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Piranha Bytes RPG photo
Mutated creatures, you say?

Piranha Bytes is known for Gothic and Risen, but it's stepping away from those series to create a new role-playing game, ELEX. That's "eclectic, lavish, exhilarating, xenial." Got it? Me neither!

We can't actually see the game until August, at gamescom, but Piranha and publisher Nordic Games are talking about the basics. It's set in a post-apocalyptic science-fantasy world, which means mutated creatures and, what else, moral choices. Long way off, though -- ELEX won't hit PC and consoles until winter 2016 at the earliest.

This is "by far the most ambitious project for Piranha." Given the studio's history, that probably means we should expect to find some cool new things but plenty of flaws, too.

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Forza Motorsport 6 certainly plans on making a big splash

Jul 02 // Brett Makedonski
Did you think the rabbit hole ended there? Turn 10's not offering water physics just anywhere -- only in the places that it makes sense. An example Cooper gave us was that it never rains in Dubai so players will never see rainfall there. From our understanding, there isn't even the option to set up a custom race with rain on that track. If Turn 10's obsession with water sounds a bit like overkill, well yeah, maybe it is. It got to the point where another journalist and I just said "Rain" to one another whenever we crossed paths for the rest of E3. I attribute it to what I call the "EA Sports Complex." The racing in Forza has been carefully honed over the course of a decade now. Just like EA Sports and its titles such as Madden and FIFA, Turn 10 can afford to focus on the smaller facets of its game in an effort to inch ever closer to realism. We have no real indication how well all this rain will actually turn out. The hands-off demo we saw looked great, but it was obviously a tightly-controlled environment. Notably,Project CARS attempt at rain was where the game was visually at its best, but it also took a significant toll on the Xbox One and caused gameplay issues. If anyone has the best chance of skirting that problem, it's Turn 10 who's a first-party developer and presumably has the full support of Microsoft's resources. If the game isn't optimized well enough to handle all these effects, you'd have to assume they wouldn't be such a priority -- not yet, at least.  Rain usually means gloom for most people in real life. Turn 10's pinning its hopes on rain making for a fun and realistic experience in its video game. After all, who doesn't love speeding through giant puddles? And, all that water should have those cars at their absolute shiniest.
Forza Motorsport 6 photo
Raindrops keep fallin' on my hood

When I looked at my E3 schedule this year and saw I had a Forza Motorsport 6 meeting at the Microsoft booth, I expected they wanted to talk to me about cars. That's the crux of Forza after all: cars racing really fast and looking really pretty while doing so. Oh boy, was I ever wrong.

Well, half wrong to be fair. There were the obligatory one-liners about 450 different vehicle, customization, cockpit views, yada yada yada. But, it didn't take long before Ryan Cooper of Turn 10 began chatting about the Forza Tech engine and one thing that it supposedly does really well. That one thing is rain.

Cooper said that Turn 10 "deconstructed rain" in an effort to provide a "precise and immersive experience." The developer's really focusing on physically-based materials for Forza 6, and a significant portion of that has to do with the way cars interact with water.

The rabbit hole goes so much deeper, though. Forza Motorsport 6 has 148 different surface types, all of which react uniquely to water. They each have their own characteristics regarding porousness, meaning that rain will absorb into the ground or pool up on the race track depending on the surface.

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Final Fantasy VII photo

Yep, Final Fantasy VII G-Bike, the mobile "runner" based off the popular franchise, is still around. This week, Square Enix is adding a Phoenix event, alongside of a new in-game bike reward. I have to say the boss fight actually looks pretty cool, and more reminders of Final Fantasy VII just make me want the HD remake that much more.

I could really go for a Phoenix encounter in Final Fantasy XIV -- there could be some really interesting mechanics at play there.

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike [Square Enix via Siliconera]

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Nintendo Download: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Jul 02 // Chris Carter
If you missed last week's edition, here it is. As for what I'm getting, I can't resist another playthrough of Ocarina of Time, even if I already have the N64 cart, the 3DS remake, and the GameCube compilation disc. For those who are interested, sales are going on for both the Wii U and 3DS.
Nintendo Download photo
Also, Roving Rogue

It's an odd day for the Wii U eShop, as the only big update is Ocarina of Time, which now can be played natively on the platform without going through Wii emulation. The Wii U is also getting Roving Rogue and Quadcopter Pilot Challenge if you're interested.

On the 3DS side we have Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 and Mercenaries Saga 2. Yep, it's a pretty barren week overall. On the bright side, the first Splatfest for Splatoon (Cats or Dogs) starts on July 4, and there are four new Ace Attorney themes on 3DS as well as two new Pokemon themes.

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Badman photo
Duh

"I will say that it’s pretty rich for WB to act like they had no idea the game was in such a horrible state," an anonymous quality assurance tester on Arkham Knight told Kotaku. "It’s been like this for months and all the problems we see now were the exact same, unchanged, almost a year ago."

Kotaku's two sources said Warner Bros. knew the PC version of Batman was bunk, but figured it was good enough to be released. Unfortunately for Warner Bros., it released Arkham Knight shortly after Steam started allowing for refunds. This, most likely, explains why WB seemingly did the right thing in halting further sales until the "significant" amount of work to be done gets the PC port up to snuff with the occasionally glitchy, but mostly smooth operating PS4 version.

Of course, you should not need an anonymous source to tell you that Warner Bros. knew of the PC version's problems. How could it not know? Sure, there were somethings that could exacerbate a disconnect: Rocksteady supposedly not working at all on the PC version (those duties were handed off to Iron Galaxy); only 10% of testers were devoted to PC because, PS4/Xbox One were "not nearly as easy to work with as [Rocksteady] expected"; bug-checking taking place primarily at 720p; and fear of spoiler leaks kept Knight from "PC testing firms that are used to stress test games on different hardware configurations." But there is hardly ever a time when a problem game ships unaware. Dead or Alive 5 PC doesn't have working multiplayer three months after release.

Batman moves consoles and moves on consoles. Warner Bros. put its efforts (and directed Rocksteady's) into those versions. The same thing just happened with High Voltage Software's PC port of the WB-published Mortal Kombat X. Of fucking course it knew about the PC version's problems; it just thought it could get away with releasing it anyways. And taking your $60 in the hope that, post-patch, the game could mend your relationship and minimize your irritation.

Sources: Warner Bros. Knew That Arkham Knight PC Was A Mess For Months [Kotaku]

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The Harley Quinn DLC pack for Arkham Knight is painfully brief

Jul 02 // Chris Carter
[embed]295181:59315:0[/embed] Much like Azrael and Batman's other playable companions, Harley's fighting style is nearly identical to the Dark Knight, and other than a few new animations, feels exactly the same -- though, she does have a "party popper" batarang substitute that functions like a Spider-Man web trap. Sadly, the most enemy waves will throw at you is roughly four standard foes and a shield-wielding cop, which doesn't really allow you to dig deep with the Free Flow combat system. A lack of nuanced gameplay permeates in the stealth portions too. In the few Predator sequences that are included, stealth is not really a priority for Harley. She employs laughing gas rather than smoke bombs, tumbles and leaps up walls instead of grappling, and so on, including exploding jack-in-the-boxes rather than explosive gel. Thankfully there are a few differences, most notably the fact that her "detective vision" shows her more demented side with graffiti written on the walls. Harley also cannot employ silent takedowns -- in fact, they're called "loud takedowns," and will always alert guards. She can however use a "Mayhem" ability that lets her knock out enemies in one hit for a limited time, and use Ivy's plants to take out enemies from afar. The entire affair is far too linear, taking place in the Blüdhaven Police Department. It's a prequel, so you know exactly how it plays out if you watch the intro, with a bit of stupid Penguin chatter (I never really liked Arkham's rendition of him) littered between the loose collections of challenge rooms. It all culminates with a final battle with a major hero from the story that uses the tired "throw adds at the player until he wins or loses" mechanic. There are some bright spots, like the idea of Harleen's inner self trying to reason with her insane "Harley" personality, but those concepts aren't really explored in half an hour. If you're a huge fan of Harley you can buy it this fall once its "pre-order exclusivity" (so dumb) is up, or you can just wait for the Game of the Year Edition where it will most likely appear as well. The same goes for the GameStop exclusive Red Hood pack, the PS4 exclusive Scarecrow DLC, and all the costume exclusives.
Harley Quinn photo
Less than 30 minutes

Harley Quinn is at it again this time with a pre-order exclusive DLC (yuck) for Batman: Arkham Knight. I have good news for everyone who didn't bother pre-ordering -- you aren't missing much.

The entire add-on basically amounts to less than 30 minutes of the same core gameplay as Knight, minus the Batmobile-fest.

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Mega Man X: Corrupted is still happening, here's proof

Jul 02 // Chris Carter
[embed]295160:59314:0[/embed]
Mega Man X: Corrupted photo

[embed]295160:59313:0[/embed]

All the way back in 2009, the fan game Mega Man X: Corrupted was shown off to the world, and it looked great -- yet, here we are six years later still waiting for it. There's some good news on that front, as a new set of videos have been released recently, showing off the new visual style, animations, and general enhancements.

For the uninitiated, it's going to be an open world experience that can be played with both X and Zero -- when it is completed, it will be free.

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Battle Fantasia photo
Next week

[embed]295161:59312:0[/embed]

Back in 2008, Battle Fantasia was released for the PS3 and 360. It was unique little fighting game with an amazing art style, but it was sadly swept under the rug. Thankfully it's getting a new lease on life on PC next week, where it will launch on Steam on July 7. It's going by the moniker "revised edition," with balances and improved visuals.

I'm really liking the Arc System Works revivals on PC lately.

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Into the Stars is an intense Space Opera, hits early access July 9

Jul 02 // Alessandro Fillari
Into the Stars (PC, [previewed], Linux, Mac)Developer: Fugitive GamesPublisher: Iceberg InteractiveRelease date: July 9, 2015 on PC (Early Access)Set in the far future where mankind has populated the outer reaches of the known universe, you take on the role of a captain for the last human ship carrying a most precious cargo. After a war with an alien race destroys the last colony of humans, you must lead the remaining survivors and your crew on an exodus through uncharted territory in order to find a new home in Titus Nova, located in the far end of the galaxy. Along the way, you'll recruit new crew members, trade with neutral alien factions, and wage an on-going struggle with the aliens that destroyed your home planet. With the fate of many lives in your hands, you'll have to make many tough decisions in order to secure the future of humanity, while also keeping your one and only ship in working order. The developers weren't shy about sharing their influences for Into the Stars. From Battlestar Galactica, to Firefly, Star Trek, and even Guardians of the Galaxy -- the folks at Fugitive Games wanted a space adventure that emulated the same wonder and awe from classic Space Operas, while injecting a tense and hectic atmosphere that gave players the sense that one wrong move could lead to disaster. Storytelling was an important area of focus for the devs, and while there aren't really any cutscenes or dramatic set-piece moments, the players will be able to create their own captain, crew, and ship parameters (with adjustable stats and areas of focus) from scratch -- giving them freedom in how they play and choose to forge their way across the galaxy.With an entire galaxy map to explore, you'll have to choose wisely where you want to guide your ship, as many different resources are consumed during travel, and dangerous foes might rear their ugly heads. Taking place on over 90 tiles shown on the galactic map, each space represents a sector of the galaxy that can be explored. Players can freely steer their ship within the tile and explore at their own pace. Each tile possess their own unique points of interests, planets, culture, resources, and other sources of intrigue. While some randomness comes into play, the developers wanted to give the entire universe a hand-crafted look and not rely on procedural generation to fill in the blanks. And the results are quite stunning. The visuals within Into the Stars are a feast to behold, and the work from the Unreal Engine 4 shows great promise. From soaring past gas-giants, derelict spacecrafts, to massive floating artifacts from alien cultures, there's much to explore within the galaxy, and it'll take more than one playthrough to witness all the visuals. Though be warned, spending too much time in a certain section of the galaxy will attract the attention of hostile forces that wish to wipe you out.Taking cues from titles like XCOM and FTL, the developers at Fugitive Games wanted to have a strong focus on crew and resource management while gathering resources and keeping ahead of danger. Your ship will need resources and a strong crew to keep flying, and in order to keep both on the up, you'll have to take risks and even make some sacrifices. When you come across planets and installations throughout your travels, you can send probes or Away Teams (a capable team of explorers) down to the point of interest to search for resources and valuables. Though bare in mind, these places can often be dangerous and result in some deaths or harm to your ship if things go south. During one instance, we sent our away team to a remote planet and found many valuable resources with no incidents. Unfortunately, our luck wasn't so great when we went to a derelict human spaceship. An accident occurred which resulted in the deaths of some crew. [embed]295154:59311:0[/embed]As a whole, Into the Stars is a game about taking risks. While some cases may call for the occasional space heroics, most of the time you'll have to play it safe. During planetary examinations, sometimes its better to send probes, which result in a mini-game where you mine materials. Though keep in mind, the lives of your crew and your cargo of human survivors are a valuable resource as well. While traveling in space, you'll come across merchants that may sell goods at the cost of valuable materials vital to the function of your ship. While giving away minerals may be easy, in some cases merchants may request some humans for the trade. It's a pretty grim prospect, and though it may be easy to turn down a request when its first presented to you, you might be in a tight spot and have to entertain the offer. By any means necessary, your ship has to make to Titus Nova, and you may have to make some decisions that could compromise your own captain's humanity.But what would any space opera be without epic ship battles? When you encounter foes that seek to raid your ship, or just want to wipe out what's left of humanity, you'll have to defend the vessel and command your crew in a battle of wits and instinct. Unlike other space-sims, battles take place in quasi-term based format within the confines of the ship. Within the bridge, you have a clear view of the attackers, and you'll have to simultaneously adjust shields, make repairs, and strike against the enemy when the time comes. Initially, I found the battles to be a bit confusing and somewhat dense. It's all in menus, and you have to keep track of different crew attributes and ship parameters to stay one step ahead of your enemies. When making repairs, your view switches over to the engine room as you monitor hull breaches and causalities, all while the enemies are still attacking. While the smaller foes can be easily defeated, facing groups of enemy ships and some of the more massive cruisers can result in somewhat lengthy battles.I was largely impressed with Into the Stars. While we're definitely seeing an influx of space-sims as of late, this title subscribes more to the technical school of thought, rather than the focus on action and explosions. While I admit I got a bit lost during some moments, and had to consult some tutorials, I found Into the Stars to be an incredibly ambitious game that seeks to install a simultaneous sense of dread and awe from players. Not many games can get me feeling nervous while traveling through a lush and colorful galaxy filled with rich cultures and places to explore. If you're looking for something a bit more introspective and technical for your spacefaring needs, then you'll definitely want to keep an eye on Into the Stars.Into the Stars - Early Access [Steam]
Into The Stars photo
Find a crew, find a job, keep flying

The Space Sim genre has been one of the most ambitious and sought after titles from developers and fans alike. Ever since the early days of gaming, there's been a desire to craft a title that allows for exploration across a sprawling universe filled with danger and wonder, while amassing resources and finding your own place within the galaxy. In recent years, we've seen this vision realized with titles such as Elite: Dangerous, FTL: Faster Than Light, and Star Citizen. These titles in particular found life from crowdfunding, and have since grown into massive hits that captured the attention of spacefaring gamers. And now, we've got one more crowdfunded space-sim that aims to up the stakes considerably.

Finding success at the beginning of this year on Kickstarter, the developers of Into the Stars are ready to bring their interstellar take on the classic Oregon Trail gameplay to the masses on early access. Over the last month, I got to spend some time with the developers from Fugitive Games, while also diving into their title before its upcoming launch. With the space-sim genre on the rise, the developers of Into the Stars seek to offer a more hardcore and tactical take on the space adventure. 

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Tales of Symphonia HD coming to PC

Jul 02 // Laura Kate Dale
Tales of Symphonia photo
Get some Symphonia in you

Hey, do you like Tales of Symphonia? Wish it were available on your PC in HD? Are you now holding your breath, reading and hoping I'm not messing with your emotions? Fear not, Tales of Symphonia HD is coming to Steam next year.

Ported from the PS3 edition of the game, you'll be able to get the game on Steam for free if you pre order a copy of Tales of Zesteria in the run up to launch.

So, who's ready to go back to one of the really good Tales games?

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Goodbye, Club Nintendo

Jul 02 // Kyle MacGregor
Club Nintendo closure photo
Nintendo's loyalty program discontinued

After nearly seven years, Club Nintendo has called it quits, discontinuing service in North America.

The loyalty program debuted alongside the GameCube's European launch in 2002 as Nintendo VIP 24:7 before coming to Japan as Club Nintendo the following year. It then arrived in Australia by April 2008, leaving North America as the lone holdout until December. Now it's the first to say goodbye.

"Our heartfelt thanks to our members for your support over the years," a note on the Club Nintendo website reads. "Please stay tuned for more information on our new loyalty program."

Anyone that received download codes from the service must redeem their digital rewards via the Nintendo eShop before they expire on July 31, 2015. The company also notes the last round of physical rewards will be shipped by the end of September.

Club Nintendo plans to cease operations in Europe, Australia, and Japan on September 30.

A new loyalty program (designed with help from DeNA, the mobile company Nintendo acquired a stake in earlier this year) is planned to roll out shortly thereafter.

Anyway, so long, Club Nintendo. It was good. Thanks for all the free junk.

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Consent and gay conversion issues in Fire Emblem Fates

Jul 02 // Jed Whitaker
So, let's look at what happens here: This is literally slipping someone a drug to alter her perception and convince her you're someone that you're not. That's not consent. Not to mention this in many ways defends the idea of a "gay cure," the idea that a character's sexuality can be altered so that she falls in love with someone of the opposite gender. Considering the previous Fire Emblem games have been censored heavily during localization I have a sneaking suspicion that this dialogue will be edited before the game reaches the west. I'm all for developers telling the stories they want to, but non consent and gay conversion therapy just seem gross and out of place here. To repeat, I'm not demanding that this dialogue be cut, just highlighting that it feels weirdly out of context and underdeveloped in its execution. Soleil/M!Kamui's Supports are almost offensive [Serenes Forest]
Sad face here photo
This just feels creepy

Fire Emblem Fates dialogue spoilers ahead, you've been warned.

[Update 3: Soleil does indeed fall for both male and female characters but due to the complexity of the Japanese language it isn't conveyed very clearly in straight translations. The dialogue linked in update two below has Soleil saying "I like you too" which has been pointed out to mean like as in love, like a boyfriend or girlfriend would have. Thanks to reader Chad for pointing this out and clarifying for us.]

[Update 2: Other text has been translated and provided where Soleil accepts a marriage proposal from a male character, though throughout their conversations she still seems to be only interested in girls. Marriages have happened that don't necessarily involve sexual attraction, and these dialogues don't really show a build up to these relationships so they are open to interpretation.]

[Update: A few people have written in to try to clarify this story. Part of why Soleil is slipped the magic powder to see all men as women is so she will get used to being around cute girls without fainting. She still is attracted to the main character after the magic powder has worn off. This doesn't change the fact she didn't fall for them until she viewed them as female due to being drugged.

People have argued that Soleil is bisexual based on this text in the game, but in this scenario she is only interested in the other character when she believes they are female. At the end of the text, Soleil literally says she hates being hugged by that character after she accepts he isn't female. At the very least there are multiple interpretations of this character.

If there is indeed other text in the game that states Soleil is bisexual, it still doesn't change the fact her character seems more into women, as she faints around them. Making her fall for a man because she sees them as a woman is still problematic.

We've reached out to Nintendo for comment and will update the story when they respond.]

The Japanese version of Fire Emblem Fates has been available for a few days now, and translations of story and dialogue have been hitting the net, with one particular section doing the rounds today. Soleil is a character whose schtick is that she likes girls in a gay way and has trouble talking to cute girls without fainting. Go lesbians.

When playing as a male character with Soleil as a supporting character there is dialogue path in which the main character slips magic powder into Soleil's drink when she isn't looking. Upon ingesting the magic powder, Soleil sees all men as women, thus allowing her to fall in love with the male protagonist. The full dialogue can be seen here.

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Shenmue 3 photo
'Let's get sweaty'

The voice actor who played Ryo in the English versions of Shenmue 1 and 2, Corey Marshall, has been confirmed for Shenmue 3.

"We would all like to thank Corey-san for coming back," says an announcement on the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter page, "and especially for all the support he has given to Shenmue over the years."

"The support for Mr. Marshall to reprise his role as Ryo has been just overwhelming!"

And that's not all. If you've a few thousand dollars just sitting around, donate $1000+ to the campaign you'll get "a very special message" from Ryo himself. 

"Corey is as excited for Shenmue's return as we all are, and to help out, he has magnanimously offered his voice for a special reward. Yes, that's right--get a personal message from Ryo! Do not miss this opportunity to get a very special message from Ryo himself. Maybe one those classic Ryo one-liners?"

The Kickstarter campaign has already smashed through its $2 million goal, with additional goals stretching all the way up to $11 million.

If you could donate the $1000, what would you want Ryo to say to you?

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Microsoft photo
'It's good competition which is good for everybody'

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has acknowledged that the company must "do better in Europe."

In an interview in the latest Edge Magazine, Spencer said, "when I look globally, mainland Europe is definitely an area we want to focus on."

I'm excited about going to Gamescom at the beginning of August, having another press show where we're able to show games that we didn't show [at E3]. So you're going to see brand new games, as well as obviously some repeats, but you're going to see Scalebound, Crackdown, Quantum Break from my friends at Remedy. From a product standpoint, I like where we are. I think the team's doing a great job with the games and building a platform for gamers.

"Sony does a really good job in those markets, and they have a long history - long before we were in this business - and they've earned the success that they get in those regions," Spencer added. "I watch what they do because they do a lot of good things, and I want to make sure that we're being smart about succeeding. And there are places like Latin America where Xbox does really well, and in the US the numbers keep going back and forth - it's good competition which I think is good for everybody."

Content-wise, though, I'm excited about this Forza, I'm excited about Tomb Raider, I'm excited about the new Rare game, Sea Of Thieves… And I think we can do more artful games that I have found resonate more. That's definitely a focus for us.

Yesterday, SCEE president Jim Ryan said that the PlayStation 4 had a "very significant" share of the console marketplace" - at least 70 percent, and "frequently greater than 90 percent" - within continental Europe.

Xbox is kicking off Gamescom festivities one day early with a press briefing on August 4 (4 pm CEST/10 am Eastern). On August 4 and 5, it'll also hold a Fanfest, a community event where fans can play upcoming titles without going to the full Gamescom show. 

Microsoft: We need to do better in Europe [VG247]

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Neverwinter photo
Rise of Tiamat has just launched

While the PC version of the pretty dang good MMO Neverwinter is waiting for news about its newest expansion, the Xbox One port unfortunately is playing catchup.

Perfect World have announced that Rise of Tiamat, the fifth module for the game released back in 2014, is now available on Xbox One. The expansion adds more to the Tyranny of Dragons campaign, a new area for Level 70 players called Well of Dragons, and a new raid, Temple of Tiamat.

Rise of Tiamat was when I started playing Neverwinter, so it’s nice to know I’ll be in familiar territory should I find myself on the Xbox version. I genuinely am excited to see the Xbox One version get up to date, as it seems like a perfect fit for an MMO on a console.

The full patch list for the PC version of Rise of Tiamat was huge, but there’s also a video below specific to the Xbox One version to help you familiarise yourself with the changes.

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Sir, You Are Being Hunted photo
Robots aren't the only threat now

Sir, You Are Being Hunted was my personal Game of the Year™ for 2014. With its fantastic British tweedpunk art style, some really neat AI and tense-as-hell stealth, it very quickly became a very special game to me. Now, I’ll be able to share the experience with someone else, as at long last the Multiplayer mode is on its way.

It’s currently in a very early form, meaning players will have to run a server for themselves and do a bit of technical wizardry to get it to work, and when it does there might be a lot of bugs not found in the normal game. But it’s there. It exists. I can watch my friend be shot to shit by a robot on the back of a robo horse!

Currently, the multiplayer is a strange mix of co-op and competition. Only one player is able to escape from the island, so finding and hording fragment parts will become a legitimate strategy later on.

A guide on how to set it all up is available on developer Big Robot’s website, and there is a video below should you want to see it in action first.

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Podtoid 298: Tales of E3 and Batman: Arkham Knight

Jul 01 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]295129:59300:0[/embed] What We Discussed E3 press conferences Pele and the Hoop Gawd The Last Guardian OMG Bethesda! How Ubisoft sucks Star Fox Zero For Honor Brett's BBQ adventures AMD's shitty PC gaming press conference Batman: Arkham Knight Creepin' on people with StreetPass The ethics of previews Metroid Prime: Federation Force Zack's haircut SATPOTPAQ Recent Episodes Podtoid 297: E3 2015 Predictions, Tips & Tricks  Podtoid 296: On Fleek Podtoid 295: Squidnapped Podtoid 294: Croatian Vacation Send any and all questions, tips, and Gardevoir drawings to [email protected]  
New Podcast photo
Mmmmm delicious HOT POCKETS

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here.

Welcome back to Podtoid! On this week's podcast, Steven, Brett and Kyle return from sunny, beautiful, wonderful Los Angeles to discuss our E3 adventures and Batman: Arkham Knight

Also, Darren "Naka-chan" Nakamura shows up at some point, because he was too busy making dinner to meet the rest of the bros at the previously designated time. God dammit!

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Huge TF2 update photo
New map, mechanics, and balance changes

Team Fortress 2 gets a new update tomorrow called the Gun Mettle Update. To summarize, the game is taking on many ideas from its much more popular cohort, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

First of all, weapon skins are now a thing, complete with three different levels of wear, just like CS:GO. There is also a $6 coin that can be purchased that allows for players to undertake "missions," which are really just in-game objectives to earn weapons, just like CS:GO. It's also now possible to inspect a held weapon, just like CS:GO. And finally, players can also now pick up enemy weapons after a kill if their class can use that weapon, just like CS: GO.

That last one is a pretty significant change. No longer are players locked in to the weapon they choose at the start of a life, and can adjust playstyles on the fly. All of the balance changes are listed here, but I'll give a quick rundown. The Loch-n-Load is nerfed, the Heavy is all-around buffed, the Gunslinger is completely changed, and the Panic Attack is probably not useless now. Every class has had some significant change, so be sure to check it out!

Oh, and as always, read the new comic!

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Virtual Console photo
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, too

One of my most-played Wii U games is, I kid you not, Advance Wars. That's not a judgment on the quality of the console's (lovely) exclusives, it's just that the game is really damn good. I'm dying for the sequel, my favorite in the series, to come to Virtual Console. Too bad I'm in the US.

The European Wii U Virtual Console lands Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising and another Intelligent Systems' title, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, tomorrow. The latter is not as universally loved but, hey, it's still Fire Emblem -- a remake of the Famicom original, for that matter.

Also on tomorrow's docket is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That's coming to Europe and North America, so we are getting something over here at least. I'm happy for you Zelda fans.

[Via Nintendo Everything]

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What's the deal with Compile Heart?

Jul 01 // OverlordZetta
I actually had a much more fun, much more topical blog in mind that I wanted to write before I got down to finishing up the second Soul Sacrifice blog I've been working on, but I guess you could say this is something I want to get off my chest. Knowing things, it'll probably be something I want to get off my chest again at some point, but... you live and learn. I'll post the fun thing tomorrow. Hopefully this will be... let's aim for half as positive as the last time I wrote about them. So, Compile Heart. Their games aren't the most popular by any means. Not in the west, but not in Japan either. Their games, all things considered, are among the niche of the niche. Realistically speaking, it's strange that they get as much attention as they do in the first place. Save for a few things, most in the Neptunia series and most others not really things westerners could appreciate in the first place, from an average gamer's perspective, they're probably just another company releasing average JRPGs with cute girls on the cover. Which begs the question... why is there always such an intense reaction? Is it because they're more outside of the norm in a foreign country? Is it because they actually care about their presence in foreign countries, unlike so many other Japanese developers right now, regardless of what the mainstream might think of them there? Is it because they go on caring about that presence to keep bringing their games to foreign audiences, even porting them to PC and holding private beta tests and giving their games away for free to make sure everything works? Is it because of how so many of the games suffer from some really, really questionable localization decisions? I'm not sure really. I can understand not liking their games just like I can understand not liking anything. People will not like everything, that's just how we're hardwired. We're all different. That's one of the best things about the human race. We all have different likes, dislikes, desires, and so on. I can understand that very well. What I can't understand is the vehemence some choose to dislike them with, like they're committing some kind of crime by developing games that these people don't like. Then again, judging by recent events... In an era where more and more developers are closing up shop or going straight to mobile, the fact that so many people point to a developer that is constantly improving themselves, working with other developers, creating new titles and IPs, and experimenting with new ideas for their existing ones is the one that people consider as everything wrong with the industry? It's crazy to me. I know they don't always necessarily succeed at meeting the potential of their ideas, but nothing they've done, not even the likes of Neptunia PP or the mismanaged, tried-to-do-too-much mess that was Hyperdevotion Noire, seems like it deserves such constant mockery and disrespect. Especially when they keep trying, improving, experimenting, and so on and so forth and etcetera. Is it because the developers these people do want games from have called it quits, so they need to take out their frustrations on those who are remaining in the game? Is it because of how they portray their characters? Is it because of their target demographic and the games said target demographic tends to prefer? And perhaps the way things that target demographic tends to prefer things? Sadly, having experienced conversations with all kinds of people on the matter, even with some hardcore fans, I... can't entirely fault that mindset. I'm sure all of these questions have their answers, and I'm sure as some of you read this, you're rolling your eyes and getting ready to type what you consider to be the obvious question. "Maybe it's because their games just aren't very good?" Well, if that's the question, then I wonder just what the context or criteria being used to judge how good their games are. What are these Compile Heart games being compared to? What standards for good are being used here? If they're the threes, fours, and fives, what is the 10? Did they ever have a chance to compare to that 10, or was the game rigged from the start? Obviously, if it's simply a matter of liking it or not, then that's where the story ends, isn't it? You don't like the game, you move on... but the thing is, people aren't moving on. If anything, Compile Heart has become something of a running joke in some circles, including many circles here at Destructoid, and that just doesn't make sense to me. I've said this many times before, but with many Compile Heart titles, I feel like it often comes down to not completely being a part of the target audience. One can say they like RPGs or anime, but some of Compile Heart's games can be incredibly niche or just not be like a standard JRPG. In fact, a common criticism I see in some circles is exactly that, which just seems weird to me. This probably just comes off as looking like excuses to most, especially their detractors, but... isn't it common sense? Does every fan of fighting games like Street Fighter or Guilty Gear appreciate the gore of Mortal Kombat or the more cute girls-oriented direction Arcana Heart goes in? Do those people appreciate that Mortal Kombat's gore is meant to be over the top, something ludicrous that it isn't meant to inspire real violence or anything truly heinous? If so, then do those people all enjoy that gore? Some may, but I can't imagine they all do. On a personal note, while I enjoy fighting game romps from time to time, I have trouble looking at some of the newest Mortal Kombat's fatalities. Sue me! You know what, though? These are all different games, and their visuals and themes won't appeal to everyone. It's okay that they do that, because it's okay that people like different things. That's the beauty of having options. Just because this one thing doesn't appeal to you or that it may never have been able to appeal to you, that doesn't mean it doesn't appeal to others or that there's something inherently wrong with it. It's okay. It's all gonna be okay. Not everything is going to appeal to everyone. That doesn't make it inherently bad, as many suggest.  It's not like they release games that are broken or don't work. Usually their games work fairly well, outside of issues rising up through localization anyway. They just aren't what many people want out of a game. I think that's a fair thing to feel, sure, but is it fair to criticize a game for not being something it was never actually trying to be? Is it fair to compare two developers who have completely different means and capabilities, and then criticize one for not delivering the same level as the other despite the obvious difference in resources? When it comes to Compile Heart games, it does seem like it's fair game, but I don't agree with that myself. Do people compare indie developers with AAA ones? Do you criticize the graphics of Shovel Knight for not matching up to those of Uncharted or Bloodborne? It's the same idea here. It's not like I'm saying that this mystical target audience would adore everything they do every single time either. Hell, I think most of their fans miss things just as much as their detractors do. I know I do, and I actually try to look for it. What about the people who don't bother? Whatever the case, I can say I'm not the biggest fan of a few of the Neptunia spinoffs, and I think that there are a few things they could do better in some of their other, bigger games as well, but I'm not going to judge something or someone that works in one world for not daring to compete with a completely different world. That doesn't make sense. Speaking of things that don't make sense... oh, look at me and my topical self! Let's take Fairy Fencer F. It got a mixed review from the lovely Brittany Vincent here on the site some time ago, and before I get into the meat of things, I'd like to briefly mention it here for now. This game was the first of Compile Heart's Galapagos RPGs, and Fairy Fencer F in particular was an attempt to make a more mainstream title. For all intents and purposes, they actually pulled it off. The game sold great in Japan, by their standards at least, and it actually was to the point that didn't ship enough copies and had to rush more out if I'm remembering correctly. It's getting an enhanced version with tons of new content on the PS4 developed by them instead of getting a port handed off to another developer like tie Neptunia remakes were, so they were clearly happy with it. All in all, that's fantastic for them. Offhand, I can only remember that being the case with MonsterMonpiece, which was, well... Monster Monpiece. So what happened? For starters, I think the outlook some had on our side of the pond was somewhat off, which I think is the case with a lot of Compile Heart titles, Neptunia in particular. Some people went into it expecting whatever they considered a standard Compile Heart game to be, others maybe expected a budget Tales game, which it kind of is, and others might not have had much in the realm of expectations at all... What so many people didn't realize is that they were actually playing a Kamen Rider game. This is mostly a theory of mine, but I think one reason this game resonated with Japanese audiences (and me) more is because it's written exactly like a typical modern Kamen Rider series would be. Not even just a little bit, but exactly like one. From the huge focus on eating to the way the villains were portrayed even to how the main character developed over the course of the game. The main character, and every character as well, can transform while a hotblooded song plays once their tension gets high enough. In every single battle. No exceptions. It's actually not that hard to believe when you start thinking in that direction! It's not all that surprising considering it was written by someone who's written a ton of stuff like this for Toei, some of it considered revolutionary for its time (probably before some of you reading this were even born), but the fact that it plays out like one is really spectacular. So when Compile Heart's mainstream title is written by someone who had written many of the things their audience grew up with, and it turns out to be written very much like those things, is it that strange that people ended up liking it? It wasn't some epic thousands upon thousands of sales seller there, but it did pretty darn well for a Compile Heart game, and I think this is one reason why. Even how Fang talked about his, um, movements in the early part of the game hearkens back to Kamen Rider. In hindsight, I don't actually think that that was meant to be potty humor. The fact that the game was overall just much better than their last game, Neptunia Victory, probably helped, featuring an evolved battle system, better dungeon design, less asset reuse than with Neptunia games prior (something that, from what I understand, continued into Omega Quintet and even more into Neptunia V-II), and so on, but in the writing department, that certainly couldn't have hurt it any... except when you introduce it to an audience that isn't as familiar with those things. Then things might start to get a little less familiar and a little more mixed. That sense of familiarity is something that I believe Compile Heart pulls of very well. Their use of the fourth wall and meta-humor is something that no one else really uses much of right now either, especially with Nippon Ichi Software's ever diminishing presence. It's also something that not everyone likes or appreciates, and admittedly, it's not something that applies to all of their products, but in particular, the Neptunia series is where I think it's strongest. "Oh goody, it's my turn again!" At a glance, many just see the series as nothing more than its fanservice. To me, this has always been strange, since, despite the fact that, yes, it does have fanservice, overall, it's... really a pretty tame series. Typical, if nothing else. There have been fanservice CGs in games since before I was even playing JRPGs, and character designs can get much flashier than Neptunia. Perhaps if one can't distinguish the difference between an SD model and hypersexualized infants, then okay, maybe it might seem like some incredibly perverse series, but I must wonder just how perverse someone has to be to make that mistake in the first place. Kidding aside, on the other hand, considering not one game in the series has ever gotten an M rating save the one time a localization made some dialogue worse than it actually was, and then adding in the fact that plenty of Japanese games with fanservice are coming out now with M ratings for that reason, I can't help but think something is off with that perception that the series has somehow gotten for itself. And I just can't figure it out. Is it because the characters do act like anime or visual novel characters sometimes rather than standard game characters? Is it because people don't want stories in their games as much anymore? They need to be involved now? I won't get into another series of rhetorical questions, but I really just don't see what everyone has got their undies in a bunch over. Yeah, I do admit that this being the first CG of the first game didn't do it any favors, but just because it's there doesn't mean its the focus, as is often implied. This is probably a topic better left for another blog, but I feel like the west's view of sexuality, particularly in Japanese games and particularly when it comes to fanservice, has taken a... really poor turn, especially in recent years, though maybe with the internet and increased presence of these sorts of games, something that's always been there has just become more prominent? To me, while people probably believe they're coming off as mature and adult and sophisticated or whatever for turning it away and trying to get rid of it, it really really doesn't come off that way. When I see that attitude, at best I see some wide cultural differences at work, and at worst it just comes off like a bunch of kids in the schoolyard saying girls are icky and running away in fear of cooties, and all the moreso if nothing is being said about violence or gore in games at the same time. And before anyone starts rallying to hit that like button, you lot getting all giddy about these games solely for how much skin you can see or acting like the fanservice is the only thing that matters or that a couple of images getting censored is enough reason to damn a game and company to hell, well, I can't say I think you guys are too much better. If the first group are kids running away in fear of cooties, you guys are the kids just hitting puberty practically humping your pillows. Y'all aren't winning here either, sorry. Yeah, now I'm judging people too, making me a massive hypocrite, but I'm getting tired, damn it. Can't we just accept that some people like some things and others like others and, more importantly, it's all just pretend? Can't we all just... well... get the fuck along? It blows my mind that we're living in a world where ripping heads off or splitting something in half with a chainsaw gets cheers and applause from an audience, as was the case with the Doom trailer the other night, but you have to be ashamed of playing a game that has female stomachs exposed lest you be a creepy perv. It is such a disturbing thing to see death and senseless violence celebrated, yet natural human instincts, the things that lead to life and procreation, are treated like they're wrong and need to be hidden away. I'm not saying go be that kid that humps pillows and I'm not saying be an inappropriate jackass to real people, but when we're talking about what is very clearly not real, good lord people, these priorities seem completely backwards to me. Where do you think the pretend babies that pretend grow up into the pretend people that you want to pretend kill come from? More importantly, how do you think they get there? I get not liking certain aesthetics of things, don't get me wrong on that, I absolutely get it, but the level people take it to over drawings and character models, just plain pictures, pictures where nothing is even happening, it all just seems so unwarranted to me. Be it Neptunia, Compile Heart games, or just niche things from Japan in general, it's so over the top and unnecessary. What's the point of it all? Are we really still in high school? That's the only setting where I can think that it's so socially accepted for people who like less popular things to get shoved around this way, and if that's the case, then isn't it time we, as gamers, really grow up and start being more accepting of some of this crap? Pretending to be grown up and bringing down people for their interests, or worse, the things they create and sell and have passions for enjoying and creating, because you personally dislike them, is just that. Pretend maturity. No more real than when Nathran Drake guns someone down in Uncharted and makes a quip about it like he didn't just rob someone of their father or their son and is going to go on his merry way to take someone's husband away right after he shoots someone's boyfriend in the head in cold blood and just makes a snarky remark about the locals or something. What is even happening to this blog right now. Ooookay, so enough about that and back to the, uh, I think it was the main point, since I'm starting to get into that topic that I just said was better off in another blog. Or not in a blog at all. Also because perv is such a stupid, stupid looking and sounding word that I think I'll become physically ill if I have to write it again. Now let's get back to more familiar ground! In this case, really awesome familiar ground! This guy does good work. Neptunia is submerged in the world of familiarity. Past, present, and future, the series is chock full of references and shoutouts to fiction and real life events. There's jabs at actual people in the industry in some of the dialogue just as much as there are references to shows and games through characters and other aspects. To some people, this kind of writing is lazy, but to others, this is the kind of thing that might make you smile when you catch the reference. Like mini-nostalgia or something, yeah? Sometimes they can be blatant about it, but sometimes, and really a lot of time, the games will be littered with things that just might look like wacky anime stereotypes when a bunch of them all tie into one inside joke or another that most of us, me included, totally miss. Not all of them, but more than you might think. There's plenty of wacky anime shenanigans too, but when the characters themselves are designed with the consoles or companies they were based on in mind, even that's suspect sometimes. To some people, like I said, this is a style that is cheap and easy to them, or it just doesn't appeal. Humor is really hard like that. While that's fine, I don't think it's fair to say something is inherently less based on something as subjective as fourth wall-based content, especially when we're already in a realm of things like bouncing boobs and anime logic. It puts some people off already. And so some people are going to be put off before they even have a chance to notice things. Like how the characters representing the DS each fights with a staff, or how a staff looks like a stylus. Like how the character based on the Wii (and eventually general Nintendo-consoles) uses a hammer, like good old Mario, and eventually picked up a hat very reminiscent of the good plumber's. Like how they get voice actresses and other companies in on jokes and running gags that most people in the west will never get, especially if they only listen to the dub, or how they reference things that have been off the air for years, sometimes even decades. Or like how the ever polarizing Mega-Drive-inspired character combines elements from both the console's design and even the marketing campaign it had to create this gem of a character from the classic console wars-inspired tale that was Neptunia Victory and the upcoming Neptunia Rebirth 3. From color schemes to controllers being worked into designs to name and dialogue choices, even to stage designs and just deciding who interacts with who and how it happens, it's that kind of thing, among many others, all within Compile Heart's crazy chest of creativity that keeps many people coming back to them. Yeah, some people only are interested in them for the tatas and bazongas (or the lack of them in some cases), but if it was just cute girls and anime tropes that they offer, as many are so quick to suggest, Compile Heart would be out of a niche. Because other companies do that. A lot of other companies do that these days in Japan. And yeah, to a lot of people, these choices are a bunch of nothings. Anime tropes or things that just went completely over their heads or that don't amuse them in any way. The series, and many of Compile Heart's other games in general, do tend to feature things that seem straight out of an anime. Why that is a problem for a series with an intended main demographic consisting largely of anime fans, I'm not sure, but maybe someday I'll figure it out. After all of this, I really don't think I've really accomplished or figured out much of anything in hindsight. What I really just want to put emphasis on is what while it may not seem like it, just like I said the first time I wrote about them, if there is one thing Compile Heart has, even if it seems like an absurd idea to suggest, it's heart. Their games may not be the best, and they may not be the greatest developers in the world, but their games, and their company, has got heart written all over it. ... Literally, actually! Their games have continued to improve from when I started following them a few years back, always with new and fresh ideas every time, and they've branched out into other genres and even other brands and franchises throughout every step of the way. Some have been abandoned with they didn't pan out, like Mugen Souls, while others were reworked, like Monster Monpiece into Moero Chronicle. The company isn't successful every time, but no one is. In a period where so many companies are just playing it safe and sticking to their guns or what they're sure will sell, that's commendable. Maybe that still doesn't matter. Maybe a lot of people just can't get past the fact that something they dislike exists and gets attention from the few people who like it. Don't get it wrong, the people who like their games are a minority, and that will probably never change. In the end, I'm not really asking all the questions I asked in this blog, so no need to keep track of them all and give me every answer one at a time. I've heard it all before and I know the answers most will give. Like I've said quite a number of times before, I'm not trying to convert anyone to anything either. I just want to offer a different perspective in this increasingly deafening echo chamber of negativity, that's all. On a more personal note, I think the sad thing is that I don't think I could write that blog I wrote last Thanksgiving anymore. Between having seen the attitude people take towards the series for the past few months up close and personal and Idea Factory International's recent hackjob localizations, it's getting harder to keep giving a fuck like I have today. So I'll say it as bluntly and clearly as I can and leave it there: If you can appreciate them, Compile Heart (and Idea Factory by extension I suppose) is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the most creative developers in the industry right now. Not exactly saying much given some of their competition, but still, I mean it. At the same time, they're not for everyone and they probably never will be. If you can't, you can't, but that doesn't mean it's not there. It's not always there either, and not always to the same extent when it is, but it is what it is when it is what it is. As for me, considering how much time I wasted on this pointless, practically stream-of-consciousness blog? During E3 of all times? I'm really only posting this at this point because I don't want to have wasted the past couple of hours writing this only to let it just sit in a word document forever.
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Promoted from our community blogs

[It's ok not to like things. I can't get into King of Fighters, for example. But Overlordzetta's interest in Compile Heart's games has led him to believe that a perfectly normal game development company seems to get an inordinate amount of hatred for the content it creates. Do you think Compile Hearts deserves the kind of disdain it gets? Start a blog today of what you think! ~Strider]

I'm not going to beat around the bush with a fun intro today. Something's been on my mind, and many blog entries have been written and tossed to the wayside on the subject, so I think it's high time I put everything else on hold and make a real stab at it. Today, I'm talking Compile Heart. I'm not really going to be defending them, not properly anyway, and I probably will do a poor job of making whatever point I'm trying to make, if I'm even doing that in the first place. This whole subject has gotten to be really tiring for me now, so... this happened. It's happened many times, actually, I just never posted anything before, but 'tis the season, right?

... read + comment

Dead or Alive photo
Embarrassing

Team Ninja was supposed to enable online multiplayer for the PC port of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round by the end of June, months after the game debuted on Steam. Hasn't happened.

"[D]ue to major issues found during the beta test, we will be postponing the release of the update," said the studio. Participants can stick with the beta, if they want, or revert back to the offline game.

"We apologize for the last minute notification and regret deeply the trouble we have caused our Steam customers who were looking forward to the online functionality," said Team Ninja. "We will update the website with a new release date as soon as it is set."

I'd also like to point out that there's $294.95 worth of DLC for sale. No, really.

Notice Regarding the Update for Online Functionality for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round on Steam [Team Ninja] [Glorious image]

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Comic-Con photo
If you want, of course

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For the second straight year, Ubisoft's giving people an opportunity to showcase their assassin prowess. Equipped with a Ninja Warrior-like course, the French publisher is promoting Assassin's Creed Syndicate with a series of thematically-inspired obstacles for San Diego Comic-Con goers.

While the majority of the course is designed to test your agility, the most recognizable of the stunts will test your steeled nerves. The highlight of the whole affair is a 25-foot Big Ben structure that anyone can perform an Assassin's Creed signature Leap of Faith off of. It's surely the quickest way down.

Syndicate is Ubisoft's darling promotion at SDCC, but it has other things going on, too. There's a Tom Clancy's The Division "Dark Zone," and a generalized Ubi Workshop with more games to demo. Also, there are Assassin's Creed, Division, and Toy Soldiers: War Chest panels. But, it'll be tough to find time to do any of those if you're stuck standing on top of Big Ben replica paralyzed by fear.

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Spooky scary photo
No looping hallways here

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Kojima and co. gave us a glimpse of home-based horror with P.T. and I desperately want more, even if it's from a completely different group of people. Allison Road looks like the next closest thing.

A couple of notes about this pre-alpha video aside from the usual warnings: it won't spoil the scares and some elements, like the inventory system, aren't present. This is real gameplay, but to help keep the story a mystery, the footage shown here is "not what you'll see in the full version."

"These 13 minutes have been put together by our small team of six (that's including SFX & Music) to showcase where the development of the game is at and to give you a feel for the vibe that we're going for," said Lilith Ltd. Impressive stuff so far. Hope that 2016 release date doesn't slip.

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Uncharted 4 photo
Kill me? No thanks!

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Hey, remember when I crouched in a bush beside skating teens and told you about the extended Uncharted 4: A Thief's End demonstration I saw at E3? (I wrote about it, too.)

Now you can watch that extended gameplay and see just how monstrously unkillable Nathan Drake is. How come pirate goons don't whisper, Batman-style, about the mythic figure with un-dislocatable-shoulders who kills all goons and muscle?

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Bombernauts photo
Baseball bats and bombs

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I probably can't take the day off to play Super Bomberman 2, so I'll pass along word of Bombernauts instead. It's almost ready for us. Ahead of the game's July 31 release on Steam, here's a refresher.

Bombernauts is about bombs, yes, but it's more about knocking your competition off the field than flat out blowing them up. Explosions will help or hinder you, as will "dozens of stupid powerups" including black holes and luchador masks. It's a little like Smash Bros. in that way.

Unfortunately, multiplayer (two to four people) is online only -- but it is drop-in/drop-out. Bombernauts will be $10 while in Early Access and purchases come with a giftable copy. Programmer Tyler Glaiel (Closure) expects the full release to happen in "about six months."

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WWE 2K16 photo
Bulking up

Developer Visual Concepts and wrestler Seth Rollins have a lot in common. They're both the architects and the future of the WWE. The only difference is that Visual Concepts handles the 2K video game side of things, not the actual wrestling.

As it turns out, the developer's idea for the future of the WWE 2K series has a lot of WWE Superstars and Divas. In an Instagram post, Visual Concepts revealed that this year's game will feature more than 120 characters; WWE 2K15 topped out at 67 unique models. Keep in mind that this number isn't bolstered by alternate outfits and whatnot; it's indicative of actual wrestlers and managers.

Right now, it's unclear where these extra wrestlers will come from. In the past year, a fair amount of key talent left the WWE (CM Punk, AJ Lee, Alberto del Rio, and Batista to name a few). It's likely the roster will be expanded by digging deeper into NXT and by including more classic performers. Regardless, this is some (sweet chin) music to anyone who believes variety is the spice of life.

wwe2kdev [Instagram]

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Destructoid Magazine is here, and it can be free!

Jul 01 // Jonathan Holmes
Destructoid Magazine: Issue 1 Exclusive Bloodstained cover by Inti Creates artist Yuji Natsume Exclusive interview with Bloodstained creator and Castlevania legend Koji Igarashi A detailed examination of the MOTHER/EarthBound series and the reasons why Nintendo so afraid to love it, featuring artwork by Camille Young, Robert 'Robaato' Porter  and Jorge Velez Exclusive sprite art of adorable Cammy and blubbery Birdie from Street Fighter V from Martin Wörister, with a preview of the game to match A mini-guide for Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS by ZeRo, the game's world champion, with art by Corey 'Reyyy' Lewis and David North A career retrospective with Mariel Cartwright (Skullgirls) and Adam Tierney (WayForward), including exclusive artwork and hints about upcoming projects A Splatoon for Beginners' guide by Chris Carter and Jonathan Holmes, with artwork by Sarah Thomas, Robert 'Robaato' Porter and Jorge Velez An exclusive full color Arem comic by Corey 'Reyyy' Lewis And look what GameFan made! GameFan: Issue 11 Our E3 picks come to life over 14 pages of scrumptious highlights HD Remasters: 10 we’d most like to see (and you’ll never guess) Blade & Soul LIVES. Hyung Tae Kim’s sweeping online epic (finally) heads west. Q&A with Omega Force on all things Kaiju for Toukiden Kiwami 20 plus pages of reviews!  Here's a low-resolution preview of Destructoid Magazine, Issue 1 Get your copy today!  You can pre-order the print copy here
GameFan/Destructoid photo
Debut flip issue with GameFan

Destructoid Magazine Issue 1 is finally here! To clear up any confusion: yes, it is a real, actual paper magazine you can lick. It's 36 pages long (minus ads), which isn't too shabby. Better yet, if you flip the magazine over you'll be treated to GameFan Issue 11, which is a whopping 64 pages long (minus ads). That makes a total of 100 pages hand-crafted, custom-designed video game magazine, just for you. You can pre-order the print copy here.

We hope to continue publishing an issue every two months, but we'll only be able to do that with your continued support. The good news is, lending that support won't necessarily cost you anything. Destructoid's patron HUGE members can download their early digital copy today for free from the HUGE perks page. Later in the week the digital download will be free to everyone.

Our top priority with this magazine is to share our love of video games with you in the most expressive, interesting, and honest way possible. GameFan has been striving for that goal since the 1990s, which made this team-up a perfect fit. The only thing that puzzles me about it is that it took us this long to make it happen. 

Read on for more about what's inside our debut issue:

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PlayStation Plus photo
And, sweet, Geometry Wars 3 for Vita

I feel like a digital hoarder with PlayStation Plus. So much stuff I don't need and never will.

But I do need Rain, that game about a boy who is invisible unless he's in rain. Missed that back in 2013 and haven't given it any thought since. Excellence choice. The full lineup for July is:

  • Rocket League (PS4)
  • Styx: Master of Shadows (PS4)
  • MouseCraft (PS4, PS3, PS Vita)
  • Entwined (PS4, PS3, PS Vita)
  • Rain (PS3)
  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved (PS Vita)

Curious thing about Geometry Wars 3 -- it supports co-op on the same screen. One person uses the d-pad and closest analog stick; the other uses the other analog stick and face buttons. Get cozy.

PS Plus: Free Games for July 2015 [PlayStation Blog]

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Arslan photo
Finally, actual in-game footage

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The Heroic Legend of Arslan is getting a Musuo game that will arrive in Japan later this year on PS3 and PS4. Arslan is a classic manga series that's pretty popular in the east (and just got a new anime series), though it is still an unlikely pairing.

Thankfully we now have concrete gameplay, including a look at some of the cast as well as combat. There's even a character who attacks enemies by painting on an easel! I have to say I really dig the style, as they nailed the anime look -- I'd be interested in importing it if it doesn't get localized.

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Onechanbara photo
Subheaders are the bane of my existence

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is coming to North America on July 21, XSEED Games just announced.

After a brief hands-on session with the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive at E3 the other week, I'm actually looking forward to this one -- which is surprising, given how forgettable my last taste of the series (Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers on the Wii) was.

It's still dumb, gory fanservice, but the combat mechanics actually feel solid this time around and the soundtrack is pretty killer as well. Speaking of which, in addition to the standard edition (releasing digitally via the PlayStation Store for $40), Z2: Chaos is receiving a limited physical release featuring an 80-minute soundtrack CD, 80-page book (guess they like the number 80), and DLC costumes. 

NIS America will be publishing Onechanbara Z2: Chaos in PAL territories sometime this fall.

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