Blog Archive

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Baldur's Gate 3 is a budding D&D classic with a mean DM

If you've ever had the pleasure of sitting down with some friends and playing some Dungeons & Dragons, you know the chaotic fun that comes with it. You pick your class, race, back story and then slip into character, trying to solve the mystery provided by the Dungeon Master without getting everyone killed in the process. Or yourself, for that matter.

It's an experience that has been translated to computers and consoles countless times, but fans of the genre will often point back to the Baldur's Gate games as some of the very best CRPGs out there. Now, after 20 long years away, Baldur's Gate returns with its third instalment, this time with Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios at the helm. The game is out with a huge Early Access release on PC and Stadia today.

Set almost 100 years after the events of Baldur's Gate II, your created character is captured by Mind Flayers and has a lovely Illithid Tadpole climb it's way into you. Through your eye socket. Nice. The problem here is that if it's not removed, you'll end up being turned into a Mind Flayer and you obviously don't want that. Thankfully, you don't have to go through this journey alone.

Like any good DM, the game gives you some companions to help you along the way who all conveniently suffer the same affliction. It beats the heck out of the traditional 'You all start in a bar…' opener, but while it's a little corny and convenient, it's still a brilliant way for a regular game of D&D to start, putting all party members in the same place and forcing them to get to know each other.

Speaking of which, your party members consist of Shadowheart – a half-elf cleric, Gale – a human wizard, Lae'zel – a githyanki fighter, Wyll – a human warlock and Astarion – a high elf vampire. Astarion is already my favourite character. I love his mannerisms, demeanor and his combat ability, being able to hide and then strike with a deadly back attack for massive damage.

Of course, it's all about the journey of your own custom character and there is so much to choose from when building your adventurer. Firstly, you have sixteen races to choose from which is huge, each with different stat-lines and perks. Then, you have six classes to choose from – Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock and Wizard.

For my character, Thaddeus Grey, I choose to be an Asmodeus Tiefling, hailing from Nessus, the deepest layer of Hell. Asmodeus is quite badass, so coming from this bloodline means you can wield fire, which is pretty neat. Picking the Warlock class was a given, and with that, I already started building my character's history: a hardened dude who has seen some serious happenings, and came out the otherside changed forever, vowing to live a better life. Not all Devils have to be bad…

The D&D groundwork is apparent from the off with the Fifth Edition system smartly woven into the gameplay. In a regular game of D&D, as you explore your surroundings, DM's will roll secret checks based on your Perception skill or even ask you to make a check when you pass something of interest. Succeed, and you might discover a little secret; fail, and you'll be left wondering what you missed. As you explore the landscape of BG3, every now and then, small dice roll symbols appear over a character's head while a check is being made. If it turns blue, the character will have a line of dialogue and draw your attention to something like a hidden button or a trap, but a red die symbol leaves you clueless. You know something is there but you cannot probe the virtual DM for more details.

One of the excellent ways this was implemented was when I was wandering through an abandoned village. Dice symbols started popping up over my entire party's heads. All the perception checks failed apart from one, the character shouting, "There's an ambush up ahead. Be careful!" I moved the camera around a bit until I could see a small band of goblins waiting to get the jump on us. Instead of giving them the satisfaction, I snuck around behind them and performed my own sneak attack. It was so satisfying and could have easily gone a very different way for me had I have not been warned.

The RNG is a little harsh sometimes, but if you really don't like a result, you can always reload a save. Personally, I wouldn't, because failing checks is fine and leads to some interesting interactions and encounters. To maximise your effectiveness, you really should play to your party's strengths. Have a character that's good at persuasion? Let them do the talking.

This is the first RPG in a while where I've wanted to talk to everyone and not skip lines of dialogue. Each interaction has the potential to be different, especially if you are doing multiple run-throughs with different races. NPCs will react differently depending on a number of factors, and race is one of them.

Combat has changed somewhat since BG2, with the game shifting to turn based as soon as an encounter starts. Much like how combat works in Fifth Edition, each round lets you move a set distance, perform an action and a bonus action if you have it available. This feels immediately comfortable to anyone familiar with the system and newcomers alike, with simple tutorial and tooltips to help if you get lost.

Once again, I found that RNG often wasn't on my side. Many attacks were missing as I threw my party into battle. Brute force doesn't always work and you have to think about your strategy. Correct placement and tactics lead to better results as I discovered in my second run, having a much easier time with an early encounter simply because I took some time to set up as opposed to rushing in.

Another situation saw me take on a larger party of higher level enemies and defeat them just because I planned properly. I had Gale cast Fog around a doorway and as the enemy rushed me, being funnelled through fog where a greased floor and firebombs awaited them. I weakened the bad guys just enough that my low level heroes were able to finish them off with strikes and spells. It felt really good.

The game itself also looks very pretty, getting a serious glow up after 20 years and even over Larian's recent work. In particular, the character models look fantastic, as each custom character head has been 3D scanned into the game.

The slight downer is that, while there is a lot of content, you can tell that this is an Early Access game. I often found textures that didn't load in, characters would T-pose out of nowhere, mouths wouldn't move when characters spoke and there were bugs aplenty that caused me to reload because I couldn't continue. Even reloading in certain situations caused the game to crash completely which was pretty frustrating until I realised what the trigger was.

While it's rough and ready, I have to say I'm really enthralled by the experience so far. Baldur's Gate 3 has tons of depth and enjoyable enough gameplay that I'm willing to look past the bugs of early access. It was quite frustrating at times but still forgivable. The good experiences were more than enough to make up for the bugs and these will only improve over time, making BG3 one of the best in-depth RPGs in a long while. Things can only improve from here on out and I can't wait to see what comes in chapter 2.

NBA 2K21 next-gen gameplay revealed running on PlayStation 5

The first gameplay trailer of the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 has been revealed, showcasing the game running on PlayStation 5 and some graphics that step further into the uncanny valley.

The trailer shows off the game which has been built from the ground up for the next-gen platforms, taking advantage of the raw processing power to make a significant step forward in visual fidelity, with new lighting, textures, physics and more that step forward over the current gen.

There's also a rebuilt player movement and impact system, so that on-court animations look smoother and more realistic, while the arena has been given new life with over 150 AI characters in the courtside audience to react more realistically to what's going on in the game.

Not necessarily to do with the next-gen hardware, but the soundtrack has also been expanded to a ridiculous 202 songs, with more promised after launch.

This gameplay video will soon be followed by new next-gen specific features, including the trio of Courtside Reports, a dive into the movement and impact system, how AI has been enhanced and the new MyPLAYER builder. From there, expect to learn about what's new in MyCAREER, the WNBA, MyGM, and MyLEAGUE, as well as the replacement for the online community features formerly known as the Neighborhood.

NBA 2K21 will be out for Xbox Series X|S on 10th November and PlayStation 5 on 12th or 19th November, depending on your region. The current gen version is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia and PC.

Source: press release

Yakuza: Like A Dragon quest begins in latest trailer, and it is bonkers

SEGA has released a brand new trailer for Yakuza: Like A Dragon titled The Quest Begins, and it is does not hold back on the weird and wonderful. You'll see everything from serious talks, shrimp falling from the sky, camera filters, test taking, bike riding, and dragon slaying within the approximate two minutes the trailer runs for. Some of the footage has been captured from the Xbox Series X, and you can watch some of that below.


Set in 2019 following the events of Yakuza 6, Yakuza: Like a Dragon follows the story of Kasuga Ichiban, a member of the formidable Tojo Clan who, much like Kiryu Kazuma, takes the fall for a crime he did not commit in order to protect the honor of his clan. When Ichiban emerges from prison almost two decades later in 2019, though, he's found that the world has changed immensely and moved on without him. Stuck as an outsider in an unfamiliar town, he gathers a crew of unlikely allies in order to find out the truth behind what happened while he was behind bars.

The game is a pretty major departure beyond just having a new lead, with new turn-based RPG encounters. Part of the reason for this switch to an RPG battle system is that Ichiban is obsessed with Dragon Quest, and the regular thugs you run into on the street will often transform into otherwordly warriors (in Ichiban's head, at least) once battle begins.

It has been confirmed that Yakuza: Like A Dragon will be released on November 10th for PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. However, the PS5 version of the game will not be released until March 2nd, 2021.

Source: YouTube

Dishonored & Prey: The Arkane Collection & Wolfenstein Collection rated by ESRB for Xbox Series X|S

The US ratings board ESRB has listed a title called the Dishonored & Prey The Arkane Collection for Xbox Series X|S. This collection will contain four games which will likely be Dishonored, Dishonored 2, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and Prey 2017, all of which were developed by Arkane. The Xbox Series X|S exclusivity can be explained by Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax and all of its studios, one of which is Arkane. The description for the listing is as follows.

"This is a compilation of four first-person shooters/role-playing games in which players engage in stealth, assassinations, melee, and ranged combat to complete various missions. Characters use knives, swords, crossbows, pistols, and explosives to kill mostly human enemies in frenetic combat. Fighting is highlighted by screams of pain, gunfire, blood-splatter effects, and explosions. Stealth kills/assassinations (e.g., cutting a target's throat) are often depicted with slow-motion effects and large splatters of blood. Certain weapons/attacks result in decapitations or dismemberment, and a handful of scenes depict limbs or torsos after attacks. Some games contain brief sequences in which players can interrogate restrained characters by using electric shocks. Some games contain sexual references, mostly in the dialogue (e.g., "[Y]ou want to play with me? You're a lot cuter than my regulars"; "This one only thinks of whores"; "Sexual 'favors' is what he demanded…"; "Sell your wife into prostitution, I'm sure I can get you a good price."). One game contains a brothel sequence in which women in lingerie are seen flirting with customers. During the course of one game, players' character can consume alcohol, resulting in screen distortion, stumbling, and a "drunk" status effect. The words "f**k" and "sh*t" appear in dialogue.

Unsurprisingly, the collection has been rated as M for Mature. This is not the first time a bundle of the four games has been confirmed, with the Arkane 20th Anniversary Edition also getting revealed earlier this year for Xbox One and PS4. It could be that the collection is being renamed, and the 20th Anniversary Edition is available to buy through Microsoft for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. It also available on the PlayStation Store for the PS4 only.

The Wolfenstein Alt History Collection has also been rated for Xbox Series X|S and will also be a compilation of four game which are Wolfenstein: The New Order, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and the co-op Wolfenstein: Youngblood. That collection has already been made available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The Microsoft Store listing does also confirm the game will be released on Xbox Series X|S. It is unclear whether either of these collections will be remastered for the new consoles.

Source: ESRB


Monster Hunter Rise shows off new combat gameplay

Last month, Capcom hit us with the surprise announcement that Monster Hunter Rise will be launching exclusively on Nintendo Switch in 2021.

What's immediately clear about this latest entry in the series is that Capcom are going in a different direction to the hugely successful Monster Hunter: World.

Instead of porting a streamlined version of World to the Nintendo Switch, Monster Hunter Rise is a completely new adventure and one that sports a number of revised features and mechanics helping it to stand out as its own fully fledged MonHun title.

Monster Hunter Rise – 7 things you need to know

If you're keen to learn more about this new game in the action RPG franchise, then give the official Monster Hunter Rise JP Twitter account a follow – they've been showing off footage from the upcoming Switch exclusive, giving us a closer look at combat mechanics and the monsters themselves.

We've pulled a few videos, including footage from battles with the fire-breathing Aknosom and the amphibious Tetranadon, both of which are making their Monster Hunter debut in Rise. These clips also give us a glimpse at the series' returning weapon classes.

One unique feature being added to the game is the all new Wirebug. This little critter is used to help navigate the wider spaces in Monster Hunter Rise, allowing you to perform a Spider-Man like swing while in mid-air. Verticality has been a huge focus for the developers on Rise – you can also scale certain walls too with the Wirebug having a secondary combat function letting you evade attacks.

Monster Hunter Rise was revealed alongside Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. Both games have only been announced for the Nintendo Switch and it seems likely that they will remain exclusive to the hybrid system. Capcom have confirmed that a new range of Nintendo amiibo figures will also be launched in 2021.

For the Monster Hunter die-hards among you, there's a Monster Hunter movie due out in December as well as a board game which will be hitting Kickstarter next year.

Source: Twitter (Monster Hunter Rise)

Planet Coaster: Console Edition will have free next-gen upgrades to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, and mouse & keyboard support

Frontier Developments have announced that those picking up Planet Coaster: Console Edition for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will have free upgrades to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions of the game, respectively. The game will be out on all four platforms sometime Holiday 2020.

The news came in a new dev diary for the game, which also revealed the game's new tutorials for the console release, the new TV-friendly UI, but also that the game will support mouse & keyboard on console.

For their next-gen upgrades, Frontier will be adopting Xbox's Smart Delivery system, meaning there will be just one cross-generational release both at retail and digitally, with an optimised version of the game being installed for each console and cloud saves.

It's somewhat trickier on PlayStation, it seems, and we're waiting for a reply as to whether saves and progression can be transferred from PS4 to PS5. Considering Dirt 5, Yakuza: Like A Dragon and other examples, this may not be possible, but Frontier do have a partial workaround detailed in the dev diary: Frontier Workshop. This is the company's home-grown online sharing platform, where you can save a park, share it with the Workshop and then download it on another console.

Update: Frontier have explained the save sitaution as follows:

We're also happy to share more information on how save games will work for both platforms! For those playing on Xbox, all progress can be carried over from current to next-gen. While save data is not transferable between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, PlayStation players will be able to bring their creations with them by uploading them to the Frontier Workshop and then downloading them again in their next-gen park. We'll be discussing more about the Frontier Workshop in the next few weeks.

It should probably go without saying at this point that if you buy the game no disc, you'll need a disc-based next-gen console and to have the disc in the drive to be able to play.

We went hands on with Frontier Developments' console-bound rollercoaster management sim a little while ago, finding a chilled and fairly intuitive translation of one of the company's biggest hits. In our Planet Coaster: Console Edition preview I wrote:

"It's been far too long coming, but Planet Coaster: Console Edition does a great job of bringing the charms of theme park management from PC to console. There's still some work to be done in refining the controls, but this is more than a quick port that reconsiders how to present the challenges of park management to players and gives more and new options for how you can build the theme park of your dreams."

All that's really left now is to wait patiently for Frontier to confirm the release date…

Source: press release, Frontier

Super Mario Bros. 35 Review – where battle royale meets Bowser

Three years on from PUBG's emergence, the battle royale genre is still the golden goose that game company after game company is chasing after. Where most jump in with some kind of first or third person shooter, Nintendo went a very different direction with Tetris 99 and now Super Mario Bros. 35 – a free time-limited game for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Can lightning strike twice for these retro battle royales?

Similar to Tetris 99, Nintendo have taken one of their most iconic games and spun it out into a form of battle royale, but where Tetris 99 already had some form of multiplayer to draw and expand, Super Mario Bros. does not. So Nintendo have taken liberal inspiration from Tetris 99 in order to make this work. It's to the extent that if Tetris 99 is best described as "Tetris but a battle royale," then Super Mario Bros. 35 is "Super Mario Bros. but like Tetris 99."

You have a nigh on identical set up, with your game in the centre of the screen, flanked by mini-screens showing what all the other players in the game are doing, which are blanked out as player after player is eliminated. The simple aim of the game is to survive the longest, but when Super Mario Bros. has been so completely mastered by millions, there needs to be a little spice to keep things interesting.

That's where the Tetris multiplayer element comes in. As you stomp on the heads of Goombas, fireball Koopas and Super Star through everything else, the ghosts of your victims are sent to other players, littering their world with more and more enemies to deal with.

The thing is, the game really tells you absolutely none of this. Sure, it's not the deepest of deep ends to dive into – No diving, please – but some of the fundamentals simply aren't explained and it's only through community efforts that I truly started to understand what's going on.

For example, you unlock more and more of the levels from Super Mario Bros. as you visit them in game, and this then gives you a choice to make when joining the matchmaking queue. You'd think that's the level you're going to start from wouldn't you? But no. You will 99.9% of the time start from 1-1. All players' choices are thrown into a randomised queue of 35 levels, and with a lobby full of newcomers, this means you'll see 1-1 and 1-2 on loop – the warp pipes at the end of 1-2? They give you the choice of the next three queued levels. It's only now, after a weekend of playing, that the lobbies are starting to fill out with more experienced players, so that levels from the second and third world are becoming more common.

It also takes a little while to really understand if and how you can directly battle other players. As you run through levels, you have a countdown in the top right corner that's constantly topped up by offing enemies – two seconds for a regular enemy, but just one for ghost enemies – picking up unnecessary power ups and completing levels. While you might think that sending enemies to other players would help you defeat them, all you might be doing is providing them with fodder to top up their timer.

That helps to neuter much of the pressure that the timer can give in the final stages of a match. Battle royale shooters are distinctive for how they force players into smaller and smaller areas of play, and that was mapped to the increasing speed of Tetris for its adaptation. Super Mario Bros. 35 tries to do something similar, with the music speeding up and the timer counting a bit faster once you reach five players remaining, but if you've got 300+ seconds on the clock, there's no pressure to be felt. Instead you end up in seemingly endless marathons of endurance as you and one or two others just send ghosts back and forth. Chances are, you'll still have regular appearances of 1-1 and 1-2 through this as well, and anyone with Fire Mario can survive for days.

That said, there's still something to SMB35. Where you might go in expecting speed runners who can rely on muscle memory to win, you can actually succeed by taking your time, grabbing a Fire Flower and keeping your countdown topped up. It makes the game feel more relaxed and not as high pressure as other battle royale games, which potentially makes it more welcoming to newcomers, but also means it lacks some of the heart-pounding tension of the best examples of the genre.

Hopefully the game and the playerbase will grow and evolve over the coming weeks and months, because it's really this that will determine whether SMB35 will be sorely missed once Nintendo switch off the servers in March, or if it will be a footnote in the franchise's history. As players gain more experience, as more levels are unlocked, those early levels will fall by the wayside, you'll start to encounter more Hammer Bros, Spinys, Cheep Cheeps and more that are awkward to deal with when encountered in unusual levels.

Payday 3 reconfirmed and it is currently in the design phase

Payday 3 has been reconfirmed by Starbreeze and Overkill to still be in development, though we are no closer to knowing a release date. All that has been confirmed so far is that the game is in the design phase, and that it will be using Unreal Engine and that will likely be Unreal Engine 4, as Unreal Engine 5 will not be available until it is fully released in 2021. The confirmation of Payday 3 came via a tweet from the game's official Twitter account.

The continuned existence and development of Payday 3 may indicate that Starbreeze is in a slightly healthier position financially than it has been over the last couple of years. In 2019, Starbreeze sold the publication rights for System Shock 3 to Otherside Entertainment, and also offloaded 10 Crowns to Mohawk games in April. The company also sold off their stake in Dhruva Interactive, an Indian video game developer based in Bangalore, to Rockstar. The Grand Theft Auto developer paid $7.9 million to gain get 91.8 percent of shares in the studio, a bit of a bargain considering Starbreeze paid $8.5 million for a 90% share in the studio back in December 2016.

In 2018, Starbreeze filed for reconstruction following the dismal performance of Overkill's The Walking Dead.  Reconstruction is roughly the same as going into administration in the UK, the business gets time to reorganise andsave itself whilst taking a break from paying any suppliers or investors.

Source: Twitter

Fall Guys Season 2's new Knight Fever level revealed

Fall Guys Season 2 will soon be upon us with the new content set to arrive on October 8th. The second season was announced in August and it was confirmed that this new season would be Medieval themed. That means things like dragons, knights, and castles will all be around in some form. Now, one of the levels has been revealed over at IGN, and that level is called Knight Fever. You can check it out below.

Knight Fever will pit 60 players against each other, making it a first round match, and out of that 75% will be able to qualify for the next round. IGN has also listed the obstacles that players will face in Knight Fever, and they are:

  • Two uphill sections outfitted with spinning blades and holes in the floor
  • Two sets of spinning logs covered in patterns of spikes
  • A downhill slime slide, also covered in spinning blades
  • A stretch of ground with holes on the floor and swinging, spike-covered logs
  • Three sets of drawbridges that open and close erratically

Fall Guys became the most downloaded PlayStation Plus game EVER, following its launch on the PS4 back in August. In our review for Fall Guys, Stefan wrote:

Full of cute and cuddly jelly beans bumbling into each other in a race for the crown, Fall Guys is just about the most wholesome battle royale imaginable, and a whole lot of fun.
You can read the full Fall Guys review here.
Source: IGN

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War trailer arrives ahead of this week's PS4 exclusive beta

A new trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War beta has landed ahead of this week's PS4 exclusive weekend, showing what players will be able to take part in. The trailer confirms that the beta will include the modes Team Deathmatch, Domination, VIP Escort, Kill Confirmed, and Combined Arms. Those who took part in the Alpha will recognise some the maps already, though the beta may have more. You can view the trailer below.

The beta will first open to those who have pre-ordered Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on PS4 from October 8th, and it will be exclusive to that group for two days. Then on October 10th until October 12th the beta will be opened to the PS4 playerbase. Then next weekend the crossplay beta will be launched. On October 15th this crossplay beta will be exclusive to those who have pre-ordered the game for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Again this will last two days, and then the crossplay beta will be open to PS4, Xbox One, and PC players from October 17th to October 19th.

Earlier this week, the Zombies mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was revealed. There's two competing sets of protagonists, with Requiem the CIA-backed team headed up by Grigori Weaver, and Omega Group the Soviet counterparts. The mode will feature cross-play with cross-gen alongside, and there's now a new Battle Pass progression system. Pack-a-Punch machines return to transform your weapons, all of which now have an associated rarity to them that affects their damage output. New Field Upgrades can buff your squad in a tight situation, while you can now craft and find equipment that ranges from Grenade Launchers to Sentry Turrets, Explosive Bows and even Chopper Gunners.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be out for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC on 13th November. Be careful which version of the game you buy though, because it can get a bit convoluted… Here's all the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War paid next-gen upgrades & cross-gen bundles explained.

Source: YouTube

Going Under Review

Being an employee for a startup company can be stressful. Long hours for relatively little pay, eyes straining at monitors whilst wrists ache from using a keyboard all day, and bosses who want to circle back so you can interface about how we're going to actualise our deliverables. Sometimes these companies pop-up out of nowhere and get bought by even bigger companies, then fall apart as they crack under the pressure of increased finances and poor management. These failed companies are cursed to sink beneath the surface of the city whilst their employees wander the hallways for eternity as monsters. Well, they do in Going Under.

This satirical roguelite is set in the office of Fizzle, a fizzy drinks company where you control Jacqueline, the new intern. Fizzle is expanding pretty quickly after being bought out by Cubicle, a drone delivery service, and supposedly hired Jacqueline to work as an unpaid marketing intern. However, much to her surprise, it seems Fizzle really just needed someone to fight the fantasy monsters that keep finding their way into the office, and her first day on the job consists of heading over to Joblins LLC and battling all the former employees that have quite unfortunately turned into goblins.

Fighting your way through the three differently-themed defunct companies that make up the dungeons is most comparable to the Binding of Isaac. You enter a room and defeat the enemies, hoover up any cash they dropped, then pick up anything worth picking up in the room and move onto the next. Rinse and repeat until you can access the slide down to the next floor.

Enemies all behave differently, with some Joblins keeping their distance for a few seconds after you enter before coming in to attack, while others drive tiny cars and try to run you over, and another looks just like Jimi Hendrix and plays the guitar at you. Most rooms have a mix of enemies and require not just skill, but thought to take advantage of monster behaviour to get through them. Enemies are also distinct between companies as well, and not just aesthetically. Joblins are all goblins, whilst Styxcoin is staffed with undead and often wield pickaxes because they mine coins.

Thankfully, you aren't unarmed, as pretty much anything found in the offices can be used as a weapon and/or thrown. Monitors, keyboards, chairs, potted cacti, waste paper bins and more can be used to bash the face off any fantasy monster office workers you find. There are also plenty of actual weapons lying around from your enemies, whether it's basic swords and crossbows or things like the Skelecaster, which is a skull shaped guitar that damages everything around you when you play it. You'll also find weapons in boxes, or get them delivered by a Cubicle drone for completing certain challenges.

It's a good job there's so many options as you can only carry three and they all break pretty quickly, so you'll be switching it up regularly. They're also ranked based on how much damage they deal, so it's easy to decide which ones you want in hand. Do you go with a mace for its long range, or a slow and heavy monitor that electrocutes enemies when it breaks on them? Many weapons have elemental properties that can help with various status effects.

On top of all these weapons you also have skills and apps. Apps are found in the dungeon and give you a consumable ability, whether healing a heart, summoning a joblin to help you, or letting you take a picture with flash to briefly stun enemies. Skills are rarer, but also last until the end of your run and have a wide variety of effects. My favourite makes any weapon you pick up quite a lot bigger than it already was, which makes small weapons more useful and big weapons comically effective, but there's a wide range you could encounter from one run to the next. The more you use a skill in a dungeon, the more proficient you'll become with it until you can pin it and start dungeons with it equipped, which is a welcome concession in a hard game.

Blend all of these elements together and you get Going Under's combat. Nothing is safe from your unpaid fury, which often results in a few swings smashing nearby monitors in showers of sparks, volatile explosives burst into flames, tables break into pieces, and weapons sometimes just break. It's often chaotic, sometimes hilarious, but almost always fair. It's very rare that I've found myself too poorly equipped to finish a room thanks to some combination of weapons, skills, and apps, even if I made a poor choice earlier on, like grabbing the wrong weapon or accepting a curse from a vampire in exchange for some items.

The chaos on screen does mean that you can lose things in the melee, whether that's smaller enemies or nearby explosives, and you'll need quick reactions to avoid taking damage. It can also be a surprise when a weapon breaks and you default to fists instead of your other weapons. This occasionally resulted in me suddenly punching, trying to change weapons, but this being blocked by the animation, meaning I punched again and took damage.

The story of Fizzle and its mysterious new owners unfolds between dungeons, revealing their ulterior motives to sending interns into danger. It's a surprisingly entertaining story for a roguelite and keeps things moving as it casts its satirical eye at anything to do with tech startups and millennial culture. Talking to other Fizzle employees is likely to see a withering comment about company culture, but can also hand you a task to set things on fire in a dungeon or walk a dog, which can change how you tackle the next dungeon. Those characters can then become a mentor and provide you buffs in future expeditions.

It's all presented in a bright and colourful aesthetic with a relatively unique art style. All the people are basically cartoons, but the player character looks a bit like she's made out of pipe cleaners. It fits with the general oddness of game very well, not to mention that it's genuinely very pretty, especially in Fizzle's office.

October's PlayStation Plus games are live, download Vampyr and Need for Speed Payback

The October PlayStation Plus games are now available to download for subscribers, with Need for Speed Payback and Vampyr the two offerings for the month. The games were revealed last week for PS Plus subscribers. Vampyr is especially suitable for this month as it brings a bit of horror to in time for Halloween. Need for Speed Payback may bring players back to the Need for Speed franchise, ahead of next month's launch of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered. The store links for the PS Plus games are below.

In our review for Vampyr, I wrote:

Much like its early 20th century setting, Vampyr feels like a bit of a throwback to a past age of action RPGs. In a time where the genre is evolving Vampyr holds on to past ideas for much of its tenure, and it doesn't have a story strong enough to overcome that fact. The world itself is ripe for lots of stories to be told within, with Dontnod having done a good job with world building, but while Vampyr isn't a bad game, nor is it as great as it could be.

Meanwhile, in our Need for Speed Payback review, Dom wrote:

Despite it's flaws, I still found Need for Speed: Payback quite a likeable arcade racer. Just having a narrative sets it apart from the other, more serious offerings this year, even if it's not delivered with much panache. Sadly its attractive visuals, and alternate take on the genre, can't disguise a gamut of poor design decisions, some of which serve to make the enjoyable racing less than enjoyable.

If you have got PlayStation Plus then remember that the next batch of PlayStation Plus games will also include the PlayStation Plus Collection for PlayStation 5, a library of PlayStation 4 games that you can play on day one on your new console.

Here are the first games that will appear on the service.

  • God of War
  • The Last of Us: Remastered
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • Battlefield 1
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Fallout 4
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • The Last Guardian
  • Ratchet and Clank
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • Days Gone
  • Bloodborne
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Batman Arkham Night
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Persona 5
  • Until Dawn
  • Resident Evil: Biohazard

Source: PS Store

Monster Hunter movie trailer shows an actual monster

Monster Hunter fans have been treated to their first proper look at the upcoming film adaptation which is due to hit cinema screens later this year.

Over the weekend Sony Pictures Entertainment released the brief teaser shown above, giving us a sixteen second glimpse of the bizarre blockbuster.

Although short, we finally get to see an actual monster instead of gawping at stills of soldiers wandering though a desert. The clip shows off one of Monster Hunter's recurring boss creatures, the Black Diablos. It seems as though this might be the first encounter between the series' monsters and Milla Jovovich's group of gun-toting squaddies.

Sadly we don't get to see more of the film's secondary characters, including the hunters themselves. One thing that stands out, however, is the confirmation that Monster Hunter will be releasing in cinemas this December. Earlier in the year, it was reported that the movie would be pushed back to April 2021.

The December release date is also clearly visible on the flick's official website. That said, Monster Hunter could follow a number of big budget movies being delayed into next year with the film industry still shrouded in covid-19 uncertainty.

Monster Hunter Rise – 7 things you need to know

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Monster Hunter is loosely based on the power-selling video game franchise instead of being a direct adaptation. Anderson is best known for his work on the Resident Evil film franchise (another Capcom partnership) with Milla Jovovich joining him once again as the lead actor. Here's an official synopsis of the film:

Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her unit (TI Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta) to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral (Ron Perlman). Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown.

It's fair to say that the Monster Hunter series is still going strong in 2020. Capcom continue to bolster Monster Hunter World: Iceborne with new features and content with title update 5 having recently launched. Whether they have another expansion (or a full on sequel) planned for World is unclear, though the series is continuing to splinter off, Capcom have recently announced Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2 for the Nintendo Switch, both of which will be arriving in 2021.

Fall Guys Season 2 – when is it coming?

In case you haven't heard, Fall Guys is gearing up for Season 2 and will be introducing a slew of new game rounds, cosmetic items, and features. This follows the game's launch back in August and its subsequent skyrocketing popularity, becoming the most downloaded PlayStation Plus game EVER.

Announced back in August, Fall Guys developer Mediatonic announced that the game's second season would rock a medieval theme so expect plenty of knights, castles, and dragons. The studio have since confirmed that it will be launching later this week on October 8th.

For those confused by a previous in-game message stating that Fall Guys Season 1 would end on October 5th, Mediatonic have since clarified in the following tweet:

We've yet to get a full list of everything that will be introduced when Fall Guys Season 2 touches down on October 8th though here's an official sneak peak:

Fall Guys Season 2 will bring the dragon fire with feudal fortresses, knockout knights and pugilistic paladins among new additions coming this October. A full season of new costumes, emotes and more will reward players as they lay siege to the Middle Ages.

7 Fall Guys tips & tricks to help you win more Crowns

Some bonus features we've learned of in the build up to Season 2 are the inclusions of customisable nametags, randomised costumes/skins, and more Crowns being added as season rewards. Crowns are used to purchase some of the rarer items in Fall Guys – you'll get one for each episode (match) you win. This makes them pretty hard to come by, so Mediatonic will be slipping some into the game's battle pass.

Some Fall Guys fans may be worrying that any locked rewards from Season 1 will be lost forever. Here's the dev's official response:

It seems very likely that these rewards will return at some point, perhaps being added to the in-game shop. This is a common occurrence in online games which have a similar battle pass system of unlocks.

Skullcandy Crusher Evo Headphone Review

Rightly or wrongly, Skullcandy have always felt like a fashion brand rather than a serious headset maker. The swathes of brightly coloured, entry-level headphones hanging from the racks in HMV probably doesn't help with that, but it's entirely at odds with the fact that they also make decent-sounding pieces of kit that have found many fans over the years. Still, nobody would have expected what we're getting with the Skullcandy Crusher Evo; a premium-build, premium-appearance pair of headphones with audio that puts them right into the conversation dominated by the likes of Sony and Bose.

The first thing that tells you this isn't your regular Skullcandy set is the absence of giant white skull logos across each earpiece. Instead, the largely black build is subtle and subdued, and looks every inch the top-end set. All of the highlights are grey, from a pair of small grey skull logos on the head band to the padding beneath it. The one moment of colour is the fluorescent orange power button, which might sound a bit odd, but fits in perfectly in the scheme of things.

Skullcandy have really gone to town on the Crusher Evo, and the matte black plastics are complemented by an unusual felt covering at the top of the headband and sumptuous leatherette ear cushions. The one element that I keep catching as I put them on is that the cushioning beneath the headband is covered by a waterproof rubberised layer. It's soft and pliable enough that once it's on your head you won't think anything of it, but it adds an odd tactile element to the headset when it's in your hand. Personally, that's not the worst thing as it's another element to help set the Crusher Evo apart from the competition.

There's a smattering of controls across the rear of each earpiece. The right-hand side features three buttons, covering your main media controls of volume, play/pause and track skipping. The left houses that brightly coloured power button, and the control for the Crusher Evo's secret weapon – a slider that dictates how powerful the haptic rumble effect is.

If you've never come across this before, haptics in a headset produce a physical rumble to help add depth and enhance realism where you wouldn't normally experience it. It falls into the same bracket as the little rumble many smartphones give when typing, or the rumble of a game controller in your hand. In the case of headphones like the Crusher Evo, it adds a thump and a physical element to the bass elements of whatever you're listening to. Want to feel like you're at the club while listening to Deadmaus? Or that the explosions in The Fate of the Furious are happening around you? You want haptics in your headphones.

The Skullcandy Crusher Evo boasts the best example of the technology that I've come across so far. Sony's Pulse headsets, and Razer's Nari Ultimate, made convincing use of the head-thumping tech, but the Crusher Evo gives the most variable and the most usable rendition yet. You can access settings at the top end that I genuinely don't think a human being can withstand for any length of time, but through the opening increments I found that music, movies, sports and video games gained a meaningful level of depth that you simply couldn't get without haptics.

The Crusher Evo gives you a pair of connection, with both Bluetooth and 3.5mm available, with the wired connection still letting you use the haptic technology so long as there's life in the onboard battery. The only downside to using it in this manner is that it introduces a low-level hum to the headphone's output; it's not audible when there's sound coming through it, but it is there. If you're out of juice the Crusher Evo will happily function as a straight pair of headphones too, meaning the music never has to stop, though the thumping will have to.

Just like Sony and Bose, Skullcandy have an app for your Android or iOS device to help customise your experience. The Equalizer settings are fairly limited, with a minimal three different options available for Music, Movies and Podcasts. You can of course utilise your device's own equalizer options as well, so it's not as limiting as it potentially could be. You can however personalise the Crusher Evo's sound output further, with the app taking you through a series of hearing tests to customise the audio exactly to your own hearing.

It's something we've seen from Samsung's recent mobile phones amongst others, and it really helps to lift the audio output to match your own ear's deficiencies. The Crusher Evo sounded great before I ran through the customisation; it was even better afterwards.

It would be easy to overlook the audio given how much focus people are likely to place on the haptics, but the Crusher Evo delivers an excellent listening experience no matter what content you're funnelling into your ears. The new Royal Blood track was a wonderful test-bed for picking out the details of the top end above a thumping bass line, while a Sunday evening of NFL action was brought to life by the added depth of every tackle.

Mobile gaming was similarly assisted by the Crusher Evo's excellent performance, and whether it was the crack of nearby gunfire in PUBG Mobile or the clash of swords in Genshin Impact, the Crusher Evo brings a realism to proceedings that's hard to leave behind. This really is a headset that's very easy to live with, and during testing became a welcome companion at home and on the move, no matter what I was doing.

While there's no active noise cancellation, the well-weighted seal over your ears and the powerful audio means you'll be unlikely to hear anything from the outside world other than the most intrusive noises. There is however built-in Tile tracking technology so you never have to lose your headphones again, which is perfect if you're like me and all of your worldly possessions simply walk away from you when you put them down. There's also an in-built microphone that's perfect for making calls, though you may want to grab the haptic slider if any of your friends sound like Barry White. Unless, of course, you like that sort of thing.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered confirmed, out this November

EA have finally confirmed that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is getting a remaster and it will be available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on November 6th.

The game has enhanced visuals,  the SCPD Rebel Racer Pack, Super Sports Pack, Armed & Dangerous Pack, Lamborghini Untamed Pack, and Porsche Unleashed Pack, all of which add an extra six hours of gameplay and thirty challenges, and will also include cross-play so you can play with your chums no matter what platform they are on.

Here's more on those remastered graphics:

The Nintendo Switch version runs at 1080p/30 FPS in docked mode (720p/30 FPS undocked) and includes higher-resolution models, more objects and props, longer draw distance, higher resolution shadows, and improved videos.

Depending on your specifications, 4K/60 FPS is supported on PC, and players can choose between 4K/30 FPS or 1080p/60 FPS on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. Base versions of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will run the game at 1080p/30 FPS. In addition to the listed improvements for the Nintendo Switch version, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions are also updated with upressed UI, higher resolution reflections, boosted textures, more particles, and improved AA/SSAO.

"We've added brand new achievements, car colors, wraps, reduced hard stops, an updated photo mode and gallery, and multiple quality of life updates, too, to create an even more well-rounded gameplay experience this time around," adds EA.

Here's the list of cars you will be able to drive:

  • Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Spider
  • Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
  • Aston Martin DBS Volante
  • Aston Martin DBS
  • Aston Martin V12 Vantage
  • Aston Martin One-77
  • Audi TT RS
  • Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro
  • Audi R8 Coupe 5.2 FSI quattro
  • Bentley Continental Supersports Coupe
  • Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible
  • BMW Z4 sDrive35is
  • BMW M3 E92
  • BMW M6 Convertible
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport
  • Chevrolet Camaro SS
  • Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
  • Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
  • Chevrolet Corvette Z06
  • Dodge Charger SRT8
  • Dodge Challenger SRT8
  • Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR
  • Dodge Viper SRT10
  • Dodge Viper SRT10 Final Edition
  • Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor
  • Ford GT
  • Ford GT500 Super Snake
  • Ford GT500 Shelby
  • Ford Police Interceptor Concept
  • Gumpert Apollo S
  • Jaguar XKR
  • Koenigsegg CCX
  • Koenigsegg CCXR Edition
  • Koenigsegg Agera
  • Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV
  • Lamborghini Diablo SV
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni
  • Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder LP 560-4
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera
  • Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
  • Lamborghini Murciélago LP 640
  • Lamborghini Murciélago LP 650-4 Roadster
  • Lamborghini Murciélago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce
  • Lamborghini Reventón Roadster
  • Lamborghini Reventón
  • Maserati GranCabrio
  • Maserati GranTurismo S
  • Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S
  • Mazda RX-8
  • McLaren MP4-12C
  • McLaren F1
  • Mercedes SL 65 AMG Black Series
  • Mercedes SLS AMG
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
  • Nissan 370Z Roadster
  • Nissan 370Z
  • Nissan GT-R SpecV
  • Pagani Zonda Cinque (NFS Edition)
  • Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster
  • Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster (NFS Edition)
  • Pagani Zonda Cinque
  • Porsche 911 GT2 RS
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS
  • Porsche 911 Speedster
  • Porsche 911 Targa 4S
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet
  • Porsche 911 Turbo 1982
  • Porsche 918 Spyder
  • Porsche Boxster Spyder
  • Porsche Carrera GT
  • Porsche Cayman S
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo
  • Porsche 959
  • Subaru Impreza WRX STI

The game has leaked numerous times, most recently the Korean Games Rating and Administration Committee listed the title and  back in August Amazon listed and just as quickly deleted a listing for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered for Xbox One.

The game was also been listed by  Australian retailer Mighty Ape. Back in June Venturebeat reported that, following the success of Burnout Paradise Remastered, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit was coming to Switch and other consoles.

Hot Pursuit launched way back in 2010 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii and scored 8/10 in our review. 

Hot Pursuit is a refreshing reboot for a series that's become tired and disjointed, with Criterion's grip tightly controlling the direction of the game as much as the publisher.  As a result, this latest Need for Speed is the best it's been for years, and although it's naturally not going to be a game for everyone, anyone looking for a solid racing game this Christmas with a significant emphasis on online competition should find this is well worth investigating, especially if you liked the demo.

The Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remaster isn't the only EA game that has been leaked multiple times but remains unconfirmed by the publisher. The Mass Effect Trilogy Remaster has also popped up on various retailers, perhaps the Korean Games Rating and Administration Committee could confirm that one as well?


Ghost of Tsushima: Legends co-op and New Game+ update comes out later this month

A major update for Ghost of Tsushima will be released later this month on 16th October, bringing a full-fledged co-op mode as well as a New Game+ mode for those looking to run through the main story for the second time. Check out the trailer for the version 1.1 update:

Legends is a separate mode from the main game that features four new warriors rather than focusing on Jin and characters you have already met. It also adds a supernatural element with locations and enemies inspired by Japanese folk tales and mythology. The four warriors each have a class, Samurai, Hunter, Ronin, or Assassin, each with their own abilities.

You can team up with up to four friends via party or grab some randoms via matchmaking and play Survival, a wave based mission with groups of enemies which have supernatural abilities. Also included is a series of two player co-op story missions that will require you to work closely with your partner, using techniques you mastered in the single player game but with new magical twists.

Also announced are Raids, which will be coming in the weeks after the release of Ghost of Tsushima: Legends. This three-part adventure will need you to have skill, top-tier gear and a great four-player team that communicates well in order to survive.

To access the mode, you'll need to find Gyozen the Storyteller, who will appear in towns and locations around Tsushima. He's the keeper of the stories that you'll be playing in Legends and will give you access to the multiplayer lobby. Alternatively, you can be super boring and jump to Legends via the title menu, pause menu, or by accepting an invitation. Much less immersive.

Speaking of immersion, the photo mode is being enhanced to work in multiplayer, and will allow you and your friends to pose together to show off your new cosmetics (all of which are earnt through gameplay).

Ghost of Tsushima: Legends will also have its own trophies, which will appear in a separate section of your Trophy list and do not count toward Ghost of Tsushima's Platinum.

For solo riders, there's always New Game+, letting you take all of your existing Techniques, Gear, and Vanity and pit yourself against a higher difficulty. You'll be dropped into the world after Jin's first confrontation with the Khan, just as the open world, well, opens up.

You will then be able to earn a new type of flower: the Ghost Flower, which you can trade with a new merchant that you'll find in Ariake.

Source: PS Blog

Nuts, buttons, and lights: Further PlayStation 5 details revealed

Over the weekend a couple of Japanese sites got their hands on the PlayStation 5 and a few new details have emerged. The first applies to consoles in Japan only where historically the X button has been used for cancel and the O button has been used for accept, or "OK".

Sony have aligned the Japanese console with the Western version, where the buttons have always been the other way round. This means our Japanese friends are going to have to learn to use the opposite buttons to what they would naturally use, but confusing this only applies to PlayStation 5 games, PS4 games running in backwards compatibility will continue to use the old button functions.

Famitsu editor Kenji Iguchi has this to say on Twitter. 

Wow, this is big news for UI/UX. PlayStation 5 will use the X button to confirm by default for ALL REGIONS including Japan, who previously used O to confirm for the past 26 years. Muscle memory frustration for the nearly 10M PS users in Japan coming up.

In Japan, the "Circle = Good, OK, Correct" symbolism has been common knowledge for many decades. When designing the original PlayStation controller, it was likely that the placement of the O/X were hence made to match the Super Famicom's A/B, and were utilized similarly.

I expect this will go down VERY badly with Japanese players. Unlearning muscle memory acquired through years of repetition is extremely tough. For the short term, I think JP developers are actually going to face MORE dev burden instead of less due to this…

We have also discovered that the DualSense controller has subtle lighting options. Up until now we had only seen the controller with a blue glow but have photos showing it with red, purple, and green glows. It is thought these will be used to identify controllers when you are playing local multiplayer games.

Finally, a mysterious nut or latch has been spotted on the PlayStation 5 case. Once again are the source but The Verge spotted the metal nugget and many are suggesting this could mean that Sony will be selling alternate shells to the console, great news for those who do not like the white casing. Others are suggesting this is how you access the insides of the PlayStation 5 as Sony have said you can upgrade the SSD drive with a compatible model.

Over the weekend a Russian leak has seemingly revealed that the PlayStation 5 has 664GB of usable storage space for installing games and media from its marketed 825GB SSD.

This would logically make sense, with the marketed size of hard drives and SSDs calculated differently to how computers then view the same storage. 825GB actually equates to 768GB of space when formatted, and it then seems that around 100GB is taken up by the OS and reserved for system features.

Source: Famitsu / Twitter / / The Verge

Marvel's Avengers – 1.6% of players have reached max hero Power Level

It's been just over a month since the launch of Marvel's Avengers, and as players wait for new content to be added to the game we thought we'd dive into some game statistics.

These numbers are plucked straight from the PlayStation 4 trophy data for Marvel's Avengers. Of course, it's not 100% representative of the game's total player base (which is spread across Xbox One, PC, and Stadia too) though it gives a good indication of their behaviour.

At the time of writing, less than half of Avengers players have completed the game's solo campaign with 40.9% having unlocked the "New Girl Makes Good" gold trophy. It may not sound like much though there's a chance that many players have dipped straight into the online co-op instead of pursuing the story, wanting to unlock all six playable Avengers as quickly as possible.

In terms of player progression, here are some relevant stats:

  • 1.6% have reached the current 150 maximum Power Level with one hero. This score is determined by your gear and not earned experience points.
  • By extension, 3.5% of players have earned a total of 250 Power Level ranks across their full hero roster.
  • 11.8% have earned enough experience points to reach Hero Level 50 with one character, unlocking all their skills (Time to Shine – Bronze)
  • 14.4% have equipped a hero with Legendary or better gear in each slot (Become Legend)
  • 36.1% have reached Hero Level 5 with 5 different playable characters

Marvel's Avengers – 7 tips & tricks to become Earth's mightiest hero

Marvel's Avengers current sits on "Fair" OpenCritic rating of 68 which no doubt falls short of what Square Enix had been expecting from its bid budget superhero title. Common criticisms include repetitive combat gameplay, not enough enemy variety, and a lack of stand-out Marvel characters to fight against. Of course, this is on top of complaints surrounding the live service structure of Marvel's Avengers and its reliance on co-op multiplayer content. Here are some of our early thoughts about the game:

Marvel's Avengers offers a new approach for a superhero video game, yet one that still feels all too familiar for anyone who's played Destiny, The Division, or Anthem. It's eye-popping in its technical prowess as well as how much it leans on live service hooks, anticipating players will come back day after day. And a lot of players definitely will, especially if they can squad up with friends. Past its flaws and behind the grind, Marvel's Avengers is still a fun superhero brawler that has plenty of room to grow in the coming months.

Several weeks after its launch, our thoughts still reflect how we felt on day one. There's an interesting, if short, string of singleplayer missions to blitz through, giving us fresh yet predictable perspective on Earth's Mightiest Heroes. While we've enjoyed levelling up characters it's hard to ignore the built-in grind, Marvel's Avengers encouraging you to run the same missions over and over just to earn experience points and grab gear with potentially better stats.

Before Marvel's Avengers, there was Marvel Ultimate Alliance

It's easy to see how this could grate on some players, especially those expecting a meaty campaign mode to sink their comic fan fangs into. However, one of the boons of being a live service game is the steady roll out of new features and improvements. Developer Crystal Dynamics have already confirmed that Hawkeye (and Kate Bishop) will be joining the game with Spider-Man swinging into action early next year. Well, on PlayStation 4 at least.

Genshin Impact Review

I still refuse to believe Genshin Impact is real. Sure, I've played the game numerous times in 2020, from a hands-on event at PAX East in February to a closed beta in July and now hours of time spent with the full release. Despite all that time playing this very much real video game, I just can't wrap my head around how something this polished, gorgeous, ambitious, addictive… and free! It's free on PC, free on PlayStation 4, and free on your phone, yet no matter what device you choose to play on, you're still diving into one of the most impressive and unobtrusive free-to-play games I've ever experienced.

When you see the label free-to-play tossed around, it implies one of two sorts of gaming experiences. You're either looking at some sort of competitive, seasonal multiplayer video game or a flashy phone game full of menus and sub-menus and side-quests and event challenges that whisk you into an endless hole of contextless turn-based battles or tower defence missions. Genshin Impact is neither of these. Despite Chinese developer miHoYo gaining their fame from years of developing mobile grindfest gacha game Honkai Impact 3rd, Genshin Impact is a massive, open-world adventure with real-time action combat, recruitable characters, and a hefty amount of story.

At a glance, you're likely to draw comparisons between this game and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That's certainly fair, as this game openly draws plenty of inspiration from the Nintendo Switch classic. Mechanics like a stamina-fueled climbing system, chests guarded by enemy encampments, a glider to let you serenely float down from clifftops, and cooking at campsites certainly weren't invented by the latest entry in the iconic Nintendo franchise, but the way they're implemented in Genshin Impact will definitely feel familiar to anyone who's played Breath of the Wild. Having that same sort of naturally engrossing itch for exploration applied to a gorgeous, anime-as-hell action game like this is a delight, though.

The world and characters of Genshin Impact are jaw-dropping, no matter what device you play on, and it legitimately blows me away that this free game from a Chinese mobile developer manages to look better than almost every other anime stylised JRPG or action game I've seen this generation.

There's a major focus on the interaction between elements in Genshin Impact, but unlike Breath of the Wild, this system is far more important to the flow of combat than the emergent action of exploring the open world. Sure, you can use ice characters to create walkable paths on bodies of water or use a fire character to burn thorns blocking off a chest, but the real fun comes in battle, thanks to your ability to instantly switch between anyone in your party of four as you fight. You can use a water-elemental to drench your enemies, then swap to a lightning character and conduct massive bolts of damage through them all. A wind-based archer might have trouble with shielded enemies, but if those shields are made of wood, switch to a fire ally like Amber and you can turn those defences to ash. The abilities of an individual character may be limited to a single standard combo, an elemental skill, and an ultimate ability, but the depth of the combat system is revealed once you start using all your characters in tandem.

Now remember, Genshin Impact is a free-to-play game. Surely, the character system is where they start digging into your pockets, right? Nope. Not at all. While there is a gacha system that lets you spend premium currency for a random shot at new weapons or characters, unlike every other game with a gacha system I've ever played, you never need to engage with this. The game never strong-arms you into going for a new character or blocks your progress until you get someone with a certain element. Most games give you a "tutorial" gacha roll to give you a taste of the gambling, but Genshin Impact simply tells you the system is there and moves on, dolling out new and powerful characters for free as you progress through the story.

If you do see someone you like in the Wish menu and decide to go for them, be warned that the odds of getting rare characters are pretty rough as of now. With a 0.6% chance of getting the highest rarity 5-star character on top of less exciting weapons being mixed in with your roll results, you'll likely either spend no money or a whole dang lot of money on Genshin Impact depending on the kind of person you are.

Beyond the character and weapon gacha, there are other elements to Genshin Impact that will feel familiar to fans of mobile RPGs, but none of them encourage or entice spending in the slightest. You level up characters and weapons with unique materials that are earned through combat, and you have an overall Adventurer Rank that increases as you take on any number of activities and quests in the world. Whether you decide to tackle mini-boss hunt missions, collect rare items, take on enemy camps or more, you'll slowly fill this rank up and gain access to new types of activities like big dungeons and impressive story missions.

The main quest of Genshin Impact isn't just same-y combat scenarios strung together by fantasy mumbo-jumbo. As a mysterious dimension-traveling warrior who finds themselves stuck in a new land, you'll engage in boss battles, stealth missions, mid-air Panzer Dragoon shooting sequences, and more. Like the rest of the game, the amount of variety in the main scenario is truly impressive.

I don't really have any major qualms with Genshin Impact (despite the slightly stingy gacha rates), but one significant issue I do have with the PC version is its awkward controller support. If you choose to play with a gamepad, you'll need to first navigate the menus with your mouse and keyboard and re-enable 'controller' mode every time you launch the game. Once that's done, you'll notice that the game swaps your confirm and cancel buttons like a Japanese console would. This is usually pretty manageable to get used to on a PlayStation controller, but having A be "Back" and B be "Accept" on an Xbox controller is utterly baffling at all times. Worse still is that you need to press X to talk to characters, and then swap to B to progress through the text, leading to pretty constant button confusion. You also can't navigate menus with the D-pad, which just seems like a wild oversight.

Cyberpunk 2077 has officially gone gold ahead of release

It's a big day for Cyberpunk 2077 and Polish developer CD Projekt Red. The hotly anticipated roleplaying game has finally gone gold after multiple delays, it's official release date just several weeks away.

For those stuck on the terminology, "going gold" basically means that a complete, shippable version of a game is ready for production. We can feel the fuzz of neon lights and smell the fumes of Night City already!

Originally, Cyberpunk 2077 was planned for an April 2020 launch before being pushed back to September and now November. For those keeping track, the game was formerly announced way back in 2012 before the first cinematic teaser was shown in January 2013.

In case you missed it there's also a new TV spot for Cyberpunk 2077 which aired during the recent NBA finals, starring Keanu Reeves who makes an appearance in-game as the character Johnny Silverhand. Here's the live action trailer in full:

Here's a little more information about the game's release date and how Cyberpunk 2077 is making its next-gen transition:

Cyberpunk 2077 is out for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on 19th November. It will be playable on Xbox Series X | S at that point – the consoles coming out on 10th November – and on PlayStation 5 on November 11th/19th, but next-gen enhancements will not be there on day one. The game could take some advantages next-gen beyond simple backward compatibility, but for ray tracing and other more integral enhancements, we'll have to wait.

In the run up to launch, CD Projekt Red have been hosting Night City Wire livestreams, revealing new gameplay footage and features. One of these gave us an in-depth look at the arsenal of weapons available to players as well as the various Lifepaths you can pursue which will influence your origin and starting area in Cyberpunk 2077. For those who want even more, there's an Edgerunners anime series due in 2022.

Source: Twitter (@CyberpunkGame)

Star Wars Squadrons Review

There are few fictional worlds as compelling as the one George Lucas created in the mid-70s, and over the following 43 years, Star Wars has become as much a religion and way of life as it is an entertainment behemoth. Despite that, its digital forays have often been met with criticism. EA's tenure as keeper of the license might have been sparse, but it's been more hit than miss, and after the enjoyable Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, fans will be hoping that Star Wars Squadrons can keep that (Kessel) run going.

Note: This review is an updated and scored version of our Review in Progress originally posted 1st October.

This fighter pilot sim set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, will have you flying some of the most iconic fictional craft of the modern era. Forget the Delorean from Back to the Future or the light-cycles from Tron, the idea that you could be flying an X-Wing or TIE Fighter from the comfort of your own home would make five-year-old me's head spin.

The prologue to the game's single player campaign takes place just after the destruction Alderaan is destroyed, introducing you to Imperial pilot Lindon Javes who, in somewhat expected fashion, doesn't stay with the Empire for long, what with them being, you know, the bad guys. The main body of the story skips ahead four years to after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, giving you dual perspectives from the eyes of your customisable characters, each from a different side of the conflict, set amongst the Republic's first steps from beyond the Imperial cosh.

It certainly looks, feels and sounds like Star Wars, with some excellent voice-acting from the cast, even if there are a few sound-a-like moments that grate ever so slightly. There are points here that will have you punching the air in delight and it's a genuine joy to be part of it, fulfilling all sorts of wish fulfilment. The only downside is that it runs a little on the short side, but it's better to have kept up the quality rather than stretched things out with diminishing returns.

The game's true longevity comes from its two multiplayer modes that you can take your X-Wings or TIE Fighters into. Dogfights are your standard, team-deathmatch-in-space type affair, placing two teams of five into a zero-gravity arena to duke it out. It takes some getting used to, as it's not just about simply pointing an aiming reticule at a speck that's zipping by. You also have to regulate your ship's systems in the midst of combat if you're going to have any chance of surviving.

Alongside all the lasering and missile firing, you can alter your craft's power settings to help fit that moment's needs. A simple tap of the different directions on the D-pad will shift the power to your shields, your lasers or your thrusters, giving you protection when you're under fire or helping you to get out of trouble if you've strayed too close to something big and dangerous. Fans of the classic Star Wars flight combat games like TIE Fighter and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter featured a similar dynamic with altering your shield deflectors and it's as integral here as it was then, adding a tactical layer beyond your pure dogfighting reactions.

Fleet Battles expand the scope from the standard Dogfights, touted as a game of tug of war with capital ships. Built on the fundamentals from Dogfights, Fleet Battles is a multi-stage, objective based mode, with the aim being to ultimately take down the opposition's flagship. They pull in a variety of objectives that ramp up as you head towards victory, starting with the enemy's fighters, before moving onto their frigates and finally their capital ship. It's similar to Star Wars Battlefront II's Starfighter Assault mode, but with a push and pull between sides instead of one side always being on the attack or defence.

Destroying enemy ships increases your fleet's morale, with that sliding scale sitting at the top of the screen, indicating whether the battle is swinging in your favour or not. With Morale completely behind you you're able to confidently go on the offensive, blasting their flagship out of the sky. If you're on the back foot you'll spend your time frantically trying to stop fighters from getting to your larger vessels. The mode is fleshed out by AI fighters so they do still feel like large scale encounters, though it's a shame it couldn't all be populated with huge numbers of players instead – Battlefront II's Starfighter Assault featured 12v12 battles alongside AI ships, for comparison.

Star Wars Squadron releases with full cross-play across every platform and control setup. So you can play on PSVR with a HOTAS against a PC player with a keyboard and mouse, or fully engage in the battle against the dark side by playing Xbox vs PS4 – which side is which is up to you. I personally found the standard controller play to be engaging and accurate, while utilising Thrustmaster's epic Warthog upped the immersion immensely to the point where I felt like I was one with the Force.

In a game all about starfighter combat, it's reassuring that it's fast, fun and empowering. When you're nipping through the debris of a rotting space hulk, or narrowly avoiding meteors with an opponent on your tail, Star Wars Squadrons makes you feel like the most incredible pilot that ever lived. Forget Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, you are the best starfighter in outer space… until someone blows you up, of course. Each faction has a choice of four different craft, from the speedier A-Wing to the slower TIE Bomber, and you can customise their performance to find something truly unique to you.

There's two earned currencies that you receive from taking part in multiplayer battles, though you don't necessarily need to be playing against other human beings. As long as you're online you can continue to earn experience from playing against the AI, though there's a daily limit to how much currency you can acquire in this way.

Requisitions are used to unlock starfighter components, letting you alter the way your craft handles or performs in battle, while Glory lets you customise the look of your starfighter, cockpit and pilot. You can earn extra glory as well for completing daily challenges, giving you a reason to hop back in every day, though it has to be said that the cosmetic differences here feel a little inconsequential when only you can see them.

There's also a good range of unlockable components so you can find a setup that works for you. Each has a benefit and a downside to balance against it, and while it's too early to identify a setup that trounces all the others, it feels like the options give you a decent chance of competing, and of finding something that suits your playstyle.

You can tinker with the hull, the shields, your engine and your weaponry loadout, and once you've unlocked a component for a faction you can use it across all of your ships. I opted to greatly up my acceleration and manoeuvrability, add in an emergency shield, and swap my lasers out for something with more power but a slower rate of fire. There's plenty of alternative's if you fancy being a slower tank, or making it virtually impossible to track you.

Star Wars Squadrons' greatest success is that its multiplayer modes are competitive and often heart-pounding fun. There's plenty of opportunity for last minute comebacks or for miraculously evading death by swooping through a space station or past debris. To do that while fulfilling every Star Wars fan's greatest non-lightsabre desires is a remarkable feat.

The only niggling problem is that there can be times, especially after a death, where you're thrust out of the action and it takes a little too long to get back into it. It's not too far removed from Battlefront in that way, but when the dogfighting action is so good, these moments of downtime feel even more pronounced.

Ride 4 Review

I often forget that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I'll order a delicious starter, like a bowl of French onion soup, devour it with all the complimentary bread and then struggle to finish the main course. Forget dessert, I'm having a nap while others are chomping down on cheesecake. Strangely, Ride 4 makes me feel the same way.

The fourth instalment of the Ride franchise doesn't rip up the rule book, change the structure or invent an innovative new way to play a motorcycle racing game. Instead it aims to refine and improve upon a well-trodden formula. That is to say, it's filled to the brim with real-life bikes, and you get to race them around track after track.

One area that I didn't think the Ride games needed to focus was on refining the look of the bikes. No matter, developer Milestone has started from scratch and the result is akin to an Uffizi Gallery for motorbikes. You can, and probably will, spend hours scrolling through the vehicular equivalents of Da Vinci's finest works, your jaw hanging at the sheer visual fidelity.

The visuals must be some sort of illusion. It feels as though David Blaine has somehow managed to get a next-gen game working on your current-gen hardware. Those who know their Panigales from their Ninjas will be beside themselves.

Not to be outdone by the bike-design team, the racetrack department has also excelled. Not only are there plenty of circuits to try your dream ride on, but the choices are superb.

Alongside series stalwarts such as Magny-Cours, Laguna Seca, Nürburgring and Macau sit new additions like Virginia International Raceway, Tsukuba (with the chicane), Interlagos and Snetterton. Twelve are new to the series, and while there are some fictional tracks in the mix, the heavy reliance on real-life recreations adds to the game's authenticity.

Each track can now be raced with a full day-night cycle, not to mention dynamic weather. A crisp sunrise can (eventually) be followed by a dark and brooding evening until nighttime falls. Through the main career mode, however, you won't see much in the way of weather or lighting changes. Night races, day races and wet races, sure, but changeable conditions only happen during long endurance events or if you set-up your own single race event and play with the settings.

Speaking of which, Ride 4 adds accurate tyre wear and fuel usage, mainly for said endurance races. These can last from an enjoyable 20-minute blast with one pitstop, to a painful real-time 24 hours. During these events, you switch between engine modes to save fuel, select from differing tyre compounds to balance speed with durability and utilise fully-animated pit stops.

This adds a new edge to the gameplay, but it's also where things start to take a turn for the mediocre. Think Valentino Rossi in 2020 compared with Valentino Rossi in 2001; it's living in the shadow of former glories.

A big deal has been made about Ride 4's machine learning neural AI system entitled ANNA – as detailed in our preview. In reality, the on-track rivals are fine. Nothing more, nothing less. They can defend their line should you try to attack, but they also have little ability to avoid a collision, which turns one slight mistake into a multi-bike pileup.

That's compounded during endurance races, where AI competitors will sometimes run out of fuel and instead of pitting, just ride around slowly until the race ends. These events also start with your rider running to the bike. A nice touch, but once on the bike, it's automated until the first corner, meaning you can't even try and gain an advantage during the opening phase of the race.

The main career mode sees you start out in either an American, Asian or European league, consisting of multiple events that include races, time attacks and overtaking challenges. You then unlock the 'World League' which is the bulk of the game. Unfortunately, the time attacks, which make up a decent percentage of events, have track limit regulations that are ridiculously strict.

I understand that running wide or cutting a corner will be an unfair advantage and thus need to be penalised, but it's far too restrictive. During a race event, you are given a time penalty for doing so, while a single transgression will fail your time attack attempt. Instantly.

You can't continue to do another lap, even though there's a rolling start, you must wait for the menu to load and then select restart each and every time. Worse, using an exit kerb or getting half a wheel near grass on a straight line is an instant fail. Frustrating at Cadwell Park, the Nordschleife causes aneurysms. On the flip side, all it takes to win a career race is the addition of some new bike parts and you'll easily top the podium.

The main sticking point for me is Ride 4's handling. Even with the race-spec superbikes, corner turn-in just isn't sharp enough. You never feel like you can attack an apex. Even with the assists all the way off, the rear will never slide progressively on corner exit either. Understeer, understeer and more understeer. This is safe and predictable, but also a bit bland.

I feel as if the brief was to keep it approachable, as if the game were a moving motorcycle museum instead of wanting to be a simulator. This clashes slightly with the rage-inducing rule stringency and lengthy braking zones which take considerable acclimatisation.

Online, the game doesn't push any boundaries either. A lobby list is all you get, with some form of esports planned for an update. Internet-enabled leagues, championships and driver ratings are all notable by their absence. There isn't enough incentive to invest time playing via the network, though it is at least backed by dedicated servers.

Leak suggests the PS5 has 664GB of usable storage space from its 825GB SSD

A Russian leak has seemingly revealed that the PlayStation 5 has 664GB of usable storage space for installing games and media from its marketed 825GB SSD.

This would logically make sense, with the marketed size of hard drives and SSDs calculated differently to how computers then view the same storage. 825GB actually equates to 768GB of space when formatted, and it then seems that around 100GB is taken up by the OS and reserved for system features.

Obviously, it's a terribly blurry photo and there is a mouse cursor shown on screen, so if it's to be believed then our theory would be that it's running through a PC capture card of some sort. Either way, the figure it suggests is still relatively believable.

Comparing it to the PlayStation 4, Sony's current gen console shipped with a 500GB HDD (465GB once formatted), but then presents 408GB to users for around 60GB of system and reserved space. Much more comparable is the Xbox Series X, which  was revealed earlier this week to have 802GB available to users from its 1TB SSD (920GB when formatted as per the 1TB expansion card).

If this all pans out, then it indicates that Sony are increasing the amount of space reserved for system functions. The operating system itself obviously won't be 100GB in size, and it could be that Sony are keeping space behind to act as a fast write buffer, for a system feature similar to Xbox Series X|S Quick Resume, and as a storage pool for the higher quality Create button gameplay captures that runs in the background.

Whatever its use, it means that PS5 buyers will find themselves struggling for storage space sooner than they might have expected, especially with the prospect that game install sizes will continue to balloon over the next generation, even as storage space is saved from the shift to SSDs. You won't be able to simply plug in an external drive either, as PS5 games can only be run from the built in SSD or a pre-approved SSD from third parties that meet Sony's exacting SSD speed requirements – there's currently only one SSD on the market that would theoretically be fast enough.

This does at least answer one of the big questions we still have about the PlayStation 5 in the run up to launch, with Sony being particularly tight-lipped about the system and its new functions. We also still have no official word on what PlayStation Activities are, if there's a Quick Resume feature, whether or not there's Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support for films and TV, and there's the emerging story about how several games with free PS5 upgrades will not be able to transfer single player saves from PS4 to PS5 versions of the game.

Source: Resetera

FIFA 21 title update 1 has been released, read the notes here

FIFA 21 officially launches in less than a week but the fixes are already flying in for EA's next iteration of the football game. That means Title Update 1 has already landed on PC and PS4, and EA has given the notes of what fixes have be brought into FIFA 21. You can read the patch notes below. Believe me, it will not take you long.

FIFA 21 title update 1:

Addressed the following issue:

  • In some instances, an online match would continue between a player and the CPU AI after the player's initial opponent left the match.
    • This issue could potentially occur in all types of online matches.

So, a fix for a rather strange bug. This will come under either update 1.01 or update 1.01, but the notes on PS4 for that just say various fixes have been implemented. In other FIFA 21 news, here we have the game's full PlayStation 4 trophy list. EA Sports issued the following statement, confirming that there will be no FIFA 21 demo:

We aren't releasing a demo for FIFA 21. Instead we've made the decision to focus our development team's time on delivering the best full game experience for current & next-gen consoles. We look forward to EA PLAY members jumping in 10 days from now and launching the game Oct 9.

FIFA 21 will be out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 9th, with free upgrades to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X via EA's homegrown Dual Entitlement scheme. This will allow free upgrades to take place from the launch of the next-gen consoles up until the release of FIFA 22 next year.


Something for the Weekend – 03/10/20

Storm Alex has brought a lot of wind and rain to most of the UK this week, making venturing outside a perilous and unappealing prospect. It's probably best to put your outdoor weekend plans on hold and stay inside and play video games, unless your area is already under local lockdown, in which case it's your civic duty!

In the News This Week

And here's what free games we're getting this month:

Games in Review

'Consistent' is the word that springs to mind looking at the review scores from this week, does anything take your fancy?

Dom shared his initial thoughts on the new Star Wars game, but is waiting until the multiplayer is running at full capacity before passing judgement:

Star Wars Squadrons – PS4, XBO, PC, PSVR, SteamVR, Rift

Featured Articles

There was just a lone preview this week, with Nic going hands on with Roboquest, a game that looks like Borderlands meets Doom. It's currently in Early Access and he's excited to see how it evolves.

Elsewhere, I had a look at some essential free addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator, as Stefan looked at the PS5 and 15 key details we are still none-the-wiser about despite launch being just over a month away.

Last up, What We Played featured Genshin Impact, Among Us & Star Wars Squadrons

Trailer Park

This new video shows Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered running at 60fps on PlayStation 5

Dirt 5's latest gameplay shows a race taking place in South Africa's Cape Town Stadium

Assassin's Creed Valhalla's new story trailer shows the start of Eivor's journey

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne title update 5 trailer shows off the content

Your Achievements

Here's what you in our community has been up to this week:

  • It was another busy week for Crazy_Del, who platinum'ed Marvel's Avengers and Lara Croft Go. THPS 1+2, Hitman Go, and Star Wars Squadrons will be taking up his time this weekend.
  • ron_mcphatty has also been enjoying Squadrons.
  • hornet1990 has dabbled in a bit of HZD and Flight Sim, although was disappointed by the scenery in his local area.
  • No Man's Sky, Bloodborne and Dreams occupied TSBonyman this week.
  • Aside from the usual games, MrYd has really got into Genshin Impact, calling it 'one of the best F2P games' thanks to the massive world and content.
  • It was all mario this week for tactical20 thanks to Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy.
  • And last up, Andrewww didn't quite get to finish The Last of Us Part 2 before heading off on holiday, but at least he has it to look forward to when he's back!

That's it for this weekend, have a great week and I'll be back before you know it!

Epic free games continue with two more announced for next week

We're checking in with Epic Games for their latest gaming giveaway. Next week there will be two titles up for grabs including one of the best indie hits of this gen and a celebrated World War II shooter.

From October 8th til the 15th you can download and keep both ABZU and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. Often compared to the excellent Journey, ABZU is like going on an adventure through your very own virtual aquarium.

Rising Storm 2 isn't quite as tranquil or teeming with sea life – here you'll be waging all-out war over huge maps in this gritty FPS. Hopefully, by joining Epic's catalogue of free games, those servers will be plenty full enough when Vietnam hits the EGS client next week.

In the meantime, those who fire up the Epic Games Store client or log in via browser will be able to claim a free copy of Pikuniku, the bonkers Devolver Digital adventure which Miguel couldn't recommend enough in his review:

With Pikuniku, I was smiling and laughing throughout the entire thing, and too few games get that kind of response out of me. Pikuniku is a treasure of a game, and I can't wait to see more from this team.

You can find the full list of free Epic games here, as well as some of our reviews plucked from the TSA archives:

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam October 8-15, 2020
ABZU October 8-15, 2020
Pikuniku October 1-8, 2020
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition September 24-October 1, 2020
Football Manager 2020 September 17-24, 2020
Watch Dogs 2 September 17-24, 2020
Stick It To The Man! September 17-24, 2020
Railway Empire September 10-17, 2020
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine September 10-17, 2020
Into The Breach September 3-10, 2020
Hitman August 27-September 3, 2020
Shadowrun Collection August 27-September 3, 2020
God's Trigger August 20-27, 2020
Enter the Gungeon August 20-27, 2020
The Alto Collection August 13-20, 2020
Remnant: From the Ashes August 13-20, 2020
A Total War Saga: Troy August 13-14, 2020
Wilmot's Warehouse August 6-13, 2020
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP July 30 – August 6, 2020
Barony July 30 – August 6, 2020
20XX July 30 – August 6, 2020
Next Up Hero July 23-30, 2020
Tacoma July 23-30, 2020
Torchlight II July 16-23, 2020
Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition July 9-16, 2020
The Escapists 2 July 9-16, 2020
Killing Floor 2 June 9-16, 2020
Hue July 2-9, 2020
Stranger Things 3 June 25-July 2, 2020
AER Memories of Old June 18-25, 2020
Ark: Survival Evolved June 11-18, 2020
Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection June 11-18, 2020
Overcooked June 4-11, 2020
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection May 28-June 4, 2020
Civilization VI May 21-28, 2020
Grand Theft Auto V May 14-21, 2020
Death Coming May 7-14, 2020
Crashlands April 30-May 7, 2020
Amnesia: The Dark Descent April 30-May 7, 2020
For the King April 23-30, 2020
Just Cause 4 April 16-23, 2020
Wheels of Aurelia April 16-23, 2020
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments April 9-16, 2020
Close to the Sun April 9-16, 2020
Gone Home April 2-9, 2020
Drawful 2 April 2-9, 2020
Hob April 2-9, 2020
Totally Reliable Delivery Service April 1-8, 2020
World War Z March 26-April 2, 2020
Torment x Punisher March 26-April 2, 2020
Figment March 26-April 2, 2020
Watch Dogs March 19-26, 2020
The Stanley Parable March 19-26, 2020
A Short Hike March 12-19, 2020
Mutazione March 12-19, 2020
Anodyne 2 March 12-19, 2020
Gonner March 5-12, 2020
Offworld Trading Company March 5-12, 2020
Inner Space February 27-March 5, 2020
Faeria February 20-27, 2020
Assassin's Creed Syndicate February 20-27, 2020
Aztez February 13-20, 2020
Kingdom Come: Deliverance February 13-20, 2020
Ticket to Ride February 6-13, 2020
Carcassonne February 6-13, 2020
Farming Simulator 19 January 30-February 6, 2020
The Bridge January 23-30, 2020
Horace January 16-23, 2020
Sundered: Eldritch Edition January 9-16, 2020
Darksiders Warmastered Edition January 1-9, 2020
Darksiders 2 Dethinitive Edition January 1-9, 2020
Steep January 1-9, 2020
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair December 31, 2019
Hello Neighbor December 30, 2019
The Talos Principle December 29, 2019
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun December 28, 2019
Hyper Light Drifter December 27, 2019
FTL: Faster Than Light December 26, 2019
Totally Accurate Battle Simulator December 25, 2019
Celeste December 24, 2019
Ape Out December 23, 2019
Little Inferno December 22, 2019
Superhot December 21, 2019
Towerfall Ascension December 20, 2019
Into the Breach December 19, 2019
The Wolf Among Us December 12-19, 2019
The Escapists December 12-19, 2019
Jotun: Valhalla Edition December 6-12, 2019
Rayman Legends November 29-December 6, 2019
Bad North November 21-29, 2019
The Messenger November 14-21, 2019
Ruiner November 7-14, 2019
Nuclear Throne November 7-14, 2019
Costume Quest October 31-November 7, 2019
Soma October 31-November 7, 2019
Layers of Fear October 24-October 31, 2019
Q.U.B.E.2 October 24-October 31, 2019
Alan Wake: American Nightmare October 17-24, 2019
Observer October 17-24, 2019
Surviving Mars October 10-17, 2019
Minit October 3-10, 2019
Metro 2033 Redux September 26-October 3, 2019
Everything September 26-October 3, 2019
Lego Batman Trilogy September 19-26, 2019
Batman: Arkham Collection September 19-26, 2019
Conarium September 12-19, 2019
ABZU September 5-12, 2019
The End is Nigh September 5-12, 2019
Celeste August 29-September 5, 2019
Inside August 29-September 5, 2019
Fez August 22-29, 2019
Hyper Light Drifter August 15-22, 2019
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden August 15-22, 2019
GNOG August 8-15, 2019
For Honor August 2-9, 2019
Alan Wake August 2-9, 2019
This War of Mine July 25-August 2, 2019
Moonlighter July 25-August 2, 2019
Limbo July 18-July 25, 2019
Torchlight July 11-18, 2019
Overcooked July 4-11, 2019
Last Day of June June 27-July 4, 2019
Rebel Galaxy June 20-27, 2019
Enter the Gungeon June 13-20, 2019
Kingdom: New Lands June 6-13, 2019
City of Brass May 30-6, 2019
Rime May 23-30, 2019
Stories Untold May 16-23, 2019
World of Goo May 2-16, 2019
Transistor April 18-May 2, 2019
The Witness April 4-18, 2019
Oxenfree March 21-April 4, 2019
Slime Rancher March 7-21, 2019
Thimbleweed Park February 21-March 7, 2019
Axiom Verge February 7-21, 2019
The Jackbox Party Pack January 24-February 7, 2019
What Remains of Edith Finch January 11-24, 2019
Super Meat Boy December 28, 2018-January 10, 2019
Subnautica December 12-27, 2018


Source: Epic Games

What We Played #469 – Genshin Impact, Among Us & Star Wars Squadrons

A busy week in the bag, and we're seven days closer to the arrival of the Xbox Series X|S and the PS5. It's hard to ignore the next generation on the horizon, but there's still a bevy of games to come for those consoles we've come to love in the past few years. I got to play Star Wars Squadrons this week, and it sets out its stall as a Star Wars simulator in emphatic style. I'll be popping a score on it after a weekend of blowing the Empire (or the Rebellion) right out of the sky. I've also made another start on Genshin Impact, and think it's one of the best free-to-play games I've encountered.

Aran finished Final Fantasy VII Remake this week and has really enjoyed it, telling us he can't wait for the next parts. He's also played Genshin Impact :"which has really dug its claws in. It looks great and it's mad that it is free". He finally played some Among Us too, saying "I really need to work on my persuasion skills…"

Gareth has been playing Port Royale 4 and Going Under for review. Outside of those, he's played some Minecraft VR, saying "it's pretty great." He also tried the "promising" Genshin Impact out and said that Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, and Iron Man VR are all awesome.

Nic B is yet to play anything that isn't MTG Arena this week, but he's looking forward to playing some Genshin Impact this weekend though having heard good things. Reuben meanwhile has continued his playthrough of Spider-Man, saying that he's "reaching the end of it now and really kicking myself I didn't get on this sooner. Otherwise I've been grabbing more Stars in Super Mario Galaxy (best thing on the 3D Stars collection, don't @ me) and dipping my toes into Genshin Impact, which I'm yet to make up my mind on."

Steve has had a throwback week as he got Serious with Sam 4 and then was back with the marsupial behaviour with Crash 4: it's About Time. "In between, I was disappointed with The Walking Dead Onslaught and baffled by Commander '85. Only managed another hour or so on Last of Us 2 in amongst that and finding it slow going. Oh, and after half an hour on PS4 I decided to download Genshin Impact on PC and that took a whole day…

Thomas Harrison-Lord has been playing Ride 4 and Monster Truck Championship for review, both of which we can talk more about soon. Nick P has been mostly playing Avengers and Call of Duty: Warzone, as per usual. On the side he's been playing WWE Battlegrounds which is "an utterly terrible, poor excuse for a game. Rush job if I ever saw one!"

Jason Coles has been playing more Hades "because it's really good and also Dark Souls 3 because it soothes my soul, and Rocket League, where people are either the best or the worst." Miguel meanwhile has spent this week playing 13 Sentinels Aegis Rim, Genshin Impact, a little Apex Legends and a splash of Street Fighter V.

And finally, Tef has been playing the new Super Mario Bros. 35 battle royale and realising that he's kind of rubbish at classic Mario, he's been sleuthing it up in some Among Us sessions, found himself somewhat disappointed by Crysis Remastered on PS4, and dabbling with Microsoft Flight Simulator some more to check out the quirkiest mods and addons that we've found.

Now then, what have you been playing this week?

Baldur's Gate 3 Early Access will launch with 16 photorealistic races & 6 classes to choose from

Sure, it might be an "Early Access" release, but when Baldur's Gate 3 goes on sale 6th October for PC and Stadia, it will be bigger and stuffed with more content than many other big budget games. Larian Studio have revealed that the game will launch with a whopping sixteen races and six classes to choose from when creating your character.

Those are all detailed below, but what's interesting is that Larian describe them as being photorealistic. All of the character models are based on 3D scans of actors and models, all of whom have been chosen for their resemblance to the fantasy races, and then to add diversity within each one. There's a total of 150 heads to pick from across all the different races and sub-races.

Creating your character will have a meaningful impact on the game that follows. Some races are more uncommon, so if you choose to play as a Drow or Githyanki, most NPCs will react to you as someone that is particularly alien to them. In a game world that's designed to be as reactive to your choices as possible, this can have major changes for what you get to experience.

Baldur's Gate 3 will launch into Early Access with the first act of the game, coming to around 25 hours of content, all of which is designed to cater to multiple playthroughs.

But let's be honest, you really just want the list of races, don't you? Well here they are:


The most common face to see in Faerûn, humans are known for their tenacity, creativity, and endless capacity for growth. They live fully in the present – making them well suited to the adventuring life – but also plan for the future, striving to leave a lasting legacy.


Githyanki are peerless warriors from the Astral Plane, known for their legendary silver blades and red dragon mounts. They seek the total destruction of mind flayers, whose ancient empire enslaved the githyanki for millennia.


High Elf
Heirs of the mystical Feywild, high elves value magic in all its forms, and even those who do not study spellcraft can manipulate the Weave.

Wood Elf
Wood elves spend their reclusive lives in Faerûn's forests. Decades of training in archery and camouflage are enhanced by an otherworldly swiftness.


Seldarine Drow
Drow are the result of an ancient schism between the elven deities Corellon Larethian and Lolth. The latters' treachery drove the drow into the Underdark, where they splintered into warring factions. Seldarine drow can be found seeking allies from all over Faerûn, aiming to settle their conflict with Lolth – and each other – by any means necessary.

Lolth-Sworn Drow
Raised by Lolth's cult in the city of Menzoberranzan, these drow extol the virtues of their corrupt and merciless goddess. Lolth marks her followers with bright red eyes so the Underdark will learn to fear drow on sight.


High Half-Elf
A touch of the Feywild remains in half-elves with this bloodline, and even those untrained in magic possess a hint of wild power.

Wood Half-Elf
Like their wood elf parent, these half-elves have a quickened stride and eye for stealth. Yet many break away from isolation in Faerûn's forests to explore the rest of the Realms.

Drow Half-Elf
Most half-drow result from liaisons between Seldarine drow and surfacers. While half-drow inherit a few magical gifts, they aren't usually raised in the Underdark.


Gold dwarves are known for their confidence and keen intuition. The culture of their Deep Kingdom values family, ritual, and fine craftsmanship.

Shield dwarves survived a long fall from grace, surrendering many of their ancient kingdoms in wars with goblins and orcs. These losses have lead to a cynical mindset, yet shield dwarves will endure anything to restore their ancestral homelands.


Lightfoot Halfling
Lightfoot halflings are stealthy but social, travelling all over Faeûn to make names for themselves.

Strongheart Halfling
Legends say dwarven blood gave stronghearts their hardiness. Resistant to poison and wellsprings of endurance, these halflings easily hold their own.


Asmodeus Tiefling
Bound to Nessus, the deepest layer of the Hells, these tieflings inherit the ability to wield fire and darkness from the archdevil Asmodeus' infernal bloodline.

Mephistopheles Tiefling
Descended from the archdevil Mephistopheles, these tieflings are gifted with a particular affinity for arcane magic.

Zariel Tiefling
Tieflings from Zariel's bloodline are empowered with martial strength, and can channel searing flame to punish their enemies.

Source: press release

Fall Guys Season 2 launches next week, get double Fame points to finish off Season 1

Fall Guys fans can mark Thursday 8th October in their calendars as the start of the game's medieval themed Season 2. Will the season running through what's officially the spookiest month of the year, and with witches and wizards in the new season's theme, will there be any special Halloween events coming up as well? We can only speculate…

With Season 1 about to make way for the big new update, Mediatonic are also going to give players a bit of a helping hand to finish off its particular reward path. Season 1 is being extended right the way up to the start of Season 2, and the game will award double fame points.

Here's a teaser of what's in store next week:

  • New Rounds – featuring our wildest obstacles yet and new mechanics to test your beans' mettle and dexterity!
  • New customization options – Nameplates and Banners arrive to help show off your undoubtedly wonderful personality.
  • All the costumes – expect the latest in bean fashion, including exciting collaborations and limited edition swag to keep you in the hottest Fall looks.
  • Party falling – never tumble alone! Queue with pals, fall with your pals.
  • And more – more, more, more.

And that cute trailer they released for the new content at the end of August.

Who's looking forward to a couple months of knights, wizards, dragons and more?

Fall Guys has been an absolute sensation for the team at developer Mediatonic and publisher Devolver Digital. Releasing in early August for PS4 and PC, it rocketed to success with the companies revealing that they sold over 2 million copies on Steam in the game's first week. That's before you take into account however many people have been playing via PlayStation 4, where it was free on PlayStation Plus in August. That led to quite a bit of server trouble and a certain allure for cheaters, but with some gruelling server maintenance early on, performance was shored up, and Mediatonic recently added East Anti-Cheat (and randomised big swingy hammers) to help defuse the latter.

Source: Fall Guys, Mediatonic

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