Epic Game Store Platform RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Epic Game Store RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Scavengers Early Access Review: Can We Last Through the Winter? https://www.gameskinny.com/5orot/scavengers-early-access-review-can-we-last-through-the-winter https://www.gameskinny.com/5orot/scavengers-early-access-review-can-we-last-through-the-winter Tue, 04 May 2021 15:24:31 -0400 Mark Delaney

In just four years, the battle royale genre has gone from niche to a must-have addition for many of gaming's biggest franchises. Now, many competitive games, including virtually all shooters, continue to iterate on the popular mode in different ways.

Though Midwinter Entertainment is unusually shy about saying so, Scavengers is one of the genre's newest innovations.

It seems as though the team doesn't want to be pigeonholed into the battle royale maelstrom, and perhaps that's smart given how busy that space is these days, but some games inevitably rise to the top, and thanks to the team's shooter pedigree, Scavengers has the potential to emerge from that storm as a fan-favorite.

Scavengers is a free-to-play third-person co op "survival shooter," according to its creators, but for anyone jumping in for the first time, what you really need to know about Scavengers is that it's a battle royale.

With dozens of players on every iteration of the game's massive and frosty map, teams of three must work together to scavenge for supplies, fend off enemies both AI and human, and be the last team standing when the dropship arrives.

Perhaps Midwinter doesn't call its debut title a battle royale because that comes with certain connotations, several of which Scavengers defies. For instance, you can die and return after a 60-second respawn timer. There's no Gulag to prevail in. There's no Reboot Van at which your allies revive you. The simple, yet ultimately nerve-rackingly long, respawn timer is one way Scavengers challenges players to play cooperatively.

As the map shrinks due to an ever-encroaching blizzard, if at any point all three players are eliminated on a team, they're all sent back to the lobby. This provides the right kind of anxiety, the kind this genre is meant to provide. Being the lone survivor on a team, desperate to survive until your allies get back in the fight, is fun every time, even if it doesn't go your way. It gives every round the sense that you're going down swinging.

The map's storm moves slower than the ones in other games in the genre, meaning you can often outrun it even if you start to trek out of it later than you should.

But there are unique consequences for staying in Scavengers' storm. With gauges for both hunger and warmth, players will see the latter drop fast, eventually blocking part of their health bars unless they can recover it using campfires or some crafted items, like a Thermal Boost. As you sprint, you accumulate hunger as well, so even if you're hoping to lie low for a long portion of any round, it won't be long before it's time to hunt for food.

These survival elements add a necessary spin on the genre. In addition to crafting vital survival tools, players can also craft shields, throwables, and signature weapons for each of the game's seven class-based heroes at launch, three of which are unlocked on day one. While crafting and survival mechanics aren't anything novel either, Scavengers bridges the last-player-standing excitement of battle royale with the reward of survival games, where the best-prepared players, not necessarily the best shooters, can do the most damage.

Shooting in Scavengers feels excellent. The game's pedigree, including the former Halo creative director and veterans from BattlefieldCall of Duty, and more, shines through. A pretty standard assortment of guns, like assault rifles, shotguns, snipers, revolvers, crossbows, and more, don't impress with any sort of innovative mechanics on their own, but they make up for it thanks to tight controls that ensure players never need to grapple with the game itself, only the enemies.

That's more than one can say for what is admittedly still my favorite game ever -- PUBG -- and puts Scavengers closer to Warzone or Fortnite in terms of battle royales that actually feel good to play. The genre is wildly all over the map in this regard, but Scavengers is reliable when it comes time for a shootout.

The biggest issue Scavengers has is its map features. The point of every round is to escape with not just your life, but also the most Datapoints, which can be gathered at major settlements across the map or dropped by AI and human enemies. This added factor means Scavengers is the battle royale that scores you based on your found loot, which is fun as a concept.

Some of the game's best bits are nevertheless let down at times by a map too flat and barren in between its main settlements. I've landed on using the sniping- and crossbow-class characters, because I just don't see the utility in playing someone with close-quarters special weapons, like a shotgun or a melee sword. The sightlines are so vast when between settlements. It feels like anyone who needs their targets at close range is at a severe disadvantage.

I've lucked into my preferred character, a stealthy archer named Kali, being such a strong fit for the current geography of Scavengers. Anyone who loves to play as the shotgunner of their group may find Scavengers to be more of an uphill battle, figuratively and ironically speaking, because the terrain can be so flat on the outskirts of towns. 

I expect the meta to quickly reveal itself to favor long-range gunners, at least in this earliest of Early Access stages.

Scavenger's economy is based on not just cosmetics, but also individual research projects players can explore between rounds. Researching new items, weapons, and talents is straightforward for anyone who's played mobile games or those that borrow from it, though it's worth noting nothing in Scavengers' economy is predatory like those of many mobile games. Players earn credits as they play, and while you can use them to complete research projects faster, I've not yet seen any reason to.

There's always more to unlock, and every crafting resource you'll need can only be found by playing the game. I wouldn't call anything in Scavengers pay-to-win for that very reason. It's play-to-win, with an option to speed things up by a few hours if you really want to.

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Scavengers is in its infancy as an Early Access live service game, and that's a period during which fans should reasonably expect some growing pains. Midwinter's debut has fewer than some others, to its credit, though no one would rightly argue it's without blemishes.

The foundation is strong, and one can quite easily see a future where this competitive game continues to grow thanks to its fusion of two of the industry's biggest trends. Scavengers has at least earned my curiosity for now, and with strong ongoing support, I expect its harsh but fulfilling world will draw in plenty more Explorers too.

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Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review — Return to Revachol https://www.gameskinny.com/h4d5u/disco-elysium-the-final-cut-review-return-to-revachol https://www.gameskinny.com/h4d5u/disco-elysium-the-final-cut-review-return-to-revachol Mon, 05 Apr 2021 15:33:54 -0400 Henry Stockdale

Disco Elysium took us by surprise when it launched in 2019. Once a PC exclusive, this text-heavy isometric RPG took us to the streets of Revachol, the former capital of the world divided under foreign occupation.

Developed by ZA/UM, we gave that version a 10/10 for "its interesting, entertaining, and hilarious game world with fully realized factions and characters, unique art style, and overall mood," and much more. 

Now Disco Elysium is back with The Final Cut, an expanded edition on the PS4, PS5, Stadia, and PC (where players can claim it as a free upgrade).

The Final Cut marks the first time Disco Elysium’s come to consoles, with Switch and Xbox editions arriving later this summer. It makes for a fantastic improvement on the base game, offering some significant upgrades that add to the narrative, only let down by a few performance issues on PS5.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review — Return to Revachol

If you played Disco Elysium before, you know what to expect here, as The Final Cut retains the same gameplay and story as the original. If you aren’t familiar with the game, it's a straightforward premise. Seven days ago, a body was found hanging from a tree behind a hotel in Revachol’s Martinaise district, and the main character's been sent to investigate.

Problem is, this detective is a serious alcoholic, and after a wild night of drinking, he wakes up an amnesiac in a completely trashed hotel room. Fighting with his own consciousness to get up, he slowly discovers he's a cop, though he's misplaced key items like his gun and badge. Joined by Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi, it’s down to this pair to discover what happened.

Before diving in, players must choose what kind of detective they'd like to be, either working from one of three preset character sheets or creating their own from scratch. This all helps form what the game calls the detective’s “ancient reptilian brain."

Character sheets are divided into four pillars  Intellect, Psyche, Physique, and Motorics  letting you allocate points towards each, all of which contain special skills. For example, if you’d rather play a Sherlock-Holmes-type detective, Intellect is a must, which offers skills like “Encyclopaedia” that provides a better idea of the world around you.

Should you prefer the tough guy approach, Physique is your way forward, offering skills that augment endurance, your pain threshold, or your ability to intimidate witnesses (since there is no "real" combat in Disco Elysium). 

As you investigate, successful actions are determined by a dice roll. Depending on your build (and luck), how you allocated points determines success probability, though failed rolls don’t prevent the story from continuing.

So what’s changed in The Final Cut, and how does it impact the experience? 

Voice acting is by far the largest update. Nearly 300 characters across Revachol are now fully voiced, which is a massive undertaking when you consider the script to contain around 1.2 million words. That includes a standout performance by Jazz musician Lenval Brown, who voices the detective’s innermost thoughts and brings a pleasantly authoritative voice that adds gravity to your decisions.  

If you prefer the original non-VO style, that option remains available, but this addition adds immense personality to an already wonderful cast. As a result, The Final Cut has a greater narrative impact than the original; an impressive achievement, considering it is arguably Disco Elysium's strongest aspect.

The Final Cut’s other significant addition is the inclusion of the previously-scrapped “political vision” quests tied to four prevailing (and wildly conflicting) political ideologies: Communism, Fascism, Moralism, and Ultraliberalism. As you play, you'll gradually develop a political alignment, letting you internalize the main character's political standing. It's a system that offers more insight into an already nihilistic, war-ravaged world.

And though these political vision quests don’t have any major impacts on the story, they offer a satisfying resolution to these ideological themes, giving a sense of closure to certain aspects of the game that was previously lacking.  

Elsewhere, The Final Cut’s additions aren’t as significant but provide several quality-of-life updates, including the inclusion of 4K. PC players now have controller support, several new animations and characters are included, new dialogue choices have been added, extra languages are now supported, and two new songs by British Sea Power appear.

Sadly, the PS5 version has several technical issues I encountered during this review, which weren’t fixed in Patch 1.1. Interactions feel a bit clunky, and the game doesn’t always recognize when you’ve selected an object to investigate or a person to talk to. There are also infrequent framerate drops, and sometimes, items just didn’t load.

Patch 1.2 promises to fix these issues, and though they're relatively minor, they did impact the overall experience. 

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Still the same superb RPG from 2019, just with extra bells and whistles
  • Fantastic voice acting
  • Beautiful visual style
  • Highly replayable

Cons

  • Minor technical problems on consoles
  • Doesn’t expand too much upon the original

Regardless of what route you take or which rolls you fail, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is an utterly compelling RPG worth looking into, either again or for this first time. The lack of combat might seem strange, but it never feels worse for the omission, channeling the same energy as Planescape: Torment.

What lies within is a dark, politically driven, and utterly hilarious story, one that never punishes you for failure. By offering The Final Cut as a free upgrade for PC players, too, anyone who previously visited Revachol has nothing to lose by making a second trip, and this is a game that actively encourages replayability.

Though I'm (currently) let down by a few minor issues on consoles, Disco Elysium is just as essential in 2021 as it was in 2019. I’m pleased to see it finally reaching a wider audience, and it comes strongly recommended.

[Note: ZA/UM provided the copy of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut used for this review.]

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Watch Dogs Legion Online Hands-On Preview: London Hosts the Hacking Olympics https://www.gameskinny.com/3k7zz/watch-dogs-legion-online-hands-on-preview-london-hosts-the-hacking-olympics https://www.gameskinny.com/3k7zz/watch-dogs-legion-online-hands-on-preview-london-hosts-the-hacking-olympics Mon, 22 Feb 2021 17:23:42 -0500 Mark Delaney

It's the current trend of games planning to offer both a deep single-player campaign and a robust online suite of modes to give players only the former at launch. The idea is to get the game out the door, take in feedback, and work on making the eventual online launch even better.

Robust worlds like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption have been revealed with such staggered schedules, and though 343 says it's not true, a rumor once suggested Halo Infinite would launch without multiplayer at first too.

The move has so far seemed to be a smart one. Players tend to forgive delays more easily than buggy launches, especially if the results are fun and exciting. For that reason, Watch Dogs: Legion Online will likely be forgiven for arriving five months after the solo story mode. Time will tell whether the game mode can be the hacker timesink Ubisoft has envisioned, but the source code proves intriguing.

Right away, it's evident Watch Dogs: Legion Online takes many cues from Grand Theft Auto Online. Like GTAO during its launch in 2013, Legion Online (or henceforth WDLO)'s range of things to do is wide enough but merely feels like the foundation for something grander in the months and years ahead.

Players can choose from activities such as instant co-op missions that matchmake them into lobbies with up to three others for one-off jobs and special assignments. They can also jump into the Spiderbot Arena or, in the suite's centerpiece, take on lengthy, multi-part (and often grueling) Tactical Ops.

Of course, sometimes the best part of all of this is just running around the sandbox of dystopian London, causing cars to veer off the road into Albion checkpoints. Admittedly, my team of four games journalists bookended our hours-long session just this way and had a blast in the process. 

In the in-between, we were given a tour of the game's more structured attractions. While the co-op missions were fun, they didn't shatter my expectations heading into the event. Each mission felt almost procedurally generated. Go to this spot, hack/steal/kill a number of machines/cars/bad guys, and exfiltrate alive. It's a rote formula, though like our freeform open-world antics, the missions do benefit from the universal truth that nearly everything is better in co-op. 

Conversely, Spiderbot Arena feels like it will be WDLO's most overlooked mode, and for good reason. It's fun in short bursts and controls really well, but in my experience, Legion has too many spiderbot sequences already, so I wasn't looking for any more chances to take control of the arachnid automatons.

If you're trying to command players' attention en masse, you'll need to do better than some familiar co-op missions and an arena shooter afterthought. It's a high bar in such a crowded field, where every multiplayer game is crafted to capture dozens of your gaming hours every week.

Delightfully, Tactical Ops mode clears that high bar. If the full game is so clearly inspired by GTA Online, Tactical Ops mode can be considered the game's "heists." These multi-part, potentially hours-long co-op missions creatively use the game's systems in ways that are unique to the online mode, meaning even players who loved the story but might be uninspired to play with others should give it a try.

Often Tac Ops missions split your party, two and two. This is interesting because as you break into pairs, you'll still all be sharing the same voice channel working on separate objectives but needing to coordinate, and maybe even synchronize, with your immediate partner as well as the whole group. It's the ultimate teamwork mode, and for that reason playing with friends looks to be a blast and one of the things I'm most looking forward to doing when the mode launches in a few weeks. 

Having said that, nothing makes fast friends as well as life-or-death co-op missions, and as our hands-on time with Tac Ops came close to the end of our day of play, my teammates and I quickly developed a workable, enjoyable camaraderie that enabled Tac Ops to go over not just successfully, but often hilariously.

At one point, we sought desperate refuge in a pub while killer super-drones patrolled just outside the windows we dared not peek out of, like a reimagined Shaun of the Dead where robots took over instead of zombies.

Some of Watch Dogs: Legion's most fascinating elements have been imported into Legion Online, such as the play-as-anyone directive. Like in the campaign, you can recruit whomever you'd like, and every anti-hero hacker brings their own skills, personality, and tools for the job. But unlike in the story mode, these recruitments cost you Tech Points, which were previously only used for upgrades like better guns and new gadgets. 

This means you'll have to choose between upgrades for your characters and new characters entirely. More impressive recruits mean a higher price but don't worry, they aren't on sale as far as I saw. Permadeath is still in play too, though since it's co-op, you'll now have a revive window to be saved, or maybe do the saving yourself. This makes your team cohesion all the more vital, as allies running off on their own may only have themselves to blame when their star Operative is down and out for good. 

Each mission of Tactical Ops takes anywhere from 20-60 minutes, and there were five parts in the Tac Ops mission I got to play.

We ended up dying several times on the final boss, which was both a rewarding challenge but also a bit of a questionable chore as it was a near rehash of the solo story's endgame. This is just one of many planned Tactical Ops missions, however, and I get the sense they will come more commonly than the GTAO heists.

The conundrum of live-service games today is that each one of them is built to be your live-service game. No one has time to fully invest in maybe more than two or three at the absolute most, so each one needs to prove it can sustain your interest in the long haul. Watch Dogs Legion Online looks to launch with a gamut of modes and attractions to try and capture the hearts of ample hackers.

Daily, weekly, and event challenges, a cosmetic rewards train a la the ubiquitous "Battle Pass," and enough blips on your map to ensure you're always catching up with what's available today collectively means WDLO is built to commandeer your free time.

Some of what will determine the success of that mission wasn't visible during my time but will be shortly after launch; things like how fast players can level up the Season Pass, how much XP players get for missions big and small, and what kind of rewards players can expect for just goofing around will all determine whether Legion builds a legion of online fans or London is left a ghost town.

The prospect of revisiting Ded Sec's London with friends and co-op partners is itself alluring, though to really keep players for the foreseeable future, Ubisoft will need to supplement Tactical Ops with more engaging content.

In 2021, every game with a big budget offers impressive quantities, but they don't all give players the quality experience worth hundreds of hours. Tactical Ops does, and its open-world is an even better sandbox with friends along for the ride, but some of the other parts of Watch Dogs: Legion Online don't capture the imagination as well, at least not yet. But that's the beauty of a live-service game. In time, the entire city can be the hacker's paradise everyone  players and creators  wants it to be.

Watch Dogs Legion Online launches across all its available platforms on March 9 as a free update for all players who already own the game. If you've yet to jump into Watch Dogs: Legion, consider checking out our review.

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Hitman 3 Scavenger Challenge Guide: Where to Find the Scrap Sword https://www.gameskinny.com/ouxes/hitman-3-scavenger-challenge-guide-where-to-find-the-scrap-sword https://www.gameskinny.com/ouxes/hitman-3-scavenger-challenge-guide-where-to-find-the-scrap-sword Sat, 30 Jan 2021 17:24:37 -0500 Mark Delaney

Every Hitman level tends to have a few unique and sometimes even funny weapons lying around. In Hitman 3's Berlin Level, Apex Predator, that's true once more with the Scrap Sword.

The implication seems to be a houseless person built a sword out of metal scrap, then left it in their hangout. Of course, that means Agent 47 can use it as a weapon against his foes. Here's where to find the Hitman 3 Scrap Sword and complete the brief but tricky Scavenger challenge.

Hitman 3 Scavenger Challenge Walkthrough and Scrap Sword Location

No matter where you start out the Apex Predator mission, you'll want to make it to the Juice Bar. It's clearly labeled thankfully, and is on the same level you'd start the mission if you're doing a default run. Otherwise, it's among the outdoor hangout areas but after the security checkpoint.

Once you're at the Juice Bar, look to the water to the right of the Juice Bar. To the left of the water are several large metal cylinders. Head down that corridor, and watch out for the ICA target who sometimes patrols the area. If he's in your way, waiting for him to leave is your best bet, as he's tough to take out with others so close as well.

Once your lane is clear, head down and then to the left until you get between the cylinders to find a mass of tires piled up and a yellow barrel. Approach the pile and notice the Scrap Sword sitting there.

Pick it up to complete the Scavenger challenge and pocket a sweet XP boost in the process. Now the question is: who's the lucky contestant that gets to, let's say "receive," the Scrap Sword? Well done, 47.

That's all you need to know about the Hitman 3 Scrap Sword and how to complete its Scavenger challenge. If you're looking for more tips on IO's latest in the World of Assassination Trilogy, consider heading over to our Hitman 3 guides page

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Hitman 3 Whiteout Challenge Guide: How to Get the Cocaine Brick and Use It https://www.gameskinny.com/owwuy/hitman-3-whiteout-challenge-guide-how-to-get-the-cocaine-brick-and-use-it https://www.gameskinny.com/owwuy/hitman-3-whiteout-challenge-guide-how-to-get-the-cocaine-brick-and-use-it Fri, 29 Jan 2021 16:04:58 -0500 Mark Delaney

Among the hundreds of Hitman 3 challenges, one of the funnier ones comes in the Berlin level, during Apex Predator, in which Agent 47 can cropdust a crowd of ravers and one of his targets with cocaine. 

If you're wondering how to complete the Hitman 3 Whiteout challenge and increase your level mastery for Berlin, here's all you need to know.

Hitman 3 Whiteout Challenge Walkthrough

Starting on the Berlin level, you'll want to get inside the biker club. From the queue outside Club Holle, run to the back of the level.

Dodge the guarded checkpoint by running to the right and hopping over the broken wall.

Keep sneaking through the few guards back there, or to make it a bit easier, change into one of their disguises when you isolate them.

You can use the nearby crowbar to distract and incapacitate them, as you may need it in a moment for something else anyway.

Head to the back where you'll see the biker garage on the left and a camera scanning the area on the right. In between those is a locked door. Use a lockpick or the crowbar to get the door open, then take the disguise of the food delivery guy who is back there on the phone.

As the delivery driver, ring the doorbell on the biker garage door. A biker will open the door but not let you in. Knock him out and hide the body in the nearby dumpster. Take his disguise too.

Now that you're a biker, you can move mostly freely. As always, be mindful of those who can see through your disguise.

Head to the room where bikers are filling statues with drugs and take the cocaine brick. 

With the drugs in your inventory, make your way to the dance floor of Club Holle where an EDM light show is going on. Far on stage right (your left) is a fan keeping the tripped-out audience cool.

Scan the guard near the stage with Instinct mode and it should trigger him checking in with his boss, signaling to Agent 47 that he's the Agent Chamberlain you're looking for.

Once he's identified (after your first playthrough, he will start out this way), stand by the fan with the cocaine brick in hand. Wait until he begins to move through the audience.

When he's close to the fan, throw the cocaine brick into the fan. This will spread the cocaine across the frontmost dancers and Chamberlain.

This will immediately unlock the Whiteout challenge, but as an added bonus, if you're looking to complete the hit, Chamberlain doesn't handle the accidental drug huff and ends up throwing up in the nearby bathroom, leaving you with an easy chance to drown him in his own vomit. Well done, 47.

That's all you need to know about how to complete the Hitman 3 Whiteout challenge. While you're here, you could also go to the basement bar and complete the Coconut Ball Surprise challenge if you haven't already. For more walkthroughs and tips, consider checking out our other Hitman 3 articles here

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Hitman 3 Coconut Ball Surprise Challenge Guide: How to Knock Out Florida Man https://www.gameskinny.com/knmw6/hitman-3-coconut-ball-surprise-challenge-guide-how-to-knock-out-florida-man https://www.gameskinny.com/knmw6/hitman-3-coconut-ball-surprise-challenge-guide-how-to-knock-out-florida-man Fri, 29 Jan 2021 15:56:04 -0500 Mark Delaney

Yes, Agent 47 can be the most accurate sharpshooter, the stealthiest assassin, and the most executing tactician in all the world, but he can just as likely bonk a dude on the head with a coconut. That's exactly the case with the Hitman 3 Coconut Ball Surprise challenge in Berlin level, Apex Predator. 

If you're wondering how to complete the Hitman 3 Coconut Ball Surprise challenge, follow our guide below.

Hitman 3 Coconut Ball Surprise Challenge Walkthrough

The Coconut Ball Surprise challenge can be completed on Hitman 3's Berlin level, Apex Predator. Go down to the Basement Bar, which is on the same level as the dance floor with the pulsing EDM music and lights going wild. At the back of the dancefloor and to the left is the entrance to the Basement Bar.

Head inside and grab the coconut from behind the bar. Note that this will be considered trespassing unless you're disguised as a guard or a bartender.

Once you have the coconut in hand, head down the hall and into the next room. There should be a conversation happening between a drug dealer in a red fishing hat and others. 

Approach the dealer telling him you want to buy, and he will escort you to a private area to do business. While there, knock him out and assume his identity. Then return to where you first met him.

If not right away, within a short period, an NPC named Florida Man should show up. You can talk to him if you'd like, but he's the subject of today's coconut bonking, so take out the fuzzy object and chuck it as his head.

As soon as it hits, you'll unlock the Coconut Ball Surprise challenge in Hitman 3.

Note that the Florida Man NPC is said to move around freely, but in our time with the game, he was impossible to find unless we summoned him by disguising Agent 47 as the drug dealer. Rather than find a flashy pants needle in a haystack of ravers, we think this drug dealer workaround is your best bet to finding him in Berlin and chucking a coconut at his head. Well done, 47.

That's it for the Hitman 3 Coconut Ball Surprise challenge in Berlin. For more assassination tips, consider heading over to our Hitman 3 hub for other challenge walkthroughs and guides. 

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Hitman 3 Domestic Disturbance Challenge Guide: Yates Murder by Proxy https://www.gameskinny.com/g6scc/hitman-3-domestic-disturbance-challenge-guide-yates-murder-by-proxy https://www.gameskinny.com/g6scc/hitman-3-domestic-disturbance-challenge-guide-yates-murder-by-proxy Fri, 29 Jan 2021 15:35:37 -0500 Mark Delaney

Even though Agent 47 is the world's greatest assassin, sometimes it's nice to keep your hands off a would-be mess and let someone else do the dirty work for you. The Hitman 3 Domestic Disturbance challenge in Mendoza is one such opportunity. 

Here's how to complete the Hitman 3 Domestic Disturbance challenge so you can sit back and enjoy the show for a change, all while increasing your level mastery. 

Hitman 3 Domestic Disturbance Challenge Walkthrough

As is always the case with Hitman, there are many routes to the end of this challenge, but we think we've found the optimal route.

From the start, head down the road to find the lawyer (looking exactly like Jim Rash, I'll add) on the phone and about to head into the Yates estate to conduct business. Don't let him get there. 

When he passes through the center garden, knock him out and assume his identity. You should hide the body, but don't throw it over the side of the garden wall or you'll be spotted.

Instead, drag him around to the opening and into the tall grass. Leave illegal weapons here too as you'll be frisked.

Tell the guards of your appointment and they'll escort you right into the home, an otherwise well-fortified estate. Quickly head upstairs to grab the basement key off the desk, then head back down to return to your escort.

When you're alone with the guard, take him out and take his clothes. Stash the body and stash or take the gun so it doesn't arouse suspicion and take Yates off his route.

Now with the basement key in hand, head downstairs to the basement. The locked door is in a corner on the ground level you first entered. Sneak into the back behind the two guards who would see through your disguise and open the sealed safe with code 2-0-0-6.

Take the files from inside the safe, which reveal that Don Yates ruined his wife's career to save his own. Head outside and find Mrs. Yates wearing a dazzling gold dress. She moves around a lot but won't be outside the estate grounds.

When she's alone, and ensuring you're dressed as a guard still, present her with the damning evidence. After that, you're on a path to victory, but here's how the rest plays out.

Mrs. Yates will read the files upstairs where you found the key earlier. She and Don Yates will then go outside and argue, leading to the downtrodden wife shoving Don over the balcony and to his death. Target down, and all you had to do was pass a manilla folder. Well done, 47.

That's all you need to know about how to complete the Hitman 3 Domestic Disturbance challenge in Mendoza. For more assassination tips and tricks, including more challenge guides, head over to our Hitman 3 hub

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Hitman 3 Nightcrawler Challenge Guide: How Take a Picture of the Sheik https://www.gameskinny.com/79jkn/hitman-3-nightcrawler-challenge-guide-how-take-a-picture-of-the-sheik https://www.gameskinny.com/79jkn/hitman-3-nightcrawler-challenge-guide-how-take-a-picture-of-the-sheik Fri, 29 Jan 2021 11:24:25 -0500 Mark Delaney

Of all the hundreds of challenges in the game, the Hitman 3 Nightcrawler challenge is among the creepiest. It requires you to take a picture of the Sheik sleeping in his guest room in Dubai during On Top of the World. But since there's XP on the line, we did it anyway, and you can too if you follow our guide.

It's not a difficult challenge by most measures, but it does require some patience and a quick snap of the camera when it's time. Here's how to complete the Hitman 3 Nightcrawler challenge.

Hitman 3 Nightcrawler Challenge Walkthrough

The Sheik always begins the level speaking on stage, as he's unveiling the gold-coated skyscraper you're standing in. You can find the stage at the beginning of the level.  

Notice that his outfit is darker, while everyone else dressed like him is wearing white. Keep that in mind so he's easy to find in a bit, because the first thing you'll want to do is change into the disguise of a Penthouse guard. They're the security guards with red hats who are mostly found on Level 3 and up.

There seems not to be any particular guard who is especially vulnerable, so pick one that works for you and be sure to hide the body. You don't want to cause a disturbance and get the Skeik off his path.

Once you're dressed like a Penthouse guard, head back down to the heart of the party where the Sheik will still be mingling with guests.

Depending on how long you were gone, he's either going to be at the bar, speaking with random guests, or talking with one of the targets for the level, Marcus Stuyvesant. After he does this, the Sheik returns to the bar, then tells his guards he's going to "retire upstairs."

Mind that you're intent this whole time is to simply keep following him. Don't let him out of your sight, but also be mindful of the guards who can see through your disguise and dodge them as needed.

Eventually, the Sheik will enter Carl Ingram's private room and speak on the balcony for a moment. While he is in there, break into the locked room at the end of the hall. It's his room, and you'll want to get in easily before he enters, though you could also try to walk right in behind him if you can avoid the guard suspicious of you in that hall.

After that, he will head into his room and tell his guards he is going to get some rest. He doesn't kick you out, so stay by his bed and pull out Agent 47's camera tool. 

The Sheik will only rest for a brief moment, less than five seconds rather inexplicably, so take the photo quickly, and you'll have your creepy challenge completed. Well done, 47.

That's all you need to know about how to complete the Hitman 3 Nightcrawler challenge in Dubai, On Top of the World. If you're looking for more assassination tips and tricks, we've got you covered here

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Hitman 3 Flying Monkey Business Challenge Guide: Where to Place the Banana https://www.gameskinny.com/4xheb/hitman-3-flying-monkey-business-challenge-guide-where-to-place-the-banana https://www.gameskinny.com/4xheb/hitman-3-flying-monkey-business-challenge-guide-where-to-place-the-banana Fri, 29 Jan 2021 11:24:04 -0500 Mark Delaney

One of the best challenges in Hitman 3 is Flying Monkey Business, which can be completed on the Dubai level, On Top of the World. If you're looking for the steps you need to complete the challenge, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about Hitman 3 Flying Monkey Business.

Here's how to get a target to slip on a banana peel while fleeing on a parachute.

Hitman 3 Flying Monkey Business Challenge Walkthrough

The steps for Flying Monkey Business would be a lot more complicated, but luckily, much of it follows a Mission Story, "How the Mighty Fall," meaning the game will guide you for portions of this challenge.

To start, find one of the three bananas on the level. The easiest banana to find, if you're at least Mastery Level 4 on Dubai, is in the staff briefing room on the table. You can choose it as a starting location and already be dressed as a guard working the party.

Pick up the banana, and go to the Penthouse floor (Level 3). Head outside to where Ingram can play golf (you may know it from our Angry Birdy challenge guide). Make a manual save before placing the banana in case you need to reload for better placement. 

Holding LB+RB on Xbox, L2+ R2 on PlayStation, or ZL+ZR on Switch, place the banana directly where it's shown in the image below. This allows it to be placed as a banana peel rather than just a banana.

Notice how many tile lines it is away from the parachute (three). Be very exacting with this or you may miss your target. 

Next, head into the game's menus and choose to follow the Mission Story named "How The Mighty Fall."

For the next several steps, you'll be along for the ride, waypoint to waypoint, as you help Gray get some facetime with your two Providence targets on that level. He taunts them via video chat and tells you to "end it" when he's done, but don't.

Instead, let the scene keep playing out. Eventually, Ingram will find the panic button release and the previously locked room will open. They'll call for help having just been threatened with execution, and the whole place will soon go on alert, signaling an emergency evacuation.

The targets eventually run to their emergency parachutes (which, by the way, you can sabotage by cutting them with the kitchen knife found in the panic room.) They'll take the chutes and with their small army of armed guards, head outside to make an emergency getaway.

If you've placed the banana correctly, one of them will slip and briefly get knocked out, thus completing the Flying Monkey Business challenge. If they somehow missed it, reload a save from before you placed the banana and adjust accordingly.

Eventually, you'll get to witness the hijinx for yourself, and even pop an achievement or trophy in the process if you're playing on Xbox or PlayStation respectively. Well done, 47. That's all for the Hitman 3 Flying Monkey Business challenge. For more assassination tips and tricks, we've got more guides here

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Hitman 3 Angry Birdy Challenge Guide: How to Get the Explosive Golf Ball https://www.gameskinny.com/lnd81/hitman-3-angry-birdy-challenge-guide-how-to-get-the-explosive-golf-ball https://www.gameskinny.com/lnd81/hitman-3-angry-birdy-challenge-guide-how-to-get-the-explosive-golf-ball Fri, 29 Jan 2021 11:23:49 -0500 Mark Delaney

Like always in this series, Hitman 3 is full of odd, obtuse, and often funny challenges for players to complete. If you're wondering how to complete the Angry Birdy challenge on Hitman 3's Dubai level, Top of the World, this complete guide will ensure you get the explosive golf ball straight to Carl Ingram's green before he tees off   and blows up!

Here's how to complete the Hitman 3 Angry Birdy challenge.

Hitman 3 Angry Birdy Walkthrough

The first thing you'll want to do is go upstairs to Level 3 by the staff room. It's worth noting that if you're at least Mastery Level 4, you can choose this room as a starting area and already be clad in a waiter's outfit for easier moving about incognito. Otherwise, you'll want to grab a staff or security disguise before heading upstairs.

In this hall (the same one where you get the privilege keycard for the server room) there will be two maintenance workers. One is a man working in the corner, and another is a woman on the phone talking about an explosive golf ball she brought to work but decided not to unleash on her boss.

If you hurry while she's on the phone, you can knockout the man, stash his body in the closet in the hall, and take his disguise.

You'll also want to knock out the woman when you get the chance, as she's got the key to the maintenance room at the end of the hall.

Stash her body away as well and take the key to the end of the hall. Inside the door at the end of the hall, grab the explosive golf ball behind the red toolbox.

Next, you'll want to gain access to the Penthouse suite, up another level on Level 4. For that, take a disguise from a Penthouse security guard  the ones with the red hats.

Once you have that, you can mostly move freely, just be mindful of the occasional NPC that will spot you as an intruder if you're too close for too long. 

Go up the lavish staircase, and you'll see an interior with more rooms on the left and a balcony on the right. Head outside to the balcony and leave the explosive golf ball in the bucket of many more golf balls.

It'll be the first (and last) Ingram selects in a few moments.

With the ball waiting for its victim, you'll need to get Ingram frustrated so he abandons his loop and retires to some golf for what he wrongly expects will be a relaxing distraction.

How to Distract Ingram So He Uses the Golf Ball

It's important to know there are two levels to this area, and Ingram's path takes him up and down, through several rooms.

First, follow him until he's in the lower-level sitting room dictating an oral history of Providence into a recorder.

When it's safe, turn on the radio in the corner of the room. Careful as it's considered an illegal action and will arouse suspicion if anyone sees you do it. This will frustrate Ingram but he will resume dictating. Turn on the radio a second time to get him to storm off in a huff. 

Next, he'll move upstairs to his room. Keep following and again be mindful of the guards who will see through your disguise.

When he begins dictating in his room (where he's sitting behind a bunch of computer monitors), turn on the vacuum just outside the room to frustrate him a third and final time. This is another illegal action, so be careful.

Sensing he can't get any work done, he heads off to golf and take his mind off things. You can follow to watch the show or wait for the notice from a distance, but at that point, he's bound for the explosive golf ball.

He'll tee off, explode on contact, and maybe even fall off the side of the skyscraper for good measure. Well done, 47.

That's it for how to complete the Hitman 3 Angry Birdy challenge and get the explosive golf ball. For more assassination tips and tricks, consider heading over to our Hitman 3 guides page

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How to Get the Hitman 3 Case File in Dartmoor: Death in the Family https://www.gameskinny.com/9b52h/how-to-get-the-hitman-3-case-file-in-dartmoor-death-in-the-family https://www.gameskinny.com/9b52h/how-to-get-the-hitman-3-case-file-in-dartmoor-death-in-the-family Sat, 23 Jan 2021 16:50:45 -0500 Mark Delaney

While Hitman is usually a series focused on assassinating your targets, the World of Assassination trilogy has mixed up mission objectives more than a few times. With Hitman 3, one early example is the Case File in Dartmoor, or the "Death in the Family" level. If you're wondering how to get the Hitman 3 case file, either with the safe code or not, we have you covered in this guide. 

There are, of course, several ways to get this high-security item. Below we've explained the different solutions in a method-by-method walkthrough. 

Method 1: Crack the Safe

The physical Case File is upstairs in Alexa Carlisle's Office (Level 2 on your map). It's stashed away in a safe. Besides Alexa, only the bodyguards are allowed in the room. If Agent 47 is seen inside wearing any disguise other than a bodyguard uniform disguise (or no disguise at all, of course) it will be considered trespassing. Keep that in mind when you're strategizing how to enter the room.

The safe is guarded by a four-digit keycode, but you won't find the safe code in a document, nor overhear it in conversation, like so many other puzzle solutions in Hitman. Instead, pay attention to the room around you.

How to Get the Safe Code for the Case File

First, press the button on Alexa's chair, which moves a portrait and reveals the safe. Approach the safe and notice the four images above it. They are:

  • A clock
  • A telescope
  • A fire
  • A moose

These are clues you'll need to find the keycode. Look around the room for the items related to those images. 

From the safe and looking back toward the entrance, the clock is on the right side bureau, the telescope is upstairs in the window, the fireplace is easily spotted on the left wall, and the moose is a taxidermied moose head above the entrance doors.

Approach each of them and look for a small number on a plaque nearby, usually on a wall beside each item, though the number for the clock sits in front of it.

These numbers, if entered correctly, are your safe keycode. So for clock-telescope-fireplace-moose, the keycode is 1975. Enter that code and the safe will open without any alarm to worry about. From there, make your escape or finish off Alexa if you haven't yet to complete the level.

Method 2: Make Alexa Give You the Case File

This is the most time-consuming of all ways to obtain the Case File, but it might end up your favorite method too. To convince Alexa to give you the Case FIle, you'll need to follow the Murder Mystery storyline by activating the Mission Story "Means, Motive, and Opportunity" (or otherwise following those steps if you don't want the HUD guidance).

We've already gone ahead and fully detailed the murder mystery plot. Use our guide on the Hitman 3 Dartmoor Murder Mystery to eventually give yourself the opportunity to take the Case File peacefully from Alexa herself.

Method 3: Take Tokens from Fernsby and Rebecca

Entrusting two halves of the Case File with her butler Mr. Fernsby and her daughter Rebecca, Alexa has unknowingly put the pair in the crosshairs of The Silent Assassin.

Players need not ever head to the third-floor safe if they choose this route. Instead, find ways to incapacitate Mr. Fernsby the butler, as well as Rebeca Carlisle, pictured above.

When knocked out or killed, they will each drop a Case File Token. Once you acquire both, you don't even need to go upstairs. You've acquired the Case File via this alternative route.

If you've already finished off Alexa by then, you're in the clear. Head to the exit with everything you need, another job well done and the Case File on The Constant, Hitman's Big Bad.

And that's all you need to know about getting the Hitman 3 case file in Dartmoor during the Death in the Family mission. Whether you use the safe code or solve the murder mystery in "Means, Motive, and Opportunity," you've fulfilled the mission's second objective and gotten more points to your level mastery. 

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Hitman 3 Death in the Family: Dartmoor Murder Mystery Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/2my9i/hitman-3-death-in-the-family-dartmoor-murder-mystery-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/2my9i/hitman-3-death-in-the-family-dartmoor-murder-mystery-guide Fri, 22 Jan 2021 18:01:24 -0500 Mark Delaney

Hitman 3 Death in the Family is a murder mystery set as one of Dartmoor's pieces of mission story intel. Completing the murder mystery gives you the chance to also nab the case file, which is a secondary objective in the mission. 

This Dartmoor manor houses more than one family secret, and as Agent 47, you have the unique opportunity to unearth all of them and solve the mystery: who killed Zachary Carlisle? With countless clues to find, an extended family to question, and eventually three suspects to choose from, here's all you need to know about how to solve the Hitman 3 murder mystery.

How to Solve the Hitman 3 Murder Mystery

1. Assume the Role of the Private Investigator

The easiest way to get into this disguise is to get to the private investigator when he's alone. With ample drain pipes and ledges to use on the exterior of the mansion, it's easy to get to a balcony and draw him out with a distraction item when he's nearby, such as a coin.

There are no wrong answers here, but you should be discreet so as to keep other NPCs on their routines. Make sure to follow the Mission Story as well, so you'll always get waypoints whenever the game is using them.

2. Speak to Mr. Fernsby, The Butler

Fernsby will brief you on the death of Zachary Carlisle, which has been ruled a suicide, but you're there to look for signs of foul play. Once he leaves you to yourself, nearly the entire mansion is available for inspecting. These next several sections can be played in any order, but here's everything you'll want to do at a glance, then we'll dive in with more details:

  • Inspect Zachary's Room
  • Inspect Fernsby's Office
  • Inspect Rebecca's Room
  • Inspect Emma and Gregory's Room
  • Inspect the Greenhouse
  • Interview all family members plus Rosie the maid

Inspecting each room will uncover clues, while interviewing the family and Rosie will confirm or refute alibis of the many suspects. Let's start in the room where it happened.

Zachary's Room Clues

  • Inspect the dead body with the camera
  • Inspect the bedside liquor with the camera
  • Inspect Zachary's laptop
  • Read Zachary's suicide note
  • Find the hidden bookshelf door using Instinct mode and open the secret passage
  • Inside the secret room, inspect the Mansion floor plan

Using these six clues, speak to Fernsby once more. Together, you'll establish a time of death and generate a suspect list. It includes the entire family plus Mr. Fernsby himself, who readily admits he has no good alibi as he was alone in his office during Zachary's death.

If you hurry from there to the Sitting Room, you may catch Alexa Carlisle addressing the entire family (from left: Patrick, Rebecca, Edward, Emma, and Gregory) which makes rounding up interviews a bit easier, as otherwise most of the family moves around a bit.

It's not mandatory you speak to them then, but if you choose to, save Gregory for last as he always sits in that room anyway. He won't be hard to find.

Each interview runs three questions long and as the suspects talk to Agent 47, their information will either corroborate or refute what else you've heard or other clues you've found. You may also wait to speak to them until you've found all the clues in and around the mansion. If that's more your style, here's what other areas you'll need to check out first.

Rebecca's Room Clues

  • Using the camera, take a picture of the notebooks by the fireplace
  • Inspect Rebecca's laptop

Emma and Gregory's Room Clues

  • Pick up the Greenhouse key next to the standing mirror
  • Using the camera, inspect the dirty shoes by the window
  • Beside the bed, read the letter from Emma's mother
  • Pick up the walking cane

Note that the cane shows a red icon as though it will be treated as an illegal weapon, but nonetheless, you are free to carry this openly in front of all mansion staff and residents. The icon seems to be a bug, so don't fret.

Take the cane and look in the house for a Mysterious Switch in the floor by the middle-left staircase on the Level 1 map. Inside this room, you'll find another letter that you can use to frame Zachary's death as an actual suicide should you choose to. For now, keep looking for more clues though.

Mr. Fernsby's Office Clues

On the ground floor in the southeast corner of the map, break into Mr. Fernsby's office using a crowbar or lockpick and look for three clues:

  • Inspect the lethal poison pills on the windowsill
  • Inspect Zachary's half-burnt diary in the fireplace
  • Inspect Mr. Fernsby's list on his desk

With these clues, you'll be able to pin the murder on Fernsby if you so choose, but there's still one more suspect who is more deserving if you wish to solve it properly. If you haven't yet interviewed everyone by now, do so, and don't forget Rosie the maid who is crying in the upstairs staff room.

The hardest to find among all interviewees is Emma, who is often outside in the Greenhouse. Head out back and you should have the Greenhouse key from her room, otherwise, you'll need to pick this lock to enter. 

Greenhouse Clues

When you interview Emma she seems rattled and dodgy. After she leaves, you can find one singular, vital clue: Emma's poison dosage notes. Assuming this is the last step you take, your notes should now confirm every alibi except for three people: Emma, Fernsby, and Zachary himself by way of suicide.

Conclusion

Return to speak to Fernsby and tell him you're ready to conclude your investigation. 

He will give you a meeting with Alexa Carlisle during which time you can accuse one of those three suspects as the one responsible for Zachary's death. If you wish to solve the murder properly, it is Emma who killed Zachary so accuse her.

Alexa will monologue about Emma's motive and eventually thank you for the work, at which point you can either ask for a particular Case File as a reward or tell her you'll bill her later. If you ask for the Case File, it completes your secondary objective for the mission, so you may want to choose that.

In either case, the environment remains non-hostile and you're free to continue the level, but the mystery of Dartmoor Mansion will have been solved. Congratulations, gumshoe!

That's all you need to know about solving the Hitman 3 murder mystery at Dartmoor mansion. You'll also likely get the case file to complete the mission, though there are other ways to get the case file. Stay tuned for more Hitman 3 guides over the coming days. 

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Hitman 3 Carry Over Progression: How to Import Content from Hitman, Hitman 2 https://www.gameskinny.com/3hr2j/hitman-3-carry-over-progression-how-to-import-content-from-hitman-hitman-2 https://www.gameskinny.com/3hr2j/hitman-3-carry-over-progression-how-to-import-content-from-hitman-hitman-2 Wed, 20 Jan 2021 14:18:16 -0500 Mark Delaney

Just as you could move all your Hitman (2016) content, including unlocked items, levels, and costumes, into Hitman 2Hitman 3 carry over allows players to once more bring forward Agent 47's past exploits and progression, turning Hitman 3 into the series' greatest hub of content ever.

The process for importing your Hitman and Hitman 2 content into Hitman 3 is relatively simple, but not without a few bumps in the road, some of which will be resolved in the days ahead. For now, here's what you need to know about how to move Hitman and Hitman 2 content into Hitman 3.

How to Carry Over Hitman and Hitman 2 Progression to Hitman 3

The first thing you'll need to know is this: you must carry forward content across the same ecosystem, so if you bought Hitman and/or Hitman 2 on Xbox, you can't acquire the free upgrades on PlayStation 4 or PS5.

They do, however, transfer across generations. So, for example, I was able to move my Hitman career from Xbox One to Xbox Series X.

How to Carry Over Hitman (2016) Progression

If you already own Hitman (2016) either as a total package or each of its episodic levels individually, you'll be able to unlock it all for Hitman 3 by:

  • Going to the in-game store
  • Claiming the Hitman GOTY Access Pack

This includes the entire first game, including the Patient Zero DLC campaign, which is included even if you didn't buy it before, so enjoy the potentially new content.

How to Carry Over Hitman 2 Progression

Once you've carried forward everything from the first game, you can do the same for Hitman 2, by:

  • Claiming either the Hitman 2 Standard or Hitman 2 Expansion Access Passes

You can do this whether you own the earlier games physically or digitally, but it should be noted that players who own the games physically need to take an additional step.

  • First, load Hitman 2 and ensure you've already carried forward your content from the first game into that one.
    • If you haven't, it'll be in the store menu just like Hitman 3. Claim it there within Hitman 2 and also claim the Hitman 3 Access Passes as they apply to you, including again the first game, second game, and expansion for the second game.

Once claimed there, you won't need your discs for Hitman or Hitman 2 anymore.

Head back to Hitman 3 and complete the above steps, claiming the Hitman 3 Access Passes for the earlier games. This will bring all levels and content from the earlier games into this week's new release, making Hitman 3 a hub of more than 20 locations and levels.

How to Import Hitman 2 Save Data Into Hitman 3

Unlike Hitman (2016), players can also move forward their specific Hitman 2 save data, immediately unlocking not just the levels and pre-order costumes, but all their previous unlocks like challenges, weapons, and even achievements or trophies, which will instantly unlock wherever you've earned them before.

When you first boot up Hitman 3, you'll be prompted to perform this one-time transfer. It's optional, but please note that should you elect to do it later, it will erase your Hitman 3 save data and make you start anew there.

This wouldn't be a big problem, except at the time of writing (and frankly during my entire review time with the game), this transfer tool has been broken. Agreeing to perform the transfer is meant to take you to a website, but the site fails to load currently, and we aren't yet sure when it will be fixed.

As soon as IO Interactive has their save data transfer website up and running, we'll update this guide with additional steps, but for now, we haven't yet seen what else this process has in store. It sounds as though it will be nice and easy once the site is working, at least.

In the meantime, you'll want to decide if it's worth waiting to bring forward your Hitman 2 save data or just start fresh when you replay those levels like everyone will need to with Hitman (2016) anyway.

How to Transfer Hitman Content from Steam to Epic Games Store

Because Hitman 3 is an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC, IO Interactive previously stated that transferring earlier content from Steam to EGS would be difficult if not impossible, and decided to offer players a heavily discounted Access Pass for the previous games as a solution.

But this didn't sit well with players, causing IO to rethink its plans. This week, the studio revealed Steam players will not have to buy anything on EGS they already own on Steam, but cautioned that the solution for this still evades them presently. 

In short, if you're playing on Epic Games Store after playing previously on Steam, you'll need to be patient if you want to unlock previously purchased content for free. Like above, we'll update this guide once IO reveals how they plan to rectify this issue.

That's all you need to know about transferring and claiming Hitman and Hitman 2 content via the Hitman 3 carry over feature. For more tips and help, be sure to stay tuned, and if you're just starting out in the game, consider heading over to this tips and tricks guide that teaches you about shortcuts and so much more. 

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Hitman 3 Tips and Tricks Guide: Become a Master Assassin https://www.gameskinny.com/d3o2w/hitman-3-tips-and-tricks-guide-become-a-master-assassin https://www.gameskinny.com/d3o2w/hitman-3-tips-and-tricks-guide-become-a-master-assassin Wed, 20 Jan 2021 10:26:36 -0500 Mark Delaney

January 20, 2021, is a very important date for which countless people have spent years agonizingly waiting. It's the Hitman 3 release date of course! We've already poured over 30 hours into IO Interactive's latest stealth sandbox and we've loved what we played, as you can read more about in our Hitman 3 review. If you're ready to jump into the game yourself and experience the final arc of the barcoded assassin, don't go without our tips and tricks for Hitman 3.

Whether you're new to the Hitman series or returning to a personal favorite assassin franchise, we've got you covered with a help guide that looks at what's new, what's to know, and where to go, all while giving you tips on how to best navigate the game.

Hitman 3 Tips and Tricks

Look for Shortcuts

Among the new features to the trilogy introduced in Hitman 3 are shortcuts. These doors and ladders reward exploration by giving players much swifter routes to use on subsequent playthroughs.

If you find a yellow door locked on one side, it means getting to the other hard-to-reach side allows you to unlock it forever, no matter how many times you replay the level.

Similarly, locked yellow ladders can be made available for later provided you have a crowbar. Find these shortcuts and give yourself the upper hand next time you go in for the kill. 

Blend in to Stay Incognito

The Hitman disguise system is built to be complex yet understood pretty easily. One of its greatest assets to players looking to stay stealthy is the blending system. It can be used in two ways.

Depending on your disguise, you'll find different interactable points on every map where you can blend in with those around you, like cooking in the kitchen when you're dressed as a cook. Using these points is critical when there's an NPC nearby who would otherwise see past your disguise (indicated by a white circle above their heads).

Additionally, you can blend with any crowd no matter your disguise, which is a great way to lose someone tailing you.

Replay Hitman 3 Missions for Abundant Unlockables

Longtime Hitman fans know the six Hitman 3 levels at launch can be beaten in just a few hours if they're rushed through, but that wouldn't be doing the game or series any justice. Hitman is built to last, with dozens of challenges to beat, secrets to uncover, and rewards to earn on every mission.

Achieving a Mastery (Level 20) will take several playthroughs of any mission, and along the way, you'll earn lots of new ways to approach subsequent missions.

New starting locations, new disguises to begin with, and even new tools of the trade are all up for grabs to the most patient and practiced assassins. It pays to be exhaustive in your efforts. With this Grim Reaper, you really reap what you sow. 

Sometimes a Weapon is Better Used as a Distraction...

You'd be forgiven for thinking every painful item in your inventory is best used as they appear built for, but remember that Hitman is a series that wants you to play creatively. Rather than use that pistol or blade to take out a target, you can use them and illegal weapons like them to distract people.

Often, your targets are huddled by bodyguards, but when they come upon such objects left on the ground by the player, they break from their routines and routes to dispose of the risk.

This can often give you the brief moment you need to strike. The best assassins will even hide the bodies in a nearby trunk or closet. No need to leave your calling card; Agent 47 takes more pride in his work than that.

...And Sometimes a Muffin is Better Used as a Weapon

Another of the series' long-standing attributes is its dark humor. Agent 47's puns in his limited speaking time, or the odd items and dialogue you can happen upon in each level, make Hitman a game sometimes as comical as it is insidious. In the best example, pay attention to your available items in any level.

Yes, guns, knives, crowbars, and other obvious weapons are often numerous, but you can also dispatch enemies with snowglobes, toilets, and even pastries, as seen above just moments before the party host takes a blueberry muffin to the face.

It also pays to understand how different melee items work, as they're broken into sharp, blunt, and distraction objects. Sharp objects are lethal, while blunt objects will only knock people out. This is useful if you're trying not to kill anyone but your targets.  

Eavesdrop and Explore for Hints

The World of Assassination Trilogy introduced Mission Stories, which act as guided hands through a level's best bits for the players who want the assists. But whether you take those invitations or not, there is always a lot more to discover through exploration.

One of the best kills in the game's Dubai level involves an exploding golf ball, and the game is happy to bury its existence away from anyone but the most investigative players.

Exploring can also allow you to eavesdrop on conversations in which you might gain a keycode, a crucial item's location, or the whereabouts of your targets and how to infiltrate their safe zones.

The sprint button, when played well, is seldom used in Hitman. More often, it's about hiding in plain sight, gaining access to off-limits areas, and pulling the proverbial strings of those around you.

Save Often, Very Often

Perhaps the most important rule of all when it comes to Hitman is to save often. Have you done something of some importance? Save your game. About to try something ridiculous or risky? Save your game.

On the lower two Hitman 3 difficulties, you can save as many times as your heart desires, so there's no penalty for playing it safe. The Rube Goldbergian design of each level means sometimes there are unintended consequences for your misdeeds, so the safest way around these is to ensure you can revert back to a more discreet time.

It's also a great way to earn XP fast, as you keep the XP earned when you re-load. Any challenges completed beforehand remain that way, so a very patient and wise player could even sweep up a level with one long, convoluted, save-heavy session. 

That's it for our Hitman 3 tips and tricks help guide. With that information in your dossier, you're ready to begin making the most of Agent 47's latest set of missions, whether you want to use stealth or not. Hitman 3 is out now on PC (Steam), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia.  

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12 Great Games You May Have Missed in 2020 https://www.gameskinny.com/vmq12/12-great-games-you-may-have-missed-in-2020 https://www.gameskinny.com/vmq12/12-great-games-you-may-have-missed-in-2020 Thu, 17 Dec 2020 15:30:01 -0500 Mark Delaney

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Roundguard

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Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mobile (iOS)

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"How about Peggle but it's a dungeon crawler?" is something no one said until the three-person team at Wonderbelly Games did it. Roundguard is the Peggle 3 EA didn't want to make, and it carries the pinball-esque game forward more than Peggle 3 probably would've anyway.

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Using roguelite elements, players bounce around levels very much like the PopCap favorite, only death means it's back to start. But fear not, you'll acquire some bonuses on the way to use game after game, while you see how high you can climb the leaderboards and with which of the game's three different classes. It's Peggle, but deeper, smarter, and often tougher. In short, it's Peggle but better.

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Those are some of the best games you may have missed in 2020. Are there any games you think should have gotten more recognition this year but didn't? Let us know what they are in the comments below!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2128316ac9a730a6971f426cebc28a1f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2128316ac9a730a6971f426cebc28a1f.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13509","description":"

Pumpkin Jack

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Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch

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3D platformers have undergone something of a renaissance lately, with the resurgence of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro The Dragon, and more. One game that understandably didn't get the same love but totally deserves it is Pumpkin Jack.

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Though it's best played at Halloween given its spooktacular visuals and setting, the gameplay is solid and fun enough that it's still a great game year-round. Plus, not to spoil anything, but playing it in December may prove timely too. If you long for the days of Banjo-Kazooie and games like it, the solo-developed Pumpkin Jack is 2020's greatest love letter to the era.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d1ad24651fc3b58fd78a41d585dc9af0.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d1ad24651fc3b58fd78a41d585dc9af0.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13502","description":"

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

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Platforms: PC, iOS

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On the list of games that are kind to their animals, Alba is just behind Ooblets for the best of the year. In this Apple Arcade and PC game, you play Alba, a young girl with a camera and a passion for nature. Exploring a seaside villa on a trip with your grandparents ends up more like a freeform — and even educational — Pokemon Snap.

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Photograph the birds that fly by, look out for the elusive lynx, or just snap pictures of the townspeople living their lives. If you like photo modes or games that promote being a supportive citizen of the environment around us, Alba's little girl with a big heart storyline is a warm and fuzzy way to overcome some 2020 blues.

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The Last Show of Mr. Chardish

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Platforms: PC, Xbox One

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Fans of Edith Finch need to make time for the new name in genre-defying adventure games. The Last Show of Mr. Chardish is about a woman who returns to a theater of great importance to say goodbye to an old friend. What begins in the real world with her exploring halls abandoned by the late playwright soon unfolds as flashbacks through ever-shifting worlds where memories and feelings collide in often beautiful displays.

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Though these variable gameplay sections aren't as varied as Edith Finch, their overarching watercolory aesthetic is great and the story it tells in its two to three hours is worth seeing in one go if you've got a free evening.

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Suzerain

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Platforms: PC

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Speaking of politics, if reorganized classic literature about a farm in revolt isn't your thing, perhaps running your own nation will suffice. In Suzerain, you've just won the election of an imaginary country after decades of political turmoil. Running on a platform of your choosing, this adventure game asks you to balance promises made with the stark realities of politics. Quickly, it's shown just how delicate that balance is.

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Suzerain isn't afraid to slow the game to a crawl, which will truly be fascinating for the right players. You literally start each day reading (or ignoring) briefings from departments around your administration. For those who want to simulate a true-to-life career in federal government, with all the highs and lows that may entail, I don't know of another game that captures the process as well as Suzerain.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/f1f971c6e1f7543dff386f75dad75190.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/f1f971c6e1f7543dff386f75dad75190.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13499","description":"

Orwell's Animal Farm 

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Platforms: PC

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Nobody was likely clamoring for a video game based on a decades-old allegory about the Russian Revolution, but Orwell's Animal Farm masterfully reimagines Orwell's classic in a video game context, giving players Reigns-like control over the animals and their titular farm after they overthrow their farmer. How will you lead? Will you head down the same tragic path of the book, find new ways to suffer, or perhaps rise above and deliver prosperity to the herds?

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With multiple endings and an excellent audio mix of original music and the narration of Abubakar Salim (Assassin's Creed Origins), Orwell's Animal Farm is an unfortunately timely reimagining of the corrupting influence of power over those who seek to lead.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/0fd5615d5cac9ad4844c04f3903de41b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/0fd5615d5cac9ad4844c04f3903de41b.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13508","description":"

Unto The End

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Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia

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More than the Zelda-likes listed before, the Soulslike genre is one that has already been going very strong for years. For a look at something different but still akin to the brutal tests seen in such games, try Unto The End.

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Presented in a cinematic 2D, voiceless world where one man fights tooth and nail to get home to his family, Unto The End demands you master a harsh world of traps and unforgiving enemies at every step — seriously, watch your step! Using bonfires and crafting vital resources, it can feel just as exhilarating as the Souls games even in its new perspective.

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If Found

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Platforms: PC, Switch

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If Found is one of the best kinds of games for your end-of-year backlog. It can be played in one sitting if you define a sitting as about two hours. Using the overarching metaphor of a space explorer, this drama focuses on the experiences of a trans individual as they reflect on what's come before and where they're going next.

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It uses an inventive touchscreen mechanic that has players literally wipe away memories, making it a perfect fit for Switch. It's certainly not the lightest story on this list, so maybe it's not the sort of fare you're seeking for a holiday break, but in its brevity, it reveals a ton of heart and could bring forth an empathic response in even the skeptical players.  

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Ooblets

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Platforms: PC, Xbox One

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Animal Crossing got all the glory, but it was actually Ooblets that pushed the farm sim genre forward more than anything in years. The extraordinarily silly game begins with a familiar premise — arrive in a new town and set off to make friends and grow out your farm — but it does everything with a conscious awareness of the casual violence these games normally include.

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In Ooblets, turn-based fighting is now dance battling, while fishing is "sea-dangling" for crafting objects. None of the titular creatures are ever put in harm's way, and beneath the adorable language the game has built for itself lies a game with a strong point to make about living in harmony with the beauty around you.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/855bfe60882a2455028aa7c8d9b6862b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/855bfe60882a2455028aa7c8d9b6862b.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13495","description":"

Windbound

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Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia

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2020 was the year we saw the dam holding back Breath of the Wild's influence on the games industry break. Games like Genshin Impact and Immortals Fenyx Rising borrowed major aspects of the beloved Zelda game and applied them to new contexts. But did you hear about Windbound?

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On the surface, Windbound looks like another branch of the Zelda family tree, but it ends up playing quite differently, with a strong and enjoyable focus on survival elements like crafting your boat in every act. That boat soon becomes the symbol of your progress as an adventurer, going from a simple rowboat to a much grander wind-catching trophy of perseverance.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/9c66ed7d0d801dc8e62895035817d00c.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/9c66ed7d0d801dc8e62895035817d00c.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13505","description":"

Spellbreak

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Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

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Battle royale has proven to be more than a fad, in part because innovative studios keep rethinking what the genre may mean.

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In one of the year's best examples, Spellbreak takes the last-player-standing mode and puts it in a world of spellcasting and elementals very much like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Even better, its first major update, which just launched on December 15, adds story missions to the game, so you'll be questing to uncover more lore in the middle of a battle royale match.

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It's sort of uncharted territory even as others have tried to add context to their massive battles. Spellbreak is the battle royale for fantasy fans who'd prefer to trade in their M16 for a fireball.

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I Am Dead

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Platforms: PC, Switch

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Every year Annapurna Interactive blows my mind by continuing their streak of never publishing a bad game. Like If Found below, I Am Dead is one of 2020's great games.

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This quirky adventure game about being dead has you explore an afterlife with your dog, swirling through the memories of those the dead have left behind like a spoon in hot chocolate. Along the way, you learn who these people were and what kind of legacies they left behind. It's a lighter way to broach the subject than we usually see in games, and ultimately reminds you how we all touch the lives of others even if we don't always realize how.

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If you liked Spiritfarer's cathartic look at death, I Am Dead makes a strong companion piece.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/a/m/games-you-may-have-missed-2020-28b23.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/a/m/games-you-may-have-missed-2020-28b23.png","type":"slide","id":"217082","description":"

You don't need to have your finger on the pulse of the games industry to have heard about the year's biggest games such as Call of Duty Black Ops Cold WarWatch Dogs Legion, and, of course, the lightning rod that has become Cyberpunk 2077. These games command the zeitgeist like few can.

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A notch or two below those are the indie darlings that rose to moderate fame. Hits like SpiritfarerHades, and Fall Guys each took a bigger share of the attention pie than many would've predicted.

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But what about the games that never really got their time in the sun but totally deserved it? We've been tracking several throughout the year and caught up with a few more. Here are a dozen of the best games you may have missed in 2020.

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Into the Phoggyverse: Bit Loom Games on PHOGS! Inspiration, Co Op, and More https://www.gameskinny.com/havfg/into-the-phoggyverse-bit-loom-games-on-phogs-inspiration-co-op-and-more https://www.gameskinny.com/havfg/into-the-phoggyverse-bit-loom-games-on-phogs-inspiration-co-op-and-more Mon, 30 Nov 2020 15:32:50 -0500 Henry Stockdale

There’s genuinely nothing quite like PHOGS! out there at the moment. While most co-op games have you playing as separate characters or entities, PHOGS! revolves around playing as two heads of a conjoined dog, Red and Blue, in a manner reminiscent of the Nickelodeon animated series CatDog.

Developed by Bit Loom Games, PHOGS! was first conceived back in 2017. Having made the rounds at conventions for the last two years, publisher and co-developer Coatsink has confirmed that PHOGS! is now finally ready to launch on December 3, releasing on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Google Stadia, with backwards compatibility for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Spanning 24 levels between three separate worlds in a realm known as the “Phoggyverse,” you’ll need to overcome obstacles by working together, completing puzzles along the way in a game that promises a unique brand of challenge.

In preparation for the game's launch, we had the opportunity to speak with Bit Loom Games, who were kind enough to tell us more about this adorable new experience.



Henry Stockdale, GameSkinny: First, thank you for joining me. I actually played the demo back at EGX last year. For any readers unaware of PHOGS!, though, could you please introduce yourselves?

Bit Loom: We’re Douglas, Henry, and James, and we make up Bit Loom, a small studio based in Scotland, who are making PHOGS!

GameSkinny: As your studio’s debut game, it must be quite thrilling to finally launch it, but as a small team, have there been any specific development challenges you’ve faced?

Bit Loom: We’re incredibly excited to have the game out. It’s felt like such a long journey to get here. Most of the challenges we’ve had throughout development have been due to us learning how to build the game. We’ve also been ridiculously lucky throughout development to have the support of our co-developers Coatsink, who jumped in to help with art, animation, sound design, porting, and multiplayer implementation. This definitely helped ease the load for some part of the game that wouldn’t have been possible with just the three of us.

GameSkinny: We know PHOGS! revolves around an adorable two-headed doggo, each head called Red and Blue, and it's often been compared to CatDog. Did that show influence yourselves or were there other inspirations?

Bit Loom: While we all grew up around that particular era of cartoons, it definitely wasn’t something at the forefront of our minds while developing the game. We knew that we wanted a silly creature with two ends controlled by two players, and we wanted it to be something simple and friendly.

The dog element mostly came about because we thought that adding arms would look really strange, and it made sense as a creature that interacts with things primarily with its mouth.

GameSkinny: How did this idea turn into a playable concept at first, and what convinced you to take this further?

Bit Loom: We just started off getting the PHOG working and stuck them in a blank room with some boxes to push around, and we knew as soon as we started playing around with the character that we had something interesting.

It just immediately felt like we’d managed to find something fun and exciting that we wanted to explore further, and it was hard to stop coming up with ideas.

GameSkinny: Most co-op games involve you playing as separate entities, making PHOGS! rather unique in that respect. Was it a challenge to create an experience where the players are conjoined?

Bit Loom: If anything, I think it maybe made it easier to make, purely because the characteristic of being joined together generated so many ideas in itself. As well as the fact that it meant we never really had to worry about things like the players getting too far away from each other or setting off things in completely the wrong order since we had more control over where both players would be at any one time.

While it occasionally did bring its own challenges, such as trying to ensure both players had some part to play in each interaction. But we attempted to solve this by having lots of interactions [that] require both heads, such as turning a tap to activate something instead of just pushing a button.

GameSkinny: While co-op play seems to be the focus, we know that single-player options have been included too. Was it difficult designing a solo mode for it?

Bit Loom: Luckily, it felt kind of natural to play the game either way pretty much from the start. As we wanted the controls to be very simple and easy to pick up, we designed them around the idea of using a shared controller. This means the game can always be played on a single controller and while it requires a bit more mental gymnastics to coordinate with yourself, it’s definitely something you get more used to over time.

GameSkinny: Puzzle-solving will factor into gameplay, so how does this work in practice?

Bit Loom: We’ve tried to design puzzles that focus most on working together and using both of your heads. Some puzzles will be a case of using several objects or creatures you’ve been introduced to together in interesting ways, others may be more of a case of experimenting with something new to find surprising ways to solve problems.

From hosing water through your wobbly body to swinging across monkey bars in sync with each other, there are lots of ways to put the phogs’ unique anatomy to the test.

GameSkinny: Can you tell us more about the worlds we’ll visit and what differences they bring to gameplay?

Bit Loom: The worlds of Food, Sleep, and Play each have their own vibe and mechanics.

Food is bright and bouncy and has the phogs hosing water through their body in order to grow food for creatures to eat to overcome environmental obstacles.

Sleep is super cosy and all about putting creatures to bed and using light and shadow to solve more traditional puzzles.

Play is a manic mix of minigames with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure, where one minute you are playing golf, and the next minute you are inside a giant golf ball.

Every level introduces something new, and we hope people fall in love with the wonderful and weird characters along the way!

GameSkinny: Would you say it’s a particularly long campaign?

Bit Loom: Our focus with PHOGS! was to make every puzzle and level feel fresh and surprising for the player, with no mechanic outstaying its welcome. Being a puzzler, it can vary from player to player, On average, though, the story lasts around eight hours for new players. With all the bones to find and characters to meet, you can make it take quite a while longer if you don’t want to rush. When I play the game, I spend half the time choosing what hat my end of the phog wears!

GameSkinny: Have there been any considerations for DLC expansions or a sequel, or are you looking towards brand new projects once PHOGS! is out?

Bit Loom: Currently, we are taking it slow and focusing on PHOGS!. We have plenty of ideas but no solid plans for what the next big project is for Bit Loom. If people really love PHOGS! and want to see more, we might go back to the drawing board. We’ll have to see what happens!

GameSkinny: Last of all, would you like to share any messages with the fans?

Bit Loom: We cannot wait for everyone to play the game and meet the characters throughout the phoggyverse! I also have a question for the real fans out there: what other animal would you like to see become stretchy bellied and double-ended?

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Arms Race Mode Confirmed for Borderlands 3's Second Season Pass https://www.gameskinny.com/7901f/arms-race-mode-confirmed-for-borderlands-3s-second-season-pass https://www.gameskinny.com/7901f/arms-race-mode-confirmed-for-borderlands-3s-second-season-pass Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:51:20 -0400 Henry Stockdale

It wasn't too long ago that Gearbox Software revealed the second season pass for Borderlands 3, and we're starting to see what that second season pass will consist of.

During the initial announcement for the second season pass, an Arms Race Mode was confirmed but details remained vague. As part of the latest episode of The Borderlands Show, though, we finally got a look at just what that Arms Race Mode will entail.

You can see the official trailer below. 

Coming in as the first half of the "Directors Cut" add-on for Borderlands 3 (the second half is yet to be revealed), this expansion works as a "roguelike experience," seeing players dropped into an isolated map on Pandora, stripped of their existing weapons and skills.

Working inside an area known as the Stormblind Complex, players will be thrust into a battle royale of sorts, with Stormblind Complex including a weather system called the "Murdercane," which restricts player access to certain parts of the map.

The aim, as you may have guessed, is quite simple: grab as much gear as you can. But to obtain the best items possible in Arms Race, players will need to take down high-level enemies. With roguelike elements, you can expect this gear won't be easily obtainable and that you'll die quite often trying to get it.

We'll have to wait until November 10 for further information on Arms Race Mode, but stay tuned to GameSkinny as we learn more about this upcoming expansion.

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Watch Dogs: Legion Review — Deconstructing the Sandbox https://www.gameskinny.com/s11qg/watch-dogs-legion-review-deconstructing-the-sandbox https://www.gameskinny.com/s11qg/watch-dogs-legion-review-deconstructing-the-sandbox Wed, 28 Oct 2020 07:15:01 -0400 Mark Delaney

As the leading anti-hero in an expansive, bustling, but oppressed society, it's your job to rally the locals and sabotage the power structures wrongfully put in place by tyrants. In the process, you lead your grassroots resistance to self-liberation, region by region, until the shackles around your collective wrists have been shattered into scrap metal.

Sounds like a Ubisoft game, right? The developer-publisher has iterated again and again on this familiar premise across a number of massive franchises over the past decade. From the dense jungles of Far Cry to the countless historical uprisings in Assassin's Creed and the post-epidemic The Division, Ubisoft games have asked the outnumbered good guys to chip away at despots until there's nothing left of them.

You'd be forgiven for thinking Watch Dogs: Legion is more of the same. But poke around under the hood of this ambitious systemic story vehicle and you'll see the team has thrown out a lot of what's been so safe in favor of something special.

Watch Dogs: Legion Review — Deconstructing the Sandbox

It's the act of learning about these new characters and injecting yourself in their lives that feels so different from anything open-world games have done before.

Watch Dogs: Legion feels like it throws out the Ubisoft playbook, though you won't know it right away. For the first few hours, things can feel dishearteningly similar to the last Watch Dogs game, or any number of open-world sandbox games since the 360/PS3 era for that matter. The game looks fine but never exceptional, perhaps because it's set in overcast London and doesn't get a chance to quite literally shine. 

Voice acting is on par with what you'd expect from this type of game: everyone is serviceable, no one is exceptional. Cars drive reliably and a bit arcadey, just as they did in Watch Dogs 2. Many of the game's central mechanics, like a suped-up smartphone that can hack your world in countless ways and a friendly spiderbot that is once again overused, all reappear. Initially, this is Watch Dogs just as you left it.

Until it isn't.

The brilliance of Watch Dogs: Legion begins to manifest once you begin recruiting other characters. The city is bustling with Londoners going about their lives, and you can play as anyone you wish. Each of them brings their own special skills and backstory to your growing resistance movement in a way that rarely seems to repeat.

There are many archetypes, like a hitman, a panhandler, a nanobot beekeeper, even guards for the game's evildoing organizations, and at any point, you can try and get them to join your team.

Some require more work than others, as they may not yet be amenable to joining a hacker collective. Others await your call. In any event, it's the act of learning about these new characters and injecting yourself in their lives that feels so different from anything open-world games have done before.

Once you unlock the Deep Profiler tech ability, you can see exactly where in the world characters will be at all times of day. Visit them during their work hours and they'll be there in uniform. Stalk them late at night and they may be heading to the bar or volunteering at a homeless shelter.

Every character has their own schedule, and every schedule allows for exciting possibilities. You can win over police officers by taking down a drug-smuggling operation they had been planning to bust, or you can convince a guard for Albion, the game's tech-heavy bad guys, to join the movement by following him to his date, then recruiting his girlfriend first. 

It's not just these new tools that separate Legion from the decade of sandboxes that came before it. Because these tools play such an important role in the game, the overworld behaves unlike other Ubisoft games. The publisher's influence over the genre has been monumental, and today even outside its own walls, games like Batman Arkham and Horizon: Zero Dawn replicate their once-signature design.

But in Legion, the era of cluttered maps filled with main, secondary, and tertiary quests is largely ignored in favor of emergent moments.

There's still a mainline plot to follow, but there are very few repeatable tasks the likes of which we've seen in so many games of this nature before. Taking over a district takes just four missions and rewards you with uniquely skilled operatives for the cause each time, making it not just a much more streamlined system but a more rewarding one than the games that had you topple the umpteenth enemy base within an hour or two of playtime.

The engine of Legion is the recruit system. Because every person in the city has their own skills, tackling missions with anyone can feel like trying out new builds in an immersive sim such as Dishonored or Deus Ex. World design allows for a player-driven story in a way Ubisoft has simply never offered in any of their games.

You can scale structures and drop in from above, use a cloaking device and move from cover to cover, or send in a drone to do your dirty work while you sit idly across the street. In some situations, you can dress for the job you want like Agent 47, such as construction workers who can freely roam hostile territories where there is work being done.

These are just a few of many examples. Each new teammate reveals new possibilities. If there's a downside to it all, sometimes it feels like it's simple enough to go in with your invisibility cloak with any character and succeed. Because of that, you kind of have to want to mix things up, or else you risk steering yourself into something much more similar to the past games.

I also wished for more interiors, as many times I'd follow a recruit to an area but couldn't follow them indoors. This seemed like a limitation brought on by the cross-gen release of Legion, and I fully expect the next game to introduce even more scenarios by opening new doors, literally.

Watch Dogs: Legion drastically revises the Ubisoft open-world blueprint it has leaned on for over a decade.

It's optional, but the permadeath option only enhances Watch Dogs: Legion. Because everyone can be on your team, it's only sensible that they can just as swiftly be removed. The possibilities for role-playing are endless in Watch Dogs: Legion, and while the game was often advertised with the funny idea of loading out with a squad of only purse-swinging grandmas, it's much more enjoyable to mix up your team with a long list of heroes of all sorts.

On my team right now I've got an investigative reporter, a homeless person, a former getaway driver, a hardcore hacker, and a doctor, among others.

Everyone brings their own tools to the group, making every mission a puzzle with multiple solutions. Experimentation reigns in London. You mourn losses not because of their personalities, but because of their skills. I was crushed when I lost my construction worker because it meant his unique skill of calling in a drone big enough to transport humans died too.

This gives every mission an exciting urgency, especially when so many of the DedSec tools are non-lethal by default. It's like you're outnumbered and outgunned always. Following the last game's disconnect between supposedly white-hat hackers who shot up their city, it now appears possible to play the entire game without ever killing anyone. It's most stunning of all to see how rarely you even need to take out a weapon of any sort when Watch Dogs: Legion is played deliberately and stealthily. 

One holdover from the outgoing Ubisoft generation is the game's muddled messaging. The publisher has rightfully been taken to task over its fence-walking approach to depictions of sociopolitical upheaval, and that continues in Legion.

The environmental storytelling is clearer than ever, as anti-fascist outcries, burning displays of dissidence, and the Big Tech villains all seem to have something to say, but the game never grapples with all its philosophical musings in an interesting way.

Through three games now, we are told that those who have the keys to our digital kingdom are bad, but the series never inspects the reverse-engineering DedSec does with those same tools. Do we need these same tools to fight our oppressors? Can we use the system for wholehearted good, or do we accept only a lesser bad?

There's a lot to be said of modern data privacy concerns, digital human rights, and the threat of automation. Legion, like its prequels, teases something important to say but only ever clearly states "fascism bad." Of course it is, so what else have you got?

Watch Dogs: Legion Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Reimagines the Ubisoft sandbox with intricate new systems
  • Deep Profiler tech makes every person interesting
  • Eschews years of cluttered maps for more emergent, immersive sim-style missions
Cons
  • Still muddles its political message beyond "tyrants are bad"
  • Very easy to miss the best parts

Watch Dogs: Legion drastically revises the Ubisoft open-world blueprint it has leaned on for over a decade. It's a daring game for that reason alone, but more importantly, it serves to be a proof-of-concept for what might come from this team and others within the company that can iterate on these new systems.

The ability to play as anyone and have them feel like real people with unique skills and backstories is engaging for dozens of hours. While I'm still waiting for one of these games to say something meaningful regarding their tinderbox political backdrops, the gameplay systems are interwoven smartly and deeply, making Watch Dogs: Legion the next major leap for open-world games.

Future games will be built upon the groundwork laid out in London.

[Note: Ubisoft provided the copy of Watch Dogs: Legion used for this review.]

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Windbound Review: Survival Meets Wind Waker https://www.gameskinny.com/vnlpn/windbound-review-survival-meets-wind-waker https://www.gameskinny.com/vnlpn/windbound-review-survival-meets-wind-waker Fri, 28 Aug 2020 09:00:02 -0400 Henry Stockdale

The number of genre mashups, which mix gameplay mechanics not usually associated with one another, has increased considerably in recent years. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. 

5 Lives Studios is the latest development team to attempt this with Windbound, adding survival and roguelike elements to a unique third-person adventure game. In some regards, it makes Windbound feel like a jack-of-all-trades but ultimately, it all coalesces into a pleasant experience.

Windbound Review: Survival Meets Wind Waker

You play as Kara in Windbound, a warrior separated from her clan and shipwrecked on the Forbidden Islands. Surrounded by a vast ocean, these are formerly home to the game's mysterious Shell Spirits.

Players are left to piece together the story as Windbound presents its narrative almost exclusively through environmental storytelling. Only occasionally do the Shell Spirits interject with vague statements that allude to the overall narrative. It's a structure that, when compared to other games, is quite refreshing in its subtlety. 

One thing that’s immediately apparent, even if the story isn't, is Windbound’s stunning presentation, showcasing a vibrant, colorful world and beautiful blue ocean to explore. It's all accompanied by a lovely piano-backed soundtrack.

Each island is procedurally generated, so no two playthroughs are ever the same. However, these islands come with common variations, like cherry blossom forests, deserts, or even poisonous swamps, which keeps things from getting stale. 

There are two difficulty options in Windbound – Survivalist and Storyteller. Survivalist is a more hardcore experience, incorporating a form of permadeath that resets the entire campaign if you die but lets you retain a limited number of items. Storyteller is, unsurprisingly, aimed at those focused on Windbound’s story, offering easier combat. It also keeps your full inventory upon death. Progress still resets if you die but only to the start of your current chapter. 

On land, Kara is initially armed with just her tribal knife, and you must source materials to craft new survival tools. Each material has varying durability — with grass being the weakest  but you’ll soon find higher quality items like bone or crude metal, offering more stability and increased attack damage to your weapons.

You can’t repair weapons but some can be built upon, like turning a stick spear into a bone spear. Ranged weapons can also be fashioned with accompanying ammo, such as slings and crossbows.



Besides Kara’s overall health, there’s also a stamina meter that decreases when she gets hungry, and while items like Kojiberries or Rustcaps can be foraged to replenish it, she needs to hunt animals for a more sustaining meal.

Here, stealth is key. Some enemies can be taken down with a simple knife stab, but larger ones require more refined weaponry and skills to take down. Whether that’s by sneaking up on them while they're sleeping or hiding at a distance as you launch a ranged attack, taking down large animals is undeniably satisfying and necessary. 

They can be lethal up close, however, so you need to employ defensive maneuvers such as dodge rolling, which keeps you on your toes.

Once animals are killed, you can investigate their bodies and, depending on the animal, gather raw meat or crafting materials. Like in other survival games, you can eat raw meat, but if you don’t fancy poisoning Kara, you can construct fires to cook it, which provides more health and stamina restoration.

Cooking works fine but feels rather basic in execution. Though food will spoil, it makes me wish there was more depth in the mechanic, like a Breath Of The Wild-style ability to mix food into new recipes.
 

For those looking to continue Kara’s story, your main objective in Windbound is getting home. Each chapter contains three towers, and to reach the towers and the Nautilus Keys inside, Kara needs a boat. As expected, using your gathered materials, you can go from a small grass canoe to a full-on wooden raft complete with a hull and mast for faster travels, should the wind be favorable.

Once all of the keys are collected, there is a separate island that acts as your end goal, requiring each key to power up bridges that led to the exit.

Kara is then transported to a place known as “The Crossing,” showcasing a series of murals that depict what happened to the Shell Spirits, and you’ll need to navigate a treacherous cavern that leads to the next area.

Crossings are possibly the weakest aspect of the game and while they make for interesting storytelling, the sailing action is very formulaic for each trip. You get a glimpse of the force that shipwrecked you, ride some intense waves, dodge obstacles, and that’s it.

Your chosen material affects a boat’s stats in a similar way to weapons. A wooden ship is sturdier but slower when compared to a bamboo ship, for example. Sea travel is fraught with Sea Nettles and dangerous Hookmouths, but there are options for protecting your ship along the way. If you want to employ a defensive strategy, hulls can be reinforced with armor but if offense is more your speed, hulls can also be equipped with spikes to deal damage.

In many ways, sailing is similar to how exploration works in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. You use your newly acquired boat to navigate the seas, but while there are fantasy elements in Windbound, changing wind direction isn’t one of them. If you need to travel against the wind, your mast is useless and needs dismantling to continue rowing, which is frustrating. But it illustrates how this is a game of patience.

Windbound Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • High replay value
  • Successful combination of adventure and survival genres
  • Vivid, beautifully detailed world
Cons
  • Over a bit too quickly
  • Crafting lacks depth
  • Not always smooth sailing with the boats

Windbound is a game that requires a lot of patience and by combining survival and adventure gameplay into one, it successfully creates a unique identity.

There are a few shortcomings with sailing and crafting could use some additional depth, but 5 Lives Studios have brought us an entertaining adventure. if you can put these issues aside, this is an experience that comes recommended.

[Note: 5 Lives Studios provided the key of Windbound used for this review.]

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Ooblets Early Access Review: The Greatest Non-Violent Game of the Generation https://www.gameskinny.com/ofzte/ooblets-early-access-review-the-greatest-non-violent-game-of-the-generation https://www.gameskinny.com/ofzte/ooblets-early-access-review-the-greatest-non-violent-game-of-the-generation Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:29:02 -0400 Mark Delaney

Where do I begin with Ooblets? How about here: it's amazing. Its colorful world imbued with saccharine creatures quickly reveals a sarcastic, slightly subversive sense of humor. 

The daily to-do list is better organized than just about any of those seen in genre peers, teasing players to play forever on a day/night cycle that isn't dependent on the real-world calendar.

Townsfolk are interesting, and the turn-based battle system is approachable yet revolutionary. This is an early access review, so don't expect a score at the bottom, but understand this: Ooblets is nonetheless a Game of the Year contender.

Ooblets Early Access Review: The Greatest Non-Violent Game of the Generation

In Ooblets, the everpresent trope of a boat ride into a dazzling new town gets players into Badgetown, a rather bustling village in the land of Oob. While you'll soon get to explore neighboring areas, Badgetown is where your custom character plants their flag. 

Unlike the year's other big farm sim, Animal Crossing New Horizons, the land you settle on is not up to you. Instead, you are gifted a fixer-upper farmhouse and asked by the mayor (Mayor Tinstle, a rainbowish girl with a welcoming demeanor and a reward system of badges for you to chase) to introduce yourself to everyone.

Badgetown seems to have about 20 or so permanent residents, and they each have set personalities, allowing you to get to know each of them. A friendship system even incentivizes chatting with them and giving them gifts regularly.

For the first few days of your new life, you'll work to revitalize the neighborhood. This means learning how to craft, cook, garden, and shop. You'll also need to repair places around town like the dance barn, the hot air balloon, and a mission board that constantly offers fetch quests for big payouts in the town's currency, gummies. 

For veterans of the genre, this likely all sounds very familiar, and pleasantly, it is. It helps you hit the ground running. But, as I said, Ooblets is a Game of the Year contender, and for that, the small team at Glumberland would need to raise the bar somehow. 

How they do that, in my view, is threefold. 

First, the titular creatures themselves bring a major second point of emphasis alongside Ooblets' typical farm life mechanics. By collecting these adorable creatures, which alternatively appear like sentient plants or robots (but are always grown out of the ground like the former), Ooblets brings an element of Pokemon to the genre in a way nothing before it has.

A turn-based battle system allows players to collect more of them as they progress, and in turn, unlock new moves to use in battle. This is no small wrinkle for Ooblets. The battles are one of the game's best elements, and though they're currently without any difficulty settings, they haven't been difficult to handle thanks to a familiar, somewhat simplified system of action points and damage.

The battles also reveal another of Ooblets' strongest features: its universal commitment to non-violence. While many wholesome games smuggle in the casual violence of fishing, crafting with animal parts, or direct creature battles (sorry, but Pokemon is dog-fighting, folks), in Ooblets, every single aspect has been reimagined in a pacifistic context.

How? They're dance battles, which the Ooblets, according to the game's lore, take part in enthusiastically. The "fishing" you do involves no hooks through the faces of animals. Instead, you "sea-dangle" for non-sentient objects, like crafting supplies or food. Even the food itself is entirely vegan. You won't have to worry about the moral implications of eating some Ooblets and caring for others.

While the creatures themselves are sentient plants, there are unconscious crops with which to make food, each of them with names as silly as anything from Adventure Time, such as a carrot hot dog called a hop dob or sugar called froobtose. 

Ooblets invents its own silly language, and while it's adorable on its own, it's made much more charming to see how it's used by Glumberland to carefully avoid any instance of harm to the game's conscious creatures. As an animal rights activist, Ooblets fills my heart with intense glee.

Even if you're unphased by this avoidance of the genre's casual violence, Ooblets is, quite simply, one of the best-made games in the genre regardless. With a tantalizing XP system, virtually all actions big and small, from chatting with neighbors to completing quests to even something as common as picking or planting crops, earns you XP.

As you level up, you can spend Wishies to improve your character by giving them more energy in the day, or expanding their farmhouse, or even introducing new types of Ooblets to town, among a growing list of other features.

Farming is much more engaging and speedier than many games like it too. With the hold of a button, you transfer into gardening mode, and your crop space becomes a grid for you to work on. This system seamlessly allows you to clean up the backyard, plant, and harvest in no time, all the while making it so it feels decisively yours. Everything goes just the way you want it, and the UI helps you know exactly what your plants need, be it time or water or the clearing of some encroaching weeds.

While initial customization options are purposely sparse, you'll soon unlock a wealth of options for your hair, clothes, and farmhouse, meaning the sim-like aspect of living the life you want is present as well. I haven't grappled with those elements too much yet in my 10 or so hours, but a look at the stores tells me they run quite deep. I'm eager to turn my brown shack into a party pad for dancing Ooblets in due time.

As this is early access, I expected bugs  the game even reminds you of this when you load it up  and yet, I didn't find anything too problematic. The worst case I saw was when one of my crops disappeared. That happened once. Other than that, the UI does trip on itself at times, with descriptions of items overwriting some other icons in a way that feels unpolished.

The quick-access inventory is a key feature, but it needs to be brushed up a bit too, as moving things into it can get clunky in the full inventory menu thanks to that aforementioned issue with your item descriptions. I've seen somewhat regular clipping too, usually when you enter a store or a home. My wife witnessed one character running on the walls of their home, but I only heard this one secondhand.

Ooblets Early Access Review — The Bottom Line (So Far)

Pros
  • Unprecedented respect for its creatures
  • Engaging XP system keeps you chasing great rewards and upgrades
  • Adorable, funny world full of color
  • Smart gardening system keeps those mechanics fun, never dull
  • Ample secrets to discover, friends to make
  • Dance battles bring rewarding turn-based combat without the casual violence
Cons
  • Unclear today what the endgame may look like
  • Bugs are along for the ride in early access, as expected

In addition to bugs, I'm wondering what the pull may look like after many more hours. Some farm life games have a clear endpoint, while others go on forever. With so much scripted content, Ooblets seems to fall in the first category, so I wonder how long its tail will be at launch, but the journey so far has been awesome. I wouldn't mind a finite amount of story and exploring to do, so long as the rest is as fun as it has been so far.

After four years of clearly hard work, Ooblets feels like it's hardly an "early access" game at all. I've seen plenty of games launch in worse states than this pre-release title has done today, and that makes for an exciting starting place. When Ooblets exits early access, I'll offer my final verdict including a score and some renewed thoughts as needed, but for today, even as it's not officially out, it's absolutely my new frontrunner for Game of the Year.

We'll see how the year shakes out, but one distinction I'm quite comfortable awarding it even today is perhaps a more important one; for so many reasons, Ooblets is the greatest non-violent game of the generation.

[Note: An early access copy of Ooblets was provided by Glumberland for the purpose of this early access review.]

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