When I learned that Netherlands-based Two Tribes Studios (Toki Tori & Toki Tori 2) was bringing its snazzy metal-wrecking, robot-hacking, twin-stick shooter RIVE to PAX East this year, I jumped at the chance to set up an appointment to see the current state of the game.
I finally caught up Two Tribes co-founder Collin van Ginkel at the RIVE booth where he sat me down for a little hands-on with the game. I'd had some time playing an earlier version that was released last fall before leaving for the show, but what was on display at PAX East this year had obviously seen some major improvements.
For starters, the demo on hand had my previously ground-based, spider-like vehicle transformed into a nimble spacecraft, dodging and blasting its way through an asteroid belt on route to the facility to where the rest of the demo takes place. The addition of side-scrolling flying sections was a pleasant surprise and I hope that in the final version, there's even more of them.
The touchy but precise movement controls while flying were a little tricky to get used to, but by the time I had passed (collided with) a few asteroids I had full control of my ship, chewing through all that was in my path and easily outmaneuvering the spinning, laser-firing turrets that appear towards the end of the section.
At PAX East this year I walked past many of the larger booths and gave them little attention, as I am typically more interested in indie games. I got invited to a press-only demo for Gigantic -- a game I only knew of by seeing the signs for the booth on the show floor -- by fellow Destructoid editor Rob Morrow, so I went to see what it was all about. I'm glad I got to get hands-on time with the game, otherwise I wouldn't know just how fantastic Gigantic is.
When I first laid eyes on Gigantic it was breathtaking. The colorful graphics pop off the screen and are reminiscent of something you'd expect to see from Pixar or DreamWorks. The characters are all unique and really stand out from the equally colorful environments. The animation of character movements are all really fluid, especially for the game only being in alpha.
There aren't a whole lot of fully featured MOBA games on consoles. While a handful of them exist, some faring better than others, there's going to be a bigger push this year with games like SMITE and Gigantic heading to the Xbox One.
Although I heartily enjoyed my time with SMITE on PC, I didn't stick around for an extended period of time, instead opting to head back to League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm.
That may change when SMITE hits Xbox One later this year, based on what I've played of the alpha build.
3D Realms is keenly aware of what players know it for. Sure, there are plenty of titles in the publisher's history that should stand out, but for all intents and purposes, the company might as well re-name itself The Duke Nukem Guys.
In the case of its next project, Bombshell, 3D Realms is absolutely looking to distance itself from the Duke tropes -- at least as far as this game is concerned. Despite a lot of thematic similarities (oh hey, aliens took over again), Interceptor and 3D Realms have created a hero in Bombshell (Shelly Harrison is her proper name) who is a polar opposite from Duke in a lot of ways. Interceptor CEO and 3D Realms vice president Frederik Schreiber said that the two probably wouldn't get along too well. Then, Schreiber went so far as to say "Bombshell is the only one who could kick Duke's ass."
She's come a long way since our introduction to her last year. 3D Realms fully fesses up that the first take was premature. There was pressure to reveal Bombshell before it was ready. 3D Realms was trying to do something -- anything -- to take eyes off the lawsuit with Gearbox and to prove it was more than just The Duke Nukem Guys. The result was a trailer that was almost universally poorly received. That was more than enough of a cue to go back to the drawing board.
Cuphead has existed in a state of unreality to me since its E3 reveal. Despite seeing footage of the game, it remained in my mind a concept. One that I was in love with, mind. 1930s style animation. A character whose head is a cup. I love it.
But because I've never played a game that was completely hand-drawn on a lightbox to look like a 1930s anime, there was always some weird disconnect between what I saw in the trailer, on-screen, and connecting it to inputting commands on a controller.
This disconnect was mended when I saw a giant corner dedicated to Cuphead at Microsoft's ID@Xbox event last week at GDC. I press a button, Cuphead jumps.
Even though the clock was ticking, it was difficult not to stop and smell the roses. I had a behemoth to hunt, but couldn't help myself. A gorgeous landscape teeming with majestic wildlife distracted me from my objective. I whiled away far too much time transfixed by the mosaic of stars painted across the night sky, exploring grottos and forest trails, and poking around a secluded outpost with a stable of Chocobos. I continued to do so until a tap on the shoulder reminded me to get back to the task at hand.
During a meeting with Square Enix today in Boston, the publisher gave me over an hour to delve into Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, but it just wasn't enough time. I want to spend more time in this world, leaving no stone unturned, and now I find myself eagerly awaiting the opportunity to do just that when the demo launches alongside Final Fantasy Type-0 HD later this month.
Everything you could say about Soul Axiom feels reductive. It looks like Journey mixed with Tron, except when it looks like Tron mixed with Tron. It’s a puzzler that evokes The Talos Principle in both its non-linearity and its environmental conundrums. And the story is a spiritual successor to developer Wales Interactive’s previous title Master Reboot. This is the kind of stuff I try to avoid when doing previews.
But it’s still accurate, and it doesn’t diminish how interesting this game looks. Soul Axiom is an unsettling and compelling techno/cyber-thriller, with a killer visual style that matches its high-concept premise. Whether it actually delivers on its many promises is another thing entirely, but there’s a lot to be excited about so far.
I've long been an admirer of the Warhammer franchise. While a lot of people seem to put more of their attention towards the 40K universe, the high-fantasy setting of the former is so rich and features such a breadth of potential. As such, I was surprised to hear last month that Fatshark is making a new Warhammer title.
During a special hands-on session at GDC, the folks behind Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide showed off their co-op title that'll seek to offer hardcore action within the high-fantasy universe, while giving loot hungry players the urge to explore the street and depths of Ubersreik.
That's what I have to keep telling myself while agonizing over the release of Mortal Kombat X. As someone who logged nearly 7,000 matches into the last Mortal Kombat, and still plays Injustice from time to time, any new info is good news, and NetherRealm has recently dropped a lot of details on the game's online modes.
I'll be the first to say it: it's going to be the year of Souls. With the release of Bloodborne only a month away, which looks to redefine the experience along with its wonderful change of setting, From Software has been busy as of late. But that's not stopping the studio from re-releasing its previous titleDark Souls II for new audiences on new hardware.
Recently, the developers released an update for existing versions of Dark Souls II for all players, adding in an invasion faction, characters, and even new encounters. Of course, this is to ease them into what Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin has to offer. Though there's been little information about what to expect from this revisit, the folks behind the title had a lot to say about it.
At a special Bandai Namco Games event last week, Destructoid got to go hands-on with the new and improved version of Dark Souls II and chat with Bandai Namco global producer Atsuo Yoshimura. Though many see it as simply a remaster, From Software thinks of it as much more.
It's not too often we see a major publisher humbled. With the announcement of Battlefield Hardline last year, EA and Visceral Games were ready to release another entry in the epic and grandiose Battlefield series. But soon after, they decided to hold off, and push the rather ambitious title back to 2015. After taking in its criticisms and lumps from the original beta release, they figured this was one one title they didn't want to botch.
Moving the battlefield away from the military setting, Hardline brings the combat to the cities and streets across the U.S. as the police and criminals battle for control. As the first Battlefield game not set in a military conflict, the developers at Visceral Games wanted to make sure they knocked it out of the park. And in order to do so, they had to put players first and listen to what the community wanted.
In a special preview session with their second upcoming beta, playable on February 3-8, EA invited Destructoid out to get some early hands-on with it, where we had a chat with Battlefield Hardline's executive producer Steve Papoutsis. During our talk, we learned what they took in from its initial beta, and how important it was to give the best of what the series is all about.
If you were to take booths' popularity at PAX South and plot them on a heat map, most of the obvious candidates would stick out. Twitch would be red hot, as it constantly had a flurry of people swarming to watch their favorite streamers. Dreadnought would be lit up too, because it was one of the largest displays and the crowd seemed to take a liking to it.
But, there would be one outlier far back among the indie titles. Knight Squad, made by Chainsawesome Games, had a constant throng of people mulling about at all times. You wouldn't expect it given the location, but it was a party back there. Once you had a crack at the game, you'd understand why -- because Knight Squad is an incredibly fun multiplayer game.
I got the opportunity to play a decent chunk of Revelations 2 last year, and I was pretty impressed with how the mystery was being brought back to the series. Dabbling into episodic gaming, this installment is set to be released through four episodes; one will release every week from February 24th to March 18th. It's a pretty experimental, and unique take on Resident Evil, and that might be just what the franchise needs.
But just before its debut next month, the folks at Capcom invited me out to get another crack at their experiment. And during my session, I got reacquainted with an old buddy from the series' past, and even got to take the new and improved Raid Mode for a test run.
It's an exciting time to be into role-playing games. With the release of heavy hitters such as Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dark Souls II, Divinity: Original Sin, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Wasteland 2 in recent years, the genre has had a healthy supply of deep and involving games. But one such series, based on Polish fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, got a major foothold into the hearts of fans.
Originally released in 2007 for PC, The Witcher placed players in the shoes of Geralt, a monster hunter for hire, and became a sleeper hit for Polish developer CD Projekt Red. The studio released its follow-up in 2011 and has since become a juggernaut in the PC gaming community. Now, the company is readying for the conclusion to its wildly popular RPG series. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, its most ambitious title yet, ventures into vast open game gameplay while offering a rousing finish to the central character's story.
Though for the last two years, we've only gotten plenty of trailers and other bits of media on the game. The developers have been shy with allowing anyone hands-on time, but at a recent exclusive event held for retailers and members of the press, the folks at CD Projekt Red invited Destructoid out to play The Witcher 3. During my four-hour session, I dove head first into this open-world action-RPG, and saw just how Geralt of Rivia made the transition. So relax, clear your schedule, and let me tell about my experience with one of 2015's most anticipated titles.
It's been just over two years since the release of one of last gen's most polarizing titles. Back in 2010, Capcom made a bold and wildly unexpected decision to hand one of its most-loved franchises to a Western developer, and ever since many people have been vocal about their opinion of DmC Devil May Cry. A common topic for debate among fans of the Devil May Cry series is the aftermath of Ninja Theory's attempt at rebooting Capcom's beloved action-brawler.
Was it worth it? Did it succeed in what it set out to do? And just what the hell was up with Dante's new look? While many of these questions are open for discussion, none of those belittle the fact that we're still talking about the game years later. And because of that, Capcom and the folks at Ninja Theory aren't quite finished with their reimagining of the franchise. With the surprise announcement of DmC: Definitive Edition last year, along with a revisit to Devil May Cry 4 on the way, it's clear Capcom has not forgotten about its devil-hunting trash-talker.
During a special hands-on session with the Definitive Edition, I got to experience DmC with a fresh coat of paint and a much-needed re-tinkering. And after seeing how this enigmatic brawler's makeover has turned out, this new outing might just make you a believer.