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2019-06-24
BioWare's Anthem released in February this year, and it wasn't a huge critical success. Part of the reason why the game struggled, according to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, is because it attempts to appeal to two different audiences. He talks about the game's struggles and opportunities for future growth and success in a new interview."We brought together these two groups of players who were making this emotional value calculation on two different vectors," Wilson told GameDaily. "One was traditional BioWare story-driven content, and the other was this action-adventure type content. About the 30 or 40 hour mark they really had to come together and start working in on the elder game. At that point everyone kind of went, 'Oh, hang a minute.' Now the calculation is off."It's off because I've got a friend who sits in this other category of player. They want to play the game a certain way. I want to play the game a certain way. The promise was we can play together, and that's not working very well. Oh, by the way I'm used to 100 hours of BioWare story, and that's not what I got,'" Wilson explained. "Or, 'I expected that this game would have meaningfully advanced the action component that we'd seen in games like Destiny before, and I don't feel like it has.'"While Anthem might have struggled out of the gate, Wilson said EA is committed to supporting the game in the long-run. In fact, he mentioned that Anthem could have a "7-10 year cycle." Wilson said EA feels good about investing in Anthem in the long-run because the game has a strong foundation to build on."If we believed that at the very core the world wasn't compelling people, if we believed at the very core that the characters weren't compelling for people, or the Javelin suits weren't compelling, or traversing the world and participating in the world wasn't compelling then provided we hadn't made promises to our players... we might not invest further," Wilson said. "IP lives for generations, and runs in these seven to ten year cycles. So, if I think about Anthem on a seven to ten year cycle, it may not have had the start that many of us wanted, including our players. I feel like that team is really going to get there with something special and something great, because they've demonstrated that they can."The full interview at GameDaily is in-depth and wide-ranging, touching on a number of other subjects including loot boxes, layoffs, and a wider look at the future of EA. Go read it.At E3 this year, Anthem lead producer Ben Irving said he believes Anthem has a "very bright future.""We've learned a lot these last few months, we really want to make the game better, we believe Anthem can be a really amazing game," he explained. "We know we have some work to do, we just want to work with the community and build it together and make it the game that everyone wants it to be." Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-24
I'm a handheld video game enthusiast. I'm sure of this, because people in the office make fun of how much I use and love the PlayStation Vita (hi, CNET!). The first console I owned was a Game Boy, and I've owned and loved every Nintendo and Sony portable released since (even the PocketStation). I have a long commute, so I always have a dedicated gaming device in my backpack. But lately, I've been spending an exceptional amount of time on a platform I had previously written off: a phone.Now that your eyes have rolled, I want to clarify that I'm not talking about the kinds of games you might traditionally associate with being "phone games," though I do love those--I've played far more than a healthy amount of Marvel Puzzle Quest, and I love playing the cool stuff that crops up in the bespoke iOS scene: Florence, Reigns, Threes, 80 Days, and anything by Zach Gage. Instead, my recent revelation involves the kinds of video games that I would have previously preferred to play on a home console or PC.Florence is pretty cool. You should play Florence.Here's an obvious statement: There's never been a better time to be a handheld gamer. The 3DS is filled with great, unique first-party Nintendo titles. If you like Japanese RPGs, 2D platformers, and revisiting the finest titles in the original PlayStation library, the Vita is incredibly good, I promise (that OLED screen! That d-pad!). And of course, the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic hybrid console that redefined what kinds of games I could expect from a portable system.Now, thanks to my phone, I'm getting that same Switch-style buzz once again. I recently took a vacation, and as usual, I packed my three portable consoles to entertain me during periods of extended downtime. The thing is, you can't always prepare for when or where extended downtime happens. For one reason or another, there were a few times where I felt like playing a video game, didn't have a console on me, and eventually was content to see what was on my phone so I could stop looking at the ocean or whatever for 15 minutes.Tired of what I already had installed, I browsed the App Store for anything that caught my eye, and a free demo of Sid Meier's Civilization VI was what did it. I'd been thinking about picking it up again on Switch, and was now morbidly curious to see how it ran on a phone. As it turns out, pretty well. It was visually impressive enough to pop on the small screen, ran smoothly with a smartly adjusted UI, and didn't appear to have any feature concessions compared to the PC version. It was also the perfect game to play on a portable device: slow-paced and turn-based.Civ VI on a phone--it's better than you think, but still a little pricey.That experience was a turning point for me, and I learned a bunch of things at that moment. One: 30 bucks is too much money to pay for a second copy of Civ VI, especially when it doesn't have the expansions. Two: Phones are capable of surprising technical performance. Three: The best console is the one you have with you. Four: The convenience of being able to download games wherever is very good. Five: I don't have five things.I'm very aware that all the people I see playing PUBG and Fortnite on the train, as well as the entirety of China, are eager to tell me how late to the party I am. But ever since then, I feel like I've reconfigured the part of my brain that decides what kind of games would be more suitable as a PC, console, or handheld experience. For certain titles, I've managed to overcome the mental hurdle that stops me from tackling my pile of shame with a newfound curiosity that wants to see how differently they play on a phone.I really enjoy playing short, focused games. But I've missed out on a bunch because I've always believed that I needed to dedicate a good chunk of time in front of a monitor in order to get through one, and often by the time I get home from work, all I want to do is play more Tetris 99 or, you know, spend time with my family. But ever since I got over myself, I've managed to play and finish a bunch of 2018 games I'd put on hold in a week's worth of public transit rides--games like Donut County, The Stillness of the Wind, and The Gardens Between. I recently picked up Whispers Of A Machine after resolving myself to the fact that I was never going to find the time to sit down at a PC to play it, and as it turns out, my phone is perfect for the point-and-click adventure games I love so much. These more technically conservative titles also perform virtually like-for-like with their desktop versions, which helped eliminate my fears of opting for a "lesser" experience.Even more graphically demanding titles can impress: I already own two different versions of challenging puzzler The Witness, but never found the courage to finish it. I then bought it for my phone, and I was surprised by how decent it looked. More importantly, I found myself building a different kind of relationship with it--one that I hope will finally help me see the end. If I'm stuck on a particularly hard puzzle, I can easily put it away and mull over it while I do something else. And, because it loads right where you left off, I can take another quick stab at it while I wait for a coffee.The Witness--I'm not going to let Jonathan Blow defeat me. However, I'm not completely abandoning my other handhelds--Persona Q2 and Cadence of Hyrule just came out, after all. I'll absolutely chase after any game that gets me excited, but I'm finding that the convenience of form factor also plays a big part in what I now choose to pull out. If it's standing room only on my train, or I want to lie sideways in bed, I'm less hesitant to pull out a Switch. The Switch is great, but it's a little too big in these instances. It really isn't a big deal to pull out a phone. Certain games, like The Gardens Between, Elder Scrolls Blades, and various Dragon Quest ports, have the option to be played with one hand in portrait mode, which I am incredibly thankful for.The relatively lower price points for the iOS versions of games (unless you're 2K or Square Enix) takes the sting out of having to buy some of these titles for the second time. I'm happy to throw down a few bucks to give myself a portable version of something I know I liked, but want to find more avenues to play. The convenience of being able to download the games over a cellular network instantly helps, too. I had a sudden hankering to play a good tactical strategy game on the way to work the other day, so I redownloaded XCOM: Enemy Within on iOS. It's not as good as XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen, but it was available and ready to be downloaded as soon as I had that impulse. I saw GameSpot's Tamoor Hussain tweet about Pocket Cities, so I gave that a try (I liked it). While I was walking, I heard Giant Bomb talk about Brawl Stars on a podcast, so I downloaded that too (I didn't like it). Everyone is still talking about The Outer Wilds, but it's a game that I can't find a spare few hours in front of my PC to download and actually play. The ability to quickly feed my whims on a phone is incredibly useful.I came to another realization while thinking about my new habits. When the Apple Arcade game subscription was announced in March, I thought it sounded interesting, but outside of a few games that I was already planning to play on other platforms, it didn't think it was for me. I'm not an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, nor an Origin Access person. I don't want to pay a monthly fee for access to a bunch of games I'm not going to play. I'm a Nintendo Online subscriber, but I rarely play the included library of NES games because I forget to download them until I'm browsing the library on a bus. Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick recently expressed a similar skepticism over video game subscription services on an investor call, saying "people do consume video games differently than they consume linear entertainment."He explained: "In the case of video games, it is possible that the average user in those 45 hours might be playing one, two, maybe three titles; certainly not 70 titles. In that event, if you play one, two, or three titles and you play them for months in a row--which often happens in [the video game world]--then a subscription model may not be such a great deal for the customer."I'm beginning to change my mind, however. I've installed and played over two dozen games on my phone since my revelation, most of which I can access on different platforms--but I haven't. It's been a pretty positive experience that's been assisted by the ability to easily jump between games on a whim and download them anywhere I am.Apple Arcade is currently poised to include a bunch of games that I was already keen on--Sayonara Wild Hearts, The Pathless, Beyond A Steel Sky, Klei's Hot Lava, and ustwo's Repair--and if they're all going to be readily available on my phone there's a way better chance I'll actually play all of them. I've already got early access to tactical survival game Overland on PC, but I'll be damned if that isn't a perfectly-suited portable game. I can totally see the reasoning behind Apple's big push into the video game space now--they likely want to stay competitive with the likes of Microsoft and Google, of course, but they're also capitalizing on a different kind of gaming behavior which I'm only just cottoning on to.I can't wait to play more Overland. An Apple Arcade subscription will also give you access to these games on MacOS and on Apple TV, which seems handy for when I actually have a chance to sit still for a while. Additionally, Apple recently launched the ability to connect Xbox One and PS4 controllers to iOS and Apple TV, which suggests that they're interested in keeping their platform as flexible as possible. That's a nice touch, because if there's one thing I still haven't come around to, it's playing complex action games with a touchscreen interface--I don't know how the people who play PUBG on the train do it.I'm surprised at how much I've come to genuinely appreciate my phone as a portable gaming device. The convenience of accessibility make it incredible for catering to whims, it runs a variety of the games I personally love to play (and in some instances, ones that can't be found on any other platform), and I can use it in situations where it'd be too uncomfortable to use any other portable. I can't believe it took me so long to take it seriously--I could've actually finished The Witness and become a genius by now, instead of embarrassing myself with a PS Vita for years.(I'm sorry, PS Vita. I didn't mean that. You're still cool, no matter what anyone says.)Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-24
My Friend Pedro's best moment is the first time you get to use a frying pan to kill someone. This is an action game that bends over backwards to make sure you look cool, where every kill is meant to make you feel special, and the frying pan is the best realization of that vision. The bullets in My Friend Pedro will ricochet off certain objects, and if the angles line up just so--as they do the first time you encounter a frying pan--you can kick the kitchen implement into the room ahead of you, and then take out all the enemies in that room by shooting the pan, watching as bullets ping off it and cut through anyone standing nearby. It's glorious.In these moments, My Friend Pedro feels like a beautiful, brutal ballet. Indeed, the game is entertaining for most of its runtime precisely because of how over-the-top and theatrical its kills are. Killing enemies by shooting a frying pan, ricocheting your shots off a sign, or kicking an object right into someone's face is entertaining. However, it's also a game that has fewer tricks up its sleeve than it initially suggests, and will run through most of its good ideas just past the halfway point. That’s not to say that the game gets bad--it’s fun all the way through--but it starts to feel less inventive and exciting than those pulpy, crazy earlier levels do. You play as an unnamed, masked protagonist who is accompanied on his violent journey by Pedro, a talking banana who acts as both narrator and instructor throughout the game. It’s clear early on that there’s something a bit off about Pedro, and while there are some eventual "reveals" to contend with, he’s mostly there to lend the game a sense of weirdness and to offer hints and tips as you go. There's a thin plot, but it's easily ignored--the only really important information is that you need to run through each level killing all the enemies, and if you kill every enemy quickly without dying, you'll get a higher score. There's a score multiplier that allows you to chain kills for more points, and trying to compete for a solid spot on the leaderboards is a good incentive to replay earlier levels on more challenging difficulties.As you chain together kills through the game's 40 levels, you have opportunities to shoot enemies while going down zip lines, riding on top of rolling barrels, jumping through windows, skateboarding, and bouncing off of walls. You can activate your focus at any moment to line up your shots and time your bullet-dodging spins perfectly. If you have two guns equipped, you can aim them independently, letting you dive right into the middle of a group of enemies with twin uzis blaring in different directions.Shooting your enemies is a joy, for the most part, but the combat isn't without its faults. The game's default auto-aim assist locks you onto the nearest enemy or potential target if you’re pointing your aiming reticule in their direction, which can sometimes make it more difficult to pull off the stunt you’d envisioned. If an enemy is standing in front of an explosive canister, for instance, aiming past them for that gratifying explosion is difficult because your gun sight won’t pull away from them. Thankfully, you can turn auto-aim down to almost nothing, which gives you more freedom at the cost of making the game a bit more challenging overall. My Friend Pedro suffers a bit from a lack of enemy variety, and while the style of goon you're facing changes over time--you fight assassins in the second set of levels, then professional gamers not long after--the main difference is that some of them have more health than others. There are some slight variations, but most enemies can be taken down in the exact same way: by pointing and shooting, with or without theatrics. Your enemies will shoot back with increasingly powerful guns, and while you can feel untouchable when you’re diving into a room in slow motion, they put up enough of a fight, even on "Normal" difficulty, that you need to be careful.Every now and then you might have to deal with a sentry gun or a minefield, too, but the game is at its best when you’re proving your superiority to organic enemies. Those slow-motion dives into hails of enemy bullets that visibly crawl through the air towards you are obviously inspired by The Matrix, and My Friend Pedro gets closer to capturing the feel of that film's shootouts than many of the myriad games that have paid homage to it. There are also a few boss levels to contend with, which are brief diversions that make some attempt to mix things up, but even these peak with the first one. The game runs through most of its ideas for creative ways to kill people pretty quickly, and while that sense of wonder never quite dries up, its truly great moments become more spaced out in the second half.In later stages, the game features numerous platforming sections as a way of keeping things fresh. They're never complicated enough to require you to really think them through, and several of them suffer from the game's finicky controls. While the movement controls are fine for combat, they're often hard to contend with when you're trying to traverse tricky terrain. When you're asked to roll and jump and slide down ropes with great precision, as you sometimes are, the game stumbles, as the controls don’t lend themselves well to exact platforming. This only really becomes a major problem right near the end, as the final few levels get extra demanding.The level designs also grow uglier as you go, too--when Pedro explains that you're fighting gamers in the sewers because video games tend to feature sewer levels, it's funny, but not funny enough to justify the drab aesthetics that the sewers display. That's not to say that these levels are devoid of joy--a late mechanic that gives some enemies shields that need to be deactivated adds some nice strategic depth and most levels serve up at least one or two sections where you can pull off some cool moves--but overall they're not as free-wheeling and enjoyable as the game is in its early stages.There's some padding, and the game suffers whenever there aren't enemies on screen. It's also, oddly enough, less entertaining when you start to get access to more powerful weapons--the late addition of a sniper rifle feels fundamentally at odds with the game's up-close-and-personal action, and while the assault rifle you unlock in the game's second half is powerful and fun to fire, it’s a shame they didn’t go a step further with its wildness and let you dual-wield the best guns for maximum carnage. My Friend Pedro is greatest when you're close enough to the bad guys to warrant continual cost-benefit analyses of running up and kicking them to death, but sometimes the best way to progress is to take out your enemies from a distance by pointing and shooting without much flair.But then you get to leap through a window on a skateboard, jump and spin through the air in slow-motion, firing uzis at two enemies at once; when you kick an explosive canister around a corner and pop out to shoot it just before it hits an enemy in the face; or when you jump between two walls, spring out of a gap, and take out two guys with a shotgun before they even know you're there. My Friend Pedro might pepper its later stages with fewer exciting moments, but the moments that make the game fun never fully go away. As soon as I finished the game, I restarted at a higher difficulty, keen to test my improved skills on harder enemies. There are sections in My Friend Pedro that are as satisfying and thrilling as you could hope for in a game like this, where it nails the feeling of being an impossible video game hero who can perform the unimaginable with great style and flair. There's a lot of appeal in replaying your favorite stages over and over, trying to move up the leaderboard. It isn't consistently exhilarating throughout the entire campaign, but My Friend Pedro is worth playing because it’s full of moments where you can jump down a shaft and shoot in two directions in slow motion, or kill an enemy by kicking the skateboard you’re riding into their face, or take out a room full of bad guys with the help of a frying pan. When it dedicates itself to letting you be inventive and weird with how you rack up your kills, My Friend Pedro is wildly enjoyable. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-24
It's a strange thing to knowingly bid farewell to a fictional character you've followed for over a decade, and then learn to love their replacement. I teared up a little when longtime protagonist Kazama Kiryu finally exited the Yakuza series (presumably for good) at the end of The Song Of Life. But as we wait for Yakuza to begin anew in earnest, Ryu ga Gotoku Studio has crafted a different opportunity to revisit the staple setting of Kamurocho as newcomer Takayuki Yagami, a disgraced defense attorney turned private investigator. And fortunately, despite some unremarkable additions to the standard RGG template, by the end of Judgment it's hard not to feel like you want to spend dozens upon dozens more hours with Yagami and friends.Yagami might not be a yakuza, and Judgment might not be a mainline Yakuza game, but you'd be mistaken for thinking that the overarching narrative of Judgment doesn't heavily adopt the criminal theatrics that RGG Studio has become known for. While the plot kicks off with a relatively straightforward investigation into a serial killer, Yagami's investigation into it uncovers a vast, complicated and interweaving conspiracy of secrecy and betrayal that involves the history of the cast, the Japanese legal system, the Tokyo police department, multiple yakuza factions, and higher stakes beyond. It's an unsurprising escalation, but it's told in such a way that keeps you glued to the screen--the mystery is gripping, the drama is irresistible, and the performances are excellent.Yagami and his partner Kaito are the primary emotional conduits, and they remain incredibly empathetic and genuinely likable characters throughout. They have interesting personal dilemmas and arcs of their own, and a warm, convincing dynamic together, regularly joking around and pulling one another's chains, and sharing determination when they need to. Kaito is a former yakuza who acts as the brawn to Yagami's brains--though Yagami still manages to be an impossible kung-fu savant, for reasons that are never truly explained in any meaningful way, and in skinny jeans, no less. The two bring a delightful vibe to the otherwise serious nature of the story, and they are treasures.In some ways, Yagami is more believable and well-defined as a protagonist than Kiryu was in the Yakuza series. Where you were often encouraged to put Kiryu, a typically unwavering deity of honor, through uncharacteristic sojourns into weirdly perverse pursuits, Yagami rarely acts in a way that feels out of character, nor are you allowed to get involved in anything that goes against his demeanor. It's a notable quality that helps to make him more consistently likable, even if he does do something you think is idiotic.Judgment's side activities do their best to reflect Yagami's nature. Side missions are mostly framed as citizens calling upon Yagami for his private investigator services, though are still a place for RGG Studio's penchant for absurdism to get a workout. More interesting is the game's Friend system, which allows you to befriend dozens of unique individuals spread across Kamurocho, whether via side missions or their own discrete activities. Performing a variety of tasks in service of a person will level up your friendship with them, eventually giving you access to perks like secret items on a restaurant menu or a helping hand in combat. It's a nice thematic element that rounds out Yagami's character as a good-natured, friendly neighborhood PI. The uncomfortably debaucherous side of RGG games is still present in Judgment, though it's mostly left to be associated with the more unsavory characters and aspects of the plot rather than Yagami himself. That means the saucier activities of Kamurocho are gone, including the entertaining cabaret club management minigame. Instead, there's a dating aspect where you can grow closer to women Yagami has already befriended over the course of the game, which involves regular interactions via in-game text messages, and eventually a series of dates. It feels more wholesome as a result, though only as wholesome as a 35-year-old man dating a 19-year old can be.Elsewhere in the game's entertaining array of side distractions, Judgment features an incredibly robust Mario Party-esque board game, a two-player port of Fighting Vipers, an original light-gun shooter called Kamuro Of The Dead, an obviously-made-in-a-different-game-engine version of pinball, and drone racing. That's on top of a healthy, familiar selection of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Puyo Puyo, UFO catchers, darts, batting cages, Mahjong, Shogi, and various casino card games, among other activities, all seen in previous Yakuza titles.There are plenty of other familiar aspects that return from previous Yakuza games, but not all of them shake out to be in Judgment's favor. For example, while the game's major cinematics are lovingly rendered and animated as always, lesser, more stilted character models with cold, dead eyes still dominate a lot of the game's cutscenes and suck some emotion out of the otherwise excellent drama.Kamurocho is another weary aspect, which is an admittedly blasphemous notion at first--the district itself still feels lively, bustling, and full of things to do--but this is still very much the Dragon Engine-era Kamurocho from Yakuza 6 and Yakuza Kiwami 2, both of which released a year prior. But it's not just the fact that Kamurocho is still relatively fresh in your mind if you've been following the series closely (there are only a handful of new interiors), it's Judgment's lack of a meaty palette cleanser--nearly all Yakuza games since the 2005 original have featured an additional city to free-roam in, or at least additional protagonists to help add a bit of excitement to the series' familiar formula. Judgment has a tiny additional interior location situated outside of Kamurocho, but it's purely a story setpiece.Conversely, many of Judgment's attempts to add to the core Ryu ga Gotoku template wear out their welcome almost immediately. Yagami's position as a lawyer-turned-private-eye means there are a lot of segments that involve tailing and chasing people, getting into places he isn't supposed to, searching for clues, and making deductions. The prospect of performing all of these thematically appropriate activities would be attractive were they not all mechanically boring in practice.Tailing and chasing people are the biggest offenders, made worse by the Judgment's heavy reliance on them. Slowly following targets through the city while trying not to let the targets spot you (they're all very on edge) is a dull, slow, and arduous process which is often made more frustrating by the infamous RGG Studio movement system, which is clunky at the best of times. A reliance on predetermined hiding spots strips the act of any dynamics and creativity. Chases are faster but equally monotonous auto-running sequences where you need to steer Yagami left and right within a set path, avoid any obstacles, and perform the regular quicktime event to keep up with a target. With the exception of one amusing sequence on a skateboard, the game's numerous chases are all ultimately stale, when they should get your heart pumping. Searching for clues and making deductions are poised to be the more attractive mechanics due to the game's legal bent--Yagami will sometimes need to search an area in first-person for clues or explain a hypothesis or contradiction. But these moments are let down by being incredibly straightforward, and expecting something that sits anywhere near to what you might find in a Danganronpa or Ace Attorney game would be misguided. You're provided with a checklist of things to find during search scenes, meaning the discoveries don't feel revelatory--but finding the hidden cats is the real treat here. Deduction segments feel more like opportunities for the game to make sure you've been paying attention to the story so far, rather than a chance for you to join the dots and stumble upon the discovery for yourself.While the mystery in Judgment is certainly a journey that you're merely accompanying Yagami on, the lack of player agency in the detective segments makes them feel like a useless chore. There are two different types of lockpicking minigames--which are fine, if uninspiring--and there's also a bizarrely unexciting mechanic where you have to choose which key on Yagami's keyring to use when entering certain doors. The most interesting new idea is the addition of a couple of brief sequences where you play as one of Yagami's co-workers and go undercover, which only left me wanting to see that idea explored even further.Ultimately, most of Yagami's progress is made by doing what all good protagonists in RGG games do best--kicking the shit out of people. Yagami has two different kung-fu influenced fighting styles: Crane style is designed to deal with groups of enemies, whereas Tiger style focuses on single-target damage. Fighting starts off feeling a bit clunky and limiting--especially the flashier Crane style, whose moves come with long recoveries and see Yagami spend more time doing flips than landing hits--but this changes over time as you upgrade Yagami's combo speeds and attack damage, making the risk of opening yourself up more viable. Tiger style is more intricate and versatile, however, with a much larger and more powerful variety of moves to unlock and use--including an exploding palm technique that's a blast to use again and again. Additional fighting techniques are introduced to flesh out Yagami's flashy, acrobatic style and include the ability to leapfrog enemies, wall jump, and link attacks off those maneuvers. The Yakuza series' explosive "Heat" moves appear as "EX" moves, allowing you to execute devastating cinematic special attacks, reliant on specific environmental and combat situations. Despite not being a Yakuza game, combat is your primary interaction with the world in Judgment. Fighting all sorts of delinquents, gangsters, and at one point, a group of academic researchers is still very entertaining, though, and it's great that there are abundant opportunities for you to lay down some street justice.It's disappointing to realize that Judgment is at its best when it veers closer to the mold that it came from. Even though the game's familiar fighting and side activities will happily keep you occupied, it's a shame that the most intriguing and unique additions are also the dullest things about Judgment, because the new roster of characters have been wonderfully crafted otherwise. Yagami, Kaito, and the supporting cast are incredibly endearing, and following their every move as they unravel the sinister machinations looming under the surface of Kamurocho is a sensational journey. I can't wait to return to these characters, but I'm hoping we can all do something different next time. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-23
Niantic's new Harry Potter game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, has officially arrived. Given its pedigree, the title is unsurprisingly very similar to Pokemon Go. Wizards Unite is clearly built around the same style of augmented-reality gameplay (albeit with a Harry Potter twist), and many of the game's elements even have direct analogs in Pokemon Go: Fortresses are Harry Potter's equivalent of Gyms, for instance, while Portkeys serve the same function as Eggs, among many other examples.Despite their similarities, however, Wizards Unite also differs from Pokemon Go in a few notable ways. Not only has the game launched with more content and features than Pokemon Go had at its outset (with the glaring exception of Adventure Sync), Niantic has also incorporated a number of RPG-like mechanics that Go lacks, chief among them the Professions system. Once you reach a certain level in the game, you're able to select from one of three different classes for your character, each of which boasts its own distinct attributes and comes with a skill tree that can be leveled up to unlock additional skills and perks.Elements like these help make Wizards Unite a deeper experience than Pokemon Go, and the latter would benefit from pilfering some ideas from its sister title. Of course, no proper Pokemon game has allowed players to pick a class before, so Wizards Unite's Professions system may not exactly be in keeping with the spirit of the series, but something similar could be implemented. Players have been pit against a wide variety of specialized Pokemon trainer in the mainline games, from Bug Catchers to Bird Keepers to Hikers, and these classes could serve as the basis for a Pokemon Go-style Professions system.Other elements from Wizards Unite that Pokemon Go would benefit incorporating are daily quests and login bonuses. Pokemon Go does already have its own quest system of sorts in the form of Field Research tasks, but to acquire these missions, you must travel to a Poke Stop, and you can only have a certain number of active tasks at a time, so you can't stockpile them. Wizards Unite, meanwhile, offers players a list of daily challenges to complete, as well as a little bonus each day they log in. A combination of the two methods would certainly add more incentive to fire up Pokemon Go every day.Wizards Unite also features a potion-brewing system. As you play, you'll encounter materials on the overworld that can be used to brew different types of potions. Potion brewing would feel out of place in a Pokemon game, but the series has allowed you to craft certain items in the past; in Pokemon Gold and Silver, for instance, you could collect different kinds of Apricorns and forge them into specialized Poke Balls, such as the Lure Ball, which makes it easier to catch Water Pokemon. A similar kind of crafting system would work very well in Pokemon Go.Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is available for free on iOS and Android devices. If you're just getting started in the game, be sure to check out our full Wizards Unite coverage. We've put together guides detailing how to get more Spell Energy, as well as breakdowns of how Wizarding Challenges work and how to pick the best Professions for you.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-23
A new month is nearly upon us, which means Pokemon Go players will soon have a new batch of Field Research tasks to complete. Developer Niantic will be rolling out a new set of quests around the world beginning at 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET on July 1, and they'll give you a chance to encounter more Legendaries, as well as another Shiny Pokemon.From July through the beginning of September, each Research Breakthrough you achieve in Pokemon Go will lead to a chance to catch one of the following Legendaries: Latios, Latias, Kyogre (which is available for a limited time right now in Raid Battles), or Groudon. Additionally, Spinda featuring a new spot pattern will be available through new Field Research tasks, and those lucky enough will be able to encounter a Shiny version.As usual, you can acquire Field Research tasks by spinning the Photo Disc at Poke Stops. The first one you complete each day will reward you with a stamp; if you manage to collect seven stamps, you'll achieve a Research Breakthrough, which will then lead to an encounter with one of the aforementioned Legendaries. You can read more details on the official Pokemon Go website.Before the new Field Research tasks arrive, Niantic is bringing a new Pokemon to EX Raids. Beginning June 23, players will be able to encounter the Speed Forme of the Mythical Pokemon Deoxys in EX Raids for the first time. Unlike standard Raid Battles, EX Raids are invite-only; you can only participate in one if you've receive an EX Raid Pass, and the only way to do that is if you've recently won a Raid at a qualifying Gym.As previously mentioned, you don't need to wait for July's Field Research to find Kyogre. The Legendary Water Pokemon is available in standard Raid Battles again until June 27, when it'll be replaced by Groudon. Niantic is also bringing the Legendary dog Raikou back to Raids for a limited time. To reward players for completing enough Global Challenges during the recent Pokemon Go Fest event, Niantic is holding a Raikou Raid Day on Saturday, June 29, from 4-7 PM local time.In other news, Niantic's Harry Potter mobile game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is now live in the US and UK. The title was slated to launch on June 21, but has arrived in both regions a day early. While its premise is very similar to Pokemon Go's, Wizards Unite also differs in a few notable ways. You can read more about the game in our hands-on impressions of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, as well as some Wizards Unite features we think Pokemon Go should take.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-23
Game development is a risky endeavor. Between designing, programming, QA testing, and all the other steps involved, you can spend years working on the same project. There's no guarantee that what you'll make will be well-received when it's released and, even if it is, a lack of exposure could still spell financial loss. There's a lot of pressure to succeed, and failing to meet expectations might mean there's not enough money for a next time.And yet, despite this pressure, there are some people out there who choose to shoulder this burden alone. There are over a dozen success stories of indie developers who forged ahead with little to no outside help, managing to achieve both wide-spread critical acclaim for their work and earn enough money to make a living. It's not a very common occurrence though, and asking those who've managed to do it reveals plenty of reasons as to why that could be the case. Developing a game can already be a fairly mentally and emotionally taxing process, and doing it solo without a support system can exacerbate the stress and feelings of self-doubt. Some appreciate this challenge, but others do not.Jonathan Blow, Derek Yu, Lucas Pope, and Joakim Sandberg each has a history of going it solo in developing at least one indie game that caught traction and went on to be both a critical and financial success. Blow is commonly cited for inspiring the indie game boom that started in late 2008 with Braid, before going on to design the critically acclaimed 2016 puzzle game The Witness. Yu's initial open-source Spelunky is also a part of that pre-2010 indie boom, and Yu is now working on its sequel, Spelunky 2. Pope made a name for himself in 2013 with Papers, Please and then went on to wow the industry again with 2018's Return of the Obra Dinn. Sandberg delivered the well-received metroidvania-inspired Iconoclasts in 2018.Each of the four, as it turns out, express similar experiences of the emotional and mental toll associated with developing a game solo. Pope and Yu had more positive things to say about the process, while both Blow and Sandberg expressed more instances of pressure and stress that accompanied the development of their respective breakout hits Braid and Iconoclasts."[You] get mowed under by the sheer amount of stuff there is to do to finish a game," Blow said when asked about the hardships he had to overcome to finish Braid. "And so, you have to believe that you will be able to finish eventually, which sometimes is hard to believe… If you start believing it's too much to ever do, and your motivation starts falling, then you get less done every day. And then [you believe] there might be too much to do because your rate of progress toward the goal is not so good. And when you see that, you might get upset about that or depressed about that, and then it gets worse… There just is something fundamentally, mentally hard about working on a game where you're the main person."[It's] actually easier in a bigger company," Blow continued. "Because I think you can rest a little bit and you can at least, even if not everybody else is working hard, you at least feel like other people are doing something and that you're allowed to relax a little bit and the whole thing won't collapse. Whereas, if it's your project and without you it won't go forward, then it's very easy to feel like it's just going to die at any minute and that you don't have the luxury of relaxing when you need to relax. And it's just a bad combination."Blow's primary motivation for using Super Mario Bros. as inspiration for Braid is that Nintendo's game is simple and thus fairly easy to emulate. "3D games are a lot of work," he said. "I told myself, 'Look, I've done all these technical projects that were super ambitious, and I never finished them. So let's make a project that is technically as easy as we can make it, but put all the effort into the design because the design seems more finishable." Both Yu and Pope similarly went as simple as they could right from the start. "Yeah, I started small and I just kind of kept the scope to something that I could really do by myself," Yu said.All four developers endorse some level of personal restriction at the outset of making a game. On the surface, this can look counterproductive, but it ensures the game is completed in a reasonable time frame--which, in the long run, can curb a lot of the pressure and self-imposed stress to finish. It's something Blow, Yu, and Pope learned through their experiences prior to their major breakout hits, as all three were members of game development teams before going it alone with Braid, Spelunky, and Papers, Please respectively. As a counterexample, Sandberg placed few restrictions upon himself when he started on Iconoclasts in 2010 (when he was in his early 20s) and the game continued to evolve and grow more complex for years, ultimately releasing when he was in his 30s and more appreciative of the wisdom found in self-imposed restrictions."You just have more people, and as a result, more people are struggling."Despite the process allowing him to produce one of the more well-known indie gems of 2018, Sandberg hopes that no one ever emulates what he did. "People shouldn't follow in my footsteps," he said. "Working this hard solo and giving all their life, essentially, all their time to a project and ignoring everything else… Being that antisocial and not interacting with people enough depletes tetralin in your brain--it creates depression. If you do it for that long you're going to get depression, regardless if you have genes for it. You need to actually take weekends off, you need to not let friends disappear, you definitely need to be able to support yourself because you shouldn't go into debt making a game--which I luckily didn't.""I kept telling myself, 'When the game is done, I can get a life again,'" Sandberg continued. "Instead I kind of collapsed afterward. Yeah, it was entirely my own fault for pushing myself that hard, but it's easy to fall into that trap. You keep saying, 'As soon as this is done, it's going to be great.' Then your body realizes that you worked a little too hard."Sandberg also had to break into an indie game landscape that looks very different than how it was a decade prior. None of the four believe the industry is heading towards some indie game apocalypse that will see the market implode on itself, but they agree the space has been saturated with a lot more titles in recent years--making it far more difficult for individual indie creators to find their audience and thrive. It's a problem that wasn't as nearly as big back in 2008. "You just have more people, and as a result, more people are struggling," Yu said. "I could certainly see from the perspective of people who are trying to enter the space and struggling, it does feel like there's an indie-pocalypse and they've got to work extra hard to be seen, and I do feel some of that pressure myself. And even though I know I have a leg up just having some visibility and being in this industry for a while now, everything still feels a little tenuous, even for me."To be noticed and garner some level of critical and financial success, your best bet is name recognition from a previous success. "For someone who's just starting out?" Blow said, "I don't know, because you know, the biggest problem is just getting attention for your game. How do I get players to care that we released this game? I have that problem less than a lot of people simply because I'm already established.""But then again, if I had made a bunch of smaller games, maybe no one would've noticed them. I wouldn't have been able to financially support myself. You can never guess."Without the name recognition, you need to find a well-known publisher, such as Trinket Studios' Battle Chef Brigade with publisher Adult Swim, or build something that creatively explores a theme in a way that hasn't been done much (or at all) before, like Matt Makes Games' Celeste. Regardless of which strategy you go for, both are far more achievable--and thus less stressful to aspire for--when working within a team. As Sandberg can attest, you can do it alone, but it will probably take you much longer and likely lead to hours of crunch. Not ideal if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance.Even Pope, who enjoyed his time working on both Papers, Please (which took him nine months) and Return of the Obra Dinn (which took him five years), admits that crunch is just a part of his process now as a solo developer. "I crunched for thousands of hours on Obra Dinn but it was all self-imposed and in the end, I'm happy with how the game turned out," he said. "I consider long grinds and moments of intense crunch a necessary part of my game development process."Blow, Pope, Yu, and Sandberg don't hate game design. They wouldn't still be doing it if that was the case. But the pressure to make something that people are willing to spend money on (while maintaining the original vision they're proud of) can make the process more stressful than they like."Some days I sit and think, 'How many games could I have made instead of Iconoclasts,'" Sandberg said. "But then again, if I had made a bunch of smaller games, maybe no one would've noticed them. I wouldn't have been able to financially support myself. You can never guess." On this topic, Yu said, "I think if you're making a commercial product, it's a lot easier to work on a team to shoulder that burden a little bit… Once money becomes involved, it's not just that it changes your expectations, you know it's going to change everybody's expectations. Because people are going to have to spend money on it and you know that reviewers are going to take it more seriously. You're thinking about Metacritic. All kinds of stuff come into play that don't when you're working on freeware."As it stands, in today's indie scene, it doesn't seem very probable you'll create an indie breakout hit when you're still operating solo.Since their breakout hits, Blow and Yu have returned to working as part of a team, though they maintain control over the overall design of their games. "Having more people just really helps," Blow said. "The Witness is a way bigger and more complex game than Braid, and part of the reason that could happen is that we had other people building the engine and making the art. If it had been mostly me, it just would not have been possible to make a game that big." Yu is currently working with BlitWorks--the studio responsible for porting Spelunky to PSN--to develop Spelunky 2. Blow and Yu's transition back to working with others is becoming a more widespread standard in recent years, as more indie developers see that a team can stave off some of the stressors that are predominantly associated with indie game development. When Eric Barone decided to put his newest project on hold to work on more updates for Stardew Valley, for example, he wrote in a blog post that he would be hiring help to "take some of the workload off," and Undertale's Toby Fox has explicitly stated he will only make the follow-up chapters to Deltarune: Chapter 1 once he's put a team together because continuing to make the game on his own is "actually impossible."This makes Pope and Sandberg, who have continued to operate solo after their breakout hits, part of a dwindling breed. Though Pope has found success with his follow-up to Papers, Please--Return of the Obra Dinn was met with widespread success and is one of our top 10 games of 2018--he still had to scale back in terms of visuals and number of gameplay mechanics. Though, he admits he does "personally enjoy" the challenge of scaling back a game's scope far enough so that he can make it himself. Sandberg has adopted a similar approach for his next game, making a plan for something that's manageable as opposed to trying to design something that's as big as he can make it. "I don't hate the idea of [making a game] alone, but I have to start properly," Sandberg said. "I'm going to prototype [my new game] and see what happens. It's going to be an action game and smaller [than Iconoclasts], something that I can do alone and add onto later if need be. Which means, no story. The story is what makes a game huge."As it stands, in today's indie scene, it doesn't seem very probable you'll create an indie breakout hit when you're still operating solo. Trying to do so certainly seems emotionally and mentally unhealthy as well, as there's a good amount of crunch you have to deal with on your own. Which isn't to say it's an impossible task, but if you're planning on following in the mainstream successes of popular indie games such as Dead Cells, Outlast, Into the Breach, Hollow Knight, Doki Doki Literature Club, and Gone Home, then recruiting a well-structured team (or at least finding a good partner) seems to be a far more practical course of action. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-23
Coming from Jo-Mei Games, Sea of Solitude is the next EA Originals title, following 2018's A Way Out from Hazelight studios. Taking an unorthodox approach to something of a well-worn adventure premise, you'll explore the ruins of a seemingly flooded world that's completely abandoned. But therein lies the hook; in this puzzle-adventure game, that sense of isolation and loneliness is palpable, which is reflected in the struggles the main character has with her own mental state. While at E3 2019, we had the chance to check out a near-final build of Sea of Solitude and spoke with the CEO of Jo-Mei Games, Cornelia Geppert, about why it's essential for more games to tackle some challenging issues like mental health.Beginning in a rowboat, the protagonist Kay comes across a flooded city in the middle of the ocean. As she maneuvers through the canals and alleys of the town--which is loosely inspired by Berlin--she'll encounter evil blights that seem to have a deep connection to her--shouting vile insults that seem akin to intrusive thoughts. By finding the strength within herself to explore further, she will be able to restore the city, slowly raising the buildings from beneath the surface and restoring color to the different areas of town. Even from the short demo we played, it's evident that Sea of Solitude tries to tackle the complex and challenging topic of mental health, and the creator describes the game as the most important project the studio has ever made."I want people not to feel so bad about feeling lonely, and that they understand that almost everyone experiences that in some way and that it's a part of human life," said Cornelia Geppert. "It's a very human story. You never quite overcome your worries and fears, and this game isn't a superhero story where everything is perfect after you finish it. But it's about how you come down and relax about life, suffering and pain is a part of life, and it's something that [Sea of Solitude] focuses on a lot."Described as a "wide-linear" game, you'll have the freedom to explore and row about the flooded city. However, it's not quite an open world. While you do have the freedom to choose which direction to sail towards, there is largely a set path to follow through the city that leads to the key moments of the story. While there are major story threads to follow, you can also leave your boat and explore some of the abandoned buildings, letting you search through the remains of the homes that once were.Although there's always an element of danger in Sea of Solitude--even leaving your boat to swim in the water puts you at risk of getting eaten--I found that the game had something of a relaxing cadence, despite how heavy some of the subject matter was. In some ways, this made me more drawn into what Sea of Solitude was trying to say about Kay's journey. According to Geppert, video games are in a unique position to tell exciting stories that put players in the shoes of characters that are in occasionally extraordinary, but still relatable circumstances."Compared to films, you can actually experience the feels and situations of the main character in a game," said Geppert. "The main goal of Sea of Solitude is for people to experience those feelings of loneliness and despair. I also want people to see that characters like Kay are not perfect and that they have flaws, which is something we all live with. It's a very human look at the struggles of keeping up with your mental health."Much like other games tackling the topic of mental health, the developers at Jo-Mei focus a lot on putting you in the shoes of Kay to understand her present circumstances. That feeling of empathy is a big part of Sea of Solitude, and many of the events that occurred in our brief demo were incredibly relatable in some form or another, which will undoubtedly hit close to home for some players. There's a fine line Sea of Solitude walks with its topics of mental health, and I couldn't help by be intrigued by how this game goes about its handling of a troubled woman dealing with her inner demons, and what that means for the larger adventure she finds herself on. I have a deep respect for games that at least try to talk about issues relating to mental health, and Jo-Mei Games' approach with their game is both haunting and empowering--in its own way. Sea of Solitude will launch on July 5 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-23
Getting humor in video games right is tough. While games share a lot with the medium of film in terms of visual storytelling, the presence of a player introduces an unpredictable variable that can totally blow a joke. You never know if they will miss the gag, look the wrong way at a crucial moment, or ignore a punchline because they're too busy running, shooting, jumping, or looking for their next challenge.Humor is a big part of Journey to the Savage Planet, the first-person "explore-'em-up" and freshman offering from Typhoon Studios. Savage Planet puts you in the role of a space explorer hired by the fourth-best space company in the universe, Kindred Aerospace, and dumps you on a strange world where it's your job to explore and catalog the flora and fauna. The creatures are all a bit goofy, like orb-shaped Dodo-like birds that eat slop and poop valuable resources. Interacting with them elicits one-liners delivered by your AI--which is eager to help you explore, but more eager to warn you about limits to Kindred's legal liability should you meet a horrific demise.The writing is part of the humor of Journey to the Savage Planet, but it's not Typhoon's main focus in getting you to laugh. The game primarily leverages what creative director Alex Hutchinson calls "interactive slapstick," where Savage Planet's systems let you create moments that turn out funny, whether on purpose or by accident."I think the problem with humor in video games traditionally is people have tried not to embrace the player," Hutchinson told GameSpot in an interview during E3 2019. "You know, they basically see it as a movie. So all the humor is in the dialogue. And we have what we hope our witty one-liners happening there as well. But I think the true humor in the game is in the actions the player performs, and it's kind of an interactive slapstick where the player can launch a joke that ends up paying off on themselves. If we get these systemic collisions, then I think it's a new form of humor, because it's based on decisions you made as a player and the wacky consequences that float out of it."Hutchinson was previously creative director for Far Cry 4, a game known for its in-game systems sometimes interacting in unexpected and hilarious ways. Moments like those served as inspiration for what Typhoon is trying to do in Savage Planet."In Far Cry 4, there was nothing funnier than seeing a bear on fire rush into the camp and kill your friend after you'd thrown a molotov cocktail 30 seconds earlier, and it was a joke you created," he said while appearing on GameSpot's E3 stage. "So we're trying to get that sense of interactive comedy into the game, because one-liners and things are funny, but they're funny once."Making A Bet On LaughsWhile those moments feel random or unexpected for the person playing, they're not completely emergent from the design side. Hutchinson said the process of creating interactive slapstick is partially about iterating unexpected moments, and partially about working systems into the game that the team knows will lead to funny moments.Hutchinson described filling an encounter with explosive pods, for instance, knowing that one stray shot could turn a battle with a dangerous creature into a deadly fireworks display that could kill the player, or trigger other interactions they might not see coming. But the player's options are finite, as are the behaviors of creatures and other elements in the game--so from a design standpoint, the team knows how things are going to work, and therefore, is often looking to set up ridiculous situations."I think there are some [mechanics and level designs] where you make a bet," Hutchinson explained. "...You bet this is what can happen, and then we have to work on it and iterate to make sure it sort of happens. And then other [funny moments] just start to emerge and when they emerge, you can reinforce them, you know? Then you can make them happen elsewhere in the game, or encourage the player to do them."Mechanical jokes might be the focus of its humor, but there also is plenty in the way of comedic writing in Savage Planet as well. Kindred's position as the fourth-best aerospace company means that it's perpetually strapped for cash, so despite the fact you work for the corporation, you're also bombarded with its ads.Those commercials are largely gags--they look like those old TV infomercials in which some hapless actor catastrophically tears open a bag of chips or slams a hammer through a wall, then mugs for the camera to show us how frustrated they are with their own foibles. But the ads shown in Savage Planet's E3 preview, for things like gross space food Grob or a mall for sea monkeys, double as world-building. They set up a satirical universe where even on a distant planet, you can't escape the ever-present force of someone trying to sell you something.The Gravitational Pull Of The GunSeveral of Savage Planet's in-game ads focus on the items you wield in your left hand as you explore. Those items are meant to yield clever ways to solve problems and deal with the hazardous life you encounter--as opposed to the gun in your right hand, which provides a more straightforward solution.Hutchinson said he had hoped to keep that gun out of your hand in favor of goofier, nonviolent solutions to problems, like using bait to draw creatures toward other things that might eat them, or planting springy pads in their paths that might send them over cliffs."The biggest challenge is always to rise above the noise and to offer something compelling and unique that will hopefully resonate with people," Hutchinson said. "So, you know, we chose to be optimistic and upbeat and colorful and humorous, and also to try and get you to use different tools, you know, than just the gun. Because we're never going to be the best shooter on the planet."Despite Hutchinson's best efforts, though, Typhoon couldn't manage to keep a gun out of Journey to the Savage Planet, he said. But the studio is still working on making it possible to avoid firing it if you don't want to when the game releases in 2020."We tried really hard to emphasize that stuff, but this sort of gravitational pull of a gun was too much to bear," he said. "A player, after playing, was like, 'I love these tools, but sometimes I just want to shoot him in the face.' ... So the goal for the game is to say that you don't have to use the gun, but obviously you can--we'll see how it pans out. At the moment, we haven't figured out a way to make it so you can beat the bosses without the gun. But that would be the goal.""I have a very soft spot for nonviolent approaches in video games," Hutchinson also said on the GameSpot stage. "There's a joke at the start of Far Cry 4, which is, essentially, if you just listen to [Pagan Min] and wait, he lets you do the thing you came for without having to murder anybody. So these things, I'll sneak it in as much as I can--I wanted to do it again on this game. It's very tricky but we're getting closer and closer. I can't promise that there will be a purely nonviolent way through the game, but there's often a way to avoid [using a gun] if you want."Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-22
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite--the just-released iOS and Android game from Pokemon Go developer Niantic--presents you with a variety of choices to make. One that you don't get until you've leveled up a bit is the ability to pick one of three Professions, but which job you decide on has a big effect on how you'll play the game going forward. Your Profession lets you upgrade yourself with perks and abilities that make you more effective in Wizards Unite's various battle, where you'll take on Death Eaters, scary creatures, and a whole lot more.A big part of Wizards Unite is gathering energy to cast spells, and occasionally, you'll have to use your magic capabilities to face down enemies from the Wizarding World. Some of the best rewards and rarest Foundables in the game are locked inside locations called Fortresses, which put you into cooperative battles with other players on your side. If you're a player of Pokemon Go, some of this will be familiar to you--but Wizards Unite adds a lot of depth to its battle system, as well. (We've got even more Harry Potter: Wizards Unite coverage on our hub page.)Choosing a Profession is a significant decision, as is spending the items you earn as you play in order to level yourself up over time. But how to choose whether you should be an Auror like Harry Potter, a Magizoologist like Newt Scamander, or a Professor like Albus Dumbledore? There are a lot of factors that go into the decision, including what kind of wizard you want to be, what battle stats are important to you, and how you'll best contribute to a team of players.We've run down the basics of the Profession system below to help you make the right decision. Here's everything you need to know about Wizard Unite's class system, including each class's specializations, skill trees, and what the stats you'll be upgrading with the game's RPG elements mean and how they work.Which Profession Is Right For You?There are three different professions to choose from in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which become available when you hit Level 6. Each has different benefits and drawbacks. All the professions have different areas of combat they specialize in, and are tuned to defeat different kinds of enemies. Picking the job that matches your playstyle in battle is important, but having a balanced team in situations like multiplayer Wizarding Challenges in Fortresses is also essential to victory. The good news is, you can switch specializations at any time, so if your team is short on someone to specialize in dealing with Curiosities or Beasts, you can change roles to fill the gap. There are three jobs from which to choose, each with its own unique tree of skills and perks you can earn over time.AurorUnder the mentorship of none other than Harry Potter, Aurors are the folks who specialize in magical combat against the Dark Arts. Their abilities tend to focus on combat strength and dealing direct damage to enemies, so think of them as the frontline fighters of the Wizarding World. Aurors have the lowest Stamina, or health, of the three classes, but the highest Power. They also get more critical hits, and do more damage with them, than other wizards. Aurors do extra damage to Dark Forces enemies but take extra damage from Beast enemies.MagizoologistRubeus Hagrid serves as mentor to Magizoologists, whose abilities are more aligned with caring for creatures--and other humans. This is your defensive healer class of wizards, wielding spells that are more about helping out the team than damaging enemies directly. They also have the highest Stamina of the three classes. Magizoologists are strong against Beast enemies and weak against Curiosities.ProfessorWith Minerva McGonagle heading their order, Professors are a more versatile class of wizard. Their spells focus generally on buffing their teammates and debuffing their enemies, making them the status manipulators of a squad. This is your middle-of-the-road class, balanced between the power of Aurors and the defensiveness of Magizoologists, but with a lot of good traits of both. Professors do extra damage to Curiosities and take additional damage from Dark Forces enemies.Upgrading Your Skills In The Skill TreeYou'll need to keep an eye on a new set of items you'll find as you venture through Wizards Unite, once you've unlocked Professions: Scrolls and Spellbooks. You'll spend these in the skill trees of your professions to unlock new spells and passive perks that make you more effective in combat, like gaining additional stamina or dealing more damage.Scrolls come from the chests unlocked when you complete Traces and catalog Foundables in your Registry, so they're fairly easy to come by. Especially in the early part of the skill trees, you'll mostly be spending Scrolls to advance and unlock different abilities and perks. Tougher to get are Spell Books, which are found in the chests when you complete Wizarding Challenges in Fortresses. If you want to advance your wizard abilities, you're going to need to engage in multiplayer battles with other players.The StatsWhen you reach the Profession screen, you'll see a page that gauges a series of stats you'll increase for your wizard as you unlock perks in the skill tree. Their meanings aren't immediately clear, so here's what each one does:Stamina: Your health in battles.Power: The strength of the spells you use against enemies.Protego Power: The strength of your protection spell, used to defend against incoming attacks from enemies.Precision: The likelihood of landing a Critical Hit, which does increased damage.Critical Power: The boost in damage you get when you land a Critical Hit.Proficiency Power: The bonus strength of your spells against enemies your class is especially strong against.Deficiency Defense: Added protection against enemies that do bonus damage to your class.Accuracy: How likely your spells are to hit their targets.Obviously, increasing all these stats is important, but some stats are higher for certain classes than others. Aurors are geared toward Power and Precision, Magizoologists toward Stamina and Defense, and Professors toward Accuracy and Proficiency.Important Stats: Proficiency Power, Deficiency DefenseThere are lots of stats you can amp up in your skill tree as you progress through it, including the power of your offensive spells and the effectiveness of Protego, your magical defense. But when it comes to specializing in your particular Profession, you're going to want to keep an eye on two stats: Proficiency Power and Deficiency Defense.Proficiency Power denotes how much of a boost you get against enemies that are weak to your chosen Profession. If you're an Auror, you'll get a bonus against Dark Forces enemies such as Death Eaters, but Proficiency Power dictates how big a bonus you receive. Especially when you're able to play with other specialized wizards on a team, boosting this stat will make you highly effective in your particular role.Deficiency Defense is the other side of the coin. The higher the stat, the less of a hit you take against the enemies to whom you are weak--in the case of Aurors, that would be Beast enemies such as spiders. Regardless of your strategy, investing in Deficiency Defense will help you survive in battle no matter what kind of enemy you're facing.Coordinate With Friends And TeammatesIt's possible to change your Profession on the fly, but you're going to access more perks and stronger abilities sooner if you specialize in one job instead of investing in all three skill trees. Therefore, if you mean to be a serious Wizards Unite player, you're going to want to team up with other people in your area and coordinate your Profession choices with them. If you've got a strong team, you can spread out your Professions and capabilities, making you a much more effective unit in multiplayer. On the other hand, if you intend to play Wizards Unite more casually, any Profession will probably do the job.Choose CarefullyThe strongest upgrades are the "Lessons" toward the bottom of each skill tree. Every time you spend Scrolls or Spell Books to unlock a node, you gain access to the ones beneath it--but you don't have to purchase something from every single node in order to progress down the tree. That means it's beneficial to be discerning about what lessons you invest in as you upgrade your wizard; you don't need to buy everything, and doing so will impede your progress toward your best skills and perks. Pick your way down the skill tree to try to get upgrades that feed into your playstyle, so you can get the best upgrades sooner. You can always go back and fill in with additional nodes if you find you're lacking in a particular stat later on.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-22
Halo Infinite had a big showing at E3 2019 last week, but Microsoft isn't done dropping news about the long-awaited Xbox and PC game. Developer 343 Industries to shared some new details on the game, and it's a lot to take in.Starting off, 343 confirmed in a blog post that Halo Infinite will support LAN and that the already announced split-screen feature is "up and running" already. That's a big deal because Halo 5 dropped split-screen in a move that upset a number of series fans. 343 also announced that the beta tests for Halo Infinite, known as "flights," will take place first on Xbox and then PC. The testing periods will "start small" and then "slowly expand" up until the game's release in Holiday 2020. "Flighting may come a little bit later for PC players, but we're treating it as a first-class citizen," 343 said.The studio also confirmed that the characters in Halo Infinite will have black undersuits. That sounds like a small detail, but in Halo 4 and Halo 5 players had different colored undersuits, which garnered a mix reaction from fans.Additionally, 343 teased Halo Infinite's armor customization options, saying, "if you liked the level of armor customziation in Halo: Reach, you will be pleased [with Halo infinite]." On top of that, 343 confirmed that those who reach the highest level in Halo 5, SR 152, will receive a "token of appreciation" in Halo Infinite. Finally, 343 stated that it has an internal team of professional gamers testing Halo Infinite's multiplayer. And on the story side, 343 re-affirmed that Halo Infinite's story begins "some time after" the end of Halo 5. Halo Infinite releases in Holiday 2020 as a launch title for Project Scarlett. The game plays on the entire family of Xbox One consoles, as well as PC. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-22
Stranger Things has come a long way since it initially premiered back in 2016, and that's never been more clear than in the new trailer for Season 3 that Netflix released today. A lot has happened to Eleven and her friends, and it seems Season 3 will see the gang fighting against the most dangerous and menacing threat so far. The new Season 3 trailer, which Netflix says is the final one, is riddled with spoilers about previous events, so steer clear if you're not caught up. Season 3 is set in Hawkins, Indiana in the summer of 1985--and yes, elements of the period such as New Coke will appear. In addition to the evil alien threat they're facing, Eleven and company are learning more about one another. Here is the official description for Season 3: "School's out, there’s a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group's dynamic, and they'll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart. Meanwhile, danger looms. When the town’s threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now they'll have to band together to survive, and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear."Stranger Things Season 3 premieres July 4 on Netflix. All of the main cast return for Season 3, along with Princess Bride star Cary Elwes who plays the sleazy politician Mayor Kline. There's also the offspring of some '80s stars; Jake Busey, son of Point Break star Gary Busey, will play a journalist named Bruce, while Maya Thurman-Hawke (daughter of Uma and Ethan) is set to play a character named Robin. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-22
The first beta test for Halo: Reach on PC will begin next week, Halo developer 343 Industries has confirmed. It's not locked down, however, as plans could change. Still, next week is when the studio is looking to release the first beta test on PC.The beta test, or "flight," will first be released for a "small subsection" of Halo Insider members--you can sign up for the free Halo Insider program here.Halo: Reach on PC"We're starting more modestly because we've got quite a few levers to pull and we want to ensure our delivery pipeline runs smoothly, our communications are clear, and that participants can properly provide their feedback on the build," 343 said in a blog post. "Since there are so many pieces and levers that need testing, verification, and appropriate approvals, we need to take our time to ensure we're sending out a quality flight to our Halo Insiders."The development team is close to finalizing a version of Halo: Reach for PC for the beta, but it is still "going through the test process.""We're still targeting to release next week and will be sharing the details with the public, so even if you aren't selected for the flight, you'll know what's happening. Stay tuned for more details throughout!" 343 says.Halo: Reach was playable at E3 2019 in Los Angeles this week, but this first beta will mark the first time the wider public will have a chance to check it out.Reach is coming to PC as part of Microsoft's plans to launch The Master Chief Collection on PC. The rest of the releases will follow in chronological order, spanning Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4. Each game will be sold for $10 USD each, except for ODST which is $5 USD. The beta releases for each title are free.Reach is also coming to Xbox One and it'll release on consoles through a beta test as well, though a release date has not been announced.The next big Halo game is Halo Infinite, which launches in Holiday 2020 for the Xbox One family of systems--which includes Scarlett--as well as PC. Recently, Microsoft confirmed more details about it including split-screen and LAN support, as well as beta tests and more.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-22
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is the next big Star Wars game from Electronic Arts, and now we've learned a little more about it. Specifically, developer Respawn says you will only be able to dismember enemies with your lightsaber in "select cases."Senior designer Justin Perez explained to IGN that probably only droids and spiders can have their limbs cut off from your lightsaber attacks. Humanoid characters, however, generally cannot be dismembered--and that's apparently because Disney is a family friendly company.Separately, story artist for The Clone Wars, Tatyana Drewry Carvin, explained to IGN that one of Disney's rules is that they should never show blood and they should "hide the cut in case of decapitation." According to the rules, "the burn of a lightsaber is supposed to cauterize it instantly," Carvin explained. Apparently this also applies to Jedi Fallen Order.Lightsabers are capable of dismembering enemies, but this is rarely depicted in Star Wars media. Everyone remembers the scene where Darth Vader lops off Luke Skywalker's hand and when Obi-Wan cuts Darth Maul in half. The fact that instances of dismemberment by lightsaber are so few and far between make them more impactful and emotionally resonant, it seems.Jedi Fallen Order, which has Metroidvania level design, didn't start out as a Star Wars game. The first gameplay video was shown at the start of EA Play and revealed that lightsaber battles are going to be considered and tactical, instead of a flurry of swings. Because of that, it is being likened to From Software's Dark Souls and Bloodborne titles, and this is something explored in our full interview with Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order director Stig Asmussen. The gameplay demo also confirmed that a major character from Rogue One will be in Jedi Fallen Order.Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC on November 15.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-06-22
The Americans star Keri Russell is one of the new cast members for this December's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and now she's revealed more details about the sci-fi film. Specifically, she told The Associated Press that the script made her emotional."When I read his script that [write-director JJ Abrams] wrote I cried," she said. "I mean who knows what it will turn out to be and I hope it remains true to what he originally wanted."According to Russell, Abrams is the right person to direct Episode 9 because he "really respects what it is" and "he's not trying to change it to be something else." Russell plays a new character named Zorri Bliss who wears a helmet. Russell was excited about that. "I was like, 'That is my dream job. I can see everyone. No one can see me. Hello. Amazing!'"The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20. It stars Daisy Ridley as Rey, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Mark Hamill as Luke, and Billy Dee Williams as Lando. For more, check out the movie's first trailer and everything we know about Star Wars Episode IX.The Rise of Skywalker is said to be the final entry in the Skywalker Saga that began all the way back in 1977 with the original movie, so it seems so momentous--and emotional--events might happen.In addition to The Rise of Skywalker, a new live-action TV show The Mandalorian will be available on the streaming service Disney+ when it launches on November 12.Info from Gamespot.com
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