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Review: Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition

Feb 09 // Zack Furniss
Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)Developer: TechlandPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 The Following doesn't weave into Dying Light's main campaign. To start the expansion, you choose it separately in the main menu. You can drag your character's progress and inventory back and forth between the two campaigns at any time, but you can't just go to a fast travel and warp from one to the other. Once you begin, a short cutscene cuts to the chase: your character, Kyle Crane, has become aware of a route leading out of Harran. In this wild outback area, there's a cult that claims to have found some kind of immunity to the zombie virus. As this would benefit your cadre of survivors, you set out to investigate. The new area, called the Countryside, is huge. Techland claims that it's larger than the entirety of the original game, and I'd agree with that after playing to 100% completion. Since there are numerous open fields, it's not quite as packed as the urban environments in Dying Light proper, but I found this to be welcoming. It's not all open, either: you'll go from farms, to beaches, to graveyards, to caves, to factory areas, so you're constantly being stimulated in a new way. With a larger map, the customizable buggy goes from novelty to necessity rather quickly. Using a new Driver skill tree, which you level up by doing racing competitions, ramming zombies, maintaining top speed, and jumping off of ramps, you'll be able to improve your ride and add gadgets such as electrical pulses and UV lights. Since there are always zombies to squash under your wheels, this tree levels up rapidly. The buggy starts off entertaining, and gets better as you tinker with it. You can craft better tires, brakes, engines, and the like to make it faster and more responsive. I'm a sucker for driving in first-person games as it is, and driving in The Following might be the best incarnation I've played to date. A crossbow has also been added to your arsenal, which is a nice way to take out biters without attracting a horde. There are four different bolt types that you can use: normal, toxic, impact, and stun. I generally stuck to the normal arrows, especially when I snuck around the new Volatile caves. In Dying Light, Volatiles are the creatures that only come out during the night and can kill you within seconds if you aren't paying attention. In The Following, you can go directly to their nests to try to thin out their presence in certain areas. If you go in during the day, the caves will be littered with these bastards, and sneaking through with a crossbow was about the most tense this game can get. Going during the night is the safer bet, but I found it less thrilling when the odds weren't stacked against me. Another welcome addition is the Freaks of Nature, giant versions of the more devious types of infected strewn throughout the Countryside. The game recommends that you only try to fight these jerks with friends in co-op sessions, but if you find their weak point (or bring a really good gun like a cheater [me]), you can take them out solo. They offer special blueprints to create ever-more-vicious weapons. Usually you'll find these Freaks when you're on another mission, and suddenly a health bar will appear on the top of the screen a kick-ass John Carpenter-esque song will start pulsing. As far as the missions and story go, they're handled much better than the original game. This time, Techland is less interested in trying to make you care about certain characters and more interested in getting you to find out more about the cult. Instead of being a scary group of folks that are out to kill you, you're tasked with earning their trust so you can learn their secret. This leads to a mission structure where the side quests must be completed in order to progress in the main story. I didn't have a problem with this, because the side stuff, as before, is generally more intriguing than the actual story. Looking back on it, there aren't many story quests in The Following, but it all feels interwoven in a way that encourages you to scour every last bit of the Countryside. The only quest that I had trouble with was the penultimate one that involves some timed driving, and if you have no health packs, you're sort of fucked. I eventually persevered, but it was frustrating to be locked into the finale and unable to make it easier.  The final mission has some curious implications about the overall plot in Dying Light, but the ending shoots that momentum right through the head. I'm still hoping a sequel comes out of this, but I'm a little confused as to where it would go now. At this point, I must mention a caveat: I found Dying Light to be too easy about halfway through the game, so I played The Following on hard. I usually don't like to blather about the "right" way to play a game, but if you're going to play this expansion, I urge you to play hard mode.  Instead of the usual "enemies do more damage, and you do less" type of difficulty, Techland's version of hard is an improvement in almost every way. Medkits are no longer an instant heal, and instead provide healing over time. If you want to craft something or look at your map, you can't pause the game any more. Survivor sense doesn't show you every little item in every little room, so you have to more carefully observe your environments. If this sounds tedious, I promise that it makes the game both more immersive and more rewarding. Since this is part of the Enhanced Edition, which owners of the base game get for free (minus the expansion), there are a litany of other improvements to be found. There are daily bounties and a new Nightmare difficulty that have been added to rack up tons of experience, which you'll want for the new legendary levels. After maxing out a skill tree, points that would've gone to that tree now go to your legendary rank. You can spend these points on various buffs: 50% more firearm damage, more crossbow damage, better health regen, and other bonuses. There are a total of 250 of these points to earn, and they make you incredibly powerful. You'll earn them pretty slowly unless you play on Nightmare mode. In my 22 hours with The Following, I reached level five. Clearly, I need to jump back in there already. The Following was larger than I expected, and it maintains a high level of quality throughout. Being pared down from the bloat of Dying Light earns it more moment-to-moment excitement, and I greedily consumed it over the weekend. The last few minutes have me pondering the future of what's clearly going to become a franchise, and I'm ready for whatever Techland brings next. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dying Light review photo
It should still be called Far Die
Dying Light surprised the heck out of me last year. While I mostly agree with Chris about the various faults and clichés found within (you can read my thoughts here, from back in my before-Destructoid days), it wa...

Rainbow Six Siege photo
Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege gets frigid for its first free map


Black Ice
Feb 02
// Brett Makedonski
As classics such as The Thing and Alien vs. Predator have taught us, people get hurt when the temperature goes down. Rainbow Six Siege is already about hurting people (killing them, in fact!), so the game's fi...

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III: Awakening

Feb 02 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: TreyarchPublisher: ActivisionReleased: February 2, 2016 (PS4) / TBA (PC, Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) When it comes to map design, Treyarch is one of the best in the business. One of its go-to staples is the three-lane approach, which allows for all sorts of interesting firefights and strategies throughout every game type. It takes it to an extreme here with Gauntlet, as it hosts three unique themes in each lane -- tropical, arctic, and industrial. Each area evokes feelings of the past Black Ops maps, Jungle, Discovery, and Kowloon respectively, which is good company to be in. Gauntlet is instantly recognizable, and really feels like three maps in one. If anything it's a bit too tunnel-oriented as folks will no doubt have issues with a lack of elevation (especially in the arctic and jungle themes), but it gets the job done and I'm glad it's in the rotation. [embed]338194:62083:0[/embed] Splash (pictured up top) is typical Treyarch at its finest. It's an absurd water park map that wouldn't feel out of place at Disney World's Caribbean Beach Resort. It's bright, it's littered with shops and rides, and even has a Main Street area. Water slides dot the landscape, as do cute mascot signs that top the previous meta Burger Town franchise -- it would feel right at home in the wackier Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare games. It's crazy that you can consistently read the detail on individual signs now as well (a few of which made me laugh, like the "no selfie stick" one), instead of haphazardly trying to read blurry scrawls. It's one of my favorite maps in years, with a wide array of open areas and indoor close-quarters combat sections. Skyjacked, quite simply, is a remake of Hijacked from Black Ops II. This map was a bit divisive in the community due to its close-quarters focus and propensity to promote camping, so most of you have already made up your mind on it. Personally it was one of my favorites, so I'm glad to see Treyarch bringing it back here, and was happy to play it again. The new theme isn't a half-measure like some past remakes, as the entire affair now takes place in a floating fortress, set to the backdrop of an ongoing city battle. It's a remake of a good map that's made even better due to jumpjet and wallrunning capabilities. There's usually one map that I outright dislike in a pack, and this time it's Rise. It's far too gated and familiar for my tastes, and is nearly indistinguishable from a few industrial levels included in the base package (namely Exodus). There are times where you'd think a cool new area is just waiting around a corner, but then the game doesn't allow you to actually go there due to invisible walls. It's almost like they spent too much time building the other three to really put the proper amount of care in here. If it comes up in the rotation I usually cringe. Der Eisendrache (The Iron Dragon) caps off the DLC, which immediately adds more of an incentive to pick up Awakening. Peppering in one zombie (or alien) map is a strategy the other Call of Duty developers (Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer) have adopted for good reason -- the sheer amount of depth in these things keep people coming back for more. I really dig the whole castle theme, which basically goes full Wolfenstein from the start. I'm sad to see the Jeff Goldblum crew seemingly isn't returning for more, but the original cast is iconic enough to last, spearheaded by Steve Blum's Dempsey. The animated intro certainly helps give the level a different feel as well, and it's crazy that Treyarch is still building upon the lore it created so many years ago in World at War. Der Eisendrache surprised me as well with its open layout, with plenty of room to move, lots of teleporters, and tons of secrets that players will be tracking down weeks after launch. As Nikolai even remarks during Der Eisendrache, "will there ever be an end to this nightmare?" Not as long as Activision keeps selling DLC, there isn't! But one man's nightmare is another man's video game, and the good news is that each Call of Duty developer has been pushing itself harder in recent years to justify the price. If you still play Black Ops III, you can't really go wrong with Awakening -- especially since the new maps are now built into normal playlists from the get-go.
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Four maps and some zombies
It's still crazy to me that I'm loading up a Call of Duty DLC pack first on PlayStation 4. After years of Microsoft-dominated timed exclusivity Sony finally has its shot at heading it up, and it has perfect timing with Black Ops III. As one of the best Call of Duty games in years, it allows Awakening plenty of room to breathe, and lets Treyarch be its unconventional self.

Knuckles Smash photo
Knuckles Smash

Oh, a weird-lookin' Knuckles Mii is coming to Smash too


Wednesday, Wednesday, WEDNESDAY!
Feb 01
// Brett Makedonski
This Wednesday's arrival of Bayonetta and Corrin as the final Super Smash Bros. DLC isn't quite the entirety of the last Smash DLC. Easily overlooked is the sixth wave of Mii Fighters, Nintendo's avatars dressed in silly cost...

Forza 6 photo
Forza 6

New Forza 6 Porsche pack leaked by Amazon


Whoops
Feb 01
// Vikki Blake
Details of an as yet unannounced Porsche pack for Forza Motorsport 6 has been leaked on Amazon. Although a Porsche pack has made its way to Forza Horizon 2, this is the first time Porsche-flavoured content will be h...
Metal Gear Online photo
Metal Gear Online

Quiet will be playable in Metal Gear Online


More DLC scheduled for March
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
Boy, Metal Gear Online. I sure forget about that in a hurry. Those of you who have stuck with The Phantom Pain's multiplayer suite and plan to continue doing so might be pleased to know that more content is coming in March 20...
Killer Instinct photo
Killer Instinct

Watch Killer Instinct's Kim Wu in action


Big changes for Season 3
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
Our prior coverage of Killer Instinct has been repeatedly met with comments expressing love and affection for Kim Wu. Well, y'all, today's the day. We're getting our first full look at the martial artist with a "friggin' drag...
Star Wars photo
Star Wars

Disney will not allow EA to break canon with Star Wars Battlefront


But I want to be BB-8!
Jan 30
// Zack Furniss
While we've known since last month that Star Wars Battlefront is going to focus on the original trilogy for this release in the series, we didn't know exactly why. An EA earnings call (via VideoGamer) has shed some light on w...

Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider - Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch

Jan 29 // Laura Kate Dale
Rise of the Tomb Raider - Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Crystal DynamicsPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $9.99Released: January 26, 2016 Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is a short, story focused piece of Tomb Raider DLC that focuses on creepy supernatural elements, tough environmental puzzles, and exploring the complex relationship between Lara Croft and her father. Set in the Wicked Vale, a new region exclusive to the DLC, Baba Yaga tasks Lara with hunting down Baba Yaga, a witch who has allegedly terrorised locals for generations. Gone are the enemies that make sense, replaced by ethereal tormentors. While these foes and obstacles may be mechanically very similar to enemies in the base game, they feel very tonally different in practice and work well to emphasise the game's narrative themes. Oh, and the fact the DLC culminates in an over the top awesome supernatural boss battle, which provides satisfying amounts of conclusion to the plot, is fairly impressive. While most of the DLC is set in the Wicked Vale, an environment that was fascinating to explore, one section does throw you back into a combat arena from the main game. With the DLC only clocking in at two hours long, it's disappointing that any of it was retreading old ground. [embed]337554:62045:0[/embed] While the gameplay in Baba Yaga is unchanged from the main game, the difficulty of environmental puzzles is nicely ramped up, paced for progression from the end of the base game. Completing it unlocks a new weapon that fits nicely with the themes of the DLC as a bonus, but the lack of any new post game challenge tombs meant I had very little incentive to try my new weapon out. So, here's the deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider's newest DLC. If you're looking for several hours of story content that's supernatural in nature, yet offers very little additional content post story? Well, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is probably your thing. Just be aware it reuses some assets in that two hour length and offers very little in the way of options for using your weapon once the story is over. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.] 
Rise of the Tomb Raider photo
That's one freaky temple
Rise of The Tomb Raider's main campaign, while lengthy, tries to keep its gameplay grounded for the most part in realistic threats. The game's first story DLC, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, turns that on its head, repla...

Warhammer photo
Warhammer

Vermintide is getting a free Last Stand mode


By the end of February
Jan 28
// Jordan Devore
Recent talk about multiple upcoming Games Workshop projects reminds me that I missed Fatshark's Left 4 Dead-ish take on the property, End Times - Vermintide, and need to remedy the situation before long. Some good news on tha...
Ubisoft photo
Ubisoft

Ubisoft spills the beans for The Division's Season Pass


DLC is the place to be
Jan 28
// Chris Carter
The Division is an Ubisoft game, so it will have DLC. Lots of it. We all assumed this, now we know -- the publisher has laid out their plans openly before its March launch. In addition to free regular updates, there will...
Sunless Sea photo
Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea celebrates submarines with a free Steam weekend


Sorry, zubmarines
Jan 28
// Darren Nakamura
Sunless Sea is one of those games I wanted to check out last year but never got around to. I guess I should have, because it showed up on a couple of our personal game of the year lists. This weekend, I have even less of an e...
Dying Light Nightmare photo
Dying Light Nightmare

Dying Light's Nightmare mode looks like a treat


When the apocalypse isn't bad enough
Jan 26
// Nic Rowen
No Easter egg weapons, longer nights, tougher zombies, and less survivor's sense. Sound like fun? No? Well, I guess that is kind of the point of Dying Light's Nightmare mode, part of the upcoming Enhanced Edition DLC. Don't w...
Battlefront DLC photo
Battlefront DLC

These are Star Wars Battlefront's DLC plans


Some free, some paid
Jan 26
// Jordan Devore
Despite liking Star Wars Battlefront quite a lot initially -- far more than I would've expected, going in -- I think it has been, what? A month since I last played? That weekend bonus XP event in December is the last time I r...
MKX Cyber Sub-Zero photo
MKX Cyber Sub-Zero

Cyber Sub-Zero sneaks into MKX as Triborg's fourth variation


Triborg looking cool
Jan 25
// Nic Rowen
I never understood the popularity of Mortal Kombat's cyber-ninjas. I mean, you'd think if anyone could appreciate a pack of robots in a fighting game it would be me, but Cyrax, Sektor and the rest of the metal gang always see...
Elder Scrolls Online photo
Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online: Thieves Guild's trailer is the least sneaky thing possible


Steal everything... with explosions!
Jan 22
// Joe Parlock
One of the coolest questlines in both Oblivion and Skyrim was the Thieves Guild. Sure, it’s never been as memorable the Dark Brotherhood, but I always find planning heists and dealing with the politics of a band of thi...
Mortal Kombat X photo
Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X rewards players who waited it out


Get both Kombat Packs for cheap-ish
Jan 21
// CJ Andriessen
It's been a few months now since the second Kombat Pack for Mortal Kombat X was revealed, and while we've known which characters will appear in the DLC pack since last month, today Warner Bros. finally told us how much we'll have to pay to get our hands on them.
Batman photo
Batman

Here's a roundup of all the major Batman: Arkham Knight DLC packs


There's tons of useless junk too
Jan 21
// Chris Carter
A number of people have asked me how all of the DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight has measured up since the Season Pass is done. My response is simple -- you can skip out on the pass itself. Instead of paying out for a bunch...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Here's Splatoon's final map, Ancho-V Games


#ithinkimoutofajob
Jan 21
// Vikki Blake
Splatoon’s final map, Ancho-V Games, will roll out at 6.00pm PT today in the US, and tomorrow in Europe. This final stage is set within the office of an independent video game developer.
EDF Mission Pack 1 photo
EDF Mission Pack 1

Earth Defense Force 4.1 has some new missions


The first DLC level pack is out
Jan 15
// Jordan Devore
Unsurprisingly, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is getting extra missions post-release. The first DLC pack, Time of the Mutants, released this week on PlayStation Network. It's $9.99 for 26 levels. A second...
Oh! Daisy photo
Oh! Daisy

Sarasaland's Princess Daisy is the next costume for Super Mario Maker


With annoying sound effects to boot!
Jan 13
// Jed Whitaker
Arguably the best princess in Sarasaland (if Peach isn't visiting) is finally returning to the limelight with a new costume in Super Mario Maker. I'm sure Daisy fans will be rejoicing everywhere. There are many of them,...
Payday 2 photo
Payday 2

Payday 2 is getting paid Goat Simulator DLC


This costing $7 really gets my goat
Jan 13
// Joe Parlock
Remember last year, when Payday 2 developer Overkill introduced microtransactions to its game, despite promising it never would? Remember the long trail of blunders and screw-ups it made after that? Well it wants you to...
Mortal Kombat X photo
Mortal Kombat X

Alien and a drunken fart man killing everything in a new Mortal Kombat X video


Both silent and deadly
Jan 12
// Brett Makedonski
Few video game trailers are as effective and efficient as the Mortal Kombat X new character videos. They show the fighters, one at a time, destroying the opposition as you could theoretically do if you were controlling ...
Dying Light gameplay photo
Dying Light gameplay

Take to the country with 16 minutes of Dying Light's The Following


First 16 minutes of gameplay
Jan 11
// Steven Hansen
Dying Light was one of the unexpected hits of 2015, with its parkour hook providing just enough to help stomach yet another zombie game. IGN has The Following expansion producer Tymon Smektała with a guided tour of the ...
Hardline Getaway DLC photo
Hardline Getaway DLC

Battlefield Hardline gets Getaway DLC, if anyone's playing


Don't ax me no questions
Jan 07
// Steven Hansen
Sure, everyone's busying themselves on Battlefield: Star Wars, who wants to mess with a year-old, Visceral-developed Battlefield Hardline? Some people, maybe, as EA's Night at the Roxbury is still getting support. The Getawa...
Just Cause 3 photo
Just Cause 3

New Just Cause 3 patch coming 'later' this month


Expect new DLC later this month, too
Jan 06
// Vikki Blake
The first instalment of Just Cause 3's Air, Land and Sea Expansion Pass DLC - Sky Fortress - is almost complete.  "Whilst one side of the studio is working on patches, fixes and optimisations for the game, which wil...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ expansion will have new items, bosses, and possibly your voice


Also coming to PS4 and Xbox One
Jan 05
// Zack Furniss
I haven't even touched The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth yet (I'm waiting for the PlayStation 4 version since that's where my save file is), yet Edmund McMillen and Tyrone Rodriguez are already talking up the next expansion, A...

Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider: Endurance Mode

Jan 05 // Chris Carter
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Endurance Mode (Xbox One [reviewed], Xbox 360, PC, PS4)Developer: Crystal Dynamics (Xbox One), Nixxes Software (Xbox 360)Publisher: Microsoft (Xbox One, 360); Square Enix (PC, PS4)MSRP: $9.99Released: December 29, 2015 Endurance Mode is very light on story, offering up a shaky excuse for its existence which isn't even all that necessary. Lara, seemingly breaking from her travels, is in search of artifacts as is the evil mustache-twirling Trinity organization. Her job is to locate caves and recover said artifacts, then signal a helicopter and high-tail it out of there with as many goodies as she can grab. The catch is, players now have a food and warmth meter. Grabbing supplies such as bark and berries (or killing animals for food) actually has a point now, rather than a gamified version of an upgrade system like the core story. Hilariously, it even goes as deep as needing resources to light the signal fire to even escape, something I failed at in my first run. Ammo is often much more scarce a la Resident Evil as well, which is a nice touch -- I'd almost always find myself out of arrows during nearly all of my runs. Relic caves are actually mini-crypts, and are roughly 5-10 minute, bite-sized dungeons of sorts with random trap types. They're fun to play through, and don't overstay their welcome given their short length. Additionally, the rewards for actually exploring these caves are decent, including credit payouts for more Expedition rewards, and new weapons. I would prefer a lot of these elements to just be baked into the core game, but since I assume a lot of folks would complain that it's "too hard," we have this mode instead -- a risk-reward, arcadey score attack concept. It even features challenges (locate five crypts), which are an achievement-ception of sorts. At times, it feels like a rushed bit of DLC. There's only one Endurance sandbox for starters, and as a whole, the map feels rigid and forced -- with plenty of ways to corral players into specific zones. All of that cheapness generally washes away when you're in caves, but I would have preferred the overworld to be just as enjoyable. The best part is that it involves cards. If you're into that aspect of Rise, this is probably the best game type for it, in fact. For the uninitiated, cards modify the experience -- making it tougher or easier -- depending on what cards you play before match. For example, you can up your rewards by making enemies do more damage, or lower them by taking a specific outfit that automatically grants you the entire Brawler skill tree. Some cards are limited to a one-time use, but tons more, including a large pack that comes with the Survival DLC, are permanent. Deciding whether or not to buy Endurance Mode for Rise of the Tomb Raider is a pretty easy decision. Did you play and enjoy the Expeditions? If so, go ahead and grab it, if not, skip it.
Tomb Raider DLC review photo
Don't starve
I'm surprised how much mileage I've gotten out of Rise of the Tomb Raider. While most developers are keen on stuffing multiplayer into every single project, Crystal Dynamics did the right thing but nixing it in Rise, instead adding in a much more enticing Expeditions gametype. Endurance Mode isn't exactly as thrilling as it sounds, but it expands upon Expeditions quite well.

Future of Splatoon photo
Future of Splatoon

Splatoon's content updates will end soon, but it won't be abandoned


New Splatfests, balance updates in 2016
Dec 29
// Jordan Devore
While I was sad to hear Splatoon is about to make its final big DLC push, I have to look back on the post-launch support fondly. It has been a hell of a year for this increasingly wonderful game. In a Famitsu interview picked...
Bayonetta photo
Bayonetta

Bayonetta in Smash almost raised the game's rating in Japan


'Sexual exposure'
Dec 24
// Chris Carter
In her debut character trailer for Super Smash Bros. Bayonetta is said to "get wicked," but apparently she was almost too wicked for Japan. Sakurai recently shared his thoughts on the upcoming Smash characters with Famit...

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