Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 394: Crash Landing

Email us at [email protected]! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here Hey y’all! This week we sit down with composer Bobby Krlic, who shares the creative process behind crafting Returnal’s soundtrack. Stuff We Talked About Mass Effect Legendary EditionOddworld: SoulstormReturnal (interview begins at 21:20)Outer Wilds The WitnessDisco Elysium – The Final CutGames that made us see things differently in the real world The Cast Sid Shuman – Senior Director of Content Communications, SIE Tim Turi –  Senior Content Communications Specialist, SIE Thanks to Cory Schmitz for our beautiful logo and Dormilón for our rad theme song and show music. [Editor’s note: PSN game release dates are subject to change without notice. Game details are gathered from press releases from their individual publishers and/or ESRB rating descriptions.]
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    Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Rebalancing, tuning, & mechanical improvements

    Ever since we announced Mass Effect Legendary Edition on N7 Day and revealed a first look at it earlier this year, your passion and excitement have blown us away. Today, we’d like to give you more details on what you can expect to see in this remaster. You’ll find the latest information on the Legendary Edition, from gameplay tuning to rebalancing and more. Next week, we’ll provide an additional look at the remastering process with a strong focus on the visual changes across the trilogy. Let’s get into it. Here’s what this post contains, in order: “I don’t need luck—I have ammo.” Combat tuning Combat in the Mass Effect trilogy has evolved across the series, with each game’s experience being different. We wanted to make the experience better across the board, but we didn’t want to unnecessarily change what our fans have come to love about each game. That proved a unique challenge, as the first game is quite different from the second and third in terms of gameplay and combat. Mass Effect was heavily influenced by traditional RPG mechanics, like the randomness of a dice roll and pen-and-paper stat building. As a result, weapons in Mass Effect often felt less accurate and reliable than the gunplay in Mass Effect 2 and 3. We heard the consistent feedback that it was pretty frustrating to take a few shots with an assault rifle and suddenly have the reticle enlarge to span a large portion of the screen, so we looked at tuning the mechanics to provide better handling without outright scrapping the spirit of the original games. In the first Mass Effect, accuracy (including reticle bloom and weapon sway) has been tuned across all weapons to allow players to maintain more consistent firepower while still managing their shots/overheat meter. We’ve also improved the aiming down sights (ADS) camera view to be tighter on combat so that ADS is more accurate (like the second and third games), and we’ve improved the aim assist to provide better precision. These small behind-the-scenes changes collectively make combat much “snappier,” putting more control into the player’s hands. Abilities have also been rebalanced in the first game. For example, the “Immunity” ability now grants a powerful defensive buff that lasts a brief period of time instead of being a small buff that lasts indefinitely. The following overview lists gameplay changes we made specifically to the first Mass Effect, with the goal of bringing it a bit more in line with the rest of the trilogy: Shepard can now sprint out of combatMelee attacks are now mapped to a button press rather than automatically occurring based on proximity to an enemyWeapon accuracy and handling has been significantly improvedReticle bloom is more controlledWeapon sway removed from sniper riflesAiming down sights/”tight aim” camera view has been improvedImproved aim assist for target acquisition All relevant enemies now take headshot damage in the first game Previously some did not, including humanoid enemiesAmmo mods (Anti-Organic, Anti-Synthetic, etc.) can now drop throughout the whole gamePreviously, these stopped dropping at higher player levelsThey are now also available to purchase from merchants All weapons can be used by any class without penalty Specializations (the ability to train/upgrade certain weapons) are still class-specificWeapons cool down much fasterMedi-gel usage has been improved Base cooldown reduced Levelling benefits increased Increased Liara’s bonus to cooldownsInventory management improvementsItems can now be flagged as “Junk”All Junk items can be converted into Omni-gel or sold to merchants at onceInventory and stores now have sorting functionalitySome abilities have been rebalancedWeapon powers (i.e., those that are unlocked on each weapon type’s skill tree) have been improved:Effectiveness/strength is increased (duration reduced in some cases) Heat now resets on power activation “If this is a war, I’ll need an army…or a really good team.” Additional gameplay improvements Beyond general gunplay changes, we’ve made some specific changes to encounters, enemies, and how you engage in combat. We found a few opportunities to bring the first game in line with the second and third games, and we also found some systems across the whole trilogy that needed a tune up. Without spoiling too much for new players, one example is the boss encounter on Noveria. The boss room has been slightly reworked, keeping it very familiar but making it less cramped. You’ll also be much less prone to being thrown around by biotic abilities. Other targeted combat updates we’ve made include: Squadmates can now be commanded independently of each other in the first Mass Effect, the same way you can command them individually in Mass Effect 2 and 3Some boss fights and enemies in the first game have been tweaked to be fairer for players but still challengingCover has been improved across the trilogyAdditional cover added to some encountersEntering and exiting cover is now more reliableXP has been rebalanced in the first game (details below)Ammo drops have been rebalanced in Mass Effect 2 (details below) With combat comes XP. XP gained during the first game has been rebalanced for better consistency, especially towards the game’s end. Players who complete most aspects of the game should be able to more reliably get to higher levels on a single playthrough rather than needing to play through a second time to do so. Additionally, there is no longer a level cap on a first playthrough. As a final gunplay change, we also tweaked ammunition in Mass Effect 2. We found that ammo was spawning too scarcely in the original game, so we’ve increased the drop rate for ammo in ME2, particularly when using a sniper rifle since that had a reduced ammo drop rate in the original release. “It’s got heart, you know?” The Mako But of course, we’ve got to talk about the (in)famous M-35 Mako. This legendary vehicle from the first Mass Effect has been “calibrated” to perform better than ever. In the original game, the physics tuning for the Mako made it feel too light and bouncy, even at times becoming uncontrollable, but it’s now a much smoother ride while still being “loveable” like before. (Yes, you can still drive off cliffs to your heart’s content). Its functionally has also been improved with faster shield recharging and new thrusters added to the rear, allowing for a speed boost when you’re inevitably trying to scale up the side of a near-vertical cliff. (We all do it.) This boost’s recharge is independent from the jump jets on the vehicle’s underside, so you can use both at once or separately. These are the calibrations you can expect to experience when driving the Mako: Improved handlingPhysics tuning improved to feel “weightier” and slide around less Improved camera controls Resolved issues preventing the Mako from accurately aiming at lower anglesShields recharge fasterNew thrusters added for a speed boostIts cooldown is separate from the jump jets’The XP penalty while in the Mako has been removedTouching lava no longer results in an instant Mission Failure and instead deals damage over time “Well, what about Shepard?” Unifying & modernizing the trilogy For the Legendary Edition, our goal was to tune up the trilogy and make it more consistent from game to game while honoring the things that made each unique. For example, we’ve unified Shepard’s customization options in the character creator and even added some new options, like additional skin tones and hairstyles. You can use the same character creator code (seen bottom-left in the image below) across all three games, meaning your Shepard can now have a consistent appearance across the trilogy, or you can choose to change their appearance at the start of each title. Customization options and character appearances have also been improved with updated textures and hair models. We’ve also added the Mass Effect: Genesis comics by Dark Horse into the base experience before Mass Effect 2 and 3 as an optional experience so players can make choices from previous games no matter where they choose to start. Of course, the Legendary Edition includes a variety of additional enhancements. Here are some of the things you can look forward to: New unified launcher for all three gamesIncludes trilogy-wide settings for subtitles and languagesSaves are still unique to each game and can be managed independently of each other Updated character creator options, as mentioned aboveFemShep from Mass Effect 3 is the new default female option in all three games (the original FemShep design is still available as a preset option)Trophies across the trilogy have been updatedNew trophies have been added to the trilogyProgress for some now carries over across all three games (e.g. Kill 250 enemies across all games)Trophies that were streamlined into one and made redundant were removed A number of trophies have had their objectives/descriptions and/or names updatedIntegrated weapons and armor DLC packsWeapons and armor DLC packs are now integrated naturally into the game; they’re obtainable via research or by purchasing them from merchants as you progress through the game, rather than being immediately unlocked from the start. This ensures overall balance and progression across ME2 and ME3Recon Hood (ME2) and Cerberus Ajax Armor (ME3) are available at the start of each gameAdditional gameplay & Quality of life improvements Audio is remixed and enhanced across all games Hundreds of legacy bugs from the original releases are fixed “Consider yourself reinstated, Commander.” Galaxy at War rebalancing As Commander Shepard, you’re tasked with the hardest mission of all: defeating the Reapers and saving the galaxy from annihilation. This comes to a head in Mass Effect 3 when the galaxy unites, but your choices from across the trilogy lead you there and determine who fights at your side. The Galaxy at War feature puts you in the heart of the Reaper War from the Normandy’s Combat Information Center, which has been rebalanced in the Legendary Edition. For example, Galactic Readiness is no longer impacted by external factors that aren’t part of the collection, like multiplayer or the old companion app for ME3. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean defeating the Reapers will be easy.  The more content you complete across the entire trilogy, the more likely you’ll be prepared for the final fights in its conclusion. If you only play Mass Effect 3, you’ll have to do just about every option available in the game to be eligible for an ending that doesn’t result in massive galactic losses. Playing the first two games and carrying over your progress is the most reliable way to get good results in the final hours of the Reaper War. For comparison, if you previously played ME3 with the Extended Cut (which included Galactic Readiness rebalancing), fully preparing for the final fight will be more difficult to achieve in the Legendary Edition. And on that note: the Extended Cut ending is now the game’s default finale. However, readying your intergalactic armies will be made a bit easier by a number of critical bug fixes and backend improvements made to the Paragon-Renegade system in ME2; we resolved some legacy issues that inhibited accurate reputation stats from being displayed and outright prevented certain dialogue options from being selectable when they should have been. Because of this, key moments that have been notoriously difficult to achieve in ME2 (and impacted ME3) can now be completed more reliably, leading to better results in the story’s final act. “You know, for old time’s sake.” Getting to go back to the roots of the Mass Effect franchise—our roots, as a team now celebrating our 25th anniversary—has been an incredibly nostalgic and emotional experience for us, and we’re sure a lot of you will feel similarly when you get to play Legendary Edition! We’ve heard from so many of you that you want a way to play the original trilogy today, either for the first time or the…well, let’s just say “again.” We don’t need to keep count. Returning to where it all began, as members of our team revisited the work they did over a decade ago, has been a bit surreal, but it felt like the right thing to do; a passion project from us to thank you for the many years of incredible support. (And maybe to help tide you over until the next game, too!) There’s more to come, including a deeper dive into the visual changes we’ve made, so stay tuned for that! Also, thanks for requesting this so much that you practically willed it into existence! It’s meant a lot. From all of us on the Mass Effect team: “Good luck, Commander.”

    New IT REQUIRES Two gameplay footage blooms from the garden

    It’s a very exciting time here at Hazelight. We’re about to bring our baby into the world. Next week, on March 26, the wild, funny, and magical co-op action adventure platformer It Takes Two will blow your minds away. I’m not kidding! You’ve never seen anything like it. Play Video Catch up on the latest trailer, then keep scrolling for new gameplay info. Don’t take my word for it though. Just download the Friend’s Pass version of It Takes Two from the PlayStation Store on PS4 or PS5 on March 26. It’s free. Give it a go in local couch co-op – or have a friend download the Friend’s Pass as well to play online – and you can try out the entire first level. If you enjoy it, only one of you needs to buy the full game to keep playing together. One aspect of It Takes Two that I’m really passionate about is the way we’re marrying story and gameplay in innovative ways. I’ve talked a lot about this since we revealed the game. But today, I wanted to dive into the backstories of our two main characters, Cody and May, to give you some more examples of how this comes to life. May wields a sickle against enemies while Cody rams as a tomato. In the beginning of the story, we learn that Cody and May are about to split up. Their daughter, Rose, is devastated. She desperately wants them to stay together. Feeling she can’t share her worries with her parents, she turns to a book titled “Book of Love” and two dolls that she’s created to represent her parents. When she wishes for them to become friends again, Rose unknowingly and magically transforms them into the dolls, teleporting mom and dad into a magical world. Here, they encounter Dr. Hakim, a living version of Rose’s “Book of Love”. He’s a crazy and passionate guy (kinda like me – I actually did the mocap for Dr. Hakim myself!) and claims that he’s promised Rose to fix their broken marriage. Cody steers the growth of a flower as May leaps across the leaves. Before ending up as a doll made out of clay, Cody spent his time as a caring stay-at-home dad. Ever since his nursery garden business went bankrupt, his sense of being a failure grew and the once-strong passion for gardening faded away. May, on the other hand, is a really sharp engineer, working overtime to keep the family economy afloat. She’s also abandoned her passion for music and singing, as a result of not having enough time. This strange world that they now find themselves in is a representation of all of this – of Cody and May’s neglect of their passions, each other, and their surroundings, ultimately leading to a broken marriage. This is something that the two players must tackle throughout the game. At one point they arrive at Cody’s garden. It’s overgrown and overtaken by weeds, insects, animals, and other weird things that have turned against them. Here, Dr. Hakim – always creating challenges and providing new powers and gadgets for them throughout the adventure – grants Cody the ability to “become one” with his gardening again. Quite literally. Cody is now able to shoot a sprout out of his own head to attack enemies or grab onto items in the environment. Or plant himself in certain dirt patches to become a needle-shooting cactus. Or a growing vine with leaves acting as platforms for May to jump on. Or a big tomato that can roll around and smash into enemies! But May needs to support her partner in his passion, and she receives a water hose to help Cody in making the garden blossom again and a scythe to hack-and-slash through the weeds and enemies. Similarly, they must deal with their own difficulties of handling time. As they’re traversing Rose’s room, May gets irritated when she realizes that Cody has used her chess board to build a toy castle. Cody notes that she never uses it anyways, which May then again blames on the lack of time. Just as when she abandoned her passion for singing. In a later level, taking place inside the family’s cuckoo clock, the couple is challenged by Dr. Hakim to finally take care of this issue. May can now clone herself to be in two places at the same time. Another feature of May’s cloning ability is that she can switch places with her clone at will, sometimes being able to pass through objects like maybe a crushing wall. And Cody can control objects in the world and make them travel either backwards or forward in time. Not only does this ability work on static objects but also sometimes on stuff like explosions. Regardless of the challenges (and there’s gonna be A LOT of them) that Cody and May are put up against, the key is always for them – and the players – to work together.

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