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The Destructoid Guide to Community Podcasting

Mar 05 // Stephen Turner
For your podcast, you will need: 1 Skype 1 Microphone/Headset 2 Recording Apps (CallBurner or Pamela) 1 Editing Software (WavePad, Vegas, Adobe, etc.) 3-4 Human Beings 1 File Storage Platform As you can see, you don’t need to go overboard with your equipment, and a good podcast always boils down to great chemistry. Let’s look at that list in a little more detail: Getting a Skype account is easy. If it’s not built into your Windows, go to the website. Podcasting is, simply put, talk radio done over the phone. It’s a group chat edited into a listener’s digest. Most community podcasts are done over Skype – it’s a bit of a rarity for everyone to be in the same room – so obviously you’ll need a quality headset. Something comfortable in the £20/$25 range will do just fine. MY PRO TIP: Console headsets are no-no; too cheap and nasty. But if you’re on a shoestring budget and looking to reduce the popping effect on your mic, the foamy bit from an old 360 headset is well worth salvaging. A bit of a “No Shit, Sherlock” but you’ll also need a Skype recording app. Different podcasters use different recorders, e.g. Radio Destructoid uses CallBurner and Scary Granules uses Pamela. I’m sure audiophiles will tell you one is better than the other, but they’re both solid, accessible recorders for first timers. LAURA KATE’S PRO-TIP: Always have at least one guest recording the whole call with one of those Skype recorders. They've saved my life more than once when someone's local recording broke. The amount of people on your show can vary, but four is the golden number. More experienced podcasters are lower in number because they’ve built up a rapport. If you have a whole gang, then some voices tend to get lost. I find four is the best because you can tag in and out without interrupting the flow, like them wrestlers on TV. Editing software is the real deal breaker here, since that’s where the real work begins. For Menage-A-Toid, I used a free version of WavePad Sound Editor; very newb friendly and it comes with video tutorials. STRIDER HOANG’S PRO-TIP: Before Fapcast's hiatus, I actually used Vegas to edit my podcast on my old laptop. After the hiatus I had been using a new laptop and didn't have Vegas anymore. So I managed to use Adobe Audition which works great. Best of all, you can shell out for the modern version or simply download an older version for free. I believe Audition is currently version 5 but I found version 3 for free. Lastly, you’ll need a file storage site for streaming and downloading. Mediafire, Soundcloud, iTunes, all good platforms. YouTube’s also an option, but that’s really more for VODcasts like the awesome OSW Review. As anyone who’s podcasted before knows, getting the band together is the worst part. Lots of group emails, lots of scheduling, lots of last-minute cancellations. It’ll either be smooth sailing or plain frustrating, but always be mindful of other people’s time. Eventually, you’ll all come together for a show bigger than 10 Super Bowls! Now I don’t want to oversell it… KYLE MACGREGOR’S PRO TIP: Record at a decent hour. We record Podtoid in the early afternoon on Sunday and I'm so much more coherent than when we record Radio Dtoid (late at night). Look, don’t jump in, half-cocked. ALWAYS BE PREPARED. One time, when I was in the Cub Scouts, we didn’t heed our own famous motto. Several of us were mauled by a bear, and we lost another group to a time loop in the woods. Hell, two Cubs didn’t even bother showing up. So use this quick prep to honour those poor, poor souls: Test your equipment an hour before recording. Always call Echo/Sound Test Service on Skype. No feedback means a loose lead/Hardware & Sound problem. When all else fails, Skype has its own comprehensive troubleshooting guide. It’s pretty damn useful. Make sure those call recorders are activated. Fire it up along with Skype. It’ll auto-record all calls, including that “Meow Meow Meow” song you sung to the Echo lady. Remember: sound files are found in the designated recorder’s folder, not Skype. Group Call, test, test, 1, 2, 1, 2! Your first group call is a rehearsal. Here’s where you’ll iron out any sound issues. Don’t just say everyone sounds okay. If someone’s quiet/loud, let them know. They can cap the levels in Call > Audio Settings tab. End the call and play the audio file back. If it sounds fine, you’re ready to go. Remember: A small delay is nothing, so figure out the kinks before you all get settled in. You’ll be surprised how many mishaps occur before you go live. DARREN NAKAMURA’S PRO TIP: Have everybody record locally and stitch the audio together in post. It helps to easily silence background noise coming from one person, and gets rid of any latency effects (robot voice). With switches flicked and dials reading normal, the next group call will be The Big One, the ol’ “live in five.” Don’t worry, without fail, every podcast starts off with a lot of rambling and someone saying, “Are we ready yet?” Professionalism, huh?! This is the part where you’re probably thinking, “Oh, great, now they’re going to tell me how to make my show!” To which, I’d say, “No! Make whatever you want, just be original and fearless about it! If you’re not having fun, we’re not having fun!” That said, uh-oh, it’s best to have a structure. How Did This Get Made? is a great show, but bloody hell, it’s a mess at times. You could’ve seen Sleepaway Camp twice in one night and still have trouble following their time-skip observations. If you want to keep the listeners around, there needs to be a sense of direction. MIKE MARTIN’S PRO TIP: Having an overview/structure laid out helps immensely. Don't script things, unless you are really great actors. It comes off unnatural. Let conversations flow naturally. You can always remove rambling later, but you don't know what gem might pop up in off topic conversations. DARREN NAKAMURA’S PRO TIP: Don't ever think that "let's get drunk and record something" is an original idea or a good one. It almost never is. ANDY DIXON’S PRO TIP: Yeah, drunkenness is A-OK as a by-product of having a good time podcasting. It just shouldn't be the reason for the podcast :) Sure, have a drink, but don’t go nuts. Two beers are more than enough to calm your nerves and wet your whistle throughout the entire show. As the de facto host, it’s your job to introduce the show, the guests, and the topics, steer the conversations, and end it on a bang. Your presentation style is yours and yours alone.  You’re the Dungeon Master, the Conan O’ Brien, even the Awesomely Bearded Captain of the Titanic. The key is to be assertive once in a while. Also, make sure you write up a “Things to Say and Do” list in Word. So for structure, let’s look at Menage-a-Toid’s second episode. As you can see, it runs on a simple magazine format; an easy fill for 75+ minutes. It doesn’t even have to be this rigid.  As long as you know your A to B’s, everything else is a lovely scenic detour. *drives innocently away to the rocky valleys of The Hills Have Eyes* So how exactly do you converse with an audience in mind? Be engaging for one, but if you’re the de facto host, be sure to keep these tips in the back of your mind: Introduce the topic, along with your own opinion, before passing the buck along. Always keep things on the move. You know, like that infamous football scene in The Room. If anybody goes quiet for a while, bring them back in by asking for a thought. Conversations always go off on a tangent. Still, be mindful of the original point and bring it back to some conclusion before things get exhausted. Skype Messenger a valuable and silent tool. Write down your directions and queries there, as not to interrupt the conversation. If the topic is running dry, wrap it up. It’ll save you from dead air and repetition. Listener Questions are always welcome. Get the word out early and be sure to remind everyone again before recording. More interaction means more empowerment for your audience, which means regular retention for you in the long run. As a guest, it’s your job to be a lovable smart-arse like our very own Occams. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but ALWAYS BE ENGAGING. Popular podcasts pride themselves on a strong cross-section of personalities. Someone will always have you covered with trivia, gags, opinions, and general buffoonery. And no doubt, you’ll be covering their arses with own brand of wit, guile, or plain old sensibility. There aren’t any real no-no’s to podcasting, just some easily tamed bad habits. Here’s some I’ve encountered in my time: No snacks while recording. Drinks are fine. Snacks are for pre-production only. No distractions like clickable nibs. Trust me, even a crappy mic will pick up your fidgeting. *whispers*Sorry, Secret Moon Base guys*whisper* Brevity is the soul of wit. Rambling is bound to happen, but don’t hog the mic. The key to keep things snappy. Sure, you might have to explain the mechanics of something, but you don’t need to go into the exact specifics. People tend to zone out if you’ve been talking for 10 minutes straight. Don’t turn the conversation into a “schmohz.” Nobody likes a messy pile up… of noise. It’s an early evening bar conversation, so be polite in addition to being fun, and be mindful of the listener. It’ll also save the editor a headache or two. CONOR ELSEA’S (BAD) PRO TIP: Helps to live near an airport and leave your windows open. No matter the show, you’re looking at a three-hour recording session at most. Make sure you have a break in that time. Remember to have fun with the content and say everything you need to say. Nobody cares if you suck or not. Plus, there are plenty of chances at Destructoid to hone your craft. Just ask around! Editing eats up your time like nobody’s business. But stick with it because this is where your well oiled vision comes to life. Whatever you have planned: Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. Guests will say a lot, but not all of it will make the cut. Some jokes work, some don’t. Some get to the point, some take longer. It’s all clay, baby. If you’re confident enough, you can even shave off seconds of dead air. Don’t worry about hurt feelings. Find a balance of voices, and do what’s best for the listener. Even out those sound levels. Sometimes, someone or something will be louder than the rest. You can actually reduce the decibels and keep everyone audibly in-line. Sure, it’s more time in the editing process, but you’ll end up producing a higher quality show for it. Music is a useful punctuation. Cues break up your topics and keep the listener engaged. No need to play an entire piece. Learn to fade early on for the maximum effect. Always make notes. As you continue to edit, something important at 1:30 will end up at 1:26. It’s a no brainer. Keep some sticky notes at hand. Treat milestones like separate save games. Overwriting’s fine for minor changes, but for the end of a session, it’s advisable to save your work as separate audio files.  That way, if anything irreversible comes up, an older edit will be close at hand. Send a rough cut to your guests. They don’t need to hear all of it, just the intro.  Everybody’s their own worst critic, so shake them down for good advice. Once you’ve nailed the opening half-hour, you won’t need any hand-holding for the rest. After you’ve uploaded your final cut, write a community blog with all the relevant links.  Don’t just say, “Here’s our podcast, listen to it.” Sell it to us in 200-300 words. If you want to promote yourself further, then by all means, make a trailer and send a message to our Community Manager/Podcast Recapper. Who knows? You might even get up getting a radio spot on another community podcast. It’s all about that networking, baby! Oh, and don't forget to check out the Podcast boards in our forum! Always remember: great podcasting comes with experience. You know, like that thing your mum and the milkman talk about on the sly. Well, you’re on your own now. Hopefully, this guide has either given you a shot of confidence to give it a try or it’s helped to refine your skills. Maybe you’ll think, “Wait, podcasting doesn’t sound so scary after all. In fact, it’s a genuinely great way of getting involved with the Destructoid community. Gee Willlikers, Mr. Turner! It’s just like being in a knife-fight gang down by the beach!” And I’ll look at you and say, “It sure is, Billy. It sure is.” We look forward to give you a spin. In my case, while doing the shopping. Or photoshopping myself into Sarah Koenig's "started off great then lost the plot" Serial. What about that Jay fella, huh?
Podcast Guide photo
The call is coming from inside the house!
So you wanna be a podcast superstar? And live large, a big house, five cars, you're in charge? Comin' up in the world, don't trust no body, gotta look over your shoulder constantly? Well, it probably won’t happen unle...

Binding of Isaac: 10 tips for making The Lost playthrough easier

Feb 28 // Corduroy Turtle
This character, known as 'The Lost', is a ghost. He can fly right off the bat and his stats are all pretty normal except for one tiny, little detail: he has absolutely no health. This means that not only does he die in one hit, but a bunch of the items in the game have no effect on him or will kill him if you try to use them. As you can imagine, the idea of beating the game multiple times with a character who can die from something as small as a fly was not only daunting; it was terrifying. Long story short, I did it. It wasn't easy, it wasn't fun and to be completely honest, I don't recommend it! But if you're like me and you just have to do it, I guess I have some tips for you. These by no means will guarantee your success but hopefully they'll shed a little light on the long, depressing road that lies ahead of you. 1) Do everything else first There's a ton of stuff to do in Rebirth, and almost none of it requires playing as The Lost, so focus on all of that first. Seriously. Enjoy the game. Beat the Cathedral and Sheol paths with every other character on Hard. Complete all of the challenges. Fully upgrade the shop by plopping 999 coins into the donation machine. Unlock every possible thing you can before doing this. Not only will it allow you to get comfortable with the game, but you're going to want every possible item in the mix if/when you decide to tackle this nightmare. 2) The Lost does have some advantages Wait, The Lost isn't a total piece of shit? Well, sort of. As I mentioned earlier, he can fly, which is a huge help. This allows you to grab any items you can see on-screen without worrying about spikes, pits or rocks that would normally block your path. You're going to want every bomb, key and chest you can get your hands on so this is huge. You also won't have to worry about the damaging effects of "creep," which is the poison trail that some enemies leave in their path. This also means that you can "hide" from certain enemies and attacks by hovering over rocks. This tactic is absolutely necessary for survival but just keep in mind that there are enemies that can also fly, and there are plenty of attacks that are unaffected by rocks, so you're by no means invinsible. A somewhat pleasant side effect of having no health is it grants The Lost free admittance to all Challenge Rooms. Though they can be a huge risk, Challenge Rooms can have free items inside which are always nice. Plus, if you're carring a card or pill that allows you to teleport, you can grab the free stuff and immediate get the fuck out of there without having to survive the impending battle. However, the biggest advantage The Lost has over the other characters is that he gets free Deals with the Devil. Devil Rooms will sometimes open up after boss fights and usually you have to sacrifice precious health to gain the items inside. But since The Lost literally has no health, everything is free! There are some really great Devil-exclusive items so grab what you can. Damage ups are a definite. Items that cause fear are also nice. Just be careful and remember that not all Devil items are helpful. The Razor Blade actually hurts you when activated, which will obviously kill you before you can enjoy the increased damage. The Dark Bum, who is normally a welcome addition to any run since he can spawn soul hearts, offers no help to The Lost. In fact, since there's a chance he could spawn a enemy spider instead, he's actually a huge liability. Trust me. 3) Play on Hard at all times Here's the thing: most of The Lost's items can be unlocked by beating the various end-game bosses on Normal. BUT, if you truly want to unlock every item in the game, you need to realize that one of those items is called Godhead and it requires that you beat all end-game bosses with all playable characters... on Hard. Since you definitely won't want to play as The Lost any more than you have to (trust me), you might as well knock out Hard mode right from the start. It's not as bad as you think. Playing as The Lost is already hard as fuck so you probably won't notice anyway. 4) Be wary of champion enemies Since you'll presumably be playing on Hard, champion enemies will be more common. More often than not, these guys will have more health, as well as added quirk that can really be a pain in certain situations. Dark teal enemies will explode upon death, but light blue ones release an 8-way tear shot when killed. These two version have killed me countless times so it's good to keep your eye out for them so you can act accordingly. 5) Abuse the donation machine If you followed my earlier tip of donating 999 coins to the Donation Machine, you can thank me now. Not only do fully upgraded shops offer more items to choose from, but certain extremely helpful items will only spawn in fully upgraded shops. Also, you can use the Donation Machine as an ATM when you're low on cash, as long as you have the bombs necesssary to make a withdrawl. I used this tactic so often that my savings went from 999 coins down to a measly 22 cents by the time I finally completed my Lost playthroughs. Not going to lie, I was scared. Anyway, here are a few shop-exclusive items that can help you out big time: Black Candle - A passive item that prevents/removes curses for the rest of that run. Some curses cast darkness over entire levels, hide the map, or even disguise items as question marks until you pick them up. Since these happen randomly and are always a pain in the butt, the opportunity to avoid them completely is lovely. The Candle, Red Candle - These are space bar items that can do massive damage if your aim is true. They also recharge every few seconds which means you can use them multiple times per room. They absolutely chew through bosses. Stop Watch - A passive item that slows down all enemies in every single room. Need I say more? This obviously gives you more time to react to certain attacks but also slows down and shortens the range of enemy projectiles. It's somewhat rare but one of the best items in the game. There's also a Broken Watch item that sometimes grants the same effect, but also has the chance of actually speeding up the enemies in a room. Yikes. Maybe think twice before picking that one up. Blank Card - A space bar item that mimics the effect of any card or rune you are currently holding. Though I wouldn't recommend this 100% of the time, it can be amazingly powerful under certain conditions. For example, if you're holding the Chaos Card, you now wield a throwable projectile that can kill any boss/enemy in the game immediately, and it recharges every four rooms! Insane. There's Options - This item will let you choose from two items after defeating a boss, instead of being stuck with one. This is sort of a big deal when you consider that a lot of items offered after defeating a boss are just simple health upgrades, which do nothing for The Lost. It's nice to have options. 6) Guppy items are your friend Collecting any combination of three Guppy items will cause you to transform into Guppy himself, which makes you super powerful. As Guppy, you spawn tons of blue flies as you do damage. Not only will blue flies follow you from room to room and kill enemies for you, but their damage scales to your current power level. As you get stronger, so do they. No matter who I'm playing as, I'm always fantasizing about transforming into Guppy. It's awesome. Here are the items: Dead Cat, Guppy's Collar - Extra lives! These are basically necessities when playing as The Lost. No matter how powerful or prepared you are, certain rooms or difficult bosses will take you by surprise and all it takes is one small mistake to ruin a promising run and send you back to the main menu with nothing. You'll want the insurance of a few extra lives to save your ass in a crisis. Guppy's Head - A space bar item that spawns two to four blue flies per room. It's far from being the best space bar item but if you have nothing else in that slot, it's certainly nice to have. An important sidenote is that it counts as one of the three Guppy items needed for the transformation regardless if you keep it on you or not. Just picking it up once is good enough. Nice. Guppy's Tail - Drastically increases the number of red chests you come across, thus greatly improving your chances of seeing other Guppy-related items. The Left Hand trinket does sort of the same thing. Red chests can be risky, since they can also have troll bombs or spiders inside but that's just a risk you have to take. Be prepare for anything to jump out! Guppy's Hairball - Arguable the least attractive of all the Guppy items. This lump of wet hair gets flung around your body and can damage enemies, growing in size with each kill. It's more of a distraction than anything, in my opinion but it's not totally useless. It can also sort of block projectiles sometimes. Guppy's Paw - Nope, I was wrong. This one is almost totally worthless. For a character with health, Guppy's Paw can turn one red heart into three soul hearts. Pretty cool. For the Lost, it just gets him one step closer to the Guppy transformation which I guess is just fine. Remember, just like Guppy's Head, you don't have to carry this around forever. Just pick it up and put it right back down if you want to. 7) These can make your life a lot easier Not all items in Rebirth are created equal. In fact, some are stupid good, especially when playing as The Lost. Besides the aforementioned Dead Cat which grants you with nine precious lives, here are a few items that can really take a run from "ok" to "OMG this could be the one." Brimstone - This item turns your tears into a full-screen beam that can clear entire rooms in less than a second. Sure, it needs to be charged fully before it can be shot, but you can negate that a bit by charging it before you enter a room. Plus, it passes through all obstructions which means you can just point and shoot without worrying if things like rocks are in your way. Combine this with Spoon Bender (homing tears) and, holy lord, you don't even know. Daddy Longlegs + Gnawed Leaf - Yeah, I know I said "single-handedly" earlier but if you're lucky enough to stumble upon this combo, you've won the lottery. Daddy Longlegs is really good on his own since he seeks out enemies for you and stomps the shit out of them. But combine that with the protection of Gnawed Leaf, an item that makes you invulnerable as long as you don't move, and you can basically clear rooms by doing nothing at all. I'm going to be honest with you, I've never actually gotten this combo myself, but I've read about it and I'm jealous. Holy Mantle - This passive item negates one hit per room. It doesn't seem like a lot but when that's all it takes to end a run as The Lost, it's a really big deal. I can't tell you how many times I've been hit by a boss mere seconds before I could deliver the final blow. It's heartbreaking. If you come across the Holy Mantle, thank your lucky stars. Mom's Knife - The ultimate killing machine. On its own, it's already a force to be reckoned with, but when you combine it with damage upgrades (like Polyphemus) it has no equal. It absolutely obliterates bosses and can make your life a whole lot easier. It also has the added advantage of doing damage to anything it touches without having to be shot. Obviously you don't want enemies to get that close to you, but if they do, all you gotta do is carefully poke them to death. Trinity Shield - This item protects you from enemy shots in whatever direction you aim it. It makes certain boss battles, like Mom's Heart, a lot less stressful. In all my hours of play, I've only seen it pop up twice, so don't hold your breath for this one. 8) Please don't pick these items up This feels like it should go without saying but, y'know, I'm gonna say it anyway. Certain items are what I call "run killers." Others, while not necessarily the worst thing in the world, will definitely hurt you more than help. To clarify, it's okay (recommended, actually) to pick up any and all space bar items you come across since it will remove them from the pool of items that can show up later. Plus, these can be dropped when you come along something better. What I'm referring to here are passive items which have a permanent effect on your character after being picked up. To do this properly, you're going to need to know what every item looks like, whether they are passive or not, and what their effects are. It's not easy. I've played these games for hundreds of hours and I still get Ipecac (explosive shots) and Chemical Peel (damage increase) confused from time to time. Here are some that I learned through painful trial and error to avoid completely when playing as The Lost. Ankh, Judas' Shadow, Lazarus' Rags - These items cause you to transform into another character upon death, which is bad. For example, if you die and respawn as Lazarus, then go on to complete the game, you obviously won't get credit for beating it as The Lost. Also, don't quote me on this, but I think they can even take priority over the 9-lives item, meaning you would transform into another character and be stuck as them before you start dipping into your extra lives. Bad news. Basically, they offer absolutely no advantage to The Lost so don't pick them up! Ipecac, Fire Mind, Dr. Fetus, Bob's Brain - These are items that change your tears into explosives, or in the case of Fire Mind, cause random explosions. Explosions are powerful but incredibly dangerous. Seeing as how the game is already hard enough when playing as The Lost, why add the constant threat of blowing yourself up? Take my advice and ignore these items. The ONLY situation in which it might be okay to pick one of these up is if you luck out and pick up Pyromaniac beforehand, which makes you immune to explosive damage. Even still, explosions push your character around and could possibly push you into something that could hurt you so,... just don't pick them up. Eve's Mascara, Ludovico Technique, Number One, Soy Milk, Strange Attractor, Tiny Planet - Maybe I shouldn't be lumping these tear modifiers all together but they've all single-handedly ruined decent runs for me in the past. The problem with these items is the disadvantages outweigh any advantages they might offer. Eve's Mascara, for example, increases damage, but slows down your tears so much that it's hard to hit anything. Same with Ludovico Technique, which gives you one massive tear that you can steer around on its own, but very slowly. Tiny Planet is just a total disaster of an item, and Strange Attractor actually makes your tears magnetic, which is terrifying. Maybe you don't hate these as much as I do but you have been warned. Pick these up at your own risk. Bucket of Lard, Tarus - These items reduce your movement speed. Not a great idea since you want to be able to dodge attacks as quickly as possible. Even though Tarus can grant you a few seconds of invincibility after a certain amount of time, it's just not worth the overall decrease in speed. Leo, Thunder Thighs - These items grant you the ability to crush rocks, pots and mushrooms that you come in contact with. Usually, this is a really handy, but as The Lost, this actually removes the ability to hide within those items to avoid damage. On top of that, bomb rocks and some mushrooms can actually cause immediate damage, which will end your run. Not smart. Guillotine, Isaac's Heart - To be completely honest, I avoid these items no matter who I'm playing as. The Guillotine causes your characters head to float around their body, which can make it hard to aim your tears accurately, and also makes it sort of difficult to keep track of where your body is exactly. It's weird. Isaac's Heart makes your character immune to damage (cool...?) but forces you to protect a heart familiar that follows you around. Anything that touches the heart will do damage to you, which will kill The Lost immediately. Definitely not cool. 9) Take your time This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you, besides #10 I suppose. There is no reason to rush so make sure you're taking your time when you play as The Lost. Be patient. Wait for openings. Don't just bum rush everything and hope for the best. I had plenty of promising runs get cut short because I stopped paying attention to the little things and got careless. If you're going to do this thing, you need to be focused the whole time. 10) Don't die Hahaha, yeah, that's not going to happen. You're going to die A LOT. Over and over. It'll feel like there's no hope. Just keep in mind that all it takes is one good run. Well, two if you want to get technical about it. No matter how badly you just did or how close you got, victory could be just around the corner. I had no idea when I picked up Sagittarius (piercing tears) in the first floor of the basement, after hundreds of attempts, that I would be claiming victory in the Dark Room less than an hour later. You really never know. Maybe this collection of tips will help you capture the elusive Godhead item and you too can feel the immense sense of relief wash over you as you realize you'll never have to play as The Lost ever again... ...until Afterbirth comes out, that is. Fuck.
Promoted blog photo
It's still really f*cking hard, though
[Dtoid community blogger Corduroy Turtle offers some strategies for achieving 100% completion in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. What a guy! --Mr Andy Dixon] The concept of difficulty is likely different for everyone. Personal...

Very Quick Tips: Resident Evil: Revelations 2's Raid Mode

Feb 24 // Chris Carter
General tips: This isn't obvious, but Raid Mode is fully playable via split-screen. Instead of selecting it from the main menu just like the campaign, you'll have to press start in the main room, then select co-op. Online play will not be enabled until roughly the final episode launches. Don't be so hasty to exit the level. You'll want to clear every enemy first to get the "clear" medallion, so hang out before you go through each key gate to see if you missed anyone. At the end when the exit medal is at hand, make a last stand to clear out the remaining enemies, and punch it if you get into trouble -- at least you'll get a completion. To conserve ammo you'll want to get head or legshots and follow up with a powerful RT (R2) attack, then a possible ground attack. These do massive amounts of damage can can equal an entire clip of early handguns. Try your hardest to never use herbs by playing cautiously. You'll want to get that full clear medallion every time, which is only possible if you don't use herbs and kill every foe. Always identify items. The sell price 90% of the time exceeds the cost you put into it. Likewise, sell doubles of weapons that are inferior, with one exception -- if you happen to play lots of split-screen co-op, then you'll want to keep extras for your partner, as they share your weapon pool and can't use the same items as you. Don't waste your gold on buying weapons or attachments -- at least early on while you're in the first episode's selection. Instead, spend your money on replenishing your items and ammo at the store (the phone). Remember that the B (Circle) button dodges. If you're backing up while aiming, you can press back and B to duck backwards. Try to legitimately do the daily missions whenever you can. They give you a massive gold boost in case you get the itch to actually buy something.
RE Rev 2 Raid Mode tips photo
It's pretty deep this time around
I'm thoroughly impressed by Capcom's efforts with Resident Evil: Revelations 2's Raid Mode. It's much deeper compared to previous efforts, augmented by a sleeker interface and a seamlessly integrated mini-story. Because of that it may take a little bit longer to acclimate, so here are some tips.

Very Quick Tips: Pokémon Shuffle

Feb 19 // Chris Carter
General tips: Do not feel compelled to spend money. The game will always be there if you decide to wait and come back. There are multiple mechanics meant to entice you to spend cash on the spot, like the Great Ball and the "just five more turns for one Jewel" prompt after a failed level. Resist, and know that any stage is doable with a lucky combo. If you're going to spend money and can't help yourself, buy Jewels and cash them out immediately for Hearts if you want to play a long session. Don't be tempted by Coins -- you do not need them unless you really want a specific Pokémon and have tested whether or not the catch percentage is high. As a general rule you are only going to want to spend Coins on the time extender (Moves +5), priced at 800c. Since you get 100 Coins per win, the way the game is paced is that you'll do five or six manageable levels before getting to a tougher encounter -- perhaps something that limits you to only three turns, or a foe with tons of health. On that note... If you encounter a really tough stage, give it "two tries" before you spend any Coins, Gems, or further Hearts on it. What I mean by that is within two attempts, you should be able to assess the situation and decide the best course of action. Are you close to beating it? Buy the 800 Coin turn extender for that session. Do you need more firepower? Go catch some Pokémon in previous stages and return. There's no need to waste five Hearts brute-forcing a tough level. When you match, try to look for combos, but if you aren't that advanced yet just look for "swap matches." What I mean by that is look around at the space where the piece you are swapping starts and try to see any potential matches. That way when you switch the piece, it will create two matches in one turn. Mega Evolutions are a huge deal in this game. They can clear out entire lines and eliminate obstacles like steel or wooden blocks in an instant. For stages where enemies have powers, try to get your Mega Pokémon buffed up at the start. Enemies generally throw out their nastiest powers later in the round, and if you're ready early, you'll have a defense. Speaking of Mega Evolutions, at first it can be confusing as to which Pokémon actually triggers it. It's always the first in line in your party, but you may not always remember that. Unless there's a weakness involved, always use the same Pokémon to differentiate the icon. I personally always have Mega Sableye out, because I remember his creepy gem-eyed face. "Check in" daily by hitting the button at the bottom left of the screen. You'll get a small currency bonus.
Pokémon Shuffle tips photo
Or, how to not get screwed as badly by microtransactions
Pokémon Shuffle has an under-handed microtransaction system that heavily relies on making you wait to play, unless you pay. But for some of you, casually picking up five games per day will be enough, and there is some fun to be had when you wade through all the nonsense. Here are some tips to help you stay free.

Very Quick Tips: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Feb 13 // Chris Carter
[embed]286307:56927:0[/embed] General tips: You can play the Song of Double Time (YY LL RR) and the Inverted Song of Time (RL YR LY) as soon as you get the Ocarina near the beginning. The former has been vastly improved for Ocarina 3D -- it now goes to an exact hour in time, which is amazing for precision quests. The latter can be played to slow down time, and should basically be done at all times as soon as you reset the three-day cycle. If you want to reset the clock to normal, just replay it or better yet, skip ahead with Double Time. Once you understand how Majora flows the game becomes much easier. The cycle of operations should proceed as follows -- sidequest, unlock the dungeon, sidequests, reset time, dungeon. The key here is that last bit. If you reset time right after you discover a dungeon and unlock the Owl Statue, and then immediately play the Inverted Song of Time to slow down the clock, you'll have no trouble completing a dungeon without the clock running out. The Bunny Hood is arguably one of the best items in the entire game. It allows you to run super fast, which is useful for clearing some big gaps to earn hidden treasure and dodge baddies in boss fights or general dungeon use. To get it, you have to get the Bremen Mask first. Go find Guru-Guru (the music box guy) in the Laundry Pool in Clock Town on the night of the first or second day. Then go to Romani Ranch on the third day (or clear the rock yourself once you unlock the Goron form). Head to the back to Cucco Shack, equip the Bremen Mask, and hold down the action button until you collect every chick in the area. You will then be gifted the Bunny Hood. The Razor sword upgrade is another must-have item. Kill Goht, the second boss on the first day. Don't worry about doing this on your first run -- after you defeat him the first time, you can just restart time, go back to the dungeon, and immediately warp to Goht at the entrance. Head to the hut right next to the core area Owl Statue, and trade your sword over to the blacksmith for an upgrade after unfreezing his equipment. Go pick up a Powder Keg in Goron Village proper from the cave, head out of the area, and run up the hill to the right. Blow up that rock, compete in the race to earn a bottle with Gold Dust, and use that to upgrade your sword a second time. You can do this process in any order you want, you just need a full day to upgrade your sword each time, so it must be started on the first day. If you're having trouble clearing gaps, use the Bunny Hood or Zora form, or just roll-jump off cliffs for a hidden long jump. Anytime you see a character say "heal," or "soul," or something that alludes to that, play the Song of Healing to set them straight. If you're worried about your Rupees, always wait until the last minute when you want to reset time, use the Song of Soaring to head back to Clock Town, and deposit them at the cart right next to the Owl Statue.
Majora 3D tips photo
Link is too Fierce
Majora's Mask may have problems, but the three-day cycle concept is not one of them. While some people didn't like the fact that they had to "start all over" after the cycle repeated, that's not really the case. You get ...

Guide: Where you can import amiibo, and where you can find rares

Feb 11 // Chris Carter
General tips Your first step is figuring out what amiibo are actually rare if you are strapped for cash and can't order every wave as soon as they are available. There really is no way to do this without staying up to date on amiibo news from sites like Destructoid or the Amiibo Inquirer, since most rare figures are revealed by way of insider tips, whether it's from Nintendo themselves or specific retailers. For instance, King Dedede is supposedly going to be the most rare non-exclusive in Wave 3. Toad looks like he's going to be rare for all intents and purposes since he is selling out everywhere, but it seems as if that might not be the case. In the case of store exclusives like Rosalina, Lucario, Shulk, and Meta Knight, expect those to always be rare. My rule of thumb is to import exclusives, always, as a backup. Just in case my order is canceled and there are no extras in-store, I have that two to three week shipment coming in from Japan. Those usually end up going to friends or getting traded. If I ever miss out on a rare amiibo, I have a few "chips" to bargain with. Finally, the "defect" amiibo craze seems to have died out, but if you have a choice in-store of multiple packages, always look for an anomaly. Nintendo World Store Do you live in New York City or close by? Your first stop for rare amiibo is going to be at the Nintendo World Store. It occasionally gets rare amiibo in stock, and even stocked exclusives at one point. You can also call the store at (646) 459-0800, or check its fairly up-to-date Twitter feed. Nowinstock.net A friend recently turned me onto this site, which is basically just an aggregator for when retailers actually get their stock in or start taking pre-orders. You can sign up for email alerts, but SMS texts are the fastest way to get notified for when amiibo sales happen. There are also other retailer stock notification services like BrickSeek, or GameStop's SKU tracker -- just replace this Shulk SKU with the one of your choice. Amazon Europe Amazon France and Amazon Germany are probably the best storefronts in terms of getting consistent rare amiibo in stock. You may have to create a new Amazon account in some regions however, and you can't take advantage of Prime. These are generally tougher to use than Japanese sites, who almost always have translated text on-hand -- but it's very easy to figure out with an online translation service, and the checkout process is fundamentally the same across all of Amazon. Japanese sites I've had good experiences with Play Asia, Nin-Nin-Game, and Ami Ami. There are other sites out there like YesAsia as well, and I'm sure some readers will share them in the comments along with their results. Note that it usually takes two to three weeks for your shipment to arrive, and with various issues with US ports going on lately it may take longer. Trading Trading always has an inherent risk that the other party won't follow through, but for those of you who are more trusting, there are online trading posts out there like /r/amiiboswap, the NVC Amiibo Group, or this NeoGAF thread. Also, try to ask fellow amiibo collectors if they're willing to trade extras if you're in a pinch -- many would be willing to part with an extra Shulk for an extra Rosalina, for instance. Just know the general "tier" that an amiibo is worth so you have an idea of what to expect. Make friends with managers or employees This is a tip I often give people who want to find rare products, and I would never advocate being fake with people or "using" them in any way. But it's common sense that if you're a little nicer to people in retail, you will generally get better service. Also, developing a rapport with someone is an easy way to get recognized, and they will often go the extra mile for you when possible. Any decent manager will also accept that since you're a repeat customer, they also in turn get more cashflow for the store -- so ask to talk to them next time about their amiibo stock situation, and maybe you'll get your own insider tip. It's a win-win. Making friends with amiibo collectors in general who are willing to send you texts for when certain waves go on sale is also key.
Rare amiibo guide photo
Exclusin' ain't easy
Unless my Meta Knight pre-order is screwed up by Best Buy, I'll have every existing amiibo on-hand by next week. A lot of people have asked how I'm so successful at getting some of the rarer figures, and the answer is "helping out a lot of friends, and getting help from friends." But there are a lot of ways to procure them. Here are a few that will allow you to sidestep scalpers on eBay.

Life is Strange: Episode One Achievement guide

Jan 29 // Brett Makedonski
Chrysalis: Finish Episode 1: Chrysalis This is the only Achievement that's earned through story progression. Just finish the first episode. It shouldn't give you any trouble at all. Macro Eyes: Find optional photo #1 in Episode 1: Chrysalis After Max gets up from her desk in the classroom, "Rachel Amber <3 4 Ever" is scrawled into the desk in front of her. Just take a picture of it.   Wide Angles: Find optional photo #2 in Episode 1: Chrysalis After some plot developments take place, Max will be forced to go to Blackwell Academy's outside courtyard. Directly in front of her is a statue in the center of a fountain. Walk around so you can see its face and snap a photo. Telephotogenic: Find optional photo #3 in Episode 1: Chrysalis This is the first photo that takes a bit of trial and error. In the courtyard, there will be a group of skaters. Talk to Justin. After he calls you a "poser," rewind time and tell him that you came here to noseslide. When he asks what trick you want to see, select a tre flip. Trevor attempts it and, well, things don't go great. Take a picture of him in agony. Then, maybe rewind time because that looks like it hurt. Close-Ups: Find optional photo #4 in Episode 1: Chrysalis Outside of the dormitories, there will be some football players playing catch. Next to them is Kate sitting on a bench. Across from Kate is a tree that's hiding a cute little squirrel with a can. Grab a picture to snag the Achievement. Red Eye: Find optional photo #5 in Episode 1: Chrysalis In Max's dorm room, there's a mirror on the wall next to her door. Just take a selfie for this Achievement. Focused: Find optional photo #6 in Episode 1: Chrysalis When going through Victoria's room, notice the collage of photos next to the door. Select to mess them up, and Max arranges them into an...umm..."creative" design. Snap a photo of Victoria's new decor. Zoomed In: Find optional photo #7 in Episode 1: Chrysalis After leaving the dorms, one of the jocks will spike a football and hit Alyssa in the head. Rewind time and warn her to move out of the way. The football will bounce past her and break a window. Take a picture of the damage. Focal Pointed: Find optional photo #8 in Episode 1: Chrysalis There's a giant, filthy RV in the school's parking lot. Go up to it and write "Clean me" in the dirt on the window. Snap a picture of your harmless graffiti for an Achievement. Maximum Aperture: Find optional photo #9 in Episode 1: Chrysalis This is the most nuanced of episode one's Achievements (and even it isn't too bad). Inside Chloe's house, wander into her parents' room when you're on the hunt for tools. A bird will smack into a window and injure itself. Rewind time to open the window. If you did it right, the bird will fly into the room and land on top of the large wardrobe opposite the bed. Then, when you and Chloe are in the woods walking toward the lighthouse, that same bird will be perched on top of a rock. Take a picture and bask in the warm fuzzies knowing that you probably saved that little guy's life. Light Leak: Find optional photo #10 in Episode 1: Chrysalis Right next to the lighthouse, Chloe takes a seat on a bench overlooking the bay. Simply take a picture of her from behind. Visionary: Find all optional photos in Episode 1: Chyrsalis This unlocks as soon as you find the tenth optional photo. Two Achievements for the price of one!
Life is Strange guide photo
Point camera, earn Gamerscore
It's always great when a game's Achievements exploit the mechanic or feature that the title does best. That's what Life is Strange's set does -- at least for the first episode. Almost everything in episode one can be unlocked...

Ready for Hyrule Warriors' Majora's Mask DLC? If not, grind these levels

Jan 14 // Jordan Devore
Here are two more tips that will be a revelation to some of you and common sense to others: There's a quicker way to sprint! While moving, press and hold the evade button ("B" on the GamePad) to immediately start sprinting after you roll. No, you don't need to pick up material or weapon pouches dropped by fallen foes. You'll still earn those items upon successful completion of the level, thank eff. Got tips 'n' tricks of your own? Share 'em, if you'd be so kind.
Hyrule Warriors grinding photo
Bless you, Divisive Plan
I'm continually amazed and frightened by how much mileage I've gotten out of Hyrule Warriors. This game is massive without DLC, and with it, god help us all -- it just keeps going. After regularly playing since launch in late...

Very Quick Tips for the Halo 5 beta

Dec 19 // Chris Carter
General tips: You don't need to aim down your weapon's sight (ADS, or, "Smart Scope" in Halo 5) all the time. Try using it at a range for your BR, but don't rely on it -- it's actually more effective in the air when aiming. Also, the pistol is more viable in Halo 5 it seems, so switch to that if you don't have another weapon available. You can't regenerate shields if you're sprinting -- so find some cover, heal up, then start running again. When the screen flashes while sprinting, you've reached your maximum sprint speed. At this point a few moves open up. To use the "ground pound," a super move of sorts, hold in the right stick and release after making a large jump. Another special move is the Spartan Charge, which you can do by sprinting at full speed (flashing screen) and then pressing the melee button (RB). Use the B button to enact the Thruster Pack. While it seems obvious to use it while jumping, one of the best uses you can get out of it is to burst around corners to avoid fire or surprise an opponent. You can ledge-climb in Halo 5. Get used to spamming the A (jump) button near a ledge to make sure that you grab onto it. The gameplay is quite fast so if your timing is off you may miss your opportunity.
Halo 5 photo
Coming your way soon
The Halo 5 beta is out for Xbox One preview accounts and select members of the press, and will be coming your way soon on December 29 if you are qualified. I...don't know how I feel about it yet, as my experience has bee...

Completing the new questline in Destiny is complicated, here's how

Dec 09 // Chris Carter
First, go to the Tower and grab the initial quest piece from Eris. She is located to the left of the spawn point. Complete the three story quests and pick up the "kill 25 Knights or Wizards" bounty. Repeat the second DLC quest on Earth two to three times to finish it. As a tip, you can delay the death of the big enemy to spawn more Knights and Wizards. Turn it in. Grab the three new Patrol quests that Eris will produce. Go to Earth and select Patrol. Your first stop is to the right of the initial spawn. Go through the facility and past The Divide, then burn past the Rocket Yard. Act like you're going into the Sepiks Prime strike. On your left after the first tunnel past the yard you'll find a specially marked Hive enemy. Kill it and the subsequent spawns to get your first bounty. Next, reload the Earth Patrol to start from the beginning. Go straight ahead to the complex that was in the beta, where you kill a Wizard for the first time. Right before the stairs to said Wizard room you'll find a marked Thrall in the corner. Kill it and the rest of the room for the second bounty. Do not reload, continue on through that area. Finally, keep heading up that building and past the Wizard room. Go into the area with the original loot cave. Head into the big building due north (right next to the cave), and run until you get to the big open area of the Terrestrial Complex. Go straight ahead into that tiny landing, steal the urn, and kill the enemies that appear. After all that you'll unlock the new Strike and the Heroic/Nightfall weeklies. Just to be clear, none of the above steps past the "25 kill" bounty are located on your radar nor are they fully explained. You do not need to wait for Xur to unlock the new weeklies.
Destiny photo
More than just the three story missions
After booting up the new Destiny expansion The Dark Below this morning, I completed the three new story missions. Upon finishing the questline I saw that the weekly Heroic and Nightfall missions were blacked ou...

Here's how you unlock everything in Smash Bros. Wii U

Nov 19 // Chris Carter
As far as characters go, the same principle goes as the 3DS version -- they're unlocked by completing matches. All you have to do is go in, set a match to one stock, put in a CPU, and fall off the cliff over and over until a contender arrives (which is roughly every 10 matches). Choose your best fighter as you'll have to beat the CPU to unlock it. This should only take you a little under an hour. The level unlocks are less straightforward. One stage is granted by playing all three boards in Smash Tour, the new Wii U specific mode. Just set the rounds to the minimum amount and play with three CPUs on each board. Simple. The rest are unlocked entirely through event mode. As you start completing levels you'll find new arenas. Just complete them (and the unlock condition, such as a difficulty level) and you're good to go. So yea, it's not as obscure as "use Kirby or Pac-Man's Final Smash" like on the 3DS. Trophies, music tracks, Mii outfits, and moves are unlocked the same way -- just play random modes and earn coins, then buy them in the store or use the Trophy Rush mode for Trophies, and Smash Tour will grant you tons of outfits, tracks and moves.
Smash Bros. Wii U photo
It's a lot simpler than in the past
Just like Super Smash Bros. 3DS, the unlock conditions are fairly relaxed in the Wii U version. Of course there is at least one stage that's hidden behind a specific unlock condition, and most of the stage unlocks aren't apparent at first. Although this doesn't spoil any stage specifically, I'd refrain from reading the comments if you want to be surprised.

Very Quick Tips: Civilization: Beyond Earth

Oct 23 // Darren Nakamura
General tips: When exploring uncharted territory, take movement one hex at a time. Explorers get two movement points per turn, and it is smart to keep one banked in case your unit walks into an ambush (see above). Aliens are more aggressive to those near Alien Nests, or to those who attack other aliens. Stay away from them with non-combat units (especially Colonists). If possible, place your capital on a coastal hex. Creating connections between your capital and your others cities affords a nice energy bonus. Land connections must be built by Worker units as roads, but sea connections are automatically put in place between two coastal cities. Coastal cities will also have more options for trade routes later. Consider all aspects of geography when placing a new city. Mountains and canyons are nearly worthless with respect to production, but make a city more defensible from attack. Some advanced units can traverse canyons, so they are not as effective as mountains in that regard. Buildings: Build at least one of each building, even if you don't think you need it. The mission system will often augment the ability of buildings after one has been constructed, so they can gain semi-hidden abilities. For instance, the Repair Facility (required technology: Engineering) gives a minor production bonus to land units, but can also be modified to increase orbital coverage after one is built. Early on, the Trade Depot (required technology: Pioneering) is one of the most important buildings to increase energy, science, food, and/or production output. Later, the Autoplant (required technology: Robotics) can be upgraded to increase the number of trade routes a city can hold. Fill up those trade routes early and reap huge benefits over the course of the game. On that note, the Ultrasonic Fence (required technology: Ecology) is a crucial building, because it can be upgraded so that trade units are never attacked by aliens. Build one as soon as possible specifically for this ability, and others only where necessary for its standard ability. Resources: There are six strategic resources, but only half are visible on the map in the beginning. The Chemistry technology reveals Petroleum, the Engineering technology reveals Titanium, and the Geophysics technology reveals Geothermal. Gaining some or all of these technologies before building a second city can help in making a better placement decision. The other three strategic resources, Firaxite, Floatstone, and Xenomass, are immediately visible, but respectively require the Robotics technology, the Terraforming technology, and the Alien Sciences technology in order to use them. All of the more powerful units are only available after specializing in an Affinity, so it is smart to decide early on which Affinity to follow. In general, Firaxite corresponds to the Supremacy Affinity, Floatstone corresponds to the Purity Affinity, and Xenomass corresponds to the Harmony Affinity. Use nearby resources to help make the decision. Alien Nests always appear on tiles with Xenomass, and as a corollary, Xenomass can always be found under Alien Nests. If you need access to Xenomass, then you may have to do some bug hunting. Diplomacy: You can often get away with one non-aggressive act against each other civilization by just apologizing. These acts include: completing expeditions near enemy borders, placing orbital units near enemy territory, and having a spy caught in an enemy city. The AI will often suggest ludicrous trades and offer favors in return. These favors are typically only worth about 100 energy or a strategic resource when you call them in. If another civilization gets to a choice city spot before you can settle there, it is possible to gain it without going to war. Open up a deal, put the city on the table, and ask what it would cost. The price can be high in strategic resources, but early in the game those don't matter much, so it might even be effectively cheap.  Combat: Siege Worms are formidable, but it can be worthwhile to kill one. A mission early on tasks you with killing a Siege Worm, and its rewards are fairly lucrative. If one hangs out near your cities for too long, you can kill it with ten city bombardments without risking any units. The reward for killing the first Siege Worm is not adjusted for inflation, so if you wait until you have better equipped combat units, it is not as impactful. Air units work under a modified rock-paper-scissors mechanism. Strikes are ranged attacks against ground units and must be ordered each time. Intercepts will target air units ordered to Strike within range. Sweeps act like Strikes, but instead check for any Intercepts in the area. It is always safest to begin with a Sweep before trying a Strike, but that is often a wasted action. Cities can hold up to three air units at a time. Before being upgraded, a Carrier can only hold one air unit. 
Beyond Earth guide photo
Help for going above and beyond
Civilization: Beyond Earth is fantastic, but even though it does a lot through tutorial popups, missions, and the Civilopedia to help new players, it can still be daunting. With several new systems in place, even series veter...

Very Quick Tips: Alien: Isolation

Oct 07 // Chris Carter
General tips: Don't use the flashlight often. The game really does follow the Resident Evil 1 style concept of limited resources, and your battery is a resource. Flick it on and off as needed. Remember that you can load the save prior to your current one after death. Don't get trigger happy with saves. It's important to save often, but you don't want two saves right next to each other, for instance. Do it after a big event/item collection. Distractions are key with humans. Early on, there's a part where it feels almost impossible to escape a room full of people. Throw a flare carefully into the corner of a room, wait, and sneak up the stairs in the other direction. Always check every terminal, period. Click on every note. Even if you aren't reading them, as the game stores it in the pause button database. Follow the principle of almost never using your items unless you need to. Before you waste multiple objects in a given situation, try to get by with wits alone through multiple deaths. If you really can't do it, then spring for your items. If you're full on scrap, you aren't crafting enough. Keep making items, as you get resources. Also, err on the side of keeping at least two medkits. You can't crawl prone on the ground, but if you approach desks while crouched you can hide underneath them. Don't corner yourself with synthetics. They will cut you off if you only have one or two escapes. Try to juke them in hallways by running to the side with plenty of clearance. If you're on PC, consider playing with a controller. The game's rumble feature will let you know when people are near after you pick up the motion sensor. Isolation also plays a sound cue, but often times feeling the rumble will jolt you into paying attention quicker. Should you find yourself confused on the "select matching input when the circuit blinks" puzzle (you'll know it when you see it), keep in mind that the correct button to press for each circuit is the one that doesn't have the dot on it. You don't always have to crouch and sneak when the alien is around. You can also walk to get around quicker without making noise. Just try not to sprint. If you need to hack a door and the alien is present, check your motion tracker and don't attempt to open it until it starts walking away in another direction -- then go as fast as you can. Also, you can start moving the analog stick toward the next way before the game registers your previous direction. Watch out for air vents. Keep a note of where they are toward the ceiling and stay away from their range.
Alien: Isolation photo
Xeno-tricks
That Xenomorph can be one tricky asshole in Alien: Isolation. One time it walked out of a room, waited a second, then turned back around to find me awkwardly climbing out of the cabinet I had been hiding in. What a dick. Here's how to avoid that situation and more.

A quick guide to all four Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel skill trees

Sep 19 // Darren Nakamura
Athena the Gladiator Action Skill: Kinetic Aspis. Press F to raise your Aspis and absorb all frontal damage. The Aspis can store a finite amount of absorbed damage as energy, based on your level. The Aspis is thrown at the end of the active duration, or if you press F again. The Aspis creates an explosion upon impact, dealing base damage plus double the stored energy, before returning to you. Skill tree: PhalanxFocus: Defense for Athena and teamNotable skills: Prismatic Aegis: The Aspis now stores the elemental damage type of absorbed damage. Multiple elemental damage types can be stored and all stored damage types are dealth by the Aspis when thrown. Clear!: When thrown, the Aspis' explosion grants Second Wind to friends within range. In addition, you gain a Damage Bonus while in Fight For Your Life. Wrath of the Goddess: The Aspis will ricochet to up to four additional enemies, each taking less damage than the last. The Aspis will return to you after it hits the final enemy. Skill tree: XiphosFocus: Melee damageNotable skills: Rend: Your melee attacks cause enemies to bleed, inflicting damage over time. The damage is increased against higher Health targets, and the damage also benefits from your Melee Damage bonuses. Epicenter: Slam Alteration Skill. When you Slam you now create a singularity, pulling nearby enemies closer and dealing damage to them. Blood Rush: Melee Override Skill. Press V to dash toward an enemy and strike them with Xiphos with increased Melee Damage. This ability has a cooldown. If this attack applies a Bleed to a target that isn't Bleeding, or kills a target, the cooldown is immediately reset. Perform a regular melee attack when Blood Rush is on cooldown. Skill tree: Ceraunic StormFocus: Incendiary and shock elemental damageNotable skills: Maelstrom: Dealing Incendiary or Shock damage causes you to gain stacks of Maelstrom. All Elemental Damage dealt is increased for each stack of Maelstrom. Stacks will decay over time, and this rate of decay increases as you accumulate more stacks. Smite: When you are airborne, shooting an enemy will Smite them, causing Incendiary and Shock Damage in a small area. Smite damage increases as you accumulate more stacks of Maelstrom. This ability has a cooldown. Zeus' Rage: When you throw the Aspis, a devastating Fire and Lightning Storm will spawn at the target location, doing area damage for several seconds. The damage of the storm increases based on the amount of damage absorbed by the Aspis. Hades' Shackles: Slamming links you to nearby enemies with a Shock Tether for a short duration, electrocuting them. The tether is broken if you lose line of sight to the target. Any enemies still tethered at the end of the duration, or who die while tethered, release an Incendiary Nova, and you gain bonus Maelstrom stacks for each enemy affected. This ability has a cooldown. My planned build (click for interactive version): I plan to play Athena when I play cooperatively, and this build is all about supporting teammates, at the cost of a lot of skills that would increase Athena's damage output. Vanguard and United Front help to keep teammates' health and shields up, and Hold the Line supplements those by increasing the duration of those effects. Given the usefulness of instantly reviving teammates (especially for raid bosses or other high-level content), Clear! is a must-have skill for team play. One point in Prepare for Glory brings aggro to Athena, making sure the Aspis is charged fully for the secondary abilities like Zeus' Rage. With the shock damage from Smite, Superconductor, and Hades' Shackles, Athena can take down enemy shields quickly, allowing teammates to specialize in incendiary or corrosive to wear away at flesh or armor. Wilhelm the Enforcer Action Skill: Wolf and Saint. Press F to summon Wolf and Saint, your trusty combat drones. Wolf will roam and attack enemies, while Saint will stay close to you and replenish your Health. Saint has a protective shield, but Wolf can be damaged by enemies. Press and hold F to recall Wolf and Saint and have some of your Cooldown refunded. Skill tree: Hunter-KillerFocus: Wolf's damage outputNotable skills: Laser Guided: When you activate Wolf and Saint, or press F while they are active, Saint will Paint the target under your reticle. Wolf will focus attacks on the currently Painted target, and the target will receive increased Damage from all sources. If a target is killed while Painted, time will be added to Wolf and Saint's Duration. Kill Switch: Wolf Ability. Whenever Wolf is recalled, runs out of Health, or expires, it will dive bomb enemies with explosive effect! Omega Strike: Wolf Ability. Wolf periodically launches a deadly missile strike against its targets. Skill tree: Cyber CommandoFocus: General abilities augmented through cyberneticsNotable skills: Power Fist: Cyborg Augmentation: Arm. Melee Override. Press V to perform an explosive punch with extended range. This ability has a cooldown. Shock Absorbers: Cyborg Augmentation: Legs. You can shoot while Sprinting. While doing so, you gain bonus Gun Damage, and suffer no accuracy penalties. Vengeance Cannon: Cyborg Augmentation: Weapon. Whenever your Shield becomes depleted, you activate your shoulder-mounted Vengeance Cannon. The Vengeance Cannon fires Incendiary Laser Blasts in tandem with your equipped weapon and lasts for a short period of time. Your Shield must fully recharge between activations. Skill tree: DreadnoughtFocus: Saint's protection abilitiesNotable skills: Termination Protocols: Fight For Your Life is replaced by Termination Protocols. During Termination Protocols you can walk at a reduced speed, fire your weapons, and you constantly shock nearby enemies. If the timer runs out, your power core goes critical, releasing a Nuclear Explosion. Zero Hour: Saint Ability. When Saint is recalled or expires, he explodes, deploying a Healing Zone underneath you. You and your friends Regenerate Health while standing in the zone. Overcharge: Saint Ability. Immediately after being summoned, Saint will release an Energy Wave that will Overcharge you and any nearby friends for a short duration. Overcharged players gain increased Movement Speed, Fire Rate, Reload Speed, and Ammo Regeneration. My planned build (click for interactive version): Wilhelm's drones Wolf and Saint make him an ideal solo play candidate, so this build maximizes the abilities of the Surveyor bots. Fire Support, Venom Bolts, Kill Switch, and Omega Strike all increase Wolf's offensive capability, while Energize, Zero Hour, and Overcharge improve Saint's healing and shield buffs. Fortify, Man and Machine, and Scramble all help to ensure Wolf stays alive to keep fighting. Laser Guided, Auxiliary Tanks, and Rapid Reinforcement extend the amount of time that Wolf and Saint are active, and decrease the amount of time waiting for them to recharge. Nisha the Lawbringer Action Skill: Showdown. Press F to activate Showdown, causing you to Automatically Aim at enemies and gain increased Gun Damage, Fire Rate, Reload Speed, Accuracy, and Bullet Speed with all gun types. Holding Mouse-2 and flicking Mouse in a direction allows you to quickly cycle to another target. Sniper Rifles and Rocket Launchers do not receive the damage bonus.  Skill tree: Law & OrderFocus: Gaining strength as damage is takenNotable skills: Order: Every time you take 15% of your maximum health in damage you gain a stack of Order. Based on your number of Order stacks, you have a chance to instantly heal double the damage taken. Order stacks are quickly lost when outside combat. Rough Rider: Slam Augment. Your Slam attack's damage is increased by 25%. Dealing damage with Slam grants you five Order stacks per enemy damaged. This skill also raises your Order Stack Cap by five. Discipline: Upon reaching 10 Order stacks, your Shields are restored to full. Also, while at 10 or more Order stacks you gain improved Melee Damage, Gun Damage, and Shield Recharge Delay for each Order stack. This skill also raises your Order Stack Cap by five. Blood of the Guilty: When you or an ally kills an enemy, you gain a stack of Order and have 5% of your health restored. This skill also raises your Order Stack Cap by five. Thunder Crackdown: Melee Override. Your Melee Attack causes a large cone-shaped Shock Burst, dealing increased damage for each Order stack. This skill also raises your Order Stack Cap by five. Skill tree: Fan the HammerFocus: Increased non-elemental damage and Showdown abilityNotable skills: Short Fused: Kill Skill. After killing an enemy, all your shots deal bonus Explosive Damage for a short time. The closer the enemy is to you, the higher the damage. Pickpocket: Your Melee Attack steals up to six bullets from your enemy and instantly loads them into your current gun's magazine. There is a cooldown for this skill. Does not work with Rocket Launcher ammo. One for Each of Ya: When using a Pistol, you get an exact copy of that gun in your offhand. While using Ironsights, you shoot with your main hand only. Skill tree: RiflewomanFocus: Shooting from the hipNotable skills: Fistful of Bullets: Increases your Magazine Size with all gun types by three. Impatience: Killing an enemy grants you a stack of Impatience, increasing your Reload Speed by 20% for each stack. All stacks are lost after reloading. Stacks up to 21 times. The Unforgiven: During Showdown all shots that hit enemies ricochet toward other nearby enemies, dealing 10% weapon damage per hit. Also, showdown ending triggers an Explosion on all enemies who have been shot by you. My planned build (click for interactive version): Showdown looks great for dealing a ton of damage in a short period of time, and with Nisha's cowgirl aesthetic and One For Each of Ya skill, I picture her wielding Jakobs pistols (high damage, no elements, quick reload) almost exclusively. This build plays to that idea with a lot of straight gun damage increases like Magnificent Six, High Noon, Quick Shot, Crack Shot and Tombstone. Interestingly, some of the single-point skills are neglected here. Fistful of Bullets is left out because it works against the synergy between Magnificent Six and pistols. Impatience is not used because One for Each of Ya encourages use of pistols, and most pistols (Jakobs revolvers in particular) would not benefit much from it. Four points are allotted to Bona Fide Grit as the only health recovery skill outside the Law & Order skill tree, but if Nisha is paired up with an Athena, Wilhelm, or Claptrap with group-healing abilities, those points could easily go into Saddle Up for additional speed and gun damage. Claptrap the Fragtrap Action Skill: VaultHunter.EXE. Press F to run your VaultHunter.EXE program. It will analyze the situation, determine which Vault Hunter would do the best job, and then load an ACTION PACKAGE allowing Claptrap to fight in that manner for a short period of time. It also gives you Full Health and Health Regeneration. VaultHunter.EXE is still in beta and its definition of "Vault Hunter" is questionable at best. Warning: VaultHunter.EXE is currently classified as malware. Your allies may be affected.  Skill tree: BoomtrapFocus: Explosive damageNotable skills: Second Wind (by Tediore): When you enter Fight For Your Life, throw a digistructed copy of yourself which explodes like a grenade, and you continually emit Explosive Novas. I Am Rubber, You Are Glue: Kill Skill. Whenever you kill an enemy, bullets have a chance to reflect off you and towards enemies for a short time. Also, unlocks ACTION PACKAGE Torgue Fiesta. Torgue Fiesta: Whoops! Drop a large amount of grenades that damage enemies and friendlies. Livin' Near the Edge: Increases Fire Rate and Reload Speed. The lower your health and shields, the greater the bonus. Also, unlocks ACTION PACKAGE Pirate Ship Mode. Pirate Ship Mode: Turn into an AWESOME PIRATE SHIP! With CANNONS! Skill tree: I Love You Guys!Focus: Healing and increasing stats for all teammatesNotable skills: Kick Him While He's Down: While in Fight For Your Life, you draw aggro from nearby enemies. Also, unlocks ACTION PACKAGE Clap-in-the-Box. Clap-in-the-Box: Digistruct a giant bomb that hurts everything around it when it explodes. You're... GOING TO LOVE ME!!: Killing an enemy creates a Friendship Nova centered on the enemy, Healing you and your friends in the radius. Allies who are low on health are healed for more. Also, unlocks ACTION PACKAGE Gun Wizard. Gun Wizard: You and all allies gain drastically increased fire rate and reload speed. It's a Trap... Card: When your Shield becomes depleted, you release a Mega-Nova centered on yourself that heals you and your friends, but hurts enemies. Targets low on health are healed for more. Your Shield must fully recharge between Mega-Novas. HIGH FIVES GUYS: Hold V to request a High Five from your friends! A successful High Five increases your and your awesome friend's Gun Damage, Fire Rate, and grants Health Regeneration. Woo! If you don't have any friends, or they leave you hangin', gain increased Gun Damage and Health Regeneration for a few seconds, because screw you guys! Skill tree: Fragmented FragtrapFocus: Unpredictability?Notable skills: All the Guns: Gun Subroutines. You randomly pick a Subroutine focused on a gun type, making you more effective with that gun type, but less effective with all others. Upon selecting a Subroutine you gain 100 Frag Stacks, which decrease over time. When you run out of Frag Stacks, your Subroutine will be replaced with a new one. Safety First: Defensive Subroutines. You randomly pick a Subroutine focused on either Health or Shields, which grants increased Capacity and Regeneration for the chosen attribute. The catch? You deal reduced damage with all gun types. Upon selecting a Subroutine you gain 100 Frag Stacks, which decrease over time. When you run out of Frag Stacks, your Subroutine will be replaced with a new one. Rope-a-Derp: Melee Subroutine. You randomly pick a melee-focused Subroutine, which grants you a massive melee damage bonus but reduces your damage with guns. Tripleclocked: Multiplies the Bonuses and Penalties of the current Subroutine by up to three. The fewer Frag Stacks you have, the greater the multiplier. Defensive Subroutines always receive Triple Capacity regardless of stacks. Also, unlocks ACTION PACKAGE One Shot Wonder. One Shot Wonder: Every shot empties all bullets from your clip. Element of Surprise: Elemental Subroutines. You randomly pick a Subroutine that Increases Damage with a chosen element, but Decreases Damage with all other elements. Upon depleting your shield, filling your shield, or entering Fight For Your Life, you release a Nova of the chosen element. Rainbow Coolant: Whenever you initial a new Subroutine you emit a Rainbow Nova. The Nova consists of all elements, humongous in size, and makes your team super happy. Also, unlocks ACTION PACKAGE Laser Inferno. Laser Inferno: Shoot lasers in all directions at nearby enemies. My planned build (click for interactive version): Hmm. I will admit, I had some trouble deciding what to do here. Though some of the skills in the Fragmented Fragtrap tree sound pretty great, the Subroutine idea that the tree is based on sounds really difficult to optimize, especially in a multiplayer game where pausing to rearrange equipment loadouts in the middle of battle is not an option. Most of the skills in the I Love You Guys! tree were chosen to best benefit the team as a whole. In particular, Through Thick and Thin works well to allow teammates access to more reliable Action Skills more quickly, but requires Claptrap to use his own Action Skill. To supplement that, all of the additional ACTION PACKAGES from both the Boomtrap and I Love You Guys! trees are unlocked. Even with this build, Claptrap is a wildcard, but he can at least explode a lot of people and really buff up teammates. So these are my initial reactions are to the full skill trees, but of course, the mark of a well-designed skill tree is its adaptability to different play styles. I built Athena to play a support role, Wilhelm to let his drones do all the work, Nisha to deal as much gun damage as possible, and Claptrap to make his teammates more awesome and not get too much in the way. Feel free to share your builds with what you would do differently.
Borderlands skill trees photo
A gladiator, an enforcer, a lawbringer, and a fragtrap walk into a bar...
In case you have not yet heard, the full, interactive skill trees for all four of the Vault Hunters in the upcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel have been released for public consumption. Some of the mathematics governing the ...

Very Quick Tips: Destiny

Sep 11 // Chris Carter
General tips: Do the bounties. Always. Even if you think it may take you a while, actively have all your slots filled with bounties. They grant massive amounts of experience and can easily be done over time. Speaking of bounties, always equip all of the gear you want to level before you turn them in. The extra experience also applies to leveling up items. Odds are if you've completed the quest to use a vehicle, you can summon it in nearly any location or mode that isn't indoors. Never forget that when you're wandering from place to place. When in doubt, just check the select button menu. Also remember that you change out anything at any time. Need a sniper rifle on the spot? Change it. In a tunnel and want a shotgun or new subclass? Change it. You might lose some ammo in the process, but the system is very flexible.Remember this for PVP, and take all of the tools for the job. In some levels you might need a shotgun, and others, a sniper is desirable. Keep a small armory on you at all times.  See those computer screens that look like mini towers right when you zone into town? Those are vaults. That's how you store your items. They're easy to miss. If you're wondering how to sell items -- you do it completely by way of your inventory screen. Just hold the X or Square button to disassemble it for cash (Glimmer) and parts. Always remember that you can hold R2 to compare stats on items, even if the game doesn't prompt you. If you target a fellow player and right click the stick, you can inspect or interact with them. You won't unlock PVP until level 5. To unlock more modes, just complete the latest mode you've obtained. If you're playing a PVP match and have heavy ammo, just waste it if you're about to die -- it drops after your opponent takes you out. Level 15 unlocks your subclass. This completely changes all your abilities and forces you to learn a new tree. If you're doing a really tough mission or want to get ahead in PVP, switch back to your old class. If you're doing something you've done before, use it as an opportunity to learn your new subclass. Save your generic class equipment item. Not only is this item typically aesthetic in value, but it also allows for you to gain reputation from certain factions later in the game -- if you're wearing the right gear. The catch is you may not want to limit yourself to a certain faction -- but you also have to technically wear a class item at all times. So if you have a piece that overwrites all other factions and don't have anything generic to switch back to, you're out of luck unless your class vendor has one in stock. If a PVP mode shows up on the left side of your screen, it gives bonus XP. It's randomly assigned based on the weekly demand, and will benefit you greatly if you don't care which mode you want to pick. Endgame: Here's the deal with endgame. You can opt for generic reputation gains by completing Strike playlists (and bounties), Crucible reputation for completing PVP matches (and bounties), and faction reputation by wearing certain items from their vendors (which overwrites all other reputation gains). To level up past 20, you need to obtain more "Light" -- a new statistic that lets you push past the cap that's found on certain gear.Faction and PVP marks can earn you gear that naturally has Light on it. Your objective past level 20 is going to be running Strikes (typically in playlists to earn more rewards) and PVP to get more tokens to buy Light gear, as well as earning random drops that may have Light on them along the way. Getting to level 25 will allow you to do raids. Looking for raids by the way? The first one doesn't drop until September 16th.
Destiny tips photo
Get your Guardian on
Our Destiny review is coming along nicely. I just hit level 20 on my Warlock and I'm slowly making my way up to the soft cap of Light Level 25 to get raid-ready for next week.Here are some tips I've come up with along the way to make everything easier.   

Not-review: Brady Games Ultimate Street Fighter 4 Official Bible

Sep 06 // Jonathan Holmes
Unlike most regular Bibles, the USF4 Bible starts with a 37 page, small print glossary that explains just about every word in the specialized language of Street Fighter 4 players, from slang terms like "Shenanigans" to official jargon like "Soft Knockdown". Derogatory slurs like "Scrub" are oddly absent. My guess is the writers of the guide are more than familiar with the uglier side of the FGC-bonics, but chose to omit those words as they are generally used to be a jerk and not to better understand the game. While I would have loved to read an official definition of a scrub (mostly to see if I really do fit the bill), it's still good form for them to err on the side of positivity.  The glossary also contains stats on every characters' Walk, Sash, Backdash, Jump, Vitality Bar, and Stun threshold. This sort of attention to detail carries over into the character specific info. Damage, frame data, hitbox location, and just about every other detail you can ask for on every move of every character is fully displayed through text and visual diagrams.  On top of that, Throws, Focus Attacks, Basic Combos, Special Attacks, EX's, Supers, and Ultras get extra detailed. strategy focused explanations. You'll be 8 pages in on most characters before you've fully reviewed the basics.  From there the Bible gets into how one should think when approaching each character; which Ultra to choose, general pros and cons of each fighter, best/worst match-ups, the long range, mid-range, short range and wake up strategies. It's all very dense stuff. If you're new to the game and it's terminology, you'll be referencing the glossary on a regular basis. It also makes for fascinating reading, for both the competitive player and for those who are just suckers for pondering game design. Each character section finishes off with a detailed list of big damage combos that would do Skillz MacGregor proud. Best uses and specifics on the timing/structure of each combo is not surprisingly explained in great detail. If you were disappointed that the new characters in Ultra aren't accessible in USF4's challenge mode, fire up training mode and try taking these combos on instead. They'll be more than enough to keep you busy. So what's missing from the book? Not a lot, but I was surprised to see no tier rankings anywhere in the tome's 6-8 pages. I understand why. This book is just about the facts, and tiers aren't facts. They are subject to change as players-to-game dynamics evolve over time and new things are discovered about match-ups and techniques. Still, a loose "Our theory on who's best in Ultra Street Fighter IV" chart would have been appreciated. Also, second opinions on all of the overview of each character would have been nice. There are a lot of different ways to approach each member of USF4's roster. While you're not likely to ever find someone who thinks Zangief is best played at long range, it still would have been nice to get an alternate perspective.  The only other complaint I have is that there's no mention of which version of each character is "better". Most veterans agree that its easier to win with Vanilla Sagat than SSF4 Sagat, but that sort of opinion is largely missing here. That said, there is an extremely detailed description for the characters made for each character from game to game, so it's not too hard to figure out for yourself which iteration of what character is most effective. It's also worth noting that the USF4 Bible is NOT an art book. Not even close. Most strategy guides of old used to dedicate at least a few pages to promotional or production art, but there's not room in the USF4 Bible for that kind of thing., even at 608 pages. Each character profile page contains said character's primary art, and each page that follows shows off their character select art on the side. If an art book is what you're looking for, you'll have to head over to Udon (which is probably a good idea anyway).  Just as real life religious texts are meant to work in tandem with the experience of living day to day life, Ultra Street Fighter IV and its Bible were meant to compliment each other in ways that form a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. Though you could technically spend just as much time digging into this book as you could the game (took me quite a few hours to fully ingest and process it's full contents), that wouldn't wouldn't do either justice. Either way, it's the most detailed and deep strategy guide for a fighting game I've read yet. Lets hope Smash Bros. gets the same treatment. 
Street Fighter photo
608 pages of non-stop Fighting Game Science
Fighting games are about more than competition. At their best, they are about taking the most simple of design concepts (be better at hitting someone than they are at hitting you) and using game theory magic to somehow evoke ...

Very quick tips: Swing Copters

Aug 30 // Kyle MacGregor
General tips: Don't play this rubbish. Uninstall immediately. Throw your mobile device into a fire. Do anything else. Anything at all.
Swing Copters tips photo
Fly, fly away
The spiritual successor to Flappy Bird has arrived, and it's incredibly difficult. It's also awful. Just plain awful. Don't you worry, though. Destructoid is here to help.  Maybe you liked Flappy Bird. Maybe you are a Fl...

Bayonetta 2 photo
So hardback for these guides
A new Amazon listing has confirmed that both Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors will be receiving hardcovers guides published by Prima Games. The Hyrule Warriors guide will feature a bonus section with behind-the-scenes material...

Very Quick Tips: Shovel Knight

Jun 26 // Chris Carter
General tips: Spend your money often, and try to use it on permanent upgrades like health and magic. You never know when you're going to die constantly in any given level, which eradicates your gold coffers. You can just quit the level to get everything back like you never started the stage, but you'll lose your current progress on said level. Buy the fishing rod immediately, as well as the two chalices from the basement of the first town you encounter. The chalices function like bottles from the Legend of Zelda games, allowing you to purchase potions from the lake area, or find potions yourself by fishing. If you see sparkles coming from a pit, fish there. After you die, you'll leave money bags floating in the air -- sometimes, they are inaccessible due to a pit. Use your fishing rod to grab them without putting yourself in danger. Attack every wall with an icon on it. These icons will usually correspond to the theme of the stage (a skull for instance), and will typically lead to a hidden location with extra treasure or a completely new item. While you can skip some of the smaller enemies in the game, the bigger they are, the more loot they drop. Make a point to fight mini-bosses and don't just breeze past them. You'll reap rewards far greater than the challenge they pose. Save your Bard scrolls (which net you 500 gold each) for when you need to make a "backup" purchase immediately -- kind of like saving Soul items in a Souls game. You never know when you need just a little more cash to get that massive upgrade. When you're starting a level, always ensure that you have a few thousand on-hand -- every castle has a special item you can find in it, but you'll have to buy it. If you miss the item, you can buy it in the first town's basement after you beat the level. When you're in town, try slicing the sign-posts to max out your magic. Use the phase locket from the Specter Knight level as an offensive tool more often than a tool to hide or dodge with. By using it constantly on a boss, even though it only nets you a few seconds of invincibility, you can get a ton of great hits in consecutively without taking damage. Use the jump-combo to maximize your damage on a boss. When you shovel an enemy, you have a recoil of sorts that prevents you from spamming your attack. Instead, jump in and lead with a jump slice, then slice again, then jump and slice again to get three hits in the time it takes you to do one standing slice. Be very aggressive with bosses, as constant attacking can clear up to one fourth of their health in corners. You can "cancel" the pogo animation by slicing the air quickly. Use this in levels where constantly pogoing would cause your death by clearing out the ground below you. While most of the bosses are pretty self explanatory, Propeller Knight can be kind of tricky if you jump around everywhere and panic. Just stand in the middle of the ledge when he breaks down the arena to get the most room and avoid falling into the pit. Lastly, at the very end of the game, try to end every gauntlet fight in the middle of the battle area. That way you can quickly slice the food container and get back up to full health without getting hit.
Shovel Knight tips photo
Dig your way to victory
Shovel Knight is an amalgamation of a lot of old school 2D platformers, most notably Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Mega Man. As such, it involves a decent amount of tricky jumps, boss fights, and some adventure elements that are a bit more cryptic than the average game. Here are some basic tips to help you on your way to New Game+.

Here's how to get Hearthstone on your iPad if it isn't out in your region

Apr 05 // Chris Carter
First, just go into your iPad's settings app, select the iTunes & App Store tab, then touch your Apple ID and tap "View Apple ID". Select "change country or region" and change it to Canada, and then for payment method select "none." It'll bring up an address form -- just keep your name the same, and change the address and phone number to any Canadian business that has a telephone listing (they're generally easy to look up -- try the Bank of Canada). Then select "next," go into the App Store, search for Hearthstone, and download the app. Wait for it to finish, then go back in and change everything back to your home region using the same method. Really, you could use any region the game is out in or any address, but Canada is just one of the easiest methods I've found. Hearthstone is run off Blizzard's servers, so it doesn't matter which "version" of the app you have. If you're really nervous you can delete it when your version is released, then redownload it and keep all your data.
Hearthstone photo
It's pretty simple
I've seen quite a few people sigh at Hearthstone's recent iPad port rollout, because currently the game is only available in a select few regions, leaving a couple of major countries out of the loop (like the US). But it's actually pretty easy to download it on your iPad in minutes, using a simple region change method that you can do entirely within your device.

Tips and GIFs: Tower of Guns

Mar 31 // Patrick Hancock
[embed]271402:52828:0[/embed] Boosters will boost you in the direction you are facing. At first, boosters might seem a bit confusing, since they aren't too common and the arrows are pointing in every direction. These booster-cubes will always boost you in the direction you are facing. If you jump into one backwards, the cube will propel you back in the direction you came from, since that is where you are facing. So remember, if you need to go up a bit, make sure not to be facing straight ahead! I recommend clearing a room with a booster-cube and then experimenting a bit to get the feel of it. Be careful of falling damage, however! [embed]271402:52870:0[/embed] Don't underestimate any Perk Every Perk has its uses! One of my favorite Perks is Junkman, especially when combined with a long-range weapon. With Junkman, drops don't expire. This way, I can take my time and kill enemies from a distance and still reap the rewards. After the room is clear, I do a sweep of the place and often get WAY more than I would have without Junkman, making the early-game much easier. If you think a particular Perk sucks, you may need to change your gun combination or your gameplay style! [embed]271402:52853:0[/embed] Scan the room before "entering." This isn't something I would recommend doing every time, but there are moments where you really just don't need to kill everything in a room. If you can see the door from the entrance, it is possible to shoot it before the enemies spawn and get the heck out of there unharmed! Also included in this GIF is some sweet bunny-hopping action. Remember, it's the fastest way to travel! Unless your run speed is high enough, which is seemingly around 20ish. Then it's probably not the fastest way to travel. [embed]271402:52868:0[/embed] There's more than meets the eye to Hugbots... The Hugbots are the cute little robot buddies that spawn in the beginning and end of most levels. Killing them gives rewards just like any other NPC, and sometimes you can even level up your gun before getting to the first room, just by killing Hugbots and having a bit of luck on your side. But remember that time you played BioShock? You were presented with two options once you killed a Big Daddy: kill or save the Little Sister. The former rewarded the player immediately, while the latter had no immediate gameplay effect, but eventually did pay off with patience and determination.  Let's just say to keep the Little Sisters in mind when playing Tower of Guns... [embed]271402:52869:0[/embed] Your gun can help you get altitude This may be a pretty obvious one, especially for those who are accustomed to rocket-jumping in games. However, in Tower of Guns, not just the rocket launcher can help keep you airborne. Even the machine gun, Egon's Pride, can boost your jump when aimed downwards. If you're hurting for jumps and just need that much more height, point and shoot! In regards to Egon's Pride, it will get better at doing this as it levels up, and especially if you manage to score a "Rapid" gun mod! Feedback Since this is the first article under the "Tips and GIFs" name, I'm looking for some feedback. Does this many GIFs on a page feel overwhelming? I know gfycat is working on a "play" button, which will likely be used once available. For now, I can change it up to only play a GIF after right clicking and selecting "Play." This would only play the GIF once. Please let me know your thoughts! 
GIFs: Tower of Guns photo
Choosy moms choose Tips and GIFs
Tower of Guns is a game of many secrets and intricacies, just as any good roguelike. Since I love to teach people things, I thought I'd lend a helping hand out to anyone who cares to look. Not just with text and those pl...

Very Quick Tips: Deception IV: Blood Ties

Mar 25 // Chris Carter
General tips: Every piece of damage you do contributes to each discipline -- elaboration, sadism, and humiliation. Think of Elaboration traps more as "setups" for other gadgets, as they tend to do miniscule damage, but position the target accordingly. Sadist traps are basically your major damage dealers, like arrows, buzzsaws, and the like. Humiliation is a unique discipline because those traps are kind of a mix of the other two schools.As a general rule, most players will probably want to min-max Sadism, so you have heavy traps to deal with some of the harder foes in the game. Play the game the way you want to play it, but if you're having trouble, consider using more damage traps so you can earn more Sadist XP and unlock better ones. Use line of sight to your advantage, especially with NPCs that can't jump or ninja-flip over walls. If you get a trap ready behind a wall, the enemy will often take the shortest path towards your character -- leaving them open to well-placed combo openers.Re-position your combos if a jumping enemy doesn't seem to quite fit into your master plan. Bait them into jumping right into a combo opener like a bear trap or a lethal lance. Speaking of openers, a really good early-game combo is as follows: start off with a bear trap one square away from a wall, then suck the enemy into the wall with the lethal lance. Place a spike ceiling trap there, and then initiate a pendulum guillotine to swing in any direction, followed by dropping a boulder on their heads. You can put this combo on stairs to give yourself even more leeway with boulders. Take lots of different traps -- don't just min-max with all ceiling, floor, or wall types. Having said that, ceiling traps are one of the most diverse categories in the game, as they can go practically anywhere with very little setup needed. Almost no one is immune to the wall spikes you get early in the game (lethal lance). Use this to your advantage, and set up traps that enemies otherwise resist (like boulders or guillotines) -- once they're stunned or open to attack, they're vulnerable. Periodically go back into your trap selection screen and see what your maximum (equipped) trap allotment is. It could increase randomly after a series of levels and you might not have noticed it. In order to create and download quests, you need to finish at least one mission in Mission Mode -- you don't have to beat the story to unlock it.
Deception IV tips photo
Appease the Goddesses of Humiliation, Elaboration, and Sadism
Deception IV is a unique release, mainly due to the fact that there aren't many trap-setting games on the market in general. Because of that, it's often hard for people to acclimate if they've never played a past entry before (Trapt is on the PSN, by the way) -- so here are some tips to help you along.

Ground Zeroes video guide photo
Grab all nine and unlock a new mission
Both Sony and Microsoft have their own platform-exclusive missions for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and you'll have to do a bit of legwork to unlock them. Basically, you'll need to grab all nine XOF patches hidden thro...

These are my favorite Luftrausers

Mar 18 // Conrad Zimmerman
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So many choices!
I've been slavishly playing Luftrausers like a madman this past weekend, and I'm shaping up to be a fairly decent player. To help you get a sense of the different Rausers you can pilot, I put together this little video ...

Very Quick Tips: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

Feb 25 // Chris Carter
General tips: Always follow the challenges for each class, or at the very least, keep them in the back of your mind. They're key to unlocking new abilities at the start, or helpful modififcations as time goes on. Even after you earn your core three powers, they're still worth doing. In terms of choosing what card packs to open, the 10,000 coin packs are a safe bet. Not only do they deliver a number of backups from the 1,000 pack, but they generally help you work towards new characters, and with the right skills, you can buy a 10,000 pack every three games or so. If you want a "safe" choice to start, I recommend the Pea Shooter or the Soldier Zombie. They're very easy to learn because all of their abilities are basically "shoot stuff." Both of them also have the ability to leap high into the air, allowing you to escape tough battles or get a vantage point. If you're hunkering down with the Pea Shooter's gatling gun ability, keep in mind that you can cancel it with a quick tap of the "B" button. You'll want to cancel it more often than not, because players will instantly recognize the sound and unleash heavy hitting artillery in your direction. You have the ability to switch classes mid-match, and depending on your team's composition, you may want to do this. For example, online players will often think the Chomper plant is overpowered because of it's one-hit stealth kill, and mass them. The problem with this strategy is that zombies can easily counter it by going to high ground, and picking off Chompers one by one. Take the initiative by changing to a ranged class, like a Cactus, and taking out the snipers -- shifting the meta-game entirely. Likewise, don't forget that you can change your character to the "Boss Mode" feature, which allows you to heal teammates or drop bombs from the sky. Use it once per match but don't stay in it too long -- ground support is much more tide-turning. The Chomper is probably one of the most unique classes in any modern shooter, and as such, it's hard to use. Always try to stick to moving in-between cover as you're a sitting duck at a range, and don't be afraid to use your digging power even if you aren't being shot. Stealth is key for any Chomper's success, but you will need backup -- so don't go into an area swarming with enemies at every turn. Scientists are very similar to the Chomper in that they need to get close to deal major damage. Stay mostly out of sight and teleport past open spaces to confuse your opponents, or use it to close a gap. Since your healing power is an AOE, stick to groups of at least two or three teammates. Don't be afraid of choosing the Flower -- even though it's technically a healing class, it can still deal a respectable amount of damage. Also, feel free to use your RB plant power to heal yourself from time to time -- you don't always need to use it for your team. Use your mines and tall-nuts often as a Cactus. I've noticed that a lot of players online will only use them sparingly when enemies are close, but they will respawn in time even if you just lay them down anywhere. You can't really "waste" them.
Garden Warfare tips photo
Plant the seeds of victory
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a pretty unconventional shooter -- and that's partially why I liked it. Instead of your typical cookie-cutter classes there are choices like killer potted plants and teleporting scientist zombies, so things can get a little complicated once you're learning the ropes. Here are some quick tips to help you get acclimated to the world of Garden Warfare.

Very Quick Tips: Strider

Feb 18 // Chris Carter
General tips: Veteran action fans will want to start on Hard right away. Trust me. Note that you can't start over with a New Game+ unfortunately, so don't accept the final prompt unless you're sure you've explored everything. Take advantage of the rapid slice ability on bosses. Although it's tempting to slowly move in and hit bosses intermittently, it's smarter to hack away as fast as you can press the button and take some damage. Remember that you can directional slash, especially in the air. Odds are you can always hit something no matter where you are. This is useful for jumping and slicing upwards for out of reach enemies. Always queue up a charged slash when running around -- you never know when you're going to need it. You can go directly from crawling on a wall to a ceiling, and vice-versa. As long as you don't press LT or get hit you won't fall. If you reach a dead end, try slide kicking the wall or climbing the ceiling. You might find a hidden area that's obscured from view. Enemy guns will often telegraph when they're about to let off a shot with a light. Use this to your advantage, because some weaponry can inflict massive amounts of damage. You can use the slide move to "phase" through many enemies. Use it if you're stuck against a wall with nowhere to go. Since the game moves so fast, it's best to just pick up all the health containers you come across. Sometimes you won't even know when your health meter dips. When you obtain the catapult move (R1, RB), it will stall you in the air temporarily, like you're floating -- use this to dodge attacks like ground explosions and other projectiles.
Strider photo
Go ninja, go
Strider isn't a particularly tough game on Normal mode, but it can get a bit dicey on some of the more involved boss encounters. It also has a number of advanced techniques that can be employed to slice up even more dudes than you're used to, so use the following tips to become a true master ninja.   

Very Quick Tips for the Titanfall beta

Feb 16 // Chris Carter
Pilot tips: As soon as you unlock it, equip the second anti-Titan launcher option in your loadout screen. The first option is a slow lock-on method that the enemy Titan can actually see it coming from a mile away. The second option is more of a rapid fire manual rocket launcher that can rip through a Titan strategically. When any red points show up aim at those for critical hits. Remember that you have stealth at your fingertips with the press of a button (LB). I've spoken to many players out there who don't use stealth consistently -- there's no reason to pop it at nearly every opportunity. When enemy Titans are not on the battlefield, operate as you normally would with any FPS that features a high rate of mobility. But when enemy Titans start dropping, you need to change your tactics entirely. Move quickly to take them out by going to the rooftops, staying out of sight, and launching your anti-Titan missiles. Remember that Titanfall is a mobility-centric game. You can basically traverse any surface you want, by way of climbing and wallrunning. Your double-jump resets with nearly every action, so keep mashing the button with confidence and you'll be able to climb almost anything. If you press LT on a wall while wallrunning, you can "stick" to that surface. This often makes you a sitting duck, but it can give you an edge against an enemy Titan facing away from you that's distracted. Kill lots of Grunts and Spectres (AI) if you're playing the Attrition mode. It's an easy way to complete weapon challenges, unlock new weapon mods, and get tons of points. The smart pistol is a really fun weapon but I would not recommend it in most cases. Lots of pilot-to-pilot combat takes place on rooftops since it's a safe place to hide from Titans. As such, you will often need to shoot someone at long range, making either rifle option a safe bet. You have the ability to "rodeo" Titans by jumping on their backs, ripping off their heads, and shooting their cores. Use a standard weapon and blast away, but note that the enemy pilot may jump out to take care of you. Like many FPS games that feature "assassination" melee moves when you're behind someone, that animation that plays when doing it is often a waste of time. Just shoot them in the head and be done with it so you don't get targeted by someone else. Titan tips: Although I have seen some players suggest that you should put your Titan in "auto-follow/auto-pilot" mode often, I strongly disagree. Titans are a massive force if used correctly by players, and using your Titan as an AI is a waste of a drop. The only time you may want to set your Titan to an AI mode is in Hard Point, where you can set your Titan to "guard" an objective. A really good Titan player who uses their dash efficiently can keep their mech active for long periods of time and rack up kills. Watch your opponent's shield power when attacking. If necessary, learn the "count" for when it recharges by practicing on your own in Last Titan Standing mode. That way you can unload your RB missile barrage and everything you have when you know their shield is down. Conserving your shield when fighting an enemy Titan can mean the difference between victory and defeat. If you're low on cooldowns and it looks like the end is near, dash up and punch an enemy Titan. Often times it will catch players off guard and you'll be able to do a ton of damage before you go down. Having said that, conserve your dash. You will need it for a lot of different reasons, as one enemy barrage can take down all of your shields and half your health. You'll need to both pursue and retreat at a moment's notice, so keep those dash meters high and don't waste them. A key "dash moment" is when you kill a Titan up close, and realize that it has the Martyrdom/Nuclear perk that explodes in a radius around the enemy Titan.
Titanfall beta tips photo
Me...and my Tiiiitan
I've been playing a ton of the Titanfall beta, and I think I've started to get a handle on how things work as both a pilot and a Titan. Since a lot of readers out there have asked for a collection of tips to help them skyrocket to the top of the leaderboards, here's a quick guide on how to kick ass and fall some Titans.

Celebi photo
It's not straightforward
As you may have heard, Nintendo has dropped the Pokemon Bank and Transporter Apps today on the North American eShop. These are two separate apps, but you'll only need to access the bank before September 30th, 2014&n...

Very Quick Tips: Fable Anniversary

Feb 04 // Chris Carter
General tips (minor spoilers): The combat multiplier is literally the crux of the entire leveling process. If you can raise it higher and higher (by attacking enemies without getting hit), you'll net more experience. To get around errant attacks from enemies screwing up your multiplier, use the "physical shield" ability to avoid damage -- if you're hit while the shield is up, it won't lower the count. Consider at least taking the first level of the spell. Following up on that, "Ages" potions are directly tied to your current multiplier. So for instance, using an Ages potion while not in combat will net you a paltry amount of experience, but using it with a combat multiplier of 20 will grant you 20,000. As a general rule, 20 is the minimum you'll want to aim for when using these potions, but you can get much higher. There's no limit on the amount of items you can carry. If you have the cash and want to buy 50 health potions, go for it. I'd also recommend picking up at least 50 pieces of red meat, apples, and pies, as they all can be mapped to the d-pad and heal you during combat. The bow is generally overpowered, as it can be used in almost any situation. Unlike mana you don't need "ammo" to use it, it can attack targets that melee abilities cannot, it's generally more reliable when aiming (you can use a first-person perspective too), and most enemies cannot block arrows. Nock up an arrow and constantly move around (left to right works when dodging troll rocks) to kite most of the enemies in the game. A good portion of the best items in the game (and silver keys to open special chests) are found by fishing. Early on in the game go to the fishing hole and earn the fishing rod, then look for ripples in any body of water. There are only a few achievements you can "miss." To get everything in one go, you'll need to finish every round of the arena in one go, heal someone on an escort quest, use an Ages potion when your multiplier is at 20 or more, and defeat Whisper without taking damage. In terms of content, the major things you can miss are keys. In order to get every key, you'll need to fish in the water next to the battleground where you face Thunder, and marry Lady Grey. Buy crunchy chicks whenever you get the chance. Sometimes you'll need to turn "evil" and eating these live chickens will do the trick. There's one demon door in particular that asks you to do something evil in front of him, and eating a bunch of these will do the trick. It's odd, I know, but it works. If you need to turn night into day to open the shops, the easiest way is to just buy a cheap house in Bowerstone or buy houses in every major town. Instead of hunting for an Inn or a spare bed, you can just hop in your own and be done with it. Even if you aren't keen on using spells for your particular hero, consider getting multistrike and slow time. Even if you specialize in using a bow these can be a deadly combination, as multistrike automatically knocks down almost every small enemy in the game (and breaks their block), and it can be spammed against bosses for thousands of damage in mere seconds. Slow time at level two is devastating, and effects every enemy in the entire game, up to the final boss. I won't spoil anything specific, but even if you don't opt for the "evil choice" in the end, you can still get a powerful sword in the part proceeding the seemingly final major boss battle inside the Guild Hall -- so don't be tempted if you don't want to commit the act.  
Fable Anniversary tips photo
Your health is low. Do you have any potions? Or food?
Fable Anniversary is a relatively straight-forward game, especially if you've played the original, as it's nearly identical in terms of content. But there are a few things you can miss, so I've crafted a few helpful tips to help you along the way. Before you do anything though you're going to want to turn off the Guildmaster's "hints" in the options menu. Trust me.  

Very Quick Tips: Broken Age Episode One

Jan 28 // Chris Carter
[Second spoiler warning, ho!] Vella: Like many adventure games, you can double-click the sides of each map to "fast travel" to the next screen or walk faster. Pressing "I" will bring up your inventory (the key can be re-mapped). Using both of these will save you time. In order to get the grandpa to give up the goods at the beginning, go grab a cupcake, use it on him, then ask to "split it" with him. When you reach the clouds, you'll need to ultimately put three golden eggs in the baskets on the left area of the screen. You'll get one by putting cloud shoes on the ladder you obtain from the character on the right screen.The next egg you can just grab after talking to Jack Black's character -- to reach him, put a fruit from the top area in the left area's basket. The next golden egg is trickier -- you'll have to fall on the character that's stuck in the tree by jumping into the northern-most cloud pit on purpose. Then you're free to grab the blue egg, and switch it for the golden one with the blue bird in the central hub. To enter the ceremony in the second village, you'll need to talk to the guards first to get their holy tear gas gun. It's kind of ambiguous since you need to select a certain option to get the object. Go to the chum bucket in town and fill up the gun, then use it on the maidens. To solve the guard's riddle, you'll need an item in the cloud village. Backtrack if you need to. To defeat Mog Chothra, you'll have to blow out his legs three times, get grabbed on purpose, put the ladder in his mouth, then aim the laser at it. Shay: Shay's story is considerably easier (and shorter), but there are still a few confusing parts. At one point, you'll to venture out in space outside of the airlock, and break free of your suit's limitations. Take the can of compressed air and use it on your suit, then cut the cord with the knife found in the kitchen, and use the whipped cream gun found in the ice cream room. The controls are on the top left of the area found in space. In order to set course for Prima Doom, you have to attempt to go to the Cozy Cluster, then alter the star chart below the ladder manually with the crochet needle. If need be, you can use this picture for reference as you have the game windowed.
Broken Age tips photo
Solutions to select puzzles
Double Fine just released part one of Broken Age to Kickstarter backers this week, and it's a big deal for multiple reasons. Not only is the game highly anticipated, but the Kickstarter itself was full of fanfare and con...


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