Indie Genre RSS Feed | Indie on GameSkinny en Launch Media Network Interactive Entertainment Network Ripcord.TV Launched Today Tue, 13 Nov 2018 16:23:54 -0500 QuintLyn

Today, a new venture headed by esports experts AlphaDraft and producers from Sony and Disney announced the launch of Interactive Mobile TV Network

Designed to create a more interactive experience for viewers, combines the social experiences found on most livestreaming sites with the professional production found in more traditional media.

The new network features a team made up of television professionals and esporst industry veterans to create an interactive media experience  where the viewers can be part of the show. Viewers can interact with live game show and their hosts during their regularly scheduled times.

The network's current lineup includes five shows: Fast Facts, The Hunt, In or Out, Raise the Bar, and Word Up. During any of these shows, viewers can compete for bragging rights and cash prizes.

The app is available via both the Apple App Store and Google Play. More information on the platform can be found on the official site.


Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun: How to Fight the Motion Controls & Almost Win Tue, 13 Nov 2018 15:47:00 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Any rhythm game fan has heard of the Taiko no Tatsujin series, whether they've played it or not. Arcade cabinets with huge Japanese taiko drums, loud music, and more BOOM BOOM BOOM BASS than pretty much any other rhythm game. That's the one. 

Recently, the West got its second-ever taste of this long-running series, with Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun releasing on the Nintendo Switch and Drum Session! making its way to the PlayStation 4.

This is an exciting time for rhythm fans because both games have been minimally changed from their Japanese-release counterparts, unlike Taiko Drum Master on the PlayStation 2, which featured its very own tracklist of terrible covers of English songs... and the North American Dragon Ball Z theme. But hey, at least it came with a drum.

The Nintendo Switch's motion control option and the sheer nostalgia from the inclusion of Cha-la Head Cha-la from Dragon Ball Z pushed me toward purchasing Drum 'n' Fun over Drum Session! first.

This was probably a mistake.

The motion control issue

Drum 'n' Fun has three separate innate control options: pressing buttons on the Joy-Con, using the touchscreen, and using the Joy-Con motion controls. The first two are great, the third is almost torturous.

I've played a few Switch games that use motion controls before and it's gone fine, but not many titles -- or even genres -- require the sort of precise inputs and timing rhythm games demand. The Joy-Cons are not up to the task of accurately air drumming.

Three things happen on the regular with motion controls:

  • Phantom tapping, particularly after a drum roll or other rapid-note segments
  • The gyro not reading the direction the Joy-Cons are tilted when trying to hit Ka instead of Don
  • The Joy-Cons not reading an input even though you definitely made a motion

I do not know how some Japanese players are able to clear Extreme difficulty using the Joy-Cons, but after playing for a week or so, I'm fairly confident you either have to be in the top percentage bracket for wrist control worldwide or be some sort of Joy-Con wizard.

But enough complaining -- if you're like me, you may want to push forward with the Joy-Cons anyway, in part due to the challenge and perhaps, in part, because buying those drums costs over $100 and you don't have that kind of scratch right now.

Dealing with the Joy-Cons

So you're a masochist, huh? Cool.

Learning to play somewhat competently with the Joy-Cons takes form and practice. Drum 'n' Fun's built-in tutorials are basically useless, so you're somewhat on your own outside of this barebones text guide and some videos of players having at it.

Before I get to my personal tips, take a look at the tutorial video from the official Japanese website. You don't need to understand what's being said to get the gist.

If you're like most players, you're probably having a lot of trouble hitting Ka (blue) notes reliably. As you can see in the video above, to hit them on a regular basis you have to tilt/twist the Joy-Con to a 45-degree angle -- but, this isn't something you'll actually have to do in full once you're used to the Joy-Cons.

These bits of advice are supposed to help you acclimate yourself to drumming using the Joy-Cons, but in time, you will find your own methods that work.

When I first decided to learn to make the Joy-Cons bow before my will, I stuck hard to these rules. As I became more familiar with the overall wonkiness of the motion controls, I loosened up and found other methods and positions that worked better for me.

Here are some tips. 

Hold the Joy-Cons so they are fully in your hands to start

Don't grab half the Joy-Con, grab the whole thing like your life depends on it.

As you get better, you'll find holding positions that may work better for you but to start, grip the entirety of the Joy-Con to ensure there's no wobble to your hits.

Flick the wrist; don't move your whole arm

This gets painful if you've got the ol' carpal tunnel, but flicking your wrists is the quickest and easiest way to get the Joy-Cons to read your movement accurately.

The game will not ever accurately read wide, broad arm strokes, and on more difficult songs, you simply do not have the time for broad strokes. Stick to wrist flicking and move your way up to forearm motions as you become more comfortable.

Choose your resting angle

How do you hold your Joy-Cons when idle? One might say you can hold them in any position, but you have to think about how your wrists and arms are going to move and what angle they're coming from for semi-accurate motion readings.

After watching some videos, I started holding my Joy-Cons at a 90-degree upward angle. This did help, but over time, I've started being more relaxed and hold them tilted a little more forward. After all, your motions are what matter most.

You don't have to hold your Joy-Cons at a 90- or even 45-degree angle (you can hold them horizontally, even), but the goal is for you to learn to control your wrists and arms from a stationary position. Choose an angle and try to stick with it, but adjust if you don't feel you're getting accurate timings or are getting the wrong notes.

Ka woes, angle-swiping, and the game's newb-friendliness

As mentioned earlier, the only way to always get the game to recognize your Ka hits is to swipe the Joy-Cons at a 45-degree angle inward. You may have to do this particularly hard as you get used to hitting these notes but as with everything else mentioned here, your motions will become more fluid as you familiarize yourself with the control wonkiness.

There is one aspect the game fails to ever mention and may very well be a fun-killer: Drum 'n' Fun reads Don and Ka independently, but as one another.

What this means is, you can hit Dons for Kas and vice versa. You could theoretically play the game hitting nothing but Don notes and it will read them as Ka notes in the appropriate places.

I really dislike this "feature," but with the motion controls being what they are... I'll take it. If you don't believe me on this, go test it out. You'll find out pretty quickly the game does not care which note you are hitting, it only cares about timing. A bummer for sure.

Phantom notes, a.k.a. the drum roll plague, a.k.a. choose a character who will do them for you

If you have done a drum roll even once in Drum 'n' Fun, you've felt one or both of your Joy-Cons let off a phantom note. Clearly, they do not like being shaken.

In a game that requires such accuracy, these phantom notes are full combo killers. The only way to win versus these phantom notes is to cut out the middleman and not do them at all.

Luckily Drum 'n' Fun allows you to choose characters, each with their own skills. Currycutta is the first character you'll get who will take that burden off your shoulders as it will auto-drum roll and do balloons. That leaves only one rapid-drum variation left, and those are generally manageable.

This is kind of a crappy way to get around the game hitting phantom notes, but I will say that it has significantly increased my enjoyment of the game as phantom notes happen far less frequently if you just let the game do drum rolls for you. Again, this is kind of crappy because doing drum rolls is really fun and it's an integral part of the Taiko no Tatsujin experience.


I don't know if I'm crazy or I just hate myself, but I'm going to keep playing with the Joy-Cons until I either get Drum Session! with a PS4 drum and Switch adapter. I've never rage-played anything to this extent in my entire life.

Perhaps it's simply excitement or love for the Taiko no Tatsujin series, who knows. All I know is I can't stop playing regardless of the motion controls being less-than-desirable. Getting good enough to reliably play Hard or even Extreme with these things is going to require a lot more control than I have.

Hopefully, my advice will help you on your path to Taiko enlightenment, but let's be real: It's a lot easier and more fun to shell out $100+ for a drum than it is to even do halfway well in Drum 'n' Fun using the motion controls.

Fallout 76 Legendary Modifiers Guide Tue, 13 Nov 2018 15:26:37 -0500 Ty Arthur

The wait is over -- Fallout 76 launched early, so you can get in on the post apocalyptic multiplayer mayhem right now!

Just like in Fallout 4, special equipment can drop from enemies with a star next to their name that includes additional Legendary modifiers. These modifiers radically alter the equipment's base properties or give them huge advantages over standard weapons.

You'll know you've got a Legendary if you see a short word modifier before the weapon, like Acrobat's, Exterminator's, or Ghoul Hunter's. Below we cover all the effects current discovered.

It's entirely possible there are far more than these effects that just haven't been found yet, as the list is obviously much smaller than in Fallout 4 at the moment.

Have you seen any other Legendary modifiers not listed in the tables below? Let us know and we'll get them added!

Fallout 76 Legendary Armor Modifiers

Legendary Property Effect
 Acrobat  -50% falling damage
 Assassin  -15% damage from humans
 Auto Stim  Use stimpack automatically when below 40% health
 Bolstering  Increased damage resistance when at lower health
 Cavalier  -15% damage when sprinting or blocking
 Chameleon  Reduced enemy detection when stationary or sneaking
 Duelist  10% chance to disarm melee weapon from enemy
 Exterminator  -15% damage from bugs and mirelurks
 Ghoul Slayer  -15% damage from ghouls
 Hunter  -15% damage from animals
 Junky  Reduced damage when suffering from chem withdrawal
 Mutant Slayer  -15% damage from super mutants
 Sprinter  +10% movement speed
 Troubleshooter  -15% damage from robots
 Undying  50% chance to use stim pack while downed
 Weightless  -50% total weight
 Zealot  -15% damage from scorched


Fallout 76 Legendary Weapon Effects

Legendary Property Effect
Anti-Scorched   +25% damage vs scorched, -20% vs all others
 Anti-Armor  Ignore 50% armor
Assassin   +10% damage to other players
Berserker   Deal more damage if your Resistance is lower
 Bloodied  Deal more damage if your health is lower
Concussive   +33% hit chance in VATS
 Double  Double weapon magazine size
 Executioner  +50% damage if target is below 40$ health
 Explosive  Ammo explodes for 15 area damage
Exterminator   +50% damage against bugs and mirelurks
 Furious  Additional damage on subsequent hits against same target
Ghoul Slayer   +50% damage vs ghouls
 Hunter  +50% damage vs animals
  Instigating  Double damage when target is at 100% health
 Junky  Additional damage if you have chem withdrawal
 Medic  Heal your group when inflicting VATS crits
 Mutant  +10% damage if you have a mutation
 Mutant Slayer  +30% damage vs super mutants
Never Ending   Infinite ammo supply
 Nocturnal  Extra damage at night, less damage during day
 Quad  4X standard ammo capacity
Sacrificial Blade  Deals additional bleed and poison damage
 Stalker  +100% VATS accuracy at+50% AP cost if not in combat
 Suppressor  Target deals 20% less damage for 3 seconds after being hit
 Troubleshooter  +30% damage vs robots
 Two Shot  Fire one additional round per attack
 Vampiric  Heal after striking an enemy
 Zealot  +30% damage vs ghouls


Fallout 76 Unique Weapons

Weapon Special Effect
 All Rise (Super sledge)  -90% weight, +10 HP
Blade Of Bastet (Chinese officer sword)  Increased armor penetration
Black Diamond (Ski sword)  +1 Strength to wielder
Bunker Buster (Missile launcher)  +20% damage
 Guitar Sword (Sword)  Currently unknown -- let us know if you find this weapon!
 Makeshift Rifle (Assault rifle)  Bonus damage when HP below 40%
 Perfect Storm (10mm SMG)  Incendiary bullets deal damage over time
 Rose's Syringer (Syringe launcher)  Makes target extra powerful for 60 seconds, then extra weak for 60 seconds
 Voice Of Set (.44 pistol)  Bonus damage vs robots


Need more help getting started in the open world wasteland of this series spin off? Check out our other Fallout 76 guides here:

Spider-Man's Next DLC Features A New Story Mission, 3 More Suits Tue, 13 Nov 2018 14:38:46 -0500 William R. Parks

While there is no dearth of new titles to keep players occupied this fall, content continues to find its way to Insomniac Games' exceptional Spider-Man for PlayStation 4.

With the game's first DLC in the books, it is now time for the second chapter in the action-adventure game's three-part DLC (The City That Never Sleeps), and Insomniac has just given us a peek at what we can expect from Turf Wars, releasing next Tuesday, November 20.

As with October's DLC release, Turf Wars features a brand-new story mission. This time around, players will square-off against Hammerhead, a classic villain with a surgically reinforced skull, after he has let loose chaos on the streets of New York. You will not be alone, however, as Yuri Watanabe is along for the ride.

Additionally, Turf Wars will bring new bases, crimes, challenges, and trophies to Spider-Man, and, perhaps most importantly, three new suits as well.

Fans can now compliment the game's updated Iron Spider Armor with the classic version and complete their MK set with the Spider-Armor MK I.

Additionally, the Spider-Clan Suit is a manga-inspired take on Spidey's costume, pulled from the Marvel Mangaverse comic books. The Illustrated-style of this suit is in good company with the game's Vintage Comic Book Suit, and it is sure to be striking amidst Spider-Man's more realistic aesthetic.

As mentioned, Turf Wars will be available on November 20 for $9.99.

If you are interested in all three DLCs (Turf Wars, the previously released The Heist, and the upcoming Silver Lining), The City That Never Sleeps bundle is available for $24.99.

Will Turf Wars be enough to pull you away from Red Dead Redemption 2, Hitman 2, Fallout 76, or any of the other new games you may be playing?

Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our review of Spider-Man and The Heist.

The Three Best Beginner Builds in Fallout 76 Tue, 13 Nov 2018 12:42:44 -0500 Sergey_3847

Fallout 76 is finally coming out in its full form, and if you didn't have the chance to try the game out during the beta test, then you will probably have a hard time getting to know all the perk cards available in the game from the start.

Having a plan before playing such a complex game as Fallout 76 is essential for effective survival gameplay. Fortunately, you can use helpful resources, such as Nukes and Dragons to pre-construct your SPECIAL builds and figure out beforehand which cards you want to use in your builds.

If you need help figuring out a powerful build for your first playthrough of Fallout 76, then follow our guide below for the three best beginner builds.

Best Strength Build

The first most logical build you can go for in Fallout 76 is the Strength build, which will give you a lot of APs to play with and a decent number of defense mechanisms.

At the heart of this build you will find three main perks: Strength, Endurance, and Agility. Strength will give you power to weild and damage opponents with melee weapons, while Endurance will let you withstand damage. Lastly, Agility is needed to create enough stamina for you to use during combat.

Here is a complete breakdown of the Strength build for Fallout 76:

  • Strength (15)
    • Gladiator (3)
    • Slugger (3)
    • Shotgunner (3)
    • Pack Rat (3)
    • Basher (1)
    • Sturdy Frame (2)
  • Perception (3)
    • Skeet Shooter (3)
  • Endurance (15)
    • Iron Stomach (3)
    • Natural Resistance (3)
    • Vaccinated (3)
    • Professional Drinker (3)
    • Hydrofix (2)
    • Aquaboy/Aquagirl (1)
  • Charisma (5)
    • Bodyguards (4)
    • Team Medic (1)
  • Intelligence (3)
    • First Aid (3)
  • Agility (9)
    • Action Boy/Girl (3)
    • Born Survivor (3)
    • Dodgy (3)
  • Luck (6)
    • Serendipity (3)
    • Junk Shield (3)

Best Agility Build

Strength is a powerful perk, but having a ton of APs and Luck can also bring some amazing results in the form of this Agility-based build. It is focused mainly on giving a massive advantage to your VATS and reducing any harmful effects that may come from either physical damage or radiation.

This build requires you to carry a good weapon, as it will significantly increase both the targeting precision and the critical hit chance. You can choose to become a very effective sniper or a gunner with the help of this build, so be sure to invest in all these cards if you are interested in this playstyle.

Here is a complete breakdown of the Agility build for Fallout 76:

  • Strength (5)
    • Pack Rat (3)
    • Sturdy Frame (2)
  • Perception (6)
    • Concentrated Fire (3)
    • Crack Shot (3)
  • Endurance (6)
    • Radicool (1)
    • Ghoulish (1)
    • Iron Clad (4)
  • Charisma (4)
    • Lone Wanderer (4)
  • Intelligence (5)
    • Gunsmith (5)
  • Agility (15)
    • Action Boy/Girl (3)
    • Adrenaline (1)
    • Gun Fu (3)
    • Gunslinger (1)
    • Expert Gunslinger (1)
    • Master Gunslinger (1)
    • Evasive (3)
    • Gun Runner (2)
  • Luck (15)
    • Four Leaf Clover (3)
    • Grim Reaper's Sprint (3)
    • Critical Savvy (3)
    • Better Criticals (3)
    • Class Freak (3)

Best Charisma Build

Many players would argue why would they need to play a Charisma build. But this is the type of build that is perfect for players who want to play a support role in their team. So, if you like to play in co-op, then opt for this excellent Charisma build, which also has a huge pool of APs due to several well-chosen Agility perks.

The most important perk card in this entire list is Team Medic, which fully heals your other team members when using stimpaks. This is highly important when your team gets engaged in a PvP combat, and in case the opposing team doesn't have a support player, then it will surely lose.

Here is a complete breakdown of the Charisma build for Fallout 76:

  • Strength (3)
    • Sturdy Frame (2)
    • Strong Back (1)
  • Perception (7)
    • Crack Shot (3)
    • Sniper (1)
    • Concentrated Fire (3)
  • Endurance (5)
    • Ironclad (5)
  • Charisma (15)
    • Team Medic (3)
    • Suppressor (3)
    • Tenderizer (3)
    • Quack Surgeon (1)
    • Squad Maneuvers (2)
    • Rad Sponge (1)
    • Magnetic Personality (2)
  • Intelligence (10)
    • Gunsmith (5)
    • Scrapper (1)
    • First Aid (3)
    • Pharmacist (1)
  • Agility (14)
    • Adrenaline (5)
    • Gunslinger (1)
    • Expert Gunslinger (1)
    • Master Gunslinger (1)
    • White Knight (3)
    • Gun Runner (2)
    • Marathoner (1)
  • Luck (2)
    • Luck of the Draw (2)


With the help of each of these three excellent Fallout 76 beginner builds, you will be able to explore the vast map of West Virginia either in solo mode or provide a real support for your teammates in co-op. Also, be sure to come back soon for even more Fallout 76 guides here at GameSkinny!

Crusader Kings II Holy Fury: How To Use The New Shattered World Rules Tue, 13 Nov 2018 16:22:34 -0500 Fox Doucette

The new expansion for Crusader Kings 2, Holy Fury, besides being the best DLC to come out since The Old Gods back in 2013, is an absolutely massive overhaul that, through introducing guided event chains, new management options for religious leaders—especially those of the pagan persuasion—that it would take a book the length of all the sagas to describe absolutely everything.

So instead of trying to cover the whole DLC in one shot, let's focus in on the one mechanic that is absolutely the most literally world-changing one in the whole package: the Shattered World rules.

Let's start by making like a god and creating a world.

One Caveat!

Shattered and Random Worlds will not allow you to circumvent DLC restrictions that lock playable pagans behind the Old Gods DLC, Muslims behind Sword of Islam, and nomads behind Horse Lords, for example. Please bear this in mind if you're shattering the world (especially if you're randomizing the religions in the game) since you might just end up with nothing but unplayable factions all over the map.

Put simply, this game mode richly rewards the completionist above all. Luckily, these DLCs go on sale a lot. I have almost all of them myself (even bought The Reaper's Due just because it was there when I got back into the game recently), and I'll be writing with that assumption in mind. If you can't use something I suggest here, and you really want it, buy the DLC. You'll be generally glad you did.

Shattered Vs. Random

The biggest difference between a shattered world and a random one is the scope and scale of the duchies and empires that start the game. That is to say, simply generating a random world means you can make it a lot like the base game, only... different.

Three of the first four settings are for “number of dukes”, “number of kings”, and “number of emperors”, after all. The point here isn't necessarily to change the fundamental flavor of a traditional CK2 game, where vassals can break free of lieges or scheme to gain the crown for themselves and where one-province minors are limited to places like Ireland if they want to grow powerful extremely early in the game.

Sure, you can turn all of those settings way down or even off, but if you're going to do that, that's where the fourth setting, the one at the very top, comes in. You can assign a maximum number of counties for counts to own.

Put that number at 8 and the game will tend to generate multi-county realms more or less exactly at the maximum demesne size that the rulers of those counties can hold.

Put it down at 1 and every count starts as a one-province minor.

In-between, of course, generates results that lead to decent-sized realms to start. This is nice if you don't want to twiddle your thumbs before you start warmongering; you can pick a county that's a bit bigger than its neighbors and get to putting together those de jure duchies and kingdoms that allow you to play “the Irish strategy” anywhere on the map.

Shattered World, meanwhile, is a lot more balanced.

Set it to “counties only” (the setting on the left at the top of the menu) and everyone's a one-province minor.

Set it to “duchies only” (the setting on the right) and every duke will start with their own complete de jure realm, ready to start vying for power to see which of those petty warlords will become the king (this is absolutely ideal for a “Bretwalda”-like game in the British Isles.)

Set it in the middle and there will be dukes with count vassals, a bit more of a headache rulership-wise but which does tend to slow down the pace of advancing “blobs” ever so slightly.

If all you did was use these options to break up an early start, it would be a fine way to go about it. But there is so much more available to you, so let's dig deeper.

Let's start with the three game settings unique to the Shattered World.

How Fast Do You Like Your Blobs?

The “Consolidation” casus belli, available for a designated amount of time from the start of the game, essentially opens the “Become King of Norway” decision from Norse pagans up to the entire game world.

During that limited time, you'll have an all-you-can-eat right to use the “county conquest” casus belli when starting a war. This has the net effect of saving you a lot of time and trouble as a non-Germanic-pagan faction in getting rid of a pesky neighbor, since you won't have to fabricate any claims.

Settings include Disabled as well as Enabled for 25 years, 100 years, or Permanent. Permanent is... well, it's way too powerful in the midgame and beyond for warmongers. Doing this for longer than a century makes the game an absolute cakewalk.

Beware the Fallen Empires

If you've played Paradox's sister game Stellaris, you know what happens when the Awakened Empires and the event-generated conquerors start showing up to screw the galaxy with a light show of space lasers.

Well, put that on Earth (minus the space lasers) and you have the Great Conquerors, of which up to 12 can be designated. These will periodically spawn with large armies, a special Invasion casus belli, and a tendency to show up nowhere near the player so they can do the maximum amount of damage and consolidation before the player eventually has to fight them. This is the check on player power from all that free consolidation in the early game that a human can do.

The more of these you spawn in, the harder the game gets.

My Son, All This Shall Be Yours

There's an option to change the succession laws, but it's either bugged or just doesn't work with tribes. It's hard to tell with Paradox what's a bug and what's a feature since their games are so complex, and I did my test playthrough for this guide as the County of Agder with a 769 historical start in a counties-only Shattered World. After 20 hours, I've only scratched the surface.

If indeed it's a bug and Paradox meant to allow feudal succession for tribes, this massively curbs the frustration factor that is getting locked to Elective Gavelkind until you can warmonger enough Moral Authority and religious holy sites to reform your religion and adopt feudalism or merchant republics.

Setting Primogeniture early is a huge buff to unreformed pagans, nomads, and tribals.

Demographics Or: How To Game Over In Year One

The next group of settings: Female Ruler Percentage, Marriage Percentage, Age Span, and Number of Children (0-10), are all self-explanatory.

The temptation is to go hog wild here, but it is real easy to accidentally trigger a game over when you make a world full of small dynasties ruled by women and find you can't keep your family line going past the first generation.

Granted, there are always ways around this (a matrilinear marriage to a lowborn courtier is every countess's in-case-of-fire-break-glass option if you can live with the prestige hit, as is the Present Debutante option to magic a wife out of thin air for a male ruler.)

But do be careful with these sliders.

How Historical Do You Like Your History?

You can, in any kind of world, keep the cultures and religions as they are and where they are in the world. Norse stay in Norway and follow the Old Gods, Italians live in Italy and are Catholic, and so on.

You can also decide to randomize historical cultures so Norse people live in the deepest, darkest parts of sub-Saharan Africa if you like. The map does extend all the way to the Sahel region, from Mali in the west to Somalia in the east.

Or those same men of the north could find themselves on the western fringes of China! If you've got the Jade Dragon DLC, that means Vikings on the Silk Road getting chummy with the Cathay emperors in Nanjing, and the idea of a bearded, axe-wielding Genghis Khan in a helmet out of a Wagner opera? Sure, why not?

But if you really want to break your brain and make yourself feel like you're playing in a world that is not our own, try randomizing the culture and religion names. Half the fun then becomes just trying to suss out what it is your neighbors believe so that you can try and formulate a strategy against it.

The Gods Must Be Crazy

And, of course, Paradox provided a cheat sheet. As soon as you randomize religions, a little green arrow lights up in the interface allowing you to look at and alter the belief systems of every religion in the game. You can't do it with historical religions (Catholics are still Catholic, Germanic pagans still worship Odin and Thor, and whatnot), but anything goes with random religions.

Want to make the “Wienkeic Rites” (the version of Norse paganism the game whipped up for me when I pressed the button just now as I'm writing this guide) a peace-loving, non-aggressive religion rooted in meritocracy and stability? Go nuts!

Want to make historically Buddhist or Hindu lands fall under the sway of a warmongering religion with bloodthirsty gods and a faithful who believe that death in battle brings eternal rewards in the hereafter? Gandhi wants his nukes!

You can choose anything in between and modify the AI as well, giving you (pun fully intended) god-like powers over belief.

Imagine No Possessions, I Wonder If You Can

The next key piece in our world-building puzzle is how fleshed out (or not) the individual holdings are.

You can keep this historical, so counties that are rich in the base game will remain so, you can randomize it so you get an unequal world with obvious strategic targets, or you can ensure that every single province in the game gets the same number of holdings in it.

You can have as few as one available holding slot or as many as seven, assigned to every province, or as mentioned you can make it random. The choice is yours.

The next section of the menu, “Holding Types”, determines whether you have fully feudal holdings everywhere on the map, fully tribal ones, fully nomadic camps, or any mixing and matching to suit the flavor of your game.

Tribalism does tend to nerf looting for pagans pretty badly, but at the same time, tribal holdings are easier to conquer the old-fashioned way.

The next slider, technology, gives you three choices: Historical (tends to concentrate early game tech in traditional “civilized” centers of learning), Flat (everyone's on the same footing, based mainly around the historical start year you choose for your game), and Random (although it won't slide too far off the start year's level of tech, advances will be randomly distributed rather than concentrated historically.)

I Dub Thee Emir of Groove-Funkistan

The last set of sliders relate to de jure duchies and kingdoms. Do you want the Kingdom of Arabia to be in... well... Arabia? Or would you rather have something much wackier?

Note that if you randomize the de jure realms, you can choose how big they are, and therefore how much conquering you'll have to do before you can form one. Fewer is better if you don't want to rely too heavily on vassals; more is better if you want a challenge of keeping a realm from disintegrating while you vie for the crown.

The same warning applies here as applies to religion. If you want to spend more time playing and less time sorting out the Tower of Babel story you just inflicted on the world by randomizing all the names, it might behoove you to change the flavor of the game mechanics without necessarily changing so much that the world is too foreign for you to understand while you're already playing one of the most complex games this side of Dwarf Fortress.

But if you do become the Emir of Groove-Funkistan, don't forget the burnoose.

Actually Playing This Weird World You've Built

At the end of the day? This is still Crusader Kings 2. Absolutely everything in the game functions according to the same rules (including the new rules the DLC adds that will present themselves over the course of your playthroughs, which we'll cover elsewhere or which you can read about on the CK2 Wiki or the Paradox forums) as it always has.

The difference is that if you've just thrown yourself into a world of petty fiefdoms vying to become the emperor of the known world, you're going to actually have to formulate a fresh strategy that may have nothing at all to do with how a “normal” person plays the game wherever it is you've spawned.

That, ultimately, is the most fun and challenging part of Shattered and Random Worlds. The history books all burned. It's up to you to write a new one.

Marvel Visionary, Stan Lee, Passes Away at 95 Mon, 12 Nov 2018 17:52:29 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Stan Lee, the brilliant mind that turned Marvel Comics into a household name and forever changed the pop culture landscape, has passed away at 95. 

He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Monday. His death has been confirmed by family representatives Dawn Miller and Kirk Schenck. 

The cause of death was not released. 

Lee, a plucky writer and fastidious editor, took the Marvel Comics brand to new heights in the early 1960s by infusing his superheroes with relatable human foibles. Eschewing the infallible, archetypal luminaries that dominated the 1940s and 1950s, Lee set about to create heroes that inspired generations through complex emotion and gripping personality. 

Actor Chris Evans, who played Johnny Storm in 2007's Fantastic Four and has played Captain America since 2011, said on Twitter following news of Lee's death: 

There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives. Excelsior!!

Alongside legendary artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee created a tableau of characters that would redefine not just comic books, but pop culture as a whole. Through his work and under his leadership and guidance, Marvel would go from humble publisher to multi-media powerhouse, one that would see the brand grow into movies, television, and video games. 

Across social media, fans, friends, and colleagues remembered Lee for his unfading contributions to entertainment, as well as his extraordinary character and kindness.






Lee made dozens of appearances in various Marvel media properties over the years, most notably in many of the Marvel films dating back to the 1989 T.V. movie, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

Later in his career, Lee also worked with DC Comics, contributing to re-imaginings of several high-profile DC characters, such as Batman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman. 

Lee will live on not only in the characters he created and co-created, but also the millions of fans who found solace and companionship in his words. 

Excelsior, Stan. Excelsior! 

Amazon Reveals Release Date for Sunset Overdrive on PC Mon, 12 Nov 2018 13:24:49 -0500 William R. Parks

While Microsoft has remained quiet about a PC version of 2014's Sunset Overdrive, a SteamDB listing and an ESRB rating for a PC release have fueled fan excitement over the last weeks.

Now, Amazon has further confirmed Sunset Overdrive's desktop arrival, launching a pre-order page that gives the game a November 16 release date.

Amazon indicates that the release will include both of the game's DLCs, Mystery of Mooil Rig and Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machine, as well as the post-release Weapon Pack that added four new guns to the game.

All of this will be available for $19.99.

Overdrive is an action-packed third-person shooter focused on keeping the player moving. Do not expect a quiet stroll through the park here -- if you plan on surviving, you will need to hit top speeds as you zip line, parkour, and grind your way through Sunset City.

Developed by Insomniac Games, fans of their recent Spider-Man will find a lot to love in the high-speed thrills Overdrive has to offer. And, if you have been waiting for something to take you back to the classic Jet Set Radio, this may be the perfect game for you.

Now, if only Microsoft would get behind Insomniac's desire to put out a sequel, we would have something to really be excited about.

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

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

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

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

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

Artifact: The Rules of the Game

Artifact's three lanes show cards being played

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

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

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

Action Phase

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

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

Combat Phase

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

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

Shopping Phase

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

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

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

Deployment Phase

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

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

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

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

How Artifact Fares Against Hearthstone and MtG

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artifact Economics vs. Hearthstone and MtG

The Artifact shop shows the cards players can buy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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


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

Crusader Kings 2 Holy Fury DLC Review: High Praise Mon, 12 Nov 2018 15:06:38 -0500 Fox Doucette

Some of the highest praise I can give a game is when it blows me away with how good it is that only the little “due in 24 hours” reminder email I get sent to me ahead of my deadline can drag me away from it for long enough to do my job.

And while Crusader Kings 2 is usually like that, the new Holy Fury DLC goes above and beyond even that lofty standard.

Put simply, this is the best DLC for Paradox's six-year-old, ever-evolving grand strategy masterpiece since The Old Gods came out back in 2013.

For one thing, pagans are back with a holy fury. After being effectively nerfed in Sons of Abraham and Charlemagne, and by getting stripped of feudal government by the tribal system introduced with Horse Lords, the men of the north get a big dose of power with the Swedish pagans, forged in Valhalla by the hammer of Thor.

For example, new “warrior lodges” give pagans what essentially amounts to the Companions from Skyrim, which in turn grant questlines that allow a ruler to massively improve his or her military skill, army morale, and all that other fun statistical stuff that makes the gods of the random number generator favor their generals in battle.

A ruler can duel other characters for honor and glory (governed by a brand-new Personal Combat modifier), and as they rise up the ranks, they get all kinds of other fun toys to play with like gaining a commander trait of the player's choice, choosing to turn into a berserker (which, keeping up the Skyrim analogy, is only slightly less overpowered than turning into a werewolf), and appointing a shieldmaiden to lead armies. You'll be first to the battle, first to the feast.

Great warrior heroes of all faiths get to found legendary bloodlines. Some of them are included in the historical rulers in-game like Charlemagne, Ragnar Lothbrok, El Cid, and their ilk; others can come from that nobody you built in the Ruler Designer, starting a no-name dynasty in some far-off corner of the map.

Want to spend way too much time, money, and effort getting your spouse to love you? In-game, I mean.

Well, that's where the new “Sway” and “Antagonize” mechanics come in, perfect for making friends and enemies to shape the diplomatic landscape in your part of the world.

There are even new sainthood rules and coronation rules for the Christians, giving them that much more historical flavor when they're getting knocked around all over Europe by the newly-beefy Vikings.

Oh, and the game even takes names so your berserker king can keep a list of every single one of his kills.

And did I mention that it's not just the Norsemen who get to have a lot of good pagan fun at the expense of the Christians in this DLC? If you want to not just revive the Roman Empire (which has been an option for years in CK2) but really bring the Classical era back, there's an entire event chain for Hellenism.

But all of the above would just relegate this DLC to another case of “depends on your playstyle” but for one mighty, overwhelmingly awesome feature that makes it an absolute must-buy:

Shattered Worlds

Want every county in the game to start under the independent rule of a one-province minor in a massive free-for-all where nothing is predetermined except the religion and culture of certain parts of the map? Buckle up, buttercup;  that's exactly what you get. And it's awesome.

If you like an aggressive game where you have lots to do in terms of claiming titles and building up your power at the expense of your neighbors in the earlygame, this is the game mode for you.

Want to raid your Christian neighbors but don't want to wait for the Viking Age event in 793 when you're playing the Charlemagne early start? Norse culture coastal provinces start with shipyards so you can make with the looting and start in on your ambitious building projects sooner than you normally would in the basegame.

Tired of having Europe bottlenecked by you being a vassal of the real movers and shakers in the world, waiting for a big realm divide before you can take advantage of the chaos? This is the game mode for you.

And if all one-province minors isn't your thing, there are even game options that create a randomized world. Same basic flavor as a historical start, but with a wildly different setup of counts, dukes, and kings than you'd normally expect to see, giving you a truly different start every single time you play.

I want this in Europa Universalis IV without having to use the Shattered Europa mod. Hopefully Paradox learns a thing or two from trying it out in CK2.

But Shattered Worlds? That's why only the unpleasant reminder that I actually have to earn the free review copy of the DLC that Paradox sent me by writing this review could drag me away from playing it.

That's some of the highest praise I can give a game. If you play Crusader Kings 2, buy this DLC. I can't make it any simpler than that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go spend every free moment I have for.. oh, about the next week or so.. playing it.

[Note: Writer was granted a review copy of the game from the publisher.]

New Game Releases: Week of November 11, 2018 Mon, 12 Nov 2018 10:59:27 -0500 William R. Parks

Following a relatively quiet week for new AAA releases, studios are coming out swinging with some major titles this week.

On Tuesday, IO Interactive is back with Hitman 2 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, the seventh title in the series and a direct sequel to 2016's Hitman.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise (and who cannot glean the premise from the game's vague title), Hitman 2 puts players in the shoes of Agent 47, a killer-for-hire. As with Hitman, the sequel functions as a sandbox game, setting players loose in six unique (and massive) locales as they decide how they will reach and execute their targets.

If you have been hankering for more stealth murder, Hitman 2 promises an updated and expanded Hitman experience. And if you have never dipped your toes into the series, this new releases looks to be an excellent entry point.

On Wednesday, Bethesda's multiplayer RPG Fallout 76 comes to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Set in a fictionalized West Virginia, 76 is an online-only open-world entry, and it boasts a map four times larger than Fallout 4. While many aspect of the game may prove familiar to fans of the franchise, the emphasis on multiplayer, the absence of NPCs, and alterations to the series' notable SPECIAL and VATS systems means this going to be a title not quite like any other from the series.

While reactions to 76's B.E.T.A. appear mixed, it is difficult to have a full understanding of exactly how the game will function until the general public is let loose on its servers. I am certainly curious to see how things will unfold.

And on Friday, Pokemon comes to Nintendo's newest console with Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! for Switch.

Let's Go is an updated version of 1998's Pokemon Yellow with modernized gameplay. For instance, Pokemon will now be visible on the game's map, allowing players to approach them directly rather than engage them through random encounters.

Additionally, Let's Go has integration with Pokemon Go, allowing trainers to transfer first gen Pokemon from the mobile game to their Switch. While this integration is optional, if you are looking to catch Meltan, a new mythic, in Let's Go, you will need to transfer at least one Pokemon from Go first.

What are you looking at for this week? Let us know in the comments below, and here is a more complete list of this week's releases.

Tuesday, November 13
  • Hitman 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  • The Room 3 (PC)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider - The Forge DLC (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (Switch)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4, Xbox One)
Wednesday, November 14
  • Fallout 76 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Thursday, November 15
  • Underworld Ascendant (PC)
Friday, November 16
  • Civilization 6 (Switch)
  • Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! & Let's Go, Eevee! (Switch)
Every Red Dead Redemption 2 Mission, Graded -- Chapter 4: Saint Denis Sun, 11 Nov 2018 11:50:58 -0500 William R. Parks

Over Red Dead Redemption 2's first three chapters, we have seen some notable trends begin to emerge.

One is that straightforward action sequences with minimal plot development have solidly established themselves as the game's subpar filler. This is not to suggest that these missions are purposeless or even bad, just that they do not offer the gameplay innovations or narrative intrigue we see in the rest of the game's missions.

Another is that Dutch and his boys are not your typical genius criminals that are thriving in a world created for them. The are flawed, often ignorant, men that fail more than they succeed, and their way of life is coming to an end quickly.

And finally, as we get further and further from the game's tutorials, the chapters become increasingly focused, functioning more as self-contained narrative arcs riffing on classic Western mythos than the free-form structure of the first chapters.

Do these trends continue in this next chapter? And how does Rockstar embellish and vary the gameplay they have established thus far?

Let us find out as we look at Chapter 4: Saint Denis.

Grading Scale

One more piece of upkeep for those that may be skipping the preceding articles -- our grading scale is as follows:

A: These are the missions that are as impressive as Red Dead 2's immense and nuanced world. Transcendent moments that validate video games as art.

B: Exceptional sequences, these missions create moments that leave a lasting impression.

C: *The bread-and-butter of Red Dead 2. Filled with straightforward action and character development that keeps the game moving forward and the player engaged.

D: Forgettable missions that serve just to introduce a character or mechanic without many frills.

F: Painful. The game would be better without these missions.

It's important to note that the "C" grading is not meant to imply that a mission is average compared to other games. Rather, "C" should be considered a baseline for Red Dead 2 relative to its exceptional "A's" and "B's" and its lackluster "D's" and "F's."

The primary goal of this investigation is to create a hierarchy within Red Dead 2's missions, not to provide a definitive stance on how the game stacks up against others.

Note: Mission descriptions and heavy spoilers follow.

Red Dead 2 Chapter 4: The Missions

The Joys of Civilization (Bronte)

Grade: C

Chapter 3 closes with Red Dead 2's introduction of Saint Denis, and, with the first mission of Chapter 4, Rockstar writes a love letter to it.

The gang is on the trail of Angelo Bronte, Saint Denis' crime lord, believing that he is currently in possession of Jack. Tracking him down sets you on a foot chase through the city's streets and alleys.

Saint Denis really is quite exquisite, bustling with life and activity. As a result, a mission that guarantees players will visit its nooks and crannies feels worthwhile.

The conclusion also provides a nice bit of world building, as a gang of children (apparently working for Bronte) is a sufficiently dark underbelly to the modernized city. If the outlaw lifestyle truly ends with you and your crew, what future do these pint-sized desperadoes have?

Angelo Bronte, Man of Honor (Dutch)

Grade: C

With the location of Bronte's estate in hand, it is time to pay him a visit and get Jack back.

Here is a modern criminal, conducting business in a modern city. His criminality extends beyond anything your gang could dream of. While you are trying to con your way into leads for small scores, he sits back and collects his riches from other streams -- yet another indication of just how outmoded your lifestyle is becoming.

Fortunately for you, one of these revenue streams appears to be blocked, and Bronte is willing to return Jack if you correct that for him.

What follows is a serviceable action sequence in a unique setting (Saint Denis' graveyard), and Bronte is true to his word. Again, Jack's voice acting leaves something to be desired, though I did enjoy his espousal of the virtues of spaghetti to his father.

I was also pleased to see a tender moment between John and Arthur at the mission's conclusion. As I have mentioned previously, the hyper-masculine ribbing between the gang's members often obscures the heart of their relationship (that they truly are brothers-in-arms), and it is nice to see that shine through on occasion.

No, No and Thrice, No (Mary Beth)

Grade: D

This mission primarily serves to give Tilly, one of the gang's members, a backstory, sending you to rescue her from a past acquaintance that has taken her captive.

While I appreciate Red Dead Redemption 2's commitment to breathing life into everyone in the crew, it feels as though characters that are going to have main story missions centered around them should be sufficiently established at this point.

An elaborated side mission for each of the supporting players seems like a wonderful way to round out these secondary characters, and it feels like this mission would fit perfectly as this type of non-essential mission.

The mission does let you decide if you will execute Tilly's captor or let him live. However, this type of decision no longer feels particularly exciting, considering you have this choice with nearly every NPC in the game.

The Gilded Cage (Hosea)

Grade: B

With this mission, I was transported back to accompanying Triss Merigold to the masquerade ball in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a wonderfully bizarre tonal shift amidst slaying werewolves and confronting witches.

While this mission is not as enjoyable as The Witcher 3's party, I appreciate Red Dead 2's willingness to continually shift its mood and style. Dressing up and attending a soiree at the mansion of the Saint Denis mayor definitely stands out amidst the grizzly violence that comprises a majority of the game's missions, and the estate itself offers yet another beautiful set piece to explore.

Additionally, the mission's ability to so tactfully introduce a number of characters and concepts, which will become relevant in later missions, is a testament to the quality of Red Dead 2's writing.

A Night of Debauchery (Trelawny)

Grade: B

As has been the case in the preceding chapters, Red Dead 2 loves to put you in the middle of established outlaw narratives, and here I was injected straight into the veins of Maverick.

Acting is a tactic we see characters use again and again as they navigate their ways in and out of the game's stickiest situations, and finally, it is Arthur's turn to perform, conning his way through a high-stakes riverboat poker game.

My primary gripe with this mission is the lack of play to the poker game itself. It took only two hands to bust Desmond Blythe, and the absence of any back-and-forth really deflates the intensity that this segment could build.

Also, why in the world is Strauss advising me to do anything but fold when Blythe is holding two Aces? While you get a nice little sweat, and ultimately win, with your pocket Kings, the only world where this is correct is the one where Strauss knows exactly what is coming off the top of the deck, and I do not believe that is supposed to be the case here.

Poker rant aside, the mission is excellent, including the shootout that lets you make your escape from the riverboat, though I was quite concerned that my fancy new pocket watch was going to be destroyed as I jumped into the water below.

American Father II (Eagle Flies)

Grade: D

Leviticus Cornwall has been relatively absent, aside from a brief mention of him at the mayor's party, but the tycoon has been making moves to further uproot the Natives.

Before he has a chance to do any more damage, Arthur is enlisted to infiltrate the Cornwall Oil Fields and steal a document that confirms there is oil under Native land.

While there is a bit of stealth and an explosion to provide some character, I have begun to grow weary of these straightforward action missions that offer little in advancing the plot. There is certainly a point to this mission, primarily solidifying both Cornwall and Arthur's relationship to the Natives, but I wish it gave just a bit more in the way of narrative progress or gameplay innovation.

Horseman, Apocalypse (Sadie)

Grade: B

This is the Sadie Adler show, and she continues to be remarkable.

For the first time, the gang's camp is under direct assault (by the O'Driscolls, who, like Cornwall, have been quiet of late). This adds an exciting dynamic that has not been tapped by the preceding missions, playing defense rather than offense.

Beyond this slight tweak, the mission shines because Sadie does. After seeing her knife several O'Driscolls, I followed, mouth agape, as she executed many more.

Additionally, this mission is the first time we see one of our own killed, and while I had not spent much time thinking about Kieran since Chapter 2's "Paying a Social Call," his death certainly indicates that the game's stakes have been raised.

On a note clearly unrelated to anything mentioned above, why does Red Dead 2 not feature a romance option? While the game's beginnings are nearly overwhelming in their unique approach to openness and realism, the minor chinks in the armor begin to show by this point.

There is so much care put into so many small aspects of the game that it is easy to become immersed. However, when this standard is not maintained, it feels even more present by way of contrast.

Fundamentally, I wish there was a Red Dead 2 experience that was both more demanding and provided more in the way of NPC interaction (beyond deciding if you will say "hello" or shoot them). Perhaps we will see a "survival" difficulty added to the game in the future to provide a more challenging, and more real, way to play this wonderful game.

Urban Pleasures (Dutch)

Grade: C

While we enter Red Dead 2 at a moment when the gang is facing a more than a minor change-of-plans, the series of misfortunes that has befallen them since has Dutch talking about a move to Tahiti. Sound like a desperate ploy to anyone else?

As always, the one thing standing in our way is money, and Dutch has decided to followup on robbing the Saint Denis railway station to rectify this, a tip that was passed along by Bronte himself.

Again we believe we are on the level of an outsider, and again we are made fools -- the station is empty and the law is hot on our heels. For a group of individuals that believe so strongly that they are above modernization, the gang sure does look like backwater yokels often.

Now that Red Dead 2 has more than sufficiently established gunplay on foot, wagon, and horse across a multitude of settings, I was very happy to see Rockstar begin to play with some new elements in this mission. Specifically, that is executing lawmen in the streets of Saint Denis while you ride aboard a hi-jacked trolley.

Here is hoping that these small vehicular flourishes begin to show up in more of these baseline action missions.

Country Pursuits (Dutch)

Grade: B

We have another major tonal shift with this mission, and one that is very different than we saw in "The Gilded Cage" -- this mission is a straight-up horror creature feature.

Despite the continual refrain that revenge is a fool's errand, Dutch continues to unravel and wants to punish Bronte for the railway station setup, planning to use a boat to enter his estate in shadow.

While I expected to board a boat and be on our merry way to the slaughter, this mission sends you on a delightful detour, helping a boatman check his animal traps and locate his son.

The foggy swamp is a wonderful setting for a bit of campy horror, and, soon enough, you are rescuing the boy from the jaws of a gigantic gator and applying pressure to stop his bleeding.

I love the often bizarre moments when Red Dead 2 decides to give you control of actions that many games would pre-script - pouring a drink at a bar, for example - and was happy to be administering the bandage to the injured child myself.

Revenge is a Dish Best Eaten (Dutch)

Grade: B

With the traps cleared and the child (presumably) recovering, the boatman is now free to help with the siege on Bronte's mansion.

As with Chapter 3's "Blood Feuds, Ancient and Modern," a giant estate acts as backdrop for a massive gun battle, and I continue to find this setup extremely fun and exciting.

Additionally, your exit features a nice little gameplay variation we have not yet seen where carrying Bronte on your shoulder relegates you to using just your pistol as you blast your way out. A small touch, but I appreciate Rockstar's attempt to keep each mission feeling distinct, especially considering the sheer volume of them.

The mission concludes with a critical turning point in the narrative where Dutch, fully unhinged, drowns Bronte. The doubt Arthur may have been feeling about Dutch's leadership appears to transform into disgust, and I continue to applaud the game's writing.

It is so common for games to position their central characters as unimpeachable saviors of the worlds they exist within, and it is, at times, hard not to roll one's eyes as every NPC you encounter pats you on the back for your accomplishments. Red Dead 2 offers the counter (men whose ignorance continually leads to failure and horrifying events), and it is a welcome relief.

Banking, the Old American Art (Dutch)

Grade: A

Chapter 4 closes with an absolutely monumental mission.

The preliminary setup (a bank robbery scaled-up to Saint Denis-size) is already exciting, but the degree to which the gang's attempt fails takes this mission further. The unceremonious murder of Hosea and Lenny, two of the game's most likable characters, is powerful and effective -- proof of just how well rendered they are.

Separately, as I shot Pinkertons from the bank's windows, I was struck by how much the gunfighting in this mission transported me to a carnival shooting gallery. My position remained fixed as my targets bobbed and weaved, and while I do not believe this is an intentional reference, rooting the gunplay in a tradition that emerged in the period that Red Dead 2 is set is a nice little detail.

From there, the mission took a new spin on the escape, sending me up (rather than out) and eventually on to a boat that promised to leave everything I had learned about the world of Red Dead 2 behind.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned for the gang, and the complete uncertainty of what is to come next makes this the most striking and exciting chapter conclusion thus far.

Chapter 4 Summary

There are a couple of missteps in Chapter 4, missions that ultimately feel like they would be better served as supplemental content and not essential story missions. However, the chapter has a lot to be enamored with as well.

Saint Denis is the richest and most exciting civilization we have encountered, and some tonal variation keeps the game feeling dynamic.

While there are fewer A-grade missions than preceding chapters, "Banking, the Old American Art" rivals the best the game has to offer, and there are slight gameplay flourishes to enjoy throughout.

While I have been extremely satisfied with what Red Dead 2 has offered thus far, the knowledge that Chapter 5 is prepped to provide something completely different has me excited. I cannot wait to dive in.


If you want to know what we think of Red Dead 2 as a whole, be sure to check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 review. If you're looking for tips and tricks for the Wild West epic, be sure head over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 guides page.

And if you would like to see more of our Red Dead 2 mission gradings, those that are currently available can be found at these links:

Chapter 1: Colter
Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook
Chapter 3: Clemens Point

Hitman 2 Review: Engineered Rampages Have Never Been so Fun Mon, 12 Nov 2018 10:57:30 -0500 Tim White

Hitman 2 is more like the biggest expansion pack of all time than a truly new game. That's not a bad thing, as long as you know what you're getting into. It's essentially a half-dozen (enormous) new missions for 2016's Hitman; you can play those original missions right in Hitman 2, even if you don't own the original.


Most fans of the Hitman series have probably never been drawn primarily by the writing. It's never been bad—it's just not the central focus or main appeal of the games. Agent 47 is usually either working for or running from one super-secret international shadow organization or another, and it's no different this time around.

You'll unravel hints of a new conspiracy in the first mission and gradually learn more about it through five more that will fill 47's (fake) passport with stamps from Miami, Columbia, and several other beautiful locations.

I'm essentially not factoring the story into my rating of Hitman 2, for better or worse. It serves its function as a reason for 47 to move from one location to another; that's about all it's good for.


The main reason the Hitman series has been so successful is a simple one: it's really, really fun to find a hundred different ways to kill somebody. The 2016 Hitman reboot took lethal creativity to new heights, turning players loose in some of the biggest and most intricate environments the franchise had ever seen.

If you thought those levels were big, you're in for a real treat this time around.

Let me describe the sheer size of Hitman 2's missions this way. I write for a living. I've written dozens, if not hundreds of game guides since the PS2 days. I've got a pretty efficient system for writing guides for games as I'm playing them—it doesn't take me all that much longer than simply playing the game for enjoyment.

This morning, I spent six hours exploring a single mission, taking notes and screenshots. When I decided to wrap it up for the day, I'd discovered 17% of the content in that mission—in six hours. The sheer volume of stuff to find and do is staggering. As long as you find it entertaining to set up elaborate assassinations, sneak around in disguise, or simply blow everything up, Hitman 2 will keep you busy for a long time.

Within the first three missions, assassination opportunities include but are not limited to: sabotaging vehicles, shoving targets off rooftops and balconies, crushing them under ludicrously heavy objects, feeding them to hippopotamuses, feeding them into heavy machinery, feeding them to piranhas, burying them alive in wet cement, and programming killer robots to shoot them.

This list barely scratches the surface, and these are just the unique opportunistic kills—you can always shoot, blow up, choke, stab, or poison anybody at any time. Completing assignments skillfully (i.e. smoothly and quietly) will unlock new weapons, gear, disguises, and insertion points, giving you even more options for next time.

Don't get me wrong, the core gameplay loop is really fun and enormously satisfying. But in a way, Hitman 2's greatest strength can also be its biggest weakness. There are, after all, only so many ways to kill people.

There's a real risk that Hitman 2 will overstay its welcome before you even finish all the missions, especially if you're a completionist reluctant to move to the next level until you've fully cleared the current one.

I recommend not doing what I'm doing (completing every single challenge in every level), at least not the first time through. It'll eventually get old for all but the most die-hard fans. Play each mission two or three times, try out a handful of assassinations that look the most fun to you, and then move on. If you're still hungry for more after you clear each mission, you can always replay them later.


Almost every game has some sort of multiplayer component nowadays. Frankly, I don't think it belongs in Hitman games, but I gave it a whirl anyway.

As of right now, there's only one mode, called "Ghosts." To be blunt, it's dumb. You and one other player race to kill the same target using limited weapons and equipment.

The first one to kill the target scores a point, but if your opponent also kills (a different version of) the target within twenty seconds, they cancel out your point. What all this means is that you both spend a very long time canceling each other's points and keeping the score eternally at 0-0. It's not worth spending any time on.


Hitman 2 is quite pretty to look at, especially considering how gargantuan some of the maps are. IO Interactive easily could have phoned it in and copy-pasted the same areas over and over, making only minor changes, but no two areas of any map are even close to identical.

From lush jungles to packed race tracks to the markets of Mumbai at sunset, the game's settings are just as diverse visually as they are mechanically. Though Hitman 2's gameplay might eventually get boring, its artwork never will.


Sound & Music

Hitman 2 is a quiet game. I assume that's intentional; it's easier to track moving targets, sneak effectively, and stay focused on a dozen different things if you're not bombarded by noise. The music during stealth/non-alert sections is intense but mellow, creating a sense of mild urgency without panic.

I can't comment extensively on battle music or on many of the weapon sound effects—I strongly prefer to take Hitman games slow and steady, so I rarely found myself in open conflict. On the few occasions when I found it unavoidable, I appreciated the deep, sharp crack of unsuppressed gunshots and the dramatic soundtrack that accompanies them.

Most of the voice acting is grade A, with only a few minor characters giving performances bad enough to be distracting. 47's usual deadpan monotone is the same as always, but in a few scenes, he steps it up considerably in order to impersonate someone or bluff his way past some guards. It's a shame that these scenes are so uncommon; an assassin of 47's skill would surely be a social chameleon, and it would be nice to hear him take on a wider variety of personas.


Hitman 2 is exceedingly well optimized, particularly in light of the fact that we live in a time when many developers seem content to release unfinished games and patch them later—if ever.

The game consistently maintained frame rates of 70+ on Ultra settings while running on a GTX 1080 and an i-7700 Skylake processor. This level of performance is even more impressive when you consider that most of the maps have hundreds, maybe even thousands of NPCs, all of whom move around and do stuff even when you're not close to them.

The load times are superb, never running longer than about five seconds on a Samsung 1TB solid state drive.

Unfortunately, it's not all good news. Like its predecessor, Hitman 2 requires an active internet connection at all times. This is, in a word, obnoxious. Your save data is effectively held hostage; you can't access it while offline. I understand that it's an anti-piracy measure, and I fully support content creators protecting their work, but there really are better ways to do it.

Verdict: 8/10

The Highlights

+ Excellent level design
+ Tons of enjoyable assassinations
+ Top-shelf optimization and performance

– Always-online requirement for single player
– Almost too much content, might get boring
– Lackluster, boring, tacked-on multiplayer

When sequels are described as "more of the same," that's usually a bad thing, but not in this case. Hitman 2 is really just season two of Hitman, but it's so big and interesting that I didn't mind. Fans of stealth, exploration, and jaw-dropping violence will find a lot to love here—as long as the clumsy DRM isn't a complete deal-breaker.

Note: the reviewer received a copy of this game for free from the publisher.

Check out our Hitman 2 guide hub for in-depth guides and more content!

HellSign Early Access Beginner's Guide To Clues And Monster Hunting Sun, 11 Nov 2018 11:05:56 -0500 Ty Arthur

Paranormal investigation ARPG HellSign has finally hit Early Access, which means its time to start searching haunted houses for clues while avoiding grisly death at the hands of ghouls, shadow beasts, giant spiders, and other unpleasant creatures.

Having a hard time figuring out how to survive and make money as a scout? We've got you covered with a full run down on getting all the clues and making it out alive!

Important Note: All of the info below is based on the update after the initial launch of Early Access. Things are expected to change radically as development progresses. If you notice anything out of date or wrong, please let us know so we can update the article with new info!

Finding Clues

When searching for clues in a scouting mission, note that sometimes the clues are outside the house in the surrounding area (like the second EMF clue in the tutorial mission)

The best way to tackle each house is to sweep a room with your gun out in case enemies appear, then quickly switch to the EMF to hear if an object is nearby. If there's no sound, put the EMF away.

If there's a corpse in the room, pull out the blacklight and check for a blood trail. If there isn't one, switch to the gun again. Repeat the process with each room to most efficiently search a house in minimal time.

Using The Black Light

In theory, the black light should always start at a dead body and lead through a blood trail to a clue on the floor near where the trail ends. In execution, not every body has a blood trail, and sometimes the object isn't anywhere close to where the trail ends.

Don't forget the blood trail leads both directions. If you can't find the object at the end of the trail, go back to the body and search all the objects around it, as the body may be the end of the trail rather than the beginning.

This lack of clarity is particularly frustrating in the opening tutorial mission, as the final black light clue isn't outside where you use the EMF meter. Instead, the second black light tutorial clue is found back inside the house and doesn't have a blood trail at all.

To complete the tutorial, just use the black light on every object in the house (closets, drawers, paintings, etc.) until you hit the random object that has the clue.

The developer is currently compiling a list of issues with the black light and need info and screenshots to resolve the problems. If you've got a specific issue being unable to find a black light clue or where you can't see blood splatter, head over here and log a report.

Accessing Locked Rooms

Many players are reporting problems finding the last clue in a house, and that clue is usually behind locked doors.

This isn't explained anywhere in the game, but you actually can enter the locked rooms, and they aren't permanently closed by poltergeists.

You just have to upgrade to any weapon besides the nailgun. Hold right click with the weapon selected and aim at the doorknob to blow off the lock and enter the room. You'll know you have the aim right when a white circle appears.

Finding All Clues

Keep in mind that you can't always find every clue in a house with the basic starting equipment of all the game's classes.

Some clues require more than the EMF meter and black light. When you select a location to scout, the summary on the right lists what equipment is required to find all clues, with the parabolic mic frequently needed in addition to the starting equipment.


First and foremost -- in the early stages of the game you aren't meant to complete a full scouting mission and get every clue in a house. The enemies are too overpowering with your current equipment.

If you die constantly, just grab a single clue, then go back to your van and leave. Sell the clue to the fixer at the bar, then repeat the process again on another scouting mission.

When you have enough cash, go buy a better weapon before trying to seriously tackle the combat. The Poor Man's Colt is one of the best starting weapons to buy, as it deals enough damage to take out spiders in a single shot but can be purchased fairly early.

If you find you just absolutely cannot survive the early monster encounters, start over and pick the Stalker class, as you begin the game with a shotgun instead of the revolver.

Finally, remember that finding multiple clues in a house and using them in your Cryptonomicon gives you bonuses against enemies in the area, which will be a necessity to surviving the bigger creatures and the bosses.


The game again doesn't tell you this, but the powerful poltergeist attack can in fact be dodged! It seems like an unavoidable cut scene, but it isn't.

When the screen shakes, wait for an object in the room to rise up in the air, then dodge roll just before it flies at you and breaks. This saves you a ton of health for the rest of the house.


These are the bane of your existence until you figure out the wonky combat due to their skittering movement that makes aiming impossible.

To more easily manage the spiders, dodge roll away into an area with only one tight entrance, like a hallway, bathroom, or an outside area with a short deck. They will pop out one by one, and can easily be dispatched by aiming at the ground.


For the centipede, note that he can crawl under closed doors, so there's no point in trying to lure him into a tight space.

Look for an area where you aren't going to get stuck on a door or overturned piece of furniture. When he approaches, listen for the sound of his body cracking like a whip, as that's the exact moment you need to dodge roll away to avoid taking damage.

It's best to get off a single shot before dodge rolling, then wait for the centipede to run away and come back. Shooting while he's fleeing is just a waste of bullets in most cases.


Those are all the basics you need to know to get started and begin investigating areas on your own in the first chapter of the game!

Do you have any other combat or clue tips we missed? Sound off and let us know your strategy in the comments below!

Hitman 2: 100% Challenges Guide (Nightcall) Sun, 11 Nov 2018 11:43:06 -0500 Tim White

Each of Hitman 2's missions offers a wide variety of opportunities to inflict creative carnage, but not all of them are easy to uncover. Unlocking 100% of the available challenges in a mission will require patience and planning across several runs.

Note: Each 100% challenge completion guide in this series will only cover mission-specific Assassinations, Feats, and Discoveries. "Classic" challenges are the same across all missions and are straightforward in nature, so they won't be covered here. These guides also assume you've played through the mission at least once and have a basic knowledge of the map and objectives. Since there is a good deal of overlap between many Assassinations and Feats, these guides will offer suggestions on how to complete several at once wherever possible.

Nightcall Discoveries

There are four Discovery challenges in this mission.

WOOD YOU BELIEVE IT? - Find the "driftwood" weapon

You can find several pieces of driftwood on the beach; there's a convenient one near the ruined boathouse due south of the house.

UNDER THE MAT - Find the hidden house key

The hidden house key can be found in this white vase next to the pool (shoot it). Note that the key only unlocks the door right next to it.

DON'T TREAD ON ME - Find a squeaky toy

The squeaky toy can be found behind the bathtub in the second floor bathroom. Another can be found on the floor next to Alma's bed.

DISCOVER HAWKE'S BAY - uncover all map areas

There are six map areas to discover in this mission:

  • Ruined boathouse (on the beach near the default starting location)
  • House exterior
  • House exterior, roof
  • House interior, main floor
  • House interior, second floor/master bedroom
  • House interior, panic room

Nightcall Feats

There are eleven Feats in this mission. Some of them are fairly specific, while others can be completed in a number of ways.

CHAMELEON - Acquire all disguises

There's only one disguise available in this mission, and it can be claimed from any of Alma's bodyguards (except for Orson or the "guard captain," the guy standing next to her when she first enters the house). If you hide in her bedroom as soon as she arrives and wait a bit, a bodyguard will come in shortly and make a convenient target of himself.

NO RUNNING ON THE TILES - Push someone into the pool

Once Alma and her goons come home, one guard will take up a post just outside the door to the pool at the back of the house. Toss a coin as close as possible to the edge of the pool. When he goes to pick it up, cross another Feat off your list. (Beware the patrolling guard who also sometimes comes into the pool area—don't let him see you wax his buddy.)

TASTELESS, TRACELESS - Kill a mission target with poison

There are a number of ways to do this one, and it's one of the five requirements for completing the VERSATILE ASSASSIN Feat. In any case, you need to first retrieve the lethal poison from the second floor bathroom medicine cabinet, which you'll need a lockpick to open. You can find one in the panic room, or bring one in your initial loadout if you've unlocked it.

Once you've got the poison, you can put it in the honey that Alma will eventually put in her tea...

...or you can sneak up to the roof and hide from the guards until Alma goes into the second floor bathroom to brush her teeth. Use the poison on the bathroom air vent to eliminate her; this will also complete the SMELLS LIKE NAIL POLISH challenge.

A third option is to throw a frag grenade on top of the bathroom skylight while she's brushing her teeth (make sure it doesn't kill one of the guards). This will drive Alma and Orson into the panic room, at which point you can use the poison on the panic room vent instead. This will also complete the LIKE FISH IN A BARREL challenge.

ORSON BATHES - Kill Orson with a kitchen knife while he showers

This one is relatively simple. Grab the kitchen knife from the kitchen before Alma and her entourage return home, then stash yourself in the laundry basket in her bedroom and wait. Get comfy, it will be a while.

Wait until Alma and Orson start to get ready for bed; Orson will shower while Alma brushes her teeth. Sneak through the closet and you'll come out right behind the shower stall. You can either stab Orson at close range or throw the knife at him from the closet doorway; the latter is louder and will likely alert Alma, but I nonetheless found it easier to avoid detection this way.

DEATH OF A STATESMAN - Kill Orson by poisoning his whiskey

Since there's only one dose of lethal poison in this mission, you can't do this and poison Alma in the same run. It's easy to pull off, though; use the poison on the glass of whiskey in the master bedroom, then hide in the laundry basket nearby and wait a while.

I recommend also closing the blinds in this room so nobody outside sees the mayhem you'll cause a bit later.

After Orson showers and Alma brushes her teeth, Orson will do some weird sit-ups while Alma goes outside on the balcony. Once he joins her, go hide behind the couch.

The two of them will chat outside for a bit. Orson comes back inside first, but Alma follows soon after, so you need to be quick here. As soon as he drinks the whiskey, drag his body behind the couch such that Alma won't see it when she comes back in—you only have about 3-5 seconds to do this.

STRAIGHT SHOT - Kill a mission target with a headshot

This counts for VERSATILE ASSASSIN and can be done in just about any way you please, but if you want to do it quietly, it's best accomplished right after completing DEATH OF A STATESMAN. Once Alma turns the lights off, no guards will come into her room again, so you can shoot her in the head whenever you like. (Hide the body afterward, because there's a chance one of the roof guards might see her through the skylight.)

If you're looking to be as efficient as possible, simply completing the MR. SANDMAN Feat will satisfy this requirement as well. You can also complete the Assassination challenges LIKE FISH IN A BARREL or A CLEAN KILL by shooting her in the head (through the skylight of the panic room, in the former case).

SOMEONE COULD HURT THEMSELVES - Kill a mission target via an accident kill

Nightcall contains fewer accident kill opportunities than most of the other missions do—I've outlined two possibilities here. An accident kill is also a requirement for VERSATILE ASSASSIN.

The easiest way to do this is to use emetic rat poison on the honey before Alma comes home, then hide in this closet outside the first floor bathroom and wait for her to drink the tea.

Once she enters the bathroom to puke her guts out, sneak up behind her and drown her in the toilet to complete this challenge and HOLD MY HAIR at the same time. Oddly enough, this still counts as an accident even if you hide her body afterward.

You can also complete this Feat by waiting until just before Alma goes to bed, then pushing her over the balcony railing while she leans on it to talk to the guards below. It's very difficult to do this without being detected, but if you can manage it (perhaps by throwing something behind the guards so they turn around), it will count as an accident.

PIANO MAN and/or HOLD MY HAIR - Kill Alma with the fiber wire/by drowning her

Both of these Feats are required for VERSATILE ASSASSIN and are easily accomplished by luring Alma into the bathroom after using emetic rat poison on the honey as described above. Once she stars throwing up, you're perfectly positioned to drown or garrote her, which will check off HOLD MY HAIR or PIANO MAN, respectively.

MR. SANDMAN - Kill Alma with a headshot from the roof while she's sleeping

This Feat requires the least work, but the most patience. Simply head up to the roof as soon as the gang gets home and wait until she goes to bed and falls asleep, which takes 5-10 minutes. Shoot her in the head through the skylight and you're done. If you care about doing this quietly, you may want to kill Orson and hide his body before Alma goes to bed. Completing this Feat also satisfies STRAIGHT SHOT and will count toward VERSATILE ASSASSIN.

VERSATILE ASSASSIN - Complete five other specified Feats

To complete this one, you need to do all five of the following:


Nightcall Assassination Challenges

There are five Assassination challenges in this mission.

SUGAR, HONEY, HONEY - Kill Alma by poisoning her tea

Use the lethal poison on the honey in the kitchen, then wait for Alma to drink the tea. This is the only way to complete this challenge, as she never eats or drinks anything else.

LIKE FISH IN A BARREL - Kill Alma from the roof while she's in the panic room

It can be tricky to drive Alma into the panic room; sometimes she will run for one of the vehicles outside, or simply summon all her guards to kill you. I've found that the most reliable method is to wait until she's brushing her teeth, then throw a single frag grenade on top of the bathroom skylight.

Once she's in the panic room, you can kill her any way you like: by shooting her through the glass, with a proximity mine placed ahead of time, or by poisoning the panic room vent with lethal poison. Get creative.

SMELLS LIKE NAIL POLISH - Kill Alma by sabotaging the bathroom vent system

Simply use lethal poison on the bathroom vent as described in the TASTELESS, TRACELESS section above.

A CLEAN KILL - Kill Alma while Orson is in the shower

This can be done in any way you like, as long as Orson is in the shower at the time.

SLEEP TIGHT - Kill Alma by smothering her in her sleep

If you care about doing this quietly, you may want to kill or subdue Orson and hide his body before Alma goes to bed. Once she does, simply sneak over to her and follow the prompt.

There you have it! It will take several runs, but you now know all you need to know in order to fully complete Nightcall.

Keep an eye out for more Hitman 2 guides right here on GameSkinny as we get them posted.

The Blackout Club Early Access Impressions: Close Your Eyes and Hope Sun, 11 Nov 2018 10:34:28 -0500 RobertPIngram

Nothing is more certain to draw gripes and groans out of seasoned gamers than a tutorial level, so when you come across one which isn’t just tolerable, but truly terrifying and engrossing, it’s the sign of great things.

Unfortunately, the early access version of The Blackout Club doesn’t quite live up to the expectations its opening act sets. On the other hand, while the game’s current state is no doubt flawed, much of the games biggest issues have been openly admitted and addressed by developers, meaning it’s likely they will be worked on before the final version hits the market.

If the limited version available so far is any indication, expect The Blackout Club to deliver when the last tweaks are made.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope

The prologue tutorial is truly a spectacular effort. It’s hard to oversell how effectively it sets the mood. The game quickly establishes that strange things are afoot with the adults in town, and it has fallen on the kids to get to the bottom of it. I won't say too much about what happens in the tutorial, as it's best to experience it yourself with as clean of a slate as possible.

Going through the process of learning about your character’s basic actions doesn’t feel like a chore, because the implementation keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Every new action comes with its own garnish of the games unique brand of terror.

Close Your Eyes and Look For Me

More specifically, that terror is The Shape, the game’s big bad, who can only be seen when you close your eyes. It’s a simple game mechanic, but a diabolical one.

Closing your eyes is only made more eerie by the game’s rather unappealing representation of the inside of your own eyelids. Unfortunately, as excellently as it is implemented in the prologue, it falls flat in the game.

Most often, the only time you’ll close your eyes to see The Shape is when it’s attacking one of your friends. When you’re the one in the crosshairs, running away as fast as you can almost always feels like the preferable option once The Shape is at all close. There's simply no time to waste closing your eyes, then turning around to see if you're still being chased, because if the answer is yes you just gave up so much ground.

This loss of tension is a common issue so far with the multi-player main story mode. While the prologue plays as a moody, creepy horror game, the main game feels more like an action game with stealth mechanics. Hopefully as development continues they will find a way to bring that tension over into the rest of the game.

Hardcore Parkour

The kids in The Blackout Club are all highly adept at vaulting themselves great distances and climbing fences and rooftops. Unfortunately, their efforts are often hindered by some clunky controls.

More than one of our nearly-successful missions came undone when a player couldn’t manage to successfully mount one of the game’s awkward ladders while in the midst of a hasty retreat, leading to an untimely introduction to The Shape, either directly or by way of one of The Shape's adult servants dragging their victim to the feared red doors.

Future Expansions Will Do Wonders for Replayability

One of the biggest draw backs to The Blackout Club in its current state is an issue sure to be rectified through further development. The developers have already made it clear that the current map will be extended significantly when all is said and done, and that will provide a huge boost to the game.

As is understandable given a plot which revolves around a group of school kids exploring their own neighborhood, your missions all take place in the same map. While enemies and perks are procedurally generated to create variety, there’s only so many times you can head out into the same homes and the same caves before it feels a bit too samey.

This is compounded by the current release lacking variety of missions. While there are ostensibly differences between the small sampling of possible tasks assigned on a given night, at the end of the day they all play out in a similar routine: find the target item or person, interact with it, and get the heck out of Dodge. Although there is plenty of tension to be mined from sneaking around, I look forward to tweaks to the formula for some missions in later releases to keep gameplay fresh.

The World Needs More Co-Op Stealth Games

The surface level view of The Blackout Club is of a mash-up of multiple beloved properties -- the team-based horror of Left 4 Dead; the mood of Stranger Things; and the aesthetic of Bioshock, which comes by way of developer Question's prior experience with the series.

Those don’t tell the whole tale, however, as the heavy focus on stealth adds a powerful element of its own. Sneaking around as a team is, quite simply, fun, and led to some hilarious and satisfying moments. During one particularly tense mission, a teammate held down one of the “lucid” enemies, while I attempted to set up a trap if he followed, only to accidentally knock the baddie out cold immediately.

If this were a game where defeated foes could simply be killed and forgotten, we’d have never had that moment. The tension of sneaking also led to several great surprises, like a teammate playing scout on a rooftop only to find themselves nabbed by The Shape themselves.

Get Me Out of Here

If you’re considering picking up the game in early access, and at a discounted rate it’s certainly worth considering if this sounds like your type of game, be prepared for glitches.

In addition to the above-mentioned issues with controls, we also experienced some clipping issues. In one particularly funny moment of I fell victim to instant karma. While trying to steal the grappling hook my buddy had used to get our team into an upstairs window, I suddenly found myself stuck on the ledge, unable to enter or exit. After a couple of minutes of hopping, crouching, leaning and more, I had succeeded in getting embedded firmly within the walls.

I was so removed from the game during this ordeal that even when my teammate led an entire procession of enemies out the window in hopes they would wrench me off toward a door, I watched as they barrelled right past me out the window after him.

None of this should be a surprise with Early Access, but if you’re dropping down the money now and expecting a flawless experience, you’re in for disappointment.

A Strong Start, With Room to Improve

The Blackout Club is not a flawless effort -- yet. Although it struggles with some of the expected bumps and bruises which come with Early Access, and the developers haven’t yet figured out how to bring the magic of the prologue into the main game, there’s still a lot to like here.

The game isn’t a must-buy quite yet if you're on the fence, but if it sounds like your type of game, you could do a lot worse than to get in on the Early Access rate and try it out now while you wait for the full edition to arrive in 2019.

[Note: Writer was granted a copy of the game from the publisher.]

Splatoon 2's November Splatfest Announced Fri, 09 Nov 2018 22:33:16 -0500 William R. Parks

It has been a big week for Inklings the world over.

On Tuesday, Update 4.2.0 brought new weapons and a slew of gameplay changes to Nintendo's hit third-person shooter, Splatoon 2.

Now, with the announcement of November's Splatfest, fans will be asked to do battle to decide which is the better dip, salsa or guacamole.

The November Splatfest is set to begin at 11pm EST on Friday, November 16 and will last for 24 hours.

While this Splatfest is exclusive to North America, it comes hot on the heels of Japan's November Splatfest, where they are deciding between regular Pocky and thin Pocky.

Splatfests are monthly events where players engage in Turf War to debate hot-button issues like mayonnaise vs. ketchup and fork vs. spoon, and November's promises to be a divisive one.

For fans that may be on the fence and rather that their preferred Inkopolis News anchor decide for them, Pearl is pro-salsa while Marina has an affinity for guac.

Where do you stand? #TeamSalsa or #TeamGuacamole? Let us know why your answer is salsa in the comments below.

Hitman 2: 5-star Silent Assassin Guide (The Finish Line) Sat, 10 Nov 2018 11:01:55 -0500 Tim White

Remember, there are nearly infinite routes you can take to attain a 5-star rating in Hitman 2. This is but one path of many, but it's one you can easily complete on your first attempt with basic equipment.

No time to waste—in order to secure a 5-star ranking on your first run through this mission, when you don’t have any extra items at your disposal, you’ll need to move fairly quickly. Immediately hang a left and head down these stairs.

Take the tunnel to the large plaza nearby and go to the water’s edge. Pick a bench and have a seat to blend in. You’re looking for this douchey military guy. After a moment, he’ll make a phone call. Once you’ve overheard the whole thing, a new Mission Story will be revealed.

Jog over to the outdoor maintenance area just down the sidewalk, where a guy in a white shirt and a security guard will be hanging around. Pick up the coconut on the ground, then head into the maintenance area and grab the shovel.

The military dude will be here momentarily. Once he arrives, toss the shovel against the far wall in the maintenance area. He’ll hear the racket and come to investigate. Bean him in the dome with the coconut once he’s out of the security guard’s line of sight. (I suppose you could just choke him out, but come on, a coconut to the brain cage is way funnier.)

Take his clothes, then drag his body to one side of the enclosure. There’s no container to hide it in, but that’s okay, nobody ever comes in here. Run over to the large building across the plaza, head inside, and check in with the receptionist. Be careful in the lobby and throughout the rest of the building—there are cameras here and there. Don’t get spotted by them.

She’ll direct you to the stairs on the right. Head that way, stopping on the first landing to snag the photo of Robert Knox from the magazine rack.

Check in with this woman at the top of the stairs and follow her all the way to the demonstration room.

Your first target, Robert Knox, will either already be there or he will arrive shortly. Hang around until he’s given his long sales speech, at which point he will scan a photo into the killer robot to make it shoot a dummy target. Wait for him to go downrange, then use the photo of Robert Knox on the killer robot to make it ventilate him.

This counts as an accident kill and an unnoticed kill, even though everyone else clearly saw you do it. Oh well, you know what they say about gift horses.

One down, one to go. Run all the way back down to the main lobby and find the expo room. It’s hard to see, but you’re looking for a staff area behind one of the displays—check the screenshot for reference.

Go through this door…

...then hang a left and go through this door at the end of the walkway.

Head down these stairs…

...and into the security room at the bottom. Be quiet—there’s a sleeping guard in here. Tiptoe past him and go through this door in the back.

Near the vending machines to your right, you’ll see a dude dressed as a flamingo, chatting on his phone. This is your second Mission Story opportunity.

Listen to the entire conversation, then approach him. He’ll ask you to go fetch his car keys from the end of the hallway. Be a good Samaritan and oblige him. Hand the keys over and let him start toward the garage.

Choke him out or otherwise knock him out non-lethally as he’s passing the security room. Take his flamingo suit and reclaim the car keys, then drag him to the dumpster in the garage and stash him there. (Unless you found a security keycard somewhere, in which case you can dump him in the locker in the security room.)

Head to the big black van in the garage and open it with the car keys. Grab the incriminating evidence within.

Double back to the main garage hallway and head up these stairs.

At the top, turn right and go this way.

These two guards will let you pass. Head down the stairs behind them.

Follow the tunnel all the way down. At the top of the exit stairs, look to your left. Go talk to this guy and show him the incriminating evidence.

Once he lets you inside, have a seat in this chair and wait for Sierra Knox to show up. It may be a few minutes, depending on whether or not the race is almost over. (This is why you’ve needed to move quickly until now—if you take too long to kill her father, the race will end and you’ll miss this convenient assassination opportunity.)

Once she arrives, she’ll blather at you a bit, then tell you to follow her. Cooperate. She’ll lead you down an alley with about five of her guards. If she were remotely intelligent, she would just have them kill you, but luckily, she isn’t. She will do the opposite of the smart thing and order her guards away.

Let her finish her speech, then hand over the incriminating evidence when she asks for it. She will step over to the edge of a very deep hole in the ground to burn the evidence and throw it away, still yammering. You know what to do.

After this, her guards shouldn’t be alerted. You can pretty much just walk right out of the mission using any unlocked exit you fancy—just make sure not to get spotted by guards in an area your current disguise doesn’t grant you clearance for.

Well done! There’s your second 5-star rating.

Check out our other guides on Hitman 2, including more silent assassin walkthroughs!

Prima Games Shutting Down in Spring 2019 Fri, 09 Nov 2018 13:41:13 -0500 Joseph Ocasio

Prima Games, best known for making numerous strategy guides for the most popular video games, is shutting it's doors after 28 years in the business. Founded in 1990, the popular guide series helped gamers of all ages and skill level to progress through millions of titles through out the years.

DK, the publishing company behind Prima, announced that the studio would be shutting down in weeks. According to EGM Now, It's California office will close down in mid-November of this year and its Indianapolis offices in March of 2019. It's unknown when it's New York office will close. 

DK CEO, Ian Hudson, had this to say:

“During a year-long extensive review, many new ways were explored to diversify Prima Games publishing. However, the dynamics for us of this fast-paced landscape have continued to prove difficult."

“This enormously dedicated team has made every effort to turn the business around, but challenging market conditions have unfortunately worked against them." 

We here at GameSkinny wish all it's employee's the best of luck in finding work, inside or outside, in the gaming industry. 

Black Friday 2018 Video Game Deals Roundup Fri, 09 Nov 2018 15:29:21 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

Black Friday is just around the corner, and of course, that means it's time to start planning your shopping list. With so many retailers and so many games to choose from, it's difficult to know just where to start. Except when you have our handy Black Friday 2018 guide at your fingertips!

We've put together a list of the major retailers' upcoming Black Friday sales including console sales and price drops, and we've broken them down by price and platform, making your Black Friday shopping easier than ever before.


Walmart's putting out a variety of deals this year, including the $199.99 PS4 Spider-Man bundle. But, there are plenty of other smaller deals the retail giant's offering, and here are some of the best ones. Not all items in the ad are available online, so in-store would be your best bet, and the sale is good for Thanksgiving night and Black Friday only.

  • Xbox One X, 1TB: $399.00 ($70.00 off all other XB1X bundles)
  • Xbox One S, 1TB Minecraft Bundle: $299.00 (All other XB1S bundles priced at $229.00)
  • Nintendo Switch, Neon Joy-Con, Mario Kart 8 Bundle: $299.00
$35 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Soul Caliber VI
  • We Happy Few
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

Nintendo Switch

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2
  • ARMS
  • Kirby Star Allies
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
  • FIFA 19

Xbox One

  • Sea of Thieves
  • For Honor: Marching Fire
  • Forza Horizon 4
$25 Each

PlayStation 4

  • God of War
  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Detroit: Become Human

Nintendo Switch

  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
  • Rocket League

Xbox One

  • Far Cry 5
$17 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Diablo III
  • Monster Hunter: World

Nintendo Switch

  • LEGO Worlds
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Nintendo 3DS/2DS

  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf--Welcome Amiibo


Target's Black Friday ad is huge, but it's game selection isn't quite so impressive. Still, you can pick up some good deals on hot titles and older favorites.

  • PlayStation 4, 1TB, Spiderman Bundle: $199.99
  • PlayStation VR Bundle (includes Creed: Rise to Glory and SuperHot VR): $249.99; save $100.00 on all other PSVR bundles
$35.00 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Soul Caliber VI
  • NHL 19

Xbox One

  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  • Sea of Thieves
  • Forza Horizon 4
$25.00 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • God of War
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ

Nintendo Switch

  • Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Nickelodeon Kart Racers

Xbox One

  • Far Cry 5
  • LEGO The Incredibles
$15 Games

PlayStation 4

  • The Evil Within 2
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • DOOM
  • Overwatch

Xbox One

  • Star Wars Battlefront II
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)
  • Starlink: Battle for Atlas Nintendo Switch Starter Pack: $39.99

Best Buy

The tech king's putting on some pretty good sales this year, including console bundles. These sales start Thanksgiving night and continue into Black Friday.

  • PlayStation 4, 1TB, Spiderman Bundle: $199.99
  • Xbox One S, 1TB, Minecraft Bundle: $199.99
  • Nintendo Switch, Neon Joy-Con, Mario Kart 8 Bundle: $299.99
  • Nintendo 2DS Super Mario Maker Edition: $79.99
$29.99 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • FIFA 19
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • LEGO DC Super Villains
  • Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker

Nintendo Switch

  • LEGO DC Super Villains
  • Hello, Neighbor
  • Overcooked! 2
  • Nickelodeon Kart Racers
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ

Nintendo 3DS

  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

XBox One

  • FIFA 19
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  • LEGO DC Super Villains
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker
  • For Honor: Marching Fire
Save $20 on Select Switch Games
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze
  • Kirby Star Allies
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4
  • Scribblenauts Mega Pack


As usual, GameStop offers a wide variety of discounts and deals, including a buy 2 get 1 free on all preowned products from November 23-26.

  • PlayStation 4 Pro, 1TB: $349.99
  • PlayStation 4, 1TB: $199.99
  • $100 off all PSVR headsets
  • Xbox One S, 1TB: $299.99
  • Xbox One S, 1TB, Middle Earth: Shadow of War Bundle: $299.99
  • Xbox One S, 500GB: $189.99
$30 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Persona 5
  • Yakuza 0
  • LEGO Ninjago Movie

XBox One

  • F1 2017: Special Edition
  • Project Cars 2
$25 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Dragon Quest Heroes II
  • NieR: Automata

Xbox One

  • The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Complete Edition
  • Tekken 7
  • Dirt 4
$20 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
  • World of Final Fantasy
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Knack II
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Everybody's Golf

Xbox One

  • Dead Alliance
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Golf Club 2
  • LEGO City Undercover
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
$15 Games

PlayStation 4

  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
  • The Last of Us

Xbox One

  • Wolfenstein: The Two Pack
  • MS Vs ATV Supercross Encore 2017 Track Edition
Save $20

Xbox One

  • Cars 3: Driven to Win
  • NHL 18
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Forza Motorsport 7
Save $10

PlayStation 4

  • Batman: The Telltale Series--The Enemy Within
  • NBA 2K18

Xbox One

  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  • LEGO Worlds
  • Super Lucky's Tale
  • Disneyland Adventures
  • Outlast Trinity


That's it for now, but be sure to check back for more sales updates as they become available. And if you're looking for what to get for the young ones on your list this year, check out our family-friendly buying guides.