Culture Category RSS Feed | Culture RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Complete List of Confirmed Google Stadia Games Fri, 11 Oct 2019 17:17:17 -0400 GS_Staff

Google Stadia is just around the corner. We don't currently have a release date for the video game streaming service, but we do know what games are confirmed for the platform once it does launch. 

Below, you'll find a list of confirmed Stadia games. Note, many of these games are already on other platforms. Those that have not yet released on any platform are marked with an asterisk. 

The games below are in alphabetical order. 

Complete List of Confirmed Google Stadia Games

  • Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Baldur's Gate 3*
  • Borderlands 3
  • Cyberpunk 2077*
  • Darksiders Genesis*
  • Destiny 2
  • Destroy All Humans*
  • Doom (2016)
  • Doom Eternal*
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Final Fantasy 15
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Get Packed*
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Gods & Monsters
  • GRID
  • Gylt*
  • Just Dance 2020*
  • Kine*
  • Marvel's Avengers*
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K20
  • Orcs Must Die 3*
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Rage 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Samurai Shodown
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Crew 2
  • The Division 2
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Trials Rising
  • Watch Dogs Legion*
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • Windjammers 2*

We will continue to update this list as more Stadia games are announced. For more on Google Stadia, check out our hands-on impressions. Be sure to check back in November for our full review. 

Deliver Us The Moon Preview Impressions: Light on Gameplay, Heavy on Polish Thu, 03 Oct 2019 16:53:57 -0400 Ty Arthur

Space is going to be a tough nut to crack for humanity. As resources dwindle and we look to the stars while fumbling around on Earth, there are plenty of game developers offering up unique visions on what might be in our near future.

That's what you get with Deliver Us The Moon. It goes the route of Interstellar or Gravity over more outlandish sci-fi and stays focused on a low-key, science-based world even though it has flights of fancy and is a drama at heart.

With the game's full release just around the corner, KeokeN Interactive let us try out a revamped preview of the game to see what's in store for launch.

At its core, Deliver Us The Moon is a reasonably basic walk-around (float around?) and look at documents/flip switches game. While relatively light on actual gameplay, there are plenty of collectibles to find. The game rewards exploration if you want to discover everything there is to know.

That's where the game shines, too. Both the voice acting and music in Deliver Us the Moon are surprisingly solid for an indie release, and its visuals are top-notch. 

From the barren, sandy wasteland of the launch site to picture-perfect padded space station corridors, Deliver Us The Moon nails its aesthetic and never lets you forget where you are.

In fact, this is one time I'm glad a game like this isn't in VR. As I played, I got some mild motion sickness from how well the game implements three-dimensional movement in zero-G environments. Thankfully, things aren't in hyper-speed like they are with Detached

Exploration aside, your mysterious astronaut will need to figure out how to turn off fuel valves, initiate launch sequences, restore life support systems, and access closed-off areas.

The code puzzles are wildly easy nobody will have any trouble finding the numbers to enter into any given keypad but the rest of the puzzles put up more of a challenge.

They frequently revolve around using limited resources to solve a problem, often in a limited time frame. It reinforces the feeling of being on a space station where things aren't working quite as they should.

Timed puzzles also imbue the game with an element of danger as you run out of oxygen. Certain moments, such as docking a rocket to a space station, are surprisingly tense, slow-motion dances.

         Even when the world is ending, there's always time for beer pong

Although the game's aesthetic may give off a creepy vibe, this isn't a sci-fi horror game like SOMA or the upcoming Moons Of Madness. Rather, it's more a drama with thriller elements. Although there is the little caveat that if you fail, all of humanity will die. So no pressure.

Much of the story is told through holographic re-creations heavy on dialog. It's done in a way that may bring to mind Close To The Sun minus the supernatural, horror-style connotations.

Taking place in our near future of the 2050s puts things into vivid perspective. The hard choices we make today regarding climate change are echoed here with humanity on the brink of collapse. On character drives that allegory home when talking about how humans first went to the moon "only 100 years ago."

Those little touches referencing real-world events make things all the more tangible, ringing true for those of us hoping for a better future. 

While the environments are spot on and the puzzles will keep you engaged, there is one major downside to Deliver Us The Moon: the game is really short. Reaching the end of the preview section takes about three to three-and-a-half hours. Using a walkthrough or correctly guessing all the puzzles on the first attempt without searching for every collectible, you could conceivably do it all in two hours.

Sure, this is a preview and the final build may be longer, but you'll have to wait for our review next week to find out.


To put it simply, Deliver Us The Moon is more of a cinematic experience with coupled with interactive puzzles than an action-oriented game, and it's the sort of title that was made for Let's Plays with no commentary.

That being said, there's a lot of fun to be had flying around in zero gravity environments trying to solve puzzles while tracking down that last audio recording to put all the pieces of the story together.

The full version of Deliver Us The Moon, including a fan-requested addition, will drop October 10, 2019. Stay tuned for our full review. 

Heading Back to the Murder Party: Super Meat Boy Forever Mon, 30 Sep 2019 11:17:44 -0400 Thomas Wilde

It’s been a long time since Super Meat Boy came out. It started in 2008 as a Flash game, then made its way to consoles and PC starting in 2010, which doesn’t sound like that long, but it was almost two console generations ago. In this field, that’s as good as decades. It's long enough that there’s a whole new potential audience for it. 

Super Meat Boy was a genuine hit, selling over a million copies. It spurred a flurry of imitators, great and small. Every demanding, unapologetically challenging platformer from the last decade, to my mind, owes at least a symbolic debt to Super Meat Boy.

Whenever you play a Mario Maker level that’s 90% elaborately rotating spikes and saw blades, or spend several hours beating your head against a stage in Celeste or Cuphead, Meat Boy is there in spirit. He is our bloody patron saint of difficult but mostly fair platform challenges.

Super Meat Boy Forever saw trap

According to its lead programmer/business manager/producer/writer Tommy Refenes, Super Meat Boy Forever has been in the works off and on for around eight years. It was initially prototyped in 2011, begun and initially showed off at PAX West in 2014, stopped entirely in 2017, and then “basically started over” later that year. The release date has shifted forward one year once a year since 2014 or so.

Since then, Team Meat has grown to 14 people, including a full-time artist, level designer, and animator (and notably not including co-creator Edmund McMillen). Super Meat Boy Forever is now scheduled to come out… well, when it comes out. (Maybe the world is telling us not to name our sequels “Forever.”)

Super Meat Boy Forever disclaimer at Pax West 2019
The disclaimers on the demo kiosks for
Super Meat Boy Forever
at PAX West 2019.

After spending that much time in development hell, with a couple of different false starts, you’d think the final product would end up feeling a little self-conscious. That isn’t really the case with Super Meat Boy Forever.

Much like Meat Boy himself, it’s cheerful and oblivious to anyone else’s opinion. The best thing about Meat Boy, in general, has always been its “why the hell not” atmosphere, where you go from hell to heaven to 8-bit flashbacks and back again without rhyme, reason, or sense, and Super Meat Boy Forever has that in spades.

It’s been some time since the original Super Meat Boy, long enough for Meat Boy and Bandage Girl to settle down and have a kid, named Nugget. (One of my favorite things about Nugget is the look on Meat Boy’s face, as if every time he sees the kid, he remembers he’s a dad all over again.)

One day, during a family picnic, Dr. Fetus abruptly shows up and kidnaps Nugget.

(I asked Refenes at PAX what the deal was there, as Dr. Fetus was very visibly stomped into mucilage at the end of Super Meat Boy. His answer was to say “Enh” and shrug. There you go.)

The significant change in Forever over Super Meat Boy is that now, your character never stops moving. From the moment you hit the ground, your character – both Meat Boy and Bandage Girl are playable and mechanically identical – takes off at a dead sprint to the right. You can jump, slide, rebound off of walls, and use special tiles to change your direction, but you can’t actually ever stop.

Super Meat Boy Forever wall jump

I was initially wary of the premise since it sounded a lot like one of those endless-runner phone games, but playing it feels better than I expected. It basically reduces the number of things you have to keep track of, so you can focus entirely on timing your jumps and slides. Naturally, this is a Meat Boy game, so even on the first stage, there are jumps that require a pixel-perfect approach to survive.

As usual, Meat Boy inhabits a universe that is anywhere from 50% to 99% swinging blades at any given time, and navigating each stage is a short gauntlet of deadly leaps, murderous traps, freak mutants, and strange hazards. At the end of every level, you find Nugget again… just in time for Dr. Fetus to kidnap him again. So it goes.

One big difference, of course, is that you can attack now. When Meat Boy or Bandage Girl slide, they stick out a fist or foot in a vicious-looking, weirdly satisfying punch. Used to be, you could only defend yourself from enemies by avoiding them or manipulating the environment against them. Being able to haul off and deck some random monster is a surprisingly big step forward.

While a lot of the structure of Forever is immediately familiar from the original Super Meat Boy, including the basic shape of its world map, the game is designed in a way that actively prevents you from memorizing its patterns. Every stage of Forever is built out of 70 to 100 “chunks,” according to Refenes. These are assembled on the fly to create a one-of-a-kind version of the level. If you back out of a stage to the map and reenter, it reshuffles itself, so it's difficult to see the same run twice.

Super Meat Boy Forever map

It does feel like Super Meat Boy Forever has a lot to live up to. It’s weird to think about just how much has changed in the platformer genre and the indie game marketplace between the first Super Meat Boy and now. At the same time, Super Meat Boy tripped off a wave of imitators and descendants that has never quite subsided, even now.

Forever is heading into a much more populated field now, to compete with a host of games that wouldn’t exist without its predecessor. It’s in with a good chance, but I’m really interested in seeing how the audience will react.

Planet Zoo Beta Impressions: Breed Your Very Own Ostrich Army Fri, 27 Sep 2019 17:15:21 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

When loading up Planet Zoo's beta for the first time, the plan was to start with an animal that wouldn't be too difficult. Monkeys seemed like they would be too smart and escape. Lions or bears would be too dangerous. Ostriches seemed like a solid bet; they could cause a ruckus if there were a screw-up, but they could probably be a safe first choice. Bertie and Benny did great for a while.

Then they had babies. So many babies.

Soon, the ostrich pen was full of little fluffy birds. It got too crowded. The protesters showed up to tell all the patrons how awfully my zoo treated the animals. The money dried up. The zoo went under.

Overall, it was pretty fun.

We Bought a Zoo

Planet Zoo comes to us from Frontier Developments, who have a pretty solid track record when it comes to simulation management games. Just in the last few years, they released Planet Coaster and Jurassic World: Evolution. Planet Zoo looks and feels familiar to anyone who has dabbled in their other games.

It puts all sorts of tools at your disposal to build the perfect zoo. You must build paths, facilities, and shops, adopt and care for your animals, and decide when and how many to release back into the wild (or put up for sale). You can also choose when to expand to new locations around the globe in your quest for global zoo-premacy.

The beta, which I played for this article, is available to those who preordered the game: it began September 24 and runs through October 8. The full game releases November 5.


Let's get something out front: the Planet Zoo beta is buggy.

My game has crashed multiple times, and lots of little hitches have gotten in the way of things I want to do. Judging from Frontier's track record, this is a true beta. Planet Coaster featured a very similar opportunity before its release and had identical results. From the good we've seen so far in Planet Zoo, it's going to be an absolute blast for those who love every little detail of designing an attraction.

In my second attempt at a zoo, after the ostrich disaster, I lasted much longer.

Multiple species ran around in their habitats, guests had a variety of ways to view and interact with the animals, and shops hummed along. It eventually came crashing down, as often happens when one is learning the ropes of a new management sim. However, Planet Zoo hits that "Oh my, I've been playing for HOW long?" level of interaction that the best management games always hit.

It's even more entertaining because of how great everything looks when you zoom in for a closer look.

Picture Perfect

One of the best parts of Jurassic World Evolution was zooming in on your dinosaurs (or taking to an ATV and just driving around) while watching everything run efficiently. 

Planet Zoo takes that even further by incorporating into gameplay the actual behavior patterns of the game's animals. Some animals are comfortable with guests entering their habitat. Others are particular about the types of plants in their habitat, the amount of water they have, and how close guests can get (even through glass) before they freak out.

That said, it's super easy to get lost in it all and just watch the animals. You can turn on a cinematic camera that follows any animal in your park. You can hop into the vantage point of a guest and wander around yourself, peering into enclosures to spot all the baby bears.

It's a wonderful little time sink, and all the small difficulties of managing keep you engaged and dying to put up one more habitat.

Conservation is Key

One of the other exciting aspects of Planet Zoo is how you obtain animals.

There are two types of currency in the game: money and "conservation points." They are both earned in different ways. Money is what you make (or lose) by putting together a good zoo. Conservation points are earned through daily challenges and by releasing animals into the wild. You can buy animals for your zoo with either currency, and many of the animals up for auction are put there by other players.

This means there are a lot of options for the focus of your zoo. You can transfer animals freely from any of your open zoos, so you can start one with the sole purpose of raising critters for your other zoos. You can focus on animals that have a lot of babies with the goal of releasing many into the wild once they reach a certain age. You can concentrate on big-ticket animals that will draw a lot of eyeballs (and a lot of money).

There are a lot of opportunities for how you choose to run your zoo, and they all seem viable. That's the hallmark of an excellent management game: you can make a variety of different methods work as long as you piece together the puzzle.

A Positive Outlook

It will be interesting to see how the game's different modes play out on the full release. The beta only contains a tutorial scenario and a barebones "Franchise" mode that will have a lot more options.

I would like to see some things streamlined. For example, scrolling through animals, especially when shopping for new creatures, features a lot of delays and hitches.

Research is handled by the park vets, who will stop researching if an animal gets hurt, but then won't automatically go back to what they were doing before. There are just some things that can get repetitive that seem like they shouldn't.

That said, Planet Zoo looks like it's a winner. We'll have more on the game once it sees a full release on November 5. Check back then.

Contra Rogue Corps' Nobuya Nakazato Tells Us If We Can Aim Up, Why the Game Has Pandas Mon, 23 Sep 2019 15:33:38 -0400 Jonathan Moore

While you wait for our Contra Rogue Corps review, which is currently on the way, you might be interested in what the game's Nobuya Nakazato had to say about the game ahead of its September 24 launch.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with him at a Konami event in Seattle, Washington, and while our conversation was brief, Nakazato-san shared some tantalizing details about the upcoming shooter. 

GameSkinny (GS): Historically, Contra has been light on story; its narrative is often minimal or told through the environment. Why did the team choose to emphasize story in Rogue Corps, and what movies, games, or other media inspired that story?

Nobuya Nakazato (NN): Contra has always been about two parties fighting together, so the story wasn't that important, but this time we are up to four players, so you need each character to stand out. It made sense to create the background story for each of them, having a personality for each of them. This is why we decided to put more focus on story this time. 

GS: There's a huge, gun-wielding panda in Rogue Corps, as well as a katana-wielding assassin fused to an alien. Contra has had some crazy characters — Brad Fang and Browny from Hard Corps come to mind — but how did the team come up with these wild examples?

NN: I'm a huge movie fan, manga fan, so I take a lot of influences from there. That's where the ideas start to come up. 

GS: Is there a manga or anything specific that you may have pulled from for the inspiration for these characters? 

NN: When it comes to [influences], I could quote the drama series the A-Team as an inspiration for this. [Laughs]

GS: I can definitely see that! Focusing on the gameplay, Contra typically has a fast, frenetic pace. There's a lot of running and constant gunning. In Rogue Corps, that seems to be dialed back a bit with weapons overheating, as well as the precision aiming mechanic. Why slow things down and was that a deliberate decision by the development team, or did it naturally happen as the game moved through development? 

NN: In this game, we wanted to include hack and slash elements. So you can customize your weapons, you can basically make one of your own from scratch. Having that in the game means you have to add a strategic layer to it.

To decide if you want to go for a super-powerful weapon, such as something that only has one shot before overheating, or something weaker but will overheat more slowly ... Everything is [built around] the purpose of adding a bigger, more strategic layer to the game. 

GS: I ran into Big Fuzz it appeared at the end of [the PS4] demo, and it really surprised me. I was glad to see a familiar face! What classic Contra enemies or bosses might we come across in Rogue Corps

NN: You will find old enemies making a comeback in this game, as well as old environments. You may come across some old stages from the first Contra as well. 

GS: Lastly, I have to ask: Can we aim up? 

NN: Actually, that's one of the things that you can customize on your weapons. So it's more like aiming up to aerial enemies [with certain weapons that you make or unlock]. And yes, it's straight up with the weapon you're using. [Laughs]  

Contra Rogue Corps was unveiled at E3 2019. The game features four-player co-op and PvP, as well as a single-player campaign and a plethora of modes. According to Konami, the game can take players up to 30 hours to complete. 

While it's not the best Contra game ever made, Rogue Corps is fun to play. Having only played the PS4 demo before this weekend, I admit that my stance on the game was originally very negative. But after spending almost four hours with the game since then, my tune might have changed just a tad. 

You'll have to wait and see in my review coming tomorrow. 

Contra Rogue Corps will release on September 24 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It is the first new Contra game to release since 2011's Hard Corps: Uprising for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. 

"Intimate, not epic": An Interview with Tequila Works' Raul Rubio Wed, 18 Sep 2019 14:58:59 -0400 Mark Delaney

From the show floor of PAX West a few weekends ago, I got to go hands-on with Google Stadia for the first time. Google's big bet that game streaming has arrived impressed me in my 30-minute appointment as I played some Mortal Kombat 11 and the upcoming DOOM Eternal

While both demos ran as smooth as any player would demand they should, neither is the foremost reason I'll be eager to get my hands on Stadia when it launches this November.

For me, the killer app is Tequila Works' GYLT, a Laika-like 3D adventure game launching exclusively for Stadia. I got the chance to speak with the Spanish studio's CEO, Raúl Rubio Munárriz, about their design process, how they're utilizing Stadia's unique features for the eerie GYLT, and what lies at the heart of Tequila Works.

GameSkinny: How long has GYLT been in production? Has it always been envisioned as a Stadia exclusive?

Raul Rubio: Around two years. GYLT was our answer when the Stadia team asked what could we bring to the platform then known as Yeti. There was a previous prototype version before Stadia, but GYLT has been designed with Stadia in mind.

GS: What ways is the GYLT team leveraging Stadia’s features to develop the game?

RR: Stadia changes the way you create. Simulated physics, AI and machine learning. Even on a single-player experience, we can use those amazing tools. For example, style transfer allows us to change the visual style seamlessly in real time. We can enhance the mood and atmosphere from eerie to melancholic to scary by “simply” changing how you see the world.

GS: GYLT was revealed as a horror game. How scary is it meant to be?

RR: It’s not gory horror, more like delicate horror. Less Wes Craven and more Guillermo del Toro. Respectful of the world and its inhabitants. Scary, but always at the service of telling an intimate story about pretty deep and dark themes.

GS: The game is described as letting players “hide from terrible creatures or confront them.” Can you talk about the way players do these things in the game? 

RR: Think of a sick hide and seek game. Sally is a little girl facing the physical manifestations of her fears and traumas. She is a fragile character, so using her wits is recommended over frontal confrontation. That means hiding and using stealth to avoid the monsters. Sally has plenty of tools at her disposal, though, so creating distractions or other tactics are available to the player.

GS: The character and world design of GYLT gives the impression of a child’s perspective corrupted by some kind of darkness. What was the process like designing this world? How did you come to this final version we see in the trailers? 

RR: Or more like how a child would face and understand that darkness that is twisting her reality. Magical realism was the way we made a world that seems believable but feels something else. Neil Gaiman was a great inspiration, as well as the beautifully crafted stop motion worlds of Laika and Aardman. A combination of physically correct lighting and materials but a very stylized and “hand-drawn” approach to architecture and characters.

GS: What else inspired GYLT, either in fiction or in reality?

RR: GYLT was originally inspired by a personal, real story close to us. It evolved thanks to working with psychologists specialized in the subject of bullying who introduced us to its deep complexity in a respectful way.

The fictional mining town of Bethelwood was heavily inspired by locations from Maine. The state was the main (no pun intended) visual reference, not only because of Stephen King’s tales (laughs) but because of its combination of history, people, and biomes.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline — and by extension Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — helped us shape the twisted and sometimes surreal nature of GYLT. Another unlikely inspiration was RiME itself.

GS: Video games are often very good about getting players to feel heroic or scared at different times, but less successful when it comes to making them feel sad or, as GYLT is described, “melancholic.”

Your previous work, RiME, is the most personally affecting video game I’ve ever played. Behind its own symbolism, GYLT looks like it’ll have a lot of emotional weight, too. What is the process like inside Tequila Works to ensure the player remains emotionally present?

RR: Thank you, kindly. We have been working on narrative structure for a long, long time. We decided many years ago that our stories would be interactive stories, a vehicle to touch the player, driven by their own feelings. As such, the kind of experiences we create are intimate, not epic.

We believe in telling stories worth being told, not excuses to justify fancy graphics or cerebral gameplay. We embrace the interactivity of our medium; we don’t telegraph a narrative and tell you how you should feel, but lay a structure with slots so players can develop their own emotional response.

Just like RiME was about grief, or Deadlight about solitude, or The Invisible Hours about exposure… GYLT is about blame. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate the victim from the aggressor; sometimes they can be both. In a sense, GYLT is not about judging or indoctrinating, but putting all those elements under the spotlight, and letting the player decide with their actions.

GS: Tequila Works’ history is consistently unpredictable. It’s impressive that one studio is responsible for an eclectic mix of games like Deadlight, The Invisible Hours, RiME, and upcoming projects like Groundhog Day 2 and GYLT. How many teams do you typically have working on different projects and what sizes are these teams? 

RR: I guess you can only expect the unexpected from Tequila Works, because we love to play with what audiences take for granted. We are pretty genre-agnostic, just like we are platform-agnostic.

Each creation tries to raise a question or answer one of our own. That would be pretty hard if you only make the same game over and over again I guess. That’s why we always aimed for Tequila Works to be a boutique studio.

Now, we are around 85 people in the studio, currently split in four teams. We just finished Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son and that team has moved to either GYLT, two new undisclosed projects or The Distillery, our small R&D team.

We are very flexible, and we have never put all the staff on a single project because that would be AAA territory, and we have been there, done that. Our team sizes change a lot, the smallest being one, strike teams are typically three, each Distillery “cask” is five, Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son was 18 at its peak, GYLT is around 35.

It’s all about the project scope. We try not to oversize because big teams require not only more “bureaucracy” but it’s harder for the creativity and spontaneity we're prideful of to flow in a less agile working environment.

GS: With that in mind, how does Tequila Works determine where they’re going next with their projects and why is GYLT the right game to make now for your studio?

RR: Tequila Shots and The Distillery, of course! They operate on a Game Jam basis and are responsible for the boldest, craziest stuff playable. Also proper R&D like new tech or tools, but mostly new future concepts with gusto.

Concepts come from the Tequila Shots (regular internal Game Jams) where people propose personal ideas. Everyone is welcome, no matter their background (financial and accounting have dreams, too!) and all ideas are voted on by everyone. The only requisite is answering the questions: “Where is the beautiful?” “Where is the crazy?” That’s how GYLT entered our lives; it was the project the team believed in.

I’m involved in all our projects, but we truly believe in career development inside the studio and that’s why David Canela is leading the GYLT project, with me as editor, creative supervisor, or executive producer, choose yourself. I provide constant advice and feedback, but I serve more like a counselor and “keeper of the mojo.”

New generations of talent slowly blending with hardened veterans to keep evolving is key for the studio to grow without diluting our culture. That means you can expect new directors in future projects. I’m full-time on The Distillery and a new project now, being half-time on GYLT and “the other one.” What’s the secret for double-full-time? Sleep deprivation and a grain of lawful chaos, that’s it.

GS: To date, Tequila Works has never made a sequel. Do you ever consider going back to any of your previous worlds, and if so, which ones?

RR: We have written sequel concepts for Deadlight — in all its Metroidvania glory... and RiME — I personally loved this one. We even prototyped the former. Again, maybe not the kind of sequel you expect. If you have finished both games you know what I mean.

I think we feel more confident working on original IPs. Even our sequel proposals are conceived as originals, thus Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son. Fun fact: one of the early incarnations of The Invisible Hours was a sequel to Deadlight!

GS: What do you hope stays with players after they finish GYLT

RR: Their integrity. Nobody should completely lose their innocence. Ever.

GYLT launches alongside Google Stadia this November, though no exact date has been revealed for either the game or the platform.

To learn more about GYLT and other projects from the always-busy studio, you can visit Tequila Works' website. Thanks again to Raul for sharing the view from inside of one gaming's most unpredictable studios.

Mythgard Impressions — A Plucky Challenger to the CCG Throne Wed, 18 Sep 2019 09:00:01 -0400 Jonny Foster

Being a free-to-play card game, Mythgard faces a handful of hurdles from the get-go. The already established might of Hearthstone, the power of Magic: the Gathering Arena, and the popularity of other free-to-play genre titles makes for a flooded market, causing lower-budget competitors to like flies.

Valve’s Artifact (though not actually free) is a notable victim, with its rapidly dwindling playerbase.

Thankfully, Mythgard, a plucky young offering from developers Rhino Games Inc., has a few aces up its sleeves that might give it an edge, particularly its monetization aspect. Like all free CCGs, Mythgard gives you the option to pay real money for card packs, but its approach is commendably user-friendly.

Not only can individual cards be crafted using an essence system similar to Hearthstone’s Dust, but the card packs can also be purchased with an in-game currency that you steadily collect across all modes of play.

This means that you never need to spend any money if you don’t want to, and though this is technically true of other titles, Mythgard’s pacing feels more organic than any other CCG I’ve played. All too often, CCGs make earning packs feel like a horrific grind, leading players to pay their way to a better deck out of frustration — or stop playing entirely.

Mythgard, on the other hand, feels like the Warframe of CCGs; an ethically paced experience, where a devoted community will likely spend money out of a desire to support the developer, rather than feeling that they have no choice but to pay their way to success.

The comparisons don’t end there, though; Mythgard also has systems that could do with better explanations.

The gameplay itself feels like a cross between Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering, with monster cards having single-digit numbers for attack and defense, and an associated mana cost, as well. There are no land cards, though, and cards must be discarded to earn additional mana or gems — a secondary resource that functions almost identically to mana.

Though reasonably simple to pick up, it isn’t aimed at a casual market, especially considering the additional rules that take more than a single match to master. What will keep players of all abilities coming back, however, is the great selection of modes to play, which range from a basic single-player story that leads you through various tutorials to multiple casual and ranked PvP options.

Once you’ve spent some time with the game and leveled up your profile, you’ll even find constructed and draft modes, with PvE versions that ease newcomers into Mythgard’s ins and outs, letting them get acclimated to the game before taking their decks and drafting talents to the game's PvP arenas.

There are also a number of puzzles in Mythgard, which give you a predetermined playing field and one turn to finish off your opponent. Though these offer a decent level of challenge and fun, the completion rewards are relatively low, leaving the mode feeling more like a minor distraction than a robust attraction.

The primary draw here, though, is the story mode, which blends gorgeous, comic-book-style narration with tutorials and duels. While the rest of Mythgard’s art might not maintain the lofty quality found here — the character portraits can look a little rough, in particular — the storyboards are wonderfully drawn.

The animations, on the other hand, become more of an encumbrance than they should be, often taking far longer than they need to. This slows turns — and, ultimately, matches — down to the point where my interest eventually began to wane. And it was this, along with the over-complication of some of its systems, that ultimately led me to put Mythgard down in favor of something else.

  • Variety of solo and multiplayer modes means there's always something new to try
  • Already a diverse selection of builds available, with good synergy between multiple colors 
  • Pacing is ethical and microtransactions are less egregious than other card games
  • Not the simplest set of rules
  • Tutorials still lacking in some areas
  • Some animations take much longer than they should

Despite putting up a good fight against the established might of CCGs like MtG, Mythgard ultimately lacks the finer polish to feel like a true competitor.

Hopefully, the Early Access will allow it the time it needs to work out the kinks and elevate itself to a higher standard, but it’s on the right track; having already played an earlier alpha build of Mythgard, it's plain to see that steady progress is being made towards improving the game as a whole.

[Note: A copy of Mythgard was provided by Rhino Games Inc for the purpose of this review.]

Monster Sanctuary Early Access Impressions: Monster Mash Wed, 11 Sep 2019 14:17:54 -0400 Jason Coles

Collecting and training monsters is increasingly common in games now. Thanks to the popularity of several Japanese series with ‘mon’ in the title, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of games where capturing and battling various fluffy and unfluffy things is the primary goal. Of course, each of these games has achieved varying degrees of success.

The good news is that sometimes, these games try and branch out a bit, and that’s exactly what’s happening with Monster Sanctuary.

Monster Sanctuary is a turn-based monster battler with Metroidvania elements. Which is the latest in a long line of games designed to either set your brain on fire with excitement or have you screaming as you dunk your head into the toilet.

(Please don’t dunk your head into the toilet, it’s not hygienic.)

We Did the Mash

You play as a Monster Keeper in Monster Sanctuary, but a brand-new, green behind the ears type. You are one of four spectral familiars that's available at the start. Once you've made your choice, you then you set off on your journey to catch ‘em all.

Wait, no. Wrong game.

You then set off to climb the ranks within the Monster Sanctuary and eventually save it from the sudden appearance of powerful Monster Champions who are threatening the peace.

To do this, you go around fighting monsters, killing them, and then stealing their unborn children. At least, that’s how it seems. You battle monsters and can occasionally get eggs as a reward. You can then hatch these eggs and add them to your party, which can consist of six monsters. However, only three can be in a battle at any one time, so you have to choose carefully.

It’s a fairly standard system, but what’s really interesting is the battle system. Each battle is 3 v. 3, and there are a number of factors to take into account during each turn. Elemental strengths and weaknesses are given to you on a plate, so it’s all about strategy.

As you make your way through your turn, you build up a combo meter which increases your damage. This means if you need to heal, you can do so to start your turn, follow that up with a small attack, then choose your heavy hitter to get an extra 50% damage to your attack.

It’s a great system and one that adds a massive layer of complexity to a seemingly simple turn-based game.

Skillz To Pay The Billz

There is a wealth of different buffs, skills, and attacks to use, too, each of which you unlock using the skill system as you level up your beasties. You can choose from different passive buffs, stat upgrades, and even unlock new skills or upgrade your current ones. Each decision matters, though, and that’s what makes the game feel so good.

Every choice you make in battle is relevant, but that includes the things you do before you’ve even started a fight. Equipping your team with the right gear can take them from timid little fluffs and mushrooms into a squad of deadly beasts, and picking which of those to bring into the fray with you can decide the battle all on its own.

The best part is that if you mess up in a critical fight, you simply pick up right before you started the fight. This means you can experiment to your heart’s content, and never worry about needlessly backtracking.

The game's exploration is good, but it's very standard stuff. You go around a 2D map knocking down hidden walls, eventually unlocking new skills as you go and revisiting earlier areas for secrets and loot. It’s fun, but nothing revolutionary, and it can often be a little confusing as to where to go next. Not that it needs to be perfect, because the combat more than makes up for it, but it's worth mentioning.

  • Wonderfully deep combat system
  • Charming music and visuals 
  • Lots of customization 
  • Some battles take a while
  • It's not always clear where to go next

On top of all of this, it looks good, sounds good, and plays well. Monster Sanctuary is already shaping up to be an excellent game, and that’s despite it only being in Early Access.

If things continue on the path that it has currently laid out, then it’s sure to be the kind of indie gem that fans will talk about for years to come.

[Note: An Early Access copy of Monster Sanctuary was provided by Team 17 for the purpose of this impressions piece.]

Solving All My Problems With Violence in Streets of Rage 4 Wed, 11 Sep 2019 10:13:06 -0400 Thomas Wilde

Streets of Rage 4 feels like… well, pretty much exactly what it is. A French studio teamed up with a French-Canadian studio to make a stylish, faithful sequel to one of the great idle franchises in video game history, with a soundtrack by the original composer and a few equally legendary collaborators.

In a lot of ways, this feels like a fan project, the same way Sonic Mania did. Streets of Rage 4 isn’t an attempt to “update the series for a new generation,” or any other kind of random cash grab off an old license. It’s an arcade-style beat-‘em-up from stem to stern, with most of the old tricks, gimmicks, and conventions firmly in place. It felt familiar, and I felt and comfortable with it from the moment I picked it up, just as if it hasn’t been 25 years since the last Streets of Rage game.

Streets of Rage 4 is a collaboration between three studios. Lizardcube (the recent remake of Wonder Boy 3), in Paris, is handling the art direction, while Montreal’s Guard Crush Games (Streets of Fury) is handling the programming and Paris’s Dotemu is providing design work. The latter is also publishing the game.

I will say that the visuals are the biggest change. SoR4 in motion looks like the animated version of a European comic adaptation of the series. It's as if someone threw a giant sack of money at the guy who draws Yoko Tsuno to have him illustrate those old Sega licensed comics that ran in the U.K. in the ‘90s.

SoR4 is supposed to be set 10 years after the events of Streets of Rage 3, but Blaze Fielding hasn’t aged a day, Axel Stone looks like he joined a grunge band, the nameless city they’re in is still mostly populated by garish ‘80s gang members and the occasional dominatrix, and many of the backgrounds are rich with that ‘80s New York style of urban rot that all the old arcade beat-‘em-ups got out of movies like Death Wish and Cobra. It almost feels like a period piece.

Streets of Rage 4 has a soundtrack composed by series veteran Yuzo Koshiro, as well as Hideki Naganuma (Jet Set Radio, Sonic Rush, the last couple of Smash Brothers games), Yoko Shimomura (Final Fight, Street Fighter II, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV), and Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden, Tecmo Bowl, The Messenger). If you’re the sort of person who sits around listening to 16-bit chiptunes for fun, you should probably plan on ordering the SoR4 OST now. This is basically a supergroup for the 16-bit era.

I got a chance to play Streets of Rage 4 at this year’s Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, at publisher Dotemu’s booth on the sixth floor of the convention center. They just handed me a controller and let me and a friend pummel our way through the game’s sixth stage.

The first thing I noticed, playing co-op, is that friendly fire is on by default, and according to a nearby Dotemu producer, cannot be turned off. Your worst enemy in Streets of Rage 4 is the person you’re playing with. The game was generous with its power-ups, so I was able to regain life by punching apples, hamburgers, and entire cooked chickens out of oil drums, but I wouldn’t have taken half as much damage if I wasn’t catching stray hands from Player 2.

I ended up playing as the newest character, Cherry Hunter, who’s the daughter of Adam from the original Streets of Rage. (Since Skate from SoR3 was Adam’s little brother, I guess the cross-city beatdown tour is now officially a Hunter family tradition.) Cherry felt like she was in the same mid-range zone as Axel always was, not too slow and doing decent damage, with the ability to bust out her guitar for an explosive chord that cleared the area around her.

One thing that did change in SoR4 from past games is that your special attacks still cost you small amounts of life, but it isn’t a permanent loss. Any life you spend on specials will regenerate a tick at a time as long as you don’t take any additional damage. The idea, according to Dotemu’s producers, is to make your special moves a risk vs. reward issue, rather than an emergency measure. As long as you can stay out of danger, you can freely incorporate your specials into your offense, which is great for clearing out sudden crowds of enemies.

That’s just one way in which SoR4 is a little kinder than the older games ever were. I remember complaining back in the day about a few other franchise revivals  like Contra  that kept a lot of the bad habits from the quarter-muncher days despite not being on an arcade cabinet anymore. Streets of Rage 4, though, at least in the stage from the PAX demo, doesn’t do that. You don’t have to memorize its patterns to avoid sudden cheap hits or deaths, the way that old ‘90s arcade games would in order to suck more change out of your pockets. It’s got a smoother, more intuitive difficulty curve.

Watching other people play SoR4, I did notice that I’d missed a few things. There are apparently a lot of secret moves and special attacks hidden in each character’s moveslist, the same way there were in Streets of Rage 3. There’s also at least one character that hasn’t been revealed yet, to go by the game’s key art. (I kind of hope it’s Busujima from Zombie Revenge, since this is suddenly the year for unexpected crossovers.)

I do wonder how Streets of Rage 4 will play if you didn’t grow up on arcade beat-‘em-ups. There’s a lot it improves about the original series the animation, the general difficulty curve, some of the basic mechanics but in a lot of ways, it’s trading heavily on nostalgia. The retrogaming guys I know are already hype for SoR4  Sega fans have been asking for a new Streets of Rage game since the Saturn was a thing but it’s enough of a throwback product that I wonder how well it’ll do with a brand-new audience.

Then again, it’s not a subtle genre. There are half a dozen guys over there with intact teeth, and your job is to go fix that. That will always have a timeless appeal.

For more coverage from PAX West 2019, be sure to head over to our PAX West 2019 hub

Hurry! We're Giving Away 15 Call of Duty Modern Warfare Beta Codes Tue, 10 Sep 2019 18:39:26 -0400 GS_Staff

The Call of Duty Modern Warfare beta period is almost here! In less than two days, those who pre-order certain version of the game will start to get access to the early beta period on PS4. Those on PC and Xbox One will get access starting September 19. 

But if you enter using the widget below, you don't have to pre-order to get early access to those beta periods. However, you have to act fast. Since we JUST got codes, we're only running this giveaway for the next 36 hours!

Each action will give you a certain amount of entries, meaning the more actions you perform, the more entries you'll get, and the greater chance you have at winning.  

Please note that must be 18 years or older to enter

Any of the information provided below is only used to contact you in the event you are chosen as a winner. 

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Pre-Order Beta Giveaway

When We’ll Announce Winners:

There will be 15 Call of Duty Modern Warfare beta keys given away and the winners will be announced September 12, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. EDT. The contest closes at 6:30 a.m. EDT on September 12. 

How Do You Redeem Your Code? 

Per Activision: 

  • You must redeem code at
  • You can then pick the version of the game/platform you want to play on, and you will be sent a code for that specific platform
  • You can then use your code and start playing on the dates below

When Do the Pre-Order Betas Begin? 

Per Activision, this is when the pre-order codes we are giving away will be useable for each platform: 

  • PS4
    • Sept 12-13
  • Xbox
    • Sept 19-20
  • PC
    • Sept 19-20

Codes will only be useable during the days listed above per Activision.

The open beta periods for each platform will begin shortly after each of the dates above, so you'll still have access anyway. To see the specific dates for each open beta period, head here

World of Warcraft Classic Impressions: Visiting Azeroth for the First Time Tue, 10 Sep 2019 10:31:13 -0400 David Jagneaux

My foray into the vast universe of MMOs began with EverQuest. For those unfamiliar, it was one of the very first graphical 3D MMORPGs ever made. It took a lot of concepts from Ultima Online's top-down 2D world and applied them to a fully-realized 3D adventure. In 1999, it was one-of-a-kind, and it's still going to this day, although it's nowhere near as popular as it once was.

In 2004, World of Warcraft released alongside EverQuest 2, and it doesn't take a history degree to know which game proved more popular. Blizzard's juggernaut wiped out all competition and is still, even 15 years later, the reigning MMORPG champion, boasting a massive fanbase.

But it's not the same game that it once was MMOs are persistent, living worlds that change and grow. Several expansions have dramatically altered the game's mechanics, added tons of new content and zones, and even changed existing ones.

Recognizing Influence

World of Warcraft Classic is like a time machine to a simpler time; a time capsule of what the world of Azeroth was like at its inception rather than the world that exists today. As someone that never played WoW other than perhaps one or two short times out of curiosity, approaching WoW Classic wasn't a walk down memory lane for me at all. It was more like entering a living museum that was reanimated as a sort of experimental roleplaying adventure.

The main difference between playing World of Warcraft Classic right now versus playing the original World of Warcraft when it launched 15 years ago is the state of the MMO market as a whole. Back then, it was still a niche genre that a very small section of the overall gaming community knew or cared about. For all intents and purposes, WoW was the breakout mainstream success that put the MMO as a whole on the map. Now we're inundated with MMOs across Steam, mobile devices, and consoles.

From free-to-play games, a handful of subscription-based options, buy-to-play MMOs, and a slew of shared-world games that borrow heavy inspiration from MMOs without fully committing to the design (such as Destiny, The Division, Warframe, Monster Hunter, and others) the concept of a persistent, shared world shaped by its players that exists as a living, breathing place is now the norm.

That's due in large part to Blizzard and World of Warcraft.


Is It Actually Fun If You Never Played?

I'm really enjoying World of Warcraft Classic, probably for most of the reasons a typical gamer in 2019 will hate it. My current modern MMO of choice is Elder Scrolls Online, and I love how streamlined and accessible it is with a heavy focus on exploration, world-building, and storytelling with its lateral progression rather than min-maxing and grinding along a gear treadmill. That being said, as far as MMOs go, ESO and WoW Classic couldn't be more different.

In ESO (and Guild Wars 2 for that matter) the entire world is leveled to your character. So if you return to a starting zone once you've hit max level, it'll still take a few hits to kill even the most basic enemies, and if you adventure into an adjacent zone while leveling up a new character, you won't get immediately murdered on sight.

The idea here is that now it's possible for everyone to play with everyone else at any time, in any zone. If your friend is 40 levels higher than you, at least you can do some quests or run dungeons together because levels have far less weight than in other games.

WoW Classic is the exact opposite of that. If an enemy is two levels higher than you, then you better hope you've got plenty of healing items or are ready to tuck tail and run away because it'll be a tough fight. Combat is very slow and methodical in terms of ability rotations and in general, you're not moving much while fighting.

In this way it borrows heavily from EverQuest before it, albeit with more flourishes. Levels are extremely important, as are gear and stats, for more so than pure skill in WoW Classic. You have to earn the privilege of being considered powerful, and you'll feel it when you get there. In a way, I really like that.

As much as I Iove ESO because of how it respects my limited time via its ubiquitous fast travel wayshrines, the streamlined guild finder and group finder systems, and all of the various ways it makes things as accessible as possible while still being fun  and results in a lot of what originally drew me to MMOs.

Most notably, it's the sense of being a small speck in a vast sea of possibilities. In WoW Classic, there is no group finder. If you want to run a dungeon then you better either be in an active guild or get familiar with the zone chat terminology really fast. Playing a tank or healer? You shouldn't have much trouble finding a group. If you're DPS, then it'll be a bit harder because of pure supply and demand.

In WoW Classic, people sell items by posting in various chats, bartering and seeking interested players. Kill stealing is a very real thing out in the open. Quest objectives aren't shared, so if you need to kill a certain enemy to finish your quest but other people are waiting on it to respawn, then you might need to literally get in line for the chance.


Grinding Like It's 2004

A lot of this sounds inconvenient, but it's designed in such a way that it makes the world feel more active and believable as a result. Rather than playing a game that's designed to funnel you from one piece of content to the next, WoW Classic gives you the tools but asks you to find your own fun.

One great example of this, something I initially hated but grew to love, is the quest journal. When you get a new quest from an NPC, there are no waypoints on your map, no mini-map icons, no compasses to point you in the right direction. You need to actually read dialogue and check your journal notes to see where you need to go. Reading directions from the log and using things like landmarks and environmental clues is essential. It reminds me a lot of what quest journal entries were like in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

A bit tedious and annoying, sure, but it contributes very strongly to that sense of presence and immersion that's so important for an MMO. It's a stark contrast to the auto-run feature in Black Desert Online, for example, which, when enabled, literally just makes your character follow a trail as they run automatically between quest objectives.

All that being said, other than some of the subtle nuances and trends I mentioned before, MMOs really aren't that different today than they were back then. You're still creating a character that starts mostly from scratch, completing quests, slowly leveling up and learning new abilities, finding loot, unlocking new zones and areas, clearing dungeons, grouping up with people, and so on. The progression, format, and designs are all basically the same.

This could be viewed as a huge compliment to WoW, that it apparently nailed the formula so early on it's had the biggest influence possible on the genre as a whole. But at the same time, it's a sign of the lack of innovation across the market as well, especially if I can boot up a 15-year old game and start feeling comfortable pretty quickly with very little hassle.

I don't know if I will stay subscribed to World of Warcraft Classic after the first couple of months, but I don't regret jumping in at all. It's refreshing to return to the genre's fulcrum point that took it mainstream, and I can easily see the polish and appeal.

If you're keen to try it for yourself, you can download Blizzard's game client and subscribe for a month for $15. 

“You Can Make A Good Living Off of Being A Bottom Feeder”: Jeff Vogel & Mariann Krizsan Talk Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror Mon, 09 Sep 2019 11:01:09 -0400 Thomas Wilde

Jeff Vogel is old-school in several different ways. As the owner of Spiderweb Software, Vogel has been an independent game developer since the days of shareware.

Spiderweb, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, makes 1980s-style fantasy CRPGs, such as the Avernum trilogy, Geneforge, and the series that started it all, Exile. Each game is primarily written, designed, and coded by Vogel, with assistance from his wife, Mariann Krizsan, and a handful of freelance artists.

Vogel often refers to himself as indie games’ “Crazy Old Uncle in the Attic,” and in that capacity, gave a speech called “Failing to Fail” at the 2018 Game Developers’ Conference. He also caused a bit of controversy earlier this summer with a couple of posts on his personal blog.

Vogel’s newest game, Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror, comes out on September 11. Funded by a successful Kickstarter last summer, Queen’s Wish puts you in the role of the youngest, rebellious child of Queen Sharyn of the Empire of Haven.

Up until the start of the game, your character’s life has been mostly spent partying. One day, without ceremony, you’re sent via a one-way teleporter to the distant, failed Havenite colony on the continent of Sacramentum. Sharyn charges you with bringing Sacramentum back in line and under Haven’s control.

Unusually for a Spiderweb game, Queen’s Wish offers a lot of different paths from here. You can opt to run your facilities like a tyrant, peacefully reforge diplomatic ties with the other races of Sacramentum, or ignore the Queen entirely and go wandering on your own. In another first for Spiderweb, Queen’s Wish also offers the option to rebuild the facilities in each of your allied settlements, using your collected resources to construct, supply, and enhance the shops and services in each one.

On August 29, I sat down for a conversation in downtown Seattle with Vogel and Krizsan to talk about Queen’s Wish, Spiderweb’s business model, and Vogel’s recent adventures in blogging.

(The following transcript has been edited for clarity.)

GameSkinny (GS:) I’m a little disappointed. I judge all fantasy-game character creators on whether or not I can make Lemmy from Motorhead, and you can’t quite do that in Queen’s Wish.

Jeff Vogel (JV): Because our budget for this game is so low, what we had to do was start with a core bit of art and expand it. For example, with the portrait system, there’s enough there to be a base, and get nice rounded faces. If there’s a Queen’s Wish 2 — fingers crossed  we’ll go to the artists and say, okay, now we need more faces, more beards, more this and that.

A Lemmy beard is definitely a good option. Because God knows I need ideas. I’m not an expert on hairstyles. For making these, I just did a Google for “hairstyles,” picked out a half-dozen that looked good, and handed those to the artist.

GS: You told me once that you have all sorts of freelance artists.

JV: Yup, about four main paid freelancers, but we are very, incredibly cheap in our budgeting. So we pull from a lot of good public domain art from all over the place. It tends to give our games sort of a schizophrenic appearance where the art doesn’t entirely blend together. But on the other hand, we can afford them. Keeping budgets low is very important these days for surviving as an indie developer.

GS: So the money from the Kickstarter was the entirety of your production budget on this?

JV: We still had some money kicking around. Pretty much always, the earnings from one game pay for the next game, and our games have super low budgets. It’s because the main product I’m selling is my writing, so the game is just a vector for the storytelling. I’m also pretty good at game systems.

But you know, we’ve never written a hit. We’re never going to write a hit. We make enough money from each game to write the next one, and pull salaries and health insurance out of what’s left.

GS: I got a kick out of that, with your recent blog posts (“I Am the Cheapest Bastard In Indie GamesandWhy All My Games Look Like Crap”) and the reaction to them on Twitter. The fans all reacted with various flavors of stark disbelief, and the pros all said, to paraphrase, “Yeah, that’s about right.”

JV: Our games, like most indie games, are a niche product. I’m only aiming for a small percentage of the gamers. If you show my games to a hundred gamers, 95 of them are going to say, “That looks really gross.”

But five will be like, “Hey, sure, I’ll try that out.” And you know, you can make a really good living out of being a bottom feeder, off of 5% of the gaming market.

GS: I was actually thinking that there are a couple of different people now in the indie space who are working with Patreon —

JV: Oh, yeah.

GS: — and are making a surprisingly good living off of it. These are games that have less development and less of a profile than yours do. I’m surprised you didn’t go there.

JV: I’m old-fashioned. We’re old. We come from a generation where you make a thing and you sell it.

Just moving to Kickstarter was a big step for us, but we treated a Kickstarter kind of like advanced sales, and that’s something we can wrap our old brains around. If it gets to the point where we’re really tight on money, we’re not so proud that we won’t pass the hat around and go onto Patreon, but we’re not quite at that point yet. We still want to make our living from just selling stuff.

GS: I’ve been playing Queen’s Wish. The last game of yours I played before this was the Avernum III remake, and this feels even more self-consciously old-school than that. Most of how you’re moving forward here is being able to put up buildings in your settlements, and the fact that your protagonist this time is actually a character rather than kind of a cipher.

JV: Yeah. You know, fantasy role-playing games are genre fiction. It’s like a novel, and you can approach it in just an enormous amount of different ways. Which is one of the reasons we write fantasy role-playing so much: because it’s a genre that you can do an infinite amount of things with.

As game designers, we believe we’ve barely began to scratch the surface of what you can do with fantasy role-playing games. One of the ways we stay sane writing them again and again is to break up the reality. Sometimes we like to do a game where your main character is a cipher, and then you put your own personality into that character, and in others, you have a specific role, and you have to decide what you’re doing within that role.

In Queen’s Wish, which deals with a very specific sort of political situation, with very different political problems, it really made sense for you to have a specific role that you had to either fulfill or rebel against.

GS: I did like how you’ve surrounded your main character with competence in a way that a lot of games don’t tend to. Most of the NPCs you encounter in Queen's Wish have their jobs under control and don’t need your help immediately, like the admiral at the entrance to the swamplands.

JV: Yeah, I love that. That was a lot of fun to do. In so many role-playing games, you’re just sort of a lone wolf, wandering around and beating up bozos. I wanted you to be a prince, with everything that comes with that. You’re wealthy, you have power, you have assistants, you have an army, you have forts, you have your own butler…

GS: I like that you can have your butler do a bunch of stuff for you, like give you a haircut, that has absolutely no mechanical benefit.

JV: [laughter] Yeah. A lot of the stuff is just there to contribute to a work of fiction. I love doing lots of things that don’t have game mechanics, that are there to just flesh out the world and make the player emotionally invested. Once the player is emotionally invested in the game, the mechanics are just more meaningful because you care.

GS: I’ve been running around hunting down books to add them to my records.

JV: I wish there were more of those. It’s just that there’s only so much time. It’s the two of us. I wrote most of them, Mariann wrote a bunch of them…

GS: [to Mariann]: I knew that you were his business manager, but I didn’t know you were involved in the creative side until just now.

Mariann Kriszan (MK): I do whatever he doesn’t want to do, or he needs help with. I’m kind of a jack of all trades.

JV: She assists with the design a lot. She often helps build the terrain in the engine, she writes a lot, and I just give her notes at the end.

So Spiderweb’s existed for 25 years. [as if suddenly realizing it] It’s our 25th birthday! Woo!

MK: Woo!

JV: And Mariann started working with me in ’96? ’97?

MK: Yup.

JV: And we’ve been partners ever since.

GS: I knew of your work because I grew up with Apple computers, and 90% of the Macintosh gaming library back then was what you got on the disc that came with copies of MacWorld magazine.

MK: Good times.

JV: Our business exists in large part because, a couple months in, we got our game onto one of those MacWorld discs. The sales boost from that was what enabled us to say, “Hey, this is a thing. Let’s make this a business.”

GS: I remember that the first Exile was one of the first times I ran into a lesbian NPC in a video game. There was a lesbian couple near the start.

JV: I’ve always been big on diversity in video games, in the character casts. Starting from our first game in 1994, you could have an entire party of characters that were female, or who weren’t white. At the time, that was a fairly radical thing. I got a lot of emails from people about it and thought, “Well, this is nuts.”

It wasn’t a big political stance at the time. It was just that I want as many customers as possible, so I want everyone to feel at home. It’s just more of an artistic statement. If I’m making a fantasy world from scratch, I want to have a wide variety of people in it. I want you to be in a world that feels big.

GS: One of the criticisms I saw going around, and I can kind of feel it with Queen’s Wish, is that it’s a four-character party. Why four, rather than more than four?

JV: Our first four games let you have a six-character party, and the last one of those I wrote came out in ’99, I think. Then I switched to a four-player party. In the Avadon games, it’s three characters, but usually it’s four.

I get asked again and again, why not six? It might be a good business idea to switch to six, because most people do four. The answer is: it’s an aesthetic feeling. I can’t put into words how I’m more comfortable playing games and running games with a four-character party.

It’s purely an aesthetic judgement, but part of it has to do with the fact that in my mind, when I’m playing four people, the amount of thought I have to give to each one is divided. It’s easier for me to give these people four identities in my mind than six. If I’m playing with a six-character party, I feel like it’s more of a crowd. I keep losing track of who everyone is and what they can do. If it’s four, I can always keep track of them.

MK: Six is also kind of an army.

JV: Yeah. It makes it trickier to balance.

MK: That’s the other big thing, yeah. Balancing a game is easier with four.

GS: So it’s a personal choice, rather than any kind of code limitation or what-have-you?

JV: Oh, yeah. I could easily do six. It’s just that for doing design and programming, it’s just me. I have to do something to enable my mind to keep a handle on it, because otherwise, I’m already on the ragged edge of being overwhelmed all the time. Sometimes, I just have to say, "I gotta do the simpler thing."

If you really want to get nostalgic, when I was a teenager, there was a game called Wizard’s Crown where you had an eight-person party. That’s the only game I’ve ever seen that had an eight-person party, and that came out around 1986, then disappeared from the face of the Earth. We learned from it very early on.

MK: Eight people’s just too many.

GS: Now that you mention it, I’ve seen more, but they were in turn-based strategy games rather than RPGs.

JV: One of the things about writing a role-playing game is that you have to be really careful with the cognitive load. A human being can only put so much mental focus into a game. So with Queen’s Wish, there’s a story and characters, and it’s really in-depth — I’m sorry, but I’m really happy with the story and the characters. That’s going to take up some room in the game.

There’s also a construction system, and the game’s system. I have to keep everything at a modest level so it doesn’t squeeze out everything else. I have to leave room in the player’s mind for every element.

GS: I can already tell there’s going to be a point in Queen’s Wish where I’ll hit a brick wall and have to start getting really interested in the construction systems, in order to squeeze out a few more upgrades.

JV: The construction system is fairly simple, partly for that reason. I don’t want people obsessing about their town builds so much. I want them to be going out, killing bozos, doing diplomacy and other stuff.

Also, if you’re playing on Normal difficulty, I always make Normal really easy because that’s by and large what people want. If you play on that, you don’t have to engage with the fort system a lot. You have to do it some, but not a ton. But when you play on Veteran or Torment difficulties, then you really have to know what you’re doing with building houses.

GS: My party build right now is a front-line sword-and-shield guy, then a spearman, an archer/support mage, and then an offensive caster.

JV: Yep. It really supports the standard buildout. With four people, it’s usually two melee, a support, and a mage, or some mix of that. But I’ve been finding in testing that people are coming up with crazy stuff. Someone will come to me and say “Melee is way overpowered in this.”

Someone else will come in and say, “Oh, yeah, magic is way overpowered. Don’t bother with melee at all.” I love when that happens. Everyone thinks they have the one, true build.

GS: I’d feel like magic was more powerful if not for the fact that your area-of-effect spells just munch energy, and that everything has such a high miss chance in the early game. It’s not uncommon for me to catch an entire enemy group with one spell, but miss half of them.

JV: But it’s still worthwhile. Everything just has its limitations.

One of the unique things about Queen’s Wish, which for things like this I really like, is that respecs are free. You can return to town and retrain everything.

So, on the highest difficulty level, when you’re going to an area where you know you’re going to face a certain person, you have to really modify your build. There are abilities that seem really bad at first, like silence, that suddenly on a high difficulty level become necessary for certain situations.

GS: I was wondering about that. You’ve got a lot of tools in this game that don’t seem like they’re necessary now, like all the combat abilities where you have to use up a turn first to set them up.

JV: It’s a buff on your next attack. So, for example, there’s an ability where your next attack does regular damage and stuns. But also, and this is one of the coolest things about it — I really tried to emphasize this in the game, but I’m not sure a lot of people are gonna notice — you can do that with any attack. It’s not just melee.

GS: Oh. No, I hadn't picked up on that.

JV: So your archers can do that, too, or your mages with their wands. Most people assume that a buff like that is only going to be on their melee weapons, but you can give an archer all of these optional abilities, so they can do crazy stuff all over the battlefield.

GS: I just pictured my archer suddenly pulling out Green Arrow’s boxing glove arrow.

MK: [laughter]

JV: Or just aiming it in such a way that it hits them in the head. Everyone’s going to have their own mental picture.

I really like that system. I don’t think a lot of people are going to notice that system, but what can you do?

GS: Well, now that you’ve told me, and I’m planning to run this interview, that’ll be something.

JV: Yeah. Y’know, I’m old, and I’m burned out.

GS: I was wondering about that, and some of the tweets you’ve made. I know a few people who are looking forward to Queen’s Wish, but one of the things they’ve talked about is that every so often, you tweet about how tired you are, and it worries them.

JV: Okay, first of all, no one should feel bad about me. We’re living a great life. Nobody should feel the slightest bit of pity for us in any way.

A lot of the reason I’ve been saying I’m so tired is because, with this game, I really wanted to prove I’m not a hack. I’m not burned out. I’m not out of ideas. I’m not just sort of coasting on past glories. With this game, I wanted to leave everything on the field. And it’s been exhausting.

I’ve been working on this game on and off for five years. I first had the idea for this game five years ago.

GS: Yeah, we talked last year, when you said you were about to do the Kickstarter. I wasn’t expecting to hear that the game was done for a while yet, let alone that you’d have something playable as soon as you did.

MK: A lot of the stuff was already done on paper.

JV: I’ve heard some people call the Kickstarter a glorified shit post. I’m like, "Oh, my God, we worked on this Kickstarter for months." Like, the video on the Kickstarter page?

MK: [knowing laughter]

JV: I had to program the game to make that. I love it so much. It’s like a vertical slice of the entire game. All of the systems are in that.

Making the Kickstarter took forever. But the thing is, it showed. For the people who were paying attention and cared about what we’re doing, it showed, and that’s why the Kickstarter made so much money.

So by the time the Kickstarter came out, we were already… [groans in mock fatigue]

MK: And then you can’t stop.

JV: And then you’re like, "OK, now it’s time to do the real job."


GS: I know a lot of people who really appreciated the Scroll of Absolution Kickstarter bonus, where you forgave people for ever having pirated one of your previous games.

JV: Yeah, that was something that did really well.

We’re probably going to keep Kickstarting games. The indie games business in 2019 is so ugly and murderous that you cannot afford to let any angle go past, and Kickstarter is a chance to do advanced sales, and sell Scrolls of Absolution. It’s just a little extra safety margin, to get a little extra money, which is necessary.

We added in Kickstarter the ability for backers to contribute designs, to create items, characters, and quests, and I have to say, that has been fantastic. I was worried.

MK: We were like, “Oh, no. What are we opening the doors to here?”

JV: But the items we got, the characters, the ideas, were just solid gold. I was reading these ideas, and I was like, “I’m getting blown out of the water. I’m getting put to shame. I can’t wait to put this stuff in the game. This is fantastic material.”

GS: You apparently have an impressive fan base.

JV: Yeah. I didn’t get ideas for lore from them. I got things like, “I want an item that does this, or one item that does this sort of thing.” So all the best weapons and items in the game are based on user suggestions.

Then someone said, “I want an item that does this, but also has this weird side effect.” I said, “Okay, I’m gonna have to go into the engine and reprogram this, but it’s such a cool idea. Hell yeah, this is great.”

And the quests. One person made his backer quest with his kids, and what they came up with… it’s just silly and weird and really big. He wrote to me and said, “This is so goofy. My kids came up with it. I’m not sure you’re going to want to put it in.”

I’m like, “Oh, no. This is totally going in. It’s nuts, but it’s really neat.”

GS: So, out of curiosity, let’s say someone comes forward with a lot of money, somebody trustworthy, and says, I want to bankroll your next project. Suddenly, you have a budget. You can hire people. What would you do?

JV: I’d want one or two real artists. I’d want a coder who’s good at programming art, because the thing is, a lot of the problem with our visuals is not just not being able to afford art, but having a person who’s good at programming art. Maybe I'd get somebody who’s good at programming Unity, so I can make that switch.

I’m actually pretty good at managing people. I have to manage a million freelancers all the time. I’m constantly giving people directions. My freelancers tend to really like working for me. They do it for a long time.

If you gave me a budget, I’d hire artists, and a sound designer, and programmers, and an extra designer who’s really good at writing. I could be very comfortable sitting at the top and just spinning out the story, but with enough backup and support to really do it justice and give it a lot of detail. It’s a beautiful dream.

But you know, there’s no shortage of good designers. People will sometimes ask me, “Why don’t you sell out? Why doesn’t someone steal you away and put you in charge of a larger product?” Because, you know, you throw a bunch of money at me, I’ll write you a crackerjack roleplaying game. But a lot of people can do that. There’s a million designers out there.

GS: With the sheer density of video game studios in Seattle, especially right now, I’m surprised no one’s tried to grab you.

JV: No, everyone gets their designers in house. Being a designer is the dream. That’s the ice cream slot. Everyone wants to be the one who does that. If Microsoft or Bungie wants to design a game, they’re almost never going to pull someone from outside, because they’ve got a million people right outside their doors clamoring for that job, and a bunch of them are probably just as good as me.

If a company wants to write a role-playing game — well, God help them, because it’s a difficult genre to make money in under any circumstances. [as an aside] Rest in peace, Bioware. There’s going to be someone inside the company who’s just going to be champing at the bit to write their roleplaying game for them.

GS: I was playing Queen’s Wish last night, and it really made me realize the degree to which this sort of game hasn’t even really fallen out of style, but has just gotten hybridized with everything else.

JV: And that’s what keeps us in business, to a large extent. We treat video games, role-playing games, as a storytelling medium first and foremost. We want a really good story with lots of words.

Indie game developers do best when they pick up the genres that the larger companies have dropped. Right? I’m a bottom feeder. I look for a niche that is not being served elsewhere, and I serve that. The industry is moving away from games with lots of words, but there’s still a demand for that. There will always be a demand for that. So that’s what we satisfy.

When I go to Mariann and say, “We need more words,” nobody else is saying that.

MK: That’s true.

JV: Everyone else is trying to get rid of the words.

GS: I can’t imagine trying to translate one of your games.

JV: It’s just never going to happen. It’s not worth it.

MK: Too many words.

JV: Localizing one of our games to French or what-have-you would cost a fortune and take a lot of time. It’s just not worth it. That’s another reason why we’ll probably never be on consoles, because they tend to want games that are very "localizable." You can get a game that’s all English on a console, but it’s hard.

GS: Honestly, I want to get Queen’s Wish working on a gamepad. I feel weird about click-to-move.

JV: We’re working on it. Already, today, I’ve spent some time prototyping the interface for Queen’s Wish for iPhone. It’s going to be our first game on the iPhone. I don’t know how well it’s gonna work, but we’re gonna give it the old college try.

GS: I remember seeing a lot of people who were happy about your previous games being available on mobile.

MK: It’s a good medium for it.

JV: It goes really well, it’s portable, and it’s neat. It was a Kickstarter goal to get Queen’s Wish on the iPhone. So we’re gonna work on that really hard as soon as the game’s out, and get the port out on iPad and iPhone by the end of the year. I’ve already started laying the groundwork, but really grinding out the code will start after the game comes out on Windows and Mac on [September] 11, via all the standard stores. Steam, GOG, Itch, our site. Not Epic.

GS: You’re not putting it on the Epic Games Store?

JV: [cheerfully] Nope!

Well, you know, I’m not going to lie. If Epic walked up to us and offered us a gigantic bag of money so we didn’t have to worry about earnings for a couple of years, I’d take that deal. Every indie would take that deal. This business is terrifying.

GS: [laughter]

JV: Everyone here is three bad days from going out of business. Of course everyone’s going to take the Epic money bag. It’s just that I’m not good enough for it. Our games are too niche and too low-budget to get into that club. But you know, no hard feelings.

Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror is available for sale on September 11.

PAX West 2019: In Predator: Hunting Grounds — Only the Strongest Will Get to the Chopper Fri, 06 Sep 2019 12:55:27 -0400 Mark Delaney

Insomniac's Spider-Man really makes you feel like the webslinger. Arkham Asylum really makes you feel like the caped crusader. Marvel's Avengers makes you feel like Thor. 

At the risk of sounding cliche, Predator: Hunting Grounds really makes you feel like the predator or at least, I assume it does. Having played it at PAX West 2019 as one of the jungle soldiers, I experienced really feeling like my guts were being swiftly removed from my stomach. 

The predator is fast, fearsome, and formidable, and just like Illfonic's other asynchronous multiplayer game, Friday The 13th, it feels like the developer may have cultivated a special breed of multiplayer gaming.

Loading out as a four-person contingent of commandos, my PAX West team headed into the jungle armed to the teeth. Each of us chose one of the several classes of soldier available; I went for the Scout class, which packs an SMG and has increased mobility at the cost of some vitality.

It's usually a tradeoff I'm happy to make, but minutes later, I found myself wondering if that extra speed would have ever really made a difference against the eponymous hunter.

What Predator: Hunting Grounds does well is pacing. There are no illusions that someone is out there playing as the camouflaged creature, hunting you down, waiting to strike. But since you don't know when that stalking player will attack, you must carry on with your mission schlepping that creeping weight.

Each mission is meant to be multi-faceted and move you from place to place within a small hub; complete all the objectives and eventually, ahem, "get to de choppa!"

But that is so much easier said than done. The predator is a killing machine, just like it is in the movies. While you're distracted with time-sensitive objectives and firing back at enemy AI soldiers, the king of the jungle will eventually make its appearance. And when it does, things get scary — fast. 

These signature moments highlighted my demo. Second by second, I could feel the creature getting closer; I could tell my team was getting eviscerated by the hunter. It was all the more reason to push forward, to not stop and watch it happen.

Strangely, I felt like a Wall Street executive shredding documents as the FBI banged on the door. My attempts felt futile, but in my haste, there was no better option but to continue on.

Eventually, I was the only teammate still completing objectives, amazed that the predator hadn't come for me yet. I spotted a downed teammate. I hurried to revive them, and then, as I got them to their feet, it happened. Like something straight out of the movies, the predator launched its forearm blade directly into his chest, killing him instantly. 

It was terrifying and awesome at once. We couldn't have scripted it any better.

From there, it picked us off, one by one, almost feeling as if it was toying with us. We didn't make it to the helicopter, and few did at PAX. Time will tell if the monster needs to be nerfed, but for now, it felt like poor teamplay was the mechanism of our failure  and that's how it should be.

For more impressions from PAX West 2019, be sure to head over to our PAX West 2019 hub

PAX West 2019: Once Upon a Time In Roswell is a Promising Mix of Aliens and Noir Fri, 06 Sep 2019 10:58:19 -0400 Mark Delaney

Some things in life just go well together. Peanut butter and jelly. Sports and junk food. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. 

Other things don't immediately jump out as obvious pairings. Extraterrestrials and film noir is one such duo. But even as you'd be right to ponder such a combination, you'd also be quick to realize their pairing potential — especially after you played Once Upon a Time in Roswell.

From the pre-PAX ID@Xbox Open House, I was able try out a 20-minute demo of the upcoming first-person horror game just hours before it was revealed at TinyBuild's PAX press conference. With a plot happy to warp every preconception, I came away excited to see more of this fascinating mix of aliens and noir, sci-fi and style.

At the start of my demo, all the usual hallmarks of a classic noir were present. The private detective's desk was blanketed in miscellaneous documents and soaked in the setting sun. The PI's moody monologue waxed poetic about his recent workload, the Peterson Case, which was also the former project name of Roswell

Walking the halls of an office building, I solved puzzles and recounted moments from my investigation, chatting up my inner self with musings that felt plucked right out of the golden age of 50's noir. Given the title, I expected aliens, too. Somewhere.

But before I encountered anything from beyond the stars, I saw ghostly flashbacks of a family floating in a black ether, reminiscent of the paranormal visions haunting the game's recent reveal trailer (seen below).

As I continued along, I began to suspect that aliens wouldn't show up after all until they finally did. Speaking with reps from TinyBuild, I excitedly asked, "Is this an alien game?" Much like the demo they had put in my hands, they were cryptic. Eventually, though, they admitted the title keeps giving it away. 

Thankfully, it doesn't seem like Roswell's story hinges on players being ignorant of the significance of Roswell, New Mexico. Even when E.T.s arrived in my demo with an entrance reminiscent of the birthday home video in Signs, I was still left wondering if there was more behind the veil.

The visions I had seen already told me something darker may be stirring in Roswell, and like the detective at the center of the story, I felt like I wasn't going to rest until I solved one of the strangest cases he I had ever been faced with.

While my thoughts continued to make little sense of the story, it was partly because this was a demo, and I was lacking context, but I sensed the narrative enjoyed shrouding itself in enigmas regardless. 

Is it a noir tale? Yes, it's absolutely that. Is it an alien game? It seems to be for now. Is it all just a twisted metaphor for a family crippled by tragedy or anger or turmoil? Some early signs pointed to that, too, and the overall confusion I felt when I left my seat is why it's been on my mind for days. 

Once Upon a Time in Roswell could go in many different directions, and the thrill of the unknown is leading me down its inevitably dark path. I can't wait to see more. 

For more coverage from PAX West 2019, be sure to head over to our PAX West 2019 hub

PAX West 2019: No Bones About It, MediEvil is Another Nostalgic PlayStation Trip Thu, 05 Sep 2019 14:21:15 -0400 Mark Delaney

When Crash Bandicoot got his remake a few years ago, critics and fans were unanimous in their adoration of the collection. The same happened soon after with Spyro the Dragon's trilogy. Then, Crash Team Racing got its moment in the sun earlier this year. 

Each outing has been awesome for new fans new and old, and the projects have amassed a ton of goodwill for these properties which laid dormant for so long.

Fittingly, it's now the undead Sir Daniel Fortesque's moment of resurrection. I went hands-on with the first two levels of PlayStation's overhaul of the cult classic, and I found in it the same nostalgic thrill all recent remakes have given me. 

I was never really sure what the lasting impression of MediEvil was among the gaming public. I liked it a lot when I played it on PS1 as a kid, but we had a lot of weird games back then, and there was no internet to tell us the consensus opinion.

With this remake forthcoming, it seems I wasn't nearly alone in my appreciation for the difficult but lovable game as I thought.

The remake truly plays out just like those aforementioned recent remakes do. It's shot for shot the original, perhaps recrafted right over the old code like Crash and Spyro apparently were. If you played MediEvil decades ago, you'll immediately travel through time.

Waking in the crypt, reading tutorial tomes, and gathering your weapons all looks and feels exactly as you left it, only now it's much prettier, even with a layer of the macabre decorating the entire world.

Heading out into the graveyard is another immediate blast from the past. It's amazing how much one retains of influential titles without realizing it. It was like I remembered where to go and what to do, even where the zombies would sprout up.

If there's one element of MediEvil you'll struggle to welcome back, it's the button-mashy combat, where Fortesque chops at the undead almost aimlessly. He's quick with a sword, especially for someone with no muscle structure, but it still feels less than reliable.

No matter how fast you can hack away, the enemies sometimes land a few hits on you. 

This could be a long-term issue for the game when later sections get really tough. Nobody likes feeling as if the game let them down. It's easier to accept when it's our own fault, and MediEvil sometimes doesn't feel that way, just like it's always felt.

I played just the first two levels, but the second stage also left me stranded without a shield during a platforming section where a shield is vital.

It's these sorts of old-school design flaws that annoyingly come along for the ride in the same way the original Crash Bandicoot still features depth perception issues.

But for those that recall how the game once behaved and can accept it might be like that again, MediEvil will be a challenging experience, though ultimately one that is still full of simple fun and great imagery. 

What's a few broken bones along the way?

For more PAX West 2019 coverage, including more hands-on impressions, be sure to head over to our PAX West 2019 hub

PAX West 2019: Disintegration is More Than the FPS You Might Expect Thu, 05 Sep 2019 12:49:31 -0400 Mark Delaney

When the selling point of your new IP is that it comes from one of the co-creators of Halo, you automatically paint a particular image in the minds of players.

That's how the world was first introduced to Disintegration, a brand-new sci-fi shooter from V1 Interactive, being published next year under 2K's "indie" label, Private Division.

You'd be forgiven for expecting something of a reskin of tried and true first-person shooters with that proud pedigree dominating its marketing materials, but Disintegration goes much deeper than that. In fact, its design is, as far as I am aware, unrivaled in all of games.

By uniquely combining elements of the FPS and MOBA genres, Disintegration is poised to be a trailblazer in competitive gaming.

Hands-On With Disintegration

After a brief introduction from one of V1's developers, the PAX audience and I were split into two warring teams. The 5v5 game mode felt a bit like Capture the Flag, but to say it was precisely that is underselling it. Really, the mode is an amalgamation of CTF and RTS.

In the mode, each player loads out in their choice of hovering vehicles called gravcycles. Some are slow but sturdy, others are agile but vulnerable. Some are clad in '80s colors, others look like Mad Max ambassadors.

With these various functions and factions, you're meant to feel like this is a hero shooter of sorts. Mastering each cycle and customizing their look will be a big part of Disintegration when it launches.

Hitting the battlefield with four other teammates, we were each also responsible for a ground team of AI combatants.

Depending on the gravcycle you choose, you have between two and four soldiers awaiting your orders. This is where things morph from a familiar sci-fi shooter to something much greater. With 10 human players fighting for control of two bombs one team defends while another tries to plant each gravcycle is also responsible for the boots on the ground.

This makes for a refreshing ballet, not just because the gravcycles float around the battlefield like Olympians, but because every player has a lot to consider. You can take on other players' gravcycles directly, but it's clear that the best players simultaneously bark orders to their soldiers with the intuitive click of a button.

These AI grunts behave according to the context, too. Highlight an enemy and they open fire. Move them to the bomb, and they try to plant it. Order them to use some of their special abilities, and they do so. Leaning on its MOBA influence, maps even have noticeable lanes where players can send their troops to play offense or defense.

With a round full of rookies, the match was absolutely chaotic, with battles often colliding in one central location while we all wrapped our heads around the flow of the action. In time, though, Disintegration looks like it will grow from a hectic mess to a calculated esport where laying back and playing strategically is often just as valuable as running ahead twitch-shooting hoverbikes.

Smart controls and an already obvious risk/reward element form the foundation of a shooter that will no doubt find footing with at least a pocket of passionate fans. How big Disintegration gets from there is a guessing game, but it's a risk 2K is taking its chances on.

The game certainly doesn't look like an indie, or really anything less than a big-budget shooter, but its unorthodox setup will probably turn some curious players away once they find there's more to this than another Halo.

But then, we don't need another Halo. Disintegration is going for something new, and this amalgam of MOBA principles and ubiquitous shooter mechanics is itself a fascinating risk/reward proposition of multiplayer game design.

Disintegration will launch with a full single-player campaign alongside this and other multiplayer modes in 2020. I'm curious to see if the gambit pays off, and I'd wager Disintegration will win over enough fans to birth a new subgenre.

For more PAX West 2019 coverage, including more hands-on impressions, be sure to head over to our PAX West 2019 hub

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Early Impressions — Solid And Snappy Multiplayer Mon, 02 Sep 2019 11:32:37 -0400 David Jagneaux

In just a few short weeks, the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Open Beta period will begin.

Ahead of that, though, I stopped by the Call of Duty World League Championships that took place on the UCLA campus a couple of weeks ago to check out a demo ahead of time before trying out the public Alpha test shortly after that.

It's been a long time since I've attended an MLG event for a shooter, and the hype was in the air just as strongly as ever. The venue was really impressive, and the play from all of the contestants was on another level, much like the multiplayer elements of the upcoming soft-reboot I was able to try out.

Fighting With Guns

Both of the demos I played specifically focused on the 2v2 Gunfight mode. In this game mode, you and a partner are pitted against two other players without respawns in a series of showdowns.

Each time a new match begins, everyone is issued new weapons. In this way, it's a bit like Gun Game since weapons switch, but in Gunfight, everyone always uses the same weapons. Consequently, it's a true test of skill and map knowledge.

Since there are no respawns in this mode, the stakes are extremely high and communication is key. Every time I played, I played with a stranger, and if that stranger wasn't active on the mic, we usually lost. It's extremely hard to coordinate in a game mode like this without being able to speak to one another.

In a way, it's a stark contrast to the K/D/A ratio-focused experience of most other Call of Duty modes.

The variety of guns the mode forces you to use is refreshing as well. Some maps have long, corridor-style kill lanes that can make rounds extremely short if a headshot is pulled off near the start, but then, if you get shuffled to a shotgun, the dynamics suddenly become very different as you have to try and close ground more quickly.

Hopefully, Activision and Infinity Ward can keep this mode fresh and actually release updates with new maps and new content semi-frequently given that balance considerations are far less complex in a world where all players will be using the same gear each round.

While I'm still eager to try out the full multiplayer experience, including the large-scale 100-player matches in the newly revamped Ground War mode, Gunfight nicely scratched my Call of Duty itch.

Analyzing Game Flow

If you've followed the game's marketing and previews at all, then you know the developers are taking a much more grounded approach with this entry, focusing heavily on gritty realism especially for the single player campaign.

Admittedly, that's the part I'm most excited to experience, but multiplayer is obviously the biggest draw for the franchise as a whole.

While I wasn't able to get a good feel for how the overall multiplayer meta will be affected with the current changes, in terms of moment-to-moment feel, this is the snappiest and best feeling Call of Duty game I've played in years.

I enjoyed Call of Duty: WWII for a while, but bounced off of Black Ops 4 fairly quickly. I never got into Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, or Infinite Warfare at all, and the last time I really actively played the series was around the Modern Warfare 1-3 and Black Ops 1-2 era.

Since then, it just hasn't felt the same to me.

But from what I've seen, Modern Warfare looks to return the series to its fundamentals (in a way) while also modernizing and retooling things under the hood. It seems odd to have another game with the exact same title in "Modern Warfare," but the developers have expressed that to call it anything else would be inaccurate.

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot is set to release on October 25 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC and will feature cross-platform multiplayer for the first time in the franchise's history.

However, you can jump into the game as early as September 12 for the Multiplayer Beta if you pre-order. All date variations can be found here.

For more on the reboot, head over here for everything we know on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, from release date to every single trailer and more. 

Blasphemous Demo Impressions: Bloody Delicious Mon, 02 Sep 2019 11:16:41 -0400 Ty Arthur

Exploring a somewhat similar style to both last year's Death's Gambit and this year's Dark DevotionBlasphemous delves even further into subversive religious inversion, providing a truly disturbing and deliciously evil retro platforming experience.

While all three games clearly spring from the same basic influence, multiple entries in this retro style is a good thing, giving players choice if one title or another doesn't suit their fancy. 

Although we've only played the recent limited-time demo for the game, here's what we think of Blasphemous so far. 

Dark Style & Bloody Substance

While exploring twisted dungeons and crumbling castles, The Penitent One hacks and slashes his way through a horde of religiously-themed enemies.

What exactly does he need penance for and what the hell kind of messed up world do these characters live in? Don't expect any straightforward answers; this seems like the kind of game where atmosphere and level design are more important than steady story beats.

Clearly, the name should tip you off to what this game is all about. But in case it didn't, your mileage with Blasphemous may vary based on personal religiosity. There is a lot of, well, blasphemous content here. 

If you see a bloody guy carrying a giant cross and your brain thinks "torture porn" before it thinks "Jesus," you'll be at home here.

Aside from that, one of the biggest draws for Blasphemous is its devilishly dark pixel art style, complete with insanely bloody animations and crazy execution moves like beheading, dismembering, disemboweling, running through with fiery candelabras, and more.

Enemy types and weaponry are extremely on-brand, as it seems like everyone is carrying some sort of religious guilt that gets turned into a means to kill. 

However, Blasphemous isn't quite as devastatingly hard as the other two recent titles in this style. That's primarily because the developers ditched the Souls-style stamina meter. There is a recovery period after dodging, so you still have to time things properly, but it's not as prominent a mechanic as with other such titles.

If you take the time to learn enemy patterns, it isn't hard to get through any given section in terms of combat. The real challenge arrives when there are multiple enemies on the screen and traps in a hallway all working in tandem.

Taking out one flying pope with a trident isn't that difficult, but when you're also dodging flying projectiles and trying not to get skewered by spikes or knocked off a ledge into oblivion, you've got a challenge on your hands. 

While the demo only featured a single boss, the giant level-ending enemies already show quite a bit of promise. Notably, boss attacks get more powerful and cover more of the screen when they are low on health, it seems, making these lengthy fights extremely tense.

Metroidvania For The Next Gen

Besides ditching the stamina meter, Blasphemous is a little more Castlevania and less Dark Souls than recent games in this styletoo. There are, among other things, hidden castle walls to break and limited item shops to be found.

The game is also a bit more forgiving if you screw up a single dodge or combo, and you get two health potions to use before you die and the enemies respawn.

That being said, Blasphemous is still more deadly than something like Symphony Of The Night. In terms of gameplay, this is old-school platforming to the max, where you have to time jumps perfectly and strategize ladder climbs to avoid projectiles, enemy attacks, and an ever-more devious number of traps.

A skill tree offers up abilities to unlock that have that proper old-school SNES feel, and some will bring to mind the glory days of platformers like Mega Man X. In my playthrough, I was partial to an ability that lets The Penitent One get in an attack at the end of a dodge roll. Since you're going to dodge roll like mad anyway, you might as well get a kill out of the deal. 

While the platforming style is workable with a keyboard (I played the demo the whole way through that way), a controller would probably feel smoother and more intuitive. 

The Retro Bottom Line

Between its pixel graphics, platforming level design, and animated cut scenes, Blasphemous is a game banking on your nostalgia before utterly disgusting you with an insane level of wonderfully heretical violence.

If I have one major complaint with the demo it's that the voice acting is rather poor, as its very noticeably low budget. 

However, since we've seen a small portion of the game so far, there are also still some question marks about the full version, like how much backtracking is going to be involved while exploring the map. 

An answer to that question will be here sooner than later, though, as Blasphemous is slated for a September 10 release, which makes it unlikely there will be any major changes based on feedback from the demo.

If this style strikes your fancy, you can wish list the game or join in the discussions about the demo over on Steam.

Cyberpunk 2077 Deep Dive Reveals Character Choices and Pacifica Details Fri, 30 Aug 2019 15:20:36 -0400 Ty Arthur

Between E3 and Gamescom, the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 keeps building as CD Projekt Red keeps dropping new juicy tidbits.

Today we saw a 15 minute deep dive live stream along with an interview featuring members of the level and quest design teams. 

While what we've seen so far seems to have no particular connection to that first jaw-dropping teaser trailer back in 2013, the extensive character creation options and new hints of the branching prologue options look very promising.

Plus, we got to hear the breathtaking Keanu Reeves unexpectedly say the phrase "rat's dick" so that's something!

Today we got a glimpse at three character "life paths" to choose at the start of Cyberpunk 2077:

  • Nomad
  • Street Kid
  • Corporate

Based on what we saw, they appear to serve somewhat as cross between the Etiquette options from Shadowrun Returns and the starting background package in Dragon Age.

Which group you choose will impact quests throughout the game long after the opening prologue segment.

We also learned there are no standardized classes, and instead players will make their own classes by choosing skills and assigning perks to skills. The deep dive video focused on three types of builds:

  • Strong Solo - Terminator fantasy who tackles problems head on
  • Techie - Hardware class with a Flathead robot to command
  • Netrunner - Stealthy hacker who handles situations behind the scenes

That final option in particular seems to open up the playstyle options as main character V can hack people, objects like cameras and turrets, and even the background environment like vending machines.

On the flip side of that, it appears some enemies can hack you and mess with your vision and shooting abilities.

Aside from character options, the deep dive showcased a new look at the actual cyberpunk elements themselves, like getting into a bathtub full of ice -- which is a very different take on connecting to a digital world than with Shadowrun or The Matrix.

Out in the real physical world, V took some time to explore the bombed out Pacifica district, which was originally a swanky upscale area filled with high rises that were never finished and is now is host to dangerous gang warfare.

Vastly different from other areas we've seen in previous teasers, Pacifica is dominated by Haitian refugees and the hacker gang The Voodoo Boys, who approach cyberspace as a sort of holy religious place. 

If you missed the live stream, here are the two big take aways you need to know about:

  • Cyberpunk 2077 is extremely non-linear with a big focus on choice, both in overall play style and in specifically how you want to complete missions -- including mostly pacifist runs
  • Night City was designed by real world city planners focused on giving players enough interesting elements to interact with that they won't want to use fast travel

Are you looking forward to the game arriving on April 16, 2020 and what character type are you hoping to play? Sound off in the comments below!

All You Need to Get Your WoW Classic Guild Started on the Right Foot Fri, 23 Aug 2019 21:26:42 -0400 GS_Staff

World of Warcraft Classic is right around the corner, and with it will come leagues of current and prior WoW players flooding into the game and trying to get their footing in old Azeroth.

Part of getting that footing is being a part of a guild, whether as a leader, an officer, or a rank and file and sharing a big part your WoW experience with that group.

A few years ago, MMORPG guild-leading veteran Elliot Lefebvre wrote an extensive and long-running series of guides on being a part of and leading a guild, most heavily focusing on effectively running a guild without running it and its players into the ground.

We've collected this series of "guild guides" in one place so that you can go into Azeroth with the right community mindset. These are particularly useful for guild leaders, as these articles touch on a lot more than just the base social aspects of running a guild: managing conflict, running events, effectively recruiting, tiering leadership, and more are covered in these articles.

Without further ado, for your perusing pleasure, here are Elliot's fantastic guides to running a guild in a productive and sustainable manner, and to being a productive and helpful member of any guilds you may be a part of down the road.

Guides and Tips for Guild Leaders

Guild Recruitment and Promotion

Guides and Tips for Guild Members


We wholeheartedly wish you the best adventures in your return to Azeroth of yore, and hope you don't get ganked too many times in STV.

If you're a current or prospective guild leader, check out our sister site Gamer Launch and its tools to build and maintain a guild website. You don't have to have a website to run a guild, but it certainly helps organize your members and keep them engaged with one another.

Interview with Duolingo: Come for the Spanish Lesson, Stay for the Gamification Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:59:32 -0400 Mark Delaney

It wasn't long ago that parents told their children that video games would rot their brains and get in the way of their vital schoolwork. Today, we know that the two can coexist quite peacefully. We also know that gaming can even lead to the improvement of some facilities in the brain, such as problem-solving.

On mobile platforms, there's perhaps no better expression of the relationship between games and education than Duolingo, the language-learning app with nearly 28 million monthly active users.

After watching my wife enjoyably grind German lessons for two days earlier this summer, I began to pick up Duolingo, and it quickly became my go-to mobile game. It's a funny designation for an app that helps me brush up on my Spanish.

What makes Duolingo so addictive is its gamified user experience. You can compete in weekly leaderboards and climb the ranks like you would in Overwatch or Rocket League, the game regularly awards you with in-game achievements, and you're rewarded with XP for returning daily and hitting your self-made milestones.

You can even participate in double XP events and spend in-game currency on cosmetics for the app's mascot, a green owl named Duo. Mine is currently dressed like a superhero. Clearly borrowing a lot from more traditional games, Duolingo has carved out its own space, blurring the line between play and instruction and studies keep telling us it's working.

To learn more about the intersection of gaming and learning, I spoke to Duolingo's Senior PR Manager Michaela Kron about the company's vision for gamified learning, which video games inspired Duolingo's design, and just how many people are taking lessons on High Valyrian. Dracarys!

GameSkinny: Duolingo is heavily gamified to keep users engaged. What specific resources, like studies or other examples in educational gaming, did you consult to build Duolingo?

Michaela Kron: From the very beginning, we knew that in order to be an effective learning resource, Duolingo needed to offer a fun and enjoyable experience that kept people coming back. When you’re trying to learn a new language, daily practice is key in order to get the most out of it.

However, the hardest part of learning a language is staying motivated to keep up with it. This is why we felt it was important to make Duolingo feel more like a game than a traditional study tool. Teaching something as complex as foreign languages through an app presents a unique challenge that isn’t found in classroom settings, since we
don't have a captive audience and our learners can easily turn to many other forms of entertainment and distraction.

Many members of our team are avid gamers and draw inspiration from the games they play. One specific game technique that we’ve adopted is “appointment mechanics”, as evidenced through our daily streak feature.

This means that
in order to succeed, a user must return to Duolingo at least once per day and meet their daily goal in order to maintain a streak. We reward learners who come back to Duolingo each day with in-app currency that can be spent on various rewards. Not to mention, besides the reward, the streak on its own is a powerful motivator for many of our learners! 

Another key part of our approach is A/B testing and iterating on all new features before they are rolled out widely to all users. In doing this, we want to make sure that any changes to the app or website experience are optimized for improved engagement, learning, and more.

GS: What does your data tell you about how these gamified mechanics of Duolingo influence the way people use the app? 

MK: When we first launched Duolingo back in 2012, our next-day retention for users of the app was 13%. Now, next-day retention is 55%, which is on par with successful mobile games rather than education apps. This has a lot to do with the gamified elements that have made Duolingo a highly engaging learning platform. More than half of our nearly 28 [million] monthly active users take lessons in the app at least once per week.

GS: What are some unexpected user behaviors that have manifested during the growth of Duolingo? 

MK: As mentioned before, we have found that maintaining a streak is very motivating for many of our learners. In fact, some learners form such an attachment to their streak that when they lose it, they reach out to us asking whether there’s any way to restore it.

We’ve heard this from people in more extreme situations, such as those who were in the hospital and didn’t have access to Duolingo, or experienced power outages as a result of natural disasters like hurricanes. This summer, we’ve heard from a few younger learners going to camp for a certain period of time (without their phones) asking if there was a way to preserve or repair their streaks upon their return.

We have also seen numerous
tweets from people who end up doing their lessons while at nightclubs so as not to lose their streaks. 

Something else that’s been pleasantly surprising is the unexpected fan love we’ve gotten from learners who celebrate streak milestones in unique ways, like this person who made a cake to celebrate a 1-year streak.

GS: I find myself competing daily in the leaderboards to maintain the very top spot  currently fighting through the Sapphire League but I wonder how a leaderboard group is chosen.

For an app of 30 million people, what’s going on behind the scenes that groups me with a set of 49 other people? How are those competitors chosen?

MK: With the Leaderboards, you are grouped chronologically according to when you complete your first lesson of the week, together with people in the same League as you (the people who are in your League would have finished their first lesson of the week at around the same time as you).

This makes it so that your cohort is filled up nearly instantly and so that you never have an empty group.

"Next-day retention is 55%, which is on par with successful mobile games rather than education apps."

GS: Did any specific video games inspire any elements of the app? Does Duolingo have a lot of gamers in the office?

MK: Yes, several of our team members are gamers and gaming enthusiasts, and we’ve been inspired by a few different games over the years; Clash Royale, in particular, is a favorite around here.

We have also hired people who previously worked in gaming; for example, our VP of Product formerly worked for Zynga, where he was a lead developer of FarmVille 2.

Because gamification is one of our core differentiators as a learning platform, our team members are encouraged to play games and consider which features of those games might apply to Duolingo.

Proposed features are then A/B tested across portions of our user base, and if the tests are successful, they then get rolled out widely for all learners on all platforms.

Last year, for instance, we introduced the biggest redesign to Duolingo’s courses in years:
Crown Levels. This added a lot more content — including more challenging content — to each course by introducing the ability to get up to Level 5 in each skill of a given Duolingo course.

While this was a big improvement to the learning experience on Duolingo, the feature was actually inspired by a similar feature in Clash Royale – a popular game among many of our employees.

GS: What other elements of video games might you like to implement in the future?

MK: We're always thinking about how to make learning languages on Duolingo a more social experience, since social interaction is so critical to language learning. We're also thinking about how to extend the gamification elements we already have in place to encourage learners to explore and engage with some of our newer products and features, such as the Duolingo Spanish and French Podcasts, Duolingo Stories, and Duolingo Events.

Imagine earning XP for attending a Duolingo Event in real life, as an example. While there are no concrete plans in place for this, it is something we have been thinking about.

GS: Do you have any plans to implement live multiplayer lessons, either something competitive or maybe something like a classroom setting?

MK: Not at this time, though that is an interesting idea!

GS: The app also offers some languages from fiction like High Valryian from Game of Thrones and Klingon from Star Trek. What do the statistics reveal about the way people are interacting with these courses?

MK: Our High Valyrian course now has 1.03 million active learners and is our 14th-most-popular course for English speakers, and our Klingon course currently has 472,000 active learners.

The popularity of High Valyrian in particular is not all that surprising, given the overwhelming significance of Game of Thrones in pop culture over the years. We find that our High Valyrian and Klingon courses are popular among fans of GoT and Star Trek, respectively, as well as language enthusiasts who want to try something new and experience languages that are very different from others that they have previously studied. 

One interesting observation we have recently made is that our High Valyrian course tends to be a “gateway drug” of sorts to other courses we offer on Duolingo; in fact, we’ve found that 44% of people who came to Duolingo to learn High Valyrian went on to practice other languages.

GS: Duolingo just announced a partnership with Twitch, the video game streaming platform. Can you talk about your intentions and hopes for this program?

MK: We have partnered with Twitch to showcase multilingual streamers from around the world as a resource for language learners. Learning a new language requires exposure to a variety of media like books, movies, and music. We believe games and streaming content are a more interactive form of media that can help learners improve their language skills.

Duolingo streamers are not language experts, and they’re not language teachers. Rather, they provide new ways for viewers to engage with foreign languages by giving them somewhere fun to listen, practice, and learn. 

Overall, we have been very encouraged by the response to our partnership with Twitch and the launch of the Duolingo Verified Streamer Program. Many of those in the streaming community are excited about this partnership and all of the possibilities that come along with it in terms of opening up new ways for people to engage with the languages they’re learning.

We always hear from people who learned a language from watching TV shows or listening to music. Our hope is that in a few years, we'll start hearing from people who learned a new language from watching streamers on Twitch.

"We’ve found that 44% of people who came to Duolingo to learn High Valyrian went on to practice other languages."

GS: How effective has Duolingo been with helping users learn a language? What sort of measurements are available?

MK: An independent study conducted by the City University of New York has shown that 34 hours on Duolingo are equivalent to a full university semester of language education. Our team of learning scientists and curriculum experts is constantly working to improve and evolve the learning experience on Duolingo.

In the last few months, we have revamped some of our most popular courses, including Spanish and French, in order to help learners get to a higher level of proficiency. These courses now each feature over 800 new words and many new grammatical structures, as well as dozens of illustrated tips on grammar, pronunciation, and common phrases.

And more content updates are underway! There is more information about these recent updates in
this blog post.

Thanks to Michaela and Duolingo for taking the time to speak with me. You can find Duolingo on PC, iOS, and Google Play. The app is free with ad support, although it offers a Plus subscription starting at $6.99 a month.   

Half Truth Interview with Richard Garfield and Ken Jennings Wed, 21 Aug 2019 16:31:09 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

What do you get when you pair the creator of Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield with Jeopardy! World Champion, Ken Jennings? Turns out, it’s a brand new board game currently on Kickstarter called Half Truth

Produced by Studio 71 along with Nighthawk Games, Half Truth will be the go to game on game night when you want to see which one of your friends has the bigger brain. With Ken Jennings crafting the questions and Richard Garfield creating the board game infrastructure, Half Truth is the perfect choice to show off your knowledge (and learn some new facts as well).

I was lucky enough to talk to Richard and Ken about working together on Half Truth as well as all things board game related.

GameSkinny: From Jeopardy genius to board game creator, what drew you to create Half Truth with Richard? What challenges did you and Richard face while creating the game?

Ken JenningsRichard is a game legend, so when he tracked me down to ask if I wanted to work on a trivia game with him, it was a real highlight. It was like King Arthur asking you to join the Round Table. 

The big challenges for me in editing all the trivia in the game were, first, to make sure there were no factual goofs, because that would be embarrassing, and I'd get angry emails from unforgiving, pedantic trivia fans, and second, to make sure the game had a question for just about anything someone could be a well-informed "geek" about nowadays.  Hairstyles, punctuation, pastries, reality TV ... we wanted to make sure that whatever your thing is, the game has a question about it.

While the game has the trivia master in Ken Jennings, the other side of the duo is no stranger to the card game genre. Richard Garfield is the creator of Magic: The Gathering, which is one of the most successful card games ever!

GS: Magic: The Gathering is one of the most popular card games in the world, what brought you to create a knowledge-based board game?

Richard GarfieldI am interested in all games, and I encourage all new designers to play games outside their comfort zone and learn what makes them appealing to their fans. After reading Braniac, I realized I hadn't done that for trivia games in any serious way, and Ken's book jump started me down that path. Of course, I had played such games before, but I had viewed them as narrow games that were dominated by players with useless knowledge. 

Braniac got me to view such games as, potentially, at least, a lot broader than I had before  where every player has a chance to shine, since everyone has their own unique knowledge. It also made me realize not all trivia questions are a matter of, "I have the knowledge or I don't." The best questions can involve leaps of intuition and metagaming and educated guesses.

When you see Ken Jennings and trivia in the same sentence, you tend to think of his historic stint on Jeopardy!. For Half Truth, I was wondering if we were going to be answering simple questions or ones that you would see during Final Jeopardy

GS: What style of questions can players expect to be stumped by when they play the game? Is there a large variety of difficulty between questions? Are they just generic trivia questions or are they separated into broad categories?

KJ: The game works like this: each card has a category on it, like "Animals with blue tongues." Then there are six possible answers listed, three right and three wrong, and players have to place bets on which answers they believe are the true ones. 

If you're the trivia know-it-all in the room, you obviously have an edge, but everyone can play along on every question and have a good time. I think people will be surprised by how well they do. We're all smarter than we think.

GS: What was it like working with Ken on Half Truth? What were some of the challenges that you faced while creating the game?

RG: It was great working with Ken; he was very open to learning what worked best for the special form of question we have in Half Truth; and he was good at sharing his broad knowledge of trivia question construction to educate us to make them even better. And, as I suspected from his books, his tone had an excellent amount of humor and playfulness for our needs.

The biggest challenge in the game's creation was probably that our skill at making questions increased throughout to the point that we had to constantly go back and improve what we had done before.

Board games are meant to play with friends. Some board games (Monopoly) take friendships to a whole new level by destroying them. Where does Half Truth lie on that scale?

GSWill friendships be broken because of this game like other board games, or is this game more of a learning experience to give you more knowledge just in case they get their shot on Jeopardy!?

KJJeopardy! is cutthroat! This is a comparatively chill party game. I hate playing a trivia game and feeling stupid on half the cards. This is a trivia game designed to make people feel smart. 

If your friendships suffer, that's a personal issue of your own, and Richard and I accept no legal liability.

GS: Is this a game to show off how smart you are to your friends? Or is it a game where you can learn new info as you play?

RGIt is both. There is a wide range to the sorts of questions, and everyone should be able to find something they have unique knowledge of. Also, every question has three true and three false answers, so you have a 50% chance of answering correctly even if you know nothing, but a lot of the time, you will be able to improve those odds even if you aren't 100% certain.

For example, Words in Lady Gaga's "poker Face:" a) Moolah b) Chess c) Muffin d) Russian e) End f) Spades. Here, someone who knows the song can get all three correct for a nice bonus. Someone like me has heard the song but doesn't know any words outside "m-m-m-m-y poker face," but I still have hooks into the question, I can make educated guesses on what isn't a word and what is likely to be among the many words I don't know.

I could even see myself  if I was behind and needed to press my luck  guessing two of them. I really can't see myself guessing three unless it was my only chance to win the game.

GS: While card games always had a spot on store shelves, they have been starting to find a new home on phones and tablets.

Do you feel that the digital game is a lesser experience compared to being in person at tournaments? Or do the digital games offer a better experience and allow for people to enjoy the game and possibly migrate to the physical game as well?

RG: There are pros and cons. Nothing can replace getting together in a single room with friends and playing a game. It is a wonderful way to socialize and connect in this world where people are increasingly networked yet often increasingly physically isolated.

However, the convenience of having access to players any time, and having a moderator (the device) which takes care of all the busy work and makes sure everyone is playing correctly ... these are real boons to a game player.

And, while I don't think you can replace face to face game play, digital social worlds are meaningful in their own way and their value can't be discounted.

GS: Are there any inspirations from current board games or past experiences that helped you design this game?

KJ: A lot of it came from a childhood of watching Jeopardy! Jeopardy! taught me that trivia isn't just retrieving facts, it can be like solving a puzzle or a riddle. You're not just playing against your competitors; you're trying to analyze and outsmart the person who wrote the clue.

I think Richard and I were also influenced by trivia games like Trivial Pursuit where everyone has to sit around and wait for one person to answer each card, which we hated. In Half Truth, everyone gets to play on every single question. 

GS: What were some of the early prototype ideas for the game before you both agreed on the final design?

RG: The architecture of the game was complete before Ken was involved; and it took a few months of tinkering with ideas before I got that to a place I liked it. Of course, in a game like this most of the value is in the content you deliver with it — and Ken contributed around half the questions, and helped us identify what made questions work best.

You could say that I provided the hardware  the game rules  and Ken was the lead programmer.

When someone interviews Ken, you have a responsibility to try and stump him with some hard to answer questions. So I did my duty and tried. 

GS: You are one of the most prolific game show contestants, and you are now creating a board game. Without using the internet, can you answer these board game-related questions? One: What was the European name of Chutes and Ladders before it came to the U.S?

KJ: Snakes and Ladders 

GS: Correct! Two: Who was the original designer of Monopoly?

KJ: Ugh, I know this and can't come up with the guy's name. I thought about this all morning and eventually remembered that Alfred Butts is the name of the guy who invented Scrabble. I think I should get partial credit.

GS: Partial credit was given. The original designer of Monopoly was Elizabeth Magie. Three: What year was Settlers of Catan created?

KJ: I first played it in 1998, but I imagine it had been kicking around Germany for longer. 1996 maybe?

GS: It was originally created in 1995 by Klaus Teuber. Super close! 


Whether you are a certified brainiac or you are looking for a new board game for your weekly game night, Half Truth is there to give you a challenge that will teach you some new fun facts as well.

You can support Half Truth on Kickstarter right. The game is expected to ship starting December 2019.

GameSkinny would like to thank Richard and Ken for taking the time to talk to us. 

We're Giving Away 5 Keys for PixARK on Steam Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:19:24 -0400 GS_Staff

Just in time for the release of PixARK's Skyward DLC, we're putting on our builder boots and giving away 5 Steam keys to one of the cutest sandbox builders around.

If you love games like Minecraft, Dragon Quest Builders, and even Ark: Survival Evolved, you'll find something new to love here, too! Dinosaurs? Check. Gobs of craftable items? Check. Outrageous, quirky adventure? Check! 

To enter for your chance to win, all you have to do is use the nifty widget below!

Each action will give you a certain amount of entries, meaning the more actions you perform, the more entries you'll get, and the greater chance you have at winning.  

Please note that must be 18 years or older to enter

Any of the information provided below is only used to contact you in the event you are chosen as a winner. 

PixARK Giveaway

A free key to PixARK will also give you access to the recently-released free DLC, Skyward. Players will face off against a nefarious alien race dead set on removing every mineral from the world of PixARK

According to Snail Games, the DLC brings: 

  • Floating Island Map: A map spanning 10 distinctive island biomes, each featuring new creatures and cube types.

  • New Ruins: Players can take on special bosses, from Cobaltianian offers, Behemoth and the Ghost Dragon King to obtain special equipment and armor, or drop into Wyvern nests to hatch their own Wyvern. [There are also] fresh biomes and creatures, with new types of loot waiting to be obtained.

  • Summon Bone Creatures: Skeletal bone creatures and Fossil Cubes can be found throughout the new map. Players must defeat bone creatures or harvest Fossil Cubes to obtain Fossils. With enough fossils, explorers can venture to the Summoning Altar to summon their own tamable Bone Creatures. 

  • TEK Technology Engrams: Players can now infuse engrams with TEK technology to create advanced mechanized items, including new swords, guns, grenades, shields, armour, saddles and other useful materials.

When We’ll Announce the Winner:

There will be 5 PixARK Steam keys given away and the winners will be announced August 28, 2019 before 5 p.m. EDT. The contest closes on Tuesday, August 27 at 11:59 p.m EDT. That's less than a week away: Good luck, everyone!

Indie World Showcase Reveals Ori, Risk of Rain 2, Eastward, and Much More Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:06:42 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo aired its fall Nindies showcase today, just in time for the start of Gamescom this week. It's the usual mix of existing titles and brand-new indie offerings, with some big surprises and hits thrown in for good measure.

Let's get started.

Ori and the Blind Forest

The rumors were true. Moon Studios and Microsoft are bringing Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition to Nintendo Switch on September 27. This evocative metroidvania features gorgeous art, atmospheric music, and all the challenge you'd expect from a finely crafted game in the genre.

Risk of Rain 2

Another high-demand title is coming to the Switch as well: Risk of Rain 2. It's the 3D follow up to Hoopoo Games' smash-hit original roguelike Risk of Rain. It's set to launch sometime this summer after an outpouring of requests from fans asking the game to be ported.

Check out our early impressions of the game on PC here

Upcoming Releases


Chucklefish's latest game is called Eastward. It takes a Stardew Valley approach to building community and relationships — but sets it in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It also places a greater emphasis on combat and resource management.

There's also a central story based on a mysterious young girl living in an underground facility. Eastward is set for a 2020 launch date.


Roki from Polygon Treehouse is another dark fairytale game, but unlike others that place the player squarely in the protagonist role, the player might just be the monster in Roki. Boasting gorgeous graphics and a mysterious story — plus friendly animals — Roki will launch sometime in winter.


Another new announcement is Youropa, from Frecle a gravity-based puzzle platformer. It's set in a surreal, seemingly post-apocalyptic world that needs rebuilding — and you can rebuild it however you want alongside your customizable avatar. Youropa releases sometime this winter.

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened

The hit tower defense game Dungeon Defenders is getting a sequel of sorts called Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. It puts up to four players together to build their way to victory and cut through mobs of invading enemies across a plethora of locales and environments.

It's a timed exclusive on the Switch and will launch in February 2020.

The Touryst

Shin-en is bringing another game to the Switch with The TourystThe Touryst is a blocky sim-and-exploration game that sees the tiny protagonist exploring a strange island with a split personality.

On the surface, the island is the average tourist destination, but underneath is a set of ruins and bizarre puzzles hiding a big mystery. The Touryst will release in November 2019.

Earth Night

The endless runner genre has seen a bit of a lull recently, but that's about to change with Earth Night. Featuring lovely 2D pixel art, over-the-top environments, and dragons — lots of dragons — Earth Night challenges players with the usual endless runner material: make it through alive, and gather as much as possible. Expect it sometime later this year.

Old Favorites


Skellboy isn't exactly a new release — sort of. It's been up for a while on Steam and was first shown off last December.

Part average Zelda-like exploration and action game, part body-swapping simulator, Skellboy lets players exchange body parts to overcome challenges and save the world. Skellboy will finally be available for purchase December 3.

Torchlight II

Torchlight II is also making its way to Nintendo Switch, with its signature manic action and quirky settings. It'll also have an exclusive pet unicorn when it launches on September 3.

Today's Releases


Superhot is a shoot-and-slash physics game, letting players take control of time and space to try and survive in a world full of heat signatures and death. It's out today on the Nintendo eShop.

Hotline Miami Collection

Devolver Digital's Hotline Miami Collection has been around on other platforms for a while, and it's making its way to the Switch today. It contains both classic Hotline Miami games on one download — and that's a lot of explosive action.


The indie scene on the Switch has been vibrant from the beginning. Nintendo is apparently keeping its promise to cultivate good relationships with a variety of developers, even former rivals, with something for almost everyone on the way in the next six months.

FIFA 20: Everything We Know — Release Date, Gameplay, Cover Athlete, and More Tue, 13 Aug 2019 13:56:32 -0400 RobertPIngram

FIFA 20 is set to launch for everyone on September 27, with three days of early access for those who buy the Champion or Ultimate editions of the popular soccer sim.

With the Premier League having kicked off this weekend and the other major leagues set to shortly follow suit, excitement is high and fans can't wait to get their hands on the updated rosters to try out their club's newest signings.

If you're counting down the days until FIFA 20 debuts, here's everything we know — and everything you need to know — about EA's next offering, including gameplay, ultimate team, and more.

VOLTA Football Will Change the Game

The biggest criticism that sports series receive is that they don't often need yearly editions. The problem of paying full price for roster updates and minor tweaks every year culminated in a class-action settlement over the Madden series, which added no fire underneath developers to add real value from year to year.

The best way to do that is to add something which changes the players' experience drastically, and that's what VOLTA aims to do.

Played on a smaller pitch with walls, and teams of just three to five players, the developers promise the mode will offer a whole new way to play FIFA.

It's Street Football, Not FIFA Street 20

EA has experimented with soccer outside of the standard 11-on-11 simulation of FIFA with FIFA Street, but fans should not expect a redux of the shuttered franchise in VOLTA.

While FIFA Street was an arcade-style game in the same mold as NFL Blitz, VOLTA aims to instead continue its real-world simulation experience, just one different than full-side matches on professional pitches. Players will still behave realistically and respond to the game's standard physics engine.

Flair is The Name of the Game

Where the mode sets itself apart, beyond the changes in numbers and dimensions, is the focus on skilled and showy maneuvers. Just like real streetball artists, players in VOLTA can perform eye-catching moves which don't just beat opponents but also embarrass them.

In order to develop these talents, players progress with a system ripped from the RPG world: skill trees.

Co-ed Play is Possible

While female representation has remained an area where FIFA has made strides but also stumbled, VOLTA finally offers fans the opportunity to play games with men and women at the same time.

As you build your squad of players, you can mix and match from male and female performers.

Online Co-Op is Not

The announcement of VOLTA was widely met with excitement; however, one concern was not being able to launch a full squad of created pros to take on opponents as a unit. While couch co-op is available, as yet, there is no ability to fill your squad with your online friends.

The good news is you will still have the option to take the game online in seasons mode, earning promotions and relegations as you go.

Career Mode Borrows Some Familiar Features

For offline play, Career Mode is still king, and so it's no surprise to see EA pouring resources into the mode, especially with the loss of The Journey. There's a lot to like about the announced changes so far.

Football Manager Mode

While FIFA remains the clear leader of its field, even if Pro Evolution Soccer provides a stiffer test than some of the other major sports' also-rans, that doesn't mean it's the only game in town for fans of the sport.

For players less interested in the on-field side of the sport and more interested in the men and women behind the scenes who make it happen, Football Manager is the undisputed top dog, and EA has taken a few pages out of Sports Interactive's playbook.

Press conferences will play a bigger role in FIFA 20, as will text-based conversations between players and managers. The decisions made by gamers while carrying out these conversations can lead to shifts in morale and future performances on the pitch. A happy squad is more likely to perform well, and morale will also be altered by playing time, club results, and personal form.

The generation and development of players have also been changed in an effort to more accurately represent reality.

This means an increased range in the amount a young player's height and weight can develop, as well as more accurate racial distributions when regarding generated players. Development of all players will also take on a dynamic effect, with great seasons increasing a player's potential for the next year, allowing for large leaps by young players or helping to hold off decline for another year with veterans. 

Women on the Sidelines

While VOLTA may be the only mode which allows women onto the pitch alongside men, there is now nothing stopping gamers from playing as a female manager pacing the sidelines. It's a simple tweak, but one which allows everyone to see themselves represented on screen.

This ability for anyone to immerse themselves is further bolstered by the advanced customization options for your manager's appearance. Not only does the game let you choose your personal style, ranging from the business-appropriate look of a CEO to the more relaxed approach of a Newsies cap and khakis, but you can fine-tune your facial features to find just the right look to create the manager you want to see on screen.

Career Mode Odds and Ends

Here are a few leftover tidbits worth mentioning: 

  • Increased initial wages add flexibility to squad building
  • Defender costs are on the rise, reflecting a similar shift in the real world
  • Opposing AIs will make better choices with their lineups, ensuring strong lineups for big fixtures
  • The fixture algorithm has been tweaked to avoid congestion 

Madrid Represent on the Cover, for Real

Few peripheral notes in gaming draw more hype than who will get to grace the covers of annual sports sims. The good news for the world's best international footballers is that landing a spot on the cover of FIFA doesn't carry the same stigma of a cursed season that American football players face when they end up as the face of Madden.

With FIFA 20, three men get the honor of resting on your game shelf, with your choice of edition choosing cover athlete.

Standard Edition Cover Athlete: Eden Hazard

When Chelsea sold Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in a summer where they were forbidden to buy a replacement, many viewed it as a poor omen for their upcoming campaign. For Real Madrid, however, it has proved to be even more of a boost than expected as they gain not only one of the world's elite attacking forces, but also some bonus representation on the cover of the Standard Edition of FIFA 20

  • Get the Standard Edition 
    • Release date: September 27
    • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
    • Price w/ EA and Origin Access: $53.99
    • Price w/o EA and Origin Access: $59.99
    • Pre-order bonuses:
      • Up to 3 FIFA 20 Ultimate Team Rare Gold Packs
        (1 Per Week For 3 Weeks)
      • Choose one of five mid-version ICON Items for 5 FUT matches
      • Special Edition FUT Kits
Champions Edition Cover Athlete: Virgil Van Dijk

For fans willing to splash a little extra cash on some perks at launch, including a few days of early access and extra gold packs in the game's opening weeks, there is the Champions Edition fronted by Virgil Van Dijk.

While his signing was criticized as overpaying for an unproven talent in January 2018, doubters were proven wrong when he led Liverpool to the third-highest points total in Premier League history and a Champions League title this past season. 

  • Get the Champions Edition
    • Release date: September 24
    • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
    • Price w/ EA and Origin Access: $71.99
    • Price w/o EA and Origin Access: $79.99
    • Pre-order bonuses: 
      • 3 Days Early Access (Play from September 24th)
      • Up To 12 FIFA 20 Ultimate Team Rare Gold Packs
        (1 Per Week For 12 Weeks)
      • Choose one of five mid-version ICON Items for 5 FUT matches
      • Special Edition FUT Kits
Ultimate Edition Cover Athlete: Zinedine Zidane

The Ultimate Edition offers even more free packs and a legendary frontman in the form of Galácticos-OG and current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane.

  • Get the Champions Edition
    • Release date: September 24
    • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
    • Price w/ EA and Origin Access: $89.99
    • Price w/o EA and Origin Access: $99.99
    • Pre-order bonuses
      • 3 Days Early Access (Play From September 24th)
      • Up To 24 Rare Gold Packs (2 Per Week For 12 Weeks)
      • Loan Icon Player Pick: Choose 1 of 5 Loan Icon Items
        (Mid Version) for 5 FUT Matches
      • Special Edition FUT Kits

FIFA 20 Demo

The FIFA 20 demo is out right now. It became available on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. Here's what you need to know. 

It is currently available for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One. There is not a Nintendo Switch demo of the game, although the full game is releasing on that platform. 

How to Download the Demo on PC
  • Go to the Origin Store on PC
  • Click "Try it Now"
  • Click "Add Game to Library"
  • The demo will begin to download
How to Download the Demo on PS4
  • Go to the PlayStation Store
  • Go to the Games tab
  • Got to the Demos section
  • Find the FIFA 20 demo 
  • Click download
  • It is also on the "Hot Now" section on the main screen
How to Download on Xbox One

Gameplay Updates Aim for a Realistic Feel

While it's easy to be skeptical about changes to the in-game experience of sports games from year to year, if EA is to be believed, there is a lot going on that's new in this year's edition. 

Offensive Changes

Scoring goals is where the fun is, so let's start with looking at what's been done to change how you'll do that.

The primary focus has clearly shifted to creating a more-realistic experience going forward. For starters, the situational value of shots will be factored in more strongly.

This means that players put through cleanly will see a wider margin for error when slotting the ball home, while accurately timing your shot is not all you need to do to turn your back-to-goal volley into a high-value opportunity.

Speaking of timed shots, the feature will remain  to the joy of some and ire of others  but the timing will become stricter. That means when you gamble on a timed shot, the chances of instead blasting the ball away have gone up. 

A new feature allows for a set-up touch, rolling the ball forward before firing off a pass or shot with a brief run-up. This is a mixed bag, offering improved options when successful, but requiring more time and exposing you to being dispossessed.  

The passing game will also see changes, with the two most notable on opposing ends of the power scale. When passing with pace, the option to drive a pass on a pass-and-go opens up new runs to build off of. When finesse is your preference, small dinked passes preferred by players like hold-up striker Olivier Giroud are now a manual option for when you want just a little air on the ball to clear a defender, but it's not so much it troubles the receiving player.

Defensive Changes

A popular defensive tactic for less-skilled players is to not get in the way, allowing your AI teammates to make sound choices and win the ball back as frequently as possible. With FIFA 20, this tactic may be on the way out.

A new tackling engine has been developed which allows for more dynamic defensive interceptions. This not only means more successful challenges but also smarter ones, with players making the effort to deflect the ball away from danger and toward a teammate if possible.

This is only effective in manual challenges, though, so it's on players to learn how to time their own challenges. AI Teammates will also be less urgent with jumping in to offer support, opting instead to retain their shape more often than not.

The effects of set-pieces are often a tug-of-war from year to year, with them being deemed overpowered one year, only to be excessively nerfed the next. With crossed set pieces proving very dangerous again in FIFA 19, a balance was inevitable, and it is coming in the form of improved tactical AI when choosing marks.

EA promises it will now be less likely to see your crafty number-10 marking the opposing team's towering center half, or your air-dominant defender standing around in space marking nobody. 

Goalkeepers have some good and bad news to deal with as well. While improved manual ball claiming will make it easier to cut out dangerous crosses, the extent to which you can manually adjust your keeper prior to shots has been reduced to just a couple of steps, and set to lock in at the same time the shooter's direction does.

Dead Ball Changes

The system for firing shots on goal on dangerous dead ball situations has received a fairly large overhaul, much to the shooter's advantage. A targeting reticle now makes it very clear to the shooter where they are lining up their shot, while also allowing for the ability to hit the ball for power but still keep it low to the ground. It's all for when you want to blast a shot under the wall.

Control over the ball's movement is increased as well, with both the spin you put on using your right stick and the angle of approach you opt for determining how much the ball moves in the air.

One-on-One Battles at the Forefront

Several of EA's early press releases have focused on the increased importance of players going head-to-head. From tweaks to the way aerial duels go off to the decreased effectiveness of defensive support, it's clear that learning to win these direct battles will be key to top-level play.

Off ball development has been slowed down, with players taking more time to assess the game situation and look for opportunities to act. This means that the player in possession may need to do more while they wait for the correct run from a teammate.

To get this right, changes have been made to make the existing jockeying system more agile and responsive.

Introducing Error

One area which was met with controversy when announced was the addition of error into chained skill moves. While running a series of skills was a popular option for skilled players, it now comes with a great deal of risk.

Every time you chain a skill move beyond your second move, there is a chance of error causing your player to be dispossessed. The extent of this penalty will increase exponentially with each chained move, so long runs will become much riskier. This is further enhanced if the moves being chained are already high-skill moves.

Although some fans who did not enjoy running into opponents who they felt were spamming fancy dribbles will relish the change, top players who relied on their hard-earned skills to break down opponents are up in arms over the injection of random chance into their offensive endeavors.

The Old Stand-Bys

While EA is promising lots of changes, players can still count on much of what they've come to expect from FIFA. That means that one-offs are easy to access, and the game will be loaded with all the top leagues and licenses, including exclusive rights to the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League.

Online options will still include both the club-based Seasons mode and fantasy-inspired FIFA Ultimate Team, where players build their squads from packs of players throughout the world.

There are likely to be more announcements in the weeks to come as the launch date nears, so stay tuned to GameSkinny for everything you need to know about FIFA 20.

DCUO Switch Impressions: Reassessing DC Universe Online in 2019 Mon, 12 Aug 2019 12:51:12 -0400 David Jagneaux

Daybreak Games’ superhero-themed MMORPG, DC Universe Online (DCUO) just released on the Nintendo Switch last week and I’ve been playing it since the weekend before.

After playing it off and on for a week, I wanted to provide my early impressions of how it plays on Switch, how it shapes up to the MMO competition, and whether it’s worth your time in a crowded market in 2019. 

What is DC Universe Online?

First things first: DC Universe Online is an old game. It first launched back in 2011 as a pay-to-play subscription-based MMO for the PS3 and PC. It later came to the PS4 in 2013 and Xbox One in 2016.

The game essentially didn’t even last a whole year as a subscription offering following a rocky launch, but it has flourished since then with a steady stream of new content and new features. PS3 support was shut down in early 2018 and PS4 and PC players share the same server. Xbox and Switch are separate.

Since DCUO is a free-to-play game, that means you don’t need to pay a dime to download and play it at all, whatsoever, on any platform. There are tons of ways the game tries to get money out of you, though, and if you enjoy it at all, I highly recommend exploring some of those avenues to compensate the developers — but it’s not required to experience a big chunk of the game's content.

Being that this is a comic book-based MMO, updates are doled out a bit differently than you might be used to in other MMOs.

In games like Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and other MMOs, new expansion releases often bring a ton of new content, maybe some new classes, new land masses to explore, and more. DCUO is different in that its content is actually formatted as shorter episodes, and it gets more consistent releases over an entire year.

Instead of, say, a half dozen expansions over its eight years of life, as you’d expect, it’s actually received over 30 episodes.

The episodes are a bit like comic storylines, or issues, that focus on specific characters, regions, and villains. There are episodes about the Titans, there was a big Atlantis episode, and right now, Justice League Dark is the focus.

DCUO As A Free Player

If you’re a free player, then you get access to the base game and its storyline. There are a handful of powers to pick from, a bunch of costume designs, and plenty of ways to make your hero your own.

Each time a new episode releases, that new episode is free for all players to until the next episode releases. This means if you start now and want to play past episodic content, like Atlantis, then you need to either buy the episodes individually, which usually cost between $4 and $10 each, or you need to pay the game's optional subscription fee, which starts at $15 per month.

If you pay that fee, you get access to all the episodes, more character slots, every character power, and a bunch of other perks.

The generous thing about this system is that if you know you want to play DCUO a lot one month, then you can pay the $15 and binge a bunch of the episodes over that time, then just let your membership run out without renewing it. You’ll keep the gear you earned after its over.

Additionally, subscribing for one month permanently unlocks four more character slots on top of the two free ones that you will keep even after your membership ends — even if they were characters that had paid powers.

You can renew to check out more old episodes any time you want. But if you stay subbed, you get lots of ongoing perks that let you swap builds easier, get recurring currency to purchase upgrades and cosmetics, and more.

If you really don’t want to pay, you don’t have to, although there are some annoyances you’ll find as a strictly free player, like slower loot drops as well as spending money on some feats, which award skill points. 

DCUO Combat and Customization

DCUO has a surprisingly deep combat and customization system that’s mostly open to all free players.

My main is a hero named Jaggerzone, who has ice powers and fights with a staff. Each weapon has its own unlockable combos with skill points, which really adds a lot of depth and nuance to fighting. This isn’t a tab targeting MMO ,and it’s not a game where you just sit there and click through your ability rotation. Combos require timing whilke mixing your light and heavy attacks in rhythm.

Using a staff feels great and the fighting is extremely fluid. I can throw in ice powers to do some AoE damage, reflect attacks, and generally boost damage from my allies.

Instead of picking traditional classes, you create your own, in a way, by choosing a weapon and then picking a power-set separately. From the start you also get to choose either flight, super speed, or acrobatics as a movement style, which has a big effect on moment-to-moment gameplay.

You get a lot of freedom to design your character for free, but a large chunk of the powers are behind the paywall, which might be off-putting to some.

DCUO Content and Game Flow

In terms of content, DCUO is a very PvE-focused game. PvP content does exist in the form of team battles, lair battles, and a Legends mode that lets you play as and fight against iconic DC characters, but the core of the game is centered around PvE stories and group content.

There is an “On Duty” queue full of instances for one, two, four, and even up to eight players, as well as the episodic content that has team missions, and the overworld itself that’s full of enemies to fight. And as far as I’ve seen, most of these “On Duty” events seem to be included for free players, too. 

I’m only Level 15 on my main hero at the time of this writing (the base level cap is 30, then it switches to being about your “Combat Power” and gear which can get much higher),  but my Journal is overflowing with things to do. My villain is around Level 10 in the same situation. 

Mission variety hasn’t been great so far, but the story beats are good. For example, I recently fought a possessed team of Titans as Raven’s father was trying to take over, so beating back Cyborg, Starfire, and others was really cool. But the missions themselves so far have all just been "Kill X enemies," "Walk over and hold 'A' for a few seconds on random things," "Go fight this boss," etc.

That’s par for the course in most MMOs, but the combat in DCUO has kept me entertained. It helps that this one has some of the best voice acting in the entire genre, and the comic-book-style illustrated cutscenes are cool and actually worth watching. Many of the key characters are voiced by their animated show counterparts, so you’ll recognize voices often.

DCUO Switch Performance

With regard to the Switch port specifically, I’m extremely impressed. Performance wise, I have not had any issues in either docked or handheld mode. I actually prefer playing it handheld because it seems a little blurrier when docked. Although it runs great either way, having it on a handheld screen is just super impressive.

I still can’t believe an MMO of this size fits on a console like the Switch.

In fact, I played it on the train recently using my Pixel 2 as a mobile hotspot, and it worked flawlessly, even when the train went underground from Oakland to San Francisco. It never lost connection and ther was no lag.

Honestly, it’s just super impressive it plays so great on Switch. I wasn’t a big DCUO player prior to this version, but having it available in a such a magnificent portable version means I can easily hop in and out with zero hassle.

I can see myself investing quite a bit of time this way.

DCUO Switch Impressions: Bottom Line

Overall, DC Universe Online is a great MMO with tons of content that respects your time — and it’s definitely the perfect MMO for the Switch.

If you want to spend cash on it to get more content and more options, you can. There are over 30 pieces of DLC full of interesting stories to explore if you’re still hungry for more after exhausting the base game. While this was about the Switch version, DCUO’s content and gameplay are essentially the same on all platforms.

The bottom line is that this is a free, AAA MMO on Switch, and it is frankly the only MMO of its kind on the Switch at all. Hopefully, it will serve as a bat signal to other devs to bring their online virtual worlds to Nintendo’s latest platform.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Video Games Blamed for Violence, Loot Boxes Get Nerfed(?), Planetfall Impresses, and More Sat, 10 Aug 2019 09:49:07 -0400 GS_Staff

In the wake of two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, politicians, including President Donald Trump, blamed video games for violence. Days later, Walmart began removing from its stores advertisements for violent and "aggressive" video games and movies. 

Elsewhere, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, along with other ESA members, pledged to (somewhat) regulate loot boxes in all future games that use the mechanic. What's more, the ESRB released official numbers showing that 18% of games rated by the service since April 2018 have some type of microtransactions. 

However, some consumer advocates, such as those with Consumer Reports, say that tags and warnings aren't enough. 

On a far less political front, Age of Wonders: Planetfall released to rave reviews, including here at GameSkinny. In fact, we called it the strategy game of the year, so be sure to check out our review of the game below, alongside reviews for Metal Wolf Chaos XD, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and more.  

Of course, we've rounded up other gaming news such as the rumor that Modern Warfare might actually get a battle royale mode and that the game will feature mouse and keyboard support on console; that Humble Bundle has more than 200 games on sale right now; and Cyberpunk 2077 will get a new game plus mode. 

On top of all of that, we've got culture pieces on X-Wing VR mods and why Madden 20's story mode is dope. And naturally, we have a good handful of guides for some of the latest games. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna do? Play video games? 





Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. Be sure to check previous weeks for more content: 

We're Giving Away 5 Keys for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on PS4 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 15:25:15 -0400 GS_Staff

Grab your whip, your short sword, and your holy water. We're giving away 5 PS4 keys for the criminally awesome IGA-vania that is Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

To enter, all you have to do is use the nifty widget below!

Each action will give you a certain amount of entries, meaning the more actions you perform, the more entries you'll get, and the greater chance you have at winning.  

Please note that must be 18 years or older to enter

Any of the information provided below is only used to contact you in the event you are chosen as a winner. 

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Giveaway PS4

After a lengthy development cycle, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night finally released on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch earlier this summer. Although the Switch version suffered from frame-rate and optimization issues at launch, all three other versions of the game were universally praised.

Our review of the game said: 

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night stands as one of the best Vania games of recent memory, and one of the most satisfying games of 2019 so far.

If you were hoping Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night would be the game that brought back the Castlevania feel for the first time in years, your hopes are answered. This game is everything fans of the genre look for in a title: tight controls, a vast, sprawling map, unique enemies, and powerful abilities to destroy said enemies with.

Bloodstained has a good bit of replayability as well, with a New Game+ mode, boss rush mode, and secret endgame bosses to defeat. Plus, with 13 free DLC packs on the way, Iga has more to deliver if you didn’t get enough from the base game.

If you want to take on Hell itself with sword and spell, there are few better places to do it than in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

When We’ll Announce the Winner:

There will be 5 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night PS4 keys given away and the winners will be announced August 13, 2019. The contest closes on Monday, August 12 at 11:59 p.m. That's less than a week away. Good luck, everyone!

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Rockstar Makes Headlines, Fire Emblem is Awesome, Madden 20 Takes the Field, and More Sat, 03 Aug 2019 08:43:58 -0400 GS_Staff

This week, we look at Madden 20 and if this year's installment earns the franchise a contract extensions. We also give our thoughts on the criminally-good Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which has all of us that don't already have a Switch want to run out and get one right now!

In the news, Rockstar faces accusations of tax evasion, while GameStop begins its "reboot" in earnest, laying off 50 employees.

Sony says that the PS4 has now sold 100 million units, putting it past the PS2 in the same timeframe, while U.S. tariffs might increase the price of the popular system. The Switch is also doing (really) well, in both hardware and software. 

PEGI, the European ratings board, seems to have accidentally leaked an impending Doom 64 re-release on PS4 and PC, while Turok and Turok 2 are getting physical releases on the Switch.  

And rounding out the news, Capcom is up to something with (could it be an RE3 remaster?)...

Of course, we also have a slew of guides for some of the most popular releases, as well as as a handful of gear reviews and lifestyle roundups. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna do? Play video games? 





Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. Be sure to check previous weeks for more content: 

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Gears 5 Bans Smoking, Nintendo Recharges, and Gamestop Goes Retro to Stay Alive Sat, 20 Jul 2019 08:49:34 -0400 GS_Staff

This week, Nintendo unveiled a new Switch model that's not as exciting as it sounds. Gears 5 removed smoking but left all of the blood and guts the series is known for. And GameStop looks to stay alive by going retro. 

On top of that, we've got exclusive interviews with the developers of The Blackout Club, Teppen, and Redeemer. We have a few reviews, including Super Mario Maker 2 and Etherborn, as well as a handful of guides for some of the latest games, including Teppen, Dragon Quest Builders 2, and Dr. Mario World

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna do? Play video games? 





Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. Be sure to check previous weeks for more content: 

The Surge 2 Hands-On Preview: More Cyber Souls Fri, 19 Jul 2019 10:08:52 -0400 John Schutt

From the makers of Lords of the Fallen and The Surge, The Surge 2 aims to be a stronger entry into the Souls-like genre. Like it's predecessor, this new title is a cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic world of warring factions and powerful, transformative tech.

I was able to get a few hours worth of demo time with the early parts of the game. At its core, The Surge 2 does mostly succeed in its desire to take From Software's masterpieces in new directions. The game wears its Souls DNA on its sleeve — and its chest, face, and everywhere else — but the core tenants are there.

From tough enemies, looping level design, a robust customization system, and several viable weapon types and build options, and there might be something to talk about here.

Built on the Bones

Two of the many strengths of From Software's flagship franchise are its difficulty and its worldbuilding. Enemies hit hard and often, but with careful play and a thorough understanding of mechanics, they can be tossed around without much thought. Equally important is the environment where players fight said enemies. It needs to be one steeped in mystery, an initial sense of smallness, and a feeling that there is always something more beyond the horizon. 

Based on the early levels I played, The Surge 2 offers a bit of both of these qualities and adds some of its own flair to create a unique identity. 

As with any Souls-like, early enemies are slow and predictable but hit like a truck if you aren't careful with your stamina management and block/parry timings. Dodging is about as effective as ever, but the invincibility window seems smaller than it is in a Dark Souls or Bloodborne.

Each weapon type also feels unique, requiring different playstyles to use effectively. There's also a combo mechanic allowing players to experiment with different move combinations and strings. No one weapon or combo is useful in every situation, either, making general mastery of all your tools a good overall strategy. Overspecialization isn't a detriment but doesn't seem to be heavily incentivized.

Still, the game does want players to be in the action as much as possible. To keep up the pace, it ties your access to healing items directly to your effectiveness in combat. You'll be replenishing your healing ability — a "battery" in this case — by racking up hits against enemies. Once you've filled up enough of a bar, you can bank a single usage of the battery.

You can't rest on your laurels, though, as once your combo stops, the bar starts to degrade. Fail to bank in time, and you're out of luck. 

Adding on Some Muscles

And luck is an important part of The Surge 2's progression system because your equipment does much more than your level to define how powerful you are in combat. You'll need to make liberal use of the series' unique mechanic — cutting — to chop off the various extremities from your foes for a chance at the gear that particular body part was wearing. 

There's no guarantee you'll get what you want, so if you want a specific piece of gear, you'll probably have to lop off a few body parts to get it. To do that, however, you have to attack said body part until it's weak enough to cut. Then you can use a pre-animated finisher to both confirm the kill and an item drop. 

The farming itself is typical Souls fare, as your Med Bay, a bonfire stand-in, respawns all enemies and resets the world. You'll also spend a lot of time in the Med Bay menus crafting new gear from the salvage you find throughout the world. It's there that the customization systems come to life.

Your level allows you to determine only three main stats: Health, Stamina, and Battery Efficiency. You allocate points into each for incremental increases and can reset your expenditures at any time. 

Health and Stamina do what you'd expect. It's Battery Efficiency that will become essential, as each piece of gear you equip has a power consumption score you need to compensate for. Too much armor will overload your character, and you won't be able to use implants for more passive bonuses. The reverse is also true. 

It becomes a game of compromises if you're not fine with farming for hours and power grinding your way to godhood. Even then, if you aren't wearing some protection and you don't plan on doing a no-hit run, you'll still want some armor to dull the blows you take.

Gear has its systems to elevate the game as well. Weapons have several stats that affect your combat abilities, from battery energy charge to attack speed, stamina consumption, status build-up, and more.

Standard Cyberpunk

The Surge 2 has what appears to be a deep and relatively complex character build system, so where does it stand on that other vital Souls-like quality — its world?

From what I played, this is the games' most evident weakness. Where From Software's games distort and play with expectations, dealing primarily in quiet dread and insignificance, The Surge 2 wastes no time hitting its players with standard cyberpunk tropes.

Nanomachines are taking over  again. The authorities are corrupt and want everything bad that's happened to go away; there's a cult of tech-heads with the answers you seek (maybe); someone (you) is going to set everything straight. 

There's little room for subtlety or nuance. You're asked to go to a place, kill the men, take their stuff, come back and get more stuff. While I found a lot of people who were down on their luck, I found just as many doing awkward dancing in no real sense of distress whatsoever. Perhaps that will change as the game opens up further.

Another thing I think The Surge 2 is missing in its early hours is a sense of freedom, both to think and to explore. It's a very linear experience, first of all, and while the levels do eventually loop back on themselves, they only do so to give you easier access to your Med Bay. 

Environmental storytelling isn't high on the list of qualities, either. Enemy types are too similar and the areas generic enough that I only get the sense that the city has gone to pot, not that there was or might be something grander at stake. I miss the lore in item descriptions, too.

That said, there were a couple of characters who piqued my interest. I'm hoping they aren't just one-offs who appear, deliver dialogue, and then vanish beneath my bootheel.

There seems to be some conspiracy at play, but I only really got that sense because of an audio-log I picked up after the final fight of the demo I played. I'm hoping that turns into something compelling and not the tired "we will control the machines to control the world" narrative I've seen so many times before.

All in all, The Surge 2 is looking to be a solid, if somewhat safe, entry into the Souls-like genre. If you're looking for that kind of fix before we see the coming of Elden Ring or maybe Nioh 2, I'd go out on a limb and say to give The Surge 2 a shot. We'll have a review coming not long after its release.

The Surge 2 releases on Xbox One, PS4, and PC on September 24, 2019.

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Redeemer Devs, Sobaka Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:00:01 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

In 2017, Redeemer, a top-down shooter, was released for PC to some mixed reviews. Critics said the game had heart, but there was a lot of room for improvement that could make this game a great one. 

Sobaka, the developer of Redeemer, listened and two years later, they are releasing Redeemer Enhanced Edition which is coming to PC, and for the first time ever, consoles.

During E3, I was able to talk to Sobaka and discuss their present, their past, and what is to come in the near future. 

Redeemer: Enhanced Edition

If you have played Redeemer or have seen gameplay of it, you know the combat is a bit intense and brutal. The people over at Sobaka had to do some research in order to get the action in Redeemer just the way they wanted. 

"We had played a lot and we had watched a lot of action movies so we didn’t really need a rehearsal. Just like in any good action movie – it is cool to smash faces! Games could be really cool without a bloodshed for sure – at the end it is all about fun!"

When Redeemer first hit the PC market in August of 2017, they not only listened to the critical reception but also the response from the players. Over time Sobaka was able to release some patches, added new languages, and even a Russian voiceover which was made by the community.

However, in order to give the fans the updates they wanted to see in the game, they had to find a new publisher. 

"At some point we were talking to BUKA and then we realized that we should release our game on consoles. Our PC publisher, Gambitions, didn’t see that this way. They figured it won’t be profitable. BUKA figured it the other way. Thus, we’ve reached an agreement with BUKA to port Redeemer to the consoles."

Now with BUKA controlling the publishing rights to Redeemer, Sobaka can bring the best possible version of the game to PC and introduce it to a whole new audience on consoles. 

While it could be difficult to satisfy gamers nowadays, Sobaka listened to what their core audience wanted to see brought to the Enhanced Edition of Redeemer and tried to deliver as much as they possibly could.

"Leveling system is the core part of this update and it was highly requested by community. Certain skills now improve as player uses them, for example, if you fire an assault rifle a lot, then by the end of the game you deal much more damage with it. On top of that, there is a plenty of perks now so player can choose whether to go for a shotgun or for exploding bullets."

Sobaka believes that this is the progress Redeemer lacked in its previous iteration. They knew that something in the game was missing, but didn't know how important it actually was to the player base until after it was released. 

Life of an Indie Game Developer

Mobile games have a bigger audience than any other style of gaming. Just think about it: everyone has a phone, right? 

Developing a game for mobile, and loading it full of microtransactions sounds like a great and easy way to make a lot of money over time. It's that easy!

Well, it isn't. 

Early in Sobaka's history, they were approached and offered a deal to make mobile games. This would've been great exposure for an indie developer and could put them on a great path to success, but Sobaka turned it down so they could focus on their dream game.

"The point is that mobile games are not that profitable as one might assume. For a steady income you should integrate a lot of ads and in-game purchases into your game to pullthe money out of users’ pockets - we believe there’s no creative component in such kind of work."

Not all heroes wear capes.

In addition to just wanting to get more money from the players, the mobile market isn't as easy to succeed in, especially as an indie developer.

"Beside of that, the competition on the mobile games market is pretty tough and a lot of major companies with a plenty of experience, huge budgets and numerous successful projects can easily “suppress” newbies."

When the newest generations of consoles launched (PlayStation 4, Xbox One), the people over at PlayStation wanted to make their new console the go-to place for indie devs to release their newest projects. 

That's winded down over the past couple years, hugely in part due to the release of the Nintendo Switch. The Nindies Program has helped plenty of smaller developers bring their projects to the front row so they could get more exposure in a sea of games that is always very crowded.

Or so we thought.

"There used to be less video games in general so it was easier for a decent projects to make it to the audience. On the other hand, the gaming audience is much bigger nowadays and I guess overall it would be roughly the same in percentage."

Being an Indie dev is pretty hard nowadays. There are a lot of people and smaller developers all competing to have their place on your gaming platforms.

"Millions of the talented indie developers are working on a games of their dreams just like we are. Eventually everyone is trying to win the attention of the more or less the same audience. It’s because of the responsibility why being an indie-developer is not that easy. If you have a steady job at a major company you don't bother yourself with anything apart from your task but if you’re an indie developer you have to deal with a millions of various issues swamping you."

Besides bugs in the game, competition is the biggest obstacle that all indie developers have to struggle with. 

Future of Sobaka

With Redeemer Enhanced Edition coming to PC and consoles, what is up next for Sobaka?

They are currently working on their next game, 9 Monkeys of Shaolin, which is what they call a "true rebirth of the iconic beat 'em up genre in vein of old-school video games."

The idea for their next project started a few months before they first released Redeemer for PC back in 2017.

"A few months before releasing Redeemer we started to plan our next move. We didn’t know how Redeemer was going to perform but we already had quite a bold idea to develop a third- person game remotely similar to Hellblade. It would have been an expensive and pretty complicated project to sell it to publishers. Then we started toying with the top-down camera, and ended up getting a side view. We set it up a bit and it started to look exactly like beat’em up game players would instantly recognize."

When it comes to certain games, players already know what to do and there is no need to guide them. That is exactly the case for 9 Monkeys of Shaolin. It is reminiscent of a brawler that you would play as kids, but modernized with a cool art style. 

While they had the idea for 9 Monkeys, you still need to make some money in order to start the next project. They were hoping that Redeemer would help finance their next game.

"Before making any next moves we have to earn some money. Redeemer didn’t make it quite well. It made some but you can’t even hire anybody else for this money. We’re going to release 9 Monkeys of Shaolin on consoles so we might have a better shot this time. If we still don’t make enough money… well we’ll just start it over with a new game and another concept. As soon as we make money we will see what to do next."


Both 9 Monkeys and Redeemer have plots that are based around the main character avenging deaths of their loved ones. Sobaka prefers to keep the story simple. 

"Revenge is a classic and clear plot idea. Although we want to come up with something trickier, let's agree that a simple story about relentless revenge has its own charisma in it."

While you might have to wait until Q3 2019 to get your hands on 9 Monkeys of Shaolin, you don't have to wait any longer to play Redeemer Enhanced Edition because it is available NOW! 

Redeemer Enhanced Edition is available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch!

I would like to thank Sobaka for taking the time during their busy week of E3 to talk to me.

Griftlands Alpha Impressions — A Hand Full of Aces Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:13:20 -0400 Jonny Foster

Griftlands, despite launching in an incomplete Alpha state, is the most complete deck-building rogue-like I've ever played. Hyperbole aside, it has so much promise and quality that it's difficult to know where to start. 

As an avid slinger of cardboard, deck-building games are my forte. The genre's bar has already been set incredibly high by the class of Slay the Spire and Steamworld Quest, but Griftlands has more than a few Aces up its sleeves.

Most notable and defining is the duality of negotiation and combat present here. You have two decks to build: one that's used to persuade, threaten, and cajole your way through sticky situations, and a classic battle deck for when words won't work.  

You're generally given good opportunity to choose whether to be a wordsmith or a warrior, which gives you the freedom to build an experience unique to you. The main exceptions to this are the 'boss battles'; the story is currently split into 5 days, each ending with a particularly tough battle. Some training is required to survive them, so avoiding combat entirely isn't advisable. 

Improving your deck is unique and gratifying, though; both your negotiation cards and battle cards can be upgraded after repeated use. For instance, playing a basic Stab card six times will let you choose from two upgraded versions of that card. They won’t always be the same upgrades either, with some randomization thrown in for good measure.

The other significant difference between Griftlands and other deck-builders is that its gameplay loop is largely narrative-driven, with already rich lore to delve into if you desire. It’s very easy to assimilate, too, with various names, species, and jargon providing special links that bring up detailed tooltips when hovered over, much like Wikipedia articles.

It meets a nice balance between not forcing you to sit through needless exposition while being interesting enough that you don't want to skip past everything. Many quests also require more than cursory attention to follow their throughlines, and consequences in Griftlands can be severely punishing. This makes it thoroughly engaging on its own, whereas other rogue-likes almost function better as a ‘second screen’ game.

It’s also thoroughly gorgeous to look at, too, with a stylized art style that’s clean, crisp, and captivating. I especially love the summaries, which condense a large amount of information into one easy-to-peruse screen. The cards also have simplistic visuals but show real depth with rarity and upgrade status subtly sewn in. 

Despite the strong narrative, Griftlands stays loyal to many of the usual idiosyncrasies that make a rogue-like. Randomization is woven throughout the game's quests, and even when moving between them on the over-world map, there's a number of random triggers that can help or hinder you.

As a direct result, it presents a good challenge throughout; even when everything goes your way, it won’t be a cakewalk! The easy way out always has repercussions, and siding with the wrong person can scupper your entire run. 

The story itself doesn't dictate a linear campaign, either. You can replay runs with entirely different results and decks if you fail, and a successful run doesn't mean you’re done. Regardless of how the run ends, you're given a summary screen of your actions, which awards you with XP. 

This, in turn, unlocks new packs of cards that can be found in future runs, providing some meaningful progression. Permanent progression systems like this make it feel like your time has greater intrinsic value in roguelikes, so it's great to see it here. 

It’s far from perfect, of course; as it is only an Alpha release, there are areas lacking typical polish such as bugs, spelling mistakes, and the like. There’s also a large quantity of content still in development; the final game will include three playable stories, while the alpha release only features 80% of one character’s story. 

It’s also missing difficulty options and other customization options that are planned for the future, but with a fortnightly release schedule, we can expect updates to bring new content thick and fast.

The feedback system is also built straight into the game, which I love. Pressing "F8" at any time will let you send feedback to the developers, positive or negative, along with a screenshot and your save data for them to debug. 

We won't put a final score on our impressions just yet, as it is only an alpha, and there's an estimated year of Early Access patches to come before the title gets a 1.0 release. But it's on sale now for $15 on the Epic Store, and it's easily worth that in its current state, alone.

Hopefully, Klei will takes this bold start and snowballs it into the best, most robust deck-builder of all time. Griftlands certainly has the potential for it.

For more on Griftlands, check out our detailed guide breaking down the Negotiation system that makes it so special.

TEPPEN Interview with Ryozo Tsujimoto and Kazuki Morishita Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:13:08 -0400 Erroll Maas

TEPPEN, the new real-time mobile card game featuring Capcom characters was both announced and released on July 4, 2019 during Anime Expo.

During the expo, we had the chance to sit down with Capcom's Mobile Head of Online Development Ryozo Tsujimoto and GungHo Online CEO and Executive Producer Kazuki Morishita to talk about how this recently announced (and now released) game came to be and what there hopes are for the future.

GS: How did the idea of doing a Capcom crossover game that's a card game rather than a fighting game come about?

Ryozo Tsujimoto: So as you may know, Capcom is very strong with action and fighting games. I wanted to game with all the Capcom IPs and have its own story but didn't want to make a new world since all the characters have their own worlds and that would be weird. In order to have the worlds merged together we thought the card game would be the best way to do that.

GS: So there are currently eight characters and we're expecting more in the future, but these characters are all called "Heroes." Albert Wesker is much more of a villain, so why choose him rather than Leon Kennedy or Chirs Redfield or Claire Redfield? Was it due to popularity?

RT: One reason is because of popularity as you said, but another thing was balance because we were choosing character specialties and features and Albert Wesker fit the features for TEPPEN.  In the next phase there might be other new characters put in for different reasons but currently the heroes that were chosen were because of popularity and also balancing. We've been told a lot of people really like Wesker, so that's why he was put in first.

Kazuki Morishita: So for example here you saw Wesker's black deck and we also have the purple deck, green deck, and the red deck, and they have themes between their colors. When we were working with the black deck we were thinking of which character would work best with it and that's why Wesker was chosen for that deck. From Resident Evil we won't only have Wesker, but we don't know yet which other characters will appear.

GS: So for the card game mechanics side of things, and this is usually a big concern for card game players, how to you make sure everything is balanced correctly? How do you make sure that everything works well together and see how the different colored decks stack up against each other?

KM: As you can see, this isn't just another normal turn based card game because it has real time strategy as well, so we needed to do some balancing and adjustments for both real time strategy and the card game. So it's both balance and fit that we were actually focusing on. So another way we balance the game is we have staff that plays in a lot of tournaments or play other card games and TCGs and have them test it out and adjust the balancing.

GS: So Morrigan from Darkstalkers is another one of the launch characters and that's interesting because we haven't seen a Darkstalkers game in quite some time, but she still remains a popular character. Would you hope that people who play Teppen become more interested in learning about Morrigan and Darkstalkers?

RT:  We're actually amazed because we've discovered that a lot of people like Morrigan and that she's very popular and it's the first time we've seen that. The previous Darkstalkers games might be why there's some popularity, but we were still more amazed by how popular Morrigan herself was. If you compare Street Fighter and DarkstalkersStreet Fighter is much more popular but I want players to see through playing TEPPEN the different types of Darkstalkers characters. It would be great if they went on to try the older games since there aren't any newer games at the moment. 

GS: So who is the target audience for this game exactly?

KM: So for this game it's not just for fans of the card game genre but we have real time strategy and also some action stuff. It's a game where a lot of people can actually try it and enjoy it. We made it so it could appeal to a bigger audience rather than just card game specialists.

GS: It's interesting to see TEPPEN announced and released on the same day and it hasn't been released in Japan yet, since with a lot of other games it's either Japan first or worldwide. How was this decision made?

KM:  So when we did our first planning of this game, we were looking at the global market first and also looking at the marketing for card games and on the North American and European side card games are bigger so that's why we wanted to release it in western regions first. With the characters, there are a lot favored by America, so we wanted to focus on North America and Europe first because of the popularity of the card game genre and start building up from there. We are preparing to release the game in other regions as well so stay tuned.

GS: What are your hopes for the future of TEPPEN?

RT: There are a lot of Capcom characters in this game so I'd like to have people who love Capcom to try it out as well as people who like card games, action games, and all genres basically because we made the game so anyone could adapt to it and play it and it's on mobile so it's easy to get on many devices. I'd also like to see many tournaments from many regions and communities making their own tournaments as well. So in the long run I want to see everyone enjoy this game.

KM: We released the game yesterday, (July 4) but from now on we'll be maintaining the game we'd like to have people enjoy it and then we're going to have more updates like new characters, new heroes, and new packs, so I hope that players will have high hopes and be excited for this new stuff and also for tournaments in the near future. We're thinking of having a world tournament, so I hope players are excited for that as well.

Teppen is available for free on the App Store and on Google Play.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Nintendo Switch Lite, Stranger Things 3, Cyberpunk 2077, More Sat, 13 Jul 2019 09:36:52 -0400 GS_Staff

This week, Nintendo unveiled the Nintendo Switch Lite, and we looked at which games don't support handheld mode, since you can't play every game on the Switch Lite. 

We also looked at how Nintendo is preparing for the cloud gaming future, why FIFA has gotten lazy with women's soccer, and which games you should play before Cyberpunk 2077 releases next year. 

We finally got a look at Shenmue 3's forklift gameplay (yes!), we reviewed a handful; of amazing games, including Blazing Chrome, Sea of Solitude, Stranger Things 3: The Game, and Dragon Quest Builders 2, and we wrote a few guides for some of the most popular recent releases. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna do? Play video games? 





Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. Be sure to check previous weeks for more content: 

We're Giving Away 5 Keys for The Elder Scrolls Legends: Moons of Elsweyr Expansion Wed, 10 Jul 2019 17:01:05 -0400 GS_Staff

To aid in your journey to the Khajiit homeland of Elsweyr, we've teamed up with Bethesda to give away 5 keys to latest expansion for The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Moons of Elsweyr is an exciting new addition to The Elder Scrolls: Legends, bringing 75 new cards to the game, as well as a new playmat, theme decks, mechanics, and more. But since you're here to win free stuff for the base game, you probably already knew that.

To enter, all you have to do is use the Troll-sized widget below!

Each action will give you a certain amount of entries, meaning the more actions you perform, the more entries you'll get, and the greater chance you have at winning.  

Please note that must be 18 years or older to enter

Any of the information provided below is only used to contact you in the event you are chosen as a winner. 

The keys we are giving away are keys, and they include the following: 

  • Moons of Elsweyr card packs
  • Moons of Elsweyr legendary card

The Elder Scrolls Legends: Moons of Elsweyr Expansion

When We’ll Announce the Winner:

There will be 5 Moons of Elsweyr keys given away and the winners will be announced July 24, 2019. The contest closes on Monday, July 22 at 11:59 p.m. That's less than a week away. Good luck, everyone!

Bakugan: Battle Planet Anime Expo Interview with Justin Gary Wed, 10 Jul 2019 10:41:47 -0400 Erroll Maas

Bakugan is a toy-based franchise that has been around for over a decade and had a decent amount of popularity during its original run consisting of the aforementioned toys, an anime series, a card game, and several video games.

While Bakugan has never quite become the phenomenon some other franchises have, it was notable enough to be parodied on The Simpsons as well as having brief appearance in the movie 21 Jump Street, and was even one of the best selling kids video games in the holiday season of 2009

Despite its spin-offs during the time, the popularity of Bakugan had faded by 2012. Toy and entertainment company Spin Master relaunched Bakugan as Bakugan: Battle Planet in early 2019.

At Anime Expo 2019, we sat down with Lead Game Designer of Bakugan: Battle Planet and former Magic: The Gathering champion, Justin Gary, and asked him what it's like to reboot a franchise, the decision making that comes with it, and developing an audience.

GameSkinny (GS): What is it like to reboot a franchise like this? Especially not that long after the original?

 Justin Gary: It's one of the things that was a great honor to be able to work on because so many people love Bakugan so much and to be able to sort of modernize it and make it something that can expand and appeal to an even wider audience was a big challenge. So we wanted to make sure that we were true to the original brand and we worked with some of the original people that developed the game and that developed the animated show and we wanted to bring it into the modern era. So we did that with the three main parts: The toys themselves, they're bigger, they have more magical transformations, a lot of them pop open and transform in cool new ways; with the show the animation's better and we've launched not only the new series on Cartoon Network but also the animated shorts that we have on our YouTube channel; and then of course the game, which as Lead Game Designer I'm particularly partial to, but we wanted to not only have the fun and the kinetic strategy of tossing your toy and getting it to land and open, but also the strategy of a card game where you can actually build a deck and have different synergies and strategize against other players and have resources that you have to manage. All the things that can make somebody like us love the game and be something that you can play not just as a five year old but as a fifty five year old and have throughout your whole life. 

GS: How do you decide between creating a full reboot or, using Yu-Gi-Oh! for example, just making changes that essentially shift the way the game plays?

JG: We decided to do a full reboot because we wanted to make something that could last forever. We wanted to make something that people could love and continue to play, like you used Yu-Gi-Oh! as an example, well Yu-Gi-Oh! has been around for 20 years, Magic has been around for over 25 years, Pokemon has been around for over 20 years, that's what I want for Bakugan, and to do that you have to have a very solid foundation.

While there were a lot of great things about the original game, it wasn't a deep enough gameplay experience to last for 20 or 30 years, and the game we have now is. So we relaunched everything with keeping the best parts of original Bakugan alive, there's still Dan and Drago, there's still the fun of tossing the ball and watching it pop open into a monster, all that stuff is still there but now we have deep gameplay and strategy and amazing art and years and years worth of content that we can continue to release and grow on, and that's why we decided to do a full relaunch.

GS: How did your experience with Magic: The Gathering help influence Bakugan: Battle Planet?

JG: So I became Magic: The Gathering US National Champion when I was 17 back in 1997, I was a World Team Champion in 2003, I paid my way through college playing Magic and I've traveled all around the world. So it was a huge part of my identity and where I learned about how to play competitive games, and I obviously was able to understand and dissect that strategy at a very high level, so of course it has influenced me to this day and all the games that I make because I know what it takes to have deep strategy and have a competitive feel and make sure there's a balanced metagame and that not one strategy becomes dominant and that there are lots of different play styles. It's more than just that, but also the importance of community, that's why we have events like this at Anime Expo.

We have fans that are coming here that are coming to hang out and play with us, we're building local events at local stores, we're making sure that there's an online community and Youtubers/Streamers, and people that can all be together because it's not just great gameplay that I've learned from my past as a Magic player but also the importance of community and building that tribe. We want to make Bakugan a welcoming place and an awesome place where everybody can get together and hang out and play.

GS: For the anime series, why use same characters rather than making new ones when the characters are essentially different in all but name?

JG: Everybody who knows Bakugan knows Dan and Drago, they're main characters of the show, so why would you get rid of them? Of course we're going to modernize them. Our heroes in the show are The Awesome Ones, and they're basically streamers, so of course that wouldn't make any sense 10 years ago. So we wanted to take the characters people love and put them in a modern context, tying into your earlier question about why a reboot and what does that mean. you want to identify what are the most important things about the original and how do we modernize them and make them better.


GS: So there's Bakugan: Fan Hub available on mobile devices, which has a game included with it, and in the past Bakugan has had a few console games. Can you tell us more about the app and if we can  expect more games in the future?

JG: There is a mini-game in the app where you can get some trick shots and level up, then there's a compendium of all the different toys, there's some news, and you can watch clips for the show and the animations. We're open to everything, but the main focus right now is really growing the physical game, the toys, the TCG, the app is there primarily to support those things, but of course we're open to that sort of stuff over time. There are going to be more cool things to come but the most important part right now are the TCG and the toys and the show.

GS: So you previously said you were open to everything, and I'm guessing it would be in the far future if possible, but since there are a handful of competitive toys somewhat similar to Bakugan. Would you ever consider a crossover?

JG: That's not my department exactly but i will say that what we'e trying to do is be a category defining best in class game. While there are toy battling games and there are trading card games, there has never been a collectible toy and trading card game like this where we have both the fun and the kinetic toy and the dexterity part of that, but also the strategy and depth of a trading card game. There's nothing else like that in the world, and so Bakugan is the only one and it's going to be the best one and that's what we're really focused on.

GS: Earlier you mentioned appealing to a broader audience, is there a target audience or age for Bakugan?

JG: A hundred percent we're trying to get a broader audience. So there's the basic toy battling game, where it can be five year olds, you roll the toy, it pops open, you add up the numbers on the core that you open and the number on the figure and if my number is higher than yours I win, win three in a row and the game is over. Little kids can be taught quickly and play it, it's a great introduction.

Then we have the card game, which you can learn once you're around eight or nine years old and learn how to play and that everybody can enjoy and play. We have tons of families, a father and a daughter came up to me at the last show and said it's amazing because it's a game they can play together and both have a good time and she can beat him and they can have fun. So it's really trying to be something that again is going to last for decades, and it has got to be something that's accessible, but still have enough depth and interest to keep you playing for many years to come and that's exactly what we're trying to do with Bakugan.

GS: Is it true that if a Bakugan doesn't pop out then that player loses,  and what is the proper or best technique to ensure a lower chance of this?

JG: Every given battle if your Bakugan doesn't open and if you miss, then you're going to lose that fight. But in the basic game you have to win three fights to win a battle so even if you lose one it's not that big a deal, and in the advanced game whenever you when a fight you attack the other players deck and start flipping cards off of it and you lose if you lose all the cards in your deck. Of course you're going to miss sometimes, you're never going to hit a hundred percent, even I don't hit a hundred percent, but that's part of the skill of the game. We even have some strategic cards we've designed that let you re-roll, so if you miss you can use a strategic re-roll card to be able to get back in the game. So there's a lot of ways to mitigate that if you don't get the roll you need to.

The most important thing is to know where the magnet is on the toy. Each toy has a magnet listed and if you drop it anywhere else it's not going to open but if you land it there then it pops right open, so know where the magnet is. There's usually an arrow that points you on how you should roll, so you want to roll along the axes so that it will be more likely to hit and open. That's the normal way to roll, and if you watch there are some really cool online videos to show you some more trick ways to roll and spin move and other cool things you can do, but that's more advanced as you practice. How do you become a Bakugan master? Well, you got to practice.

Bakugan: Battle Planet toys are available online or at your local retailer. You can catch Bakugan: Battle Planet on Cartoon Network or on YouTube. Bakugan: Fan Hub is available on the App Store and Google Play. You can also follow the official Bakugan social media pages on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Dealing with Loss and Death Tue, 09 Jul 2019 11:00:01 -0400 John Schutt

Editor's note: If you've somehow not played Final Fantasy VII, be aware there are major spoilers in this article. Proceed with caution. 

Final Fantasy VII Remake is on its way, and with it will come a whole new generation of players who've never experienced one of the seminal titles in the long-running series. Positioned to be more than just a by-the-numbers rehashing, Remake aims to reimagine, update, and expand on the already massive Final Fantasy VII.

From its combat systems to its narrative, lore, and overall philosophy, nothing will be left to chance in Remake. And despite its genre-defying story beats and deep worldbuilding, one of Final Fantasy VII's most powerful aspects was the way it dealt with death.

There were plenty of big moments — Aerith, the Nibelheim flashback, the final cutscene with the Lifestream and Meteor — but the truly impactful moments were often subtle or hidden away; some only took up a tiny portion of our playtime. Remake has the opportunity to bring us more small moments and to flesh out those that already play a valuable part, especially coming in such a large package

I want to talk about two of these smaller moments and what Remake could do with them. These are the interaction between Dyne and Barret and the death of Tifa’s mother.

Dyne and Barret: The Crushing Weight of Loss

We don’t know much about Dyne beyond that he was Barret’s best friend, wanted to stand up for the ways of his people, and, like Barret, lost everything in the ShinRa attack that destroyed their home.

The difference here is in how the two characters coped with the unimaginable loss of all they had ever known.

Barret returned to the ruins of his hometown to salvage whatever he could of his past before fleeing half-way across Midgar. He found a new purpose in Dyne’s daughter, Marlene, and for her sake, he desired to create a better world — from the ashes of the old, if necessary.

Dyne fell, both physically and metaphorically, into a pit from which he would never truly return. He assumed that everything and everyone he’d ever known or loved was dead. Filled with hatred for both the people who wouldn’t believe him and the ShinRa who deceived them, Dyne wanted to create a different world as well.

However, because he believed his loss to be total, Dyne desired a world in flames, burning with the same rage he would carry for years.

Barret, despite the failings of his past, could nonetheless see a path forward for both himself and those he cared about. He saw it with such clarity, and chased it with such ferocity, that he was willing to put his morals aside if it meant no one would ever have to experience what he had. Though he’d lost his wife and child in the blaze, and even though he knew Marlene was not his by blood, Barret found it impossible to not move forward. To do so would forfeit what little of himself he had left after the ShinRa attack.

Dyne only saw the past, and the visions of hell it continually showed him were the only things keeping him alive. The future, he reasoned, could only be reached if everyone lived in the same pain he did. What purpose was there to living if you could lose everything in just a few moments?

Dyne decided that the future didn’t matter if the past refused to die.

When they finally met again, the boss fight between them was more than just combat: it was a clash of philosophies. It was a clash of hope and hopelessness. Both men, who’d done horrible things in pursuit of their dreams, could not see eye to eye in the face of their shared loss.

There are many ways the Remake can expand upon this relationship, but I think the most valuable would be Barret returning to Corel and finding Marlene while expanding the conversation between Dyne and Barret during their battle.

Much of Barret’s motivation is implied in the original game. While there’s a strength to that method of storytelling, I think seeing what he saw firsthand and controlling him as he fights his way back to Corel to sift through the ashes could have an incredible impact.

Experiencing his hopelessness through gameplay, and seeing with our own eyes how he found a new path through a tiny remnant of his old life, could be a moment well-worthy of the source material.

The Dyne fight in the Desert Prison is somewhat anticlimactic in the 1997 version, and though difficult enough, it doesn’t give either character a chance to explore the pent up emotions both men have contained within themselves for almost five years.

I’m sure both of them have plenty more to say to one another than the few words they exchange in the older title. Such an expanded fight would also give players a chance to see what kind of fighting style a man without hope would use against the man who robbed him of it.

How cruel would Dyne be, and how ferociously would Barret fight back to try and convince his former friend to understand?

We’ll have to wait for the Remake to find out. Hopefully. 

Tifa and Cloud: Loss that Pushes Away and Binds Together

Cloud and Tifa were neighbors growing up. Tifa was in her small mansion, Cloud was in a humble three-room house. We only know of Cloud’s mother, but we know more of Tifa, who lived happily with both of her parents for 14 years.

Cloud pined after Tifa for a long time, and though the two were not close, she did know of him. Then one day, Tifa’s mother fell ill, and after her death, Tifa tried to cross the local mountain to find her again, only to fall and gravely injure herself.

Cloud had followed Tifa longer than any of the other boys, determined not only to protect the girl he liked but become something more in her eyes. His failure would define the next seven years of his life.

The two would grow closer, but the specter of Tifa’s loss would continue to define their relationship. For her part, Tifa could never bring herself to accept Cloud as more than a close friend. It would be years before she learned of Cloud following her up the mountain or of his young longing.

While not emotionally stunted by her mother’s death, in the five years between it and Cloud leaving to join SOLDIER, she found it hard to bring herself to open up to anyone.

More than this, because Tifa’s father blamed Cloud for her accident on the mountain, it’s likely that she was either forbidden or strongly cautioned against getting to know him more than so much.

For his part, Cloud never forgot how he’d tried and failed to protect the one he cared for most, and would eventually dedicate himself to overcoming his own weaknesses — mostly to show her that he was worthy of her affection and praise. That he would fail to join SOLDIER, as he’d vowed to one night under a starry sky, would forever fill him with shame.

After leaving home to prove to both Tifa and himself that he was more than just a boy from a small town, the distance she felt between herself and Cloud faded, and she began to dream of what he might become.

In the Remake, I think we need to actually see Tifa’s mother and discover what kind of impact she no doubt had on her daughter’s childhood. What messages did she leave for Tifa, what promises, admonitions, and disdains? All we see in the original game is Tifa’s reaction to her mother’s death, but the last things we hear, see, or do with a person before they’re suddenly gone can determine decades of our lives.

She doesn’t need to play a big part, at least in the initial scene we see at the well. But I think she should be present even then, because hearing her call out to Tifa or scold Cloud for keeping Tifa out too late, would give us a good idea about what kind of person she was to both characters.

I won’t go so far as to say we want to have additional scenes in the past than exist in the original story, but there should certainly be some mention of Tifa’s mother during the Nibelheim scene. We might get some foreshadowing for the full reveal much later in the story, and maybe start to see, even then, how her death helped define Tifa’s burgeoning love for the man she almost didn’t know.


Death is the only certainty in life, and it, therefore, it helps define everything we as humans do with our lives and the lives of those we affect. Final Fantasy VII makes a laudable attempt — successful, I believe — to quantify and qualify how different people deal with mortality.

Stories like those we've discussed are valuable not only because they're well written and deal with situations we might know in our own lives, but also because they can help us cope with grief in new ways. Failing that, they can provide us with perspective, especially in retrospect, about how people like us — with flaws, desires, and pasts burdened with guilt or regret —approach those parts of life touched by death. 

As I've reflected on Final Fantasy VII for this article, I've come to a new appreciation for how much it can do to calm the psyche of someone wracked with sorrow, and the hope it can provide to those struggling with grief. Stories like Barret's, about those who've lost so much but found new ways to forge ahead despite their suffering. Stories like Tifa's, who almost missed the one thing that really mattered because all they could see was their pain.

It's characters and situations like these that teach us as players that our own struggles are not necessarily unique even as they differ from those of everyone around us. And even though Final Fantasy VII and its Remake are works of fiction, it is often through such mediums that we come to understand ourselves on a deeper level. 

In short, we can use games like Final Fantasy VII as clear reflections of our own reality, even though its world is filled with magic, monsters, and other fantasy trappings. Its people are still people and they are just as fragile and conflicted as any we might find on the street. And like us, their relationship with death is complex, nuanced, and helps make them who they are.

Which Sims Game Has the Most Careers? Tue, 09 Jul 2019 10:00:05 -0400 Lisa Filmer

When it comes to the Sims franchise, there is no shortage of career opportunities for your sims.

Between base game careers, expansion pack careers, career branches, pet careers, part-time jobs, self-employed careers, and freelancing careers among the choices, there are many to choose from.

Let’s see which game among the four has the most career options between all these factors!

The Sims (1) Career Total: 21

Starting with The Sims, they started with 10 base game careers, and added 11 more with the expansion packs. Thus, making the game have a total of 21 careers. They included:

  • Business
  • Entertainment
  • Law enforcement
  • Life of Crime
  • Medicine
  • Military
  • Politics
  • Pro Athlete
  • Science
  • Xtreme
  • Animal Care
  • Circus
  • Culinary Arts
  • Education
  • Fame
  • Fashion
  • Hacker
  • Journalism
  • Musician
  • Paranormal
  • Slacker

The Sims 2 Career Total: 25

The Sims 2 started off with the same amount of base game careers as The Sims, which is 10 base careers. Then they added 15 additional careers with expansion packs. They also added 3 pet careers for your furry friends, which makes for a total of 25 careers in The Sims 2 (excluding pets). They include:

  • Athletic
  • Business
  • Criminal
  • Culinary
  • Law Enforcement
  • Medicine
  • Politics
  • Science
  • Slacker
  • Adventurer
  • Architecture
  • Artist
  • Dance
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Gamer
  • Intelligence
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Music
  • Natural Science
  • Oceanography
  • Paranormal
  • Show Business

The Sims 3 career total: 29

The Sims 3 has the most careers in any sims game so far, totally 29. The base game included 11 careers, and by the time they finished adding content there were 18 expansion pack careers.

They also added part-time careers, self-employed careers, and career branches. The careers include:

  • Business
  • Criminal
  • Culinary
  • Journalism
  • Law Enforcement
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Music
  • Political
  • Professional Sports
  • Science
  • Acrobat
  • Architectural Designer
  • Art Appraiser
  • Astronomer
  • Bot Arena
  • Daycare
  • Education
  • Film
  • Firefighter
  • Fortune Teller
  • Ghost Hunter
  • Investigator
  • Lifeguard
  • Magician
  • Singer
  • Sports Agent
  • Stylist
  • Video Game Developer

The Sims 4 career total (currently): 21

Currently The Sims 4 is catching up in the number of careers. They have 11 base game careers, and the expansion packs have added 10 more careers.

They also have part-time jobs, children’s scouts, drama club, and freelancer careers. The careers include:

  • Astronaut
  • Athlete
  • Business
  • Criminal
  • Culinary
  • Entertainer
  • Painter
  • Secret Agent
  • Style Influencer
  • Tech Guru
  • Writer, Detective
  • Doctor
  • Scientist
  • Critic
  • Politician
  • Social Media
  • Gardener
  • Actor
  • Military
  • Conservationist

The Sims 4 just released a new expansion called "Island Living" a few days ago, adding the Conservationist career. Assuming more content is coming for The Sims 4, the total careers for the game should increase.

EA continues to add more career content with every game since the first Sims game, but as it stands now The Sims 3 has the most career choices available. So no matter what you want to be, The Sims series has you covered.

Daymare 1998 Early Impressions: Classic Survival Horror Is Back, Just Not as Scary (Yet) Mon, 01 Jul 2019 14:05:15 -0400 Ty Arthur

If you're tired of the seemingly constant barrage of first-person horror games where you have to run or hide and can't shoot anything, you aren't alone. Indie developer Invader Studios is looking to resurrect the classic survival horror feel of yesteryear, but with a revamped interface that appeals more strongly to modern gamers.

After previously working on an unofficial Resident Evil 2 remake, Daymare 1998 is an original creation currently brewing at Invader, and we got the chance to play through the first two levels as development tracks for a 2019 release.

Here's what we thought. 

Old Feel, New Mechanics

Everything about Daymare will feel familiar at first. Something has gone terribly wrong in a research lab (seriously, why do we even have research labs when we know they will always get filled with infected zombies?!?), and it's up to you to find out what happened while trying to contain the situation.

A steady stream of nods to the genre's origins will pop up you're a HADES team member instead of a STARS team member, for instance but the story diverges a bit from what you might expect.

This time, we're dealing with the resurrection of a bioagent the Japanese had intended to use to wipe out America after we dropped the atomic bombs at the end of World War II.

In terms of actual gameplay, Invader nailed the feel of early survival horror in this early access demo, especially in the inventory combination mechanics, level layout, and slower gun battles replete with very deliberate reloading animations. 

Instead of a simple copy-paste job, though, there are some much-needed quality of life upgrades here that will make your playthrough a bit easier.

We all tend to think of the classics as infallible, but the fact of the matter is that the original Resident Evil is borderline unplayable these days with those awful camera angles and unbelievably clunky controls.

Thankfully, Daymare 1998 updates those elements without losing the classic feel, somewhat like the Resident Evil 2 remake. Controls are smooth, but still very clearly influenced by the original RE style. Bullet inventory management is complex and inefficient on purpose; it's all to make combat more frantic and difficult. However, it isn't so hard you'll just give up.

Of course, some modern players who never experienced the original games may be a little frustrated. For those used to vaulting over any obstacle or climbing up every ladder to explore hidden nooks and crannies for a combat advantage, Daymare could be frustrating. 

Aside from the faithful old-school inventory and U.I. updates, I was particularly impressed with the game's puzzle design in these first two advanced levels. This isn't "take the red key to the red door" type stuff; instead, you have to actually remember information you saw on a computer screen or on a note and then use it to figure out how to advance later on.

The end result is a steady stream of challenging sections that will make you think but aren't impossible without a guide, just like any good puzzle should be.

Tantalizing Teasers

While the gameplay had me wanting to see more of Daymare beyond the first two levels, one little secret, in particular, has me intrigued. It all stems from the level of effort put in by the developers.

Early on in the first level, I found an Easter egg that can't actually be accessed yet, and I am now highly keen to find out how it will interact with the full game.

While sweeping through the Aegis lab, our spec ops agent, Liev, runs across a random URL for an in-game company. It's at the end of a document that's easy to miss. I immediately Alt-Tabbed out to open Chrome and lo and behold, the site exists!

Unfortunately, you can't actually enter in a username or password yet, which has me wondering just how this site will interact with the game and if it will be necessary for completing puzzles, finding extra collectibles of some kind, or perhaps rounding out the story.

Things Were Scarier In 1998

We've been over the good, so let's take a moment to consider what might take Daymare off your must-buy list as a survival horror fan.

If there's on major flaw here, it's the lack of a big scare factor. It's hard to say if that's because we've all grown up or gotten used to the standard horrors of the genre, but the low-key scares are a problem here.

There are times where you can tell you are supposed to feel that "Oh, shit, Nemesis is here and I need to run!" sensation, but it just falls a bit flat as of now. Nothing in these levels brings about that jarring feeling you get when the dogs first jump through the windows in Resident Evil, either.

That issue is exacerbated because the main character in these levels isn't particularly likable, and I was never all that concerned if he made it out alive. I remember being absolutely mortified the first time Leon got chainsawed in half in Resident Evil 4, but I didn't feel anything like that when this random civilian-killing special ops guy gets eaten.

To be fair, Daymare does a better job handling scares than certain other indie games in recent years like Phantaruk or Perception, where the monsters just flat out failed to evoke any sort of visceral response.

While the camera is updated from the awful early Resident Evil days, with the focused combat style of classic survival horror utilized here, it is easy to get into a situation where you miss an enemy coming from behind.

That style makes some effective jump scare moments just during normal gameplay, completely independent of any sort of scripted events where the horror would normally be placed.

The Bottom Line In Early Preview 

While we only got to see two levels and one out of three main characters set to appear in the game, the degree of quality on display with this advance preview is unexpectedly high for an indie release.

Simply put, Daymare nails the old school third-person survival horror feel, and it features enough twists on the style to be worth playing even if you've already fully explored every last title in the genre.

In fact, that's one area where Daymare really excels, as it seems like the full game will be quite varied based on these advanced levels. I'm hoping more variety is in store when the full game arrives later this year.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Console Tariffs, Canceled WoW Successor, New PUBG, More Sat, 29 Jun 2019 09:00:01 -0400 GS_Staff

This week, Nintendo teamed up with Sony and Microsoft in a rebuttal against the Trump Administration's proposed console tariffs, and PUBG Corp confirmed a new game in the franchise is in development. 

We also published a few fantastic reviews on games such as Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Samurai Shodown, Steel Division 2, The Sinking City, and Crash Team Racing. Of course, we've got a handful of guides on many of the latest releases. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna do? Play video games? 


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  • Harry Potter Wizards Unite Greenhouses: How to Grow and Gather Ingredients
    Have a look at our Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Greenhouse guide and learn all about these useful buildings. Read more

  • Harry Potter Wizards Unite: What Does The Spectrespecs Lens Do?
    Although it seems like this new lens should connect to the Spectrespecs challenge item, it's a lot less helpful than that. Read more

  • How To Use Dark Detectors in Harry Potter Wizards Unite
    Functioning like Pokemon Go's Lures, you can use Dark Detectors to increase spawn rates at Inns while grabbing your daily energy. Read more

  • Harry Potter Wizards Unite Master Notes For All Potions
    With all these Master Notes in hand, you can brew potions much faster to tackle more dangerous threats escaped from the wizarding world! Read more

  • The Importance of Portkeys in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
    Want to know what Portmanteau are and why they are important? Read our Portkey guide to find out. Read more

  • Dota Underlords: The Best Heroes to Recruit in Any Match
    Dota Underlords is finally open to all players, and you can try it out using this guide to the best heroes in the game. Read more

  • Dota Underlords: The Best Items to Shoot For Every Match
    Find out which items will fit your heroes the most with the help of this best items list for Dota Underlords. Read more

  • The Sinking City Fast Travel Phone Booth Locations
    Need to get around the city without walking hundreds of miles? We show you every single phone booth in Oakmont for fast traveling between quests! Read more

  • The Sinking City Best Skills Guide
    Want to stay alive longer and keep your inventory full of shotgun shells and first aid kits? We show you the absolute best and most critical skills to pick in The Sinking City! Read more

  • The Sinking City Side Case And Main Quest Locations
    Looking for a specific case location in The Sinking City? We've listed out every single place you can visit in the city of Oakmont! Read more

  • The Sinking City Guide To Solving Cases And Finding Supplies
    Can't seem to find enough ammo to stay alive or track down the right clues to complete cases? We show you exactly what you need to do to thrive in The Sinking City! Read more

  • Risk of Rain 2: How to Unlock the New Character Rex
    A guide on how to unlock the new character, Rex, in Risk of Rain 2. Read more.

  • How to Beat Prince Wiggletail in World of Warcraft
    Here is the exact location and a couple of methods on how to beat Prince Wiggletail in Rise of Azshara, a new update of Battle for Azeroth. Read more

  • How To Receive All The Free Play Passes In Judgment
    Running low on play passes? Luckily, if you find all 6 free play passes, you can play Dice and Cube for free! Here's how to get 'em. Read more

  • How to Find Nargacuga in the Monster Hunter: World Iceborne Beta
    Nargacuga's hidden in this round of MHW Iceborne beta testing. Here's how to take the guesswork out of finding it! Read more

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. Be sure to check previous weeks for more content: 

Guy Plays Dark Souls 3 Using Nothing But Raw Meat Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:04:21 -0400 Jonathan Moore

The input lag was fierce, but popular YouTuber Damien Haas proved that Dark Souls can, in fact, be played and, to some extent, beaten with any input device.

In this case, Dark Souls 3 with little giblets of raw meat. 

While others have beaten Dark Souls using a steering wheel, a Guitar Hero controller, a fishing rod, and even a pair of bananas, Haas decided that since players essentially "play as a zombie" in the Dark Souls games, using meat as an input source was only fitting.

With the power of a Makey Makey invention kit, which can turn damn near anything into a keyboard/controller, Haas set out on his journey. 

Initially, the goal was defeating the game's tutorial boss, Iudex Gundyr, a hefty task for some even with a controller. Things were made more challenging by slippery paper plates and no way of easily remembering which piece of meat did what. 

But, according to Haas, the absolute worst was that the "meat smells like ass." 

I won't spoil much more because it's truly an amazing example of man's ingenious ingenuity and persistent persistence.

When Haas isn't literally beating meat to Dark Souls, he's busy lending his voice to games like Grand Theft Auto V and Fortnite. On top of that, he's a permanent member of the wildly popular Smosh Fam, and makes appearances on Smosh Gaming's YouTube channel

There's no denying that Dark Souls players are some of the most masochistic gamers on the planet. Many, having beaten each of the games dozens of times, seek out creatively absurd ways by which to experience the soul-crushing ARPG franchise. 

Earlier this year, ATwerkingYoshi beat the entirety of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on a set of Donkey Kong bongo drums. 


We're Giving Away 5 PS4 Codes for Team Sonic Racing (Closed) Thu, 27 Jun 2019 15:02:37 -0400 GS_Staff

Rev your engines and get ready to race: We've got five PS4 codes for Team Sonic Racing, and we're giving them away to five lucky (read: random) winners!

To enter, all you have to do is use that giant, impossible-to-miss widget below. It's a real beaut. 

Each action will give you a certain amount of entries, meaning the more actions you perform, the more entries you'll get. Nice and easy.

Please note that these codes are region-locked to North America, and you have be18 years or older to enter

Any of the information provided below is only used to contact you in the event you are chosen as a winner. No additional use, pinky promise.

Team Sonic Racing PS4 Code Giveaway

Team Sonic Racing is one of the best kart racers released in years. Reigniting the console wars of yore, TSR is a worthy rival to Mario Kart in almost every way. 

In our review for the game, we said "is a fresh evolution of the series that surprises and exhilarates in a brand new way. Sonic has seen a lot of changes over the years, and this is one of the best yet whether you just want a new kart racer or are in need of a 3D Sonic title because it's pretty dang close."

When We’ll Announce the Winner:

There will be 5 Team Sonic Racing PS4 keys given away and the winners will be announced July 3, 2019. The contest closes on Tuesday, July 2 at 11:59 p.m., that's less than a week away. Good luck, everyone!

Dying Light 2 Preview: Making Decisions Matter In The Zombie Apocalypse Wed, 26 Jun 2019 10:36:53 -0400 David Jagneaux

The zombie video game has long overstayed its welcome in my book. We've seen the mindless co-op shooters, the emotionally charged narrative adventures, the survival-based online games, and even the sniping-based games all about zombies. It's time to move on, right?

But then again, there's Dying Light 2.

Despite the odds, it's a first-person action game with lots of zombies that managed to not only surprise me but leave me optimistic after an hour-long hands-off demo at E3 2019 earlier this month.

New Kind Of Apocalypse

To understand the core of what made Dying Light 2 so impressive, you need to understand why so many people loved the previous game. Most zombie games are defined by their violence. Whether that be a downpour of bullets shredding through undead heads or just gratuitous gore exploding with blood and guts everywhere, it's a genre that revels in its bloodiness. And I totally get it.

But Dying Light was a game that used zombies as the backdrop for an otherwise rich and vibrant open world. In many cases, you were actively encouraged to avoid zombies and run away from them just as the protagonists often do in most non-gaming zombie media. And to make that running away more fun, Techland employed an impressive parkour system that let you leap across rooftops, slide along the ground, and dropkick the undead like never before.

Now, with Dying Light 2, that's all been cranked up to 11. This time around, you can clearly see and feel the Mirror's Edge influences as the player is allowed to wall run, slide under barriers, kick down doors, leap out of windows, swing across pipes, ride along zip lines, and so much more. There was even a grappling hook mixed with a paraglider for traversal that looked fantastic.

I also spotted a stamina meter similar to Breath of the Wild while climbing. Overall, it reminded me of a first-person view of the opening scene in Aladdin, and it seems exhilarating.

During combat, there seemed to be a satisfying weight behind everything from melee swings to taking damage and even leaping through the air. A specific moment that really stuck with me is when the developer jumped up, kicked a zombie through a glass window, and then rode its body down to the ground to break their fall and continued rolling forward to chase a van without stopping.

It was a gloriously epic few seconds that felt like something out of a blockbuster action flick.

According to the developer that walked me through the demo, the biggest new element in Dying Light 2 is the evolving narrative sandbox. They've signed on Chris Avellone to help with the story (the same guy that was a designer and writer for Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, Baldur's Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, and a bunch of other revered RPGs), so I have got high hopes for the story this time around.

Decisions That Matter

Reportedly, if you finish all of the missions and complete the game, that will mean you've seen about half of the game's actual content. The reason for this is that there is a multitude of decisions you have to make that literally prevent you from seeing alternate outcomes or other areas of the "modern Dark Age" setting.

For example, at the end of the demo I saw, the player was faced with a decision of who to trust and who to side against. The ending result caused an entire section of the city to be drained of water, revealing a new under-city below that dramatically expanded the map. Picking the other path would have, supposedly, done something totally different.

I appreciate the diversity in ways to approach scenarios as well. You can head in with the intent to fight your way through enemies, or sneak around and behind entire strongholds if you find a good enough parkour path.

We've seen countless open-world games that promise wide-reaching decisions but haven't truly delivered. However, from what I've seen of Dying Light 2, I'm certainly optimistic that won't be the case here.

In fact, Techland said they still aren't even sure how many dedicated endings will be available in the main storyline itself, but they've still got about a year left to decide.

Dying Light 2 is slated for a Spring 2020 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 


For more E3 coverage, check the links below: 

GameSkinny Weekend Download: E3 Previews + Roundups, Bloodstained, Harry Potter, More Sat, 22 Jun 2019 09:00:01 -0400 GS_Staff

This week, we've got a ton of E3 coverage, ranging from hands-on previews of games like Final Fantasy VII Remake, Doom Eternal, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, to roundups of every conference just in case you missed something. 

We've also got news on Gears 5 and FFVII Remake, as well as tons of guides on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Hell Let Loose

Finally, we've got a handful of reviews for some of the latest games and gear. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna' do? Play video games? 


  • Tetsuya Nomura Says FFVII Includes Modernized Honeybee Inn and Tifa
    Square Enix has an ethics department, Cloud will cross dress, and your dialogue choices matter. Nomura discusses these things and more in a new interview. Read more

  • The Art of Amy Brown Set to Enchant the Tabletop World With Fickle
    Compete for fairy favor and be crowned ruler in Fickle, the tabletop game featuring the art of Amy Brown. Read more

  • Dr. Mario World Pre-Registration Open Now for iOS and Android
    The mobile Dr. Mario game gets a new trailer as well, showing off its many features and, of course, its microtransactions. Read more

  • Monster Hunter: World Iceborne Beta Soon, Here Are the Dates
    The Monster Hunter: World Iceborne beta will be running before the end of June. Read more

  • Grim Dawn Getting Epic Fantasy Makeover With Loyalist Pack DLC, New Patch
    A full retinue of vanity items and spell effects is coming to the popular ARPG. Read more

  • New Retro Console Evercade Goes Old School with Cartridge Compilations
    The Evercade looks to fill the retro handheld console niche with unique cartridge compilations and the promise of more games to come. Read more

  • Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories Making Its Way to PS4, Switch, and PC
    NISA is bringing the niche survival series back to the West, with plenty of branching story paths and natural disasters to test your mettle. Read more.

  • Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Out Now, But Leaves Some Players in the Lurch
    Wizards Unite includes more content than Pokemon GO did at launch, but not all players get to enjoy it. Read more

  • EA Defends Lootboxes As "Quite Ethical" In Statements to U.K. Parliament
    Kerry Hopkins, vice president of legal and government affairs at EA compared said lootboxes are nothing more than "surprise mechanics." Read more

  • Gears 5 Drops Gear Packs, Season Pass But Adds Pay-to-Win Feature
    Gears 5 is dropping all random paid elements in favor of greater transparency, but seems to be slipping in a pay-to-win mechanic to make up for it. Read more


  • Cadence of Hyrule Review — Rhythm and Roguelike Combine in a Title That Hy-Rules
    Cadence of Hyrule is a fresh approach to the classic 2D Legend titles that looks and sounds amazing, but it doesn't last long. Read more

  • Dragon Star Varnir Review: Dark Magic
    Dragon Star Varnir could use some polishing in a few areas, but the combat, setting, and story make for a dark and compelling RPG nonetheless. Read more

  • HyperX Cloud Stinger Wireless Review: A Solid Wireless Offering
    The Cloud Stinger Wireless might be twice as much as the wired model, but it's one of the best wireless gaming headsets under $100. Read more

  • GameSir GM300 Mouse Review: Surprisingly Good & Customizable
    The GM300 is a customizable ambidextrous mouse that might be budget, but it sure as hell isn't cheap. Read more

  • Hell Let Loose Early Access Impressions
    If you're tired of the same old shooters that have no connection to reality, then Hell Let Loose will satisfy your need for complex and accurate war simulators. Read more

  • My Friend Pedro Switch Review — Action-packed, Bananas, but Cumbersome
    My Friend Pedro is a wild ride full of high-octane action, but the game's balletic bullet catharsis is marred by the cumbersome controls and lack of clear direction. Read more

  • Hands-On with the Children of Morta Demo: Compelling High-Fantasy
    Dead Mage Studios' Children of Morta demo shows off a polished early build of the action RPG that leaves me looking forward to the final product later this year. Read more.
  • Judgment Review: Ace Attorney
    Though there are some hiccups along the way, Judgment proves without a doubt that Ryu Ga Gotoku studio doesn't need Kazuma Kiryu to sell a great game. Read more


  • Mark Your Calendars: Every Release Date Announced at E3 2019
    E3 2019 brought a ton of new games to our lives, and many of them came with release date announcements, too. Here is every date you need to mark on your calendar. Read more

  • The Outer Worlds E3 2019 Preview: Strange Worlds in Strange Times
    Live E3 gameplay from Obsidian's upcoming quirky sci-fi RPG, The Outer Worlds, showed us what we can expect from the Fallout developer. Read more

  • Contra: Rogue Corps E3 2019 Preview — An Altered Take on the Contra Experience
    Konami's newest entry in the shoot em' up series captures the Contra spirit even if some aren't yet convinced. Read more

  • Luigi's Mansion 3 E3 Preview: Boo, Goo, and Improved
    The third installment of the spooktacular spin-off series looks to conjure the most fun yet. Read more

  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 E3 2019 Preview
    Our E3 impressions of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games left us wanting more challenging gameplay. Read more

  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order E3 2019 Preview
    Marvel Ultimate Alliance: The Black Order is a chaotic romp that might be hard for newcomers to get into. Read more

  • Pokemon Sword & Shield E3 2019 Preview: The Biggest Gym Battles Ever Deserve Bigger Features
    Our demo with the upcoming eighth generation of the main Pokemon series had us wanting more. Read more

  • The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening E3 2019 Preview: Gameplay You Remember, New Visuals You Already Love
    At E3 2019, we got some hands-on time with the remake of the beloved Game Boy classic. Read more

  • Eldest Souls E3 2019 Preview: Praise the Boss Rush
    Fallen Flag Studios' upcoming boss-centric adventure, Eldest Souls, shone brightly at E3 2019. Read more

  • Doom Eternal E3 2019 Preview: Better And Bloodier Than Ever
    We played Doom Eternal at the Bethesda booth this year at E3 2019 and came away excited to spill more demon blood than ever before. Read more

  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood E3 2019 Preview — Co-Op Nazi Killing
    We played a co-op demo for Wolfenstein: Youngblood at E3 2019 and came away impressed with the speed of its cooperative gameplay. Read more

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution Interview with Producer Charles Murakami
    At E3 2019, we got to talk to the producer of the upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive Yu-Gi-Oh! game. Read more

  • New Horizons is The Best — and Only — Direction for Animal Crossing
    With its exotic new setting and deeper customization, Animal Crossing: New Horizons looks to be the big step forward the series needs to remain relevant. Read more

  • All Aboard the Death Boat in Phantom: Covert Ops, a Stealth-Action Kayaking Game in VR
    Some people aren't quite ready for the Cold War to be over yet. Convince them otherwise with your sniper rifle and trusty kayak in Phantom: Covert Ops, a VR action game for the Oculus platform. Read more

  • Cyberpunk 2077 E3 2019 Preview: The Future is Completely Customizable
    We saw Cyberpunk 2077 behind closed doors at E3 2019. Here's what we know. Read more

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake Hands-On Preview: Breaking Limits All Over Again
    We went hands-on with the Final Fantasy VII Remake at E3 2019 and can confirm that not only is it real, but it was a ton of fun. Read more

  • Zombie Army 4: Dead War E3 2019 Preview — More Zombies Than You Can Snipe At
    At E3 2019, we got some hands-on time with Rebellion's upcoming undead infested third-person shooter. Read more

  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Gameplay Shown, Story Confirmed Canon
    The first Jedi: Fallen Order gameplay shows off Kal's Jedi Powers, introduces skill points, and plenty of combat. And it's canon? What? Read more

  • Wave Break Preview: Move over Tony Hawk, It's Time For Bears & Boats
    At E3 2019 we got some hands-on time with Funkotronic Lab's quirky upcoming arcade skateboarding inspired title. Read more

  • Nintendo E3 2019 Recap: Surprises, Sequels, and Remakes
    From a Breath of the Wild sequel and Animal Crossing Switch delays to Bango-Kazooie in Smash Ultimate, Nintendo's brief E3 Direct was stuffed full of big announcements. Read more

  • Square Enix E3 2019 Recap: FFVII Remake, Marvel's Avengers Just the Beginning
    From FFVII Remake to Marvel's Avengers — with SaGa, SE Collective, FFXIV, Dragon Quest, and more in between — Square Enix's E3 2019 presentation was packed full of what fans wanted to see. Read more

  • E3 2019: Highlights From the PC Gaming Show
    Highlights from E3 2019's PC Gaming Show, including Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, Terraria, Shenmue 3, Autochess, and much more. Read more

  • E3 2019 Bethesda Showcase Recap: Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls, Doom: Eternal Take Center Stage
    The most requested Fallout 76 feature is coming, and we also saw major news on Doom Eternal and Elder Scrolls Blades, in addition to brand-new titles. Read more

  • E3 2019 Microsoft Press Conference Recap: Team Xbox Unveils Project Scarlett and a Whole Lot of Game Pass
    Microsoft's E3 2019 press conference is over, but if you missed it, don't worry! We've compiled a useful roundup of every moment you need to see. Read more

  • The Best and the Worst of the Fire Emblem Series Examined
    Fire Emblem: Three Houses is just over the horizon, so we're taking the time to break down what makes the best Fire Emblem games so good. Read more


  • How to Get Spell Energy in Harry Potter Wizards Unite
    Without spell energy, you can't do much in Wizards Unite, but recharging your energy can be done in several different ways without spending any actual muggle money. Read more

  • How to Use the Artillery Calculator in Hell Let Loose
    Learn how to properly operate Artillery with the help of a calculator in this step-by-step guide to Hell Let Loose. Read more

  • How to Change FOV in Hell Let Loose
    Here is a workaround that will allow you to change FOV in Hell Let Loose. Read more

  • How to Increase FPS in Hell Let Loose
    Increase your FPS count and save up every possible frame with the help of this quick guide to Hell Let Loose. Read more

  • How to Unlock All Difficulties in Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
    Don't want to fully beat the game on normal and hard to unlock nightmare mode? A simple save file cheat code offers up all three difficulties straight from the start! Read more

  • How to Get Bovine Plume in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
    Finding bovine plumes for the jump shard is easy if you know which enemy offers up the random drop! Read more.

  • How to Beat Zangetsu in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
    Learn how to take on one of the early bosses — Zangetsu — in this guide for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Read more

  • How To Upgrade Shards (Abilities) In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
    Here's how to upgrade shards (abilities) in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and be the most powerful alchemist that you can be. Read more

  • Where To Find The Warhorse Door & Key in Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
    How to find the Warhorse's Key and unlock the Warhorse Door in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Read more

  • How to Find Silver Bromide Location in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
    Although a patch may make the chest impossible to open, finding the silver bromide is easy once you know where to look. Read more

  • Bloodstained Ritual of the Night Millionaire Key Guide
    Want to get through that troublesome Millionaire Door in the Hall Of Termination? You'll have to find a secret ceiling spot much later on in the game to get the key! Read more

  • How To Unlock All The QR Code Skills In Judgment
    Still searching for the QR codes to unlock some of Takayuki's most potent moves? We've got you. Read more

  • The Best Way To Farm Money And SP In Judgment
    Hurting for cash and SP in Judgment? Following these simple steps will have you rolling in both in no time. Read more

  • Steel Division 2 Guide: Best Units for Deck Building
    Looking for the best units in Steel Division 2? Then, take a look at this list of the best units for your battlegroups. Read more

  • How to Play the Dota Underlords Private Beta
    Here is a simple way to get access to the newest Dota Underlords mod for Dota 2 while it's still in the closed beta stage. Read more

  • Fallout 76 Nuclear Winter: How to Invite Friends
    Haven't figured out how the friend invite system works in Nuclear Winter? It's easier than you think to play a battle royale match with your buddies! Read more

  • Where to Farm Screws in Fallout 76 (Best Locations)
    Whether buying, scavenging, or looting, we show you three easy ways to acquire large numbers of screws in a short time in Fallout 76! Read more

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

Hands-On with the Children of Morta Demo: Compelling High-Fantasy Fri, 21 Jun 2019 09:36:55 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Dead Mage Studios has been working on a new title for a few years now, called Children of Morta. It's set for a September release date, but for a short time, Dead Mage has made a beta version demo available on Steam.

The game's story centers around the Bergson family: Grandma Margaret the seer, her two sons, Ben the blacksmith and John the warrior, and John's wife and their children Mark, Linda, Kevin, Mark, and Lucy.

The Bergsons are tasked with defending the land of Rea from the lurking Corruption, a task given them by the goddess Rea herself. However, their story is told by a narrator, punctuated with snippets of dialogue here and there — also voiced by the narrator — to give each character some personality. It's an interesting choice that gives the impression you're experiencing a book that happens to let you control its characters.

That impression is only furthered by Children of Morta's overall design. The plot and setting are something straight out of a fantasy story, and while the Bergsons themselves might not be brimming with personality, it's their roles in the story that make them stand out.

Like many good fantasies, this one drops you straight into the world with only the bare necessities as far as background and how the world works. It makes for a compelling reason to continue uncovering the plot and lends an air of mystery to the entire game.

The art design deserves a mention as well. It's a delicious mix of basic sprite art for characters and streamlined, modern animations for the rest of the environment. The Bergsons' home, which doubles as the game's hub, is a good example, especially the dollhouse-opening-up effect that takes place each time you return to it.

It's a bit disappointing that design doesn't apply to the dungeons, though, which are fairly bland affairs compared to the darkly beautiful overworld.

Children of Morta's gameplay is a mix of ARPG, dungeon crawler, and roguelite. John Bergson and his kin are tasked with recovering three spirits connected to Rea in separate parts of Mount Morta to combat the plague consuming their world.

Each area is composed of several smaller dungeons, which themselves are made up of multiple floors and a final boss encounter, and the layouts are completely random; every time you die (which will happen often), you start back at the beginning of that sub-area and try again.

Like all good roguelikes/lites, though, there's a tangible sense of progression. The Bergsons gain Morv, the game's currency, for defeating enemies, and they can use the Morv to purchase attribute upgrades like improved health and defense from Uncle Ben back at their home. Yes, Uncle Ben makes you pay to get a better chance at staying alive.

Each playable family member also has a unique and upgradable skillset. Skill points are earned by gaining experience from combat, and they can then be spent on improving specific skills or unlocking new ones.

These skills, plus the different artifacts you can collect in each stage, go a long way in keeping what might seem like basic combat from being stale. There's always something new to try, some other strategy to adopt, or, of course, a different character to attempt a challenge as.

I played as John primarily, because the demo's opening segment gave me enough skill points to start making him stronger, and new or improved skills make a huge difference in how you can approach enemy mobs and strong single foes.

Getting swamped by hordes of spiders can be frustrating, but it's incredibly satisfying when you can use that loss to improve your chosen Bergson and jump back into the game, ready — and able — to push further ahead.

Despite the variety of skills and attribute upgrades at your disposal, Children of Morta is still a challenge. At times, it seems like playing solo isn't really what the game wants you to do, especially if you go for the faster, but more fragile Linda.

Where her father can cut through swathes of enemies, Linda is initially limited to targeting one foe at a time with her bow and arrow. Single player mode isn't impossible by any means, but even with John the warrior, there are plenty of places where solo players have their work cut out for them.


Children of Morta has a lot to offer already, and it's worth noting that while this is only a beta build, it's a very polished beta build with only a few minor problems noted.

If you're a fan of action RPGs, gorgeous and unique visuals, and compelling high-fantasy stories, the Children of Morta demo is well worth checking out before it's gone for good on June 22.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood E3 2019 Preview — Co-Op Nazi Killing Thu, 20 Jun 2019 08:16:46 -0400 David Jagneaux

Wolfenstein: Youngblood seemed like a weird direction for the series when it was first announced at E3 2018. A few decades ago, the series was hailed as one of the original FPS games alongside DOOM and Quake, but it has now shifted to being a more story-driven experience with lengthy single-player campaigns that make you feel the grit and gore first-hand. 

The game takes place 19 years after the events of the previous game, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, in which you play as one of BJ Blazkowicz's two daughters: Jess and Soph. Things kick off shortly after BJ disappears, prompting a good old-fashioned rescue mission.

Wolfenstein Evolved

Surprisingly, the first 10 minutes or so of my roughly 45-minute long preview session was all a cutscene. While technically not entirely required, you're really gonna' want to have played the last two games to follow what's going on here.

You're introduced to the characters as they're training with their father, learning how to hunt, fight, and shoot for survival. This is a very dark and dangerous world, and it's the only life these young women have ever known, so seeing some real humanity behind the characters before it turns into a Nazi murdering simulator was nice to see.

I'm still not sure I like either daughter very much, though. I can't remember which one is which since they're twins with different hair colors and frankly sound almost identical. The blonde is first seen hitting a punching bag to train while the dark-haired one is hunting with BJ. They bicker and tease each other like siblings, fostering a real sense of camaraderie, but at times, the tongue-in-cheek humor felt a bit over-the-top. 

Since I'm not sure exactly how the story picks up from the last one just yet, it's hard to nail down the setting exactly, but it seems like some areas of the world are still under Nazi control while others have been liberated. The sisters are being trained as Nazi-killing machines, which does imply at least a large faction of Nazis are still out there doing Nazi things.

The Blazkowicz Sisters

In the last two Wolfenstein games, BJ was a mostly silent and extremely stoic, serious hero that clashed directly with the game's often bombastic tone. It resulted in some almost accidental comedy through pure contrast, but now that the main characters share that same attitude and literally giggle about things going on, I found it a bit distracting. That being said, had I been playing with a friend I knew rather than another random journalist, I may have had more fun with it.

Luckily, the gameplay more than makes up for it. It's much faster than I expected with liberal sprint uses, a double jump, wall jumps, and a really nifty slide that made zipping under cover extremely fluid.

Since I only played as one of the sisters, I could be wrong here, but I didn't really notice a big difference between the two. I'm also not sure how it will play as a single-player game, but I'd imagine your sister will just be an AI-controlled companion in that case since the entire game and story are heavily focused on the duo traveling together.

There was a great variety of weapons on display from shotguns and pistols to SMGs and assault rifles. They all felt great and had different recoil patterns to get used to. 

Nazi Killing

One thing I really appreciated is that Wolfenstein: Youngblood seems to be a good bit more challenging than the previous two games. Rather than just mowing through enemies as you run from the start of a mission to the end, we actually had to strategize about how to approach areas that were full of enemies. Lots of armored goons showed up as road blocks, and we often needed to split up to divide and conquer. 

There was a lot of variety in the types of weapons that enemies used, such as the massive flame attacks from the big guys and the medium-sized shotgun guards. The boss fight at the end of the first mission we tried required a few tries before we were actually able to take him down. Mobility was key since he could easily take one of us out in a matter of seconds.

The freedom of movement was a huge part of the gameplay, and it makes for quite the spectacle. Double-jumping through the air, climbing up onto platforms, sliding across the floor, and switching weapons on the fly was really intense and felt almost like a Respawn shooter moreso than it did a Wolfenstein game. 

I'm still not sure how Wolfenstein: Youngblood will translate for single-player gamers, but it was a blast in co-op. If you've got a buddy to play it with, this looks like a great option for Nazi killing fun.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood releases very soon, next month, on July 26 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. 


For more E3 coverage, check the links below: 

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution Interview with Producer Charles Murakami Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:42:11 -0400 Erroll Maas

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is an upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive based on the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game and franchise.

Link Evolution also serves as an updated version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist, which originally released digitally for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 30, 2015, and on PC via Steam on December 7, 2016.

At E3 2019, we had a chance to check out the new game as well as interview producer Charles Murakami about new summoning methods, worldwide releases, other Yu-Gi- Oh! games, and more.

GameSkinny: Link Evolution features over 9,000 cards, so is it based more on the TCG (Trading Card Game, which it's called in North America, Europe, and other territories) or the OCG (Original Card Game, as it's called in Japan)?

Charles Murakami: It's actually not based on the TCG nor OCG. If  a card is released in both territories, this game is likely to have it. There might be a few that aren't in the game like some promo cards, but for the most part, if the physical card was released worldwide, then it's in the game. This is the first time in a while that we have a game released worldwide. With each territory having the same set of cards, you can play U.S. versus Japan online. Online play is also ranked. So, if you're ranked number one online, you’ll be number one in the world.

GS: With that many cards featured in the game, how do you work with the balancing for all of it?

CM: Well, the TCG side has handled a lot of the actual card balancing, but putting all the card assets into the game, getting the cards to play correctly, and having the AI be able to play those cards has been quite a challenge, definitely. But we're diligent enough to try to make it happen.

GS: Something a lot of players noticed when Link Evolution first launched in Japan is that it already had full English language support. What was the reasoning for this?

CM: Yes, it has English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, and it has all those languages because we wanted to make sure that the game is compatible worldwide. We didn't do an exclusive Japanese version where only players in Japan can play with each other, and having multiple languages ensures that every release is the same version. This way, there won't be any problems with players competing against each other.

GS: This will be a first time in eight years a physical version of a Yu-Gi-Oh! game will release in North America and Europe. What is the reasoning behind that?

CM: It's been so long that we wanted to do that again, and the thing about physical copies is you can also lend it to a friend. Link Evolution has tutorials throughout, so if you're new to Yu-Gi-Oh! it's a good way to start. So if you're a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan and you have a friend who's interested, you can then lend a physical copy to them.

GS: Some of the cards from the OCG are censored in the TCG for a variety of reasons, but some players noticed the Japanese version still had these censorship changes. Why was that?

CM: If you play the game in English, we want to display the card art you’re used to, so the game will show the TCG card art. If you change the language to Japanese, it will show you the Japanese art for most of the cards. There's some Japanese art that we couldn’t use for different reasons, but for the most part if you play in Japanese it will actually show you the Japanese card. The game's rating is also T instead of E10+ this time.

GS: Recently, the new Master Rules, including new Monster Zones, have been introduced. Are these the only rules in the game or are the old rules in as well?

CM: It's only the new rules throughout, since we didn't want to confuse new players with lots of different types of rules. To make sure everything works with the new rules, we've tweaked many of the AI opponents’ older decks from the original Legacy of the Duelist as well.

GS: So for older players who aren't as open to newer features like Pendulum and Link summoning. What would you say to help them get interested and what did you do in this game to help do so?

CM: So the game starts all the way back from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. The first series has a little bit of Fusion summoning but the rules are fairly basic. Then, the next show, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX introduces a lot more Fusion summoning (with each following campaign introducing a new summoning method such as Synchro, Xyz, Pendulum, and Link).

Each one of these has a tutorial explaining how to use the new cards and a sequence of additional duels that slowly increase in difficulty. By the end, you'll be and expert at everything Yu-Gi-Oh!. So no matter where you may have started or stopped, this game will get you back up to speed. 

GS: So one game Link Evolution is likely to be compared to is Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links; why was the decision to make an updated version of Legacy of the Duelist for Nintendo Switch rather than a Nintendo Switch version Duel Links with an offline mode?

CM: We noticed that although there is crossover with people playing both Duel Links and the physical card game, players dedicated to Duel Links like the fast format, while others likes the longer, combo driven play of the traditional Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. We like allowing players to choose between the two.

GS: So in another comparison to Duel Links, it features some voice acting here and there but Legacy of the Duelist does not. What is the reasoning behind that?

CM: We don't have voice acting mostly because we have over 130 characters with dialogue covering multiple TV shows. That is a lot. We were actually making the game as Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS started airing, so we were literally watching the TV show during development.

It would be hard trying to get voices on top of that when we weren't even sure what the dialogue would be yet. We wanted to make sure to try and get as much of all these shows into the game as possible.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is currently available on the Japanese eShop with English language support. It will launch for Nintendo Switch both digitally and physically in North America and Europe on August 20. The physical version will include three exclusive promo cards.

For more E3 2019 coverage, but sure to head over the conference hub page. Here are a few articles to get you started: 

Doom Eternal E3 2019 Preview: Better And Bloodier Than Ever Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:22:45 -0400 David Jagneaux

Out of all the hands-on demos I had at E3 2019, I think Doom Eternal is what I enjoyed the most. This isn't to say that once all the cards are down and every game shown off releases it will be my favorite, but in terms of the demo experience, it doesn't get a whole lot better than a game that drops you into a bloodbath of demon guts and gore.

Playing Doom Eternal is simply exquisite.

Guns and Gore

Let me preface all of this by saying that I didn't finish Doom's 2016 reboot. I enjoyed it and thought the gameplay was amazing, but it just didn't pull me all the way through. After about four hours, I just got bored with the repetitive clear room, interact with thing, go to next room format. I barely made it through Bioshock Infinite for the same reason, but the story kept me going in that one. Not so much in Doom.

It remains to be seen if that same issue will apply to Doom Eternal, but after spending over half an hour with it at E3 2019, I've got hope. While the signature "move fast and shoot things" gameplay is all here in its excellent, bloody glory, there seemed to be a lot more variety this time around.

Granted, the demo took place partially through the game  so this wasn't a new player experience  but I was very much not bored throughout the entire demo. Not only did all of the guns feel incredibly different (rocket launchers, grenade launchers, a shotgun with a grappling hook, giant rail gun-style laser cannons, and more) but the environmental variety was great, too.

I was double jumping and air-dashing to boost spots across floating platforms in such a way that it almost fooled me into thinking I was playing a heavy metal platformer for a few minutes. Subverting expectations is a great way to keep my interest.

Shotgun + Grappling Hook = Perfection

But let's go back to the aforementioned shotgun with a grappling hook attached. Shotguns are my favorite type of weapon in a video game. They combine the one-shot power of a sniper rifle with up-close and personal danger, resulting in a downpour of blood that feels like the most satisfying reward imaginable for any budding demon slayer.

Doom more or less invented the Amazing Video Game Shotgun in the 90s, and Doom Eternal is here to make it even better.

It sounds simple at first, but hear me out: you can shoot a grappling hook out of your shotgun, like a hookshot from The Legend of Zelda series, attach to an enemy, and zoom through the air toward it. Upon arrival, just blow them to smithereens. It's simple and effective. 

The speed and intensity of rushing toward an enemy that's probably still shooting at you in the process is exhilarating in its own right, but when you use the shotgun's grappling hook as a new traversal mechanic, it really starts to open things up.

During one section, I landed like a meteor in the middle of a group of enemies and instead of back-pedaling to kite them while shooting like any skilled Doom players knows how to do, I instead bounced between them like a pinball zipping from one soon-to-be pile of mush to the other. It was a complete change in gameplay style that really felt good.

Doom Eternal threw another curveball at me in a later section when it put the next tiny floating island I needed to reach just far enough outside my reach that a double jump + air dash combo wasn't enough to get there. But at the end of my air dash, as I was falling, I was just in range enough to grapple onto the enemy at the edge of the platform and zip to it as my shotgun blew its head off. They've turned the shotgun into a platforming tool, and I'm in love.

This might be a bit premature, but the new shotgun + grappling hook combo might be my new favorite weapon in any FPS game I've ever played.

Complete Chaos

Worth noting is that I died more in my Doom Eternal preview than any other hands-on session I had at E3 this year, and that feels extremely appropriate. These weren't frustrating, "That was cheap!" deaths, but were instead errors in my movement, poor planning, or me not switching to the right weapon in time. 

I had a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see more of Doom Eternal. It's really hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this demo. I'm not the biggest of fan of "pure" shooters as they are usually a bit too simplistic for me I'd usually prefer something with a more complex narrative or more thoughtful gameplay but Doom Eternal sidesteps my usual complains with the genre by just throwing even more chaos at me without giving me a chance to breathe.

It was suffocating and incredibly anxiety-inducing, but I loved it. Get ready to rip and tear through Doom Eternal later this year when it releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia on November 22.


For more E3 coverage, check the links below: 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Hands-On Preview: Breaking Limits All Over Again Fri, 14 Jun 2019 08:51:41 -0400 David Jagneaux

My very first E3 was all the way back in 2015. At that event, Sony's press conference had a new trailer for The Last Guardian, announced Shenmue 3, and finally confirmed the existent of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Now, four years later at my fifth E3, I actually got to play it.

And despite all that, I'm still not 100% sure I believe it's real.

Long Time Coming

Final Fantasy VII is often regarded as the best Final Fantasy game and even the best RPG of all-time. I'd take Final Fantasy IV over VII any day, but I know I'm in the minority with that opinion.

That being said, I can understand the excitement. It's rare that a game with such a storied history and massive following gets the chance at a revival. If you go back and play most PlayStation 1 games, such as Final Fantasy VII, they just don't hold up well at all. This remake is a chance for Square Enix to make it look like we remember it looking with our rose colored nostalgia glasses.

My demo for Final Fantasy VII was split into two parts inside the massive Square Enix booth in the South Hall at E3 2019. The first half took place in a waiting room, a bit like the kind you find for rides at Disneyland. We all gathered on benches and watched a video of Jessie explaining our mission and the game's controls. It's got a very different flow from the original's turn-based combat.

Gameplay in Final Fantasy VII Remake has a lot more in common with Kingdom Hearts than it does the first 10 mainline, turn-based Final Fantasy games. You freely move around the environment and can clearly see enemies in the world outside of combat. When combat starts, it seamlessly shifts to display prompts on-screen as your characters automatically face enemies. You're also free to move around the battle wherever you want.

Pressing "square" uses normal attacks, which build up the ATB gauge, and you can press "X"to enter a slow-motion mode where you can select either an Ability, Spell, or Item to use that will spend some of your built up ATB gauges. Cloud was all about up-close melee with his massive buster sword, obviously, while Barret could do sustained ranged damage with his gun arm. Switching between characters and issuing commands to keep their gauges full was a crucial part of every battle.

The Flow Of Combat

The E3 2019 demo was heavily focused on combat. It featured an early section of the game in which Cloud and Barret are dispatched to place a bomb inside a Shinra facility. I ran around on some metal platforms, opened up treasure chests by hitting "triangle" just like Sora would, and made my way down into the heart of the facility. 

Since you need to pause the action to issue any command other than dodge rolling or doing a normal attack, the fluidity of combat is interrupted a lot. It's a bit jarring since you're encouraged to use abilities often those ATB gauges don't carry over between battles. It would be nice if there was a way to map a go-to ability for quick access or something like that instead of needing to pause battles every single time. 

I also found it a bit annoying that the camera didn't automatically lock onto enemies, unless I was missing a control option. I found that Cloud and Barret would target enemies with attacks no problem, but the camera didn't always face enemies and there was no option to automatically re-center it other than just using the right stick. Trying to move with the left stick, attack and dodge with the face buttons, and move the camera all at the same time was a bit cumbersome. 

Scorpion Boss Fight

This brief Final Fantasy VII Remake demo ended with the iconic Shinra scorpion boss right. I (thankfully) didn't have much trouble here, but the battle took much longer than any of the non-boss encounters from before. Not only did I need to ensure I kept dealing damage to build up my ATB gauges, but I also needed to build up the boss' stagger meter as well, similar to in Final Fantasy XIII.

Switching between characters was quick and easy, just tapping up or down on the d-pad. The boss was a straightforward fight consisting of just brute force until it raised a shield, then targeting the shield, and dodging its big attacks. Nothing too complicated, but certainly some extra layers as compared to the original turn-based version of the game.

It should be interesting to see how different more advanced enemies, such as Sephiroth, will be on the battlefield when they're not forced to take turns while attacking.

Once I staggered a boss I could do even more damage, which was always a great time to use powerful abilities. And as you take damage in combat you'll build up your Limit meter, which lets you use an extremely powerful Limit Break attack once full. Finishing off the boss with a massive blast from Barret's arm canon was the highlight of the demo for me.


Final Fantasy VII Remake

I had a blast playing Final Fantasy VII Remake at E3 2019. Visually, it's a staggering technical achievement and despite my initial concerns, the gameplay translates to a more action-focused format extremely well.

During its E3 2019 press conference, Square Enix announced that the Final Fantasy VII Remake will hit PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020. This release is expected to only contain the first part of the Remake since it will be an episodic series this time.

For more E3 coverage, check the links below: 

Steel Division 2 Will Be One of the Best Strategy Games of 2019 Wed, 12 Jun 2019 11:14:20 -0400 Sergey_3847

The newest installment in the series of military strategies from Eugen Systems, Steel Division 2, is nearing release and there is a big chance it's going to be one of the best tactical strategies of the year.

Eugen Systems is a very experienced developer specializing in strategy games, mostly known for such games like R.U.S.E. and the Wargame series, which has put the French company on the map of success.

Then came Steel Division: Normandy 44, which was followed by Steel Division 2, a modified and improved version of the first game. The players who had the chance to play Normandy 44 will immediately notice not only the changes in the graphics department, but also gameplay mechanics and scope.

These are not the only merits of the new Steel Division game, and here are some real reasons why this game should be on your checklist of strategies for 2019.

New Map and Massive Scale

While the first Steel Division game took place in France, which was limited by the borders of one country, the new installment features battles which took place during Operation Bagration that covered Bielorussia, Lithuania, and Poland.

Thus the scale of Steel Division 2 is much larger and offers more complex strategical and tactical challanges than the previous game. You can now deploy huge amounts of units of all kinds and really experience how massive battles took place during the World War 2.

The Eastern Front in Steel Division 2 features 25 tactical maps that have been painstakingly scanned and rebuilt from original archived maps. The entire campaign is divided into two parts: the global map and local campaigns.

Players will control several divisions, which historically differ in structure according to their country of origin. There's an asymmetrical balance, which means that on the global level the number of troops is the same, but the number of units and equipment in each division will vary.

Players will take on the role of the general of the army, who tries to capture important spots on the global map within a certain number of days. If they fail to complete the challenge for the given time period, then it will result in the failure of the entire campaign.

By the way, a lot of attention has been devoted to the roads in the game. The quality of the roads affects the speed and range of movement. But no one forces you to drive strictly along the roadway, as there is also an option of driving on the rough terrain.

Improved Combat Mechanics

4-Phase Combat System

The combat system has been significantly restructured in Steel Division 2 and now consists of several phases that add a sense of order to the entire campaign:

  • Placing units in the dedicated areas
  • Distributing orders
  • Assigning deployment points
  • Starting combat

In the last phase during the combat players will have access to the active pause system, which allows them to adjust positions and ordering of the units.

Three Game Modes

There are two Conquest modes for a global map and close combat, and one Breakthrough mode, which is the latest and most exciting addition to the game.

In the Breakthrough mode one player needs to defend the objectives from the attacking player residing on the other edge of the map. The best part about this new mode is the ability to build defense structures, such as:

  • Barbed wire
  • Trenches
  • Gun pits
  • Bunkers

This makes the mode extremely challenging and can really push players to the limits of their creativity.

Victory Conditions

Another unusual addition to the Steel Division 2 gameplay is the distribution of the victory conditions, which means that individual games will not always end up in a clean victory for one side or the other.

Here are all possible outcomes of the games:

  • Draw: If the team possesses the same number of objectives.
  • Minor Victory: If one team possesses +50% of the objectives.
  • Major Victory: If one team possesses +75% of the objectives.
  • Total Victory: If one team possesses +85% of the objectives.

Battlegroups and Deck Building

The deck builder in Steel Division 2 has also been upgraded in order to reflect the overall massive character of the new game.

The deck builder allows you to create battlegroups that may consist of nine different types of units:

  • Recon
  • Infantry
  • Tank
  • Support
  • Anti-Tank
  • Anti-Air
  • Artillery
  • Air
  • Defense (only in Breakthrough mode)

The composition of your battlegroup depends on the number of available activation points. The more units of a certain type you decide to deploy the more points it will cost.

Different game modes will require players to build different decks, and thus deploy different battlegroups to the battlefields. Not to mention the local co-op games of 2v2 or 3v3, where each player needs to think in terms of supporting other players and their units with the help of their properly-built decks.


Steel Division 2 is definitely a very complex game, which offers a lot and will mostly interest long-time fans of military tactical strategies and other games by Eugen Systems. New players, on the other hand, will have a hard time getting into all the mechanics and intricacies of the combat.

All the new changes and additions look really interesting. The graphics have definitely become better, and since there will be a full-fledged level editor available after the release, it looks like Steel Division 2 will attract a much larger audience than the first game.

If you enjoy elaborate strategies that focus entirely on how well you can build and command your units, then Steel Division 2 should be right up your alley when it releases on June 20, 2019.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Modernizing a Cast of Classic Characters Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:07:19 -0400 John Schutt

The Final Fantasy VII Remake is officially on the calendar, and Square Enix has a huge task ahead of it: build and improve upon what many people consider to be the greatest game ever made.

It’s a herculean task, and there may not be any real right answer to everything everyone wants. That said, I’d like to talk about three areas where the Remake can and should take Final Fantasy VII: character, world, and story.

And because there’s a lot of ground to cover, this article is all about the characters we’ve seen so far, including those we saw at Square's E3 conference

Following articles will cover world and story separately.

Character: The Heart of Any RPG

So far, we’ve met some of the core members of the cast: Cloud, Barret, Aerith, and finally Tifa. The relationship between Cloud and the two other women is in many ways the heart and soul of the game, counterpointed somewhat by his growing friendship with the big guy with the gun arm.

The most important task for the writers of Final Fantasy VII Remake is to not only build on these characters but still stay true to their roots. Let’s look at each in turn, starting with Cloud.

Cloud Strife: SOLDIER, Leader, Damaged

Cloud is one of the most complex characters in classic JRPG history. He is a walking mass of conflictions, discordant memories, and competing desires. He wants to love and he wants revenge. He seeks a future without regard to the past, while at the same time being defined by it. If I contradict myself it is only because Cloud contradicts himself constantly.

For those of you who never played Final Fantasy VII, I won’t spoil some of the most poignant and powerful moments from the original game, but I will explain some of the building blocks Square Enix will have to use as a foundation for this first foray into Midgar.

The Cloud we meet at the beginning of Final Fantasy VII is sure of himself, somewhat distant, and generally apathetic of the plights of people around him. To those people who matter to him, he can be caring, understanding, and even warm. Still, there are pieces of himself he cannot properly categorize, and in attempting to save others from worry, hides these pieces deep in his heart.

To stave off any concern, he puts on a brave face, wrapping himself in the guise of a warrior willing to take almost any job for the right price.

As the story unfolds, we get to also see the more playful side of this young man as the women in his life work to open him up — either romantically or otherwise. When he’s free to be himself, Cloud can be silly and dopey, with a dry but ready wit and a kind heart. He’s good at many things but great at very few, and though aware of his shortcomings is loathe to let others see them.

The Remake needs to capture this Cloud, and there are two core tenants of his character they must maintain. They are:

1. He Finds his Own Purpose 

Or at least thinks he does.

Cloud, in the Remake, must remain a driven individual who’s willing to chart his own path without hesitation. He must be willing to entertain other people’s points of view and experiment with new things, but ultimately, he must believe his will to be his own. More than that, we need to come to understand that, even before he leaves Midgar at the end of this first game, that he carries a much greater weight on his shoulders than he lets anyone else know about.

Whether it’s through interactions with Sephiroth like we see in the trailer or through various glitches in memory that seem out of place to us but normal for Cloud, the Remake has to give us the impression that even after 30 hours, we only know a little bit of his story.

2. He is Capable of Great Things

Though not chosen by destiny, per se, the Remake needs to make clear that there is some greater purpose to everything Cloud does. He isn’t in the mercenary business to save the world, but we need to see events swirl around him in such a way that his natural instincts push him in that direction.

Primarily, we need to see his caring and selfless nature, but also his stubbornness and uncertainty in the face of things he doesn’t quite understand. Ultimately, we need to see that the Cloud of the Remake is sure and unsure of himself in equal measure, but that the former wins out more often than not.

Tifa Lockhart — Old Friend, Powerful Ally, Heart

No less conflicted than her childhood friend, Tifa is nonetheless the emotional center of Final Fantasy VII.

Before anyone else comes along, she shows that Cloud’s tough-guy routine isn’t fooling anyone, and that she remembers the warm, hopeful boy of their shared past. She understands the sacrifices she’s had to make, and the blood on her hands. However, she also wants to rediscover the person she’s not seen in five years, a boy turned young man she’s wondered about as she built a life in the slums of an enormous city.

The Remake trailer shows us this exact young woman, who’s shy, uncertain of the path forward but willing to see it through. We also see someone with real power who’s willing to let her fists do the talking when the moment calls for it. We also see a little bit of how she and Cloud interact, how they share their worries and their cares, if only because they come from the same place but have taken different journeys to get there.

In the original game, we learn how Tifa’s road to her Seventh Heaven bar is fraught with many dangers, but that she faced them eagerly for the chance to make the kind of difference she couldn’t years before. We learn that somewhere in her is the kind of strength found in the greatest heroes, but that it’s so tightly bound in doubt and anxiety she finds it difficult to call upon in dire moments.

And while I was impressed with how true Tifa’s character seemed in what little we saw of her in the Remake trailer, I think there are a couple of incredibly important points that Square Enix needs to hit if Tifa is to have the emotional resonance she deserves. They are:

1. Strength of More than Just a Fist

Though she’s shy and has difficulty expressing her true feelings, Tifa is an incredibly strong person, with the intent and will to accomplish almost anything. She can channel this power through her fists, of course, but her real potential is in the comfort and strength she can provide to the people around her.

Even if she isn’t feeling particularly together herself, Tifa in the Remake needs to go out of her way to ensure that those around her are ready and able to get their own jobs done and come home happy at the end of the day.

2. A Willingness to Sacrifice

In the Remake, Tifa should be willing to lay down everything for what she believes in, especially as it involves the people she cares about most. She is a loving person by nature, but she needs to have the will and the strength to put her foot down — especially to Cloud — so their mission ends in success.

Tifa also needs to sometimes wear her burdens visibly on her shoulders but be unwilling or unable to fully voice them, primarily so other people can understand that they are not the only ones with baggage  and that she’s there for them even under that immense emotional weight.

Aerith Gainsborough — Slum Girl, Savior, Mischief Maker

The Remake trailer doesn't paint Aerith in the same light we see her in for most of the original game. In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith is strong-willed, stubborn, sometimes fearless, sometimes frail, and somewhat mischevious. What she believes is, for her at least, what is. She’s able to read someone in just a few moments.

She’s also caring, kind-hearted, and generally open-minded about most things.

Buried beneath all that, however, is a deep-seated reservation about who and what she is. Hounded by ShinRa for her bloodline and its abilities, and accosted on all sides by the voices of the Planet and of the dead, Aerith understands that fate probably has something great in store for her, and that she is to play a vital role in some calamitous event.

In some ways, her burden is greater than almost any other character, and the flirting, snarking, and general forwardness are as much a cover for her own insecurities as they are a natural part of her personality.

The Remake needs to not abandon any of these important aspects of Aerith’s character. She get in the way, be nosy, accept everyone for who they are, and still be competent enough to feel like she can finish the jobs put before her.

If I could boil down Square’s tasks for Aerith in the Remake, they would be as follows:

1. A Plucky Girl From Far Beyond the Slums

Growing up in the slums of Sector 6, Aerith is no stranger to conflict, poverty, or hardship. Though her mother’s home is something of a secluded paradise in a grimy group of huts, she nonetheless lived a life filled with difficulties. ShinRa and her abilities notwithstanding.

We need to see how her experiences have both hardened her to the difficulties Cloud and co. face, but also how those made her empathetic to their struggles. More than that, we need to see even more about how her knowledge of her true nature plays into her interactions with those she’s closest to.

Does she confide more in Cloud than in the original game, and what would that knowledge spark in him if he discovers it, burdened as he is by Sephiroth?

2. Making Some Mischief

Aerith is incredibly perceptive, and no doubt sees the attraction Tifa feels for Cloud, regardless of the circumstances of their first meeting. Trouble is, she doesn't really care and goes a little out of her way to flirt and tempt Cloud when the chances arise.

It’s something Tifa — shy and uncertain as she is — finds incredibly vexing, and in the Remake, there’s plenty of additional space to explore the love triangle.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the cross-dressing scene and the pivotal role Aerith plays there. I mean, it was her idea for Cloud to dress up, and she takes no small delight in making sure everything goes perfectly.

If we don’t see that side of Aerith, I think Square’s done her a great disservice.

Barret Wallace — Terrorist, Hero, Father

One of the first things we learn about Barret, both in the original Final Fantasy VII and the trailer we recently watched, is that he believes in what he does, even as it costs thousands of people their lives.

As the leader of the AVALANCHE guerilla group — really a small band of ecoterrorists at this point — he will go to any lengths to see both ShinRa removed from power and the threat they pose to the planet eliminated.

He is also a caring father and someone who carries the weight of those deaths on his shoulders. Not proudly, per se, but as a burden he’s more than willing to bear for future generations. We get a glimpse of his relationship with his daughter Marlene in the trailer, and it’s clear that she means the world to him. The feeling is mutual, as it was in the first game.

From what we saw of Barret in the Remake trailer, there are a few things Square must continue to push forward on if they want to recreate Barret as both true to himself and true to what modern gamers expect out of a character.

1. Tough Guy with a Gooey Center

Barret’s character arc in the original Final Fantasy VII, boiled down to its essentials, is his coming to terms with the fact that what he wants and what he can do are two separate things. He must realize that he is ultimately too small, too vulnerable — even beneath his tough guy veneer — to make the kind of change he truly desires.

More than that, he has to discover that what really matters to him and what he thought mattered to him are also completely separate things. At the end of the day, we as players need to see Barret’s softer side come out, even as he puts on a brave face for everyone around him.

2. He’s Conflicted

Early in Final Fantasy VII, Barret and Cloud argue about the cause the former SOLDIER is being paid to fight for: saving the Planet. At some point in the conversation, Barret exclaims, “The Planet’s dyin’, Cloud!” The line, though only text, betrays something key about Barret’s character: he too sometimes doubts the inspirational speeches he tells his people about their mission.

In the Remake, we need to see Barret’s veneer crack, probably from some snappy wit or apathetic aside from Cloud. As the party grows in size and new people shine new perspectives on Barret’s worldview, it’s my hope that his Remake incarnation has moments of deeper reflection that we get to be a part of and that we can use to learn alongside him.


While I hope these beloved characters grow, and Square explores them deeper in the Remake, we still have time to analyze, ponder, and find out. The Final Fantasy VII Remake is set to launch March 3, 2020. 

Be sure to check out our other Remake articles as well:

Ubisoft E3 2019 Presentation Roudup Mon, 10 Jun 2019 20:49:45 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Ubisoft was reportedly going to bring the heat to this year's E3, and the company's presentation turned out to be one of the most eventful so far.

Opening with a performance by the Assassin's Creed Symphony and their live dates was a pretty strong start, but the Watch Dogs: Legion gameplay trailer right after? Yeah, that really drove it home.

Watch Dogs: Legion

The Watch Dogs: Legion footage started off calm, but it didn't take long for Ian to get into some trouble during his walk around London, which eventually turns into choosing an entirely different character.

As previously mentioned by Ubisoft, Watch Dogs: Legion will allow players to take control of a vast amount of NPC characters to perform their nasty DedSec operations. Based on the gameplay trailer, the sequel looks to be vastly more dynamic than the previous two games. You can recruit and play as anyone in Watch Dogs: Legion. Spicy!

Ubisoft claims each character has its own story, profile, recruitment mission, and more. If it's done right, this could pale the previous two Watch Dog titles completely.

We don't have to wait too long for this bad boy; Watch Dogs: Legion will be released March 6, 2020.

It's Always Sunny in.. Ubidelphia?

Rob Elmchenny from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame came on stage after the Watch Dogs: Legion presentation to announce his upcoming new show, Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet.

McElhenny himself plays series lead Ian (that's pronounced "eye-an," you jabroni) Grimm, Creative Director for the biggest MMORPG in the series's universe with an ego that seems to be as big as the game's massive population.

Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet will be an Apple TV exclusive with no air date just yet.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege DLC

Yes, the new DLC for Rainbow Six Siege! Check the trailer below. This one takes the smoother route, as you might expect from a DLC titled Operation Phantom Sight.

Brawhalla + Adventure Time

As of today, Adventure Time characters will be coming to Ubisoft's Smash-like Brawlhalla.

Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum are all available to play for free in Brawlhalla right now during a limited time event. Once the event is over, the character can be purchased from the in-game shop for 300 Mammoth coins.

The Adventure Time event will be lasting until June 25 and bring with it a new map, mode, and special KO effects that will still be usable in-game once the event has ended.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Cole D. Walker, a special forces officer with his own moral code and does what he has to in order to complete his mission against the Wolves. This is Ghost Recon Breakpoint.

You don't have to sit on your hands and wait for Breakpoint to come out; you can hop on over to the official site right now and register for the September 5 beta. Release isn't far off, with release waiting just around the corner on October 4. What's keeping you waiting?

Ghost Recon Delta Company was also announced during the presentation, which will allow fans to share anything they want related to the Ghost Recon series.

Going Mobile

They've got to squeeze one mobile game in there, and they did just that here with Tom Clancy's Elite Squad.

Featuring characters from other Tom Clancy and Ubisoft titles, squads of five players will be able to duke it out with other squads of five. There has been a story mode announced as well as PvP.  You can pre-register for the game now on the official website.

Just Dance 2020? Of Course...

There's really not much to say here but Just Dance 2020 is releasing later this year in November on basically every platform available (including the Wii, wow) with 40 new songs.

Limited Event For Honor Event: Shadows of the Hitokiri

In a surprise announcement comes a new warrior to For Honor: the Hitokiri, a mask-wearing axe-wielding warrior with a thirst for souls. The new warrior comes with a brand new event for For Honor players looking for something a little different.

The event hosts the Soul Rush special game mode, which tasks players to collect souls during combat.

You can read more about the Shadows of Hitokiri event on the official site. It will be running on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One until June 27.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Quarantine

Now for something just a little different (just a tiny bit): Rainbow Six Quarantine.

Details on this title are currently scarce, but it's slated to release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. You can sign up for "a chance to play early" on the official website.

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Episode 3

Don't think just The Division 2's all done with all these other Tom Clancy announcements from Ubisoft this year. The third episode of The Division 2 will be taking players back to Washington D.C., the setting of the first game.

The Division 2
will also be receiving a new raid out this fall, showing the game's not close to done yet.

The Division Netflix Adaptation

The Division is getting a film adaptation on Netflix. The release date may still be a mystery, but we do know Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain will be in the production.

The plot for the upcoming movie is:

In the near future, a pandemic virus is spread via paper money on Black Friday, decimating the city of New York and killing millions. By Christmas, what’s left of society has descended into chaos. A group of civilians, trained to operate in catastrophic times, are activated in an attempt to save who and what remains.

Uplay Plus

Even Ubisoft is getting on the subscription service bandwagon, with Uplay Plus rolling out later this year and being compatible with Google Stadia.

If you sign up between now and August 15, you will have free access to Uplay Plus between September 3 and 30 later this year.

Roller Champions

Roller Champions
is definitely out of left field, which seems to be preferable with free to play titles here in 2019.

Roller Champions is a PvP sports title hoping to find some competitive footing. Though its release date hasn't been announced, you can play the E3 demo right now until June 14 to see if this one's up your alley.

Gods & Monsters

The final announcement of the Ubisoft conference was a surprise entry: Gods & Monsters, a Greek mythology-focused title coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia with a notable lighter tone than most of the rest of the presentation.

Details on Gods & Monsters are presently scarce. It appears to be an open world title, with loads of challenges both combat and puzzle-oriented present. We'll surely see more of this title before its release on February 25, 2020.


Whew, that was a lot of Tom Clancy from Ubisoft this year. E3's not over just yet, though! Let us know in the comments below which announced titles you're looking most forward to from E3.

Be sure to check out our other E3 2019 coverage below: 

E3 2019 Bethesda Showcase Recap: Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls, Doom: Eternal Take Center Stage Sun, 09 Jun 2019 22:06:43 -0400 Ty Arthur

This year's #BE3 showcase revolved heavily around the highly anticipated FPS entry Doom Eternal, but Bethesda had a number of surprises in store for players willing to check out the full live stream.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much about Elder Scrolls VI, which is likely delayed to take advantage of the next console generation. That noticeably missing title aside, everything from Rage 2 to Wolfenstein received major announcements, along with a slew of news arriving for mobile titles and free updates like the Moons Of Elsweyr expansion coming June 27 to Elder Scrolls Legends.

If you missed it, we've got the full rundown on everything you need to know about the Bethesda 2019 E3 showcase below. 

Also, don't forget to log into your Bethesda account this week! In celebration of the E3 event, you can get five Ouroboros Crown Crates and a Clouded-Senche Leopard mount for Elder Scrolls Online, a Twitch Assault Rifle skin for Rage 2, and an Ancestor Moth card back for The Elder Scrolls: Legends


We all know streaming is the future and tech companies are banking on streaming overtaking physical media in the very near future. We already buy most of our games from digital stores anyway, so why not just move the whole thing into the cloud?

Bethesda is working on the new Orion technology now, which is meant to optimize any game engine with absolutely any game for playing in the cloud on platforms like the upcoming Google Stadia.

A software solution rather than a hardware option, the purpose of Orion is to reduce latency and stream using lower bandwidth, which means you can stream at max settings for no reduction in graphics quality.

We'll have to wait and see if it lives up to the promise, but that tech could be huge in seeing streaming services become more widely adopted worldwide.

Fallout 76

Oof, Todd Howard and the Bethesda Game Studios team got a very tepid cheering response at first, which got noticeably louder when they admitted the criticism the game has received was deserved.

That lackluster response turned to wild cheering when it was revealed that human NPCs are arriving with the Wastelanders update including full dialog trees — to make this more of a full scale Fallout game.

To lure people in ahead of that update, the game will include a free trial mode coming tomorrow (perhaps precipitating the game going free-to-play...?).

Last up, in a move we should have all seen coming, Fallout 76 is getting battle royale mode with a shrinking ring of fire titled Nuclear Winter. Will the wasteland pull you away from Fortnite?

Doom Eternal

We already knew this would feature the super fast, super powerful Doom Marine slaughtering demons by the thousands, but there were some reveals tonight to get fans even more excited.

This time around we're also going to heaven, and it seems like the celestial denizens will be even more awful (and fun to kill!) than the demons in hell.

The biggest surprise was those in attendance at the Bethesda showcase got to actually play the game after the show. Lucky bastards!

The rest of us only have a few months to wait though, as Doom Eternal now has an official release date of November 22, 2019. We also got a quick glimpse of the comprehensive collector's edition, which comes with its own wearable Doom Guy helmet.

Finally, Bethesda decided to show off a bit of the new multiplayer mode, which lets you frag away as either the Slayer or a demon in a 2 vs 1 asymmetric mode.

Elder Scrolls Blades

If you've been religiously opening your chests every day, you'll be excited to know a major update launches tonight in celebration of E3. That patch features new jobs, solo arena battles, custom jewelry system, and an extra dragon quest line.

While not many details were revealed, we also found out an arena mode coming later this year for PvP content and visiting the towns of other players.

Hands down, the biggest news is that Blades is coming to Switch where it will still be free and will feature cross progression with mobile, so you can take your mobile account to the Switch version when it arrives this fall.

Ghostwire Tokyo

There weren't a ton of details beyond a cinematic trailer, but this new title from Tango Gameworks looks very promising and seems to indicate an open world nature with a mix of investigative and combat mechanics.

All we really know for sure is that its a "spooky" action adventure title that takes place within a supernatural haunted Tokyo, although they specified its not a survival horror game.

Elder Scrolls Online

The Season of the Dragon for Elder Scrolls Online will cap with the upcoming DLC Dragonhold, featuring the return of the iconic Dragonguard. In addition to an epic story trailer, we're told more info is coming at Quake Con this summer, but they did reveal the dungeon DLC Scalebreaker is set to arrive in August.

Commander Keen

I don't think anyone saw this coming... we're about to see a return of the old school Id Software '90s side-scrolling game Commander Keen, reimagined as a free to play Saturday morning cartoon homage on iOS and Android where you build wacky gadgets.

There's a fun tongue-in-cheek tone here, although I kind of wanted to go find Arnie so we can get our memories wiped at Rekall after hearing lines like "get your anus to mars" and "kick some asteroid."

This new version of Commander Keen will soft launch this summer on mobile devices.


Finally, a new title from Arkane was just made official, so if you've missed games in the style of Prey or Dishonored, get ready for a whole new iteration of the stealth assassination genre. 

This noir sci-fi shooter puts you in an endless loop where two assassins relive the same day over and over trying to kill each other. The typical Arkane style of offering multiple options to tackle levels will be available, but we're also getting a bit of a Tarantino vibe in the font and style on display.

Rage 2

Need ever more insanity? It's on the way with the Rise Of The Ghosts expansion, including impending features like low gravity, additional enemies, a new pilotable mech, extra areas, and a new enemy faction, as well as weekly content additions.

Two New Wolfenstein Games

Yep, we're getting two new games this summer, starting with the Cyber Pilot VR title coming next month. That's not the big news though, as we already knew about that. 

The more exciting announcement is Wolfenstein: Young Blood, set 20 years after The New Colossus and very clearly embracing the 80's aesthetic with wild abandon. Aside from the time shift, this time around we'll get to kill Nazis with a friend in co-op mode!

It's a pretty good bet that BJ Blazkowicz's twin daughters are going to collect a whole lot more than 100 Nazi scalps, that's for sure!


What upcoming expansion or brand new franchise are you most looking forward to checking out this year? Sound off in the comments below!

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and information on all of these games as they develop. Check out more of our E3 2019 coverage below: 

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Diablo DLC, Call of Duty, PS5 Details, Dauntless, More Sat, 08 Jun 2019 09:00:01 -0400 GS_Staff

This week, GoG released some old, but new Diablo DLC, Sony unveiled some new details on the PlayStation 5, we learned that the new Call of Duty would have crossplay, and the hammer is bad-ass in Dauntless

We also took a look at Stadia, including its release date, price, and games. Netflix is making a show based on Magic: The Gathering. Shenmue 3 got delayed again, and there's a lot more. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna' do? Play video games? 


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    From new legendaries Zathian and Zamazenta, to the huge, open Wild Area, Raid Battles, the return of Gym battles, and more, today's Pokemon Direct was packed full of info. Read more

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    THQ Nordic has made real its promises to remake the licensed Nickelodeon game classic. Read more

  • Grandia HD Collection and Remaster Finally Coming Soon to Switch and PC
    The Grandia and Grandia II remakes are getting a release date in the near future, giving a new generation the chance to play these cult classic RPGs. Read more

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  • Pathologic 2's Difficulty Sliders Arrive — And They Work Both Ways
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June's Pokemon Direct Introduces Gen VIII Pokemon, Wild Area, Dynamaxing Wed, 05 Jun 2019 10:14:28 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Today's Pokemon Direct revealed a lot of new information about the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, from new areas of the Galar region to completely new battle mechanics.

While we previously looked at the six reasons you should be excited for the games, these new revelations double down on that sentiment. 

Along with the information below, one major piece was revealed by the Direct: Sword and Shield will release worldwide on November 15. Currently, a double pack is up for pre-order as well.

Native Galar Pokemon and Legendaries

The new trailer revealed a host of new Pokemon, which then received a short introduction from the games' creative designer.

The first is Wooloo, a sheep Pokemon prized for its wool by weavers in certain areas of the Galar region. Its wool is used to create popular goods in the region, and it's a normal type.

Next is Gossifleur, a grass type flower Pokemon. Its pollen is said to have healing properties, and it evolves into Eldegoss, another grass type whose seeds promote growth and revitalization.

Dreadnaw is the giant blue 'mon shown off, the water-rock "bite Pokemon." It's supposed to be vicious and difficult to train. In keeping with that theme, its favorite habits are apparently gnawing off chunks of rock and iron.

Finally is the taxi Pokemon Corviknight. It's a giant corvid-type bird (flying and steel type) that takes the place of Fly in Sword and Shield. Corviknight ferries the player back and forth to any town they've already visited in the game, which suggests Gen VIII will continue the tradition of having no HMs.

There are many more new Galar-specific Pokemon that have yet to be revealed, though players can look forward to returning 'mon from previous generations as well, including Growlithe, Axew, and Inkay.

There was a special video at the end of the presentation introducing the Galar region's legendary Pokemon as well: Zathian and Zamazenta. These are the creatures featured on the mock-up box art and the official box art.

Both resemble wolves, and the titular sword and shield seem to be built into them. The teaser shows the two about to fight before another power distracts them, so it's possible Gen VIII will feature a special third legendary Pokemon a well, like Necrozma and Rayquaza in previous generations.


Gen VIII is doing away with Mega Evolutions in favor of Dynamaxing. This new feature is a phenomenon unique to the Galar region, where affected Pokemon become massive, gaining increases in their stats and seeing their entire move set change to Max Moves as well. Dynamaxing can take place once per battle, but it only lasts for three turns.

The Wild Area

The Pokemon Company showed off a major new feature in the form of a special area in the game: The Wild Area. This is a huge environment stretching between major cities in the region and is essentially Pokemon's first open world-styled area. It features a freely movable camera, which can add an even greater sense of depth and scale, along with plenty of secrets to uncover, including hidden items.

The Wild Area is home to a wide range of wild Pokemon as well, but which Pokemon players encounter depends on where they are in the Area and what the weather is like.

It's worth noting the trailer shows wild roaming Pokemon in a variety of locations, and it isn't restricted to the Wild Area. The Pokemon Company confirmed players will see the Pokemon walking, swimming, and even hiding on the overworld map.

The Wild Area is also home to yet another new feature: Max Raid Battles. These battles borrow from Pokemon GO and pit up four trainers against a Dynamaxed version of a specific Pokemon. One of the trainers can Dynamax their own Pokemon to make the fight easier, though the opponent remains in Dynamaxed form for the entire encounter.

Max Raid Battles can take place over local wireless or a global wireless connection, meaning players can hook up with friends and trainers from around the world. However, multiplayer isn't required to participate in Max Raid Battles. If three other trainers aren't around, the game provides three support trainers to fill those spots.

Who's Who: The Galar Edition

We've got a better idea about some of the region's important characters, too. The usual plot setup makes its return: the player is off on a journey to become the best trainer in the region. That means they'll have to challenge the reigning Champion, Leon.

Leon is basically the equivalent to a mega-popular footballer (soccer player), sporting a football uniform and inspiring a huge following throughout the region. The one Pokemon shown off from his team is Charizard, which will presumably get the Dynamax treatment as well.

Leon's younger brother Hop serves as the player's rival, and like Hau before him, he chooses the Pokemon the player's starter is strong against (Sobble to the player's Grookey, for example).

Milo is the grass type Gym Leader, and it appears he'll come into battle with at least five Pokemon if the Pokeballs on his pants are anything to go by.

Details remain scarce about how many Gym Leaders there are, but the Pokemon Company did say all Gym Leaders will have at least one Dynamax Pokemon on their team. Which Pokemon can get the Dynamax treatment still isn't certain, though it does seem like quite a few are eligible, including starters, Raichu, Clefable, and Gyrados.

Big fights like the battle against Leon and the Gym Leaders take place in stadiums and are a key part of Galar culture; basically, they're like major football games.

One feature mentioned is that Dynamaxing increases the audience's energy level. Whether that has any bearing on the match's outcome isn't clear, though.

Finally, on the character front, we were introduced to Professor Magnolia and her granddaughter Sonia. Professor Magnolia as the Galar region's professor, studying the Dynamax phenomenon alongside Sonia, who acts as her research assistant.

Well, almost finally. Rotom makes its return as a major character in the form of the Rotom Phone. The Pokedex is included in the Rotom Phone, but the phone can also be used for various other things, like making a bike go faster or helping it travel over water.

While we wait for even more information to be released, be sure to head over to our Sword and Shield pages for more on the upcoming Pokemon games. 

Long Lost Press Kit for Vib Ribbon Discovered by Online Artist "Ribbon Black" Wed, 05 Jun 2019 09:47:57 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Online artist "Ribbon Black" has released to the public a fascinating find for any fans of the PS1 rhythm game classic Vib Ribbon; a press release copy of the game filled with previously unreleased information and data on the game.

Some of the more interesting information discovered in the press kit is an interview with and photos of the game's director Masaya Matsura, several unused key art images (one shown below), and even unused music found on a disc titled, DJ Cam Loa Project Meets Vib Ribbon

The disc mainly consists of a variety of different music by artist DJ Cam spanning multiple genres, but the standout is a track that seems to be an unused level track from Vib Ribbon itself.

Ribbon Black was unable to find the track anywhere else on the internet and has uploaded the track to Soundcloud for all to hear. The track is six minutes long and spans multiple genres, fitting in well with the rest of bizarre yet catchy soundtrack of Vib Ribbon. 

One of the previously unused key art images found in the press kit.

Ribbon Black has been kind enough to not only summarize a great deal of the more interesting information from the discovery in a blog post that you can read here to see everything else, and has also released the full contents of the press kit for others to play around with via dropbox.

Vib Ribbon is available now for PS3 and PlayStation Vita, and you can follow Ribbon Black on Twitter.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: New Call of Duty, Death Stranding, Dauntless, and More Sat, 01 Jun 2019 11:07:17 -0400 GS_Staff

Weekend Download is back, and this week we have a ton of reviews, some brand-new guides, and a lot of news. 

From the next Call of Duty to PSVR, Dauntless and Pokemon, Death Stranding, Super Smash, PixARK, and more, we've rounded up everything we've published in the past week. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna' do? Play video games? 


  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare Revealed, Releases in October
    This year's Call of Duty will be a soft reboot of the series, and it will feature crossplay at launch. Read more

  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare Won't Have Zombies, Will Have "Realistic Feeling World"
    Leaning more on realism, Activision confirms that Modern Warfare won't have Zombies Mode. Read more

  • Death Stranding Releasing November 8, Pre-order and Edition Bonuses Revealed
    The more we see of Death Stranding, the more intriguing it gets. Release date, pre-order bonuses, and editions announced. Read more

  • Cadence of Hyrule Might Launch on the Switch Very Soon
    Cadence of Hyrule doesn't have much time left in May if it's going to stick to its rumored May release date. Could this week be the one? Read more

  • Dauntless Surges Past 6 Million Players In Less Than A Week
    The new co-op RPG passed a significant milestone and more than doubled its player base, thanks in large part to cross-platform play. Read more

  • Pokemon Press Conference and Pokemon Direct Announced
    Pokemon Press Conference announces for tomorrow, and Pokemon Sword and Shield Direct scheduled for June 5. Read more

  • Pokemon Press Conference Reveals New Games, Hardware, and More On The Way
    From a Detective Pikachu sequel to a new line of professional clothing and more, there's a lot of Pokemon on the way in the coming year. Read more

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Might Get the Labo VR Treatment Soon
    The same source suggests new Amiibo functionality could be coming to the game as well, giving the pint-sized fighters something to do other than sitting on your shelf. Read more

  • Labo VR Support Added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — But It's Limited
    Smash Bros. Ultimate does, indeed, have VR, added with its latest update. Here's how it works and what stages are compatible with it. Read more

  • Days of Play Returns in June With Special Edition PS4, Discounted Games
    2019's Days of Play offers a limited edition PS4 system and plenty of discounts to jazz up the month of June. Read more

  • Xbox Game Pass Coming to PC, Separate from XB1 Version
    Xbox's Phil Spencer also shared some details about working to bring Xbox Game Studio titles to other storefronts in the future. Read more

  • Mordhau Sells 60,000 Copies In One Day
    Mordhau quickly smashes into the top-selling games on Steam just one day after launch. Read more

  • New PSVR to Launch After PlayStation 5
    The PS5 won't launch directly with a new VR headset, but the second gen of PSVR is currently well into development. Read more

  • Overwatch Anniversary Brings Skins, New Features to the Arena
    Overwatch's third anniversary brings a plethora of new content to the game. Read more

  • Pathologic 2 To Add Difficulty Slider In New Update
    A difficulty slider is slated to arrive in an impending Pathologic 2 patch to broaden the appeal toward a larger player base. Read more

  • Roguelike Vambrace: Cold Soul Available Now
    Rougelike game Vambrace: Cold Soul launches on Steam and Goof Old Games. Read more

  • The Elder Scrolls Heads to Tables Everywhere with Call to Arms
    The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms brings the franchise to the table. Read more

  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses Preview Covers Plot, Provides New Details
    From a corrupt church to a casual meal between friends, Fire Emblem: Three Houses will provide a boatload of content while still remaining true to its FE roots. Read more

  • Vambrace: Cold Soul's First Update Reduces Difficulty
    The first update for Vambrace: Cold Soul is live, bringing various changes to the game. Read more

  • Rocket League and Mortal Kombat 11 Join the Summer Arena Clash
    Rocket League and Mortal Kombat 11 are added into the lineup for Arena Clash Summer 2019 by Belong Gaming Arenas. Read more

  • At Last, Digimon Survive Gets New Info in Game Dev Diary
    Digimon Survive's producers open up about the game's place in the franchise and some key features player can expect when it launches...whenever that may be. Read more


  • American Fugitive Review: Life on the Lam
    American Fugitive is a love letter to the original Grand Theft Auto games. Can this throwback steal our hearts? Find out here. Read more

  • Vambrace Cold Soul Review: What If Darkest Dungeon Was Harder And A JRPG?
    If you don't mind being actively abused and tortured for hours on end, Vambrace can become extremely addicting for fans of either Darkest Dungeon or classic SNES RPGs. Read more

  • Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland Review — Cozy Crafting
    It's more of the same Atelier, but it also takes the best from its predecessors to synthesize a fun and customizable adventure. Read more

  • Draugen Review: Draggin' Through a Beautiful World
    Draugen begins as a fascinating narrative-adventure game set in a gorgeous world. It's a shame that it struggles to maintain its momentum. Read more

  • Pixark Guide: Leveling Tips and Tricks
    Here are all the tips and tricks that you will ever need to level up really fast from Level 1 to 80 in PixARK. Read more

  • Blood & Truth Review — Live An Action Crime Drama In VR
    Blood & Truth is the full action blockbuster experience, with a few limitations to keep in mind. Read more

  • Lapis X Labyrinth Review: Fevered Tedium
    Lapis X Labyrinth has a lot of flash that just gobbles away any substance it might have had. Read more

  • Team Sonic Racing Review: Really, You Gotta Go Fast
    Team Sonic Racing is closer to a 3D Sonic game to a kart racer, and I love it. Sonic Heroes Racing, anyone? Read more

  • PixARK Review: What if Minecraft and ARK Had a Baby
    PixARK is a gorgeous-looking game that mainly caters to casual players that are already familiar with Minecraft and ARK: Survival Evolved. Read more

  • Void Bastards Review: Rewarding Wit and Experimentation
    Void Bastards is a roguelite shooter that encourages experimentation and smart thinking in outer space, and it mostly works to great effect. Read more

  • Five Nights at Freddy's VR: Help Wanted — FNAF Meets Playroom VR
    The jump scares are more visceral in VR, and you get some nifty new mini games, although all the same weaknesses from the main series are still here with Help Wanted. Read more

  • Warhammer Chaosbane Review - Slaughtering Chaos Cults For Fun And Profit
    While there are some noticeable limitations compared to other games in the genre, Chaosbane is a worthy addition to the ARPG realm for Warhammer fans. Read more

  • SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest Review — Galaxy Brain
    Packed with content, SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest is a must-play RPG-RTS hybrid... if you don't mind multitasking. Read more

  • GameSir GK300 Keyboard Review: Solid Choice That's Missing a Few Parts
    While it might not have everything we'd expect in a modern gaming-first keyboard, GameSir's GK300 is a surprisingly worthwhile choice, especially at the price. Read more


  • Let The ARPG Wars Begin: Warhammer Chaosbane vs. Other ARPGs
    While the broad strokes are familiar, Chaosbane diverges sharply from the standard ARPG in several ways, from skill choices to character customization. Read more

  • The Top 20 Minecraft 1.14.2 Seeds for June 2019
    In this month's selection of top Minecraft seeds, you'll be dealing with some unusual settlements and well-hidden pillager posts. Read more

  • Free RPG Day 2019 Guide: What to Get and Where to Get It
    New products will up for grabs totally free this June for Pathfinder, the Witcher RPG, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Modern Age, Kids On Bikes, and many more! Read more

  • Why Stardew Valley is King of the Farming Games
    If you're looking for the best farming game out there right now, there are certainly a lot to choose from and several top contenders. The one that stands above them all, though, is Stardew Valley, and here's why. Read more


  • Dauntless Orb Farming Guide
    In this guide you will learn how to farm orbs from the perspectives of both beginner and advanced players in Dauntless. Read more

  • Dauntless All Scales Farming Guide
    Here is a complete list of all behemoth scales in Dauntless, and methods describing on how to farm them effectively. Read more

  • Dauntless Ostian Repeaters Build Guide
    You've crafted the Ostian Repeaters, but what's next? Here's a quick look at some builds to aim for. Read more

  • Dauntless Guide: How to Use Ostian Repeaters for Maximum Damage
    The Ostian Repeaters get a lot of unfair criticism because they aren't as simple as they seem. Make sure you're dealing maximum damage and helping your team with this handy guide. Read more

  • Vambrace: Cold Soul Guide To Not Dying
    Can't seem to make it past the first few maps of this devastatingly hard RPG? We show you the best way to put together a part, navigate rooms, and use healing skills to survive! Read more

  • PixARK Farming Guide: Growing, Irrigating, and Harvesting
    Can't figure out how farming works in PixARK? Here's a simple step-by-step guide that will show you how to grow, irrigate, and harvest your crops. Read more

  • Splitgate: Advanced Warfare Weapons Tier List
    Fancy playing Splitgate: Advanced Warfare? These are the weapons worth risking your life to pick up. Read more

  • Layers of Fear 2 Guide: How To Earn All Three Alternate Endings
    Layers of Fear 2 offers three distinct endings. Need help earning the one you like or seeing them all? This guide will direct you to each finale. Read more

  • Layers of Fear 2: The Perfect Storm Achievement/Trophy Guide
    Looking to solve one of Layers of Fear 2's first optional puzzles and unlock The Perfect Storm achievement or trophy? We've got your guide right here! Read more

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

Free RPG Day 2019 Guide: What to Get and Where to Get It Fri, 31 May 2019 14:00:02 -0400 Ty Arthur

Want to see what's new in the world of tabletop gaming without spend and arm and a leg on a bunch of hard cover books? Free RPG Day is coming soon, and it can serve as a springboard to radically expand your gaming group's normal lineup of systems.

While it won't affect the lineup for this year, there are changes coming to the annual gaming celebration as Free RPG Day was officially acquired by Gaming Days LLC recently.

While we wait on what news that acquisition brings, for now we can ooh and aah at all the free gaming goodies that have been announced for the 2019 iteration, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 15th at your local game shop.

Can't make it to a local store to pick these up, or not interested in the lineup included below? There are plenty of epic free modules for D&D, Pathfinder, and every other pen and paper RPG system out there available for download any day of the year. Check out our best roundups here:

Free RPG Day 2019 Publishers

Not sure where to go to grab these books and dice? Find your closest Free RPG Day participating retailer by heading over here.

Make sure you know what you want to grab ahead of time, as each store gets a limited number of copies of each product, so its best to have a plan of attack before you enter the doors!

All the other names you'd expect from previous years make an appearance here in 2019, sans Lamentations Of The Flame Princess, which some may find understandable.

Don't forget that while these products are free for you, each store has to pay for the Free RPG Day box, so make sure to show some support and consider picking up something else from your local game store!



We'll start off with the big dog in the race. While Pathfinder 2nd edition has divided the fan base, its safe to say Paizo is still among the top tier of RPG publishers at this point.

Of course Paizo has another We Be Goblins entry this year, and if I'm going to be honest, its starting to feel like this series has run its course. Those first couple of modules were a breath of fresh air that allowed roleplaying groups to let loose and play insane singing goblins for one-off sessions, but it seems like the quality of the series has gone downhill with subsequent iterations and the joke has pretty well played out at this point. Maybe We Be Heroes will revive the franchise?

In addition to the adventure module, Paizo is dropping an 8 page storybook with goblin characters for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game this year. 

If you aren't keen on making yet another goblin song and getting messily devoured by anything bigger than you, there will also be a new Starfinder entry for Paizo's sci-fi spin off.

R. Talsorian Games

After Paizo, this is probably what RPG fans are most looking forward to checking out for Free RPG Day 2019 -- quick start rules for a Witcher RPG!

If you want to jump into the Interlock system used to power The Witcher in tabletop mode, this 24 page book gives you a simplified version of the rules to get start.

This is from the same company making the Cyberpunk Red tabletop RPG (and yes, its connected to the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 that will be released at some point between now and the year the earth plunges into the sun).

Green Ronin

If you haven't tried out the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) rules yet, Green Ronin is offering up a quick start guide for the Modern Age system, which as the name implies is the modern day offshoot of the fantasy version.

Since there aren't that  many publishers focusing on modern day games lately, this is a great one to pick up if you want to expand your gaming group's horizons past the typical fantasy, sci-fi, and horror.

Goodman Games


That Dungeon Crawl Classics cover on the left may look awfully familiar, and that's because this two-sided product contains the quick start rules from last year (although with an updated spell list) on the front.

If you flip it over, the opposite side is a brand new adventure for level 1 characters titled Geas of the Star-ChonsIf you've already got the quick start rules, that's really the only reason to grab this one, since the half the book will be nearly identical to what Goodman Games released in 2018.

Renegade Game Studios


Following last year's look at the groundbreaking and non-traditional Overlight, for 2019 Renegade is radically shifting gears with two entries.

Want to roleplay in the grim future where the undead have overrun humanity? The quick start intro rules for survival horror game Outbreak Undead will help you decide if you want to pick up the full rule books.

On the total opposite end of the gaming spectrum, there's also a new free adventure for Kids On Bikes, which is exactly what it sounds like as kids from small towns go on big adventures.

Khepera Publishing

Not a fan of the normal D20-based systems? Khepera has a D6 rule set that serves as spiritual successor to those iconic West End Game titles from decades past. There will only be 5 of these quick start rule books sent to each store however, so grab it quick if you see one still out on the table!

Pelgrane Press

Pelgrane has a double product this year, but sadly there will only be 3 per box sent to stores, so its unlikely you'll be able to grab one unless you are the first person in the store.

The first half is a tale for the 13th Age fantasy system, while the second will appeal to the horror fans.

That half includes a story for the company's newer King In Yellow RPG based on the famous Robert Chambers mythos character (who hit the public consciousness pretty widely back in 2014 with that first season of True Detective). 

King In Yellow uses an updated version of the GUMSHOE rules, so if you played Trail Of Cthulhu, you already know the basics.

Seven Thebes

Prefer historical settings over high fantasy universes? Land Of Myth features only human characters in ancient Greece, and while it does include a host of gods and magic abilities, it tends to focus more on characters than fantasy powers. Best of all? It's meant to be fifth edition compatible, so your group can jump right in.

Slugfest Games

While I haven't kept up with the latest expansions, Red Dragon Inn remains one of my favorite board games, and its a hell of a good time even when drinking with a group of people who don't normally play RPGs.

Slugfest is offering up a new card to add to the pile this year, but unfortunately there will only be ONE of these cards sent per store, so don't expect to be able to grab it.


The ever-reliable Q-Workshop is including 15 sets of these black and silver Starfinder themed dice per store. I'd expect them to get snatched up quick, so you'll want to show up early if you plan on getting your own set!

Aside from what was covered above, there will of course also be the annual t-shirt and Chessex Free RPG Day branded dice, but the quantities are extremely limited and will probably be taken by the store owners (and hey, they earned 'em by buying the box).

What are you most excited about grabbing this year, and which products are you going to avoid? Sound off in the comments below, and see you at the game store on June 15th!

Rocket League and Mortal Kombat 11 Join the Summer Arena Clash Fri, 31 May 2019 10:22:28 -0400 Glitchieetv

Sign-ups are now open for Belong Gaming Arena's Summer Arena Clash. Qualifiers started earlier this week.

Belong Gaming Arena's tri-annual tournament allows players to experience the world of eSports as casuals or pros. Added to the fray of competitive games for this summer's lineup are Rocket League and Mortal Kombat 11. Staple games still being featured are League of Legends, Overwatch, and FIFA 19.

Each of the games has its own qualifier dates, so check out Belong Gaming Arena's site for specific dates and times.

Taking place over several weeks, teams comprised of players from specific regions, known as tribes, will compete throughout the U.K.

Those interested can search for their local tribe to find like-minded teammates or other groups to join. Those who make it to the finals will play on stage in front of a live audience for the 2019 Championship Title. Not only that, hardware, peripherals, reward points, and merchandise are all on the line.

The competition culminates with the finals being played at Insomnia65, the U.K.'s biggest gaming festival. This year, Insomnia65 will be held during the August Bank Holiday at NEC Birmingham in Birmingham, England. With the U.K. Masters tournament, tabletop gaming, and cosplay masquerade, Insomnia65 has a little bit of everything for those in the gaming community.

For those that are interested in casting games, Belong Gaming Arena is looking for a color caster for League of Legends and Rocket League matches. Those looking to cast League of Legends should mark off Thursday's as their studio day and prepare to head to Insomnia65 to cast the finals live on stage. Hopeful Rocket League casters will be in the studio for the Rocket League Arena games.

Whether competing, casting, or enjoying the show, the inclusion of Mortal Kombat 11 and Rocket League brings new action to the Arena Clash. 

Let The ARPG Wars Begin: Warhammer Chaosbane vs. Other ARPGs Mon, 27 May 2019 07:00:01 -0400 Ty Arthur

2019 is a very odd year for the ARPG fan base, with one major franchise apparently wrapping up and several huge name titles set to arrive to something significantly less than triumphant fanfare.

Grim Dawn just released what may be the game's final DLC (I'm not crying -- you're crying!) while Diablo Immortal is going mobile and Torchlight Frontiers looks like it may be a free to play MMO.

Amid those... questionable... design decisions, hardcore ARPG fans are probably wondering where to get their fix of new content coming soon, and the answer is very likely in the chaos of the Old World. 

  All I can think whenever I hear the words "Diablo" and "mobile" together 

An Unlikely Hero... Games Workshop?!?

Only a few weeks from launch, Warhammer: Chaosbane had the distinct possibility of ending up an absolute disaster, like many Games Workshop titles to come before.

You don't have to reach far back into history to see where the Warhammer license has gone wrong. Previous ARPG Inquisitor Martyr was an absolute flop, Wrath & Glory just got yanked from Ulisses and handed off to Cubicle 7, while Space Hulk: Deathwing had to come out with a fully revamped enhanced edition... which still sits at "mixed" reviews.

Just by looking at the previous release history, Chaosbane seems like a notable departure for Eko Software, which is an established developer with a long track record, but the company isn't exactly known for big AAA titles. Eko was responsible for How To Survive: Storm Warning and a whole bunch of French PS2 and 3DS titles from Woody Woodpecker to Best Of Board Games.

In other words, this isn't a developer with a history involving anything remotely like a Diablo style action RPG, and Chaosbane easily could have been another in a long line of Warhammer game corpses left on the wayside. 

How Chaosbane Stacks Up Against The Competition

Thankfully, that hasn't turned out to be the case for a multitude of reasons, but we'll start with a big one that will have console players leaping off the La-Z-Boy for joy. There is in fact local 4 player couch co-op available on the console versions!

Yep, you get to team up with your buddies directly next to each other and slaughter hordes of nurglings, beast men, and all manner of foul chaos beasts by the thousands.

That's fabulous news for those who don't like the impersonal nature (and constant abuse from 12 year olds) inherent to online matches, but there are other ways Chaosbane breaks from the ARPG pack, and some of them are less welcome.

Chaosbane Class Options

 Classes cover the classic wizard, archer, tank, and frenzied barbarian.

Here's the big one: there are only four classes, which obviously is a major limitation compared either to the seven classes from Path Of Exile and Diablo III or the 36 possible combinations with the dual mastery symbol of Grim Dawn.

Those four classes -- the classic dwarf slayer, wood elf archer, high elf mage, and empire soldier -- are incredibly distinct from one another however, both in overall direction but also in special ability.

Everyone has a role to play. Whether manually moving a protective dome spell to cover a friend as the mage, using the grappling hook to re-position yourself as the dwarf, dodge rolling as the elf, or using a shield bash for stunning with the soldier.

How you use skills and the means to regenerate energy as any of those four classes are where Chaosbane diverges strongly from most other ARPGs. Instead of mana potions, you need to be constantly attacking to recover to energy, which leads to some truly frenzied combat (particularly for the dwarf slayer, who is stronger the longer he fights and more injured he becomes).

Aside from the typical click spamming to cleave through enemies, you'll need to make effective use of area effect banners and magic domes for maximizing your combat bonuses or damage prevention against overwhelming numbers.

Skill Options: There Are More Than You Think

Aside from the main class ability differences and energy regeneration mechanics, the one huge element you'll immediately notice is how you can respec your character on the fly at any time, and I have to wonder if that's going to be the future of the genre.

At first the skill tree seems overly simplistic and straightforward. You don't choose most of the skills to take as you level -- with only a few exceptions, they just automatically unlock in a specific order. However, you can only have a limited number active at any one time, with more powerful skills costing more points to utilize. 

Since you can change what skills are equipped at any point -- even in the middle of battle -- that effectively means you get to try any build anytime you want without having to start over and make a new character. 

The customization options don't end there, however, as near the end of the first Act you unlock the extra God skill tree, which is separate from class skills and basically functions like the constellation devotion path from Grim Dawn. That's where you really tweak your character and make your own choices so your dwarf slayer will be different from your friend's dwarf slayer.

Finding a skill combination and God tree path that works for your build is crucial, because the game's higher difficulties aren't messing around. Even if you think you can clear Ultimate in Grim Dawn without any problem, you'll get annihilated by the higher difficulty tiers in Chaosbane without a whole lot of grind for leveling and better equipment.

All Aboard The Loot Train

If there's one element tying all the various ARPGs together, its the endless stream of loot as you try to find the best equipment combos. That's another area where Chaosbane is noticeably different from the competition, in both good ways and bad ways.

Thankfully, the very clunky equipment UI we saw from the first beta got a major overhaul in the second beta, so now its more inline with what ARPG players would expect. In an interesting twist, you don't really sell unnecessary equipment for money, but rather for influence to unlock extra skills.

So what about the equipment that you do keep? This is the less than ideal part. Much of the gear looks the same and has similar naming schemes, so there's less visual customization than other games in this same style.

That's bad news for co-op when two players are using the same class, and its particularly noticeable on the dwarf slayer, who has to stick to the lore of going into combat unarmored while seeking death.

 These are the exact same Grim Dawn character with different equipment -- you can't get close to this level of customization in Chaosbane.

Sadly, that problem is exacerbated by the lack of gender diversity, as you can't pick whether the character model is male or female. That may be fitting with the themes of Warhammer, but it sill feels lacking in a modern title where people are used to picking those sort of options.

The Future Road Map For Chaosbane Content

One way we can't compare Chaosbane to other entries yet is on how much new content is coming down the pipe and how frequently it will arrive. Those questions will directly determine if the community stays alive, or if this is something that people will re-install from time to time to play single player when the urge strikes.

At the moment, we know there's at least one DLC that will add a new zone and alternate God skill trees for each character, but its very up in the air as to whether we'll see constant ongoing development like with Grim Dawn or Titan Quest that are still getting updates years later. 

The interesting part about that planned DLC is that the new zone isn't about fighting chaos at all (despite the game's name), which means we're probably going to see skaven, green skins, or vampire counts.

Aside from the big question mark of the DLC, we do know the game will get Expedition Mode after launch as part of a series of end game updates.

Expedition mode will let you play randomly generated maps to earn fragments for upgrading equipment, and that will significantly increase the longevity, calling to mind the Shattered Realms or Crucible sections of Grim Dawn.

Whether it dethrones Path Of Exile and Grim Dawn to become the king of the current ARPGs or ends up just another blip on the genre's radar, Warhammer: Chaosbane is due to drop June 4th, 2019 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Will you be picking it up, and what class are you planning on playing?

Shadow of the Colossus Receives Heavy Metal Tribute Wed, 22 May 2019 10:13:46 -0400 Glitchieetv

Shadow of the Colossus was first released in North America in 2006. The game was touted as an important example of video games as art. Cited as one of the greatest video games of all time, it is often brought up in discussions concerning emotional perspectives and artistic elements in video games.

With a sprawling original soundtrack composed by Kow Otani, the player only hears the sweet orchestral melodies when fighting colossi or during cut scenes. The rest of the time is spent listening to the main character's movements, his horse's hooves, and the ambiance of the world around him, which is all part of the pressing solitude. 

During battles with the Colossi is where the game's music really delights. Heavy beats harken the battle when first seeing the towering creatures players set out to battle. The score changes to one of triumph as players climb up their bodies, finding their weak points to exploit. The music is as much a part of the game as the Colossi themselves.

Feeling the notes deep in his soul, Ferdk, a musician from Buenos Aires, Argentina, has given Otani's original soundtrack a heavy metal makeover titled Battle with the Colossus. Ferdk composes symphonic metal, where he combines gritty guitar work with heavy orchestration, often gaining inspiration from video game soundtracks. A Youtube Creator, he has amassed over a million views for his takes on Persona 5, Final Fantasy X, and more.

Ferdk delighted in an opportunity to pay homage to one of his all-time favorite games, saying in a press release:

The soundtrack to this game is almost like a character of its own. It defines the experience just as much as the art direction and gameplay. It's truly a masterpiece of a game and one of my all-time favorites, so I'm pleased to be able to release my tribute to the game and its soundtrack.

Battle with the Colossus features 11 tracks reimagining the game's adventure through the Forbidden Lands. It has been released on all platforms through Materia Collective, a video game music publisher based out of Seattle. 

Charge Over to Kickstarter to Help Rescue Unicorns Tue, 21 May 2019 11:49:39 -0400 Glitchieetv

Adam Gidwitz and Jesse Casey, the co-creators of the Unicorn Rescue Society comedy action-adventure books, currently have a Kickstarter project going for his upcoming game: Unicorn Rescue Society: The Card Game. As of this writing, over halfway to its $10,000-goal has been reached. The game is being developed by Gidwitz and his longtime friend Jesse Casey.

For ages 5+ and 2-8 players, the objective is to return as many mythical creatures back to their homes as players can. Players earn the most points for finding the rarest of creatures and bringing them back to their habitat.

Games typically run for about 10 minutes, making it perfect for family game night or a quick time killer.

There are three main card types used to play. Creature cards, Habitate cards, and Secret Mission cards. 

Creature cards depict where each creature comes from and some of their other characteristics. Habitat cards depict where the creatures live, including some special habitat's which are a combo of two types. Secret mission cards are accepted at the beginning of the game and help pinpoint which creatures are in need of aid.

If players complete a secret mission before the end of the game, they can earn bonus points. It's game over when a player runs out of cards. 

If that sounds interesting, head on over to the game's Kickstarter page to learn more. The Kickstarter is live until June 6; it is an all or nothing campaign. As a bonus, some tiers include the Unicorn Rescue Society books. According to the Kickstarter's current plan, pledge rewards would ship sometime this October. 

A Newbery Honoree, Gidwitz wanted to develop a game for kids to enjoy based on his experiences as a teacher in a 2nd-grade classroom. Children would gather around, excitement buzzing in the air as Uno cards were slapped on a table. Drawing from his books, Gidwitz and Casey created The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Card Game

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Sony Partners With Microsoft, Plus Rage 2, Super Mario Maker, More Sat, 18 May 2019 09:00:01 -0400 GS_Staff

We skipped last week, but GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back.

This week we have Sony partnering with Microsoft, PUBG getting slapped with restrictive modes, and Nintendo dropping way too much news on Super Mario Maker 2.

Outside of that, World of Warcraft Classic finally got a release date, news games were announced for the Genesis Mini, three big digital storefronts have three big sales going on. We also spoke to Asobo Studios about A Plague Tale: Innocence, reviewed Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, and wrote way too many guides on new and old games alike. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna' do? Play video games? 


  • Sony and Microsoft Partner For Gaming, Technology Solutions
    Sony and Microsoft have unexpectedly partnered to focus on "new innovations to enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms and AI solutions." Read more

  • Super Mario Maker 2 Direct Reveals New Modes, New Parts, and So Much More
    Stage share returns to Super Mario Maker, with multiplayer, story mode, and whole lot more. Read more

  • WoW Classic Releasing August 27— Here's How to Sign Up for Beta
    Where and how to sign up for the World of Warcraft Classic beta, and when to expect release. Read more

  • PUBG Mobile Encouraging Responsible Play with New Management System
    Following several recent PUBG bans, the mobile version is getting a new management system worldwide, designed to promote time management and responsible gameplay. Read more

  • Sega Genesis Mini Gets 10 More Titles Announced, Includes Street Fighter II
    Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition joins the fight on the Sega Genesis Mini this September. Read more

  • New Call of Duty Mobile Info Surface as Beta Testing Draws Closer
    Call of Duty: Mobile multiplayer modes, loadouts, customization options and more get some attention in a new Activision blog post. Read more

  • Monster Hunter: World Gets Free, Limited-Time Demo
    The demo is only available for a limited time and lets players experience a big helping of what the main game has to offer and carry that data to the main game. Read more.  

  • Red Dead Online Leaves Beta With Big Additions
    After months in beta, Red Dead Redemption 2's online component is now available with a full official launch and a ton of tweaks and extra features! Read more

  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint Is Another Epic Store Exclusive
    Ubisoft's recently announced Ghost Recon sequel is yet another jewel in the Epic Games Store's crown. Read more

  • Pokemon GO Extraordinary Raid Week Includes Shiny Lapras Day
    Pokemon GO players are getting the chance to obtain some extra powerful, and potentially Shiny, Raid bosses next week, with some other special events planned as well. Read more

  • New Details on Metro Exodus Expansion Pass Content
    We finally get some new info about Metro Exodus' DLC expansion content, with the first round set to launch soon. Read more

  • Here There Be Deals: Sales on Epic Games, Fanatical, Green Man Gaming Store Fronts
    Three big digital storefronts have three big deals going on right now. Here are some of the best deals and links to each sale. Read more

  • Outer Wilds Becomes the Latest Epic Games Store Exclusive
    The announcement comes in an update from Mobius, where the studio lists a pretty important reason for the exclusivity deal. Read more.

  • Ubisoft Releases Big The Division 2 Update Ahead of Operation Dark Hours
    The Division 2's first raid is coming soon, and the patch makes a bunch of adjustments and improvements designed for a smoother experience when it does release. Read more

  • Vambrace: Cold Soul Showcases World in First Feature Trailer
    The first of three trailers for Vambrace: Cold Soul is live. The Town showcases the game's central hub. Read more
  • It's Minecraft's 10th Anniversary! Minecraft Earth Is on the Way
    Minecraft's anniversary is kicked off with a huge surprise: Beta registration for the upcoming title Minecraft Earth! Read more

  • Barotrauma Hitting Steam Early Access June 5th, Try the Free Pre-alpha!
    Barotrauma's June 5 Early Access build looks awesome, but you can try the pre-alpha for free if you want to get a feel for it. Read more


  • Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Review: A War Dog Losing Its Bite
    Despite a graphical upgrade, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered shows its age in almost every way — but that doesn't mean it's not a good time. Read more.  

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence Review — A Unique but Uneven Throwback to an Earlier Era of Video Games
    A Plague Tale: Innocence is an odd and often frustrating experience, with an escort mission front and center. There's a lot here that makes it worth checking out, though, even if only once. Read more

  • Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest Review — Fluid Combat but Stilted Story
    Druidstone nails turn-based combat, with some remarkably user-friendly options, but is held back somewhat by an uninteresting story. Read more.

  • Figment Review: Pure Imagination
    Figment turns a touchy topic into an engaging puzzle adventure that's filled with heart and some excellent setting and soundtrack designs. Read more

  • Shakedown Hawaii Review: A Repetitive Biz Trip
    Shakedown Hawaii gets you into a business trip around a 16-bit world that sometimes leaves much to be desired. Read more


  • 5 Reasons To Get Excited About The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr
    The Elder Scrolls Online is about to get a whole lot bigger and more dangerous when Elsweyr releases this summer. Here's why you should be excited to play! Read more

  • Asobo Studio's Kevin Choteau Discusses the History and Brutality of A Plague Tale: Innocence
    Kevin Choteau, game director for Asobo Studio, discusses the historical inspirations and background of A Plague Tale: Innocence. Read more

  • The Easter Egg You Missed in A Plague Tale: Innocence's Post-Credits Scene
    A Plague Tale: Innocence caught the MCU bug and hid a huge reveal in its ending, post-credits scene. Here's the easter egg you may have missed in the final moments. Read more

  • Magic the Gathering: Mardu Top Tier Deck for WAR Standard
    Let your creatures die to win games with the help of Cruel Celebrant and Teysa Karlov in this top-tier Mardu deck for WAR Standard in MtG. Read moreGuides
  • Rage 2 Won't Start? Here Be Fixes!
    Can't get Rage 2 to load at all, or get stuck on a black screen that never loads anywhere? We've rounded up all the current workarounds so you can get playing! Read more

  • Rage 2 BFG 9000 Location Guide
    The BFG 9000 is one of Rage 2's most badass guns. Here's how to get it, how to find its location, and where to buy ammo for it. Read more

  • How to Unlock All Cheat Codes in Rage 2
    Looking to boost your gameplay experience in Rage 2? Here are the locations of the Wasteland Wizard, who can sell you all the cheat codes you need. Read more

  • All Ark Locations in Rage 2
    Rage 2's wasteland is a dangerous place, but the weapons and abilities found at these Ark locations change the equation. Read more
  • All Gold Bar Locations in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered
    There are 100 gold bars in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered. This guide shows you where all of the locations are. Read more

  • All Wine Bottle Locations in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered
    Sniper Elite V2 Remastered has 37 collectible wine bottles. This guide has all of their locations. Read more

  • Fill Out Your Shopping List with the Collectible Gifts of A Plague Tale: Innocence
    Amicia always has an eye out for something her friends might like. Search for and find all the collectible Gifts in A Plague Tale: Innocence with this to-the-point guide. Read more

  • Finding All the Historical Curiosities in A Plague Tale: Innocence
    There's a lot about 14th-century France that's barely recognizable to modern players. Get a leg up by searching for and finding Curiosities, with the help of this guide to A Plague Tale: Innocence. Read more

  • Discovering Hugo's Herbarium in A Plague Tale: Innocence
    Hugo de Rune is many things, including an avid botanist. Help him discover all the collectible flowers in this short, illustrated guide to A Plague Tale: Innocence. Read more

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence Crafting Guide — Best and Worst Upgrades
    A Plague Tale: Innocence, a new and grim IP from Asobo Studio, is out this week. If you want to survive the rat plague and the Inquisition, use our guide on how to craft the best tools. Read more
  • Mordhau Toolbox Guide: Can We Fix It? Yes, We Can!
    Here's how to use the toolbox in Mordhau: what you can build, what it all costs, and how to use it effectively. Read more

  • Mordhau Not Responding? Try This
    Stuck at the starting screen? Here are a couple of possible solutions for fixing the freezing bug in Mordhau. Read more

  • Fallout 76: Scout World Challenge Badge Exam Answers
    We've got the answers to Fallout 76's athlete, archer, cook, code breaker, entomologist, herpetologist, medic, mammalogist, and swimmer tests! Read more

  • Fallout 76: Order Of The Tadpole Quest Guide
    Want to rise through the Pioneer scouts and go from tadpole to possum scout? We show you how to start the quest and go through each of the four scouting virtues! Read more

  • Fallout 76: Where To Find Pemmican
    Can't find pemmican for the Backpacker possum badge? By completing the right repeatable quest, you can get three pieces in no time! Read more

  • Fallout 76 Purveyor Legendary Vendor Location
    We know the Purveyor legendary vendor location in Fallout 76. This is where you can offload your junk equipment and find better weapons and armor. Read more

  • Fallout 76: What is the Stimpak Diffuser, and Where do I Get One?
    There was a slight oversight in the tadpole badges as Bethesda accidentally forgot to add a required item for the medic badge. Whoops! Read More

  • The Best Skills in Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest
    Every character has a choice of skills when they level up, but which are the most useful in Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest? Read more

  • Buyer's Guide for the Best Items in Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest
    Steelface's Emporium has a wealth of weapons, equipment, and accessories to purchase, but only a few stand out in Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest. Read more

  • Knights of the Card Table Heroes Guide
    Knights of the Card Table gives you 7 Heroes with their own unique abilities. Here's how you can get, and use, them all. Read more

  • Knights of the Card Table Weapon Guide
    Wondering what the best Knights of the Card Table weapon is and which Hero to use it with? Read on, dungeon traveler. Read more

  • Where to Find Tasha in Sea of Thieves
    Looking for Tasha in Sea of Thieves? Look no further! Check out our guide to find her location and what she offers in the new Tall Tales mode. Read more

  • Grim Dawn Ultimate Beginner's Build Guide
    Not sure which mastery combo to pick or how to navigate the devotion system? We can show you exactly how to get into this grimdark fantasy ARPG and annihilate your enemies! Read more

  • Another Eden Black Pearl Farming Guide
    Can't seem to find any of the new black pearls? You'll need to look in out of the way places in the Dragon Palace to start farming them and earn your rewards! Read more

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

Super Mario Maker 2 Direct Reveals New Modes, New Parts, and So Much More Wed, 15 May 2019 20:28:56 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Today's Super Mario Maker 2 Direct revealed a truckload of new information about the upcoming game. Let's dive right into it, starting with the game's style, marked by a new twist. 

SMM2 will have the same styles as the other two games: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U.

However, it also introduces the Super Mario 3D World style, including Cat Mario and Cat Bowser, which opens up a ton of new options for stage design.

These range from creating platforms Cat Mario can climb up to the clear pipes we've already seen in previous ads, setting tracks for Piranha Plants, bosses, and more:

  • Floating crates
  • Boxes that phase in and out
  • Warp boxes
  • Customizable track blocks
  • Mushroom trampolines
  • Skipsqueak enemies
  • Koopa Troopa cars
  • Pom Pom
  • Charvaargh

The Direct only showed a bit of what fans can expect from the new style, with the promise of even more to come.

It's important to note that unlike the other styles in Super Mario Maker 2, which players can swap freely between as they create their stages, the Super Mario 3D World style cannot be swapped in and out. It's built on a completely separate engine thanks to the unique physics required for the stage mechanics.

New Themes, Items, and Bosses...Oh My!

SMM2 is introducing new themes as well: desert, forest, sky, and snow. Each has new music created by famous Mario composer Koji Kondo as well.

There are plenty of new items that will be available for all styles:

  • on and off switches
  • crane claws
  • twisters
  • fire-breathing red Yoshis
  • parachutes
  • icicles
  • Dry Bones shell (for extra protection)
  • Big Coins
  • Angry Sun
  • Boom Boom

And a lot more to come.

Slopes can now be customized into different gradients, and the water and lava levels can be adjusted, too. There's a new scrolling feature that gives players the ability to turn any stage into a side-scrolling stage, and the speed and direction of the scroll can be adjusted at will.

That opens the door to new vertical scrolling sub-areas, just like in the mainline Super Mario games.

The Angry Sun gets a counterpart this time as well, with the Moon item. It turns any stage to night and, unlike the Angry Sun, it doesn't hurt Mario. In fact, it's rather helpful. If Mario jumps and touches the moon, the moon then destroys all the enemies on screen at the time.

Different themes react in different ways to night mode. For instance, gravity is reduced in the sky theme, water turns to poison in the forest, and the slopes become dangerously slippery in the ice theme. Items will change somehow as well, though nothing specific was shown other than a rather frightening looking mushroom.

After unlocking night mode for each theme, the moon item doesn't have to be placed; players can just choose to include night mode from then on.

Finally, two players can work together to build their stages as well by sharing Joy-Con.

Story Mode comes to Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 will build on the inclusion of 100+ pre-designed stages in Super Mario Maker 3D and expands on it in a big way. That's because SMM2 will include Story Mode for the first time in the series.

Story Mode sees Mario work to rebuild Princess Peach's castle from the ground up. To do this, he'll need to take on various missions for the constructors and other randos that happen to be around the castle as it redevelops.

Each request revolves around completing a specific course or clearing a set of conditions, and they reward Mario with a set number of coins; these coins are then used to build the castle.

A firm number of courses wasn't mentioned, but like its 3DS predecessor, SMM2 will have more than 100 courses to play through, along with the side quest courses.

Stage Share Mode Returns

Super Mario Maker 2 marks the return of the much-loved stage sharing mode from the original game.

Naturally, since it's an online mode, it will require a Nintendo Switch online membership.

Stage sharing is largely the same as before, though it does include some important new additions. One of them involves challenges. Players can create stages with challenges built in, such as clearing x number of enemies or gathering a set number of coins.

All players will have a Maker Profile, which lets them customize their Maker (think Mii 2.0) and earn Maker Coins for popular stages; these can be spent on outfits and the like for their Maker.

Players can search for courses using various tags, such as themes or features, or even multiplayer.

That's right, Super Mario Maker 2 will include multiplayer modes for stages: versus and co-op modes. Versus modes pits up to 4 players against each other in a race to finish the course first, while co-op mode has up to 4 player work together to finish a course.

If players are nearby and each has a copy of the game and a Nintendo Switch, then one player can host an online room for their play sessions, and the online element will be based on the host's connection.

Some Bundles

Nintendo is offering a few special deals for Super Mario Maker 2. One is a physical or digital bundle featuring the game and a 12-month subscription for Nintendo Switch Online for $69.99. If the purchaser already has a subscription, then the new 12 months will stack onto their existing subscription.

The other promotion is for existing NSO members. 2 game vouchers can be purchased for a total of $99.99 and then redeemed for 2 Nintendo Switch games, including pre-purchasing Super Mario Maker 2.

A list of eligible titles can be found here.

Asobo Studio's Kevin Choteau Discusses the History and Brutality of A Plague Tale: Innocence Mon, 13 May 2019 09:49:05 -0400 Thomas Wilde

We've been tracking A Plague Tale: Innocence for most of the last year now. Even if it wasn't set in an underrepresented historical era  at the start of the Hundred Years' War in medieval France  it's a game in which you feed a couple of dozen English soldiers to an army of supernatural demon rats. That gets your attention.

Plague Tale is coming out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Tuesday. In advance of its release, we sent a few questions over to the game's developers at Asobo Studio in Bordeaux, France. Plague Tale is the company's first original IP in 14 years, since the 2005 console game Nemesis Strike.

We got a chance to talk to game designer Kevin Choteau, who has a long history in the industry, about the game's inspirations and background.

Thomas Wilde: What was the start of the Plague Tale project? What did you want to do, and how did you end up doing this in particular?

Kevin Choteau: It's been a long time since the team wanted to make something a little more personal. We wanted to speak about family bonds. As the studio has evolved, some of us have gotten kids, built a home, grown older, things like that. We also had an idea for a tale, something with realistic roots but also through the eyes of a kid discovering the world and understanding it with his own references and beliefs.

Remember all the engravings about Grimm's or [Charles] Perrault's tales? It was something like a starting point: our first vision was to feature children facing the brutality of the world alone and finding the means to fight this adversity, gain experiences, grow stronger, and become adults. I think (I hope) we've managed to stay true to this original vision.

Kevin Choteau, of Asobo Studio.

TW: Can you walk me through your research process? Some of you were at E3 last year and told me you did a lot of historical research in France.

KC: Yes, we did read a lot of books, studied a lot of documentaries, movies, TV series, and paintings. We have this big database file where everyone was sharing ideas and resources.

We also explored our region to find architectural references. We are very lucky because here in the south-west of France, we have many remains from the medieval era like St. Emilion, the Dordogne and Périgord area, Carcassonne, many monuments in Bordeaux, etc.

TW: Paint a historical picture for me of the period of time in which Plague Tale takes place.

KC: The 14th century is a turning point of European medieval history.

It's a setting for major unexpected changes. At that time, the Guyenne province, in the south-west of France (where the story takes place), was ruled by England. The Hundred Years' War began when the Plantagenets' influence was disputed by the Valois family. It was the beginning of many very violent battles.

When the soldiers had nothing to do, they turned to banditry, sacking villages and terrorizing the people. At that time, the Inquisition was losing some of its influence and some very radical leaders emerged with extreme doctrines.

1347 was also the beginning of the Black Death, which arrived by ship in Marseilles. Something like 25 million people died from the Plague. That's half the population of Europe. The population went mad, seeking something to blame. Sometimes it was their own neighbors, sometimes strangers just trying to survive. As you can imagine, it was not a peaceful and easy period to grow up in.

TW: What were some of your influences going into this? Movies, shows, music, other games, etc.

KC: We were informed by a lot of different sources, from music to TV series, books or even paintings. For the medieval setting movies like Macbeth or Black Death were inspiring references but, as I said previously, we also have the chance to live in a region where medieval times are still visible in villages, monuments, etc.

For the kids, we were inspired both by the folktales of Grimm or Perrault and the Studio Ghibli movies. The way they develop stories, the way they present characters, the philosophy... they are definitely gems of our times.

TW: How would you describe Plague Tale in terms of genre? I spoke to some of you at E3 last year and it struck me as a horror game at heart, but having played the demo, it's perhaps more of an adventure game with some horror-themed areas and encounters.

KC: Yes, it's an adventure above all, a coming-of-age journey that uses gameplay to convey the story and make it move forward.

We did not create our game to fit a specific genre. We created it more like an emotional experience served by interactivity, as well as the relationship between the players and two kids brutally thrown into the fury of a collapsing world.


For more on A Plague Tale: Innocence, be sure to head over to our review when it goes live tomorrow. 

Monster Hunter World — Iceborne DLC Release Date, New Monsters, More Announced Thu, 09 May 2019 20:45:49 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Capcom's Monster Hunter: World Spring Update aired today, bringing with it a Nergigante-sized batch of information about the new Monster Hunter: World — Iceborne DLC.

Iceborne, described as a massive expansion DLC, was developed parallel to the updates and additions for the base game. As such, its release date is fairly soon. Iceborne will launch September 6 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with a Steam release set for sometime this winter.

Welcome to Hoarfrost Reach

Iceborne features a brand-new region to explore, Hoarfrost Reach. The expansion's plot takes place after the events of the main Monster Hunter: World game. It also brings back something similar to G-Rank monsters and missions from earlier MH games. In Iceborne, it's called Master Rank, and it's the next step up from High Rank.

Hoarfrost Reach is the largest region in MH:W. Unsurprisingly, it's almost completely covered with snow and frost, with a few exceptions in areas that feature natural hot springs  — complete with monkeys.

The region's natural life is billed as some of the most in-depth as well. For example, Popos are normally fodder for other monsters elsewhere.However, in Hoarfrost Reach, players can see them wandering peacefully in the snow. Even the deadlier creatures have their own normal habits, from sunbathing to getting a drink from the hot springs.

The development team said they spent a lot of time creating realistic and layered visual effects for the region, including snow trails and special shadowing effects. Apart from looking good, these features have an important role in gameplay as well.

New Monsters

There will be several new monsters added to Hoarfrost Reach, and the development team debuted two of them, promising more to follow in future updates.

One of them is Beotodus, the first large monster players will encounter. This carnivorous monster takes advantage of Hoarfrost Reach's deep snow by hiding in it as it waits for prey.

Much like the Molduga from Breath of the Wild, Beotodus moves swiftly under the surface to grab its prey, and hunters must find a way to get it out of the snow before they can even begin their fight.

The other new monster is Banbaro, the giant horned brute wyvern from the new Iceborne trailer. Banbaro will also be encountered early in the game, and its attacks are fairly straightforward — literally, actually, since it charges in straight lines after its prey.

The beast's horns gather anything in its path along the way, though, so even if hunters are slightly to the side of Banbaro as it charges, they could still be hit by boulders or even entire trees caught up in the monster's path.

Iceborne's flagship monster also debuted during the presentation: a new elder dragon called Velkhana. Like all elder dragons, Velkhana is immensely powerful. It uses ice attacks, but also has special powers the team is holding back on for now; based on the trailer, though, it would seem Velkhana must have a tendency to sing as well.

Finally, the update teased the return of Nargacuga in Iceborne. Despite having many of the same patterns and features as the Nargacuga players may already be familiar with, the Iceborne version has many new tricks up its pelt to make for an entirely new experience. Players can expect to encounter it around the campaign's halfway point.

More Hunter Actions and QoL Changes

Iceborne will introduce a wealth of new Hunter Actions and weapon updates as well. There will be a new presentation focused specifically on these in the future, but for now, the Capcom team gave viewers a look at a few standout examples.

The first is the Slinger. It's a weapon introduced in MH:W, but like most non-primary weapons in the series, it couldn't be used while the main weapon is drawn.

That's changed for Iceborne. Not only can hunters draw and use the Slonger while their weapon is drawn as well, but items can be used at the same time too.

The Clutch Claw, a sort of grappling hook, gets some expanded functionality as well. The team said the goal in MH:W was to let players control the monsters somehow, and the Clutch Claw makes that happen in Iceborne. Hunters can fire the Claw while readying the Slinger and can use the Claw to influence their quarry's movements.

The Slinger will be used in multiple ways this go around and in conjunction with the Claw Clutch. New weapon mods like the Flinch Shot will allow Hunters to grapple onto monsters with the Clutch, then unload all their Slinger's ammo at once onto the monster.

The benefit of this particular action is how it affects the monster's movements. The power of the Slinger attacks will forcefully propel the monster in whatever direction the Slinger was pointing. It can be used to shove monsters into traps, into walls, or however the Hunter sees fit to help in the fight.

Each weapon will get new mods and abilities as well. For example, the Great Sword can fire powerful, short-range Slinger shots, while the Light Bowgun gets a new evasion reload mod, and the Dual Blades can fire power shots and use the Clutch Claw in combos.

Different Formats

Players who already own the digital or physical version of Monster Hunter: World will only need to purchase the Iceborne DLC, which will cost $39.99.

There will be a Master Edition available, which features the base MH: World game plus Iceborne for $59.99, and a Master Edition Deluxe for $79.99 that comes in a steelbook case depicting Velkhana and Nergigante locked in combat. It will also contain a bundle of cosmetic items, including stickers and gestures.

Finally, there will be a Digital Deluxe version for $49.99 that has Iceborne and the bundled extras from the Master Edition Deluxe.

Monster Hunter: World New Event

As part of the ongoing spring festival in Monster Hunter: World, players can encounter Arch-tempered Nergigante beginning Saturday, May 11. This souped up version of the beastie carries a new moveset and patterns, designed to make this feel like the first time hunters have encountered the game's central monster.

Defeating it earns hunters the Nergiganta Gamma Armor, one of the game's most powerful armor sets.

A new dynamic theme featuring Nergigante is also available now for the PlayStation 4. It has unique icons that look as if Nergigante has torn into them and is meant to let players appreciate the monster's design, since it's actually sitting still and not trying to kill them.


That's it for the big Monster Hunter: World Spring Update reveal. More will be revealed in the coming months. 

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Days Gone, Sea of Thieves, Borderlands 3, More Sat, 04 May 2019 09:48:22 -0400 GS_Staff

GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back to bring you the week that was here on the site.  

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup. While we didn't cover everything, we did report on Borderlands 3 microtransactions; we reviewed Days Gone, even if it isn't exactly what we thought it might be; and we talked about why Sea of Thieves is still relevant a year later. 

We also wrote guides on Mortal Kombat 11, Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, Days Gone, and Katana ZERO. That's not to mention a handful of reviews and features. 

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna' do? Play video games? 


  • Borderlands 3 Gameplay Streams to Show ECHOcast, Give Viewers In-Game Rewards
    A special Borderlands 3 gameplay reveal stream will allow viewers to experience ECHOcast as well as enter for the chance to win in-game items. Read more

  • Borderlands 3 Gameplay Stream Reveals Co-Op Features, Plot, and More
    The Borderlands 3 gameplay stream showed off a number of features, from skill trees to alternate gun modes. And there might not be microtransactions? Read more

  • Borderlands 3 Will Have Cosmetic Microtransactions, Not Pay-to-Win
    2K releases statement clarifying microtransactions in Borderlands 3. Read more

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Getting Multiple Patches Across All Platforms
    New Mortal Kombat 11 patches will tweak Towers of Time difficulty, address some bugs, and offer a special gift to players. Read more.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Gets Release Date, New Trailer
    The newest IGA-vania game is set for a launch date that's a lot sooner than many might have expected, though the Switch version's release date is a bit later. Read more

  • Valve Opens Pre-Orders for Next-Gen VR Headset
    Steam is jumping back into VR hardware with the updated Index system, available to pre-order for a cool grand. Read more

  • The Sinking City Shows Off Investigative Mechanics In New Gameplay Video
    Watch 12 minutes of non-linear investigative gameplay in this new clip featuring developer commentary from Frogwares. Read more.

  • Figment, Musical Indie Adventure of the Mind, Comes to PS4 Soon
    Bedtime Digital Games' acclaimed musical indie adventure is launching in May on its most requested platform. Read more

  • Sea of Thieves Anniversary Update Adds New Story, PvP, and More
    The new Sea of Thieves update adds a variety of gameplay elements and hopes to give players reason to keep exploring the high seas for a long time to come. Read more

  • Star Citizen Goes Temporarily Free to Play Following 3.5 Update
    Play Star Citizen for free until May 8 and test out everything released in the recent 3.5 update. Read more

  • Download The Pokemon Pass And Get Cool Digital Content
    The Pokemon Company is offering fans a chance to get special goodies using the Pokemon Pass app. Read more

  • Razer Announces Dual Driver In-Ear Hedset For Mobile Entertainment
    Razer adds headset perfect for games on the go to its lineup, the Hammerhead Duo. Read more

  • Activision to Announce New Call of Duty, Hopes to Retain More Players
    Activision Blizzard's financial report provides a few teases about the newest Call of Duty game, including how the company plans to support it more than other CoD games. Read more

  • Respawn Outlines Anti-Cheater Plans, Bans 770K+ Players
    Respawn's project lead gave an update on Apex Legends' anti-cheater war, with some big numbers to show how their efforts have paid off. Read more

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  • VA-11 HALL-A Review: A Stylish Visual Novel That Feels at Home on Nintendo Switch
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  • Turtle Beach Recon 70 Headset Review: A Thrifty Option for PS4 Owners
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  • Days Gone Review: Gone Killin'
    Days Gone may not be game-changing like other PlayStation exclusives, but it's still a well put together title. Read more


  • ALpixel Games Discusses Open-World Narrative Game A Place For The Unwilling
    Spanish development team ALpixel games gives us an up close and personal look at the creation of an inspired 2D indie title. Read more

  • Pandemic Express: Currently (Train)Wrecking Through Early Access
    Pandemic Express's decent gameplay hooks aren't enough to salvage what is a broken, unfinished, and above all, unfun game. Read more

  • Why Sea of Thieves is More Relevant Than Ever
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  • Lust From Beyond Beta Impressions: Bigger, Squishier, Sexier
    Nearly everything about the first game has been drastically improved and taken to a new level of sexy horror in this brief demo for Lust From Beyond. Read more


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  • Days Gone Collectibles Part One: Characters, NERO Intel, and Lab Notes
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  • Days Gone Collectibles Part Two: Radio Free Copeland, RIP Sermons, and Tourism
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  • Days Gone Collectibles Part Three: Historical Markers, Herbology, and Camp Guitarist
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Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

Lust From Beyond Beta Impressions: Bigger, Squishier, Sexier Fri, 03 May 2019 12:54:06 -0400 Ty Arthur

Erotic horror as its own legitimate sub-genre was just clearing its throat last year through a handful of releases from brand new developers, and now its getting ready for a full-blast operatic encore with Lust From Beyond.

Production is now well underway for the sequel to Lust For Darkness, which came out around the same time as alternate sexy horror game Agony (and in fact can be bought together in the Lust For Agony combo at Steam).

With the successful funding of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the title, Movie Games Lunarium just dropped a 40 minute demo of what to expect when the full game arrives down the line. Long story short, I'm both pleased and horrified at what's in store for the series, and I expect that's exactly what the developer had in mind!

Ramping Up The Sex... Or Toning It Down

 ...Wait, what?

I have to admit I let out an involuntary laugh when first loading up the demo at the absurd hilarity of the censorship option screen. In what universe would I ever buy a game called Lust For Beyond and then choose to turn off the naughty jibbly bits with pixelation? It seems completely at odds with the entire point of the game.

If you're here for the naughty stuff, you won't be disappointed. That infamous dildo pumping machine makes a return, but there's a variety of whole new objects and creatures to take the sexual element of the game to the next level.

In fact the (potential) reason for the censorship option becomes apparent very quickly. I'm betting that's there specifically to skirt Steam's puritanical views on sexual content in games, because this one has full on vaginal penetration from a variety of organs and devices.

Hopefully that will be enough to avoid getting yanked off Steam, because many of the things you'll see here go way, way beyond what was in the first game.

 I think I know what the tissues are for!

While we didn't get to see it in action in the demo, a crowd funding stretch goal for interactive sex scenes has been unlocked, which could significantly change up how the game plays.

Depending on how far Movie Games Lunarium goes with the interactive concept, we could get something that's half 3D hentai game and half psychological survival horror entry.

Improvements To The Formula

 Yeah, that's exactly what it looks like.

The demo features a short, self-contained story in the overall Lust universe letting you play as a newer initiate in the cult who has abandoned his family for the lure of a life of ecstasy. 

It isn't entirely clear if this opening sequence will be in the full game or if it was exclusively made for the demo, but either way there are some very clear improvements to the first game that become immediately apparent.

Notably, it seems clear we are going to get updated sanity and health mechanics based on some of the items you find laying around the mansion. In the previous game you could go stark raving mad if you wore a spider mask for peering into the unseen for too long, but that was the extent of the going-crazy mechanic.

This time around being in contact with any sanity-blasting creatures, locations, or concepts makes your brain take a hit, but you can temporarily get yourself back into working order by popping some sedatives.

Extra quality of life improvements see the game going from the "walking simulator" type of horror to a more full investigative game experience with better puzzles.

Thankfully, we get an actual item inventory system this time around for using and cataloging bizarre items you find, in addition to significantly enhanced sound, music, and voice acting for a more immersive experience.

Those wonderfully gross squishy sound effects when traversing the flesh tunnels give off exactly the disturbing sort of vibe you want while playing the game in the dark with headphones turned up to max volume. At one point, I actually felt *moist* while exploring one particular area of Lusst'ghaa. The sound design is very effective.

Even the Lust Plane's pulsating lights manage to have an erotic vibe, while also bringing to mind the aesthetic from Hellraiser whenever the cenobites made an appearance mashed up with the ship design from Aliens.

The end result of this updated aesthetic is a very unsettling sensation wherever you look when exploring the plane of erotic horrors (and trying not to get messily devoured or horribly penetrated).

Expansions And Upgrades

 Is it still flora if its made of muscle and tongue?

Aside from the updated sanity, health, and inventory UI, the one element that struck me as most improved here is how Lust From Beyond integrates the truly weird shit from the environments into the gameplay more effectively.

In the demo, Lusst'ghaa channels some serious Inner Chains vibe with a more Geiger heavy influence and lethal flora hampering your journey. 

Those pulsating pelvic walls, giant vaginal statues, and insane flora and fauna all serve more of a purpose than just to be gawked at while you wander around. Simply put, the setting is less window dressing and more gameplay-focused this time.

One segment of the demo that's particularly effective in evoking the weirdness of the setting is when your initiate cultist has to set a bizarre flying and glowing centipede creature out of its flesh prison. From there, you've got to follow close behind it as the insane thing's glow makes the tongue flowers shrink away so they no longer lash you to death.

What we're seeing here is clearly just a small taste of what's to come as well, with the developers announcing we'll be leaving the mansion and the alternative plane segments behind and heading into a nearby town at some point during the game.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Let's just say this is a "three" player activity.

Having only played a 40 minute teaser, its hard to say what the full game will be like after development is complete, but this advanced look is already significantly improved from its predecessor. 

Its clear that the ending from the first game (which I wasn't particularly impressed with) will now be expanded out significantly with the return of Amanda and some possibly world-changing consequences.

Currently at more than its double its funding goal, the Kickstarter is still live and has some exciting stretch goals to hit, like the ability to interact with a rival cult. While it hasn't been officially announced yet, VR support is rumored to be one of the unlisted stretch goals to appear after the $50,000 mark.

Sadly it seems unlikely that a game with this amount of sexual content will ever hit the PSVR, but having a VR option for PC would hugely open up the opportunities for this series in the future.

Kickstarter currently lists an estimated digital key delivery of March 2020 for backers. Of course all know those crowd funding release projections are almost always wrong, but with how polished the demo is already looking, I wouldn't be surprised if this one hits that window.

Whenever it arrives, Lust From Beyond is certain to take the gameplay mechanics, psychological horror style, and disturbing visuals from the first game and catapult them to a whole new level of sexed up terror that will set the standard for this fledgling genre just hitting the mainstream consciousness through Steam.

Pandemic Express: Currently (Train)Wrecking Through Early Access Thu, 02 May 2019 14:41:01 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Let's get something out of the way first: Pandemic Express has absolutely nothing to do with the hyper-popular Pandemic series of games.

If this game caught your eye because you hoped it'd be a spinoff of the series, created with the same love and care that went into, say, Pandemic: Legacy, you will be sorely, completely disappointed.

Instead, Pandemic Express is a game that seems to have been made in 2016. You remember that, right? Back when the success of games like DayZ and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds meant that any developer could release an unfinished game into Steam Early Access, charge $15 for it, and never complete it? 

Yeah. That's what we're talking about here. 


To be fair to tinyBuild Games, the gameplay loop in Pandemic Express isn't a bad one, at least in theory. Every game session begins with 30 players, of which one is a zombie. The goal is for human players to make it to a train and ride it to the end of the game's map (there's only one available as of now).

On the other hand, the zombie has to kill and infect other players to add them to a growing swarm; the goal from this perspective is to infect everyone. While it might seem "innovative" at first, you'll realize after a few matches that the general gameplay loop isn't much different from playing a payload map in Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch.

Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing! Not all new games need to innovate in crazy ways to be successful or fun. In fact, structuring a game around a tried and true concept like a payload run while adding new twists to the formula could (and should!) result in an engaging experience.

It's really too bad there's none of that to be found here.

Aiming guns or performing melee attacks is largely a chore because the game doesn't give you a crosshair (or if it does, it's too small to see and there's no option to make it larger). In addition, tinyBuild's servers don't seem equipped to handle the load of 30 people in a game at once, causing crippling amounts of lag even on a super-high-speed wired connection.

As a zombie, the lag issue is even more pronounced because the melee attack  the one players use to infect humans  has a not-insignificant-amount of startup frames. This necessitates players predict where their target is going and be a half-second ahead at close range, which is pretty challenging to do when you're lagging.

That said, it is kind of fun to use your zombie launch ability to hurl teammates across the map, especially given the insane knockback that guns have in this game. The little bit of fun I had during my time with Pandemic Express was in pinballing around the train as a zombie, getting knocked around by teammates and opponents' guns, and trying to pick folks off.

Oh, and you also get an ultimate ability based on how many times you respawn; you can pick from either exploding when you die, knocking folks off the train as you do, or becoming an invisible zombie, picking folks off from the shadows. Because of all this, I generally had a lot more fun as a zombie than I did as a human (but that's not saying much).

Bugging Out

All of these issues are damning, for sure. And if that were all that was wrong with the game, I'd still feel confident telling you to stay away. Unfortunately, there's more to say, largely because the game is still full of bugs.

In my time as a human player, I ran into a persistent bug where I was not able to pick up guns unless another player had dropped them or been killed. The game also crashed multiple times on my computer (once forcing a hard reset of my entire rig).

The game also hasn't been optimized graphically, causing choppiness and framerate dips on my computer. This is surprising because the graphics aren't particularly intensive even on high settings. I was worried that this was a problem with my rig at first before I confirmed that I could run Overwatch butter-smooth on high settings. There's something else going on here.

That's not even mentioning the insanely long startup, load, and matchmaking times. While these aren't bugs, they're annoyances that, when paired with all the other issues, leads to a game that succeeds in frustrating you before you've even started playing.

Now, as the game will no doubt repeat to you endlessly, Pandemic Express is still in its alpha stages. But if that's true, then tinyBuild is going to have a lot of work to do to squash these bugs during Early Access. The FAQ for Pandemic Express says that tinyBuild doesn't expect the full game to be out before the end of 2019, and given what's here so far, it seems like that's a bit optimistic.

So here's the big issue with looking at a game before it fully launches on Steam: Most, if-not-all, of the problems I have with this game could be ironed out if the devs really bust ass during the Early Access period to polish what is here. You could be reading this in July of 2020 and laughing at this idiot reviewer who completely wrote the next Fortnite off.

That's a real possibility! And despite the blow to my pride, I hope that it happens.

That said, it seems unlikely, since the developers don't seem to know what this game actually is. The one map featured in the game seems large-ish at first, but that's only because 90% of the actual gameplay takes place along the tracks of the train, rendering the vast majority of the map unusable since it's not along the path of the train.

If you watch the trailer for the game, it becomes clear that the devs think that Pandemic Express is some sort of hide-and-seek meets FPS hybrid, and that's just not true. This doesn't bode well for the future of the game. If the developers don't understand the way folks play the game and the most optimal ways to play, what hope is there for them to pivot the game's focus in a way that is actually engaging?

Because as it stands now, the best way to play the game, whether you're a human or a zombie, is to rush the train and just mash the attack button, whether you're trying to bite folks or trying to shoot zombies. It's not engaging, and it's not fun.

Again, I hope that the folks at tinyBuild can pivot and turn this game into something special, but at this point, I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: Day One Patch

Between the time of this review and the game's fully-fledged Early Access release, a patch was released that purported to squash a few bugs and really enhance the general experience of playing the game. In my time with the patched version of the game, that's only partly true.

The game's UI got a much-needed overhaul. Traversing the menus is less tedious, and it's clear that the devs plan to update the game later with more game modes, which is a great sign. In addition, I didn't run into any major bugs, though I did fall victim to a few smaller ones, including some widespread despawning of ammo from my personal inventory, and despawning of drops on the map.

Gameplay is also a lot smoother, with a lot less lag; the servers must have gotten an update along with the visual optimization. The big problem, however, is that the core gameplay still needs to be fixed. You still just have to run towards the train and mash the attack button. At a current price point of $10, rising to $15 when the game launches, the game is still very, very hard to recommend for anybody.

[Note: A copy of Pandemic Express was provided by tinyBuild Games for the purpose of this Early Access preview.]

ALpixel Games Discusses Open-World Narrative Game A Place For The Unwilling Mon, 29 Apr 2019 15:19:16 -0400 Ty Arthur

Since first hitting Kickstarter back in 2016, we've been carefully watching the development of the eye-catching title A Place For The Unwilling, both for its incredibly distinctive art style and the mashup of gameplay styles that presents an unexpected cosmic horror adventure. 

While it did get funded, ALpixel's original Kickstarter campaign (thankfully) didn't hit its final stretch goal, which was to actually summon Cthulhu and annihilate humanity. We can all breathe a sigh of relief as that inevitable messy end to humanity is delayed once more.

Edit: Be sure to read our review of the game here

Now that the game now is in private Beta, where the developers hope to get feedback from players, we had the opportunity to chat with members of the team during this stretch of the development process.

We sat down with game designer Luis Díaz, artist Rubén Calles, progammer Miguel López-Bachiller, narrative developer Ángel Luis Sucasas, and sound designer Celer Gutiérrez. 

Below, we get a ground-level view of the life of an indie games studio working on a unique title that is set to make waves when it finally launches on PC in the unspecified future. We even get a prediction on how Game Of Thrones ends!

Two characters talk in A Place for the Unwilling

Ty Arthur: Are you remote workers or do you go into the office together, and what's the typical workday like for ALpixel Games while you develop A Place For The Unwilling?

Luis: There are five people working on the project right now (that's for development; we also work with third parties for tasks like localization) and three of us meet in a coworking [office] every day. While we all live in Madrid, Ángel (writing) and Celer (audio) work from home because it's easier for them; we still meet face to face for most meetings that involve all disciplines.

As for our work day, it's probably way less glamorous than what people who aren't in the industry might think. We get to the office and start working on whatever there is in our task list. When you need to talk to anybody, you just wave your hand so they know they should remove their headset.

We do a lunch break, try to talk about anything not related to the game (with the upcoming elections there’s been a lot of discussion about politics), and then go back to our table. Sometimes we'll spend hours or days doing paperwork or taking care of "the things nobody wants to do." We do enjoy working on our games and sharing them with the community, but 99% of the time it looks like any other regular job.

TA: I remember following the project back in the 2016 Kickstarter, then it seemed like things went quiet for a while. How has the project changed since the Kickstarter and where are you guys in terms of overall completion at this point?

Luis: After the campaign, we realized we'd need some extra help for such an ambitious project. Ángel, the game writer, joined the team during the campaign and, about a month later, we started working with Martin to have the game running in Unity, which would allow us to target more platforms and use Ink (inkle's powerful narrative tool).

Needless to say, once we started showing the game at shows, we kept on making changes to things that weren't quite working. When you're not following a fully established template, there's a lot of trial and error involved. The core principles and aesthetics haven't changed since the day we started working on the project  we've just learned how to refine everything around that.

All the major content is already implemented in the game. We still need to tweak a thousand things, and those small details do make a huge difference. You know what they say, the last 10% of the project feels even bigger than the 90% that you already took care of.

TA: If there's one thing that really grabs attention with A Place For The Unwilling, it's the offbeat colored pencil art style. How did you land on that style for the game, and are there any particular challenges to implementing the sort of squiggly/jittery style in a game like this?

Rubén: Our main references to define the visual style of the game were classic cartoon shows and line engravings from the 19th Century. I like how those classic cartoon vibes make the whole world feel so alive; every part of the background is moving as if they were breathing in and out.

The cartoon style gives that feeling of movement and the engraving provides the perfect historical context. This combination worked great from the very beginning because my color skills were not that strong when we first started the development of the game. The engraving style made a lot of sense; it was the best-looking option for the visuals, and it also gave reminiscences of our main artistic references.

The main challenge was time. Every single asset in the game took a lot of time and patience to make. Each character, building, and little object in our city is composed of five different layers: line, flat colour, painting, and crosshatching. That amount of work multiplies when you realize all the animations in the game are drawn frame-by-frame. But I still think having those chalk (and charcoal) lines all over is a great decision. They almost seem like the footprints of the factory workers coming and going all around the city.

TA: One thing that has struck me playing the beta is the importance of the music and sound effects to set the mood. What is your team's philosophy toward putting music in the game are you going for “less is more,” and what role do you see the music playing in the overall game experience?

Celer: We think the music has to, just as you said, set the mood. From the interactions with the characters to the different parts of the city. We don’t want to overstimulate players since they should be focusing on the story, but we do want to help them with the tone.

In order to do so, we don’t have a continuous music layer playing  music comes and goes during your walks through the city and also tries to represent the different characters and places you stumble upon. Sound design is quite similar: it should help players get immersed in the city and support the story so it can shine.

TA: As a small development crew, what hurdles have you had to overcome working on this game?

Luis: It's a big project, and there's only one of us for each discipline. We need to find production hacks that allow us to do more in less time, and even then, it still is a huge challenge. And the team still has to do "the other tasks." Like most small studios, we don't have people dedicated to production, bizdev, office management or communication; we all need to chip in some time in order to get those done.

TA: There are quite a few Lovecraftian games that have either just launched (like Call Of Cthulhu) or are about to release (like Stygian: Reign Of The Old Ones and The Sinking City). A Place For The Unwilling seems to go a radically different direction with the material than those games. Where do you see A Place For The Unwilling sitting in the overall Cthulhu mythos and how strong a connection to Lovecraft will the final game have?

Ángel: It’s fully integrated. Our game exists within the universe of the Cthulhu mythos, but only those written by H.P. Lovecraft  not the tales published by August Derleth.

We’d rather not reveal the details of how our lore is connected to them. I’ll just say that it’s a sequel, a prequel, and a spin-off (all that at the same time) of one of his most relevant stories.

TA: A Place For The Unwilling is kind of a hard game to peg down into a specific genre. It's not quite an investigative adventure game or a business tycoon game or a traditional horror game but rather has elements of all three how would you classify this game to someone unfamiliar with the project?

Luis: We must have used a dozen different definitions during development. When you say it's an adventure, people think it's a point and click, but we don't even have that kind of puzzles or an old-fashioned linear progression. Business tycoon falls short as well; the trading options in the game are limited when you compare them to a managing game (and it's not even mandatory).

And yes, the game does have eldritch things going on, but you could complete a whole playthrough without scratching the surface of that. As Rubén said earlier, depending on your actions, your playthrough could end up being a sweet walk through the city or a messed up story that will haunt you for a while.

Lately, we just call it an open-world narrative game. The story is always the focus,  and you get pretty much complete freedom when it comes to choosing how to spend your time — even if you decide to stay in your room for days.

TA: Playing the beta, I've noticed there are very strong themes of rich vs poor, with noticeably different appearances in different portions of the city. Is that the central struggle of the game, and what sort of overall theme do you want a player to take away from the game?

Ángel: Well, we mostly want players to draw their own conclusions instead of telling them what’s right and what’s wrong. There are some strong social, economic, and political themes, but players should feel free to choose if they even want to explore those concepts.

If there’s any central theme in the game I believe that would be the breaking of the hero's journey. Neither the characters nor the story are marked by players. You take part in the events, and your input produces different outcomes, but you aren’t fully in control of what happens. If you get that feeling when playing the game, then I’ll be happy with the result.

TA: With the beta going on, how has the feedback been from players so far, and what has the team learned about what's working well and what needs to be changed?

Luis: The feedback from the beta has been pretty useful so far. It’s helping us spot a few areas that need to be improved and being able to talk with players allows us to get a better understanding of why certain things aren’t fully working.

The world we crafted works well: it’s interesting and deep. We still need to tweak how players are introduced to it. Thanks to player’s feedback, we’re thinking a lot about how you find your way across to the city and how to make it easier to navigate. These are tricky questions and some design solutions that seem natural would clash with other elements of the game, but we are working on it.

GS: What has been the most difficult bug to squash or problem to overcome so far, and are there any major elements to the game you see changing after the beta feedback?

Miguel: Most bugs are not "that difficult” to fix, as long as you are patient. We do have some complex systems that, even after months of work, aren’t still fully bulletproof. One example would be the pathfinding logic. We want the city in A Place for the Unwilling to feel truly alive, so we need people going around and carrying out their usual routines.

The hard part is doing all that in 2D while minding a player’s behavior. It’s easy to get stuck between two non playable characters and those characters can even get trapped on their own turning doors and halls into bottlenecks.

In the end, all we can do is keep polishing the code and test everything until it’s good enough. I think we’re at that point where everything looks solid, but you never know if somebody will find some weird situation that you completely missed.

We’re using player’s feedback to correct some of these odd small interactions, but it’s not like we’re doing huge changes. It’s mostly dozens of tiny things that need to be patched here and there.

TA: What's next for AlPixel Games after A Place For The Unwilling is finished and launched?

Luis: Haha, nowadays, work doesn’t end when the game is released. There’s bugs to fix, forums to read, and new languages/platforms to consider. Can we answer this once we have survived that process?

TA: On a more personal note, what upcoming games outside of your own projects are the AlPixel Games team looking forward to playing, and what sort of gameplay mechanics get you excited to try out new titles?

Rubén: I’ve always been a huge fan of the SteamWorld series. While the new one doesn’t fully click with my style, I’ve enjoyed all of them so much that I’ll probably end up loving this one as well.

Luis: Just give me Animal Crossing.

Miguel: Does the new Zelda count as upcoming? I mean the next installment, which will probably take a few years. If we’re talking about games that will get released soon, my list would Include Tactical Breach Wizards (huge fan of Tom Francis’ work), Industries of Titan (which looks pretty cool) and, last but not least, Spire of Sorcery (roguelike and wizards with some management elements sounds like my jam).

GS: One final question: Who do you think is going to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the final Game Of Thrones season?

Miguel: Full disclosure, and at the risk of sounding like a hipster, I started reading the books before they became popular. I have only watched the first season of the TV show, but my guess is that nobody will sit on the Iron Throne. It’ll be destroyed along with the rest of King’s Landing. So there’s that.

Want to follow the development of the game or apply to join the Beta? Be sure to wishlist A Place For The Unwilling over on Steam and join the discussion over on Discord here.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: More PS5 News, MK11, World War Z, and Minecraft Sat, 27 Apr 2019 10:50:56 -0400 GS_Staff

GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back to bring you the week that was here on the site.  

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup. While we didn't cover everything, we did report on when the PlayStation 5 won't be releasing, all (new) things Persona 5S, more Magic: The Gathering, Mortal Kombat 11 (although our review is still pending), Dark Devotion, World War Z, and, of all things, Minecraft

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. It's the weekend. What else are you gonna' do? Play video games? 


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    There's a while to wait yet for the PlayStation 5, but Sony suggests there will still be third party software in 2019 to keep the PS4 alive. Read more.
  • Apex Legends Twitch Viewership Dwindles, Top Streamer May Leave Game
    Apex Legends' falls to the number 10 spot on Twitch, and some point to Respawn's lack of attention to new content as the primary reason. Read more

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Krypt and Tower Fixes Coming Soon
    NetherRealm Studios have confirmed that hotfixes are inbound for two of Mortal Kombat 11's game modes: Towers of Time and the Krypt. Read more

  • New Minecraft Update Introduces Village Changes, New Mob, and More
    The new Minecraft Village and Pillage update introduces a wide range of new features, quality of life improvements, and more cats, among other things. Read more

  • New Persona 5 The Royal Details, Screenshots, Western Release Date, and More
    Persona 5's new female character, Confidant, mechanics, human Morgana, and more came during the Persona Super Live concert. Read more

  • Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers Announced for Switch and PS4
    Persona 5 S is a musou game pitting the Phantom Thieves against hordes of enemies to uncover the truth behind a series of mysterious events. Read more

  • Critical Mode to Finally Arrive In Free Kingdom Hearts 3 Update
    Kingdom Hearts 3 players will be able to start playing the game's most difficult mode after a new content update. Read more

  • Sony Hosts Big PlayStation Plus Sale — Over 200 Games Discounted
    Some of the best games on PlayStation are currently on sale for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Read more

  • Doraemon Story of Seasons Coming West to Switch and PC
    The Story of Seasons crossover with the classic manga series gets an official announcement trailer, along with some background information about plot and gameplay. Read more.
  • World War Z Swarms to 1 Million Units Sold in First Week, Updates on Horizon
    Despite average critical reviews, World War Z has infected 1 million players since launch. Read more.

  • BioWare Focused on Fixing Anthem Bugs, Delaying Roadmap Content
    Anthem's endgame content gets pushed back to an unspecified date, as BioWare outlines the dev team's focus for the next few months. Read more.  

  • Surviving Mars: Green Planet and Animal DLC Launching May 16
    Surviving Mars is getting a huge upgrade in Green Planet and Project Laika come May 16. Read more

  • SteelSeries Arctis Headset Line Comes to the Xbox with 9X
    SteelSeries announced the first Xbox One-specific headset to join its Arctis lineup. Read more

  • New RAD Biome and Starting Town Details Showcased
    The new images detail the action game's hub town and some of its more dangerous locations full of deadly mutant toxins. Read more

  • Snail Games' PixARK To Release This May
    Get your voxel-based survival gaming on when PixARK releases on all platforms in May. Read more

  • Action RPG Warlander Slashes Its Way to PS4 and XB1 This Year
    The upcoming ARPG for PS4 and XB1 will feature deep combat and customization, along with a dark storyline and sentient sword. Read more

  • Blizzard Announces BlizzCon 2019 Dates, New Ticket Option
    BlizzCon 2019 dates have been announced and ticket purchase days are close. Read more

  • WoW Classic Blog Post Details What Players Should Expect From Rewards
    When Blizzard releases new items in WoW Classic, they'll be the best possible versions of those items. Read more

  • Mario Kart Tour Beta Coming to Android Phones In May
    A Mario Kart Tour beta is coming to Android in May, ahead of a full release for Android and iOS later in the summer. Read more


  • World War Z Review: Left 4 Dead Formula is Alive But Shambling
    Although zombie swarms are impressive in World War Z, and combat is fun at first, things quickly get a tad bit boring. Read more

  • Pathway Review — A Pulp Adventure Without The Feeling
    While Pathway has a lot of interesting ideas, none of them are executed in a way that makes them compelling. Chucklefish nails the setting of the pulp era but not the feeling. Read more

  • Dark Devotion Review: Death Lurks Within Every Pitch Black Pixel
    Get ready to die with another killer 2D souls-like that flips the script in several ways for a refreshing take on the genre. Read more


  • Artist Reimagines Demon's Souls as Game Boy Classic
    If Demon's Souls had released on the Game Boy decades ago, this is what it would have looked like. Read more

  • 10 Best Custom Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Stage Builder Stages So Far
    Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's stage builder mode opens the doors to many varied designs. We've sorted through and picked out 10 of the best. Read more

  • Last Chance: Green Man Gaming's Spring Sale Enters Final Weekend
    Green Man Gaming's Spring Sale is entering its final weekend, and we've put together a list of some of the better games available for PC gamers. Read more


  • How to Get the Infinity Gauntlet in Roblox Egg Hunt 2019
    Assembling an infinity gauntlet always requires finding all the components first, so of course, you'll need to find five other Avengers eggs before completing the Scrambled In Time Roblox egg event! Read more

  • Days Gone Best Skills to Survive and Thrive
    There are 45 skills in Days Gone, and some of them are mandatory for the best experience. These are the ones you should get first. Read more

  • How to Unlock Characters in Pathway
    Want to get all of the characters in Pathway but not sure how? This guide will show you how to unlock them. Read more

  • Grim Dawn Best Builds Of 2019
    Not sure which mastery combo to pick for your next Grim Dawn playthrough? We show you three of the absolute best builds in the latest patch for tackling the Shattered Realm or the story campaign! Read more

  • Grim Dawn Ultimate Tainted Brain Matter Farming Guide
    Can't seem to find Tainted Brain Matter now matter where you look? We show you three different ways to reliably farm this rare Grim Dawn crafting component! Read more

  • What Is Illusion-Be-Gone in Grim Dawn?
    Several new items have been added to Grim Dawn with recent updates, including the Illusion-Be-Gone, which lets you change the appearance of weapons and armor. Read more

  • MtG: 11 Best War of the Spark Cards for Standard
    A new Liliana and Nicol Bolas are the two big stars of the War of the Spark set, but here are more solid choices for Standard in MtG. Read more

  • MtG: 11 Best War of the Spark Cards for Modern
    Looking to replace a few Modern staple cards in MtG? Then, check out this list of 11 most powerful cards from War of the Spark. Read more

  • Magic the Gathering: 11 Most Expensive War of the Spark Cards
    War of the Spark is the most valuable Standard MtG set, and here are 11 cards that have the highest price points on the market. Read more

  • How to Tame Foxes in Minecraft 1.14
    How to tame a fox and make it your best friend in Minecraft 1.14. Read more

  • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Stat Growth Guide
    A lovely little table to show you how your stats will grow as you level up. It even has some information on why you would want to know this. Read more

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

GameSkinny Weekend Download: PUBG Banned Again (Again), PS5 News, New Star Wars, More Sat, 20 Apr 2019 10:19:40 -0400 GS_Staff

It's the weekend again, and GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back. 

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup, including news about Iraq banning PUBG and Fortnite, Sony unveiling PS5 info, the next Star Wars game from Respawn, and Assassin's Creed Unity being free until April 25. 

We also take a look at a new GameStop promotion that may make trade-ins finally worthwhile; how to be a badass in World War Z with a handful of nifty guides; and spend some time talking about new games, like Dragon Ball, Outward, God's Trigger, Katana Zero, and One Finger Death Punch 2

As usual, 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 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.  


  • Sony Details Next-Gen Hardware, Doesn't Call It PS5 (Yet)
    Sony's new system wasn't given a new name and isn't guaranteed to be the PS5 at launch, but it will have a solid state drive and backwards compatibility, among other things. Read more

  • Microsoft Announces Xbox One S All Digital Console
    The new digital-only Xbox One S comes with 3 pre-installed games and foregoes console saves in favor of cloud saves. Read more

  • Assassin's Creed Unity Free on PC to Raise Awareness for Notre Dame Fire
    PC players can download Assassin's Creed Unity for free from the Ubisoft store until April 25. Read more

  • New GameStop Promotion Allows Players to Return Games For Full Store Credit
    GameStop's new "Guaranteed to Love it" program offers players a 48-hour return window on new games — starting with Days Gone. Read more

  • Iraq Latest Country to Ban PUBG, Adds Fortnite
    The move comes shortly after Nepal banned PUBG, but despite a different governing body and country instituting the ban, the reasons remain ultimately the same. Read more

  • Tencent Will Distribute Nintendo Switch in China
    Nintendo is poised to break into the Chinese console market thanks in part to a partnership with Tencent. Read more

  • Sega Genesis Mini's Second List of Announced Games Is Fantastic
    The Sega Genesis Mini's got some Disney games announced, plus more surprises in it's 40-game total library. Read more

  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Launches on November 15 for PS4, XB1, and PC
    Jedi: Fallen Order is a narrative based game set in the Dark Times, and today's trailer and panel revealed a host of new deils about the story, characters, and gameplay. Read more

  • Star Wars Jedi: Fatallen Order Official Art Book Available for Pre-Order
    The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is companion art book for the upcoming game from Respawn Entertainment. It is currently available for pre-order. Read more

  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order Release Date Announced
    The Ultimate Alliance 3 release date is almost exactly a decade since the last game in the series and is the latest offering in a year full of Marvel media.
    Read more

  • Is Capcom Hinting at a Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Remake?
    A series of tweets has fans wondering whether Capcom might be leading up to a RE3 Remake announcement soon.
    Read more

  • New Details, Screenshots of Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey VR Emerge
    Breath of the Wild's technical director opens up about the inspiration behind VR support, and the Mario Odyssey Twitter page tells how you can enjoy SMO's VR mini-games.
    Read more

  • Capcom Brings The Classic Arcade Experience Home With New Arcade Stick
    Play all your favorite old-school Capcom arcade games the right way in the comfort of your own home.
    Read more

  • Conan Exiles Gets Treasures of Turan DLC and New Season Pass
    Treasures of Turan brings a multitude of new items and gear to Conan Exiles, while the season pass gives players access to the three additional DLC packs expected to release this year.
    Read more

  • Population Zero Void, Technocrat, and Xenobiote Factions Detailed
    Enplex outlines Population Zero's character progression routes and what players can expect from the game's three initial factions.
    Read more

  • Kitana Busts Out The Blade Fans In The Latest Mortal Kombat 11 Trailer
    Kitana joins the ranks of Mortal Kombat 11 characters, and she is mad.
    Read more

  • Reggie Fils-Aime Steps Down Today as Doug Bowser Steps In as NOA President
    Doug Bowser steps in as Nintendop of America's new President today, with Reggie Fils-Aime starting his hard-earned retirement.
    Read more

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.0 Incoming With Stage Builder, Joker Details Revealed
    A surprise info dump from Nintendo unveiled Joker's fighting style and a range of other new tidbits for SSBM Ultimate's 3.0 update.
    Read more

  • Jump Force DLC's Final Lineup Announced, Includes All Might
    The My Hero Academia character will join others from Naruto, Bleach, and more when the DLC fighters make their way to Jump Force soon.
    Read more

  • Sanrio X Tetris Collaboration Announced, Games and Merchandise Planned
    The partnership will produce a new online game coming soon, along with the potential for a wide range of other licensed goods based on both brands. Read more

  • Mojang's Minecraft Movie Is Just A Few Years Away
    The Minecraft movie has a fixed release date. But fans are going to have to be patient.
    Read more

  • Changes Inbound for Elder Scrolls Online, Including Game World, PvP
    Elder Scrolls Online PVP updates and Cyrodil updates detailed in PTS notes for Elsweyr.
    Read more


  • Outward Review: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
    Outward isn't revolutionary, but there's a lot to be said for the sense of achievement the game grants in both single and multiplayer. Read more

  • One Finger Death Punch 2 Review — Laser Focused Kung Fu
    One Finger Death Punch 2 is a deep, rhythmic fighting game that attempts to replicate the feel of classic kung fu movies. Read more

  • God's Trigger Review: Earn Your Way into Heaven with Ultraviolence
    Heaven's under new management. It takes a little while to come into its own, but 'God’s Trigger' is a decent weekend’s worth of splatterpunk entertainment. Read more

  • Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission Review: Its Own Anomaly
    Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is split between a great card-based combat system and not-so-great everything else, but it's still fun for series fans. Read more

  • Katana ZERO Review: Modern Beauty
    If I have one complaint about Katana ZERO, it's that there's not already a sequel. Read more


  • Tales of an Interview with Unbound's Alien Pixel Studios
    We got the chance to speak with Unbound's designer, Sergiu Craitoiu, about the game's origins, inspiration, and the struggles and joys of being an indie developer. Read more

  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Will Be The Best Star Wars Game In The EA Era
    Our Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order reactions? All early signs, including Cal Kestis himself and the strong attention to detail, point to Respawn and EA finally giving Star Wars fans the game they want. Read more

  • Hands-On: Feeling the Burn With the Indie Roguelike Card Game ‘Deck of Ashes’
    Some people may write off Deck of Ashes as a quick cash grab, but as it turns out, it's got some tricks all its own. This new roguelike card game just hit Steam Early Access. Read more

  • Hades Brings a Narrative Change to a Monotonous Genre
    Roguelites are everywhere, but Supergiant Games' take on the genre is influenced by their narrative traditions, giving purpose to the endless loop that they tend to offer. Read more

  • The Nintendo Switch eShop Needs Some Sort of Review System
    There's no consumer-friendly reason for the Nintendo Switch eShop not to have some sort of review system. Read more

  • Etherborn Early Impressions: The Meditative Puzzle Game
    Altered Matter's Etherborn is a beautiful puzzle game that will make you work to solve it. Read more

  • Classic Galactic Conquest Could Revitalize EA's Modern Battlefront Series
    DICE's modern Battlefront series forewent the original titles' galactic conquest mode, a mistake that may have cost the modern titles their full potential. Read more


  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Pre-Order Guide
    Looking to snag your copy of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order? Look no further, because we've rounded up all the Jedi: Fallen Order pre-order and pre-order bonus information you need. Read more

  • World War Z Class Tier List PvE: Characters From Best to Worst
    Can't decide which PvE class to choose in World War Z? This class tier list will quickly outline the best possible character in the game and which players they're best suited for.
    Read more.

  • World War Z Class Tier List PvEvP: Characters From Best to Worst
    World War Z's PvEvP multiplayer mode has a total of 10 classes, but not all of them are equal. This list ranks the available classes from best to worst.
    Read more

  • Best Weapons for PvE and PvEvP in World War Z
    Be prepared for all types of combat in any mode with the help of this guide to World War Z's best weapons. 
    Read more

  • Best Character Builds for World War Z's Campaign Mode
    Character builds can greatly impact your time in World War Z. This guide shows you a few optimal builds and what skills you need.
    Read more

  • How to Make Gold in Elder Scrolls Online
    Gold is essential in the Elder Scrolls Online. This guide has a few tips to get you started quickly.
    Read more

  • How To Find Sea Urchins in My Time at Portia
    If you need a steady supply of spines for crafting and completing commissions, this guide shows you exactly where to go to harvest large numbers of sea urchins quickly.
    Read more

  • My Time at Portia: Helping the Color Blind Sanwa
    Not sure how to get the color blindness correcting glasses or who to give them to? We walk you through this quest from beginning to end to increase your relationship with the barber Sanwa! Read more

  • Kenshi's Best Base Locations Detailed
    Not sure where to start building your base so you are immediately killed by bandits or run out of resources? We show all the best starter locations!
    Read more

  • How to Find Your Risk of Rain 2 Save Location and Behold Loads of Stats
    RoR2's save location is pretty easy to find, and worth it for the look at your sweet stats.
    Read more. 

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

Tales of an Interview with Unbound's Alien Pixel Studios Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:17:36 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

There are a lot of indie games out there. A lot. Sometimes, it's hard to find the one that really grabs you, a problem not helped by difficult to navigate platforms like the Nintendo eShop (but the eShop's problems are another story).

Other times, that one just happens to fall right in front of you.

That's what happened to me a few weeks ago. I was doing a write-up based on a press release for an upcoming indie game by Romanian developers Alien Pixel Studios called Unbound: Worlds Apart, set to release later this year. The trailer, premise, and inspiration behind the game really stood out as something unique to me.

So I reached out and asked if the devs would be willing to speak further about the game, its origins, and its evolution over time, and happily, Sergiu Craitoiu, Unbound's designer, responded with a wealth of detail.

From Humble Beginnings

Unbound: Worlds Apart has been in development for several years. In that time, a lot has changed.

Originally, the devs were inspired by a few particular things: the idea of the main character using a sphere to manipulate the world and the desire to create a dark tale around that character.

Craitoiu said the goal was creating a 3D game — but 3D requires a lot more in the way of resources, which the team couldn't spare at the time. Instead, they worked on creating a prototype in 2D, and it stuck from there.

Like all creations, there are some specific inspirations behind Unbound. Craitoiu said Olga, the team's artist, was particularly influenced by games like Ori and the Blind Forest, Hollow Knight, and Limbo, while Craitoiu himself was inspired by the likes of Portal, Braid, Diablo II, and The Swapper.

However, Craitoiu provided some interesting information about how the core mechanic, the dimension-altering sphere, came from outside the world of gaming:

At that time I was listening to a UK metal band called Architects, and they have a video clip on Youtube, where they have a huge bubble behind them making a contrast between black and white, and from that moment I knew that we could apply some sphere or portals like that in the game.

The early prototype had the sphere extend to the entire screen, which completely altered the environment, but also had the potential to make things pretty confusing for players. Thus, the limited sphere extending out from main character Soli was born.

From there, Craitoiu said every aspect of the game continued to evolve. The first prototype was linear, and he likened progression to Limbo in how straightforward it was. Additionally, the story itself — one of the game's key features and an important part of its conception — was practically nonexistent.

When the team realized that the core mechanic of switching portals on and off wasn't satisfying enough, even if it was visually appealing, Craitoiu said they knew it was time for a change.

They thought about how they could revise the portal system and settled on the idea of adding magical qualities to them. Now, they could...

[...] change physical aspects of to the character and monsters or making environment elements behave differently. So instead of one portal, now we have different portals that can surprise the player while they are playing.

A good bit of that comes across in the trailer, which sees Soli altering enemies, or making them disappear completely, and apparently imbuing platforms and items with something that allows them to be moved.

The progression system got an overhaul too. Craitoiu said he wouldn't consider Unbound a Metroidvania game, but it does require players to unlock certain abilities or solve specific quests in order to advance further.

Apart from that, though, players are free to move through worlds and complete quests and puzzles as they see fit. Some puzzles are completely optional as well, and you can still finish the game without doing absolutely everything there is to do.

Not Your Usual Fairytale

The story itself grew as a result of everything else; Craitoiu commented that "as the game grew, we felt the need for a richer and more engaging story as well."

That story is based on the concept of a dark fairytale. Rather than modeling Unbound's story on a certain kind of fairytale, like the Brothers' Grimm stories, the team works with a fairly loose definition of the term: a story where the forces of good face off against the forces of evil.

In Unbound's case, the evil has completely invaded the world and threatens to envelop it totally.

That's a good part of where darkness aspect of the dark fairytale comes from as well. It influences everything else: the characters Soli encounters, Soli himself and his tale, and the tarnished environments he'll traverse.

There've been a few games in recent years with a dark storybook tone to them, like this year's The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince and 2017's A Rose in the Twilight.

However, Craitoiu said the team didn't really have any precedents in mind when they chose the feel and tone of their tale, nor were they intentionally trying to advance it as a vehicle for telling game stories: "For us, really it was just about trying to find the right story and tone for our game, and we're really pleased with the results so far."

Taking the Plunge

It helps that Unbound has, thus far, met with very positive reception at conferences where the dev team showed it off. That reception also led to a big change in how they approached the game and development in general.

Like with most indie devs, the Alien Pixel team has to juggle real life responsibilities and jobs with their creative endeavors.

But they recently decided to switch to development full time based on the reception the game has received and how much they believe in its potential, even turning down job offers from overseas so they could stick with development. "It was quite stressful to do that," Craitoiu says.

Part of the stress came from the hopes and expectations of those around them:

You always have that pressure from people close to you to have a 'proper' job. Nevertheless...working for your own projects is so much more satisfying and challenging than working for any other job, where you do the pretty much same stuff every day.

That Alien Pixel is a team of two adds to the challenge and variety, and Craitoiu describes the setup as offering a refreshing sense of freedom.

Each day presents new opportunities and things to learn, and the two can choose whether they want to tackle the story one day and marketing the next or spend some time tackling the development itself.

Still, many indie games with great potential never make it to the market or suffer from lack of resources. To that end, Alien Pixel is launching a Kickstarter campaign on May 7to help ensure Unbound is in the best form possible when it releases.

Nearing the End

The campaign will have two primary goals. The one is development-oriented, as you would expect. Craitoiu said the team hopes the campaign can raise enough so Unbound's development doesn't have to be rushed. They really want the ability to focus on sound design, music, and video production, along with bringing on some additional team members.

Crowdfunding does more than just raise money, though. It also builds communities of people interested in a specific product, which is exactly what Craitoiu hopes happens with Unbound's campaign:

We also want to increase our community of the game, which is really important to us, because they can help us with feedback and raise morale through the production. We are really happy to already have such a nice supportive community on Discord and on other social media like Twitter and Facebook, but we still want to grow it even more.

For much the same reason, Alien Pixel is planning to release a demo of Unbound: Worlds Apart April 24, and it's set to be a meaty demo as well.

Craitoiu said the goal is for the demo to introduce players to several dangerous environments, where they uncover a portion of the story by solving some puzzles. It'll also get players familiar with the portal system through using it to solve puzzles with a range of difficulties.

And, of course, it'll show off the platforming features and art style.


Alien Pixel Studio's three-year long journey is nearing its end. Unbound is expected to launch on PC sometime in 2020. But in the meantime, if you want to keep up with developments and news, you can follow the dev team on Discord and Twitter.

A huge thanks to Sergiu Craitoiu for taking the time to answer all my questions and to Lewis Denby of Game if You Are for facilitating the interview!

Sega Genesis Mini's Second List of Announced Games Is Fantastic Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:30:46 -0400 Ashley Shankle

The previously announced lineup for the Sega Genesis Mini was decent before, but as of today, it's starting to look like a must-buy. If you're a player that either lost your Genesis sometime in the past near-30 years or simply did not experience that generation, the Genesis mini just got more enticing.

There are some good games on this thing!

Sega announced 10 more titles to be packed into the upcoming throwback console. For fans of the Sega Genesis, it's close to impossible to say no to the list:

  • Earthworm Jim
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  • Contra: Hard Corps
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Thunder Force III
  • Super Fantasy Zone
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Landstalker

Castle of Illusion? World of Illusion? Landstalker? Shinobi 3?! Okay okay, I'm sold. Everything on here is great.

These aren't the only titles announced for the Sega Genesis Mini so far, though, and they do not appear to be the last. Twenty games have been announced for the miniature console so far, and 20 more should be announced over the coming months.

The other games already announced for the Genesis Mini are:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Space Harrier 2
  • Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • Comix Zone
  • Altered Beast
  • Gunstar Heroes

This is also a pretty great list. Between these 20 titles, there is an amazing lineup and array of games packed into the Mini as it stands.

Who knows what's going to be announced next maybe some Phantasy Star, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, or Jungle Strike or Desert Strike.

It's literally impossible to tell, but with the star-studded line up the Sega Genesis Mini has announced so far, anything is possible here. Nobody expected any of the Disney games to make it, but we've got two announced already.

It seems the sky is the limit for the Genesis Mini lineup and my $79.99 is ready for launch on September 19 of this year.

Reggie Fils-Aime Steps Down Today as Doug Bowser Steps In as NOA President Mon, 15 Apr 2019 15:34:27 -0400 Ashley Shankle

We had fair warning, but the day has finally come for Reggie Fils-Aime to step down as President of Nintendo of America and enter retirement.

The gaming community at large knows Fils-Aime for his iconic presentations for Nintendo over the years, and for his friendly and welcoming demeanor.

Reggie's going to be leaving some big shoes to fill, but who better to step into them but Nintendo's own, aptly-named, Doug Bowser?

Bowser worked at Nintendo of America as its Senior President of Sales and Marketing since May of 2015, a year before the Nintendo Switch was revealed and a year before Nintendo made some big changes to its image.

If anyone were to take the over for Fils-Aims, it'd be Doug Bowser. Not just because of the bizarrely appropriate name.

Though he may be leaving Nintendo of America, Fils-Aime will probably continue to be known throughout the gaming community for years to come. His audacious E3 introduction all those years ago set the tone for his public persona. The rest, as they say, is history.

Reggie Fils-Aime has been synonymous with Nintendo of America for over a decade. In a way, it feels like another sign of an end of an era at Nintendo.

Surely fans and Nintendo of America themselves can feel confident with Doug Bowser at the head. This is not a day too be sad, but one to usher in a new era of Nintendo. I'm eager to see where the company will go under Doug Bowser. You should be, too.

Hands-On: Feeling the Burn With the Indie Roguelike Card Game Deck of Ashes Mon, 15 Apr 2019 10:17:04 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I described Deck of Ashes to a friend of mine the other day as “Slay the Spire if it was Russian and jankier.”

Usually, I hate doing that — it does most things a disservice if you talk about them strictly in terms of what they resemble, since it sounds like you're warming up for a dismissal — but here, it’s difficult not to.

Deck of Ashes is very much playing in Slay the Spire’s basic genre pool: it’s a dark fantasy game set after an unthinkable disaster. The characters travel through a blighted land to set things right. The maps are random, even simple monsters can be tricky, and everything’s represented by playing cards.

In the world of Deck of Ashes, a group of adventurers, the Outcasts, destroyed an artifact during a fight among themselves. The result is the Ash Curse, which has swept the world with a magical storm of drifting cinders. Humans go mad or get possessed, animals mutate, new monsters appear, and the land itself becomes twisted.

One of the adventurers is subsequently approached by a man who calls himself the Ash Master, and they are fast-talked into going on an expedition to end the Ash Curse. Naturally, this means going straight to the last places you’d ever want to be, fighting demons, undead, and possessed humans.

At the start of a level in Deck of Ashes, you’re set down at the center of a map and sent out to gather resources. You only have so much time before the local map’s central antagonist finds you, which is represented by a set number of moves leading to an unavoidable boss fight.

In the meantime, you collect gold, Ash, and other items to buy upgrades, create new cards, and bribe the Ash Master’s fellow vendors for healing, recipes, and deck construction. The map is full of combat encounters, treasure chests, random events, and nodes that can be mined, none of which is predictable.

What separates Deck of Ashes from a lot of the similar card-game roguelikes out there is that most of your cards are expended on use. Playing a typical card burns it and places it in the Deck of Ashes, where it’ll stay until you somehow get it back.

You can get the Ash Master to bring your whole deck back at once every 24 moves. If you get to a point where there aren’t enough cards left in your primary deck to draw a full hand at the start of a turn, you automatically receive a zero-cost card, Ash Pact, which lets you sacrifice health to bring back six random cards.

However, as you go, you also collect cards that only have an effect if they’re in the Deck of Ashes, typically some kind of passive buff, as well as Renew effects that can recover a random burned card.

After a fight, you get a handful of Rest Points that let you bring spent cards back, but the same points also let you restore health, so it’s a careful balancing act. You can try to arrange it so you get an Ash Pact on your last turn, exchanging health for random cards, but that runs the risk of bringing back cards that only work if they’re Ash.

On top of that, a typical combat encounter usually has some kind of gimmick. At the start of a turn, you’re given 5 Mana to spend on six cards. It's typical stuff — spend Mana to deal damage, etc. — but even early in the game, you run into monsters that have some passive ability or interesting rotation that force you to change up your plan.

One enemy lowers your Mana pool for a turn, then hits you with an effect that does damage based on how much Mana you were able to spend; another shoves unusable or detrimental Ailment cards into your deck if anything else dies while it’s on the field, which stick around after combat like a cigarette in your drink.

There’s also an interesting flow to the game as it stands right now. With something like Slay the Spire, the game is built mostly around decision-making. You’re trying to get a deck built in Act One based on what it hands you, then reinforce that archetype as you go until it’s hopefully equal to the challenges in Acts Two and Three.

In Deck of Ashes, there’s a similar challenge at work. Right now, the only character I’ve been able to unlock is Lucia the Eternal Flame, a fire mage who you’d think would be all about direct nukes, but I’ve had the most success so far with a build that’s all about stacking multiple damage-over-time effects.

Maybe I build them up on a target to bust out Piercing Fire for a strong single-target nuke, or stack a bunch at once with Pure Fire, then hit Ignition to spread them to every other enemy on the field. Ideally, I do it with a particular Scroll card in my Deck of Ashes, so I regenerate slightly for every burn effect that’s active at once, which turns Lucia from the “squishy wizard” archetype to a pyromaniacal Wolverine. The more stuff is on fire at once, the harder I heal.

However, that build was more or less done by the end of the first level. Since then, I haven’t found much I’d want to take that would complement it. Most of the extra recipes I’ve taken have been for quality-of-life increases, like Healing Balm (four turns of regeneration) or Scroll of Resurrection (25% chance when one card’s burned, another one reenters play).

The deck is pretty much built, and now the challenge — assuming I don’t wade into a fight with no good cards like an idiot — is coming almost entirely from weird and sadistic enemy builds.

There’s one monster in the third level that’s got me stuck right now. It's all about throwing junk cards into my deck via Ailments, then leaving me with a deck that’s just "full enough of crap I can’t get rid of" that my active cards never drop low enough to trigger an Ash Pact. Either I kill this thing in eight turns or so, or I’m not going to kill it at all.

Other enemies simply rock up to the plate and hit me with a single big nuke every turn, or play weird games where their attacks hit harder based on how much Mana I’ve got left  then raise my Mana pool on my next turn, which means it might not be possible to spend all of it.

Another one, the Cannibal, looks frightening until you notice that all his big hits are going straight at the other enemies he’s with because if he scores a kill, he instantly summons a second Cannibal. There’s some admirably twisted encounter design at work here, and I have to salute it even as I hate it.

There are a few incidental bits of weirdness scattered throughout Deck of Ashes, of course, as you might expect from any Early Access game.

The upgrade systems from your camp screen require you to gather hard-to-find items to purchase bonuses that really ought to be free, like getting the Herbalist to remove Ailments from your deck. There are a lot of cards that don’t appear to have any actual use, or which might be great in a theoretical endgame but appear too early to be worth taking.

Also, dying in this game sucks. If you buy a Resurrection Rite and then die, you respawn with half your resources and none of your accumulated recipes, which effectively means you’ll want to start over anyway.

Deck of Ashes plays more slowly than other card games do, so maybe the Rite’s worth it once you’ve gotten into the later levels just so you don’t have to repeat a couple of hours of gameplay, but the death penalty still seems remarkably overtuned.

It’s also got a few of the usual problems you get with a beta. The cutscenes stutter a lot, the animation is so weird and minimal that I wonder if it’s a deliberate artistic choice, and the dialogue rarely matches the subtitles. Deck of Ashes is playable and stable, but it’s still rough around the edges.

There’s a real game here, though, with some smart thinking behind it, and it's in with a chance. I’d be really surprised to find out that the elevator pitch for Deck of Ashes didn’t involve Slay the Spire in some way, but by focusing on your cards’ constant burn cycle, it manages to differentiate itself almost immediately.

This is one to watch as it moves through Early Access, especially if you’re looking for a new card game with which to use up all your free time.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: PUBG is a Crime, Weedcraft Lights Up, PSN IDs Change, and More Sat, 13 Apr 2019 09:30:01 -0400 GS_Staff

It's the weekend again, and GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back. 

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup, including news regarding Nepal's criminalization of PUBG; the release of Weedcraft Inc; Nintendo teasing new Smash stuffs, PSN IDs finally changing, and much, much more. 

As usual, 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 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.  


  • Nepal Makes Playing PUBG a Crime, But Is It Just a Scapegoat for a Larger Problem?
    PUBG might be a crime in Kathmandu now, but the ruling masks other, fundamental issues in Nepalese society. Read more

  • Nintendo Quietly Teases Stage Builder for Smash Bros. Ultimate
    A new Nintendo Switch commercial casually shows Stage Builder mode for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in a way that suggests it might not have been an accident. Read more

  • PSN Online ID Change Rolls Out for All PS4 Owners Today
    PlayStation 4 owners can change their PSN Online IDs starting today, though a range of potential issues remains from the test period. Read more. Read more

  • Inside Xbox Coming April 16, Promises Rage 2, Pre-E3 News, and More
    The hour-long Inside Xbox presentation will also have information about new backwards compatibility games, Game Pass additions, and the Sea of Thieves' anniversary update. Read more

  • CD Projekt Red Hiring Release Manager for GWENT, Cyberpunk 2077
    While a job opening for Cyberpunk 2077 has the internet ablaze with speculation, it's not clear the highly-anticipated RPG is closer to getting a release date. Read more

  • Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Shoots For May Release
    The release of Sniper Elite V2 isn't far off. Here's what we know about the release date, price, extras, and multiplayer for the upgraded version. Read more

  • Resident Evil 2 All Rewards Unlock DLC Now Available
    Unlocking all of RE2 Remake's special extras just got a lot easier thanks to a new and inexpensive bit of DLC. Read more

  • Fallout 76 Patch 8 to Add Non-Cosmetic Premium Item
    Patch 8 lets players spend money to buy Repair Kits in a marked departure from the game's previous stance on premium item microtransactions. Read more

  • Lucky Friends and Avatar Poses Making Their Way to Pokemon GO
    Pokemon GO is getting a new update bringing avatar poses for multiple situations and a streamlined method for getting Lucky Pokemon. Read more

  • Pokemon GO Eggstravaganza Introduces Shiny Buneary, Candy Bonuses, More
    The 2019 Eggstravaganza Event will make Egg hatching faster, increase chances of finding certain Baby Pokemon, and extend the effects of certain items, among other things. Read more

  • Overwatch's Storm Rising Event Will Run April 16 to May 6
    Overwatch's newest event picks up the fight against Doomfist, and it may be time for a new character to join the ranks. Read more

  • Surviving Mars: Green Planet Expansion Announced, Brings Terraforming
    Surviving Mars is finally getting its first expansion in Green Planet. Finally, the game will be getting a much-requested terraforming feature. Read more

  • NISA Bringing Utawarerumono: Zan to PlayStation 4 Fall 2019
    Zan is an action RPG re-imagining of Mask of Deception and will feature 12 playable heroes from the Utawarerumono universe, along with multiplayer and fully animated cutscenes. Read more

  • PlayStation 4 to Support Disney+ Streaming Service Starting November 12
    The Disney investors' livestream provided information about new Disney+ exclusives, offline viewing, and game consoles that could support Disney+ in the future. Read more

  • New Video Game Streaming Platform Hopes to Make Retro Accessible
    Antstream will offer a subscription-based service with a curated selection of several hundred games and is expected to launch this summer. Read more

  • Lightstream Expands Streaming Services, Acquires GameWisp Monetization Platform
    Lightstream continues to expand its services with the acquisition of GameWisp, offering streamers new ways to monetize their streams and reward viewers. Read more


  • Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain Review — Polishing Out the Absurdity
    Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is an interesting side entry with new mechanics and a new look. It's just too bad there's something missing from the formula to make it truly great. Read more

  • Weedcraft Inc Review: Familiar But Robust Foray into the Weed Business Sim Genre
    Weedcraft Inc doesn't do anything amazing, but it's your best bet if you want to grow and sell weed in a video game. Read more

  • CryoFall Early Access Impressions: We've Played This Game Before, Many Times
    You've already played this survival sim about a hundred times before, but hey, now it's in 2D with a slightly revamped skill system, so that makes it different...right? Read more

  • Vaporum Review: Not Quite BioShock or Grimrock
    Vaporum is a throwback to an old-school genre, but it doesn't bring about a renaissance for the grid-based dungeon crawler on console. Read more


  • Why the School Setting is Perfect for Trails of Cold Steel
    School settings aren't regarded as ingredients for the best RPGs in most cases, but Trails of Cold Steel uses it in a unique way to turn tropes and expectations on their head. Read more

  • Football Fantasy Interview: Turning Football Into A Tabletop RPG
    We interview Football Fantasy creator Samuel Ashton Roberts about his successful Kickstarter campaign, and what inspired him to mash up football with tabletop RPG gaming! Read more

  • What's Happening with Local Multiplayer?
    Here is what is going on with local co-op multiplayer gaming and its development. Read more


  • How to Beat the Guardian Ape in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
    Looking for ways to beat the Guardian Ape boss in Sekiro? This guide is all about how to do just that with ease and efficiency. Read more

  • Best Armor in Outward and Where to Find It
    Here are five of the best armor sets in Outward and short instructions on how to get them all. Read more

  • Outward Complete Skill Locations Guide
    Whether you want to become a rune sage, master the path of the wild hunter, or learn the ways of the shaman, we can show you every skill trainer you need to find in Outward! Read more

  • How to Cook Meat with a Campfire in Conan Exiles
    Can't figure out how to start the campfire and actually get meat to cook? We show one simple trick to light the fire and avoid starvation in Conan Exiles. Read more

  • How to Get Thick Leather in Conan Exiles: Creature Locations and Item Drops
    Thick hide can be found by hunting certain animals in Conan Exiles. This guide provides a list of animals, their locations, and the crafting items they drop. Read more

  • How to Clear the Long Road as Fast as Possible in Risk of Rain 2
    The Long Road doesn't have to be so long. Check this out to see how to clear this arduous task a bit faster. Read more

  • How to Get All Apparel Items in The Division 2's Apparel Event #1: Invasion
    The Division 2's first Invasion Apparel Event is here. This guide tells you what the event is, what new cosmetic items are up for grabs, and how to get Invasion Apparel Cache Keys. Read more

  • The Division 2: Hidden (Hydden) Hotel Locations
    Having trouble finding the hidden hotels scattered across The Division 2? Check out this guide and discover them all. Read more

  • The Division 2 Demolitionist Specialization Guide: Best Skills and Talents
    These are the best skills and talents for the Demolitionist specialization in The Division 2., helping you max the critical chance for the specialization and more. Read more

  • The Division 2 Survivalist Specialization Guide: Best Skills and Talents
    Survivalist specialization can get extremely dangerous with this special build of skills and talents in The Division 2. Read more

  • How to Find Printer Filament in The Division 2
    What's printer filament? Why's it important? We're here to explain that with this guide to The Division 2. Read more

  • Elder Scrolls Blades Chests Guide — How To Farm Gold Chests Effectively
    Tired of waiting three hours for useless silver chests? Our guide shows you how to game the system and discard them at will to only open gold chests! Read more

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Fatality Guide
    Finish your fights in style with our guide to every Mortal Kombat 11 fatality. Read more

  • Best Standard Hearthstone Decks for Rise of Shadows Meta
    The Rise of Shadows meta will be tough to beat, but here are nine best decks that will help you get to the legendary rank in Hearthstone faster this season. Read more

Check back next weekend for another roundup of news, reviews, guides, and features. 

Football Fantasy Interview: Turning Football Into A Tabletop RPG Mon, 08 Apr 2019 16:11:27 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Gaming and nerd culture has come a long way since the 1980s. Hobbies like video games, cosplay, and tabletop RPGs are now mainstream parts of modern life, almost completely accepted into the larger tapestry of pop culture as a whole. That said, there's still a little bit of culture shock when the less nerdy reveal a secret love for Dungeons & Dragons.

So it might surprise you to know that a Kickstarter campaign that sought to combine gridiron football with Dungeons & Dragons in a single ruleset zine met its funding goal and is now moving forward. For fans of both, the appeal is obvious.

There's a wealth of created sports in fictional worlds where magic is woven into normal society, from Harry Potter's quidditch to Final Fantasy's blitzball to The Legend of Korra's pro-bending, each capturing folks' imagination by introducing magical elements to sport. So why not do the same with football?

Read on for our interview with Football Fantasy creator Samuel Ashton Roberts!

GS: What inspired the RPG in the first place? How did you get the idea to mash up football and tabletop RPG gaming?

Samuel Ashton Roberts: As a longtime fan of both football and Dungeons & Dragons, I have experimented with mixing the two for a long time. I've run football themed combats, puzzles that required football moves to complete, and integrated other elements in campaigns I have run over the years. I also played a fair amount of Blood Bowl as a young man, and like the general idea of exploring a game like football with the speculative fiction of fantasy and science fiction worlds.

In my 20's my Sundays were watching NFL games all day and playing D&D all night, so it seemed an appropriate thing to explore. I am particularly interested in rule sets that inspire creative and amazing play from humans, and both D&D and football do that.

Without getting in the weeds too much, what was it like to adapt these rules so that they fit well? Football is one of the most complicated sports out there, and Dungeons & Dragons is one of the most complicated tabletop games out there. Was it as much of a hassle as it seems like it'd be to make the two dovetail?

It was about figuring out what parts of each experience I was interested in - there are parts of both that are very tactical and about moment to moment decision making.

For the core of the zine, I focus on those, and that adaptation took some tinkering with, but I was able to find what I believe to be a satisfying place where they combine and feed each other. I focused around the choices of play calling and route running as seen through the turn-based D&D tactical combat, as there is a satisfying core of D&D that can create the sort of field leverage choices that we are regularly confronted with in football.

The rest of the zine is sort of how the rest of both games (outside moment to moment conflict between players on the field for football / outside of combat situations for D&D) can inform one another and be used together - i.e. what does a football themed campaign look like for D&D, what is a player class for a football player, what do football stats look like, who could be a football encounter or NPC, etc..

Since the Kickstarter was successful, it seems like you found an audience, even for a product like this, that could seem niche from the outside. What did you do to find your audience, and who do you think your audience is?

I think my audience is fans of Bloodbowl, and old school D&D fans who also like football. Mostly I tweeted promotionally about the zine, and I tried to recruit or reach influencers with a known interest in both. A few retweets from them, plus regular, steady promotion on my side and the reach of Kickstarter as a platform helped me find that fairly niche audience.

What was development like in terms of balancing everything in a way where the entire play group can have fun? Football is a sport that's defined usually by individual play, spurred on by a supporting cast that doesn't get much credit. How has that translated into an RPG where the spotlight is shared?

This is a fabulous question. The balancing came into making sure that non-QB players have a significant effect on the 'field.' The rules are structured so that when the throw happens, every player's position is a factor in determining the success or failure of the throw and the end result. Making sure each position had an effect that felt equal was the most difficult balancing act, as well as making sure that players who acted 'after' the throw had meaningful choices to make.

How has the game changed over its development?

Not a ton - the original rules had deep rulings and structures for magic on the field, but I decided to let a 'league' determine what was legal and not, and then simply adjudicate the physical effects of magic spells under the same rules. Also, as the content is being finalized, I'm finding that there is a depth to league creating and NPC creating that I am finding engaging, and I have built the zine to include more of that (without abandoning the system core.)

What is your dream scenario, in terms of people playing your game, or integrating it into an already-existing campaign? What do you want to see people doing with the rules you have created?

I would love to see someone start a football themed D&D campaign, where the players all work for a team or league. I expect more one-offs where an adventure is football themed, or DMs leverage the rules to have an encounter that is a football game in their current campaigns.


Popular shows, streams, and podcasts like Critical Role, The Adventure Zone, and Stranger Things have brought the world of tabletop gaming to a constantly growing, diverse audience.

It bodes well for the future that endlessly creative and enterprising folks like Samuel Ashton Roberts (and countless others!) are creating rulesets that riff on and augment the standard D&D rules to cater to fans of different genres (Check out the one-pager subreddit, you won't be disappointed).

At the end of the day, Football Fantasy isn't the biggest or most ambitious project on Kickstarter, but it's a unique collaboration of two things most would think is impossible -- and its success is a very good sign for dungeon masters and adventurers alike.

Many thanks to Samuel Ashton Roberts for the interview, and best of luck to Football Fantasy when it releases into the wild!

CryoFall Early Access Impressions: We've Played This Game Before, Many Times Mon, 08 Apr 2019 15:57:10 -0400 Ty Arthur

Good lord, yet another indie early access survival game you say? Yep, CryoFall is now throwing its hat into this very, very crowded ring and hoping to come out a champion.

Conan Exiles, Ark, Outlaws of the Old WestOutward, Don't Starve Together,  **deep breath**  Rust, The Forest, Terraria, Project Winter, Rimworld, Neo Scavenger... the survival genre is rapidly becoming over saturated and there's not enough unique content to differentiate each title.

I'm gonna have to get to the point pretty quick with this one -- while there are a few changes to the skill system that might pique your interest, on the whole CryoFall doesn't do anything different from any other survival title.

Survival Game Iteration 27,396

 Punching a starfish to death for a bit of raw meat

While the recently released Outward at least gave us something slightly outside the norm with a fantasy storyline and co-op gameplay, here the only thing that's really "different" with CryoFall is the 2D presentation and cartoon-style character models.

Nearly every aspect of this game is so familiar at this point it just all feels unnecessary. Grab plants, rocks, and fallen branches. Craft an axe to get more rocks and wood. Make a torch, put together a campfire, start building walls... we've done all this so, so, so many times before and CryoFall doesn't particularly do it better or in a more interesting way than any other survival game.

But hey, this time you'll be vexed by crabs, snakes, and armadillos in an indie 2D world of instead of dinosaurs and zombies in a 3D one. *Yawn*

In typical survival style, you unlock recipes via a research tree using points gained by crafting, fighting, and so on. The tree evolves from basic stuff like wood doors and lamps all the way up to energy weapons and advanced mining equipment.

 Random color shirt guy #45277

There are also some serious limitations in this early access release that are worth mentioning. For instance, there's only a male character model, and when you join a server you just get a random configuration of colors on your clothes.

Considering how simple it would be to tweak the colors on this pixel art and make additional models to select at startup, I don't see why that would be the case, even with an early access launch.

The only significant changes CryoFall presents by going 2D are in limiting the field of vision with the top-down viewpoint, and allowing larger numbers of players on the same server.

While any server can host up to 200 players at a time, that number doesn't particularly matter right now due to the low player count. I've never actually seen more than 80 on at a single time, with the North American server often at 30 or fewer players.

Minor Shakeups To The Survival Style

So for survival veterans, what are the positive aspects of this game aside from the 2D visuals? There are three elements in particular that CryoFall has going for it at the moment.

First and foremost, this is a remarkably stable experience for an online early access game. That very well may be due to the reduced resources of a 2D game that only has to render a small portion of the map at a time. Whatever the reason, CryoFall runs significantly smoother than big dogs like Ark or a horde of other early access survival titles that are drastically in need of more polish.

Second, CryoFall offers up a map editor through Steam, so you can basically run your own client / server combo to play around in the world and figure everything out before going live with other players. 

That's a very wise course of action, for one simple reason...

 Dunno why this guy is shooting at me, but he is

There is an immediately aggressive (I'd probably go so far as to say homicidal) player base. You were walking near an area where I'd built something? Don't care that you clearly are weaponless and have just started exploring, I'm gonna kill ya!

I don't know what it is about the low player count, but right now everyone is basically an aggro troll playing a battle royale game instead of a survival sim (you guys know Rapture Rejects exists, right?). The developers have stated PvE servers are in the works to deal with that issue, but they aren't available yet.

Aside from the aggressive player base, the 2D take on survival leads to some player conflict you might not expect. It's not all that difficult to construct really big, map-consuming towns by using simple wood walls that effectively block other players out of a segment of the world.

People are already building all over on top of each other in a race to take over the map, which makes to shudder to think of what sort of chaotic free for all will be occurring when there are actually 200 people playing. That will not be a newbie friendly situation at all.

So what about that third thing that is different with CryoFall?

That's the skill system, which I have to admit is fairly rewarding, with skills unlocked as you gain experience by completing tasks like mining, wood cutting, building, and so on.

The truly interesting part here is that the developers announced mod support for the skill framework, so (if the player base ever gets large enough to attract talented modders), this means eventually we'll see custom skills to change the game in unexpected ways.

The Bottom Line In Early Access

If you're a survival fanatic and have to play every iteration of this genre, CryoFall might be worth it for you to try out. Likewise if you prefer the top-down 2D style over the often messy 3D visuals of bigger games like Ark, then give it a shot.

Otherwise, just simply steer clear. There are dozens of other survival games out there, and this one doesn't dethrone any of them.

If CryoFall ever catches on and gets some serious mod support, it could be more worthwhile to a bigger section of gamers. Unfortunately at the moment this is just another indie early access entry that isn't really worth the investment.

GameSkinny Weekend Download: More Borderlands 3, Risk of Rain 2, Outward, and More Sat, 06 Apr 2019 09:50:39 -0400 GS_Staff

It's Saturday morning, and GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back again. 

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup, including the official Borderlands 3 release date, that Borderlands: The Handsom Collection is F2P this weekend, tons of Outward and Risk of Rain 2 coverage, Nintendo Labo, and a lot more reviews than we've done in a while.  

As usual, 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 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.  


  • Borderlands 3 Launches September 13, Will Be Epic Store Exclusive on PC
    2K games officially announced Borderlands 3's release date and editions today, confirming it will be a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store. Read more

  • Play Borderlands: The Handsome Collection for Free This Weekend on Xbox, PC
    The bundle, which includes Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is also on sale on PC, PS4, and Xbox One from multiple storefronts. Read more

  • Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild Will Support Labo VR
    Hot on the heels of Labo VR's initial announcement comes news that Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild will support the Toy-Con VR Goggles in different ways starting April 25. Read more

  • 20 Minutes of New The Outer Worlds Footage from PAX East
    Obsidian Entertainment's latest RPG gets a lengthy new gameplay video from PAX East, showcasing branching dialogue, varied action, and some gorgeous graphics. Read more

  • Dataminers Uncover New Gameplay Mechanics in The Division 2's Dark Hours Raid
    New details emerge about The Division 2's Raids, including a new signature weapon. Read more

  • Gameloft Partners With CARE For Special Dragon Mania Legends Charity Event
    Help fight poverty during a special charity event in Dragon Mania Legends. Read more

  • The Elder Scrolls Legends: Alliance War Gets New Details, Content Roadmap
    Alliance War is out April 15 and offers new cards, mechanics, and factions, and the game is set to receive multiple new rounds of content throughout the year. Read more

  • CD Projekt Red Announces New (Non-Digital) Store
    Soon, CDPR fans will be able to get all kind of sweet merch for their favorite games directly from the source. Read more

  • Unbound: Worlds Apart Announced, Kickstarter Campaign Begins in May
    Alien Pixel Studios' new indie platformer features reality warping as its main mechanic, a unique art style, and plenty of atmospheric environments. Read more

  • Civilization 6 Update Brings Cross-Platform Cloud Saves for PC and Switch
    The update implements seamless cloud saves for Switch and PC, although there is no word about iOS support yet. Read more

  • Nintendo Switch Online’s April NES Games Announced
    Nintendo Switch Online gets three new NES games on April 10 as part of its monthly update. Read more

  • Risk of Rain 2 Nears 650,000 Players in First Week After Release
    Hopoo Games said the numbers smashed all expectations and provided an outline of how it will support the game in the coming months. Read more

  • League of Legends Champions Korea Spring Playoffs 2019: What to Know
    Everything you need to know about LCK Spring Playoffs 2019. Read more

  • International Rating Suggests Octopath Traveler Could Get a PC Port Soon
    Octopath Traveler received a rating for release in Korea — on PC. Could that mean it will no longer be Switch exclusive, or is there something else in store for the fledgling franchise? Read more


  • Yoshi's Crafted World Review: Crafting a New Classic
    Don't let the green dino's mid-tier status fool you. With fluid platforming, incredible attention to detail, and a huge variety of content, Yoshi's Crafted World is a must-have Switch game. Read more

  • ATOM RPG Review: A Fallout Clone That Never Takes Itself Too Seriously
    ATOM RPG is trashy, yet hilarious; clunky, yet addictive. It's a fun Fallout clone that at times makes you laugh, and at others yell at your screen. Read more

  • Risk of Rain 2 Early Access Impressions: Simply a Huge Amount of Fun
    So far, Risk of Rain 2 is a worthy successor to the original, with its fully 3D design opening up new avenues of play. Read more

  • SteelSeries Stratus Duo Controller Review: Hard to Put Down
    The Stratus Duo stands tall alongside other mobile controllers and rivals the best that are currently available for PC. Read more

  • Logitech MX518 Review: The Greatest Gaming Mouse is Still Pretty Fab
    The MX518 might be a throwback, but it has plenty of modern bells and whistles to make its legend relevant today. Read more

  • We. The Revolution Review: Social Strategy on a Guillotine's Edge
    All told, We. The Revolution comes together to make a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Read more

  • Mechstermination Force Review: Fun, but Flawed
    When it works, Mechstermination Force is an enjoyable experience, but those moments are marred by some faulty design and monotonous grinding. Read more

  • MLB The Show 19 Review: Another Season of Your Favorite Show
    The Show is back with the latest, but just barely the greatest, addition to the world of baseball video games. Read more


  • Mystery Dungeon is a Criminally Underrated Series — And That's a Shame
    With Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy releasing recently, we take a look at why Mystery Dungeon games are worth your time (and sanity). Read more

  • Outward's Biggest Problem on Console Is Load Times
    Of all the challenges found in Outward, the load screens may be console players' biggest hurdle. Read more

  • The Top 20 Minecraft 1.14 Seeds for April 2019
    Prepare for the official release of a new Village and Pillage update for Minecraft 1.14 with this month's best selection of seeds. Read more

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Conquest Battles Were a Missed Opportunity
    Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a fantastic game that didn't quite manage to live up to its lofty potential, and conquest battles were a primary victim of this. Read more

  • To Leave Shines an Unabashed Light on Mental Health
    To Leave may be a hard experience for some, but it's another title that helps us understand that living with mental health issues is not easy. Read more

  • Niantic Announces Dates for Pokemon GO's 2019 Summer Tour
    The first leg of the tour kicks off in Chicago's Grant Park from June 13-16 and will feature local and global challenges to connect players around the world. Read more

  • Trailer Details The Division 2's World Tier 5, Reveals Raid Release Date
    The Division 2's latest trailer provides more information on the impending World Tier 5, as well as a release date for the game's first raid. Read more. 


  • Borderlands 3 Pre-Order Guide: What's In Every Edition
    Borderlands 3 finally has a release date, and pre-orders are open now for all four editions. We've rounded up where you can find each, including the diamond loot chest edition. Read more

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Headless Boss Guide
    Having trouble taking down the Headless minibosses in Sekiro? This guide shows you all headless locations, as well as the best tactics for beating them and the items they drop. Read more

  • Trails of Cold Steel Romance and Bonding Guide
    If you're wondering about Trails of Cold Steel's characters, romance, and bonding, who you can romance, and how your romantic and bonding choices carry over into Trails of Cold Steel II, you're in the right place. Read more

  • Outward: How to get The Discipline Boon (Brace or Focus)
    Only two skills grant the Discipline boon, luckily they're both in the same place. Read more

  • Outward: How to Get to Levant (and Berg) from Chersonese
    The less stressful route from Chersonese to Levant in Outward, through Berg. Read more.

  • Best Weapons in Outward and How to Get Them
    Here are some of the most powerful weapons in Outward, and short instructions on how to find them all. Read more

  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Get The Most Out of The 2019 Jubilee Event
    How to roll in Jubilee Gift Boxes during ESO's 2019 Jubilee Event starting this week. Read more

  • Elder Scrolls Blades Not Letting Me Play, Device Not Supported Help
    The Elder Scrolls finally has a proper mobile entry, but most players can't login quite yet. These tips will try to help you fix the issue until more info becomes available. Read more

  • Generation Zero Guide: All Weapons Locations
    Here are the exact locations of all weapon types in Generation Zero, including their coordinates. Read more

  • Yoshi’s Crafted World: All Poochy Pup Locations In the First Dream Gem Path
    Need help getting all the Poochy Pups in the first path of Yoshi's Crafted World? This guide has all their locations! Read more

  • How to Unlock All of the Characters in Risk of Rain 2
    A quick guide to unlocking the characters of Risk of Rain 2. We chucked in some tips for using each of them, too. We are just nice like that. Read more

  • Risk of Rain 2 Lunar Coins: Where to Use, What Items to Buy
    A guide to Risk of Rain 2's rarest currency, what to spend it on first, and why you should do so. Read more

  • Teleporters and You: A Risk of Rain 2 Guide
    RoR2's teleporters aren't that hard to find if you know what you're looking for. Read more

  • Dota Auto Chess Gods Strategy Guide: Mars and Zeus
    Learn about the two new gods Mars and Zeus, their abilities, synergies, and combos with the help of this guide to Dota Auto Chess. Read more

  • 15 Best Hearthstone Cards from Rise of Shadows
    The Year of the Dragon has begun with the new Hearthstone expansion Rise of Shadows. Here are the 15 best cards of the new set. Read more

Check back next Saturday morning for more. 

Risk of Rain 2 Early Access Impressions: Simply a Huge Amount of Fun Tue, 02 Apr 2019 10:47:03 -0400 Jason Coles

Risk of Rain 2 stealth released via the Gearbox PAX East panel last week. It was a little shocking to see a sequel to a little indie gem being shown off on such a public stage, but also immensely refreshing.

Risk of Rain was made in GameMaker Studio and published by Chucklefish. It was also a fully 2D game with a lovely pixel art aesthetic and some astoundingly good music. The sequel is different, but not in any way that detracts from it. 

This time, it is a fully 3D game developed in Unity. Having seen some footage of it a year or so ago, I was a little worried. After all, seeing a game you love taken in a bold new direction is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. What if in the process the heart of the game is lost, what if it loses that special something that made it so enjoyable?

Sunny All Day

Well, it turns out that adding that extra dimension has turned Risk of Rain 2 into an outstandingly good experience, and it is still only in Early Access. The sense of scale in the levels is truly vast. There are still secrets tucked away at the end of hidden paths, it's just that this time, you need to be willing to try and scale the side of a mountain to get to them. 

It is still the roguelike game it has always been, too. Your aim is still to shoot, hit, or use special abilities to defeat enemies as they try to overwhelm you; most of the time, you're doing this from a third-person perspective.

At lower difficulties, the combat is enjoyable; it's a matter of just trying to collect the items you need to be overpowered and lay waste. At higher difficulties, it becomes a bullet hell that requires every iota of focus you can muster just to survive.

Although, if you stay on easy long enough, you will eventually reach the dizzying heights of the "Hahahahahahahaha..." difficulty.  

That's because the difficulty in Risk of Rain 2 is fluid. The difficulty you choose at the beginning of your run merely dictates the speed at which you will progress through the actual difficulty. For example, if you choose Monsoon difficulty at the beginning, you can expect to reach the final difficulty setting far quicker than is comfortable.

It is a system that inherently asks you to weigh which is more important; is it better to grind out money to open chests for the chance to get better items, or is it better to simply rush through to keep the combat manageable?

Each run is likely to end with you dying and having to start again, but that is all part of the fun in a roguelike, after all. 

Cloudy With a Chance of Spaceballs

At present, there are six characters to choose from, though only one is available initially. You unlock the others as you go.

While other games may have characters with slightly different stats, Risk of Rain 2 has entirely different playstyles built into each of your choices. 

Take Mul-T for example, a building site robot who has two weapons instead of one, and who can hold two usable items at once, instead of the usual one. Instead of relying on one playstyle and being exceptional at it, they are better suited to adapting to the current situation.

Long-range fights can be fought with your slow-firing but very powerful sniper weapon. Close-range battles call for your inaccurate machine gun. No other character is this adaptable.

This type of adaptability makes your choice important, but it also makes the game feel fresh when playing as another character. 

Raining Cats and Dogs 

Risk of Rain 2 is already a truly stellar sequel to an already outstanding first attempt. It feels polished, the gameplay is potentially unending, and the co-op gameplay is flawless, the latter of which is perhaps the thing that elevates the game to such heights.

Simply join a friend's lobby before starting a game and off you go. You can even play with a team of four for a more chaotic experience. Unfortunately, co-op is online only at present. 

The fact that all of this exists within an Early Access game speaks volumes about what to expect going forward. It is quite simply a huge amount of fun, and when you consider the stream of content that is no doubt rushing toward us, it is well worth getting into Risk of Rain 2 now. 

[Note: A copy of Risk of Rain 2 was provided by the developer for this article.]

GameSkinny Weekend Download: Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11, Sekiro, and More Sat, 30 Mar 2019 06:26:52 -0400 GS_Staff

It's Saturday morning, and GameSkinny's Weekend Download is back again. 

Here's most of everything we published this week in one easy to digest roundup, including Borderlands 3 news, our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review and guides, and our impressions from the Mortal Kombat 11 beta

As usual, 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 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.  


  • Atlus Unveils Persona 5: The Royal, With More Info Teased for April 24
    Persona 5: The Royal will be a brand-new Persona 5 RPG, featuring at least one important new character. Read more

  • Blizzard Restricts WoW Classic Loot Trading Of Soulbound Items To Raids
    In response to player concern over Soulbound loot trading in WoW Classic, Blizzard is limiting it to items acquired in raids. Read more

  • Details Surface on Two Rumored Nintendo Switch Models
    Reports claim Nintendo will release a budget Switch and an improved Switch as early as summer to help drive sales and diversify the consumer base. Read more

  • No Man's Sky VR Announced, Part of Beyond Expansion
    The entirety of No Man's Sky is getting a VR experience built from the ground up as part of this summer's Beyond expansion. Read more

  • Ready, Set, Heroes Announced During Sony's State of Play Livestream
    Sony Worldwide Studios and Robot Entertainment are teaming up to bring a new multiplayer, dungeon-crawling adventure sometime this fall. Read more

  • Apple Announces Apple Arcade Subscription Service For All Its Devices
    During today's Apple Event, the company announced a new video game subscription services available on all of its devices. Read more

  • PlayStation State of Play Rundown: Everything That Was Announced
    Sony held its first 'State of Play' streaming event, revealing new information on upcoming games for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. Here's what was shown. Read more

  • Control Gets Release Date and Gameplay Trailer, Pre-Orders Open Now
    Remedy's latest game is out this August and offers a host of pre-order bonuses and multiple editions for players to choose from. Read more

  • Dystopian Cyberpunk Adventure Beyond A Steel Sky Announced At Apple Event
    The sequel Revolution Software's dystopian adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky has been announced and will release later this year. Read more

  • Secret World Developer Announces Lovecraftian Horror Game On Mars
    Get ready for some Halloween fun with Funcom's upcoming space horror game Moons of Madness. Read more.
  • Sony Will No Longer Sell Digital Games at Retail Locations Starting April 1
    Consumers must purchase digital games directly through the PSN starting April 1, though Sony will increase the variety of PSN card values to compensate. Read more

  • Metro: Exodus Ranger Update Brings New Game+ and Other Updates
    Metro Exodus gets an expansive New Game+ mode with new achievements, customizable experiences, commentary, and a host of bug fixes. Read more

  • Gearbox Releases New Teaser Trailer for Next Borderlands Game
    Gearbox teases the return of beloved characters and some new, intriguing mysteries for fans in the next Borderlands game, with more details to come at PAX East. Read more

  • GWENT: The Witcher Card Game Coming to Mobile Later This Year
    CD Projekt Red said the mobile version will include high-quality visuals and multiplayer support, along with all existing content and expansions. Read more

  • Niantic Offers Rewards To Pokemon GO Players Participating In Earth Day Events
    Celebrate Earth Day and get special rewards in Pokemon GO during Niantic's Earth Day Cleanup Event. Read more

  • Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Jax Revealed in Growing Mortal Kombat 11 Roster
    Three more characters join the Mortal Kombat 11 lineup: Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Jax. Read more

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Beta Currently Live, Features 5 Kombatants, Two Modes
    The Mortal Kombat 11 beta is currently live for those who pre-ordered the game. The beta features two modes and a handful of playable characters. Read more

  • Dead Cells: Rise of the Giant Out Today, 20% Off on Steam
    Alongside going on sale via Steam, Dead Cells' first big DLC expansion arrives today and includes a vast array of updates and balancing. Read more

  • Borderlands 3 Announced At PAX East, Gets Official Developer's Trailer
    Gearbox lifts the lid on Borderlands 3 at last with a new trailer showcasing plenty of action and characters, though with no anticipated release date. Read more

  • Borderlands Remasters, Board Game, and Borderlands 2 VR DLC Announced
    The Borderlands series saw multiple new announcements at PAX East, including remasters, updated visuals, DLC, and a new tabletop game. Read more

  • Gearbox Publishing Announces New Games, Partnerships at PAX East
    Gearbox Publishing is bringing a mix of new games, DLC, and physical editions to fans throughout 2019, including We Happy Few DLC and Bulletstorm for Nintendo Switch. Read more

  • Warcraft and Warcraft 2 Now Available on Good Old Games
    Warcraft I and II join the GoG store lineup, offering new players a chance to experience the story for the first time. Read more

  • On the Road to Finals: 2019 Pro Seasons Begin for SMITE, Paladins
    SMITE and Paladins players have arrived in Atlanta for the start of the 2019 SPL and PPL seasons. Read more

  • PUBG’s Survivor Pass 3: Wild Card Now Live on PC
    PUBG's latest event is live now and offers more than 60 new items, plus a host of missions updated every week until June 4. Read more

  • Blizzard Addresses World Of Warcraft Classic Spell Batching
    The World of Warcraft classic team outlined more plans to make the game feel as close to Vanilla as possible. Read more

  • PS4 6.51 Firmware Update Out Now — No Option to Change PSN IDs
    Sony's latest PlayStation 4 update makes some performance changes, but it fails to deliver the long-promised PSN online ID change. Read more


  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Review: Play The Hits
    The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel plays like a greatest hits compilation of JRPG tropes and mechanics, and that is (largely) a really good thing. Read more

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review: A Masterpiece in Every Sense
    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is probably the best game From Software has ever made, and it's worth every second of your time playing. Read more


  • Hands-On With Google Stadia: First Impressions From GDC 2019
    Google Stadia has the potential to be the real deal, and our hands-on with the platform at GDC 2019 shows promise. Read more

  • Rape Day Proves Steam Needs to Rethink Its Regulation Policies
    If Steam continues to allow games like Rape Day to appear on its store, even briefly, there's a good chance it will be forced to rethink how Valve regulates games on the platform. Read more

  • Terrorarium Early Access Preview: Rough Around the Edges
    Terrorarium's new to Early Access and needs some work to make it a worthwhile purchase. Read more

  • Artist Spotlight: Travis "Sketch Junky" Elliot Catches the Essence of Pokemon
    Artist Travis "Sketch Junky" Elliot reimagines your favorite video game and anime characters in stunning traditional art. Read more

  • In Defense Of Smaller World Maps: Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better
    Most open-world games would benefit from having a map that's much, much smaller. Don't @ me. Read more

  • An Introduction to Trails: The Best JRPG Franchise You've (Probably) Never Heard Of
    If you're looking for your next epic, niche RPG with excellent characters and a deep story, look no further than Nihon Falcom's Trails games. Read more

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Beta Impressions: Shaping Up to be Another Win
    Mortal Kombat 11 has an updated fighting system and a few other tweaks you'll want to know about. Check out our impressions of the closed beta. Read more


  • LifeAfter Crafting Recipes Guide
    Hunger is one of your biggest foes in LifeAfter, so keep your pantry packed with this guide to all the recipes you can make. Read more

  • Apex Legends Octane Tips and Tricks Guide
    Octane is the newest character in Apex Legends. Here is a complete breakdown of all his abilities and essential tips on how to use them effectively. Read more

  • Apex Legends Gun and Weapon Stats Guide
    We compare all the DPS, head damage, and mag size stats for every single weapon currently available in Apex Legends. Read more

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Esoteric Texts Guide
    Esoteric Texts grant access to new unlockable abilities either actively or passively. They are the key to beating tougher enemies in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Read more

  • How To Upgrade Your Stats in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
    Stats in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are a little different than they are in Dark Souls or Bloodborne. Here's what to know about upgrading them. Read more

  • How to Pick Up Loot & Money in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
    Loot and money are essential items in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. If you're wondering how to pick them up from dead enemies, this quick guide shows you how. Read more

  • How to Beat Shielded Enemies in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
    The loaded axe is the only way to defeat shielded enemies in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Here's where to find it and how to use it to deal death blows to these tiresome mobs. Read more

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Guide — How to Get All Endings
    Unlock all four endings with the help of our step-by-step guide to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Read more

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Guide — How to Get All Prosthetics
    This guide shows you the locations of all 10 prosthetic tools available in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Read more

  • Best Settings for FPS, Performance in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice PC
    Want to squeeze out every possible frame in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on your PC or laptop? Then, follow this guide for the most optimal graphics settings. Read more

  • Controller Not Working Fixes For Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
    The controller not working problem in Sekiro is stumping many players, since not every solution works for every player. We've rounded up the best fixes for the problem to get you back in the game. Read more

  • How to Fix The Division 2 Uniform-01 Error
    The Division 2's Uniform 01 error keeps coming back to haunt players, but there's a simple fix for it, even if it chucks the Delta 03 error your way again. Read more

  • Fallout 76's "This Account Lacks the Required Entitlements" Error Explained
    FO76's infamous beta error keeps rearing its ugly head from time to time. But is there anything you can do when the game tells you that "This account lacks the required entitlements"? Read more

  • Outward: How to Attach Your Lantern to Your Backpack
    How to get a new shiny backpack and attach your lantern to it. Read more

  • Outward: How to Pay Your Blood Debt Off Quickly
    You don't have to scrape up 150 Silver to pay off that Blood Debt in Outward. You can actually finish it in a matter of minutes. Read more

  • Outward Guide: Death and Finding Your Backpack
    What you need to know about dying, and how to find your backpack after death. Read more

  • LYN: The Lightbringer Beginner's Guide to Grinding & Team Building
    Having trouble with Nexon's new gacha mobile game? We're here to help with tier lists, team comp suggestions, and a breakdown of the best ways to level up your team! Read more

Check back next Saturday morning for more. 

Mortal Kombat 11 Beta Impressions: Shaping Up to be Another Win Fri, 29 Mar 2019 16:42:07 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

Get over here!

Recently, we got our hands on the Mortal Kombat 11 beta, and this is what we learned about NetherRealm's upcoming fighter. 

MK11 is shaping up to be a pretty good one. The closed beta is only available to those who have already pre-ordered the game, and it will run through the end of this weekend: March 31 at 11:59 PDT.

It has two modes: a very simple single-player mode that is essentially there to let you learn your moves, and a regular old versus mode. It contains five of the characters that will be in the final build of the game as well: Baraka, Jade, Kabal, Skarlet, and Scorpion.

How Does Mortal Kombat 11 Play?

For those of you still on the fence about Mortal Kombat 11, the good news is that it is coming together very nicely. Its animations look good, and its presentation is pretty impressive, especially considering how little is included in the beta.

If you've been keeping up with the direction of the series over the last few iterations, there are some definite changes that affect how it plays.

The biggest noticeable difference is that the drawn-out juggle combo style seems to have taken a bit of a backseat in MK11. It may just be because it's still too early to discover optimal combos, but it seems like NetherRealm has made efforts to cut back on the length and damage of those extended combos.

For many, this should be good news. It means the daunting task of memorizing frame data and attack strings in order to have a shot in online matches or tournaments will be downplayed. It means spectators won't have to sit through boring juggle combos that seem to never end.

For competitive fighters, it means the system will focus more on understanding matchups, spacing, and capabilities of the entire roster in order to be successful.

Obviously, we won't be able to truly break down the fighting system in Mortal Kombat 11 until the entire roster is released; it does seem like there is a bit more of a deliberate pace in MK11 than in the last few entries of the series. Rushing opponents down is going to set you up for brutal combo punishments if you don't know what you're doing  the system rewards you for feeling your opponent out, learning their tendencies, and exploiting them.

Mortal Kombat 11 Still Has a Lot of Style

That isn't to say that MK11 is slow  it still pops along nicely, and plenty of moves feature big impacts and the cringe-worthy animations the series is known for.

There is also a level of customization involved: each fighter features three different styles and, although there isn't much available in the beta, customization options. Different gear can be equipped to fighters, changing their looks and stats. This feature will surely make for all sorts of broken combinations; expect it to sit on the sidelines for competitive matches.

As far as any new systems in place, there are a few alterations to the standard formula. Each fighter has two different meters that gradually refill throughout the match — offensive one and defensive one. The offensive meter is used to amplify special moves, and the defensive one is used to activate a variety of helpful abilities to counter your opponent's attacks. They both add significant new abilities to your arsenal, but neither one are necessary to win, especially in casual matches.

X-Rays and "Fatal Blows"

X-Ray Attacks, the single button, massive-damage combo moves, have seen a bit of a revamp. They have been replaced by the extremely similar "Fatal Blow" command, which can only be used when you are very low on health.

These still unleash a huge, brutal combo with plenty of bone-crunching closeups. These Fatal Blows can be activated again after a short cooldown if they don't land the first time, but each fighter's can only hit once in an entire match. 

X-Ray Attacks also make somewhat of a cameo with the new counter system, which is another element that rewards players for spacing and strategizing rather than blindly rushing down. If you land certain attacks at just the right time  such as ducking beneath a punch and clocking your opponent with an uppercut it will do extra damage, occasionally add a bonus effect (like putting them into a juggle or daze state), and zoom in for a gruesome visual cue.

It's a bonus little hint at how the system works, and provides plenty of good opportunities if you notice certain patterns or flaws in your opponent's offense.

What's the Verdict So Far?

Obviously, Mortal Kombat 11 is still Mortal Kombat. It's over the top, violent, and self aware, but the fighting system does seem like it has gone through quite an overhaul. If you come in expecting the long juggle strings of the last few games in the series, MK11 may leave you hanging. The new system is equal parts simpler and more complex; there's not as much muscle memorization, but there are plenty of rewards for those who want to study the game and maximize their abilities.

For those who like the style of the series, you'll find it back in full force. Attacks are brutal and classic characters abound. Fatalities are the perfect mixture of "Oh my God, did you see that? Gross!" and "Oh my God, did you see that? Ridiculous!"

The full release also promises the return of Mortal Kombat's excellent cinematic story mode, the massive "Krypt" full of unlockables, and many more features.

Essentially, Mortal Kombat 11 is shaping up to be another win for NetherRealm Studios. Pre-order at your own risk but, barring any slip ups on the backend (online fighters can be absolutely killed if there are any connection hiccups, as PC versions of Mortal Kombat have seen in the past), this one seems like a pretty safe bet. 

Mortal Kombat 11 releases on April 23 for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. We will have a full review and plenty of other information once the full version hits retail.

Artist Spotlight: Travis "Sketch Junky" Elliot Catches the Essence of Pokemon Thu, 28 Mar 2019 12:47:52 -0400 QuintLyn

One of the greatest things about gaming or any geek activity is how it can inspire fans to creativity. All over the world, fans of video games, anime, comic books, sci-fi, and more are creating beautiful and amazing things around the properties they're most passionate about.

Recently, we came across one such creative on Reddit, where he'd posted several of his drawings under the name Sketch Junky. Most were Pokemon related, which is always going to catch our attention.

But there were also Legend of Zelda and Dragon Ball Z pieces as well, and all were done using markers and pens  nothing digital.

They were so well done that our editor, who first saw them, messaged me with the link just so I could see how fantastic they were. It only took us a few minutes of conversation to know we'd like to talk to the artist about highlighting his work on the site.

Who is Sketch Junky?

As it turned out, the artist going by Sketch Junky was a 30-year-old in Kentucky by the name of Travis Elliot. When I spoke to him, he told me he'd been drawing since he was a kid, having started by replicating Nintendo covers, such as the Ninja Turtles, as well as various comics. Both Marvel and DC were represented as he noted he'd replicate Spider-Man, Venom, and Batman, among others.

I spoke with Travis for a while about his art and inspirations and learned quite a bit. Of course, the interview was pretty free-form so this won't be a dry, word-for-word recount. That said, I hope you find it as interesting as I found speaking with him to be.

Getting Started and Inspiration

Just about every interview with a creative starts out with the interviewer asking them how they got started, who and what their inspirations were, and what kinds of things they hope to achieve. It's rote, but you have to start somewhere. 

As a kid, I drew mostly for fun. I drew what I enjoyed. I wanted to be an artist, but I decided not to attend art school.

This decision wasn't made lightly. There are some definite benefits to obtaining formal schooling when it comes to art, but there are also some serious downsides, such as the cost, which in addition to what students pay just to attend college, is compounded by the number of materials and lab fees art students are required to dish out.

That isn't to say Travis thinks formal training is a bad idea for everyone, just that it wasn't for him.

One of the things Travis noted that influenced his decision was discovering art forums when he was about 19 or 20. There, budding artists shared their progress, showing that those who are willing to put in the work can do amazing things, even without formal education.

This thought process was solidified when he had a chance to peek at one of the sketchbooks owned by Dave Rapoza, an artist that Travis considers to be a major influence on his own work. Just seeing the book inspired him to apply himself, knowing that if he did, he'd do well.

Other Influences

You may notice, scrolling through this piece, that Travis really seems to like drawing Pokemon. Of course, he's also shared pieces inspired by other games and anime, such as The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Ball Z.

Since most of these properties have both video game and anime ties, I asked him which was his bigger influence.

As it turns out, while he does love video games, the anime aesthetic was the bigger influence here. But he didn't just want to copy what the artists were already doing. He wanted to re-imagine them in a more realistic illustration style.

We discussed the fact that this isn't the first time artists have made a run at designing "realistic" Pokemon or other anime characters. He agreed, he wasn't the first but noted that the others just didn't feel right to him.

The realistic versions I've seen neever really struck a cord. They were too literal like Venosaur being an actual dinosaur.

This same thought process is applied to Dragon Ball characters. Even in his own work, Dragon Ball characters have been a challenge when it comes to the balance between achieving a realistic look and keeping the overall essence of the characters.

In the case of Dragon Ball, Travis notes that he's done over 20 different characters and only a few of them have come out the way he wants. One thing that he's learned with these attempts is that the hair is a big factor.

You can't be literal with the hair. You have to make concessions. Translating anime is a delicate balance.

The Joys and Pitfalls of 2D Animation

A lot of my conversation with Travis revolved around the art style in anime and animation styles that really struck a cord with him. As hit turns out, he has a lot of love for some of the older stuff; old 2D Disney movies are a huge influence. On the other hand, the newer 3D stuff doesn't work as well for him visually.

He says a similar thing about the Dragon Ball franchise when comparing the latest series to the older ones.

Dragon Ball Super feels flat. The original Dragon Ball and DBZ are more alive and energetic.

He added that in general, he wishes animators would mix it up more and offer more variety.

Of course, he doesn't dislike everything new. He has high praise for Your Name, an anime movie that came out two years ago. He felt the movie which is the highest-grossing anime film of all time worldwide demonstrated that a lot can be done with 2D that just hasn't been yet.

All Those Games

Of course, not all of his influences are anime or games that happen to tie into anime. Travis actually has a short list of games that have had some influence on his work, including what he considers the "Golden Age" of Final Fantasy games — specifically Final Fantasy VII through Final Fantasy X. He noted that he really latched onto the visual art style of that period, noting that you just don't see as much of it now thanks to developers looking to make everything as realistic as possible.

Another Square Enix series he notes a fondness for is the Kingdom Hearts series. This is also because it's artistically unique among video games.

The Kingdom Hearts story doesn't hurt either. And it kept him coming back time an again to play Kingdom Hearts II, Chain of Memories, and Birth by Sleep. And of course, he even picked up Kingdom Hearts III. Like a true fan, the game was in his hands at midnight when it released.

He did note a few concerns he had with KHIII, though, pointing to a lack of Final Fantasy characters and minimal post-game content. He also feels it lost some of its flair.

Square Enix doesn't have the same spark it used to.

And then there's his first love, old-school Nintendo games. Aside from featuring the covers he used to spend his time re-imagining, these games also taught him a very important lesson when it comes to gaming.

Video games don't have to be difficult to be fun.

East Meets West

When talking about Travis' influences, we did end up meandering a bit.

While anime and Eastern art styles are a major influence, he also looks to a few Western influences as well, particularly comic books artists and older Disney movies. He points to The Lion King as his first influential film, partially because of how the storytelling captured his imagination.

Then, of course, there are the comic books which he discussed in relation to Japanese manga. He didn't list any big ones but did note that he kept some around.

However, when it came to art, he still prefers the Japanese styles, noting their more fantastic nature.

Western style comics and animation involve making tropes more realistic, while the Eastern style is about having more fun and not taking itself too seriously. It's like they're saying 'How can we make cool interesting?'

Supporting Himself While He Learns

To achieve his goal of becoming an artist, Travis obviously had to have some way to support himself. Eventually, he took on working in security, which allows him to put time into his art.

Of course, as he's grown as an artist, he also takes on the occasional commission and freelance work. Eventually, he does hope to make a living based on his art alone.

Thinking About the Future

Travis goes on to talk about what he'd like to do with his art in the future, discussing the struggle many artists have with deciding whether they want to be employed by companies, doing what they're told, or if they'd rather just do what they want to do and risk a less steady income.

While he's thinking about that, he is using his time to learn what of his work really resonates with people. He feels that his use of traditional media, particularly markers and ink, are why people gravitate to what he does.

It offers them more variety from all the digital and CGI works we've seen over the last several years.

That said, he is capable of working in more modern mediums, he just prefers not to. Additionally, Travis did add that he has plans to try his hand at some other franchises in the future, including Full Metal Alchemist, Deathnote, and Samurai X.

Pokemon: Sword and Shield, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

Since a lot of Travis' pieces are Pokemon oriented, I asked his opinion on both the upcoming Detective Pikachu and Pokemon: Sword and Shield.

Pokemon: Sword and Shield

When asked about the new game, he said that he likes that the environments seem more immersive, but that he's concerned by the title. He feels the battle theme seems to indicate the developers plan on taking the game in directions that could alienate older players.

When asked which of the three starters he had his eye on, the answer was quick and to the point:

Grass money.

Detective Pikachu

One of the fun reactions Travis has gotten to his Pokemon art is that some people have actually asked him if he worked on the designs in the upcoming Pokemon movie. While he hasn't, he is pretty happy with the comparison.

He also noted that he's generally pleased with the direction the artists did take when creating the "real world" version of the Pokemon. He's happy you can tell who each of the characters are and adds that there would have been a real downside to making them too realistic.

If you're making Pokemon real, there's gonna be nightmare fuel. Also, if Pokemon were real, we'd live in a very dangerous world.

He added that he really wants to see how they handle Gengar. In fact, that's why he did his own version.

Where to Find Sketch Junky

If you're interested in checking out more of Travis' work or perhaps asking him about a commission or two, here's what you need to know:

We want to thanks Travis for taking the time to speak with us. If you know of other great artists that should be highlighted, let us know in the comments below. 


Hands-On With Google Stadia: First Impressions From GDC 2019 Mon, 25 Mar 2019 09:26:43 -0400 Benjamin Kratsch

Google owns the internet, and now the company wants to dominate the gaming space, reaching 2 billion gamers with a console that is not a console.

Google's mission, according to the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai, is to build "a game platform for everyone." To Pichai, and others working on Stadia, "The future of gaming is not a box, but a place." In so many ways, Google wants to reduce all of the pain points in every gamer's life.

Instead of a box, then, Stadia is a streaming service based in the cloud, one capable of pushing 4K/HDR/Surround-Sound data to almost every device in your home. Since Stadia is, surprisingly platform agnostic, games can be streamed to any device capable of running Chrome without losing graphical fidelity. TVs via Chromecast, iPads and MacBooks via the Chrome browser, Android devices via Chrome, and your PC via the same browser.

The amazing thing is that Stadia is powerful, putting, roughly, the power of an Xbox One X in the cloud. All games will run in any of Google’s 7,500 data centers all around the globe, outfitted with custom 2.7GHz x86 processors, 16 GB of RAM, and a custom GPU from AMD capable of 10.7 teraflops.

Which is enormous. The Xbox One X rocks 6 Teraflops of GPU power, 10.7 very close to AMD's high-end card Vega that rocks 12 and above Nvidia's GTX 1070. So we are talking about a ton of power available via Chrome.

The new fancy Nvidia GTX graphics card is too expensive? You don’t need one, Google Stadia is a high-end gaming PC in the cloud. You want to become internet famous as a gamer but have no idea how to operate OBS and all of this streaming software? Google offers to stream in 4K to Youtube while you are playing. Updates? A thing of the past.

No More Updates Needed: Every Game is Ready to Play Within Seconds


Stadia games will run directly from Google servers and virtual PCs, which means all games will be kept up to date. If you are an Xbox One or PS4 owner, you know the pain of “I just wanted to play 30 minutes, but the update took 10“. No more with Stadia.

Even wilder, no more downloading. Google promises that players be able to launch any game from its servers within seconds. You want to play with your friends? Just send an invite link.

As Pichai frames it, “You can send a link within a split of a second to anyone via email. Why doesn’t that work yet with games? We want to change that.“

State Share uses microstate saving technology, tech that’s completely different from that classic save states we are used to. With State Share, players can share specific moments and exact locations across the cloud, letting other players pick up right where the first player left off. While it’s a lofty goal and we weren’t able to test it out for ourselves, the possibilities are endless.

This might be Google's first rodeo in the gaming space and its first multi-billion dollar investment, but the company is clearly committed. This is made clear by Phil Harrison’s involvement; Harrison, who launched the Xbox for Microsoft, and later was responsible for research and development on the PlayStation 4 and later president for Sony, will run Stadia for Google.

Of the service he says that “The future of gaming is not a console or a box. It’s a data center that delivers your premium gaming experience with zero waiting time and zero friction“

On top of that, Harrison is joined by one of the most creative and influential women in the industry: Jade Raymond. Raymond, who serves as Vice President Worldwide Studios and Head of Games and Entertainment for Stadia, is mostly known for Assassin’s Creed. However, since then, she built Ubisoft Toronto and EA Motive, the new lead Star Wars studio that was responsible for the single player portion of Battlefront 2.

Jade Raymond, Vice President Worldwide Studios Google Stadia

When I was 12 I saw the holodeck in Star Trek. And even though, at this time, most games I’ve played were side-scrolled experiences like Mega Man, it was obvious to me that one day, games will take place in fully immersive worlds. And now we are on the brink of a huge revolution in gaming. There are no limits to the human imagination and now that the data center is your platform, the processing power is limitless as well.

With Stadia, Raymond will do what she does best: Build a new world-class studio. And that's what Google is going to need. Aside from making its own games, the studio will spearhead supporting studios all around the world in optimizing games for Google’s giant initiative.

In no short order, cash is not an issue for Google, and Stadia is clearly not a side project for for the company. Just as Google treats YouTube as a fully operational company under the Google umbrella, so will the company treat Stadia.

Is Google Stadia a Ready To Go Product or One For The Self-driving Car Future?

This is the biggest question: Is there enough infrastructure for Stadia?

There are parts in the United States with access to excellent internet connections and high bandwidth speeds. If you live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, you might be able to stream games in 4K.

“According to our tests in multiple cities, you will need 30Mbps to run games in beautiful 4K,“ says Majd Bakar, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, who is the head of Google’s new game engineering department, and the lead of last year’s Project Stream initiative. “We are the only company in the world right now that has this amount of CPU and GPU power available very close to you.“

However, many areas, including those in Wyoming, Vermont, Montana, Maine, or even Georgia, for example, still have problems with internet speed because those states have many areas of low population densities, which make broadband investments there less cost-effective.

It’s also essential to know that comparing 4K streams on Netflix or Amazon Prime with 4K gaming is an apples to oranges comparison. If you stream a TV show, it’s a set pack of data that can be pre-buffered or pre-loaded. It’s much like a single-player game in that respect.

However, in multiplayer, for example, data packs need to be exchanged consistently. If that’s not possible, you’ll get a laggy experience.

So is this going to work?

Bakar said that Google is well-prepared: 

“We don’t talk about this very often, but Google is a huge hardware company with massive data centers. We operate 7,500 across the globe at the moment; they are all connected via 450,000 kilometers (~279,000 miles) of Fibre.” 

What does that mean for players? Simply put, data doesn’t have to flow from home to home via servers. Instead, it flows between data centers, making streaming more … streamlined.

According to some developers that we spoke with on the showfloor, there is technically the possibility of 1,000-player battle royales with Stadia. While these sources asked not to be named because they are not an official spokesperson for their company, one told us they work on Google Stadia games and that the service would provide such functionality “with no option to cheat or hack“.

While that would be a boon for both competitive players and esports professionals, Stadia would also allow developers to finally realize fully destructible open worlds in multiplayer games.

Says Erin Hoffmen-John, Senior Manager R&D division at Google Stadia, “We offer developers to access multiple GPUs at once to build fully destructible open-worlds for hundreds of players on multiplayer.“

Of course, Google will have to prove that capability. While Microsoft said the same thing about Crackdown 3 a couple of years ago, the final product is not even close to the first E3 demo when it comes down to destructibility.

The performance: Can It play Crysis? Or Doom Eternal?

‘Can it run Crysis” has been a running meme for years. With every new generation or technological development, we use the question to wryly express our cautious optimism.

But developers are fairly candid when talking about Stadia, saying it can run high-fidelity AAA games over the cloud.

“When Google approached us, we were quite skeptical“, recalls id Software’s Marty Stratton. “Can a server really pull off a high-speed, technically demanding game like Doom?”

In our time with the Stadia at GDC, we can answer that question with an unequivocal, “Yes?”While the game’s not perfect on Stadia just yet, it’s close. There seem to be some micro stutters here and there, making the gameplay feel a bit imperfect. And while the game is gorgeous in 4K HDR and there are no artifacts impacting visual quality, input lag is noticeable, especially when a lot of enemies are on screen at one time.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, on the other hand, ran smooth as butter, and if no one told us that the game was being streamed from a Stadia server instead of being rendered from a PC or console under the TV, we wouldn’t have noticed.

The Stadia Controller Feels Very Good But is Not Required to Use the Service

There should be no worries about the Stadia controller.

While it might look a bit odd in official pictures, our hands-on preview proved it’s very solid and has excellent built quality. In most ways, it’s comparable to the Xbox One S controller, specifically in terms of handling and material quality.

What’s of most interest, though, is that aside from the controller being able to quickly detect the closest playable platform and connect via Wi-Fi, it also has two unique features: the aforementioned State Share and Google Assistant. Use the controller’s built-in microphone to not only connect with friends but to get past hard-to-beat areas.

Asking Google Assistant, “How do I beat this tomb?“ while solving a puzzle in the GDC demo of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the technology automatically transfers your micro save to Youtube and finds the right video detailing a walkthrough of the level you are in at that exact moment.

However, as long as you have a reliable, connectable controller, you can access Stadia from almost anywhere. At GDC demo stations, Google proved this by having Razer Raiju controllers and SteelSeries Stratus Duo controllers available for testing.

According to Bakar, Google is “super open-minded about this. We want to offer the Google Stadia controller to provide really cool features like clip sharing, the simple invitation system, Google Assistant and the complete Youtube integration. But if you don’t need certain features, you’ll be fine with whatever controller you already own.“

If you want to just play on your PC or laptop, you can use any hard-wired controller lying around. 


There’s a lot to be excited about with Stadia. There are other similar services on the market, such as Shadow cloud gaming that uses virtual PCs powered by GTX 1070s and Intel Xeon processors, but players still have to download games.

If everything works with Stadia, players can start games in a heartbeat without limitations or owning multiple pieces of expensive hardware. That’s not to mention making co-op gameplay nearly hassle-free.

Sure, there are a lot of “ifs”, “buts”, and “whens”, but if Google is capable of providing a lag-free experience at a minimum of 1080p@60 FPS, Stadia has the potential to take off. Sony and Microsoft don’t have to be worried for now since we still don’t know Stadia’s pricepoint, lineup of games, or all of the studios that will be on board.

However, each company should be prepared for the future. Because Google is ready to enter the console war.

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