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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Next Total War Teased in New Trailer

The Creative Assembly continues to support a number of different Total War games, including the recently released A Total War Saga: Troy. However, its next title is already seemingly in development. The developer released a new, unnamed teaser trailer that potentially hints at what it could be. Check it out below.

The most obvious guess is that this is Total War: Warhammer 3. The developer confirmed the title's existence back in September 2019 and noted that it was "deep in development." An announcement could be coming up, perhaps at The Game Awards 2020 in December (though it could likely happen before, as well).

Total War: Warhammer 2 launched in 2017 and has seen strong support from the developer ever since with expansion packs, free updates and much more. The question now is whether Mortal Empires – which collects all of the different factions into one big battle for supremacy – featuring all three games in the series would be possible. As always, stay tuned for more details and updates in the meantime.


Immortals Fenyx Rising – 15 Features You Need To Know

Immortals Fenyx Rising has looked like an interesting experiment on Ubisoft's part since they first revealed it as Gods and Monsters, and even though the game has clearly gone through major changes during development, it's still looking like an exciting new open world IP. There isn't long left until we actually get to play the game ourselves, so as we count down the days to its launch, in this feature, we'll be talking about some important things that you should know about it.

PREMISE

Immortals Fenyx Rising is going to take players to the world of Greek mythology, which, frankly, is a setting and backdrop that video games have been using extensively for years- but the way Immortals is approaching it is still interesting. You play as Fenyx, a Greek soldier who's stranded on the Golden Isle, and you've been tasked with rescuing the Greek pantheon from the titan Typhon, who's hellbent on revenge against the gods after Zeus and company banished him and sealed him away in Tartaros. Zeus and Prometheus are both co-narrators of the game's story, and Immortals is said to be approaching things with a rather light-hearted tone- which is a rather interesting combination.

WORLD

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As you'd expect from a modern-day Ubisoft game, Immortals Fenyx Rising is going to let players loose in a vast open world setting. The Golden Isle is divided into seven distinct regions, each one themed around a specific god from the Greek pantheon- like the Forgelands, of the blacksmith god Hephaistos, which is teeming with mechanical structures, forges, and automaton enemies. With volcanoes, snowy mountains, lush green fields, and more, Immortals' world is promising to be quite diverse.

CUSTOMIZATION

Though Immortals has a set protagonist in Fenyx, the game is still going to give players plenty of control over them in terms of customization. There is a character creator, for starters, and players will be able to choose and customize Fenyx's gender, appearance, and voice. This, in fact, is something that you can change at any time during the game, which means you're not going to be locked into whatever choices you make for your character in the beginning.

PHOSPHOR

Immortals Fenyx Rising started development as an offshoot of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and that shows in several ways. For instance, similar to Bayek's Senu and Kassandra or Alexios' Ikaros, Fenyx will have a companion bird named Phosphor, which you will be able to take control of and fly across the map to spot points of interest in the map. How similar this system will be to Assassin's Creed remains to be seen.

TRAVERSAL

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Traversal is going to be a major focus in the game, and it's looking like a cross between Assassin's Creed and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For starters, you can climb virtually anything you can see in the game's world, but while climbing, you'll also have to keep an eye on Fenyx's stamina, similar to Breath of the Wild. Also like Breath of the Wild, or more specifically its paragliding, Fenyx will also be able to fly using the wings of Daedalus- this combination of climbing and flying promises to make traversal in the game quite interesting.

EXPLORATION

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As you'd expect from any good open world game, Immortals Fenyx Rising is promising a vast amount of things to do in its map- and exploration, it seems, is going to be crucial for all of them. From rifts to puzzles to vaults to side objectives to what have you, everything will have to spotted by you in the world itself, rather than following a marker or an icon on the map or a compass. Players will have to climb to vantage points in the open world and use Fenyx's Far Sight ability to identiy and pinpoint points of interest- which, again, sounds like a cross between Assassin's Creed and Breath of the Wild.

VAULTS OF TARTAROS

Those rifts that we just mentioned are going to be the gateways to a very particular type of activity in the world. Tartaros Rifts are scattered throughout the world, and using them will lead you to Vaults of Tartaros. What exactly are these? They're dungeons, in simple terms. Each of them is filled with puzzles to solve, obstacles to overcome, or enemies to fight.

Speaking of enemies…

ENEMIES

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It seems like enemy variety is going to be another area that Immortals Fenyx Rising is devoting a lot of attention to. From lions and harpies to minotaurs and cyclopes, players will be coming up against all manner of enemies in the game, varying in sizes and appearances, but also in strengths and weaknesses. Making use of various abilities and weapons to juggle multiple enemies during encounters promises to make for fast-paced combat- let's hope it plays as good as it sounds.

CORRUPTED HEROES

Corrupted heroes is one of Immortals' most intriguing mechanics. As you play more and more of the game and progress further and defeat more enemies, you will regularly invoke the rage of the titan Typhon. This will result in the skies growing red, and one of several fallen Greek heroes being corrupted and sent out by the titan to hunt you down. It seems like this is something that will often with various different corrupted heroes throughout the course of the game.

COMBAT

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We've spoken about different enemy types, and how combat is going to be fast-paced and frantic, but there's still plenty more details to cover. For instance, it seems aerial combat is going to be a pretty big focus, which makes sense, given Fenyx's ability to fly using Daedalus' wings. On top of that, the game also has a couple of mechanics that are pretty much taken straight out of Assassin's Creed Odyssey. The perfect dodge will slow down time and allow you to hit enemies with a flurry of attacks, while the perfect parry will knock your enemies of balance and allow you to do the same.

WEAPONS

Something else that's going to define combat in Immortals Fenyx Rising is the weapons you'll be using. The game will have three unique weapons for players to use. Your light attacks will come from a sword, your heavy attacks will come from a massive axe, while Fenyx will also be able to use a bow and arrow. Oh, and stamina management is something that you're going to have to juggle during combat as well, which is likely going to be used to prevent things from getting too button mash-y.

ABILITIES

On top of Fenyx's multiple weapons, combat abilities, flight, and the enemy variety, abilities are also going to play a crucial role in defining combat. Players will be graining new abilities throughout the course of the game, each of which will present unique combat advantages. There's Hephaistos' Hammer, which deals heavy damage to enemies; Herakles' Strength, which grabs on to foes and slingshots you straight at them; Ares' spears, which can thrust enemies into air or attack aerial foes; and many more.

UPGRADES

Fenyx will be coming across plenty of gear and armour throughout the course of the game, and as you might expect, all of this will be upgradable. Upgrades will rely on collecting crafting resources in the game's world. How extensive and deep the upgrade mechanics are remains to be seen, but at a glance, it seems (once again) like it has plenty in common with the gear and upgrade systems in Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

NEXT-GEN

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Immortals Fenyx Rising is launching on just about every current platform that matters (and also Stadia). That includes next-gen consoles as well, of course- so what exactly can you expect from the game on the newer systems? On PS5 and Xbox Series X, the game will support HDR and feature faster load times, on top of running in 4K at 60 FPS. Meanwhile, on Xbox, the game will also feature Dolby Atmos support, while on PS5, Ubisoft have promised full implementation of the console's 3D audio as well as the DualSense's haptic feedback.

SEASON PASS

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Why, of course this open world Ubisoft game is going to have a season pass. Ubisoft have confirmed that more new content will be added to the game following its launch, including a bonus quest, in-game rewards, and "new gameplay experiences" in the form of three post-launch single player expansions.


10 Biggest Concerns We Have for Cyberpunk 2077

With all of the details revealed thus far for Cyberpunk 2077, there have also been plenty of reasons to worry. Following its delay to December, let's take a look at 10 of our biggest concerns, ranging from the story and gameplay to overall polish and performance on certain platforms.

Story Cohesion

With CRPGs like Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 3, I'm always impressed at the amount of cohesion needed to maintain a game's story. These are games with main quests and side quests that provide multiple options, branching paths and branches on top of those branches (not to mention all the variations that can happen due to one's character build). It's easy for the overall cohesion and strength of the story to suffer, especially when so many decisions have to be kept track of.

Given the amount of branching that CD Projekt RED is promising in Cyberpunk 2077, there's some concern as to whether the writing and overall plot can hold up, especially when the developer is trying to account for every single silly action that a player can take. Of course, this also ties into…

V's Character

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In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we had Geralt, an established character with a strong background and history. Even if you didn't play the previous two games or read the books, the narrative did a good job of conveying Geralt's character while also advancing and developing it alongside the main story.

In Cyberpunk 2077, V has his share of backgrounds – as seen in the three Life Paths – but the sheer amount of customization and decision-making possible means that the game's story has to be more flexible about how it reinforces his convictions and develops his character. After all, it all comes down to what the player decides and whether or not the narrative can anticipate that and find a way to leverage that to such a large degree.

There's also Johnny Silverhand, who will be stuck in V's head at some point and presumably remain with him throughout the story. Given that this is an established character – that too backed by a charismatic Keanu Reeves – there's some worry that Johnny could overshadow V's presence. A lot of them comes down to the strength of writing, how frequently Johnny is inserted into story scenes and whatnot but it's a worry nonetheless.

Life Path Differences

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This is something that piqued my interest when Life Paths were first revealed. I can appreciate having playable prologues for different kinds of V, showcasing his journey as a Nomad, struggles as a Corpo rat or life as a Street Kid. It's pretty cool and having a Life Path influence how the world reacts to you makes for good replay value. CD Projekt RED has promised more than that though, like exclusive content for each Life Path.

While I doubt that Life Paths will make for three entirely different games in one package, there's still a concern for how different playthroughs will be outside of differing prologues and endings and how much exclusive content one can really expect. For now, it's best to just treat Life Paths as backgrounds that will influence how different groups interact with you in (and out) of Night City while also affecting the ending.

First-Person Perspective

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This has been a major concern ever since CD Projekt RED announced it. Don't get us wrong – a first-person perspective has worked incredibly well for RPGs, from Deus Ex: Human Revolution to The Elder Scrolls. However, for some fans coming from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, having to adjust to first-person will be tough (especially since V only appears in third-person for certain cutscenes, while driving or when reflected in mirrors and glass).

Some may like to see their custom character at all times, especially during dialogue exchanges; others may prefer third person combat. It all comes down to preference at the end of the day. A third-person perspective option would have been nice but that's sadly not included.

Driving

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Driving – and transportation mechanics in general – is always a concern in open world games. It's very easy to mess up the responsiveness of controls or make certain vehicles feel unwieldy. While CD Projekt RED had its fair share of issues with Roach in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, initial impressions of the driving in Cyberpunk 2077 have been that it's fine but needs more polish. Whether it will see improvements or regressions remains to be seen, along with any potential issues that could crop up from summoning one's vehicle.

Melee Combat

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The Witcher 3 didn't have the best melee combat. This isn't to say it was terrible but it wasn't the best. This has seemingly come to haunt Cyberpunk 2077, whose melee combat has looked less than stellar, to the point that the development team outright admitted to not being 100 percent happy with it. More recent footage showed some improvements but the blocking and response from hitting enemies looked like they required more polish. The gunplay has been looking pretty good so we're at least hopeful that melee combat will be improved.

Braindance

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As an investigative mechanic, Braindance looks pretty cool – it not only allows you to experience events first-hand but pause, rewind and fast forward, and analyze different aspects afterwards. Don't get us wrong – this is already a step up from just activating Witcher senses and following trails. But it currently looks to boil down scanning different parts of the environment.

Will it become more complex than that, even with the ability to switch layers and filter out different sounds? Time will tell – a balance between being a narrative vehicle and intriguing puzzle mechanic would be ideal. We'll just have to wait and see if different situations leverage it.

Xbox One and PS4 Performance

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It was an open secret throughout the marketing and hype for Cyberpunk 2077 that it wouldn't run well on current-gen consoles without some heavy compromises. No footage from the PS4 and Xbox One versions has ever been shown till date, even after the game went gold and was close to releasing in November. It was only after the recent delay that CD Projekt RED Adam Kicinski admitted to more work being required on the current-gen versions.

"Since Cyberpunk 2077 evolved towards almost being a next-gen title somewhere along the way, we need to make sure everything works well and every version runs smoothly." Of course, considering the company is optimizing for so many different platforms, we'd say not to get your hopes up if you're playing on Xbox One and PS4.

Glitches and Bugs

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Despite all the delays and hard work from the developer, bugs will inevitably seep through. The problem is that with larger scale games like this, especially ones with so many branching decisions and paths, dialogues and characters, gameplay systems and mechanics, there will be a fair number of bugs and glitches. This same issue affected The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at launch as well, though CD Projekt RED released updates at a steady pace and fixed a lot of them. Nevertheless, expect the initial romp through Night City to have its share of rough patches and issues.

Too Big in Scope and Scale

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Of course, another worry is that the immense scale of the game will lead to certain areas, story beats, characters or gameplay mechanics being underdeveloped. It could be that certain Street Stories just aren't that good compared to others. Romancing companions may not be all that well-developed.

Certain weapon classes and types may end up feeling underwhelming compared to others. It could also mean that entire levels and environments aren't properly polished or enjoyable. Again, this is always a concern for games of this magnitude – we'd honestly be more shocked if every aspect, no matter how small, was at a consistent level of quality.


Destiny 2 – Season of the Hunt is Now Live

Destiny 2 Season of the Hunt

Season of the Hunt is now officially underway in Destiny 2, bringing some new challenges, a new Season Pass and a new Artifact with seasonal mods. Season Pass owners immediately get access to the new armor along with accessing Duality, the Exotic shotgun. But the main appeal lies in the new Wrathborn Hunts, which sees players battling Xivu Arath's henchmen.

To do this, they'll work with Spider and Crow, the latter being a resurrected Prince Uldren, to craft a Lure. The Lure then needs to be charged by playing through Strikes, Gambit or Crucible (so essentially grinding the same content as with Beyond Light). Once this is done, take the Lure to a specific location and initiate the hunt.

What is interesting is that, like the Menagerie, players can modify the Lure to get specific perks on weapons, exclude certain perks, focus on stats for armor and whatnot. These "trophies" can be obtained from various activities. Of course, once a hunt is completed, you need to go back and charge it again. So happy grinding.

Stay tuned for more details on Season of the Hunt as it progresses. Check out the roadmap here.


Ranking All Years of the Last Console Generation from Worst to Best

The ninth console generation is almost upon us, and the future of video games looks more exciting than ever. Hopefully, the coming years are going to bring experiences the likes of which we've never seen before, and we, like everyone else, are chomping at the bit to dive headfirst into those experiences.

But these last few years haven't been too bad either. Starting with the releases of the PS4 and Xbox One in late 2013, the eighth console generation has taken us on a wild ride, given us ridiculously high highs and some disappointingly low lows. As we prepare to step forward into the future of gaming, in this feature, we're going to look back at its recent past, and rank all the years of the eighth console generation from worst to best.

With all that said, it's time to begin.

#8. 2014

In the early months and years of this console generation, things weren't looking too good, and 2014 is perfectly emblematic of that. There weren't a lot of exceptional releases to speak of, and the few that we did get our hands on didn't quite feel "next-gen" enough. Games such as Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Destiny, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze surely gave us some solid titles to sink our teeth into, but for the most part, 2014 was a year defined by underwhelming, forgettable releases.

Was it a year that was completely devoid of great games to play? Well, no, not exactly- but by the time 2014 came to an end, we were all still waiting for next-gen to feel like next-gen.


Hitman Developer Announcing New Project Tomorrow

Hitman 3 - England

IO Interactive is busy with Hitman 3, which it's developing and self-publishing, but also has a new project in the works. It will be revealed tomorrow at 6 AM PT/9 AM ET on YouTube. Whether this is the "new console and PC game experience" that it's working on with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is currently unknown.

As for Hitman 3, it's currently on track and serves as the conclusion to the World of Assassination saga. New locations this time around include Dubai and Dartmoor in England. And much like Hitman 2, players will be able to access levels and progress from the previous games in Hitman 3.

Hitman 3 is slated to release on January 20th 2021 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, PC and Google Stadia with a cloud version for the Nintendo Switch also in the works. Current-gen owners on PS4 and Xbox One will be able to upgrade to next-gen versions, free of cost. Stay tuned for more details on other locations in the coming months.


Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Launch Trailer Prepares for Battle

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is set to release on November 20th and to prepare for the same, Nintendo has released a new launch trailer. It includes Princess Zelda rallying the troops, the Champions preparing for battle and of course, Link. Check it out below.

As a Musou-style game developed by Omega Force, Age of Calamity takes place 100 years before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Players face off against hordes of foes as either Link, Zelda, one of the Champions and even Impa, unleashing special attacks, Runes and whatnot. Even the Divine Beasts come into play, raining down destruction with ease.

But despite its hack and slash-focused gameplay, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity does maintain several facets of its predecessor. You can still cook and eat meals for buffs, fast travel across different regions via the Sheikah Towers and unleash Flurry Rush for a quick burst of damage. The game is out on Nintendo Switch this Friday – stay tuned for more details in the coming days.


XIII Review – Yikes

The first thing I noticed was the screen-tearing. At first, I thought it might be a weird stylistic choice to emphasize the game's visuals, but it kept happening almost every time I moved my character or looked around. Then I noticed the sound bugs. Sometimes, weapons didn't make noise when I fired or reloaded them. Then I started looking at the animations. They weren't great, either. I wish I could tell you things got better. They didn't.

This is XIII, PlayMagic's remake of the 2003 cult classic by Ubisoft Paris and Southbend Interactive, which was based on the graphic novel of the same name. Got all that? Good. The original XIII was a unique game for its time, employing a cel-shaded art style (which, hard as it is to believe, was pretty rare in 2003), comic book panels, split-screen camera cuts, and floating words like "boom" and "bang" and "crash" whenever there was a loud noise. XIII wasn't a masterpiece, but it had some interesting ideas and a unique style that made up for its fairy banal gameplay. It's one of those games that seems primed for a remake: polish up what already worked and fix what didn't, and you'd have an enjoyable experience.

"There is some cel-shading here, but the character models are largely unimpressive, basic looking things."

Unfortunately, this isn't the game PlayMagic made. Aside from the laundry list of technical issues, the first thing you'll notice are the graphics. The original XIII successfully captured the look and feel of a comic book. There is some cel-shading here, but the character models are largely unimpressive, basic looking things. Mostly, it looked like the artists slapped heavy black outlines on what are pretty standard "stylized" character modes and called it a day. Shading and shadows flicker on and off throughout the title, whether you're playing or watching a cutscene. Animations aren't any better. Character's faces barely move, reloading a gun feels choppy, and XIII – the main character, for those not familiar with the game – opens door by pointing a key at them and turning it. Forget interacting with the lock. These animations are so jarring that it might better to just have the door swing open than to pretend we're unlocking it.

And then there are the visual bugs. And boy, are there a lot of them.  I already mentioned the screen-tearing, which, again, was so bad at times that it happened that it happened every time I moved or turned the camera, but the framerate might be worse. I reviewed XIII on an Xbox One X, which should be more than capable of running it, and every time I got into a large area or a big gunfight, the framerate dropped into what must have been the low twenties. It's not a stretch to say that the original game looks and runs better, which is pretty damning when that game is 17 years old.

The story is better, largely because it uses the same vocal performances as the original game – David Duchovny plays the titular hero, and the late Adam West voices General Carrington – but the old and new audio sometimes feel like they're not synced up properly, which can cause a disconnect between what you're seeing characters do on-screen and what you're hearing. Like the rest of the game, XIII's audio is riddled with bugs, which only serves to make things worse. Sometimes guns won't make noise when they fire, or you won't have audio when you reload a weapon. I didn't run into any issues where dialog wouldn't play, but given the other sound problems the game has, I wouldn't be surprised if such bugs exist.

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" The plot revolves around the assassination of the president. Your character wakes up with a gunshot wound on a beach with a nasty case of amnesia and it's obvious pretty quickly that you're being blamed for the whole thing."

When the game functions properly long enough to allow you to enjoy its story, the narrative is actually pretty engaging, though it is enormously plot heavy and jumps around very quickly, which might confuse people who aren't familiar with the source material. The plot revolves around the  assassination of the president. Your character wakes up with a gunshot wound on a beach with a nasty case of amnesia and it's obvious pretty quickly that you're being blamed for the whole thing. With only a tattoo of the number XIII on his arm and some scattered memories to go off of, he sets out to find out why he's being set up for the president's murder, who he is, and what's actually going on. The remake hews very closely to the original game, so you're unlikely to see any new surprises if you're a returning player. The narrative can be a bit convoluted, but it wraps up nicely by the end and answers most of the questions it poses. Like the original game, however, it does end on a cliffhanger that seems unlikely to be resolved.

While the story can be enjoyable, you'll unfortunately have to slog through a lot of really tedious and uninspired gameplay segments to get there. Most of the guns you'll find simply don't feel good to use, with notable exceptions coming in the form of the sniper rifle, M16, and crossbow. The rest, however, lack any kind of impact, whether in terms of audio or visual feedback, when you fire them. Enemies take bullets without much reaction until they enter what seems to be one of the two death animations the game has, staggering for a second before falling forwards or backwards. Once, I got too close to an enemy and he begun freaking out, his model doing things you'd associate with a horror game. It was a nice change of pace from seeing the same canned animation over and over again, but it's emblematic with the larger problem with XIII: everything about it is broken.

The game tries to make up for its mundane gunplay by throwing a lot of enemies at you. Unfortunately, they're dumb as bricks, mostly standing around and waiting for you to kill them even after you've killed one of their buddies right in front of them. When they do notice you – which often happens for no discernable reason – they'll charge at you, firing mindlessly until you mow them down. The game is incredibly easy on the standard difficulty, so I'd often switch to my fists to give them a chance. Unfortunately, the melee combat feels just as uninspired as the gunplay, and enemies are still pathetic whether you're beating them to death or filling them full of lead. There are some cool visual touches here – shooting someone in the head triggers a series of comic book panels at the top of the screen that tracks the shot and its impact – but they hardly make up for how poor everything else is.

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"The game tries to make up for its mundane gunplay by throwing a lot of enemies at you. Unfortunately, they're dumb as bricks, mostly standing around and waiting for you to kill them even after you've killed one of their buddies right in front of them."

If you tire of the game's traditional combat, and you will very, very quickly, you try to go about your business stealthily. If it's possible, XIII's stealth is even worse than its gunplay. You can pick up chairs or ashtrays and whack people over the head with them to knock them out, and that part works well. If you don't have an instrument of blunt force trauma available, you can also sneak up behind someone and give them a karate chop to the back of the neck. This works great – until it doesn't. Often, the game will unequip whatever weapon you're carrying and you won't do anything. Generally, this led to me mashing the karate chop button – which did absolutely nothing – until the enemy noticed I was behind them and started to shoot at me and I had to beat them to death because the game had unequipped my weapon.

You can also take hostages, though that's just as useless as the stealth kills. The one time I did it, which was when the game forced me to, XIII informed me that enemies wouldn't shoot at me as long as I kept the hostage between them and me. So I took my hostage, walked out the door in front of me, and every enemy in the place, all of whom were in front of me, opened fire. This didn't seem to affect my hostage, who took bullet after bullet without complaint, sound, or anything else, but getting shot hurt and holding the hostage did make me move more slowly and prevented me from reloading my gun, so I eventually dropped her so XIII could get on with murdering everyone in the room. I never took another hostage during my time with the game because I assumed that, like almost everything else in XIII, the mechanic wouldn't work properly.

There's also a multiplayer mode, but since it's only split-screen, I wasn't able to test it. It offers team deathmatch and normal deathmatch, and like the rest of the game, I assume it's a technical mess. While I'll normally sing the praises of anyone who includes local multiplayer in their game, it seemed odd to only include local multiplayer and no option for online play.

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" I hope PlayMagic and Microids keep their promises and turn XIII into a game worth playing, because there is potential here. Doing that, however, will require more than just fixing a few bugs."

Both PlayMagic and publisher Microids are more than aware of the game's technical issues, and have apologized for the state of the game. They blame the COVID-19 pandemic for issues with the game's production, as well as the Day One patch, and have released a roadmap for upcoming patches that includes new levels, modes, skins, and multiplayer maps. All of that is understandable, and it's good that both the studio and publisher have apologized, but the state of this release is absolutely unacceptable. The game is a mess, even after the Day One patch. Instead of apologizing and promising to fix things, PlayMagic and Microids should have delayed the game, or at least pulled it from storefronts until they've fixed it. It's nice to promise fixes and updates, but as anyone who has ever seen a studio promise something and not deliver knows, there's no guarantee what they're saying will come to pass.

In the meantime, you can still buy XIII, and PlayMagic and Microids can still profit off of it. If you do, the game you'll play is a broken, buggy mess. You can't play a promise, and you certainly can't review one. You can only review the game as it is right now, and right now, XIII is one of the worst games I've ever played. I hope PlayMagic and Microids keep their promises and turn XIII into a game worth playing, because there is potential here. Doing that, however, will require more than just fixing a few bugs. It will involve updating the way it looks, enhancing the enemy AI, making the guns feel good to use, developing stealth gameplay that actually works, and so much more.

XIII might be a good game one day, but it's infinitely more likely that it will simply be a mediocre one. Right now, it's outright bad. If you want to play XIII, I suggest that you go buy the original release. It's flawed, but unlike the remake, it's a finished product, it looks better, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper. PlayMagic and Microids can promise all the fixes they want, but until they actually deliver, we're left with a bad game that they chose to release anyway, and absolutely no reason to take them at their word.

This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.


The Medium Interview – Dual Reality, Fixed Cameras, Story, and More

Bloober Team have been one of the most prolific developers of horror games in recent years, and with experiences such as Observer, Layers of Fear, and Blair Witch, they've certainly proven their talent on more than one occasion. With their next game, however, they're taking what's looking like a major leap forward. The Medium looks like their most ambitious game to date, and having been in the studio's pipeline – at least as an idea, if not an actual game – for nearly a decade, it's also a game that Bloober Team has been envisioning for a long, long time. Soon, we'll get to see if it lives up to the hype, but before that happens, we recently had the chance to send across some of our most burning questions about the game to its developers. You can read our conversation with The Medium producer Jacek Zieba below.

The Medium

"The main belief of the game is duality and providing different points of view, starting from story to gameplay ending, which is why dual reality gameplay is one of the foundations of The Medium."

One of the biggest draws here is clearly the Dual Reality gameplay- can you speak about that for a little bit, and how critical it's going to be to the experience? For instance, is this something that can be activated at any time, so that players have the freedom to jump between realities whenever they want? Or is it restricted to particular areas or sections of the story?

The main belief of the game is duality and providing different points of view, starting from story to gameplay ending, which is why dual reality gameplay is one of the foundations of The Medium.

The game does not appear with dual reality gameplay all the time as players can expect to play in it about 33% of the game, while the rest of the game takes place within a single reality, either in the real world or in the spiritual world.

This is to constantly surprise players in which world they  are currently in, and it also aims to pose new challenges – how can players use the world to their advantage?

At some points in the game, the player will be able to move from the real world to the spiritual world in specifically designated places.

It will not be possible to switch between worlds at any time in the game since the whole game is designed in that new gameplay mechanics can be discovered within their own realities as well as with each other during dual reality gameplay.

What has your primary design philosophy been while working on The Medium's Dual Reality mechanic? Is it something that you're using more for storytelling purposes, or something that you're also leveraging to design, say, better puzzles or more intense horror sequences?

Showcasing two worlds simultaneously is our primary philosophy designed to further enhance the story; however, the dual reality mechanic also promotes gameplay and exploration, as well as taking in the atmosphere itself.

In one world, we can be in a seemingly safe location, but players will be in two worlds at once, so we never really know if something is lurking in the other reality…

What was behind the decision to go with fixed camera angles for The Medium, especially given Bloober Team's history with first person horror games?

There were several reasons. One is because we primarily built a game in two worlds. We experimented with various camera angles during development, and we ultimately decided that the use of  semi-fixed camera angles was the best solution for the most comfortable game experience when it comes to exploring the world in either a single or in dual reality.

Because of fixed camera angles, we were able to introduce an even stronger cinematic feel to the whole game.

At the same time, we somehow refer to old-school horror games such as Silent Hill or Resident Evil, which were a great inspiration for us when designing The Medium.

It is also a next step in the evolution of our games here at Bloober Team, through first-person perspective with a semi fixed camera to a third-person perspective in the future.

We've seen quite a bit of The Medium's puzzle solving and exploration in gameplay so far. Can you talk about what players can expect from the combat side of things? Does The Medium put much of an emphasis on combat? Does stealth come into play at all?

The Medium focuses mainly on story, exploration and puzzles, but that does not mean that the player will not encounter any threats.

We focus more on how our character can survive and deal with the threats that may exist in one world but cannot be seen within the other; therefore, the game is more about survival than combat.

Players will be able to defend themselves if there is something happening, but it will not be a direct attack from the player.

The character will also be able to sneak by various situations and this may often be required to pass through specific locations.

Bloober Team's games have been known to be quite story-driven in the past, and it's looking like The Medium will be no different. With its central reality-switching mechanic and its setting, have you had to change your approach to how you look at characters or more large-scale story developments?

No.

Instead of changing, we simply focused on our storytelling, whether by including more cutscenes or by introducing additional gameplay situations where players have fun from not only discovering this story, but also from playing The Medium.

The Medium has been described as one of Bloober's biggest productions ever. Given that this is a game that's been known about since as far back as 2012, was it simply a matter of waiting for the hardware to do justice to the vision you had in mind for the game?

One of the biggest reasons for waiting so long was to wait for the right technology, whether it would be hardware or a game engine.

It was also important to meet the entire vision of the project, and for that we needed a veteran team of developers.

Bloober Team has come a long way since 2012 and we are already a different company with more experience and learnings along the way.

All these factors made the team so strong in both technology and experience that we decided that now would be the perfect time to meet the project's vision.

Is The Medium's much more ambitious nature and larger production size indicative of the kinds of games Bloober Team wants to develop going forward?

Yes and we hope players for next-gen consoles will enjoy what the Bloober Team has to offer and appreciate the new twists we think would immerse players into the horror aspects of The Medium.

A lot of comparisons have been drawn between The Medium and Silent Hill, which is something that Bloober have spoken about as well. Can you tell us more about how the game draws inspiration from SIlent Hill, and how players can expect to see that inspiration manifest in the game itself?

In our opinion, Silent Hill 2 is one of the best horror games ever.

Both Silent Hill 2 and the Silent Hill series have always been  a great inspiration for us as we approach psychological horrors.

With The Medium, Silent Hill 2 was one of the main inspirations when it comes to the atmosphere of the game.

When playing The Medium, players who are familiar with the Silent Hill series should experience similar themes and aesthetics in our game, especially in the context of the overall atmosphere.

Roughly how long will an average playthrough of The Medium be? 

8-10 hours.

The Medium

"With The Medium, Silent Hill 2 was one of the main inspirations when it comes to the atmosphere of the game."

The Medium is launching as an Xbox Series X/S console exclusive, but do you have any plans to eventually bring the game to PS5?

For now, we are focusing on Xbox X and S and PC, so currently we do not have any other platforms planned.

What was the reason behind launching as a Xbox console exclusive?

It's an outcome of our relations with Microsoft, the hardware we needed, and how our development progress and MS plans for XSX align. The bottomline it's an exciting adventure bringing The Medium as one of the first games for XSX.

Can you talk about the resolutions and frame rates The Medium is targeting on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S?

The team is still working to optimize The Medium across Xbox Series X and S and more details will be shared closer to launch.

The Xbox Series X has a ton of GPU horsepower and a fast SSD. How do you think this will help developers as they develop games for the next 7-8 years?

Games will generally look better, but it won't be an amazing leap in quality like PS2 vs PS3vs PS4 or Xbox vs Xbox 360 vs Xbox One.

The ability for better computing power and hardware can definitely help open up many interesting ideas and concepts, whether it will be better AI, finer details on the stage, or easier workarounds for developers. It helps to provide more opportunities for creative freedom, such as the dual reality gameplay within The Medium.


MXGP 2020 Interview – Career Mode, Playground, PS5 Version, and More

Milestone's track record has been solid over the last few years, with the Italian developer putting out a vast number of well-made motorcycle sims on a consistent basis. Their latest, MXGP 2020, launches not long from now, and represents the first step into next-gen for them- and they're making plenty of improvements to the formula to commemorate that big step. To learn more about the game and what improvements fans can expect from it, we recently reached out to its developers with some of our questions. You can read our interview with lead game designer Alex Basilio.

mxgp 2020

"The track editor is a core feature of MXGP 2019 and we are very happy to improve it. In MXGP 20 I'm especially proud of the new environment that we have included in track editor."

Can you talk about the improvements being made to the track editor and what sort of fidelity the creation toolset will have following these changes?

The track editor is a core feature of MXGP 2019 and we are very happy to improve it. In MXGP 20 I'm especially proud of the new environment that we have included in track editor. This new virtual place allows players to create amazing tracks set on a realistic open air ambient with natural climbs and different terrain elevation. We hope that the players will have fun creating the most elaborate tracks ever seen in a motocross game.

Will MXGP 20 support cross-play, especially for tracks created and shared online?

This year, working on the game wasn't easy at all. We are at an important generation turning point, but at the same time we had to deal with a complicated world health situation. MXGP 20 is our first next gen video game and we obviously have to build all the new structures for the game. In this scenario some feature like the cross gen support had to be left behind a little bit, but we definitely will work on it on the future titles.

Talk to us about MXGP 2020's new Playground. What are the biggest ways it differs from and improves over the previous Playground?

With the incredible size of 1km x 1km, this playground is the biggest free roaming area ever in a Milestone game. This year we set the playground in a beautiful Norway valley with rivers, fjord, green hills, and three challenging new training tracks.

How soon after launch will Race Director mode be coming?

I can't answer with a specific date yet, but we are currently working hard on it. We ask our players to have a little patience.

mxgp 2020

"With the incredible size of 1km x 1km, this playground is the biggest free roaming area ever in a Milestone game."

Wat sort of improvements are you making to MXGP 2020's career mode?

Essentially the career mode follows the track of the previous MXGP game but has a new flavour thanks to the new consoles. The structure as usual leaves the player free to decide if to race with the most competitive official teams, or to found and bring to victory a brand new team sponsored by a real life sponsor.

Something that's crucial in simulation games is presentation and authenticity- what can we expect from MXGP 2020 in that area?

The players will appreciate the new game physics and the terrain deformation, so I assure you we will give them an authentic motocross experience.

Many have been wondering why MXGP 2020 hasn't been announced for Xbox Series X and Series S, though it has been for the PS5 (and current-gen consoles, of course). Can you give us some insight into that decision, and whether or not MXGP 2020 will eventually be releasing for the new Xbox consoles?

The transition between two generation of consoles, new digital platforms and the global pandemic that is requiring remote working for all our developers (safety of our people is a priority for us), caused a remarkable productive effort in our studio that forced our dev team to take hard decisions. The incredible power of the Xbox Series X|S will allow our players to enjoy an optimized version of MXGP 2020, even without a specific release.

What kind of improvements have you made to the game's online structure and what kind of modes can we expect?

The online mode will be more stable and reliable compared to previous titles thanks to dedicated servers. It will also give some surprise in the future updates.

mxgp 2020

"The players will appreciate the new game physics and the terrain deformation, so I assure you we will give them an authentic motocross experience."

What resolution and frame rate are you targeting for the game on PS5? What about PS4 and Xbox One?

MXGP 2020 runs on PS5 in 4K dynamic resolution and 60 fps. This is a great improvement because the visual impact is amazing. All tracks, especially the playground, have a different feeling, and it gives to the player a more realistic experience.

Will MXGP 2020 implement the DualSense's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the PS5?

We use the full potential of the DualSense controller. With the haptic feedback we give the players the sensations of the motocross bike with the terrain surface simulation and very useful information like the loss of tire grip or the engine limiter. Adaptive triggers guarantee a realistic strength on the throttle, brake, and clutch.

The PS5's SSD has been one of its biggest talking points- how has it impacted the game and the way you have designed the game?

The PS5's SSD is a massive step forward for every video game. In the future, it will be impossible to come back when we will get to be used to zero loading times. Current loading times will become a very "old past". I have experienced the PS5's new loading times and quick resume, and I'm sure that these features will change our way to play video games.


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