Saturday, July 24, 2021

IN THE EVENT YOU Play ” NEW WORLD “? Beta Impressions From The Frontier

Amazon Games’ upcoming MMORPG New World is in the spotlight as a lengthy closed beta session shows off the action ahead of an August 31st release. New World has changed its vision multiple times over the course of development, and now the question on everyone’s mind is – where is this going to land on release? What kind of player is it for? What kind of MMORPG is it? And perhaps the most important question, is it worth your time at all? Over the course of the beta (and a demo session that took me into an endgame slice with a fully-geared character), I’ve seen some areas with huge potential that are currently underserved in the MMORPG space – and some others that could be intense detriments for the title. Let’s talk about New World!It successfully lands a powerful frontier survival vibe If you’re familiar with survival games that have you punching wood to get a house going, New World delivers on this front initially by giving the player myriad survival pursuits. Hunting turkey on the borders of your established safe zones to raise your cooking skill and create rations is far more engaging than it has any right to be. Hunting down elusive saltpeter deposits in mines and crafting your own shells for your old-timey rifles feels fun. Being able to skill up in everything to your liking is a classic system à la Runescape, and its nice to know you can work up every single crafting and gathering skill if you wish, right down to doing some fishing. Banging together your first batch of gathering tools is actually freaking awesome. Digging up carrots and potatoes feels meaningful. Coming back to your town in the middle of the wilderness to trade feed and talk with your fellow explorers has all the allure of bustling about Disney’s Frontiertown, and I’ve rarely had so much investment into crafting and trading systems in MMOs. I can see potential problems with these aspects later down the line, i.e. do I really want to spend my time in the endgame gathering resources just so I can play the game, but for now, there’s plenty of magic in creating my own food, ammunition, and supplies before I trek out into the wild. It feels gritty, it feels raw, and it feels fresh. Faction PVP can be a lot of fun Territory control and faction-based opt-in PVP not only bring back a bit of realm-vs-realm feel from the glory days of Dark Age of Camelot, but they inject something that many online experiences have moved away from in the last decade – social interaction. That means yes, you are going to see a player named PoopyPants (Yes, this was a real player I saw) cutting down trees and screaming outside of town about the price of silver ore, and your chat feed is going to be inundated with comments that make the infamous Barrens chat look downright erudite. However, it also successfully adds shared social stakes to the experience, even if you choose not to interact at the verbal level with any other players. By funneling players into three different factions, you have an investment in your tribe regardless of how deep you want to take it. If you still just want to solo and bring back a load of furs to trade in town, you can – but the real fun is to be had by grouping up, interacting with others, and eventually taking over some territory as your chosen faction. At the solo, guild, and greater level, having game flow dictated by players instead of the “theme park” experience is a bold choice and more than a bit refreshing. The issue here is how interesting and meaningful are these faction wars going to be in the endgame? While I don’t have the answer to that yet, the prospect of really engaging with other players in a meaningful way in a MMORPG gives me a powerful nostalgia bump and some serious differentiation from many other genre offerings today. On the flip side, if you’re not really interested in territory wars or PvP, other existing MMORPGs might be a better choice. The combat is New World’s biggest weakness In almost every MMORPG, you’re going to be doing a ton of combat. It’s probably the biggest portion of the entire gameplay experience. With limited skill options, awkward animations, and very little excitement, New World’s combat is decidedly dull. Now, there’s something to be said about popping an opposing faction member from a great distance before you engage in a 3v3 skirmish that gets real greasy, but that’s more about the player-to-player interaction than the combat, which can often feel wooden and wonky. While I enjoy systems that attempt to break the genre out of the tab-targeting standard that’s been grandfathered into MMOs for ages, it misses the mark here.  I found it hard to determine if the other aspects of the game that seem enjoyable can carry this particular aspect either, as combat is the core of almost every other pursuit. Even if you’re just spelunking for saltpeter, you’re going to have to fight a ton of various zombie-like creatures, wolves, or bears, and it simply does not feel good. This problem is exacerbated in group experiences, both PvP and PvE, but more pronounced in the latter. Chewing into spongey opponents as a pack with the glaring lack of feedback from weaponry is almost comical, and your options in combat feel extremely limited and lacking. Everything can feel the same Enemies, locations, and activities can become a big bowl of mush without breaking it up with some PvP pursuits. You’ll see many of the same rickety little fishing villages, decrepit farms, and crumbling ruins as you traverse the giant world. Killing some undead buccaneers at level 5 feels the same as it does at level 15, and you’re going to be doing a ton of daily-quest/fetch style activities in order to grind out your faction reputation, like wandering around the aforementioned locations for boxes and killing X undead baddies. It feels intensely repetitive even after only twenty hours of gameplay, so I’m concerned about how that will translate to the endgame – will I still, as an elite member of the Syndicate, still be wandering farms killing undead and picking taters? I mean, I do like picking taters... Travel is rough When you’re just starting, it’s fine that you’re walking everywhere because you don’t have far to go. However, this takes a turn at around level 12, where you’ll find the autorun button and some movies on your favorite streaming platform to be your best friends. The world is large, and traveling it all on foot is a huge pain. Without mounts, and the fact that fast travel is limited by resources, moving around the map is an absolute bore and a chore. I realize there are other meaningful concerns that probably flow into this decision, like the implications of having everyone zoom around in a game that’s attempting to create stakes with territory control and PvP, but this becomes harder and harder to ignore the more you play and get quests on opposite ends of your map. Forging ahead Based on the beta, New World is going to be an interesting but potentially niche addition to the current crop of MMORPGs. However, it seems to really serve players that want to play with small groups of friends for faction skirmishes and that are interested in greater territory control wars with big guild politics and all that. If you’re not interested in that kind of greater pursuit with plenty of social interaction and PvP, the PvE elements by themselves do not seem compelling enough to keep things rolling.  While I love the feeling of crafting my own stuff, slowly increasing the areas that I’m strong enough to explore, and fastidiously upping all my gathering and crafting skills, I can see those charms fading rapidly as the activities become somewhat rote. The dynamics involved in faction wars and territory control seem to be the peppy antidote for the never-ending rock farm in various undead shacks and homesteads. As with other games that lean into this kind of emergent gameplay (RIP Shadowbane), some of New World will be what players shape it into.
    Home Games


    IN A FEW DAYS on Xbox: July 26 to 30

    week on Xbox ...

    New Dead Space Remake Details Revealed, Including Zero Loading Screens And Learning From Past Mistakes

    Earlier this week, Motive and EA revealed the Dead Space remake after numerous rumors that some sort of revival was on the way. While the teaser was just that — a teaser — we did get a few more details about what the remake will have in store. Get ready to dismember some limbs, folks, and let's dive into what we know so far. In an interview with IGN, senior producer Philippe Ducharme and creative director Roman Campos-Oriola revealed a little more about what the remake has in store. For those worried that the remake will remake a little too much: don't be. The pair assures fans of the iconic space franchise that the team has the original vision in mind when tackling this project. That being said, it's not just a tiny polish job either; there is a lot of work going into rebuilding this game utilizing EA's Frostbite engine.  “We started with the original level design of the original Dead Space," said Campos-Oriola when talking about referencing original assets, including those that never made launch. "What's funny is that you can see some of the iterations that were made prior to ship by the team. In the first chapter, you can see some corridors that they wanted to do first in a certain way, and then you can understand why they changed it for technical constraints or [some other reason]. “Then, in terms of visuals, sound, gameplay, everything, we are rebuilding all of these assets. We are not porting them; it's not uprezzing the texture or adding more polygons to the model. It's really rebuilding all these elements, shooting all the animations, et cetera.” Tech advancements The duo confirmed that the remake is still very early in development, which is giving the team more time to find creative ways to harness Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 technology in an effort to take the immersion of Dead Space "even deeper" and a more "fully interactive" experience. A good example of this is that there will not be any loading screens, that way "there's not going to be any m moment where w'ere going to cut your experience" or cut away from any scene players find themselves in.  According to Campos-Oriola, "What was really important was to be able to capture the unique look of Dead Space. That unique sci-fi look, but it's gritty and dirty and you feel that everything has been used for a long time. Capturing that dirty, industrial look, but with the level of detail that we can afford now, was something important during the production of that atmospheric benchmark.” With a full rebuilding of the game, the team is implementing changes inspired by unused concept art and character designs, environmental changes, and adding volumetric effects and more dynamic lighting to bring each scene to life in frightening detail. From the sounds of the game being far more immersive than the original by  using 3D audio, to the entire experience rooted in dark colors and threateningly lit corridors, everything about the changes are still very much "rooted in the DNA of what Dead Space is."  Filling in some plot holes The two devs also stated that while this is a remake of the first game, the studio did look at the franchise as a whole to get a better vision for how they want the remake to play out in an effort to "flesh out" concepts a little more thoroughly in the first adventure.  “For us, the foundation is the Dead Space 1 story. So, by default, that's what is canon. But then there are some improvements that we want to make to that story,” Campos-Oriola said. “And not necessarily improvements because those things were not really working in the original, more improvements because of what came after, and we're like, ‘Aw man, that's interesting if we could reference that, or if we could make a link to that." What about microtransactions? The pair confirmed that there will be no microtransactions for this game and that there were "never" any plans to add them into this single-pplayer experience. This concern doesn't come out of nowhere. EA decided to add microtransactions to Dead Space 3 and that inclusion wasn't met with the most positive reception. With microtransaction blunders that continued to follow after, most notoriously, Star Wars Battlefront II, Motive and EA agreed that this sort of additional pay model has no place in the Dead Space remake. Thankfully. “We want to make games that deliver the experiences our players are looking for. Sometimes that is a single-player story-focused experience, where players can immerse themselves in another world,” Miele said. “Other players want us to show up every day with new content and events in our live services like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, The Sims, Apex, and FIFA to name a few. We want players to choose an EA game or experience, and that means we need to make the type of games they want to play. Focusing on just one genre or model limits the number of players we can reach. We want to meet the players where they play and commit ourselves to impressing our fans with games that continue to surprise or delight them.” We don't have a release date at this time, which is expected considering it is so early in its development, but at least we know we can experience the horrors of Dead Space once more sometime in the near future.  Thoughts on the Dead Space remake reveal? What sort of changes are you hoping to see? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

    THE VERY BEST 10 PlayStation 5 Games

    "What games should I get for my PlayStation 5?" This is the question we've been asked the most since Sony's new generation of gaming arrived last November. People want to see what games are the best showpieces of PlayStation 5's power, and also which ones take their beloved medium to new heights. Although the PlayStation 5 is still in its infancy, it has already amassed a nice library of games, including a few titles that you can't play anywhere else.The Game Informer staff has selected 10 games that we consider to be the PlayStation 5's absolute best. Over time, this article will be updated with the latest releases that we think crack the top 10. Please note that while the list below contains 10 entries, we aren’t ranking them. If a game has made it this far (and managed to stay here), it’s a must-play, period. As such, we’ll be listing entries in reverse chronological order. Also, with future updates, you’ll find a rundown of previous entries at the bottom of the list. While those titles have gotten bumped over time, they are still all great games in their own right and worth exploring if you’re already caught up on the latest hits. Here are Game Informer’s picks for the top 10 games on PlayStation 5:

    2021 GAMING Release Schedule

    If you're wondering what games are coming up in 2021, we've put them all in one convenient location. This list will be continually updated to act as a living, breathing schedule as new dates are announced, titles are delayed, and big reveals happen. This should help you plan out your next several months in gaming and beyond.As the gaming calendar is constantly changing, we highly recommend you bookmark this page. You'll likely find yourself coming back to this to find out the most recent release schedule for the most anticipated games across PC, consoles, handhelds, and mobile devices. If you notice that we've missed something, feel free to let us know! Please note that games will not get assigned to a month until they have confirmed release dates. January Hitman 3 January Hitman 3 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC) – January 20  – Read review Teratopia (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – January 20 Ride 4 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S) – January 21 Shing (Xbox One, Switch) – January 21 Nuts (Switch, PC, iOS) – January 22 Disjunction (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – January 28 TOHU (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC) – January 28 Bonkies (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – January 29 Gods Will Fall (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC) – January 29 February Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury February March Yakuza: Like A Dragon March Core (PC) – March 16 Mundaun (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – March 16  – Read review R.B.I. Baseball 21 (Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, iOS, Android) – March 16 Adios (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – March 17 Can't Drive This (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – March 19 Root Film (PlayStation 4, Switch) – March 19 Black Legend (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – March 25 Balan Wonderworld (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – March 26 April Outriders April Outriders (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – April 1  – Read review Cozy Grove (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – April 8 Tribal Pass (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch) – April 16 R-Type Final 2 (Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – April 30 May Resident Evil Village May Skate City (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – May 6 King of Seas (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – May 25 June Mario Golf: Super Rush June Stonefly (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – June 1 Mighty Goose (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – June 5 Chivalry 2 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – June 8 Heliborne (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One) – June 16 Wingspan (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One) – June 18 Worms Rumble (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch) – June 23 Curved Space (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – June 29 July The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD July Lost At Sea (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC) – July 15 F1 2021 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – July 16 Cris Tales (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC) – July 20 Last Stop (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – July 22  – Read review The Forgotten City (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – July 28 Eldest Souls (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – July 29 The Ascent (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – July 29 August New World August Lemnis Gate (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – August 3 The Falconeer (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch) – August 5 Foreclosed (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC) – August 12 SkateBIRD (Xbox One, Switch, PC, Linux) – August 12 Hades (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One) – August 13  – Read review 12 Minutes (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – August 19 Recompile (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC) – August 19 RiMS Racing (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – August 19 Madden NFL 22 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC) – August 20 Hoa (Switch, PC) – August 24 KeyWe (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – August 31 Rustler (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – August 31 The Big Con (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – August 31 September Deathloop September Lake (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – September 1 WRC 10 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – September 2 NBA 2K22 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – September 10 Tales of Arise (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – September 10 Deathloop (PlayStation 5, PC) – September 14 Aragami 2 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – September 17 Sable (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – September 23 Lost Judgment (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One) – September 24 Ghostrunner (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S) – September 28 In Sound Mind (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC) – September 28 Astria Ascending (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – September 30 Hot Wheels Unleashed (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – September 30 October Back 4 Blood October FIFA 22 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – October 1 Far Cry 6 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC, Mac) – October 7 Back 4 Blood (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – October 12 Battlefield 2042 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – October 22 Riders Republic (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC) – October 28 November Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker November Just Dance 2022 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia) – November 4 Farming Simulator 22 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia) – November 22 December Dying Light 2: Stay Human December To Be Announced Stray To Be Announced Backbone (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch) Baldo (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) Chorus (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Stadia, PC) Dustborn (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC) Endling (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) Evil West (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) Humanity (PlayStation VR, PlayStation 4) Temtem (Xbox Series X/S, Switch) The Gunk (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) The Riftbreaker (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) Tunche (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) Tunic (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC)

    Lawsuit Document Against Activision Blizzard Details AN EXTENDED History Of Discrimination and Harassment

    The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard after years of investigation. The reason for the suit centers around "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws," specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. Content warning for graphic conversations regarding sexual misconduct, abuse, and suicide.  The investigation has been going on for over two years, and as Bloomberg reports, the lawsuit charges that the environment within Activision Blizzard hosts a "frat boy" culture. The studio is also being called a "breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women." The report is graphic at times, recounting purported incidents that scale from more casual discrimination all the way up to sexual assault and harassment. The lawsuit goes so far as to state that certain actions led to the suicide of one developer following a trip with her supervisor. As detailed in the lawsuit documents found here, the report alleges that Activision Blizzard has many women fending off "unwanted sexual comments" and "being groped" during what is being called a cube crawl:  In the office, women are subjected to 'cube crawls' in which male employees drink copious amounts of alcohol as they 'crawl' their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees. Male employees proudly come into work hungover, play video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape. According to the report, sexual harassment and misconduct even resulted in one woman committing suicide during a work trip with her supervisor, who reportedly brought "butt plugs and lubricant" in hopes of coercing her into unwanted relations. As is increasingly common with reports like these, the report claims that many attempts were made to talk to HR for any sort of resolution and go up the chain of command for assistance. "Employees were further discouraged from complaining as human resource personnel was known to be close to alleged harassers," reads the lawsuit documents. "As a result of these complaints, female employees were subjected to retaliation, including but not limited to being deprived of work on projects, unwillingly transferred to different units, and selected for layoffs." Also included in the lawsuit is the pay gap between male and female co-workers, which alleges that many women are offered a similar role as a male counterpart at a much lower compensation rate. The suit also details opportunities that were seen as primarily going to men first, stifling progressive growth within the company's infrastructure. The documents also report that many of the women under the Activision Blizzard umbrella felt they needed to work harder and longer than their male counterparts for a chance at the same opportunities. The lawsuit details specific examples of this, which can be found here.  Game Informer reached out to an Activision Blizzard spokesperson about the lawsuit, and they responded with the following statement:  We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.  The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived.  They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so.  Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family.  While we find this behavior to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is, unfortunately, an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.  The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past several years and continuing since the initial investigation started, we’ve made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams. We’ve amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks at a global level to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.  We put tremendous effort into creating fair and rewarding compensation packages and policies that reflect our culture and business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take a variety of proactive steps to ensure that pay is driven by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we conduct extensive anti-discrimination training, including for those who are part of the compensation process.  We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation. To read the full report, you can learn more about the ongoing lawsuit from Bloomberg here, including personal retellings from numerous sources within the company. 

    Pokémon Unite Impressions: Nintendo’s MOBA IS PREFERABLE TO You Think

    I know. You read the headline and came here to lambast me for my mediocre taste in video games. I get it, you're skeptical. Even a few of my coworkers gave me weird looks when I told them I was eagerly awaiting Pokémon Unite, Nintendo's new free-to-play MOBA that was released yesterday on the Nintendo Switch. The truth is, I can't put this damn game down. It's a genuinely fun MOBA with a pocket monster twist, and it's probably better than you think. What's a MOBA, some of you might ask? Well, us cool kids call them multiplayer online battle arenas (not really), and they provide a distinct blend of PvP and PvE gameplay. In short, each player on a team picks a unique champion to control and then levels them throughout the match, starting from level one. Players gain experience points by eliminating AI minions, destroying enemy objectives, killing other players; and then they spend those points to unlock abilities and stat boosts until they have access to their character's entire toolset at max level. All of this happens on a large map that is divided into multiple paths, often referred to as lanes, that each team vies for control of. Similar to team-focused games like Overwatch, team composition is really important for synergy and competitive advantage in MOBAs. So why should you give Pokémon Unite a chance? Well, it's a great starting place for players who have always been curious about the genre but have been put off by its traditionally difficult learning curve. In Unite, Nintendo takes the genre's aforementioned format, simplifies it, and injects a heavy dose of Pokémon into the formula. Battles in Pokémon Unite feature two teams of five Pokémon each. After picking their characters and items, players start the match on opposite ends of the map, to the east and west respectively. Then the team splits up. Typically, two teammates go to the top path, two fight it out on the bottom path, and one brave player ventures into the center of the map to defeat all sorts of wild Pokémon. Each team has two goal zones they must defend on each path while also defeating wild Pokémon to obtain Aeos Energy. Aeos is a resource that players gather and then slam dunk into the enemy’s goal zones. After depositing enough energy, the enemy’s goal zone is overloaded and destroyed, allowing your team to more easily push forward to the next part of the path. After 10 minutes, the team with the most deposited points wins the match. There are also smaller objectives in the form of wild Pokémon, like the legendary Zapdos, that pop up throughout the match and can be defeated for buffs and other competitive advantages. The roster features over 20 playable Pokémon, ranging from fan favorites like Charizard and Gengar to more obscure picks like Cramorant and Crustle. Each character is grouped into one of five battle classes: All-Rounder, Attacker, Defender, Speedster, and Supporter. While there aren't any elemental weaknesses like in the series' normal installments, each character has unique stats, ability trees, and Unite Moves that make them distinct from one another. Charizard, for instance, starts at level one as Charmander, then evolves into Charmeleon at level five, and then finally reaches its final form at level nine. The first two abilities you unlock are Flame Burst and Fire Spin, and then throughout the match, you can swap those out for Flamethrower, Fire Punch, Fire Blast, or Flare Blitz before finally unlocking Charizard's ultimate Unite Move, Seismic Slam. I love experimenting with different pathing options and ability load outs from match to match. In some games, I'll focus on making Charizard more of a ranged caster by picking up Flamethrower and Fire Blast, while in other matches I'll play a bruiser role by choosing Fire Punch and Flare Blitz. Each ability shines in different situations, so it's important to pay attention to which opponents you're fighting to properly customize your Pokémon and counter them.  Despite my overall enthusiasm for Pokémon Unite, it certainly isn't perfect. The game's microtransaction systems allow you to purchase all sorts of fashionable cosmetics for your trainer, stylish Pokémon skins called Holowear, a Battle Pass, and more. This is all standard fare for free-to-play games, especially MOBAs, but unfortunately, The Pokémon Company and Tencent's TiMi studios have dropped the ball by allowing players to purchase stat-boosting Item Enhancers. Before you close your browser and swear off the game entirely, it's not as serious as it sounds. First of all, every player can obtain these Item Enhancers by simply playing the game and unlocking the free battle pass tiers associated with them. Second, in-game items have a level cap of 30, so there are a limited amount of Item Enhancers you can pour into any one item. So is Pokemon Unite pay-to-win? Well, technically, sort of, I guess. But not really. The problem is that there's a small number of Item Enhancers tied to premium battle pass tiers, so technically you could level up more items than someone who didn't purchase the battle pass. Honestly, this mistake feels more like an oversight than a malicious act, and the competitive advantage is negligible so far. I've won 19 of the 25 matches I’ve played, and in most cases, I was our team’s MVP ­– all without purchasing any stat boosts. If folks on my team or the enemy teams have been trying to pay to win, it hasn’t been working. Despite this, I think the developers should remedy this issue by making all battle pass tiers associated with Item Enhancers free for all players. Since Pokémon Unite was released early yesterday morning, is has consumed my thoughts. I spent a large portion of my day and evening saying, "Just one more match," and I'm sure you know how that story ends. Whether playing solo or with friends, I've had an absolute blast trying out new Pokémon and working alongside teammates to form powerful combat synergies. If you're at all curious about MOBAs or are even just a big fan of Pikachu, Pokémon Unite is worth checking out.

    ” NEW WORLD ” Beta – Game Informer Live

    New World goes is in beta, with the actual launch not too far away. Actual release is scheduled for August 31, but we’re going in to explore the beta right now! Amazon Games’ MMORPG has been under development for ages and gone through multiple iterations - how do things look right now with a month to go before release? Let’s take a look! We explored some late-game expedition (dungeon) and PVP content a little bit ago, and now we’re going in fresh for a new look at all things New World![embedded content] Big mauls. Magic spells. Crafting. Dungeon dives and player-vs-player faction battles. MMORPG players are always voracious for new offerings within the space, so the question is simple. Will New World satiate that hunger? What faction will we join? Will we be eaten by bears? What’s the world like? Come join Dan Tack for answers to these important questions on an all-new episode of Game Informer Live today at 2 PM CST. We’ll be talking all things MMORPGs and attempting to navigate our way through these bold new lands.  Supernatural terrors await us around every turn, but the standard denizens of the environment such as wildlife are sure to present a challenge as well. How much leveling can we get done? How’s the game look? What’s cool? What’s not? And of course, perhaps the most important question - will the servers even be stable enough to play on? Will there be a huge player queue to get in?  Join us for our livestream on Twitch today at 2 PM CT for a look at New World! If you miss the action, don’t worry - you can catch it on YouTube later! Are you interested in MMORPGs? Are you interested in New World? What are you playing in the space right now? Let us know in the comments!

    The Last FOLKS TV Series Casts Anna Torv As Tess

    The Last Of Us took the industry by storm when it first released in 2013. A definitive shift in video game storytelling, Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic journey about Joel and Ellie continues to resonate with people around the world almost a decade later. The HBO adaptation will follow the events from the first game, and Joel’s first battle buddy (and, perhaps, romantic interest at one point?), Tess, has finally been cast.Anna Torv of Heavenly Sword (Nariko’s voice actress) and Fringe fame is joining an already growing family of talent, led by Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the mind behind both games. Tess will be a recurring character that will travel across a devastated America alongside Pedro Pascal’s (The Mandalorian) Joel and Bella Ramsey’s (Game of Thrones) Ellie. Other cast members include Nico Parker (Dumbo) as Joel’s daughter, Merle Dandridge (The Last Of Us video game) as Marlene, and Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate) as Joel’s brother, Tommy. Jeffrey Pierce, Murray Bartlett, and Con O’Neill will also be starring in the television series. If you’re unfamiliar with the central plot of the game, The Last of Us chronicles the relationship between a grieving, but hardened, father and the young girl he must escort in a decaying America, rampant with infected creatures looking for their next meal. Joel and Ellie must come to grips with their own traumatic pasts in order to band together and survive the journey. Striking moments of happiness and heartbreak ensue.  If the series does extremely well, it would be interesting to see an adaption of The Last Of Us Part II which Andy McNamara awarded a rare 10: “I can rave about the attention to detail, the world, and the combat, but the story is where The Last of Us Part II sets a new bar. It is more about challenging your heart than your reflexes, and I simply cannot recommend it enough. There is much to be said about this game that can’t be said here due to spoilers, but you should play it as soon as you can with as little info as possible. But you don’t need to know specifics to appreciate how the gameplay and environmental cues all play into a single purpose: They make you feel the choices, helplessness, and the violence at the heart of this world and its characters. I can safely say this is the best narrative game I have played. I felt the loss. I felt the confusion. It is a game that turned me inside out with each twist of the screw.” Are you excited to see Anna Torv’s portrayal of Tess? What moments from the first game are you looking forward to when the show premieres? How about ideas for some original story beats? Share your hopes and dreams down below! [Source: Deadline]

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