Indie Genre RSS Feed | Indie on GameSkinny en Launch Media Network How to Get Bovine Plume in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Wed, 19 Jun 2019 16:26:00 -0400 Ty Arthur

Much like the classic Symphony Of The Night gameplay that was this Kickstarted game's clear inspiration, Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night features a host of hidden items and special upgrades for accessing hard to reach areas.

What would a platformer be without inaccessible locations that you have to return to with an upgraded jump option? Like Alucard and many other demon hunters before her, eventually Miriam will need to get her hands on some bovine plume to craft the High Jump shard.

Haven't come across any and not sure where to farm those elusive bovine plume yet? They are surprisingly simple to come across as a random drop, but only if you know exactly where to go ahead of time.

Where To Get Bovine Plume

This particular item is found much later in the game in the Oriental Sorcery Lab area, which is accessed near the near the end of Bloodstained.

Bovine plume can be found as a random drop from the Haagenti (the enemy that looks like a bull demon with wings) in various areas of the Oriental Sorcery Lab.  

Note that a similar enemy is found in the Garden Of Silence much earlier in the game, but those ones don't ever drop bovine plume. As far as we know, the bovine plume only drops from the Haagenti in the Oriental Sorcery Lab, so don't spend too much time whomping on the ones early in the game trying to get one.

For those wondering, note that you don't have to give up the Double Jump when you craft the High Jump shard -- you still get both, and in fact you can Double Jump with the High Jump.

Having trouble finding any other items or secret loctions in Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night? Drop us a comment below and we'll help you find the answer! 

Be sure to also check out our guide to unlocking all the Bloodstained difficulty options and utilizing save game name cheat codes over here.

Grim Dawn Getting Epic Fantasy Makeover With Loyalist Pack DLC, New Patch Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:48:26 -0400 Ty Arthur

After the release of Forgotten Gods, fans have worried that the expansion may have signaled the end of development for ARPG Grim Dawn. However, good news on that front just arrived this week, as we're getting some new content sooner rather than later.

While there's no official word on any sort of major release to follow Forgotten Gods and Ashes Of Malmouth, both a minor DLC and a new patch are set to arrive shortly.

The new Loyalist Item Pack arrives tomorrow June 20  offering aesthetic changes to make your character a little less grim and more epic.

The $8.99 second loyalist pack will include the following vanity items:

  • Sinister Black Knight’s Full Set of Armor
  • Black Knight’s Sword and Shield
  • Sacred Silver Knight’s Full Set of Armor
  • Silver Knight’s Sword and Shield
  • Venerable Dragon General’s Helm, Chestguard, and two-handed Spear
  • Enigmatic White Wizard’s Hat, Robe, and Staff off-hand
  • Crate companion pet

Those skins will also be available to apply as illusions. Developer Crate Entertainment had this to say about the new pack?

The items in this collection will bring out the classic fantasy hero within you. Always wanted to vanquish your foes dressed as a royal knight or a mighty wizard? Well now you can! To top it off, you can show off your support for Crate with your very own companion pet (PTSD warning for those that have faced the mighty Crate of Entertainment secret boss).

Yes, the pet is, in fact, a Crate logo that follows you all around the world of Cairn.

The previous Loyalist Item pack was released back in 2016 and featured historical themed items like a George Washington powdered wig and southern general's hat, in addition to a will 'o wisp pet to act as a light source.

In addition to the new Loyalist pack, a host of updated spell effects are due to land with the V1.1.3.0 patch in the next few days, providing visual changes to Amarasta’s Blade Burst, Blackwater Cocktail, Lightning Strike, Maelstrom, Primal Strike, Reckless Tempest, Ring of Steel, Eye of Reckoning, Righteous Fervor, and Savagery.

That patch will also bring four brand-new anomalies in the Shattered Realm section of the Forgotten Gods expansion.

Just getting started with this love letter to classic ARPG titles? Check out our guides to jumping in with the best mastery builds here:

How to Unlock All Difficulties in Bloodstained Ritual of the Night Wed, 19 Jun 2019 12:40:50 -0400 Ty Arthur

Keeping with the themes of old school platformers that served as the game's inspiration, the Kickstarted and totally-not-Castlevania entry Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night features a series of cheat codes based on entering different save file names. 

One of those "cheats" is to unlock all the difficulties straight from the beginning without actually having to beat the game first on normal and then on hard mode.

Want to skip straight to the more difficult modes? Here's how to do it with just a few simple keystrokes.

Unlocking Nightmare Mode In Bloodstained

To unlock all difficulties straight off the bat, just start a new game and change the save file name from the standard Miriam to NIGHTMARE in all caps. After choosing "Yes" to proceed with the name, you get the option to choose normal, hard, or nightmare mode.

Yep, it's that simple. If you grew up on the insane difficulty of NES platformers and find normal is just way too easy for your bad self, then feel free to enjoy the real challenge of the harder Bloodstained modes!

Wondering about the other Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night save file name cheat codes? The only other one confirmed so far is 8MEGAPOWER (and yes, you have to enter it in all caps). If you entered it correctly, you should hear a sound, and after starting the game a better starting sword will be available.

It's not an over powered uber weapon that will work for the full game, but it does give you an edge in the early sections of Bloodstained.

Based on information sent out to Kickstarter backers, it seems like there are several more silly cheat codes to find as a reward for completing various tasks.

Have you found any other save file name cheat codes? Let us know what worked for you and we'll start putting together a complete list! 

Tetsuya Nomura Says FFVII Includes Modernized Honeybee Inn and Tifa Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:26:20 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Final Fantasy VII Remake's director, Tetsuya Nomura, recently spoke with Famitsu magazine about the game and some aspects of it that were adapted for modern sensibilities. Gematsu translated key points of the interview.

As those familiar with the game would probably guess, the Honeybee Inn cross-dressing sequence was near the top of the list. FFVII Remake will include the Honeybee Inn, though certain aspects of it have been changed.

"We’ve made it more modern. If we made the facility like we did in the original game, the physical unease would be staggering, so that was no good…" Nomura said.

Nomura didn't give any hints about what exactly was changed or how.

Tifa Lockheart's character design was another topic of discussion. Her design in the original FFVII is somewhat infamous for its over-exaggerated proportions, proportions which essentially overshadowed other aspects of her physical depiction.

Not so with FFVII Remake. One of Tifa's features the team wanted to emphasize is her body type. Nomura said they gave her defined abs to help emphasize her athletic nature, and that emphasis helped make it easier to keep her signature outfit as well.

The Square Enix ethics department (and this is the first mention we've had that one even exists) also recommended her chest be rendered more realistically so as to not create "unnatural" situations during combat.

Tifa is also meant to be a deliberate foil for Aerith, with the former representing Eastern style and design, while the latter represents Western style.

The interview shifted gears and covered a few things longtime fans can expect that will help keep the game feeling fresh no matter how many times they've played the original. The May trailer showed mysterious black wisps circling Aeirth and Cloud, and Nomura named these entities the Watchmen of Fate; apparently, these beings will appear before the party no matter where they are.

New dialogue options and branching dialogue paths have been added to help give more weight to player choice. Whether these affect elements of the story isn't clear, but Nomura did say the team added several new scenarios to the game — hence the fact it takes up two Blu-Ray discs.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is set for a March 3, 2020 release. Those who didn't get a chance to experience the E3 demo of the game can check out our hands-on impressions to get an idea of what the game will offer.

For more on Final Fantasy VII Remake, see what Square needs to do to modernize the game's characters

Hell Let Loose Early Access Impressions Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:02:16 -0400 Sergey_3847

Hell Let Loose is one of those rare gems that shine brightly amongst the most praised AAA projects such as Battlefield, proving that in some cases small studios can do it better than the big guys. The new realistic World War 2 game is something special, and has the potential to become big in the future if the developer Black Matter can keep the quality up through the Early Access period.

It's a multiplayer WW2 combat simulator that can host up to a hundred players on a few really huge maps. The keyword here is "realistic," since everything here requires a painstaking attention to details, from developing your attack strategy to coordinating the infantry and shooting a stationary artillery cannon.

Hell Let Loose has a lot to offer. If you don't mind games that are still in the Early Access, then keep on reading our first impressions of this fantastic game.

Massive Scale and Historical Accuracy

It became possible to develop an indie project on such a huge scale due to a successful Kickstarter campaign that helped Black Matter collect over $300,000. This was necessary to create highly realistic maps that would give two teams (50v50) and opportunity to fight against each other on the territories covering two square kilometers.

One such location is the exact replica of the Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, a legendary town in the north Normandy which had been the landing spot for the 101st American Airborne Division in July 1944.

The developer also plans to add several more villages, as well as British, Canadian, Soviet, and Japanese troops and their respective battles. The next new map you will see is the Utah Beach, better known as the D-Day beach map.

Regardless, all maps are divided into sectors with certain key positions in the center. Capturing these objectives gives the winning side access to various types of resources. For example, if your team wants to bring tanks into the field, you will first need to capture the objectives responsible for fuel and ammunition, and only then one of you will get the chance to roll out a brand new tank out of the hangar.

Such a serious strategic approach requires a well-coordinated series of commands, which is done in appropriate military order.

Each team has its own commander-in-chief and squad leaders, who are able to coordinate the actions on the battlefield. If you need to call an airstrike, then this is the job for your commander; while officers within the recon groups can set up exact location of the objective for a precise hit.

Naturally, players comprising such large teams play different roles on the battlefield. Riflemen, engineers, medics, snipers, and many others, all have their own sets of weapons and skills. A example lies in the engineer, which carries the huge responsibility of building various fortifications on the map, preventing enemy tanks from moving forward and forcing another team to look for different tactics.

Overall, there are 14 such roles in the game, and it looks like even more will be added in the future.

Combat Mechanics and Mathematical Precision

Hell Let Loose is a team game and nothing else. This is one of those first-person shooters, where simple tactics, such as just running and shooting, don't work. This may sound unattractive to casual players, but again, Hell Let Loose is not a casual game and that's the beauty of it.

The developer offers a brand new approach to capturing objectives that are quite different from what you've experienced before. This means that before choosing your role in the squad, you should really carefully read the description of the chosen role so you know exactly what to do on the battlefield. That is also the reason why having an access to the microphone and communicating with your commander and other troops is essential for victory.

For example, you can't just take a tank and drive wherever you like and shoot whoever you want. There are two people responsible for heavy machinery: the tank commander and the crewman. As the crewman you can drive the tank and operate it's weapons, but only within the orders of your commander.

The heavy artillery also requires two players to operate properly: the gunner and the loader. It is possible to use artillery on your own, although with much difficulty.

One requires the exact coordinates of the objective, which is possible to achieve only through an officer who has the power to spot and mark the exact locations on the map.

Then, you need to calculate the distance and the angle using special metrics provided in the aiming view of the artillery cannon. These aren't terribly precise, but many players have figured out how to do this properly using the Artillery Calculator.

Lastly, you need a loader to pick up a certain type of shell for different types of objects, and load into the cannon. When all this is properly done and the commander gives you an order to shoot, that's when you realize that Hell Let Loose is not your typical shooter, but a true war simulator that requires some serious knowledge of the warfare.

Final Thoughts

Hell Let Loose is far from being finished, and the developer had to sacrifice certain things for better playability. For example, you will notice that trees and buildings cannot be destroyed, but the bridges and fences can. This was necessary to reduce the network lag, which would destabilize the entire campaign and ultimately make the game worse off.

The rest looks incredible for an Early Access indie project, and even with some bugs and glitches, it runs really well and needs only a slight polish to really be perfect. Since the developer communicates with players constantly and updates the game regularly, there is a big chance that Hell Let Loose will actually turn out great in the end.

Below you can check out a complete roadmap of the game in the Early Access. As you see, a lot of really cool things are coming very soon!

All Aboard the Death Boat in Phantom: Covert Ops, a Stealth-Action Kayaking Game in VR Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:19:07 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I spoke with Lewis Brundish, director of Phantom: Covert Ops, at Oculus's booth at E3 2019, with no idea what I was in for. The game is set in 1991, he explained to me, in a flooded outpost on the coast of the Black Sea. A militia group has gone rogue, unwilling to admit the Cold War has actually ended, and you're a lone stealth operative who must go in to deal with them by any means necessary before they figure out a way to drive the world back towards the brink of war.

Up to this point, I'll admit I was a little cynical, because it sounded like he was basically describing Metal Gear Solid.

"And you're seated in a kayak the entire time," Brundish said.

Okay, so it's not like Metal Gear Solid.

Phantom: Covert Ops is an exclusive game for Oculus platforms by nDreams, the UK-based studio behind Shooty Fruity and The Assembly. It's been in development for about 18 months, and in part, is an experiment by the studio regarding movement in virtual reality.

The idea that led to Phantom, as Brundish told me, is to try to figure out new ways of allowing for exploration and movement-based gameplay in VR without breaking immersion. A lot of other games use teleport systems, where you hop around a few feet at a time, or locomotion, where you walk around using your thumbsticks. Both have their pluses and minuses, but both unavoidably remind you that you're playing a game.

Hence Phantoms: a stealth action game where you do not move at all unless you do so by rowing your boat.

Phantoms is played from a seated position, mirroring your character's position inside the kayak. In-game, you have a silenced pistol holstered on your character's chest, an unsilenced SMG slung across your back, a silenced rifle kept on the right side of the boat, and your kayak paddle hooked onto the left side. Your spare ammunition is kept in a satchel in front of you, with each gun's magazines stacked neatly in rows, along with a small supply of plastic explosives.

To move, you have to pick up the paddle, take hold of it with both hands, and actually drag it through the virtual water. Turning requires you to paddle harder on one side or the other, with sharper turns made possible by holding down a button on the right controller.

It takes some getting used to. The water physics in Phantoms are accurate enough that I found the kayak reacted about as I expected it to, which was both good and bad.

When you're moving along at a brisk pace and have to hang a hairpin turn to avoid a helicopter's searchlight, you rapidly have to confront the fact that you can't actually do that in a boat. I spent a lot of time frantically paddling, trying to get the kayak to spin in the direction I wanted before somebody saw me and picked me off.

Notably, Phantoms sticks to the ammo economy and general tactical approach of a stealth game. Your guns are reasonably powerful, but they are also realistically accurate, and resupplying on the go is a dicey proposition. There will be resupply drops in the final version, but no such option existed in the E3 build. You can shoot out enemy spotlights to give yourself room to slip by or snipe a couple of stragglers to leave yourself an opening, but actually trying to run and gun through the game was almost guaranteed to result in disaster. If nothing else, there just isn't enough ammo for it.

That leaves you with stealth, which is a unique experience when you're trying to do it in a kayak. You can use tall reeds to conceal yourself, which gives you a handy way to hide if you get into a jam, but there's nothing on the market today quite like trying to get back into concealment in a hurry in Phantoms. You have to row like a crazy person in just the right way, to manage sharp turns or throw yourself into reverse. You can also deliberately gather enough speed on a straightaway to let the boat move on its own for a while, which lets you drop the paddle and pull out a weapon for a good solid drive-by shooting. In a kayak.

Phantoms is a weird one. It's got the feel down pat of a solid VR shooter, with a decent feel to its weapons, and I got used to stealth kayak action faster than I expected to. It is a little weird to go through an entire game from a riverside perspective, floating through checkpoints and underneath flooded buildings; it's like an entire gimmick level from a non-VR game blown up to a full-length experience.

At the same time, though, if there's ever another game that can describe itself as "stealth kayak action," I'll be surprised. Phantoms: Covert Ops is, if nothing else, a memorably weird entry into the crowded field of realistic military VR shooters, and it deserves attention just because it's doing something legitimately new.

Monster Hunter: World Iceborne Beta Soon, Here Are the Dates Tue, 18 Jun 2019 14:12:25 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Monster Hunter: World Iceborne may not be seeing its PlayStation 4 release until September, but hunters will get their first taste of the expansion much sooner than that.

Capcom will be holding a beta for Iceborne on PS4 in the coming days, in two waves. The first wave being for PlayStation Plus subscribers only, with the second being for all PS4 Monster Hunter: World players.

PS Plus subscribers will be able to hop onto Monster Hunter: World and get to hunting on the frosty peaks of Hoarfrost Reach on June 21, and be able to play the beta until June 23. That's three days of early-early beta access!

You're not out of luck if you're not a PS Plus subscriber, though: all MHW hunters will be able to partake in the beta on June 28 regardless of whether they have a PS Plus account. This more open beta phase will be running until June 30.

Now in bullet points:

  • PS+ subscribers get access from June 21 to 23
  • All MHW PS4 players get access from June 28 to 30

Monster Hunter: World Iceborne won't just bring the new Hoarfrost Reach map and new monsters. The expansion will also bring riding on select monsters for easier transport, a new grappling hook mechanic, a slinger system overhaul, and Master Rank (the G Rank replacement). If that all isn't music to a hunter's ears, I don't know what is.

Capcom plans on releasing the full expansion come September 6, but be sure to log into Monster Hunter: World during the beta period to get a taste of the future of the game.

Dr Mario World Pre-Registration Open Now for iOS and Android Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:30:07 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Dr. Mario World, Nintendo's latest mobile title, is now open for pre-registration on Android and iOS ahead of its July 10 release.

Alongside the announcement, Nintendo also released a lengthy overview trailer demonstrating how the game works — including its microtransactions.

Dr. Mario World is a Match-3 puzzle game, tasking players with matching different pill colors to different viruses to clear stages. Of course, it's not as simple as it sounds.

Each stage has its share of obstacles, be they have traps to work around or blocks impeding progress. The stages are spread out over five themed worlds (hence "world" in the title) based on the usual Mario themes: sky, ice, haunted, and so on. Nintendo will be adding more worlds eventually, too.

The game initially gives access to Dr. Mario himself, but as players collect coins and diamonds  the game's primary collectible items  they can eventually unlock other doctors, including Peach, Yoshi, and even Bowser. Each doctor has their own special skill, like randomly clearing obstacles or rows.

The catch here is a stamina-like system, similar to Fire Emblem Heroes, but much more limiting. Players must spend hearts to attempt a stage, and while they refill one every 30 minutes, the little "+" icon next to the heart shows, unsurprisingly, hearts can be purchased using diamonds as well.

It appears the player can only hold five hearts at once, which means either tackling one or two stages per day or buying diamonds to buy more hearts. There's an infinite option that lets players attempt as many stages as they want in 60 minutes, too — for a price. A full five-heart refill would cost 10 diamonds, which translates to $1.99 (for 20 diamonds), while the hour-long unlimited option goes for 30 diamonds.

Diamonds are also used to obtain additional capsules players can use to continue a stage should they run out of capsules before finishing. As one would expect, these, too, are available for purchase in the in-game store and can be used to obtain more hearts.

There's a feature where friends can share hearts with each other as well, though the trailer doesn't provide any more information than that.

How to Change FOV in Hell Let Loose Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:31:42 -0400 Sergey_3847

Realistic games like Hell Let Loose require players to pay attention to the smallest details, which why many players have been trying to find a way to increase the game's field of view (FOV).

As of now, there is no such slider in the game's options, making life a little harder for players with 4K resolution monitors.

Fortunately, there is a way to adjust the FOV in Hell Let Loose before it becomes an official part of the game. Follow our guide below for a complete instruction.

Edit System Files to Change FOV

The only way to increase the FOV in the game is to edit a system file in the game's system folders.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Go to "C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Local\HLL\Saved\Config\WindowsNoEditor" folder
  2. Locate and open the Engine.ini file in the notepad
  3. Add these two lines one after the other:
    • [/script/engine.localplayer]
    • AspectRatioAxisConstraint=AspectRatio_X
  4. Save and close the file

Instead of X put any number you want that will correspond to your monitor's aspect ratio. For example, 90 would be an ideal number for most wide screens.

However, if you're not sure which number to enter, then you can use this FOV calculator to determine the best ratio for your case.

You can also make the graphics look smoother by editing the same file as above. Just add the following lines one after the other:

  • [SystemSettings]
  • r.DefaultFeature.AntiAliasing=2
  • r.TemporalAACurrentFrameWeight=0.2
  • r.TemporalAASamples=64
  • r.TemporalAASharpness=0.8
  • r.Tonemapper.Sharpen=1

Just like with FOV you can adjust the numbers to achieve the perfect effect, but these are the most optimal settings for almost any PC.

Lastly, if you were having trouble calculating the distance for your Artillery weapons, then check out the guide for a complete instruction on how to use Artillery calculator in Hell Let Loose.

Doom Eternal E3 2019 Preview: Better And Bloodier Than Ever Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:22:45 -0400 David Jagneaux

Out of all the hands-on demos I had at E3 2019, I think Doom Eternal is what I enjoyed the most. This isn't to say that once all the cards are down and every game shown off releases it will be my favorite, but in terms of the demo experience, it doesn't get a whole lot better than a game that drops you into a bloodbath of demon guts and gore.

Playing Doom Eternal is simply exquisite.

Guns and Gore

Let me preface all of this by saying that I didn't finish Doom's 2016 reboot. I enjoyed it and thought the gameplay was amazing, but it just didn't pull me all the way through. After about four hours, I just got bored with the repetitive clear room, interact with thing, go to next room format. I barely made it through Bioshock Infinite for the same reason, but the story kept me going in that one. Not so much in Doom.

It remains to be seen if that same issue will apply to Doom Eternal, but after spending over half an hour with it at E3 2019, I've got hope. While the signature "move fast and shoot things" gameplay is all here in its excellent, bloody glory, there seemed to be a lot more variety this time around.

Granted, the demo took place partially through the game  so this wasn't a new player experience  but I was very much not bored throughout the entire demo. Not only did all of the guns feel incredibly different (rocket launchers, grenade launchers, a shotgun with a grappling hook, giant rail gun-style laser cannons, and more) but the environmental variety was great, too.

I was double jumping and air-dashing to boost spots across floating platforms in such a way that it almost fooled me into thinking I was playing a heavy metal platformer for a few minutes. Subverting expectations is a great way to keep my interest.

Shotgun + Grappling Hook = Perfection

But let's go back to the aforementioned shotgun with a grappling hook attached. Shotguns are my favorite type of weapon in a video game. They combine the one-shot power of a sniper rifle with up-close and personal danger, resulting in a downpour of blood that feels like the most satisfying reward imaginable for any budding demon slayer.

Doom more or less invented the Amazing Video Game Shotgun in the 90s, and Doom Eternal is here to make it even better.

It sounds simple at first, but hear me out: you can shoot a grappling hook out of your shotgun, like a hookshot from The Legend of Zelda series, attach to an enemy, and zoom through the air toward it. Upon arrival, just blow them to smithereens. It's simple and effective. 

The speed and intensity of rushing toward an enemy that's probably still shooting at you in the process is exhilarating in its own right, but when you use the shotgun's grappling hook as a new traversal mechanic, it really starts to open things up.

During one section, I landed like a meteor in the middle of a group of enemies and instead of back-pedaling to kite them while shooting like any skilled Doom players knows how to do, I instead bounced between them like a pinball zipping from one soon-to-be pile of mush to the other. It was a complete change in gameplay style that really felt good.

Doom Eternal threw another curveball at me in a later section when it put the next tiny floating island I needed to reach just far enough outside my reach that a double jump + air dash combo wasn't enough to get there. But at the end of my air dash, as I was falling, I was just in range enough to grapple onto the enemy at the edge of the platform and zip to it as my shotgun blew its head off. They've turned the shotgun into a platforming tool, and I'm in love.

This might be a bit premature, but the new shotgun + grappling hook combo might be my new favorite weapon in any FPS game I've ever played.

Complete Chaos

Worth noting is that I died more in my Doom Eternal preview than any other hands-on session I had at E3 this year, and that feels extremely appropriate. These weren't frustrating, "That was cheap!" deaths, but were instead errors in my movement, poor planning, or me not switching to the right weapon in time. 

I had a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see more of Doom Eternal. It's really hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this demo. I'm not the biggest of fan of "pure" shooters as they are usually a bit too simplistic for me I'd usually prefer something with a more complex narrative or more thoughtful gameplay but Doom Eternal sidesteps my usual complains with the genre by just throwing even more chaos at me without giving me a chance to breathe.

It was suffocating and incredibly anxiety-inducing, but I loved it. Get ready to rip and tear through Doom Eternal later this year when it releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia on November 22.


For more E3 coverage, check the links below: 

World of Warcraft Classic's Wednesday Stress Test to Allow All Subscribers Mon, 17 Jun 2019 16:00:07 -0400 Ashley Shankle

If you're one of the many waiting in the wings for World of Warcraft Classic, you may be happy to find that anyone subscribed to the game will be able to participate in this week's stress test.

Active subscribers will be able to download the WoW Classic client tomorrow to prepare for the open stress test starting on June 19 (this Wednesday) at 5 p.m. EDT/2  p.m. PDT, running until June 21. It's only three full days of playtime, but it's certainly better than nothing.

This stress test will be raising the level cap for testers up to Level 15, granting them a few talent points to play with and a wider net of quests to complete compared to the last test with its cap of Level 10.

In the official forum blue post from Blizzard Community Manager Kalvax, it's requested that testers play as much as possible during the first three hours of the test, though it will be completely available for 48 hours over the testing period.

Players will be able to run some classic instances during this test, the dungeons available being Deadmines, Ragefire Chasm, and Wailing Caverns all instances some Vanilla players have spent a little too much time in, but certainly important parts of the testing experience. PvP battleground Warsong Gulch will also be available.

So rev up those subs and get ready to whap that download button tomorrow afternoon or evening as the Classic client becomes available to subscribers, and be ready for the stress test launch at 5  p.m. EDT/2 p.m. PDT on Wednesday. Hype! Full launch is only two months away, on August 26 in NA and August 27 worldwide.

Dragon Star Varnir Review: Dark Magic Tue, 18 Jun 2019 11:13:56 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Idea Factory and Compile Heart's latest game to come West is Dragon Star Varnir. IF's titles aren't usually associated with much substance and tend to fit snugly into the niche category, but Varnir is a bit different.

It has its faults, for sure, including some less than spectacular writing and characterization that could do with some boosts. However, it boasts a compelling story set in a genuinely unique world, and it's not afraid to be dark and brutal in its narrative.

The combat system is dynamic as well and offers a substantial degree of freedom in how you customize your characters and approach combat.

It might not be for everyone, but Dragon Star Varnir is a solid RPG all around.

You're a Witch, Zephy

Dragon Star Varnir's story is an interesting one. Even though a fair bit of it ends up being predictable, the premise and build-up are compelling and unique enough to make up for the story beats you can see a mile off.

The game takes place in Varneria, a land that worships the divine savior Varnir. One group that defends the righteous on behalf of the emperor is the Knights of Requiem; they are dedicated to hunting and exterminating the witches who live in hiding throughout the land. As you'd expect, they believe there is no gray area here: witch = bad. Always.

They hunt dragons, too, but the player quickly finds out those are one and the same.

Without getting too spoilery for the story you can see coming a mile away, Zephy, the game's protagonist is a Knight of Requiem — for about 30 minutes, at least. Of course, all of this gets challenged when he's saved from near death and is imbued with power. 

Of course, Zephy deals with both a sense of abandonment because the Knights want to kill him now and astonishment of his new identity. His less assertive friend wants to subvert the Knights and help, the witches don't trust him, and *gasp* it's possible the nation's religion is corrupt.

Much of this is not only easy to see coming, but it's been done elsewhere in other forms. The game doesn't necessarily try to do anything new or innovative with these tropes either, and the writing can be fairly shallow at times.

However, the larger setting and plot these are wrapped in does go a long way in keeping things interesting. On whole, it's a pretty dark story, with lots of death and tragedy — not something you typically associate with Idea Factory.

Magical Personalities?

What you do typically associate with Compile Heart and Idea Factory is lots of innuendo, women with impossibly large, gravity-defying breasts, and a distinct lack of characterization.

Some of that is present here. Despite the fact that witches are generally depicted as sexy in culture to begin with, the majority of female characters, including non-witches, aren't designed with what you could call sensitive representation in mind.

For what it's worth, the designs aren't quite as provocative as Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and also like XC2, the game doesn't really do anything with the designs other than putting them out there; this isn't a Neptunia game with groping, sex jokes, and the like.

The characters themselves could do with some more personality, though it isn't dreadful by any means. For the most part, the writing is distinct enough to give an idea of the personality behind the words, but it does stray into generic territory before the story really gets going.

Here, too, the setting redeems what's missing in characterization. For example, Zephy might be the typical protagonist, but he's stuck in a difficult and dark situation, which casts his willingness to help and desire for approval in a less cliche light. The same goes for many of the witches, especially Minessa.

Despite featuring in the opening movie, Minessa doesn't have a very strong personality at first. Once you learn about her past and connection to the Witch of Hellfire, though, it's easier to see her as a more interesting character.

Then there's Laponette, whom you meet shortly after finishing the opening sequences. She seems like the younger and more innocent "little sister" character — only, she has the ability to see the fortunes of those she comes in contact with. In other words, she knows how and when her friends will die.

You'll encounter plenty of additional characters on the way who follow this same pattern of semi-tropiness, and it's nice to see how effectively the setting and plot are used to give more substance to the whole affair.

One other thing worth noting is the harem aspect. With such a setup, you might expect the game to drip with harem anime tropes. Since you can romance some of the older witches, it exists to an extent. But Dragons Star Varnir navigates these waters well, keeping things from becoming too cringey; luckily, it's not a major focus. 

Take to the Air

Where it falters with writing and characterization, Dragon Star Varnir really shines in its combat and character customization.

The basic setup is your typical turn-based system where each character has a type of physical attack — slash, hit, pierce — and elemental strengths and weaknesses, including fire, ice, water, earth, and light, among others.

In a bit of a twist, though, battles take place in midair, and the grid-based field is divided into three layers. Certain attacks can only be performed on a specific layer, some affect multiple squares, and some pierce all three layers. Not only do you need to plan your strategy around enemy placement, but you can also use the layers to push enemies into making certain moves.

It seems simple on the surface, but it rewards you for paying attention, for using space and movement alongside exploiting weaknesses.

For instance, say you know one character is weak to earth, and you don't want an enemy to spam two earth attacks in a row. You can split your party up so two are on one layer and one is further down (or above). At most, it's likely said boss will only use that attack once and spend the other attacking other layers with a spread-based attack.

Each character has a special set of Dragon Skills, with one, in particular, being most useful: Devour. It is what it says, and it lets you consume an enemy, should certain conditions be met, like the fear meter being raised through attacking their weaknesses. Devour grants the devour-er a special core with unlockable nodes that grant stat boosts or new skills. Boss dragons leave a core that every character can use, though.

That ends up being a lot of skills, though each category — physical, Dragon, etc — has a cap on how many skills you can take into battle with you. It's worth tinkering around with to find the best build for each character, and it can easily change over time.

Whether you want to make, say, Minessa a magic-focused character with spells ranging the gamut of elements or split her abilities between physical and magic is entirely up to you. Some characters are better suited for certain roles, like Laponette and, surprisingly, Karikaro (she wields a nasty looking spear but is stronger with magic). However, it's still a good idea to make sure a character can exploit at least two weaknesses, either physical or magical.

There are special Dragon Skills you can invest in as well that can only be used during Awakenings. These are a lot like Limit Breaks, really. Each party member has an Awakening meter that fills over the course of battle, and once it's full, they transform into a semi-dragon form, complete with stat boosts and the aforementioned superpowered Dragon Skills.

The downside to overusing these Dragon Skills is that they do a number on the character's balance and can hasten the dragon's birth inside that character.

All of these mechanics are explained via simple tutorial screens that give just enough information without outstaying their welcome; it can seem a bit overwhelming to have 10 tutorial pages to go through in a short time, but the way you implement what you just learned helps everything stick.

There's a lot going on, and it helps keep things interesting — which is good, because there is a risk of getting stale with the dungeon designs.

A Special Brew

Dragon Star Varnir is a peculiar mix of dungeon exploration, item crafting, combat, and visual novel. The vast majority of the game is told through still character portraits, with random segments showing 3D models and movement. The conversations tend to go on for a while. There's usually some interesting world-building involved or at least important exposition, though the writing often drags it down some.

Most of the navigation is done via menus, even in the den, and you pretty much only move around in 3D in the dungeons. Unfortunately, the dungeons tend to be a bit on the bland side.

You'll find lots of collection points, granting items you use to create elixirs and other important things, even more enemies, and very few puzzles. Those that do exist make use of party members' field skills, but they don't really require much thought; press the square button, and move on. It's all reminiscent of the PS2 era.

The visuals are as well, except the well-rendered portrait art. Models and enemies lack detail, movements on the field and in combat are very stiff, and overall, it doesn't take advantage of the PS4's capabilities.

How much of an issue that is depends on perspective. This is from a small developer and publisher, and a lot of RPGs don't prioritize cutting edge visuals. Those who aren't looking for the best graphics and smoothest animations likely won't find this too big of a problem.

The game's soundtrack is mostly good and makes good use of orchestral arrangements that fit a given area; the den is a particular favorite, partly because it's one of the few chipper areas and tunes in the game. Boss battles are a bit of a nuisance, though, since each repeats a rather grating chorale piece that overshadows any background instruments and consistently encouraged this writer to turn the volume down.

The game does sport an English voice track, which is a nice addition. It's a bit hit and miss at times, but the main gripe is just that a good chunk of the voiced exposition is delivered in a flat tone, even when it's meant to be emotional.

The Verdict

  • Unique story and setting helps rise above predictable tropes
  • Interesting characters and backstories
  • Deep combat and character customization
  • Some bland writing hampers characterization
  • Dated visuals and a few audio quirks might turn some away
  • Dungeon designs need some work

Dragon Star Varnir actually has a lot more going for it than the slightly stilted opening scenes and skimpy witch outfits might initially suggest. The setting and overarching plot are reason enough to see the journey through to the end, and the combat and customization make it easy to overlook some of the other problems you might encounter on the way.

It's not likely to convert newcomers to the genre or developer, but it's a worthy addition to the PS4's RPG library and tells a story you likely won't forget in a while.

[Note: A copy of Dragon Star Varnir was provided by Idea Factory for the purpose of this review.]

How to Use the Artillery Calculator in Hell Let Loose Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:06:41 -0400 Sergey_3847

Artillery may not be everybody's prime choice in Hell Let Loose, the latest war simulator at Steam Early Access, but it is definitely one of the most effective weapons when it comes to dealing with large objects or huge numbers of enemies.

The main reason why it's so difficult to operate is that it can be really hard to properly aim a huge cannon, it's kind fo hard to hit the target as planned. Since there is a lot of confusion surrounding Artillery in Hell Let Loose, below you will find a step-by-step guide on how to use an unofficial calculator for more effective gameplay.

Step 1: Set Up Traverse

In order to operate Artillery well in Hell Let Loose you need to play as an Officer of a Recon group.

This is important, because an Officer is the only type of player who can put markers on the map, which are essential for proper Traverse aiming of the cannon.

When you reached an Artillery at your HQ, open your world map and put a marker on the map by holding "1" on your numpad and left-click your mouse. You will see that an Observer marker has been implemented, which will give you the exact distance and direction for your aiming.

Then, use A and D keys to rotate the cannon in the direction of the Observer marker. If you don't see the marker, then press the T key.

Remember, your vertical crosshair must coincide with the observer marker in your aiming view.

Step 2: Set Up Elevation

Elevation determines the angle of the cannon, which corresponds to the distance covered by the Artillery shell.

The best way to set up Elevation angle is to use this Artillery Calculator that provides the exact ratio of Milliradians vs. Meters. Use the slider to adjust the correct ratio.

For example, if your Observer marker shows that the distance to your target is 1248 meters, then your Elevation angle would be 705 Milliradians. Use W and T keys to adjust the Elevation angle.

When your Traverse and Elevation angles are set, you can fire an Artillery shell with confidence that it will hit the desired target exactly as intended.

New Horizons is The Best — and Only — Direction for Animal Crossing Tue, 18 Jun 2019 11:02:56 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

E3 finally gave people their first glimpse at the upcoming Animal Crossing Switch game, titled Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The good news is it looks amazing. The bad news is we can't get our hands on it until next year.

That's okay, really. Not only does it mean the dev team gets to be real humans with a work-life balance, but it also means they have the time they need to really make this a stand-out game. And it looks like it's going to be a stand-out game.

Past titles have played it safe with innovations and doing new things, striking a balance between innovation and safety that sometimes leans a bit too far towards the latter than the former. However, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is making a big step forward for the series, even bigger than New Leaf, and it's exactly what Animal Crossing needs to keep it fresh and appealing for years to come.

Tried and True

Animal Crossing's debut was much like Harvest Moon's: it was a completely different kind of game that shattered all traditional notions of gameplay. You were completely free to do whatever you wanted, interact with townsfolk as much or as little as possible, and even live in a dingy 4x4 house for your entire game if you felt like Tom Nook needed to find other sources of revenue.

Yet that innovation and its popularity put the series in a bit of a difficult place. On the one hand, changing things up too much could potentially alienate players who loved the formula first used; on the other, making future entries too similar to previous installments means there's little incentive to play.

It's a position Animal Crossing grappled with for a while and not always with successful results. The developers focused more on the multiplayer aspects when making changes for Wild World and City Folk, taking advantage of wireless communication and trying to implement more activities people could enjoy in their friends' towns.

Changes for single player mode were conservative at best and regressive at worst. WW ditched the major holidays in favor of drawn-out affairs the player couldn't participate in. However, it did expand villager conversation variety and add new request types, along with new furniture. The world became rounder, but smaller as well.

Other major changes included Celeste's observatory and the ability to see the sky; the latter might sound mundane, but it adds a special sense of wholeness to the town.

Rather than being a big step forward, it was more like a refinement that tried to recapture the same sense of of the original, but for new audiences. With a goal like that, it's understandable the team would be careful how much they changed.

Urban Stagnation

City Folk suffered from that approach, only with the Wii as the platform — and by exactly the same approach, to a fault. It's still a charming game, but apart from having all the special characters in one place and an upgraded aesthetic, there isn't much new in a positive way.

What it did do was severely pare down villager interactions . No longer could you shoot the breeze with your favorite animals or pester them for requests until at last they remembered that video tape they loaned out. Instead, you had no communication options and had to deal with a few responses on repeat for an hour.

The disappearing grass function was a strange innovation as well. Presumably meant to create paths in the town, it resulted in a lot of brown instead and some very thin grass. That might not seem like a big deal, but in a game where the goal is making your town as beautiful, or as whatever, as you want, punishing you for walking around said town doesn't seem very beneficial. (It's worth noting the New Horizons trailer shows you making paths specifically, so huzzah; your grass is safe forevermore.)

Overall, none of these negatives are really all that bad, though. The games are still incredibly fun, and it's easy to sink a ton of time into them. The problem comes when you look at them and realize you could get largely the same experience regardless of which title you chose.

Election Time

New Leaf came and changed all of that with a simple mechanics change. Making the player the mayor initially came off as a gimmick, but it opened up a vital aspect of living in an AC town: making it completely your own.

The Town Ordinances addressed a long-standing problem for fans who didn't have a school-based schedule by letting stores open earlier or close later. The sheer convenience of making villagers focus on town beautification can't be overstated either and saved those poor flowers from neglect.

More important was the introduction of Public Works Projects. These special, sometimes wacky, items could be placed anywhere — well, almost — in any combination, and there were a ton to unlock. They also gave players something to work towards other than repaying a home loan, which goes far in providing incentive to keep playing.

It also introduced the start of something new with furniture: customization and new placement options. The series has always been about living your fictional life your way, and New Leaf finally started to make that possible.

It couldn't really be replicated, though. Many fans and critics lamented City Folk's recycling of Wild World. There's no way Animal Crossing could have directly continued what New Leaf started without repeating that situation, getting stuck by just adding new Public Works Projects, some new furniture and ultimately displeasing consumers.

Communal Island Paradise

So it doesn't try to. New Horizons makes a clean break from previous Animal Crossing concepts, taking the major, most enjoyable features from the series and doing something new with them.

Moving the game out of a traditional town and into an exotic new location is, like many positive changes in the series' history, minor on the surface. After all, E3 interviews with the game's director confirmed most of the town building aspects will remain recognizable. However, it creates an atmosphere of new beginnings (hence the game's name) that, recognizable progression or not, does make even familiar tasks seem fresh.

The main feature of populating an island greatly contributes to that as well. With New Leaf, the focus was firmly on you. Even though you can determine where your neighbors live, it seems like this is meant to be a more cooperative outing.

You're all in the same boat, held under Tom Nook's merciless iron thumb until you pay back your loans and can move out of your tents. Plus, unhappy villagers will leave the island, and it looks like fellow islanders will contribute a lot more to the community's well-being, if their gardening activities in the trailer are anything to go by.

In other words, not only are you taking part in village/island life per usual; you're all working together to make that life. It's basically the fully realized fulfillment of the original Animal Crossing's promise all those years ago.

New Horizons borrows from Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp in what looks like highly effective ways as well. The half-grid placement makes a return from HHD, and it seems as if you can use it to plant tightly knit garden projects, among other things.

But the more exciting feature is placing furniture and items outside.

Your Island, Your Way

This time, your town really can be your own, and you can change it however you want, whenever you want. Public Works Projects are great, but they're specialty items mostly, like the Jungle Gym, or classic buildings like the Lighthouse. New Horizons lets you create a temporary campsite, as we've seen, but assuming there are no limits to what you can place outdoors, the possibilities will be limitless.

One thing I'm most excited about, though, is the item crafting. Pocket Camp introduced us to it in a sense, and New Horizons is taking it to greater heights. Nook Miles rewards are sort of like the Meow Coupons add-on in New Leaf, tasking you to complete certain quests to get rewards. But not having every item or piece of furniture you want available immediately provides an even more compelling reason to keep playing.

You're trying to earn or find recipes, or items to make something new. Sure, you're probably going to get stuck trying to find a certain recipe, just like waiting for years on that one piece of furniture Nook never seemed to stock. However, searching them out, finding the ones you want, and making your island community into something unique puts the focus more firmly on players than even New Leaf's mayor feature did.

Multiplayer was never Animal Crossing's strong point. There just wasn't enough to do, and the chat functions weren't quite up to snuff, unless you liked playing right up against your TV thanks to the Wii Speak's obnoxiously short cord.

Yet it seems like New Horizons will be a step in the right direction for multiplayer as well. Obviously, most of its multiplayer features are still under wraps, but we did get a glimpse at something the series has needed for so long: playing with friends and family at the same time.

Because Animal Crossing's multiplayer offerings were so limited, it never made sense you couldn't at least play with the other people living in your own town and work together. Well, okay, I'm sure it does make sense from a technological standpoint, but it was a huge bummer nonetheless.


New Horizons is an appropriate name not just because the game takes place on a new island over the horizon.

This looks like this is the first time Animal Crossing will really give you the reins in your town and finally add greater purpose to all that item and furniture hoarding... er, collecting. It's a completely new outlook for the series, even while it retains its beloved roots — and it's hopefully setting a pattern of innovation for future entries as well.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution Interview with Producer Charles Murakami Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:42:11 -0400 Erroll Maas

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is an upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive based on the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game and franchise.

Link Evolution also serves as an updated version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist, which originally released digitally for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 30, 2015, and on PC via Steam on December 7, 2016.

At E3 2019, we had a chance to check out the new game as well as interview producer Charles Murakami about new summoning methods, worldwide releases, other Yu-Gi- Oh! games, and more.

GameSkinny: Link Evolution features over 9,000 cards, so is it based more on the TCG (Trading Card Game, which it's called in North America, Europe, and other territories) or the OCG (Original Card Game, as it's called in Japan)?

Charles Murakami: It's actually not based on the TCG nor OCG. If  a card is released in both territories, this game is likely to have it. There might be a few that aren't in the game like some promo cards, but for the most part, if the physical card was released worldwide, then it's in the game. This is the first time in a while that we have a game released worldwide. With each territory having the same set of cards, you can play U.S. versus Japan online. Online play is also ranked. So, if you're ranked number one online, you’ll be number one in the world.

GS: With that many cards featured in the game, how do you work with the balancing for all of it?

CM: Well, the TCG side has handled a lot of the actual card balancing, but putting all the card assets into the game, getting the cards to play correctly, and having the AI be able to play those cards has been quite a challenge, definitely. But we're diligent enough to try to make it happen.

GS: Something a lot of players noticed when Link Evolution first launched in Japan is that it already had full English language support. What was the reasoning for this?

CM: Yes, it has English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, and it has all those languages because we wanted to make sure that the game is compatible worldwide. We didn't do an exclusive Japanese version where only players in Japan can play with each other, and having multiple languages ensures that every release is the same version. This way, there won't be any problems with players competing against each other.

GS: This will be a first time in eight years a physical version of a Yu-Gi-Oh! game will release in North America and Europe. What is the reasoning behind that?

CM: It's been so long that we wanted to do that again, and the thing about physical copies is you can also lend it to a friend. Link Evolution has tutorials throughout, so if you're new to Yu-Gi-Oh! it's a good way to start. So if you're a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan and you have a friend who's interested, you can then lend a physical copy to them.

GS: Some of the cards from the OCG are censored in the TCG for a variety of reasons, but some players noticed the Japanese version still had these censorship changes. Why was that?

CM: If you play the game in English, we want to display the card art you’re used to, so the game will show the TCG card art. If you change the language to Japanese, it will show you the Japanese art for most of the cards. There's some Japanese art that we couldn’t use for different reasons, but for the most part if you play in Japanese it will actually show you the Japanese card. The game's rating is also T instead of E10+ this time.

GS: Recently, the new Master Rules, including new Monster Zones, have been introduced. Are these the only rules in the game or are the old rules in as well?

CM: It's only the new rules throughout, since we didn't want to confuse new players with lots of different types of rules. To make sure everything works with the new rules, we've tweaked many of the AI opponents’ older decks from the original Legacy of the Duelist as well.

GS: So for older players who aren't as open to newer features like Pendulum and Link summoning. What would you say to help them get interested and what did you do in this game to help do so?

CM: So the game starts all the way back from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. The first series has a little bit of Fusion summoning but the rules are fairly basic. Then, the next show, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX introduces a lot more Fusion summoning (with each following campaign introducing a new summoning method such as Synchro, Xyz, Pendulum, and Link).

Each one of these has a tutorial explaining how to use the new cards and a sequence of additional duels that slowly increase in difficulty. By the end, you'll be and expert at everything Yu-Gi-Oh!. So no matter where you may have started or stopped, this game will get you back up to speed. 

GS: So one game Link Evolution is likely to be compared to is Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links; why was the decision to make an updated version of Legacy of the Duelist for Nintendo Switch rather than a Nintendo Switch version Duel Links with an offline mode?

CM: We noticed that although there is crossover with people playing both Duel Links and the physical card game, players dedicated to Duel Links like the fast format, while others likes the longer, combo driven play of the traditional Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. We like allowing players to choose between the two.

GS: So in another comparison to Duel Links, it features some voice acting here and there but Legacy of the Duelist does not. What is the reasoning behind that?

CM: We don't have voice acting mostly because we have over 130 characters with dialogue covering multiple TV shows. That is a lot. We were actually making the game as Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS started airing, so we were literally watching the TV show during development.

It would be hard trying to get voices on top of that when we weren't even sure what the dialogue would be yet. We wanted to make sure to try and get as much of all these shows into the game as possible.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is currently available on the Japanese eShop with English language support. It will launch for Nintendo Switch both digitally and physically in North America and Europe on August 20. The physical version will include three exclusive promo cards.

For more E3 2019 coverage, but sure to head over the conference hub page. Here are a few articles to get you started: 

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 E3 2019 Preview Mon, 17 Jun 2019 10:03:25 -0400 Erroll Maas

At E3 2019, I was able to try out the upcoming Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the lengthily-titled next entry in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series.

The game has plenty of different characters to play as and a variety of different mini-games in which to partake, and its gameplay is surprisingly simple. Perhaps too much so for those that have yet to try the games.

The E3 demo featured a few playable characters and four different sports in which they could partcipate, including karate, skateboarding, surfing, and archery.

Karate was the first one I tried. Here, players must quickly hit or block opponents to gain points. Each round of karate can end in the blink of an eye, so it's best players keep their guard up if they want to ensure victory.

Skateboarding is extremely simple; all players have to do is go whichever direction they want and press "A" at the right time to perform tricks, and sometimes both "A" and "R" to garner more points while doing them.

Surfing is similar but includes rapidly pressing the "A" button to paddle and catch a wave. Once a player starts paddling, catching the wave behind is automatic, but staying on the wave and performing tricks requires use of the analog stick as well as the "A" button once again. There's also only a limited amount of time for players to stay on the wave, with the goal being to stay on it for as long as possible.

For Archery, players can either compete against each other or team up and get points by shooting arrows at targets. In this demo, Archery may have been the easiest sport of the bunch, since hitting the middle of the target was nearly unavoidable.

While it's still fun to play all of these modes in quick succession, from all of the simple actions utilized by the four available sports in the demo, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is best recommended for younger kids and more casual players at this point.

Maybe things will be more difficult in the final build over time, but this demo did nothing to indicate that. If you're looking for a modern title with similar gameplay to Wii Sports, this likely isn't the one.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 launches for Nintendo Switch in November 2019.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order E3 2019 Preview Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:29:41 -0400 Erroll Maas

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a brand-new entry in the beloved Ultimate Alliance series that features a handful of different playable heroes from Marvel Comics, as well as plenty of iconic villains to fight.

In Ultimate Alliance 3, heroes team up to collect the Infinity Stones before Thanos can get to them and unleash chaos throughout the universe.

Every level of the game's campaign mode can be played in either single-player or co-op, though in either single-player or multiplayer you have a team of four heroes to work with.

For my E3 demo team, I played as Venom and my partner chose Storm, while I chose Miles Morales and Deadpool as our CPU teammates. Players can swap between the four chosen heroes at any time as long as there are less than four players -- in case they want to experience each character's playstyle.

Team lineups can also be changed at S.H.E.I.L.D. Points, which appear at several locations in each level

Venom felt like more of a brute character; he didn't have as much finesse as Spider-Man and featured different abilities except for his web swinging double jump. In many ways, he felt similar to the Hulk.

After Venom-smashing a few of the ninja enemies from The Hand, I switched to Miles as I expected him to be more agile. While Miles was indeed more agile than Venom, the constant chaos of battle made it difficult to know what was going on.

Due to my team combination, differentiating between allies and enemies could get confusing. The ninjas of The Hand had red and black outfits, somewhat reminiscent of Deadpool, so at times, Deadpool would be mistaken for the last enemy we would have to take out before progressing to the next section of the level.

Each playable hero had quick light attacks, which can be chained for combos, and slower but more powerful heavy attacks. Enemies seemed to always have more health than expected, so it always took longer than desirable to take a whole group down, even after characters would level up through battle.

In addition to different basic attacks, each hero had special powers called Abilities that can deal more damage but use up energy points, which refill over time.

When heroes use abilities in unison it creates Synergy, which allows for a variety of more powerful attacks. Unfortunately, even when using Synergy attacks, the enemies still seemed to have more health than necessary.

While Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is far from the worst experience I've played on Nintendo Switch, it's clear that it has a few problems, or at least the demo at E3 did.

It's also completely possible the full game will be more enjoyable after becoming more accustomed to the gameplay, although it may not be enjoyable for those who have never been fond of the Ultimate Alliance series or the Marvel universe.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order launches for Nintendo Switch on July 19.

The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening E3 2019 Preview: Gameplay You Remember, New Visuals You Already Love Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:18:58 -0400 Erroll Maas

When the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was first announced, longtime fans were overjoyed. Now, their favorite entry would be returning.

While details were scant at the time, we now know more about the upcoming remake. Fortunately, everything is just as players remember, other than the new and improved visuals that is.

Our E3 2019 demo covered the very first section of the game, starting at Link's actual awakening on the island of Koholint in Tarin's house. After meeting Tarin's daughter, Marin, and picking up his shield, Link goes off to the beach to try and find his sword.

Once found, an owl tells him that if he wants to go home, he must wake the wind fish by collecting the eight instruments of the Sirens.

The demo then took us to the forest with the tanuki encounter, collecting toadstools for the witch's magic dust, and going to the witch's house to obtain the dust to prevent the Tanuki from confusing Link and getting him lost. Unfortunately, the demo ended before we could take care of the tanuki.

Having played a large portion of Link's Awakening DX years ago, this Nintendo Switch remake feels exactly the same from a gameplay perspective. For most remakes, this would seem like a bad thing, but it works well for this particular title.

Traversal works just fine and combat is just how you would expect it to be from any top-down Legend of Zelda title.

While I've never been a huge fan of Link's Awakening, it's clear that Nintendo has put plenty of care into this remake and has tried its best to update it without changing the core gameplay elements that diehard fans love.

Being able to also develop a new and unique art style that fans are now enamored with only further improves the fact this remake exists. While I was disappointed I couldn't try the brand-new dungeon editor mode, this demo and the impending release of the full game gives me hope for the future of Legend of Zelda titles, and if any more of the Game Boy entries are planned to be remade.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening will launch for Nintendo Switch on September 20, 2019. A limited edition with a Game Boy-themed steelbook case and 120-page art book is available for pre-order in Europe, but it is unknown if or when it will be available in other territories.

Additionally, a Link's Awakening Link amiibo will be released on the same day as the game and will unlock additional content in the Dungeon Editor.

Luigi's Mansion 3 E3 Preview: Boo, Goo, and Improved Mon, 17 Jun 2019 10:53:47 -0400 Erroll Maas

Since its initial announcement during the September 2018 Nintendo Direct, Luigi's Mansion 3 has been somewhat of a mystery.

During Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct, we finally saw some of the gameplay that will be featured in the series' third entry.

We were fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with a demo on the showroom floor, and it provided both a nostalgic blast to the past as well as an optimistic look toward the future.

In Luigi's Mansion 3, players once again take control of Mario's ever frightened younger brother Luigi. Thinking he would be going on vacation to a seemingly luxurious hotel, he actually gets trapped in a plan by King Boo to capture the Mario brothers and their friends.

With assistance from Professor E. Gadd and the newly upgraded Poltergust G-00, Luigi must venture through the hotel to save his friends and bust some ghosts along the way.

The tutorial for this demo featured returning character Polterpup, as players are taught the basics by playing with him.

Luigi is equipped with a flashlight that can stun ghosts, and he also has the Poltergust-00, a new model of the familiar ghost busting vacuum which can now help Luigi slam ghosts back and forth in addition to pulling them toward him.

This short but sweet introduction is one of the best tutorials I've played, as it's straight to the point and doesn't waste the players time by trying to make them perform tedious tasks, and you even get to play with a ghost puppy as a bonus.

After this brief tutorial, it's off to explore the hotel, which has all manner of ghosts inside, from a few basic ghosts to other sorts of ghosts equipped with different tools such as shields. These require just a little more strategy to defeat.

In addition to ghosts, there are also treasures hidden behind certain walls which players can seek out to restore health and find items. Finding and obtaining these items may require the use of the suction shot, a more powerful suction tactic using the assistance of a plunger, or burst, which as you might be able to tell from the name, is the opposite of suction.

A brand-new mechanic first introduced during the Nintendo Direct is the inclusion of Gooigi, a playable clone of Luigi made out of slime who can ooze through obstacles Luigi can't get past by himself, such as spikes and metal bars.

Gooigi is useful once players become accustomed to switching between him and Luigi; in some cases, both can also be used at the same time. If the latter option proves to be too tricky for a single player, as it did for me due to using a pro controller instead of handheld mode and having to pay attention to both analog sticks for movement of both characters, a second player can join in and play as Gooigi to help them out.

While I only played the first Luigi's Mansion briefly and found Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon to be highly unsatisfying, Luigi's Mansion 3 seems like it takes both the praise and criticism of past entries to heart, in turn improving its own gameplay by both enhancing old features as well as adding new ones.

After playing the demo, it feels like Luigi's Mansion 3 will provide what fans want and will likely even have some pleasant surprises waiting for them.

As of writing, Luigi's Mansion 3 does not yet have a release date, but it is still planned to launch for Nintendo Switch sometime in Q4 2019.

Pokemon Sword & Shield E3 2019 Preview: The Biggest Gym Battles Ever Deserve Bigger Features Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:54:14 -0400 Erroll Maas

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, the eighth generation of mainline Pokemon titles and the second pair to launch on Nintendo Switch after Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu and Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee, have fans both excited and skeptical for their release.

From the E3 demo I played, this is understandable, although the playable build only featured battling a few gym trainers, solving a gym puzzle, and battling the gym leader at the end. So in the end, it didn't give the best idea of what the full experience will ultimately be like.

The team in the demo consisted of the three starter Pokemon of the new Galar region, Scorbunny, Grookey, and Sobble, the recently revealed Corviknight and Wooloo, and the newly-introduced electric corgi Yamper.

While trying to solve the Gym Mission and gain access to the Gym Leader's arena by pressing different colored buttons to turn corresponding waterfalls on and off, several trainers were encountered, each having only one Pokemon of their own. These trainers seemed to be only for demo purposes, as their Pokemon did not seem to match with the Water-type theme of the gym at all.

While the trainer battles were ordinary except for one of them featuring the new Dark and Fairy dual-type Pokemon, Impidimp, the battle against the Gym Leader is where the demo really got exciting.

Going against Gym Leader Nessa, I thought it would be best to send Yamper out first, but to my surprise, the demo featured no menu outside of battle. Consequently, my initial lineup could not be changed, meaning Pokemon could only be switched while in battle.

Nessa sent out Goldeen while I swapped out for Yamper, but to my surprise, it was taken out in just two turns from Goldeen's waterfall attack, which seemed to have a bigger and much flashier animation than the other attacks I had seen.

After Yamper was taken down, I sent out Grookey to make quick work of Nessa's horned fish and it did exactly that.

After this, Nessa sent out her dual water and rock type turtle Dreadnaw and immediately used Dynamax, making it grow to Gamera size. Of course, I followed suit and activated Dynamax with Grookey to level the playing field.

While information for attacks and types were shown when highlighted, stats were not, so it's unknown if or how Dynamax affects them. It's also unknown just how strong Dreadnaw is, as it was able to knock out Dynamax Grookey with little trouble.

Having a much tougher time than I expected, my options were Wooloo, which couldn't do much, Sobble, which was resistant but likely wouldn't do much damage, Scorbunny, which might have been able to deal a decent amount of damage with double kick but was weak to water, and Corviknight, whose Steel Wing attack might be able to help.

I decided to try out Corviknight, and his Steel Wing did not prove useful in these trying times. After Dreadnaw had returned to normal size — Dynamax has a three-turn limit —  taking out a few slivers of health, I decided to experiment a little bit and switch to Sobble.

As it turned out, Sobble's liquidation attack dealt a decent amount of damage, and I was able to finally get Dreadnaw to faint in two turns. I had finally beat Gym Leader Nessa.

Despite being fun for most longtime Pokemon fans, the Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield demo lacked new features to showcase. While Dynamax is a neat new battle mechanic, not being able to see how or if it changes Pokmon stats makes it feel less significant.

A demo of wild areas and max raids may have been a more preferable way to showcase Dynamax in addition to other new features.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will launch for Nintendo Switch on November 15. A steelbook bundle featuring both versions is also available for pre-order.

Ready to catch em' all in the new Galar region? Here are a few reasons you should be excited for the upcoming Pokemon games