Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A NEGATIVE Batch Of Brew

Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to liberate his Mudoken brethren from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through challenging hazards, sweating over the fact that one slip-up could unravel all your effort. If you enjoy putting up with that old-school challenge, you might love this journey. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan that believes this style of platformer hasn’t aged very well, turn back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of severe technical hiccups spoil Abe’s attempted comeback. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through 2D platforming stages littered with dangers. As charming as the classic Oddworld games are, they can be frustratingly difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most Slig enemies and other hazards mow Abe down instantly, and I was infuriated by how little wiggle room I had to correct course when things went sideways. Abe drops so fast that it makes the health meter seem like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was walking on eggshells because of that high price of failure, retracing every step, re-recruiting every Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a gauntlet of foes is soul-crushing when it all falls apart in seconds. Dying to unexpected perils, like being suddenly gunned down by off-screen enemies, feels cheap and happens way too often. A crafting system serves as Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t feel necessary. You must repeatedly gather the same ingredients every time you die (by searching lockers, trash cans, and fallen foes), which wore me down in a hurry after repeatedly replaying certain sections. The crafted tools themselves, like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower, do add a welcomed element of flexibility and improvisation to gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding spots anywhere is nice, but I wished I didn’t have to make these items myself and grew tired of digging around the same spots over and over.   Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases up, the gameplay is bland. The action feels largely the same from previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t evolve significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the more interesting sequences, like facing down a giant mech aboard a speeding train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad that Abe controls better now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a mushy unresponsiveness that makes entertaining actions, like possessing Sligs, feel like a hassle. The controls also lead to additional deaths because Abe doesn’t act as swiftly as you need him to, especially during the ill-fitting, overly demanding combat arenas that pit you against waves of baddies while you try to protect fleeing Mudokens. Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans if it performed flawlessly, but I encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day-one patch) that should scare off even those players. When I died, Mudokens sometimes failed to respawn alongside me even though my tally indicated they were still alive and under my command. That meant I lost out on turning in followers that I’d spent ages trying to safely liberate, which negatively affected my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you get.  Abe occasionally gets stuck in environmental geometry, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. One escape portal permanently vanished once I reached it, forcing me to abandon followers. A gun in a late-game turret sequence failed to shoot despite working fine in previous segments. After multiple restarts, I randomly discovered that clicking the right stick “fixed” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly challenging area, but once I opened the exit door an invisible wall prevented me from moving forward. I was forced to restart this entire, lengthy sequence twice before the exit worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to its limits, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What on Earth is going to screw me over this time?” I regularly asked myself. Soulstorm’s faults are a shame because its narrative and presentation brought a smile to my face. Abe and his pals are goofy, delightful underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The enjoyable story is packed with heart, and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe into a new generation of gaming with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to make a case for why its brand of cinematic platforming works today. In fact, Soulstorm only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best viewed with rose-colored glasses.
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    Leveraging DualSense controller features in Hood: Outlaws & Legends

    The benefits of the DualSense wireless controller are obvious given a typical scenario for a skilled ranger. The enhanced haptics emulate power surging through the bow. Adaptive triggers convey the string tension as it reaches maximum potency. The feedback of a killing blow delivered to the player through a satisfying pulse. The reverberation of an explosive arrow fired into a crowd of enemies. These are just some of the advantages provided to those playing Hood: Outlaws & Legends on PS5 as it reinforces the experience when playing as the master archer, but many other areas of the game have also been augmented with new features. Play Video A new, deep look at the intense gameplay of Hood: Outlaws & Legends Combat ready As stamina depletes in melee combat, the resistance on the trigger increases to signify the strain and reduces the effectiveness of performing the action. This is in addition to receiving incoming impacts and dealing damage to foes, both signified by the haptics. The former is very aggressive, helping to convey the sharp strike of an arrow or the crushing blow of a hammer taken during an enemy encounter. In contrast, the latter is more subdued, a satisfying drum accompanies positive actions such as landing a hit, the intensity of which correlates with the damage dealt. These approaches help players’ to focus on the intended target or incoming danger by providing them with an additional layer of feedback and reducing the need to look elsewhere for a status update. Character actions The DualSense controller also helps ground players as they traverse the world. When transitioning into a slide from sprinting, the coarse gravel that litters much of the world grinds against the player as they strive to get back into a stealthy position. This is in contrast to falling from a height which penalises such an action with a forceful thud, reinforcing the damage taken from a harsh landing. Doors, on the other hand, are environmental blockers that can be lock-picked or barged open. Depending on a given character’s approach, the enhanced haptics bolster or suppress the interaction with consequential feedback. For individuality, there is a signifier to convey when each of the playable character abilities has been triggered. Due to their infrequency of activation, this further amplifies their personality and unique appeal for each gameplay role. In the case of The Brawler though, a man mountain of a character, he is also able to lift and withstand the weight of a portcullis, used to bypass defences. The DualSense controller supports the unrivalled strength and power required to perform such a feat which synergises with the interaction. Steal from the rich The predominant goal of the game though, is to escape with the riches found within a multitude of fortified buildings. The Sheriff, a patrolling warden capable of executions, is carrying the key to the treasure vault, and his position in the world is randomised. Thanks to the DualSense controller though, the task of locating him is made a little easier due to the directional haptics that convey his footsteps, the strength of which increases when he is in close proximity. This allows teams to both avoid the significant threat he poses and to strategise their approach in acquiring the key. Once the vault has been accessed, the treasure chest must be slowly carried to the extraction zone. The objective carrier is burdened due to the excessive amounts of gold found inside and alternating footsteps pound on each side of the DualSense controller in sync with the movement. When the treasure chest is dropped, the scattering of gold nearby dissipates in the player’s hand, leaving them to reflect on what could have been earned.  Upon successfully depositing the chest onto the winch, our take on a medieval getaway device, the player is tasked with cranking a handle to extract. What begins with a subtle hum in the player’s hands soon ramps up to a rattle which oscillates with the crank as it is rotated at a frantic pace, further adding to the tension and panic of a daring escape. Working on the game in tandem with the DualSense wireless controller has been a fantastic experience and we hope you get to feel the benefit for yourselves upon release.  Watch the newly released gameplay overview trailer to take a deeper look into Hood’s medieval multiplayer heists. Pre-order Hood: Outlaws & Legends now for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 to play early on May 7 and receive the Forest Lords Pack!

    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.]

    The FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships returns for 2021 Season

    As we enter our fourth year of the FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships I am no less excited than I was back in 2018. Last year was a fantastic season of racing and we eventually saw a dominant display from Japanese racer Takuma Miyazono that saw him become Nations Cup Champion as well as being part of Team Subaru, alongside Mikail Hizal (TUR) and Daniel Solis (USA), who won the Manufacturer Series. Due to the effect of Covid-19, we are missing the atmosphere of our live World Tours and the opportunity to meet our wonderful competitors directly, but we’re lucky that we can still test new ideas and continue to grow the FIA Gran Turismo Championships even in this online only environment. We’re excited by the new format for the series this year and, with new developments in our broadcast production integrating new technologies, we are certain that we can show everyone even more exciting racing action. While we are looking forward to getting back to meeting up with competitors and audiences in person, we feel it is right to keep the Championships purely online in 2021. I wish the best of luck to all of the fantastic competitors who will participate within the competition.  The FIA Gran Turismo Championships will start on Wednesday, April 21 – so if you want to enter then make sure you sign up in Sports Mode on GT Sport  – you can find the full terms and conditions here.  Details of the different stages and all of our new broadcasts can be seen below. As a reminder, the Championship comprises a ‘Nations Cup’, where drivers compete for their country, and a ‘Manufacturer Series’, where they compete for one of the manufacturers featured in-game, each has a slightly different structure. For anyone interested, make sure you follow us on our social channels and check out to be sure not to miss any of the action and get full details on how to participate, and watch the 2021 Season. No doubt we will see some breath-taking, high-level racing again this year in both the Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series. ONLINE STAGE 1 – runs from April 21 and concludes on June 26. Competitors from around the world will race online over 10 rounds of the Manufacturer Series (taking place on Wednesdays) and 10 rounds of the Nations Cup (on Saturdays). ‘WORLD SERIES’ 1 & 2 – this period will also see the global top 16 Nations Cup and top 12 Manufacturer Series competitors (initially selected from the 2020 World Finals) taking part in two new ‘World Series’ events that will be broadcast on Sunday, June 6, and Sunday, July 11, respectively. ‘WORLD SERIES SHOWDOWN’ – The end of Online Stage 1 gives a chance to its best 16 Nations Cup competitors to challenge for a place in the World Series and World Finals against the 16 elite players who contested the first two World Series events. At the same time, team duties will return for the Manufacturer Series with 12 teams of three racers contesting their ‘Showdown’ with World Finals points at stake. The Manufacturer Series World Series Showdown will be broadcast on Saturday, August 21 and the Nations Cup on Sunday, August 22. ONLINE STAGE 2 – Running from July 7 until September 25 a further 10 rounds each for the Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series provide a chance for competitors to win their place in December’s World Finals. ‘WORLD SERIES’ 3 & 4 – A new-look elite group of players will contest two more race events set to be broadcast on 3 October and 14 November. WORLD FINALS – Three days of World Finals will be broadcast on Friday 3, Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December. Friday features the support series, Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup. Saturday’s Manufacturer Series final will again see 12 manufacturer teams of three drivers contesting a series of races. Sunday’s finale will be the Nations Cup World Final with the 16 established World Series competitors challenged by 16 new racers who have won their place in Online Stage 2.

    Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 393: IT REQUIRES Three

    Email us at [email protected]! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here Welcome back! This week the team shares thoughts on the immersive feel of Doom 3: VR Edition, and the perfectly paced co-op variety of It Takes Two.  Stuff We Talked About Oddworld: SoulstormDestruction AllStarsVirginiaSuperhot A Plague Tale: InnocenceMossDoom 3: VR EditionIt Takes Two The Cast 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.]

    The Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced involves PS5 on June 8

    The Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced is a new version of ESO designed to make full use of the native power of the PlayStation 5 console. Even better, Console Enhanced is completely free for all ESO players. All you need to do to get it is simply own the game and a PlayStation 5. What kind of improvements can you expect to see with this new version? For starters, when running the game in Performance mode, you’ll experience Tamriel at a crisp 60 frames per second—a first for ESO on consoles. In addition to this, Console Enhanced introduces a host of visual improvements for PS5 players, including increased draw distance, fully unlocked high-resolution textures, improved reflections, improved ambient occlusion, improved shadows, and greater depth of field. Experience Solitude with improved reflections and draw distance Phew! All of these additions and improvements will create an even more visually stunning and immersive experience for you when exploring Tamriel on the PS5, and with the option to switch between Performance mode and Fidelity mode, you can tailor how your machine prioritizes the game’s performance and graphics. Did we mention this new version is completely free? You can download it on your PS5 when Update 30 and the Blackwood Chapter launches on June 8. Explore Skyrim like you’ve never seen it before on PlayStation 5 Free play, sale, & Blackwood Prologue live If you’re looking for an excuse to try or jump back into The Elder Scrolls Online, now is the perfect time with our Free Play Event, sale, and introduction of the new Blackwood Prologue.  Now live, the Free Play Event allows you to download and try ESO for free, giving you access to the base game and Vvardenfell zone until April 13. Once you’ve begun your adventures in Tamriel, you can then pick up the ESO base game or last year’s Greymoor Chapter (part of the Dark Heart of Skyrim saga) at up to 67% off with our sale also running during the Free Play Event period. A new adventure awaits in the Blackwood Prologue Finally, the Blackwood Prologue questline is now live and part of the ESO base game, kicking off a story that takes you to the upcoming chapter and beyond. In this free questline (available for all ESO players including free play players), you team up with Eveli Sharp-Arrow and Lyranth to investigate the emergence of a new Daedric cult. As part of the Gates of Oblivion year-long adventure, what you discover in these new quests will have dire consequences for all of Tamriel. Big changes are coming for ESO on PlayStation, and we can’t wait to share more about Console Enhanced and the massive leap forward the new generation offers. Don’t forget, this new version will be available as a free download on June 8 for everybody who owns the game on the PlayStation 5. We can’t wait to see how the community reacts to the future of ESO on PlayStation.

    Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 392: Breaking the Wall

    Email us at [email protected]! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here Hey y’all! The team breaks down a big week of news over at PlayStation.Blog, and highlights favorite moments where games broke the fourth wall. Stuff We Talked About Disco Elysium – The Final CutReturnalForspokenLife Is Strange: True ColorsNew games added to Play At Home campaignCrimsonlandMetal Gear Solid seriesImmortal 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.]

    Play in the home 2021 update: 10 free games to download this Spring

    Hi again! Last month we revealed our new Play at Homeprogram for 2021, which aims to provide the PlayStation community with free games and entertainment offers to make the next few months a little more fun. The program kicked off earlier this month with access to a free digital copy of the 2016 hit Ratchet & Clank for PS4 — and you can still claim a free digital copy of the game through March 31, 2021 at 8pm PDT* / April 1 at 4am BST / 5am CEST. Now, let’s talk about the next Play at Home content drop, which hits March 25! This time our focus is a selection of free games from some of our top independent partners, and the previously announced extended trial offer for Funimation (or Wakanim) in the countries where they are available. Starting March 25, 2021 PlayStation and some of our favorite indie partners are collaborating to provide more free games to explore while you’re staying safe and staying home: Abzû From the artistic mind behind Journey, Flower, and The Pathless, ABZÛ is a beautiful underwater adventure that evokes the dream of diving. Immerse yourself in a vibrant ocean world full of mystery and bursting with color and life. Enter the Gungeon Enter the Gungeon is a gunfight dungeon crawler following a band of misfits seeking to shoot, loot, dodge roll and table-flip their way to personal absolution by reaching the legendary Gungeon’s ultimate treasure: the gun that can kill the past. Rez Infinite Prepare yourself for the ultimate version of Rez, a thrilling journey of sights and sounds and shooting action, remastered and upgraded by members of the original development team exclusively for PS4 and (optional) PlayStation VR. Subnautica You have crash-landed on an alien ocean world, and the only way to go is down. Subnautica’s oceans range from sun-drenched shallow coral reefs to treacherous deep-sea trenches, lava fields, and bio-luminescent underwater rivers. The water teems with life: Some of it helpful, much of it harmful. The Witness The Witness is a single-player game in an open world with dozens of locations to explore and over 500 puzzles. This game respects you as an intelligent player and it treats your time as precious. There’s no filler: each of those puzzles brings its own new idea into the mix. So, this is a game full of ideas. We’re also proud to serve up a selection of free PlayStation VR games*** starting on March 25: Astro Bot Rescue Mission Get a whole new perspective on platform games, thanks to PlayStation VR, in this daring rescue operation. Take control of Astro in a massive adventure to rescue his crew, where the PS VR headset puts you right in the thick of the action. Judge every jump with accuracy and be curious – there are lots of secrets to discover in your daring quest. Moss Moss is a single-player action-adventure puzzle game and new IP from Polyarc tailor-made for the VR platform. In Moss, players meet Quill, a young mouse with dreams of greatness beyond the confines of her settlement. While exploring the woods, she finds a mysterious Glass Relic and an ancient magic is awakened. Thumper Thumper is rhythm violence: classic rhythm-action, blistering speed, and brutal physicality. You are a space beetle. Brave the hellish void and confront a maniacal giant head from the future. Every crushing impact is interwoven with a pounding original soundtrack. To reach synesthetic bliss, you must go through rhythm hell. Paper Beast Experience a dreamlike odyssey in virtual reality. Discover a wild ecosystem, born from lost Internet data. Be the first to explore a world inhabited by exotic and surprising creatures, and shape your environment to overcome obstacles and puzzles. Unravel the mysteries of Paper Beast, a game born from the imagination of Eric Chahi (Another World, From Dust). This amazing selection of PS4 games and PS VR games will be available for free download from March 25 8:00pm PT / March 26 03:00 GMT / 04:00 CET to April 22 8:00pm PT / April 23 04:00 BST / 05:00 CEST. Funimation / Wakanim Don’t forget: in participating countries, we’re also offering an extended trial of Funimation (or Wakanim, depending on region), a joint venture of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Aniplex of Japan. The anime-focused subscription service includes shows such as My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Attack on Titan, and Fruits Basket. This extended trial offer  kicks off on March 25 and is available through April 22****.  Starting April 19, 2021 But there’s more to come later this spring. Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition will be available for free download between April 19 8:00pm PT / April 20 04:00 BST / 05:00 CEST and May 14 8:00pm Pacific Time / May 15 04:00 BST / 05:00 CEST. We’ll have more to share soon. We appreciate the support from the PlayStation community, and hope you enjoy our latest content drop – please stay safe and thanks for playing! * Subnautica, The Witness, Abzu, Rez Infinite, Moss, Thumper and Paper Beast are not available in China. ** Enter the Gungeon is not available in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. ***DualShock 4 wireless controller required to play Moss and Paper Beast. To experience PlayStation VR, you will need the following: PlayStation console system, PlayStation VR headset and PlayStation Camera. PS5 console users will also need the PlayStation Camera adaptor – click here  for more information). ****FUNIMATION — On top of the standard 14-day trial, new users can get an additional three months. WAKANIM — New users will get 90 days. Unless you cancel your subscription before the end of the period, your subscription will automatically roll into a paid-for, ongoing subscription with a recurring monthly fee. Age restrictions apply. Offer available from March 25 8pm PDT – April 22 11:59 PDT.

    Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 391: Short and Sweet

    Email us at [email protected]! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here This week, the team fielded your listener letters with quality recommendations on games that can be completed in a night or two. Plus, we get the soundtrack from Astro’s Playroom stuck in our heads gamespodcastplaystation Stuff We Talked About Little Nightmares II Sackboy: A Big Adventure Astro’s Playroom Limbo Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture Firewatch We Were Here Outriders The Cast 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.]

    Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 390: Fully Immersed

    Email us at [email protected]! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here Welcome back y’all! This week we dive deep into some recently announced PS VR titles, and share short and sweet games that can be beat in one night. Stuff We Talked About Doom 3: VR Edition Song In The Smoke Fracked Zenith I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar After the Fall Hitman 3 Maquette When The Past Was Around Outriders The Cast 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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