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Cities: Skylines gets nightlife with After Dark expansion

Aug 21 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297379:59852:0[/embed] There is also, "a new specialization for the commercial areas," leisure areas like casinos and night clubs, "the downtown area, the nightlife center of the city." Nighttime also brings about higher rates of crime, helping to fill out prisons. Daytime has unique additions, too. New beachfront property thrives during the day like the casinos and clubs of nighttime, and the cities can also allow bike lanes for cyclists (or let them travel more slowly on sidewalks), thereby reducing traffic. The team wants to add, "smoother ways of handling large systems" with its updates, "helping people do what they're already doing in a more elegant and streamlined way," like by adding bus stations that can accept multiple bus lines and allow for in-building transfers. The $15 expansion launches September 24. The day and night cycle itself is a free update added to all owned copies of Cities: Skylines, while the After Dark expansion will house additional content.
September 24 photo
September 24
Cities: Skylines' major expansion, After Dark, has been dated for September 21. After dunking on SimCity, the successful city simulator is, "focusing on making large expansions over making many small ones," Colossal Order's l...

Star Wars Battlefront's Fighter Squadron mode needs some variation

Aug 08 // Brett Makedonski
The build of Fighter Squadron that we saw essentially operates as a team deathmatch. There were X-Wings battling against TIE Fighters -- ten humans to a side with another ten AI-controlled vehicles, which brings the total to 40 players in each game. Aside from attempting to shoot down others, occasional large transport ship would spawn. They needed to be either defended or destroyed. The way your ship functions is the best thing about Fighter Squadron. Everyone has a set of blasters that are prone to overheating, a homing missile that's effective (yet still challenging to use properly), and a set of evasive maneuvers. The difference between sides is that TIE Fighters have a boost mechanic, while the X-Wings get a shield. The trick is that everything needs to be used in moderation because reusing it all is on a short timer. Generally, this sort of fast ability freeze-out wouldn't be too big of a deal, but it is because of the pace that Fighter Squadron moves at. With all the other pilots making quick cuts across the battlefield, you need to perfectly time when you pull your punches. Otherwise, your lasers get lost in the great void. [embed]297271:59829:0[/embed] For a more authentic experience, players can switch to a cockpit view. This first-person seat is where Fighter Squadron looks the greatest but plays the worst. As previously mentioned, this mode is relentlessly fast. Trying to play from the pilot's seat only decreases the already limited time to get off a good shot. Despite everyone controlling a standard vehicle, Fighter Squadron has bigger opportunities. Power-up icons put the player in a hero ship -- The Millenium Falcon and Boba Fett's Slave I are the two we were told about. We didn't see either, but those situations will likely draw the attention of everyone in the skies. These hero ships are an example of the potential that Fighter Squadron holds but doesn't live up to yet. Simple team deathmatch grows old quickly, as it needs more variation. TIE Interceptors, A-Wings, and Y-Wings are all planned and might accomplish that goal if they play differently enough from one another. Better objectives need to be implemented too. Defending and attacking transports felt largely without consequence and tacked-on. Star Wars isn't necessarily all about dogfighting, but it's integral enough to the franchise that it can't be overlooked either. If Star Wars Battlefront is going to be the seminal title in the series for the foreseeable future, it needs to do dogfighting right. Fighter Squadron just misses that mark because it isn't quite interesting enough yet. There's still time for that to change, though.
Battlefront preview photo
For now, it's a nice distraction
Thoughts of dogfighting over the surface of the planet Sullust should raise your heartbeat a little bit. It's an exciting prospect. Really, that goes for piloting any vessel in the Star Wars canon through any franchise l...

Halo 5 has some changes that longtime fans will have to get used to

Aug 06 // Brett Makedonski
Longtime Halo players might find this change jarring or even possibly off-putting. There are people who pride themselves on getting their way through the story on legendary difficulty, trying again and again until they finally hit the next checkpoint. Halo 5 could render that sensation largely moot thanks to a new revival system that's akin to the one in Gears of War. It gives second chances, something that Halo hasn't really done before. Design director Brad Welch says he doesn't think that will be the case. He commented that those who are playing on those higher difficulties will find a familiar level of challenge. "We've approached Halo from a completely new perspective," he said. "It might take people a little while to adjust, but we've worked for a long time on the balancing," he offered as he explained that being careless with your teammates will just lead to everyone dying rather quickly. Once that happens, it's right back to the checkpoint. There's a similar AI implementation in multiplayer that's a departure from what everyone has been used to. The 12-on-12 Warzone mode will feature computer-controlled bosses and defenders, as opposed to humans dictating all of the action. Again, Holmes and Welch say it'll take some getting used to, but this expanded game is their vision for Halo 5. [embed]297354:59849:0[/embed] Warzone's particularly significant in that it's one half of 343 Industries' initial multiplayer push. Classic four versus four arena play is available for purists, but Warzone is the mode for those who want action in larger numbers. Holmes explained that they designed these two kinds of multiplayer with two different types of player in mind -- that's why they're distinct styles. In fact, Warzone is such a priority that 343 is launching Halo 5 with it in place instead of Big Team Battle. However, Holmes clarified that Big Team Battle would be implemented within weeks of release. This is rather indicative of the developer's approach to post-launch content. Halo 5 will ship with 20 maps, but it'll eventually grow to around 50 -- all of those being added for free. Holmes elaborated that he wanted to get away from paid map packs because those do nothing but segment the community. He wants everyone to be able to play with whomever they want without putting that access behind a paywall. It's ambitious for sure, but everything about Halo 5 is ambitious. The sheer scale of it all tips its hand about that. 343 Industries and Microsoft are both on a mission to make a lot more Halo, and it looks like they'll accomplish that goal in the short-term -- even if it means players will have to make some small adjustments.
Halo 5 preview photo
There's a lot of the familiar, though
It was one year ago when I sat with 343 Industries as key developers told me all about the studio's plans for The Halo Channel. At the time, Halo 5: Guardians was more than a year on the horizon, and Halo: The Master Chi...

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a little easier on Lara (but still kicks the shit out of her)

Aug 06 // Brett Makedonski
The most obvious example lies within the fact that Rise of the Tomb Raider places less emphasis on campfires. They're still necessary for fast travelling and general checkpointing, but they're no longer required to upgrade skills. That can be done on the fly, meaning that Lara can become a more formidable foe in the thick of the fighting. She also has the opportunity to use materials in the wild to her advantage. Rise of the Tomb Raider features a new crafting system (again, no campfire needed) that acts as further upgrades. The likes of berries and pelts can be collected and turned into items far more useful than berries and pelts. Hardly the first game to do it, but it'll place more emphasis on exploration and scavenging when that should be a pillar of Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics knows that was a drawback of 2013's game, and it's making right this time. Speaking with members of the development team at gamescom, they assured that there will in fact be more tomb raiding in Rise of the Tomb Raider. The early section we played was a critical path tomb, but there will be more optional ones -- they'll be more expansive and intricate, to boot. One of the more intriguing aspects of this is that Lara will have to become proficient in various languages to access certain areas. We saw her discover a religious-looking artifact that raised her Greek skill a level. It seems as if finding these along the way will be the only method of unlocking certain side paths. It can probably be assumed that these languages correlate to the many countries Lara will find herself visiting. The demo we played took place in Syria, and those events led to her winding up in Siberia (which was shown at E3). When asked where else she'll go, we were given the well-rehearsed PR-trained line of "We're not ready to get into that quite yet; right now, we're focused on talking about Syria." Though brief, the demo showed nicely showed what Rise of the Tomb Raider has in store. It's just as cinematic, dramatic, and action-filled as we'd expect. Lara's going to do plenty of rough falling, labored climbing, and "wow, you just barely made that" jumping. Even though it's an origin story, she should know by now that tomb raidin' ain't easy.
Tomb Raider preview photo
At least she might learn something
Lara Croft has never been the best archaeologist. Carefully digging for hours so as to not damage an artifact wouldn't make for a very good video game. Still, there's a disconnect when she knocks over human skulls that are pe...


Assassin's Creed Syndicate reinvigorates the series with a return to basics

Aug 05 // Alessandro Fillari
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (PS4 [Previewed], Xbox One, PC)Developer: Ubisoft QuebecPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: October 23, 2015 (PC Q4 2015) Unlike its recent predecessors, Syndicate aims to do something a bit more streamlined during its trek through the streets and over the rooftops of Victorian-era London. While Assassin's Creed has had online gameplay components since 2010, Syndicate will follow AC: Rogue's example and focus purely on single-player gameplay. While online has been pretty neat for the AC titles, the developers wanted to make a single-player experience while putting all their resources into making it the sharpest game of the series. "We really wanted to get back to the basics. Our objective was to ship the biggest and liveliest city yet with London, and it was a big challenge, and we wanted to concentrate on building a massive single-player experience," said associate producer Andrée-Anne Boisvert. "Because of that, we were able to refine the core gameplay, adding in the rope launcher for easier traversal, refining the parkour, revamping the fighting gameplay -- so with all these things, we wanted the single-player to be really amazing." Of course, the most unique aspect of Syndicate is its focus on two protagonists with the brother and sister duo Jacob and Evie Frye. While we've already seen much of Jacob and his exploits in London, this marked the first time we were able to go hands-on with Evie, and it's evident who has the brains in this operation. Much like her brother, Evie is an assassin who must find the location of the Piece of Eden, all the while debilitating the Templar's control of the city. Though unlike her brother, she is a far more calculating and cunning assassin, and tends to shy away from the all-out brawls Jacob revels in. With many of her skills focusing on long-range assassinations and stealth, Evie is essentially the scalpel within London's Assassin order. At any time during open-world exploration, you'll be able to switch between the two and engage in missions at your leisure to reassert control of England's capital city. "We found it interesting to have the dynamic between these two; they have different personalities and different narrative storylines," said the producer. "That's something we wanted to focus on. We wanted to make sure that their personalities are reflected in the gameplay with their unique skills that they have." We finally got to put Evie's skills to the test during a key mission to strike at the Templar order. During a Blackbox mission within the Tower of London, Evie infiltrates the site to assassinate the Templar operative Lucy Thorne, who also has knowledge of where the ancient artifact is. Using skills and weapons such as the Voltaic Bomb, which shocks nearby foes, and the chameleon skill, which grants limited invisibility, Evie's approach is far more subtle. Much like its predecessor, Blackbox missions are open-ended challenges that feature multiple approaches to accomplish a single goal. Unity was the first to implement this mission structure, and Syndicate definitely plans to create more unique moments during these specific events. As Evie found her way to a vantage point within the Tower of London, she was able to discover three different opportunities to infiltrate the site and assassinate Thorne. Option one was to stalk the key-bearer and procure the master-key to enter the main tower solo; option two was to work with an undercover tower-guard to sneak into the tower; and option three was to rescue the local Constable and round up a group of loyal guards to battle their way into the tower. The third option was the riskiest and loudest approach, but it also allowed for Evie to utilize her stealth skills in unique ways, so I immediately went for it. The developers felt that with the two protagonists, there was room for much more variety and experimentation with the missions. "For Assassin's Creed: Synidicate, we wanted to make it a lot more about the freedom to choose your own path and ways through missions," said Boisvert. "We want players to be able to tackle the missions in the way they want to do it. Blackboxes are the way we have them do it, which is what we base the game on, giving players choices and offering many different ways to approach an objective for their playstyle." Using many of the traditional Assassin skills, such as Eagle Vision, parkour, and aerial assassinations and takedowns, I was able to sneak into the guard house to free the Constable, and we led a group of loyal guards to assault the main tower. While Evie isn't much for brawling and tends to focus more on the calculated strokes to achieve victory, she can easily hold herself in a scrape when it comes to it. The combat in Syndicate has seen a bit of an overhaul, which the developers felt was necessary after seeing how easily players were able to win encounters by waiting for enemy attacks and using parries. It seems over time the Templar order has finally wised up to the Assassins' tricks and plays a far more defensive game. They'll only attack when they see an opening and will guard many of your attacks. Evie and Jacob will have to utilize guard breaks and dodges to counter them, and parry only when the time is right. I felt far more active during combat, and it was the right move to switch things up. As the guards battled their way through the tower, I was able to gracefully move through the carnage while using Evie's knife throwing skills to make quick work of any oncoming threats. We finally came upon Thorne with her personal bodyguards. With the carnage filling up the central room, I was able to get the jump on Thorne for a quick assassination. At this point, the mission ended in traditional AC fashion with the central character and victim sharing a final moment before their death. But I didn't stop there. Afterwards, I booted up the mission again and went for the other options. The key-bearer was the stealthiest approach, as I was able to sneak through the tower area and assassinate the target with minimal casualties. As you can probably guess from reading this, I'm into the new setting. As one of the most requested settings from fans, Victorian-era London is a stark departure from the previous titles. Not only from the stylistic standpoint, with the dark and grimy streets filled with people who represent the best and worst of what society has to offer, but it's also the first AC game (outside of the present-day narrative) with its toes dipped into the modern era. As swords and axes become antiques, revolvers and rifles are much more common, making combat feel riskier than ever. "It's the first modern-day setting for an Assassin's Creed title [in regards to the core game setting], so it's the first time where we have a city that is so huge like London," said Boisvert. "Traffic is dense, we have carriages and other people walking on the sidewalks, and you also have the police which will chase after you when you cause trouble for others. It's a whole new dynamic for us. With the also the trains and boats, it make the city much more vibrant than any other title." I was pretty impressed with Assassin's Creed Syndicate. The game ran fairly well and I didn't notice any performance hiccups like the ones that plagued the previous AC title. I got the sense that Unity represented a major shift in how Ubisoft develops the series, and with Syndicate re-evaluating its priorities to focus more on the core game as opposed to the meta-aspects and supplementary content, I feel this entry could be a great turning point. I look forward to seeing more from the Frye siblings in the coming months, though I certainly hope the devs will figure out a way to work in Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, and Charles Dickens during the Assassins' trek through the city. To ignore them would be a missed opportunity.
Assassin's Creed photo
There's no place like London
It's not often we get to see a series recognize that things may have gotten off track. As many no doubt remember, Assassin's Creed Unity got hit hard with criticisms about its technical performance and odd design decisio...

Sam Lake explains Quantum Break's television show tie-in

Aug 05 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297184:59794:0[/embed] What's weird, though, is that while my suspicion and low expectations haven't changed even as the game has, there's some magic in hearing Remedy's Sam Lake tell it. Few can string together scripted nonsense like "intense story-driven action game spectacle" and still seem genuine with a kind of unassuming, unironic grin. It's adorable At one point Lake noted that the team destroyed yet another giant ship in the demo we were shown. "We are destroying another ship here as we did at last gamescom," Lake said, explaining that Remedy doesn't hate ships or the shipping industry. "We love shipping. Shipping games." Pause. "Hah hah." That was a "hah hah," not a laugh, and a perfectly delivered one. So we've seen "I'm a super badass baby-faced dubstep killer" wreck house on crews of heavily outfitted corporate military already and it's a little goofy as the guy in jeans and a Guess jacket brushes off assault rifle fire. He's aided by the time powers granted by a failed time travel experiment that is bringing about the end of time (hah). Time Rush allows Jack to run forward with time stopped, either to avoid environmental obstacles in platforming sections or to combo into running punches. Time Dodge is a quick dash out of harm's way or into an enemy to bump them a bit. Time Blast is an offensive projectile, Time Shield is a bubble shield, and Time Stop freezes time in one focused area. Some of Monarch's soldiers are outfitted with fancy backpacks that give them some of these powers, too, so you're not just up against folks shooting you. Quantum Break is "a story about warring philosophies," Lake says. The fatalist antagonist thinks the future can't be changed or fixed no matter what, the protagonist thinks that's bogus. The game focuses on the perspective of the latter, while "the show is about villains," focusing on the Wire half of the cast and what's happening at evil Monarch. So how does it work? "You first play through an act of the game, Lake says. "It culminates in a special scene that is the junction moment, where you make a choice," which opens up an episode of the show "based on the choice you make." So you get roughly 22 minutes of programming tailored to your decisions. And all of Quantum Break is "shaped by your choices." The given example of a junction moment is where evil corporate bad guy Paul Serene has to either: 1) kill a student activist who's witness to some shady things or 2) threaten to murder her family to bend her into submission. Both bad, one less bad, I suppose. Her death, should you choose, is reflected in the protest scene from last year's trailer. On the other hand, should she live, she becomes Jacks ally, helping to dig up dirt on Monarch. Sometimes these two parts of the game weave even closer. A live-action conflict between Monarch folks who've captured Jack ends at an anticlimax as their guns disappear and Jack is shown to have gotten away. On the game side, there's a cutscene of Jack waking up in the back of the van, noticing the conflict outside, and escaping (and gun jacking) during a time skip. With Xbox having killed its original programming arm, Lake also clarified that, "the game and the show ship together as one item."
Not skippable photo
'[They] ship together as one item'
It's been over two years since I first side-eyed Quantum Break, the television show and third-person shooter hybrid from Remedy (Alan Wake, Max Payne). Quantum Break finally has a release date it probably won't be delayed out...

Hitman studio just wants to 'get back to Hitman'

Aug 05 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]294082:59060:0[/embed] From what we saw, creativity should be a pillar of gameplay this time around. There's so much happening at any given time, leading to seemingly endless possibilities. Seifert pointed out how almost everything could be used as either a distraction or an instrument of death. Chandeliers can be cut loose, gas lamps can be tampered with, weapons could be smuggled inside electrical equipment, liquor could be poisoned, et cetera ad nauseam.  Our approach was a bit more customized. We planted an explosive device behind a guard and then threw a coin to alert him. Proficient in his line of work, he noticed the mine, disarmed it, and picked it up so no one would get hurt. He took it to the guard center inside which was past security. All we had to do was retrieve it later. Sucker. People who know and love Hitman might pick up on this style immediately, but newcomers won't necessarily know how the game's systemic nuances work. Seifert's solution to bridging this gap is an "opportunity alert" that doesn't quite guide the player, but informs them that something can be done. He noted that it's very important that the feature be able to be disabled. "Hardcore players will turn it off right away," Seifert said. "They want to discover things on their own." There's a lot to do in Hitman, and all these unique methods stem from the density of the levels. The stage we saw was set at the iconic Parisian Fashion Week (not my first time virtually touring the French capital). Seifert said that this was one of the smaller settings, yet it's still six times larger than anything in Absolution. Likewise, Absolution had around 30 NPCs with their own routines and lifecycles per level; Hitman will have around 300. Everything's bigger in Hitman, but it's not just for the sake of being bigger. It all leads to more options, which is exactly what players want from a Hitman game. There's no trick to being more efficient implementing this, either. It simply just takes more time. Seifert says that it has taken IO Interactive around a year to complete any given level. They take a while to create, but those levels will likely get a lot of use over time. One of the major planned features is an assassination mission that rotates out every two days or so. The catch is that players are only given a single try. If they botch it, the target gets away and they have a black mark on their permanent record. Success will be rewarded with unique items to carry into the campaign and leaderboard glory. This is indicative of Seifert's beliefs on post-launch content. He doesn't think that developers should spend four years creating a game, put it out, and then get working on another four-year cycle. Instead, he wants to offer players new things with regularity. That mindset isn't too unique, but Seifert is interestingly against paid DLC. That's why Hitman will have none. He said it's a model that he lobbied for, and admitted that it was a "tough sell." Everyone likes their money, after all. Still, somehow he won. The price of the base game is all people will have to pay to fully experience his game. Really, when you boil it down, Seifert's adamant attitude toward constant content is just another angle for all that Hitman wants to accomplish -- it's another way to give players options. The appealing idea here is that everyone will have a personal experience with the game -- their own stories to tell about an assassination gone right or awry. That, as Seifert would put it, is how they're getting back to Hitman.
Hitman preview photo
And the response to Absolution
"Hitman is 15 years old," IO Interactive head Hannes Seifert said. "That's a long time. Tastes change. It's time to get back to Hitman." That was Seifert's explanation for why the next game in the series has forgone a su...

Kamiya: Scalebound 'not a simple action game that Platinum is known for'

Aug 05 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297186:59795:0[/embed] Kamiya noted that Scalebound is, "a story about Drew...who has been transported from our modern world into this fantasy world," and by some held back plot point ends up in union with Thuban, the last of his kind. Very Dragonheart. Drew's devil may care attitude (and Devil May Cry Dante comparisons), "might be too early," according to Kamiya, who noted Platinum has released little information thus far. The "partnership between Thuban and Drew" is one of the many themes, both within the mysterious story and in gameplay. You're able to issue the AI-controlled Thuban basic commands which fall into 1) attack (at varying levels of scorched earth) and 2) fall back a bit. The latter is important because Thuban's stronger attacks can wipe enemies clean out of existence. If Drew downs them, he is able to crystallize them and collect the resulting red gems which can be used to customize Thuban. It's a bit weird you can actually change what kind of dragon he is, but hey, RPGs. "Pulse" drives the world of Draconis with its floating islands and colorful palette. It's also what powers Drew's Mega Man buster cannon-reminiscent pulse shot and the "colored accents on Thuban." I believe Kamiya called them green and I don't want to disagree, but they look pretty blue to me. I will ask my mother.  Aside from incentivizing you from not leaning too much on Thuban through the gem system, the demo continued past defeating the mantis boss in the trailer and into a much more narrow area where Thuban has to fly ahead and thus isn't free to use in combat. That means that, because of Thuban, "the world can't be too small," so there'll be plenty of open plains like the ones seen in the trailer. Other tidbits: Drew's transformation is "dragon mode" as it stands. Some trailer-like features montage showed off a large, NPC-filled city. There is also some sort of skill point system that seems like it's based on how well you perform combat. Drew also has access to a wide variety of weapons (halberds, enormous anime swords, etc.) that appear to be housed in a block-based inventory system (think Resident Evil 4). And, as learned yesterday, there's four-player co-op. "As kind of a policy for myself when I start creating a game, I am not creating to please everyone," Kamiya said. "My job is that you fall in love more and more with what I created." From what has been released, this feels like the most straightforward Platinum/Kamiya game. Basic action RPG stuff is appropriate for trade show reveals. Still, I think as crazy story details and mechanics are unveiled en route to the holiday 2016 launch (crossing back into the modern world? increased dragon skills and combo attacks?), I will get more and more into what is already a pretty, nice looking action game.
Scalebound at gamescom photo
Customizable dragon
First, note that I wanted to get Scalebound's Hideki Kamiya to say, "Ask your mom" on video, but gamescom meetings are too tight, too perpetually behind to get much good one on one in. Still, I got to see an extended playthro...

Panic! Dark Souls III is so easy I didn't die by the boss once

Aug 05 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297197:59811:0[/embed] Site Souls-expert Chris Carter reckons this slice of Dark Souls III was about five hours into the game, so it's no first boss gimme that I took down casually and without a sweat. Also, henceforth, I am Destructoid's resident Souls expert. Chris was the first to beat the boss out of everyone (I came in a close second), but not even he managed to do it first try and so he is usurped. In fact, I almost made it all the way to the boss without dying until I got stuck investigating a corner and some malnourished dogs attacked me. My attacks got caught on the shelves and wall on either side, interrupting the animation, and I was pinned. Streak nixed, I explored a bit more, fought a black tendril-y roof monster, and so on. My natural investigative nature is probably the only reason Chris beat me to the boss, if you think about it. Even to a handsome newbie like myself, Dark Souls III was instantly familiar. Despite matching Bloodborne's speed, it doesn't have that same novelty learning curve that came with playing sans shield, with a giant transforming axe scythe thing and a gun. The big new addition, Weapon Arts, are activated by holding L2 and then doing attacks for alternate strikes, but I never put them into play during combat. The skill went from unlimited to a cap of 20, refueled at bonfires, which should help undercut my joking fear mongering regarding the difficulty level of the game. All of this could change and likely will. We were shown a stage and system that feels completely final (art, animation, etc.) save for the most important thing: balance and tuning to feel. [Disclosure: Bandai Namco provided local travel to the event, as well as dinner.]
Dank souls photo
Hands-on preview
When I wrote about why Souls games are not that hard earlier this year, I told you all that I was neither expert (under 30 series hours total) nor savant (not skilled at anything). And yet, this lumbering galoot, after quite ...

Superhot asks that we do something different with a gun in our hands

Aug 04 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]297228:59815:0[/embed] "Time only moves when you move." That's Superhot's very to-the-point slogan. The game's stuck in a perpetual bullet-time that slows to an absolute crawl. Upon touching the left stick, it speeds up to the degree that you sped up. It's important to manage these movements almost like a resource of sorts. The polygonal enemies will swarm in the event that you're wasting movements. The most challenge lies in figuring out where exactly these enemies should be shot. Significant leading is required because they aren't going to stay where they were when the bullet was fired. Stylish headshots are tempting, but the smart money's on a well-placed round in the body. It accomplishes the exact same thing, but again, several years of experience have taught us to aim for the dome. Before long, a pattern forms. Slowly line up a shot, inch along in any direction at a safe pace until the bullet hits, stop and find the next foe. It's easy to understand but so counter-intuitive for most. That's why even when they showed restraint, they eventually gave into the urge to press forward quickly. That's a death sentence in Superhot. If you'll notice, I've been using most of this preview to critique others' performance at Superhot. That's because I played it on VR at E3 2014, and I was very good at it. Blazed through the demo, in fact. This non-headset business would be a breeze. Dammit, I just died. Okay, no problem, just a quick restar--son of a bitch, I died again. This doesn't make sense. I know what to do, I'm just not doing it for some reason. Oh, god. Am I playing just like all these foolish other journalists? Ugh, this is embarrassing. That's exactly what was happening. When I was cool, calm, and collected, Superhot was easy to manage. The second I got either too confident or flustered, everything went awry. The ability to throw the player between those two mental extremes at such a quick pace is a defining attribute of the game. And, a constant source of anguish. Just take it slow, and everything will work out.
Superhot preview photo
Keep your cool
One after another, I watched everyone play Superhot wrong. They all made simple mistakes, threw their hands up in pleasant frustration, and then made the same mistakes again. Every single person was bad, and it was kind ...

Gears of War HD is fine, but why wasn't active reload its legacy?

Aug 03 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297093:59771:0[/embed] Fergusson calls Ultimate Edition "the first at its best." The team didn't want to update the gameplay to reflect every change brought about by the second and third sequel. It's a "balance between modernization and breaking Gears 1." You still can't move while downed, for instance, but you can spot enemies. Still, the ten-year-old game could use some cleaning up. Fergusson has talked about the slapdash putting together of the original. He noted that, "When you look at Gilligan's Island today, it's a terrible show that should never be watched." That it isn't really funny, "but Mary Ann was hot." This comparison doesn't make a ton of sense because Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a tech overhaul. It's a shot for shot, line for line remake, like that Psycho with Vince Vaughn. An HD, visually remastered Gilligan's Island would still be Gilligan's Island. I played some Gears Ultimate last week in San Francisco. For shock value, they had Xbox 360s set up to play one round of multiplayer in the original. It is gritty and monotone. Characters feel appropriately like tanks and I struggle to discern between human and alien bug ground monster. This problem didn't go away completely when we switched over to Xbox One, but we can chalk that up to me being not particularly great. I think my team only lost one round, though the win piles were not me carrying folks. Here's a more important question: why is the gruff marine third-person cover shooter the thing that feels most copied from Gears and not active reload? Active reload is still so fucking good. It engages the player when they'd otherwise be waiting for an animation to finish, it has practical advantages, more button presses (in repeatable timing instances) makes for more rhythmic and fluid play. Why didn't everyone do this? The rest of it is still fun, too. The insult of walking patiently up behind a sniper and casually chainsawing them dead. The hulking movement and exploding heads. That one level with a killer train in between halves. And there are new additions like TDM, differing "competitive" and "social" matchmaking, 4K displays if you buy it on PC, additional content if you never played the original PC release. Playing Gears Ultimate will net you the previous Gears games when Xbox One sorts out its backwards compatibility, too, and you of course get early access to Gears 4 down the line.
Hands-on preview photo
Hands-on with the rebuilt Gears of War
Gears of War was not alone in ushering in an era of grimdark, of repetitive third-person cover-based shooting, but it ground our faces deepest into the dirt and grit. At one point an officer yells at prison-broke Marcus Fenix...

Neverwinter: Strongholds might get me back into the game

Jul 31 // Joe Parlock
Building your Stronghold [embed]296961:59747:0[/embed] With the goal of providing “interesting and meaningful experiences to guilds”, the process of creating and upgrading your guild’s stronghold is at the heart of the expansion. All buildable structures and upgrades are ultimately decided by the leaders of the guild, but those goals are worked towards by every member through the “Coffers” system. Coffers are the total resources available to a guild to help build up their stronghold, and they’re separated into three categories: materials, which are found in the lands surrounding your stronghold such as lumber; treasures, which are earned by playing through the campaign zones of the wider game such as the Dread Ring campaign; and stockpiles, the normal loot, gold, and astral diamonds players earn throughout the game. Finding these resources ensures creating a good stronghold for your guild isn’t just a case of the leaders fiddling with the UI; every member of the guild would have a role to play, be it collecting resources or planning out where structures will go.  Once there are enough resources to build a new structure in the stronghold, or to upgrade an already existing one, the guild leaders can then start the work of upgrading, while also setting the next goal for the guild to work towards. However, the amount of upgrades you can apply to a structure depends on the overall level of the guild’s keep. While structures have a maximum level of 10, the keep can grow up to level 20. However, structures can’t out-level the keep, so sometimes an effort must be made to upgrade the keep rather than simply rushing for all the new and shiny buildings. As players donate these hard-earned resources to their guild’s coffers, they are awarded guild marks with which they can buy new gear and items for themselves at the marketplace. It’s a way of incentivising altruism among the guild, and is one of the few times in the game players can make decisions for themselves that aren’t directly linked to the decisions of their wider guild. Another way the guild must coordinate in building their stronghold is in the new added boons. Boons are passive bonuses granted to players, and in Strongholds, structures can be built to grant the entire guild specific types of boons. There are currently four categories: offense, defense, utility, and Player vs. Player (PvP). The catch is not every type of boon would available for a guild at the same time, as there are only a limited number of boon structures that can be made. This requires decisions to be made about how players within the guild will be buffed. An example given would be a raiding guild may put more emphasis into PvP or offensive boons to increase their power. The boons in each category would be optional for each individual player, however what type of boon is available is up to the guild. It’s a neat mechanic, as now other players who you’d regularly play with have an active impact on how your character works, and how these buffs influence your character may well change in the future. Should the guild decide to change an offensive boon structure to a defensive one, the boons you previously had would no longer apply. It’s interesting, however I could also see it causing some conflict within guilds. The area given to a guild to build its stronghold on is the biggest zone Neverwinter has ever seen: it is three times bigger than the biggest previous one. The zone is split into multiple, smaller themed areas, each with their own enemies and quests. For example, there may be faetouched areas, or there may be areas that are more desolate, and different enemies may be encountered in each one. It’s nice to see some variance in the zone, as Neverwinter does have a problem of each zone being its own themed thing that gets boring sometimes: the snowy zone, the desert zone, or the city zone and nothing but that. Some areas will be sealed off and hidden until the stronghold has been built up and expanded on, but what’s interesting is that the future of the zone isn’t entirely known even to Perfect World yet. The strongholds system is planned to be expanded upon over the course of at least the next two expansions: Strongholds and a currently unannounced expansion after that. According to them, being “done” with building a stronghold simply isn’t possible, as new structures and boons will be made available in future updates.  While there is a storyline planned out for Strongholds and the expansion after that, the specifics of what sort of boons and structures will be included in them are apparently down to player feedback and community suggestions. New Player vs. Environment Content Building up a guild’s stronghold isn’t the only new addition to Neverwinter. Alongside it comes a new range of player vs. environment content, much like in the previous expansions before it. However, a lot of this will still directly help your stronghold grow. Firstly, the act of actually acquiring your guild’s new keep will be part of a quest line that changes as the stronghold grows. At first, your guild and a travelling band of Orcs will both arrive at the same time, causing there to be multiple skirmishes and missions available. Finding guards, protecting farms, and driving off Orcs to ensure that your keep is safe in the early days. As the keep levels up, new enemies will start to appear in the zone. For example, the second phase of the zone involves mercenaries appearing to try and steal the keep from you, giving you multiple quests involving dealing with them. The zone’s campaign appears to play out in much the same way as previous campaign zones such as the Dread Ring have, however there is also the added dimension of it being dependent on your keep’s level. Of course, there will also be a series of daily quests available from your stronghold’s steward too, and they will also help guide players to the next of their campaign quests. Greed of the Dragonflight That’s all pretty standard expansion stuff: more of what Neverwinter players will be used to. What’s particularly interesting is the major new boss fight that occurs in the Strongholds zone. Dubbed Greed of the Dragonflight, the boss is designed to be played by guilds of 40 or more players who must coordinate and plan out how to take down four powerful dragons simultaneously across the map. If one dragon is killed, the other three will flee shortly afterwards, requiring guilds to figure out which players are best suited to take on each dragon, and make sure all four of them die at the same time. Doing so will net the guild huge rewards, some of the most powerful items in the game, according to Perfect World. However, failure to nab all for dragons doesn’t mean nothing was gained. Due to some guilds not having enough players to take down all four dragons, there is a sliding scale of what rewards are given. The more dragons the guild can kill, the better the loot given. What I saw of this event reminded me of my favourite bit of Neverwinter: the timed boss events. Instances are great, questing is fun, but seeing the alert to head to an area of the map to slay as big-as-hell lizard was always really cool to me. It’s involving, it’s hectic, and it looks as though adding in the extra element of needing to size up who takes on which dragon will make it all the more satisfying when the guild succeeds. The difference between normal timed events and Greed of the Dragonflight is that it isn’t only a timed event. Due to a large amount of player requests, Perfect World is allowing guilds to trigger the event manually whenever they like, and so it could become a pretty big part of guild social life somewhere down the line. A New PvP mode inspired by MOBAs Player vs. Player in Neverwinter has been the centre of Perfect World’s attention for a while now: originally offering a fairly basic 5v5 arena mode, an open-world PvP was later added in Icewind Dale, and of course Strongholds will be adding even more for those who like stomping other players. The PvP added to Strongholds is a 20v20 Guild vs. Guild mode, which when I first heard about it reminded me a lot of Guild Wars 2’s World vs. World feature. However, it appears as though the new mode is being more inspired by the likes of Dota and League of Legends. This isn’t a compulsory feature, guilds must queue up to enter the mode. Once in the game, guilds will find their strongholds and surrounding lands “glued together”, with a river separating the two. The MOBA inspiration comes on the emphasis of controlling the various lanes between the two strongholds, while pushing forward and sieging the enemy guild. Perfect World has also catered to smaller guilds that might not have 20 players online at a time. When in queueing, if a guild has enough players to spare, they will be transferred temporarily to the other guild and fight for them instead. It’s a nice way of evening the playing field, but it will also be interesting to see where their alliances lie once the match is underway. It’s worth noting I didn’t get to actually see any PvP in action, due to the problems setting up a game with 40 players just to show me it would’ve caused. As such, all of this is only how it was described to me by Overmyer. Final Thoughts As previously mentioned, I’ve got a fair amount of experience with Neverwinter, however the lack of something to keep me interested once I’d finished the story quests meant I dropped out of the game soon after. Guilds have always been something in MMOs I’ve had an interest in, but never found the right match – I always ended up in quiet, inactive guilds where nothing ever happened. Strongholds looks like it wants to solve both of my problems, while giving me more of the solo content that got me into the game at first. I’m somewhat concerned that finding decent guilds might still be tricky, but maybe the new toys guilds can play with will convince people to give running guilds a go. PvP has never been a big interest of mine. I got into Rift’s quite a bit, but still eventually found myself going back to questing. Neverwinter in particular has been quite notorious for equipment you can buy in the store being perceived to be more powerful than stuff you can earn in-game, which always put me off PvP. However, if it’s true that the rewards from Greed of the Dragonflight are some of the strongest in the game, it could go a way to fix that problem. Overall, I’m excited. I’m definitely going to be going back into it just to see how all of these new mechanics change how people interact within guilds, if at all. Plus Dragonflight is a condensed version of everything I like about Neverwinter, which is great. Neverwinter: Strongholds will be released on August 11 as the next free expansion on PC. Neverwinter is free-to-play on both Xbox One and PC.
Neverwinter: Strongholds photo
An in-depth look at all the new stuff
On August 11, Perfect World will be releasing the latest expansion to their Dungeons & Dragons-based MMO Neverwinter, Strongholds. With its action-based combat, fantastic locations, and relatively simple mechanics, N...

Forza Motorsport 6 certainly plans on making a big splash

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

Super Dungeon Bros plays like garbage, with humor to match

Jun 25 // Mike Cosimano
Super Dungeon Bros takes place in Rökheim. There are four rock-themed brothers: Axl, the angry one; Freddie, the one who knows no fear; Lars, the one who keeps saying 'love' ad infinitum; and Ozzie AKA Michelangelo From TMNT, But A Rock This Time. I had to look up this information on the provided fact sheet, because the 'bros' are not characters. They have a "thing" and that "thing" is drilled into your skull like a well-placed icepick at an Italian dinner party gone wrong. Here's an example: when the party encounters some enemies, Lars can say "Careful, they've lost that lovin' feeling." This is the patent pending "Bro Banter" system, controlled by the player via the d-pad. Now, imagine hearing this line dozens of times over the course of a single dungeon run. It's a joke that would be right on the edge of amusing...if told once. And that's not even the worst of it! Ozzie's catchphrase is "That's what she said," a phrase I literally have not heard in years. When this was presented to me, I had to check my calendar to make sure I had not been trapped in some kind of 2011-centric time vortex. The Bro Banter system is supposedly reactive -- you can respond to banter from your compatriots with banter of your own, but I never got it to work organically during my play session. I did manage to get a confirmation that more recorded lines would be coming. Although I wouldn't get my hopes up for that, considering the fact that somebody told somebody else that recording a line from everyone's collective middle school experience and putting it in the game was a good idea. Playing the game is on the same level as the writing; it's bad. The characters are floaty and unresponsive, it feels like you're controlling an invisible character pushing the player character around. And the combat is somehow worse. The heavy attacks and the light attacks feel almost indistinguishable. I also found myself struggling with the controls more often than I'd care to admit in mixed company. It's not that the game is complex, it's just flat -- like a can of soda left out in the sun. The enemies feel same-y, both in terms of design and attacks. What separates an ice giant from a small goblin? Not much aside from their health bars. And when the weapons feel so inefficient, that larger health bar can be a real nuisance. Some of the loot in the full game could potentially mitigate this issue, but the game still has fundamental control issues. Maybe it was that 'last day of E3 funk', but the action made me want to take a nap. In order to complete 100% of the game, players will have to spend about 100 hours of their time with Super Dungeon Bros, which feels like a threat. The game plays terribly, and it's not amusing. Yes, it has couch co-op, but so does the excellent Diablo 3 console port. There are funnier games, there are better brawlers, there are more engaging couch multiplayer titles, there are more rewarding dungeon crawlers. Just because Super Dungeon Bros comprises all of those elements doesn't mean any of them work.
Super Dungeon Bros photo
Keep that dungeon locked
Unnecessary negativity is a blight, especially for writers. It can poison the mind and alienate the reader; a cancerous state of mind that serves nobody. Personally, I try and avoid it whenever possible. That mentality does m...

Mega Man photo
The classic series returns with remixes
Mega Man Legacy Collection bundles the first six Mega Man games for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and 3DS. I played a bit at E3. Gut reaction: it's probably going to be worth the $14.99 asking price. You might be wondering what's up wit...

Extended Rise of the Tomb Raider video is way better than the E3 trailer

Jun 22 // Steven Hansen
This goes along with bigger tombs, either secret ones or ones on the narrative path. At one point Lara came up on an abandoned Cold War installation, which was apparently one of the game's "hubs" that contain quest givers, crypts, secrets, and story missions. There are also "systems that celebrate Lara's intelligence and archaeological background." Reading documents and murals throughout the ancient world gives Lara more experience and improves her proficiency, allowing her to uncover greater secrets. Like the secret of immortality hidden in a lost city beneath a lake, which Lara is fighting evil organization Trinity to get to. One other major gripe I keep having with the snow-ridden portions shown off is that Lara refuses to zip up her jacket and instead keeps showing off that cute infinity scarf. On top of that, no hat or gloves despite that fact that you lose heat fastest through those extremities. Bad guys, too, are not appropriately bundled for Siberian winter. [embed]294565:59186:0[/embed]
E3 preview photo
E3 preview
I was beefing a bit with Rise of the Tomb Raider for its heavily scripted sequences in which you hold forward on the analog stick as the game just sort of nonthreateningly happens around you (except for when a brutal cutscen...

Need For Speed is back with double spoilers and customization galore

Jun 21 // Jed Whitaker
While the cosmetic customization in the build I played was deep, it was nowhere near as in depth as the beloved Need for Speed: Underground. The car tuning was fantastic and simple enough for a none car guy like myself to understand. There is a slider that allows you to make cars control more like modern games in the series (drift handling), or more like classic games in the series (grip handling). You can also manually adjust features of cars to make them control as you see fit.  Hundreds of events are scattered around a large open world, and players just need to pull up and hit a button to start the event. Other players can fill out the roster as competing racers. Completing the events advances one of five stories based on different types of driving: speed, style, customization, hanging with your crew, and messing with the cops. It is still unclear how exactly these stories will be advanced, but story is rarely important in racing games. Need for Speed is looking like it really could be the definitive game in the series. Get your hype engines revving. 
Need For Speed preview photo
Definitive version of NFS
The upcoming Need for Speed doesn't have a subtitle because it wants to be the definitive game in the series, according to Craig Sullivan of Ghost Games. The developers have cherry picked the best parts of the previous subtit...

Elite: Dangerous for Xbox One adds new multiplayer mode

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
With its recent launch on Xbox One, Elite: Dangerous has seen immediate success on the console. Boasting over 500,000 active players, the community is very active and passionate about the game. The developers stated that though PC and Xbox One players can't play with one another, the economy and active-narrative within the universe is consistent with shared, which makes the universe feel more alive than ever before.During our presentation, we got to witness the upcoming multiplayer content, the Close Quarters Championship. Taking place in instanced arenas around the known universe, players will be able to take their best ship and compete with others in a variety of different modes ranging from Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch, and a altered take on CTF called "Capture the Datasphere". As they level up and acquire currency, they'll be able to upgrade their multiplayer ship and build it up to be a top dog within the CQC. All upgrades made in CQC will only be available for multiplayer. The developers felt the mechanics and systems within the multiplayer were unique and required an extra boost, and that players can already acquire a massive amount of content within the open universe.Though the content is only set for Xbox One as of now, players on PC can expect to see it sometime later this year. The developers felt that the Xbox community was the best place to test out the new mode, given the existing player community that loves their MP content. Speaking of which, the Xbox One version of Elite has developed quite well. As it's in beta presently, the developers are still working on new features and tweaks to the port. One of the proudest accomplishments they had with the development of the console release was that they were able to place all the mechanics into the controller without watering down the gameplay. The controller utilizes context-sensitive prompts and hold-button options to bring up new options. It's pretty clever, given the scope of the original title.If you're interested in giving Elite: Dangerous a shot, and don't possess a beastly PC to do so, then the Xbox One release is your best shot. Currently on discount, this port retains all the best elements of the game, and might even make it a bit more accessible for those who may have been scared off by the scope of the PC title. And with new content coming to console first, there's plenty incentive to give it a go.
Elite: Dangerous photo
Launches in July, PC later this year
As one of the most well-known Kickstarter titles, Elite: Dangerous has really become a massive and seminal title within the PC community. With an entire universe to explore, built to scale according to the developers, they pr...

Hideaki Itsuno talks his return to DMC with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
It's been more than seven years since the release of DMC4 back on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2008, and things have changed quite a bit. During that time, Itsuno choose to begin work on his passion project, an open-world Action-RPG title for consoles, which eventually became Dragon's Dogma. The sprawling role-playing game was one of Capcom's most intensive projects, and was largely met with acclaim. Though sometime after its release, the opportunity to return to the series presented itself, and Itsuno was keen on giving the series another go. "Once the original DMC4 production was over , I was ready to be done with DMC for awhile, and it was quite good timing," said director Hideaki Itsuno while recalling his work on Dragon's Dogma. "But by that time [after Dragon's Dogma], I felt that I wanted to work on another DMC game, and the topic of the Special Edition came up and it was really good, it came at a great time for me. Also it wasn't too difficult coming back to DMC mentally after awhile. I had actually been working on some mobile titles for awhile before this. It was good to be home with DMC, it was a year and a half project, and and I really enjoyed it all." As the second Special Edition release for the series, many fans have det their expectations high for the return to DMC4. Since its reveal, we've learned much about what the Special Edition will contain, and surprisingly they decided to go further with including the most playable character in a single title that the series has ever seen. While talking about the development of the game, Itsuno recalled what they wanted to focus on when making the Special Edition."Coming off DMC3: Special Edition, including Vergil was a no-brainer really, and it was also something that a lot of fans pretty much expected to happen when you announce another Special Edition," said Itsuno. "The next thing we looked at was bringing it up to speed [...] It's been seven years since the last game, and people may not be as familiar with it as they once were. So even just having tiny things like auto-save, helped bring up to console standards. Then we added Lady and Trish."Right from the beginning of the series, gamers have recognized that DMC is in a class of its own when it comes to combat. After Itsuno took over as director for the series, the combat expanded much further. With experience on titles such as Capcom vs SNK and the Street Fighter series, he used much of his work on honing combat and fighting mechanics and transitioned it over to DMC. With DMC4SE, the developers plan on injecting more of the fighting game mentality into the series with the inclusion of multiple playable characters, as each posses their own unique playstyles.  "You definitely could say I've brought my fighting game experience to bare," said Itsuno while talking about the new playable characters. "Particularly because we got some additional characters and gameplay experiences are quite different for each character, and the gameplay will change for each. It's quite a unique aspect to DMC, compared to other action games where we have this selection of characters, so you're really getting a different gameplay experience with each character. We looked at people's combo play videos for 4 and also 3 Special Edition for Vergil, and we used those as references. But ultimately, we wanted to make sure it was the game you love." During my time with DMC4SE's Vergil, it was clear that he adopted some tricks from DmC Vergil. Ninja Theory's work on the mechanics for Vergil offered some very inventive takes on classic moves and also included some new skills that very clever in their own right. Over the years, DmC: Devil May Cry has been a pretty divisive title among series fans. Many of whom don't tend to view it in the same light as the original series. The director of the series spoke about his work supervising the developers at Ninja Theory, and still holds the game and its developers in high-regard."It was a three year project working on DmC: Devil May Cry with Ninja Theory, and I was going back and forth to Cambridge working on it with them. And I got a lot of great memories, I'm still really great friends with those guys, whenever I see them I'm like 'give me a hug, bro', and even though it was a divisive game, and that was the reaction from fans, obviously -- I still feel it's a well respected game. I don't like thinking of it as this separate other thing from the rest of the other games. My work on that game definitely influenced DMC4SE.As with every upcoming E3, many fans like to hypothesize about what's going to be announced at E3. Just checking on twitter or NeoGAF, you could see massive threads detailing fan theories and speculation about some upcoming news relating to the developers and publishers attending. And though many were convinced that Capcom was going to drop the bomb and announce Devil May Cry 5 at this year's expo, they of course were mistaken. But rest assured, Capcom is totally aware of the enthusiasm for the series. Itsuno had this to say to fans about the current state of Devil May Cry.  "Of course, there was some people rumor and speculating whether or not there'd be a new announcement at E3. Sorry, but there wasn't one this year. But 4SE is something I really wanted the chance to get DMC in the hands of the next-generation console player. It's been that long since the original series, the hardware has changed, standards are different, and I know that people are waiting to play the game again." With the upcoming Special Edition almost upon us, it's going to be a special time for many fans who've longed for the return to the original series. I've spent quite a bit of time with it, and I feel that many long time fans will love what Itsuno and the developers have done to reinvigorate DMC4. The new characters add a whole new level of freshness to the game, and fans who've spend countless hours exploring the nuances of Dante and Nero will love what Vergil, Trish, and Lady bring to the table. Expect our full review from Chris next week.
Devil May Cry photo
This Special Edition goes all in
As you have probably noticed over the last few months, Destructoid has been loaded with articles about the Devil May Cry series and its upcoming titles. The folks at Capcom have been very open with sharing details about the s...

Mirror's Edge preview photo
Good shoes
With Mirror's Edge Catalyst, DICE is giving us more freedom while robbing Faith of hers. This is an origin story, and an open-world one at that. It's the same fun first-person running, rolling, jumping, and sliding as before,...

Marcus Fenix's default Gears of War face is a permanent scowl

Jun 17 // Steven Hansen
Before Gears became the big bad brolf of Microsoft franchises, it was a bit more scrappy. Fergusson was excited to be able to go back and completely change Gears' cinematics. "Back then we were under such time constraints we called them Frankenscenes," he said. Motion capture was re-used and stitched together. The dialogue in cinematics remains intact, but there are all sorts of new camera angles, zooms. Fergusson and company went back to assess, "what were we trying to convey, what did we successfully or not successfully convey," in terms of tone. The five chapters left out of Gears' 2006 360 release (they later made it into the 2007 PC release) are also being included in Ultimate. The "casual" difficulty has become the new normal and a truer "casual" setting has been added. There's still local split-screen on and offline (take notes, Halo 5) with a pillar box look to give both players a view closer to 16:9. And, as folks might be seeing in the online beta, there are dedicated servers, a spectator mode, LAN support, 19 maps, Team Death Match, King of the Hill, community designed Gnashers 2v2, and 1080p, 60fps online play. Unless you're playing on PC and want to crank it up to 4K or whatever.
Gears Ultimate photo
And more on Gears of War Ultimate
Microsoft announced a 60fps, 1080p remake of the first Gears, Gears of War Ultimate, a couple days back. I sat down with Rod Fergusson for a meeting about the remake, which has completely replaced every single art asset, adde...

DICE's Star Wars Battlefront feels like a half-assed Battlefield mod

Jun 17 // Jed Whitaker
Air support has to be called in by finding tokens placed throughout the battlefield that randomly give you either a special weapon or a ship to fly, thus removing the need to rush for a vehicle to have the chance to pilot one. The flying mechanics feel a bit better than Battlefield games, where I typically can only stay in the air a few moments before crashing, but the hit detection was shit. As I flew my Y-Wing around Hoth, I tried to get a bit closer to the ground to lay down some fire for my comrades below and my ship inexplicably exploded -- I was told I'd killed myself. I'd estimate that I was at least 100 feet off the ground, so I'm not sure what I could have possible collided with. [embed]294292:59136:0[/embed] Upon starting each spawn you can select from loadouts, of which we had two to choose from. A primary weapon can be selected, and then the actual loadout is basically support options including: grenades, bubble shields, and short-use jetpacks. One particular option let you lob three explosives a great distance and this was typically an instant kill if aimed correctly. I fell to this the most. Gun-wise, there were a few different blasts available, none of which felt much different in third-person view, but had different scopes in first-person view. The former option felt similar to the old games: holding the left trigger allowed you to focus your shot while slowing down your movement speed. First person felt ripped from Battlefield, with aiming down sights or through scopes. In one of the trailers it shows swapping seamlessly from third person to first, but I couldn't figure out how to do it for the life of me other than using a menu, only taking effect after respawning.  Aim assist was on by default which had the crosshair sticking to enemies and turning red whenever aiming relatively close to one of them, which would be fine except for most shots miss if they are moving. This aim assist issue happened in both third and first person, causing me to have to fight with aim assist to try to line up shots for moving targets. After turning it off it felt a bit better, so perhaps for less advanced players it will be a great option, but more serious players will want to shut it off. I found myself dying far more often than I remember in classic Battlefront games, and that has been a problem for me in Battlefield games as well. Indicators that you're taking damage aren't obvious enough and by the time you do realize you're taking fire, you're dead. While there is a health meter that ticks down, I still felt like I was dying nearly instantly as if I were playing a Battlefield game. The demo I played was presented on PlayStation 4, and the amount of graphics popping in just a few feet ahead of my character was disturbing. I realize this is an early build but it was still shocking. There was a choice between locking the game to 30 frames per second and having better graphics or playing at 60fps. I didn't get a chance to test if the pop-in still happened at 30fps before the battle was over, but I certainly don't want to play a shooter at 30fps in 2015. Overall I wasn't impressed with what little time I spent with DICE's Star Wars Battlefront. It really did feel like a half-assed mod slapped onto Battlefield 4, and I'm surprised modders haven't created something better already. That being said the game was still enjoyable -- it looked and sounded like Star Wars -- but this is not the Battlefront you're looking for.
Battlefront preview photo
Not the Battlefront you're looking for
Ever since the announcement that EA's DICE studio would be developing Star Wars Battlefront, fans of the series -- myself included -- have feared it will be "Star Wars Battlefield" and it seems like our fears have come t...

Just Cause 3 somehow makes explosions easier than ever before

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

It's truly fun traversing Assassin's Creed Syndicate's London

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
As these things go, our E3 demo was free of any sort of missteps that would hint at a repeat performance. No surprise there; these showings are almost always incredibly polished even though they're all in "pre-alpha." What is worth noting is that Ubisoft actually let us have hands-on time this year. In 2014, it was a one-on-one hands-off session while a developer played. That could be a small indicator that the publisher has more faith in this year's iteration. I was turned loose in a very small section of London, and I immediately felt a knowing comfort. Assassin's Creed isn't going to change that much, after all. Having just walked out of a pub, protagonist Jacob was on the ground and surrounded by three story (or so) buildings. Rooftops are the much preferred method of getting around, so it's time to start ascending. This is where Syndicate made its open-world pacing apparent. Rather than climbing the face of every structure, Jacob can shoot a grappling hook that will almost instantaneously transport him to any summit. It may seem like it wouldn't be all that noteworthy, as several titles have implemented the same feature in recent years. But, it does such a great job of opening up the Assassin's Creed traversal, it's impossible to ignore its significance here. [embed]294140:59097:0[/embed] Once on the rooftops, it was simple to shoot ziplines across to even further destinations. It's no longer necessary to go from roof to ground and back up when trying to cross a city. Now, pathfinding is incredibly simple because it just requires a quick tap of a button to fire across the chasm. These ziplines serve another purpose too, though. Partway between two points, Jacob can decide that whatever's underneath him needs a quick blade in the back of the neck. Performing air assassinations while gliding along proves to be quite satisfying, not to mention efficient. This particular demo tasked me with clearing out a relatively small compound, which was a great opportunity to test out the only new weapon I was shown. Jacob has hallucinogenic darts at his disposal, which make enemies easy to deal with. What's more, shooting them into a fire gives them an area-of-effect radius instead of only harming one target. I took out three people with one dart and then threw a knife to drop some cargo on the head of a fourth. It was a pretty great way to quickly and creatively dispatch a handful of enemies. That's when the faction leader began fleeing, necessitating commandeering someone's buggy to chase them down. With a terrified horse pulling me around with all the grace you'd expect from a panicked animal, I eventually caught up. This initiated a "gang war" where I fought alongside approximately ten others to kill those on the other side, which concluded the demo. For the few takeaways I had, I was left with more questions. What role would Evie play opposite of Jacob? Will either be playable under any circumstance, or do they each have scenes dedicated to them? How will gameplay differ between the two? What are Ubisoft's plans for the modern story? How will the boroughs of London seem unique? I had a lot of inquiries, but the developers were tight-lipped about almost everything, simply stating that oft-repeated line "We're going to be talking about that later." Frustrating as it is, it's par for the course. Information's always locked down until the publisher's ready to reveal. From what we saw, everything about Syndicate is very Assassin's Creed. That's not much of a revelatory statement, but it is what it is. The grappling hook -- the one thing that isn't very Assassin's Creed -- was undoubtedly the finest feature. It's not the type of change that will be at the forefront of someone's mind when they think about the game, but it's an improvement that will keep traversal from becoming too much of a slog. That's a welcome addition if I've ever heard of one.
AC Syndicate preview photo
And a whole lot quicker
Ubisoft finally had all the perils that come with annual franchise installments come crashing down on it last year with Assassin's Creed Unity. It was the most ambitious Assassin's Creed title to date -- with its insanel...

E3: First hands-on Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's The Division

Jun 15 // Steven Hansen
[embed]294064:59046:0[/embed] We sure as fuck weren't as team work oriented as Ubisoft's carefully directed demo, which will basically be the case if you aren't playing regularly with a couple pals. Quoting the developer, it's a "standard shooter" in terms of controls. Each character had a few different abilities, which later can be customized (there's a turret, remote sticky bomb, a homing mine that follows you until it finds an enemy to go after) and my character was outfitted with a shotgun that somewhat unsatisfyingly took chunks of my opponents' health bar out. Like, that's not what shotguns should be doing. But The Division is heavy on its crazy tech UI theme, and the co-op focus means it could end up something like Destiny -- kind of a boring loot fest, but fun with friends. It's cool that you're at risk of losing your high level loot if you're killed in this instance and that might make even strangers try and team up (loot is evenly split, too). There are crazy dudes with flamethrowers to worry about and "Rikers," a gang of murderous inmates escaped from Rikers Island prison, which kind of doesn't make sense given how many prisoners in the United States are non-violent offenders and probably would return to their families if released rather than into a group of murderous thugs, but, hey, gritty apocalypse. Of course there are also other players to worry about. At any moment they can go rogue and start fights between fire teams (in our demo, we all tried to kill each other), but you can also all work together and wait for an extraction out of the instance. The goal seems to be making it so your first impulse isn't to kill anyone you come across, because that just makes things harder and puts your gains at risk. The Division isn't quite for me. I don't need endless progressions, bars, and numbers to play a game. But folks who got well into Destiny might find a nice little squad-based multiplayer shooter here. But I also still have no clue how the open-world element works, as this demo might as well as have been any old multiplayer map.
The Division photo
Divisioning a division in Division
Tom Clancy may be dead, but The Division isn't. It's been two years since Ubisoft announced its apocalyptic "online, open-world action RPG," but I finally got hands-on at a Ubisoft event this E3. We were set up in a boiling h...

Battlefield found a way to infiltrate EA Sports' PGA Tour

Jun 15 // Brett Makedonski
Speaking with a PGA Tour representative, the publisher has plans to tie more EA franchises into the game. Coyly, the spokesperson said that the Battlefield course will be the only one that's available at launch. It's a fair bet that more courses themed after EA series will make their way into PGA Tour via paid DLC. For the time being, Battlefield is the only addition players will initially see. It might not be what we expected, but maybe EA needed to add a bit of irreverence to liven up its leading golf title. And, when you want to get back traditional golf, PGA Tour certainly has that in spades -- it's just sans explosions.  
PGA Tour photo
Well, that was unexpected
Golf has a reputation for being a stuffy game played by uptight, proper folks. After spending some time with Rory McIlroy's PGA Tour, we can safely say that the majority of it lives up to those expectations. However, there's ...

Unravel photo
Adorable yarn-based puzzle platforming
Unravel is an upcoming puzzle-platform game about a little yarn guy on a journey through nature, and it is such a delight. It's one of those titles you'll want to complete in a single sitting, totally absorbed the whole way t...

I'm all about Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

Jun 15 // Jordan Devore
One of my teammates was a melee-centric superhero zombie named Super Brainz. There's also going to be a dedicated zombie sniper character, finally, and a sorceress. All told, there will be six new classes from the past, present, and future. Speaking of: one level is a time-travel theme park, as in, a theme park whose "attractions" are accessible via time travel portals. Clever. What else? Every mode supports split-screen play, which not even Halo is offering any more, and solo players can compete against AI if they're unwilling or unable to dip into player versus player (which was the best part of Garden Warfare). There will be private servers this time, as well as 40 characters at launch and regularly scheduled free content updates. PopCap wouldn't give any concrete details about character transfers other than "Yes, that's happening." Still great news. I wish I could give more detailed hands-on coverage but, shortly into our round of Graveyard Ops, the power went out at EA's preview event. Swearing ensued. I think an Xbox One even broke. Bummer. I'm curious to see PopCap uncover more layers of the Plants vs. Zombies universe -- it sure has gotten strange since the original lawn defense game debuted six years ago.
Garden Warfare 2 photo
First hands-on at E3 2015
Garden Warfare was astounding. It was a good shooter. It was also a good Plants vs. Zombies title, despite being a shooter. It had loads of free DLC. The game wasn't perfect, but I was hooked -- first on Xbox 3...

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

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

Borderlands players will probably dig Battleborn

Jun 12 // Jordan Devore
Sure, the copious amounts of loot are gone. And this isn't a wasteland -- it's the last star in the universe. But damn, Battleborn really will feel and sound familiar to Borderlands players despite having an extended cast of 25 playable characters. The roster has the diversity of a typical MOBA lineup, and the rate at which you're leveling up and acquiring new abilities matches that genre. First, Gearbox and 2K had us watch a group of people play a level to, uh, show us how it's done. Then we played that same level. Then we played it again. Then we played it a third time. The intention was to highlight the variation in characters, I guess -- and there's plenty -- but the format also reminded me how grating funny dialogue often becomes on repeated playthroughs. Our short slice of the campaign was set on a snowy area with suitably solemn music. It was mostly linear, with wider areas interspersed for larger engagements. I first chose a gentlemanly robot sniper who could call in an owl. He was great at safely taking down our primary foe -- alien monsters called the Varelsi -- from afar while my four co-op partners soaked up damage. After that, I picked a vampire-looking samurai with twin blades. He was ferocious, but I kept managing to lose my shields and then my health and then I needed to be revived. Sorry about that! I'm squishy! Even if I didn't quite get a handle on how to play him well, I still enjoyed the first-person slicing. On my third playthrough, I went with a witch who shot dark energy out of her four arms and could open portals from which hellish things would leak out. I liked her. Leveling up occurs regularly. Again, think Dota 2 or League of Legends. Instead of separate skill trees like in Borderlands, you're presented with a single either-or decision, one for each of your ten levels. You're able to choose between things like increased shields or higher weapon damage, and boost certain abilities over others. If you're like me, you'll wish you could just have every upgrade. As for mission objectives, the preview build was a lot of pushing forward, wiping out every enemy. Eventually, we had to protect a spider mech guy as he trundled along to his final destination where an inevitable boss battle took place. Along the way, we picked up shards from chests and fallen foes that could be spent on upgrading the mech's offensive or defensive capabilities as well as turrets during the final fight. Doing so seemed unnecessary, but I'm sure we were playing on one of the friendlier difficulty settings and that it can get real tough if you want a challenge. While I didn't get to see much of Battleborn, I'm more into it than I thought I would be as someone who isn't particularly crazy about Borderlands. I think it's the gunplay, which feels tighter here. There's also more care-free room for experimentation in terms of character selection and how you want to build them out. I'm unsure about the PvP, but I'll probably want to round up four friends to run through the story mode when this releases on PC, PS4, and Xbox One this year.
Battleborn preview photo
Hands-on impressions of the story mode
[Disclosure: Years ago, Aaron Linde used to write for Destructoid. He now works on Battleborn at Gearbox Software. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into this preview.] To sum up Battleborn ...


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