after another. I don’t care enough to pick up the 800th “gyroidite” (the somehow shittier version of a regular gyroid), and I sure as hell won’t spend money on those ridiculously overpriced fortune cookies (which just give me the same piece of furniture again and again anyway).

I’ve poured so much time into this franchise, and the one game that promised me convenience just doesn’t respect that.

There have been improvements since its launch, of course. You can finally sort your campers by level and theme, which makes so much more logical sense than by species. And thank God you can tap through the endless onslaught of friendship-leveling animations. But when half the game is unveiling parties and the other half is errand-running, it’s way too easy to burn yourself out on just going through the motions.

I don’t want to catch another common butterfly or harvest another orange or collect another conch shell. Yes, day-to-day request-filling has always been a staple of the series, but it’s supposed to be mixed in with charming dialogue that makes you feel genuinely connected to these animals (even though you know they’re programmed to like you) and the freedom to shape your environment into a personal safe haven (even though you know someone is going to move in right on top of your hybrid flowerbeds).

That’s gone, and it feels like AC’s heart has gone with it.

Pocket Camp is the sixth spin-off in the franchise. New Leaf came out in 2012, the year half the world prepared for a Mayan apocalypse. Do you remember where you were when the Mayan apocalypse didn’t come? I don’t, because that was a long time ago, and while Welcome Amiibo was a surprise expansion of what’s become one of my favorite games of all time, it’s left much to be desired (and even now, a bit of a bad taste in my mouth).

How long will they keep us waiting? How many more E3’s and Nintendo Directs will go by before I can dig up my waning hope for Animal Crossing on the Switch? A little longer, it seems.

In the meantime, I’m hitting snooze on Pocket Camp. I should’ve known it wouldn’t last. I mean, that game doesn’t even let you talk to Sable, so really, what’s the point?

Fandom Freak-out

Though Pocket Camp has fallen out of my favor, the warm, supportive, unbelievably creative AC community has not. One of my favorite members has to be YouTube’s MishaCrossing, whose Let’s Plays generously invite you into her world and whose tutorials show you, step-by-step, how to build your own (shoutout to those hacking guides, ayyyy).

While her repertoire has extended well beyond AC, my favorite project of hers is a 172-day-long Let’s Play of New Leaf that shows her bewitching town of Kodama grow from the planting of the town sapling into a truly magical world, one you can then visit via New Leaf’s Dream Suite. As I discussed last week, Let’s Plays don’t have to be an endless cacophony of outdated “noob” jokes and offense slurs. Sometimes they can be really special. And they show you how video games can create communities that are special too.


That's it for this week, folks. In the meantime, chime in the comments with your thoughts/critiques/defenses of Pocket Camp. Do you still play? Which event ruined your life? Spill the tea friends.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of content!

The Tea: This Kingdom Hearts Project Turns a Let's Play Into Art Fri, 20 Jul 2018 16:09:30 -0400 Jackson Ingram

Remember when Kingdom Hearts was just “Disney meets Final Fantasy”? Who knew that would be as simple (and clean) as it’d get. Spanning nine titles and nearly as many platforms, KH has built a franchise the way I might build a cake: foregoing the advice of actual bakers to add layer after layer until I have a deliciously unstable cake-tower, loosely held together by candy-sweet frosting and regret.

Call it complexity or convolution, but we’re like seven “side games” from calling KH coherent. It’s a growing pain Square-Enix has been scrambling to alleviate with PS4 remasters of the entire series, all in the hopes that new fans can theoretically get up to speed before the long-long-long-awaited release of Kingdom Hearts III next year.

But let’s be real: who has time to replay all those games? Better question: who actually wants to keep playing Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]? Yes, there are now official recap videos, but this story’s been brewin’ for 15 years. How can a cutscene compilation do it any justice?

Enter Marco, better known as Everglow, who’s made a bit of a name for himself among KH diehards for his playthroughs, Union χ[Cross] story translations, and, of course, the 30-min extended KH tracks that have quickly taken over my music playlists. À la Jiminy Cricket, Everglow’s been a steady KH chronicler since 2012, but this past April, he launched his most ambitious project to date: retelling the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts saga. In video. Chronologically.

At first glance, Everglow’s Kingdom Hearts Timeline (KHT) might sound deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is just another playthrough. KHT lines the very scattered pieces up in the exact order they occur. So like, Aqua is chugging through the Realm of Darkness while Sora is making his first (of so, so many) trips through Agrabah. Untangling 15 years of interwoven plot threads would be a huge undertaking on its own, but KHT takes it several Sora-shoe-sized steps further by setting out to retell the KH saga as effectively (and affectingly) as possible.

Top and above: Most episodes pull from several titles to realign the story chronologically.

We’ve seen cutscene compilations before, of course, but even Nomura-certified ones, like the Days and Coded “movies”, fall flat because video games, by virtue of their medium, tell the bulk of their stories through first-hand experience. With this in mind, Everglow creates each episode with a balanced mix of cutscenes and gameplay, carefully curating a unique rhythm that gives viewers a full experience without getting bogged down with wave after wave of button-mashing.

It’s Everglow’s unique blend that sets KHT apart, and, in my opinion, the franchise should look to this style and pace of storytelling as we take our first uncharted steps into whatever the hell they have cooked up after the Xehanort Saga.

[Re]Birth by Sleep

The Timeline begins, of course, by taming the international cash cow that is Kingdom Hearts χ (including its browser title, the mobile game before and after its rebranding, and the almost nonsensical CGI movie) into a story that not only makes sense, but means something. As impressive a feat as that is, however, it’s when we hit Birth by Sleep that the Timeline really begins to shine.

To be quite honest, I’ve never been a huge BBS fan. It’s whole ~thing~ back in 2010 was having three player-characters, which is conceptually dope as hell. The less dope part was that the tri-pronged approach made you play through the same events through three different perspectives, in three separate playthroughs. And let me tell you, Disney Town’s happy-go-lucky minigames weren’t any more charming the third time around than they were the first.

The pacing goes to hell almost immediately, and the characterization goes with it. We spend about 15 hours with each of the main protagonists -- Terra, Aqua, and Ven -- and get told over and over what a special friendship they have, but we never see it for ourselves because the gameplay demands that they stay isolated until the game's climax (which KH2’s secret movie spoils almost in full).

That makes it really hard to care about them as a fractured friend group, instead of just seeing a handful of whiny young adults who could use some communication counseling. Stop telling me about your problems! Talk to each other! Geez!

Everglow braids these three separate threads into a much stronger, united story. Instead of running the level gauntlet one keybearer at a time, we stick around in each world for complete, cohesive, well-paced arcs (typically starting with Terra accidentally screwing something up, Ven wandering around like a dope, and Aqua trailing after them, picking up the pieces).

The dissonant highs and lows of their friendship begin to harmonize.

More Than a Let’s Play

The way I see it, there are two types of people: those who ask, “Why would anyone want to watch a video game?” and those who backlog their Watch Later playlist with Let’s Plays. Like it or not, video games have carved out a cultural moment in which Mario Tennis is as much a spectator sport as its real-life counterpart. It’s a thing.

And while I’m truly allergic to obnoxious YouTuber culture, I often power through the bad jokes and running commentary because there are some games that I want to experience even when my bank account won’t let me. It’s kind of like having to go over to an annoying friend’s house to play something, and they almost ruin it by never shutting up.

With the Timeline, it’s all the joys of Kingdom Hearts with none of the usual Let’s Play detractions. In fact, I’d almost rather watch Everglow’s videos than play the games myself. His gameplay is so masterful and so artistic that it quickly becomes an integral part of the storytelling.

Birth by Sleep has one of the most robust ability systems in the franchise, filling out each character’s deck with individualized skillsets with which Everglow makes every fight dynamic. Some of the larger beats of each boss battle I’m sure he planned out in advance, but because this is a video game, he also has to choreograph as he goes, tweaking and improvising so that the finishers goes off like clockwork, leaving the most lasting impact every step of the way.

Like a painter in front of three distinct color palettes, Everglow uses Terra, Aqua, and Ven's moves to engineer cinematic moments on the fly, all while incorporating stylized touches to evoke their distinct personalities. Watching him, it’s almost like seeing an actor embody a character onstage.

Ever-patient Aqua takes her time in battle, often letting her opponent strike first and, in the climax of the story, shows serious restraint in some of the fights against her own friends. Meanwhile, Terra rushes in, fitting for his impulsive nature. And the way Ventus breezes around the arena, the fights are as much a carefree game to him as they are to the player.

It’s these tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it details that elevate the gameplay to an art form I’ve never seen in Let’s Plays before.

Check out the 16:00 mark for an excellent example of how Everglow blends gameplay and storytelling.

Perhaps the best example of this project’s thoughtful innovation is its use of Trinity Limits. While the Trinity Limit has been a staple Kingdom Hearts attack, Birth by Sleep uses it specifically to evoke the bond between Terra, Ven, and Aqua. When Everglow deploys his Limits at key moments, he ups the emotional stakes by editing in character voiceover that best illustrates the complex dynamics between the three.

Let me tell ya, the "dynamic" in question is not always unconditional love, which makes it all the more interesting. I honestly thought I’d get bored of them toward the end, when there was at least one Trinity Limit per episode, but because of the nuance behind the chosen dialogue and the Limit’s use as a finisher to critical boss fights, Everglow makes each of them feel just as fresh and impactful as the first.

The cutscene edits and in-game characterization truly work wonders together, fittingly coming to a head at the climax of the game in “Episode 30: Destiny is Never Left to Chance,” whose montage (recapping the Wayfinder Trio’s friendship amidst its collapse) actually left me breathless.

Fandom Freak-Out

This week’s entire column is technically the the Fandom Freak-Out, but it’d be wrong of me to (rightfully) laud the Timeline as the greatest multimedia contribution to the Kingdom Hearts fandom without giving mad kudos to some of the brilliant contributors to the "A" side of this AV masterpiece.

Beginning around Radiant Garden in the Birth by Sleep leg of the Timeline, Everglow begins incorporating several of Project Destati’s acclaimed orchestrations at key moments. My favorite so far has to be the inclusion of Riku’s theme from their first full-length album Light at the part of Birth by Sleep in which he inherits the keyblade from Terra.

Project Destati made waves this past March with the long-awaited release of their second album, Darkness, and have already hinted (through their surprisingly robust social media presence) at a third in the works (because the best things in KH come in threes).

Project Destati describes themselves as “a celebration of the rich musical score of the Kingdom Hearts games.” Outside the context the cutscenes and boss battles, the music tells a story itself, constructing impressive and moving arcs that flow across their discography. In this sense, Project Destati pairs perfectly with Everglow’s project, both succeeding telling a tale (as old as time) in a completely new way.

I can only imagine what the Timeline will do with Darkness’s 10-minute "Xion" track once we hit Days. I’ll keep tissues on-hand for that one.

The Final Swallow

I can't say it enough: Everglow’s Kingdom Hearts Timeline is a gift. If you’re a newbie trying to machete your way through the lore before KH3 or an old fan looking to experience the story in a fresh light, this project is for you.

Right now, Everglow’s still working his way through KH1 (which plays out interspersed with Aqua’s journey in 0.2), and the parallels are bananas good. Don't believe me? Check out what he did with Neverland. If you start now (and watch pretty much non-stop for three days), you should catch up right before KH's climax, which promises to be a hell of a show.


That's all for this week, folks. In the comments below, tell me about your Let's Play experiences. What are your favorites? Why do you watch them? Let's get talkin'.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of content!

ELEAGUE: Legitimizing Esports Through Creative Storytelling and Emerging Technology Fri, 20 Jul 2018 11:07:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Log in to any sports broadcasting network, and there's a strong chance you'll run into a well-polished documentary or feature on a player's life, technique, or claim to fame. To anyone who cares about sports, the games we watch aren't really about the sports themselves but more about the personalities lacing up to take the field or court. We tune in because we want to see those players succeed or fail, and we want to see how they'll do it. 

The end, as they say, isn't as compelling as the journey. 

It's not surprising, then, that story and competition are uniquely linked. From the earliest days of sport, story fashioned from the splendor of victory and the disappointment of defeat has compelled us to watch, perhaps even more than the innate fun of the sports themselves. It's true in analog sports, and it's true in digital sports as well. 

In many ways, esports is the natural progression of competition. Just as analog sports have evolved from their primal roots, so have they evolved from traditional stick and ball sports -- such as baseball, football, and basketball -- to something if not more advanced, more closely tied to the digital age. Of course, traditional sports still entrance and enrapture us, but it's time to come to grips with a simple fact: sports are evolving, and both fans and broadcasters have to evolve with it.  

One of the companies leading the charge into that brave "new" world of broadcast esports is a name that's become synonymous with sports itself: Turner Broadcasting. Well-known for its coverage of the NBA, the MLB, the PGA, NCAA basketball, and more, Turner was one of the major broadcasting companies to quickly realize that esports wasn't just a fad but instead a legitimate cultural zeitgeist. Because of their foresight, their esports network, ELEAGUE, is one of the fastest growing and most renowned esports-centric networks currently showcasing games and tournaments. 

Speaking with Matt Mosteller, Vice President of Content for Turner Sports, who also oversees production for ELEAGUE, the idea of crafting compelling narratives lies at the center of each ELEAGUE production. As a fan-first esports brand, ELEAGUE seeks to bring esports stories to fans in interesting and creative ways -- some they may have never seen before. 

[Esports is] a great digital property, and there are a ton of young fans that are consuming this content and are ferocious when following these sports. For us, being able to create content and bring in a younger audience is always something that's key. It just made sense. 

At Turner, we're always looking for what's next; what are the new, big sporting events and phenomena? We want to be a part of those and help tell stories around those. We pride ourselves in doing premiere events. We looked at esports -- and being able to jump in and help grow some of those games and create some more premiere events -- [as something we were very interested in]. 

One of the ways Turner looks to help grow established esports such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Street Fighter V, and Tekken 7 is through leveraging its experience in traditional broadcast storytelling. Creating hype around these games in ways both hardcore and casual fans may not have experienced before is an important wrinkle in the company's strategy. 

In many ways, I've seen it work on the "uninitiated" in person. Injecting broadcasts with player profiles, educational segments, and creative features such as this gem featuring ELEAGUE's 2018 Street Fighter V Invitational Champion, Tokido, serve a dual purpose in engaging the hardcore viewer and humanizing the competition for the casual viewer.   

Setting out after that goal, it's the creative work Turner employs outside the game that often sets its broadcasts apart from other esports coverage and analysis. It's crazy polished. It's engaging. It's compelling. The ELEAGUE team uses storytelling to give fans better insight into the every-day lives of these players, showcasing the monumental investment these players put into their training. What's more, it highlights the fact that esports players are just as passionate and skilled as players in the NBA, NFL, and MLB. 

Mosteller says that one of the best ways to ensure all of those boxes get ticked is by giving viewers what they really want, which is access to the players. That one thing is the connective tissue by which the entire organism seems to work.  

The game's the game. There's only so much we can do within the game itself. [But the question is], "What can we do around the game to create this buzz and get people excited and draw in more of an audience?". One of the great things fans love is access. They want to be these players and they want to see them away from the controller ...

One of the things we looked at was, "How can we bring fans closer to the action?", giving them the chance to know these guys. So we've dived into some of the documentary style [content], like the road to the international, the road to the Boston Major this past year for our ELEAGUE Counter-Strike major, and it really gave fans a chance to get to know these teams and see that other side of them, and create that connection and bond that will hopefully bring people back to watching live gameplay. 

That's a tall task when it comes to Joe Public. It's a safe bet that your average sports viewer isn't all that keyed in to esports -- or doesn't hold the niche in very high regard due to general views on gaming. Although studies show that some 250 million people follow esports competitions around the world, that's across all esports properties and tournaments, not a specific event.

In 2017, IEM Katowice brought in 46 million viewers, making it the largest esports event in history. However, that pales to the 2017 Super Bowl, which alone brought in 111 million viewers. This shows that broadcasters have the attention of hardcore gamers, but getting the attention of an ordinary audience requires a bit more finesse. 

In response, broadcasters like Turner have become more flexible.

That adaptability has helped ELEAGUE grow its brand and engage esports fans on both digital streaming channels such as Twitch and BR/Live, as well as TBS. It's been aided by leveraging proprietary and third-party technology. Used in conjunction with more traditional storytelling elements -- features, player profiles, and more -- tools such as eye-tracking technology and Game Command tell story in an engaging, yet more analytical way.  

Without eye-tracking technology, you wouldn't know that many Street Fighter V, CS:GO, and Tekken 7 players move their eyes just as fast, and in some cases even faster, than athletes in almost all traditional stick and ball sports.

That storyline in and of itself not only gives casual fans direct analogues by which to understand esports and overcome some of their initial hurdles, but it also gives hardcore fans the validation they've sought since players started gathering around cabinets in their local arcades decades ago. 

From another angle, ELEAGUE's Game Command gives viewers unprecedented access to professional esports play, specifically CS:GO. In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, viewers streaming matches are able to see not only the main feed (which is similar to a typical sports broadcast on cable), but they are also able to see multiple angles of action, similar to a multi-feed that's sometimes provided during traditional sports broadcasts.

But that's not all. There's a unique wrinkle that takes the game to an entirely new level. With Game Command, viewers can watch specific players throughout the match, easily switching between players and viewpoints at their own discretion. It gives viewers unprecedented access and control to the games they love; and in cases of the uninitiated, gives viewers a new way to learn about the game they're watching. 

Mosteller says that's the whole point: to bring viewers and audiences as close to the game as they possibly can. Just like traditional sports, it's important to build a conversation around esports that grows it from a niche market into something bigger and more accepted. 

We always try to push ourselves on the technology side. And the gaming space is a great place to do that. Whether it was the eye-tracking technology or the augmented reality we've done around Street Fighter or the Injustice League, where we brought these great characters these fanbases know and love to life in the studio and during the broadcast. Those are just some things we can do to spice up our coverage and get the fans excited. 

I think if we're going to continue to grow the esports space, that's something that's big for us: bringing in that more casual audience, especially on TBS where people aren't as used to watching esports on that platform. 

If any mainstream broadcasting company can make esports widely popular, Turner is one of the very few that can do it. What makes Turner Broadcasting unique is that it has a wide array of ancillary properties from which it can pull from to further build hype around the scene. It has specific brands that already overlap with the gaming space, such as Cartoon Network, that further facilitate the push to greater esports ubiquity. 

It's that mixture of styles (a firm understanding of traditional media alongside a genuine excitement and interest in emerging technologies) that's helped ELEAGUE become so popular so quickly. Often, there's not a lot of context around esports matches. By crafting traditional and analytical stories around them, Turner looks to help both hardcore fans and casuals better understand what they're watching. By proxy, that understanding will hopefully transform into wider acceptance of esports as an "actual" branch of sports.  

Much like NFL films has done for the league's 32 teams and thousands of players, Turner uses technology and creative storytelling to craft compelling, engaging, and informative content that breaks down barriers.

It's telling stories where it at first doesn't seem stories could or should exist. By humanizing gaming and crafting stories around each of the scenes it represents, Turner is using ELEAGUE to firmly make the argument that competitive gaming isn't just for the initiated.

Just like traditional sports, it's for everyone. 


To see first hand the way ELEAGUE tells stories around esports tournaments, make sure to tune in to the CS:GO Premier 2018, which starts this Saturday, July 21, at 2 p.m. EDT on Twitch, BR/Live, and Game Command

The group action will go through Wednesday, July 25. After the dust has settled, four teams (two from each group) will face off in single-elimination playoffs held Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29, for their share of the million-dollar prize pool. 

As always, stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and information on ELEAGUE as it develops.  

The Tea: A STEAMy Sip of Ori and the Blind Forest Thu, 12 Jul 2018 11:40:15 -0400 Jackson Ingram

In just over nine hours of Ori and the Blind Forest, I only died 551 times. The game very helpfully kept track for me and gave me a visual reminder every time I hit pause to catch my breath and/or cry.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was getting into with Ori, but it seemed like I had so little to lose back then: it was on sale, it was well-reviewed, and its graphics were gorgeous. Even if I had reservations about playing as anything remotely resembling a furry, I dove in. I thought it looked like a cute little game. I was so young then, so very naive.

I’d heard the term “Metroidvania” before. No, I had never played a game like it, but I knew that Samus was kick-ass in Super Smash Bros, and I'd watched the pilot of the Netflix Castlevania anime, so I thought I had a pretty solid background in the hybrid genre. Surely there would be no further prerequisites. I could do this. It was just a platformer, right? Something like Super Mario but for furries. (Oh wait, that's already a thing.)

But was wrong. It was hard. It was SUPER HARD.

To be fair, it had been a while since I’d played what Waypoint Radio might refer to as a “video-game-ass video game,” if this even counted as one. For the past three years, I’ve been pretty busy -- and pretty stressed -- so I pretty much limited my video gaming to weekly jaunts through my heavily-hacked Animal Crossing: New Leaf town (aka, my happy place).

The pace of an Animal Crossing stroll is perhaps somewhat more leisurely than that of a Metroidvania platformer. That, and Animal Crossing has far fewer buttons to remember. Essentially, you hold a tool, you hit “A,” and it does the thing. In Ori, my left hand was constantly playing its own little game of Twister on the keyboard while my right hand swirled the large glass of wine I inevitably poured myself after dying in the Ginso Tree for what felt like the 300th time.

It was somewhere around the 150 mark that I switched the difficulty down the easy, but apparently, I needed “baby mode” because it took me another 20 minutes of fatalities to get through it.

A Piping Hot Take on Gameplay

It’s very possible that the wine didn’t help my already rusted reflexes, but in my defense, I was a little stressed, alright? Which is a shame, because the forest itself was breathtaking. When I wasn’t running, hopping, or gliding for my life, I couldn't help but admire the sheer scope of the world I was tasked with saving.

The forest of Nibel was -- and still is -- gorgeous and sprawling, with vast contrasts between areas that somehow manage to be disparate but also part of a cohesive whole. It was a world I enjoyed inhabiting, no matter how hard it tried to kill me at every turn (hence the wine).

I’m pretty sure I spent all nine hours at the edge of my desk chair, checking and re-checking the edges of my screen for whatever ungodly disaster was about to chase me across the map next.

Speaking of which, the map itself is the true adversary in Ori and the Blind Forest. The enemies, all of whom could've been ripped out of an Epic Mickey demo, were fairly predictable, but that’s not so much a complaint as it is a blessing. If I’d have faced anything more complex from those dudes, me and my phosphorescent spirit guide would’ve told this forest to go f- itself.

The repetition gave me the practice I needed to master the game's moves and eventually (read: FINALLY) start sewing them together for some really satisfying platform traversal. It was just around when Ori started feeling like an extension of myself and not like a dumb little fox puppet that I beat the game and deleted it from my desktop forever.

The Story: Quick as a Fox, Subtle as a Tsunami

Clearly, I’m not planning on replaying this one with my newly abundant free time, and despite how visually impressive the sequel promises to be, I’m just not invested enough in Nibel to take another trip through its thorny brambles.

The plot
almost saved it for me, as plot often does in games. I’ve played through a lot of bad sequels just because I’ve felt just a little connected to the games' characters, but here, I just… don’t. I feel nothing. This little fox thing and its inarticulate friends mean nothing to me.

It’s possible that I’m this heartless because when I watched Bambi as a child, my mother very pointedly told me exactly how she felt about the perceived demonization of hunters in children’s media. So when Bambi’s mom died (oh, crap, spoiler alert), my little brain was too full of rural Midwestern deer-culling discourse to develop empathy for woodland creatures caught on the wheels of the circle of life.

Sure, the relationship between Ori and Naru is sweet and (actual spoiler alert) it was sad when Naru seemed to starve to death at the end of happy-times-prologue-berry-season, but a bigger part of me was like, “Oh, thank God I don’t have to play as that giant sloth again.” (Although, yeah, about that...)

Besides a few twists and turns, the set-up here is pretty straightforward. You’re a fox-thing named Ori that’s supposed to restore the three elements (essentially: water, air, and fire, because screw the earth) and save the forest before an enormous owl kills you in retribution for the indirect part you played in ruining her life.

The owl, Kuro, is probably the most interesting character -- a mother equal parts protective and vindictive -- and definitely has the best character design, but that’s probably because you can’t mess up a giant demon owl. You just can’t. By comparison, the other characters come off a little clumsy. There’s something kind of bulbous about their designs and movements that makes it hard to imagine them outside the flat plane of a side-scroller.

Oh, and guiding you on your journey is a little pixie-thing called “Sein”, who takes you from one spirit grave to the next so you can absorb their sweet platforming powers in a move that doesn’t at all resemble necromancy.

There’s also some deeply earnest voiceover work from the Spirit Tree, which occasionally chimes in with a made-up gibberish language (and floaty, mystical subtitles) to say something fake-deep and almost embarrassing to read. The whole plot felt like it had me in an emotional chokehold, hitting me over the head again and again with just the hammiest sentimentality, begging me to care about the epic plight of its characters. And each time it did, I cared just a little less.

So long-story-short, it was a little hard for me to feel for Ori beyond the fact that every time I led its fragile fox body into another fatality, I felt a stab of guilt for being unable to complete even the most basic Metroidvanian maneuvers. Also because I’m pretty sure “forest guardians” are an endangered species. I should really be more responsible.

The Fandom Freak-Out: NIBEL

Luckily, the game undeniably succeeds in one area: the music. Looking back, it was the overwhelming praise for the OST that drew me to Ori in the first place. As the kids would say, I’m a slut for VGM, and composer Gareth Coker delivers the goods. While admittedly, the main theme isn’t my absolute fave (a little overwrought, in my opinion, and a total earworm in the worst way), it’s impressive how the rest of the album outshines what’s supposed to be the headliner. Each track feels carefully constructed, with soaring highs and somber lows that could tell a story on its own. Paired with the visuals, it’s an orchestral treat that brings Ori’s world to life.

Where Ori's narrative laid out its wide-cut arcs with hammy-fists, the orchestration drew out its nuance. I’ve been listening to Materia Collective's NIBEL (see below) basically on a loop at work, and with each playthrough, I’m amazed at how Materia Collective takes an already intricate musical score and not only dives into it from every angle, but makes me want to take the plunge back into the Blind Forest myself.

While there’s a lot to love here (and a whole spectrum of reasons to love it), my favorite track has to be “The Waters Cleansed” by David Russell (a Materia Collective regular, and a core member of the Project Destati trio). While my feelings may be somewhat skewed by the intense relief I felt after clearing the Ginso Tree (very wine-drunk at two in the morning), I can say with certainty that I can imagine no better representation for Ori’s brand of hopefulness than Russell’s gorgeously delicate arrangement.

The Final Swallow

Am I glad I played Ori? Absolutely. It was a weird experience to be sure. Sometimes beautiful. Often infuriating. But always unique. It’s like a mosh pit! Not exactly my cup of tea, but something I’m glad to have experienced just once. And never again.

This week’s “Fandom Freak-Out” goes to Materia Collective’s NIBEL: Ori and the Blind Forest Remixed. It’s an impressive 37-track tribute to Coker’s work, featuring over 50 composers, arrangers, and artists.

Food Fantasy Preview: Just Enough Cooks In The Kitchen, and They Are All Waifus Fri, 06 Jul 2018 13:30:43 -0400 Ty Arthur

Based on the title you might think we're not compiling delicious Arby's video game memes again (no such luck, although now I'm hungry). Instead, Food Fantasy is its own game coming soon to mobile platforms that aims to dethrone some of the biggest mobile names by starting a food fight.

What sets this game apart from the horde of similar titles crowding the Google and Apple app stores? Food Fantasy brings a whole bunch of cooks into one kitchen, and for once that's not a disaster waiting to happen.

There are some killer cooking games on the Switch right now, and freemium gacha titles continue to be the rage around the world, so it makes sense to combine them into one fan service-heavy package.

Important Note: This is an advanced preview build and not the final product! Expect big changes and some smoothing out of various features when the game lands July 20th.

 The layout and resources will be familiar, and there's plenty of eye candy

Whipped, Mashed, Pureed, And Fried

You get a gacha creature summoner, a lite JRPG, and a restaurant sim all in one with the cross-genre Food Fantasy. This is a game about running a restaurant and then battling fallen angels with anthropomorphic food.. that it's clear you kinda want to bang.

Yeah, you read that last part right. Loads of waifu / fan service stuff is going on here, along with plenty of innuendo in the text and imagery. I've never really wanted to get it on with milk before, but this game might change your mind on that front.

When the cuties aren't trying to get senpai to notice them, you'll be busy developing and improving recipes, assigning cooks, prepping meals and completing quests.

All the typical freemium resources are up for grabs, which are earned through the restaurant portion of the game, with upgrades and other items acquired through battle. Of course you also summon "food souls" that are creatures of randomized strength, then upgrade, fuse, and evolve them in various ways.

Just for fun, then there's also a JRPG / visual novel storyline mode keeping it all held together. There's no question that you've seen and heard all of this before, but its presented in a new and frankly kind of amazing way.

 That is in fact sentient, female tea that's dual wielding pistols

Gotta Keep Tapping!

Whether beating up delinquents who don't pay their bills at your restaurant or battling demon things out in the wilderness, there's quite a bit of combat in Food Fantasy.

This is all handled in your typical auto battle way, but there's more player engagement than you'd expect and you can't really just walk away and have the game grind itself while plowing through your energy reserves.

Of course you've got to decide when to deploy creature skills as in any gacha, but that's just the beginning. Another layer is added by having to time tapping boss weak points to prevent super abilities from being used, swatting away healing helpers that revive enemies, and breaking your fighters out of traps.

 All that chibi genocide is so you can get ingredients to make the perfect meal!

The Bottom Line

To be clear, FF is an utterly ludicrous game with an exceedingly tongue-in-cheek attitude, but there's a ton to do and the mixing of styles is handled well.

Food Fantasy knows exactly what kind of game it is, and doesn't shy away from leaning into that silliness. Baby bottles drip healing milk during battles with evil rabbits trying to club you with carrots, while every anime cliche you can think of will fly across your screen during conversation segments.

Somehow this all works out for a genuinely fun time in a game that seems like it should just be a time wasting mobile entry but manages to be more than that.

 How many games let you get licked to death by a tentacle lady wielding an eyeball fork?

The Best Darkest Dungeon Nude Mods -- Yes, They Exist Thu, 28 Jun 2018 14:21:46 -0400 Ty Arthur


What did you think of our picks for the best Darkest Dungeon nude mods, and will you be installing any of these? Let us know if we missed any must-have mods in the comments section below!


Still looking for more gameplay focused mods to tweak the experience that don't bring on the bewbies? Check out our roundup of the best current Darkest Dungeon mods over here instead. 


But if you are searching for more nude mods in general, here are some articles to get you started: 


Bonus: Shindol Skins


So, there's not actually any breasts or exposed genitals in this one, but if you know who hentai artist Shindol is, you'll want to grab these anyway.


You get three re-skins (two for the Crusader and one for the Hellion) that are adorable in a very waifu sort of way, and it really makes it all the more horrible when bad things happen to them in the dungeon!


Darkest Desires


Originally released on Nexus Mods, this nude mod ended up going directly to Lovers Lab as time went on due to its overtly sexual nature. This one goes in some pretty dark and fetishistic directions, so be prepared. From foot worship to forced sex with the abomination, they don't pull any punches here.


Darkest Desires changes up the game's existing camping skills and adds in new ones for a very different take on "stress relief." You'll never look at the image of three swords pointing toward the vestal in the same way again!


Be sure to grab this one quick, as it hasn't been updated in awhile, and all the patches for the Color Of Madness DLC will probably break it before too long.


Sexy Town Skins


There have been plenty of hero and enemy reskins, but don't think we're going to leave out the NPCs in the hamlet!


This nifty little mod replaces the skins for characters in the abbey, blacksmith, and camping trainer section to be a bit more alluring and revealing. If you've got a thing for nuns -- or just a thing for nude townsfolk in a dark, medieval setting, this is most likely the mod for you.


Topless Cultists


It's not just the poor, doomed heroes who get in on the nude mod action. You can also remove the clothing of the evil cultists trying to sacrifice your crew to ancient, dead gods!


I suppose, in a way, it makes sense -- I doubt cultists who slaughter innocents and gibber insane secrets to themselves care much about modesty, so why shouldn't they be topless while fighting?


Russian Nude Vestal


It should go without saying that the Vestal gets her own nude mod as well! While this one has some killer anime-style artwork, my only reservation is that it really doesn't match the rest of the Darkest Dungeon assets.


While the other mods here all stick to the base game style, this one clashes pretty hard with the dark colors. But if that sort of things doesn't bother you in the slightest, this is a nude mod you'll most likely want to add to your collection. 


The Hood


A brothel worker seems to have come off the wagon along with all those crusaders and highwaymen, and she apparently wants to go dungeon delving as well!


This is a reworking for the Antiquarian class, with quite a bit of exposed behind added in for good measure. A gory, prostitute version of Little Red Riding Hood is a pretty specific fetish, but I'm sure it ticks all the right boxes for somebody out there.


The Offering 2.0


OK, this one's sort of nude-ish in comparison to some of the previous mods we've listed, but the outfit on this new class is definitely skimpy, and there is some light nipple appearance in her various combat poses.


The Offering was supposed to be sacrificed to some evil entity, who chose instead, as a cruel joke, to steal her heart and give her another's. She's a tank hybrid meant to be played on the frontline, and she's not exactly hard on the eyes while she's up there either...


LW -- Hollow Sexy Skin


The Hollow is a back row healer class with a ghostly twist, and she also happens to not be wearing much while she delves into those diabolical dungeons! This re-skin of the class offers up a very distinctive hentai style if you don't dig the base imagery.


Note that to use this reskin, you first need to have the Hollow custom class mod installed. There's also an alternate re-colored version of the Hollow with different options available over here.


Urian Hellion African Princess Topless Reskin


More than just removing the top portion of the outfit to expose the breasts, this reskin completely changes the Hellion's appearance while retaining her more wild aspects.


There are a couple of animations that aren't quite perfect, but overall, the changes to the jewelry, tattoos, and ax blade make for a satisfying addition to the female lineup if you want a different appearance for the Hellion.


Naked Female Leper Skin


I think we all suspected that the religious ladies in Darkest Dungeon have got it going on underneath those habits and robes, but now you can know for sure with the naked female leper!


All of her various animations are changed to nude, from the alluring camping pose to the shocked animation when gaining an affliction.


It's sort of odd that a leper would have such welcoming, smooth skin... but hey, this is "porn", not reality. And for those who want a more "realistic" experience, there is a properly messed up version of the naked leper class you can find by searching around on Lovers Lab.


For a game like Darkest Dungeon, one that's all about going mad and dying while battling eldritch monstrosities from beyond, you wouldn't think there'd be much demand for nude mods. However, you'd also be dead wrong.


Recent titles like Agony and Lust For Darkness have shown that there's a market for sexed-up horror games, and the modding community hasn't let down the pervs who want a little nudie action while getting butchered by fish people.


Weirdly, not many of the current mods focus on tentacles, which seems like the obvious way to go for a game with such clear Lovecraftian tones as this one. That oversight aside, there's plenty of nude DD mods to try out!


Note: The various bouncy bits have been mildly edited out in the slides to come, but obviously, they are on full display in the mods themselves. Keep in mind to view some of these mods you must also be logged into Nexus Mods and have the adult content option turned on.

The Banner Saga 3 Preview: Act 3 of a Long, Heroic Journey Wed, 27 Jun 2018 09:00:01 -0400 Emily (Pokeflute)

There’s no doubt The Banner Saga is one of the most well-received indie RPGs in recent memory. It's a fantastic franchise that uses great gameplay to support a deep story.

There's also no doubt that series fans are eagerly awaiting the series' third installment, The Banner Saga 3. Allegedly the final act to indie turn-based strategy series, there's a lot riding on the shoulders of The Banner Saga 3 -- especially for series loyalists.

Building upon the intriguing mythological Norse narrative of the first two games, this entry puts players back into a rich, embattled world full of nefarious dark forces bent on its destruction. Whether the final product wraps the story together in neat bundle remains to be seen, but thanks to developer Stoic, we were able to get a glimpse of the game's first three chapters.

Here's what we saw.

*Some minor spoilers follow, so read on at your own risk.

Starting Out on Our New, Yet Familiar Journey

Much like The Banner Saga 2 brought over your progress from the first game, the series' latest installment will carry over your choices from the previous two games if they’re on your system or PC.

If you haven’t played the first two entries (or don't have the save data on your system of PC), you'll start by making BS2’s big ending choice. If you've yet to finish BS2, I won't spoil the ending for you here, but you won't have to worry about starting completely fresh whether you're a newcomer or not.

The game includes a tutorial for those who haven’t played before or need a refresher. It does a good job of not only teaching you how to move and attack, but it gives you tips to help formulate strategies later on. It’s a short but effective tutorial, although I do wish it had included a little bit more information about different classes and weapons.

Right from the start, the game is just as gorgeous as it's ever been, with hair and capes moving elegantly in the wind and vibrant colors striking a deep contrast to the game's more subdued environmental palettes. And rounding out the artistic feel of this entry, the sound effects in The Banner Saga 3 are also great: they rise, fall, and change according to dialogue and the game's soundtrack, making the game feel very cohesive.

Making Choices and Doing Battle

A short cinematic introduces the first chapter of our preview, and right off the bat, your choices matter. You can choose to be coy or ask difficult questions of yourself and the game's characters, but in the series' ultimate chapter, the decisions you make carry even more weight than before.

Like previous games in the franchise, there’s no telling what impacts your choices could have on future events, but if you've ever played a Banner Saga game before, you know it's always wise to choose carefully as the answers you give have the potential to alter major events in the game.

It would be nice if the game had a command to toggle all enemies’ available move areas -- much like Fire Emblem does.

And the same can be said of choosing your layout for each battle and encounter. After choosing your units, the game allows you to arrange them prior to the start of the battle. It’s nice that the game asks you for confirmation when moving, acting, and ending a turn -- especially if you’re guilty of making hasty or accidental decisions in strategy games, so this helps to prevent you from making an error.

It would be nice if the game had a command to toggle all enemies’ available move areas -- much like Fire Emblem does. It would help lure enemies toward you so you receive a movement advantage, but as far as we can tell, that is currently not in the game.

On top of that, some battles follow the formula explored in The Banner Saga 2: environmental hazards. In our demo, fire was the hobgoblin waylaying our warriors on the battlefield. This specific hazard forces your units to move out of the way or risk strength damage. Growing every few turns, the hazard adds a strategic layer to battles -- making it feel as if the map itself was after our party. 

Unit promotion is back as well, and I used it to give one of my party members a new title: “Twice-Born.” Promotions allow access to new active and passive skills; this one allows the affected party member to revive with one STR/WIL after dying. They’re useful wrinkles that you’ll be pretty familiar with at this point -- not ones you should ignore by any means.

Finally, a new kind of combat called "waves combat" is introduced in our demo. The idea here is that you last as long as you can against waves of enemies, and if you defeat the final boss, you earn a powerful item. It’s similar in some ways to survival mode in The Banner Saga 2. You can choose to flee between waves with no penalty. After the first round of this battle, we decided to flee, as only two of our units were still standing.

Assembling the Clans

In our demo, there wasn’t a whole lot “new” to the tried and true Banner Saga formula. If you liked the first two games, there’s a good chance you’re going to like The Banner Saga 3 as well. You’ll find some difficult strategic decisions here, both on the character management and resource management fronts.

We really enjoyed the strategic combat that the series is known for, and the art and animation are as beautiful as ever. On the downside, the music seems to be a little more generic than that of past entries, and we had a little difficulty with unit control on the battlefield (sometimes units will get hidden behind others, making it difficult to accurately command them). There are also some distracting grammatical errors in the game’s dialogue, but hopefully, those will be fixed before launch.

On the whole, we’re looking forward to finishing the game and seeing what the ending brings. With all the twists and turns that the first three chapters alone have had, we’re sure that the ending will be a treat to experience.

The Banner Saga 3 will come out on July 26 for PC/Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch, with a mobile version coming at a later date.

[Note: The developer provided the copy of The Banner Saga 3 used in this preview.]

Preview: Warhammer 40K Goes 4X With Gladius - Relics Of War Mon, 25 Jun 2018 15:11:19 -0400 Ty Arthur

Its always a total toss-up as to what you might get with this very hit or miss franchise when Games Workshop decides to throw their name at the dart board of development teams. For every Vermintide 2 or Dawn Of War there's a host of half-assed mobile games and random excursions into other genres that don't quite work as well as anyone hopes.

The breadth of styles offered in Warhammer games has exploded over the years, as we've now had real-time strategy, third-person action-adventure, action RPG, MMO, and even first-person shooters in the 40K universe.

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics Of War (boy that's a mouthful) again shakes things up on the genre front, which is always a gamble. Will Gears Of War work as a cutesy POP game? Can Fallout survive chasing the trend of online survival mode? These things are always just so hard to tell ... 

But now we're finally landing on the turn-based 4X genre with Gladius, and I'm very pleased to report that so far, it's a much better fit than some of the subpar recent Warhammer offerings.

Note: We're currently evaluating an early preview build of the game that only features the space marine campaign. Some elements will change and Gladius will launch with access to the Necrons, Orks, and Astra Militarum factions on July 12. We'll update this article into a full review once we get the complete release version.

 Heresy detected!

Translating The Imperium Of Man To A 4X Strategy Game

At its core, Gladius is complex like a 4X game should be, but while still being manageable. A helpful red button in the corner reminds you of what can be done each turn so you don't accidentally waste any time without researching, requisitioning new units, claiming tiles, and so on. However, there are still lots of ways to mess yourself up if you don't figure out the strategy.

You'll be juggling influence, requisition, population, energy, research points, and expansion versus avoiding conflict while trying to tame a planet besieged on all sides.

It's easy to get overwhelmed if you are ranging too far afield and trying to grab everything without building up a solid defensive line first, as enemies will chase you back to your base and annihilate you in huge waves.

Along the way, as you run your space marine chapter, you will choose new abilities for your heroes and select equipment upgrades that will be familiar to Dawn Of War players.

 This big guy and his group of enginseer heretics annihilated my paltry two squads of space marines

An Indie Offering In AAA Wrapping

In general, this feels like a big-budget 4X game. It isn't missing any of the elements or polish that typically plague indie excursions (the map scrolling is frankly better than Civilization 6 had at launch). On the other hand, there are a couple of animations and unit models look noticeably on the indie side.

Killer music and sound effects ramp up the atmosphere, like bullets and lascannon blasts pinging off robotic armor. Fans of the lore will also be pleased by the presence of enemy types you don't see much on other 40K games, such as the Enslavers.

Four factions are available at launch, which obviously is quite a bit fewer than in your typical Civ entry, but if they all play as well as the space marines then I'm looking forward to trying out the other three and playing them into the ground, with hope for more factions as an expansion in the future.

Masochists who only want that stupidly complex 4X experience that takes weeks to learn and months of reading to master might be disappointed by the simplified nature of Gladius, but anyone else will likely love this take on the genre. It's complex while still being accessible, and the 40K motif is undeniably awesome.

 ...but it's not like you will be lacking in resources to juggle!

The Bottom Line on Gladius - Relics Of War 

Gladius is essentially Civilization meets Dawn Of War, and that's as epic and awesome as it sounds. 4X fans and 40K fans are going to want to pick this one up immediately.

This is one of those (exceedingly rare) instances where Games Workshop throwing the Warhammer license at an unknown team resulted in a smash hit success that was well worth the risk.

Now that we've finally gotten a 4X entry that's worth playing I'm going to have to keep repeating this mantra over and over until it happens -- next up we need a single player RPG in the vein of Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. This universe is ripe for that sort of experience, so get it on it already GW!

Is Nintendo Finally Embracing The Competitive Smash Scene? Fri, 22 Jun 2018 12:39:04 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Now that the dust has finally settled from Nintendo's E3 presentation and the curtain has been raised on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we're finally getting a sense of what we can expect from Nintendo's flagship fighting game series when it launches this December.

And oddly enough, the new features, changes, and additions seem different this time around. For a company (and a creator in Masahiro Sakurai) that are infamous for refusing to listen to input from fans, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sure seems like it has been inspired by the competitive community.

Nintendo's History (or Lack Thereof) with the Competitive Smash Community

Ask any competitive Super Smash Bros. player about Nintendo's support of the community, no matter what their game of choice is, and you'll likely get the same answer: They don't care.

And that has held true ever since the original game came out. Nintendo has positioned the Super Smash Bros. series as a casual fighter meant for parties, and has historically been very resistant to the concept that it can be played in any kind of codified professional way. 

Nintendo never hosts official Smash tournaments outside the occasional invitational event. They rarely sponsor major fighting game tournaments either. Nintendo's relationship with people who play Smash competitively has been tumultuous at best, and at worst, outright hostile.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl probably represents the worst of this. After years of refusing to provide financial support to tournaments that featured Melee, Brawl released and was incredibly well-received, but the addition of random tripping and lack of patching meant that Brawl would never be as accepted by the competitive community as Melee was. This was by design. To Nintendo, playing these games competitively was playing the game the wrong way. 

This even continued through the last generation of games. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS featured online play, sure, but the For Glory mode of play seemed like an afterthought, seeing as team battles were restricted to time mode, and the only legal stages were Final Destination clones.

Adding to this is the fact that Nintendo seemed hell-bent on denying that the Melee competitive scene even existed until the Smash Invitational last week, save for a few grudging (and awkward) appearances from select pro players. It was jarring to see so many Melee players featured in Nintendo's intro video to the Smash Invitational last week because they've avoided the scene until that point.

Fan Complaints

The competitive scene for Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS remains strong to this day, but as a competitive game, pro players have a lot of gripes with it. The game rewards defensive play, staying in shield, and waiting for your opponent to move first. If this sounds boring, that's because it can be.

There are plenty of other complaints too. There are very few stages that are suitable for competitive play, and as more characters got added to the game, that list got whittled down even further by tournament organizers. DLC characters caused controversy as well, even before Bayonetta witch-twisted her way into the top 8 of every tournament. Nobody liked playing against Cloud because of Finishing Touch (which was nerfed, but still). There were tons of arguments about "toxic" characters, and certain regions banned Bayonetta from play altogether, much like Meta Knight was banned in Brawl.

At first, Omega Stages seemed like a concession to the competitive community, but turning a stage into Final Destination didn't really prove to be all that much of a boon unless the normal Final Destination stage gave you eye strain.

In a lot of ways, the Wii U entry in the series seemed like a half-hearted concession to the competitive community. They look like they're going to go the whole nine yards for the Switch entry.

Times Are A-Changin'

All this is to say that Nintendo finds itself in a precarious situation leading up to the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. They don't want the skill barrier to be as high as it was in Melee, but they want to reward the competitive community that has spent years learning these games. 

What they've come up with so far seems to be toeing that line beautifully. The return of directional air dodges is a great concession to the Melee community, who will be waiting with bated breath over whether or not wavedashing will be a viable mechanic in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. They've made short hop aerials, a popular approach advanced technique, a whole lot easier to perform. They've not only added Omega Stages back, but they've also added Battlefield variants for each stage, and included the ability to turn off stage hazards. (This is already a sticking point for many tournament organizers -- what happens if there are too many legal stages?)

The change that has Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS fans salivating is that they have added a significant penalty for rolling and dodging. They want to foster a more aggressive style of play which will, ideally, lead to more stunning and exciting moments (which will now be highlighted with a short slowdown cutscene). 

Now, of course, time will tell whether or not this represents a change in strategy for the company. There's no guarantee that Nintendo will suddenly start sponsoring local tournaments or hosting their own. Hell, there's no guarantee they'll fix Bayonetta. 

But for now, competitive Smash fans are feeling like Nintendo has given them everything that they've asked for. 

Well, everything except for Geno.

Fallout 76 Guide (Updated): Beta Start, Perks, Map Size, Multiplayer, and More Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:22:10 -0400 Sergey_3847

Editor's note: Updated 10/17/18

Initially, Fallout 76 was conceived as a multiplayer component of Fallout 4. But Bethesda had to start everything from scratch and re-invent the technology behind the old mechanics for it to work. As a result, Fallout 76 became a whole other separate game, the actual development of which was given to another studio.

Now it's been more than two weeks since the announcement of Fallout 76, but the game has not yet appeared on Steam. However, it is already available for the pre-order at the official Bethesda website. Although this doesn't mean anything, some fans of the Fallout series are seriously worried that Bethesda may completely refuse to release all of their future games through the Valve service.

Before making the decision of pre-purchasing the beta version of the game, first, you may want to learn about the game as much as possible. So here are some of the most essential facts about the upcoming Fallout game so far.

Be sure to check out our BETA impressions to find out what we learned by getting hands-on with Fallout 76

Fallout 76 Beta Start -- Dates and Times

The Fallout 76 B.E.T.A. begins on October 23 for Xbox One owners. The B.E.T.A. begins on October 30 for PS4 and PC players. 

To sign up, you can pre-order the game on Amazon, Bethesda's website, Gamestop, and the Microsoft Store. Fallout 76 will not be on Steam -- at least initially. 

Learn more about redeeming your code

What is Fallout 76?

a vault dweller wearing a blue vault uniform walks away from the camera into a dilapidated town

Fallout 76 is a new kind of survival MMO. It is a logical continuation of the ideas that were first implemented in Fallout 4, with one exception -- all players are real people. At the same time, it was important for Bethesda to preserve the feeling of a single-player experience. This means that if you don't want to constantly fight other players, you can simply explore the world around you.

Up to 32 people can play on the server with a map that is four times larger than Fallout 4 (see below for more info). The encounters with other players should be rare so that you can safely explore the world, complete quests and build bases. So this is good news for those who feel more comfortable playing alone.

The Map and The Setting

The full Fallout 76 map in top-down, classic Fallout style

This time the location of the Fallout game will be West Virginia, but instead of familiar wastelands and large cities the game offers the views on the virgin forests, high mountains and many other peculiar biomes of the American outback.

Players will start in gorgeous locations and later move onto the more sombre, apocalyptic biomes, such as grim marshes, toxic heaths and so on. According to the plot, the shelter 76 will be the first to open among the rest, and then our job will be to re-conquer the planet. This will involve fighting against mutated animals, insects, plants, ghouls, and other strange creatures. 

The developers created a place for exploration: a fascinating and rich world where people will discover new locations, gather resources, and possibly, meet other survivors. You will be able to trade food and items that you have crafted yourself.

West Virginia is a peculiar location with its own special mythology, which is reflected in both quests and in the design of the locations, such as empty huts, fire towers, flooded mines, golf courses, abandoned provincial houses, a fallen space station and a real presidential bunker of the Cold War era with nuclear weapons.

Overall, the entire map is divided into six regions:

  • The Forest
  • Toxic Valley
  • Ash Heap
  • Savage Divide
  • The Mire
  • Cranberry Bog

Gameplay Mechanics

A group of four vault dwellers walk into a settlement with broken shacks and a red tower

Fallout 76 will have a rich, yet simple, intuitive and easy-to-use building system, lots of crafting capabilities and other cool new features. Since this is a survival game, you will also have to eat and drink. The items will break, the food will rot, and from time to time you will encounter radioactive storms.

But that's far from it, and below you will find a lot more details on the gameplay itself:

RPG System
  • The role-playing system is also re-vamped and quite entertaining.
  • Characters will get controversial mutations, in some way beneficial, and in others not really.
  • They can be treated or modified.
  • Some will change only the appearance, while others will also influence the stats.
  • Upon reaching a certain level you will be offered perks that can be used to form perk decks.
  • There will be a lot of various animations for communication and photo modes.
Building and Crafting
  • In addition to your stationary base you can also build portable C.A.M.P.s, which can be placed anywhere on the map.
  • Besides C.A.M.P.s you can claim public workshops by clearing them. For example, you could claim a Lead Mine, which would then become a consistent source of metal for your bullets.
  • You can craft any items you like given that you have all the necessary materials, whether it's guns, armor or consumables.
  • You can specialize in crafting special materials that other players may want to buy from you.
  • Nukes become available after you finish the main campaign.
  • In order to launch the nuke you need to access the launch codes that become available after completing certain side-quests.
  • Nukes are used to create high-level loot-rich areas for plundering.
  • Nukes can be dropped on other players.
Future Updates
  • Microtransactions are also planned, but, as stated by the developers, they will not affect the gameplay.
  • Bethesda also promises regular updates for the next few years, because, according to the developers, online games live for as long as they are well supported.
  • The updates are planned to be both small and very large, so this could mean that over time new regions on the map will be added.
  • Mods and private lobbies will be implemented in future updates as well.

All New Confirmed Creatures

Concept images in an office show a tick and another insect in FO76

There will be over 60 various types of creatures in Fallout 76 with different degrees of mutations making them look absolutely terrifying. Among the good old creatures that we've seen in the previous Fallout installments, here are all the new confirmed creatures coming to Fallout 76:

  • Scorchbeast: Extremely aggressive giant bat-like creature that can fly and live underground.
  • Snallygaster: Typical reptilian creature that walks on two legs.
  • Mega Sloth: Giant poisonous sloth that is covered with rotten fur.
  • Grafton Monster: Beast with pale skin and a giant arm.
  • Mutated Toad: Giant radioactive frog.
  • Mothman: Mythical creature from the West Virgianian folklore that has big bright eyes and sneaks up on its prey.
  • Scorched: Semi-feral ghouls that can use weapons.
  • Mole People: Humanoids with gas masks that live inside the mines.
  • Mutated Giant Bee: Giant radioactive bee that carries entire hive of smaller bees.
  • Tick: Giant blood-sucking six-legged arachnid.
  • Wendigo: Extremely fast and mobile humanoid that lives on swamps.
  • Two-Headed Possum: A giant mutated possum with two heads.
  • Intelligent Plants: Plants with brains and sneaky tactics that can consume flesh and bones.
  • Vault Dweller: Human NPC that resides in the vaults; can be either friendly or hostile.
  • Flatwoods Monster: Alien creature with a suite and a propulsion system that keeps it afloat.

All Confirmed Perk Cards

The Pick-aPerk screen shows three cards with vault boy -- First Aid, Hacker, Makeshift Warrior

At the last QuakeCon Bethesda announced a new skill system in Fallout 76. The perk system will be represented by special cards that players will receive at each new level.

These cards will upgrade the following stats of your character: strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. Below you will find a complete list of all new confirmed perks for Fallout 76:

Strength Perks

Strength perk card with a muscled vault boy flexing his muscles

  • Gladiator: Your one-handed melee weapons now do +10% damage.
  • Thru-Hiker: Food and drink weights are reduced by 30%
  • Expert Heavy Gunner: Your non-explosive heavy guns now do +10% damage.
  • Sturdy Frame: Armor weighs 25% less than normal.
  • Expert Slugger: Your two-handed melee weapons now do +10% damage.
  • Bear Arms: Heavy guns weigh 40% less.
  • Batteries Included: Energy weapon ammo weighs 30% less.
  • Bandolier: Ballistic weapon ammo weighs 90% less.
Perception Perks

A perception perk card with vault boy in vault gear with nose and hand to his right

  • Percepti-Bobble: You hear directional audio when in range of a Bobblehead.
  • Pannapictagraphist: You hear directional audio when in range of a Magazine.
  • Refractor: Gain Energy Resistance.
  • Green Thumb: You have 25% chance to reap twice as much when harvesting flora.
Endurance Perks

An endurance perk card with vault boy jumping rope

  • Slow Metabolizer: All food satisfies hunger by an additional 15%.
  • Dromedary: All drinks quench thirst by an additional 15%.
  • Vaccinated: Chance of catching a disease from creatures is reduced by 60%.
  • Aquagirl: You no longer take Rad damage from swimming and can breathe underwater.
  • Professional Drinker: There's no chance you'll get addicted to alcohol.
Charisma Perks

A charisma perk card with vault boy giving pistol fingers

  • Bloodsucker: Blood packs now satisfy thirst, don't irradiate and heal 50% more.
  • Team Medic: Stimpaks now also heal nearby teammates for half the normal strength.
  • Lone Wanderer: When adventuring alone, take 10% less damage and gain 10% AP regen.
  • Strange in Numbers: Positive mutation effects are 25% stronger if teammates are mutated too.
  • Spiritual Healer: You regenerate health for 5 seconds after reviving another player.
  • Quack Surgeon: Revive other players with liquor.
  • Happy-Go-Lucky: Your luck is increased by 2 while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Squad Maneuver: Run 10% faster when part of a team.
  • Party Girl: The effects of alcohol are doubled.
  • Inspirational: When you are on a team, gain 5% more XP.
  • Hard Bargain: Buying and selling prices at vendors are better.
  • Happy Camper: Hunger and thirst grow 80% more slowly when in camp or in a team workshop.
  • Bodyguards: Gain 8 Damage and Energy Resistance for each teammate, excluding you.
Intelligence Perks

An intelligence perk card with vault boy reading a book while sitting on books

  • Master Hacker: Gain +1 hacking skill, and terminal lock-out time is reduced.
  • Exotic Weapons: You can now craft exotic weapon mods.
  • First Aid: Stimpaks restore 10% more lost health.
  • Science: You can craft energy weapons.
  • Contractor: Crafting workshop items now costs 25% fewer materials.
Agility Perks

An agility perk card with vault boy balancing by one finger on a glass bottle

  • Goat Legs: Take 80% less damage from falling.
  • Marathoner: Sprinting consumes 20% fewer Action points.
  • Gun Runner: Your running speed is increased by 10% when you have a pistol equippd.
Luck Perks

A luck perk card with vault boy walking toward a black cat

  • Starched Genes: You will never mutate from rads and Radaway will never cure mutations.
  • Mystery Meat: Stimpaks generate excessive, edible meat. Higher Rads improve the chance.
  • Mysterious Stranger: The Mysterious Stranger appears more often when using V.A.T.S.
  • Luck of the Draw: Your weapon has a 10% chance to regain condition when hitting an enemy.
  • Scrounger: 50% chance to find extra ammo when you search an ammo container.
  • Can Do!: 50% chance to find extra food when you search a food container.

More on Multiplayer in Fallout 76

A group of three players runs down a red, underground railway tunnel with guns drawn

The open beta for Fallout 76 is approaching (see the exact dates above), and we'll finally be able to get our hands on what it feels like to play a multiplayer Fallout

At this point, a few natural questions may arise: How do you differentiate between the NPCs and the real players? Do you shoot or befriend the players? How often do you meet new players?

Fortunately, Bethesda released new pieces of information about the multiplayer aspect of the game that have previously been kept under wraps.

NPCs vs Real Players

The first and most crucial question is how do you know “who is who” in the game? Well, the developers made it really easy for us to figure that out.

The only NPCs that are left roaming the Appalachia are robots and AI. This means that every other living person you happen to meet in the game is a real player.

As would be expected, NPCs can be both hostile and friendly. The friendly ones can give you quests that will eventually lead to discovering more about the world after the nukes dropped. 

Other NPCs, of course, will make your life a living Hell, making it easier for nefarious human players to pick you off -- or(!) giving you the opportunity to band together and take them down in a hard-nosed fight. 

PvP Duels

The PvP system in Fallout 76 is based on the level of your engagement.

For example, if you meet a real player who happens to be hostile towards you, and you chose not to engage, then the attacking player will be marked as "Wanted" with a bounty on their head.

When you find a player carrying a "Wanted" status and you manage to kill them, then you will receive a bounty from their personal Caps stash.

On the other hand, if you choose to engage in combat with another player, there will be no "Wanted" status assigned to either you or the other player, so you can fight to the death and the winner gets all the Caps from the defeated player.

The same goes for team duels.


Lastly, you can engage in various events that will be available as soon as the game launches.

The events will be available for both solo and co-operative modes, and PvP combat will be turned off during these events. The team events will give all players involved equal rewards, thus prompting players to cooperate in a friendlier manner. 

Event rewards have not yet been released. 

What to Expect Post Launch

A ghoul stands in the forest with blue moonlight shining down

One of the biggest challenges that players will have to endure during Fallout 76's main campaign is the launch of the nuclear bomb. Reportedly, the process of launching a nuke will take many hours of gameplay, but it will create a whole new environment for players to explore post-launch.

Besides the nuke launch, a few other details have been revealed regarding the post-launch phase of the game.

Beta Progress Transfer

Players who play during the open beta period will be able to transfer their in-game progress to the full game on November 14. Bethesda will save all gameplay progress on their servers so you won't have to start over. 

All your Perks, Caps, and Atoms (a new in-game currency) will be saved for future use. This should give some players a better start at, but hopefully, the rest of the players will also get some kind of bonuses at the beginning of their journey.


The new in-game currency -- Atoms -- will play a significant role in the Fallout 76 microtransactions system. Players will receive Atoms for every little challenge, so there will be no shortage of those in the game (Xbox One owners who pre-ordered Fallout 76 will get additional 500 Atoms at launch).

Atoms can also be bought for real money and used for purchasing items, such as skins and outfits, in the in-game shop. However, they cannot be used for purchasing perk cards (which is a good thing).

Supply Drops

If you’re not keen on the idea of purchasing new outfits for real money, then you will want to look to supply drops. These have become a staple for getting top-tier gear and weapons in all battle royale games, so it's expected to see them here in such a multiplayer-centric title.

Although no details have been revealed concerning the content of the supply drops in Fallout 76, they will surely attract the attention of many other players in your area of the map, who would want to fight for the right to open it first.


That is all we know about Fallout 76 for now, but be sure to come back soon for more updates on the game here at GameSkinny!

MomoCon 2018: Troy Baker, Nolan North Talk Creativity, Process, and The Last of Us Part 2 Mon, 28 May 2018 17:26:50 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Troy Baker and Nolan North are two of the most famous voice actors on the planet. Although they’ve worked in other areas outside of video games, both are most known for their work in series such as Uncharted, The Last of Us, and God of War, just to name a few. 

At MomoCon 2018 in Atlanta, GA, the duo took some time out of their day to speak with the media about creativity, process, and a little bit about The Last of Us: Part 2.

Although Baker obviously couldn't speak specifically to the story or plot of The Last of Us: Part 2 lest he incur the wrath of Naughty Dog's Vice President, Neil Druckman, he was able to talk about how the game compares to the original. 

The conversation about what The Last of Us: Part 2, or even if there was going to be a part two, has been, obviously, a five year conversation. It started at the BAFTAs one year in London outside of a bar late at night, and Neil said, 'I think I have an idea'. And at that point I didn't know -- and maybe he did -- but I had no idea we were going to do [a sequel] or not ....

[The Last of Us: Part 2] doesn't compare [to The Last of Us part one]. It can't compare. When we start comparing, we fail. So it in no way compares to The Last Of Us part one. It is part two. It is a a continuation of the story. It is not a comparison. 

Moving on from specific titles and moving into more generalized territory, both North and Baker also touched on what it means to be creative when voice acting, as well as how to channel personality into a wide array of characters and roles.

When asked how to take on established characters while still providing something new in each performance, Baker and North said there are two important things to remember: be the character that's been written but also be  yourself. Putting pieces of your personality into each character you play makes the performance even more believable.  

Baker said it's very important to honor the character and not try to make it better. When voice actors try to make characters better by either competing with themselves or other actors, the performance doesn't come off as genuine. 

North echoed that sentiment, saying it's important to  

Impart your own sense of who you are... If you're playing a character named Mark, don't go in saying 'How does Mark walk and think?', it's like 'OK, it's Nolan who happens to be Mark'. 

Nathan Drake was just me. And for some reason [Naughty Dog] chose me. 

The duo also touched on working with writers and directors to achieve a specific, collective vision. Staying both within and venturing outside of the confines of a script or story, they talked about the importance of flexibility, creativity, and the writer/director/actor relationship.

Nolan said 

Ideas occur to you. There were a couple of times we've done things where it's scripted and we've said 'You should take my line, and I'll take yours' because it just seems like [one character would say that over the other]. Fortunately, we work with a lot of people -- good writers -- that are also humble enough to say 'Yeah, that's a good idea. Switch that up'. 

A good director/actor relationship ... you will give them what's on the page, what they want, and then they will allow you to go, 'Can we try something?,' and they go, 'Yeah, let's roll one.' They can decide later in editing [if it works or not]. But for them to be cool enough to go, 'Yes, you gave me what I think I need, show me what you're thinking and it might change my mind' ... it's a collaboration. 

Baker agreed, saying

A good director will allow themselves to be surprised and allow their vision to be fluid ... I always bring up Neil Druckman because he'll ask you, 'What do you think?', but he has an answer in his back pocket. His goal is not to lead you to his answer -- his goal is to understand your answer. That's what, fundamentally, I think makes him a really good director because he's truly open to your interpretation to his idea. 

A precious writer is only precious because they're afraid that that line is the last good line they're ever going to write. If they're a really good writer, they don't care. They're literally having to flush the good ideas out. They're like, 'I don't care if you change that line because I've got a thousand other one behind it.' So be wary of precious writers. 


Thanks to Nolan North and Troy Baker for taking the time to meet with the media and all of the fantastic content creators at MomoCon 2018 this past weekend. 

Be sure to check out Retro Replay on YouTube, where Baker and North play some of gaming's greatest hits like Spiderman for NES and Secret of Mana for the SNES. The weekly show is set to air its fourth episode May 31. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on The Last of Us: Part 2, as well as the other games both North and Baker are currently working on, including Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Hellraid, and Deathstranding

The Thing: One of the Greatest Film-to-Game Adaptations Ever Made Wed, 09 May 2018 14:53:52 -0400 Edgar Wulf

Few may know that John Carpenter's horror classic The Thing, released in 1982, received a direct sequel -- in the form of a video game. Developed by the now defunct Computer Artworks and published by Konami and Vivendi Universal, The Thing was released on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2. Despite being well-received both critically and commercially, the game has not been made available on any other platform since.

My first introduction to the game was around early 2002, when I read about it in a magazine. Being a huge horror fan, I was immediately attracted to The Thing, even though I knew nothing about the movie at the time; I vividly remember a promotional screenshot in which the main character, Blake, is wielding two weapons and engaging a heavily disfigured monstrosity in combat. I was eager to play this game and got it shortly after release, a game I had no business playing in my early teens (the game is rated M). Luckily my mom didn't mind (thanks, mom). I loved The Thing back then, but fast-forward over 15 years -- does it do the movie justice?

Where Were You Childs?

The story picks up shortly after the events of the 1982 movie, as a small team of U.S. Special Forces arrives at the remains of Outpost 31. With Captain Blake at the forefront, whom you will control throughout the game, the team is sent to survey the camp in search of potential survivors and clues as to what might have caused the camp's downfall. The story doesn't offer much in terms of substance, but it does a good job of leading you through many desolate locations, both familiar and new, including Outpost 31 and Thule Station. Many characters, events, and objects from the movie are also referenced, forming a strong bond between both the film and the game, and masterfully creating the impression of a singular, coherent universe.

The Thing is a third-person shooter mixed with some very basic squad-command capabilities. Your squad is, aside from Blake himself, composed of morons; three kinds of moron -- the soldier, the engineer, and the medic. Soldiers will, for the most part, pretend that they are inflicting damage on enemies while you do all the hard work. Engineers can unlock door mechanisms and hack terminals. Medics can heal either Blake or another squad member, but they can't heal themselves (the irony) and will quickly go into a mental breakdown if presented with even a minor threat. All of them are susceptible to fear and have a certain sanity threshold. If you don't address their mental well-being for too long, they may pose a threat to their comrades or even commit suicide. Many of these events, however, are scripted, so don't expect to save them all. Commands can be issued based on their abilities, alongside some simple ones like stay or follow. However, they won't do anything unless they trust you. Trust can be earned by giving squad members weapons or ammo, and also ... providing proof that you're still human.

Nobody Trusts Anybody Now

Relatively early in the game, you will acquire what is known as the Blood Test Kit. With it, you can check whether or not a squad member has been taken over by an extraterrestrial entity. If the syringe explodes, prepare for battle, as it will trigger whomever was being tested to change into a Walker -- a mutilated alien form roughly resembling a human -- and attack anyone in sight. You can also use the kit on yourself to prove that you are still human and gain your squad's trust as a result.

Combat makes up a large portion of gameplay and is decent, albeit flawed. The main problem comes from the inability to aim; once an enemy is in vicinity, a target reticle will appear around them, and all you need to do is point in that direction and shoot. Some bullets will hit, some won't; shooting in short bursts seems to be more accurate. You can aim properly only when in first-person mode, to kill hard-to-reach enemies, but you can't move in this mode and thus become vulnerable. All of this, thankfully, does not impede progression as most enemies, aside from bosses, are quite easy to deal with. However, there are the already mentioned Walkers, and they are slightly more complex. They come in several differing types, each more disfigured than the last, and generally require the same strategy. The goal is to bring their health low enough with gunfire, indicated by the target reticle turning red, and then finish them off with an incendiary weapon -- a flamethrower will do nicely. All of that considered, combat isn't bad, it isn't boring, it's just very simplistic and unlikely to challenge you or bring the satisfaction of victory.

Final Thoughts

So combat is mediocre, and the story serves mostly as an opportunity to revisit some familiar locations and, to a certain degree, experience the movie's atmosphere through an interactive medium. What makes the game stand out, even today, is the trust mechanic, which is a core principle in John Carpenter's story. You can never know for sure if the guy you just gave a flamethrower to is not intent on ripping you apart once the opportunity presents itself. In addition, each ally's fluctuating sanity means that they can become a liability in a crucial moment, and you must always remain aware of that. These mechanics, along with its dedication to the source material, are what places The Thing among the best movie-based video games ever made.

Perhaps somewhat unfortunately, The Thing is only available in physical format on the same platforms for which it was originally released. The good news is that a used copy, for either platform, shouldn't set back your budget by too much. The game also provides a greater closure to the overall plot, should you wish for it, and despite some of its shortcomings, I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the movie.

Have you watched the movie or played the game? Let us know about your impressions in the comments below!

Peridium: A Pixelated Take on The Thing Wed, 09 May 2018 13:49:40 -0400 Edgar Wulf

Peridium is an old-school point-and-click adventure game made by a small Australian team of developers in just over five days. It follows the story of James Turner, a mycologist who finds himself trapped in a research base deep in the Antarctic. With other researchers, seemingly infected by some unknown disease, trying to break into the station, James must find a way to call for help and evacuate from the area.

Visually, the game uses pixelated graphics which are quite pleasing to the eye. Speech and most actions are represented by animations, and there is never any trouble making out what is going on. The main protagonist, who also takes up the role of a narrator, does an excellent job of conveying his thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Other characters feel lacking in that regard even though, judging by the end-credits, they were all voiced by the same person.

Image courtesy of GO GO Free Games

In a traditional point-and-click manner, you must guide James in finding the necessary tools for solving any given puzzle. A descriptive text appears over any interactive objects, providing a welcome visual feedback and meaning you don't have to click on every square inch of the screen to progress.

The music is subtle, unsettling; similar to what John Carpenter and Ennio Morricone did in 1982's The Thing, from which, more than likely, Peridium has drawn a lot of inspiration.

The game's only shortcoming is its length; it's unlikely to take you more than 30 minutes to complete, though there are two different endings to experience. However, taking the development time and team size into consideration, it is understandable. If you're craving a short and spooky adventure game, Peridium is available on the developer's blog -- for free. If you're feeling generous, you may consider donating a chosen amount and supporting their future projects. Either way, I suggest you give this game a go whenever you have half an hour of time at your disposal.

For more cool off-the-radar games like Peridium, stay tuned to GameSkinny!

Level Up Georgia: Wait, Hi-Rez Did What? Tue, 08 May 2018 12:00:02 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Editor's Note: A previous version of this column incorrectly included a non-Georgia game developer. The column has since been corrected. 

From unexpected convention mashups to the release of Killing Floor: Incursion and much more, there's been a ton of news brewing in the Georgia game dev community since our last Level Up column -- so let's go ahead and jump right into things. 

If you're a Georgia game dev and want us to cover your news, make sure to shoot us an email at: Please include "Level Up Georgia" in your subject line so we can easily pick it out in our inboxes. 


Hi-Rez Brings HRX to Dreamhack

That's right. Hi-Rez Expo won't be at the Cobb Energy Center come January 2019. Instead, Hi-Rez Studios, the Alpharetta-based development studio best known for SMITE and Paladins, has partnered with Dreamhack to bring HRX to the Georgia World Congress Center from November 16-18, 2018.  

Stew Chisam, President of Hi-Rez Studios, said the partnership was made so that the next high-octane HRX could be an even better experience for esports teams and fans alike. 

This partnership with Dreamhack Atlanta is the perfect opportunity to give our fans and pro players an even better HRX experience. After
selling out the past three Hi-Rez Expos months in advance, DreamHack Atlanta gives us the opportunity to add more attendees, a larger event space, and more fan activities at a lower ticket cost than previous Hi-Rez Expos.

The collaboration between the two parties is a perfect fit. Since 1994, Dreamhack has hosted some of the world's preeminent LAN and computer conventions. Each year, some 300,000 esports fans attend Dreamhack's events around the world to cheer on their favorite esports teams, create impeccable artwork, surf the fastest internet on the planet, and game until they pass out from exhaustion. 

Merging Dreamhack Atlanta with Hi-Rez Expo will undoubtedly bring SMITE and Paladins to a larger audience, while all at once giving HRX attendees access to the smorgasbord of activities and competitions Dreamhack is known for. 

Esports currently announced for appearance are: 

  • Paladins
  • Counter-Strike
  • Brawlhalla

More games, tournaments, and convention specifics will be announced in the coming weeks and months. You can purchase tickets to Dreamhack Atlanta here starting May 9 at 9:00 a.m. EST

Hi-Rez Launches Esports Production Company

With well over 1 billion views across all of their streaming and video channels, SMITE and Paladins are some of the most watched games in the competitive gaming space. As demand for content centered around the games has increased, it's only natural that Hi-Rez Studios would meet it with a steady supply of engaging content. 

To better help them accomplish that goal and satisfy the rabid masses, the Alpharetta-based studio announced on May 7 the opening of Skillshot Media, a production studio focused on operating "esports leagues and production for SMITE and Paladins, as well as games from other publishers."

Set to open May 9, the studio is set to produce some 75 hours of esports-centric content each and every week with a staff of 35. Coming in at 16,000 square feet, Skillshot's studio will be 6,000 feet larger than ELEAGUE's esports arena.  

Although it is currently not known what content the wholly-owned Hi-Rez subsidiary will produce for "other publishers," there's plenty to be produced for SMITE and Paladins' 45 million players. Moving into a new (and bigger) space is going to help production focus on the esports aspects of both IPs. 

However, Todd Harris, President of Skillshot Media and COO of Hi-Rez Studios, said that Skillshot Media isn't just about producing content, but also about building community around that content. 

We started live-streaming games from a bedroom, then a tiny office, and now a dedicated production studio. But our goal has always been to foster community through esports and video content. By organizing ourselves as a separate entity focused only on esports and content product, we’re excited to bring even more dedicated esports attention to Smite and Paladins and also explore partnerships with new games and additional game publishers and developers.

Skillshot isn't taking things slow, either. The studio is set to have weekly LAN competitions through the month of May, all while hosting some 200 esports professionals from around the world. 

There is currently no word on what channels viewers will be able to see all of this awesome content, but it's safe to start in the following areas: 

Bot Smashers Alpha Signups Live

If you didn't catch our Bot Smashers coverage from HRX 2018, here's the TL;DR on the new Hi-Rez IP: it's a smashingly fun mobile game that fuses strategy with fast-paced base building. In our time with the game, we had a pretty good time and can't wait to see what Hi-Rez does with it.  

As the name implies, Bot Smashers will see players wreaking havoc on opposing players in a colorful world of robots on a 1v1 battlefield where matches are timed and the highest score wins.

Currently in Alpha signups, interested players can sign up here to see what it's all about. If you were a fan of Advance Wars, Bot Smashers is a game you just might want to check out. 

MomoCon to Host Unity Game Showcase

We all already know how important Unity is to not only large developers but especially smaller studios and indie developers. To further highlight the success these users are having with the tool, Unity 3D Atlanta Group is working with MomoCon 2018 to host its third Game Showcase May 24-27 at booths 1052 and 1053.  

This year, nine games will be featured from nine Atlanta-based game developers. The full list of games can be seen below: 

  • Arbiter
  • AmaranTime
  • Depth of Extinction
  • Entangled
  • Everdepths
  • Light the Beacons
  • Neon the Ninja
  • Project Ghost
  • Twin Cop

To learn more about the Unity 3D Atlanta Group, visit its Meetup page.   

Tripwire Interactive Releases Killing Floor: Incursion on PSVR

Honestly, Killing Floor 2 might just be one of my favorite zombie horde games of all time. Really. It's got character. It's balanced. And most of all, it's fun. 

Sure, this isn't KF2, but it's KF in VR, which sounds hella' rad to me. And although we've not personally gotten our hands on a copy yet, the PSVR version of the game appears to be performing very well. Considering how it did on the Oculus, that's really no surprise. 

If you have a PSVR and you're itching to frag some Zeds, you can pick up Killing Floor: Incursion now from the PlayStation Store for $29.99. 



Adult Swim Releases Pool Panic Gameplay Trailer

Are you ready to venture into the kooky world of Pool Panic, an adventure game that bakes ridiculous non sequiturs and totally weird randomness into its very design? A game that looks to embody the amazing quirkiness that is Adult Swim Games into a single, epic tale of cue ball chicanery? 

After watching the trailer above, you can't help but at least be interested in what Pool Panic has on offer. With more than 100 zany levels that span deserts, jungles, pirate-themed carnivals, tundras, dance clubs, and much more, Pool Panic sees players battle ghosts, zombies, spiders, and diabolical bosses using strategy and cunning. 

From the looks of it, the game's puzzles can be absolute mind-benders, and the gameplay will not only test your powers of deduction -- but your powers as a master of pool! 

Pool Panic is set to release "soon" for the Nintendo Switch and PC. 

GGDA News Network Goes Live

In our last column, we talked to GGDA President Andrew Greenberg about the launch of the association's "Game Dev News Network." There he stressed the importance of providing game developers a resource to learn more about not only the industry at large but also about the tools and techniques used by their peers to make great games. 

Looking at everything from game development tools to Georgia game news and more, the Game Dev News Network launched its first broadcast (seen above) on April 24.  

The next broadcast is set to air May 22 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer. If you're a GGDA member who would like to help with the production of future GDNN streams, moderating any of the association's channels, creating any of the GGDA's expanding game-centric content, or having the GGDA work with you to promote your content, email the GGDA at

If you are not currently a member of the GGDA but would like to join, you can find more information on the association's membership page


Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news about Georgia's burgeoning gaming scene. And if you've got a piece of Georgia game dev news you'd like to share with us, send it over at: We'll make sure to include it in our next column!

Hands-on Impressions of Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart Thu, 03 May 2018 09:52:24 -0400 Zach Hunt

When Monopoly Gamer was released last summer, it at first appeared to be just another rebranding of the classic "fast-paced property trading" game, only this time aimed at appealing to fans of classic Super Mario Bros. As it turned out, however, Monopoly Gamer offered a novel spin on the tried-and-true formula, and even if it didn't manage to forever dethrone vanilla Monopoly, it provided an interesting and somewhat faster-paced take on the classic formula.

This spring, Hasbro has again teamed up with Nintendo for the second entry in the Monopoly Gamer series. However, this incarnation's theme revolves around everybody's favorite kart racer. In Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart, two to four players start off by choosing their kart racer (current options include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad, with additional racers to become available -- for an additional price -- at a later date).

Your choice of kart racer is actually a more strategic decision than picking between tokens in traditional Monopoly since each racer has its own unique Power-up Ability that is activated by landing on one of the board's Super Star spaces. Mario, for example, gets to collect three coins each time, whereas Toad can choose to drop up to five coins and move forward the same amount of spaces.

Rather than starting off with boatloads of pastel-colored paper bills, you begin with 10 coins, and you'll spend most of the game slowly moving around the circuit, purchasing or paying rent for landing on Mario Kart-themed properties, such as Rainbow Road and Moo Moo Meadows. You roll two dice, but one of them is a Power-Up die. What this means is that you'll move anywhere from one to six spaces a turn but also activate one of six Mario Kart-themed abilities every time.

Maybe you'll roll a Green Shell and force an opponent to drop coins on whatever property they happen to be sitting on, or perhaps you'll roll Coins and simply collect three coins from the bank. Whatever the case may be, you'll be dropping and picking up coins on just about every turn.

Once you've finally made it all the way around the board (which, despite having fewer spaces to cover, still takes a while since you only use one die to move), you pass GO and flip over a Grand Prix card. This starts a race that each player can voluntarily enter by paying a few coins as an entry fee. Far removed from the high-octane action of the video game series, these races require you to simply outroll your opponents. There are prizes for first, second, and third places, and the winner also holds on to the Grand Prix card, which is also worth points.

Unlike old-school Monopoly, this game doesn't end once a single player has managed to bankrupt his or her (possibly former) friends and family members. After the final Grand Prix race has run, players tally up the points they've accumulated from properties owned, Grand Prix race cards collected, and coins amassed. Then, just like always with Monopoly, one person walks away bragging while the others vow to never again play a board game with the winner.A player's hand moving the Luigi token around the Monopoly board
Image courtesy of GameStop

For the most part, I enjoyed my time with Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart, but I nevertheless have a few gripes with the game.

To start, there's no Yoshi available upon launch, and asking me to pay $2.99 down the line for a "Power Pack" so that I'm not stuck with Luigi again strikes me as a little too similar to what we're seeing in the video gaming world right now. 

Secondly -- and perhaps due to some anomaly in my own playthrough -- it seems like there should be far more single coins available. By game's end, my group and I still had a sizable stack of the five-cent cardboard punch-outs but had resorted to using actual pennies in lieu of the one-cent pieces. I haven't seen this complaint elsewhere, though, so maybe this isn't happening to others.

Finally, with all the focus on power-ups, dropping banana peels, and coin exchanging, my favorite part of Monopoly seemed lost in the shuffle: Only two or three times did I get to giddily demand that my loved ones "PAY UP!" when landing on my property. There aren't any houses or hotels, and every time I managed to land on a property I wanted to purchase, I was too broke to purchase it (largely because I was getting Thwomped and barraged by Spiny Shells on nearly every turn).

Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart is a unique take on a formula that somehow hasn't really grown tired even after all these years. It deserves its place in the gigantic pantheon of Monopoly games, and I have to give it credit for not just being yet another rebranded version. But at the end of the day, I'd probably rather just horde railroads, open Community Chests, and stick with the classic.

Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart is available now at GameStop, with plans to extend to other retailers this summer.

Shenmue: What's the Big Deal About This Game? Fri, 27 Apr 2018 11:11:47 -0400 Edgar Wulf

You may have heard of Shenmue, or seen Michael Huber drop to his knees at the reveal of the upcoming Shenmue 3; heck, if you owned the now legendary Dreamcast, you may have even played it. But what is it that is so special about a game that is almost 20 years old? At the time of its release, there was nothing like itnot at that scale. The estimated production costs also reflect that; Shenmue cost up to $70 million to develop, allegedly shared among both entries which, in 1999, was still a record-breaking budget for a video game.

Finding the Men in Black Suits

As the story begins, you assume the role of Ryo Hazuki, a young, initially brash martial artist who witnesses the death of his father but fails to stand in the way of the killer. After recovering from this event, Ryo sets out into a faithfully recreated Japanese city of Yokosuka to gather clues on the whereabouts of his father's murderer, Lan Di, who commands a mysterious and intimidating presence during his few appearances. While the plot itself is hardly revolutionary, it is the setting, the pacing of the story, and the characters you meet and interact with which provide a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience.

If you are familiar with the Yakuza series, a game franchise which has been heavily inspired by Shenmue, then you already know what you're potentially getting yourself into. Similarly, at its core, Shenmue is a 3D beat-em-up with an emphasis on exploration and dialogue. You spend most of your time talking to other people, gathering information, and progressing the story. There's more than enough fighting to be done, however, and each battle encounter provides an excellent opportunity to put recently learned moves to the test.

New moves can be acquired by purchasing (or finding) scrolls, or by interacting with other martial arts experts around the city. Much like in fighting games, each move consists of a particular button combination, and it is recommended to practice them, either in the dojo at home or at a small parking lot in the city. These practice sessions offer an unusually serene gameplay experience and demonstrate how, gradually, Ryo becomes a more skilled fighter based on hard work, not mere accumulation of stats. Shenmue is also known for popularizing quick time events and, unlike in so many other games, they were integrated into gameplay quite well. Failing at them during battle would sometimes lead to a "Game Over" screen, but often the story would continue, forcing Ryo to carry the shame of defeat along with him.

I Will Avenge My Father's Death ... But First I'll Play!

It is in-between these moments of fighting and plot progression where the game offers various entertaining distractions. Simply walking around Yokosuka is already fulfilling, but how about visiting the local convenience store to purchase some batteries for your cassette player (the game takes place in 1986) or other necessities? Or maybe grab a refreshing drink from the nearby vending machine after an arduous battle? If you need some time off, you can go to the arcade and play some of the older games made by SEGA. There is a lot to do, and it is this variety which makes the game stand out.

All of this may not seem like much today; every open-world game has a wide range of activities and pastimes. But in 1999, a game that combined such freedom of action and a coherent, well-written story, was a rarity. Sure you can guide Ryo to track down Lan Di and get revenge, but you can also postpone it, stay at home, and just play video games; at a certain point you can even get a job. This mostly refers to the original Shenmue, but Shenmue II does exactly what you might expect -- it serves as a worthy continuation of the storyline, expands it in terms of size and scope by introducing new characters and activities, and successfully builds upon everything the first game sets up. Think of it as an extension rather than a sequel.

Visually, the games have aged surprisingly well and would look great on modern systems with even minor updates. One very important component, which can easily be overlooked, is the musical score. While it may not be to everybody's tastes, it does create the necessary tone and depth for any event -- it's saddening whenever there is loss, full of determination and hope once you embark on a new adventure, creates a sense of urgency and hazard while in battle, and even manages to become heartwarming and cute during the romantic scenes.

A New Journey

Following its release, this franchise has likely influenced the gaming industry in more ways than it gets credit for, and since a compilation of both games is being released later this year, I strongly urge you to give it a try. I hope I have managed to pique your interest enough to do so. If you have already played the game, why not share some pivotal memories in the comments below?

Thanks for reading, and for anything else Shenmue, stay tuned right here to GameSkinny.

Level Up Georgia: Ubisoft Acquires Blue Mammoth, a Closer Look at the IPC, and More Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:19:18 -0400 Jonathan Moore

With the likes of Hi-Rez, Tripwire Interactive, Xavient, and literally hundreds of other highly talented video game developers calling the state home, Georgia is quickly becoming one of the premier video game development locations in the United States. Because so many developers call the Peach State home, and more are flocking here each and every year, we decided it was high time to start talking about them -- and the community that keeps them forging ahead. 

Thus, Level Up Georgia, GameSkinny's bimonthly column covering all things Georgia game dev, was born. We'll cover mergers, economics, new game releases, and much, much more. Basically, if it's game related and it's happening in Georgia, we're going to cover it.

If you're a game dev and have news to share with us (whatever that news may be -- even if you just added a new sprite to an ongoing project or updated your Steam page), please shoot us an email at:, and we'll include your news here every other Monday. 

This week, we're going to take a look at Ubisoft's acquisition of Atlanta-based indie studio Blue Mammoth, new additions to Georgia's game dev tax incentive program, and the GGDA's recently unveiled Game Dev News Network. 

Let's jump in and get started.  

Ubisoft/Blue Mammoth Merger

With the full release of Brawlhalla in fall 2017, Blue Mammoth further cemented itself as one of the premier game developers in Georgia. And as the fighter continued to climb the Steam charts and become one of the most-played F2P titles on the PlayStation 4, Ubisoft took notice. 

On March 1, the Rennes, France-based company acquired Blue Mammoth for an undisclosed amount. The merger included both of Blue Mammoth's offices, Atlanta and Amsterdam, as well as all 21 Blue Mammoth employees. According to a press release, Ubisoft expects to add four more employees to the studio in the coming months.  

As for Blue Mammoth, the team is excited to not only have a hit in Brawlhalla but also to have partnered with a like-minded developer and publisher. Both Ubisoft and Blue Mammoth share a player-centric development ethos -- and both know how to make successfully engrossing games.  

We're very excited to join up with Ubisoft. They are everything we were looking for in a partner: a top game developer, liked and respected by players, and with a history of innovation in their games.

And Ubisoft was excited about our plan for [Brawlhalla] and the studio. Plus Ubisoft shares our philosophy that free-to-play games should have a healthy, player-focused approach. So it's a great fit. 

--- Matt Woomer, Managing Director, Blue Mammoth Games

As of this writing, it is unknown if Blue Mammoth will keep its name or be renamed as some other Ubisoft-acquired studios have been in the past. But with the success of Brawlhalla and the brand Blue Mammoth has created, we'll have to wait and see. 

Georgia Game Dev Tax Incentive Program

At the end of 2016, more than 120 game developers operated in the Peach State and employed about 3,800 Georgians. Revenue from those developers surpassed $380 million that year, leading to increased focus on the community at large. 

Supported by a $12.5 million incentive program, that growth led the Georgia legislature to renew its commitment to the state's gaming community with the Interactive Production Credit on January 1, 2018.  

Similar to the Georgia Film Tax Credit, the IPC incentivizes game developers to make their games in Georgia by removing some of the tax burden of doing so. And although major, worldwide studios and publishers are beginning to take notice of Georgia game devs and the boon the state provides, the Production Credit focuses on nurturing home-grown studios and video games made by native publishers.  

In the film industry, Georgia tax credits are predicated on the entire spend of the production. This includes sets, chauffeuring services, set design, catering, plane tickets, and much more. Essentially, anything spent on the making of the film goes toward the tax credit.

However, the Interactive Production Credit works differently. It is predicated on promoting Georgia and in-state payroll -- companies must spend $250,000 on Georgia employees to apply. 

There are limitations on the $250,000 qualifying limit for Georgia game developers as well. The three important caps are: 

  1. No one company can qualify for more than $1.5 million in production credit
  2. The total amount of credits cannot exceed $12.5 million
  3. No company that generates more than $100 million in revenue can qualify 

The caveats in the IPC are in place to aid smaller developers in particular. 

[The Interactive Production Credit] is certainly not there to help the solo, entrepreneur who's doing it all by themselves. It is meant for companies that are looking to hire. Obviously, governments are very interested in good jobs. Our jobs are very good jobs. They don't want [the credit] just going to one person. Thus the payroll requirement. 

--- Andrew Greenberg, President of the GGDA

To further make things clear, entrepreneurs or single employee developers cannot pay themselves $250,000 to qualify. Developers must be actively hiring and paying $250,000 in payroll to qualify. Greenberg also said that the credit isn't meant to keep a company going. Instead, the credit is meant to help companies build strong economic foundations and stimulate investment in the industry.

To make sure that measure is followed, there are time limits for how long productions can qualify for the tax credit. In essence, developers cannot indefinitely receive the credit for a single game or production. It is currently not clear how long specific games and projects will qualify before developers must move on. We will update this story with that information when we have it. 

However, Greenberg wanted to stress that all of the tax credit was used in 2017. He said he, as well as the GGDA, expects the entire credit to be used again in 2018.

For those interested in receiving benefits from the tax credit, he suggested applying early to take full advantage of the assistance it offers. 

Programs Specifically for Small(er) Georgia Game Developers

So what about even smaller developers or entrepreneurs? Well, Greenberg said there are other great programs those game makers can take advantage of as well. 

It's interesting how difficult it can be to get investors. And that's why we started the SIEGE Investment Conference, which will be on October 5 this year [at SIEGE Con]. It's not just to make sure some developers can secure investment money, but it's also to educate both the investors and game developers on what's required to work together. 

--- Andrew Greenberg

Additionally, Georgia game developers can qualify for workforce monies to stimulate growth on a smaller scale, helping with hiring and on-the-job training. To receive these grants, developers must qualify with the WorkSource Board in their county or city. These funds work to offset the costs of hiring and training staff. 

On top of that, there are also R&D tax credits available for those interested in taking advantage of those.  

GGDA "Game Dev News Network"

Over the last year, the Georgia Game Developer's Association has provided members and viewers with a new way to learn about events, meetings, workshops, and educational activities: streaming. With channels on YouTube, Mixer, and Twitch, the GGDA has made it so that anyone can watch from anywhere.

However, as the GGDA has grown and increased the bandwidth by which they reach viewers, there has been increased demand for news centered on game developers and game development tools -- specifically in Georgia. Thus, the GGDA "Game Dev News Network" was born. 

Covering in-depth game dev topics, content will range from which companies are hiring and what educational programs might be available to developers, to what indies have opportunities and even what new Unity plugins devs should be using. Greenberg said:  

We've decided to set up a half hour period where we're going in depth on various [GGDA and game developer-related] topics, and we're providing the information that people want.  We certainly expect this to be interesting to gamers that don't do game dev, but it's certainly geared toward game devs. 

The show won't only discuss the news, however, but also look at it from an angle that's actionable to game developers. Instead of simply talking about new tool releases, for example, the show will also cover interviews looking at the tools and plugins used by other developers -- and why those developers are using those tools. Greenberg continues: 

... More than just what Unity's released, but also why that matters to game developers. We're hoping to be the ones to provide that [insight] ... That kind of look under the hood is really valuable for devs and of interest to gamers as well. 

What's on the Horizon? 

The GGDA also hosts many gamejams around the state, and the Game Dev News Network looks to pull back the curtain on those events, giving listeners and watchers a new look at how games are made. Content will revolve around the announcement of special events, as well as an inside look at the tools, mods, and motivations of the developers involved. 

The first GGDA Game Dev News Network simulcast will be held April 24 at 7:30 p.m. EST on Youtube, Twitch, and Mixer.

On top of that, the GGDA also has a few other events already planned for the summer. The first is the Georgia Esports League Spring Championship held in the Georgia World Congress Center at MomoCon on May 24. As of this writing, signups for the Spring Championship are still open to college teams from the state of Georgia. The winner of the Esports League Spring Championship will receive "thousands of dollars in scholarships," according to the GGDA website.

The other planned event is the MomoCon career fair, which will also see representatives from Blue Mammoth, Hi-Rez Studios, Tripwire Interactive, and Turner Broadcasting. The free event will be held at the Omni Hotel, International Ballroom D, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 24 before the Spring Championship. 


Have you got a piece of Georgia game dev news you'd like to share with us? Send it over at:, and we'll make sure to include it in the next column.

Fortnite Season 4 -- Everything We Know and Everything We Want Tue, 17 Apr 2018 11:11:44 -0400 Ty Arthur

The snow's finally melting, and spring is coming just as the Battle Pass for Fortnite Battle Royale's Season 3 is due to end on April 30. Clearly, Season 4 isn't far off down the road, which means it's time to get ready for all-new outfits and challenges!

Before we officially hit Season 4, there have already been some major shakeups to the game, like the soft launch of the custom matchmaking key feature and the incredible Port-a-Fort grenade.

Fortnite players have been through a wild ride in Season 3, from the Solid Gold event to Blitz Mode to the addition of the guided missile launcher. While Season 2 was heavily medieval-focused, there really wasn't a super unified theme in Season 3, sticking slightly to a space motif while veering away from that base idea several times.

In the last few months, we've had all sorts of craziness, including Lunar New Year buildings, creepy bunny costumes, astronauts, afros and disco balls, plungers with samurai swords stuck in them, and winged cupids. Now that Season 4 is almost here, it's time to start speculating on the new themes and outfits.

six different Fortnite skins posing 
It's been fun, but all good things must come to an end!

When Will Fortnite Season 4 Arrive?

Expect the upcoming Season 4 and its new Battle Pass to arrive either on Tuesday, May 1 or a couple of days later, with the normal weekly update around Thursday, May 3.

It remains unclear at this point if the Season 4 Battle Pass can be purchased with existing V-bucks or if you will only be able to pay money to grab the new Pass. If you've got extra to spare, you may want to hold onto somewhere in the 950-1,500 V-bucks range just in case.

Fortnite Season 4 Theme

A ton of fan theories have been put forward for the Season 4 theme, including super heroes, a pirate/aquatic theme, ninja clan battles, fantasy heroes and villains, a progressive history that goes from caveman to futuristic cyborg, Greek mythology, cyberpunk, ancient Egypt, and even dinosaurs!

One consistent and popular fan theory is that Tilted Towers or another location will be devastated by a meteor and look completely different in Season 4. This may tie into the Rex dinosaur costume that came out earlier this month and may indicate we are going prehistoric soon. Personally, I'm leaning towards this view point, especially when the Tricera Ops skin leaked ahead of release.

New weekly challenges based around dinosaur eggs, meteors, and cavemen could be a rousing good time, and it would be awesome to see the same theme invade the Save the World missions for those of us who still prefer that mode over Battle Royale.

On the other hand, the latest Fortnite skin addition was the bizarre Leviathan, which looks like a cross between a Mars Attacks alien and Klaus from American Dad. That still sticks to the quasi-space theme of Season 3 while lending credence to the notion we may be heading full throttle into an aquatic theme. Meanwhile, the 800 v-buck Reanimated emote that just arrived wouldn't at all be out of place in the goofy Saints Row series, mixing jerky zombie movies with a dance rave theme!

While previous seasons had Halloween and Christmas offerings, Season 4 will primarily take place in the spring and summer, so it's a good bet there will be some sort of picnic, fireworks, or patriotic theme near the end.

In short, we simply have no definitive answer at the moment for what exactly is going to happen with Season 4, as the developers like to ping-pong between ideas frequently as new Fortnite patches arrive each week.

a Fortnite leviathan skin that looks like a scuba diver or astronaut with a fish for a head raching out to a mounted fish on a wall Aquatic, dinosaurs, cowboys? What's your guess?

What theme do you want to see from the fourth Season of Fortnite next month? Let us know your favorite picks in the comments below, and check back soon as we update with the latest Season 4 info.

For those still looking to complete the Season 3 challenges, check out our other Fortnite guides here:

The Fortnite Shutdown Rumor Is Baseless, Stop Worrying About It Mon, 16 Apr 2018 14:58:49 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Let's get this out of the way at the start: There was no tweet on the official Epic Twitter that Fortnite Battle Royale was going to be closed down.

A rumor started circulating last week that Fornite Battle Royale would be seeing closure in May due to a lawsuit from PUBG Corporation, but it is simply baseless.

Gaming site Twinfinite published an article on April 12 covering the alleged tweet, stating that the rumor was started by an image of a tweet from the official Epic Twitter account. The tweet the writer claimed to have seen read as follows:

“Due to the law suit against PubG on copyright infringement. We are sorry to inform you that Fortnite Battle Royale Will be coming to an end May 24, 2018. Save the world will still be in development and we will roll out ASAP. Thank you all for the support.”

Have you seen the supposed image of the tweet? Because I have not.

I've done some scouring at this point -- not because I believed the rumor, but to discern whether Twinfinite was kicking up crap just to get traffic -- and I have not seen it anywhere, even in the corners of the internet where they'd dance around the virtual bonfire at such a rumor. There is zero. Zilch. Nothing.

Did someone email them this image? Or did they make it up? I don't know, and frankly, I don't care. The end result is the same: a panic over a rumor so small it shouldn't have been given the time of day.

The alleged tweet itself is as poorly written and unofficial-looking as it can be. The capitalization is all over the place ("PubG", "Save the world") and clarifies absolutely nothing while simply aiming to stoke the flames of panic.

The public hasn't heard much about litigation against Epic Games due to the release of Fortnite Battle Royale, but at this point, it's safe to assume the mode is not going anywhere. In fact, it appears to be devouring the playerbases of a number of other large multiplayer titles. No other game is as popular as Fortnite is right now. Absolutely none.

Baseless rumors don't help anyone, and a rumor so devoid of base that it's sunk into the ground shouldn't have shot its way across the internet in the first place. Have you seen any signs of Epic slowing down content releases or events? No. So stop worrying about it.

An Interview with Derek Neal, Executive Producer of Extinction Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:11:46 -0400 Erroll Maas

Derek Neal is an executive producer at Modus Games and on the upcoming ogre-slaying action game Extinction. He took some time out of his busy pre-launch schedule to sit down and chat about the different types of enemies and gameplay elements featured in Extinction.

a sword-wielding warrior descends upon a gigantic ogre in an image from Extinction

GameSkinny: Most of Extinction revolves around fighting giant ogres known as Ravenii. Why were ogres chosen specifically as the main enemy of the game?

Derek Neal: In order to provide gameplay variety, we wanted different armor sets to behave really differently; so for example, the spiked armor can hurt you, the iron armor has dangling locks on it, and the bone armor has flaming skulls you have to put out. The Ogres can wear various combinations of different types of armor, as well as potentially weapons, which makes their loadouts seem very patchwork. At the same time, they aren’t just pure brutes -- they do have some culture, as well as some level of technology, and their own language, all of which are facts that feature prominently in the story. We needed a villain class that was brutish, but not completely stupid ... cultured, but likely to show up in patchwork armor. Ogres were a natural fit.

a top-down view of a warrior about to take on a group of enemies in Extinction

GS: What were the inspirations for the vulture and jackal minions that follow the Ravenii, and why do they do so?

DN: They are some of the lesser races that have been enslaved by the Ravenii. As far as what gameplay purpose they serve, even though all the terrain is destructible, there are still places the Ravenii (being 150ft tall) can’t really go ... for example, inside of caves. The Jackals and other enemies provide a constant and immediate threat that Avil has to deal with, while the Ravenii are slower, implacable, and much harder to handle.

Avil, the main character of Extinction, holding a sword, with beaming light behind him

GS: The main character Avil is said to be the last of the Sentinels, due to the order degrading over time. What can you tell us about how or why this happened?

DN: The main factor in the decline of the Sentinels is that the Ravenii have been absent for many generations. As the threat grew more distant, people began to forget, and the need for the order seemed less pressing.

a more comic book-y style image of the ogres in Extinction

GS: It has been said that prior to the arrival of the Ravenii, humanity was constantly at war with itself. We haven't seen any footage of the Ravenii fighting each other -- is there a possibility of seeing this in the game?

DN: The Ravenii will beat their chests and roar at each other sometimes, or make other threatening gestures, but it never gets to the level of an all-out brawl. They are part of the same army, they are intelligent, and they are generally cooperating with each other.

a huge ogre about to stomp Avil in Extinction

GS: What is the difficulty curve for this game like? Would it be best for fans of the stylish action genre, or will it be more welcoming to all types of players?

DN: The game is actually fairly difficult, but it’s not because it’s hard to play. The controls are very straightforward, and most of the individual systems (like climbing, wall running, saving people, combat, etc.) are easy to get into and manipulate. The difficulty comes when trying to combine everything together seamlessly. Ogres are assaulting the city from all sides, a group of people close to you are being eaten by Jackals, your health is running out, and you’re failing the mission objective. What do you prioritize? Can you do it fast enough to save them all? If not, what do you sacrifice? And can you make those decisions on the fly, while trying to avoid imminent death from a huge monster trying to stomp you?

Avil standing on a rock and looking at an ogre in Extinction

GS: We know there are various techniques Avil can use in combat. Are there extra benefits and rewards to gain from using a variety of techniques?

DN: Doing well in combat earns you SP, which you can use to upgrade Avil. But the main reward for mastering the combat system is doing better at the missions, having more time to save more people (which also earns you more SP), and making you look like a total badass.

basic white text on a black background assuring the reader that Extinction doesn't include microtransactions

EM: In the beginning of the features trailer, it is explicitly said that Extinction has no microtransactions; however, the game does have exclusive pre-order content depending on where it's purchased from. What influenced these decisions?​

DN: Obviously, we want to encourage people to pre-order the game, so we provide some incentives for doing that. Honestly, adding microtransactions never really entered our thought process while we were initially building the game ... it was always going to be a story-based, single-player experience. But now, with all the recent controversies over microtransaction implementations in games, we’re definitely pleased not to have gone that way.

I thanked Derek for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Extinction will launch on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on April 10, 2018, and both physical and digital copies of the game are available to purchase. Players who pre-order Extinction will gain access to exclusive DLC depending on where they pre-order it from.

An Interview with the Producer of Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Wed, 28 Mar 2018 16:00:49 -0400 Nilufer Gadgieva

Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is a challenging boss battler action-RPG deeply rooted in the struggles of human nature and strength in the essence of Dark Souls.

Featuring a small but feisty knight named Adam, you embark on a series of battles against the seven deadly sins as you attempt to atone for them, each as equally unique and as grotesque as the other. With each Sin you battle, your protagonist must sacrifice his stats, amping up the difficulty of the game.

The gameplay is as hardcore as it gets, but the game itself is a sight for sore eyes, with beautiful graphics, a brooding theme, and an original, distinctive undertone. While I haven't gotten quite to the end of the challenge, we interviewed Wang Chen, the producer from Dark Star Studios, on their impressive debut with Sinner

GameSkinny: Apart from other games like Dark Souls, what other media inspired the theme for Sinner?

Wang Chen, Producer at Dark Star Studios: Along with Dark Souls, we were inspired by Japanese anime, in particular, Studio Ghibli. We wanted Sinner to be a fusion of East and West. This is why Adam has a distinct chibi style!

GS: Was it meant to be a particularly challenging game? 

WC: Sinner is a hard game. We made it difficult because we wanted the gameplay to reflect Adam’s personal struggle to atone for his sins. While the game is hard we wanted to make sure it wasn’t gatekept and have made it so that anyone can access the vast majority of the game’s content even if they struggle with the game’s difficulty.

GS: What were some creative obstacles faced during development?

WC: Boss design was tricky. We wanted to make sure that bosses represented their sins correctly. For some bosses this was easy but for some, like Sloth, for example, this was more difficult. Making a lazy boss is tricky in a serious game. It was also tricky to put together a cohesive story that pulled together all the characters, all the sins, and Adam in a cohesive way when the game’s story can be experienced in any order. 

GS: What kind of audience would this game appeal to?

WC: Sinner is a “hardcore” game but I hope it appeals to more than just the most hardcore of gamers. The fact that the majority of the game’s content is open should make it less of a frustrating experience for many gamers who might have gotten stuck in other, similarly difficult games.

GS: What is your favorite aspect of the game? 

WC: Probably the art style. Both the 2D and the 3D art is really meticulously designed and we spent a long time making the game look as beautiful as possible. We hope gamers will appreciate it as much as we do.

GS: What could use some improvement?

WC: At this point, the game is pretty much finished. We’re currently focusing on making it as polished an experience as possible, but as it stands, Sinner is right about where we wanted it to be.

GS: Are there any more projects to be expected from here?

WC: Oh yes! Dark Star has big plans for the future but we aren’t finished with Sinner just yet.

GS: Which Sin was a team favorite to create? Which was the least favorite?

WC: Everyone on the team has a different favorite! It’s really difficult to answer this question. I really, really love Envy and the way she swaps between two styles of combat. But I also love Lust and the way she surprises the player throughout the battle.I don’t think we have a least favorite. We’ve worked so hard on each of them it would feel like a betrayal to name  our least favorite!

If you're ready for more mind-reeling action and incredibly difficult bosses, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption will be coming to Xbox One, PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4 on the 25th of April this year. 

Gaming Lingo Every Beginner Should Know Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:04:47 -0400 Nilufer Gadgieva

Playing video games is not as simple as it used to be back in the day. There were party or solo games, a controller (often with a chewed up wire) and at the end of the day, just you and the console. There were no die-hard passionate fandoms, or mental health conditions, or mass cheating bans to worry about. Yet change isn't always bad.

As we all know, in this world of rapidly accelerating telecommunications technology, we have managed to reach out to others who enjoy our passions across oceans and continents. We've made every day a party on the internet and turned every opinionated rant into a full-blown civil war. We have created communities and fanbases and many, many pretentious fanboys (and girls). No regrets, since things are better this way. Gaming has become a recognized hobby and an enjoyable pastime with the quick development of consoles, social media, and internet connection.

With a fascinating age of gaming culture upon us, there will inevitably be newbies (or people new to the industry) entering at almost any age and from almost any background. This concise guide was put together to teach and revise some of the most common, basic, and important gaming key terms to latch onto out there.These are handy when it comes to reading up on gaming news and guides, surfing through forums and chat rooms, and trying to make do with fitting into the culture a bit later in the day. No shame, my friends. We were all you once.


To be brief, a triple-A game is usually a wonderfully crafted, critically acclaimed release with a big fanbase and an even bigger budget. A favorite example of mine would be BioShock Infinite.

Instead of playing versus other live human players such as yourself, artificially intelligent bots are programmed to play against you. This is often offered as an alternative option to live multiplayer, is common in single-player games, and can also be great practice in tutorials for when you want to face off against the real players.

This term describes a specific character's collection of items/skills etc. for a particular purpose.

A nuisance in online shooting games, a camper is one who (often from inexperience) remains stationery in one point of the map and often shoots passing players while idling around. Don't be that person. It's bad and makes people hate you.

This stands for downloadable content, which can include additional features, levels, stories, characters or costumes to a game. 

For instance, Dawnguard is a DLC for the open-world RPG Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where you get to indulge in some good old-fashioned vampirism. This option is not offered in the original game and is purchased separately. 

Easter Egg:
A usually irrelevant but interesting hidden feature of a game. They're a good foundation for memes and are often subtle references to politics or pop culture. You can often find them on social media or YouTubers mocking them for the sake of it.

This stands for first-person-shooter, a common gaming genre where you play in the first-person and -- shocker -- shoot at targets. The most common display has a selected firearm as the main visual interface.

An example of an FPS would be the well-known series Call of Duty or Counter-Strike.

This word is mainly used both in gaming culture and even professionally to describe certain graphics lag or bugs in a game. Yes, quality assurance isn't always very reliable or assured.

Common examples include your protagonist floating through a wall in the game, walking under water when they should be swimming, or displaying unfinished objectives for quests you've obviously completed. Or the speedrunner's favorite, a glitch that chucks you to the end of the game. (Speedrunner: someone who tries to beat a game as fast as possible).

Which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. This genre is a mixture of RPG and adventure and contains an enormous platform for players, both bots, and humans alike. A great and popular example of this is World of Warcraft.

Which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. This genre is similar to an MMO, but what takes it apart is the concept of strategy gaming based on fighting within an arena. An example of this would be the universally popular League of Legends or its rival, DOTA.

A common term used for a unit of magical power in an RPG game, also known as MP. These points are assigned to a character and sometimes indicate how strong their spells are.

Commonly referred to as meta in multiplayer games, this term is quite complex to understand. Its philosophy claims to define it as a "game within a game," where you, as the gamer, would prepare your character by maintaining a high level of skill and accordingly strengthen them to match the opponent's weaknesses, because you are approaching the game from outside its own environment. Or, to phrase it differently, it's stuff about the game but that isn't in the game, like the competitive Pokemon scene.

This stands for non-playable character, or a character within a game that is artificially intelligent and program controlled in an RPG. This can be anyone, from your villagers to your spouse to your mentor and companion in the game, and depending on the developer, can be as interesting as real people or boring as real people.

This term is used as a unit in milliseconds, and it means the amount of time it takes for information within the game to reach the server and back. A low ping usually indicates good chances of a smoother multi-player experience.

This stands for player versus player, which is a term used to categorize games where people play against each other in live action. Basically, competitive gaming.

An example of a recent PvP game would be Fortnite: Battle Royale

This term is used as a reference to open-world games where you can explore to your heart's content, build or destroy whatever you like, or even walk around aimlessly if you please. It's your sandbox; you can do what you want. A good and well-loved example of a sandbox game is Grand Theft Auto.

Another common reference to online shooters and another nuisance. Spammers are players who go berserk on their opponents and will shoot at anyone and anything without prior thought, aim, or skill. Their kills are ultimately worthless because it was based on luck and rather persistent distal finger muscles.

A shortened but universally understood term for experience points, which you collect as you progress through a game and become better at whatever it is you're doing. Some games offer thresholds for a specific number of XP, and thereafter, you can level up your character and get access to other features such as new weapons, skills, or locations.


This set of terms are just the tip of the iceberg, the most commonly used among the thousands of terms gamers have put together to communicate their needs more expressively. This list should have you getting a better grasp of the world of online gaming a bit more. You can always refer to these definitions until you get the hang of it, lest you find yourself at risk of being dubbed a n00b.

What are any other terms you deem important enough for this list? Leave us a comment below! 

Who Are These Dream Friends in Kirby Star Allies? Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:37:28 -0400 Erroll Maas

During the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, new information for Kirby Star Allies, the pink puffball's debut on the Nintendo Switch, was revealed. This included playable Dream Friends which players can download through a free future update and use as allies in the game. Newer fans of Kirby might be unfamiliar with this group of characters, but they have all appeared in previous Kirby titles -- most notably Kirby's Dream Land 2 for the original Game Boy -- as well as cameos in plenty of other Nintendo games. So who exactly are these returning friends?



Rick is a large hamster who made his first appearance in Kirby's Dream Land 2 alongside other animal friends. He became friends with Kirby after being saved from a group of enemies. Rick can be used to traverse hazardous terrain and doesn't slip on icy platforms. Since Rick is twice the size of Kirby, he can't fit into small spaces, but he can wall jump and defeat enemies by jumping on them. Rick can also inhale enemies, and although he can't gain abilities from this technique, he can combine his abilities with Kirby's for an increased variety of attacks. For Kirby's Dreamland 3 on the Super Nintendo, Rick's inhale ability is replaced by a charging attack. This is where Rick's love interest, Pick, was also introduced.



Coo is an owl, and like Rick, first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land 2. Coo has the ability to fly, which can give players a great advantage in certain situations. Additionally, Coo is strong enough to fly through powerful wind currents. Coo can also combine with Kirby's abilities to use stronger attacks.


Kine is an ocean sunfish who also first appeared in Kirby's Dreamland 2. Kine can help Kirby traverse through water and swim through strong currents, allowing Kirby to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Kine can be used on land as well, but being a fish, he isn't very useful. In Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kine gained the ability to jump on smaller enemies and had an increase in speed on land, making him just as fast as the other characters. Like the other animal friends, Kine can merge with Kirby's abilities for more attacks.


The slime creature Gooey first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land 2, found in bags after defeating specific mid-bosses after the animal friend originally found in the bag is already paired with Kirby. Gooey restores Kirby's health when found. There is also a rare female version of Gooey who grants Kirby an extra life.

Gooey became a playable ally in Kirby's Dreamland 3 and can be controlled by a CPU or second player. Gooey can also eat enemies to gain their abilities, but unlike Kirby, can also use this ability underwater and can't inhale two enemies at once.


Marx first appeared as a supposed ally and later antagonist in the Milky Way Wishes game in Kirby Super Star on the Super Nintendo and its Nintendo DS remake, Kirby Super Star: Ultra. Marx is the only former antagonist -- besides mainstays Meta Knight and King Dedede -- to be announced as a dream friend so far. He appears in his first form in Kirby Star Allies.

More Allies to Come?

Kirby: Star Allies may not be a monumental change for the Kirby franchise, but at least it remembers its roots. Will more characters return? Will we see Adeleine (also known as Ado) from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, or former antagonists like the Squeak Squad from Kirby: Squeak Squad return to help Kirby out? Kirby fans will just have to wait and see for more characters to appear through future updates.

Modding Skyrim to Make It More Like Dark Souls Sat, 10 Mar 2018 14:28:29 -0500 Kengaskhan


The Grim and Somber ENBs


Skyrim version can be downloaded here.


Dark Souls and Skyrim are all about atmosphere, and they both nail it -- in their own respective ways. But if you want to bring Skyrim's atmosphere closer to Dark Souls', you can do to Skyrim what every fantasy and sci-fi film director has done to their own works: add post-processing effects!


... or, have someone else do it for you!


The Grim and Somber ENBs are a collection of ENB post-processing presets meant to give Skyrim a darker mood. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it looks to install -- just follow the instructions and you’ll be good to go!


If none of the Grim and Somber ENB presets are to your taste (or you’re playing Skyrim Special Edition), just be aware that there are tons of ENB presets available at Nexus Mods -- you can find them all here (or here if you’re playing Skyrim Special Edition.)




Given the depth of Skyrim's modding scene, I'm sure there are plenty of mods that could fit on this list. Let me know of any that I may have missed!


If you're looking for more Skyrim-related content, you can find it all here!




Skyrim version can be downloaded here.


Skyrim doesn’t have the same omnidirectional camera movement that the Souls games have -- if you have your weapon drawn and you turn your camera, your character turns in that direction too. This makes a lock-on system less of a necessity, but like tumbling, the lock-on system is a pretty big part of Souls combat.


As far as customization goes, this mod is pretty straightforward, but if you find that the default lock-on texture isn’t to your liking, there’s a Dark Souls-themed texture replacer you can check out.


Unfortunately, there is no version of this mod currently available for Skyrim Special Edition. However, the Simple Face to Face Conversion mod has a Simple Lock-On Alpha listed under miscellaneous files that you might want to give a try.


SkyrimSouls -- Unpaused Game Menu


With “SkyrimSouls” in its title, there can be no mistake about which audience this mod was intended for -- though of course, players looking for a more immersive Skyrim experience will appreciate the mod’s function all the same.


SkyrimSouls -- Unpaused Game Menu does exactly what it says: it stops in-game menus from pausing the game. This means that you won’t be able to open your inventory to pause combat, chug five healing potions, swap out your armor, eat a wheel of cheese, and then resume combat. The mod is also highly configurable, and you’ll be able to pick and choose which menus you want exempt from the modified menu behavior (for example, you may not want the game to continue running while the system menu is open).


(If you really want to crack down on the potion chugging, you may want to check out Potions Animated, which forces the player character through a drinking animation whenever they consume a potion.)




With VIGILANT, your character becomes a Vigilant of Stendarr tasked with keeping the holds of Skyrim safe from the encroaching darkness. However, things get a little more complicated when a Daedric Prince takes an interest in the Dragonborn.


VIGILANT is divided into four parts (all included in the mod), taking you on a journey that will bring you to some truly Souls-esque set pieces to fight some equally Souls-esque enemies. VIGILANT also doubles as a weapon & armor mod, and you’ll be able to pick up some setting-appropriate equipment (there’s actually even some Bloodborne stuff in there) as you progress through the story.


Also note that while the base mod is not voice acted, the Skyrim Voice Alliance produced an English voice acting add-on for the mod -- you can get it here!


Wildcat -- Combat of Skyrim


One of the Souls series’ hallmark features is the lethality of combat, and it’s not just the player who’s fragile; most of the enemies your size will fall after three or four hits as well.


There are quite a few highly configurable combat overhauls available for Skyrim that make combat deadlier for all parties involved, but Wildcat in particular is fairly lightweight and adds a few extra mechanics that many Souls veterans will find familiar.

  • Stamina costs for all attacks, not just power attacks
  • \n
  • Faster stamina (and magicka) regeneration
  • \n
  • Staggering is more common (though I’d probably disable the injury system)
  • \n
  • Increased damage dealt to characters in the middle of an attack
  • \n

However, if you've already got a combat overhaul that you like, that should do the job just fine.


TK Dodge


What would Dark Souls be without dodge rolling? Well, the game would still be beatable for some people, but for the majority of players, it just wouldn’t be the same. Nexus Mods user tktk1 has produced quite a number of highly rated mods for the website (and I recommend checking them out), and amongst the most popular is TK Dodge, which adds a configurable dodge roll to the game.


You’ll be able to change the dodge’s input method (e.g., double-tapping a movement key to dodge vs. using a dedicated dodge hotkey), adjust the stamina cost and the invincibility frame duration of the dodge, and even choose between two different dodge animations!


Skyrim is a pretty popular game -- so popular, in fact, that Bethesda can't seem to stop themselves from re-releasing it on as many platforms as it'll fit on!


However, even a game as well regarded as Skyrim has its flaws, as evidenced by the numerous overhauls and tweaks available through mods for the game. Now, you could try to enhance your Skyrim playthrough by downloading a couple of random mods that happen to catch your eye, but you might be better off tailoring your game to build a more cohesive experience.


For example, why not try modding Skyrim to emulate the gameplay of another third-person, medieval fantasy action-RPG that's actually renowned for its combat?


Here are six mods that'll bring your Skyrim run a little closer to Dark Souls.

Distortions Interview: Among Giants CEO Thiago Girello Talks Music + Mechanics Wed, 28 Feb 2018 10:45:02 -0500 Vrothgarr

Part exploration, part side-scroller, and all musical, the upcoming Distortions from Brazilian indie dev Among Giants is making noise as a big sleeper gem as it approaches release on Steam this week. In preparation for the game's release, we wanted to delve into this new music-based project that conceptually blends new hybrid mechanics into a beautiful, poetic game that uses music as the connective tissue between narrative, environment, and language.

We had the chance to speak with Among Giants CEO Thiago Girello about Distortions, the inspirations behind the blend, and what range of harmonic (or dissonant) experiences he hopes players find within.

GameSkinny (GS): Eight years ago, what was the very first spark that drew you to blend music so strongly with narrative and gameplay? 

Thiago Girello (TG):This is a great question! Music was a key part of every single development task in Distortions -- and it goes well beyond gameplay mechanics. I used to play in a band. It was incredibly fun, and we had a unique musical style. Sometimes we’d come up with really slow-paced songs -- beautiful and contemplative -- and sometimes we’d play super heavy with a lot of distortion. With this game, we wanted to translate the feeling of playing in a band to a game about the creative process -- and more importantly, the rhythm we enjoy when making and listening to music. So when we started to think about Distortion’s main gameplay mechanic, we came up with music and rhythm. And from that initial seed, narrative, level design, and gameplay naturally followed.

GS: Why a violin? What about that particular instrument inspired the game design based around these musical mechanics?

TG: We chose the violin because it’s an instrument that can play a slow, beautiful melody -- or something really intense, almost heavy-metal like … which was really useful when setting the pace for the game. Also, the violin is a great instrument for solos! Another neat touch is that it makes the protagonist’s silhouette even more intriguing. A violin gives you freedom. While most songs involve holding notes, you can also play like Guitar Hero -- pressing keys like a madman. You can come up with some unique music if you play notes together.

With this game, we wanted to translate the feeling of playing in a band to a game about the creative process -- and more importantly, the rhythm we enjoy when making and listening to music.

GS: Just as Distortions blends music, narrative, and gameplay, it also blends very linear play with open-world mechanics. How did your initial designs approach the idea of an open world alongside other styles of play?

TG: Other types of media are concerned about pace and rhythm -- but games usually aren’t. Movies and books try to keep the audience engaged with rising suspense, drama, comedy, and so on. Games, on the other hand, usually present the player with main gameplay mechanic -- and then keep hammering it until the end of the game! The only difference is that the same actions keep getting harder and harder. In order to fix this, we came up with a more nuanced gameplay mechanic where we changed things up based on rhythm. Music is the origin point, and everything comes out of it like branches on a tree. For example, if the rhythm sort of demands a slow and contemplative moment (like the music we used to play in the band), we switch to a first-person perspective. If we’re dealing with action or tension, we go to a side-scrolling perspective so that players can see who’s chasing them. If the music is all about solitude, Distortions becomes more of an open-world, Metroidvania-style game -- and so on. We still have a core gameplay mechanic (third-person exploration with the violin), but we try to change things up from time to time so that the game can have a more organic pace.

GS: How did you hone the game into a singular experience with all of these very different aspects?

TG: At Among Giants, we all have different backgrounds, such as film and literature. As you can imagine, some serious discipline and teamwork are required in order for everyone to work together! For example, the game’s production design is similar to what would be done for a feature film. It’s fascinating to watch someone get a taste of Distortions by playing part of a pre-release build at an industry event. We teach the game’s logic and overall concept through cadence and repetition. Players initially don´t know what to expect because everything is so different from other games they have played before. But they start to really get into it and have a great time. We love seeing that process take place.

GS: In a game called Distortions, how do themes like harmony and dissonance run through the player's own experience?

TG: What we do is invite players to use something we call "blank spaces,” which allows them to “fill in the blanks” with their own experiences. For example, we never talk about what happened to the main character or about her ultimate reality. We are always working with words like “memory” and “expectations” -- a type of subjective layer, and a subtext for the game as a whole. The beauty of that approach is that it allows players to put their own reality and relationships in the game, so to speak. Also, all the characters use masks. You can put any face you choose behind them, which is priceless on its own. And no one has names, either: The main character is simply called the Girl, and the monster is the Monster. There are other characters, sure -- including the writer and the masked ones; players can name them if they feel a need to do so. We’ve added “blank spaces” such as these throughout the game as much as possible.

GS: You worked with three different bands, one local to Brazil and two from the U.S., to create the unique soundtrack for the game. Describe the challenge of designing a game so closely tied to musical mechanics with so much highly creative input from separate teams.

TG: Before we even started working on Distortions, we spent a huge amount of time researching the music and overall feel we wanted for the game. After that was done, we got in touch with certain bands to see if we could use their music -- not as a finished product but a joint, collaborative effort. It was a triple-pronged approach: There was original music that we composed, another musician in São Paulo, and a studio in Rio de Janeiro. We needed this variety because the main character has difficulty expressing herself through words -- so she relies on music instead. For example, in the beginning, the Girl doesn’t have her own voice, so we use the tracks to make up for that. Toward the middle of the game and near the end, the Girl learns to play music by ear and improvise finally finding her own, unique voice.

You can find Distortions on Steam and the Windows Store on March 1, 2018.


Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Is as Beautifully Macabre as it Looks Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:52:28 -0500 Nilufer Gadgieva

You've probably heard ramblings on the net about a new pseudo-genre comparing a majority of morbid, challenging games to a Dark Souls theme. One can name a number of games -- indie, mobile, and console -- that fit the title. And while the indie action-RPG Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption definitely bears an uncanny resemblance to the Souls games, it's a unique, refreshing, and creative look into what it means to battle your inner self. 

Possibly inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, Sinner is Dark Star Studio's debut single-player release. The Hong Kong-based developer has produced a sinister and rather sardonically religious concept of gameplay, and what seemed to be an endless supply of grisly bosses kept me awake in the wee hours of the night, trying desperately to get through a single round. 

A Mysterious Venture for Atonement 

The morbid storyline is exactly as it sounds. You play as Adam, a small amnesiac knight that represents the whole of mankind. While he unravels his nightmarish past, he must face each of his seven sins in horrific caricatures. These abhorrent reflections of human evil can only be accessed by sacrificing his stats to gain atonement for his deeds.

Perhaps what bothered me most about the game was the minimal focus on the storyline. Sure, it's an action-based game, but it would have been more enjoyable if the story (which is rather creative) had been produced in a dynamic manner. Instead, we get attractive, monochromatic, manga-style slides and short, vague descriptions of the protagonist's role. 

I appreciate it when a game cuts to the chase, but not when you're left slightly clueless as to the background. Sinner is a simple, straightforward series of major challenges, but it bears a fascinating and dark undertone I would have loved to hear more about. 

Elementary Combat Against an Impossible Feat

The gameplay begins in dreary, bleak scenery reminiscent of a cemetery, with a variety of symbolic tombstones around the perimeter. Two of them are activated from the start -- your pick of who you'd like to face first. I went with Faiz Tilus, or Greed, as a beginner, seeing as it was proximal to my starting point, only to realize my health and stamina were compromised, and I couldn't get a hold of the game at first. To warm my hands to the controls and combat, taking on Levin Undok, or Envy, made the harrowing task a lot simpler. 

To say the battles are challenging is putting it lightly. As there are no practice enemies between bosses to hone your combat skills, each and every one of them requires a unique approach to take down -- and often more than five tries, give or take. As you sacrifice your strengths to each against your will, you need to figure out where -- and how -- to take down the opponent standing before you without compromising what little health, stamina, or items you have.

Some of these bad boys require a distant, thoughtful approach; others require a gradual fatality. It's up to you to decide how you want to put each of the sins down. These bastards also come with customized prowess to make your gameplay hell. Levin Undok, who represents Envy, for example, is a tall and vengeful creature who is relatively easy to take down compared to the others. However, she is accompanied by a twin (exactly like her but with a different, long-range attack), and this particular objective becomes a twofold challenge.

I don't mean to be catty but I really can't STAND this bimbo

At some points in the game, you will feel as if it's impossible to progress forward. Dark Souls also has this element of perpetual desperation to get through a boss. It's frustrating enough to want to tug your hair out, but with focus and determination, it's a manageable challenge. Like Adam, you should be willing to sacrifice your time and attention to achieve the redemption you deserve. As your protagonist levels down with each enemy, you too humble yourself in the face of justice.

A Harrowing Theme of Desperation and Melancholy

Suffice it to say that the game is beautiful for such a minimalist concept. I played it on my laptop at the lowest possible resolution, and I still found the game environment appropriate to the nature of the game. 

The bosses were grotesque, and their settings daunting but magnificent nonetheless. The creative Del Toro-meets-steampunk design of the Sins is refreshing and honestly unique to the game. It leaves a trademark appearance of each Sin bearing a characteristic representative of its nature, and if that isn't unspoken storytelling in visuals, I don't know what is. 

The game bears just the right shades of dread and sadness, and just the right setting for a theme of purgatory and atonement. The melancholy soundtrack was catchy for some of the opponents, and I only say this because I caught myself humming them in the shower subconsciously. 

Frustrations ...

Restoration of health or usage of weapons is often ridiculously slow. The response times of certain commands usually begin to lag at really bad moments -- you could be inches away from defeating the Devil himself, and you'd falter only because your little man is lying on the ground for a good two minutes without moving. As expected for a new game, naturally, it's not going to be perfect. This can fortunately be prevented by strategically maneuvering your combat to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Another concept I personally found tormenting was the lack of camera flexibility. A majority of games offer 360 spanning, but this feature of a locked-in screen was suffocating at first. As you move around and enter combat, the camera will span by default to suit your senses, and you adjust to it -- but to me, that wasn't enough. It gave me a narrow environment to work with and an odd initial feeling of claustrophobia. I'm a spoiled gamer, I admit.

Final Thoughts 

Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption was a self-explanatory title I enjoyed pulling through. With balancing work and school, the therapeutic distraction of challenging combat was a blessing on the mind. It's a beautifully morbid game with a touch of medieval fantasy and folklore. 

If you're a Dark Souls or Shadow of Colossus fan, or even a newbie looking for a new taste of the genre, you can pick up Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption on Steam, Xbox One, or PS4 on April 25th of this year.  


From the Armchair: 6 Madden NFL 19 Cover Athlete Predictions Thu, 22 Feb 2018 11:24:07 -0500 Jonathan Moore

It's already time to dial in our predictions for Madden 19's cover athlete. In the wake of Super Bowl 52, where the Philadelphia Eagles knocked off the New England Patriots for their first Championship of the Super Bowl era, and with the combine already behind us, it's time to turn our attention to Madden 19

While many football fans tuned in to the Super Bowl for the zany commercials -- or just to watch the “Evil Empire” burn -- other NFL fans were thinking of something grander, something much more meaningful than the Lombardi Trophy. And while scouts were watching college standouts show out in the combine, I was thinking of the legends that would make the cover of Madden NFL 19.

OK. Maybe I was the only one actually thinking about Madden NFL 19’s cover during the Super Bowl and throughout the combine, but I get paid to think about these things. So here we are, nearly a month later -- and we’re only slightly closer to having the answers we seek.

So who are we left with now that Brady didn’t secure his sixth Super Bowl Championship? Well, there are the obvious contenders, of course. But there are also others I think have a legitimate shot of making the cover this year that you may not have considered. With the relative parity in the NFL throughout the 2017 season, it's really anybody's game.

Carson Wentz & Nick Foles (QBs) -- Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz and Nick FolesSource:Sherdog

We’ve had two athletes on the cover before -- so why not now?

While one of these quarterbacks was a second-year phenom and the other a grizzled back-up veteran, both of these quarterbacks rose to the occasion time and time again throughout the 2017 NFL season. Sure, the Eagles had plenty of standout players on their roster, but without either of these quarterbacks, the Eagles would’ve been going through mock draft scenarios in early February instead of competing for a Super Bowl title.

If I had to put my money on it, I’d say at least o