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Gamescom

Ori and the Blind Forest is a lot more than just a beautiful game

Aug 14 // Brett Makedonski
For the 30-minute showing, Moon only really wanted to talk about the gameplay and platforming aspects of Ori. Starting approximately three hours into the game, the demo began right as a new mechanic was obtained -- the bash ability. It's just one of the several unique mechanics that will be introduced as Ori runs its course, but the core philosophy will be the same each time. Like all well-designed games, Ori makes sure that the player knows how to use the tools in its arsenal. When something new is opened, the next several sections will ensure that the player's honed -- if not perfected -- the skill before moving on. Later in the game, an amalgamation of the abilities combined with some platforming prowess will be the only way to advance, so it's essential to know them early. In our demo, bash (which might as well have been called "dash") was the one that Moon wanted to focus on. It's a multi-faceted tool with many uses to accomplish different goals. With regard to puzzle solving, it's a means to redirect projectiles in different directions. In terms of combat, it's a handy alternate attack if you ever feel like switching things up. And, maybe most crucially, it bolsters the platforming by adding some much-needed distance mid-jump. Even though Ori looks as if it'll be a lot of things, that last one's the heart of the entire experience -- the platforming. Without it, Ori would be just another beautiful puzzle game (not that there's anything wrong with that). However, it's the incessant platforming challenges that make the game a true test of skill -- something that looks as if it'll cause actual frustration instead of being a walk in the park. Luckily, that frustration won't come as a result of Ori's ineptitude. If the final release is as polished as the demo was, any failures will fall squarely on the player's shoulders. It's been a long time since I've felt platforming controls that were as tight as Ori's, evoking memories of my time spent with Super Meat Boy. That's not bad company to have in this conversation. Really, that's the aspect of Ori and the Blind Forest that I'm most excited about -- the well-controlled platforming. These games can have a million tricks up their sleeves -- gorgeous aesthetics, unique mechanics, wondrous music -- the list could go on forever. But, without a solid core tenet tying everything together, it'll ultimately come off as sloppy. Fortunately, that's not the case with Ori; it's poised to be a platformer that we remember for a long time, and not just because it looks so damn good.
Ori preview photo
There's a really solid platformer in there too
One glance at Moon Studios' Ori and the Blind Forest is enough to be immediately enamored by the game's visuals. Actually, it's almost an inevitability. Every piece of media that Microsoft releases for Ori draws att...

Ryse on PC photo
Ryse on PC

Ryse: Son of Rome on PC shows tons of detail, runs at 4K


But you'll need a pretty nice rig
Aug 14
// Dale North
This fall, Xbox One launch game Ryse: Son of Rome comes to the PC with some significant visual upgrades. This morning at gamescom, we met with Crytek's Brian Chambers, senior producer on Ryse, to check out the PC build for the first time. It looks goooood.
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Put your hands in the air, this is for the players
Sony came and delivered pretty much what I expected from their gamescom 2014 press conference. They had a boatload of indie games with interesting visual styles. They've continued their expansive trajectory of porting bigger...

Battlefield photo
Battlefield

Battlefield Hardline's single-player campaign reminds me of Far Cry 3


A 12-minute slice of gameplay
Aug 13
// Jordan Devore
Up until now, Visceral Games has concentrated on showing the multiplayer side of Battlefield Hardline. That's been fine, but unlike most other Battlefield titles, I'm actually somewhat interested in hearing about the single-...
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Except for that Tomb Raider thing
Microsoft's press conferences often leave me with cranial damage from head-to-desk impact, but their gamescom 2014 presser felt pretty okay to me. I'm excited to see Microsoft making an attempt to partner with more indies. A...

Sony does more for Vita than it gets credit for, but it's okay to be frustrated

Aug 13 // Kyle MacGregor
The outrage and despondency came swiftly. And judging by the reactions, you wouldn't know that Sony is actually exhibiting Vita titles at gamescom. A lot of them, actually. Not everyone can walk the Koelnmesse show floor this week and see that for themselves, though. People from around the world did, however, tune in to watch that press conference, and witnessed what they perceived to be Sony ignoring one of its front-line products. That's not exactly new. The Vita has seen less and less time in the spotlight in recent years. Once it became clear the platform wasn't ever going to set the world ablaze, Sony seemed to dial its efforts back a notch, setting the burners to simmer. But to say the portable has "no games," as some have suggested, is simply untrue. And while Sony doesn't seem willing to put the Vita in center stage, one individual at the company vociferously disagreed with those asserting the handheld is lacking new software. That man is Shahid Ahmad, a senior business development manager at Sony responsible for inking deals that brought titles like Fez, Hotline Miami, OlliOlli, and so many others to PlayStation systems. Much of his focus (and passion) seems to be centered around the Vita, and he's become somewhat of a champion for the device. On Tuesday, Ahmad responded to critics on Twitter by recounting a litany of excellent-looking Vita presently titles in development. That ledger included the likes of Titan Souls, Axiom Verge, Papers, Please, Tales of Hearts R... The list goes on and on.  Some of those titles are exclusives, whereas others are most definitely not. No matter what you think about what Sony is doing with Vita, just don't use the phrase "indie ports" around Ahmad and his team. Them's fightin' words, apparently. Developers do not just show up at Sony's doorstep with finished products looking to turn a quick buck. Folks like Ahmad put in a lot of hard work and effort to court developers, curate, and help bring games to market. And in the case of Sony's Santa Monica Studio, a lot of resources go into incubation programs, fostering talent, and helping with the creative process as well as logistics.  It's true, though: The Vita library features a myriad of games that you can experience elsewhere. And while it doesn't take anything away from the system necessarily, it doesn't make for a terribly compelling case as to why you should purchase one either. The conventional wisdom states what the Vita really needs is some hot exclusives. The problem there is exclusive games in this day and age are a dying breed. They might convince consumers to buy one device over another, but they don't benefit anyone other than the platform holder. A lot of people look at an exclusive game and see something they will never get to play. Did you notice how people responded to the new Tomb Raider (falsely) being announced as an Xbox exclusive? It was like poking a hornet's nest. Not many people can justify the purchase of yet another system just to get their hands on the Rise of the Tomb Raiders of the world. The folks at Microsoft sure hope you'll come running into their arms, though. They're certainly banking on it. Exclusives don't benefit developers either. Why would you want to limit the size of your audience? Not everyone can count on Microsoft lining their pockets to keep their products off competing platforms. So, exclusives are becoming increasingly rare. Still, exclusives happen. It just takes time. Eventually systems will amass a number of unique titles and we fence-sitters will inevitably acquiesce. A nice library goes a long way to making consumers amenable to sinking their hard-earned dollars on a device. You want to feel good about your purchase. It's the same for early adopters, in a way. They want to justify their investment. They bought a promise, and if it's never delivered, then that's disappointing. I suppose the Vita is a bit of a disappointment then. It's a lovely system. It has so much potential. And yet, so few people actually seem to want one. It exists in a wasteland between home consoles, Nintendo 3DS, and mobile phones. The install base is tiny, so big publishers aren't making games for it; and because there are so few big games, people aren't buying the thing. It's a vicious cycle. The cavalry isn't coming. EA said thanks, but no thanks. Activision put out a truly awful Call of Duty game, before following suit. Ubisoft actually managed to do right by Vita owners with Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, you know, before repackaging it as a high-definition remaster for consoles and PC. It's basically up to Sony to make its platform a success, but that's not really happening. Awesome console-quality experiences, such as Killzone: Mercenary and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, seem to be a thing of the past. Sony says the economics for AAA games just don't work on Vita. So the task of propping up the system seems to have fallen squarely on the shoulders of developers like Mike Bithell and midsize purveyors of Japanese goods. The economics seem to work a tad better for Atlus, XSEED, and indie developers. Teams with low operating costs can turn a tidy profit in an ecosystem that big-budget studios cannot. And that's just fine for them. It's just very unlikely to move the needle for Sony in any significant way, though.  Maybe that's okay. Maybe Sony is content with having a dedicated machine for fans of obscure JRPGs and indie games. I'm perfectly fine with it. I love that stuff. It just might be nice if we could share that love with more people. It might be nice if Sony tossed in a two-minute reel of that stuff amid the hour of glossy PS4 stuff. Maybe someday I'll get to see the Vita in the limelight again, even just for a moment. Until then, I'll just keep an eye out for baffling product placements, like that one in the first season of House of Cards.
Anger Vita Sony wow photo
Time for some tough love
A lot of people seemed disappointed when Sony closed its gamescom press conference without much mention of the PlayStation Vita. And it isn't difficult to understand why. The struggling portable seemed like an afterthought ye...

Infamous photo
The power of neon!
Jack of all trades, master of none. Sure Delson from Infamous: Second Son has the ability to suck up other people's powers for his own, which is pretty cool in its own right. But those that just have one specific power to man...

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Mordor Shatitself?


Also gamescom floor gallery
Aug 13
// Dale North
Here are some of the weird and neat things we found running around the gamescom show floor today. I don't even know what's going on with those noodles.
Poop confirmed photo
Poop confirmed

Weaponized horse poop CONFIRMED for MGS V


This is next-gen gaming at its finest
Aug 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Poop is something frequently omitted in videogames. How many epic adventures have we all played without seeing our heroes take a quick trip to the water closet en route to saving the world? A lot. Probably. Thankfully, that w...
Far Cry 4 photo
Far Cry 4

How Far Cry 4 plans on making memorable missions


'Here’s a palette, a brush, and a canvas. Go wild.'
Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Think back on Far Cry 3. Reflect on all the memorable moments you had with that game. What sticks out the most? The missions or the unscripted stuff that happened in the open world? Chances are you primarily remember the unsc...
Hideo Kojima photo
Hideo Kojima

Hideo Kojima not keen on remaking his previous games


If he had to choose MGS 1 would be the one
Aug 13
// Alasdair Duncan
Considering most of the Metal Gear Solid games have been re-released in various fashions over the years, it's surprising that Hideo Kojima isn't too keen on remaking his older games. When asked at Konami's Metal Gear Solid V ...

Prepare to hate your co-op partner in Project Totem

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
The sentiment fades quickly though as Project Totem -- which will launch on Xbox One, and likely later on other platforms such as Xbox 360 and PC -- immediately erases any memory of missteps as it teleports you back to the previous checkpoint seamlessly. No waiting. No time to let the frustration manifest. Just another instantaneous go at it. Maybe we’re one step closer to figuring out the required actions to solve that puzzle. Maybe he’s going to fall into a pit again. Project Totem takes its crafty design and amplifies everything for multiplayer. Solo play is packed with situations where you die and throw your head back with a grim grin on your face. Taking care of two of the adorable little totem guys is work enough. Having four on-screen and cooperatively keeping track of the two you’re responsible for and ensuring that your partner has control of his own makes for a more hectic experience -- even if the design is almost the exact same. Cooperative play in Project Totem draws from the mechanics of single-player. Stack your totems, figure out puzzles, flex your platforming muscle, and do it all as quick as you can. However, it’s simultaneously more flexible and more rigid. Certain elements are gone, such as the ability to switch totems with the X button. However, doubling the number of totems opens up a world of possibilities to solve puzzles different ways. Well, the solutions generally remain constant, but you and your partner might find unique ways to come to that end. Press Play has a familiar and relatable experience to draw from with its approach to multiplayer. The lead developers are brothers, naturally putting in a wealth of time in their youth playing games together. As such, and maybe in an effort to recapture that experience, Project Totem will only contain local co-op play -- the intimate experience of being next to someone and working through a level together. I asked whether there will be some sort of countdown timer to assist the coordination of maneuvers, a la ‘Splosion Man. I was firmly told that I can just count with my mouth. They were right; it worked flawlessly. When digging a bit into the developers’ childhood experiences, I prompted as to which was fortunate enough as a child to be first player. One regretfully resigned that he was most often relegated to playing as Luigi. However, Luigi is nothing to scoff at. It’s not like one of the plumber siblings has an advantage over the other. Actually, Mario and Luigi is an apt comparison for Project Totem. Both players have identical abilities, and the only thing that might provide any differentiation is platforming skill. But, it’s that platforming skill that’s likely to cause a constant rift between you and someone else in your living room. A team that’s on the same page will function as a well-oiled machine, probably breezing through levels with little trouble. All others will need to hold onto the successes, because failures will come more often than not. Just remember that it’s always the other guy’s fault.
Project Totem photo
Seriously, he's the worst
Even though I wasn’t optimistic about the prospect, I wanted to put my best foot forward. With a cheery tone to my voice, I affirmed the stranger’s request to play Project Totem cooperatively with me. The entire m...

LittleBigPlanet 3 photo
LittleBigPlanet 3

See some new screenshots for LittleBigPlanet 3


Sackboy and friends take things to a new level with enchanced user content
Aug 13
// Alessandro Fillari
After the runaway success of the first two LittleBigPlanet titles on PS3, fans had been clamoring for a follow-up on Sony's new hardware. With the announcement of LittleBigPlanet 3 at E3 coming to both PS4 and PS3, the LBP co...
Titanfall final DLC photo
Titanfall final DLC

Titanfall's third and final DLC pack drops this autumn


'IMC Rising'
Aug 13
// Chris Carter
Today at gamescom EA, announced the last map pack for Titanfall -- IMC Rising. The three maps will be titled Backwater, Zone 18, and Sandtrap, and as always, it'll run you $10 or $25 for the Season Pass. The Xbox One an...

Life is Strange is a world you'll want to lose yourself in

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
Life Is Strange is Dontnod’s sophomore effort, the follow-up to Remember Me. It chronicles the tale of high school students Max Caughfield and her friend Chloe as they investigate the disappearance of a classmate. While it’s rooted in the adventure genre, it feels like it’ll be an experience piece more than anything else -- a coming-of-age story about the struggles of two girls looking to make sense of a world that hardly seems fair. Exploration and curiosity mark every turn in Life is Strange. An early scene that played in front of us showed a house highlighted with objects just begging to be interacted with. Most of the items will serve to let the player dig as deep into the story as they please. In the same vein as Gone Home, this knowledge isn’t absolutely essential to the plot, but it provides finer details. It’s the information that helps you relate and care about the characters you’re controlling. That’s most of the objects -- not all. Some serve a greater purpose. These will alter the course of the story -- sometimes in big ways, other times small. For instance, as we were rooting through Chloe’s stepdad’s garage to find tools to repair a camera, we took a peek at some personal files that he had lying out. In a later scene, he barged into her room, enraged that she had been snooping. It’s a bit of ill will that’s going to linger and be easier to build upon with future actions. However, Life is Strange’s biggest hook is that it gives you complete control over future events by always being able to alter the immediate past. Max has the supernatural ability of time manipulation, which makes for an interesting mechanic that serves two purposes: as a means to solving puzzles, and to allow things to play out exactly as you intend. With a quick screen blurring/burning/tearing effect, Max can rewind time to her pleasing. After inadvertently breaking Chloe’s snowglobe, we took advantage of it to undo that clumsy misstep and keep her from getting a little annoyed with us. Later, while trying to knock some tools off of a high spot, we properly dislodged them, but they fell in a hard-to-reach place. By rewinding time, we first slid some cardboard to where they would land, and then proceeded. Now we could pull the tools toward us. Voilà! Puzzle solved. Where the rewind mechanic will most likely shine the brightest is in conversation. Most times, dialogue will have branching options, and it’ll be ambiguous as to what the outcome of each selection will be. All exchanges can be rewound to fit your liking, something that looks as if it’ll be easy to obsess over. During the demo, we ratted out Chloe when her stepdad found her weed. Not thrilled with the results, we tried again and took the fall for her. After a quick scolding and some harsh words, it was clear that he’d be more wary of Max, but Chloe would be more loyal. That’s how it seems as if everything in Life is Strange will play out -- as a trade-off. The developers said that no choices would be clear-cut, there’d always be some sort of negative off-setting a positive. Maybe it wouldn’t be immediately apparent, but it’ll always lead to some sort of different sequence down the road, even if it’s only marginally different. With the ambiguity playing such a big role, there’s not really a right or wrong way to play. The developers confirmed that there are no fail states or reloading. Additionally, there aren’t any action scenes to “succeed” at. While there are situations where death is imminent for Max, Life is Strange gives her the somewhat mandatory option to rewind time to a safer point. It won’t actually kill her. Early on, the developers referred to Life is Strange as “triple-A indie.” My eyes might’ve popped out of the back of my head if I rolled them any harder, but it kind of made sense once the game was played in front of us. Despite having a full studio and Square Enix’s backing, Dontnod’s created a world that feels like it has an indie edge. Underscored by a modern folk soundtrack, the Pacific Northwest setting might as well be a Japanese garden. It’s so uncompromisingly serene, when it really shouldn’t be. As you control characters that are very uncertain about themselves, it’s tough not to feel an immediate sense of empathy and nostalgia. It can almost have a calming effect when the individuals are anything but calm. It’s tough to pinpoint what it is exactly about Life is Strange that makes it so promising. The exploration aspect is definitely alluring, especially with the time mechanic bolstering it. The plot is interesting, even if claims of dynamic story-telling rarely play out as advertised. But, it might be the atmosphere that Dontnod’s cultivated that’s the real draw, if not the centerpiece that ties the entire game together. Even if you haven’t lived similar circumstances, it’ll evoke some sort of adolescent memories. When it does, it’ll be easy to care about what Max and Chloe care about so much. It might not make sense looking from the outside in, but it will when viewed from the inside out.
Life is Strange preview photo
You won't be able to help it
Gamescom is a noisy, crowded mess. Shoulder to shoulder with patrons that didn’t seem to care what they bump into, I trudged my way to my next appointment. As I stepped through the door to the meeting room, something un...

Command a tiger that can turn invisible in Far Cry 4

Aug 13 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
There will be a handful of these levels spread across Kyrat. Completing them will give you new skills for the skill tree, but let's face it, you're largely going to do these levels to tell a tiger whose face to chew off over and over again.  In this particular we had to go free a bell of enlightenment that had been tied down by large chains. This is a fantasy realm, and the path to the bell is spread across floating islands. You'll have to go through teleporting doors to reach other islands, and along the way are these wild-looking enemies.  For the most part you can take them down with just your bow and arrow. There will be enemies that can't be killed with arrows, so you'll have to use your tiger buddy to distract these enemy types, giving you a chance to sneak up behind them and drive a knife into their skulls.  So yeah, not much to it. A fun diversion and I'm hoping each instance of these tanka missions will be diverse enough to warrant actually playing through them all. It will get old fast, as much fun as it is was to command a ninja tiger.  Oh, and rhinos confirmed to bring about the pain in Far Cry 4.
Far Cry 4 photo
Go on a wild trip
Far Cry 3 had some pretty wild moments. Like, remember when Vaas was dancing around on the stripper pole? Good stuff. Far Cry 4 will have some crazy segments as well, but these are a little more grounded to the core of the ga...

Until Dawn photo
Until Dawn

Until Dawn is my kind of horror


It's all about the butterfly effect
Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
I am a little baby when it comes to horror movies. I just can’t. I can’t sit and force myself to stare at a screen that will make me scream and flinch. That’s not fun to me! The opposite is true when it com...
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It would take you 4,000 years to see repetition in No Man's Sky


An FU to the 'guy in the comments'
Aug 13
// Dale North
At a gamescom presentation today, Sean Murray from Hello Games wanted to give his comeback to a "guy in the comments" that goes against his claim that the universe of upcoming game No Man's Sky is infinite. The comments ...

Bloodborne is bleak and unforgiving

Aug 13 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in the city of Yharnam, players must trek through a plague ridden metropolis with its inhabitants driven mad by a mysterious disease. Somewhere inside the city houses a miracle cure for the affliction. Though many have tried, none have successfully found the cure and lived to use it. As a newcomer to the city, you must find your way through the labyrinthine streets of this Victorian nightmare. All the while slaying powerful foes and strengthening yourself in order to find the cure for the curse. If you were worried that Bloodborne would deviate from the Souls formula, then you were mistaken. Based on my time with the game, From Software's next is a Souls title through and through. Having said that, it manages to create a style that channels the best of Souls' foreboding and bleak atmosphere, while upping the level of dread considerably. The new setting, moving beyond medieval fantasy, is now a nightmarish and even more depressing take on Victorian era Europe. The buildings and architecture are packed together while stretching far into the sky, carriages are strewn throughout the streets, and advanced mechanisms and clockwork technology power much of the city's infrastructure. Yharnam is dark, dank, and not a kind place to be in. But it also offers the most visually impressive and interesting places From Software has created yet. The power of the PS4 has been put to great use here. This brief demo left me wanting to spend more time to explore the city, to see all the horror and madness that is waiting to come out. Before our session began, we got the chance to choose between two different archetypes. The standard type utilizes the Saw Blade and Blunderbuss (as seen in the trailers and screenshots), while the heavy type uses an Axe and pistol combo. The ability to cover both distance and short-range combat is a blessing, and allows for some flexibility right out the game. With more focus on flexibility, this gives players more options, allowing them to switch things up on the fly. Wanting players to be more aggressive, From Software created a more agility focused combat system to put them on the offense. Shields and heavy armor are almost  non-existent, so opting for a turtle fighting style is not really an option. When locking-on to an enemy, your dodge roll will turn into a dash maneuver, allowing you weave in and out of the fray with ease. If an enemy is about to attack, and you time your dash right, your character will evade directly to the side or even behind the opponent, leaving him open to devastating damage. The left-handed items now offer more usefulness during combat, and some of which can be used effectively in tandem with your melee attacks. The firearms play a large focus in combat, and while it may seem like they can make situations easy for players who want to stay at range, know that ammo is limited and scarce, which forces players to make smart use of their guns. If you have the blunderbuss equipped, you can bunch enemies together with your melee attacks and finish them off with a close-range shot. Pistols have greater range than the blunderbuss, but greatly lack the attack power. Moreover, firearms can stun enemies and open up their defenses. Called the Counter-shot, when you shoot an enemy about to attack, you'll stun them and leave open to a devastating counter-attack. Think of this as Bloodborne's take on the parry, but it's way more brutal and satisfying to pull off. To accommodate the more action oriented style, the controls have been altered slightly. The triangle button is now a dedicated healing button, which uses Blood Vials found throughout the city. Pressing L1 activates the weapon transformation, which alters the style of your right-handed weapon. For the Saw Blade, the blade extends out, giving you greater reach but slower attack speed and more stamina drain. For the Axe, the handle extends and changes the Axe into a Polearm weapon with greater reach. While one style is definitely more useful than the other, I found myself switching between the two in order to conserve stamina and maintain speed. While the crazed individuals populating the city may seem like the mindless dreglings or the undead from previous Souls games, they're far more intelligent and cunning, but also surprisingly sympathetic. Though they were once normal people, they're still very much alive and can even communicate with the players. During several points in my session, some of the mad townsfolk shouted "Go Away!" as they charged at me with their weapons. This gave me some context to the situation, many acts of violence are because of the disease, which makes having to fight them somewhat conflicting. Unfortunately, pity won't help you in your quest, and the diseased must be dealt. But they won't go quietly. They're far more intelligent and organized than common enemies, and they prefer to stay in numbers. In one of the more difficult parts of the demo, a courtyard filled with more than twelve townsfolk proved to be a challenge to get through. Five of them patrolled the alleyway near the courtyard in a pack, which forced me to take the stairs off to the side. Once I got the high ground, I was ambushed by two riflemen, which alerted the townsfolk on the ground. Just when I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities (the true Souls curse), this situation put me on the ropes. I had to make several retreats, using several Blood Vials in the process, but eventually I cleared the group and proceeded to the upper levels of the city. While clearing through packs of large crippled crows, and a hulking behemoth wielding a cinder block, I eventually met my end at the hands of two werewolves guarding the way to the boss. While my time with Bloodborne was brief, I found a lot to like about my trek through a Souls game set in a Victorian era nightmare. Bloodborne's  environments are both haunting and exciting. I'm curious to see what this game has in store for us. While many of the Souls staple oddities are still intact, like the crazy ragdoll for instance, breakable objects are oddly not. While things in the environment are breakable, smaller objects could not be broken for materials like in previous games (chairs, carriages, crates, etc). While it is not a deal breaker, it is a bit weird to say the least. It's very surprising to see how close the release date is. With an expected launch sometime in Q1 2015, we can explore the world of Bloodborne sooner than we think. With that said, Sony is still keeping things tightly under wraps, as we're still in the dark about many details. But that's likely for the best because if the full game is anything like what I played, then it's best that we all go in not knowing what will come next.
Bloodborne photo
From Software's next title seeks to re-invent the Souls game
It seems like yesterday when we were all huddling around the mysterious WebM videos floating around the internet. Showing a strange and unknown game resembling a Souls title, many people didn't know what to make of it. The ch...

Bloodborne photo
Bloodborne

Bloodborne's health regaining system detailed


Regain System revealed at gamescom
Aug 13
// Dale North
A new system for upcoming From Software PS4 title Bloodborne was revealed at gamescom today in a behind-closed-doors meeting. It's called the Regain System, and it lets you recover health after taking a hit.  It's not as easy as it sounds to get your health back, though. 

Alien: Isolation is haunting and uncompromisingly scary

Aug 13 // Alessandro Fillari
Alien: Isolation (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Creative AssemblyPublisher: SegaRelease Date: October 7, 2014 Back when the uproar over Aliens: Colonial Marines happened, the developers at Creative Assembly were hard at work on Isolation and waiting for the time to unveil their project. "No one ever made the Alien game I wanted to play, which was about taking you back to the roots of the series -- which is one Alien, who is really meaningful," said creative lead Alistair Hope. "What would it be like to encounter Ridley Scott's original Alien? Who's massive, intelligent, and just something that's hunting you down." First off, forget everything you know about the sequels to the original Alien. This game is set several decades before those events, and many of the buzzwords, tropes, and other plot points for the colonial space-marines don't exist yet. The ship from the original film, the Nostromo, is destroyed, the Alien was blown out of the airlock, and the fate of lone survivor Ellen Ripley is unknown. Taking place 15 years after the original film, Alien: Isolation tells the story of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the series' central character. After receiving word that the space station Sevastopol has recovered the Nostromo's flight recorder, she hurries to the station to learn of her mother's fate. Upon arriving, she finds the station in chaos as staff have gone into disarray after an Alien has taken up residence there. Now with the lives of herself and her crew on the line, Amanda must venture through the Sevastopol looking for answers, while evading the near omnipresent Alien. Now when I first heard that we'd be playing as the daughter of Ellen Ripley, I sorta rolled my eyes and thought of it as a gimmick to eek some connection from the first movie. But I was wrong -- in the few hours I had with the game, I saw a lot to like with Amanda's character. She's scrappy, determined, and can definitely handle herself. "We wanted to tell a story that had an emotional connection to that first film, to focus on someone who actually cared about the Nostromo," said Hope. "She has a lot of the same qualities of her mother, but she's taken her own path and she's very much her own character." With more people clamoring for strong female heroes to play as, Ripley is exactly the kind of character many would like. Not only does she set herself apart from her mother by being more talkative, and more knowledgeable and handy, but she feels like a unique character that works well on her own. It's refreshing to play as a regular character with an unusual history brought into a trying circumstance, as opposed to just another space-marine that you'd likely forget about by game's end. In more ways than one, Alien: Isolation is very much a throwback to the bleak and haunting sci-fi and horror films of the 1970s. Everything from the character look, atmosphere, and visual style have been recreated to match the tone and style of the original Alien film. To take things further, film grain and the color palette match with what many fans saw from the first film, and Creative Assembly wanted to recreate the same atmosphere for this new game. "One of the big things I love about Alien is that '70s view of the future," said Hope. "That low-fi sci-fi. It's cool because it owns its own space, it's not the style of science fiction that we're used to, and it looks great and very immersive." One of the big takeaways I had from this game is the art design. Isolation's aesthetic comes from the past's view of the future. As future prediction is relative to the times, the 1970s view of the future features structural designs and computers that feel analog and mechanical, CRT monitors with charming and antiquated graphics are placed in every room, and multilingual welcome signs show a coalesced human society of the future. The developers at Creative Assembly did an admirable job with replicating the "used" future look, as seen in Alien, Moon, and Star Wars. And it definitely makes for a more visually appealing haunted house. In case you haven't figured it out by now, Alien: Isolation is almost the opposite style and tone seen in James Cameron's Aliens, and from all the derivatives that followed. While Aliens emphasized action-horror with powerful characters stretched to their limits, Alien is a horror-thriller with characters who are outmatched by an unknown force. Creative Assembly wanted to return to the original tone and atmosphere, as it's still largely unknown for gaming. "One of the things we put up on the wall [during initial design] was to 're-Alien the Alien'. You can go back to the original Alien, which is over 35 years old, and even though it's old you can still get an emotional response from it," Hope stated. "And it's a testament to the power of the craft. It was important to me to have the Alien not run around your waist like a rabid dog, but to be big and imposing, that commanded your respect." Respect is a great way of putting it. In the previous games, players are used to mowing down swarms of aliens without feeling any real fear. It's very ingrained, when you think about it. This aspect of the human vs. alien conflict is what CA wanted to change, and in order to do so, players had to be knocked down a few pegs. "Horror I think is about small victories. It's those tiny moments where you think 'maybe I can make it,' and if I keep doing it maybe I can." In an atmosphere filled with dread, the tension is incredibly heavy. You're not playing as a badass space-marine with ammo and firepower to blow away swarms of Aliens; you're a regular person with limited resources that has to think about firing a shot or even whether to make the tough decision to peek around a corner to see if the enemy is near. You're vulnerable, and the odds are against you. And the creature you're up against is intelligent, cunning, and unkillable by conventional means. And encountering it is quite possibly the worst thing that can happen to your character. During my session, I had to find a trauma kit to heal an injured crew member. I carefully made my way through an abandoned crew's quarters, and suddenly the Alien crashed down from a shaft in the ceiling. Not noticing me, I ducked under a table and watched as he lurked through the halls, looking for a new prey. For most other Alien games, we would've ended the encounter there with a few shots from a pulse rifle. Not so here. Stealth and careful use of your gadgets, such as the invaluable motion tracker (which shows movement and objectives) and noisemaker gadget (which does exactly that) are necessary for survival.  Once the Alien discovers you, you're pretty much done for. Within the first ten minutes of encountering this thing, I was killed twice. Both times featured unique death animations, one where the Alien yanks Ripley and finishes her with a single bite, and another where the Alien crawls on top of Ripley and goes for the kill. It was certainly humbling to face against something that I was no match for, I was definitely on edge throughout my few hours with the game. In keeping with its "throwback" style, the gameplay feels very much like a return to classic survival horror. Specifically in the vein of early Resident Evil titles and Alone in the Dark. Your resources are limited and sparse, you face unrelenting and powerful odds, and you're vulnerable to attack at the unlikeliest of moments -- to say things are tense would be putting it lightly. Moreover, Isolation also uses a fixed save point system. Creative Assembly cited this as a design choice to get players to think about where they want to set their flag, but also to prevent players from taking advantage of checkpoints and save-anywhere options, which would mitigate the tension. There were definitely times where I felt too nervous to make a move, as the Alien would have a general sense of where I was and stay around the area. And no, it usually won't go away if it knows you're there. Safety feels like a luxury, and moments that felt like downtime only resulted in the creature re-emerging from its hiding spot, almost as if to remind players who's boss. "We certainly don't want players to feel 100 percent safe, however this game has to be about tension and release," said Hope, while discussing the balance between creating tension. "It can't be unrelentingly oppressive and constantly overbearing, you need to be able to breath, before you can embark into the unknown." While he's definitely correct about striking a balance between tension and release, I myself was mostly tense throughout the experience. One major criticism I had was that the objective locations are kept fairly vague while only giving you a general direction to head to. Picture this: you're looking for a small keycard located in a hallway with multiple rooms. You don't know where it is, and you have to sneak through each room searching for it, all the while having the Alien lurking about. You begin to get frustrated, you can't find what you need to leave and you start to panic, you knock over a nearby object (objects create noise which attracts the Alien), and the creature rushes off to your room. At times, it felt like I was in a hopeless situation and that a restart was necessary. I was stuck in a supply closet and the Alien stuck its head toward the vents of the closets to see if I was inside. During this point, you can hold your breath and wait for the Alien to pass, but I let go of the button and let out a big gasp for air -- of course, the Alien heard it, ripped the doors off its hinges and dragged me to my death. It's moments like these that make the experience incredibly suspenseful, but in order to survive, you have to be prepared. To get the upper hand on the Alien and overcome many other obstacles, Ripley must use her engineering skills to craft items and weaponry to survive her trek through the Sevastopol. The in-game crafting system allows players to make Medkits, ammo, and other tools to survive. While you will acquire core weaponry, such as the revolver, stun-baton, and flamethrower, many other gadgets like the noisemaker and Molotov cocktails require components that are found from looting dead bodies and crates. Though be careful, crafting will not pause the game and if you're in an unsafe location, you can be easily picked off by the Alien. While the Alien is unrelenting and intimidating, it isn't the only enemy you have to worry about. Throughout the station you'll find other humans doing whatever it takes to survive the chaos. Even if means taking out Ripley. While there are people that players can peacefully interact with, others will attack on sight. Which is not only a problem, but the noise from this conflict will also attract the Alien. Though depending on how you play, this can work to your advantage. If you're clever enough, you can lure the beast out of hiding with gadgets and use the humans as a distraction. If done right, the Alien will leap out from whatever vent or rafter it's hiding from and make quick work of them, allowing you to pick up resources after the carnage. "It's not about killing, it's about survival. It felt like there had to more interaction with this creature than just pulling a trigger," said Hope while discussing the different options you have for combat." You can actually finish the game without killing anyone, so it's down to your choice. It's a big part of the game experience, we put these situations in your hands." Another enemy to watch out for are the Working Joes, or synthetic androids as seen from the films. Throughout the Sevastopol there are Working Joes on standby, and in some cases players can activate them for assistance, such as locating and procuring sensitive equipment. However, the Working Joes are also kept to maintain the integrity of the station, and if players tamper or destroy sensitive equipment, the androids will treat you as a hostile threat and enter a search-and-destroy protocol. While they appear slow and crude, they're extremely powerful and possess some sharper senses than the creature. The Alien is intimidating and scary, but Working Joes are just plain creepy. I came in expecting a game that would be better than the previous titles by default, but I ended up playing a game that not only surprised me with its cleverness and complexity, it gave me a greater appreciation for the original film as well. Alien: Isolation knows exactly what it's doing, and its approach to offering an uncompromising and harsh experience that'll frighten and humble players should win over many who wrote off the series. With its release on October 7, Isolation's return to classic horror will likely give gamers looking for a survivalist experience -- and those in need of a good scare -- something to look anticipate. And with the Alien lurking the halls of the space station, the odds will certainly be against you. But to quote the cunning android Ash from the original film, "I can't lie to you about your chances, but … you have my sympathies."
Alien: Isolation photo
Admire its purity
Though it was initially seen as "Jaws-in-space," the legacy for Alien is certainly much more pristine than the one with the giant shark. Originally released in 1979, the first Alien would eventually become a much-loved horror...

Digging deeper into The Tomorrow Children

Aug 13 // Dale North
The Tomorrow Children is a single-player experience set in an open world. It's a network-based game where all players have a shared purpose. So you'll play alongside each other, and you'll have a common goal, but you're all doing your own thing. That's not the weird part -- the game is set in a future divergent from our own, in what looks like the late 1960s in Soviet Russia. The players are projected clones that look like wooden puppets from Eastern Block countries like the Czech Republic. Among the oddities there are Matryoshka Dolls, shiny Godzilla-like beats, giant metallic spiders, and jetpacks. Yeah. In this branch of the future, a Soviet scientific experiment went wrong and and almost destroyed the world. Ruined it. The player works as a projected clone in this world, mining resources to rebuild, working to restore the real humanity. Cuthbert gave us a quick look at how The Tomorrow Children's gameplay works. The game is split into two areas: towns and islands. The islands have resources to be mined to help towns operate, thrive, and eventually grow. These islands all represent something from mankind's past -- the first one we saw was a giant pink head with missiles planted around it.  Players can climb these islands and use the tools in their inventory to mine and explore these islands. We watched on as Cuthbert dug a staircase into the face, eventually working his way into an established cave where other players mined alongside him. Resources are gathered and treasures are found during this mining. There are Matryoshka Dolls that can be gathered from these islands and brought back to town. They represent missing members of humanity, and they can be turned back into humans. Finding these goes towards the ultimate goal of the game -- to restore humanity. After mining a bit, Cuthbert headed into town in a car. Cars and other craft can be communal resources, though there are also public transportation options like buses. He drove the hover car over a shiny white landscape into town. This town was sparse, containing only a few buildings, trees, and NPCs.  In town, you'll help build, grow, and sometimes repair the structures there, with the ultimate goal of expanding the town. All others playing will do this alongside you. We watched on as Cuthbert used some of the communal mined resources to repair attacked buildings. While doing this, a giant monster approached the town from the distance. It looked like crystal-covered, metallic space Godzilla. Other players joined Cuthbert in manning turrets to take it down. And when the beast finally fell, it became mineable, just like the islands. Every action performed in the game -- mining, repairing, carrying, dropping, throwing -- is recorded and tracked. Checking into a town's labor office gives you access to a daily report. Actions earn tribute points and ration awards. The tribute points go toward your standing and how the community views the player, while the rations, or Russian Coupons, can be used to by perks, better items, and more. The Tomorrow Children's visual design is just as unique and odd as its gameplay. All of the characters look like they're made of crudely carved wood. Though the visuals are bright and glossy, all of the buildings and characters seem dark and somewhat creepy. But the overall look is impressive. Q-Games has a new lighting technology: cascaded voxel cone ray tracing. Through this, lighting has a full 3D representation, which lets them bounce light properly, give true reflections, and even create true cinematic color grading.  Q-Games and Sony are still figuring out the social side of The Tomorrow Children. We know that they're aiming for between 50 and 100 people in each town, but they're still deciding on how they'll maintain these towns; tests are currently underway. Some of the content will be manually designed while other parts will be procedurally generated.  There are plans to let players work up the ranks. Every town will have a mayor. Elections will let players pick this mayor, which will let them shape the city. A distorted Marxism simulator is coming to PS4 next year. It's rare that we get something so different and original.
The Tomorrow Children photo
First look at the new PS4 title
At a gamescom briefing today, Dylan Cuthbert of Q-Games showed off their brand collaboration with Sony Studios Japan for the first time. PS4 title The Tomorrow Children (temporary title) is quite different from Q-Games' other titles, but it does share their trademark creativity and imagination. It's...pretty weird.

Assassin's Creed Rogue gives you more open ocean goodness

Aug 13 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Assassin's Creed Rogue (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)Developer: Ubisoft SofiaPublisher: UbisoftRelease: November 11, 2014 You play as Shay Patrick Cormac, a former assassin who was betrayed by his brotherhood. So Shay is out for revenge, and he's teamed up with his former nemesis the Templar in order to accomplish his goals. This is a story of revenge, and from what little I got to play I could really feel the experience was more violent compared to playing as an assassin. Specifically, it's the ship combat that felt way more brutal compared to Black Flag's. It is a smaller vessel this time around, so you're much quicker on the ocean. You also have a giant ram at the front of the ship designed to break apart ice on the water, but it can totally be used to plow into enemy vessels all the same. The overall firepower is nothing to laugh at either, with a cannon that acts like a machine gun of sorts now, and the ability to release burning oil from the rear of the ship and set those giving chase on fire.  There's no shortage of assassins in Rogue and you'll be hunting them down. Remember how in Assassin's Creed III there was a great shortage of assassins in the North American territory? Yeah, blame Shay for that. The events in Rogue set up that aspect of ACIII, and Haytham Kenway himself happens to be your second in command aboard your ship, in fact. The assassin we dealt with in our demo was holed up at a base with some of his allies in the open world outside of a story mission. You have to hunt down the assassin when you get to his base, but you have to be careful as you go about it. Your targets can do everything you could always do in past Assassin's Creed games. In this particular case, the target literally got the drop on us, and then fled the area. As we gave chase, we saw him call in allies, hide in bushes, and use his environment to his advantage. He even shot an explosive barrel just as Shay ran past it, knocking him over.  [embed]279374:55278:0[/embed] At one point the assassin dropped a smoke bomb, but Shay does have plenty of his own new tricks to directly counter his former allies. In this case, he dawned a gas mask to bypass the smoke bomb, and eventually was able to corner the assassin to finish him off.  Shay was also using a primitive grenade launcher to take out some enemies. He even had this poison that was able to cause anyone in the vicinity to go wild and attack each other; a great way to infiltrate bases. This would cause civilians to go nuts too -- which, by the way, you can totally kill civilians without any consequences. You're a Templar now, who cares!  Again, if you got your fill out of Black Flag you may just want to focus on Unity. If you're looking for more of that seamless open-world ocean experience with new and expanded features -- and the ability to play on the other side of the war -- then Rogue may just be the game for you. 
Assassin's Creed Rogue photo
Except now you're a bad guy so you can totally kill everybody
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was a huge game. Like, you could easily sink 100 hours into that whole experience before getting 100 percent completion. So Assassin's Creed Rogue may or may not be quite the game for you. It ...

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Here's a better look at that Sunset Overdrive White Xbox One


Ooh, shiny
Aug 13
// Dale North
My Xbox One already looks dirty. Scummy, even. It's not just the fingerprints and dust in the grooves, either. I don't know what they did with their plastics or build or whatever, but mine looks like hell and it hasn't even b...
Assassin's Creed Unity photo
Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity's two big changes that I'm excited for


Changes that will hopefully make the experience less frustrating
Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Okay, so technically there's three big changes that everyone will be excited about, the third being the whole two- to four-player cooperative experience in Assassin's Creed Unity. Personally I'm not all that looking forward t...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Claptrap shows off his action skill(s) in this Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel trailer


Who is that mysterious woman?
Aug 13
// Darren Nakamura
2K Games has been trickling out information about the playable characters in the upcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, but while it has featured Athena the Gladiator, Wilhelm the Enforcer, and Nisha the Lawbringer, the publi...
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Next Star Wars: The Old Republic update will let you build homes


It's like the Sims now! BUT IN SPACE!
Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
EA revealed the next update for Star Wars: The Old Republic at its gamescom press conference. The Galactic Strongholds downloadable content will let you build a home in the game. Yup, SWTOR is now Sims. You can show off your cribs to friends in the game.  The update will also include Guild flagships, used to go around space and conquer planets. 
Silent Hills photo
Starring Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame
Oh that Hideo Kojima. During Sony's gamescom 2014 press conference earlier today, there was bizarre, eye-catching announcement for something called "P.T." which was said to be playable immediately for PS4 via PlayStation Netw...

Fablevolve photo
Fablevolve

Fable Legends actually looks pretty fun


Fablevolve
Aug 12
// Steven Hansen
This trailer also best explains (though not completely clearly?) the 4 vs. 1, heroes versus villain mode, which we talked a bit about here. Though it's not traditional Fable, there is also regular single-player and co-op pla...
Sunset Overdrive gamescom photo
Sunset Overdrive gamescom

Soda scientist shows off Sunset Overdrive mutants and robots


Still so much better without the default lead
Aug 12
// Steven Hansen
There was a surprising amount of brand new stuff out of gamescom (thanks, Sony!), but let's not forget Sunset Overdrive is coming out October 28. It's pretty fun, though I've only messed with the multiplayer. 

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