Blog Archive

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Dauntless Strange Horizons Hunt Pass – Is the Elite Pass worth it?

There are no shortage of intriguing free-to-play video games, all vying for your precious times. Dauntless is by far one of the best out there and is currently available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch – all linked via crossplay.

Often likened to Capcom's Monster Hunter, Dauntless has team of up to 4 Slayers hunting deadly beasts known as Behemoths in fun boss battle-like fashion. The crux of the game is run these hunts over and over, farming resources to craft better weapons and gear while sharpening your skills.

After your first dozen or so Dauntless hunts you'll start to encounter new characters and activities, revealing a more advanced layer of features that include the Hunt Pass.

What is the Dauntless Hunt Pass?

The Dauntless Hunt Pass is similar the kinds of Battle Pass we've seen in other online games such as Fortnite, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Warzone. Dauntless developer, Phoenix Lab, runs live seasons that typically last several weeks and in this time players can unlock rewards via the Hunt Pass.

Think of it as a separate XP meter that gradually fills as you hunt, hand in quests, and complete bounties. Each Hunt Pass has 50 levels (or tiers) and is divided into two tracks – a free track available to all players, and a bonus Elite track along the top which can be purchased using 1000 Platinum.

When does the current Hunt Pass end?

The Daunltess Strange Horizons Hunt Pass initiated on September 17th and will end on October 22nd, 2020.

How do I level up the Hunt Pass?

Just about everything you do in Dauntless will level you towards a new Hunt Pass tier. Each time you earn 100 Hunt Pass XP this will unlock a new reward tier with 10XP given for each hunt, 100XP for each quest, and 20-100XP for completed bounties. You can also find 10 collectable pickups scattered around Ramgate that respawn every 24 hours, each one worth 5 Hunt Pass XP.

If you've already completed most of the main and side quests in Dauntless, you should focus on bounties. Choose bounties that align with your playstyle and goals such as completing X number of patrols, or hunting Behemoths of a certain element. You can only draft as many bounties as you have bounty tokens (don't worry, these recharge on a timer). If you don't like a particular bounty then you can expend a token to swap it for another.

Is the Dauntless Elite Hunt Pass worth it?

1000 Platinum will cost you around £7.99 which puts the Dauntless Elite Hunt Pass on par with most other passes in terms of pricing. If you manage to unlock all 50 reward tiers then you'll find your inventory stashed with loads of new items and cosmetics. The Elite Hunt Pass for Strange Horizons will also pay back 950 Platinum, almost covering the cost of the next season.

There are a couple of other worthwhile bonuses veteran Slayers will want to make use of. Being an Elite Pass holder gives you two extra loot rolls at the end of each hunt while offering 50% boost to all Mastery experience earned.

Dauntless tips: 10 tips & tricks for newcomers

How do I claim Dauntless Hunt Pass rewards?

Hunt Pass rewards aren't automatically added to your inventory. You'll need to enter the menu, then go to the Hunt Pass to see what you've unlock. You can also pay a visit to Ramsgate stylist, Gregario Flynt to claim your rewards.

You can see what rewards are on offer for the current season pass by going to the official Hunt Pass page which include images and videos of each unlock.

Dauntless is currently available to download and play for free on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch with a mobile version currently in the works.


Dead By Daylight prepares for Tome V, coming soon

Dead By Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive are teasing a new slab of content for their spooky multiplayer slasher. Today the studio revealed Tome V: Unleashed promising more updates soon.

If you've spent some time away from Dead By Daylight then you might not be aware of Tome, or The Rift, or The Archives. They're an added layer of player progression which was introduced last year.

Tome V: Unleashed will likely launch in the coming days and with it comes a series of in-game challenges for players to complete. These are presented in branch-like paths, dishing out rewards including Rift Fragment (we'll explain what these are in a bit). Each Tome is divided into multiple levels and it's only by completing several linked challenges that you can reach the epilogue and advance to the next tier. Still with us?

These challenges provide optional goals for players to aim for and will often encourage you to use a variety of characters and tactics. Doing so will shower you with Rift Fragments which help fill a progress bar in The Rift. This is basically Dead By Daylight's slightly more confusing take on the battle pass system we've seen in games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Play Dead By Daylight long enough for a live season and you'll get some neat rewards.

When Tome V: Unleashed goes live, we'll be sure to list the available tiers and rewards. Here's a little snippet of lore about The Archives:

The Observer has a unique power, with which he can probe the Entity's Fog and find memories and stories that are stored in her memories. All these memories are stored in the Fog once a Character is taken, with the Entity not making any use of it, thus getting forgotten.

At the core of The Archives is the Auris, a device capable of peering into the memories of those who've entered the Fog. Through this device, the players access a series of Challenges to help them piece together these memories and his overall role. ​

With Halloween fast approaching, Dead By Daylight is rumoured to be gearing up for a special event. Leaks suggest that a bevy of survivor and killer cosmetics are on the way including alternate outfits for horror icons Ghost Face and Leatherface.

Source: Twitter (@DeadByBHVR)


PlayStation Trophy levelling system to be overhauled from tonight

Sony has announced it is making some major changes to the PlayStation Trophy system, specifically the way levelling works and the number of ranks that will be shown. Currently, the trophy level range sits between 1-100 but with the new change that range will now become 1-999. This means the current trophy level you have will be reconfigured to match the new system. An example given by Sony states that a player with a Level 12 trophy score will be converted to a level in the low 200 range. This will be determined by your trophy level and quality of trophies you have unlocked in games.

Sony will also be introducing new Trophy Level Icons and these will come into effect on PS5 and the PlayStation companion app. At the moment the icon is the gold star but in the new system this will change to bronze, silver, gold, and platinum trophies. You can see what the icons will look like and the levels they apply to in the image below.

Other than these changes the trophy system will act as normal. Your trophy level will carry over to the PS5 just like it did between PS3, PS Vita and the PS4, so no need to worry about losing trophies you have unlocked already. The change with the system will begin tonight in North America and will roll out across the world over the next couple of days. The new system means players should be able to advance through levels at a faster pace, with earlier levels much easier to progress through.

Source: PS Blog


FIFA 21 title update 2 out now, read the 1.03 patch notes here

The second title update for FIFA 21 has now been released by EA along with a server update addressing issues across the game and the FIFA 21 companion apps. These changes come as part of update 1.03 which is being rolled out across various platforms. You can see what title update two brings with the more extensive list of all the changes enacted with the rollout of the new update below. You will notice changes to Ultimate Team, Pro Clubs, and Volta Football.

FUT:

Addressed the following issue:

  • A stability issue sometimes occurred when making bids on the FUT Transfer Market.
  • Some Gold Packs for returning players displayed a placeholder image.
  • The Netherlands Tifos previously displayed as Holland.
  • Updated names of several Tifos.
  • Corrected a typo on the New Items screen.
  • Addressed the message that would display when attempting to bid on a FUT Item with a full Transfer Targets list.
  • Addressed the Three Gold Loan Player Pick being incorrectly named.

Pro Clubs:

  • Addressed an issue with the Pro Clubs Leaderboards.
    • The Scout Pro screen was incorrectly displaying greyed out options.
  • In Pro Clubs, AI RM/RW teammates did not have the exact same Attributes as LM/LW teammates.
    • This only impacted Divisions 10 – 5.

VOLTA FOOTBALL:

  • The ball was sometimes difficult to see on the new VOLTA STADIUM.
  • The Import Face customization option incorrectly referred to VOLTA FOOTBALL as VOLTA WORLD.

Our review for FIFA 21 went live earlier this afternoon, and in it I wrote:

On the pitch, FIFA 21 is an incremental improvement over FIFA 20, but doesn't address some of the biggest issues with defending and the high-scoring matches this leads to. With Volta still missing a certain spark and Ultimate Team not really changing much, it's the Football Manager-inspired Career mode that takes the biggest step forward. It's still a good football game, but it feels like the real focus is on next-gen.
Source: EA

Steam gets new customisable Chat Filtering feature to block profanity and slurs

Valve have introduced a new Chat Filtering feature for their Steam platform as a whole with an emphasis on flexibility and customisation.

The new default setting is to block profanity and slurs from people you don't know in Steam Chat and through games that leverage Valve's new system, but you can also modify preferences to turn this filter off, enable it with Steam Friends, and also modify the list of terms that are filtered.

On the one hand, this is great. Chat Filtering is an important tool in blocking harassment and abuse in online social spaces, and multiplayer games are a space where that can really come to the fore. Commonly used profanity and slurs have been put on a default list and will be replaced by symbols, however, Valve rightly state the the use of language constantly evolves and depends a lot on context and who you are talking to. One reason for having a flexible system such as this is to allow marginalised groups  to reclaim terms.

It's for that reason that Chat Filtering is not enables between Steam Friends by default, and also why users can customise the list of terms that are blocked.

Regardless of what you type, you will be able to see it, and it will depend on the filters that the receiving party or parties have enabled as to whether or not they see it.

While this sounds great, it does also have the potential to simply allow abuse to fly under the radar. If a bunch of hypothetical KKK members hop onto Steam for a game of CS:GO, they could throw racist terms about their opponents back and forth, and since Steam's chat is showing these terms unfiltered to them, it adds an element of permissibility to their actions and terms.

That said, all users will still be beholden to Steam's terms and online conduct rules. This states that users must not "Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others."

If users believe they are the target of abuse – and you'll be able to see this from the obscured words – they have the ability to block communication and report them with the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the user's Steam Community profile
  2. Click on the large "more" button in the upper-right corner of the page
  3. Select "Report Violation" from the dropdown
  4. Select a category of abuse and enter a brief description of the abuse

Additionally, if it's in-game, many titles have options and tools to block and report other players as well.

Source: Steam


The PlayStation 5 teardown video shows removable side panels, dust holes and how to install an SSD

It seems like Sony are really starting to open up about the nitty-gritty details of the PlayStation 5 hardware this week, with a detailed teardown of the console revealing that the console has much-rumoured removable side panels and showing how to access the slot to install an M.2 NVME SSD to expand the console's internal storage.

The teardown starts with the PS5 in its upright configuration, allowing Yasuhiro Ootori, VP Mechanical Design Dept. to demonstrate that the base is secured in this orientation with a screw. However, it also clips onto part of the back of the case, allowing for it to still be secure when the console is horizontal. Instead of leaving an unsightly screw hole (heaven forbid!), the base stores a little magnetic screwhole cover in its snazzy rotatable design.

To get at the console's innards, you remove the entirety of the console's side panels – we can surely expect these to come in different colours sometime soon, if you want an all black console to hide away in your TV cabinet. This reveals the large fan in the upper left corner of the console. The black plastic shroud to the console's innards feature some dust catcher holes where you should be able to vacuum out dust that has been caught up in the console to maintain its quiet cooling.

The SSD expansion slot is hidden behind the unit's shroud, with a removable panel revealing a standard M.2 SSD slot, capable of accommodating all standardised lengths of SSD.

The fan is a real chonker. It's 120mm in diameter, but her 45mm thickness and is a double-sided intake blower that should effectively push air through the rest of the console. It's a huge step up over the fans found in the current PlayStation 4 designs, that's for sure.

Removing more of the case, and the PS5's huge motherboard is revealed with all the components nicely spread out. It's confirmed that the PS5 uses liquid metal for the TIM to allow for long-term high cooling performance and transfer to the heatsink. Which is absolutely massive. Made up of several distinct units of aluminium fins and with copper heatpipes connecting them, it's a work of art. The size of it allows Sony to get the same level of performance as the vapour chamber heatsinks used in Xbox One X and Xbox Series X, though sacrifices size to get there.

Finally, the built in power supply is rated at 350W.

Source: PS Blog


FIFA 21 Review

What can you really say about FIFA 21? It's a football game similar in vein to last year's entry with a few changes both on and off the pitch. Those few changes may just be enough to be worth upgrading to the new game, with a better Career mode experience and the expected array of tweaks to the core footballing gameplay.

EA have taken some liberal inspiration from Football Manager for their overdue overhaul of the Career mode. Now you can keep an eye on matches via a simulation screen instead of loading into the pitch. From here you can make decisions based on how your team is doing, as if you were just managing from the sideline. If you want to focus purely on managing, then it is a great way to get through career without having to take control of the team and enter matches. You can also simulate each training day, though your squad is more likely to get better if you play the minigames yourself.

As always, you can choose whatever team you want from any of the leagues in the game to manage, with each one having its own objectives. Playing with Everton, their main aims include reaching the Europa League and getting youth players from the academy to the starting eleven. The squad had not been updated fully at the start with James Rodriguez still at Real Madrid as I started, so I mimicked reality and bought him in. Unfortunately, he, and another of my other signings, tore his ACL and is now out for seven months. Since Everton are currently topping the Premier League with Rodriguez in fine form, I wouldn't have minded something closer to reality, even if hot new signings getting immediately injured is believable. Less believable was my manager getting offered the Wales managerial job after just seven decent matches in charge.

When it comes to the on the pitch action there is some improvement to the way players move and dribble with the ball. Teammates are slightly smarter with their off the ball runs, and the action feels smoother and more natural. Passing generally feels much more direct and player animations come across as more realistic, though there are still occasions where things go a bit weird as players fall over.

There are areas of improvement still required. Defending still feels lacklustre, as almost any kind of contact tackle it almost ends up being a foul followed by a card. It means that defending basically turns into running at the opposing player and hoping you make contact with the ball to take it from them. It was an issue that was raised for FIFA 20 and it hasn't been resolved for FIFA 21, leading to high scoring matches where defending just doesn't feel great. Then again, you could argue EA have made the game ultra-realistic following some of the scores from the 2020/21 season so far.

With eyes turning to the next generation, FIFA 21 on current gen consoles looks nigh on identical to FIFA 20. Sure, the menus are revamped but the gameplay itself looks the same and you would be hard pressed to notice a difference if it weren't for the few technical changes, and the fact you have more customisation options for your stadium in Ultimate Team.

Of course, Ultimate Team is back – it's EA's biggest money spinner, after all. Generally, things are the same where players can build their teams by purchasing packs through FUT coins or the premium FIFA Points currency or engage in the transfer market to buy players directly. Last year, I mentioned that the amount of coins given away felt generous, and I could build a decent team. It's similar in FIFA 21, but don't expect to be able to afford the top tier players without grinding away or getting lucky with a pack opening. You can feel why it is tempting to plump for buying FIFA Points when other players seem to already have the best players in their squads.

There is some balancing when it comes to weekly point totals, with those being capped after 30 matches in Division Rivals. This goes some way to ensure players have a shot at performing better in the weekly competition rather than letting players with more time dominate. Another general improvement is that the player fitness has been ditched.

Volta Football also returns, and it still just feels like more of a diversion. The grounded style doesn't really fit with the street football vibe, and it still feels like a knock off imitation of FIFA Street. Again, I feel almost exactly the same about it now as when the mode was introduced in FIFA 20. There is a short narrative to get into Volta Football, but you can simply skip it and jump online with your Volta team or choose to join someone else's to play in matches alongside other players.


The Sims 4 update 1.32 out now for consoles and PC

EA has released the latest update for The Sims 4 on PC and consoles with a number of fixes. The update is 1.32 on consoles and update 1.67.45.1020 on PC. There are some base game additions to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month including new food dishes, and new clothing designs. The studio is still working on improving skin tone textures too. There are also a number of fixes across The Sims 4 and its expansions. You can read the full patch notes below.

The Sims 4 1.32 update notes

Sims 4

  • Fixed an issue in which external garbage cans were constantly being filled up when not having Eco Lifestyle installed. It is a good thing to be conscious of our overall everyday waste footprint but there is something to be said about too much trash that is… seemingly uninvited.
  • Sims will now use the dining table to eat again. Sometimes if I'm in a hurry, I grab a meal on the go and don't sit down to eat, but sometimes you need to sit down and enjoy a nice meal, you know?
  • You pay your new bills, all the new bills, keep track of all the bills. We think you can do it. So, hope you like this update too as we have adjusted Lot Taxes to be more appropriate per Lot.
  • Fixed an issue in which the message "Not Expanded to Ops" would appear while in Build Mode and would hinder gameplay. If this is the behavior with "Not Expanded to Ops" I don't want to see what "Expanded to Ops" looks like, unless it is a good thing, but let's not get carried away.
  • Had a good talk with Sims that had neglected their duties with their Toddlers. They can go back to Potty Training and Read to Sleep to their little angels.
  • Fixed an issue in which Favorited Items in inventory were being reset when editing Lots through Manage Worlds.
  • Sims that were transferred to other Households will no longer reset any Household settings like Bed Assignments. Reading about this issue and trying to imagine it, brought me to this:

 

<insert dramatic music>
"What do you want?"

"It's not that simple!"
"But… <sigh> What.Do.You.Want?!"
"Just because you moved out, and you are suddenly back in our lives doesn't mean you can disrupt everything ok? I had my bed, with MY NAME ON IT!"
"OK"
<end dramatic music>

 

  • A new foe has appeared! A challenger approaches! Error 124:2951a73 enters the fray… and is properly squashed. Good luck next time Error 124:2951a73… Well, don't come back so… farewell!
  • The Lin-Z Smart Speaker has been updated to now play the Focus and Metal stations.

Island Living

  • Fixed an issue in which all non-decorative rocks disappeared after traveling from different Lots. Was it the work of impostor rocks? Igneous looks especially shifty. Sus.

Discover University

  • Fixed an issue with the ICYA Chest in which it appeared locked after Sims moved from one Household to another. My precious! Mine!

Eco Lifestyle

  • Fixed an issue that reset Bits and Pieces when Sims moved to other Households. No uh, if you move, move but leave my Bits and Pieces within my Household thank you very much.
  • The Community Voting Board is no longer listed as a DEBUG item, no longer has a defective thumbnail, and can be placed within the Lot.
  • Civil Designer Sims can now complete Work from Home Assignments.
  • We have rebuilt the Store No More Home Fabricator so that it doesn't break at least once a day. All returns are subject to warranty inspection, no Simoleons were harmed in this endeavor.
  • We spent some time tasting… I mean… monitoring yes, Sims' behavior in regards to Cooking and Baking Cakes pretty much non stop. We managed to correct said behavior, but hopefully, we won't lose access to the delicious goods.

Outdoor Retreat

  • Fixed a routing issue that prevented Sims from extinguishing engulfed Sims that are sitting by the Campfire. Gives a whole new meaning to "Warming up by the fire."

Dine Out

  • Fixed an issue with Restaurant Menus that made them appear blank or corrupted. Blind tasting menus in real life are a thing, but I don't think that is what this issue wanted to convey.

Fitness Stuff

  • We have added the Focus and Metal station as an option for Earbuds. Have you claimed your free Earbuds yet?

Tiny Living

  • The Media Marathoner All-on-the-Wall, and the Media Marathoner now have the option so Sims can perform Air Guitar. Yearrrrgggg.

Moschino

  • Fixed an issue with keys [Q] and [E] when used with the Tripod, now those keys should move the camera up and down freely. Strike a pose!

Source: EA


Overwatch Switch trial will be available from next week for Switch Online members

Nintendo has announced that from October 13th until October 20th Nintendo Switch Online members will have full access to Overwatch: Legendary Edition. That means the full game will be playable allowing members to get a taste of what is on offer, be it for the first time or for players that may have stopped playing the game on other systems. The trial will be available worldwide and can already be preloaded from the Nintendo eShop.

It is a nice bonus to try the game, and may be Blizzard's way of getting people interested in the game again ahead of Overwatch 2's released. That was announced a year ago at BlizzCon 2019. Players of the original Overwatch won't be left behind, with all new maps being folded back to the original game, all of your cosmetics and progression carrying forward, and so on. In fact, Overwatch and Overwatch 2 will be able to play together. They share the same online servers, balance and gameplay, and will be updated in lockstep with maps and characters.

So what's new in Overwatch 2? Well, quite a lot. Blizzard are greatly expanding the story PvE side of the game, which was previously reserved for limited time events in the original game. There's a full story mode, the first episode of which takes players to Rio de Janiero, and something called Hero Missions, which are described as "highly replayable co-op", featuring meaningful character progression and customisable abilities. It was compared too Adventure Mode in Diablo.

All of the existing characters have had a visual overhauls, and there's a new one called Sojourn as well.

When Dom reviewed Overwatch for Switch, he wrote:

Overwatch on Switch offers the same, fantastically competitive experience that players have been enjoying on other formats for the past few years. While the necessary drop in frame rate is disappointing, it's clearly helped to maintain the quality elsewhere, and does nothing to diminish Overwatch's position as one of the best games of all time.
You can read the full review here.
Source: Twitter

Resident Evil reboot movie cast announced, will be based on first two games

Constantin Films has announced the cast for its reboot of the Resident Evil movie franchise with Kaya Scodelario taking the role of Claire Redfield while Hannah JohnKamen has been cast as Jill Valentine. Robbie Amell will be Chris Redfield, Tom Hopper is Albert Wesker, Avan Jogia  is Leon S. Kennedy, and Neal McDonough will be William Birkin. This movie will go back to 1998 and the origins of the Resident Evil series as the horror of Raccoon City is unleashed.

Kaya Scodelario has starred in the Maze Runner movies and Skins fans will recognise her as the character Effy Stonem. More recently, she was in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge, and The Pale Horse. Hannah John-Kamen was Ghost in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and has also starred in Brave New World, Ready Player One, and The Stranger. Robbie Amell has been in the Flash TV show, Code 8, the recent X Files series, and Upload. Tom Hopper is in The Umbrella Academy, and also starred in Black Sails. Avan Jogia was in Zombieland: Double Tap, and also starred in The Stranger. Neal McDonough may be the big name having been in the likes of Legends of Tomorrow, Altered Carbon, Arrow, Band of Brothers, and Minority Report.

Johanne Roberts, director behind this Resident Evil movie, said:

"With this movie, I really wanted to go back to the original first two games and re-create the terrifying visceral experience I had when I first played them whilst at the same time telling a grounded human story about a small dying American town that feels both relatable and relevant to today's audiences."

A release window for the new Resident Evil movie is yet to be confirmed, but do not expect it to be released for a couple of years.

Source: Deadline


PS5's Tempest 3D AudioTech will only support headphones at launch

One of the cornerstone features of the PlayStation 5 is Sony's custom designed Tempest 3D AudioTech engine, allowing for hundreds or thousands of audio elements to be placed and processed in 3D space within the game. However, while Sony have bold plans to enable this to work and be simulated through everything from surround sound systems to the speakers built into your TV, the company have now stated that 3D audio will only work with a pair of headphones at the launch of the console.

3D audio will work with a very broad range of headphones and headsets, but there are some limitations: your headset will need to plug into the PS5 via USB or into your DualSense controller with a 3.5mm audio jack.

This does unfortunately seem to exclude some high-end wireless headphones that rely on optical audio. The PlayStation 5 does not have an optical audio output, but many TVs have an optical audio output built in which could be used with these headsets. However, this set up would seemingly not be supported by the Tempest engine at launch – there's no guarantees on how the TV will passthrough the audio, with different manufacturers and models having different audio throughput options.

It was back in March at the Road to PS5 tech reveal where Mark Cerny first discussed the Tempest 3D AudioTech engine and the company's ambitious goals for implementing 3D audio for all PS5 users, regardless of their audio set up. A key focus was on having virtual surround sound processed through speakers that are built into TVs, but it was made clear that this technology would evolve over time.

Sony writes, "Although TV speaker virtual surround sound won't be available on launch day for PS5, it's still a feature we are extremely excited about, and our engineers are hard at work on bringing it to PS5 in the future."

TV and soundbars were described as the second audio set up that Sony would focus on supporting, coming ahead of traditional 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems.

Tempest 3D AudioTech will also support head-related transfer function (HRTF) to process the audio in such a way that it matches how sound enters your ear canal, increasing the realism of the sounds and the way they are positioned in 3D around you.

Back in March, Sony stated that the PS5 would have five generic HRTF profiles that users can choose between, but that this could later evolve so that users submit photos of their ears to Sony for a bespoke HRTF profile to be created for them.

This led to Mark Cerny 'liking' photos of peoples ears that they sent to him on Twitter:

It's official: Mark Cerny likes ears.

This checks off another of the 15 big questions we had about the PS5 still remaining in the run up to its release on 12th and 19th November. Earlier this week, it leaked from Russian sources that the 825GB SSD will present 664GB of usable space for game installs, and while somewhat dubious, this figure is believable. However, we're still waiting on a UI reveal, details of major system features like PlayStation Activities, if there are any SSDs available that can be used to expand the internal storage, if games can be backed up to external drives, and so much more.

Source: PS Blog


Assassin's Creed: Valhalla tie in novel Geirmund's Saga announced, releases November

Ubisoft has confirmed that Assassin's Creed: Valhalla will have a tie in novel called Geirmund's Saga, and that it will be released on November 26th for £7.99. The book does not directly follow the story of Eivor but instead the tale of Geirmund Hel-hide. It is an adventure that will explore the raids on Britain with some mythical elements thrown in that tie up Geirmund's fate as he looks for glory and comes face to face with betrayal.

The full synopsis of Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Geirmund's Saga is as follows:

Mid-9th century. The Viking attacks and invasions are shattering England's kingdoms. Born into a royal lineage of Norwegian kings, Geirmund Hel-hide sets out for adventure to prove his worth as a Viking and a warrior. A perilous journey across the sea brings him into contact with a being out of myth and grants him a mysterious ring that promises both great power and bitter betrayal. As Geirmund rises in the ranks of King Guthrum's legendary army, he will have to use all his cunning to face the many dangers of a land ravaged by war . . .

Fighting alongside his band of loyal warriors, his path will soon lead him into a conflict as old as the gods themselves.

The book is being written by author Matthew J. Kirby whose own published works include the novels The Clockwork Three, Icefall, The Dark Gravity Sequence series, and the Assassin's Creed tie in books of The Last Descendants series.

Source: Penguin 


Watch Dogs: Legion post launch content revealed, online multiplayer coming December

Ubisoft has announced the post launch content that Watch Dogs: Legion players will be getting in both free updates, and as part of the game's season pass. One of the main free additions will be online multiplayer, and that will be added to Watch Dogs: Legion on December 3rd. The online portion of the game will allow players to explore London in co-op of up to four players where activities and missions can be completed. This includes four player Tactical Missions. On the player vs player side, players will be able to compete in the Spiderbot Arena through free for all deathmatches.

In 2021, there will be free content for the single player part of Watch Dogs: Legion, and that will include new characters with new abilities, new missions, and a new game plus mode. Season Pass holders will get extra content. It has already been confirmed that Aiden from the original Watch Dogs and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2 will be playable characters for Season Pass holders. In addition, these players will get Darcy from the Assassin's Order, giving a crossover to the Assassin's Creed games, and Mina who can use the mind control ability. The Season Pass also adds the Bloodline story missions and a copy of the original Watch Dogs.

If you are going to play Watch Dogs: Legion on PC then you may want to check out the specs here. Watch Dogs Legion will be out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on 29th October. The game will also be coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at launch of the next gen consoles. The PS5 physical version will release on November 24th.

Ubisoft itself has been the centre of controversy in recent times with lots of allegations and instances of sexual assault as well as tone deaf marketing. It's true that the company has taken steps in the last few months, removing Tommy FrançoisMaxime Béland, Serge HascoëtAshraf Ismail and other Ubisoft executives for after allegations of varying severity were levied against them. However, further allegations were made in August which have not yet been publicly addressed, as Ubisoft deal with these matters internally with the help of third parties.

Ubisoft released Tom Clancy's Elite Squad on mobile and then removed imagery of a raised black fist, at a time where such imagery in combination with the actions within the game played too closely to the Black Lives Matter movement that rose to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. The studio behind it? The one run by Yves Guillemot's son Charlie Guillemot who was awarded a high ranking role right out of uni.

Source: Press Release


October's PlayStation Now update adds Days Gone, MediEvil, and Friday The 13th

Sony has taken to the spirit of October with this month's PlayStation Now roster update adding some suitably horror and Halloween based games. Leading the charge is Bend Studio's Days Gone where players can outrun hordes of Freakers while taking in the natural sights on a bike. Days Gone will be available on the service until January 5th 2021. Joining Days Gone are MediEvil, Friday The 13th, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, and Rad.

In our review for Days Gone, Jim wrote:

There are glimmers of true excellence here; small stretches of Days Gone can be especially fun and polished. However, the assembly of these various parts suffers from the lack of an engaging story, compelling characters, or an open world that feels organic and worth exploring.
Jim weighed in again with his thoughts when reviewed MediEvil, and wrote:
MediEvil resurrects one of our all-time favourite PlayStation mascots for a new generation. This remake does exactly what it promises, revamping dated visuals while staying faithful to the 1998 original, even if that means digging up certain design choices that have remained buried with Sir Dan all these years.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is a lovely return for the series' 2.5D puzzle platforming. It tinkers with and broadens the gameplay options to be more welcoming, and levels can feel a little stretched out at times, but grab a couple of friends and stick it on Classic mode, and this will delight fans of those first two games.
And in our Rad review, Reuben wrote:
An enjoyable retro-style rogue-lite; in RAD you should expect brutal gameplay in a gaudy and synthesised world. The random nature of the world sometimes proves to be a problem, but not enough to diminish what is a fantastically loud take on the genre. If only for letting players smack about mutants with their engorged limbs and a baseball bat, RAD lives up to its name. Just try to stop playing it, you'll struggle.

We do not have a review for Friday The 13th but if you are looking for a multiplayer horror title, then that should scratch your itch. #

Source: PS Blog


Dreams' big The Music Update is out today – here's the patch notes

A big update for Dreams is out today, stuffing Media Molecule's creation-based game with tons of new musical-themed content for creators to play around with. This will bring the game's version number up to 2.18.

One of the most immediate improvements this brings is with hundreds of new orchestral instruments, new synths, drum kits, pianos, guitars and even church organs, so you can compose pretty much anything you can dream up. To handle all of this, the musical instrument collections have also been redesigned, nesting collections within one another to hopefully help you find what you want more easily. Oh, and all the recorded previews are better balanced, to sooth your tender ear holes instead of blasting them.

Actually putting these instruments into use is enhanced with a few new effects. Tempo sync allows you to sync up audio to the beat more easily, Bipolar LFO means effect fields will oscillate between two values – turning this off means the wobble only goes to a value and not to the polar opposite – and you can change the priority and influence of effects with Height, so they can target specific sounds.

If you're more into working with samples, then Clips are a library of pre-composed loops and phrases, all in the same key and tempo that you can mix, match, modulate and twist into whatever form you want. To help get your creative juices flowing, there's also some 'Starting Points' which are an experimental new idea to give you a basis from which you can develop your own creation, and there's also just a bunch of full new compositions that you can add to your projects.

It all sounds like a pretty great update for those who have enjoyed fiddling with the game's audio creation tools.

Update: Here's the full patch notes:

New Instruments

The Mm instruments library is fuller, more organised and just plain better than ever. Featuring a full suite of brand-new orchestral instruments, synths, drums and much, much (much!) more. Tuned and Non-Tuned Percussion have grown so much, they each have their own unique collection! Fan-favourite legacy instruments are still here – you'll find them in the 'More' sub-collections. Don't forget to listen to any updates on instruments after you accept them! Your existing music may be affected, because we've carefully balanced the mix of our older instruments, helping newly-created music in the Dreamiverse sound as awesome as possible.

Including:

  • New drum kits
  • New keyboards
  • New guitars
  • New percussion/tuned percussion – now in separate sub-collections
  • New synths (and a complete overhaul of the collection)
  • New bass
  • New strings (and a complete overhaul of the collection)
  • New wind and brass (and a complete overhaul of the collection)
  • New sampled phrases & effects
  • New vocals
  • Some legacy instruments are now in 'More' sub-collections of each category

New Music Clips

Clips are an easy, fun way to make music in Dreams – as simple as stamping on a timeline. And we've made it better, adding a whole load of new music clips, spanning multiple genres! There's more variety than ever before, it's all designed to work together, and it's carefully organised to help structure your tracks.

Including:

  • New clips covering more genres and moods, organised by Melodies, Beats, Textures, Harmonies, Chords, Bass.

New Music Tracks

We've added a whole range of new tracks to the collection, polished and ready to be stamped into your scene, and now organised by mood and style. There's also a brand-new remix-friendly 'starting points' collection, to help kick-start your own creativity. Finally, for advanced music dreamers, we've added more logic-based interactive music.

Including:

  • Sub-collections of tracks organised by mood and use, from Peaceful to Intense, and including new generative/interactive tracks.
  • New collection of musical starting points to kick-start the creative process.

New Effect Field Features

Including:

  • New effect field tweak menu page 'Movement' added to control LFO settings
  • New 'Beatsync LFO' button synchronises the LFO rate to the tempo
  • With beat sync on, LFO Rate slider now subdivides the tempo
  • 'Bipolar LFO' controls whether LFOs range from -1 to +1 or 0 to +1
  • 'Reverse LFO' reverses the LFO wave shape
  • New effect field 'Upper/Lower Height in Timelines' sliders added to the tweak menu's Options page
  • The above means that effect fields on timelines can now be used horizontally and vertically, to affect specific instruments
  • LFOs now work in microchips, timelines and in the world itself

What's New Elsewhere?

  • Controller Sensor Motion Controller Mappings: A new addition to the controller sensor tweak menu, displaying the button mapping for motion controllers (as applicable).
  • VR Subtitle Positioning: A new option in My Preferences to adjust the position of subtitles when in VR.
  • Disable Comfort Mode: Creators will now have the option to temporarily turn off a player's Comfort Mode setting if their creation is not compatible. Players will receive notice of this before continuing.
  • Basic AIM Controller Support: AIM controllers will now function when connected, interpreted as a wireless controller.
  • How to… Label: A new How To… video focused on labelling your VR creations correctly. Watch here
  • Controller Compatibility Labelling: A new option to specify the controller(s) your creation is intended for.

Updates & Improvements

  • Updated: Changes to VR labels, providing clearer information on ratings and compatibility (e.g. Non-VR has changed to TV Only). The changes are highlighted on an in-game screen (see screenshot).
  • Updated: You can now choose more gizmo types for the Hand/Imp Tracker (wireless controller, motion controllers, wireless controller – VR, motion controllers – VR). All these options show imps, sized and positioned appropriately for controller, but the VR options also show the controllers, positioned and sized for VR.
  • Updated: A reminder to new VR players that Reel operates differently in Play and Create modes.
  • Removed: The 'Welcome Dreamers' page when booting up Dreams.

Source: PS Blog


Monster Hunter Rise won't add a new weapon type to the series

This week a string of interviews with Capcom and Monster Hunter series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto have gone live, detailing a number of features and design influences that have made their way into the upcoming Monster Hunter Rise.

Announced in September alongside Monster Hunter Stories 2 during a Nintendo Direct Mini, Rise will be launching exclusively on the Nintendo Switch in March 2021 with Capcom having made some deliberate choices in setting it apart from the hugely successful Monster Hunter: World.

Before we round out some of the key information siphoned from these numerous interviews, it has been confirmed that Monster Hunter Rise will not be adding a new weapon type to the game. That said, it will include all fourteen weapon classes found in Monster Hunter: World, including the recently introduced Charge Blade. Here's what Tsujimito had to say about this in his interview with Eurogamer:

Adding an extra weapon type would really have to add something new, it would have to add something to the roster that isn't currently present in any of the quite large number of weapons already there. And we also have so many ways that we can increase the depth and breadth of the gameplay that aren't fixated on that idea of an extra weapon, for example, the wirebug mechanic—that adds something to each and every existing weapon, they all have ways you can combine the wirebug with. And that way of taking something which adds on to all 14 weapons adds a depth and breadth, that wouldn't be the same as just saying try different weapons. You know, we just don't think in those kind of terms. We always think, how do we add to the breadth and depth of the experience, and in this case we've chosen to add something to the hunter's toolset in general.

Development on Rise began shortly after Capcom wrapped Monster Hunter Generations. Much like this 3DS instalment, Monster Hunter Rise is aimed at being a handheld title and will reportedly be designed for short yet action-filled bursts of gameplay.

Monster Hunter Rise – 7 things you need to know

As for post-launch support, Capcom have already confirmed that it will continue to grow via title updates much like Monster Hunter: World. However, when asked by 4Gamer whether Rise will have a G Edition or an expansion, Tsujimoto said that the team have not yet considered this (via Siliconera).

There are some other tidbits too, which Gematsu have compiled in a handy list for fans. We found out that your Palamute companion in Monster Hunter Rise will attack in tandem with the hunter, becoming more aggressive as you dole out damage. As for the upcoming range of amiibo figures, they will unlock daily lottery prizes as well as layered armour sets. Finally, the Japanese theme or Rise is said to help separate it from Generations and World in visual design.

Source: Gematsu


Interview: How Synthesis became a go-to studio for voice acting and localisation in games

As we enter the next generation of gaming, production values continue to expand, and with them player expectation. However, we shouldn't forget the huge leaps and bounds gaming has taken through the PS4 and Xbox One era. As technology has improved, one of the factors that we've come to expect from modern games is high quality voice performances, bringing the medium ever closer to Hollywood blockbusters and big-budget TV.

One of the leading voice-recording and localisation studios in the world is Synthesis, and we were able to catch up with the company's co-founders, Director of Operations Finn Seliger and Head of Translation Jan Werkmeister to talk about what goes into getting a perfect performance before it finds its way into your games.


TSA: Can you talk us through how Synthesis came to be?

Finn & Jan: We three founders of Synthesis [Adrian Koch, Finn Seliger and Jan Werkmeister] met in university, studying media technology. We were interested in audio and shared the same dream – having a high-end recording studio of our own. We finished our studies and fulfilled this dream by planning and building a recording studio in the basement of a former U-boat engine factory. The conceptual side was our thesis and once the studio was constructed, we started our own company called Periscope Studio, in 2007. We had another colleague in university who founded a development studio (Daedalic Entertainment) at more or less the same time. He inspired us to venture into the games industry.

As a service provider, we concentrated on music production and sound design only to learn that there was a high demand for voice recordings, while the market for music and sound design was already crowded. We continued producing music and sound design initially but, quite naturally, the amount of voice recordings grew. Our first voice recordings were the German original recordings for Daedalic Entertainment's first games. There were extensive scripts and a lot of files to handle, as we did almost everything manually back then. So, we learned a lot in those early days. In 2009, we were contacted by Synthesis, an international company which had been around since the mid-1990s and already had many AAA localization clients/projects under their belt.

At that time, we produced our first real localisations with an English source and German target. The collaboration went smoothly and we became their go-to studio for German localization. In late 2010, we felt ready to handle our largest production to date, which ran by the code name "big fella". We had to deal with something new this time – translation would also have to be handled by us. Although it was a major challenge, we agreed and successfully localised a sheer monster of a game – long-awaited RPG, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Reviews for Skyrim were very positive and we were asked whether we would like to start a joint venture with Synthesis as their local German office, 'Synthesis Germany'. We agreed and the company was founded in early 2012. With its founding came the need to build up a proper internal translation department, which was fully established in 2013. You could say that our transformation from a small audio provider to a full-service loc provider was completed by then.

TSA: How can the use of technology improve an actor's performance in games?

Finn & Jan: Technology is a key factor in audio production. Today's professional audio recording solutions are advanced and give us more creative freedom while taking care of the technical necessities. ADR functionality is, for example, integrated in many digital audio workstations which helps us a lot when it comes to matching lip movements. But recording technology is just one side of the coin.

Most work goes into preparing for the actual recording – organising assets and structuring the material is a great challenge. Due to the interactivity and enormous size of some game worlds, we have plenty of information that needs to be prepared properly. Building your own solutions is essential to achieve a productive workflow, because the less time we spend on the technical side of things, the more we can concentrate on actor performance.

Quality performances are only possible with specific direction. In other words, overwhelming the voice actor is counter productive. We need to filter out anything superfluous and only provide relevant information for the recording session at hand. Over the years, this has led to every part of the audio production being optimised. We have relevant character information, pictures, dialogues and audio pronunciation guides directly at our fingertips to support the actor in doing a great job.

TSA: One of your specialities is localisation – as games become ever more expansive, and are accessible across the world, how has that affected the way the studio works?

Finn & Jan: The biggest impact on our work has been the increased size and complexity of modern video game localisation projects. The work itself, in theory, doesn't change, whether you do a few lines with one actor or several thousand lines with 100 actors.

What changes is the organisational side of production. Processes and workflows must be tailored to dealing with the huge amounts of data – both text and audio. We sometimes see professional loc platforms and database-driven systems struggle to cope with larger RPG/MMORPG content. That's why we always recommend a robust localisation CMS such as XLOC. Also, typical production time frames aren't being extended proportionately as the content gets bigger.

Usually developers are under pressure to finish their game within a certain timeframe and there's a need for the publisher to ship on time to fully capitalise on their investment. Since localisation comes last, our time frame often gets 'squished', because production took longer, but the release date is still fixed.

TSA: You've worked on some of the biggest series of the last decade, what level of pressure does that bring to your work?

Finn & Jan: I believe the two main challenges in localisation are working on a tight deadline and the typical 'chaos' that arises towards the end of production. Video game release dates are usually fixed and localization takes place in the very last stages of development, something you need to be prepared for. To handle a huge loc production under deadline pressure, you need to be razor-sharp once the first loc batch drops in.

You also need to manage the 'chaos' that arises when devs work on various last-minute updates to the game – be it gameplay improvements, adjustments to storytelling or bugs. As a loc provider, it's our job to support the client by handling all of these updates in a timely manner and don't overlook any consequences the single changes might have on consistency.

It's easier to handle text translation updates than audio ones, therefore our clients do their best to lock in the audio at a certain point before release. However, it's still possible that important scenes might need to be re-edited and could require last-minute pickup recordings. Again this is one of the moments where a seasoned loc provider can shine. Getting a VIP actor into the studio to record three lines and deliver the final cutscene audio stem right before gold master is almost like an art form. It's one of the best things we can do to support our client's successful release.

TSA: What are the challenges to getting a good performance out of a voice actor?

Finn & Jan: The biggest challenge is to inspire and capture high quality voice acting that makes the game a great experience for players! Especially as there are so many factors that can influence an actor's performance. From my experience, creative freedom is the basis of any good performance. Even though we are 'just' localising, we need to maintain a healthy proximity to the original version in order to let the localised version shine.

This principle is found in all aspects of the production. Every actor interprets situations differently and reacts differently. Only if we allow for this freedom, will we achieve magical storytelling moments full of life. This being said, good actor performances start with good casting! We match the game characters with the talents of our actors. The more an actor reacts in a natural way, in tune with their character, the more convincing their performance will be in the game.

TSA: When you're working with hugely famous actors like Christopher Lee or Alec Baldwin, do you find they have a different approach?

Finn & Jan: The process is always the same. Working with great actors is very fulfilling – for the audience as well as the voice director! When working with an especially experienced or talented actor, you want to get the most out of their recording session with proper preparation.

TSA: For the Elder Scrolls you matched up these names with local dubbing talent – how did that work?

Finn & Jan: It is true that popular actors have a set German counterpart who will be their voice in the local market. Whether in movies or TV series, these combinations seldom change. As Germans, we associate that 'German' voice with the original actor as if it was her or his own.

However, in video games you never see the actor's real face so the above rule is not so strict. We can mix famous voices with game characters as we like, and make use of the effect it has on players.

However, if casting the voice of a game character which has been designed with a specific actor as reference, we might approach that actor's German counterpart. Sir Cadwell, for example, has such a great portrayal by John Cleese in The Elder Scrolls Online that we absolutely wanted the 'German John Cleese' to do the job.

TSA: Where do you think the next step is going to be in voice performance technology?

Finn & Jan: Audio technology has progressed massively in recent times and there are a few technologies on the verge of becoming relevant to video games localisation. These have the potential to disrupt the current business, therefore it makes sense for us to adapt and integrate them into the work we do as early as possible.

The most intriguing ones are text-to-speech and 'voice skins' (or voice modulation). Text-to-speech is being used already for content which doesn't need any emotional quality, such as e-learning, tutorials or similar. The current text-to-speech systems aren't suited for anything beyond that, especially not for narrative-heavy video games content, but that might change once they provide a way to dynamically tune the voice to create something that resembles the changes of the human voice when emotions are being expressed.

On the other hand, 'voice skins' is a technology that alters a voice to make it sound like somebody else's. It's already on the market, at least at a level of quality suitable for in-game player chats. If the quality of voice skins continues to advance, it could provide a whole new approach to recording characters for a game. The process is as follows: You use a small group of talented actors ("dummy actors") to record all the lines of a game and get raw voice data. This data includes all the acting flourishes and emotional nuances for each character. Then by applying voice skins, you can replace each voice until the 'dummy' cast of actors is extended to the full range of characters that will appear in-game.

Since the amount of voice actors employed on a project has a significant impact on budget, voice skins technology could be a cost-saver for the English original recordings as well as any localized recordings of the game. Also, imagine the flexibility. Last-minute changes to character dialogue could be quickly completed by recording a small pool of dummy actors and applying the corresponding voice skin. Instead of having to arrange a sudden recording with some super famous Hollywood actor!

There are pros and cons to using voice skins, but disruptive technology like this is something we professionals have to watch. It's better to embrace change and innovation early than be left behind.

TSA: What does the arrival of the new console generation mean for the studio?

Finn & Jan: Theoretically, new recording setups could be introduced based on the enhanced surround sound capabilities (including voices) of the new consoles. For example, you might add a room sound mic to the regular direct one that is currently being used. However, I suspect the most prominent effect on the localization industry will be a surge of demand due to the new games being produced for next gen, as it has been for every new console generation. We will likely see even more sophisticated render scenes in need of high class voice acting and we will see an increase of size due to more complex games – more to translate and more to record.


Thanks to Finn & Jan for chatting with us. Keep an eye (or maybe an ear) out for Synthesis' work in games like Doom Eternal, Monster Hunter: World, Dishonored and beyond.


Will Dead By Daylight get bots on PC & consoles?

Since Dead By Daylight originally launched in 2016 on PC (soon followed by Xbox One and PlayStation 4) one of the most requested features from the game's ever-growing community has been bots.

Developed by Behaviour Interactive, Dead By Daylight is an asymmetrical horror game in which one team of four survivors must outsmart a lone killer, all five participants controlled by human players.

However, there has always been an appetite for AI bots to be thrown into the mix, as well as some kind of singleplayer component to Dead By Daylight. Despite being less popular and available on fewer formats, rival horror hit Friday the 13th: The Game managed it.

The main reason for adding bots would be as a learning tool for both new and experienced players. When starting out, Dead By Daylight can be fairly intimidating as you gradually get a feel of the ropes and the layer of hidden tricks built into the game's mechanics.

There's an argument to be made that AI controlled characters would struggle to emulate the adaptable behaviour of human players though it would be a worthwhile feature nonetheless. Right now, queues to join online matches as a killer can take several minutes, even with cross-play enabled. Playing as a survivor is fun, sure, though not quite as satisfying as hunting them down and offering them up as sacrifice for The Entity.

As such, if you've unlocked a new killer and want to learn their unique powers and experiment with loadouts you'll need to do so in public matches. So, when can we expect bots (if at all)?

Interestingly, Behaviour Interactive have already included them in the mobile version of Dead By Daylight. Whenever a player disconnects from a match, they are replaced by an AI controlled counterpart. When asked by ComicBook if this feature would make its way into the PC and console versions of the game, this is what game director Matheiu Cote had to say earlier this year:

Well, the idea for us is the try to maximize what we get out of the work that we create for ourselves. So if we create something specifically for mobile and it ends up being something really, really cool that people get excited about, we'll of course try to find a way to put that on every platform if it makes sense for the platform.

In fact, if we look closer at DBD Mobile, there are a number of desirable features unique to this version, such as being able to share items across characters as well as trying locked characters for a limited time without paying.

Having just kicked off their latest season as well as the recent addition of cross-play (not to mention confirmation of a free next-gen upgrade), Behaviour Interactive continue to go from strength to strength. While AI bots for PC and consoles have yet to be officially confirmed, we'd be surprised if they didn't eventually make their way into these versions. If not bot matches, then we'd expect enhanced tutorials as well as a testing ground for killers to perform some player-free bloodletting.


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


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