Blog Archive

Friday, 2 October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now then, what have you been playing this week?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Human

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

Githyanki

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

Elf

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

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

Drow

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

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

Half-Elf

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

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

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

Dwarf

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

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

Hafling

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

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

Tiefling

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

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

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

Source: press release


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Fall Guys, Mediatonic


Paradise Killer Review

Have you ever played a video game that felt like it was made by an actual space alien? Because after my time with Paradise Killer, I feel like I've done just that. On paper, Paradise Killer is an open-ended detective game about tracking down evidence and clues that point toward the culprit of a mysterious locked-room murder. It's a pretty safe description that evokes feelings of games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney or Danganronpa, and this indie detective delight definitely shares some DNA with those games.

Unlike either of those games, Paradise Killer happens to take place in a cosmically horrifying pocket dimension where secret syndicates build giant brutalist islands occupied by whiskey-serving skeletons and horny Scottish doctors in an attempt to gather enough spiritual energy to resurrect the Old Gods. Standard.

Plenty of people compare the aesthetic and style of Paradise Killer to that of legendary Japanese video game designer Suda 51 and the iconic worlds of No More Heroes and Killer 7. Within just a few minutes, it's easy to see why that comparison crops up. Lo-fi sound effects and old-school computer visuals are sprinkled throughout a world where a protagonist named something as nuts as "Lady Love Dies" exists. It's the kind of game world where a character can say, "A Nightmare Computer from the depths of space that uses a language born on a long dead world," with an utterly serious tone and absolutely get away with it.

There's a mountain of initially indecipherable lore and culture to the world of Paradise Killer, and part of the game is simply learning what makes this chaotic world tick and seeing the seemingly random aesthetic of the universe come together in a shockingly cohesive and well-written way. Lurking beneath the veneer of a surreal, brutalist, vaporwave island full of misfits and madness is an incredibly sophisticated story that is brought to light by one central mystery – a locked room murder.

Paradise Killer takes place on Paradise 24, the 24th iteration of the Syndicate designed island oasis. Like every iteration before it, this idyllic and timeless society eventually began to crumble and collapse. As the Syndicate gathered and put the finishing touches on Paradise 25 to move on over there and start the cycle again, however, someone mysteriously murdered the entire group. Now, Lady Love Dies, the only known Investigator around, has been brought out of her 3 million day exile to crack the case and figure out who pulled off the crime of the millennium.

In almost any other investigation-heavy murder mystery game, there would be one set culprit for you to catch, with the game gently or hamfistedly guiding you through a set path of investigations and interrogations. Paradise Killer does no such thing and instead drops you smack dab in the middle of Paradise 24 and gives you free rein to explore the entire island, interrogate every inhabitant, and piece together any amount of clues and evidence you deem necessary to come to what feels like a conclusion. It could be a natural one, a forced one, or an instinctive one. You're allowed to begin the trial and choose your suspect at any point in time, leaving the final say on who goes down for the murder to you and you alone.

It's a daunting task, especially in the very beginning of Paradise Killer. It can be overwhelming to have the whole confusingly mapped island to pan for clues, not to mention the entire cast of characters at your fingertips to converse with and investigate. As you start to land on a bread crumb trail of clues or information, though, you'll soon find yourself naturally scouring the island for that next piece of info that you need to piece together your theory. Perhaps your theory is different than mine, or perhaps you come to a grim conclusion and decide to pin the blame on someone else in order to protect your favorite character.

Despite the weird and wild aura of the world, every character still talks and behaves like a real person. That leads to plenty of instances of doubt, deceit, and insecurity, but it also leads to you naturally growing to get attached to or despite certain cast members. The burden of the investigation is entirely on your shoulders, and it's up to you to decide if you pursue to cold hard truth or protect the people you've grown fond of.

Alongside collecting evidence, testimonies, and records of the world of Paradise Killer, there are also an abundance of other collectibles strewn about the world. Most of these are a currency called Blood Crystals that you can use to activate fast travel points, unlock upgrades for your evidence-gathering laptop, or even bribe characters with. A lot of these items are hidden in awkward nooks and crannies of the 3D world, and you'll often be forced to jump around and navigate precarious platforms to obtain them.

Despite being a game that surprisingly relies a lot on platforming, though, the jumping in Paradise Killer can often feel pretty clunky. Worse yet, as you get hours into the game, the items and clues available to you start to dwindle, and it can lead to a lot of aggrivating down-time as you fruitlessly teleport around the island in search of just one more hint. Whether you start the final trial out of frustration with your dead ends or a real sense of conviction in your answers, it's the highlight of the entire experience by far as all of your hard work and investigation comes together stylishly.


Microsoft Flight Simulator guide – how to install community mods & addons

Microsoft Flight Simulator has been out a little while now, and while Asobo are focussing on patching the game and making some great looking World Updates, the community have been hard at work making their own aircraft and updates to the world.

Thankfully, installing mods and addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator is pretty simple.

Want to find some fun and cool mods to install in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020? Well check out our selection of must-have mods and addons for the game, from authentic community scenery projects to futuristic prototype planes and even Sci-Fi spacecraft!


How to install mods and addons in Microsoft Flight Simulator

If you're new to installing addons, then the first thing you'll need to do is find your Community folder. It's location will depend on how you bought the game.

If you're using the Windows Store (or Game Pass for PC), then head here:

C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.FlightSimulator_[RANDOM LETTERS]\LocalCache\Packages\Community

Or if you're on Steam, try here:

C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Flight Simulator\Packages\Community

or

C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.FlightDashboard_[RANDOM LETTERS]\LocalCache\Packages\Community

Once you've found the right folder, unzip the mod's folder to that location and they should be available in your game. Make sure that there's not nested folders within folders as well. It should be:

\Community\[MOD FOLDER]\[MOD FILES]

What about a Mod Manager?

If you really want to get into modding Flight Simulator, then you might be better off using a mod manager. ModManFX has been updated to support Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, able to handle extracting mods from archives, somewhat automating the process of finding your Community folder, and so on. The one caveat is that you will need to remove all mods you have manually installed and reinstall them using ModManFX.


That's pretty much all there is to it! We've been digging into some of the best community creations out there and have put together a list of our favourites here.


Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 – The must-have mods & free addons

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has been out for around a month and a half now, and there's already a vibrant scene of mod makers for the game, from aircraft developers to scenery and building creators.

We've been trawling through the internet to find the best of the bunch. Obviously we're not going to be able to cover every mod here, but we're going to feature a selection of our favourites in the hope you find something that interests you!

But first, if you're new to this, you probably want to know how to install mods? Well, it's pretty straightforward and we've got a dedicated guide for you here.

Microsoft Flight Simulator must have aircraft mods

First up, anyone who has even the slightest interest in the airliners has to take a look at FlyByWire's A32NX Project – a community focused on upgrading the default Airbus A320neo, intent on "improving the systems depth and functionality to bring it up to payware-level, all for free". A huge group of programmers, modellers, and real-life pilots are collaborating for this open-source project.

So far, they've managed to add additional functionality to the ECAM monitors; allowing you to view information such as which doors are open, a better overview of the APU, as well as adding various aircraft memo's and messages – but best of all, they've added a working seat belt switch, complete with an authentic "bong!" sound.

Even if you're a casual flyer who's not interested in simulating everything to the smallest detail, you'll still find the finished aircraft checklists or lighting improvements useful. There's still a long way to go before it could be considered 'study level', but it's amazing to see what the community has accomplished within a relatively short amount of time, and perhaps the most impressive thing is that it's free!

In a similar vein, there are other communities dedicated to improving other default aircraft. The Salty Simulations community seeks to improve the default Boeing 747, while Hanger9 Systems are focusing on the Boeing 787 (just remember that you need the Premium Duplex version to access this aircraft). Although these projects haven't made quite as much progress, there's no harm in giving them a go, or at least bookmarking and waiting for some more progress to be made. I'm sure that as their communities grow, their development pace will similarly accelerate.

With your improved aircraft, you'll probably want some nicer looking liveries to go with it, right? Over at the Official Forums, users have created a mini-database of nearly 200 liveries, while Clink's Megapack V8 currently contains over 300 liveries across 15 aircraft. There's a good mix here too, from real-world airlines in different variants, to fictional airlines, so you're bound to find something you prefer to the default paint jobs.

If you're looking for an aircraft that is purely for fun, while also allowing you to fulfil your sci-fi dreams, then look no further than Eggman28's creations. His add-on pack includes 'aircraft' such as the Millenium Falcon, an X-Wing fighter and the USS Enterprise. Some of these are just random 3D models, or are old versions ported across from Flight Simulator X, and as such have limited animations, sounds and interior cockpits. The controls and flight models can also be a bit wonky at times, but then again, when else are you going to get to fly an Imperial Shuttle out of a floating Star Destroyer "airport"?

To get these vehicles up in the air after spawning, you'll generally have to enter Slew Mode (default key is Y), and then manually increase your altitude (hit F4 a few times). While in Slew Mode, you can also adjust your position using the number pad keys, after which you can press Y again to resume normal flight.

Another fun aircraft to try is the Boeing 797. This fictional aircraft, based on Boeing's X-48 prototype can be enjoyable to fly with its 'blended wing' body. Again, it's a fairly basic model without cockpit functions and temperamental sounds, but at the very least you can take some futuristic screenshots with it, like the one above!

Microsoft Flight Simulator must have scenery mods

Moving on to the freeware scenery creations now, when you take into account the sheer size of the 'game world' it's no surprise that Asobo hasn't been able to get every square inch perfect. In fact, the 1:1 representation of the Earth gives you a surface area of almost 197 million square miles – to put that in perspective, the map in GTA V is 'only' about 49 square miles. Asobo are working on regular updates, this week's Japan World Update a sign of things to come, but others are working on the game world as well. Here's a few of my favourite scenery packs that improve either the terrain, buildings or just add a bit of fun to the world.

The Yosemite Valley pack improves the terrain within the National Park, with notable features such as El Capitan and the Half Dome looking much more accurate. There's a few rough spots where the original and improved terrain meet, but flying through the valley in a GA aircraft at sunset is truly wonderful.

Those that have flown around Washington DC will probably be disappointed by the quality of the local landmarks – for example, the Washington Monument appears as a skyscraper rather than an obelisk! Srinivasman's pack fixes this issue and adds more accurate models for the White House, Capitol Building and more.

Aquila Simulation's Kennedy Space Centre pack adds more detail to the area, from a Falcon Heavy on the launchpad to the mighty Vehicle Assembly Building that was used in the Apollo programme – it's still one of the largest buildings in the world by volume, even after all these years.

Last up, and just for a bit of fun, you could get Godzilla terrorising San Francisco, or a model of the Loch Ness Monster for some creative screenshots!

There's a bunch of more scenery addons I've enjoyed, and far too many to list here. If there's a particular place you're interested in flying in, it's well worth taking a bit of time before your flight to see if there's any available freeware that could improve your experience.


Well, there you have it. If you've found any good addons that I haven't mentioned here, please drop a comment below as I'd love to try them out!


World of Warcraft: Shadowlands release has been delayed

Blizzard has announced it is delaying World of Warcraft's next expansion Shadowlands, pushing the release from October 27th to a date that is yet to be confirmed. The delay comes as Blizzard has stated more time is need to polish the Shadowlands experience so it lands in a state that will be acceptable for both players and the development team. John Hight, executive producer of World of Warcraft, released the following statement explaining the delay situation.

I wanted to let you know that we're delaying the release of Shadowlands to later this year—and while we're still in the process of determining the right new date to launch, we felt it was important to let you know about this change in plans as soon as we could. This was an incredibly difficult decision for the team, as we're as eager to get the expansion into your hands as you are to play it—but ultimately, we feel it's the right decision for the game—and for our players. Over the past several months of testing, we've made significant progress iterating on and polishing the core features and gameplay of Shadowlands. We're at a point where the zones, the campaign, the level-up questing experience. and the story we have to tell are essentially ready to share. We're excited by the Covenants at the heart of the expansion, and it's been a thrill to see Torghast take shape into a fun new kind of WoW experience, thanks in no small part to your input.

However, as everything started coming together and we've been listening to and building upon your feedback. It's become clear we need a little more time for additional polish, and to balance and iterate on some interlocking pieces—particularly those related to the endgame. Shadowlands is one of the most intricate expansions we've yet created, and while we've made great progress, the challenge of tuning the endgame was compounded the team having to work from home.

Blizzard has a commitment to quality. We believe Shadowlands will be something special, and heard from many of you who feel the same. We need this extra time to ensure that Shadowlands lives up to its full potential. In the meantime, we're excited to announce that beginning October 13 we will be releasing the Shadowlands pre-patch, which lays a lot of the groundwork for the expansion and includes our revamped character leveling, new-player experience on Exile's Reach, and a host of new character customization options. And once we get closer to Shadowlands' release, you'll be called upon to defend Azeroth against a resurgence of the Scourge during our prelaunch event.

Thanks for your support and passion, and for your continued help and feedback as we head toward the finish line We'll see you In the Shadowlands soon.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands was announced last year at Blizzcon. The Shadowlands will play host to familiar fallen characters you've encountered in the past. Never meant for mortal eyes, this entirely new area sports a diverse array of environments from floating islands of Bastion and the mystic forests of Ardenweald, as well as the blighted lands of Revendreth and Maldraxxus. In this new realm, players will need to choose a Covenant to align with in their quest to restore balance between the forces of life and death.

Source: Twitter


[UPDATE] The Epic Games Store Star Wars Squadrons launch issue is fixed

UPDATE: The problem has now been resolved!

Original story below…

Something seems to have gone wrong with the Epic Games Store version Star Wars Squadrons as those who are trying to install it are being shown a pop-up with the Origin store logo and a request for an activation key. This is a bug and should not be happening.

Many users on Twitter are reporting the issue.

Unfortunately this seems to be an issue with how the installation package has been assembled and there is no way to fix it yourself, you will have to wait until EA fix it.

Star Wars: Squadrons is out today, October 2nd, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC with full support for PSVR, Steam VR and Oculus Rift VR through the entire game. Our 'in-progress' review should be posted very shortly, so keep an eye out for that.

The story is set after the Battle of Endor and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. You'll jump back and forth between the the two sides as the New Republic rises and the Empire fights for survival, able to create and customise your own character on both sides. You'll join the New Republic's Vanguard Squadron and the Empire's Titan Squadron, made up of original characters, though there will be some cameos from familiar faces as well.

There's a lot in common with the classic X-Wing and Tie Fighter games, between missions as well, with classically styled briefings and interactions with others in your squad. Of course, all of that is now rendered in modern graphics and looks fantastic.

There's eight ships in the game – a fighter, interceptor, support and bomber for both sides – each having a specific role in battle. You can unlock and customise them  with over 50 components to alter your ship's loadout, and just having a cute bobble head in the cockpit.

Previously revealed about the 5v5 multiplayer, there's a few different modes. Dogfight is your traditional deathmatch mode, but Fleet Battles are the signature mode. These are multi-stage battles, playable in both PvP and PvE, where you first fight to win the dogfight in the centre of the map before attacking or defending the capital ships, and finally taking it to the flagship to destroy or defend key components and win the battle. You'll be battling around a mixture of familiar and new locations as well, with battles around the gas giant Yavin Prime and the shattered moon of Galitan.

Source: Twitter

 


Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time Review

After decades of neglect and some pretty naff spin-offs, Crash Bandicoot is back for a brand new adventure. The huge success of the remastered trilogy and Crash Team Racing may have been a surprise to some, but it was clearly enough to get Activision interested in putting their marsupial back in action.

Those coming from the N.Sane Trilogy will feel right at home. The game features the same bright and colourful cartoon style that the series is known for, and cutscenes are nice and polished. That said, compared to rival platformers like Ratchet & Clank on PS4, I feel Crash 4's style can look a little long in the tooth. Obviously part of this is a matter of style but, given some of the ways this new game takes influences from Insomniac's platformer, the contrast was pretty clear.

One of the new additions here is a myriad of character skins, so that Crash and Coco can be dressed up how you wish. These skins aren't just given away, though; instead being unlocked through some of the most demanding challenges the game has to offer – there's no sign of microtransactions here. I spent much of my playthrough with Crash dressed up as a chicken (the punnily named mother-clucker skin) and with Coco in a futuristic Tron-style outfit.

Regardless of how you look, Crash 4 is classic Crash through and through. While most levels are fiendishly well-designed, some feel like I've played them before. Regular series diversions and annoyances like the jetbike, polar bear racing levels, and into the screen chases are all present and correct. This is obviously a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for Toys for Bob. They're giving fans exactly what they want, but it does have the unfortunate effect of making Crash 4 feel more like a lost PS1 title at times, rather than a current gen game.

This isn't to say that Crash 4 is without new ideas, though. The addition of more player characters with distinct skillsets and storylines is hugely welcome, even if they are set in their own levels rather than being available in the main path. The new characters are all iconic series favourites, with Dr Cortex, Crash's absent girlfriend Tawna, and er… Dingodile all featuring. Once you meet these characters in the story you unlock their own timelines, a series of specific levels that fill in their backstory and show where they interact with Crash and Coco. This is a lovely touch and gives an extra perspective on the story.

The only drawback is that I was thrown by the game mechanics of all of these. Cortex is hugely frustrating as he has a short and single jump rather than the one that you'll have spent hours training your muscle memory to pull off with Crash. The compulsory levels featuring him were a real headache as I had to retrain my reactions. Tawna's hookshot is more successfully integrated, and Dingodile's vacuum cannon is a very different beast to master.

They add a great deal of variety, but their contrasting skillsets also mean that their levels have been built to specifically cater to each one's style of play. Levels start to feel like a platforming puzzle that can only be completed in one optimum way, as opposed to a more organic environment were they able to share levels. The corridor-like structure is in clear use throughout, the game with levels feeling as if they are on rails – sometimes literally. The multiple characters and introduction of rail-grinding feel like this is Crash updated via Sonic Adventure.

The epic storyline takes in almost all of Crash's big bosses, from Cortex to N-Tropy, although clearing each set of levels is pretty quick. This is misleading, as there are massive skill roadblocks in stages which will take patience and dexterity to overcome. Toys for Bob have certainly kept the trademark difficulty of earlier games here – this isn't a dumbed down version by any means. The one concession to modern tastes is the option to remove limited lives, instead letting you respawn from the last checkpoint indefinitely. This was hugely welcome in a couple of levels, with the penultimate one in particular seeing me rack up a whopping 106 deaths! Is Crash 4 a masocore platformer?

Alongside the usual jumping and spinning, you are helped out by a new set of masks that provide special abilities. As you work through the game, you'll unlock a dimensional mask that reveals (and conceals) hidden platforms and objects, one that enables you to travel great distances, one that slows down time, and one that inverts gravity. These are used at specific points through the game and manage to add some much needed innovation to the level design – although that penultimate level is an absolutely nightmarish combination of all of them.

The powers also come in handy for the bonus levels in each stage, which follow the pattern of earlier titles by being puzzles where you have to smash every crate and make your way out. Grander versions of these levels are unlocked through collecting the videotapes scattered through the levels too, although you'll have to reach them without dying to be able to pick them up. When you add the usual gems for successfully smashing all crates, dying no more than 3 times, and hidden gems in many stages, you can see that you'll be replaying these levels until they haunt your dreams.

I haven't even mentioned the terrifying inverted versions of every level that you unlock where the colour pallete is replaced with dark blue, red, and yellow whilst a freaky reversed version of the music plays. Each of these also has the same number of gems to unlock. Oh, and finally, you have the super secret hidden colour gems that unlock the game's true ending. Phew – I'm knackered just typing that all out!


Apex Legends cross-play update arrives next week

Apex Legends' cross-platform multiplayer is arriving next week on 6th October, letting PS4, Xbox One and PC player team up and/or battle it out for supremacy, albeit with some common sense restrictions by default.

Cross-play will be enabled by default, uniting the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One player bases, but keeping PC players and keyboard and mouse separate, unless you party up with them. If there's a PC player in a party, you will then enter the PC matchmaking queue.

If you wish, you can disable cross-play altogether, forcing the game only to matchmake with those on the same platform who have also disabled cross-play. This could lead to longer matchmaking because of this, and honestly shouldn't be necessary, unless you're a PS4 player who really, really dislikes Xbox.

To let people party up, the game will now have a built-in cross-network friends system, where you can search for people within the Apex Legends playerbase. You'll need to use this for cross-network parties, but if you're just playing with your regular chums on the same platform you can obviously use your console's friends system instead.

This isn't cross-progression, but Respawn seem to be working on that…

It's all coming alongside the Aftermarket in-game event, a Collection Event that's all about snagging limited time cosmetics.

Not only that, but Respawn have cooked up a new Flash Point limited time mode. Flash Points are dotted around the arena and regenerate your health and shields over time, which sounds great until you realise that they're going to be prime targets for ambushes and third partying.

The mode will have the circle in Always Be Closing mode, closing and never stopping with one of the Flash points at the centre. The final fight is bound to be pretty tense.

Source: Respawn


Spellbreak update 1.1 is out now, read the patch notes here

The free to play battle royale Spellbreak has proven quite popular since its release, which was at the beginning of this month. Spellbreak has already hit over five million players. A patch has been released for Spellbreak now and it is quite extensive. The changes include allowing the lightning bolt recovery animation to be interrupted, making aim assist more uniform between the various framerates, and there have been additions of anti cheat methods. You can read the patch notes below.

Spellbreak update 1.1 patch notes

Gameplay

  • The Lighting Bolts spell's recovery animation can now be interrupted by casting a sorcery.
  • Fix edge case where reviving or exiling someone could be canceled in order to get faster spell firing.
  • Fixed an issue that caused projectiles to sometimes not register damage even though they hit.

Aim Assist

  • Smoothed out difference in aim assist strength between different framerates.
    • This results in more consistent behavior for all players and eliminates advantages that came from very high framerate.
  • Fixed an exploit where aim assist could be much stronger than intended under certain combinations of distance to target and input sensitivity.
    • This meant it was possible for players under certain circumstances to make their spells incredibly easy to hit. This was mostly clearly seen with the Lightning Gauntlet on PC.
  • Adjusted aim assist values for various console platforms.
  • Aim assist now decreases over distance.
  • Default Look Deadzone setting on Switch is now 0%.
    • This is generally what you want, because deadzones are handled by the OS itself.

Miscellaneous

  • Enabled some extra anti-cheat mechanisms.
  • Game mode now automatically swaps to squad after completing the tutorial.
  • When a player accepts a party invitation while already in a match, they'll get a UI notification and they can choose to immediately join the lobby.

Windows fixes

  • Fixed a bug that would cause some players to hang on the initial title screen.
  • Fixed graphics settings getting reset to Ultra in some cases, despite the game reporting other values.
  • Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause very long loading times when entering a match.
  • Fixed an issue where the mouse would not come back into focus if the player was using both a controller and mouse to navigate menus.

Switch

  • Fixed cases where players would sometimes get stuck with a black screen during a match.
  • Addressed an issue where players couldn't load into a lobby with enough time to properly select their drop portal.
  • Switch Pro and third-party controllers no longer send multiple inputs for a single button press.
  • Fixed a bug causing players to sometimes be unable to see disrupted player's orbs.

Playstation 4

  • Fixed issue where lowest-ping matchmaking region was sometimes not correctly identified.
  • Fixed a crash due to changing languages in the pre-match lobby.
  • Fixed a black screen caused by waking the console up after idling for an hour in rest mode.

Xbox One

  • If an Xbox One player has crossplay disabled in their system settings, Spellbreak will now properly block all interaction with players on other platforms.
  • Recent players in Spellbreak now populate the recent players list tied to your Xbox Live account.
  • Players set to "Friendly only" in their communication settings will no longer have voice chat blocked for their Spellbreak friends.
  • "Ready" button no longer greys out when joining a party through the Xbox shell.
  • Fixed a crash caused by returning to the game after pressing the Home button mid-match.

All Platforms

  • Fixed a netcode issue that resulted in other characters appearing to stutter/jitter or otherwise not to update at full framerate.
    • Note this also caused "weird" aiming offsets that were reported where it felt like your aim was off. Due to this, your muscle memory with different spells may be affected!
  • Players should be able to interact with things after being interrupted while aiming a rune or sorcery.
  • Players should no longer get stuck indefinitely on the reconnect screen after internet connectivity had been lost and restored.
  • Fixed the infinite loading screen when entering invalid account credentials on login.
  • Fixed missing hit sound effect when your damage is buffed.
  • If the same Spellbreak account is used to log in to two machines at the same time, the most recent login will cause the early session to abort to prevent data corruption.
  • Controller vibration settings now correctly apply in game.
  • Fixed issues where item ping indicators would not draw/update correctly.
  • Added in translations for some previously untranslated text.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause quests to disappear from the main menu when restarting the game.
  • Corrected adjective/noun order indicating rarity for latin-based languages on the collection screen.
  • Fixed Mana Vault animations getting out of sync with sound and timer.
  • Fixed issue with Mana Vaults where its pieces would sometimes flicker as the player walked it.
  • Cleaned up some low-resolution textures that could sometimes appear.
  • Menu / UI sound effect volume is now properly controlled the associated volume slider.
  • Fixed a crash caused by repeatedly pressing the confirm button on the squad loading screen.
  • Fixed instances of shadow popping around the map.
  • Fixed a crash caused by viewing an item in the store while the rollover takes effect.
  • Ice Lance should no longer randomly generate a MASSIVE ice bow.
  • Fixed a bug causing 2 players with random outfits equipped to mirror one another's outfits.
    • Spidermantwinsmeme.png
  • Fixed a crash caused by repeatedly exiling yourself in the tutorial.
    • Why do you keep hitting yourself?!
  • Fixed some chests not being visible on the player's client.
  • And last but not least, a whole bunch of more rare crashes have been fixed.

In our review for Spellbreak, Jason wrote:

Spellbreak holds vast potential and is full of depths to explore, but it's not quite there yet, despite the 1.0 release. Sure, it's fun enough to play if you can sit down with two of your friends and bash out a couple hours' madness, but I forgot what the game was called once I stopped playing. With next to no lore within the game, and with every win or loss feeling the same, there's just not quite enough to make a lasting impression.
You can read the full Spellbreak review here.

Hyper Scape Season 2 is called The Aftermath, starts next week

The second season of the battle royale Hyper Scape will be starting on October 6th and it is called The Aftermath, Ubisoft has announced. Season 2 will add a brand new district to Hyper Scape, a gun called The Astrex that fires sticky bombs, and a limited time hack called Platform which lets players create platforms. A nice and simple name there. Two new modes will also be added including Crown Rush Duo and the Floor is Lava. With the first mode it is Crown Rush but in pairs, while in Floor is Lava the ground is made of deadly magma. Crown Rush, Faction War and Turbo Mode will also return.

A ranking system will be added to Hyper Scape with the start of Season 2 with ranks divided by Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond or Champion. However, rankings will only be impacted by playing Crown Rush Squad. Crown Rush Solo will return as a limited time event and will add a modifier called Second Chance, allowing players to jump back into the action after being killed. From the start of Season 2 players will also be getting a daily gift. A brand new battle pass will also be launched.

Oh, and there is a story, which is described as follows:

Season One kick-starts the overarching Hyper Scape narrative: There is a mystery in the Hyper Scape created by Prisma Dimensions that players will have to solve. Season One introduces Memory Shards that players can collect to discover more about certain characters and events. Every week, a new Memory Shard will be hidden in the game world, for players to find and collect. In addition to Memory Shards, comics will be released during Season One and following Seasons, building Hyper Scape's story.

Source: Press Release


Rogue Company is now in a free to play open beta on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC

Hi-Rez Studios has announced that it has released its multiplayer shooter Rogue Company into open beta on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. That means you can grab the game for free for your chosen platform. There is cross play and cross progression between all four platforms so you can move from sitting at home to playing wherever on the Switch without losing progress. Rogue Company was released back in July on the platforms as an early access title.

If you want to grab Rogue Company you can do so by following the links below:

Here is the full description of Rogue Company:

Rogue Company is a top-secret syndicate of elite Rogues around the globe. To most of the world, the elusive Rogues are a rumor at best. However, to those in the know, Rogue Company operatives are indispensable to solving the world's deadliest and most challenging missions. As a Rogue, players will grab their weapon of choice and dive into iconic locations to compete online in various PVP game modes.

Jim had a look at Rogue Company when it went into early access, calling it a worth rival to Counter-Strike and Valorant. Here is what he wrote in his impressions:

In short, Rogue Company should definitely be on your radar. It offers a slightly more accessible gateway into this brutal shooter subgenre, but manages to do so without losing any of its strategic depth. Early access is now available when purchasing one of the three founder's packs though Hi-Rez have confirmed that Rogue Company will be free-to-play at launch.

You can read the full article here.

Source: Press Release

Surgeon Simulator 2 is available for free for all NHS staff

Bossa Studios has announced it is giving away Surgeon Simulator 2 to all NHS staff for free, and the promotion will be available until October 22nd. Now, I think this is a thank you from Bossa but Bossa says it is giving away Surgeon Simulator 2 because it would be a great training tool for NHS staff. The studio is calling this initiative NHS: National Handout of Surgeon Simulator initiative – or NHSNHSS for short. To claim a copy of Surgeon Simulator 2 for PC NHS staff need to go to the official site, and put in an official NHS email.

Henrique Olifiers, Bossa Studios' Gamer-in-Chief and CEO, said:

"At Bossa, we've always envisioned Surgeon Simulator 2 as a valuable training tool for NHS workers to hone their healthcare skills! The Surgeon Simulator 2 community is frankly rubbish at saving Bob, so we think our players need to be shown how it's really done."

While this is a nice gesture from Bossa, actual doctor Dr. Idris Morgan weighed in and said:

"Surgeon Simulator 2 is absolutely NOT a viable medical training tool Professionals around the world will find Bossa's interpretation of medicine, and the possibility of five-second heart-transplants, very amusing."

Surgeon Simulator 2 is a vastly expanded game on the wacky surgeon-ish action of the original game. While there's still plenty of accident prone digging around in various surgical scenarios, you can now step away from the surgeon's table and get up to all manner of other things. There's 12 operations in the game, and you can wander to go and pick up tools in other rooms, share the space with full four player co-op to the game. There can even be some Dr. Frankenstein-esque person creation! There's also the Bossa Labs Creation Workshop built into the game, letting you create in the game. You can simply customise your character, create scenarios, build new levels and more. In fact, players have already been creating all manner of things in the game.

Source: Press Release


Steve is the next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighter

The next character coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Minecraft's Steve, with all his building, bashing and crafting abilities represented in the game. He's not alone though, as Alex, Zombie and Enderman also join the fight.

Steve and his chums might initially seem to be an incredibly jarring inclusion, but it's hardly the first time that Super Smash Bros. has included characters from quite a few steps outside Nintendo's pantheon of characters. Sonic was one of the highest profile crossover characters, busting down the traditional walls of the Sega-Nintendo rivalry, but there's also been Snake from Metal Gear Solid, and the thoroughly saucy Bayonetta (partly because Nintendo now funds and publishes the series). Still, Minecraft characters just stand out from the crowd.

There's few other details, such as when Steve and co. will actually arrive for the game, but there will be a gameplay video released at 3:30pm UK time on Saturday 3rd October showing off Steve and Alex in battle.

These are the second fighter pack from the second Fighter Pass for the wildly successful Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch. The Minecraft gang follow on from Min Min from ARMS, with four more on the way over the course of the next year to look forward to.


15 things we still don't know about the PS5

It's October, and that means we can finally say the PlayStation 5 is out next month. In just six or seven short weeks, the console will be in excited early adopters' hands, and a sign of the anticipation is just how rapidly pre-orders have sold out… twice!

Sony are sure to keep ramping up the excitement and anticipation for their next-gen console between now and its 12th / 19th November launch date, but it's not just hype. There's also an awful lot that we still simply don't know about the next-gen console.

Compared to Microsoft, who have emphasised continuity of features and a cross-generational UI update, Sony have kept very quiet until now, leaving it very late in the day to really discuss many key details. We know the fundamental specifications, we know some of the advantages and limitations that could give us, but it's really been the games and the experiential changes that Sony have emphasised. Even then, we've really only seen a handful of snippets of some key launch titles.

So here's 15 things we want to know about the PlayStation 5:

How much actual space for games is there on the 825GB SSD?

Sure, it's a universal flaw in how tech companies market their products, but that doesn't stop the fact that you never actually get the full space that's marketed on the front of the box. Between the marketing fib of storage capacities and the need to cordon off space for system files and functionality, users will not have 825GB of space to install games to.

We now know that the Xbox Series X will give users 802GB of usable space, but what about the PlayStation 5?

Can you backup PS5 games to an external HDD?

We've known ever since March that the PlayStation 5 cannot play PlayStation 5 games from an external HDD, but can play PlayStation 4 games from one, letting you reserve the precious internal storage for the games that need the ultra-fast SSD's bandwidth.

One thing we don't know for certain is whether or not you'll be able to store those PS5 games on an external HDD as a backup. With many gamers still struggling with internet speeds and even download caps, it would be good to confirm that users can transfer PS5 games to an external drive to make space. Better yet, could the system still keep them updated?


Speaking of storage… where does the NVME drive actually go? 

Can you use the same external HDD on both PS4 and PS5?

On PlayStation 4, you can use external HDDs to take your games between systems, but with the PlayStation 5 having all-new system software, will this allow for external HDDs to be used between generations?

Also, can we get rid of the dumb behaviour of the PS4, where you can't have a duplicate of a game on two drives and are forced to delete a copy? Please and thank you.

Will it have a Quick Resume feature?

One of most heavily marketed features of the Xbox Series X|S so far is Quick Resume, where the console can save the mid-game state of several titles at once, allowing you to hop between games and resume exactly where you were in just 5-10 seconds.

This obviously has an impact on the storage available for installing games, so depending on some of the answers to the above, could limit things even further.

What is the DualSense expected battery life?

Sony have now confirmed that the DualSense will feature a 1,560mAh rechargeable battery, making for a significant step up over the 1,000mAh battery found in the DualShock 4, but how does this translate to battery life during gameplay? The DualShock 4 is widely criticised for having mediocre battery life, thanks to its always-on LED lid bar and new touchpad, but the DualSense makes significant changes to the rumble motors and to the adaptive triggers that can actively change their tension and bite points.

So, how does all of that factor into the controller's battery life? Will we still be reaching for a charge cable every 8 hours, or will you go 20 hours or more without needing to plug in?

What does the Create button do?

One of the key functions of the PlayStation 4 was the Share button allowing you to quickly capture, edit and share game clips to social media, but for the PlayStation 5, this button has been renamed to Create. To make such a distinction of this early on clearly means that Sony have big plans, and it quickly got us thinking about what it could mean, but not a sausage has been said ever since the DualSense was revealed way back in February.

Can you disable the DualSense adaptive triggers and haptics?

Both in the name of accessibility and player choice, can you disable the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback of the DualSense? Many pro gamers will turn off the rumble of their controller, so it would be strange not to allow this.

Side note: This would also make you question the decision to limit the DualShock 4 to backward compatible titles if you can

Will there be Custom Button Assignments, as on PS4?

The current generation of consoles have made some of the biggest strides toward being more accessible and open to players of all ability levels, thanks to some system-wide accessibility features. One of the biggest here is the ability to customise the button layout on a system level, but the PS4 also supports Zoom, inverted colours, high-contrast, system-wide closed captioning, text options and more. It would be very disappointing for the PS5 to take a step backward in this regard.


PlayStation Activities as depicted in a patent filed by Sony.

What are PlayStation Activities?

We all want to know what the PS5 system software will look like and how it will work, but a specific next-gen feature has already been discussed. We have to go all the way back to 2019 to discover something about this feature, the name for which was leaked the team behind WRC 9 back in July. As Mark Cerny was teasing some of the intent behind the PS5's system redesign, he said:

"We don't want the player to have to boot the game, see what's up, boot the game, see what's up. Multiplayer game servers will provide the console with the set of joinable activities in real time. Single player games will provide information like what missions you could do and what rewards you might receive for completing them – and all of those choices will be visible in the UI."

Will the PS5 have Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu etc. apps? Whether BC or native?

Even with the rise of Chromecast and Smart TVs, a lot of people still use their games consoles as media hubs for streaming TV and movies.

Going off the updated imagery of the PlayStation 5 Media Remote that they will have support for Netflix, Disney+, Spotify and YouTube, but what about BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and other more regional options? In theory all of the apps available on PS4 should work via backward compatibility at the very least, but it would be great to have native apps that can make use of the PS5's enhanced functionality.

Will the system software have folders on day one?

Speaking of returning features and functionality, there's fears that the PS5 could lose some of the core features built up over years of updates on PS4. Will the PlayStation 5 support organising games via folders on day one?

Sony's Matt Maclaurin, VP of UX Design at PlayStation, previously said that the UI overhaul includes "cleaning up core functionality" alongside a new "visual language", so keep your fingers crossed.

What sound setups will the Tempest 3D AudioTech engine support at launch?

Sony has lofty goals for its custom designed Tempest 3D AudioTech engine to make spatial audio possible across all possible devices, but they were also clear that it would be a technology that evolves over time. In particular, its HRTF sound profiles that tune the game audio to your ears will initially be limited to a handful of presets, while support for spatial audio will first support headsets and then other devices such as TVs and surround sound systems.

A long overdue update is needed to state definitively what parts of this will be available at launch, and what will be coming in 2021 and beyond.

Will PS5 support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for multimedia?

While Sony talked up the Tempest engine's advantages over other spatial audio solutions for video games, the film industry and other tech companies are fully on board with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for object-based surround sound audio mixing. There's plenty of options out there for home theatre systems that support these, and both Dolby and DTS have headphone-oriented solutions as well.

Sony will obviously prioritise the Tempest engine for games, but will the PS5 support these formats for UHD Blu-ray and streaming services like Netflix that feature them? You'd have to hope so when Sony's film studios are pushing out PS5-branded collections of films that have Dolby Atmos…


Ghost of Tsushima will surely be compatible with PS5.

Which games will be backward compatible? And how will they be enhanced?

While limited to the PS4, backward compatibility is a great thing to have in the PlayStation 5, and after initially fumbling the message back in March, Sony have stated "We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5."

We also expect backward compatibility to largely be a smooth experience on PS5 – you just download it or put the disc in and play – but the question still hangs over Sony, and it's high time that they definitively state which games have been successfully tested on PlayStation 5 and declared as compatible.

Not only that, but let's confirm some games that can be tangibly enhanced on PS5. Sony said, "We're expecting backward compatible titles will run at a boosted frequency on PS5 so that they can benefit from higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions." Compared with Auto HDR on Xbox Series X|S, is this the limit of Sony's backward compatibility efforts? Will developers be able to tweak their games with "three lines of code" as on Xbox?

What's going on with cross-gen saves?

Spider-Man: Miles Morales will have cross-gen saves in some capacity, but as of today Spider-Man Remastered, Dirt 5, Maneater and Yakuza Like a Dragon have all been confirmed not to let you take your progress from PS4 to PS5. So, what's the dish with that?

We know that Smart Delivery games on Xbox will have cross-gen save files automatically handled by the Xbox Live cloud, and we also know that online games like Destiny 2, Marvel's Avengers and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War can store player progression and unlocks through their servers. So what's the issue for single player games?

We've reached out to a bunch of developer and publishers to find out what's happening with their games, because players considering cross-gen releases and games with free upgrades to PS5 really deserve to know if they'll have to start from scratch on next-gen.


That's our list of 15 questions, and I'm sure many will be answered in due course, but what burning questions do you have about the PS5?


Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Zombies mode revealed

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Zombies mode has been revealed in a new trailer for the game, demoing the game while running on PlayStation 5.

Yup! It sure looks like zombies, but with some fun gameplay elements on show, like sentry guns, barmy BFG-esque weapons, and more.

Treyarch have also released a longer video digging into how the game mode has evolved since previous Black Ops games.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Zombies kicks off a new narrative within the series, but there's sure to be some hooks back to the old one, whether in easter eggs or cameos. The first level, Die Maschine, is a nod back to Nacht der Untoten, the map that started it all, but it's now set in the early '80s.

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.

When you feel like you've had enough, there's a new way to get out of dodge, which is to try and exfiltrate from the fight via helicopter. This amps up the zombie spawns, but can earn you some rewards if you're able to survive.

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: Call of Duty


Keanu tells you to "seize the day" (and buy Cyberpunk 2077)

I don't know if he's biased, what with playing a major character in the game's story, but Keanu Reeves seems pretty stoked (in his own subdued way) for the release of Cyberpunk 2077. Here's the big, splashy TV commercial the game that aired overnight during the NBA finals, starring a live action version of Keanu.

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

CD Projekt Red have been holding semi-regular Night City Wire streams in the run up to launch. During these they've done things like reveal the Braindance gameplay, and the development of a Cyberpunk 2077 – Edgerunners anime series coming in 2022. The second stream then dove into the various Lifepaths you can choose for V, some of the weaponry that you'll be able to wield, and spoke to Swedish hardcore punk band Refused about how they're channeling their inner cyberpunk personas to embody the in-game band Samurai.

The new advert comes a day after it was revealed the developer CD Projekt Red would be implementing mandatory "crunch" overtime for the final month and a half of development before release. CD Projekt Red's Adam Badowski wrote that studio staff would be required to work "your typical amount of work and one day on the weekend". He continues, "I know this is in direct opposition to what we've said about crunch. It's also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we've extended all other possible means of navigating the situation."

This seems to break previous promises not to have mandatory crunch, after bad press and internal relations following crunch at the end of The Witcher 3's development. Following criticism of this and with Cyberpunk 2077 looming, co-founder Marcin Iwiński told Kotaku in May 2019 that the company would be "more humane" in its approach to crunch time and that while the studio might ask employees to work overtime, it would not be mandatory. "If they need to take time off, they can take time off," he said. "Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested." That's obviously no longer the case.

Source: press release


Star Wars Squadrons Review in Progress

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

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

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

It certainly looks, feels and sounds like Star Wars, with some excellent voice-acting performances from the cast, but it can feel a little samey at times, with the limited tactical options afforded by the storyline and AI simply unable to reach the same dogfighting ability as you would experience against human pilots in the central multiplayer modes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Requisitions are used to unlock starfighter components, letting you alter the way your craft handles or performs in battle, while Glory lets you customise the look of your starfighter, cockpit and pilot. You can earn extra glory as well for completing daily challenges, giving you a reason to hop back in every day.

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

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


This is a review in progress, and we're going to spend more time with Star Wars Squadrons so that we can experience a full set of multiplayer servers before putting a final score on it. Until then, may the Force be with you!


Dirt 5 progress won't transfer from PS4 to PS5, but will on Xbox

Codemasters have revealed that save files and game progression in Dirt 5 will not be able to transfer between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game, despite having free upgrades from one generation to the next. By contrast, progress will transfer back and forth generations on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

The news follows a similar announcement from the teams behind Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Maneater. There too save files and progress can go between generations on Xbox (where it's a Smart Delivery title), but for those buying the game on PlayStation 4 and then taking advantage of the free upgrade to PlayStation 5 when it's available next year, you will not be able to transfer your save and progress across.

There's some speculation as to why this might be. One theory posited by Eurogamer is that on PlayStation only data stored by developers on their servers can be transferred. That's true for Dirt 5 with Playgrounds mode creations being stored online, but not for other game progress. We can expect similar cross-gen progression in online games like Destiny 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and others.

However, that won't be a universal truth, and is still game dependent. FIFA 21's "Dual Entitlement" upgrade scheme allows FIFA 21 Ultimate Team and Volta Football progression to transfer back and forth, but not Online Seasons, Co-Op Seasons, Career Mode, Pro Clubs, and other modes. That's true on both PlayStation and Xbox.

It's also somewhat strange when there is clearly the possibility for game saves to carry over when Sony want them to. The Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered release will not allow you to import a save from the PS4 release, but Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales will allow you to carry your save across from PS4 to PS5 – though even this sounds like there might be some hoops to jump through.

Microsoft have been quick to jump on the issue with their social media, with Xbox's Aaron Greenberg saying "At Xbox we put gamers first."

That's not really an apples to apples comparison, though, with Fallout 4 being a backward compatibility title from Xbox One, not a cross-gen title. Smart Delivery games should universally have progress and saves carry between generations, but there's obviously no guarantees outside that this will apply for non-Smart Delivery.

It's a curious issue and we'll be reaching out to publishers and Sony to see what's going on.

Source: Codemasters via Eurogamer


Super Mario Bros. 35 is out now for Nintendo Switch

Nintendo's latest experiment with the battle royale genre is Super Mario Bros. 35, a game that takes the template of Tetris 99, and applies it to the classic Super Mario Bros. The game is out now a free digital exclusive Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

You can download it now via your Nintendo Switch eShop (though you might need to search for 'mario 35' on the eShop), or follow these handy links to the game pages at Nintendo:

 

Almost exactly like Tetris 99, you see all the screens of the other people playing the game alongside your own. You're playing independently, but can launch attacks at one another by sending the ghosts of defeated enemies to infest the courses that other people are playing. As with all battle royale games, the last player standing wins!

We'll be going hands on with the game shortly to give you a hot take on how one of Nintendo's most iconic franchises handles the jump.

The announcement of Super Mario Bros. 35 came alongside the Super Mario 3D All-Stars remaster bundle, which bundled together Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy into a single package for Nintendo Switch to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. There's also Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Wrath coming in February, and Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, a game that blends playing on Nintendo Switch with racing a physical kart in real life.

Really, that was just scratching the surface of all the Super Mario content announced in early September, with Game & Watch, freebies being thrown into Switch Online, and more on the way. Non-video games collaborations are also ramping up, with Monopoly Super Mario Celebration, Kinder Surprise Super Mario products, and the various LEGO Super Mario sets all out now.


Roboquest is a pure old school arena shooter joy

Every FPS that exclusively features hitscan enemies can get in the bin and stay there. That's my main takeaway after playing the gloriously energetic Roboquest, a game where every second not spent emptying a huge variety of guns into adorable robots is spent weaving, jumping, and strafing out the way of projectiles.

The colorful cel-shading immediately shouts Borderlands, but the chunky, speedy gunplay is pure old-school Doom. Cover? Never heard of it. Recharging health? Nope. Staying still? Bad idea. Manic electro-industrial soundtrack that's menacing as hell but in that uplifting way that makes you want to punch robots instead of eating for eighteen hours straight? Oh, yes.

It's also one of the roguelites that seem to be everywhere these days. You'll find plenty of health around stages, but death ends the run and throws you back to the start. This does mean you get to play with more guns, though. On one run, I found a gun that shoots buzzsaws, searing the scalps from angry automatons like the world's most unnecessarily violent tin opener. There's sniper rifles and shotguns and pistols, sure, but there's also a thing that fires bouncing spheres of pure heat that ricochet from one robot to another.

Guns are divided into four categories and you'll occasionally pick up corresponding upgrades that allow you to specialise in a certain type during each run. You can kit yourself out as a sniper, an energy weapons expert, a machine gun wielder, etc. You'll also get some permanent upgrades later that allow you more choice in which weapons you find for each run, but it's also just as viable to grab whatever you like the look of and spec-out as you go.

There's three classes to consider as well, giving you a bit more variety between runs. The core shooty-dodgy-jumpy action stays the same, but each class has a recharging ability and a different melee attack to differentiate them. The recon marks targets for extra damage, the guardian fires a rocket (which explodes, like a good rocket should), and the engineer creates drones to fight alongside you. If this sounds far more useful than the other two, that's because it definitely is.

Finally, there's the ability to permanently upgrade your base camp, granting perks and items you can use in subsequent runs. A spare head to give you another life, a backpack to let you carry three weapons instead of two, more weapon choices between levels, that sort of thing.

Enemy variety is decent too. Visually, they're all clearly from the same factory, but they change things up by combining abilities in ways that make skillful manoeuvring a must. Some bots rush toward you and explode, others float and try to snipe you from afar, while some lay electricity traps which stun you for a few moments. It's all done in the name of keeping constant pressure on you, never allowing you to get too comfortable in one position. It all compliments the pulsing soundtrack and smooth locomotion fantastically.

Right, time for some ceremonial complaining, because it's not all smooth sailing here. It's mostly smooth sailing, but occasionally a shark nudges the boat and tries to sell you a chewed fitbit they picked out of their teeth or something. One of these metaphorical annoying sharks is the bosses. More specifically, the first time you encounter each one.

One boss is a mechanical snake that skates along rails above a pit of acid full of disappearing platforms. There's very little that prepares you for this leading up to it. They're good bosses, and they add tension to repeated runs, but I'd have appreciated some sort of warning that the game was going to turn into a completely different game for a few minutes since, you know, it's a roguelite. You can skate along those rails yourself, though, which is very fun.

Another troublesome shark is that upgrade elements can introduce that unsatisfying, numbers-based weakness to weapons that stop them feeling as punchy as they should. It's the risk you run with any sort of RPG elements, but I'd say this needs a bit of tweaking.

My other concern, and this is what it all hinges on, is the current price-to-content ratio. It's very much in early access at the moment, and while the core loop is fantastic, there's just not all that much to see. Then again, it is so tight and compelling that it rarely feels like a chore to repeat things. The fundamentals here are basically pitch-perfect, and it's absolutely one to keep your singular, glowing red eye on while it evolves through Early Access.


Gran Turismo 7 official website has been updated with additional details

Sony has updated the official website for Gran Turismo 7 with some more details about the racer, which is due to be released for PS5. When the game was announced there was mention that Polyphony Digital would be drawing on the past and present of the Gran Turismo franchise, as well as things that would be coming to it in the future. Now we know that will mean classic  tracks and vehicles being added in, along with the GT Simulation mode. There will also be a Sport Mode though the features for that will require online connectivity.

The website also gives the details on how Gran Turismo 7 will take advantage of the PS5's features. It had already been confirmed that haptic feedback, audio, visuals, and adaptive triggers would all play a part. You can see how below.

  • Stunning visuals: Marvel at rendering quality through ray tracing, with support for 4K, HDR, and a targetd 60 FPS frame rate.*
  • Fast loading: Go to race events quickly, gather in lobbies and receive friend invites extremely quickly with an ultra-high speed SSD. Select from a huge variety of cars with no load times.
  • Adaptive triggers: Feel the contrast in brake pedal weight at different sensitivity ranges, the vibrations from the ABS and variation in throttle pedal weight on different types of cars.
  • Haptic feedback: Experience the feeling of tire contact with the road, and subtle bumps on the road surface.
  • Tempest 3D AudioTech: Sense the position of other cars and drivers around you through sound. Hear clear 3D Audio positioning and spatial expression of depth and height in replays.

Next Gen Racing originally leaked Gran Turismo 7 though denied it at the time, despite the evidence. We do not yet know the release date for Gran Turismo 7 with the official site just saying that it to be confirmed.

Source: PlayStation 


Insomniac detail the changes made for Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, including a new face for Peter Parker

Insomniac's Community Director, James Stevenson, has taken to the PlayStation Blog to reveal more details about the remastered version of Marvel's Spider-Man, and there's one big change you will notice straight away, Peter Parker has a new face. Insomniac have given a reason for this which totally isn't "we wanted to make him look more like Tom Holland than James Franco".

In order to bring the best performances to players with our next-generation Marvel's Spider-Man games, we have recast the face of Peter Parker. We loved working with John Bubniak on the original game; however, to get a better match to Peter Parker/Spider-Man actor Yuri Lowenthal's facial capture, we have cast Ben Jordan to be the face model for Peter Parker on the PS5 console. He looks incredible in-game, and Yuri's moving performances take on a new life.

Here's the old version of Peter on the left, and the new one on the right.

The game has also had a huge graphically update. "The team has done the painstaking work of updating the city's environment to take advantage of the new console," said James. "Beyond improved models and materials, one of the biggest things we have brought to the game is ray-traced reflections and ambient shadows. We now have true reflections on the windows of buildings, and it looks stunning with our new skies and weather."

The characters have also been upgraded with "fidelity skin, eye, and teeth shaders to individually-rendered strands of hair"

The game comes with a Performance Mode which runs at 60fps and takes advantage of the new features of PlayStation 5 including Spatial 3D Audio on compatible headphones haptic feedback with adaptive triggers. Thanks to the super fast hard drive loading between areas is "near instant" so you won't get to see the amusing animations of Spidey on the subway, but you can turn them back on if you like.

The game also comes with three new suits, one of which is The Amazing Suit which you can see below.

Source: PS Blog


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

Sony have dropped the first look at Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered which is coming to PlayStation 5 but only as part of the special edition version of Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The footage is captured from the 60fps performance mode and looks incredibly smooth, check it out.

Insomniac have understandably been bombarded with questions about the remastered game and it has been clarified that no, you won't be able to transfer a save file from the original PS4 version of the game, but you will then be able to run through the game and earn all those trophies (and a fresh platinum trophy) all over again.

The Spider-Man remaster will be bringing across all of the enhancements that Insomniac have made to the game engine and the game assets to take advantage of the PlayStation 5. This means that the game will feature higher detail game characters for Peter Parker and others, it will also feature ray tracing and other enhanced visual effects, and the game take advantage of the console's SSD, 3D audio and DualSense controls.

Clearly the remaster and the Ultimate Edition in general is geared more towards newcomers to Insomniac's take on the Spider-Man universe, giving those that haven't played the game on PS4 a way to start from scratch but also have next-gen finery. I'm sure that some people will be tempted to pick it up to replay the original adventure, but it's a slight shame there's not at least the option to import a save. After all, while not confirmed, you would have to expect that saves will transfer between generations for Miles Morales, and all the other cross-gen games. Spider-Man's status as a separate remaster likely has some backend implications for how Sony's consoles handle save files.

Speaking of which, the announcements earlier in September also revealed that Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a cross-gen game, coming to both PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, with an upgrade path to next-gen. It was a surprising turn of events, considering the tone of Sony's statements about their first party games over the past half year, but a welcome one for those unable to upgrade at this time to be able to still enjoy some of Sony's upcoming games.

You can read our full review of Marvel's Spider-Man here.

Source: YouTube


Crysis Remastered Review

When it burst onto the scene in 2007, Crysis set a new standard for what PC gaming could achieve. Vast, complex and gorgeous, it heralded a new achievement in visual and gameplay presentation and stood as the benchmark for performance for years to come. Even to this day, most PCs struggle to run Crysis at its highest settings.

Admittedly, a lot of the stress that the game puts on modern PCs is simply down to the bets Crytek made with their game engine at the time. The expectation was of ever-increasing CPU clock speeds, and not the multi-core parallelisation that had to be embraced over the following years. So, when the news of a remake broke, myself and many others were excited to see if Crytek could reach back in time and revive their meme-generating classic to make Crysis run well on a wider selection of set-ups. The result is a bit of a mixed bag, unfortunately.

Firstly, what is Crysis? For those who have never played it, Crysis is an open-ended FPS in which you take control of a cybernetically enhanced soldier tasked with fighting a hostile invading alien species. It's a FPS game that fits right in alongside its contemporaries in 2007, offering players copious amounts of gunpowder and plenty of enemies to use it on. While the subsequent sequels would take on a more linear approach as the series spread to the consoles of the day, the PS3 and Xbox 360, Crysis' missions feel open ended as it tasks you with traversing the island in any way you see fit.

The ability to tackle the missions how you want creates emergent dramatic moments which are completely based on your interaction with the world. During one mission, a helicopter stalked me above while I headed towards an enemy camp. Using the foliage to my advantage, I could quickly lose the helicopter above using the trees as cover and my stealth abilities when out in the open. This game of cat and mouse felt natural, immersing me in a way I didn't expect a 13-year-old shooter could.

It's this that really helps the game design feel fresh in 2020, especially when the likes of Call of Duty and other FPS titles this generation still follow a more linear structure. The freedom to approach mission objectives how you please is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Crysis, as it perfectly plays into the power fantasy of having a technologically advanced suit that empowers you with super strength, speed and invisibility.

Unfortunately, almost every other aspect of the gameplay feels outdated. At each enemy stronghold you will find countless enemies to gun down, but they offer up only minor challenge or variation. The sheer number of them often makes the gunplay feel like busywork, rather than providing an engaging or dynamic gun fight. There were also a few occasions inside buildings where the enemies just didn't know how to react to me, staring dumbly in my direction, waiting for me to fire first.

Visually, Crytek spent a lot of time adding modern rendering techniques like ray-tracing, HDR support and temporary anti-aliasing along with high-resolution art assets suitable for 4K and 8K. This sounds great on paper, but in reality it's very difficult to enjoy those additions as intended because Crysis still struggles to run across multiple threads on a CPU. It's the same reason that most modern PCs struggle to run the original at high frame rates, and while there is more parallelisation across a CPUs cores, it's not enough to make the most of a system.

Running on a Ryzen 5 3600 and a GeForce RTX 2060, I could only play Crysis on medium settings if I wanted to see a reasonably smooth framerate. This makes some of those additions redundant as the game only looks marginally better than the original Crysis at low to medium settings. Without the much needed CPU optimisation, even the new RTX 3000 series will likely struggle to run Crysis on its aptly named 'Can It Run Crysis?' graphics mode.

Personally, I would have liked Crytek to spend a little less time adding the likes of ray-tracing in and a lot more time properly optimising the title for modern PCs. Most PC owners run CPUs that are geared towards running multiple threads, and the next-gen consoles coming and AMD now able to push Intel on the CPU front, we're now at the tipping point where gaming PCs are moving on from quad-core CPUs. I struggle to see a good bulk of the consumer base getting a solid experience from this remaster, which is a real shame.

Alongside the new graphical overhauls, there are a few quality of life changes which improve how gunplay works such as an improved weapon wheel. Weirdly, there seems to be an absence of manual saves, instead relying on checkpoints to mark player progress. This is a weird oversight that makes Crysis Remastered feel even more outdated than it should.


Console Crysis

Crysis Remastered for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is just as intriguing a prospect as the revived game on PC, thanks to the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X having the ability to play with a limited form of software ray tracing enabled. Unfortunately, it's no less flawed at this moment in time.

You're given several graphics settings, with the Quality mode featuring a dynamic 1800p on PS4 Pro and a 30fps target, while performance unlocks the frame rate and has a dynamic 1080p instead. Lastly, there's ray tracing which aims for 1080p30 and uses a software ray tracing set up that includes environmental objects within a certain area around you, and then traditional screen-space reflections from pretty much everything else.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Quality and ray tracing modes on PS4 run at 31fps instead of being capped at 30, giving the game an unsettled juddering and sluggish feel. It's also fair to say that, throughout much of the game, there's only very minor benefits to having ray tracing enabled, it takes particular environments and a greater degree of reflectivity for the effect to really pay off. It's greatly overshadowed by the graphical glitches with shadowing and pop-in at the edges of the screen that distract and draw your eye. A patch to iron out current gen kinks and potential enhancements on next-gen should grant a more consistent experience.

– Stefan L


October's PlayStation Plus games have been revealed!

UPDATE: Your PlayStation Plus games for October are Need for Speed Payback and Vampyr! Our cunning analysis which predicted there would not be a spooky game for Halloween was totally incorrect. Both games will be available to download from October 6th.

Here's more from the PlayStation Blog.

Need for Speed: Payback

Survive thrilling heist missions, partake in metal-crunching car battles, perform dazzling setpieces and more in this four-wheeled action blockbuster. Set in the fictional, corrupt gambler's paradise of Fortune Valley, choose from three different characters – each with their own unique skills – customise your rides and take on an open world's worth of events as you seek revenge on those who wronged you.

Vampyr

Life is Strange developer Dontnod Entertainment challenges you to embrace the darkness with this 1918-set, third-person action RPG with deep narrative choices. Play a doctor turned vampire ghosting through a London gripped by violence and fear. Use your supernatural abilities, as well as man-made tools and weapons to fight or flee the forces of evil and vampire hunters. Save the city's populace or feed on them to become stronger, but giving in to your bloodlust can have grave consequences…

Original story below….

It's PlayStation Plus day once more which means you only have a week to download the September free games, have you done that yet? If not, here's some handy links for Street Fighter V and the iconic battle royale, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

We are expecting the October games to be announced today at around 4.30pm, assuming Sony stick to the usual pattern. Most people expect a horror game for Halloween month, so suggestions include a Resident Evil or, more likely, The Evil Within 2, but is that expectation backed up with facts?

Well for October 2019 we got MLB The Show 19, a distinctly unspooky game, but also The Last Of Us Remastered which ticks the box. 2018 bagged us Laser League, which unfortunately shut down a few months later, and The Bridge, a puzzle game, so a rather rubbish month. 2017 did follow the spooky pattern and gave is the Amnesia Collection, but 2016 failed miserably to evoke the spirit of Halloween by giving us Transformers Devastation, but I'm going to forgive that because it's an awesome game.

It seems that if it's an odd numbered year we get a spooky game, if it's an even numbered year we don't, it's the Star Trek movie pattern! That means if Sony follow the pattern, we will not be getting a scary game for October 2020. Will my cunning hypothesis be right? Find out at around 4.30pm today!

I will say one thing: I really hope it's not another blimmin' Call of Duty game, my PS4 hard drive seems to be packed with CoD games I didn't buy.

If you have got PlayStation Plus (and presumably you have because if not you've just wasted a good two minutes reading something that doesn't apply to you) 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

 


Super Smash Bros Ultimate's next fighter will be revealed tomorrow

Nintendo has announced that it will be revealing the next fighter for Super Smash Bros Ultimate tomorrow. The reveal video will be approximately 3 minutes long and that will be followed by a short message from series director Masahiro Sakurai. Nintendo is not giving any clues away as to who the next fighter could be for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, so it could be anyone that has appeared in a game that has featured on Nintendo's platforms and that is a huge list.

Min Min from ARMS was the last character to be added to Super Smash Bros Ultimate as part of update 8.0.0. It is unlikely then that the next character will also be from ARMS, but you never know. Min Min was picked over "main" character like Spring Man quite simply ARMS Producer Yabuki-san said he wanted it to be so. Her spring-like arms are a key part of her ability set, able to curl and having different ranges depending on movement and tilt, but quite uniquely, her arms are controlled independently using the A and B buttons. This can be used to punch in two separate directions, or press A + B for a combined smash attack. Her weakness is that her punches are quite low by default and very directional, meaning that a short hop can get above them, even if you curl her punch.

In our review for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Jason wrote:

Smash Bros. has often felt a bit like it was trying to do too much and while it has always been a fun series, the disparity between the fighting game and the party game didn't always mesh well. Ultimate is the perfect fusion of the two styles. There are countless additions to it as a fighting game to keep the competitive players happy, but the new items and features make the party game the most exciting it could be. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels like one of the best written love letters to gaming that there has ever been, the care and attention given to each of the games represented is incredible. This is quite simply a must-play game, one that will keep you going for hundreds of hours with its single player alone, and with multiplayer that will keep you going for thousands.

You can read the full review here.

Source: Twitter

 


RPG Maker MZ Review

So you want to make your own games, eh? Well, RPG Maker MZ is the latest in the series of development kits for budding game designers who don't want to explore the labyrinthine catacombs of learning to code from scratch. As a tool for messing around with and making short games for your friends, it can be a good jumping off point to learning game design, but going beyond this requires a lot more than the app is capable of.

I should establish that I am a beginner with game design, and indeed RPG Maker. I suspect I'm MZ's target audience, but while some talented developer have made some successful games within the engine, I wouldn't really suggest going for something like RPG Marker if you're serious about learning game design. It's a cul-de-sac of game development when you probably want your skills to be transferable.

This is an evolution of RPG Maker MV, which plenty of experienced people will have pointed out features almost everything that MZ has to offer as well. Upgrading likely isn't worth the trouble, but there are some new features.

Perhaps the most useful feature is a returning one that was inexplicably taken away. While creating maps, you can once more use layers to place objects on top of other objects, creating a more realistic map with ease. MZ can automate the layers, but manually controlled layers are a godsend for those with custom assets uploaded.

I'd also say that the Time Progress Battle System options, which basically turn your game's combat into SNES era Final Fantasy, is a welcome addition. Previously this was only possible with external plugins, so having the option right in the box is great for those who like classic Final Fantasy.

Another time saving feature is the new character generator. The idea being that by choosing facial features, clothing, and other accessories, the app will generate all of the necessary sprites at the correct resolution for you. It's a great feature for those who are just starting out with the app and want to create something without the default assets, but for anyone actually trying to make money with their own games, this feature is redundant.

This is because, as a game creation tool, some people would like to sell their own creations. The main barrier to the success of games made in RPG Maker is the same one that plagued early Unity games: people can tell that you used RPG Maker to make it.

In order to prevent your project becoming a stereotypical RPG Maker game, you'll need to spend a lot of time making your own assets (or using assets from a lesser known pack that is compatible with RPG Maker MZ). That said, there are some things that are very difficult to customise, like the menus. Plugin and Javascript support can help a tad here, and there's now a new and convenient feature to allow developers to enable plugins easily with some checkboxes.

There are other quality of life additions here too, and two worth mentioning are the tracker for all the events in any given map and the preview button for showing where NPCs will move to during events you configure.

But enough about what's new. What about if you're new to RPG Maker? Does MZ do a good job at teaching you how to use it?

My first impression of MZ's user interface was that it was a familiar if confusing mess. It's like looking at an index, but having no idea what to look for. You really have to start off by checking the tutorial that goes through all the important steps, like creating NPCs to talk to, configuring events so that an NPC only hands out a potion if your character doesn't have one, and tinkering with boss battles.

It's a great tutorial that's simple to follow thanks to the helper notifications bouncing around the screen. That said, the notifications will occasionally desynchronise with your actions unless you do exactly what it says. You'll then have to manually stop the tutorial and restart it to get back to where you were.

RPG Maker MZ is very easy to use for budding designers with little to no experience in game making, but it's incredibly difficult to set things up exactly how you want. This is mostly down to some odd gaps in the documentation. For example, the Contents section in the Help menu does neatly specify the requirements for adding background music, going so far as to include notes on how MZ uses particular metadata, but there's nothing beyond that. I highly suspect that a lot of the reasons behind such vague instructions were down to legal reasons, but it would have been nice for the app to at least suggest a third-party app like Audacity to modify the necessary metadata for the music file type it wishes developers to use.

I also would have liked to have more options for in-game battle text, like being able to quickly use a formula to select a party member or enemy that is being attacked.

RPG Maker MZ also feels somewhat primitive in places. It's not possible to have enemy sprites with idle animations in battle thanks to imported sprites being PNG files. It would have been a great step to allow for multiple sprites to be used in sequence to create such animations and bring the enemies to life.

I realise that some of my complaints are exclusive to me, but I'd imagine that plenty of people would have different requirements that are simply not met out of the box. It may be missing a lot of things and if you're serious about game design, I wouldn't use RPG Maker at all, but with the help of the tutorial and community forums, you do have the potential to make something worth at least sharing.


PS5 pre-orders from ShopTo will not reach some customers on launch day

ShopTo has announced that not all PS5 pre-orders will be fulfilled for launch day, after the company received its stock allocation from Sony and the number was less than the pre-orders that the retailer took. Eurogamer was able to get hold of an email that ShopTo was sending out to customers that were told they will not be getting their PS5 day one, and the email says:

"We have received the allocation details from Sony and, unfortunately, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to fulfil your pre-order on day one/release date. Sony may notify us of additional stock with extra allocation for day one and you have already reserved your place in the queue. Some customers may cancel their pre-orders and that may allow yours to be next in line."

ShopTo boss Igor Cipolletta did not state how many PS5s Sony had allocated to ShopTo, but stated he hoped Sony would either allocate more or communicate when they would receive the next batch to fulfil orders. However, he also said that technically ShopTo only asked people to register their interest, and then go into their pre-order section to confirm or remove their interest. Those who confirmed interest would then be given a pre-order. According to Igor people who did not confirm interest or had more than one order are being sent this email.

Sony has not really managed the pre-orders for the PS5 well. The company had stated it would give potential buyers plenty of time but then only notified about a day earlier they were going live, and did not give times or from which retailers the console would be available. Sony had apologised for the way pre-orders were handled but even the second batch of pre-order availability was not properly communicated.

Source: Eurogamer


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