Xbox One Platform RSS Feed | Xbox One RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Call of Duty: Warzone Mini Royale Tips and Tricks Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:54:51 -0400 JosephYaden

Season 5 of Call of Duty: Warzone is available to download now, and it comes with lots of new content. One new feature is its Mini Royale mode, which effectively turns the game's main attraction into a faster, more simplified match.

In Mini Royale, the player count is halved, giving you 35 teams of two to three players each, totaling around 77 players. The matches play pretty much the same as the matches in the main Battle Royale mode, but with shorter run times and fewer players.

Earning a Victory Royale is still tough, but luckily, we've got all the tips and tricks you'll need to come out on top. 

Pick the Best Landing Spot

Picking the best landing spot is essential  maybe even as essential as taking out enemies. It can shape the trajectory of how your game will play out.

There are lots of great spots to land in Verdansk depending on your playstyle and the path of the plane in relation to the gas. In general, we advise that you stay away from major hubs because you're more likely to avoid getting killed.

We opt for landing near contracts so you can earn some goodies as you make your way to the center of the gas circle. Specifically, Recon and Scavenger contracts are the easiest, but if you're up for it, completing Bounties can be useful as well.

Be open to changing your landing spot before you land. If you notice a lot of people headed to your original destination, it's best to change your route and head to a less crowded area. Be sure to communicate this with your team by pinging or speaking over the mic.

Bring/Pick Up a Heartbeat Sensor

Ah, yes, the good old Heartbeat Sensor. Seriously, this thing will help you out tremendously. Of course, you can't spawn into Mini Royale with the weapons and perks of your choice, but visiting a Loadout Drop in-game will allow you to select your custom classes, which should have a Heartbeat Sensor equipped to one of them. 

The important thing to know about using the Heartbeat Sensor is that you shouldn't rely on it 100%, since enemies with the Cold-Blooded perk won't appear on the sensor's radar.

You should use it as a supplementary way to tell if enemies are near. Use sound in conjunction with the Heartbeat Sensor to give you the upper hand and make sure you call out to your team if someone appears nearby.

Pick Your Battles

It's Call of Duty. You probably want to go around massacring everyone in sight. The problem is that even if you succeed at this, you'll create a lot of unwanted attention that will likely result in getting you killed eventually.

Or maybe your reflexes are telling you to take a shot at an enemy that is really far away a shot you will likely not pull off. Instead, save your ammo, stay hidden, and let someone else take them out. 

The amount of deaths we've encountered while trying to take someone out is more than we can count. Generally speaking, we recommend to only go for the kill if you're positive you can take it — and if you're sure someone else isn't close by.

Usually, an enemy or the teammate of the person you just took out will be close by, waiting to surprise you, so it's best to play it safe. If you want to win and are iffy about your aim, it's best only to engage if an enemy is shooting at you first. 

Always Be Aware of the Gas

Little else is worse than getting swept up by the gas because you weren't paying attention to it. Don't make this mistake. Make a habit out of checking the gas when the timer in the top left reaches zero. In fact, checking it every minute or so (if possible) is a great habit to have.

As the circle gets smaller, you'll always want to put your back to the edge of the gas, while surveying the area in front of you. With the gas at your back, that's one less area you need to worry about since no one will be coming from that direction. 

The point is, don't go running off to the center right away  it will likely get you killed. 

Complete Contracts

As we mentioned above, completing contracts is a great way to gain the upper hand in Warzone. Some of them are more complicated than others, like Bounties, which require you to take out an enemy player. 

The main reason you want to complete contacts is that they reward you with a sneak peek at the next position of the circle. Every contract you complete will reward you with a glimpse at the circle's next layer, which you'll definitely want to take advantage of.

And of course, completing certain contracts will earn you cash, XP, and loot, so you'll absolutely want to do your best to finish some. 

Don't Underestimate the Power of Snipers

In Warzone, sniper rifles are hugely important, due to their range and ability to reveal enemies hiding in thick brush thanks to the Thermal scope. Even if you aren't a great shot, it's recommended to at least have one equipped so you can spot enemies from afar. 

If you do feel comfortable using a sniper, we recommend you equip the Monolithic Suppressor and aforementioned Thermal Scope, along with the highest magnification sight you have available. 

This way, you can survey a large open area or window of a tall building to see if it's safe to move forward. Having the suppressor will give you a little wiggle room if you aren't the best shot since you won't appear on the mini-map if you miss your target. 

You can have a loadout equipped with a sniper and another primary weapon if you use the Overkill perk, so be sure to do that if you want a versatile setup. Alternatively, you can replace Overkill with Ghost to negate UAVs. Just pick up a second primary from a box or dead enemy if you do. 

Coordinate With Your Team

This might seem obvious, but you'll want to communicate effectively with your team. Doing so can be the difference between winning and losing, so be sure to use a headset to talk with your squad.

If you see an enemy, make a call out, and try to pinpoint their location by either pinging or by using the compass at the top of the screen. If you formulate a plan but then notice things might go awry, tell your squad and come up with a backup plan. 

Ask your teammate if they need ammo, armor, or a specific weapon so you know what to look out for should you stumble upon something they need.

Many teammates in the games we've played have been silent, which doesn't bode well for winning the match. You can use pinging to mitigate this, but verbal communication is much more effective. 

Be Careful With Rushing to a Loadout Drop

Those pesky Loadout Drops are a blessing and a curse. Your initial instinct might be to dart towards them when they drop, but we highly advise against that.

Instead, find a nice vantage point that overlooks the box (if possible) and scope it out for a moment or two. You'd be surprised how many players will make a beeline for the Loadout Drop, only to be taken out while they're picking their equipment. 

At the same time, you can be the one taking enemies out as they choose their Loadout, which is where the silenced sniper comes into play. Once you've determined it's safe, go in, quickly grab your Loadout (we recommend to place your Warzone class first so you don't have to scroll down to it), and make your getaway.

Keep in mind, you can purchase a Loadout Drop from a Buy Station for $10,000, but we strongly advise against that since you won't be making as much cash in Mini Royale as you would in a normal round of Battle Royale.

Spending $10,000 is hard to justify when there are better items you can purchase for less. Just wait for the Loadout Drops to spawn if you want to save your cash. 


With these tips and tricks, you should now be more prepared for Warzone's new Mini Royale game mode. For more on Warzone, take a look at the main hub here

Project xCloud Heads to Game Pass Ultimate Very Soon Wed, 05 Aug 2020 18:19:26 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

A little while back, we reported on Microsoft's plans to merge its Project xCloud streaming platform with Game Pass Ultimate. And Microsoft recently announced when that's actually going to happen: September 15.

Over 100 games will be available to play on xCloud, though Microsoft only mentioned a handful of them in their statement, including Destiny 2, Grounded, Minecraft Dungeons, and Sea of Thieves. Many are already included in Game Pass.

The idea is to make them playable on nearly any device and without having to access your console or TV to do it.

Microsoft said you can use xCloud on any Android device and jump back into the game the same as if you were playing at home. That includes multiplayer, achievement tracking, player profiles, and save data.

Project xCloud itself is free, included as part of your monthly Game Pass Ultimate subscription. And the company plans on releasing a number of control grips and accessories to make mobile gaming more comfortable and practical too.

We considered Project xCloud to be at the pinnacle of game streaming when we tried it out a short while ago. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Xbox news as it develops.

[Story and header image source: Xbox Wire]

Hellpoint Multiplayer Guide: How to Set Up PvP, Co Op Wed, 05 Aug 2020 17:38:39 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

One of the best aspects of Hellpoint is the level of control players have over multiplayer. A friend can jump into a game, either locally or online, for a quick PvP match or to help you progress through the main game in co op.

Unfortunately, the Hellpoint servers weren't quite prepared when when the game first launched. This meant that one of the game's promised features wasn't accessible right away, but a patch not long after got everything under control.

If you're trying to set up a multiplayer game in Hellpoint, whether online or in local co op, you've come to the right place. Here's how you do it.

Setting Up Local Hellpoint Multiplayer

Luckily, setting up a local multiplayer game is pretty simple. Load the saved game you wish to play, then plug a second controller in. Make sure you already have a second character made; that's what the other player will use in local co op. 

On that second controller, hit the Pause/Menu button, and it will pull up a character select menu. Simply choose which character the second player would like to join as, and they should pop into the game.

Remember that local MP is played in split-screen, so you'll want to make sure you've got a big enough screen that you can both see comfortably. 

Setting Up Hellpoint Online Multiplayer

Things get a little trickier with online multiplayer, mainly because it's buried in a place you might not expect to find it.

To host or join a multiplayer game, you'll need a match code. To find your match code, open the Expressions Menu.

This is done through the Back/Select button, or by pressing "T" if you're playing on a mouse and keyboard setup. Once that menu is open, select the Online tab, and you'll see your match code. Share that with whoever you want to play with.

If you are joining someone else's online game, you'll also go to the Online tab of the Expressions Menu, and you'll select Enter Match.

You'll be prompted to enter the match code that the host provided, then state whether you're playing cooperatively or PvP. The host will then be prompted to allow you to join the game.

As of this writing, online multiplayer is still being ironed out, but it is up and running. The developers have indicated this is one of their central priorities, so keep trying and you'll be slaying together in no time!

Check out our full review of Hellpoint, and stay locked in to our game page for more hints and tips!

Grounded Early Access Review: Big Ambitions Wed, 05 Aug 2020 16:57:49 -0400 Mark Delaney

Since Minecraft, survival games have become a staple of the games industry, but until now, no other game in the genre has been so family-friendly. 

With Grounded, Obsidian walks back years of survival games moving ceaselessly toward dreary post-apocalyptic worlds and instead imagines a colorful little-big sandbox where insects are intimidating behemoths.

The developers have a lot to be proud of right out of the gate with the Game Preview/Early Access version of Grounded, and even as it's clearly lacking in some areas  namely story and polish  it's easy to see the small offshoot team at Obsidian has crafted something adventurous and wonderful.

Grounded Early Access Review: Big Ambitions

In Grounded, one to four players are shrunken down to a centimeter for reasons that aren't yet clear. Shocked to awaken as something smaller than an ant, the now-standard survival game ramp introduces players to its world of massive anthills, fearsome spiders, and grass as tall as buildings — or at least, that's how it all appears from your perspective.

The premise is a strong one and Obsidian wastes no time building on it. The game's open world, The Backyard, is full of interesting secrets to discover and, of course, plenty of objects to craft. The game's earliest moments will be spent chopping down blades of grass and plucking pebbles and plant fibers from the earth to make a simple axe, but soon, your toolbelt expands to include other handheld objects like spears and torches.

After that, you'll learn how to make different armor sets, each offering different stat bonuses which can positively affect things like your defensive abilities or how long you can go without eating or drinking.

The most exciting part of Grounded's crafting system is its already expansive base building mechanics. From simple doors and walls to basketball courts and reading rooms, you're free to build to your heart's content, so long as you're willing to defend what you've made.

Given that you're just a centimeter tall, insects such as beetles, spiders, and even ladybugs are transformed into wild beasts you must always account for. Enemies will attack your base, meaning how to build it is more than a cosmetic choice, unless you're playing in Creative mode. By lining spike traps and bottlenecks for home defense, players can push back against their six-legged (or more) foes.

This is an exciting part of Grounded, but combat as a whole needs some balancing at launch. Many enemies can kill you in just a few hits even when you're wearing armor. Perhaps Obsidian likes it that way to keep the threats feeling so scary, but it feels poorly balanced for solo players especially.

One of the most compelling elements of Grounded is hardly available right now: its story. You can see all of the story content in about 30 minutes in this version, as it amounts to one NPC scene and some audio logs.

As it's Game Preview, we know to expect more down the line, but given the game's sci-fi teases — it seems Obsidian plans to actually explain its shrunken survivors — I'm eager to see more, but I can't yet. If you're in it just for the story, you can safely keep waiting for now.

Having said that, I'm pretty picky with my survival game timeshare, as so many punish players with harsh conditions and obtuse menus right away. It can be pretty unappealing. Grounded doesn't have that problem. Its UI is one of the best I've ever seen in the genre. With so many menus, I expect more confusion, but I routinely know my way around my inventory, the deep crafting menu, and other helpful tools like a hotswapping UI for assigning your most-used items.

You can also switch between third- and first-person, toggle the HUD display, and provide Early Access feedback all from a radial menu. Obsidian has joked that they don't normally make this kind of game, and that's true, but you'd never know it. It seems years of building RPGs have taught them some things about helping players navigate their bulky backpacks.

Something else Grounded shares with RPGs is its abundance of secrets. Audio logs are ubiquitous in games, and though they add some light story beats right now, the real treasures come from discovering new craftable objects, or even stumbling on them whole cloth.

Things like a rotten bee armor, rarer insects, and new areas to install at your base can all be discovered with exploration. You could spoil most secrets by heading into Creative, where it's all there to see right away, but a lot of fun is had in turning over stones — literally — and finding something you didn't know existed underneath.

In my time with Grounded, I've found a basketball hoop blueprint, fungal bombs, and fun berry furniture to name a few. You can also stumble on the world interacting with itself, like when I saw a major battle between spiders and beetles. No doubt this is an area the studio will continue to expand on as well but even on day one, it feels like every moment spent in The Backyard is ripe for adventure.

If you're not one to simply build up a base or explore for secrets, there's a simple quest system in place too, which will allow you to advance your character in more quantitative ways.

Early Access means bugs, and in this case, I don't just mean insects. Most of the issues I saw were in the game's menus, where multiplayer lobbies don't populate correctly or UI items might look a bit wonky. Trying to swim with your head above water also barely works right now, and when it does, it still leaves the camera in an awkward spot.

It's not a bug, but the world map could also use some improved UI as the way it's set up currently is less than clear in some cases.

These are exactly the sort of growing pains any Early Access game reminds you of when you boot it up, though, and that's why we aren't speaking to the final experience in this review. For now, Grounded surely still needs some work, but it's already a game fans of the genre will totally dig.

Grounded Early Access Review — The Bottom Line

  • An exciting world rich with discovery
  • Base building already goes very deep
  • An imaginative, child-like spirit that rejects genre norms
  • Bugs — and not just the crawling or flying kind
  • Virtually no story content yet
  • Combat needs balancing

A strong premise will get you a great trailer, but only a strong team will deliver a great game. Even in Early Access/Game Preview, Grounded is a great game. Its youthful spin on the survival genre is supremely refreshing as it casts aside years of greyscale, slow-death misery simulators in favor of something players of all ages can enjoy. 

Grounded is full of marvelous mechanics, creative contraptions, and some surprisingly scary showdowns. The team has more work to do, but the foundation is certainly solid.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons Preview: Nary a Reason Not to Play Wed, 05 Aug 2020 09:00:01 -0400 Henry Stockdale

We’ve seen a mini-revival of 3D platformers these last few years, bringing with it a mix of good and mediocre experiences, such as the acclaimed A Hat In Time and the somewhat mixed Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. Making their own attempt at a platforming game, Belgian developers Exiin are now releasing Ary and the Secret of Seasons.

Due to launch on September 1, this new action-adventure title takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda franchise, and while it doesn’t quite hit those lofty heights so far, there’s a lot of promise in what we’ve seen.

So what’s the story here? 

You play as Aryelle, daughter of the Winter Guardian that resides within Yule City, one of four Guardians of Seasons chosen to defend this world from an ancient evil mage's magic by commanding the powers of spring, summer, and fall. Ary's brother Flynn has recently gone missing, and as a result, her anguished father is in no state to carry out his duties as Guardian.

After fending off a hyena attack, Yule gets attacked by crystals that stop the elements, and a Guardian Council is called to discuss this new threat across the world of Valdi. With no one else to do it, Ary sets out to take her father’s place, armed with a sword and his winter crystal, the source of his power over the winter elements. 

For this preview, Exiin included two parts. Part one is the game’s opening, the same demo released for Steam’s summer game festival. However, part two is new, showcasing the Winter Temple as you take on the Winter Golem, and it gives a broader view of Ary’s full set of powers. 

The 3D graphics aren’t the sharpest here, but Ary’s colorful visual approach brings a lot of life to this world across both segments, filling it with personality and a lot of charm.

Taking place within Yule and the surrounding areas, this preview made for a great introduction to Ary’s open-world gameplay. Utilizing her new-found power, Ary can bend seasons to her will, which is crucial to both advancing in Ary’s adventure and solving the game’s puzzles. 

Unable to cross a broken bridge? No problem; the winter crystal can freeze the gaps between it. Ice wall blocking your way afterward? No problem; you can deactivate your power so it melts. Need to clear some water? No problem; the spring crystal can help you separate it.

These different uses make for a creative experience, and once you've obtained further crystals for fall and summer, switching between these seasons is easily done via the D-Pad.

As you might expect from a Zelda-styled game, combat features in your travels, too — and you need to be prepared. Some areas are filled with hyenas, hogs, and raccoons, to name a few. You’ll need to employ defensive strategies to keep Ary alive, parrying and rolling to dodge attacks while locking on to enemies to deal damage. If you get hurt, health is replenishable via fruit from trees or pots.

It’s easy to learn but slightly tedious in its simplicity. Not every fight has to happen, though, as you can choose your battles by simply running away if you're not after a quarrel.

Ary doesn't exactly have a bustling open-world, but it never feels quiet either. Alongside monuments that detail Valdi’s history, you’ll encounter plenty of locals to chat with, and some will offer you side quests. These quests are all highlighted on your mini-map so that you won’t get lost in or between them.

As such, exploration is encouraged, and traversing Valdi never feels dull; there’s a lot of fun to be had uncovering its secrets.

You can also buy many items that will help you in your journey, including outfits, which allow you to both customize Ary’s appearance and upgrade some of her abilities. The Wing Boots, for example, allow Ary to double jump. Other upgrades, which you can purchase from merchants called sensei, let you enhance attributes like attack damage. These are purchased with coins found in secret chests or gained through side quests.

With only a month to go before launch, Ary And The Secret of Seasons is coming together nicely. In a couple of instances, the framerate dropped during sprinting, but otherwise, it proved a smooth experience.

Backed by a lovely visual aesthetic and charming personality, Ary is a game that platforming fans won’t want to miss and wears its influences from Zelda well. Personally, I cannot wait to see Exiin’s finished release. Stay tuned for more coverage in the coming weeks. 

Grounded Guide: How to Get Bee Armor Tue, 04 Aug 2020 14:11:45 -0400 Mark Delaney

Even though the survival game is in Game Preview/Early Access, there are already several armor sets to acquire in Grounded. Depending on what kind of build you're going for, you may want to get the Grub Armor, Ant Armor, or one of several others, including the Bee Armor.

If it's the latter you're after, either for its stats or just to max out your collection like batsuits below Wayne Manor, this guide will walk you through how to find the well-hidden armor set. 

How to Get the Bee Armor in Grounded

To start, you'll want to find your bearings. Head to the center of where the three lasers converge at the Mysterious Machine location. You likely already finished reactivating the lasers earlier in the story.

From there, aim about 90 degrees from the house. Use the screenshot below to get an exact direction.

What you're looking for is an anthill. Perhaps you already tried heading down there, and if so, maybe you were already attacked by a swarm of ants in the darkness.

If you're having trouble locating the anthill, we've marked it with a trail marker in the above screenshot, or you can see its location in the below image as well. It's identified by where we've left the yellow cursor with the orange circle surrounding it.

To best prepare for what lies within the anthill, make sure you have each of the following:

  • a good one-handed weapon
  • several torches (4+)
  • armor equipped

It's worth noting that all three pieces of the Bee Armor are skeleton pieces. The Rotten Bee Face Mask is a skull. The Rotten Bee Shin Guards is a boney set of legs. And the Rotten Bee Shoulder Pads are boney hands. 

Once you have all those items, head for the anthill. Remember that you can practice running this route in creative mode so that no insects will come for you. This way, you won't get lost in the labyrinthine anthill and you'll know just where to go. 

As you're dual-wielding the torch and weapon, enter the anthill and stay to the right at every fork you can. Eventually, you will come to a room holding the first of three bee armor pieces, shown below on a ledge. It will be the Rotten Bee Face Mask. 

Next, turn around and fork off to the right again until you come to a room with a hole in the floor. Be careful not to step in it yet. Instead go around it to the back wall to find the second armor piece, again shown here on the map. It will be the Rotten Bee Shin Guards. 

Now that you have two pieces, you can safely descend that hole behind you. Once you get down in the hole, you'll find the third armor piece close by in that very room, along with another BURG-L Chip. This will be the Rotten Bee Shoulder Pads. 

From here, follow the path available to you as it ascends upward back through the anthill. Eventually, you'll make like Ponyboy Curtis and step out into the bright sunlight, bee armor in tow.

That's all you need to know about how to get the Bee Armor in Grounded. For more tips and guides, be sure to head over to our Grounded guides page

Skater XL Review: Shove It Mon, 03 Aug 2020 19:19:38 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Skater XL has been out in Steam Early Access for a while now, but it recently made the leap to consoles. Promising a complete skating experience, it's one of the only legitimate and functioning (looking at you, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater) entries in the genre in a decade.

Does the game's full release live up to its promise and breathe new life into the skating genre? 


Skater XL Review: Shove It

Skater XL's pitch is that unlike THPS, for example, there are no tricks actually programmed into the game. This means that instead of holding a button to do a kickflip, the board and your skater both have discrete physics that allows you to string together tricks on your own.

The way it works in practice is simple and fairly elegant: each analog stick is mapped to one of your skater's feet and based on where they're positioned and how (and when) you flick them, you'll be able to pull off different tricks.

It feels true-to-life in a way that even Skate's control scheme didn't; it actually lets you understand the timing of the flicks and movements necessary to pulling off a kickflip or bigspin.

And to the game's credit, this system mostly works! The custom controls make landing a trick and stringing several together really, really satisfying in a way that no other game has. The game doesn't snap you to any rails or ramps, so lining up and nailing a kickflip-to-5-0 grind-to-manual combo feels like much more of an accomplishment.

The only issue I have with the control scheme is that since the analog sticks are mapped to controlling your feet, actually moving your character left and right is controlled by the triggers. If you slip up and try to control your left-to-right movement with the analog sticks, you'll perform an awkward ollie or flip trick instead.

The game would have been better served by allowing you to turn with the control stick's left-right axis and prep tricks with the up-down axis, letting you control your feet in a more natural way.

Since they didn't do that, the controls take a lot of getting used to, and even after I acclimated to them, it's very, very hard to expertly follow a line the same way I can in other skating games. 

Sloppy Landings

Unfortunately, the physics engine struggles to keep up with the unique control scheme. You'll get stuck on rails. You'll send your skater flying across the map off their board for seemingly no reason. You'll clip through ramps or launch off of them at inexplicable angles. 

The devs over at Easy Day have said that some of these issues were fixed in a Day-One patch, but in my experience, there were still plenty of mechanical issues that got in the way of me actually enjoying the game.

But one of the biggest issues with Skater XL is that for all intents and purposes, it isn't really a game.

The devs have openly admitted that the focus of Skater XL is to capture the freeform nature of street skating, without restriction or objective. It's meant to mimic the feel of actual skating and skate culture. There's no story mode; instead, there's just a list of suggested trick and combo challenges organized by type and difficulty that the game encourages you to progress through as you explore each map.

And even though loading screens are a huge issue when loading into a map or editing your character, the game's session tools back this up. You can seamlessly travel across a map without loading screens before jumping back to the start of your run, and record it all with the game's robust replay function. Skater XL makes it really easy to break each map up into sessionable spots, ripe for mastering in as many ways as you may want to.

It isn't trying to be Skate or Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and that's all well and good. Creating a sandbox skate sim is a worthy goal, even if some may prefer a more story-based approach.

The game could have shined if it put a spotlight on how the sandbox approach can create community and inspire competition and collaboration in a way that other games may struggle to, but the really unfortunate thing is that Skater XL has mostly failed here, as well.

Community Service

It boggles the mind that for all its emphasis on actual skate culture and community, the final $40 version of Skater XL has launched without any kind of multiplayer component. Maps feel empty and dead, no matter how bright and vibrant they may be. It feels like some apocalyptic event happened, and you're the only one left.

This might be forgivable if the game had other community elements. There's an active modding community on PC creating custom parks, but if you're playing on console, you're out of luck. You'll get a (very small) handful of maps, many of which don't give you much room, with no create-a-park feature.

Though the idea behind Skater XL is sound, it doesn't give you the tools to make displaying your creative skating satisfying.

The game's trick engine needs a few screws tightened, but it's a good one, and the focus on personal creativity as opposed to following a set storyline is appreciated. But you can't hop into a map with a buddy and grind the same line together, seeing who can put together the most impressive combo. You can't create an impossible park to share with your friends in an effort to film hilarious, physics-breaking clips.

What's here is just not enough.

Skater XL Review — The Bottom Line

  • The trick system allows for some of the most satisfying skating in the genre
  • Doesn't deliver on its sandbox promise
  • No multiplayer at launch
  • Very few maps 
  • No create-a-park
  • Interminable loading times

Skater XL is a sandbox, yes, but it's a sandbox without toys. Or other people to play with. And that's not really a sandbox at all — it's a desert.

If I wanted to make a fool out of myself skating awkwardly and injuring myself in hilarious ways in a barren, depressing landscape devoid of people, I'd just grab my own board and head outside.

[Note: A copy of Skater Xl was provided by Easy Day Studios for the purpose of this review.]

Othercide Beginner's Guide: Tips for Killing in Style Mon, 03 Aug 2020 17:00:20 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

So, you've seen the reviews of Othercide and decide you want to lead an army of murderous Daughters against Lovecraftian horrors? There can be a few problems with that for beginners. Even though the turn-based combat looks familiar, there are systems with opaque language floating around Othercide that can leave you flummoxed. Never fear: we're here with a few tips to help.

Before you dive into Othercide, parse through our beginner's guide so you can hit the ground running. We've got tips on getting started and understanding the game's various systems to give you a leg up.

I'll mainly focus on combat, but there are a few other things I'll help you out with.

Combat Basics

There's a lot more to combat in Othercide than just moving and attacking, and not all of it is intuitive. Here's what you need to know to get your family slaying together.

Use Burst Wisely

One of the major risk-reward mechanics of Othercide lies in the Burst mechanic. If a daughter ends her turn with 50 AP or more on her initiative meter, they will be able to act significantly quicker in the turn order.

However, every daughter can continue to act all the way down to zero. Just know that this will delay them 100 units (even if they only use 51 AP!) on the turn order.

That means a few things.

First, I recommend that you only use Burst if you're getting something worthwhile out of it. Getting a daughter to an escape zone, killing a dangerous enemy, evacuating a threatened area, something like that. Otherwise, you'll want to forego it for the versatility of being able to act again sooner.

Second, if you decide to Burst, use as much of it as you can. You won't get to act sooner if you only use 71 of your AP, so you may as well get an extra shot in or move to a better location.

Utilize Memories

You will earn a lot of memories throughout your time playing Othercide, and you will need them. Memories are equipped in the "Daughters Overview" tab of the Inner Void.

Each skill for each Daughter can have a different memory attached to it, meaning a fully-leveled daughter can hit the battlefield with six different memories equipped. If she dies on a mission, those memories are lost, and swapping one out for another also causes the old memory to be lost, so keep that in mind.

That said, you'll want their powers. Othercide is a game about razor-thin margins and given how hard healing is to come by for high-level units, anything you can do to make Daughters hit harder or take less damage is worth it.

You'll also want to pay attention to what type of skills are getting what memories. Crunch the numbers on whether adding a base level of damage is better than a percentage (remember, an attack that hits multiple times will add the bonus for each successful hit).

Also, don't forget that you have to actually use the skill in question to trigger the memory; bonus damage or critical hit percentage only apply to the skill the memory is equipped to!

Delayed Actions are Extremely Powerful

Healing your daughters takes sacrifice in Othercide, so delayed actions can seem like a bad option to beginners. This might be true when every hit point is precious, but don't neglect these skills.

Delayed actions are some of the most powerful abilities in the game, provided you set yourself up to string together powerful combos.

These skills are strong for two reasons:

  1. They do not cost any AP. Instead, they cost a percentage of your health. This gives you more actions to use without dipping into Burst or giving you that final push you need to complete a mission.
  2. They can trigger multiple times from one activation.
    • If you have a Soulslinger using Shadow Round (which causes them to attack any enemy dealt damage by an ally), that Shadow Round will work every time any ally does damage until that Soulslinger's next round begins.

You actually get even more value out of a single delayed action if you've gone into Burst since that daughter will take longer until her next round begins.

Set your pieces up correctly, and you'll barely have to lift a finger to take down your foes.

Learn to Flank and Backstab

Characters will automatically rotate the first time they are attacked, friend and foe alike. However, attacking an enemy will lock them facing in a particular direction, meaning subsequent attacks can do significantly more damage from the side and back.

Backstabs, in particular, have a major damage multiplier, letting you shred foes if you are able to lock them one direction and then attack them from behind with a different unit.

This applies when enemies attack you as well. Do everything you can to avoid getting your daughters surrounded; they won't last long if they do!

Study Your Foes

Your enemies do not behave randomly, even though it sometimes seems like they do. Once you've faced off with a particular foe and are back between missions, go to the "Codex" section of the Inner Void. It will tell you where every enemy focuses their attacks, allowing you to use their patterns to your advantage.

For example, Plague Doctors will always focus on the closest target. If you set up your actions correctly, that means you can use a daughter to kite this enemy and essentially waste their turn.

Likewise, if a daughter is one hit from being killed and another is at full health, you might want to move the full health character closer to the Plague Doctor so she will take the hit, saving the life of the other.

Since each mission tells you what foes you'll encounter, it isn't hard to learn how each behaves before you hop in.

If you hover over an enemy during a mission, you can also see their movement range. This does not take into account any abilities that might also move them closer, but it does give you an idea of their reach.


One of the big ways Othercide differs from other turn-based tactics games is that you're going to fail. The game has some roguelike mechanics built in, where you may come to an impasse and need to start a run again. Luckily, making it further into a run will make things much easier on your next go, for a few different reasons.

By getting further in a run, you'll unlock more remembrances and shards alike. You earn remembrances by hitting certain goals, like dealing a set amount of damage or killing a certain type of enemy multiple times. When you restart a run (called a "recollection"), you'll be able to use your shards to unlock special bonuses.

For example, the "Red Embers" remembrance grants all of your daughters 30% more maximum HP. You unlock this remembrance by dealing 100,000 total damage, and you spend 50 shards to activate it before starting your next recollection.

Since so many different styles are effective in Othercide, you'll need to play with your remembrance set up to find out what works best for you. Think about your goal for the next run, and always check to see what you've unlocked for the next go.


That's it for our beginner's guide of tips and tricks for Othercide. For more, be sure to check out our game page here. Let us know what you need help with, and we'll see if we can't push you in the right direction. Happy hunting!

The Best Rhythm Action Games Ever Made Mon, 03 Aug 2020 15:34:23 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs


The Metronomicon


I have no idea why this game didn't get more attention when it came out. A mix of Final Fantasy and Rock BandMetronomicon layers strategy-based RPG-style battles with a rhythm overlay, tasking players with playing different parts of a song Amplitude-style in order to unleash different attacks.


It's difficult, but when you finally put together the perfect combo without a missed beat, it's incredibly satisfying.


That's it for our best rhythm action games of all time. What games would you have included? Let us know over on Twitter!


Child of Eden


I could have easily put Rez or Rez Infinite in this slot, but for my money, the game's Xbox 360 followup, Child of Eden, is the best of all three if you're looking for a rhythm rail-shooter.


It is currently unavailable on current-gen marketplaces, which means that even though it is backwards-compatible with the Xbox One, you're out of luck unless you can dig up your old Xbox 360 disc, which is a shame because it is legitimately one of the most beautiful games ever made.


Where Rez skewed more digital, with a cyberpunk-inspired aesthetic, Child of Eden is decidedly more organic and psychedelic. The graphics hold up today, punching well above their weight, and it is, oddly enough, one of the only games ever to pull off Kinect integration in a satisfying way.


Crypt of the Necrodancer


Crypt of the Necrodancer is another unique entry on this list. Although it is, technically, a rhythm game, an advanced sense of rhythm and syncopation won't really help you here. This roguelike dungeon-crawler is more about quickly making a plan of attack, executing it, and doing it to the beat, moving on every single one so that you don't break your combo. 


Oh, and this game is hard, too! You'll have to think ahead to avoid being one-shotted by a particularly vicious enemy, but once you learn the enemy patterns, it's an extremely satisfying romp.




Thumper is a transcendental game in another way. The developers bill it as a "rhythm-violence" title, and they're not wrong. Everything about the game feels oppressive, and death is always creeping in around the corner.


Where the rest of the games on this list can induce a state of focused flow, Thumper is much more of a white-knuckle experience. You'd be surprised at how scary this rhythm game can be.


Sayonara Wild Hearts


Sayonara Wild Hearts is an incredibly special game. It blends a story of self-discovery after heartbreak with super-flashy graphics and tight controls. That would be enough to land it a spot on this list, but what makes the game iconic, and truthfully, one of my personal all-time favorites, is the soundtrack.


The game plays like a concept album, each song matching perfectly with its stage but also coming together as a whole to tell a larger story. The dream pop soundtrack stands alone as one of 2019's best albums, but experiencing it together with the game is almost a transcendental experience.




Sure, Bit.Trip.Runner doesn't have an all-star tracklist full of licensed songs, nor does it have photorealistic graphics or a deep story. But if there's one thing the Bit.Trip series is good at, it's stripping everything away in order to create a distilled, concentrated hardcore experience.


One of the more difficult games on this list, Bit.Trip.Runner may have you throwing your controller at the wall, but at the same time, you know you'll be back grinding that level soon enough.




In Amplitude, whether you're playing the PS2 original or the PS4 re-imagining, your reward for playing well is being able to hear more of the song. 


It's an interesting gameplay hook  instead of mashing buttons to the beat of the song, you control a ship responsible for playing each individual part of the song. You have to lay down the drum track, the vocal track, the synth tracks, and the guitar tracks, and as you do, the actual song takes shape in front of you.


It's a frustratingly fun way to motivate the player since your reward for nailing a particularly difficult section is actually being able to hear the sweet guitar solo that has been plaguing you for the last 30 minutes.


Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure


Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure didn't make as big of a splash as Elite Beat Agents, Rhythm Heaven, or any of the other less action-focused rhythm games on the Nintendo DS family of systems, and that's a shame because it's a very special game. 


It's Professor Layton by way of Rhythm Heaven, weaving a deep story (complete with Level-5's iconic beautiful animated cutscenes and voice acting) replacing brain-bending minigames with rhythm-based minigames.


The game does a great job of integrating these minigames with whatever is going on in the game's campaign, which makes the overall experience really special and immersive.


Just Shapes & Beats


In quickplay mode, Just Shapes & Beats is a joy to play given how it flips the rhythm genre on its head. Instead of pressing buttons to the beat of a song, the stage itself is what reacts to the music that is playing, as hazards pop up and dance around the stage.


Every single song in the game has a custom-created stage, with hazards that are thematically appropriate for the song's genre and mood. It's clear that a lot of effort was put into curating these stages.


The developers really didn't have to include a story mode here, but they did, and for a rhythm game with no dialogue, there are some amazing, emotional moments to be found here. Plus, the game recently got a pretty major update, adding a few songs from the Shovel Knight soundtrack (remixed, naturally) for free!


Beat Saber


It would be irresponsible not to lead off with Beat Saber. Even if it weren't a VR title, its slick visuals and amazing tracklist would be enough to land a spot on this list. But once you put on a headset, Beat Saber is an expert at inducing a deep sense of flow.


Your brain turns off, and you enter a trance-like state as you slash an endless stream of boxes. It's not until after you take the headset off an hour later that you realize you're drenched in sweat and your arms feel like they're on fire. 


It's worth it, though. Trust me. 


There are few feelings in gaming more satisfying than losing yourself in a song and mashing buttons to the beat to defeat an enemy or complete a stage. It just feels right, you know?


Slashing an enemy when the vocalist hits that high note, jumping over an obstacle during a soaring guitar solo, expertly parrying a blow as the high-hat hits. It's exhilarating, and it's one of my favorite genres of gaming. 


In that spirit, here are our favorite rhythm action games of all time. As a note, however, we're disqualifying games like Guitar Hero, Beatmania, and even Parappa the Rapper and Elite Beat Agents, given the fact that those games are more purely rhythm titles.


We love them too, so don't feel slighted if you don't see them on this list!

No Straight Roads Preview: Rock vs. The Evils of Techno Music Fri, 31 Jul 2020 13:37:40 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I played a short sample of No Straight Roads last year at E3. It wasn't much more than a vertical slice back then, consisting of a single boss fight, but it had a lot going for it just on the basis of raw style. It's a crazy cartoon of a beat-'em-up, where every frame looks like a high-concept music video.


No Straight Roads is a passion project from Wan Hazmer, a Malaysian game designer who previously worked at Square Enix as lead designer on Final Fantasy 15. Inspired by Psychonauts and Jet Grind Radio, he had the bare bones of the game half sketched out before he left SE in 2017 and put together an international, distributed team under the name Metronomik to make it happen.



In Vinyl City, music is both big business and clean energy, courtesy of the NSR corporation. Musicians compete to prove they have what it takes to power up the city. You play as Mayday and Zeke, the two members of Bunk Bed Junction, the last rock band in Vinyl.


One night, Mayday and Zeke show up for an audition at NSR's Lights Out program, but they get unceremoniously kicked out the door for being rock musicians. EDM, they're told, is the only music worth talking about.


On their way home, though, Mayday and Zeke find out that their performance, despite the genre, was more than powerful enough to keep the lights on. They're subsequently caught in a blackout, which cuts power to every part of the city besides the NSR buildings, leaving ordinary people in the dark despite the surfeit of power.


On top of that, when the lead judge Tatiana makes a public announcement specifically to talk trash about rock music, Mayday decides the time has come for a revolution. EDM must fall before the power of rock.



Hazmer told me at E3 that No Straight Roads was made by designing its soundtrack first, then building the game up around it. On paper, it's a straightforward, colorful brawler, where you can play it co-op with a buddy or single-player with Mayday and Zeke as a tag-team, but the music and animation are carrying the show.


You fight with Zeke's drumsticks or Mayday's guitar, doing simple chain combos, and you can collect notes from the environment to use a ranged attack. Mayday is the power hitter, delivering more raw damage per hit, but Zeke delivers quick combo strings that are easier to cancel into a dodge.


The trick is that almost everything in NSR works a little-to-a-lot better if you can do it to the soundtrack's beat, whether it's dodging an enemy's shockwaves, parrying a projectile back at its user, or dodging a boss's fusillade. You can get by without paying too much attention to the beat, which is what I have to do, as I am substantially rhythm-challenged, but the game does feel a lot better when you're moving and fighting along with the music.



It's difficult to convey, in fact, how well the game works when it hits its stride. In bigger fights, where Mayday and Zeke are up against another musician, the game turns to a round of dueling soundtracks. The better you're doing, the harder Bunk Bed Junction's rock themes overpower your opponent's EDM-fueled beats, and back again.


Between that and the constantly evolving visuals, this was one of my big picks coming out of E3 last year. The gameplay's okay, but the presentation is what gets and keeps your attention.


Besides, not every game makes you crazy musical rock rebels trying to overthrow the tyrannical dominance of electronic dance music. Sometimes, I appreciate a game just for the sake of the sentences it allows me to construct.


No Straight Roads is due out on August 25 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Epic Games Store. Stay tuned for more coverage, including our review, as the launch date approaches. 

Grounded Grub Hide Guide Fri, 31 Jul 2020 12:55:53 -0400 Mark Delaney

Grub Hide isn't needed early on in Grounded, but after a few hours, Grub Armor may be a necessity. For that, you'll need lots of Grub Hides. 

If you're stumped on how to find them, this guide will show you several of their locations, which are numerous compared to some other desirable items, like thistles.

Here's everything you need to know about getting Grub Hides in Obsidian's newest survival game.

How to Get Grub Hide in Grounded

You'll need the shovel to get Grub Hide, but you'll need the Pebble Hammer to get the shovel. Build that first. Once you have the Pebble Hammer, you'll need to complete the Acorn Shovel recipe. That includes:

  • 2x Sprig
  • 1x Woven Fiber
  • 1x Acorn Shell

It's the Acorn Shell that you'll need the hammer for, as nothing else can crack that nut. You can find acorns around the base of the massive oak tree in the backyard. You can't miss it, and you've likely been there already. The acorn will split into Acorn Top (for collecting sap) and Acorn Shell. You'll need the shell for the next step. 

Now you can craft the Acorn Shovel. It's of little use in most parts of the game, but watch the dirt for scurrying little critters moving under the ground, like in Tremors. Those are the Grubs.

Dig where you see the dirt moving to reveal a Grub. Once it's out of the ground, you'll have to kill it. Unlike most of the backyard's residents, though, Grubs aren't so tough. In fact, they appear not to even fight back at all.

Once it's defeated, you'll have several parts to pick through, including the Grub Hide you're after. Hooray! Now you're almost done.

Like any new element or crafting material you find, you should bring the Grub Hide to a nearby research station. Scanning it with the analyzer will reveal new blueprints for which the Grub Hide is needed, including the elusive Grub Armor set, which includes:

  • Grub Leggings
  • Grub Vest
  • Grub Goggles

That's all you need to know about finding Grub Hide in Grounded. For more tips and tricks, be sure to check out out other Grounded guides while you're here! 

Grounded Thistle Location and Crafting Guide Fri, 31 Jul 2020 12:35:06 -0400 Mark Delaney

In Grounded, certain items, such as sprigs and plant fibers, are immediately important. That's obvious to see. But dig in for a while longer, and it'll become clear you need something else: thistles.

In this guide, we'll show you how to spot a thistle plant on your adventures, as well as what you'll want to craft using thistles. Save some space in your backpack, because you're going to want to stock up.

Where to Find Thistles in Grounded

Though they're not nearly as common as typical grass, thistle plants stick out as a result, which can be very helpful. If you find yourself in a clearing, look far above the grass for tall purple plants.

Those are the thistles you're looking for. If you're not in a clearing, though, they can be hard to spot that way, so it's best to know what they look like at eye level. With their jagged leaves extending out just above the ground, thistles stick out nicely.

To get thistles in your inventory, hack away at the leaves with your axe (even a Level 2 axe will work nicely).

Each hit will net you a single thistle, and unlike grass or other plants, thistles don't seem to ever completely deplete. That's good because you'll want a lot of thistles.

What Can You Craft with Thistles in Grounded?

So far, we've found three uses for thistles in Grounded.

Combining thistles with mite fuzz gives you arrows for your sprig bow. This is critical because ranged combat will very often save your life in Grounded.

You're outmatched by spiders beetles, and even ladybugs, which aren't nearly as cute in the game as they are in real life. So you'll want to be sure to save yourself lots of space for crafted arrows coming from your thistle collection.

In addition to the basic arrow recipe, you'll also need thistles for the Spiky Sprig, an advanced melee weapon with a great damage and stun combination.

Thistles are also used in crafting Spike Strips, which can be laid down in front of your base like spiked logs fending off unwanted pests like ants. 


Now that you know where to find thistles and how to use them, you'll be one step closer to surviving the densest jungle on Game Pass: the backyard. For more on Obsidian's newest survival game, be sure to check out our other Grounded guides

Grounded: How to Get the Level 2 Axe Thu, 30 Jul 2020 13:30:21 -0400 Mark Delaney

Thie first thing you'll make in Grounded is a pebble axe and for a good while, it will serve you well. But once it's time to really plant your flag and build a base you can take shelter in, you'll need the Level 2 axe, also known as the insect axe.

In this guide, we'll show you what you need to unlock the level 2 axe blueprint, including its full crafting recipe and what sort of things you can build once you have it.

How to Get the Level 2 Insect Axe in Grounded

If you're ready to graduate from the pebble axe, you'll need a short list of hard to find items:

  • Head of a ladybug
  • Bombadier parts
  • Spider Silk
How to Get a Ladybug Head

Though they look cute, the ladybugs are one of the game's toughest enemies, with a charging attack that can down you in two hits if you don't block or evade. You can usually find them north of the central research station where you met the robot (the oak tree) if you did the game's brief story content in Game Preview.

We recommend that you keep your distance by using the sprig bow and a whole bunch of arrows crafted ahead of the battle. You can also get in close with a spear if you block well. Remember that a perfectly timed block will stun enemies for a short window. 

How to Get Bombadier Parts

Once you've defeated the ladybug (it took several tries, didn't it? Us too.) your next step is to acquire Bombardier parts. Bombadiers are the long, greenish beetles that may have already killed you a few times, but sorry to say, you've got to take one of them on as well.

Again, a ranged battle is key here. Know that most insects can't chase you up awkward terrain, like leaves hanging over their dwellings. So perch up on a log with your bow like Katniss Everdeen and take out a Bombardier. Once it's dead, you'll need three Bombardier parts from its little bug corpse. 

How to Get Spider Silk

The last item you'll need can be the easiest or the hardest. It depends on how you play it. You'll need to acquire four units of spider silk from spider webs. Approaching any spider webs and slashing at them will dole out several units of silk, and you should get what you need on the first try. 

Just be very mindful of your surroundings, as at any moment the spider who made the web may come to check if dinner has yet been served. Don't be dinner.

Unlocking the Level 2 Insect Axe

Hopefully, you get out of there without another deathmatch on your hands. However you escape, head to a research station with your key items in tow. Using any research analyzer you find, scan the ladybug head. It will unlock the Level 2 insect axe for crafting, and now that you have the blueprint, you'll already have the items you need to immediately build it.

For good measure, scan anything else you haven't scanned yet to earn more raw science and unlock more blueprints.

What is the Insect Axe Used For?

Like the pebble axe, the insect axe can be used as a weapon, but it's most valuable as a tool. With it, you can chop down weeds, which are a necessary ingredient in most of the foundational basebuilding elements, like doors and roofs. 

If you don't want to spend all your time living in an empty soda can, the Level 2 insect axe is the gatekeeper to a whole new world of living large even while you're extremely small. So get it as soon as you're able to and build the dream house you've always wanted... even if it's made of grass.

Related Content

That's all you need to know about getting the Level 2 axe in Grounded. Now that you have the insect axe, you'll have the ability to craft many more basebuilding parts! For more tips and tricks, hit the links above or head over to our Grounded guides page

Stella's Horizons Widen Ever Further in New Spiritfarer Trailer Thu, 30 Jul 2020 13:00:56 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Spiritfarer, Thunder Lotus' game where coziness and death hold hands, is still slated for a 2020 launch date. While we still don't have a solid Spiritfarer release date, we do have another trailer showing how far along the game has progressed, which also introduces some new passengers too.

After Alice the hedgehog requests help from Stella, we see the scene shift to Stella charting a new course for Mount Toroyama. There, she learns the secrets of meditation from Summer the snake — the same Summer we first met last year in the game's initial demo.

The trailer shows us a number of glimpses into Stella's expanded world, from sun-kissed villas to sumptuous townhouses, plus a new weather condition on the boat.

Stella herself shows off a couple of new abilities as well, like riding updrafts with her hat and using her belt as both electrical conduit and handy zipline.

And there are two new passengers making their debut: Giovanni the lion and Stan the mushroom.

Thanks to the Spiritfarer demos, we knew Stella completing quests for her passengers features prominently. But the new Spiritfarer trailer shows there's even more: mini-games with each passenger. We see Summer teaching Stella how to help speed up crop growth time by playing music, but Thunder Lotus' Rodrigue Duperron confirmed each animal has a mini-game unique to them.

So there's even more reason to get attached to Stella's passengers, making that final farewell all the more difficult.

In a different bit of news, Thunder Lotus also announced Spiritfarer will release on the Epic Games Store and Google Stadia when it does launch. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Spiritfarer news as it develops.

Spiritfarer made out most anticipated indie games of 2020; see what other indie titles we're looking forward to over here!

Grounded Workbench Guide Wed, 29 Jul 2020 16:55:21 -0400 Mark Delaney

In Grounded, like most survival games, you're lost without your workbench. Sure, the enemies may be ants, gnats, and beeltes rather than sharks, zombies, or wolves, but the core systems of Grounded still rely heavily on the workbench.

With that in mind, you'll need to know how to build a bench, as well as what you can make once you have one. Here's everything you need to know about the workbench in Grounded

How to Build a Workbench in Grounded

Before you can use the workbench, you'll need to build it. For that, there's a simple recipe of (thankfully) some pretty abundant resources. You'll need:

  • 3x grass plank
  • 4x sprig
  • 2x sap

Grass planks are the most plentiful. You get them just by cutting down blades of grass. You normally get about three planks at a time, so just a single blade of grass should get you going.

For sprigs, you'll want to look around on the ground. The smallest green sprouts are actually plant fibers, which are also crucial, but the other taller sprouts are the sprigs (pictured below). 

With those in hand, you'll need a bit of sap, which are the amber-colored droplets found on and around various plants. These aren't as common as the other ingredients, but they're still quite abundant. Just don't confuse them with the more yellow-orange nectar droplets, which are actually a food item.

Once you have all three items, you can craft a workbench in your crafting menu under the utilities banner. 

You'll need to pick a safe space for the workbench. While the game has plenty of shelter pieces to build, like grass walls, doors, and roofs, you won't be able to make any of those until you get the Level 2 axe.

In the meantime, the safest place we've found is inside any of the empty soda cans left hanging around the backyard.Head inside one you like the location of, and lay down your workbench.

While you're at it, build a lean-to, which serves as a resting space and respawn beacon. You can also really make it feel like a home by adding stuff like lamps, a fire for cooking food, and a waypoint so you never lose your way. As you can see below, my humble abode has all the necessities.

What You Can and Can't Craft at a Workbench

It should be noted that a workbench isn't the gateway to all your crafting needs. Many smaller items can be built without ever having a workbench at all.

The workbench is really the threshold between the earliest unlocks, where basic survival is key, and the next level up, where you can start to get comfortable and think about settling down someplace.

With that in mind, there's a simple way to know what does and does not require a workbench.

In your crafting menu, any blueprint or recipe with the workbench icon to the right of it must be built at a workbench. This includes armor. Once you have the workbench, armor should come as your next priority.

Anything that doesn't include the workbench icon can be crafted on the fly, such as tools, arrows, and health items.

Related Content

That's all you need to know about the Grounded workbench so far. Hopefully, this guide gets you off on the right foot as you head deep into the exotic jungles of your own backyard. For more guides on Grounded, check for more tips here.

Grounded Guide: How to Get Woven Fibers Wed, 29 Jul 2020 15:54:43 -0400 Mark Delaney

In the little-big world of Grounded, the backyard has never been so dangerous. With ants, spiders, and even surprisingly formidable ladybugs scurrying around, it's you who risks getting stepped on for once, not the insect world.

Players have to live with survival at the forefront of their minds, which means you'll first need to know how to craft basic tools and equipment before you can start worrying about amenities like fancy lamps or taxidermied gnats.

This guide will teach you how to craft woven fibers, truly the game's bedrock for backyard explorers to rely on.

How to Get Woven Fibers in Grounded

Given how important they are, it's good that woven fibers aren't so rare. They're crafted by combining three plant fibers in your crafting menu.

Plant fibers are found all over the backyard and seem to come in two visual styles. In either case, they look like small green sprouts coming from the ground. You can see one example below. 

You can carry plenty of any item provided you have the backpack space for the first of them, so fill up on plant fibers as often as you can. You'll need them for a ton of different projects, including virtually all the early-game necessities like the axe and different types of armor.

For a reliable bounty of plant fibers, be sure to finish off the stems of grass and other plants you cut down. While the initial teardown will give you other things like grass planks, finishing off the remaining stump with one last slash gives you multiple plant fibers in one go.

What Can You Craft with Woven Fibers in Grounded?

Like I said, the list of crafting items that require woven fibers is huge, seemingly the biggest in the game right now. I'm still uncovering more recipes, but already I've found more than a dozen which need woven fibers to be crafted.

That list includes vital resources like the pebblet axe, without which you're basically dead on arrival, but also, the pebblet hammer, the canteen, and the sprig bow, which is another vital resource that allows for ranged combat. You can check out the full list of early discoveries in the screenshot below. 

Here's a growing list just in case. Note that I haven't found all of the recipes quite yet. 

  • Acorn Shovel
  • Armor Glue
  • Canteen
  • Clover Head
  • Clover Poncho
  • Clover Shin Guards
  • Door
  • Eyepatch
  • Pebblet Axe
  • Pebblet Hammer
  • Slime Mold Sconce
  • Spiky Sprig
  • Sprig Bow
  • Storage Basket
  • Torch
Related Content:

That's all you need to know about woven fibers in Grounded. With deep pockets of woven fibers, you'll be on your way to living comfortably or at least not being eaten by a gigantic spider. Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and guides, as well as our impressions of the survival game in the coming days. 

Hellpoint Review: A Soulslike By Any Other Name Wed, 29 Jul 2020 15:22:32 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

It's your eighth time tackling this boss, but you think you've got it figured out. You've memorized its attack patterns, you've learned how its strategy changes, and you've uncovered its weaknesses, bring with you the necessary items to bring about its end. 

You walk through an opaque wall to enter its arena, pick up the resources you dropped the last time it killed you, and start the dance again. This time, it'll be different.

If this sounds a bit familiar to you, you aren't alone. Hellpoint is a solid soulslike, featuring a creepy, enticing setting and a few cool wrinkles you might not expect. Its biggest "issue" is that it's a little too much like Dark Souls, and it just isn't as good as that standard. It isn't Dark Souls 4

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Hellpoint is a silver-tongued devil indeed. That said, if you can't get enough of the "tough-as-nails ARPG" genre, Hellpoint is a slam dunk.

Hellpoint Review: A Soulslike By Any Other Name

In Hellpoint, you play as a character called a spawn, 3D-printed to investigate a massive space station called Irid Novo. The ship has been overrun by monsters, sprinkled with a few mysterious NPCs who speak almost entirely in riddles.

You work your way through, under the guidance of the mysterious presence, fighting enemies and trying to unravel what happened to the Irid Novo. Early on, you'll pick up hints of Event Horizon and some nasty Lovecraftian-like lore, which only gets stronger as you move through the station.

To progress, you must scavenge weapons and equipment from the foes you defeat and the resources you collect. You also have a bit of a home base with some upgrading stations, allowing you to use rare crafting resources to turn that steel pipe into something really special.

You move between breaches, which refill your health and give you fast travel options. You collect axioms, which you use as currency and experience. And if you are killed by an enemy, you drop all the axioms you're carrying. Of course, you can pick them up if you make it back, though if you die again, they're gone for good.

NPCs speak in infuriatingly opaque language and have a tendency to giggle at you. You walk through shimmering walls to enter boss arenas. Glowing messages are left on the walls (green for game-generated messages — like the ones that teach you controls — orange for player-generated messages). You can duel other players.

Like I said: It's Dark Souls meets Event Horizon.

Combat is an interesting beast in Hellpoint: it isn't quite as slow and deliberate as combat in the Dark Souls series, but your movements aren't quite as fluid and agile as they are in Bloodborne. You still have those same, deliberate attack animations, but the overall speed of combat takes a bit of getting used to with each of the game's weapons.

Once you get things down, though, combat feels good.

There are several different options for how to fight: you can be a big, chunky boi, with full heavy armor and a massive melee weapon. You can grab some ranged weaponry and pick things off from afar. Or you can grab a little dagger and some light armor to flit between foes, dealing death by a thousand cuts.

You'll encounter a wide spectrum of enemies, but taking any of them lightly or being unaware of your surroundings will almost certainly lead to a major loss of health — or deathHellpoint keeps you on your toes and rewards you for focus.

The biggest difference in the game's controls come in the form of a jump button. Unlike deliberate attacks and dodges, jumping feels extremely cartoonish here. You spring off the ground with ease, making it incredibly easy to miscalculate your leap and plummet into a bottomless pit. 

As I discussed in our preview of Hellpoint, I'm still not a big fan of this element of the game. Jumping feels way too floaty and imprecise I can bang my head against a boss all day long and not get too frustrated, but watching my spawn float over the edge of a narrow platform and lose a massive amount of progress is always infuriating.

The servers aren't extremely populated right now, but I dread the day I have to battle a hopping invader.

Such Sights

That isn't to say it's an exact clone. There are some cool aspects to Hellpoint that differentiate it.

One of the most interesting lies in the real-time elements that affect when certain events occur. The Irid Novo is orbiting a black hole, and a little meter shows you where it currently is in its orbit.

During certain phases of the ship's orbit, enemies get tougher (and drop better loot), and certain secrets and game elements only emerge at certain times. On one hand, this aspect can be frustrating if you're waiting for a specific event. On the other hand, it can certainly keep things fresh, making for unique runs.

Since time moves by slowly in-game, you might encounter something unique without even realizing it's unique — until you try to replicate it. It's a mechanic that will surely lead to a lot of trial and error if you don't want to look things up online, though it isn't a total game-changer.

Most of the things I encountered on my review playthrough were relatively inconsequential, and the bizarre shaking that occurs when you enter a certain orbit always threw me off. Regardless, it's a cool little hitch in a game that, otherwise, feels very familiar.


Hellpoint Review  The Bottom Line

  • Satisfying combat that allows many approaches
  • Interesting setting and compelling story
  • The right type of difficult
  • Interesting real-time events
  • Way too much like other bigger-budget games
  • Imprecise jumping mechanic
  • Environments are tough to distinguish

Hellpoint is a bit more than a loving homage to Dark Souls, offering up just enough small, unique changes to keep it from being a total clone.

If you want a new challenge, want to explore a mysterious new setting in a familiar gameplay style, and play some infuriating couch co-op (or socially distanced online gaming) with a friend, this is a solid pick-up in a suddenly crowded genre.

[Note: A copy of Hellpoint was provided by tinyBuildGAMES for the purposes of this review.]

Othercide Review: Grimdark Tactics Wed, 29 Jul 2020 10:45:51 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

Othercide is an incredibly stylish game. It leans heavily into its dark, gothic roots, implementing a slick graphics style and a lore-heavy storyline. On top of all that, it boasts a pretty impressive turn-based tactical system, rewarding well-executed plans and punishing ill-conceived schemes.

It makes a run at the kings of the genre like XCOM, but a few problematic design choices and a bit of a "style-over-substance" feel keep it from taking the throne. That said, there is certainly a place for Othercide at the table, and its unique qualities could open doors if the franchise continues moving forward with sequels or offshoots.

Othercide Review: Grimdark Tactics

It can't be overstated how much Othercide swings for the fences with its presentation.

Instead of soldiers (or some other tired trope), you control a team of women called "daughters." Each has a dancer's flair fighting style, and each features names such as Joy, Temperance, or Mercy. Daughters are brought into the world with Vitae (a type of currency), emerging from a pool of fluid as a giant heart named "Mother" beats in the background.

Everything is black and white and shades of grey, except for splashes of red for blood or clothing accents.

You battle ghastly creatures across a variety of decimated, ruined cityscapes, and as you progress further into the game, you'll start to unlock hints about what has happened to the world and what your ultimate goal is. You'll also unlock new traits, abilities and fighting styles for your army of daughters, giving you a leg up as you encounter bigger and nastier foes.

On the surface, Othercide plays like other turn-based tactics games, such as XCOM or Battletech. There are a few key differences that keep things interesting, however.

For one, there is a lot more melee combat in Othercide. Of the three starting classes available to each daughter, two of them are entirely focused on melee. You'll unlock more classes as you make your way through the game, but a majority of combat is in close-quarters. 

It's a significant wrinkle to the typical formula because you'll have to constantly think about the damage your daughters take — in each encounter and throughout your campaign. The only way to heal a daughter between missions is by sacrificing another daughter of the same level. And ranged characters won't change that because diversifying your forces is important to winning missions. 

Another wrinkle in the game's strategic layer comes by way of your class-based triggered abilities, which you can use at the end of your turn to set up "if-this, then-that" options.

For example, some abilities trigger attacks if an enemy ends their turn in melee range, while others may trigger bonus attacks if another daughter deals damage to an enemy. These can trigger multiple times per turn, so you'll want to set them up in advance to get multiple activations in a single turn. 

However, since these abilities also cost a percentage of your precious HP, there's a ton of risk and reward involved with combat. Sacrificing daughters to heal others is an extremely tough choice to make, and it will have you overthinking every move you make during a mission to avoid taking any unnecessary hits.

A Thousand Cuts

When you hit the end of the line in Othercide, you will get the chance to restart your playthrough and use currency to unlock certain bonuses. These might grant bonus hit points or strength to your daughters, or resurrect a daughter from a previous run at the start of your current one. These bonuses are necessary when you start hitting the later missions, and they also take the sting out of dying as you figure out foes and Othercide's systems.

And die you will.

Othercide is unapologetically difficult (mission difficulty starts at "Hard," moving to levels like "Challenging" and "Impossible") and new enemies will often shred you with abilities that you won't see coming. A large, lumbering foe might leap across the battlefield with surprising agility, and the first boss you meet has some nasty abilities that can seem insurmountable if you come in with the wrong team of daughters.

This difficulty also introduces some of the roguelike elements of Othercide. As your daughters achieve certain outcomes in battle, they'll gain access to memories. Every ability can have a memory attached to it, providing bonuses to damage and critical hit percentage, for example. If a daughter is killed, all of her memories go with her, so gameplay again falls into a high-risk, high-reward see-saw.

You can also "win" a mission but ultimately have a negative outcome, essentially dooming your team. If you lose multiple strong characters on a mission you still successfully complete, you might have reached the end of your run. There is no save-scumming allowed in Othercide: everything is automatically on Ironman Mode.

Here, remembrances play a role. As you make your way through a run, you'll accumulate shards, which can be spent on powerful bonuses for the start of your next run. You might be able to boost all of your daughters' HP or gain a resurrection token so you can start the next run by bringing back a particularly powerful daughter. The remembrance system encourages you to get as far as you can in a particular run so you can start your next one even stronger.

Style Over Substance

There is a lot to like in Othercide, but there are a few places the game stumbles: style and worldbuilding. 

Othercide's graphics look great in stills and screenshots, and the world itself is interesting to look at, but the monochromatic palette makes it tough to survey a battlefield at a glance. Everything kind of blends together, and it's tough to tell which character is which when trying to plan a strategy.

This bleeds over into other aspects, too, where certain components of Othercide aren't introduced in a way that you learn about them before using them. Because of how some classes, abilities, items, and currencies are depicted in the game, you won't always know what they do ahead of time.

Finally, the menu system is obtuse at best, and it can be hard to find what new unlocks are at your disposal and where they are. Do you equip memories in the birthing pod? What about remembrances? Do I sacrifice this bright soul so I can resurrect my soulslinger? There is a lot of intuitive stuff here that could make someone bounce off if they aren't ready to dive into this gothic world.

Othercide Review — The Bottom Line

  • All-in tone and style
  • Difficult tactical combat with lots of decisions
  • Slick graphics that draw you in
  • Rewards for learning systems and planning ahead
  • Menu system could use some work
  • Difficult to the point of being unfair on occasion
  • Can be tough to assess tactics at a glance

If you want a tough take on turn-based tactics, Othercide is a great pick-up. If you've tried the genre before and bounced off because of the gameplay, it isn't going to change your mind.

That said, Othercide offers up some unique and tough decisions (mostly in the progression aspect of things), and a slick presentation keeps you dialed in. It might not become your new all-time favorite, but Othercide is a strong addition to the genre.

[A copy of Othercide was provided by Focus Home Interactive for the purpose of this review.]

Maid of Sker Review: Can't Hit All the Notes Tue, 28 Jul 2020 12:55:56 -0400 Mark Delaney

As I approached the Sker Hotel, feelings of foreboding anxiety left me in wonder as to what laid beyond its gates. 

Based on a local Welsh ghost story, the hotel's gothic stylings and the game's atmospheric music combined to present a final warning. Crossing the threshold would be like crossing the Rubicon, and neither the protagonist, Thomas Evans, nor I knew what horrors we'd find within those walls.

It's exactly how I want to feel when beginning a new horror game. It's just too bad the horrors I found went beyond some decent scares, extending to some frustrating mechanics.

Maid of Sker Review: Can't Hit All the Notes

Horror fans will be familiar with the setup of Maid of Sker, even if, like me, they aren't familiar with the folklore that acts as its foundation. As Thomas Evans, players arrive in Wales and set off to the Sker Hotel where Thomas' love, Elisabeth Williams, has been locked away in the attic by her tyrannical family. They demand she takes the mantle of the hotel's vocalist from her deceased mother.

If "woman doesn't want to sing" sounds like a strange premise for a horror story, I suppose it is, but Maid of Sker leans heavily on a tale much older than itself and does so admirably. The story is the game's greatest attribute, especially if you're unfamiliar with it.

What is familiar, though, is a lot else. The setting opens up quite a bit right away, but with plenty of locked doors, broken crests, and puzzles to solve, the first-person horror on display here can feel a bit like Resident Evil. Sadly, it lacks both the variety and polish of that game in its enemy encounters.

All enemies in Maid of Sker are blind, so the game focuses on sound to an exciting degree. The directional audio works wonders on a headset, and it's really the only way to play Maid of Sker. While some games strongly recommend playing with such a setup, it's never seemed more important than it does here, as several puzzles are built around players listening for answers and other cues. 

Maid of Sker uses a great mechanic where players can hold their breath to remain quiet as enemies pass. This is smartly built upon with dusty areas that induce coughing fits and alert Quiet Ones, as they're called. Holding your breath for too long eventually makes you exhale loudly, giving your sneaking exploration a bit of a puzzle feel.

The downside to this is that it never becomes clear, when dealing with enemies patrolling the halls of the spooky hotel, just how far away you need to be to be safe. You'll be forced to crouch through most of the game or else tip off enemies, but the mechanic is hit or miss.

Sometimes I could get right up behind them, and other times it seemed like they'd hear me from far off. Sometimes I could even walk or sprint without them hearing, and once you know where to go, you can usually sprint through to the next loading screen, and no one will catch you beforehand.

The exception to this rule is one particular enemy who seems to know where you are as soon as you arrive on his floor of the hotel. Even though he's blind like the other enemies, his thunderous footsteps boom like Mr. X or Nemesis, instilling immediate anxiety that I loved to feel — at first.

Quickly, though, faulty AI made him the most annoying part of the game. The way he's ever-aware of your presence changes the game from a stealthy defenseless horror to a mad dash through narrow hallways. Often, this would break down as he gave chase only for me to get stuck moving through areas where other lower-tier enemies patrolled. There's just no space to move past them, and this alone caused several unfair restarts.

I beat the game never having figured out whether this particular enemy was just extremely aggressive, or if I'd broken the game somehow. Every time I entered his floor, I heard the "enemy alert" chime, even if he was rooms away. Whether by design or by bug, it always felt like the latter.

He's also a factor through the game's final act, leaving a sour taste after some of the game's earlier highlights, such as its moody set dressing and engrossing story. 

Maid of Sker tends to be at its best when it tells players very little about where to go next. However, it's sometimes necessary to do so, and the game fumbles its setup with poor map implementation.

Without a legend and using very small icons, it's difficult to read the map screen and find pertinent information. This led to my first playthrough taking eight or so hours when I expect the game is designed to be beaten in half that.

The game boasts that its script comes in part from one of the writers of the all-time great horror, SOMA, so it's no wonder why the game shines in that department, but there were times where mechanical failures had me ready to Google how the folktale goes. Ultimately, I was happy to see it land well, no matter which ending you choose, of which there seems to be two, but perhaps more.

It's in the game's quiet where it shines brightest. Searching the halls silently as enemies breathe on the other side of the door is fun, even as it could've been better with stronger AI. Even better is when you're approaching a door, and it opens just before you get there as a Quiet One enters your room, forcing you to retreat in a desperate crouch for an untouched closet or corner. 

I simply adore a classic haunted house story, and Maid of Sker scratches that itch, albeit unevenly, more than most games. It gets an A for effort, even as it hardly passes in terms of execution.

Maid of Sker Review — The Bottom Line

  • An intriguing haunted house folktale
  • Great sound design utilized both in scares and puzzles
  • Faulty enemy AI leads to encounters being too easy, inconsistent, or, in one case, too aggressive
  • Map is poorly implemented, causing common frustration

Even though I don't think Maid of Sker is fantastic, I'm glad to have played it. Ever since I first played Amnesia, I've been chasing that setting and mood, which so few horror games try to capture. Maid of Sker, despite nagging issues with enemy encounters and navigation, is still a decent horror game that captures the mood of its central folktale very well.

It's a story worth experiencing for sure, so if you think playing a flawed game is better than reading the story on Reddit, Maid of Sker will serve you well for a stormy evening.

[Note: A copy of Maid of Sker was provided by Wales Interactive for the purpose of this review.]

Maid of Sker: How to Save Tue, 28 Jul 2020 09:00:02 -0400 Mark Delaney

Whether you've already dived into Maid of Sker or are wondering whether or not to brave the night in Sker Hotel, you'll want to know how and where to save. 

The game's loading screens remind players that Maid of Sker uses a manual save function, but it never really shows you how to manually save.

In this quick guide, we'll show you how to save in Maid of Sker so you don't lose any progress or have to replay any of the game's spookier bits.

How to Save in Maid of Sker

In Maid of Sker, the game's Resident Evil inspirations are front and center. The hotel is much like the original RE mansion with doors locked by broken crests and enemies that can't be killed, only evaded as their heavy steps taunt you unceasingly.

There's also the issue of saving. Maid of Sker uses manual saves in designated save rooms which are totally safe from enemies.

When you spot ornate green doors in and around Sker Hotel, seek refuge inside as they are the save rooms in the game. Once you're inside, interacting with the record player will immediately save your game, including any items and collectibles you've found up until then.

There are roughly 10 save rooms in the game, so be sure to learn their locations in case you need a moment of respite.

If it's your first time in any particular save room, using the record player will also play an audio log that furthers the game's intriguing story, so there's incentive beyond just your save data to explore and find each save room.

On top of all that, the game's save room musical piece is really good too, which serves as another wink to Resident Evil.

Maid of Sker is out today, and if you're in the mood for a good haunted house story, it's got some pretty good scares to offer, albeit with some faults as well. Read our full review to learn more about it!