Betawatch: Book of Travels begins teasing early access, again

In the long saga of Book of Travels doing almost everything other than actually entering its promised early access state, this week marked an odd departure as the freeform roleplaying sandbox insisted that its early access isn't so far away. It also doesn't like gamers describing the delay as "indefinite," in spite of the fact that […]

MMO Business Roundup: Discord's funding, Bungie's lawsuit, and harassment in online gaming

Welcome back to another roundup of MMO and MMO-adjacent business news. Discord: Investors love dumping money into Discord, and they're continuing the trend, as the chat company gamers know best raised another $500M in its latest funding round. That apparently puts the company at a value of $15B, significantly more than the reported $10B Microsoft […]

Sea of Thieves teases underwater adventuring arriving with Season 4 on September 23

Looking forward to more underwater excursions in Sea of Thieves? No? Well too bad because underwater stuff is going to be happening with the game's fourth season if this teaser trailer is anything to be believed. Underwater exploring. Underwater combat. What fun. Details on what exactly is happening with Season 4 are a bit sparse […]

Champions Online's anniversary continues with a Dr. Destroyer invasion, DC Universe Online celebrates Batman Day with free gifts

It's all about some superheroic celebration going on in both Champions Online and DC Universe Online, with both games marking some noteworthy dates on their respective calendars. Which, of course, means free goodies for players of either MMO. In Champs, the game's anniversary festivities roll on into their third week, which will feature an invasion […]

Final Fantasy XIV posts its fourth anniversary story ahead of the live letter this evening

Another Friday means that it's time for another installment of the Final Fantasy XIV anniversary fiction, and this one is taking aim at a largely unnoticed character. Kan-E-Senna is definitely an important figure, but very little storytelling focuses around her or her particular struggles. So it's a refreshing change to get a portrait of who she […]

Pantheon discusses world building, new hires, gathering nodes, and the path to alpha

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen's latest producer letter adds to last month's good news with the announcement of yet another hire: environment artist Tim Schuhler. He'll join the devs already hard at work on building out Wild's End. "In addition to our focus on developing Wild's End, world building efforts are ramping up this month […]

Star Citizen highlights alpha 3.15's location-based inventory management system

Are you ready for some hot and spicy inventory management action? Then put on your three-point harness and prepare for the ride of your life, as Star Citizen's latest video digest is all about alpha 3.15's physicalized inventory — the five dollar term CIG is using to mean inventory that's specific to planets, ships, and […]

Kingdom Under Fire 2 is shutting down in October

It's almost time to wave farewell to Kingdom Under Fire 2; publisher Gameforge has announced that the title will sunset for good on October 26th, with the game already unavailable for new players to download and premium currency purchases being disabled. Players can still use any currency they already have, which seems like a tacit statement […]

Elder Scrolls Online's Update 32 aims to tackle combat and power creep

ZeniMax Online Studios is already looking ahead to Elder Scrolls Online's Update 32, which is set to bring major combat changes to the game – specifically in the form of proc set balance and hybridization improvements. "In Update 30 we introduced item proc set scaling, which aimed to lower the ease of access of 'free' […]

Fallout 76 has a couple more patches coming for 2021

The reception of Fallout Worlds in Fallout 76 has been a bit of a mixed bag this month, with some players loving the anything-goes experimental rulesets and others feeling like it was a total waste of resources (especially considering that the main servers still lack basic functions such as text chat and guilds). No matter […]

Kickstarted MMO sandbox Fractured enters fall alpha on September 22

Dynamight Studios is gearing up for Fractured's next testing phase, as it's announced this week that the fall alpha will begin on September 22nd. Notably, players will be testing new abilities, world events, PvP sieges, new points of interest, new monsters, treasure hunting, lockpicking, an expansion for gear and crafting, and an "overhaul of [the] […]

Ashes of Creation snags former Elder Scrolls Online lead writer as new senior narrative designer

It would be easy to assume that Ashes of Creation will be thin on lore owing to its PvP sandbox nature and its main throughline of player actions having an impact on the world. That might not be exactly the case, however, as the game has recently picked up a new hire that will very […]

Design Mockument: Fresh ideas for City of Heroes 2 in 2021

Back in 2019, I had the idea to make Design Mockument semi-regular column because I like doing this sort of thing. I put out one installment of it out talking about a hypothetical sequel to The Matrix Online, and then, uh… 2020 happened, and then most of 2021 happened, and I actually totally forgot this […]

Raph Koster's plan is to build the metaverse tech, build a sandbox MMORPG on it, then open it all up

If Raph Koster's metaverse talk has you more confused than before, then don't worry; his new more technical blog is going to scramble your brains even more. Essential, he argues that Playable Worlds' metaverse tech will help solve some of the difficulty and cost of building MMOs in the modern world, making sharding, custom rulesets, […]

Guild Wars 2: 'Upgrading to DirectX11 is the first step toward being able to do more shiny things'

If the Revenant, Warrior, and Elementalist aren't your Cup of Light-Roasted Coffee, then next week's Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons beta round might not spark your attention. But not so fast: There's more to the beta than just the new elite specs. As promised, ArenaNet is also going to run the DirectX 11 beta […]

Palia wraps up the pre-alpha test you didn't get to play

What happens when the announcement of your game draws far, far more interest than you have actual room for in your testing program? A whole lot of interested parties on the outside of a building, cupping their faces and looking through the frosted glass to the wonders within, that's what. This has been the situation […]

Mortal Online 2 has shifted its launch to 2022, scraps early access plans

It's the story of 2021 so far, that so many MMOs have seen delays, but hey, here's one more: Mortal Online 2 has bumped its release date to next year, now January 25th, 2022, and it won't be running an early access now. "We have come so close to adding all the features and content […]

The Daily Grind: Which MMORPGs have you played most excessively?

I saw a fun thread on Reddit a while back I thought would be fun to pitch to our community too. The question asked which MMORPGs you've put more than 400 hours into. That's only around 16 or 17 days, so it's not really that much time, and yet it still seems like a lot […]

Massively Overthinking: How much would you pay for an MMO sub in 2021?

A few weeks back, MMO YouTuber Napyet tweeted that he liked Fallout 76's private servers but that compared to MMORPGs, the subscription for the game was on the high side. The optional Fallout First sub is around 13 bucks a month, with the base game – which launched almost three years ago – still clocking […]

Browser MMO Genfanad plans an alpha event for September, pushes off Kickstarter

Back in July, we covered a new-to-us browser-based MMORPG called Genfanad, and if you remember anything about it, it's probably the concept art of a buff Abe Lincoln shaking hands with a medieval knight. As we noted at the time, that bit of weirdo humor is intentional, as the Rose-Tinted Games seeks to turn "traditional […]

Trove asks players to side with fae or undead in latest event, releases the Bard class to Xbox and PlayStation

If you had to choose between undead horrors or trickster faefolk, which would you go for? That's the question being asked of Trove players in the game's latest event, which is tasking players with joining a side in a conflict between the fae and the undead. Or players could just choose both sides; the stakes […]

Aion NA's producer hypes up the arrival of new updates coming to retail and classic in a latter

While it's still only September, the producer for Aion in North America has plenty to write about. The letter in question is mostly about recent developments for the MMORPG, including the consolidation of servers, the game's 12th anniversary, and the release of Aion Classic to the west in June. Naturally, there are tidbits in the […]

Star Citizen fixes a currency bug, confirms that alpha 3.15 will feature a full progression wipe

Star Citizen's official forums have a couple of important announcements to share with players. First, a bug that was seeing aUEC disappear has been found and squashed with a recent hotfix. Players should see more accurate space bucks in their space wallets, though the announcement did stress that some aUEC may be lost forever due […]

Valheim's Hearth and Home update has officially arrived for the early access sandbox

First announced back in June, Valheim's Hearth and Home update is finally upon us, and before you ask, the multiplayer survival sandbox game has still not exited early access, although it's pretty cheap right now – $15.99 – on Steam if you're so inclined. Hearth and Home is a pretty hefty update, particularly for crafters […]

Swords of Legends Online offers a moon-filled festival for players to enjoy

We're going to go ahead and make a bold statement: The moon is the prettiest lifeless space rock locked in perpetual orbit around our planet. And Swords of Legends Online apparently agrees because the game is kicking off a whole moon festival dedicated to the big shiny moon from now until October 7th. You can […]

Bless Unleashed PC introduces a new high-level boss fight and new dungeon in latest update

If you've got a character that's between level 35 and 42 in Bless Unleashed's PC version, you've got some new content to face with the most recent update. This patch introduces a level 35 dungeon known as the Nightspire and a level 42 boss fight in the form of the Twisted Spider Queen. Both promise […]

Combat style testing for Star Wars The Old Republic now moves to the Assassin and Sorcerer classes

Public testing for the new combat styles of Star Wars: The Old Republic's classes rolls on. As of yesterday, the game's PTR has started testing for the Sith Assassin and Sith Sorcerer, granting both classes their opportunity to be put through their paces. As with other class adjustments, the idea is to make the Assassin […]

Time-travel MMO Into the Echo releases new video and alpha signups

Back in August, we covered a newly unveiled time-travel MMORPG called Into the Echo. Canada-based ETLOK Studios pitched the game as one with "traditional mechanics of resource collection, crafting, puzzle-solving and combat to build next generation social experiences" as well as "a launching pad for next generation social interactions where each player has a unique […]

BitCraft is a new upcoming MMORPG promising a procedural sandbox environment for players

So, want a new sandbox to look forward to? BitCraft has shown up as a new procedurally generated wide-open sandbox for players to explore, with the focus apparently leaning far on exploration and social interaction rather than combat. Players will be able to craft their own towns, explore the aforementioned large world, level up a […]

Stick and Rudder: Gaining traction as a newbie in EVE Online

EVE Online has a reputation for being difficult for new players. The varied, complex systems, some of which are a product of the era when EVE launched and some of which have been accumulated over time, do indeed present a steep learning curve for a pilot attempting to jump right into New Eden. While I […]

Crowfall lays out roadmap, addresses newbie zones and requests for auction halls

If you were worried about the state of Crowfall following the layoffs early this month, you can at least be comforted by the fact that ArtCraft is still putting out ACE Q&A videos. The latest features ArtCraft Executive Producer Gordon Walton and Design Director Thomas Blair. The duo begin by discussing the milestone update and […]

Vague Patch Notes: Returning MMO players need tutorials too

One of the nice things about Final Fantasy XIV is that it is explicitly designed by someone who thinks that it's not just reasonable but expected that you'll take some time off from the game. While there's certainly nothing stopping you from playing the game on a daily basis, producer and director Naoki Yoshida has said explicitly […]

Lord of the Rings Online does some more work on the Brawler and LI 3.0

If you haven't yet gotten an advance look at the new Brawler class and the revamped legendary item system for Lord of the Rings Online, you have a short window to check out the latest build for these on the test server before it goes down tomorrow. Beta 2 for Update 30.3 tweaks a number […]

Mad World is in open alpha and can be played in a browser until tomorrow

It has been almost a full year since we had any major reports arrive about Mad World, the grimdark isometric multiplayer ARPG from developer Jandisoft. Readers will recall that the game was supposed to launch on Steam in 2018, but then the delays began to pile up, starting with a planned 2019 alpha test, a […]

Guild Wars 2's sixth End of Dragons elite spec is the Elementalist's Catalyst

ArenaNet has just unveiled its sixth End of Dragons elite spec for Guild Wars 2, the third this week: It's the hammer-wielding Elementalist known as the Catalyst. "Catalysts were casters from a bygone era, working to protect Cantha and the throne from enemy threats. They wielded intricate apparatuses called spheres that were used as conduits […]

WoW Classic releases Overlords of Outland, WoW Patch 9.1.5 undergoes additional testing

The watchword of World of Warcraft this week is "patches." Patches of patches of patches. Miles of patches. Patches of all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. WoW Classic got a big one thanks to the release of Overlords of Outland, which brings in the Serpentshrine Cavern and Eye in Tempest Keep raids (and their related attunement […]

The Daily Grind: Are there MMOs that would be better off without crafting?

Crafting is important. I like crafting. In games that do it well, I flat out love it; in games that do it decently but not quite as well, I still enjoy the fact that it's there. While no one would ever confuse crafting with my main focus in an MMO, that doesn't mean I don't […]

Warhammer Online rogue server Return of Reckoning preps anniversary celebration and huge reveal this weekend

If you've been keeping an eye on Warhammer Online rogue server Return of Reckoning, you probably already know that the game is knee-deep in its take on the Stronghold Saga, which currently pits Dwarves against Greenskins in the Marshes of Madness. But this month, the player dev team has been hinting that there's more than […]

Prosperous Universe talks about its recent patch and mobile launch as it gets a spotlight on Reddit

Prosperous Universe has been busy recently according to the game's most recent development log. Discussion among the devs focuses primarily on two topics: work on the game's recent patch, which has brought features like base exploration, market filters, and base demolition; and a whole lot of UI work for the game's mobile version, which apparently […]

LittleBigPlanet's PS3 and Vita servers will remain offline permanently thanks to a toxic hacker

This past May we reported on the woes of the original LittleBigPlanet, a cutesy 2.5-D platformer that is a primarily single-player experience but also let players craft their own levels and share them online — that is until one particularly toxic hacker managed to find a way to take control of the game's error messages […]

Conan Exiles is cracking down on toxicity and sploits on official servers

Funcom appears to be cleaning up the Conan Exiles official servers, as this week it announced a change to its terms of conduct. It specifically forbids hogging servers and land, abuse of the claim and construction system, hacks, exploits, and the usual run of extremely offensive (racist, sexual, hateful, threatening) chat, along with "terrorist and criminal […]

Bless Unleashed answers a whole slew of player questions

The most recent community livestream for Bless Unleashed answered a lot of player questions. No, really, a lot of player questions. You would be kind of blown away by the sheer number of questions answered. But you don't have to take our word for it, nor do you have to wade through the entire video to catch […]

Path of Exile asks for community votes on what the game will sell you next

Market research is a tricky thing. It can be hard to figure out what exactly will get people to spend money on a product and what will convince people to drop money. Of course, you could always go with Path of Exile's approach and just ask people what to sell them next and then make a […]

Aion's European version kicks off its anniversary celebration

It's been 12 years for Aion running on European servers, and unfortunately it looks like the game's carnival barker does not particularly care. Seriously, look at the face on that guy. That is the face of not giving a damn. That is someone who is not excited by the game's 12-year anniversary celebration, and frankly, it's kind […]

The Stream Team: Facing more xenomorphs with a friend in Aliens Fireteam Elite

If you're about to go into an alien-infested hell with only a bunch of weapons and your wits, it's probably wise to bring a friend. That's just what MOP's Chris is doing as he and a good buddy of his team up for a bit of duo action in the co-op shooter Aliens: Fireteam Elite. […]

Amazon Games hired a former Ubisoft Toronto boss to lead its new Montreal studio

Amazon Games announced today that it's picked a new leader for its new Montreal-based studio: Alexandre Parizeau. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he was a co-founder of Ubisoft Toronto alongside Maxime Béland. Béland, of course, was ousted following a slew of allegations of abuse and violence lodged against him last year. Parizeau himself, […]

Swords of Legends Online brings extreme dungeons, a hard mode raid, and a Moon Festival tomorrow

The next update arriving to Swords of Legends Online tomorrow, September 16th, could easily be described as having two halves. On the one side, you've got harder content to tackle, while on the other side, there's a serene and beautiful-looking autumn festival. So a little bit of something for everyone, then. Assuming there are plenty […]

Vampire multiplayer survival title V Rising shows off gameplay and plans a 2021 beta

V Rising, the multiplayer vampiric survival title from Stunlock Studios (of Battlerite fame) has been doing a lot of talking to this point. Readers will recall this game first hit our notice in June, talking up PvE and PvP challenges as players raise their own vampire lord to eventually rule over the game world, and […]

Perfect Ten: Shapeshifting classes in MMOs

After my wife and I saw an X-Men movie a while back, we got into a discussion about what mutant power we'd pick for ourselves if we had the choice. I was torn between teleportation and quick healing, while my wife wanted to be able to turn into cash to pay off our mortgage. I […]

Black Desert launches PC season+ server, offers next-gen console support and roadmap

It's Wednesday, which means another weekly deluge of Black Desert news. First, over on the PC servers, where the game is celebrating 2000 days online in the west, Pearl Abyss is launching the Season+ server as planned. As we've previously covered, this server replaces the truncated summer season with a special server meant for onboarding […]

A New Spongebob Squarepants Game is Incoming

He who lives in a pineapple under the sea is getting a new game.

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Destroy All Humans! 2 – Reprobed is in Development for PS5, Xbox Series X and PC

Crypto's back for some more human-probing fun.

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Tails of Iron Review

Narrated by The Witcher's Doug Cockle, Tails of Iron is a challenging action-RPG with a charming hero and a lot of heart.

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Death's Gambit: Afterlife Basically Sounds Like a New Game

Launching 30th September on Switch, Death's Gambit: Afterlife is essentially a whole new game.

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The Amazing American Circus Review

Running away with the circus isn't so appealing after all.

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Action RPG Unsighted Slashes its Way Onto PC and Consoles Later This Month

Action RPG Unsighted, which sees your amnesiac android struggling to regain her memories, arrives at the end of September.

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The Best Golf Games on PC

You'll be a budding Rory McIlroy in no time.

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These Official Among Us Halloween Costumes are a Little Disturbing

Thinking of dressing up as the Among Us space bean? Just say no, to this costume anyway.

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Arriving this November, Bloodshore is an Interactive Movie with a Battle Royale Twist

Bloodshore, from Wales Interactive, is an upcoming interactive movie about a streamer-heavy, island-based battle royale.

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Got Xbox Live Gold? Play Hunt: Showdown, Judgment and Blood Bowl 2 Free This Weekend

Want to play Lost Judgement but haven't tackled the original? Xbox's Free Play Days weekend could be just the thing to get you up to date.

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Escape Room Game Escape Simulator Gets a Release Date and a Mess-Tastic Trailer

Want to solve escape room puzzles while making the room hell to clean up? Escape Simulator, coming next month, has you covered.

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The Best Metroidvania Games on PC

If you're a PC gamer and are after the best Metroidvania games you've come to the right place. Here's our list of the best Metroidvania games on PC.

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Ni no Kuni II on Switch is a Very Good Port Indeed

Arriving on Nintendo Switch more than three years after its original release, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is just as delightful as ever.

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Preview: Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is a Treat for Adventure Fans

Coming to PC and console in November, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is Holmes like you've never seen him before.

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Lost Judgment Review

Yagami is back, and he's got a new case to crack. With improvements across the board, Lost Judgment is a fine example of a sequel done right.

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Chapter 2 of Undertale Follow-Up Deltarune Gets Released Tomorrow

It's been a while but, going by the first chapter of Toby Fox's Undertale follow-up, Deltarune Chapter 2 should be worth the wait.

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Run Your Own Desert Pit-Stop With Gas Station Simulator, Out on PC Now

Gas Station Simulator invites you to run your own rickety gas station and, no, it's not a survival horror.

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Neverboard is a VR Board Game App Coming to the Oculus Quest Later This Year

Neverboard is a virtual reality board game app bringing family fun and terrible, terrible, arguments to the Oculus Quest later this year.

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Rhythm Shooter BPM: Bullets Per Minute Will Rock Onto PlayStation and Xbox this October

BPM: Bullets Per Minute is bringing its music-based FPS excellence to PlayStation 4 and Xbox Series X|S this October. No, we're not jumping the gun, BPM really is that good; we reviewed the PC version and gave it an outstanding 9 out of 10, calling it "an adrenaline fuelled heavy-metal ride that you'd be daft […]

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Future Warfare FPS Battlefield 2042 Has Been Delayed Until November

Battlefield 2024, EA's upcoming future warfare title, has moved just a little further into the future and now has a November release date.

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Tails of Iron Review – Functional, but Forgettable

It's not every day that you come across a game that juxtaposes a whimsical story-book art style full of forest animals with a brutal weapon-based combat system. It's also equally uncommon for such ideas to blend together in a seamless way that doesn't feel forced or inorganic. Tails of Iron strives to be a game that accomplishes all of this with its light emphasis on RPG mechanics and a rather bleak, somber overall tone. While it does seem to check a lot of the boxes that a game like this should, I still never quite felt all of its pieces click into place in a consistently satisfying way.

Tails of Iron starts off at the peak of a long-fought rivalry between two kingdoms; the frogs and the rats. After a sustained period of tranquility, the rat kingdom once again finds itself in peril as the aging king can no longer protect it. Of course, the heir to the throne is his son, who you control throughout the treacherous journey of rescuing and re-establishing the rat kingdom to its former glory. This won't come easy though, as legions of warty frogs revel at the chance to stand in your way. The story is about as cookie-cutter as it gets for RPGs, and you shouldn't go into it expecting any interesting twists outside of the archetypal characters that you normally see in games like this replaced with rats and frogs. It does set itself up well despite unabashedly refusing to deviate from the formula in almost any meaningful way. How much it's predictability might bother you will largely depend on how much the minutiae of the story of a game like this matters to you. To its credit you do get a pretty good sense of the tone of the game from its highly detailed world. Everywhere you look there is a visual feast. Ruins and macabre pepper every area and the nice variety of color pallets and multitude of scrolling layers go a long way to establishing the vibe – even if the story itself doesn't.

tails of iron

"While Tails of Iron does seem to check a lot of the boxes that a game like this should, I still never quite felt all of its pieces click into place in a consistently satisfying way."

Tails of Iron's gameplay is a similarly mixed bag. It checks a lot of the side-scrolling action-RPG boxes well enough with a wide variety of weapons and shields that make you balance out their effectiveness with their weight, a handful of enemy types that require different approaches to take down, and the occasional bit of backtracking and side quests that can sometimes make the game feel like something bigger than it actually is. Depending on what you're looking for from this sort of game, it could be right up your alley if you don't want to deal with the complexities of truly deep combat or be overwhelmed with the open-ended nature of a really expansive world. Afterall, there is nothing wrong with a simplistic take on a genre that normally sees more complex games come out of it. And to its credit, there is a bit more meat on the bone than first meets the eye with food recipes that can be learned and a fair amount of weapons and armor that can be collected. But Tails of Iron's primary problem is not it's watered-down nature; it's that it doesn't make any of its main mechanics fun or satisfying enough to weather the storm of monotony that inevitably rolls in once you notice it's small handful of ideas starting to repeat themselves.

The combat of Tails of Iron is presented as the main course, and does have a few functional albeit boiler plate ideas that keep it from falling into complete mediocrity. Sneaking a few hits in between using your shield to block, dodging when red indicators are shown, and parrying when yellow indicators are shown is a delicate dance that can be fun when it's all happening at once and you're in the zone. Certain enemies might hang back and fire arrows at you while you're dealing with others in close-quarters, and depending on the situation you could justify going after either one first. When bigger enemies come in however, they tend to have more distinct patterns that, in turn, force you to fight them in very specific ways that rarely allow for much experimentation.

You'll learn this quickly, as fighting more than a few basic enemies at a time in the "wrong" way can quickly result in a chain reaction of getting bashed by all of them and killed before you even know what hit you. Parrying requires two button presses, both of which are triggers, so it can feel a bit mushy and imprecise to pull off, which doesn't mix well with the short windows of time you're often given between seeing that yellow indicator and getting hit. Dodging works well enough, but it won't work with enemies that are expecting a parry – only the red-highlighted enemies that require a dodge. Not only does it not work, but it will likely result in getting hit by default. So, when you are pulling it all together it can feel more like a squishy rhythm game than a combat system. Finishing moves are there, but at their best are only mildly amusing.

tails of iron

"The combat of Tails of Iron is presented as the main course, and does have a few functional albeit boiler plate ideas that keep it from falling into complete mediocrity."

Had the combat itself been more versatile and satisfying, replaying the same fights multiple times to find the "right" way to beat them could have been an interesting hook, but here, repeat attempts get stale long before they should. Thankfully it doesn't rub any salt in the wound with sparse checkpoints or some sort of cumulative punishment for dying. But aside from that, with most attacks feeling stilted and unenthusiastic due to the rigid nature of the character models, the moment-to-moment combat in Tails of Iron often feels like a series of generic ideas held together by its presentation and mostly mediocre execution. I'll stop far short of calling it bad, because it's not, but I'm equally uncomfortable with calling it particularly good.

Thankfully, the game's many combat sections are broken up by some platforming and dialogue moments in a way that feels well-paced. You will find yourself climbing up walls, wall-jumping, even climbing across some ceilings. Traversal feels good enough, but much like the combat, nothing particularly interesting is ever really done with it to add to the overall experience or make those ideas feel organic to this game. The dialogue with other characters do their job at conveying certain ideas in a cute way by using animated pictures instead of words to convey certain concepts. It's a neat idea, but the lack of text and voice also severely limits these characters' chances of being identified with or standing apart from each other.

There's no real way for any of them to express unique personality traits with such a rudimentary style of communication. Perhaps the developer felt like the personality brought to the overall game from having this style of dialogue outweighs the loss of personality that each character suffers from it, but I'm not so sure it does. It ultimately feels like they traded away an opportunity to get me to care about the characters and thus, the story, more. It also doesn't help that the noises used to represent characters' vocalizations are usually more annoying than not – especially after hearing them for the 7th or 8th time within just a couple of minutes. All things considered, I was surprised to see Tails of Iron playing it so safe in so many ways given the intriguing first impression it made with me.

"Tails of Iron never quite falls flat on its face. It's a functional and serviceable addition to its genre that gives players a well-realized world to experience and can provide some meaningful challenge all while running respectably well. But with its somewhat wooden combat being the centerpiece, garnished with generic platforming and small handful of other slip-ups, it can sometimes be too much for its glimmers of inventiveness to overcome."

Ear-splitting dialogue sound effects aside, the music and sound is actually an area where the game shines quite a bit overall. The music always seems to fit the situation well with thundering cellos during important battles and buoyant mandolins accompanying calmer sections. It all creates a perfect auditory foundation on which the visuals easily stand. In fact, the blend of sight and sound here are so good that, had the game leaned into it a bit more, it could have really gone a long way to saving the experience from the doldrums of its gameplay.

Tails of Iron never quite falls flat on its face. It's a functional and serviceable addition to its genre that gives players a well-realized world to experience and can provide some meaningful challenge all while running respectably well. But with its somewhat wooden combat being the centerpiece, garnished with generic platforming and small handful of other slip-ups, it can sometimes be too much for its glimmers of inventiveness to overcome. The game's friendly price and obvious triumphs in art style and music might be enough for some to see it through, but as far as side-scrolling action RPG's go, there are just too many other ones that do much better what Tails of Iron is aiming at for me to recommend it broadly. You can certainly tell that there's a lot of heart behind the game's general concept, and I'm always down for a dark rodent-themed adventure. But the fact that almost none of the game's ideas ever reach any notable heights, creates an unfortunately low ceiling for the overall experience.

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.

Gran Turismo 7 Will Use Ray-Tracing Only in Replays

Gran Turismo as a series has traditionally been a technical showcase for any and all hardware that it has graced, but with Gran Turismo 7 being a cross-gen game, many are wondering just how much the game's going to be able to get out of the PS5's hardware. Of course, it looks excellent, from what we've seen of it so far, but what PS5-exclusive features can we expect to see fully leveraged?

The game's still a few months out from launch, so a clearer idea of that is probably going to crystallize in the lead-up to launch, but it seems like ray-tracing, at least, is going to be implemented in very limited fashion. In an interview with Game Watch, series producer and Polyphony Digital boss Kazunori Yamauchi confirmed that "for the time being" players will only be able to enable ray-tracing in the game's PS5 version during cutscenes, where you can "see the stage demo and the picture with ray tracing applied in the garage."

Of course, with some time left still before Gran Turismo 7 releases, not to mention Yamauchi saying that this is the case "for the time being", there is a chance (hopefully, at least) that ray-tracing features in the game are expanded between now and launch.

Recently, it was also confirmed that Gran Turismo 7's single player campaign will require an internet connection, with Yamauchi explaining that the restriction has been imposed to prevent cheating, among other factors. Meanwhile, it's also been confirmed that the game will support cross-gen multiplayer.

Gran Turismo 7 launches on March 4, 2022 for PS5 and PS4.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One Has Been Developed Without Crunch

Crunch in the gaming industry continues to be a heated topic, with the effects still being seen in titles like CD Projekt RED's Cyberpunk 2077. So it's often good to hear about games that didn't need crunch like Psychonauts 2, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and so on. Frogwares' Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One can be added to the list as well.

On Twitter, the developer reaffirmed the recently announced release date while confirming that the title had been made "100 percent with zero crunch. None whatsoever." The story stars a younger Sherlock Holmes who, after the death of his mother, ventures to an island in the Caribbean to investigate her murder. What he discovers is a society rife with corruption and a conspiracy afoot.

Like previous games in the series, players will gather evidence and then either name different suspects or choose to pardon them (with differing results). Combat is also a factor as Holmes can rely on firearms, takedowns and the environment to one-up foes. Whether one resorts to brute force in the first place is completely up to them.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One releases on November 16th for Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and PC. It arrives a few weeks later for PS4 and Xbox One. Stay tuned for more details in the meantime.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Will Drop Seasonal Model Following Infinite's Launch

343 Industries' insistence on turning things around for Halo: The Master Chief Collection since its disastrous launch years ago has been remarkable to witness, and the collection is currently in great shape, thanks in large part to the consistent support it keeps receiving in the form of updates, fixes, and new content. Of course, with Halo Infinite launching soon, some have wondered whether that means MCC's support is going to slow down- which will indeed be the case.

343 Industries has confirmed in a newly published update on Halo Waypoint that once Halo Infinite has launched and the studio begins focusing on its seasonal post-launch model, the current seasonal model of Halo: The Master Chief Collection will come to an end, with the studio instead focus on smaller and less frequent updates. 343 assures, however, that there will still be new content and updates coming to the collection, with "a lot of goodness" in store for 2022.

"As we think about the future, we've had a lot of conversations around how to best support MCC once Halo Infinite's free-to-play multiplayer is up and running," the developer wrote. "We've agreed on two key points: One, we have more MCC work to do and support will continue; and two, as a studio it's not ideal to run and continue shipping seasonal updates for two different multiplayer titles concurrently. So, while we very much have more updates coming – including more content, fixes, and features – the manner in which they are delivered is expected to shift. Starting next year, we're targeting pivoting away from our current seasonal model and cadence to instead focus on smaller MCC updates that can land when they're ready based on development status and studio roadmap alignment. These updates will continue to be free and will include the unreleased features and content from this year – as well as a continued effort to improve stability and tackle legacy fixes where possible. We still have a lot of goodness to deliver in 2022."

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC, and Halo Infinite launches for the same platforms on December 8. Before that, later this month on September 24, its second multiplayer technical preview will be kicking off. Read more on that through here.

Xbox Game Studios' Project Indus and Project Cobalt Detailed in New Report

The GeForce NOW leak has been fairly interesting because even though Nvidia has admitted to many titles on the list being "speculative", there appear to be some legitimate entries. Jez Corden on Windows Central pointed to two from Xbox Game Studios – Project Indus and Project Cobalt. He first learned about the former back in Spring 2021 and the leak seems to indicate that it's actually going ahead.

This is essentially a 4X strategy title from Ashes of the Singularity developer Oxide Games. Elements like city-building, diplomacy, warfare, espionage and so on, much like in Civilization, appear to be included. Corden believes that it's being designed for cloud platforms and smaller screens since Civilization's turn-based gameplay also works well with in the same environments. It's reportedly in development for PC (Microsoft Store and Steam) along with Xbox.

Project Cobalt is inXile Entertainment's next project, which was previously noted to be an FPS/RPG. Reportedly inspired by technology from the Industrial Revolution, it apparently includes Victorian-era streets, retro-futuristic robots, steam engines and zeppelins. Concept artist Aleksander Danilovac shared the above via ArtStation, and Corden believes this to be indicative of the environments that can be expected. Not much is known other than Unreal Engine 5 being the engine and the fact that it won't be revealed anytime soon.

Take things with a grain of salt though as plans can, and often do, change for projects which are such a long ways off. Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see how they develop over time. Stay tuned for more details in the meantime.

Sea of Thieves Season Four Kicks off on September 23

Sea of Thieves has only gone from strength to strength in recent years, with Rare having turned it into a game that's miles and miles and miles better than what it launched as back in 2018. Most recently, its A Pirate's Life expansion added a significant chunk of excellent new content, and was the main driver for Sea of Thieves seeing its biggest month to date in June with over 4.8 million active players.

And of course, there's still plenty more to come for the multiplayer title. Rare recently took to Twitter to confirm that season four of their pirate utopia will be kicking off in less than a week- on September 23, to be precise. Exact details will likely be shared in the coming days, but a teaser trailer mentions "a forgotten world of adventure" and "a kingdom of riches beyond compare", and suggests that we'll be heading beneath the waves. Check it out below.

Sea of Thieves is available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. Stay tuned for more details on season four in the coming days.

Castlevania Advance Collection Rated in Taiwan

Some of the best Castlevania games to date came out when the series was focused on Nintendo's handhelds in the 2000s, with the trilogy of games on the Game Boy Advance in particular having legions of fans swearing by them to this day. Recent developments have suggested that those games could be coming back soon, and we have some more fuel to add to the fire here.

As spotted by GemtasuCastlevania Advance Collection has been rated for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in Taiwan by the Taiwan Digital Game Rating Committee. The listing seems to have been taken down since then, but you can view a screenshot of it below.

This isn't the first time this unannounced collection's name has emerged in recent days. Castlevania Advance Collection was first rated in Australia in June, with M2 mentioned as its developer. Shortly afterward, the collection was rated in Korea as well.

Konami has a stream scheduled for TGS 2021 later this month, so it's possible that we hear something about this then. Until then, stay tuned for more updates.

castlevania advance collection

The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki Opening Movie Revealed

Falcom's The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki is out later this month so it's a good time as any to showcase the opening movie. It features the main theme "Namonaki Akumu no Hate" by Falcom jdk BAND and showcases many of the key characters, from newcomers like protagonist Van and Agnes to familiar heroes like Zin Vathek and Renne Bright. Check it out below.

The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki takes place in the Calvard Republic some time after the war with Erebonia. It sees Agnes, a high school student, who visits Van Arkride in order to recover a stolen Orbment that belonged to her great-grandfather. As a Spriggan, Van's duties alternate between combat, investigation and negotiation, leveraging underworld contacts to get the job done.

Along with the usual turn-based Command system for combat, Kuro no Kiseki features a real-time system for moving around, attacking foes and switching characters. There's also the L.G.C. Alignment System which dictates who can help Van out. It's out on September 30th for the PS4 in Japan and hasn't been confirmed for localization in the West. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human Features Almost 200 Weapons

In the latest episode of Dying 2 Know, Techland producer Szymon Strauss provided more details on the different weapons that fans could discover in Dying Light 2 Stay Human. The open world title has almost 200 weapons and the emphasis is on improvised arms. While easy to build, they can also break down fairly quickly.

While it's still possible to find the usual axes, that too of higher qualities, it seems players will spend more time scavenging and building their own. Strauss notes that one will need to be prepared for every battle, including carrying a modded weapon for dealing with special enemies. At the very least, there are other things available in the world that can help in combat.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human is out on February 4th 2022 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and PC. It was delayed from its original December 2021 release for the sake of play-testing and additional polish. Expect more gameplay and details in the coming months.

15 Best Recent Linear Single Player Games You Need To Play

As games become bigger in scale, reveling in the sandbox nature of larger worlds and numerous decisions or the near endless replay value of multiplayer, it's always nice to have a solid, linear title to fall back on. Let's take a look at 15 titles that have offered some of the best single-player experiences in recent years.

A Short Hike

Having arrived in Hawk Peak Provincial Park and unable to get cell reception, Claire must venture to its peak in A Short Hike. Yes, it's a very simple premise but the world built around this simple goal, with all of its side activities and colorful characters, is incredibly wholesome. Players help locate lost items, go fishing, partake in races, and even fly. Even with its cute looks, there's a fleeting feeling of Summer, of gallivanting about and learning new things while just having fun (and remembering what's really important).