eSports Genre RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com eSports on GameSkinny https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Mega Man X Dive (Mega)Busting Onto Smartphones https://www.gameskinny.com/090m5/mega-man-x-dive-megabusting-onto-smartphones https://www.gameskinny.com/090m5/mega-man-x-dive-megabusting-onto-smartphones Mon, 22 Jul 2019 11:50:18 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Capcom Taiwan released an announcement and trailer for a new Mega Man (Rock Man in Asia) title set to release as a free-to-play game on smartphones sometime this year: Mega Man X Dive.

It's a first for the series in more than one way. Not only is it Mega Man's first mobile outing, but it's also the series' first compilation-like title.

Dive is a mashup game featuring Mavericks and characters from throughout the Mega Man X franchise. The story, according to Capcom, revolves around the "Deep Log" database. It stores all save date information for Mega Man X games, only it's gone haywire.

Along with creating a virtual entry for the player, the Deep Log is plagued with abnormalities causing the MMX timeline to skew, making various characters and enemies appear where they shouldn't.

If that sounds a bit familiar, it's because Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission used that same basic setup just a few months ago. But if we're honest, however cliched the concept might be, it works pretty well for a storied franchise with so many famous and infamous characters to choose from.

Apart from the plot, Capcom hasn't released much else about Dive. It's supposed to be an Action RPG, and graphically, it looks like an upgraded version of the PlayStation Portable's Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X revamp.

Which Hunters and Mavericks will make an appearance, how an action-platformer will be turned into an RPG, and even when the game is set to release, we still don't know.

One thing that's likely, though, is microtransactions, since this is a F2P game. Naturally, Capcom hasn't mentioned anything about that yet, but there are a couple of models we might see Mega Man Dive X follow.

One is the Dr. Mario World model of limiting how many stages players can tackle by linking them to a stamina gauge. The other is the Pokemon Masters route of tying Hunters to a random gacha and ranking system.

Meanwhile, the Mega Man X Dive has an official Facebook page — in Chinese — for those interested in keeping up with it until a Western announcement comes our way.

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"We Want You to be Doing Cool Things": Double Damage Games Talks Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw https://www.gameskinny.com/2b8no/we-want-you-to-be-doing-cool-things-double-damage-games-talks-rebel-galaxy-outlaw https://www.gameskinny.com/2b8no/we-want-you-to-be-doing-cool-things-double-damage-games-talks-rebel-galaxy-outlaw Mon, 22 Jul 2019 11:43:37 -0400 Thomas Wilde

Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw was a no-show at E3 this year, but as it turns out, it was at the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo the following weekend. I was surprised to walk in to find Travis Baldree, one part of the two-man team at Double Damage and one of the founders of the late Runic Games (Torchlight, Hob), showing off a playable demo of his decidedly not-very-retro new game.

Outlaw is a space Western and a prequel to the original Rebel Galaxy set 30 years beforehand. It puts you in the role of a middle-aged Juno, your character’s aunt from the first game. She’s forced back into her old criminal habits when someone murders her husband, and her first abortive attempt at revenge wrecks her ship.

Now Juno’s deep in debt, flying a borrowed wreck, and getting back up to take another swing. You’re out on galactic civilization’s backwoods, far from the law, ready to work as a smuggler, bounty hunter, and mercenary pilot, to get the capital you need to get out of trouble and towards your revenge.

Outlaw is a big step up in terms of complexity and design from the first Rebel Galaxy, which was mostly procedurally-generated and made in a hurry on a shoestring budget. Juno’s a fighter pilot and flies ships to match, so you’ll spend much of your time here dogfighting among asteroids, rather than the first game’s focus on slow-paced naval-style combat.

Outlaw also features an animated intro by Titmouse (The Venture Brothers, Metalocalypse), and over 24 hours of licensed music played over seven in-game radio stations. It’s currently planned to launch August 12 as a 12-month timed exclusive in the Epic Games Store.

I spoke with Baldree on July 8 regarding the current status of Outlaw, its development process, and the plans for the game’s launch.

GameSkinny: How have things been going since the Retro Gaming Expo?

Travis Baldree: Getting wrapped up here. We’re in localization and QA. Just trying to tie down the last few things before we get it out the door. There are a few missiles in the air, and we don’t know where they’re going to land.

GS: So in the plot this time around, you play as a specific character.

TB: Yeah. So in the previous Rebel Galaxy, you were just a nameless nobody, but at some point in the game, you get your aunt out of jail. You actually play as that aunt this time, in Outlaw, 36 years prior.

So it was kind of a big change to have it actually be a character this time out, but it lets us do a lot of stuff we couldn’t do in the previous game, and didn’t have the time and resources to do.

GS: I either didn’t ask or didn’t retain that it was set more than 30 years beforehand.

TB: Yes. We call it a sort-of-prequel because it doesn’t really play the same. It’s mechanically different enough that the feel’s changed. There’s obviously a lot of shared Wing Commander: Privateer-isms and Elite Dangerous-isms and space trading, but it really does play so differently that it’s kind of weird to just call it a prequel.

GS: In the first game, you’re flying more of a naval frigate.

TB: Yeah. It was very much like Assassin’s Creed III: Black Flag in space.

GS: And in this one, you’re a fighter pilot. What spurred the change?

TB: Originally, I would’ve made a fighter game, and gone very Privateer with it, but when we were making the first game, I wanted to make sure it stood out. At the time, Star Citizen had been announced, Elite Dangerous was coming out, No Man’s Sky was coming out, and most of those things hadn’t quite landed. We just wanted to make sure that it was differentiated in some way, so it wasn’t like, “Oh, well, it’s like all those other games.”

In retrospect, it wouldn’t have been like any of them, but it felt like the right move at the time to just not do that. So we tried to do kind of the spirit of that with a different enough gameplay style that it would be unique. Now we get to go back and actually do the fighter stuff.

I actually originally prototyped the game as both, so you could switch back and forth between a capital ship vessel and the fighter at will. It kind of worked, but there were a lot of issues gameplay-wise with that. It got a little bit cumbersome, and it still meant that the game effectively had to be on kind of a space plane in order for the capital ship combat to still function. That feels exceedingly weird when you’re a fighter craft.

Then there’s all kinds of weird other gameplay issues. What if one ship blows up? Are you done? If you’re not done, how do you get it back?

Then it’s further compounded by other issues. If you want to play a character, who else is on the big ship? Do you have a crew? All of a sudden, the scale changes a lot, and it gets very difficult to manage and tell any kind of human-scale sort of story without so much cognitive dissonance that it all falls apart.

GS: You can actually get out of the ship as Juno and go play tavern games.

TB: Right. We don’t let you “drive around.” It’s scene to scene, but we try to have her be present in those scenes, so you have a sense of place without the tedium of having to walk down a bunch of hallways.

The aim with it was to make it as human as we possibly could. I think one of the things that a lot of these space games have that makes them off-putting to me — one of the reasons that I really still enjoy the original Privateer, clunky though it may be — is that they’re mostly austere and there’s not a lot of focus on character. I find that a little cold.

The aim, even with the previous game, where we also had a conversation system, was to give it as much personality and put as much humanity into it was we possibly could. That’s been a guiding light for every decision.

GS: If I remember correctly, the idea is that Juno’s husband got killed by her archenemy.

TB: She didn’t actually know who it was. She was tipped off; he was killed, someone pointed her in the direction of the person who supposedly did it, and she pulled herself out of retirement to go hunt him down. That’s basically where you start.

So she had previously had a more dubious lifestyle, settled down, and is now dragged back into it.

GS: She’s still pretty young in Outlaw if I remember the look of it correctly.

TB: She’s 43, I believe. Mid-forties.

GS: That’s a ballsy choice in video games in general.

TB: Having a middle-aged woman, who was married, is not a protagonist you see very often.

I don’t know, she felt like the character that we should do it with. And I love her voice actress, Lani Minella. I thought it would be awesome to have her basically carry the whole thing. Every other space combat game is the stubbly mid-30 lantern-jawed dude in a leather jacket. We just didn’t want to do that.

GS: I’m always impressed when a protagonist isn’t the young to middle-aged white guy as an audience identification character.

TB: Yeah. I just didn’t want to do that anymore. I don’t care.

What I wanted to do, and what I talked about when we first started, is that I wanted it to be like Han Solo for my daughters. Somebody who doesn’t have to be perfect and good, because so often, female protagonists feel like they have to be superhuman and perfect and good. I just wanted one who was a person who was good at some stuff, failed at others, wasn’t always perfect, wasn’t always nice, but was still relatable. Han Solo has that lovable roguish nature. He doesn’t always do the right thing. I wanted that kind of character who didn’t happen to be Harrison Ford, or a dude.

Juno shoots first. In the intro cinematic, she shoots first. [laughter]

GS: Who’s your writer?

TB: I’m afraid that’s me.

GS: Did you write the first one too?

TB: Afraid so. It was not great fiction. [laughter]

GS: You don’t have to apologize for that. Especially not in video games. I’ve seen a lot worse from people who should know better.

TB: More effort was put into the writing this time, and it was easier to write in a lot of ways because there was a protagonist. It’s annoying to write one-sided conversations that try and convey information, because they basically just become info dumps. You can’t have that back and forth of requesting and responding.

It’s also just easier if they’re characters because they have a voice. You’re a faceless nobody in the last game and the game was made in too little time, running down the clock on the bank account. I just tried to get it done. More effort was put into this one.

GS: It already feels like a big step forward from the first game, just in terms of the lived-in sorts of grungy environments.

TB: The last game was done seat-of-the-pants. Contract people to get some stuff done as fast as humanly possible. The characters didn’t even have legs, because we couldn’t afford the time to put them in or to have them modeled. All the characters that you see in the first game end at the belly button.

All the animation in the first game was me in front of a Kinect. I used the Kinect to do the head wiggles and hand gestures or whatever, then just cleaned it up and slapped it in there. We didn’t have an animator on the first game at all.

GS: I didn’t know you could do that with the Kinect.

TB: It’s not fantastic and it does require a little bit of cleanup, but it does work. There’s some software you can use where you stand there in a T-pose and it synchronizes you, and you can capture some rudimentary animation. You don’t get finger articulation and stuff like that, it’s effectively like mittens on the ends of your arms, and God help you if you want to spin in a circle, but it does work. [laughter]

GS: Is Outlaw going to be as procedurally generated as the first one?

TB: No, it’s all hand-built this time out. There’s a certain amount of procedural space-filling, but everybody shares the same seed.

The previous one was fully randomized. Everybody had different solar systems and planets and whatever. I regretted that after the fact. I thought it made everything feel purposeless, and the randomization didn’t contribute anything to replayability like it would in something like an action-RPG. It just made everything feel soupy. So we jettisoned that completely.

While we do use procedural stuff to fill in the intervening spaces, it’s kind of like how you would say in a game that, oh, there’s a forest here. Please procedurally place trees for me. You don’t have to hand-place every tree, I just want a forest over here. Because there’s so much space, that’s the only way to populate it that makes any sense.

But in Outlaw, this planet, say, will always be in this location, it will always have this bartender, it will always have this bar. These landmarks are where they are, and anyone playing the game can reference them to anyone else and they will always be in the same place.

GS: So, similar to how an open-world game will hit you with, say, a two-mile trip across the wilderness, and it’ll populate it with encounters and stuff for you to do along the way.

TB: Right. The random events can still happen, and traders and stuff still move around, but we didn’t hand-place every rock along the road.

GS: I like hearing you say that, because that was something I didn’t like about Rebel Galaxy. You could run into things like pirate ambushes that seemed way out of proportion to anything you were realistically equipped to handle.

TB: There are a lot of problems with procedural interception, and you can still run into stuff way outside of your league in this game, but the power curve is more compressed. The areas are more partitioned, because it’s not seven solar systems. It’s something like 39, so the difficulty is spread more widely outside of where you initially start.

There are a lot more tools that I built for keeping things out of the way when you need to do important story stuff. [chuckles] You can legitimately just say “Please leave me alone” on your radio in the early game, and mostly people will, because you’re a worthless target.

GS: I’d imagine it also helps that you’re in a fighter jet.

TB: And not a giant boat that’s getting hit from all sides? Yeah.

GS: Is there still as much of a focus on trade runs and things like that in Outlaw?

TB: Yeah, there’s still trading and mining. I think those things all read better because the economies were also hand-placed, so things are produced in meaningful locations that you can remember and notice.

There are also more tools built into the trading, so it says the last time you sold this, how much you sold it for, how much you bought it for, where you bought it, and locations where it’s commonly exported, so you can get more ideas of how to set up a trade run.

Also, there’s the fact that the game is just faster, and you can skip any intervening travel if you want to. It makes doing those sorts of things a little less tedious.

GS: I’m actually surprised by how much you’re iterating on Rebel Galaxy here, moreso than you usually see out of a sequel.

TB: There’s definitely a lot of taking ideas, throwing out what didn’t work, and improving and adding where we think it would’ve benefited. Some of it is just things we would have liked to have done before and simply didn’t have the time. We certainly applied every lesson we learned from the last game, everything from pacing and how equipment is handled and leveled, and how the world progresses.

Rebel Galaxy, I think, had a very saggy middle. A lot of that was that we were making this transition. Eric [Schaefer] and I have been making action-RPGs forever, and they’re very leveled games, right? There’s just this long power curve from one end to the other. There’s this constant bing-bing-bing of getting the next thing along the curve, with little spikes and valleys as you go.

Applying that to a space game, you have Level 1 lasers, Level 2 lasers… all of that honestly just feels tedious. The power curve just is not as important.

As a result of that, because of that power curve, we have this long period in the middle of Rebel Galaxy where you’re just trying to effectively “level up,” and it ends up being grindier than it should be.

The battles also have to scale to take that leveling into account, so they get denser and denser, and more and more time-consuming, to engage in over the course of the game. Instead of the pace accelerating, it slows.

One of the nice things about a fighter game is that the scale of your ship doesn’t change that much. You can keep those engagements, and the amount of time you have to spend in them, more constrained. As long as the moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable and interesting things are happening, it doesn’t matter. The leveling is not as important.

We certainly still have things where you spend more money and get better stuff, and we want you to have better stuff, but we want all that stuff to be more singular. You may get this gun, and it’s cool, but you don’t get it and then the Level 2 and 3 versions of it. It is what it is, and when you get it, it’s great. Maybe it has a different utility based on circumstance or whatever, but the mindset is very different.

GS: Your only real leveling currency is money.

TB: And your ship is effectively your character. But in this case, it’s not like I want to get the better ship. It’s that I want to get the ship that supports the way I want to play. It’s more like getting a character class.

GS: That makes sense.

TB: The weaponry certainly matters, but some of it is about maintenance. At the end of the day, though, it’s mostly just about having as many cool moments as we can pack into a battle. So with things like gear deterioration, if you get a gun damaged a lot over a period of time because you’re getting beat up a lot, eventually, you’ll have a moment in combat where you lose it.

It’s not because we really want you to be maintaining weapons and that it’s the gameplay that we want. The reason we do it is so you have that moment where you get into a hairy battle and you lose your left gun. You say, “Oh, my God,” and then you finish, and you succeed and limp back to base. That’s the story that you tell, that all my guns got blown off but one. I got this guy with the last torpedo in my launcher and I can’t turn left, but I managed to get home with cracked glass to get repaired. That’s the story that we want you to tell.

The gameplay decisions are mostly about trying to elicit those stories and not about introducing ways for you to grind, or spend your time, or consume your cash.

GS: Less downtime, more cool stuff.

TB: We want you to be doing cool things with downtime if you want it. Go play pool in your downtime. Don’t, you know, travel or grind for money. Go do something enjoyable that allows you to reengage your mind, or just enjoy listening to the song that you heard on the radio when you parked. I find myself doing that a lot.

GS: How long do you expect Outlaw will be?

TB: I think it’s probably going to be, depending on how you play, between 35 and 60 hours.

GS: That’s much longer than I was expecting.

TB: It’s longer than I was expecting, too. I figured it would probably be more like 20 to 25.

In general, though, it respects your time. You can save anywhere, you can exit at any time, you can pick up your missions; it’s never going to take long to get somewhere and go do the thing that you want to do. There’s not a lot of constant re-traversal.

GS: That was something that got me about the first game. The first 20 to 30 minutes of it was just kind of bouncing back and forth between the first city and outlying areas.

TB: Yup. Traveling.

So we jettisoned that pretty much completely. It takes seconds to get to whatever you’re doing. If you go out and you die, you’ve lost almost no time.

We did end up putting the option back in to stay in-world as you travel, because so many people asked for it. It’s a secondary option, so you kinda stay in-world, fly around, listen to music, and do your thing if that’s really what you want to do. Some people really want to be space truckers, so…

GS: So you’re getting ready to launch on PC first, and like the first one, it’ll be coming to console later, if at all.

TB: The builds actually already work for the consoles. We have PS4 and Switch builds, but it’s just a matter of me not being able to manage more than one launch at once. I’m the only engineer here, which means I’m the only deployment engineer, which means I deal with the certification, and the bugs, and post-release support, and everything.

And I’m too old. I can’t do three versions at once. So as soon as the PC version has shipped, and probably after the two weeks of running around on fire afterwards have elapsed, then I’ll start trying to shift my focus back over to wrapping up the PS4 and Switch versions and getting them through their certification.

I’ve been through the process with Sony for the PS4, but I’ve never been through it with Nintendo. It’s about what boxes do I have to check, and who do I have to talk to, and how do I get it scheduled for certification, and all those little boring things that have to happen.

GS: Why not the Xbox this time around?

TB: Mostly it was just a matter of not wanting to do more than two console platforms again because it’s just me, and we really wanted to do a handheld version. Based on the experience we had with the last two console versions, the PS4 performed better and was honestly easier to develop for. It was just a matter of what is least painful for me, and also what gets us a Switch build. It’s conceivable that we may do an Xbox One build, but it would be if I could pay someone else to do it for me.

Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw is currently planned to launch August 12 on PC as a 12-month timed exclusive in the Epic Games Store.

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Super Mega Baseball 2 Ultimate Edition Review: The All-Star Game https://www.gameskinny.com/75ikt/super-mega-baseball-2-ultimate-edition-review-the-all-star-game https://www.gameskinny.com/75ikt/super-mega-baseball-2-ultimate-edition-review-the-all-star-game Mon, 22 Jul 2019 10:51:39 -0400 Mark Delaney

While the MLB's popularity has waned in recent years, losing ground to the NFL and NBA among stateside sports fans, there's still an intense desire for baseball video games. It doesn't help that there are so few baseball games coming to the various platforms.

If you're determined to only play with licensed pro teams quickly and easily, you'll have to try PlayStation's annual The Show. However, if you don't mind a game with studio-invented teams and a deep customization suite for more determined creators, you won't find a better mix of arcade and simulation baseball than Super Mega Baseball 2: Ultimate Edition.

There's a chance you've already played Super Mega Baseball 2. It originally launched in May 2018, though after a year of DLC and the welcome landing spot the Switch has become for indies, the game has been repackaged as an Ultimate Edition complete with all the DLC on a new platform. This review was conducted with the Switch version, and it was glorious.

While Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey are the system sellers for many people playing on Switch, for baseball fans, SMB2 is the killer app that is worth a Switch purchase all on its own. From top to bottom, the game is precisely what baseball fans would want, and to have that all on the go or docked is a supremely addictive fit.

In terms of modes and menus, SMB2 has most everything you'd want. You can play solo, in local play, or online. You can do so in pick-up games, season mode, and custom leagues. In these modes, everything from division and conference names and sizes to team names, jerseys, and fully customized logos is up to you. Names, looks, and even the eye-black and tattoos of every single player are customizable. 

It does lack a derby mode, but competitive online play is integrated in several ways, like front and center leaderboards, that help round out the modes on offer. The options to make a league your own whether playing alone or with friends is stunning for an indie game like this. Heck, it would be impressive even as an annual big-budget sim.

Without MLB licensing, you'll not have the chance to drop in and play as the Red Sox, Cubs, or the league's 28 other teams, but for the most patient and dedicated, the customization suite is so absurdly deep that you can certainly make those teams from scratch. Many players already play the game this way. The DLC that comes with this all-inclusive version amounts to new logos and stadiums, taking the game's customization options that much farther.

On the diamond, the game's wide-ranging difficulty options mean virtually anyone will find the right resistance from AI opponents. Dubbed "Ego," this system allows players to tweak the skill level of their opponents from 1-100, offering incredible nuance. If the game is getting too tough or too easy, you can simply adjust the Ego accordingly and try out the new level until you find the right fit.

As you improve, your opponents can come with you, or you can keep them as pushovers and turn a season into a one-sided home run derby. In many of its most important areas, SMB2 is defined by its player agency. 

There's also the dynamic mojo stat which measures a player's mental toughness. Players on hitting streaks will have higher mojo, while those hitting in the low .200s may be ice cold at the plate until a lucky swing turns it around. Pressure is also measured and works in tandem with mojo to deliver heroes and zeroes to every game. Step up in the bottom of the ninth with a high mojo player, and they may as well be David Ortiz.

All this agency wouldn't mean much without strong core mechanics, but again the game dazzles here, too. Pitching and hitting are very active systems, where you have to chase the spot of the ball whether you're at the plate or the diamond. Pitching feels phenomenal: you can really fake out opposing batters with intimidating control of the strike zone, while batters have to weigh contact versus power versus bunting. Complete control is also given to every baserunner individually or collectively, and each player is even given their own walk-up animations and songs. And yes, even these are customizable. 

Nearly every strategy you'd expect to see in the most expensive AAA baseball games are here, too, which rewards smart players with challenging situations meant to bring out the coaches in them. How to play the base paths, adjust your fielders, and creatively use substitutions are key to winning on the highest Ego settings for the most thoughtful baseball minds. 

The one area in which Super Mega Baseball 2 has not gone leaps and bounds beyond its predecessor and, for the matter, genre counterparts, is fielding fly balls. This system is largely automated, leaving you feeling like you've lost control of your vehicle in intermittent moments despite the awesome autonomy everywhere else. Whereas hitting, pitching, baserunning, and fielding with the ball in your glove cal all be as tough as you like them to be, with fly balls even at the highest settings, SMB2 holds your hand for seemingly technical but ultimately unexplained reasons. 

Screenshots of the game cloak all of this deep customization and true to form baseball IQ in a cartoonish and fun aesthetic. Player models got a bit more realistic compared to the original game which featured ridiculous proportions, but they still look something more like Jimmy Neutron characters than real humans, and that's fine. Metalhead Software surely couldn't attain photorealism, so they smartly made this style work for them instead, turning a neutral or negative element of the game into a positive. 

Pros
  • Impressive customization options
  • Great on-the-field play with wide-ranging difficulty options
  • Many modes and ways to play with friends locally, online, or alone
  • Creative mojo and pressure systems interact to alter athlete behaviors in fun ways
  • Fun, lighthearted visuals bring the world to cartoonish life
Cons
  • Fielding fly balls is curiously semi-automated, which stands out as the one area where players lose control

Super Mega Baseball 2: Ultimate Edition is the definitive killer app for sports game fans playing on Switch. More so, if you haven't played it on other platforms, it remains an excellent option there, too, even if you have access to PS4's The Show.

What's lost in MLB licensing is recovered tenfold in deep customization across the board, intuitive play on the field that rewards a high baseball IQ, and a lighthearted aesthetic which belies the game's as-serious-as-you-want-it design. Admitting it's an overused cliche, it also feels unavoidable; Super Mega Baseball 2 is a grand slam.

[Note: A copy of Super Mega Baseball 2 was provided by Metalhead Software for the purpose of this review.]

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Night Call Review: Stories That Last Everlong https://www.gameskinny.com/djvjc/night-call-review-stories-that-last-everlong https://www.gameskinny.com/djvjc/night-call-review-stories-that-last-everlong Mon, 22 Jul 2019 13:59:52 -0400 diegoarguello

It's a cold night in Paris, but there's no other option than to get up and start the next work shift. The clock starts ticking. You look for passengers. Lights go by, and you hear a party on the first floor of a nearby building. Quickly, work begins and the time goes by.

Thing is, you still can't shake the fear down running your spine, the fear left from the attack. The killer is lurking out there... Somewhere...

Night Call, developed by Monkey Moon and Black Muffin and published by Raw Fury, tells the story of a cab driver who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After being seriously wounded by a serial killer, he wakes up from a coma two weeks later. Time passes, and he eventually returns to work, even if his boss is still unsure about the whole idea. Flashbacks haunt him, but he's tired of resting and knows he's capable of getting back to work.

However, the police haven't forgotten about the night that easily, and now, they're using his past to try and crack the case. Before he knows it, he's working on a police investigation  and time is running out.

The main objective in Night Call is to gather clues on a number of suspects, either by reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, or visiting locations of interest in Paris, where the game is set. However, clues can also show up during conversations with passengers, something that will crop up often.

A shift in Night Call often goes like this: You get out of bed, recall if you had a bad night on the streets or had a strange dream, and then start your shift driving a cab.

When working, two indicators on the right corner of the screen show the time and the status of your fuel tank as well as your money. The entirety of Paris is displayed on the game's map, and pointers indicate when potential passengers are nearby.

The map is reminiscent of Google Maps, exchanging the blue lines and neutral color palettes with gray, black, and yellow. Whenever you reach a pick-up destination, the game will let you know where the drop-off is and what the estimated fare is. If you accept the job, the ride happens automatically, leaving you to immerse yourself in the moment and let the passengers do the talking.

Conversations are rather straightforward if you've played RPGs and visual novels before. You can either pass through each dialogue section manually or enable an auto mode (which goes a bit faster than I'd prefer).

Every now and then, you'll be able to choose between a couple of possible answers. Some have a small symbol next to them that indicates what the possible outcomes might be, either if it's taking the piss of someone or just showing compassion.

The game shines in these moments. Half of the screen shows the map, but the other gives a general perspective of the cab's interior. Your passengers are on the left, sitting in the backseat, and the main character sits on the right. Some stories unfold with care, and you'll need to choose the right responses to see it through. Others happen naturally. 

During my first trip, two women got in the cab, and they started talking about what they thought of a man they had just met at the bar. After a few minutes, they ask the driver what he thinks. Finally, they reveal the encounter wasn't a regular date, but rather one in which they judged a possible sperm donor.

Following the ride, I stumbled across them a few days later. There had been a couple of other candidates, but they were still unsure who they should choose. Eventually, they come to a conclusion: the driver should be the donor. Although they think he's been kind and honest to them from the get-go, the choice ultimately relies on you. 

There are a lot of these situations in Night Call. Exchanging stories with a priest. Helping a cat to get to a train station. And even dealing with the presence of paranormal beings. Each dialogue option and each conversation immediately hooks you in. Things are made more gripping by both the soothing soundtrack and the atmosphere.

It's easy to get lost in these twisting tales, but the detective aspects of Night Call aren't as memorable. At the end of each day, you return home and look at the gathered evidence, as long as there's enough time. You see all of the clues on a board, along with a few pointers for the ones that carry a link to one or more possible suspects. You are, after all, looking for a killer. 

There are some insights to learn and discover throughout the story, which I won't spoil, but overall, I wasn't as invested in this part of the game as with the passengers themselves. The killer's identity becomes a central focus, but what I enjoyed the most was the off-topic chats with unknown people who stuck with me long after I had stepped away from the game.

Pros:
  • Stories that linger long after the game is over
  • Mature and compelling writing
  • Soothing atmosphere
Cons:
  • At times, the detective aspect feels unnecessary 

Night Call's stories are indelible, lingering in the mind long after you've turned off the computer. With mature storylines, the conversations here are some you won't find in many other games nowadays. 

At times I felt uncomfortable whenever a passenger would ask the driver a very personal question or touch on a subject not often brought up in casual conversation, but that feeling is probably evidence of how taboo interactions can sometimes feel.

Every passenger has their own tale, and I loved hearing each and every one of them. Even with only a couple of dialogue lines and short additional scenes, it's really easy to get lost in the driver's perspective.

Descriptions and small gestures are enough to create a tangible experience, and I'm sure that I'll be returning to the game soon, not to uncover a murderer's identity, but just to sit in the cab and talk to the next passenger that needs a ride. 

[Note: A copy of Night Call for PC was provided by Raw Fury for the purpose of this review.]

]]>
GameSkinny Weekend Download: Gears 5 Bans Smoking, Nintendo Recharges, and Gamestop Goes Retro to Stay Alive https://www.gameskinny.com/2a291/gameskinny-weekend-download-gears-5-bans-smoking-nintendo-recharges-and-gamestop-goes-retro-to-stay-alive https://www.gameskinny.com/2a291/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? 

News

Reviews

Culture

Guides

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

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GTA Online's Diamond Casino and Resort Opens Soon With Lots of New Content https://www.gameskinny.com/aqugt/gta-onlines-diamond-casino-and-resort-opens-soon-with-lots-of-new-content https://www.gameskinny.com/aqugt/gta-onlines-diamond-casino-and-resort-opens-soon-with-lots-of-new-content Fri, 19 Jul 2019 10:54:12 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

GTA Online has been rather quiet of late, though that's about to change on July 26. The Diamond Grand Casino and Resort hosts its grand opening on that day, bringing with it plenty of nightlife content to spice life up.

Situated on Vinewood Park Drive and Mirror Park Boulevard, the Diamond belongs to Tao Cheng and the Diamond family and offers high-end entertainment and experiences. Players own a luxury penthouse at the top of the resort, giving them an investment in the family and making sure the Diamond's operations run smoothly.

It's a casino, so naturally, that means the usual casino fare is on offer: slot machines, roulette, Three Card Poker, Blackjack, and a Lucky Wheel. There's a Casino Store as well, offering clothing and accessories for those who can afford it.

Should players grow bored of these activities, they can always retreat to the luxury penthouse. It's completely customizable, with different floorplans available, special spas, an in-home bar, and a media room, among other things. Whether the color palette needs changing or there's a lonely corner in need of an abstract piece of art, the Penthouse exists for the player to mold it.

It's designed for hosting wild parties, but it also grants access to a range of VIP services, like High-Limit Tables and the VIP Lounge, along with limo services and even a private aircraft.

However, that's not all The Diamond has to offer. The family is under siege from Texan incomers looking to stake their claim in the business and will lay out a series of co-op missions for players to complete. Clearing one the first time grants a special Award, while finishing the entire story will earn the player a free vehicle.

Fortunately, all this information comes from an official update, so there's no worry about it being a series of leaks — unlike that other news from the not-so-distant past.

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15 Best New Mods for Minecraft 1.14 Java Edition https://www.gameskinny.com/44eqj/15-best-new-mods-for-minecraft-114-java-edition https://www.gameskinny.com/44eqj/15-best-new-mods-for-minecraft-114-java-edition Fri, 19 Jul 2019 11:41:56 -0400 Sergey_3847

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/5/6/1560625954-0589f.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/5/6/1560625954-0589f.png","type":"slide","id":"200064","description":"

Mctricity Mod

\n

Mctricity is a weirdly named electricity mod for Minecraft that includes jetpacks and wind turbines. You can craft a wind turbine on your plot of land and charge your jetpack.

\n

Besides that you can also build rockets and coal generator, which can produce even more electricity if that's what your gameplan requires.

\n

This is obviously one peculiar mod, but if you like to play with unusual concepts, then go ahead and install it.

\n

Download Mod here.

\n

---

\n

For more Minecraft mods, check out the list below:

\n"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1560439095-b69f1.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1560439095-b69f1.png","type":"slide","id":"200063","description":"

Car Datapack Mod

\n

Driving in a car is now totally possible in Minecraft. The creators of the mod even made sure that it needs fuel for it to be able to move. Fortunately, you do get a new fuel item in your inventory with this mod.

\n

There are currently only three types of cars in this mod, but you can dye them using various colors. However, be careful when driving, the car can be damaged, and in certain cases it can become irreparable.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1558568761-0c0dd.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1558568761-0c0dd.png","type":"slide","id":"200062","description":"

Super Mario Galaxy Maker Mod

\n

Now Minecraft has all the features of the Super Mario Galaxy game. First of all, you get to see new mobs, such as goombas, koopas, and of course, Bowsers.

\n

Secondly, you get to play with checkpoints, power-ups, and even the world hub. But most of all, you will be surrounded by all the familiar blocks from the Super Mario Galaxy game and trademark environmental sounds.

\n

If you're a fan of both Minecraft and Super Mario, then this mod is made for you.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1562605255-950e0.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1562605255-950e0.png","type":"slide","id":"200061","description":"

Lots More Food Mod

\n

Nobody can survive without food, and with the help of this mod you can eat and drink over 50 new kinds of foods and beverages.

\n

Besides the food items you also get three new crafting benches that can produce tables for cold, hot, and even alcohol drinks.

\n

This would be an excellent addition to any party in a multiplayer format, where you can share all these foods with your buddies online.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/h/b/mhb-114-1560825387-2b7ee.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/h/b/mhb-114-1560825387-2b7ee.png","type":"slide","id":"200060","description":"

Mob Health Bar Mod

\n

This simple mod is incredibly useful not only for efficient attacking on mobs, but also to identify mobs in darkness. It gives every mod near you a glowing aura and a very convenient red health bar.

\n

Now you can know for sure how much damage you've dealt to such hard-to-kill mobs like Vindicators and Illagers, which can give you a better idea on the efficiency of your weapons and fighting techniques.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1562144743-64761.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1562144743-64761.png","type":"slide","id":"200059","description":"

Swords Plus Mod

\n

Custom crafting special swords is always exciting. This swords mod offers 12 new types of swords with their own distinct features.

\n

For example, one of the most interesting swords in this mod is the TNT sword, which detonates every time you hit something with it adding to the total damage.

\n

Also, you have Magma, Glass, and even prismarine sword that allows you to breathe underwater.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2013-1554675889-cf522.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2013-1554675889-cf522.png","type":"slide","id":"200058","description":"

nEconomy Plus Mod

\n

Full fledged trading in Minecraft? Yes, it's very much possible with the help of the new economy mod that allows players to create entire shops and trade items to other players online.

\n

But this is not a simple mod, since it functions on a really high level providing such operations like:

\n
    \n
  • Stocking Buy Shop Items
  • \n
  • Withdrawing Money Gained from Buy Shop
  • \n
  • Depositing Money into a Sell Shop
  • \n
  • Transferring Money with Vouchers
  • \n
  • Adjusting Playtime Rewards
  • \n
  • Creating Admin Shops
  • \n
  • and much more...
  • \n
\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/3/4/2348311111-1557346097-76a08.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/3/4/2348311111-1557346097-76a08.jpg","type":"slide","id":"200057","description":"

Survival Plus Mod

\n

Here is an interesting mod that offers players to completely rehash an entire survival gameplan by adding a whole list of new features, such as an ability to reset tools at the anvil, smelting sugarcane into bamboo, crafting leather from bamboo, changing weather, and many others.

\n

This mod doesn't offer anything revolutionary, but it will definitely make things fresh for you, if you're tired of the same old rules applied.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/h/u/thumbnail-1556548507-b7ba3.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/h/u/thumbnail-1556548507-b7ba3.png","type":"slide","id":"200056","description":"

Illager Fortresses Mod

\n

If you were looking for a way to make your survival game even more difficult than it is, then consider checking out this mod that replaces all igloos in snow biomes with massive Illager fortresses.

\n

The Illager mobs are so strong that you shouldn't even consider taking over such a fortress, if you don't have a diamond armor. But if this kind of challenge is up your alley, then be sure to check it out.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/m/a/image-1533859908-e2b41.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/m/a/image-1533859908-e2b41.png","type":"slide","id":"200055","description":"

Rotten Flesh to Leather Mod

\n

Are you tired of finding useless rotten flesh in treasure chests? What if you could turn it into something really valuable?

\n

This little mod here can turn your rotten flesh into leather by the process of simple smelting. It's really easy and you can generate a ton of new leather this way.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1548867175-8c238.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/2019-1548867175-8c238.png","type":"slide","id":"200054","description":"

Vein Mining Mod

\n

Here's another huge time saver for any survival enthusiast. With the help of this mod you can simply throw an entire vein of lapis lazuli, diamond, or any other resource in the game on your enchantment table and break down the entire vein in a single mouse click.

\n

This mod also allows you to use Silk Touch and Fortune enchantments for even more profit, but as usual with these types of mods you don't earn any XP.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/p/capture-cran-689-1540601799-15e1c.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/p/capture-cran-689-1540601799-15e1c.png","type":"slide","id":"200053","description":"

Better Furnace Mod

\n

This mod offers something extraordinary. You will gain access to a set of four furnaces: iron, golden, diamond, and extreme. Each of them can cook faster than the other depending on what type of resource you're working with.

\n

Since this is technically a cheat, you won't get any XP points while cooking in this super furnace. But if time is more important to you than experience, then this is definitely a very useful mod.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/v/i/l/villager-ship-1555933746-36762.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/v/i/l/villager-ship-1555933746-36762.png","type":"slide","id":"200052","description":"

Villager Ships Mod

\n

Shipwrecks have been a part of Minecraft for quite some time already. But have you ever thought of encountering a real functioning ship in the ocean biome? If the answer is yes, then you will love this new mod for Minecraft 1.14.

\n

It spawns villager ships that sail in the ocean biomes and carry different types of mobs. Some of them are friendly, while others can be hostile. You never know!

\n

If you want to quickly find such a ship, then look out for ocean ruins, as that's where they usually spawn.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/y/2/0/y2019-1551738353-49a3b.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/y/2/0/y2019-1551738353-49a3b.png","type":"slide","id":"200051","description":"

Tables and Chairs Mod

\n

This mod not only includes seven new recipes for chairs and tables of different styles and colors, but also a special hammer tool that allows you to change the shape of the furniture. For example, one of the chair types can become a king's throne, if you're planning on building a castle.

\n

On top of that, you can apply any type of wool on your new chairs and tables in order to make them look more natural inside your buildings.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/i/m/timber4-1563217824-4bd1a.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/i/m/timber4-1563217824-4bd1a.png","type":"slide","id":"200050","description":"

Timber Datapack Mod

\n

Efficient survival game in Minecraft relies solely on quick gathering of resources. Since timber is one of the most important resources in the game, it would be wise to install this mod, which will let you chop any types of trees with any kind of axe in just one simple stroke.

\n

This little datapack also lets you adjust the settings of the chopping mechanic, so you can save up even more time if needed be.

\n

Download Mod here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/0/0/1/001-08fbc.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/0/0/1/001-08fbc.jpg","type":"slide","id":"200065","description":"

Minecraft 1.14 has been a very successful update for many reasons, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. That's why the modding community managed to create so many excellent new mods for the Village and Pillage update.

\n

This list of the best mods for Minecraft 1.14 includes a varitey of mods for all intents and purposes. You can add or change different elements to your game starting from simple furniture and ending with an entire powerplant. In this regard, imagination is your only limit.

\n

If you've been looking to make your survival or multiplayer games more colorful, then be sure to check every single mod right here.

"}]]]>
The Surge 2 Hands-On Preview: More Cyber Souls https://www.gameskinny.com/vma73/the-surge-2-hands-on-preview-more-cyber-souls https://www.gameskinny.com/vma73/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.

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How to Get Night Soil in Dragon Quest Builders 2 https://www.gameskinny.com/0bi0h/how-to-get-night-soil-in-dragon-quest-builders-2 https://www.gameskinny.com/0bi0h/how-to-get-night-soil-in-dragon-quest-builders-2 Fri, 19 Jul 2019 10:54:01 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Night Soil is an important crafting material in Dragon Quest Builders 2. You'll need it to create Worm Food and Woody Goody.

As it goes, you'll need worm food and woody goody to complete two Tablet Targets, growing more meadows and growing more forest. In turn, completing those will award you with two Mini Medals

You'll also need the ingredient to create fertilizer, which will make your crops grow much faster than normal. However, Night Soil isn't just lying about. Like with anything in the game, you'll have to search for it. 

Luckily, we know exactly where to find it. 

Get Night Soil from Corpses

As you travel about the world, you'll come across corpses — or what are essentially zombies. You first encounter these on Furrowfield at the Ruined Church. Afterward, you'll find them on almost every island, including your primary island, The Isle of Awakening.

Kill one, and you'll get 1 Night Soil for your efforts. 

Zombies will sometimes perform a dance, and a purple aura will surround them. Don't' attack them when they do this, because they are summoning another corpse. This will give you the chance to double your rewards. 

Get It From Bathrooms/Toilets

Yes, you read that right. You can get Night Soil from toilets.

All you have to do is build one, wait for the villagers to use it, and voila: you've got a useful piece of crafting material.

Depending on how long you wait, you'll get a different amount of Night Soil from rummaging around in a toilet. For example, I pulled more than 40 Night Soil from a toilet in Furrowfield, waited 15 in-game minutes and pulled out another five. 

Your best bet is to build a toilet in each region of The Isle of Awakening, and then on each of the three islands you visit in the game.

On average, you will get more from the toilets on the three islands than from the three regions on The Isle of Awakening. That's because there are more villagers on those islands. 

Get It From Picking Up Animal Dung

Lastly, you can get Night Soil by picking it up off the ground in the form of animal dung. 

Go to Furrowfield Bog, and then travel to the location shown above. You can fast travel to the Orc's Tomato Farm, then travel southeast to the cliffs. 

Look on the ground for small brown balls. Note that it's very difficult to find animal dung. After 60 hours of playing and an additional 30 minutes of specifically searching for animal dung, I finally found some. 

Truth be told, this is the most inefficient way of getting Night Soil. I wouldn't recommend using this method at all. It's much, much faster to get the crafting ingredient via the first two methods outlined above. 

How to Make Worm Food

  • x1 Grass Seed
  • x2 Night Soil

How to Make Woody Goody

  • x1 Acorn
  • x1 Grass Seed
  • x2 Night Soil

How to Make Fertilizer

  • x10 Wheat 
  • x2 Night Soil

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That's all you need to know about how to find and get Night Soil in Dragon Quest Builders 2. Be sure to head over to our DQB2 guides hub for more tips and walkthroughs, such as: 

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New Pokemon Masters Trailer Offers Glimpse at 3-on-3 Battles, Sync Moves https://www.gameskinny.com/6cgrq/new-pokemon-masters-trailer-offers-glimpse-at-3-on-3-battles-sync-moves https://www.gameskinny.com/6cgrq/new-pokemon-masters-trailer-offers-glimpse-at-3-on-3-battles-sync-moves Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:15:31 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

DeNA and The Pokemon Company released a new trailer for Pokemon Masters recently, outlining some of the features players can expect when the game launches on mobile devices sometime this summer.

First up is more information about Sync Pairings. Trainers will team up with various famous figures from Pokemon's storied past, like Claire and Kingdra from Johto or Iris and Haxorus from Unova, along with plenty of others.

We've known for a while now the game will feature 3-on-3 combat, but the new trailer finally gives a good look at what that'll be like.

Players team up with two other Sync Pairs or friends via global co-op and take on AI-controlled opponents. These 3-on-3 matches aren't like Rotation Battles from Gen V or even the staple double battles. Attacks like Razor Lead that normally affect more than one opponent seem to be restricted to targeting just one in Pokemon Masters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The real centerpiece of combat is the powerful Sync Move players can unleash with their partner Pokemon, moves that are essentially like slightly altered Z-Moves.

Players can unlock their partner Pokemon's levels and teach them new moves as they progress through the game. Additionally, with Sygna Suits, some Sync Pairs can even change to include new Pokemon. For instance, Brock's Sygna Suit changes his partner to Tyranitar instead of Onix.

The goal of all this battling is similar to almost every other Pokemon game: defeat powerful trainers, earn Badges, and become the Champion of the Pasio Masters League.

It doesn't seem like Masters will offer new Gym Leaders. However, according to Serebii, there is a new professor, Professor Bellis, who researches Sync Stones, along with Pasio's Prince Lear who set up the Masters League, and his assistants Rachael and Sawyer. What role these all play in the game still isn't known, though.

Another unknown factor is how players will go about forming Sync Pairs. There's some suggestion in a batch of new screenshots that other trainers are assigned ranks via stars, which could mean Pokemon Masters will take a Fire Emblem Heroes approach to acquiring new Sync Pairs — in other words, that Masters will be another gachapon-style game.

As of yet, Pokemon Masters is still without a firm release date, but expect more information to come along before summer's end.

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Why the Expansion Pass Model is Made for Fire Emblem https://www.gameskinny.com/bs1ac/why-the-expansion-pass-model-is-made-for-fire-emblem https://www.gameskinny.com/bs1ac/why-the-expansion-pass-model-is-made-for-fire-emblem Mon, 22 Jul 2019 13:49:12 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Expansion Passes, aka Season Passes, have a bad reputation in some corners of the industry. They tend to consist of downloadable content that one would assume would be included in the game, like a set of items or an extra location to explore. Some toss in some highly desirable content alongside swathes of meh-ranked costumes or piddly add-ons, while still others lock important plot content or items behind the expansion pass paywall.

Nintendo started including expansion passes in the Switch era, beginning with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and soon again with Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

The two earlier expansion pass efforts fell into the "less than spectacular" category in many ways. Some aspects made up for in-game flaws, others promised a lot and didn't deliver, and BotW stole the Master Sword from us.

Fire Emblem, however, is almost designed for an expansion pass, with its reliance on deep, strategic stages, character development, and huge worlds we never get to see enough of. With the upcoming Fire Emblem: Three Houses' expansion pass being a first for the series, we take a look at how the concept complements the franchise's structure so well.

The Not-So Expansive Expansion Model

Nintendo was late to the expansion pass party, the one area many fans were pleased to see the Big N lagging behind in. But that all changed with Breath of the Wild.

DLC and expansion passes are supposed to, well, expand on a game's world somehow — through new missions, new locations, new items, or a combination of that and more. It goes double for open-world games like BotW, where a healthy expansion can go a long way in keeping players in the game world.

The expansions we got for Breath of the Wild did indeed add to the world with some challenging new missions, new Shrines, some new gear, and a bit more backstory. But it wasn't all that exciting.

Then there was the issue with presentation.

A good expansion pass is going to give you something you couldn't get otherwise, something special or highly desirable. It doesn't — well, it shouldn't — steal something hitherto integral to a franchise, imprison it behind a paywall, and then expect you to be happy about ransoming it back.

It probably shouldn't take your clothes either.

Unfortunately that's exactly what Breath of the Wild does with both the Master Sword and your rags. The Deku Tree conveniently keeps the Trial of the Sword, the only thing that can restore the Master Sword to its proper splendor, back from Link until you cross its palm (?) with real-world silver.

Granted, the Trial is an exceptionally well-designed challenge run, where having no clothes forces you to think strategically. It's the ultimate proving ground for the skills learned and employed in post-apocalyptic Hyrule.

That's exactly why it should have been part of the game itself, not bonus content: it's too closely tied to the game itself to function well as an expansion.

Then there's the Champions' Ballad. BotW is a curious one when it comes to plot. It probably has the biggest emphasis on story in any Zelda game, but 95% of it is entirely skippable. Those who do choose to engage in its plot find doomed, dead, but likeable characters in the Champions, and then you get to learn a bit more about them in the second DLC wave.

Only a bit, though. The main focus is the bone-crushingly difficult challenges associated with each Champion, leaving the plot bits seeming just a little like there could be more — a prequel, maybe, or a special episode for each Champion.

All these issues likely stem from Breath of the Wild's tortured development cycle. A game whose life was fraught with delays and challenges like BotW is bound to have cut content, content the dev team really wants to include somehow in the main game.

That's certainly how Breath of the Wild's expansion pass comes across. It's not bad, but it wasn't the smoothest entry into DLC the series could have had. Moreover, a game like that needs a much meatier expansion to make it worthwhile. This is why they're making a sequel to the game, as they wanted to make use of all the ideas they had for the original without resorting to piles of DLC.

Strategy Games Do It Better

Where Zelda scrambled onto the DLC wagon rather late, Fire Emblem has a history of adding new maps and quests via DLC. Starting with Awakening in the West, the series routinely added new maps or sets of quests wrapped around mini-side stories.

These kinds of additions are perfect for strategy/tactics games like Fire Emblem. By nature, the main games are very straightforward, with no deviating from the main path allowed.

Unlike open-world games or traditional RPGs, strategy games don't get much time to explore these relationships and other stories. Paralogues and support conversations have to be focused if they want to keep the player's attention, and with the level of depth added to (most) of FE's characters, there's always more than can be explored or explained or more ideas to cram into a map.

It's true the base game has lots of replay value, especially with the huge character rosters to choose from, but there's nothing like having fresh content to wrap your mind around. Some of the maps are duds, but others demonstrate more focused design and require greater strategy than the main games,

Strategy games live or die by the strength and diversity of their maps. Where BotW introduced a handful of new Shrines alongside its new content, any new quest content Fire Emblem introduces has to be centered on at least one new map that's going to take longer than the mini-mini-dungeons that the Shrines are.

It helps, too, that most Fire Emblem games have 30 maps at most, where BotW burns you out with more than 100 Shrines before asking you to get excited about extra, paid Shrines.

Fire Emblem's DLC maps help flesh out characters as well or let you interact with them in different (albeit usually fanservice-y) ways.

Fates's DLC packs built on the story and character interactions Fates rather bizarrely neglected, and Echoes followed this trend. Its DLC focused on specific character stories and relationships, while examining important bits of story background we didn't get much of in the main game.

You see the trend? When extra content in Fire Emblem intends to give you more of a certain character or more background about the world, it doesn't tease you with tidbits and move on.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses will likely do something similar, especially with the much greater emphasis on plot and characters.

Gacha-Blade Chronicles?

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was positioned in a more strategic way to make better use of an expansion pass. The series is still fairly young, assuming you count Xenoblade as something separate from Xenogears and Xenosaga, so there's less baggage associated with introducing extra, paid content. It was also a massive game to begin with, stuffed to the seams with a plethora of things to do.

The expansion pass promised to add even more to that — more quests, more items, more Blades, and eventually, further expansion on the plot. That new plot material was meant to be part of the original story, though Monolith chose not to include it. They went back and were flesh the game's story out even further. In other words, this is exactly what consumers expect from expansion passes.

What could be wrong with that?

In theory, not much. In practice, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a bit more ambitious than perhaps it should have been in a few areas. Aside from what would become Torna: The Golden Country, the additional Blades and Core Crystals were the expansion pass's most appealing aspects by far, along with materials for upgrading Poppi.

That's because those two areas ended up being some of XC2's more frustrating aspects, depending on the player. Blades are obtained via a gacha system, using Core Crystals of varying rarities that produce results corresponding with said rarity. Legendary Crystals are almost bound to produce a Rare Blade, Common ones might but probably won't, and so on.

The excitement and mystery of what might be inside a given Crystal fades a bit when you realize how prone finding Rare ones are to luck and timing, to say nothing of Legendary Crystals.

It turns to annoyance when you keep drawing Common Blades, not because you can't use them effectively in battle or send them on side missions. No, you can beat the game with a team of Common Blades.

It's annoying because half the best missions and characterization are wrapped up in Rare Blades. There's a complex algorithm that means you're eventually going to get a few Rare Blades, but not that many

The Poppi problem is rooted in something that should be fun: playing a retro-styled Salvager game called "Tiger Tiger", where you avoid sea creatures and bring up treasure. Winning with a high score earns points you put towards buying Poppi parts.

Only, upgrading Poppi so she's on the level of your other Blades would mean spending several hours playing the minigame, which ends up not being fun. At all.

The expansion pass offered a fresh load of Rare and Legendary Core Crystals each time it updated, special food items to take the guesswork out of which character liked what, loads of Poppi points, and some special Rare Blades so everyone could join in the fun.

That's good. But ideally, an expansion pass shouldn't exist to correct oversights or try and ease frustration over systems that work best on paper.

Leveling the Playing Field

We don't know specifics about what the Three Houses expansion will offer, but it's supposed to provide new outfits, helpful in-game items, new maps and quests, and eventually, new characters and story content.

It seems like standard expansion pass fare, but each thing on offer is perfectly suited for Fire Emblem — well, except maybe new outfits. Unlike BotW, those are purely cosmetic.

In-game items probably refers to things like the Seraph Robe or Mage's Ring, items that enhance a unit's stats somehow.

Earlier Fire Emblem games, even ones like Awakening that are deemed more accessible, are notoriously stingy with these items. Those skilled enough to amass a small in-game fortune could buy them at certain shops, but the rest of us poor souls would have to choose which characters deserve the boost.

Some might call granting extra items like this a cop-out, a sort of pay-to-win mechanic in single player games. If it ends up being these items, though, it's actually a smart way to emphasize the game's and series' key point: characters.

Every Fire Emblem game has at least one character you really want to use, but can't because they suck so bad or get outshone by a better example, i.e., Innes instead of Neimi, Jaffar instead of Matthew, anyone instead of Rinkah.

Even before the Fire Emblem Awakening controversy, Fire Emblem games were all about picking your favorite units and developing them to their fullest potential. These extra items would let you do just that.

It's a much more focused and useful example of in-game items in an expansion pass too. Outside of Xenoblade Chronicles 2's Core Crystals, the other items weren't really essential. Sure, some food items were rare, but you have access to so many different foods that it's easy to find something that raises Affinity between Driver and Blade.

Old New Worlds

There was Torna, though. Despite irking some with its heavy quest reliance, it offers massive insight into the main game's plot and important characters while managing to stand alone as a quality game in itself.

Equally as important, Torna played with the game's battle system. Changes in how Drivers and Blades worked together mesh perfectly with the story content, but they also give players who spent hundreds of hours in the main game a reason to sink even more time into the prequel expansion.

That's good expansion pass material.

That's what Fire Emblem: Three Houses will probably do, and it's about time.

Fire Emblem rarely does sequels. There are connected stories, like Thracia 776 and Genealogy of the Holy War, then Binding Blade got a prequel in the West's first Fire Emblem game, and Path of Radiance wouldn't be complete without Radiant Dawn.

Even with sequels and prequels, though, there are still countless aspects of these richly realized fantasy worlds that never see the light of day. Whether it's the multi-faceted nations of Elibe that Pherae and Ostia eclipse, the fractious relationships between Beorc and Laguz in Tellius, or anything to do with Begnion's past and future, there's a lot that can't be told in the best Fire Emblem games.

Strategy games have the unique advantage of each battle taking up a fair bit of time as well. Fire Emblem games are divided somewhat equally between storytelling and combat. That means there's much less chance of having a Torna situation or even a Champions' Ballad one, where interesting story content gets overshadowed by gameplay that's needed for padding the experience out.

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Love them or hate them, a well-conceived expansion pass can make a good game even better, extending your enjoyment without costing too much.

While Nintendo's previous expansion pass efforts haven't been quite up to snuff for one reason or another, Fire Emblem: Three Houses looks set to change that. If it lives up to its promises, the expansion pass will be building on a history of additional content that already expands the games in meaningful ways, and then going further with brand-new story content so maybe we can finally get to explore just a bit of what lies beyond the pale of the main game.

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33 Confirmed Dead in Kyoto Animation Arson https://www.gameskinny.com/u3mlo/33-confirmed-dead-in-kyoto-animation-arson https://www.gameskinny.com/u3mlo/33-confirmed-dead-in-kyoto-animation-arson Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:20:52 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Any anime fan knows the name Kyoto Animation, as the studio has historically upheld high standards in animation and employee quality of life. On a normal day, we'd be talking about one of their many works. Today is, unfortunately, different.

This morning, one of the Kyoto Animation studio branches was burned down in an apparent planned arson attack. Thirty-three have been confirmed dead.

The 41-year-old suspect was seen purchasing 40 liters of gasoline near the studio, and they were reportedly seen pouring it in the building and on people. The man also had brought multiple knives along with him, though they were unused in the arson.

Witnesses report the suspect claimed the animation studio had "ripped him off".

Kyoto Animation is known as one of the shining stars in the anime industry due to its high production quality and standards. The studio's biggest programs fall within the slice-of-life genre, with such heavy hitters as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, Nichijou, Clannad, K-On!, and Free!.

This is one of the largest mass murders in Japan's history, with 33 out of the 75 people present within the building having died in the fire.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his condolences on Twitter after the attack to state:

There are a large number of casualties in the arson murder case that occurred in Kyoto today. I don't have words for the gruesomeness of it. I pray for the deceased. I would like to give my deepest sympathies to those injured and pray for their quick recoveries.

American anime licensing company Sentai Filmworks set up a GoFundMe to aid the survivors and families of the arson, with the total raised above $500,000 at the time of writing.

Sentai Filmworks President John Ledford promises they are "coordinating with others in the Japanese anime industry within Japan to ensure that funds collected reach those in need."

Our best wishes are with the family and staff of those at Kyoto Animation in this terrible and horrific time.

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Surprise Mid-Week PSN Flash Sale Live Now https://www.gameskinny.com/y5jsi/surprise-mid-week-psn-flash-sale-live-now https://www.gameskinny.com/y5jsi/surprise-mid-week-psn-flash-sale-live-now Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:17:30 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Sony's shaking things up a bit with its regular-yet-random Flash Sales. Where the sales usually go live for the weekend, this week's Flash Sale starts today, 7/18, and runs until July 22 at 8 a.m. PST/11a.m. EST. Note this sale is for PS Plus members only, it appears.

This time around, there are quite a few titles included, some of which are up to 75% off. Sony's picked a few particular highlights to lead the way, like Plague Tale: Innocence ($34.99) and Batman: Arkham Collection ($23.99), though it's a fair mix of well-known and niche titles.

As always, the July Flash Sale has something for almost all PlayStation Platforms except the PlayStation Portable, though even that has some titles still up for grabs from the previous retro sale until July 23.

We've rounded up some of the notable titles from each platform:

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 3

PlayStation Vita

The full list of games included in the sale can be found here.

If it seems odd Sony's suddenly decided to break form, there might be a pretty good reason behind it. Xbox just launched its massive Super Game Sale yesterday, offering equally steep discounts and incentives to part with hard-earned cash.

When chances like this come along, it's best to hop to it if something is of interest. Earlier this year, Sony tightened the reins of control over its digital offerings, meaning consumers won't be able to find most of these titles elsewhere — legally, at least.

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Total War: Three Kingdoms Liu Bei Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/4sztd/total-war-three-kingdoms-liu-bei-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/4sztd/total-war-three-kingdoms-liu-bei-guide Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:27:35 -0400 Sergey_3847

Among the 12 available warlords in Total War: Three Kingdoms, the latest installment in the famous strategy series, Liu Bei is the most virtuous one. He is a close friend of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei clans  both are his brothers and his biggest enemies are Dong Zhuo and Cao Cao.

Liu Bei's faction has a number of unique features that make it stand out from the rest of the royal families in Three Kingdoms. For example, you start the game with no land of your own, but your army is very strong from the very beginning, which means that you can start conquering right away.

Liu Bei's army mainly consists of marksmen and archers, and his unique resource, which is called Unity, can help you take over cities without battles. This kind of approach makes Liu Bei's campaign one of the most unusual in the game. So follow our step-by-step guide below on how to become a truly powerful warlord.

Step 1: Take Over the Iron Mine

You will start at the Dong commandery with your army surrounded by several other factions. The one you need to conquer first is the Yellow Turban Rebellion army under the leadership of Huang Shao.

After defeating the Yellow Turbans, which won't be hard taking into account the size of your army, you can easily take over the iron mine settlement nearby.

If you decide to offer Huang Shao peace, which he will accept, you will need to let him keep his farmlands.

Step 2: Take Over the Langye Commandery

In the central-eastern part of the map, you can quickly take over a small but very resourceful region: the Langye commandery.

It has a fishing port and a lumber yard, both of which will be of great value to your faction.

During this time, one of your trade partners, Tao Qian, will get into trouble with Cao Cao, who will send an army to take over his land. You can either make sure that you can protect Tao Qian, or you could just let it be since later in the game Tao Qian will try to betray you anyway.

Step 3: Defeat Kong Rong

At a certain point, one of the local warlords named Kong Rong will agree to meet you at the lumber yard in Langye.

Use this opportunity to kill him and quickly take over his city located to the north of Langye. Try not to use your Unity points here; just use your army.

After that, you can use the Unity points to take over the nearby Donglai commandery with all its farmlands.

Step 4: Take Over Pengcheng and Guangling

Now you can move southwards and take two more commanderies with excellent resources.

Pengcheng and Guangling commanderies will be easy to conquer, and all their farmlands, the temple, and the trade port will go under your command.

At this point, the political life of Liu Bei will get more dangerous, necessitating non-aggression pacts (NAP).

Step 5: Sign NAP with Sun Jian and Cao Cao

Until you hit the rank of King, you need to hold off such powerful factions like Sun Jian and Cao Cao. But you can reject offers by such minor factions like Liu Yu, who will attack you and lose the battle.

Simultaneously support and defend your provinces and try to get the best possible generals into your army.

In order to get great warriors like Sun Ce or Lu Bu into your faction, you need to marry one of the daughters of the royal families, such as Liu Dai, Yuan Shu or Ze Rong. These three families are the easiest to marry into.

Then, as soon as you sign the peace treaty with Dong Zhuo or Sun Jian, you can get a divorce and re-marry your wives to one of the generals that will be available to you. For example, Sun Ce can get married on turn 18 already.

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If you manage to capture enough resourceful lands, recruit the best possible generals for your army, and keep peace with the strongest factions in Total War: Three Kingdoms, you will have a lot of success playing as Liu Bei.

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Griftlands Alpha Impressions — A Hand Full of Aces https://www.gameskinny.com/7ven8/griftlands-alpha-impressions-a-hand-full-of-aces https://www.gameskinny.com/7ven8/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.

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Xbox Super Game Sale Live, Offers Savings on More Than Just Games https://www.gameskinny.com/ba8pm/xbox-super-game-sale-live-offers-savings-on-more-than-just-games https://www.gameskinny.com/ba8pm/xbox-super-game-sale-live-offers-savings-on-more-than-just-games Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:04:23 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Microsoft's massive Xbox Super Game Sale is live now, bringing with it steep discounts on games, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and even hardware and accessories. The sale begins today, July 17, and runs until July 29.

The sale's game segment includes more than 300 games, some of which are up to 70% off.

These range from recent hits like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Rage 2 to established classics such as NieR: Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition, and even the recently revamped Sea of Thieves.

There are also discounts on bundles and add-on items, and as always, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Live Gold members get an extra 10% off all games, on sale or otherwise.

Speaking of Game Pass Ultimate, Xbox is running a special deal on the service during the Super Game Sale. Consumers can get three months of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the price of one month for a limited time. Included in that membership is an exclusive Gears 5 Tech Test (no smoking allowed) that acts as a sort of test for the game's future Versus online multiplayer mode.

Keep in mind the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate grants access to Xbox and PC games, along with the benefits of Xbox Live Gold.

Some PC games are included in the Super Sale as well, though they aren't discounted quite as much — up to 50% off instead of up to 75%.

However, during the sale, consumers can save up to $300 on gaming rigs, VR headsets, HyperX accessories, and a number of other accessories as well. Note that aspect of the sale doesn't start until July 19.

Finally, those in the US looking to buy a new Xbox system can save $50 on a new Xbox One S, including the All-Digital version.

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Luigi's Mansion 3 Gets a Spook-tacular Release Date https://www.gameskinny.com/br8s4/luigis-mansion-3-gets-a-spook-tacular-release-date https://www.gameskinny.com/br8s4/luigis-mansion-3-gets-a-spook-tacular-release-date Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:41:54 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Luigi's Mansion 3 was one of Nintendo's primary E3 showpieces, taking up a great deal of the showroom floor and surprising people with how polished and varied its gameplay was — yet its release date remained a mystery after the show ended.

It's a mystery no longer, though. As the headline not-so-subtly suggests, Luigi's Mansion 3 is launching October 31 — Halloween itself. It's a break from Nintendo's norm as well. Halloween 2019 is on a Thursday. Typically, major retail games release on a Friday, so this is an intentional move seemingly to make sure consumers can enjoy the game in the ghostliest context possible.

Nintendo also released a very brief trailer to accompany the information. While it doesn't showcase anything new, it does officially reveal King Boo as the game's main antagonist — or, at least, as one of them.

The tweet links to the series' official website as well, presumably for more information about the game. However, at the time of writing, it appears said site is down.

Despite the game releasing soon, we still don't know all that much about it. Mario and co. go missing in a haunted hotel, Luigi must find them using new abilities, there are boss ghosts — and that's about it. Whether the other characters are playable and what other surprises await are still an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Luigi's Mansion 3 is up for pre-order on all the usual sites, though there aren't any bonuses on offer. It's also part of the Nintendo Switch Voucher program (which we've detailed before), open for Nintendo Switch Online members and offering a slight discount on two select digital games.

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Gearbox is Giving Away Borderlands 3 Loot to Vault Insiders https://www.gameskinny.com/x8gka/gearbox-is-giving-away-borderlands-3-loot-to-vault-insiders https://www.gameskinny.com/x8gka/gearbox-is-giving-away-borderlands-3-loot-to-vault-insiders Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:10:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

With the recent launch of its Vault Insider Program, Gearbox has essentially gamified its marketing efforts around Borderlands 3. The program appears to be a mixture between a street team and an information hub, where members can view information about the game and share that information with friends for points. 

Activities include watching trailers, visiting social media accounts, completing surveys, reading blog posts, and inviting friends to the program. 

However, those that sign up for the program, which requires a SHiFT account, are entitled to some pretty enticing rewards, including guns, mods, and skins for Borderlands 3. Other items up for grabs include wallpapers as well as 10 Gold Keys and weapons for the previous games in the franchise. 

Points are fairly easy to come by, too, it seems. For simply registering for the program, subscribing to the 2K newsletter, and "reading about Borderlands 3" on the VIP program page, members can rack up 1,600 points in less than five minutes. 

Rewards are redeemed in-game via a linked account. 

Leading up to the release of yesterday's official trailer, which you can see at the top of this article, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed that Borderlands 3 would not have crossplay at launch.

While he did not confirm when crossplay would come to the highly-anticipated shooter, he did say that it would come "as soon as practicable after launch," in some ways confirming what Gearbox has said all along: that it is "very keen" on crossplay. 

Of course, we do know that Borderlands 3 will, unsurprisingly, have multiplayer at launch as well as co-op. Crossplay will undoubtedly be the icing of the cake for some players, but there will be plenty to do until that becomes a reality. 

Earlier this year, Paul Sage, the creative director for Borderlands 3, said that the game is about 30 hours long "if you beeline it through... the main story." Earlier this month, Gearbox unveiled a new Duel MP mode for the game, which will certainly extend that playtime for many players, not considering those that historically play strictly for loot.

Borderlands 3 is currently up for pre-order on a variety of storefronts, including the VIP Program page, which will give players the "Early Adopter Pack containing a Children of the Vault weapon, an Echo Device skin, and five Gold Keys..."

Borderlands 3 is set to release for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on September 13. It will be exclusive to the Epic Games store on PC. 

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Nintendo Switch Hardware Update Boasts Improved Battery Life https://www.gameskinny.com/8a0xc/nintendo-switch-hardware-update-boasts-improved-battery-life https://www.gameskinny.com/8a0xc/nintendo-switch-hardware-update-boasts-improved-battery-life Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:00:20 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Following on from last week's Nintendo Switch Lite reveal and rumors of an enhanced vanilla Switch, Nintendo announced there will, indeed, be a new and improved regular Nintendo Switch.

The improved Nintendo Switch will be sold as Model HAC-001(-01), and it's expected to start shipping in the middle of August. 

It looks like consumers will also be able to tell the model difference based on packaging; the new model is shown (left) in a red box, where the original came in a white box  plus there are some other differences in how the product is shown off.

 

 

 

 

 


As we reported on last week
, after new FCC filings surfaced, these improvements aren't related to graphical enhancements or anything of that nature. Instead, it's all about improved battery life, likely thanks to the changes in storage and the new processor mentioned in those Class II FCC filings. Otherwise, the system itself is the same.

What's more, these improvements mean the enhanced Nintendo Switch will actually outperform the Nintendo Switch Lite in terms of battery life.

Nintendo provided a comparison of how the three systems stack up:

As can be seen, the HAC-001 Switch model almost doubles the battery life of the original and offers a definite improvement over the Switch Lite as well. That's just with Breath of the Wild as a reference point, too. It's one of the Switch's most demanding games and sucks the battery dry rapidly. Other games aren't quite so greedy, hence the estimate that battery life could last up to nine hours. 

That's not the only new thing coming to the Switch. On October 4, Nintendo fans are also getting two new sets of Joy-Con: Neon Purple/Neon Orange and Blue/Neon Yellow. These will retain for the usual $79.99. Just as a reminder, the Nintendo Switch Lite won't have removable Joy-Con, so these new sets are only for the original Nintendo Switch and its enhancements.

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Teppen Rathalos Deck Guide: Decklist and Strategy https://www.gameskinny.com/q7xq3/teppen-rathalos-deck-guide-decklist-and-strategy https://www.gameskinny.com/q7xq3/teppen-rathalos-deck-guide-decklist-and-strategy Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:38:29 -0400 Sergey_3847

Both red heroes in Teppen are very strong, but Rathalos has a really unique hero art called Wrath Awoken. It not only gives friendly units Flight, but it also grants them attack boost.

However, there is one condition that needs to be fulfilled before Wrath Awoken can be activated: you need to buff the attack of your units with the help of special action cards.

That is why this Rathalos deck is one of the most aggressive in the current meta, as it includes lots of attack buff cards.

The Decklist

Cards Quantity
True Faith
x3
Merciless Attack
x3
Angry Charge
x2
Block
x1
Wall Jump
x3
Siberian Body
x2
Beast Cannon
x3
Evasive Action
x1
Felyne (3MP)
x3
Felyne (4MP)
x3
Tzitzi-Ya-Ku
x2
Iris
x3
Heavenly Kicks Chun Li
x1

 

The Strategy

The gameplan is quite simple: you need to play your unit cards, and then buff them using special action cards that synergize with the Wrath Awoken hero art. As a result, your units will gain both Flight and a ton of attack points for a really quick victory.

Synergy Cards

True Faith, Angry Charge, and Beast Cannon are red and green action cards that give +2 ATK to a friendly unit.

Merciless Attack gives only +1 ATK to a friendly unit, but it also deals one point of damage to an enemy unit, which is great against Shield mechanic.

All in all, you have 11 attack buff action cards in this deck that synergize with Wrath Awoken. That's a pretty decent number, which means that you will almost always have at least a couple of them in your opening hand.

Unit Cards

Both Felyne variants in the deck accomplish the same function, they ramp your MP counter by 20% faster. This means that you can play more cards each turn and activate your hero art much sooner than your opponents.

Tzitzi-Ya-Ku is a really cool card that basically removes any buffs that have been applied by your opponent to any of their units.

Iris is another ramp card, but much more powerful than Felyne, although it's more expensive. In this case you will get 50% boost to your MP counter.

Action Cards

Since your unit cards will have high attack power and Flight, the only thing that is left is to protect them from enemy action cards.

Wall Jump is a very simple yet effective defensive card that gives Shield to a friendly unit.

Siberian Body serves both as a defensive and offensive mechanism by adding +1/+1 to a friendly unit.

So, start your game by ramping up using Felyne units, and then buff them with the help of your synergy cards to gain even more attack power and Flight.

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For more Teppen guides, check out the list below:

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