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Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Jun 26 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 19, 2015 (Early Access), June 23, 2015 The "40 hours" of questing claim by Square Enix for the main story (levels 50-60) is accurate, but there's a caveat. You'll have to do a combination of sidequests, daily hunt marks (which can be done solo), and dungeons to push through some gaps, particularly in the middle levels. A few portions can be off-putting sometimes in terms of pacing, especially since the sidequests aren't nearly as good as the main story questline. Having said that, there wasn't any point, even the aforementioned lows, where I stopped having fun. There's just so much to do at this juncture of Final Fantasy XIV. I would frequently stop to do world hunts, which respawn every few hours or so in each area. They're even more fun now once you've unlocked flight for that particular zone, and all of the old hunts still exist too, albeit with smaller rewards for kills. You could hunt all day if you wanted to. I'd visit my new apartment in my friend's beachfront property villa in the Mist, and see what was going on with their new workshop -- a feature that lets you build Free Company (guild) airships in Heavensward, which go on expeditions for more items, similar to Retainer quests. Although I don't tend to craft in any MMO I play, I hung out with a group of crafters and chatted for hours about the new crafter meta and theories for some testing, which are insanely deep. For those who aren't aware, each crafting and gathering class has its own miniature storyline, and crafters in particular now have a even more complicated method of creating new high quality items. Crafting was always like a puzzle, allowing players to learn the best rotations for creating the best items, but now, there's an "endgame" of sorts for the profession, featuring a separate system of crafting in guilds to help build airships, and more complicated patterns that will fetch big gains on the auction house. Flying makes gathering nodes more fun, which is a big improvement on the 2.0 system -- and more nuanced with new gathering abilities. I also took a break and started a Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist, which are all new jobs in Heavensward. Although there's a debate going on regarding the latter's low damage output, I've grouped and played all of them, and each brings something unique to the table. The Dark Knight is really fun to tank with, as he can drop his "Grit" stance (having it on lets you take less damage) on occasion, which unlocks a whole host of damage-dealing abilities. [embed]294750:59242:0[/embed] As a general rule you always want to be doing your core job and tanking with Grit, but when you need that extra push, the Dark Knight is ready and willing, and feels far more engaging than the existing Warrior. The Astrologian sacrifices a bit of firepower (compared to the White Mage and Scholar) but makes up for it with a variety of different healing tricks, and the Machinist is one of the most complicated DPS classes in the game. They are all worthwhile additions, and each role (tank, healer, ranged DPS) fits perfectly in the current meta. By the time I was done with the story and hit level 60, I had played far more than 40 hours. While there are some predictable plot points and far too much Final Fantasy grandstanding, I have to say I enjoyed it as a whole. I really dig the dragon theme that permeates throughout the expansion (they commit to it), and I was satisfied with the conclusion, especially the final boss, which Final Fantasy fans will love. The epilogue also does its job of sufficiently teasing all of the upcoming free content updates, so I'm pumped to see where this goes. The dungeons are all par for the course, which again, is a theme with this expansion. Every dungeon, including the three level 60 ones at the end, have the same linear design that is crafted to prevent you from speedrunning them. Gone are the labyrinthine paths of some low-level dungeons, as well as the tricks of the trade of the vanilla endgame areas; the structure is basically the same every time. Thankfully, the boss fights are spectacular, and nearly every zone features an encounter that has something I've never seen before. Without spoiling it, my favorite dungeon has a fight where a bird flies up into the air, and causes the entire battlefield to fill with fog, forcing you to find his shadow before he comes back down. Another hilariously tasks players with picking up totems and placing them in certain areas to prevent a boss from casting a ritual that ties his health to them. Every fight is intuitive so you won't be scratching your head going "how does this work?" but you will have to actually try. It's a good balance, even if I wish some of the dungeons were a bit more open. The two Primals (Ravana and Bismarck) are worthy additions to the game, and both have EX (extreme) versions that will test your might at level 60. Ravana is an awesome fight that I refer to as "the ninja bug," and it basically feels like how Titan should have been, with a circular arena that you can fall off of. Bismarck on the other hand is like nothing else in Final Fantasy XIV, featuring the titular whale flying right next to a floating rock that the party is standing on. Players will have to hook him with harpoons (you can shout "call me Ishmael" while doing it) and whale on the whale's weak point temporarily. I feel like Ravana is faster-paced and more fun, but again, Bismarck is unique. Currently the endgame consists of gathering law tomes (obtained by high-level dungeons and hunts), buying item level i170 gear, and upgrading them to i180 by way of items from seals. Bismarck EX will net you i175 weapons, and Ravana earns you i190. You have two weeks to fully upgrade your left and right-side gear to face the first part of the Alexander raid, who will debut at that time (with the tougher "Savage" difficulty unlocking two weeks after that). Said raids will be even better thanks to the new loot systems, which can give a raid leader more control over who gets what (finally). With everything there is to do in the game though, it doesn't feel like a grind to get to that point. Did I mention Heavensward was beautiful? I'm pretty sure I have often, but I'll do it again just to drive the point home. It looks fantastic, from the snowy landscape of Ishgard to the Souls-esque Dravanian Hinterlands, complete with lush plains and hellish mountains filled with fiery depths. I would often stop just to admire the scenery, which is even easier thanks to flying mounts. Every time I visit an old content area I long for the chance to use a flying mount, but alas, it's only available in new zones. Specifically regarding the PS4 version, it's starting to feel the sting of the more open areas a bit, particularly when it comes to longer load times (which can be a pain while zoning in for hunts) and some slowdown. I should mention that said slowdown never becomes unplayable, even with 50 other players slashing away at the same world hunt target. It can just get a bit sluggish is all. My view is partially colored by the fact that the new Direct X 11 version on PC looks gorgeous and runs smoothly. Down the line you have new storylines to look forward to, as well as the aforementioned Alexander raid, more 24-player casual raids (which aren't currently in yet), a new PVP map, and a new multi-part relic weapon quest that will debut next month for all jobs. None of this was factored into this review, but it's something to be aware of -- based on its past track record, Square Enix will continue to evolve the game and make it better. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is more A Realm Reborn, which is a fine thing to strive for in my book. Whether you're the type of player who enjoys crafting, endgame content, or role-playing, there's so much to do here for people of all skill levels it's insane. While I fizzled out a bit after completing the main story in 2.5, Heavensward has rekindled my flame. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Heavensward review photo
Par for the heavens
When our story began last week, I was a level 53 Paladin, soldiering through the new content for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. I stand before you now as a level 60, having played everything that's currently available. My opinion on the expansion hasn't changed much, which is a good thing.

Review: Sonic Runners

Jun 25 // Chris Carter
Sonic Runners (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6])Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaReleased: May 25, 2015MSRP: Free-to-play Sonic Runners is very clearly, well, a runner, but it's far more than meets the eye. It's level-based, features a variety of locales from Sonic's past, has a cute little story involved, and plays wonderfully well, just like how you'd imagine a good mobile Sonic game would. Our hero will run from left to right automatically through stages that mirror the classics from his storied history, and players can tap anywhere on the screen to jump. Tapping again will trigger another leap, and the process of jumping will inherently attack enemies. A lot of depth lies beneath the surface, with multi-tiered stages that are a lot like Robot Unicorn Attack's maps, giving you a good sense of adventure on a constant basis like a true platformer. Gathering more coins and pickups in a short period of time will grant you a combo bonus, which in turn earns you more points, which assists in your progress with the story and your skill unlocks. It looks great on paper and in action as well, sporting a cool bright look that differentiates itself from the classic titles while giving it a distinct style. It's great how Sonic Runners actually feels like a Sonic game through and through, from the "dying while having no rings" mechanic to plungers, to loops, and Tails' flight power and Knuckles' power dash are great additions. Sonic and the rest of the cast have individual experience levels, and can equip "buddies" (like Chao) for minor statistical bonuses. You can also level-up characters to beef up their response to power-ups and point bonuses for specific objectives. Like I said, it's surprisingly deep, and will keep you interested for the long haul rather than supply you with a selection of different cosmetic options. [embed]294806:59239:0[/embed] Unfortunately, Sega decided to be unreasonable with the free-to-play nature of the game. First, you'll have to go through a grueling signup process that involves updates (which crashed when I first tried to install it this morning), online checks, and age verification (so you don't spend all your parent's money). From there, you'll head on down to the microtransaction layer, of which you will likely never return. Let me just list off everything that's present in the game: two roulettes, one for each type of currency that you earn or buy spins for, an energy system that takes 30 minutes to recharge per life, a revive system that involves watching an ad to restart from your death point, three types of currency you can buy (yellow rings, red rings, and lives), friend invite bonuses (10 will get you Amy), and a ticker that shows "current deals" on the currencies involved. This is exacerbated by ads that run every so often after a level, seemingly for no reason, that happen to play the ad's audio alongside of the game's music. Sometimes, this happens while you're getting a post-match bonus tallied. It's exhausting. While playing each round and having a bit of confined fun will often have you forgetting about all of these elements, it's not long before they're thrown back into your face. The energy system is probably the worst part, limiting your playtime regardless of whether or not you wade through everything else. In practice, Sonic Runners is a fun mobile tribute to the Blue Blur, and the team that designed it should be proud -- this is how you bring a storied console franchise to the Android and iOS marketplaces. Unfortunately, the team in charge of that team decided that said fun should be gated by needless locks with cash keys, which is a problem. Give it a go and see if you can stomach the microtransactions. As for myself, I'm taking frequent breaks, mostly because I'm forced to.
Sonic Runners photo
Did Eggman design the microtransactions?
Hey, Sega actually made a really cool mobile Sonic game...then promptly proceeded to beat it down with layers and layers of microtransactions. Oh Sega, you scamp!

Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

Jun 25 // Steven Hansen
Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, Xbox One, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: RocksteadyPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 23, 2015 Arkham Knight is stitched together with exceptional technical proficiency at the cost of tonal instability. City shared this problem. It insists on the direness of the narrative while letting you busy yourself with 69 (hah) AR challenges. It's worse in Knight, with even more dire stakes (there is nothing to do but escalate, of course) as Scarecrow intends to ruin all of Gotham with the help of the titular Arkham Knight.  There is so much "content" beside the main story path, but most of it is busy work. I've still not rescued all 20 captive firefighters spread throughout the city. Militia members set up dozens of roadblocks across Gotham's three islands that impede the Batmobile, but you can always go around them, or avoid driving except when mandated, given that Batman's grapple and glide are some of the coolest traversal methods in games. Clearing them isn't even that useful. It's just about getting to the super villain (most of whom have no story aside from "they're doing crime") at the end and notching the completion percentage. And of course this brings us to the Batmobile. It is cool and god awful. Calling it to pick Batman up; ejecting from it at high speeds and doing takedowns; the fact that all of Gotham's pillars and corners are destructible, so you typically don't do much crashing; remote control driving it towards Batman, who automatically jumps into it while you maintain control and momentum; the tank mode convincing me I need a Transformers game or Armored Core reboot. [embed]294804:59235:0[/embed] This all works well. It was also a lot of work for Rocksteady. Thus, there are heavy, mandated Batmobile segments, like the aforementioned waves of tank fights, and even a hilarious tank stealth section against bigger, stronger tanks. The Batmobile is cool as something I might occasionally use, but all the work that went into it means it needs a lot of screen time. It's actually pretty fun to chase Firefly through the streets in it, even if you have to do that several times before he's been punched enough to quit. When I'm forced to ferry passengers to the police station in it just so more drones can be thrown my way, it becomes a nuisance. When one side mission involves chasing missile-spongy armored cars while smaller armored cars attack me, over and over, it's not so fun. Everything is strung together nobly, but it's a case if "they were so concerned with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Disjointed content put together as well as possible mirrors a main story that works too hard to put Batman in his car. The shorter side missions that pop up woven into the narrative are much more fulfilling than saving 20 different firemen, stopping Two Face's goons from robbing several banks or destroying five or so of Penguin's weapons stashes (though the latter teams Bats with Nightwing and the dual fighter segments are fun). Thankfully I hardly looked at the map screen this time around because there's a d-pad button just to bring up a mission select wheel so it's easy to ping pong between waypoints like an errand boy. I also hardly looked at the upgrades, usually going several hours at a time before dumping like 50 points into skills I mostly didn't use (but do reinforce that car for the mandated tank segments). I can't tell if there is less punching this time around. Maybe it's been replaced by Batmobile segments. There are also more stealth options, including fear takedowns that can be used to instantly incapacitate up to eight enemies at a time (ok, upgrades are sometimes helpful, as it starts at three). I can string together perfect, room-clearing 60x combo fisticuffs with the best of them, but combat never drags in Arkham Knight, which I appreciate because my favorite thing to do is to explore the city. That does bring up a series-long issue of detective mode and waypoints guiding you to the point of feeling like a middle manager. It's nice to just notice side missions -- hearing strange shrieks, hearing opera blaring over a PA system, seeing a building on fire -- rather than being directed towards them, but that's the problem with dealing with this size of open world necessitated by the series trending upward as far as stakes raising goes. But when you stumble on mutilated bodies and every time -- five times! -- the answer is to scan one obvious thing on each of three layers (skin, muscle, bone) with detective mode, you're not really doing anything, much less detecting. Batman is boring, right? The character. Sad about parents, righteous, rich, mostly ideal. When comic fans point to his spot at the top of the echelon it's always about the supporting cast (villains, namely). And so, post Joker, what is there to do? Two things, neither of them original, but one of them done well. Without getting too spoilery, the Joker has inevitably left his mark in the Arkham universe and these ramifications are handled nicely in one half of Arkham Knight, even if they open the door for perhaps the most unoriginal and obvious Batman story to take seed beneath Scarecrow's reign of terror in the other. Scarecrow, to Rocksteady's credit, plays a great villain here, though he does so from the shadows. Because Batman is Batman, it's hard to feel the stakes sometimes, but Scarecrow is good for manipulating Bats and leaving him one step behind, more and more panicked and fragmented. The Arkham Knight, meanwhile, mostly tries to kill you with very large vehicles. The whole tenor of the character feels at odds with his Scarecrow partnership. There's the weird red tactical camo print and his general, impotent rage. His voice, which seems to waver beneath the autotune, is a mix of haughtiness and incredulity. He hates Batman, knows Batman is strong, is sure that he's better, and gets real petulant every time something goes wrong. His hugely amassed, literal army -- ex-United States soldiers now mercenaries -- occasionally remark about how better outfitted they are now than when they were government employees and ask if all this gear is overkill for just one man.   And it's not, because Batman is Batman and he feels immune to even the direst of straits. It makes the villains -- Knight, namely -- look goofy as plan after plan are foiled, though Scarecrow holds it together fairly well as the story takes shots at characters adjacent to Batman. The most interesting story stuff is happening within Batman's head, though, and that's where the series returns to effective use of jump scares (not a bad thing!), Dutch angles, and unreliable world distortion. Shifting the world around the player, moving things that the player isn't looking at. There's some cool, occasionally chilling toying going on, but it's mostly wrapped up in the end of the game. Getting there, Arkham Knight struggles to surprise and delight as Asylum and City. One musical boss "fight" stands out as a show stealer, but it would have been nice to have more inventive moments like the Mr. Freeze fight from City.   If the Batmobile was Rocksteady's gambit in that regard, it failed. It makes for a better occasional use gadget than core gameplay system. The Riddler side mission sums up Arkham Knight's issues fairly well. Apropos of nothing, he becomes a racing aficionado and constructs massive death tracks beneath the city to go with his death traps. This is to cram more Batmobile segments in. He does his same, tired shtick for a third game, this time holding Catwoman captive, but also he's made both race tracks and robots to fight, just to add more. He even explains in-game why if he wins because Batman can't beat the robots, it still counts as a victory of cunning. He's doing mental loops to defend padding. At one point, he taunts that even a chimp can follow basic instructions. Sometimes that feels like Arkham Knight. More of the same isn't all bad; too much more of the same is, especially at the cost of upsetting the balance between familiar and new. Riddler's story can't be resolved (nor can you get the full ending) until you do the 300 or so Riddler trophies/riddles/whatever, but you can at least take it far enough to free Catwoman. Arkham Knight is a solid, if uneven send-off for Rocksteady's trilogy. Combat and predation are still satisfying. The narrative mixes unsurprising, but well done segments with unsurprising and uninteresting elements. It's full of nods, winks, nudges for batfans, even if certain super villain side missions feel needlessly tossed in. It makes me worried about what will happen with Batman in a new developer's less comfortable hands, and excited for what Rocksteady might do, itself free of the Batman myth. [This review is based on a retail build purchased by the reviewer.]
Batman review photo
Long Halloween
[Note: This review is based on a retail PlayStation 4 copy of Batman: Arkham Knight, not the PC version that is so broken publisher Warner Bros. temporarily delisted it from sale] If the difference between the real Batman and...

Goodnight sweet Knight photo
Wow
It looks like Warner Bros. is doing the right thing and pulling Batman: Arkham Knight from Steam. The publisher released the following statement on the game's Steam community: Dear Batman: Arkham Knight PC owners, ...

Review: Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition

Jun 23 // Chris Carter
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomMSRP: $24.99Release Date: June 23, 2015 After booting it up, you'll have the option to play the original campaign with Nero and Dante, solely as Vergil, or a joint story of Lady and Trish, mirroring the former pair's split-story. Each character has their own customizable set of controls, and the Legendary Dark Knight mode (previously exclusive to the PC version) is open from the very start. I immediately sprung for Vergil and was not disappointed. If you're a newcomer, you'll likely want to replay the base story for some background, as the new characters merely have a new intro and ending to cap things off. It's essentially the exact same levels and bosses, but thanks to the fundamentally reworked movesets, the experiences feel nothing alike. Also for newcomers, the "automatic" control option returns for easier combos, as well as an automatic level-up function where the game chooses your upgrades for you. Veterans will be pleased to find a turbo option (increasing the speed by 20%) as well as your typical lock-on tweaks. Those of you out there who never played the PC version are in for a treat, as Legendary Dark Knight is about as balls-to-the-wall as it gets. The entire screen in nearly every area is littered with enemies, and it even goes so far as to add in endgame foes in the second mission. [embed]293573:58903:0[/embed] Despite the fact that there aren't any other major new modes, this is not a lazy remake by any means, as the three aforementioned character additions spice things up considerably. Vergil is probably my personal favorite new playstyle; possibly my favorite of the entire series. His style is fast and flashy, as he can still "trick" teleport up, down (which can also be used to cancel attacks), and forward, but he has a major new mechanic to manage that makes him more unique. Vergil now has a "concentration" gauge, which increases when he is walking, taunting, or connecting with abilities, and lowers when he runs, whiffs attacks, or gets hit. Raising this gauge increases your statline and opens up some new powers that are reliant on a full meter. It completely changes the way you play, as walking like a badass is now a priority, and missing attacks is more punishing. That's not to say that the game is "impossible" if you don't feel like mastering concentration on a normal or easy difficulty level, it just makes it more fun -- though it will increase your chances of survival later on. Take one advanced tactic from Vergil: teleporting. By using a sword projectile, Vergil can "stick" an enemy for later. By using the forward trick, you can instantly teleport to that marked baddie. He's extremely mobile, much like Dante's trickster style in Devil May Cry 3 or his appearance herein. To me, Vergil is the main event. Trish and Lady crash as well, starting with a small pizza party intro with Dante. Lady's playstyle, like Vergil before her, completely changes the way one would approach Devil May Cry, mostly because of her reliance on guns. In previous games, guns could always be used with effectiveness, but weren't really ideal. With Lady though, they're front and center. She has her Kalina Ann rocket launcher (which doubles as a grappling hook to mirror Nero's platforming abilities in the story), handguns, and a shotgun. While the latter two guns mesh with Dante's gunslinger style, the Kalina Ann acts almost nothing like it did in Devil May Cry 3. Her rocket sports a few melee abilities, a rocket-jump boost, and a throw, but the focus for her is ranged combat. Additionally, since Lady is human, she uses a super grenade blast instead of a Devil Trigger. It's really hard to get a good style rating at first, but once you learn to start chaining throws and juggling with different guns and abilities, it gets real fun real fast. Classic bosses like Berial are seen in a whole new light when you're trying to turtle and keep them at bay with rockets. I didn't expect much from Trish, but she's come a long way since her appearance in the first game. Her entire style hinges on the fact that she can't switch weapons, and instead just has a shit-ton of moves at her disposal. This sounds lame on paper. It's anything but in practice, as said moves are a ton of fun. In addition to a smorgasbord of powers from the entire series, she also sports some movesets from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, as well as Round Trip, a boomerang of sorts that will continue to attack enemies while she's doing her thing. Dante himself though is still the king. He has access to his five styles (Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, Royalguard, and Dark Slayer), which can be switched out at any time using the d-pad. If you haven't seen the absolutely insane combos and possibilities that this system creates, take a look at this. Yes, with 1080p visuals and 60fps, you can still craft and employ advanced frame-specific mechanics, and beyond. With how deep the combat system is even to this day, I expect plenty of similar discoveries for the rest of the cast. That cast, by the way, is added in a way that feels like a natural continuation of Devil May Cry 3, which is a nice touch. I love little details like the fact that everyone has their own lock-on reticle. Sadly, the bad news is that all of this extra content doesn't necessarily fix the level design. The core problem hinges with the halfway point of the campaign, in which Dante (or Vergil/Trish) backtracks through the story, fighting the same exact bosses all over again. Not every level is exactly the same per se, but it's enough to grate on most players, especially since the pacing slows down a bit near the end. To unlock Dante, you'll have to play as Nero, and to unlock Trish, you'll have to play as Lady for a while. It's not that this system is bad per se because of how strong the combat systems are, it's just odd, as it feels like Capcom rushed its development a bit. The boss fights themselves are challenging and enjoyable, but having to do them all over again (or more, once you hit a gauntlet-like area at the end) is a bummer. The same goes for trekking through locales you've already seen at length. Having said all that, the juice is worth the squeeze, even more-so than before because of the new playstyles. While Nero operated like a handicapped Dante in the original edition, Vergil, Trish, and Lady have all cemented their places into the pantheon of Devil May Cry, to the point where I would love to see at least one of them (if not all) return in a future iteration. Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition reaffirms the series' status as the current king of the action genre. It may not fix some of the blemishes inherent to the game's campaign, but the new characters and styles are fantastic, and will have players creating combo videos for years to come. With respect to DmC and everything it accomplished, this is the Devil May Cry I want to see in the future, Capcom. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Devil May Cry review photo
Real Dante returns
It wasn't until I played the very first Devil May Cry game that I knew I was an action fan. I must have beaten it five times at launch, pouring through every facet over weeks, perfecting my frame-by-frame combat abilities -- ...

Rumor: Hidden data reveals new Splatoon stages, modes, and weapons

Jun 21 // Jonathan Holmes
Here's a list of the rumored weapons. I'm particularly curious about the Gatling Hyper and the Bamboozler.  1. Sploosh-o-matic - Squid Beakons & Killer Wail 2. Neo Sploosh-o-matic - Point Sensor & Kraken 3. Neo Splash-o-matic - Burst Bombs & Inkzooka 4. N-ZAP '89 - Sprinkler & Inkstrikes 5. Custom Dual Squelcher - Squid Beakon & Killer Wail 6. Luna Blaster - Ink Mines & Inkzooka 7. Luna Blaster Neo - Splat Bombs & Bomb Rush 8. Range Blaster - Splash Wall & Inkstrike 9. Custom Range Blaster - Splat Bombs & Kraken 10. Rapid Blaster Pro - Seekers & Inkzooka 11. Rapid Blaster Pro Deco - Disruptors & Killer Wail 12. L-3 Nozzlenose D - Burst Bombs & Kraken 13. H-3 Nozzlenose - Suction Bombs & Echolocator 14. H-3 Nozzlenose D - Point Sensor & Inkzooka 15. Carbon Roller - Burst Bombs & Inkzooka 16. Carbon Roller Deco - Seekers & Bomb Rush 17. Inkbrush Nouveau - Ink Mines & Bubbler 18. Octobrush - Squid Beakons & Kraken 19. Octobrush Nouveau - Splat Bombs & Inkzooka 20. Bloblobber 21. T_BigBall_Strong01 22. Triple Bloblobber 23. T_BigBall_Diffusion01 24. Bomlobber 25. T_BigBall_Launcher01 26. E-liter 3K Scope 27. Custom E-liter 3K Scope 28. Bamboozler 14 Mk I 29. Bamboozler 14 Mk II 30. T_Gatling_Standard00 31. T_Gatling_Standard01 32. T_Gatling_Hyper00 33. T_Gatling_Hyper01  
Splatoon photo
Ryu not confirmed (yet)
It's seems that Nintendo may have once again let some of their future plans slip out through the magic of hidden data. Some hard working hackers have found content in Splatoon's code that reveals two yet unreleased stages (Ca...

Weekend Deals: Grab hold of Arkham Knight at 46% off for PC

Jun 20 // Dealzon
Batman Arkham Discounts Use Coupon: DEALZO-N40OFF-BATAKV Batman: Arkham Knight Premium (Steam) — $53.99  (list price $100) Batman: Arkham Knight Standard (Steam) — $36  (list price $60) Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass (Steam) — $24  (list price $40) Console Deals Batman: Arkham Knight + $10 Rewards (PS4) — $59.99  (list price $60) Batman: Arkham Knight Serious Edition (PS4, XOne) — $69.99  (list price $90) Use Code: GRAB25-PERCNT-OFFNOW Batman Arkham Origins (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Batman Arkham City GOTY (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Batman Arkham Asylum GOTY (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Deals Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward - Collectors Edition — $44.99  (list price $60) Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward — $29.99  (list price $40) Xbox & PS4 Consoles PlayStation 4 Console + Last of Us + Bloodborne — $399.99  (list price $400) Xbox One Halo MCC Bundle + AC: Unity + $50 Promo — $349  <- plus 1 free game Xbox One 1TB Console + Halo MCC + $50 Promo + AC: Unity — $399 <- ditto PlayStation Plus 12-Month Card — $39.99  (list price $50) Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Gold Card — $35.99  (list price $60) Recent Releases 06/12: LEGO Jurassic World (Steam) — $25.99  (list price $40) 06/10: Kholat (Steam) — $13.50  (list price $20) Upcoming Releases 07/10: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.95  (list price $55) 07/21: F1 2015 + $10 Xbox Gift Card (Xbox One) — $59.95  (list price $60) 08/04: Rare Replay + $10 Xbox Gift Card (Xbox One) — $29.99  <- not bad MSFT 11/10: Fallout 4 + $10 Xbox Gift Card (Xbox One) — $59.99  (list price $60) 11/10: Fallout 4 (Steam) — $45  (list price $60) PC Game Deals Just Cause 3 (Steam) — $40.50  (list price $60) Battlefield: Hardline Deluxe Edition (Origin) — $34.99  (list price $70) Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origin) — $29.99  (list price $60) World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor (PC DVD) — $29.99  (list price $50) Killing Floor 2 (Steam) — $23.99  (list price $30) <- Steam Sale Day 10 Battlefield 4 Premium (Origin) — $19.99  (list price $40) Resident Evil 6 (Steam) — $7.49  (list price $30) The Wolf Among Us — $6.24  (list price $25) Duke Nukem Forever (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) <- meh? Age of Empires II HD (Steam) — $2.99  (list price $20) Console Game Deals Lords of the Fallen (PS4, Xbox One) — $27.99  (list price $40) Just Dance 2015 (PS4, XOne, 360, Wii U, Wii) — $19.99  (list price $50) <- still going South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360, PS3) — $14.99  (list price $30) PS4 Bloodborne (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) <- not bad Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4) — $32.95  (list price $60) The Last of Us Remastered (PS4 Download) — $11.49  (list price $40) Xbox One Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) — $24.99  (list price $40) Forza Motorsport 5: Racing Game of the Year (Xbox One) — $24.99  (list $40) Wii U Zelda Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) — $48.99  (list price $60) Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U) — $29.99  (list price $40) Laptop Deals 13.3" Lenovo LaVie Z, i7-5500U, 8GB, 256GB, 1440p — $1,274.15  (list $1,700) 17.3" Lenovo Y70, i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M, 16GB, 256GB — $1,099  (list $1,500) 14" Lenovo Yoga 3, i5-5200U, 8GB, 256GB SSD — $919  (list $1,200) HDTV Deals 48" Samsung UN48H8000 Curved 240Hz 3D Smart TV — $1,049.99  (list $1,798) 55" LG 55UB8200 2160p 4K Ultra HD Smart TV — $838  (list $2,200) 55" Samsung UN55J6300 120Hz Smart HDTV — $749.99  (list $1,800) 55" LG 55LF6000 1080p 120Hz HDTV — $549.99  (list $899) 50" LG 50LF6000 1080p 120Hz HDTV — $499.99  (list  $700) SSD Deals Crucial M500 Series SSD 2.5" 960GB — $279.99  (list price $520) SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD 2.5" 480GB — $199.99  (list price $400) PNY CS1111 SSD 2.5" 480GB — $139.99  (list price $200) Seagate 1TB 3.5" Hard Drive — $34.99  (list price $80) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Gotham's Bargaining
For PC gamers, Tuesday's release of Batman: Arkham Knight is fairly cheap over the weekend -- up to 46% off list price. Use our 40% off code at GMG which drops the price of the Standard Edition from $60 to only...

Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Jun 19 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 19, 2015 (Early Access), June 23, 2015 Picking up directly where the last campaign left off, the first quest of Heavensward is located in the Coerthas Central Highlands, directing you to Ishgard. Yep, you heard that right -- it continues the story of the core game, so you'll need to complete the main campaign (ending with "Before the Dawn") and reach level 50 first. Newer players will find at least double the experience from the original vanilla quests to help boost them up a bit. According to Square Enix, the new Heavensward story is roughly 50 hours, and based on my pace so far in at 10, that's fairly accurate. It's about the same length as the original game, which is quite a feat, and about the sweet spot for a campaign in my mind. There's so much other stuff to do to keep you busy at this point. The flow of the process is to get from levels 50 to 60 with mostly story quests, which has worked out for the most part with my first character -- so far, I'm level 53 and counting. I decided to take on the leveling process with my trusty Paladin, who would be able to jump into queues at a moment's notice. Most classes have a handful of new abilities, and in the Paladin's case, there are five in total. I've acquired one so far -- the power to use a pinch block ability to give him some extra durability. There are a few new combo abilities that mix up your rotation quite a bit, as well as a few tweaks (like an accuracy buff to Shield Oath). It's just enough to keep you on your toes and get you interested in leveling without making things too tricky. Ishgard is the new capital city and the expansion hosts nine new locations, all of which are much larger than the original zones in A Realm Reborn. This is mostly because they now support flying mounts, a brand new mechanic in Heavensward. You can't just fly right off the bat, though -- you'll have to attune to each zone through a combination of locating aether and completing key quests. The idea is that you'll have fully explored the area by the time you're done, opening up a more vertical approach later on. [embed]294029:59024:0[/embed] It sounds like it could be annoying, but you'll get a compass item that will help you find said aether currents with instructions that aren't too vague and aren't on-the-nose either. It's a fun mechanic that reminds me a lot of the same design philosophies found in Guild Wars 2. Some of the currents are even built around jumping puzzles. Flying isn't as glorious as in, say, Aion, but it's very fun to soar about when tracking down hunt targets. I can see Square Enix doing a lot of cool things with future updates like hidden areas and quests; there's some of that already now. Speaking of flying, your personal Chocobo will allow you to do just that at a certain point in the story, so everyone can easily get on track and enjoy the ride. Having said that, the PlayStation 4 version is starting to show its age already. Although this is launch so there's lots more people concentrated in specific areas, the frame rate crawls a bit more than it used to in vanilla Realm Reborn, especially since most of these zones are so much bigger. It's not game-breaking, but it is odd. The PS4 was previously a powerhouse and nearly on par with the PC. I haven't tested it for that long, but the newly minted DirectX 11 engine on PC (that also released today) is drastically better than ever before, alleviating nearly all of my concerns. I'll provide more information on this in the future. The quality of the story is improved overall, drawing from what the development team learned from all of the superior updates. It deals with a thousand-year conflict between Ishgard and Dravania. I'm interested in seeing where this goes, and I'll provide a spoiler-free update when I complete it. The actual quests haven't been any better or worse than A Realm Reborn, and so far, the theme of the expansion seems to be "more of a good thing, without re-inventing the wheel." There are two starting zones to alleviate the congestion, which have worked, on top of the fact that roughly half of the post-level-50 community is going back to the old content with the new jobs anyway. As for other content, there are a handful of new dungeons, one of which I've tried out already called Dusk Vigil. It's about on par with the recent additions in the newer updates. That is to say they're very flashy, filled with their own lore bits, and while they cut down on exploration quite a bit, they're all designed to be completed casually with the occasional peppering of a challenge. The pacing is spot on, and they don't drag like a few of the vanilla dungeons. The same goes for the first hard mode trial (read: group instanced boss) I've encountered, which features a really badass bug that I don't want to spoil here. Suffice to say, it's a little more interesting than the initial Primals you meet in A Realm Reborn. Several other classes have gotten a few major shakeups, like the Bard, who now has a DPS-based Limit Break, and the Black Mage, which must stay within Ley Lines, a magical circle, to gain extra damage by way of haste. Every class now has a unique level-three Limit Break animation, which is great. All of these changes help make your job feel more unique and make Final Fantasy XIV a more well-rounded MMO as a whole. Switching to my other jobs for a few moments felt different, especially the Bard. You can really notice even just a few extra skills in dungeon runs. As for the three new jobs, I had a chance to try out Dark Knight, but there's also the Astrologian and Machinist. Unlocking them is as easy as reaching Ishgard and talking to a specific quest starter in town, then doing a 10-minute quest for each -- that's it! They all start at level 30, and come equipped with a few pieces of gear and roughly 10 skills each at first. It's perfect, as there's just enough there to give you plenty to do right away, but not so much that you're overwhelmed. While I need more time to test them, I think they all bring something unique to the table, and I love the Dark Knight's risk-reward mechanic. It's the freshest take on tanking yet. Other extras that I still need to dig into include the all new Au Ra race, the DirectX11 visual upgrade on PC, new hunt targets, a more comprehensive loot system for raids, the power to queue for dungeons with less than five players, Free Company (guild) upgrades like Workshops and Airships, crafting upgrades, Bismarck and Ravana as new Primals, more Triple Triad cards, a future new Frontlines PVP map, an all-new Relic questline set to debut in 3.1, and a new Alexander raid, which will unlock at a later date. Stay tuned as I continue to play through Heavensward, work my way up to level 60, and try out the new classes. Only then will I provide my full review for the expansion.+ [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Final Fantasy XIV review photo
Par for the heavens
The story of how Square Enix turned Final Fantasy XIV around is still incredible to me. I always tell people about playing it at E3 in 2010 for the very first time, pre-Realm Reborn, and how it was one of the least fun MMOs I...

Review: Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure

Jun 18 // Chris Carter
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure (3DS)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoMRSP: $8.99Release Date: June 11, 2015 Yep, this is pretty much the same Dr. Mario you know and love. Miracle Cure sports 10 training levels and 50 core stages for its "campaign," and mixes the classic gameplay of Mario with the newly-minted sub-franchise of Dr. Luigi, allowing both playstyles as a separate option. If you've never played a game in the series before, you're directing little pills on a screen, similar to Tetris, to eliminate viruses and clear the board. Each virus and pill has a respective color (blue, red, or yellow), and matching up four of a kind will clear that link. Dr. Mario features a standard pill shape with up to two colors, and Dr. Luigi makes things a bit more difficult with an "L" shape pill. That's the gist. Here in the newest 3D game there's a new mechanic though called the "Miracle Cure," which basically translates to "powerups." Leave it to Nintendo to barely iterate on a formula and still make a fun game, right? Said powerups include bombs, which blow up anything in their blast radius, and line-based explosions, which are more tactical in nature. For the most part, everything is the same as before, but the Miracle Cures do add a bit more nuance should you opt to turn them on. For instance, the pacing for individual levels is a bit faster since you can score a ton of bombs to blast out some mishaps you may have stacked up in a particular round. It's not mind-blowing, but it doesn't detract from the experience. In addition to the aforementioned preset puzzles, you can also play a custom mode that allows endless play, as well as the option to play directly with a CPU, head-to-head, racing to clear your board first. This versus mode also extends to both online play and local play, the latter of which thankfully supports a download play option, so only one person needs a copy. Honestly, the online experience was one of the smoothest of any recent Nintendo game, as I didn't have any lag of any kind playing a number of different people in Japan. It's all matchmaking based, mind. [embed]294288:59147:0[/embed] It also has this cool display method that shows your game on top and your opponent's on the bottom, both of which have been lag-free based on my testing. For all of these modes you can also opt for Dr. Mario- or Dr. Luigi-based modes, as well as the option to turn off Miracle Cures if you wish. My suggestion? Play with Miracle Cures online. It can be a radically different experience, looking up, then quickly looking down and realizing that your opponent has blasted away half their viruses with powerups. When all is said and done though, there really isn't a whole lot to Miracle Cure if you aren't going to play multiplayer with a friend who shares your passion. I really wish Nintendo showed a bit more effort when it comes to solo play, as the standard "missions" aren't cutting it. I would kill to see a new storyline (like Dr. Mario 64) incorporated into the franchise, one that unites both Mario and Luigi against a common foe. For now, there's only so much pill-dropping that I can take. If you're a Dr. Mario junkie, you can probably pull the trigger on Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure just to see what the fuss is about in regards to the power-ups. For everyone else, just stick with Dr. Luigi until Nintendo decides to overhaul the formula a bit more. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Dr. Mario review photo
The next game should be Nurse Toad
There's something to be said about preserving old games. As we move into the digital era and publishers start putting less and less emphasis on physical media, many classic games and pieces of hardware will cease to exist. Fo...

Star Ocean photo
SO5 producer on how new game came to be
During an interview with Destructoid today, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness producer Shuichi Kobayashi intimated the series was in a state of upheaval after the launch of Star Ocean 4. Kobayashi told me "nobody would ...

Talking Kingdom Hearts III (and a bit of Final Fantasy VII!) with Tetsuya Nomura

Jun 16 // Zack Furniss
[embed]294205:59114:0[/embed] Mr. Nomura, I see that Sora is dressed in new duds. With your history of costume design, are we going to see changing outfits to go with form changes like in Kingdom Hearts II? Yes. Form changes are being considered to bring back. I have enjoyed making different designs for different abilities in the past. What is the process like when deciding which Disney levels are going to be in the game? Does Disney often intervene to make sure you're utilizing certain properties? Disney sometimes does make suggestions, but the development staff has more sway over worlds and gameplay mechanics. When KH began, Disney was a large pool to pool from, but now with the additions of the Star Wars and Marvel properties, it is goddamn huge. Has this made it difficult to parse between which franchises you would like to insert into the ever-expanding universe? The fact that we have to pick, and the difficulty associated with that, is something we have faced with each installment since the beginning. We pick more IPs than necessary and consult the schedule and feasibility of actually getting our designs to work. It’s been a repeating process. How much would I have to pay you to draw a small portrait of me in your signature aesthetic? I do some work outside of my current projects. The tasks come and I do them without knowledge of how much money I will make. If I ever decide to leave Square Enix, I will determine a price! (I pull out my wallet and start taking out whole dollars. Tetsuya lets out an adorable giggle and shows a big, goofy [ha!] smile.) With Final Fantasy VII being remade, are you more excited to finally remake this, or nervous because of the years of players' built-up expectations? When I create anything, I feel no pressure for some reason. When the trailer was announced yesterday, I was texting Kazushige Nojima and Yoshinori Kitase, but I sensed that one of them was nervous and it was interesting to me. Seeing the reactions made everything worth it. Nojima said he is very determined to make this after seeing the reaction. I asked “you weren’t sure before that?” Haha. The news of the remake is impacting so many people. I couldn’t sleep last night because my phone was blowing up! So many people are congratulating me that I feel like “Oh wow, maybe I did do something profound here!
Tetsuya Nomura photo
What an adorable little man
HOLY FUCK I UNEXPECTEDLY INTERVIEWED NOMURA. I sat in a private room at the Square Enix booth with Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII's creative director Tetsuya Nomura. Co-creator Tai Yasue was also there, though he let Nomura answer the majority of the questions that two other journalists and I asked him.

Just Cause 3 somehow makes explosions easier than ever before

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immediately after beginning, fellow editor Jordan Devore tethered three grapples to the crotch on a statue of an oppressive ruler, pulled it until the entire thing crumbled to pieces (dick tater, am I right?), hooked the statue's head to a helicopter, and flew it off a cliff to a fiery death. Yep, Just Cause 3 is pretty fucking wonderful. The third installment in Avalanche's over-the-top action thriller franchise has a plot, but you wouldn't know it from what we played. Now that he has a few kills under his belt, Rico's returned to the Mediterranean-inspired area that he left as a child to overthrow an evil dictator. Our sandbox was more concerned with defying physics with the parachute and grappling hook, and using the wingsuit to glide far over the land and sea alike. Ironically, the wingsuit moments provided a nice touch of tranquility as we floated over the gorgeous landscape. From that high up, everything looked so serene and peaceful -- it was almost impossible to believe it's the work of an oppressive regime. That was immediately cut short when the next thought was "this needs more explosions." Because Just Cause 3 prioritizes the ridiculous over the believable, Rico is a one-man demolition crew and his supply never wanes. Avalanche has equipped him with a never-ending supply of C4, meaning that explosions are never more than a second or two away. What's the best way to dismantle this factory or to put this bridge out of commission? Our good friend C4 does the trick nicely. A lot of the design decisions were seemingly made as a result of Avalanche shrugging its shoulders. Regarding infinite C4, a studio representative told us "Why not?" Likewise, a new helicopter stunt trick where you hang upside down from the bottom was implemented because "That's just cool." After playing Just Cause 3 for a half hour, it appears that the developer put anything in the game that would make for a good time. It's certainly not a bad direction to take. Another point of emphasis for Avalanche pertains to traversal. The developer wanted to create a world that's easy and fun to move around. That's why the wingsuit, grappling hook, and parachute seemingly offer an infinite amount of momentum -- because slowing to a crawl just isn't as thrilling. It's also the reason why cars can be saved in garages and then recalled anytime you're near one. Hey, if you're going to take the discreet way around Just Cause 3, you may as well do it in style. Regardless of method, getting around Just Cause 3 may take a bit longer than you'd think. Avalanche developers tell us that the world is at least as big as Just Cause 2, but the layout's inherently different. The third installment will feature lots of islands, archipelagos, and little towns (Just Cause 2 kind of did too, but we're just going with what we're told). Also, Avalanche says that all the towns feel varied from one another and have their own sense of culture, so to speak. We wouldn't know a ton about that, because we were restricted to the first area of the game. Zooming out on the map, we could see the other two regions. They were significantly larger, and, as we were assured, significantly more difficult. When that's all available, players will get to experience what might be the developer's biggest goal: To create a perfect flow through the world. When all is said and done, Avalanche wants you to be able to flawlessly travel anywhere you want, however you want, and have a blast doing it. While it was nice seeing first-hand that Just Cause 3 nails all the things you'd expect Just Cause to nail, it was almost disappointing that the demo was completely unstructured. Okay, the sandbox element works great, but what does it have to offer players who want a reason to press forward? We weren't given a glimpse at that. Hopefully it's as competent as the free reign component is. Really, the takeaway from our time with Just Cause 3 is blowing up a lot of stuff makes for an enthralling time. It's not a revelation necessarily, so much as it is a good reminder. As we concluded the demo by demolishing a water tower that towered over a military base, a rep for the developer told us with a half-grin on his face "we're not really into subtlety." That's great, Avalanche, because neither are we.
Just Cause preview photo
That's saying something
So many preview events obsess themselves with presenting a carefully crafted slice of game. Here's a chunk of gameplay that puts the title's best foot forward. Don't deviate too far off the path, stick to the rules, and a P...

Transformers photo
Later this year on everything but Wii U
After Best Buy and a leak spilled the beans, we now have official confirmation from Activision -- Platinum Games will develop Transformers: Devastation, an upcoming action project based on the Transformers universe. It ...

It's actually happening! photo
It's actually happening!
Wow. When a release exists so far in the realm of improbability that it becomes a joke -- like The Last Guardian or Agent or Half-Life 3 -- and then, bam, E3 gets a damn car battery to the gonads as one of these things actua...

These are EA Sports' big focuses for Madden, FIFA, and NHL in 2015

Jun 15 // Brett Makedonski
Without a doubt, Madden is the EA Sports franchise that's been given the most attention over the years. It'd have been easy for the publisher to ask for some more subtle changes like even slicker presentation. To EA's credit, it's working out a new take on a gameplay staple -- a risky venture in an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" culture of gaming. EA Sports has coined the term "Air Supremacy" for its Madden focus, and it begins at the position everyone starts with: Quarterback. There's greater control over the passing game now when helming a football team. Touch passes have been implemented to offer some variation in between lobs and bullets. The developers have altered how passers move on the run by using different animations for rolling out (yet looking for a receiver), and a full-on scramble. Maybe the biggest change to the quarterback position comes in the form of body positional passes. As an example, the presenter brought up the Seahawks' last offensive play in the Super Bowl this year. Russell Wilson threw a mid-body pass, and it was picked off. If he had thrown a low one (as he should have), the worst case scenario would've likely been an incompletion. With this installment of Madden, the player will have that sort of pinpoint control over every pass. However, passing is a two-way street, and no quarterback will put up Hall of Fame numbers without an apt receiving corps. Madden 16 also focuses on wideouts, as they can implement different styles to make catches. Maybe an ill-thrown pass calls for them to go up and challenge a defender for a ball. They likely won't gain many yards after the reception, but they might actually catch it (and more importantly, the chances of an interception go way down.) Or, maybe the situation is optimal for them to rack up some yards after catch. Do that, and pick up a first down. Those are just a few of the circumstances where Madden 16 lets you choose how to catch the ball after it lets you choose how to throw it. Lastly, ever eager to capitalize on the growing fantasy football trend, Madden 16 has a new fantasy mode. Draft Champions is a 15-round fantasy draft that allows you to build a team from all NFL players and play a full season. The publisher described this as the type of mode you might play if you had a couple hours to kill before you went to bed. The seasons are designed to go quickly, allowing you to draft an entirely new team relatively quickly after finishing one campaign. While Madden's focuses are easy to identify, FIFA 16's are a little more nebulous (apart from the women's national teams that were added.) They're centered around the player as the playmaker, but mostly in how all the surrounding pieces move. In a nutshell, EA Sports is upping the competency of FIFA's AI. It's improving positional defensive sense and how they defend as a unit. The goal (GOLAZO!!!) here is players have to be more strategic with their attack. Passing better be done with a purpose, or the opposition will just take the ball from you at midfield. But, working down the pitch and clinically finishing should feel like an actual accomplishment, one that sends you running and shouting toward a section of fevered supporters. This is the most difficult enhancement in the three games to recognize at a preview event. These are changes that define the very core of the sport. For instance, with Madden it's easy to play and realize "oh yeah, the quarterback is doing those things they said he would." It's not as simple with FIFA this year. If it's as improved as EA says, hardcore fans might recognize it, but more casual players might just think "Yeah, this is a good soccer game." As subtle as FIFA's intentions are, NHL's are far more brazen. It's eschewing the likes of physics and presentation for something else this year. Basically, EA's looking to add in a lot of the stuff that was inexplicably absent in NHL 15. Those who are dedicated to the series should be content, as long as they weren't too put off by last year's game. The most notable (re)addition to NHL 16 is EA Sports Hockey League -- an online competitive team mode that was quite popular. It was cut from NHL 15 due to "quality control," but it's back this year. Actually, EA's inclusion of several modes and features is a testament to the fact that it's listening to the fans (or to how awry the last game went). Also present are offline, single player Hockey Ultimate Team; simulating to the next shift in Be a Pro, along with playing a career beginning in the minors; and the ability to manage individual players in Be a GM. As it's moving beyond the growing pains of developing for new consoles, EA Sports is making strides with its hockey franchise. It sounds like NHL 16 will end up being the game NHL 15 should've been. It's just a shame it took an extra year. So, that's where EA Sports' intentions lie for Madden 16, FIFA 16, and NHL 16. They're all different in the varying degrees of change that needed to be made. Some, like NHL are more apparent, while Madden just moves a bit closer to that sim experience. But, they all look to be on track to be an improvement thanks to their one big focus.
EA Sports preview photo
EA Sports round-up!
Another year, another collection of EA Sports titles. EA's in a fortuitous position in that it has the video game rights to three of the five most popular athletics wrapped up. Demand for these games seemingly never wanes bec...

Review: Fallout Shelter

Jun 15 // Chris Carter
Fallout Shelter (Android, iOS [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: Free-to-playRelease Date: June 14, 2015 (iOS) / TBA (Android) The gist is that you'll basically need to build your first vault from scratch, with a power source, a water treatment plant, and a cafeteria to serve food as a baseline. As you play the game, more citizens will line up outside of your vault, ready to suit up and get placed into a new room. As time passes, said NPCs will work and earn you resources, which can be gained by tapping on the location -- simple stuff that I'm sure you've seen before. Other than a few nuances like the ability to place male and female NPCs in a living space and potentially create children or ship off inhabitants to scour the wasteland off-screen, that's it. It's a lot like SimTower, or its mobile successor, Tiny Tower. Tapping is the name of the game. Unlike many games though, Fallout Shelter actually forces you to keep up with your resources. If you don't power your vault enough, rooms will shut down. If you don't keep your NPCs fed, they will lose health and productivity. A low water resource will cause your citizens to become irradiated, and so on. Your personal hamster-wheel involves completing objectives and upgrading rooms to earn caps, which in turn allow you to build more rooms to take in more inhabitants, which unlocks more advanced buildings. It's all pretty straightforward, but sometimes objectives are a bit broken, as you'll need to re-do things you may have already completed (specifically in the case of equipping an NPC with a certain item in my game). The entire process is enhanced by the fact that visually, Fallout Shelter is far more impressive than most resource-management games on the market. I love how when you double-tap on a particular room it does this 3D-like zoom, which looks great when juxtaposed to the cartoony art style of the vault inhabitants.  It's very easy to click on everything, and although the scrolling sensitivity could use some tweaking, the game as a whole is responsive. During its E3 conference last night, Bethesda noted that it didn't have any underhanded sales tactics with Fallout Shelter, as it was playable offline "without energy meters." Now, that's technically true (it works in airplane mode), but you will have to wait to earn more caps from rooms to actually do anything substantial with your vault other than look at it. What's actually cool about Shelter is that you can "hurry up" activities by taking a chance rather than spending premium currency (like every other game on the market) -- the catch is that room might explode or cause an "incident," which may kill off citizens or spread to other rooms. These can involve things like fires, or even radroach infestations. In the latter case, I had just equipped my mess hall officer with a handgun, which she used to fight off said roaches. It's a nice risk-reward feature that you don't see often. For a game like this the pacing is decent, as most early-game resources take one to three minutes to earn. It's slow though for sure in terms of earning caps and building new rooms in the long-term, as Fallout Shelter is an experience that's meant to be played over time -- so much so that many of you may give up on it after all the waiting involved. There are optional microtransactions however in the form of "lunchboxes," which range from $0.99 per box to $19.99 for 40 of them. You'll earn "Shelter Cards" for your trouble, one of which is guaranteed to grant you a rare item "or better." For the purposes of science (and this review) I purchased one, which granted me a stimpack, a 10mm pistol, 100 caps, and a sturdy piece of battle armor. All of these items aren't particularly game-breaking, and you can earn a few lunchboxes yourself by completing objectives. Faster world progress hinges on earning lots of 500 cap boxes on a whim, so I see the obvious slot machine draw here that Bethesda is going for. Fallout Shelter is a pretty inoffensive mobile resource management game. While it could have exploited fans at every turn like EA tried to do with Dungeon Keeper, it's actually a nice little way to spend an afternoon while you wait for Fallout 4 to come out in November. Just don't expect anything particularly exciting, as it is slightly skewed towards enticing you to spend money on it -- lest you wait to enjoy it in short spurts. [This review is based on a retail build of the free-to-play game. $0.99 of in-app-purchases were made by the reviewer.]
Fallout Shelter review photo
Free-to-tunnel-snake
Last night at Bethesda's press conference, we got our first surprise of E3 2015: a brand new mobile game set in the Fallout universe called Fallout Shelter. It looked innocent enough, hearkening back to classics like XCOM as ...

Dark Souls III confirmed for early 2016

Jun 15 // Jordan Devore
(Cool box art, Namco.)
Dark Souls III photo
Rise from your grave!
The leaks killed the surprise, but I'm still into it -- Dark Souls III is coming early next year to PC, PS, and Xbox One. "Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team" are on the project, according to Bandai Namco. A pre-rendered video p...

Rock Band 4 is doing a new fun thing you wouldn't expect

Jun 15 // Brett Makedonski
Between those dueling stages was an innocuous, decidedly less interesting room. But, what it lacked in flair, it made up for in substance. Some posted up nearby talking Filipino politics, but those who ventured inside found the biggest change to Rock Band in years. Guitar solos aren't what they used to be. Trepidation was abound. Shredding in Rock Band is such a staple. Now it's different. Accuracy has been replaced with creativity. I couldn't help but think that's a musician's move right there. I also couldn't help but be a little dejected that there's less skill involved with the instrument that I spent the most time trying to perfect. Down the hall, Pearl Jam's "Alive" started playing, and Eric Pope couldn't hide his disdain. I thought about firing it up to figure out how these new solos worked. I refrained and chose "Cult of Personality." In everyone else's hands, this is a plastic guitar; in my hands, it's a pipebomb. Things didn't pan out quite as I wanted. Rather than rhythmically dissecting the song until the solo hit, I was met with five minutes of solo. That's a dev mode thing -- perks of the preview event. I guess that's adequate time to figure out the ins and outs of the new format. I was mostly right, but not entirely. [embed]293727:59016:0[/embed] A small group had formed after a few minutes. Someone made a comment about the five buttons on a Rock Band guitar. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. A Harmonix representative sprung into action to correct the misstatement and pitch the Freestyle Solos -- a system that reminded everyone there are ten buttons on these axes. Intricate notes have been left by the wayside for colorful patterns. Blue means to play in first position (normal notes); orange indicates you need to slide up the neck and play on those five forgotten-about buttons. An algorithm decides exactly what gets played, whether it be sustains, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, or just wildly tapping without any strumming. One of the patterns mandates you just play anything. Make noise, anything works. While it sounds somewhat insane, it mostly works. The solos come together in a way that's satisfying -- as if you were actually playing the solo. However, substituting that for nailing a classic solo isn't a trade-off that I necessarily appreciated. It just feels like maybe it's a bit too easy now. That's not the only concern. Harmonix has made a point of framing Rock Band 4 as a party game that anyone can pick up and play. But, I saw many of my peers struggling to integrate the solos into the gameplay they already knew. When I asked the devs how long they expected it'd take for casual players to grasp Freestyle Solos, they thought it'd go pretty quick. I estimate it'll take slightly longer than very casual players want to commit. In that event, the mode can be turned off, which seems like a less than optimal solution. For those who have the patience to learn it but aren't dedicated enough to excel at the old solos, Freestyle may be a fine compromise. Wailing on those solos makes you feel really good even when you're performing a relatively simple task. It makes for a nice little illusion for anyone who doesn't want to look past it. 
Rock Band preview photo
'Play Freestyle!'
Everywhere I looked, my peers seemed to be having fun. Mere minutes before, everyone couldn't stop talking about how cold that Santa Monica rooftop was. It was the opposite of fun. Now, that had melted away, a distant memory ...

Xbox One photo
Natively playable on Xbox One
Phil Spencer just dropped a bombshell at Microsoft's E3 presser. Xbox One will be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games. By this holiday, 100 titles you've already purchased will be playable on Xbox One. Microsoft used Mas...

The Walking Dead photo
A mini-series
During today's E3 YouTube stream, Telltale Games announced The Walking Dead: Michonne. It's a three-episode mini-series starring the titular character from the comic/TV show, and will explain what she was up to after being mi...

Nindies@Home photo
Starting today you can download these
Nintendo has just announced a new intiiative to cater to indie games called Nindies@Home. The basic idea is dead simple -- starting right now until the oddly specific 8:59 AM PST on June 22, you can download demos for select ...

Fallout 4 photo
You can play Donkey Kong on your Pip-Boy
Tonight at Bethesda's E3 2015 press conference, game director Todd Howard demonstrated Fallout 4, which begins before the bombs fell. The character creator takes place in a mirror and adjustments happen in real time. And, yes...

Doom at E3 photo
IDDQD
[Update: Watch the trailer here!] Bethesda showed off its first footage for the new Doom today at its inaugural E3 conference in Los Angeles. Executive Producer Marty Stratton took the stage, stating that Doom is b...

Roy's not quite our same boy in the new Super Smash Bros.

Jun 14 // Chris Carter
First off, it has to be said that Roy is even less similar to his Fire Emblem brethren in this game. He wields his sword backwards, which provides him with a unique set of animations, as well as different hitboxes for his attacks. Roy is a much more close-combat oriented fighter than Marth or Lucina, with nearly all of his attacks, including his neutral-B charge move, sporting a smaller distance. There's no tipping here -- Roy does most of his damage up close with the hilt, and feels completely different right off the bat. In addition to his neutral charge he also has his patented upwards slash, counter, and forward/backward sword combo. Don't dismiss him as a clone though, as all of these moves have different timings and animations to get used to. Take his Up-B -- it's a tad slower, but it hits multiple times, so you don't have to worry about executing it perfectly. Everything else is best used close-up, due to the lack of a tip-damage bonus. As a general rule, Roy is also speedier, so you won't be able to acclimate as a Marth or Lucina main immediately without getting a feel for how he moves. Oh, and his grabs are much better at setting up combos. Out of all of the Fire Emblem characters in the game, he likely has the most depth. While Ryu is a sexier brand new addition and Lucas is a fan favorite, I think Roy will end up being the best part of this DLC drop today as more veterans get their hands on them. Out of all three, he's my personal favorite. In fact, he really puts Lucina in an odd spot, as she feels less relevant when compared to both Marth and Roy's uniqueness. Yep, the crowd still chants "Roy's our boy" -- amazing.
Roy Smash photo
He's changed for the better
When playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, I always tended to side with Marth. I dug his aesthetic, his animations, and his moveset over Roy. But with the release of his DLC incarnation in the new Super Smash Bros., Roy is now my boy.

Lucas goes big and goes home in Super Smash Bros. 4

Jun 14 // Jonathan Holmes
First, the cosmetic changes. Lucas now has alt shirts that feature his dog Boney, a baby drago, and even Mother 3 antagonist The Masked Man. Again, if you've played Mother 3, that will all mean a lot more to you. I don't want to spoil anything, but I think it's fair to say that seeing Lucas in that last shirt is a lot like seeing Luke Skywalker lounging around in a Darth Vader bath robe. It cool, but also a little creepy if you think about it for too long.  As for how Lucas plays, he seems to have all the same basic moves that he had in Brawl, but many have seen drastic changes. PK Magnet, his down B, is now much bigger, comes out a lot faster, does more damage, and can heal Lucas a lot more than before. Absorbing a fireball from Mario heals Lucas by about 12% now. It looks like he can only heal a total of 30% damage or so per stock, but more than that might be bordering on over powered, especially in light of how much more deadly this attack is as an offensive maneuver. Lucas's up smash also seems to have a larger hit box than it used to, traveling farther up and out than before. It's hard to say if that's just how it looks though, as Smash 4 is much more flashy than Brawl in general. We're also hearing that his rope snake throw/tether has longer reach than it used to, though he can't seem to use it to grab opponents in the air. It also looks like he can't combo for as many hits with his neutral air.  So that's a little about how Lucas looks in Smash Bros. 4. PK Magnet seems to have gotten the biggest buff in his arsenal so far, and the rest of his moves seem solid enough to keep him competitive. Sadly, he's already been banned from EVO, so we won't see how tournament level players handle him there, but I'm sure it won't be long before some professional Smash 4 player shows us more of what Lucas has to offer. 
Smash Bros. photo
It's hard out there for a PK imp
Lucas is one of those characters that people will play no matter how good or bad he is in a given Smash Bros. game. Mother/Earthbound fans are like that. Just look at the comments in the announcement post for Earthbound Begin...

Ryu is gunning for top tier in the new Super Smash Bros.

Jun 14 // Patrick Hancock
First, let's discuss Ryu's stage, Suzaku Castle. In short: it's wonderful and weird. The music is great and speeds up when things are getting down to the wire. The default mode will definitely not be tournament-legal, since it has a walk-off on the right side. For general entertaining play, however, it's superb. Strategies will change depending on the side the fight is happening on, and since there's a lot of open space on the left side, you can expect some serious ledge play at times. There are two platforms on the left, one on top and one on the bottom. The top one has no grabbable ledges, but the bottom one does. The ledges on the bottom platform are a bit wonky, as characters who come up towards the center of the platform will snap to a ledge that seems way too far to snap to. Players will also only snap in the way they are facing, it seems. Here's a GIF to demonstrate what I mean: As for the character, the first thing I did was take Ryu into the Training mode. He's got at least twice as many attacks as a standard character, and I need to know what they are and how they act before I go into a match. From here on out, I will refer to his light attacks as the attacks executing by tapping the button, and heavy attacks as the ones where the player has to hold the attack button. There's apparently a medium somewhere in the middle, but I'll be damned if I can pull it off intentionally. Holding the attack button doesn't even feel like truly "holding" it. I was worried that having to hold down a button for an attack would feel weird, but it is still very quickly executed. Now I'm worried that I'll "hold" the attack button for too long when I want to do a light attack! You really have to consciously tap the button to execute a light attack. In general, heavy attacks are the ones that come out for me when I'm not thinking. Ryu is definitely a thinking-man's character. Throwing out attacks isn't going to cut it. In each scenario, players must think "okay, light or heavy?" and then execute properly.  Let's start with the special moves. Hadoukens are a great way to cover an approach or force the opponent to make a move. You can not spam Hadoukens, as there can only be one out at a time. The Shakunetsu Hadouken can be activated by performing a half-circle forward motion and an attack button. This Hadouken is slightly stronger than holding the special button down (8% compared to 7%) and will carry the opponent with them over 5 hits. It's great for edge guarding since it takes the enemy for a ride. Shoryuken is a great recovery move and can be a kill move at high percents. It kills Mario at around 105% with no Rage, for example. Personally, this is my go-to kill move in combos, but I'll speak more on that later. Also, it's possible to input down-forward twice to execute this move, instead of doing the normal Dragon Punch motion of forward, down, down-forward. [embed]293924:58985:0[/embed] The Hurricane Kick, despite being called "hugely destructive" by Sakurai, is rather lackluster as an attack. It does less damage (9% if inputting the command) if the opponent is very close to Ryu, and more damage if they are hit during the spinning phase (13%). It pushes the enemy vertically, and doesn't kill Mario until around 130%, and that's with no Directional Influence. As a recovery move, however, the move is wonderful. Ryu can act after it, allowing him to Tatsumaki to gain horizontal ground, and then Shoryuken to go vertically. Finally, his Focus Attack. This is easily the most interesting special move Ryu has. While charging it Ryu has one hit of super armor. While charging, Ryu will flash twice, once for each increasing level. If the player hits the opponent before it flashes once, the opponent will be knocked back. If he hits them after it,  they go into a crumple state, just like Street Fighter IV. The second flash happens a split second before it is fully charged, which means it's a level 3 Focus Attack, which leads to a longer crumple. Also, if released in level 1 or 2, the Focus Attack will be absorbed by shields. Releasing a fully charged Focus Attack will still crumple a shielding opponent. Most importantly, Ryu can dash-cancel the focus attack while charging or after a hit. If an uncharged Focus Attack hits a shield, Ryu can also dash-cancel the lag. In Street Fighter IV, this was known as an "FADC," or Focus Attack Dash Cancel. This allows a guaranteed hit on crumpled opponents. It's super satisfying to pull off a FADC into a kill move like Shoryuken. It's also a good psych-out move to dash-cancel a charging Focus Attack, similar to how Sonic can cancel his Spin Dash. It's important to note that when inputting a Street Fighter command to perform a special move, it must be done in the direction Ryu is facing. If you wanted to do a Shakunetsu Hadouken backwards, for example, it would instead register as a Tatsumaki (quarter-circle back). It is not pleasant when you're expecting one move to come out and get another, so keep this in mind! Ryu's normals are incredibly varied thanks to his unique ability to have TWO OF EVERY TILT. Some of the more useful ones I've been using are his strong forward-tilt, Collarbone Breaker. It does not completely destroy a fresh shield, but it comes very close to doing so. His heavy up-tilt is also very useful and does 12%. Other than that, I've been using both version of his down-tilt a whole lot. The reason I use his down-tilt is because it can be cancelled into any of his special moves on hit. This is my go-to setup after a successful crumple, as well. Basically, I look for opportunities to FADC into a heavy down-tilt which I cancel into a Shoryuken. In case you forgot, I'm still talking about Super Smash Bros. here. As for some other notable moves: His forward smash is incredibly powerful (22% fully charged) and moves him forward, making it have a deceptively long range. His down air spikes, but only if Ryu is close to the opponent when it connects. His up smash and up air are good at keeping opponents airborne, but have short ranges. Literally all of his special moves help with his recovery. Both his Focus Attack and Hadouken give him a little vertical boost, so use them to surprise an opponent while recovering! So, what's Ryu's weakness? Well, other than the fact that players may flub inputs from time to time, I would say Ryu's biggest downside is his throw game. None of his throws are kill throws, and they don't seem to lead into any combo opportunities. Regardless, I think Ryu is going to be a very viable fighter at a higher level of play, and is a blast to experiment with no matter how good you are at the game. Also, always play as the pink Ryu to pretend like you're Dan Hibiki.
Ryu Smash Impressions photo
Watch as I Tastumaki to my death
Remember the first time you went online with Street Fighter IV with your favorite character, Hakan, and fought about 100 Ryus in a week? And they all spammed Hadoukens and always woke up with a Shoryuken? Wouldn't you like to...

What I want from Fallout 4

Jun 13 // Nic Rowen
Better stealth I'm going to take for granted that better gunplay is a given for Fallout 4. The awkward, inaccurate shooting of Fallout 3 was probably the most common complaint about it, and New Vegas' attempt to address it with a janky iron-sights system was so rough and amateurish that it felt like a hacked together mod. Fallout 4 will obviously have to do better in the guns-and-ammo category, so I'm not going to waste my breath begging for it. What I will beg for though, is better stealth design. Some of the best moments in Bethesda's games have emerged from the shadows. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood had the best quests in Oblivion and Skyrim, encouraging many players to roll up at least one sneaky character. I know I personally spent a huge chunk of my time in Fallout 3 trying to skulk through super-mutant camps, silently seeding the area with mines and booby traps before pulling down on some mutant and watching the chaos pop off as his buddies came running. When done well, the tension and power dynamics of stealth can provide some of the best gameplay around. Bethesda seems to know this. It includes so many quests and options in its games that encourage you to be a sneaky little jerk. So why does sneaking around feel like some after-thought, Scooby Doo bullshit? The old "crouch down and watch an icon that tells you if a raider can see you or not" routine isn't going to cut it anymore. Stealth should be more than a factor of your sneak stat and a matter of breaking line of sight. I'm really not interested in another stealth experience that allows enemies to pick you off from 50 yards away in the dark like you were holding a road flare if your sneak skill is low, or let you squat down straight in front of their shins like you're the Invisible Man if the skill is pushing 90 and above. Make stealth active, give us something to do to make us feel sneaky. Instead of making the Sneak skill and active camouflage gear the end-all-be-all of stealth, how about throwing in some active abilities to let us dynamically manipulate the enemy? They don't have to be complicated. Take a page from the Far Cry games and give players with a moderate skill investment in stealth the ability to throw a distracting rock or bullet casing to draw enemies away. Make some cubbyholes or hiding spots that only intermediate ninjas can use. Let Sneak-Kings focus down like Joel from The Last Of Us and get some "I'm super good at hearing" ghetto-SONAR ability. I'm not asking for Metal Gear Fallout: Sons of the Atom Bomb or anything here. I understand that in a game as big and complex as the Fallout games have been, you can't layer on every little system and nuance you'd like (that's what paid mods are for, am I right folks?) but I'd like to see something to make crawling around in the shadows fresh for Fallout 4. More skill checks please, but keep them quiet One of the things I love, love, LOVED about New Vegas was its focus on non-combat skills. Reaching back to the original Fallout, New Vegas went out of its way to incorporate skills like barter, repair, and science outside of their obvious (and boringly pragmatic) purposes way more than Fallout 3 did. This is without a doubt the right direction to move in and I would love to see Fallout 4 double down on the idea. I love this idea because it makes each character feel unique. My tech obsessed teenaged hacker had a much different experience in the Mojave Wasteland than my cannibalistic night stalker. Not just because she preferred to melt her worries away with a stream of molten plasma while he would literally cut to the heart of a problem; they moved through the world differently, physically and socially. She would hack into systems, open doors, appropriate security drones, all that good, typically sneaky stuff. But she was also able to use her skills as a currency, occasionally repairing broken gear or fixing otherwise unsolvable problems for people in the Wasteland. She fell in with the equally tech obsessed Brotherhood of Steel and it felt natural. My cannibal used his detailed knowledge of anatomy to occasionally work as a makeshift surgeon, appearing as a wolf in sheep's clothing to the unaware, and was invited into a cabal of secret people eaters. Each of them had opportunities and moments that were totally unique and exclusive from each other and that's amazing. That's exactly what Fallout should be about. I just don't want to know about it up front. I would love a little more subtlety and mystery when it comes to skill checks in Fallout 4. As I loved how New Vegas worked, I couldn't help but find the giant, full caps skill messages jarring. Nothing quite reminds you "oh yeah, you're playing a videogame" like a big old block of mechanical text that says something like [MEDICINE 60 REQUIRED]. Fold skill checks into the game more organically. If a player doesn't have the skill required to pull something off, don't show the option. Or, maybe show the option, but don't promise success. Let Prof. Goofus with his measly 15 points invested in repair set off a bomb when he tries to defuse it. Let someone who thinks they're a smooth talker chat their way into a slaver's pen. I know some people may prefer to know their options up front and the stats they should shoot for, but I'm a big believer in surprises and trusting the player to figure things out. Besides, if you really want to know the stat requirements for every interaction, there are always wikis and FAQs.   I can't believe I'm saying this, but maybe make it a little darker? Okay, hold on. Don't go branding me with the mark of #Darksiders2 just yet. I'm not asking for Fallout 40K edition here and I'm not saying I want some grim and dirty "realistic" depiction of a blasted out radioactive wasteland, because realism wouldn't do the game many favors. All I want to see is Bethesda even out the tone. Make the normal world a little darker and saner so the black humor and absurd moments can pop in contrast. I love the line Fallout walks, that razors edge between unimaginable despair and corny '50s sci-fi pulp. It's a difficult balance to find and while I think both Fallout 3 and New Vegas did a decent job at it, I think they could have done better. I think the problem is that neither game is willing to let you get your feet under you before piling up the silly stuff. Fallout 3 starts in a Vault isolated from the realities of the world, so I'm willing to put up with the greaser shenanigans of the Tunnel Snakes. But then the first town you come across in the real world, Megaton, is full of equally goofy shit and ridiculous people. You go from one silly place to another without a big change in tone when the game could have set you up for a gut punch by showing you a very zany life in the Vault and then plunging you into the harshness of the wastes. New Vegas starts its story by introducing you to Victor, a robotic cowboy with a TV in his chest and machine guns in his arms like a very well armed Teletubby. Again, don't get me wrong, I love the idea of a robot cowboy, but couldn't we wait five dang minutes to establish the stakes and condition of this post-apocalyptic world before saddling up on the wacky horse? When you come across a crashed alien saucer, find a settlement of pacifist super-mutants, or liberate a slave mine with Lincoln's very own rifle, it should be a hell of a moment, not business as usual in the wastes. Fallout 3 and New Vegas come at you with the bizarre and ludicrous so hard and so often that it runs the risk of losing its impact and blurring together. I'd like to see Fallout 4 avoid that if possible. Don't get rid of the black humor and ridiculous moments, just space them out a little more, or make the average day in the wastes a little more grounded so they can stand out better. Going by the very sombre trailer we've seen, I may just get my wish on this one. How about you? What are you looking forward to in Fallout 4? What kind of perks do you want to see? What kind of companions? How much are you hoping all these rumors about a voiced protagonist and a very focused main-plot with a mandatory male character are black and filthy lies? I know I am! Hopefully we'll find out more at Bethesda's big event tomorrow. Then we can either sing the praises or count our dead.
Fallout 4 wishlist photo
We'll find out soon enough
I'm a huge Fallout nerd. I can wax poetic about the Fallout games and how much they mean to me all day (I've done it before), so to say I'm looking forward to what Bethesda does with Fallout 4 is a little bit of an understatement. I do have some requests though. A wish list of things I would personally like to see in the next installment.  

E3 Predictions: Cards Against Humanity Edition

Jun 13 // Ben Davis
1. Sony announces a new indie game about ___. Options:- A bland military shooter (Seems likely, but maybe not as an indie title.)- A tender bromance (D'aww!)- Looking for D Winner: Sony announces a new indie game about "a tender bromance."   2. Nintendo's next wave of amiibo will include ___ and ___. Options:- A classy lady + A sexist remark (It's possible these will both involve the same amiibo.)- Tripping in Super Smash Bros. + Zippers on everything- Anita Sarkeesian + Crying children (Uh oh.) Winner: Nintendo's next wave of amiibo will include "a classy lady" and "a sexist remark."   3. Surprising no one, Microsoft will announce ___. Options:- Uncomfortable silence (...)- Exactly what you'd expect- No items, Fox only, Final Destination (Typical Microsoft.) Winner: Surprising no one, Microsoft will announce "uncomfortable silence."   4. Nintendo reveals that Link will actually be ___ in the upcoming Zelda game. Options:- Bubsy the Bobcat (Please, no!)- An original idea for once- Something nobody asked for (What could it be?) Winner: Nintendo reveals that Link will actually be "something nobody asked for" in the upcoming Zelda game. 5. Nintendo declares 2016 as the Year of ___. Options:- Dem Titties (Typical Nintendo.)- Filthy Casuals (Sorry, hardcore gamers! Maybe next time.)- Microtransactions Winner: Nintendo declares 2016 as the Year of "Filthy Casuals."   6. In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must navigate a harsh winter environment armed only with ___. Options:- DLC (They're charging for weapons now.)- A box of wine- A noticeable bulge (Or rather, two noticeable bulges...) Winner: In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must navigate a harsh winter environment armed only with "a noticeable bulge."   7. Capcom will release a new Mega Man game, but only if enough fans pay for ___ first. Options:- Pissing on the corpse of a beloved franchise (Poor Mega Man...)- Dante's new hairstyle (Hahaha.)- Butt stuff Winner: Capcom will release a new Mega Man game, but only if enough fans pay for "pissing on the corpse of a beloved franchise" first.   8. Kojima and Del Toro are back together to work on a new game titled ___. Options:- A Kickstarter Campaign (With a cryptic teaser titled KC.)- A Ham Sandwich (You heard it here first, folks!)- Hideo Kojima (Well, he does like inserting his name into his games.) Winner: Kojima and Del Toro are back together to work on a new game titled "A Ham Sandwich." 9. Someone will take the stage wearing a shirt depicting ___. Options:- Quick-time events (Press X to take off shirt!)- Feminist propaganda- Batman's nipples (I'm sure there is an actual shirt like this.) Winner: Someone will take the stage wearing a shirt depicting "Batman's nipples."   10. The next Assassin's Creed will allow you to play as either ___ or ___. Options:- Kratos, the God of War + Nothing at all (Wait, Kratos is part of the Assassin's Creed universe now?)- A dildo bat + The girls from Dead or Alive (At least you can play as a female.)- A sausage fest + Beating a dead horse (It's always a sausage fest.) Winner: The next Assassin's Creed will allow you to play as either "Kratos, the God of War" or "nothing at all."   11. Fallout 4 will be set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by ___. Options:- Hardcore gamers (So, PvP then?)- A female protagonist (Way to ruin the game, Bethesda!)- A blasian Winner: Fallout 4 will be set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by "a female protagonist."   12. In the next Kirby game, Kirby will be made out of ___. Options:- Ebola- 1,000 rat corpses (Good lord.)- Reggie Fils-Aime's body (His body is ready... to swallow everything!) Winner: In the next Kirby game, Kirby will be made out of "Reggie Fils-Aime's body." 13. Instead of announcing Half-Life 3, Valve will announce ___. Options:- A new Mario game (Imminent lawsuit?)- Angry Birds (Geez Valve, get your own ideas!)- A box of kittens (We're sorry about Half-Life 3, here's some adorable kittens!) Winner: Instead of announcing Half-Life 3, Valve will announce "a new Mario game."   14. Mother 3 will finally be released outside of Japan, but it will now feature ___. Options:- The Kinect (How could this happen?!)- Obscene Miiverse posts (Well, yeah, probably.)- A dancing game (You know what? I totally want this now!) Winner: Mother 3 will finally be released outside of Japan, but it will now feature "obscene Miiverse posts."   15. In an unexpected turn of events, a Nintendo representative will remove Toad's hat to reveal ___. Options:- Crash Bandicoot- Barack Obama- A boner (So that's how Toads reproduce...) Winner: In an unexpected turn of events, a Nintendo representative will remove Toad's hat to reveal "a boner."   16. The Last Guardian is still coming, but will star ___ and ___ instead of a boy and his dogbird. Options:- An unarmed black kid + Corgi butts (Still a boy and a dog, but with more social commentary.)- A straight white guy + Booth babes (Noooo!)- Gardevoir + Llamas Winner: The Last Guardian is still coming, but will star "an unarmed black kid" and "corgi butts" instead of a boy and his dogbird.   17. Konami announces a new series of mobile games featuring ___. Options:- Social justice warriors (Someone already made that game, Konami.)- A nip slip- Solid Snake's perfect ass (Yessss!) Winner: Konami announces a new series of mobile games featuring "Solid Snake's perfect ass." 18. Shigeru Miyamoto will appear accompanied by ___. Options:- A racist old woman- A swift death (Oh no!)- A kid becoming a squid (You're a kid now, you're a squid now.) Winner: Shigeru Miyamoto will appear accompanied by "a kid becoming a squid."   19. Microsoft announces a new IP about ___. Options:- The guy from Hatred (Lots of stolen ideas going on at E3 this year.)- The end of video games (Goddammit, Microsoft!)- A cinematic experience (Well duh.) Winner: Microsoft announces a new IP about "a cinematic experience."   20. Microsoft will not stop talking about ___. Options:- Japanese schoolgirls (Creepy...)- A gigantic penis made out of LEGOs- Sports (Again, duh.) Winner: Microsoft will not stop talking about "sports."   21. What will be the most exciting announcement to come out of E3? Options:- A mayonnaise-related incident (I'm intrigued.)- Gamergate- The Citizen Kane of video games (It's finally coming!) Winner: What will be the most exciting announcement to come out of E3? "The Citizen Kane of video games." 22. What will be the most awkward thing at E3 this year? Options:- The f-bomb (But who's gonna drop it?)- A spontaneous rap battle- Body odor (Probably true for most gaming conventions.) Winner: What will be the most awkward thing at E3 this year? "Body odor."   23. Sony announces that ___ will finally be coming to Vita. Options:- Meat (And what do you know, Super Meat Boy was just recently announced for Vita!)- Full frontal nudity (Finally!)- MOBAs Winner: Sony announces that "meat" will finally be coming to Vita.   24. A new game coming to Oculus Rift will allow players to experience ___ in virtual reality. Options:- Mario's mustache (It's just so glorious!)- Teabagging (Well, some people are into that.)- Eating an entire bag of Doritos (Welcome to the wonderful world of virtual reality, folks!) Winner: A new game coming to Oculus Rift will allow players to experience "eating an entire bag of Doritos" in virtual reality. 25. In Dark Souls III, players recover by resting in front of ___ instead of bonfires. Options:- A single tear (I'm sure players will be shedding a single tear while resting.)- A clown on fire (Do we have to kill the clown first?)- Lara Croft's cup size Winner: In Dark Souls 3, players recover by resting in front of "a clown on fire" instead of bonfires.   26. What is the last thing you expect to see at E3? Options:- An immersive experience (Zing!)- A live shark- An unexpected amount of blood (We expected some blood, but not THAT much.) Winner: What is the last thing you expect to see at E3? "An immersive experience."   27. Microsoft is pleased to announce ___: The Movie. Options:- Peter Molyneux (It will be a life-changing experience!)- Bronies (I'm pretty sure this is already a movie.)- Product Placement (Unsurprising.) Winner: Microsoft is pleased to announce "Product Placement": The Movie.   28. Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XIII: ___ Edition. Options:- A nerdgasm (That certainly sounds exciting.)- Just the tip- Anime hairstyles (Isn't that every Final Fantasy?) Winner: Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XIII: "Nerdgasm" Edition.   29. ___ will be announced as an HD remaster. Options:- Caitlyn Jenner (Haha, this answer was too perfect! It wasn't my turn to judge, though.)- Yet another game about the zombie apocalypse (This is very likely.)- Two dudes making out hardcore (I wouldn't mind playing that game in glorious HD!) Winner: "Two dudes making out hardcore" will be announced as an HD remaster.   30. No Man's Sky will feature a planet inhabited by ___ and ___. Options:- 1080p/60fps + Utter failure (Hahaha! Well, at least Hello Games tried!)- Shigeru Miyamoto's darkest secrets + Bad Box Art Mega Man (You mean that was Miyamoto's idea all along? Who knew?)- Muscle bears + Unimaginable happiness (I want to live on that planet!) Winner: No Man's Sky will feature a planet inhabited by "muscle bears" and "unimaginable happiness." Unused white cards (meaning these things will definitely NOT appear at E3 this year): - A death ray- A bag full of spiders- The creature from The Last Guardian (Did someone lie to us?)- Slipping on a banana peel- Battletoads (Oh well.)- Flesh-eating bacteria- Lots and lots of money (Uh oh, no money at E3?)- Wasted potential (The irony of this card not being played...)- Rock-hard abs- The best thing ever (Well, that's sad...)- Maniacal laughter- Pure evil- Soccer moms- Waluigi (C'mon Nintendo, give the people what they want!)- Samus Aran (No more Metroid yet. Sorry, Zack!)- A fight to the death (Well at least no one dies.)- Powerful thighs
E3 Predictions photo
Expo Against Humanity!
[Update: Added video of Laura Kate and the Dtoid UK crew playing their version of the game.] E3 2015 is just around the corner, and there's no better way to pass the time than by trying to predict what this year's expo has in...

Obscure Video Games: The Aka-Champion

Jun 13 // Obscure Video Games
The snowboard slap-fighting in my GIF above is just one way to brutalize your babies. Some more examples are: electrified jump rope vicious polar bears skydiving "accidents" giant killer snowballs And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a ton of dangerous mini-games here, and they're divided into summer and winter events. Some are fun, some are frustrating, and some are just weird. There's even a two-player mode, so you can injure infants with a friend. The Aka-Champion isn't an easy game to find (even online); but if you see it for a reasonable price then grab that baby and see if you can beat it. [embed]293652:58928:0[/embed]
Obscure Video Games photo
Hit me baby, one more time
Who wants to play a mini-game collection where babies slap the crap out of each other? Nobody? What about if they're creepy-looking Cabbage Patch Kid rejects? Still no? Oh well, that's what I'm going to talk about here anyway...

Steam Summer Sale hits Day 3, Fallout 4 pre-order deal returns

Jun 13 // Dealzon
Top Weekend Deals Noteworthy Picks Batman: Arkham Knight Premium Ed. (Steam) — $53.99  (list price $100) Fallout 4 (Steam) — $48  (list price $60) Grand Theft Auto V — $45  (list price $60) ARK: Survival Evolved (Steam) — $24.89  (list price $30) Starcraft II: Battle Chest (PC/Mac) — $19.99  (list price $40) PlayStation TV — $39.99  (list price $80) Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Card — $35.99  (list price $60) Steam Summer Sale Deals Day 3 Cities: Skylines — $20.09  (list price $40) <- excellent at this price Prison Architect — $4.49  (list price $30) Sunless Sea — $11.39 (list price $19) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel — $19.9  (list price $60) <- off lowest by $1.8 Borderlands 2 GOTY — $9.99 (list price $30) Shadow of Mordor cheaper at Bundle Stars ($20) or Games Planet ($17) Day 2 Wolfenstein: The New Order — $14.99  (list price $60) Wolfenstein: The Old Blood — $9.99  (list price $20) <- new low! This War of Mine — $7.99  (list price $20) Hitman Collection — $7.99  (list price $40) Mount & Blade: Warband — $3.99  (list price $20) <- worth a visit for $4 Child of Light (Uplay) — $3.74  (list price $15) Origin Sale Deals Battlefield: Hardline — $29.99  (list price $60) <- no surprises Dragon Age: Inquisition — $29.99  (list price $60) <- ties lowest ever Battlefield 4 + Premium — $24.99  (list price $60) Need for Speed Rivals: Complete Edition — $19.99  (list price $40) Battlefield 4 Premium — $19.99  (list price $40) FIFA 15 — $19.99  (list price $40) Recent Releases 06/12: LEGO Jurassic World (Steam) — $27.99  (list price $40) 06/11: The Story Goes On (Steam) — $3.37  (list price $5) 06/10: Kholat (Steam) — $13.50  (list price $20) 05/28: Flame Over (Steam) — $7.20  (list price $12) 05/22: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 3 (Steam) — $10.04  (list $15) 05/19: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $35.99  (list price $60) Upcoming Releases 06/16: Xbox One 1TB + Halo Master Chief Col. + $50 Gift Card — $399 06/18: Pro Cycling Manager 2015 (Steam) — $27  (list price $40) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (Steam) — $36  (list price $60) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass (Steam) — $24  (list price $40) 07/10: F1 2015 (Steam) — $35.95  (list price $55) 09/15: Mighty No. 9 (Steam) — $15  (list price $20) PC Game Deals Darksiders Franchise Use Code: GRAB25-PERCNT-OFFNOW Darksiders Franchise Pack (Steam) — $9  (list price $60) Darksiders 2 (Steam) — $4.50  (list price $30) Darksiders (Steam) — $3  (list price $20) LEGO Titles Use Code: GRAB25-PERCNT-OFFNOW LEGO Batman (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Lego: The Hobbit (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) LEGO Lord of the Rings (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) The LEGO Movie: Videogame (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) LEGO: Marvel Super Heroes (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) More Deals Killing Floor 2 (Steam) — $25.45  (list price $30) Mortal Kombat X (Steam) — $23.19  (list price $60) Cities: Skylines (Steam) — $20.99  (list price $30) Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Steam) — $17.13  (list price $50) Console Game Deals Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4, XOne) — $41.99  (list price $60) Dark Souls II Collector's Edition (X360) — $39.99  (list price $80) MLB 15 The Show (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker (Wii U) — $32.60  (list price $40) BioShock Infinite: Complete Edition (Xbox 360, PS3) — $19.99  (list price $30) Used Game Sale Dragon Age: Inquisition - Used (X360, PS4, XOne, PS3) — $24.99  (list $60) Evolve - Used (Xbox One, PS4) — $19.99  (list price $60) Far Cry 4 - Used (PS4, Xbox One) — $19.99  (list price $40) Destiny - Used (PS3) — $18.99  (list price $40) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - Used (Xbox 360) — $12.99  (list price $40) Assassin's Creed Unity - Used (Xbox One) — $9.99  (list price $40) Crimes and Punishments: Sherlock Holmes - Used (X360) — $8.99  (list $30) Laptop Deals 11.6" Apple MacBook Air, i5-4260U, 256GB SSD — $799  (list $999) 14" Lenovo Y40-80, i7-5500U, Radeon R9, 8GB, 512GB SSD — $749  (list $1,500) 15.6" Lenovo U530 Touch, i5-4210U, 8GB, 1080p — $599  (list $1,150) HDTV Deals 65" Insignia 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV — $699.99  (list price $900) 40" Samsung 4K Ultra HD 60Hz Smart LED HDTV — $549.99  (list price $1,000) 40" Samsung 1080p Smart LED HDTV — $489.99  (list price $600) 43" Insignia 1080p LED HDTV — $289.99  (list price $330) Accessories & Hardware Deals Crucial M500 Series SSD 2.5" 960GB — $289.99  (list price $520) XFX Double Dissipation Radeon R9 290X 4GB Video Card + Dirt Rally — $269.99  WD Elements 5TB External Hard Drive — $119.99  (list price $200) SanDisk Ultra II SSD 2.5" 240GB — $89.99  (list price $150)
Weekend Deals photo
Hide your wallets!
Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably knew that on Thursday the Steam Summer Sale kicked off. This Saturday marks Day Three of the sale with a new round of Daily Deals and Flash Sales coming at 1 PM Eastern. (W...


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