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2019-04-17
Gears 5 is expected to be one of Microsoft's biggest new releases for 2019, and the game's multiplayer mode will be revealed in June during an all-new eSports TV show. Microsoft has announced a partnership with Eleague for the Eleague Gears Summer Series: The Bonds and Betrayals of Brotherhood. A six-part "event series" that also features live tournament gameplay, the show will focus on professional Gears players.The show debuts Friday, June 14 at 11 PM ET on TBS. It'll serve as the world premiere of Gears 5 versus multiplayer, and people will compete up until the final, called The Invitational. Eight players from around the world will compete for the title. The final will be streamed live on Twitch and through the B/R streaming service on July 13 and 14."The Bonds and Betrayals of Brotherhood will provide an unprecedented look into the uniquely passionate world of Gears Esports through the lens of six of the most well-known professional players. Over the six episodes, the series will explore each player's intense connection to the game as they navigate the transition between Gears of War 4 and Gears 5, balancing the untapped potential of new opportunities with the fallout from past decisions," Microsoft said.Eleague is the eSports organization run by Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG. The organization has hosted other tournaments in the past for titles like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Black Ops 4, Street Fighter V, Rocket League, and many others.During Inside Xbox, Rod Fergusson also teased that The Coalition is working on a lot related to Gears and indicated that the Gears Tactics, a game that was announced during E3 2018, will also be shown soon. He stopped short of saying exactly when, however.Gears 5 launches on Xbox One and PC later this year. Given that this multiplayer reveal is happening after E3, it seems Microsoft may focus on the game's single-player that will feature Kait Diaz in the lead role.For more from today's Inside Xbox stream, check out the stories linked below.All Digital Xbox One Revealed With No Disc Drive, And That's A Big DealXbox Live Gold And Game Pass Are Getting Bundled Together For A Lower PriceInfo from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
The latest update for the mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds adds a new zombie mode. The update also revamps PUBG Mobile's existing zombie mode, Survive Till Dawn.The new mode, Darkest Night, sees you or your team facing off against waves of zombie hordes and emerging poison gas. In Darkest Night, you spawn in a random spot on the map. Every player is given a passive ability to help them and others survive, and you choose whether to work together or operate solo. There is no final victor in Darkest Night. Anyone still alive at the end of every wave is a winner.Survive Till Dawn 2 remakes the PUBG Mobile and Resident Evil 2 crossover event from last year. New enemy types and weapons have been introduced, tweaking the strategies you'll need to survive the changing day and night cycle. The full changes are outlined below.Survive Till Dawn ChangesStun Grenades now also stun zombiesAdded Liquid Nitrogen Grenades to freeze enemies and reduce their movement speedAdded jumping zombies and zombie dogsSome zombies can now climb over low walls or onto roofsAdded RPG-7 and Jungle Style MagazinesFlamethrowers now deal more damageM134 handling has been tunedPlayers will gain affixes that grant certain buffsZombies now move slower after being hit by firearmsAdded Survive Till Dawn quick chat messages to Default and Classic voice packsDaily missions can now be completed in Survive Till DawnIn Survive Till Dawn, 60 players face off in a 30-minute battle royale match divided into three days and two nights. Zombies roam the world as well, but become much more active at night when it's almost impossible to see. To make matters worse, certain Resident Evil 2 enemies like William Birkin and Tyrant patrol the world as unbeatable foes. Birkin guards the loot-heavy police station, while Tyrant randomly appears around air drops and pursues those who try to claim items from them.The full patch notes detail additional changes to PUBG Mobile as well, such as crosshair modifications. PUBG Mobile is available on the App Store and Google Play.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
Microsoft has been acquiring studios left and right recently, but so far we haven't seen the output from any of the new developers. The company has promised that will change very soon, as Xbox head Phil Spencer says that the Microsoft E3 presentation will showcase the projects coming from the new studios--in their various stages of completion."Our new studios are going to have things to show, which is going to be awesome--some new things that nobody has seen before, which will be fun," Spencer said during an Inside Xbox presentation. "I think it's going to be really interesting to just have those teams showing up this year and starting to show what they’re building for us."Spencer also hinted that Obsidian might use the Xbox stage to show more of The Outer Worlds. The sci-fi RPG isn't exclusive to Xbox, since it's being published under Private Division, but the studio could take the opportunity to showcase it regardless. Still, Spencer said it will take a while to see all of these studio acquisitions come to fruition."It's been nice as you’re starting to work with these studios, they come in, I think how big of a deal E3 is for a platform and I can see them getting excited about it," he said. "It'll take years to have them fully integrated in the way all the teams do, because different teams are at different parts of the development cycle."At E3 2018, Microsoft announced a round of acquisitions, and has steadily kept announcing more since then. The company has also been teasing a big year with new technologies, and boldly proclaimed it would be "going big" at E3 while competitor Sony backed out. Elsewhere in the same Inside Xbox broadcast, it announced a digital-only Xbox One model, and a subscription bundle that combines Xbox Game Pass and Gold services.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
Another classic Xbox 360 game is joining Xbox One's backwards compatible library. During the latest Inside Xbox livestream, Microsoft announced the brutal action game Ninja Gaiden II is now playable on the company's current-gen console, and it--along with a handful of other existing BC games--has been enhanced for Xbox One X.Ninja Gaiden II originally released for Xbox 360 in 2008. The game featured numerous improvements over its predecessor, including an enhanced combat system that allowed players to dismember enemies. We awarded it an 8/10 in our original Ninja Gaiden II review, writing, "It's flashier and it's bloodier, and when those enhancements are in full force, the game offers the best action available on the platform."If you still own a physical copy of Ninja Gaiden II, you can now pop the disc into your Xbox One and begin playing. As previously mentioned, the game is also enhanced on Xbox One X. Microsoft says the game runs at a higher resolution and features nine times the pixel count when played on the more powerful console.In addition to Ninja Gaiden II, Microsoft is rolling out Xbox One X updates for five previous backwards compatible games, including three Splinter Cell titles--Double Agent, Conviction, and Blacklist--and both Fable 2 and 3. You can see the full list of Xbox One BC games here.Microsoft made a number of other big announcements during Tuesday's Inside Xbox broadcast. The company confirmed that it is bundling Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass together into one cheaper subscription called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It also unveiled the long-rumored disc-less Xbox One S console.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
The Minecraft movie, which has been in the works for years now and has gone through multiple directors, has found a new release date. The film is scheduled to hit theatres on March 4, 2022, developer Mojang announced on its website. The movie, which is live-action, was at one point scheduled to come to cinemas in 2018, so it's taken quite a while to get to this point.Mojang also shared new plot details for the Minecraft movie. It'll focus on a teenage girl and her "unlikely group of adventurers." They must defeat the evil Ender Dragon and save Overworld.Peter Sollett (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) is directing the Minecraft movie, which is coming from Harry Potter film studio Warner Bros. Before Sollett, Warner Bros. had hired Stranger Things director Shawn Levy to direct, and while It's Always Sunny star Rob McElhenney was also attached to direct, but both of those men dropped out for various reasons."We want to make the movie--just as we make the game--for you," Mojang said. "We're inspired by countless things, but none as much as the incredible stuff our community creates in Minecraft every day."Minecraft currently boasts 91 million monthly active players, which even tops the success of Fortnite. It has already spawned a variety of adaptations and licensing, from books and collectibles to Telltale's Minecraft Story Mode. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
As with many of the Inside Xbox livestreams, the latest one had plenty of news and announcements that paint a clearer picture of Xbox's future. You may have heard about Sony revealing details on the next PlayStation console, but Microsoft has a new console of its own coming soon--an Xbox One S without a disc drive. The all-you-can-eat game downloading service Game Pass will get a new tier option that packs in Xbox Live Gold, and Gears 5 multiplayer will be shown very soon. What's probably the most exciting thing is head of Xbox Phil Spencer stating that Microsoft's E3 2019 presentation will feature "things nobody has seen before" from the company's new game studios.If you want to watch the stream yourself, check it out here. Otherwise, read through all the good stuff we plucked out from Inside Xbox.Xbox One S All-Digital Edition ConfirmedRumors and leaks preceded this reveal, so it wasn't much of a surprise when Microsoft made the official announcement for its disc-less Xbox One S. The new version of the console will launch on May 7 for $250 USD and come bundled with Sea of Thieves, Minecraft, and Forza Horizon 3. It's built with the same exact specs as the Xbox One S, sans the disc drive of course.Read the full Xbox One S All-Digital Edition story here. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate AnnouncedCombining Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold into one subscription option has also been rumored for a while. Microsoft confirmed that it's bundling the two services and calling it Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which sensibly coincides with the all-digital Xbox One S announcement. While it's available for a few select users, it'll launch in full later this year for $15 a month.Read the full Xbox Game Pass Ultimate story here.Phil Spencer Says Big Things From New Studios Coming For E3 2019Inside Xbox concluded with a few words from head of Xbox Phil Spencer. He affirmed Xbox's presence at E3 by saying, "We are the platform holder that has a live stage show...We're taking the responsibility of being out there representing gaming." He continued to say that some of Microsoft's newly acquired studios will have things to show that nobody has seen before.Read the full story on Phil Spencer's comments here.Spencer Also Says He's Been Grinding In Destiny 2 Using Project xCloudWhile Microsoft's cloud-based game streaming service Project xCloud is still in development, Spencer stated that he's been using a sort of alpha build himself. He said he's still trying to grind out light level 700 in Destiny 2 and has been doing strikes on his phone using an Xbox controller.Gears 5 Multiplayer Reveal Coming SoonThe focus of the Gears 5 content during the Inside Xbox stream was esports. The Coalition's studio head Rod Fergusson stated that TBS's show ELeague will be doing a six-part series on the professional competitive scene for Gears of War in June, which will include a Gears 5 multiplayer reveal. A Gears 5 invitational competition will also take place in July, ahead of the game's release later this year.Read the full Gears 5 Multiplayer Reveal story here.Ninja Gaiden 2 Is Now Backward CompatibleThe 2008 stylish character-action game Ninja Gaiden 2 is now backward compatible on Xbox One along with a suite of visual enhancements for Xbox One X. Like any of the backward compatible games, you can either use an existing physical copy of the game or download it digitally.Read the full Ninja Gaiden 2 Backward Compatible story here.Splinter Cell And Fable Games Get Xbox One X EnhancementsWhile we may not have a new game in the storied stealth-action franchise from the Tom Clancy extended universe, three last-gen Splinter Cell games just got Xbox One X Enhancements. Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Xbox 360 version), Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Splinter Cell: Blacklist now include enhanced visuals and resolution. The same treatment was extended to the RPGs Fable 2 and Fable 3.Game Bar For PC Gets A Major UpgradePC gamers got a little bit out of the Inside Xbox stream as well; Windows 10 users are getting a significant update to Game Bar. It'll now be widget-based with modules that you can pop in and out to customize the things you want. For example, you can have chat volume mix, Spotify, and streaming accessible while staying in-game using the new Game Bar overlay.Rage 2 Gameplay WalkthroughTim Willits, director at developer Avalanche Studios, walked us through a brief Rage 2 gameplay segment. Rage 2 is confirmed to feature the coveted, overpowered gun of Doom fame, the BFG 9000. There will also be Arcs, which are sci-fi-styled underground tombs with weapons and abilities to earn.Xbox Fan Fest At E3 2019Xbox Fan Fest will be expanding this year by offering 700 tickets. This grants you access to Microsoft's E3 stage presentation, hands-on with upcoming games, some swag, and much more. Tickets are acquired via random drawing and those 18 years old and up can enter starting April 19 at 9am PT--winners will be announced on April 25.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
In a big change for E3, Sony has backed out of the show this year. Microsoft and Nintendo are still attending as representatives of "The Big Three," but Microsoft's broadcast is the only live show of the bunch. Nintendo's is a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct. Xbox executive Phil Spencer talked about this unique setup today on the latest episode of Inside Xbox.He said he and his team understand the "responsibility" of being the only one of The Big Three to have a live stage show presence as it relates to representing the gaming industry at a time when all eyes on the gaming business."This is going to be an interesting one," he said. "We are the [only] platform-holder that has a live stage show. It's kind of just us this year. I feel the responsibility of that. I want to represent gaming. I think it's an important time where the larger community--news [organisations] and other things--are looking at the gaming industry at E3."I think it's a time where we kind of pop above a lot of the noise that's out there. The whole team, we're taking the responsibility of being out there representing gaming and wanting to do a good job of that."Microsoft is rumoured to announce at least one next-generation console at E3 this year, while the company is also expected to discuss Halo Infinite--or at least its engine--at the event. We also recently learned that Microsoft will show off never-before-seen games from some of the studios it acquired recently during the show. There will of course also be surprises.Microsoft's E3 2019 briefing takes place on Sunday, June 9, at 1 PM PT.While Sony won't be at E3 2019, that doesn't mean the company has no announcements to make. Just this week, executive Mark Cerny shared the first details about the PlayStation 5, and you can bet the company will talk more about the console at some point in the future. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
Update: Nintendo just published the official 15-minute video showcasing everything that's in the spring 2019 update for Smash Ultimate, including all the Persona-related content coming to the game. The update launches April 17 as $6 DLC.The main character from the wonderfully great RPG Persona 5, codenamed Joker, should be coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate any day now. It's been said that he'll be joining the battle as the 70th character on the roster sometime this month, but to hold you off until then, you can check out his official character render for the game below.It's the same character model that was first leaked by Best Buy, but it can now be dug up on Nintendo of Europe's official page for Smash Bros. Ultimate. This came to our attention via a tweet from users @PushDustIn and @Digita1Lucas. You can see him out in all his glory, sporting his Phantom Thieves get-up when he enters the Metaverse.Sourced from Twitter user @Skyplayer37I confirmed this myself by digging through the page's source code which was also shown by Twitter user @RealHeroOfWinds.It's legit.Joker's arrival in Smash Ultimate will coincide with the game's version 3.0 spring 2019 update. This isn't the only Persona 5-related news that you should be hyped up for. During a two-day special live concert, called Persona Super Live: P-Sound Street 2019 in Japan, details on a new version of the RPG titled Persona 5: The Royal will be revealed on day one, April 24. On the second day, April 25, the show will reveal the true form of the mysterious game Persona 5 S.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is getting a lot of new content with the 3.0 update, including a stage-builder and video editor, along with a brand-new DLC character: Joker from Persona 5.Version 3.0 launches on April 17, and the new stage-builder and video editor are free, while Joker is a paid character costing $6 USD. Joker also comes with a new Mementos stage, which features music from the Persona series. Check it out in the video embedded below.The stage-builder, which was rumoured, lets you create custom stages. In handheld mode, you can draw on the tablet screen using your finger to create new stages. The tools are robust enough to make all kinds of things, it looks like, and the tools support multiple layers to edit your stages in an even deeper way. Created stages are stored in a new "Custom" tab on the Stage Select screen. You can also view and download other people's creations, though you'll need Nintendo Switch Online to do that. The video below shows how it all works.Additionally, the video shows off how the new video-editing tools work, while it also reveals you'll be able to queue up stage downloads from the Smash World part of the Nintendo Switch Online app. You can also view recommended Stages and watch videos from Smash World.Version 3.0 also adds new Mii Fighter Costumes to buy, including the Morgana Hat from Persona 5, the main protagonist costume and the Teddie Hat from Persona 4, and another protagonist outfit from Persona 3. You can also buy Tails and Knuckles outfits from Sonic the Hedgehog. The costumes cost 75 cents each.Here is a video showcasing the new Mii Fighter Costumes:With more than 12 million copies sold worldwide, Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the best-selling Nintendo Switch games ever. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
The big Version 3.0 update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will add a number of new Mii Fighter costumes that players can purchase for less than a dollar each.There are six new costumes coming, including those based on Tails and Knuckles from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, as well as the Morgana Hat from Persona 5 and costumes based on the protagonist of Persona 4 and Persona 3, among other items. Each costume costs 75 cents each, and they go on sale April 17 with the Ver. 3.0 update.Smash Bros. Ultimate's Version 3.0 update launches on April 17, and it also adds Joker from Persona 5 and a new Mementos stage as paid DLC. In terms of free content, the update introduces a new Stage builder and video editor, while there are updates to the Smash World portion of the Nintendo Switch Online app as well.Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
Out of nowhere, Nintendo announced all the key details for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's big Version 3.0 update today. In terms of new features, Ultimate is adding free stage- and video-editing tools for everyone to use.A video from Nintendo showcases how each of these features will work. Building off the Stage builder from Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Wii U, the new version features tools that players can use to create basically whatever they want. In handheld mode, players can use the touch screen to draw to make their creations. Some of the things you can do include create moving platforms and spinning traps, or anything else you can think up and design.The Stage builder also features front and back layers for a further level of depth. The custom stages will live in a new Custom tab of the Stage Select screen. Players can also share them with the community. People are able to rate creations, so in theory the best ones should surface. The stages can also be viewed using the Nintendo Switch Online app, and players can even queue up a new stage download so when they get home it should start downloading.As for the video editor, it does what you would expect. You can combine your saved video clips and adds subtitles and sound effects. As you'd expect, you can then share your creations in the Smash World page in the Nintendo Switch Online app.Skip to around 11 minutes in the video above to check out the stage builder and video editor.The Version 3.0 update for Smash Bros. Ultimate launches on April 17. In addition to the Stage builder and video editor, the update adds Joker from Persona 5 as a new paid DLC character, as well as a number of different Persona and Sonic Mii Fighter Costumes. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
On the face of it, Heaven's Vault sounds like chaos: It's a planet-surfing science-fiction adventure game in which you play as an archaeologist who gets caught up in a doomsday prophecy. But it's a much calmer experience than you might expect--you play as Aliyah, an archaeologist employed by a university on Iox, the wealthiest, most opulent planet within her nebula, to track down Renba, a professor who has disappeared. Throughout the journey, you'll peel away at the complex and ambitious lore of the world and meet the interesting characters who inhabit it, but not without some slow sailing.You spend much of the game hunting for clues to determine not only Renba's fate, but also the nature of his research and the discoveries he was making in his travels. For most of the game, the exact details of Renba's mission are pleasantly unclear, and major theories the player concocts early on can be proven incorrect by later discoveries. To get to the bottom of things, you'll need to investigate various moons throughout the nebula, some settled, some abandoned. You'll also build and maintain friendships or trade alliances with folks who can provide you with assistance, collect artifacts and clues, and mess around with the game's neat translation mechanic.Throughout the game, Aliyah will encounter many passages written in "Ancient" script, which require translation to decipher. This will begin as guesswork, but as you progress you'll develop a better understanding of what different glyphs within longer words might represent. There's a two-tiered system in place for translating words: If you encounter an inscription of a full phrase, you can guess any of the words you're not certain of until you have a full, hopefully coherent sentence. If you find what Aliyah will describe as a part of a longer phrase, a list of potential words you've already translated or guessed will appear on the screen, and you must see if the part of text matches up with any of the words you already understand or have guessed at. These partial texts can confirm your definitions--if you've decided that a word means 'water' in a previous translation, for example, and it pops up again as part of a longer phrase, Aliyah might declare that she is either now confident in the translation of that word or believes it's wrong. After a while, you'll build up a much bigger vocabulary of translated words, making it easier to fill in the gaps.Across the game's somewhat excessive running time, I lost track of what the actual advantage of all this translation was to my progression, as correct translations tend to prompt conversation options rather than key clues for where to go next. But it's still an interesting and exciting mechanic, as so much of the pleasure of Heaven's Vault is about uncovering the lore of the world you're in and the characters who occupy it. You're dropped in largely unaware, and while the game builds an exhaustive timeline of events, stretching right back to ancient times, it's mostly on you to figure out the nuances of the occasionally abstract game world.Heaven's Vault opens near its own ending--the very first scene tells you where your adventure will end, which is a curious structural choice for a game that is so contingent on player choice. It's meant to indicate, perhaps, that your story is always going to end up the same way, although how you reach that ending will differ dramatically between players.This seems to be a fair claim, too. During my playthrough, I compared notes with another player to make sure that our choices mattered, and we discovered that our paths diverged completely at several points. Heaven's Vault unfurls in substantially different ways depending on how you play it and which choices you make. You can miss entire characters and plotlines, or experience hugely different relationships with the game's small but well-developed cast of recurring figures. The writing is mostly strong throughout, with dialogue flowing naturally and feeling in line with decisions you've made, and the moment by moment plot of Heaven's Vault genuinely feels like the culmination of your choices. There are some strange issues with character development--at one point a character demanded I come to visit them so that they could tell me about a major discovery and let me in on "certain confidences," only for them to reveal nothing when I visited with them, and a major character stopped trading goods with me for reasons I don't fully understand, substantially slowing down my progress through the game.When you're bouncing easily between locations, making discoveries and having interesting chats with Aliyah's friends and co-workers--not to mention your robot companion, Six--Heaven's Vault is a pleasure. It's perhaps too easy to lose track of the spine of the plot, but in the first half especially, there's a constant influx of discoveries and revelations that give the game a propulsive hook. But the scope and ambition of Heaven's Vault get the better of it in the back half. It took me 22 hours to finish the game, and it felt like a lot of those last 12 hours was spent on busywork--particularly when it comes to the game's sailing mechanic.In one of the lore's weirdest elements, traveling across the nebula necessitates that you "sail" the rivers between moons, steering your ship across literal bodies of water that act as pathways between locations. They only flow in one direction, so the only meaningful control you have comes when paths diverge in two directions and you must choose which way to turn. There's little to do out on the waters--you can steer left and right, fold your sails in to go slightly faster, stop to observe any interesting landmarks you pass, and check your map. Sailing isn't particularly exciting, yet it makes up a huge portion of Heaven's Vault.For the first half of the game, sailing feels like a mildly irritating distraction with moments of beauty, taking up a few minutes at a time. But in the back half, the sailing mechanics come perilously close to ruining the whole experience. The sites you need to visit in order to progress are marked on the map as large areas to explore, and while you can make the search areas smaller by finding more artifacts throughout the game, at some point you're almost definitely going to have to find it by scouring those areas yourself. The layout of the river can become infuriating at this point. When you're traveling to a moon you've been to before and miss a turn, you're given the option to rewind to a point just before the turn; however, when you're searching for an unknown site, no such option exists, and a wrong turn can mean a long, slow course correction as you follow the one-way rivers back to where you just were, potentially eating up to half an hour.The game has additional pacing issues throughout--Aliyah moves very slowly, and there was a section of the game where I found myself bouncing repeatedly between the game's two main locations, Elboreth and Iox, in the hopes of triggering new dialogue options between characters that would make the search for the next site easier. (Thankfully, you can skip the rigmarole of sailing to these two particular locations by asking Six to do it for you.)Heaven's Vault can be a fiddly experience--although patches hit during the pre-launch period that cleaned up most major issues, I continued to encounter a lot of camera problems throughout, and at one point, a site that took half an hour of sailing to find failed to load when I reached it. When I eventually sailed back there, it ended up being the least interesting site in the game. While some of these places you're searching for are teeming with plot development, others can feel like a chore.There's plenty to be charmed by in Heaven's Vault. The art style is pleasant, and the orchestral soundtrack is often beautiful. The writing and lore can occasionally make the game feel like an adaptation of a book that doesn't exist, and it's hard not to get invested in learning more about the game's world. It's just a shame that there's so much tedium to get through as well, and that the experience doesn't always reach the greatness it occasionally shows itself to be capable of. Heaven's Vault excels in creating a well-constructed, branching narrative, but expect long sections of it to feel like a slog.Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
My Time at Portia starts off predictably when you disembark into its expanse of rolling hills and curious ruins. Like the Marvelous Interactive titles it clearly draws inspiration from (namely Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons), it sets you up with the holy trinity of prologues: a father, a child, and a ripe plot of land. No time passes at all until you're welcomed by a well-meaning public servant who tells you that your absent parent left a legacy of building and being a Home Depot whiz before disappearing like the evening tide. Now, fresh off the boat, you're tasked with taking over for your old man and making yourself invaluable to the people whose lives he enriched, which suggests My Time at Portia will be a more fulfilling adventure than it actually ends up being.Portia has a distinctly post-apocalyptic feel, which lends a sense of intrigue to what would otherwise have been a familiar traversal of yet another sleepy town to be spiced up by the voiceless city-slicker of a player-character. The game paints a tidy, watercolor-inspired picture that wouldn't be out of place on a postcard; a "wish you were here" would fit nicely against the giant, scraped-out husks of metal that loom over lush fields and quaint cottages like relics from a bygone age. In fact, they are: Humanity in My Time at Portia is said to have gotten too ambitious in the past by exploiting technology and science to reach lofty heights that it was struck down for. Now, it's back to the Agrarian Age for the foreseeable future, and you're the closest they've got to Noah and the Ark.These monolithic reminders dot the various landscapes of My Time at Portia, and they're an effective and unintrusive way to ensure you're clued into the broader message around hubris leading to the apocalypse. It makes for an interesting plot device, which would be well-utilized if it went beyond making the world more visually interesting, or even beyond the inclusion of one faction of NPCs dedicated to keeping the town of Portia back in the comparative Dark Ages. But that's about as far as it goes: aesthetic as opposed to substance. No storylines really pursue it, nor do the townsfolk seem to care. You're not provided with the opportunity to engage meaningfully with the setpiece of the world's past, which is a shame given how interesting it seems.Instead, the majority of the experience remains relatively familiar and unbroken by a loop of crafting, fighting, and gathering missions. The crafting system is the game's real treat, though. As the child of a master-builder, you're given access very early on to plans created by your father. These plans function like crafting blueprints; they stay on your person as you romp around the world in search of materials, and you can easily refer to them and check exactly how much tin ore you need to convert into whatever arbitrary amount of bronze bars you need to prop a bridge up.You're also given the ability to use a crafting station back at your house which tells you exactly what you're missing to build a particular item. There's no need for guesswork, and you also get to visually appreciate the nitty-gritty of what you're building as completing various parts of items sees them come to life before your eyes on the workbench. This wonderfully intuitive approach ties neatly into what you're told is the protagonist's innate skill as a crafter, which means that you spend less time wondering how many rocks you have to crack open and more time thinking about the next great creation taking shape in your backyard.Crafting is also the only aspect of the game that feels integral to actually getting anywhere with the story--everything is expensive, and the most effective way to make money is to grind out crafting items to sell. But while the reliance on grinding isn't a surprise if you're a genre fan, the combination of quick day-night cycles in the game, timed quests, and the time commitment needed to actually get anything crafted is a recipe for dissatisfaction. Time feels like it crawls by unless you're occupying yourself with busywork, which unfortunately ends up detracting from the charm of the lively hustle and bustle of the town of Portia.However, while the crafting is robust and an essential part of your experience with My Time at Portia, the other integrated systems--relationship management, dungeoneering, animal husbandry, and farming--aren't as engaging, fleshed out, or vital by comparison. Being able to gift your way to a perfect marriage does a disservice to some of the unique personalities that you can court, and you feel discouraged from spending time on farming because of how time-consuming and expensive it is to acquire enough land to turn those parsnips into a profit. The main story forces you to invest heavily in crafting and once you’ve tried your hand at the carpentry trade, it can be hard to look elsewhere when the demands of time and money limit your ability to engage in the other systems.Among the cacophony of mechanics, there's a wistfulness for depth. An upgrade system has you picking various skills, ranging from increased experience gain to a higher chance of getting more items, each time you level up. But it's hard to actually feel the effect of these perks, and there isn't one clear build which gives you a significantly better performance over the rest. Min-maxing attributes is rarely the point of lifestyle sims, so it makes sense that rewards seem more like a little bit of gas in the tank rather than a whole new engine. But failing to actually use your skill points on anything is unlikely to disadvantage you at all, which cheapens the purpose behind giving you a mountain of options in the first place. Being a little bit more efficient at carrying out objectives in a game that's all about repetitive grinding isn't a bad thing, but you find yourself wishing that the improvements afforded to you were more significant for the time invested.Your time at Portia is likely going to be an idyllic one, interspersed with chores and chatter and putting household items together for your neighbors. You'll spend your time idly dangling your legs off the edge of the pier, participating in fishing tourneys, ushering in holidays with your partner, and fending off local wildlife. However, the ruins of a time long forgotten will always darken the horizon, and there'll be a part of you that wonders what more there could have been before you find yourself shunted to the next life goal in a long series of life goals. That feeling is unfortunately hard to shake, and it's a shame that there's not as much to the world of Portia as first appears. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-17
When you're struggling, Pathway sends you a dog to help out. It's that kind of game. You might have seen your squad massacred in the North African desert, but look! Here's a cute puppy called Donut. He's even got sharp teeth and the "Anti-Fascist" character trait that means he does +20% damage against Nazis. In moments like these, Pathway picks you back up and says maybe you can still complete the mission after all. Pathway is generous like that.Heavily indebted to the genre of mid-20th-century pulp adventure of which Indiana Jones is the obvious cultural touchstone, Pathway depicts a world where the Nazis are plundering ancient artifacts to harness their powers in occult experiments and so must obviously be stopped by an international band of mercenaries. It's a light, breezy, knock-about game of turn-based combat that understandably always wants you to succeed at killing Nazis, with or without a surprise canine companion. However, it lacks tactical depth and, while killing Nazis is a noble pursuit, its moral stance is less sure-footed when it steps into the territory of tired colonialist tropes.The core of Pathway is in its XCOM-style combat. Every encounter is preceded by a planning phase in which you place each member of your squad onto the battlefield. Smart players can take advantage of this head start by positioning their squad to, say, rush an exposed enemy on the first turn. In an early sign of Pathway's charitable spirit, you get this planning phase even when your squad has been ambushed and, unlike in XCOM, you'll never see an enemy already in cover on the first turn of a fight.During combat, each squad member can typically perform separate two actions--move and shoot, heal and reload, or some combination thereof--and much of the time an encounter consists of outflanking an enemy to get off a shot at them around whatever cover they happen to be hiding behind. Characters can also perform special actions depending on the weapon they carry and, in some cases, the skills they possess. Pistols, for example, allow for a special double-shot action that can target two enemies, while characters require specific skills to use items like grenades or medkits in combat.And that's about as deep as it gets, unfortunately. Aside from minor variations in clip size and range, all the guns function in much the same fashion and can drop most enemies in one to two shots. As a result, a character with an assault rifle plays no differently to one with a shotgun. The only meaningfully different weapon is the knife, not merely the game's only melee weapon but the weapon with the highest damage potential. Since there's no "zone of control" or "attack of opportunity" mechanic (outside a special action reserved for sniper rifles), it's perfectly feasible to run right up to enemies, jump over their cover and attack from the adjacent square. In fact, it's often the most effective approach, no matter how silly it looks or tactically uninteresting it becomes.Fights can still be challenging, even on the default normal difficulty. A way of evening the odds is to have the enemy greatly outnumber you. Unimaginative, sure, but it gets the job done. At other times, some enemies will have access to special abilities that you don't, while others can move further than your squad. These factors create situations where you're encouraged to think several turns in advance, coordinate attacks between your squad members, and time your limited special actions.But still, most of the time you're not really feeling that pressure. Most of the time you're just moving and shooting, moving and shooting, with the odd moving and knifing thrown in. Where the lack of depth is truly exposed is in the slim variety of actions on display, a failure that can be attributed to the derivative nature of each character's skill tree. Indeed, when leveling up characters don't earn new abilities, they merely improve existing ones; they'll boost that chance to for a critical hit, perhaps, or beef up their HP. True, you can unlock the ability for a character to use an additional weapon, so that they can now carry a shotgun as well as a pistol, but it's hard to get excited about that when, again, weapons don't function in any meaningfully different way.The lack of variety extends to the maps on which the battles take place. There is barely a handful of scenarios--Nazi camp, desert village, underground temple--and you're served up a seemingly randomly-generated version assembled from stock parts each time you enter combat. A benefit of this approach is that you never know exactly what you're going to get, but on the flip side, it means that none of the individual battlefields are ever memorable and they all end up blurring into one by the end of a campaign. That's not to say the arenas are poorly designed; they're serviceable and little more.Linking one encounter to the next is a campaign structure that sees you plotting a pathway across a network of nodes. At each node, you hit a narrative event that could be anything from following some Nazis into a mysterious mineshaft to finding an oasis at which you can rest. Sometimes you might end up in a fight, sometimes you might find some treasure or a trader with whom you can buy and sell, and sometimes nothing happens at all. It's a bit like FTL, really, except instead of zipping across space you're driving a jeep across the Sahara. These narrative moments are fun and typically well-written. They often allow for choices that can lead to surprising results and occasionally let you utilize the skills of one of the squad characters you've opted to take on the journey. But they do a poor job of depicting the African people whose countries, from Morocco and Egypt and beyond, have been invaded by the Germans. The locals you meet are helpless simpletons, peaceful goat herders at best and, at worst, cowards hiding in ruined villages and collapsed caves until you wander by to hopefully rescue them. These poor people can't do anything until saved by a globetrotting band of wealthy adventurers.Further, throughout the entire game, you're collecting treasure, much of it ancient religious and cultural relics of the people you're ostensibly helping. Literally the only thing to do with this treasure is sell it to fund the purchase of more fuel for your jeep and ammunition for your guns. Retrieve an ancient inscribed vase from the altar room of a secret temple? That goes for $250 at the next trader stop. The suggested idea is you're keeping these precious relics out of Nazi hands, but surely there's a better option than looting them for yourself and then selling them back to the people you stole it from.Pathway looks and sounds great, it nails the pulpy attitude it's aiming for, and, of course, it's always fun to shoot Nazis. But the more I played, the more the cracks started to show, the more samey it all became, and the more uncomfortable some aspects of its design made me feel. I still enjoyed much of my time with Pathway. There's a pleasure to be had in both its aesthetic choices and the frictionless grind of its structure, but I came away wanting more--more tactical meat in its combat and a more thoughtful approach to the way it chose to represent its world. Info from Gamespot.com
2019-04-16
Sony's beloved PS4 action game God of War came out one year ago this week, and to celebrate the birthday, the company is holding a week-long party of sorts. It kicks off with the release of new dynamic theme for PS4 that you can get right now. It shows a nice scene with Kratos and Atreus in the Lake of Nine. The theme is free for everyone. Then on Wednesday (April 17), Sony will release a new PS4 avatar set for God of War. It is also free. You don't need to have purchased God of War for PS4 to get the freebies. You can see images of the avatar sets and dynamic theme here on the PlayStation Blog.Shannon Studstill, the head of God of War developer Sony Santa Monica, penned a nice blog post about the game's anniversary. She said she was excited by the idea that game director Cory Barlog brought to the table years ago, but acknowledged it was no easy road."Change to a longstanding franchise comes with immeasurable doubt, a studio-defining risk, and a huge leap of faith," she said. "Thank you to our entire worldwide team; the Sony PlayStation family and you, the millions of God of War fans around the world who embraced that leap with us, on a journey we never expected. We made this journey together."God of War won multiple Game of the Year awards, including most recently at the BAFTAs. After such high praise for God of War, Studstill said she's enthusiastic about Sony Santa Monica's future games. "If I had to predict the next 20 years of Santa Monica Studio, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, we will continue to create games whose art reflects life, life reflects art, with stories we want to resonate for years to come," she said. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for embracing the new God of War and for helping Santa Monica Studio rise up to a new beginning as well. From our whole team to you, that has meant everything to us. Now, we have a long journey ahead."Info from Gamespot.com
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