Best PC Games To Play On Steam Deck When It Releases

Valve announced its own handheld device just a few short days after Nintendo's reveal of the Switch OLED. Called the Steam Deck, Valve's contribution to handheld gaming is literally a small PC in the palm of your hands. If you have huge hands, this thing is not small. Shortly after this announcement, we shared which games you cannot play on the Deck at launch; though Valve is currently working on circumventing that restriction, we thought we should even things up slightly. So, here are the games I can't wait to play and that you should check out when the Steam Deck arrives! 

Baldur's Gate 3

Despite still being in Early Access, therefore incredibly restricted in terms of content, I can't stop rolling new characters and replaying what is available in Larian's Baldur's Gate 3 adventure. Since the fantasy journey launched in Early Access, the studio has made many changes to what players can expect. From new classes to more room to explore, each update brings this game ever closer to its full release. With a massive world to trudge through and tiny little caves that house untold dangers, taking this particular D&D saga on the go is more than a little perfect. Even more so with the campfire feature reminding me of another favorite RPG venture: Dragon Age Origins. 

Go ahead, romance that hot vampire, you know you want to. 

Death Stranding

When I first tried Death Stranding out on PlayStation, it was a game I wanted to like very much. My first degree is actually in philosophy - you can hear responsible adults laughing at me in the background if you listen closely - so Kojima's creative way of seeing the world has always appealed to my analytical mind. Because of that, this was a title I very much wanted to love and vested far more time into it than I'd like to admit. But I just couldn't feel that connection, though I enjoyed the overarching experience. Then it came out on PC, and I decided to try again. 

A little warmer, but no dice. 

I think for a game like this, in terms of my own personal enjoyment, playing outside of the box may be that secret little puzzle piece that unlocks the bigger picture. Death Stranding will be something I plan on diving deeply into once more to give it one more shot! And if the Steam Deck's freedom isn't enough to make it to the final stretch? That's OK too! I won't like every game, just like you won't, and that's alright. Still, can you imagine playing this on the go? Exciting! 

Fallout 3

You can almost hear the image above, can't you? Of the Fallout series, the third game is my favorite, depending on the time of day you ask me. Flipping between 3 and Obsidian's New Vegas, this is another RPG experience I can't wait to re-enjoy on the Steam Deck. 

Since it's an older title, especially on Bethesda's engine, this game doesn't have the best graphics to offer, which means the smaller screen won't be detrimental to the Vault-Tec experience. And it gives you the excuse to flaunt those Black Widow skills once more for some sweet, sweet loving. Ooh, la la.  

Portal 2

The Portal franchise is a gift wrapped up in perfection atop beauty. This physics-breaking adventure from Valve may not ever see the third game, but the first two were memorable gaming experiences that broke convention. Pairing witty humor, existential crisis, and a murderous AI robot that sometimes can become a potato, the Portal experience is one that never grows tired. Escape each level from your back porch, from your bed, or during a long road trip. Its mechanics will keep your mind engaged, and the story will keep you entertained in the best way possible. 

Just don't bring up lemons, please. We can't hear Cave Johnson's tangent again. 

Divinity: Original Sin 2

A game that lets you bone a literal bag of bones, I mean come on? What more could you want? 

All jokes aside, this is another Dungeons & Dragons treasure that you can easily tank hundreds and hundreds of hours into. In a similar style of Baldur's Gate 3, this RPG adventure offers a tale centered around murder, mystery, and more romance. Do you see a pattern here? Sorry about that...

This game is also by the same team that made Baldur's Gate 3, so if you liked that but can't wait for the full version, then Original Sin 2 is a must-play. You can read our full review here if you need a little extra nudge. 

Dragon Age: Inquisition

OK, yeah. I see it now—last game type like this, promise. Pinky swear! I say Dragon Age Inquisition because this seems to be a divisive entry out of the three games despite winning numerous awards. It's the longest of the BioWare games, with a total completion sometimes clocking in at over 200 hours. Inquisition tied up loose ends of the first two games, including what happens after Anders' rebellion, learning more about the name behind Varric's crossbow, and seeing little Connor all grown-up once more after his harrowing experience in Redcliff. It also offers some of my personal favorite characters in gaming history, including the one and only Dorian Pavus. 

There is a lot to love about Inquisition, but it definitely suffers from pacing issues. Many people, when they tell me they didn't enjoy Inquisition, have mentioned that they never made it past the Hinterlands or never made it out of Haven and onto Skyhold. I believe that the game does not truly begin until Skyhold has been claimed and that the joy of this Thedasian adventure lies within exploring the limitless open world. If you played it once and didn't enjoy it, I urge you to try so again, this time with the comfort of portability at your disposal. 

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

To me, what makes the Mass Effect trilogy story so special is the characters themselves. Throughout 30 years of gaming, I've become so attached to thousands of characters, all with something special to add to any gaming adventure. That being said, there is something about the progression of getting to know Mass Effect NPCs that feels organic, real, and not unlike how we build friendships and romantic relationships in real life. They are special in a way that, even as a writer, I'm not sure I could convey properly. 

The dialogue feels natural and engaging. There are squabbles, there is the process of having to win someone over, and these characters go to hell and back with each other. That sort of shared experience creates bonds in any situation, and that connection is conveyed expertly with the narrative structure and the in-game mechanics. As someone who was on active duty, there were real-life situations I went through with people that couldn't stand me and vice versa. Those situations we endured together, though? That forged a bond that transcended previous perceptions. That same transformative relationship building is very much evident in the Mass Effect trilogy and something that can be felt on a universal scale no matter each player's IRL journies. 

Through loyalty missions that dig deep into these characters' pasts to dialogue options that shape how these characters see the player within this world, every action feels meaningful and impactful, which is a large part of why Mass Effect is so incredibly immersive. These characters matter. They matter to Shepard, and they matter to you. 

Final Fantasy XV

Boy Band meets America's Next Top Chef. This Final Fantasy adventure is massive and puts a more modernized spin on the Square Enix franchise, and 14 has a story that shouldn't be missed. Drive around with your pals, flirt with cute mechanics, and eat some of the best dinings on this side of gaming. 

While there are many light-hearted moments in this particular adventure, Final Fantasy XV houses a much darker tale, one that centers around the scorned Ardyn Lucis Caelum with Noctis and his friends charged with solving boundless mysteries. The world of XV is massive and offers unthinkable freedom for players, but it's more than just its pretty scenery. Final Fantasy XV tells a meaningful tale of friendship, trust, and fighting for what you believe in. It's about taking back your home, your power, and sharing in that with those closest to you. While there are some lulls, the ability to take it with you on the go with the Steam Deck is just the thing to mosey you on right past those. 

Red Dead Redemption 2

I still remember the day that Red Dead Redemption 2 was announced. After years of begging for a continuation of the Western story, Rockstar Games finally delivered with a prequel rather than a sequel. And it was a smart move because fans of John Marston got to see a younger outlaw and were given a chance to fall in love with a new star found in Arthur Morgan. The second game in the Redemption series broke barriers with its stunning attention to detail with every blade of grass, every horse print in the snow. The legacy continues with Red Dead Online, which is now available as its own standalone experience, for a chance to be the badass cowboy you were always meant to be, but this time with your friends. 

Still waiting on that Undead reveal, though...

The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is a fantasy adventure, yes, but I promise it's not like Divinity Original Sin or Baldur's Gate 3. It's a little like Inquisition, but only because of the steamy romance, but it really is an incredible journey. Another game that is impossibly long, especially if you're planning on running through the post-launch expansions, the most recent Witcher game is a ride no player can forget. With Netflix having its own live-action adaptation of the books that inspired the games, plus a spin-off show and an anime, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with what it means to be a witcher that is facing a world filled with monsters, prejudice, and temptation. 

Force Roach, the trusty steed, up onto rooftops like old times, only this time? You too can play it atop of a roof. I don't recommend it and legally I can't tell you to do that, but if you so happened to find yourself on a roof playing this game? Well, I wouldn't be mad at it. (Just be safe!!!)

And there you have it! Those are the games I can't wait to play on the Steam Deck when it arrives late 2021, early 2022! And keep in mind, this is just 10 picks on what I would personally like to see you check out and what I'm looking forward to playing on the Deck. There are so many more options if these don't suit your fancy! Go the DOOM route for some epic destruction, go Control for a mind-bending nightmare, or take it to the underworld with the incredible Hades title! Play what you want how you want, that's what portable means.

If you missed out on the announcement and want to learn more about the specs, feel free to check out our previous coverage here

A Hidden Face With An Eyepatch Sets Off More Abandoned Speculation

Blue Box Game Studios is heading towards not only the release of their game Abandoned, but first the launch of a real-time trailer app for the PlayStation 5. Set to release on August 10, this app now known as “Abandoned: Real Time Experience” will feature multiple in-engine videos running off the PS5 hardware. In a new tweet today, Blue Box posted a teaser image for the app that’s reviving some fan theories about the project having Konami’s and/or Hideo Kojima’s involvement.

“Are you ready? We are!” reads text of the tweet. At first glance the image in the tweet above looks like only a logo. I missed the true teaser hidden in the background the first few times I looked at it. Behind the blurred facade you can make out the silhouette of a person’s head, and closer inspection will reveal what looks to be an eyepatch the right eye. A white line follows along the brow of the face. Could it be a reflection of light, or possibly more text concealed behind the blur?

Twitter users are running with the image which obviously looks like any variation of Metal Gear Solid’s Snake donning an eyepatch. Some are even trying to de-blur the image to give a clearer look at the face, others are attempting to decipher the unreadable text above the logo. Now that I’m thinking about it, that font is looking very familiar as well… 

Some theorists are focusing on the face:

Others are taking a stab at the hidden text:

While another group of dreamers have their own grand ideas: 

Blue Box Game Studios and Abandoned have been under a microscope for months regarding theories the game is connected in some way to Hideo Kojima, Konami, and the Silent Hill franchise. Some think the game's director Hasan Kahraman's name is code for Hideo Kojima, while others followed wilder clues tied to the name of the studio and the famed Death Stranding creator. Hasan denied the studios involvement with Konami and Silent Hill last month in a video posted on Twitter, however, if that's true, this new teaser image is not helping to alleviate that rumor. I was on the side of Abandoned having nothing to do with any Konami property, but now I don't know quite what to think. 

We'll find out soon enough because the Realtime Experience app for Abandoned is ready for preload on July 29 PlayStation 5, and goes live with the first trailer on August 10. Hopefully there will be some answers to the gaming community's ever-growing list of questions in there. Abandoned is scheduled to releases sometime this year on PS5 and on PC "eventually."

What are your theories for Abandoned? Are we just getting trolled, or is there actually a connection here? Let us know in the comments!

Newly Announced Spyro Statue Is A Collector’s Dream

Today we got word of a newly announced figure from First 4 Figures, a team that consistently pumps out some of the nicest video game collectibles we’ve come across. Available today for preorder, the company’s new line-up of figures from Insomniac’s Spyro 2 are especially striking.

The new figure line celebrates that fondly remembered 1999 PlayStation release, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage. The statue is modeled directly off the adorable dragon’s appearance on the cover for that game, including raised right paw, forward lean, and a seeming mischief in his eyes. The statue exhibits immaculate color work, and realistic textures on Spyro’s scales, wings, claws, and more.

While Spyro himself appears the same in both versions, the trappings that surround the hero vary based on which version you choose to purchase. The more expensive definitive edition is set in a detailed resin base inspired by the portal seen near the end of the game (after taking out Ripto). The portal features light-up LED orbs and triangles. The whole PVC piece stands at 9 inches in height, and will put you back by $224.99, at least if you preorder during the “early bird” period that runs until August 11. After that, expect the price to move up to $249.99.

The exclusive edition is pictured here, and the definitive edition above at the top of the article

If you’re looking for a more affordable way to celebrate one of your childhood gaming buddies, the same statue is available through the exclusive edition, priced at $99.99 during early bird pricing, and $109.99 if you choose to wait until after August 11. The big difference here is the smaller base, which shows Spyro surrounded by fire. In this version, the figure can light up with LED lighting for a static flame effect, or an animated one, which makes it look like the fire is flickering.

Regardless of which version you select, and when you choose to order, estimated release for the new Spyro 2 figures is set for Q2 2022. If Spyro isn’t your thing, First 4 Figures works with a number of video game properties, including these Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Zelda & Link statues, or this massive Shadow statue from Sonic the Hedgehog.

The Batmobile, K.I.T.T., And Other Famous Cars Roll Into Hot Wheels Unleashed

Mattel just unleashed a list of the cars Hot Wheels Unleashed players will enjoy at launch.  In addition to signature favorites, that bunch also includes famous vehicles from popular properties like TMNT, Back to the Future, and more.

The company confirms 66 cars will be available to unlock in the game on day-one. To collect them, all you'll have to do is play the game. Hot Wheels originals such as Boneshaker, Twin Mill, and more are sure to please enthusiasts. For those of us who are less plugged into the scene but would still like to drive something recognizable, a new trailer also revealed the addition of five iconic vehicles from pop culture:  

  • Party Wagon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • Snoopy (Peanuts
  • K.I.T.T. (Knight Rider)
  • Time Machine (Back to the Future)
  • Batmobile (Batman)

Of course, “Time Machine” refers to the DeLorean in regards to Back to the FutureSnoopy, meanwhile, sits perched atop his dog house but is sadly not in full Red Baron mode despite the pose. For me, the Batmobile’s resemblance to the classic Animated Series version makes it my favorite car of the lot. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Mattel also shared the list of real-life vehicles featured in the game:

  • Audi R8 Spyder
  • Audi Sport Quattro
  • '55 Chevy
  • Copo Camaro
  • '71 El Camino
  • '69 Dodge Charger Daytona
  • RAM 1500 Rebel
  • FIAT 500
  • '32 Ford
  • 1956 Ford Truck
  • 2018 Ford Mustang GT
  • Humvee®
  • Honda S2000
  • 2020 Koenigsegg Jesko
  • Mini Cooper S Challenge

If you haven’t heard of Hot Wheels Unleashed until now, the game offers a more arcade-style of racing with players speeding across the signature orange tracks to the finish. The kicker is that you’re literally a life-sized diecast vehicle (meaning you’re small) in giant rooms, like a garage for example. While it’s not a kart racer in that it doesn't feature Mario Kart-style power-ups, Hot Wheels Unleashed is still presented as an over-the-top experience. You can watch extended gameplay footage here

Hot Wheels Unleashed crosses the finish line on September 30 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.


Are you excited to play Hot Wheels Unleashed? What other famous cars would you like to see in the game? Let us know in the comments! 

Activision Blizzard Employees Stage A Walkout Following “Abhorrent” Response To Harassment Lawsuit

Following the news that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is suing Activision Blizzard for labor abuse, sexual harassment, and various other reported mistreatment, the company issued a statement in an attempt to debunk and reduce the claims. Now, Activision Blizzard employees are staging a walkout in protest of the "abhorrent and insulting" statement from executives as a way to support the ongoing suit.

The walkout is poised to begin on Wednesday, July 28, and is meant to be a show of support for the ongoing lawsuit. Game Informer learned that a driving factor behind this public display is because many "don't trust [Activision Blizzard] to do the right thing and help the people asking for help" from a Blizzard employee that wishes to remain anonymous. In a separate statement to Polygon, a protest organizer told the site, “We believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership." The statement continues, saying that the hope is to “improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”

The protest is in conjunction with a statement that was made public earlier this week, a joined effort signed by over 2,500 current and former employees. The allegations against Activision Blizzard detail reported incidents that are "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws." Much of the alleged behavior laid out in the lawsuit targets women and other marginalized groups, including reported evidence that shows widespread gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and long-term behavior from those in supervisor roles that is even a contributing factor to one employee's suicide. 

The full letter is as follows: 

To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard, We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership. We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.

Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action -- and the troubling official responses that followed -- we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse is simply unacceptable. We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees -- as well as our community -- have a safe place to speak out and come forward. We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.

The above response dropped shortly after former CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime issued his own statement, telling former employees that he understands that he failed while expressing regret over past inaction. His statement received mixed reactions from the gaming community. Some former employees of Blizzard Activision weighed in thanking Morhaime for not deflecting, while others claimed that the former CEO knew exactly what had been going on over the past decade. 

The action against Activision Blizzard is a result of over two years of investigation. In the allegations, the lawsuit alleges that HR was fully aware of the culture happening and that attempts to seek help from Human Resources were reportedly ignored. "Employees were further discouraged from complaining as human resource personnel was known to be close to alleged harassers," details 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."

To learn more about the current state of the lawsuit, you can read the full legal documents here

Exclusive: Meet Darkest Dungeon 2’s New Character The Runaway

Publisher: Red Hook Studios
Developer: Red Hook Studios
Platform: PC

The world is at its end. Wild accelerationist cults set fire to the cities. Pastoral baronies become insatiable hungering mouths upon mouths. Only your ragtag band of guilt-ridden adventurers can kindle a glimmer of hope to stop the ancient, encroaching evil. With a host of new terrors to overcome, a massive shift to a run-based roguelike structure, and a bold new character, the cosmic aberrations of Darkest Dungeon are poised to serve up fresh challenges and horrors with this scintillating sequel from Red Hook Studios.

[Editor's Note: This article also appears in Game Informer Issue 338]

Darkest Dungeon 2 isn’t content to live in the shadow of the hamlet from the first game. Instead of continuing with the town-building aspects and dungeon crawling of the original game, Darkest Dungeon 2 puts players on a doomed caravan ride into cursed biomes crawling with unbridled decadence. With the stakes as high as the world coming to an end, environments that were hanging on by a thread have spiraled into madness, embracing the worst elements of themselves that were always hidden away. As you ride through the world with a hand-picked crew of adventurers, death and despair are always lurking right around the corner. The same great turn-based combat and stylish gothic look of the first game return, but with constant decisions to make around every corner of each run.

Click here to watch embedded media

That said, don’t fear too much – you acquire hope (an in-game currency) from all of your runs, which you can use to unlock various components to show up in subsequent runs, new characters, skills for your caravan, and even permanent boosts. So even as all is lost – and it will be, frequently – you venture toward the final destination with some degree of progress. A successful run currently looks like it will take around four hours, so it’s important to reiterate that players unlock all kinds of special things at the account level based on each journey.

Instead of maneuvering from tile to tile on a dungeon map, the player instead navigates through a map filled with various encounters, destinations, and boss battles. If you’re concerned that the roguelike nature of the game means there isn’t a cohesive narrative or a canonical ending, fear not, there is an actual ending in the final version of the game. While much of the cast returns for the adventurers, some skills have been changed, edited, or removed to facilitate the new game environment. In addition, characters have more skills to pick from, allowing players to create more diverse and interesting teams.

While the choice to stop at a hospital to heal rather than opt-in to a deadly boss fight may seem obvious, there are other foibles at work here to keep you stressed as you fight for safety and sanity. As in the first game, the concept of the torch remains an essential element. Unlike the first game, the light is critical to continuing the journey, and if it goes out, you’re going to die quickly. To keep things lit, you must continue to battle enemies and reduce their numbers from the land. But making time to stop at other checkpoints where you can trade with the hoarder, discover ­valuable curios at an academic study, or just help random survivors huddled around a wagon is also important.

“The dark here is not sustainable,” says Red Hook co-founder and creative director Chris Bourassa. “And I don’t mean that in a fun way. Narratively and from a gameplay standpoint, it’s not sustainable. If you run your torch to the ground, just because of what the torch means, this time, it’s not just a literal measure of how much light there is. Allegorically, it’s the hope for the future that you’re sort of carrying on your back. And so if it goes out, it’s kind of game over. You get one last shot. We give you a really tough encounter; the cult catches up to you and jumps you, and if you can fight them back, we give you a little bit more gas to try to get ahead and hopefully restore it somehow. But it doesn’t fill the same role as it did.”

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

If all you do on the journey is try to seek out non-combat nodes on the map, you’ll end up underpowered and crushed by the weight of darkness. However, try to take on too much or some dangerous high-reward boss nodes, and you may find your adventure ending abruptly. Finding a balance and knowing when to step outside your comfort zone for some advanced risk-taking is what it’s all about.

It’s important to note that the big zone bosses are optional here (with the exception of the final boss) so if you find yourself completely decimated wandering through an area, it’s possible to opt-out of the traditional “area boss” and just push on to the next zone. Of course, this will leave you missing out on the associated treasures, so the next area will be a tougher endeavor.

“It’s really a power curve thing,” says co-founder and design director Tyler ­Sigman. “So, game design-wise, it’s been an interesting challenge. If you avoid every fight, you can avoid the bosses and just try to stay safe, [but] you won’t be powerful enough to kill the [final] boss. As you fight, you earn hero upgrade points which are spent to upgrade skills. That’s really vital. Basically, if you haven’t upgraded any skills, by the time you get to the end boss, you’re just not going to be up for it. And so essentially, we try to give you some control over your own power curve, of how many challenges you want.”

When you finish each area, you choose between two different areas for the next leg of the journey. Since the game is biome-based, with each area having special inhabitants, you can create a game plan early on – but don’t expect anything to be easy. For instance, the inhabitants of the city are quite resilient to fire damage, so it’s probably a bad idea to include the Runaway in your crew if you plan to head into the city. However, each area contains modifiers that are different every run, so you must be ready for anything.

Even if you plan to head to the farmlands, maybe the modifier on your 10th run will have something horrible there, so you’re tempted to select the other biome instead, even if it is a less than ideal pick for your team composition. Random and incredibly dangerous occurrences that players may remember from the first game, like the Shambler and the Collector, return in some form.

Permadeath is back. If someone reaches the death state, they’re gone for good. Since you can’t easily head back to the hamlet to replenish your team like you could in the first game, you, instead, have to rely on picking up one new character at an inn. This character may not be tailored to your group at all, but sometimes you have to work with what you have available. This pickup is a one-and-done deal as well, so it’s all you get. If someone dies again, you have to struggle along with whatever you have.

“You can’t have engagement and emotional attachment without tension and fear of loss. So, if we coddle you and make sure that nothing bad will ever happen to you, you’re not going to feel that same level of excitement,” Bourassa explains. “Like when your guy survives a death’s door roll or something because you’re not worried. You know, if he dies, he dies. We’re always trying to thread that or walk that line, where what you have invested in could be taken away because that’s really the only way you can play poker, right? You have to be afraid of losing your money. That’s why people play, because the excitement is high when you win, and it’s terrifying when you’re kind of on the ropes. To recreate that experience, we have to make sure that the player knows that we are willing to take their chips.”

To further engagement with your party members, Red Hook also promises greater insight into the characters you take along for each run, with narrative elements that delve into their backstories and relationships along the way.

And the changes don’t stop there. Another aspect that has changed significantly is healing. Players can no longer leave one enemy alive and heal up to full – something that had rife potential for abuse in the original title. Instead, players must heal up outside of combat, which also facilitates group compositions that probably wouldn’t be optimal in the original. Don’t want to bring a healer along? No problem, live the dream and make that quad-DPS stack.

While early access will allow Red Hook ­Studios to tune things, the current plan isn’t to have different difficulty settings like the first game. Instead, in typical roguelike fashion, special modifiers and alterations called mutators let players to ratchet up the challenge if they’re looking to whet their appetite for adversity. There’s also a good possibility that other roguelike staples, like daily run seeds where you can compare your performance against your friends and the greater playerbase, are also on deck for implementation.

Our next journey into madness probably won’t be fully completed for a bit, with early access for Darkest Dungeon 2 slated to arrive this year. After Darkest Dungeon’s PC launch, it eventually made its way to console, which we’re hoping happens here as well, but nothing has been confirmed. Here’s hoping it reaches as many gamers as possible because this is one time that we can’t wait for the impending end of the world.

The Runaway

Darkest Dungeon 2 will hit early access with one new character, the Runaway. Like other characters in our merry band of misfits, the Runaway comes from a checkered past. While we don’t know the specifics of her sins yet, the Runaway’s kit embraces fire, so we can almost certainly assume she did something awful with the element of embers. Fire is a new damage-over-time component in Darkest Dungeon 2, joining its friends bleed and blight (poison).

Eventually, the new character’s look was just right. “Visually I thought it’d be neat to have this sort of younger woman with a giant backpack and hunched over; we pulled a little bit from Newt from Aliens, obviously more grown-up,” says Red Hook co-founder and creative director Chris Bourassa. “One of my directions to our animator was to channel a sort of a ‘bat girl’ kind of vibe. So, she’s got this cape, and some of the animations are really fluid where it flares out behind her, and she can retreat to stealth and hide.”

It took time for the team to iterate on their ideas for the Runaway, but they liked how well she fit into the fiction.  “We just felt creatively she fit the world. She was kind of an extension of the game fiction as a whole, and what better character to debut as a new class than someone who’s intrinsically connected to the meta-­narrative of the game itself? We could have done a wandering badass with two handguns or something, but it felt a little rote. So mechanically, we added a new DoT [damage-over-time]; we have fire and burn damage in Darkest Dungeon, too. And we needed an evangelist for that mechanic the same way the plague doctor kind of works for poison or blight.”

“We went through a couple of ideas. I think it’s easy, it’s safe to add a badass, give it a cool weapon and a cool faceplate or something, and you’re off to the races,” Bourassa says. “But we kind of asked ourselves, ‘What type of character would inhabit this world that’s crumbling down and falling apart?’ And it made sense that some kind of a furtive, scurrying, outwardly disadvantaged ... a little bit like an agile Antiquarian in a sense, but highly proficient in combat. Thematically, it felt like someone who’s picking through the rubble of the old world.”

The Runaway is a survivor, a scavenger, and a scrapper. Exemplified by those aspects, she fits easily into lineups in multiple positions. However, she may be best at getting into the action hot and heavy and then using stealth to head back into the lineup to a safer area, perhaps moving a friend closer to the fray. The Runaway excels at disrupting foes, applying flames, and adjusting the flow and positioning of battle. Check out the entire Runaway skill lineup (right), and you can start planning on how to place her into your favorite Darkest Dungeon teams.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

The Runaway likely won’t be the only new face in Darkest Dungeon 2, either. “We’re bringing one new character for early access launch, but it’s not like we have decided only to make one new one, period,” says Red Hook co-founder and design director Tyler Sigman. “Hopefully, if the game finds an audience as Darkest Dungeon did, then you know, DLC, etc.”

The Plague Eaters

Every biome in Darkest Dungeon 2 is associated with a faction. In the once-­pastoral farmlands, the Plague Eaters hold dominion over all, consuming everything with their endless mouths. Tiny baronies and humble farms give in to their base instincts, with this faction dealing with the world's impending doom with unchecked gluttony.

“That’s really the top line for all the factions. So, I think as the world falls apart, I think more people would give in to their base instincts than not. And so every faction really represents a group of people who give in to the worst parts of themselves,” says Red Hook co-founder and creative director Chris Bourassa. “And so what you’re doing is, as the world’s crumbling and you’re making your way across to try to prevent it from vanishing or completely coming undone, you’re facing these people who have sort of just willingly abdicated their humanity almost in favor of this kind of base desires.”

Their endless eating facilitates their ever-growing bulk and gives them access to powerful regenerative abilities. The many faces of the Plague Eaters are resistant to blight, so bleed and burn are the preferred methods of damage when taking the caravan through the farmlands.

The Plague Eaters are more than happy to eat each other as they fall in combat, so managing the corpses and denying them of their sustenance can make your ­encounters much more manageable. If you let them feed unchecked, expect grueling, lengthy encounters that wear your team down to the ground. Let’s meet some of the cast of gruesome foes that you’ll meet down on the farm.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

The Lord

Once proud leaders of man and beast, now just beast. These heavy support units can become a big problem if you let them bolster their own lines or enfeeble your own. With tongue lashing and baneful breath, Lords can whittle your troops down to nothing. As with many farm inhabitants, it’s best to keep an eye on corpses during the fight and deny the Lord’s insatiable hunger whenever possible. If a Lord gets to eat, not only can he regenerate his hit points over time, making the fight last even longer, but he also unlocks an incredibly dangerous stun attack, the bilious cannon. Pro tip: Don’t get hit by the bilious cannon.

The Lady

While the Lord isn’t afraid to get physical after dishing out some support skills, the Lady prefers to do her damage from the backline. The Lady excels at blighting at range with Be Our Guest, using Mother’s Embrace to mess with the player’s positioning, or attacking the front characters directly with Mulch. Like many farmland inhabitants, it’s best not to let the Lady feed. If she does, prepare for your sanity to take a massive hit as she unleashes a bilious wail. Are you seeing a theme here yet?

Dinner Cart

Yep, it’s just a big cart of dinner. This thing will chuck rot at our heroes and make them more vulnerable to other attacks, taunt them, blind them, and otherwise be a massive pain to deal with. In addition to its unsavory standard annoyances, the dinner cart can create fresh corpses for everyone to feast on, making it quite dangerous. The dinner cart can consume corpses too, which allow it to unleash massive amounts of blight and stress damage to your backline. Like other targets that prefer to hide in the back and cause trouble, taking the dinner cart out with ranged attacks before it can deliver its foodstuffs is the best plan of action.

The Maid

The maid helps tend to the livestock. That’s right; the Plague Eaters sometimes like to take meals into combat with them. Goats. Cows. Whatever is available. The maid is a rather uninteresting unit when there’s no livestock on the battlefield, but when there is, she can buff livestock up, turning them into suitable meatshields. The strategy here is not to let her hide behind livestock or other fetid fiends, hook her to the front and take her out quickly.

The Butcher

Like the maid, the butcher excels in the presence of livestock. The butcher can tear into lines with bleed damage and execute a massive party-wide heal when livestock is around. As you can imagine, preventing this huge heal from going off is the top priority, so that means taking out the butcher or the livestock as fast as you can before working your way to other targets.

Studio Ghibli Inspired Baldo: The Guardian Owls Gets August Release Date

Since its reveal in the summer of 2019, Baldo: The Guardian Owls has quietly risen to become one of most anticipated indie games out there and now it finally has a release date. The Zelda-inspired adventure with Studio Ghibli visuals is launching August 27. 

The adventure stars Baldo, an cheerful young lad who embarks on a grand adventure revolving around an ancient prophecy. Along the way players interact with a cast as colorful as the game’s vibrant open world itself. Gameplay consists of third-person combat, puzzle-solving, and dungeon crawling in the style of classic 3D Zelda. In a 2019 interview with Red Bull, Baldo creator and artist Fabio Capone said the game "It isn't focused on combat mainly, although that's a big part of it, but it will share a lot of elements from the Zelda series. At its core Baldo is a puzzle and dungeon game, although there are plenty of other secrets inside."

Check out the original announcement trailer below. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Baldo comes courtesy of Italian studio Naps Team. Capone is a big fan of Studio Ghibli’s work (namely Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, and Mary and the Witch’s Flower), and Baldo began as a passion project fueled by a desire to create a game that captured the whimsical tone and presentation of those films. The project has been in development in some form or another for the last 15 years, making today’s announcement the light at the end of a very long tunnel for Capone and his team. 

If you like what you see, you can find Baldo: The Guardian Owls on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and iOS via Apple Arcade. The game looks incredibly charming, so I'm personally excited to finally get my hands on it.  


Are you excited to finally dive into Baldo: The Guardian Owls? Let us know in the comments!

The RPG Issue Featuring Tales Of Arise Digital Issue Is Now Live

RPG fans rejoice! If you're a digital subscriber to Game Informer, you can now read up on Tales of Arise and several other exciting role-playing games we're looking forward to! Following today's cover reveal, our digital issue is now live to subscribers on web browsersiPad/iPhone, and Android devices. Individual issues will be available for purchase later today. You can download the apps to view the issue by following this link. All of these digital options are included in a standard subscription.

The issue launches later this week on our third-party subscription apps including Kindle and Nook.

Not a digital subscriber yet? Convert your existing print subscription or start a new subscription here.

TALES OF ARISE Master Core Replica and Ultimate Edition Giveaway

A Master Core is made up of a large amount of the world’s natural force known as astral energy and exists for each element: earth, water, fire, wind, and light. With enough astral energy, these powerful relics can manifest into spectacular physical forms, but such an immense flow of astral energy requires the wielder to be worthy of the Master Core’s owner. Shionne can adjust the flow of the Master Core to manifest the astral energy into the Blazing Sword: a weapon that sears the very hand of anyone who wields it. With so much power, it’s capable of matching the powers of a Lord. Maybe even surpassing them.

How would you like to hold in your hands the Master Core? Ok well, we can't actually give you THE Master Core, but thanks to our friends at Bandai Namco Entertainment, we can give you a chance at this amazing replica! There are only 6 of these replicas being created and we have one!

In addition to the replica, as part of the Grand Prize, we will also include a download code for Tales of Arise Ultimate Edition on the system of your choice upon the game's release.

Also, as a special bonus for 10 lucky Runner-ups, we have available a download code for Tales of Arise Ultimate Edition on the system of your choice. 

A little more on Tales of Arise from Bandai Namco:
On the planet Dahna, reverence has always been given to Rena, the planet in the sky, as a land of the righteous and divine. Stories handed down for generations became truth and masked reality for the people of Dahna. For 300 years, Rena has ruled over Dahna, pillaging the planet of its resources and stripping people of their dignity and freedom. Our tale begins with two people, born on different worlds, each looking to change their fate and create a new future. Featuring a new cast of characters, updated combat, and classic Tales of gameplay mechanics, experience the next chapter in the world-famous Tale of series, Tales of Arise.

Click here to watch embedded media

  • Experience the next chapter in the Tales of series, brought to life in stunning HD powered by Unreal Engine 4
  • Dynamic Action RPG featuring an updated battle system that retains classic Tales of gameplay
  • Rich story featuring a vibrant world and new cast of characters
  • High-quality animation created by ufotable

Now, for your chance to win, all you have to do is enter below. Giveaway will run until 11:59 PM CST 8/9/2021. Tales of Arise is rated T, so winner must be a legal resident of the U.S. age 13 or older. Minor will need parents permission to accept prize. First name drawn will receive the Grand Prize and 10 Runner-up winners will be drawn from the remaining entries. Full rules are available with each entry method below. Good Luck!

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                             a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal – The RPG Issue Featuring Tales Of Arise

In this issue, we celebrate the role-playing genre, with a special focus on the games we can't wait to play in the coming months and years. One RPG that has our attention is Tales of Arise, which is just a few months away from its September 10 release. We have 14 pages devoted to the next entry in Bandai Namco’s long-running franchise, which the esteemed developer is calling a “reinvention” of the series. For our cover story, we played the first chapter of the game and chatted with key members of the development team to discover exactly what this reinvention means. Find out everything from how the new progression system works and how it incorporates the series' hallmark "Titles" to why boss battles are so much more intense this time around. 

You’ll also learn more about the two fascinating worlds Bandai Namco created, Rena and Dahna, which are rife with conflict and interesting personalities. At the game’s helm are two very different characters from these two very different worlds. One can’t feel pain, the other can only cause it. Our cover story dives into how this interesting dynamic drives the narrative and explores darker topics around loss, elitism, and societal decline. And that’s only scratching the surface of what’s in store for this important entry in the 25-year franchise.

Tales of Arise isn’t the only reason to dive into this issue. We also round up some of the most promising RPGs on the horizon and give you a list of games we can't wait to play. This includes deeper looks at Elden Ring, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Astria Ascending, Rune Factory 5, and Shin Megami Tensei V. If you're looking for an RPG to put on your wishlist, we've got you covered.

Next, we spoke with Red Hook Studios' founders Tyler Sigman and Chris Bourassa about the upcoming Darkest Dungeon II. In this deep-dive exclusive, find out what you can expect as the tantalizing turn-based combat of Darkest Dungeon transforms into a roguelike romp across an apocalyptic wasteland. We've got the details on an all-new character coming to the game, The Runaway, and a grotesque faction centered on horrific hunger, The Plague Eaters. Hop on the caravan and get ready to experience the stylized cosmic horror in an all-new way.

Brian Shea also takes time to reflect on Sonic the Hedgehog's 30th anniversary. Blake Hester profiles video game developer and internet phenom Ikumi Nakamura about her time across the industry working on projects like Ōkami, Bayonetta, and most recently Ghostwire: Tokyo. Matt Miller rounds up a few RPG tabletop games that can help refresh your game night. And, we round out our previews section with heavy hitters like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel, Halo Infinite, and Metroid Dread. All that and much more in this issue of Game Informer!

Print subscribers can expect their issues to begin arriving in the coming days/weeks. The digital edition of this issue launches this afternoon, July 27, for PC/MaciOS, and Google Play. You can also get the latest issue through third-party apps on Nook and Kindle. To subscribe to either the digital or print version, click here.

Most Popular Choices In Mass Effect Legendary Edition Revealed, Last Chance For Mass Effect Freebies

Back in May, BioWare celebrated the release of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition by giving away a ton of free content, including the ability to craft your own character art. One freebie bundle including the Mass Effect OST, the comics, and art books to enjoy, but that offer is about to run out soon, so grab them while you can! In addition to the free loot drop, BioWare also revealed some of the most popular choices that players made in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. But first, let's talk about the freebies. 

For those looking for some sweet tunes, the full Mass Effect soundtrack is available to download, for free, in addition to the Mass Effect Redemption and Invasion comics respectively. Two mini art book for Mass Effect 2 and 3 are also available in addition to a digital lithograph of the best ship in the galaxy: the Normandy. This offer is only available for a little while longer, so make sure to grab anything of interest right here

Ready to dive into some Mass Effect Legendary Edition stats? Good! Just a fair warning, however: the below infographic does contain spoilers for key choices made in the three games. If you have not beaten the trilogy, I would recommend turning away now. 

Still here? Good! Let's break it down: 

Who Is Your Shepard?

32% of players donned the helm of Jane Shepard, whereas 68% assumed the role of John Shepard. The most popular pre-service history is the Earthborn origin story, growing up in gang life until Shepard eventually found themselves in the Alliance. 52% chose the Earthborn life while 27% took on the Spacer role and 21% chose to have the Colonist history. 

What about classes? 

  • Soldier - 40%
  • Vanguard - 21%
  • Infiltrator - 15% 
  • Adept - 11%
  • Sentinel - 8% 
  • Engineer - 5%

In the same vein, 44% chose the Survivor psychological profile, with 43% coming in as a War Hero and a small 13% choosing the Ruthless route. 

Popular Choices

60% of players for the Legendary Edition chose to save Ashley on Virmire over Kaidan, with 6% killing Wrex on the same planet. A whopping 93% decided to ally with the Rachni Queen in the first Mass Effect, with 67% killing the Reaper Breeder Queen in Mass Effect 3. 

96% of players cured the Genophage (good!) with the same amount getting Tali pardoned versus being exiled from the Flotilla. 

For popular squadmates in Mass Effect 1: 

  1. Garrus
  2. Tali
  3. Liara
  4. Wrex
  5. Ashley 
  6. Kaidan

In the Priority Rannoch mission, 80% of players were able to achieve peace, with 11% siding with the Geth and a small 9% siding with the Quarians. This is also tied to how many renegade vs. paragon points a player has, which is something we detailed in our guide here on how to avoid simple mistakes

And the most commonly asked question when talking about choices? 68% of players punched the reporter in the face. Myself included. Them's the breaks. 

Surprisingly enough, BioWare didn't detail who the most popular romance option was. Must have been 100% Garrus because he's clearly the right choice. Again, I don't make the rules. 

Want more Mass Effect Legendary Edition goodness? Check out our alive and well hub right here! We've got news, opinion pieces, mods, and so much more! And remember: be the person Mordin would want you to be. 

PAX West 2021 Safety Precautions Change, Now Requires COVID-19 Vaccine Or Negative Test Results

ReedPop confirmed that PAX West 2021 would be an in-person event this year following a year of lockdowns and digital-only conventions. At first, some expressed excitement over the return at some semblance of normalcy, that was until it was revealed that the safety precautions being implemented were the bare minimum at best. Following several notable outlets withdrawing attendance and the community as a whole responding to the PAX announcement, a few changes have been made to the requirements for entry: attendees must either be fully vaccinated or show recent proof of negative test results for COVID-19. 

"Throughout the year, the PAX team has been actively working to support a safe environment for our PAX West visitors," ReedPop tells Game Informer. "We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West. We appreciate your patience as we worked with our venue and the authorities to create our comprehensive plan."

Following the aforementioned recommendations, the new plan includes proof of recent negative test results with a COVID-19 PCR or antigen test or status of being fully vaccinated. Additionally, attendees will need to supply a valid government ID as proof of person. 

Regarding the initial backlash, ReedPop had this to say: 

"When PAX West 2021 badges were announced, the PAX Team decided to communicate what we could commit to at that time, rather than what we were working toward. While we let the community know the health and safety guidelines could evolve, we wanted to get it right, and we feel confident that verification of fully vaccination or negative test, along with continued face-covering requirements for everyone, will create an environment that promotes the wellbeing of our PAX community."

In addition to the updated safety guidelines, ReedPop also reinforced that additional measures are to be taken, including reduced capacity and mandatory masks to be worn at all times. This applies to attendees, exhibitors, staff, and Enforcers. To learn more, feel free to check out the official PAX West site here. To search for a vaccine center near you, this resource has been helpful in the past. 

Free Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update Dropping Soon With Fireworks, Nintendo Teases Future Content

Ever since Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched back in March 2020, the simulator game has seen a plethora of events. Nintendo has made sure that island life is as fun as possible from holiday celebrations to surprising crossovers. That being said, there has been a significant drop in content this year. Still, there are some fireworks on the way later this month alongside a promise of fresh Animal Crossing: New Horizons content coming down the pipeline. 

The company took to Twitter to remind players that a free Animal Crossing: New Horizons update is dropping this week on July 29. There will be weekly firework shows as well as some new seasonal items, but most importantly? A promise of more on the way: 

Nintendo confirmed in the above thread that more New Horizons content is in development and is slated to arrive later this year. While the post didn't share any details, it did say that more will be revealed "in the future." 

The Animal Crossing franchise is highly beloved by the Nintendo community, and for a good reason. With lovable characters, the ability to create a world all on its own, and a constant rotation of new events to keep things exciting, it's easy to see why this series is such a staple in the gaming community. 

There's only one thing I want to see in future updates, and it's an answer to a question I've had since launch: Where the heck is Brewster? 


What are your thoughts on Animal Crossing: New Horizons' lifespan so far, and what would you like to see in future updates? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

If the comments are showing disabled, there is a technical issue we are working on that has affected the comment section. Please be patient as our team works on a fix so we can get back to chatting! 

Splitgate Launch Delayed To August Due To Server Overload

Splitgate, the free-to-play multiplayer shooter that blends Halo-esque gunplay with Portal style, well, portals, won’t be launching tomorrow as planned. That’s because the open beta that’s been running during the past two weeks had so many active players that the servers became overloaded, forcing a delay. 

If you haven’t heard of Splitgate, it’s a fast-paced sci-fi shooter with a fun and familiar twist. Players can fire portals that function exactly as they do in Portal, meaning you can create your own entry/exit points. This adds another thoughtful layer of strategy as you set up shortcuts to quickly warp across maps and create unpredictable vantage points for attack. Of course, your opponents can do the same which lends itself to all sorts of chaos. Already boasting a variety of maps and modes, Splitgate has earned positive buzz since entering beta in 2019

Click here to watch embedded media

That fanfare has only grown. The open beta that began 14 days ago garnered hundreds of thousands of players within the first week. That player count has now jumped to an impressive 2 million. However, the massive glut of users has put a severe strain on the game’s servers. 

“Our team has been blown away by the incredible reception the Splitgate community has shown us,” says 1047 Games CEO/co-founder Ian Proulx. “With the steep and sudden increase in players trying to access servers, we’re having to sort out a myriad of technical issues that come with this level of insane growth. We’ve worked hard to provide a high-quality game and experience, and our biggest challenge is simply to have enough capacity to serve the entire community.”

Because of these technical issues, the game’s full launch will not go live on July 27 as planned. Instead, Splitgate will be released sometime in August. The current open beta will continue running in the meantime. To help remedy these problems, 1047 Games will receive $10 million in financial backing by venture firm Human Capital to help fund the expansion of the developer’s engineering and tech support. 

Splitgate may not have an exact launch date yet, but it will be available free-to-play on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (and yes, it will support cross-play). The full launch will also introduce new maps and other content. 


Have you played Splitgate? If so, what do you think and are you disappointed by the delay? Let us know in the comments!

Wildermyth Review – Tales And Tactics

Publisher: Worldwalker Games
Developer: Worldwalker Games
Reviewed on: PC

In a nutshell, Wildermyth is a fantasy tabletop tactics game that can be played in a few hours or for as long as you like. You have access to multiple campaigns that offer different challenges and lengths – ranging anywhere from four hours to many, many more. During these adventures, you gear up a team, make decisions that affect how the stories play out and vanquish hordes of dangerous enemies in various turn-based combat setups. While each campaign is self-contained, you can pull characters you develop into subsequent campaigns with all their stats, allowing you to assemble a legendary roster over time.

Click here to watch embedded media

You can take Wildermyth’s three core classes in a variety of interesting directions. The most curious and original is Wildermyth’s take on the classic caster or mage, which manipulates various objects across the combat grid, twisting them to their advantage. This means you can light objects on fire, fling boulders, heal/buff your friends, and more by forging connections to bookcases, braziers, and anything else laying around. Classic warrior and hunter archetypes are also available, and I loved forming various compositions fueled by poison attacks on ranged-archer team compositions. While the base classes may be archetypes, there are enough different directions to take them with progression mechanics in order to keep things compelling.

While you drastically alter how each core class plays via gear and level up skills, one of the biggest charms of Wildermyth is how the story dictates gameplay. Over the course of any campaign, your characters interact with each other and the world around them in comic book-style sequences. You make choices in these stories that determine relationships and a whole lot more. For example, perhaps one character begins to transform into a wolf, and you choose to fully embrace it. What starts with a small head change, over time, may result in a full character alteration that affects that character’s stats and abilities.

I took one of my prized archers through this development, and as a result, she could no longer hold or shoot her bows – but she could rend enemies with a flurry of claws. These procedural stories can transform your characters in many ways that have permanent and significant effects, and you’ll need to account for these changes from battle to battle. Maybe you find a duck pet that gives stats, or two party members become rivals. While the combat is solid, these frequent story vignettes are absolutely the highlight of Wildermyth and make every campaign a treat as you make choices that change the story and your characters forever.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

Most encounters boil down to figuring out how to strategically position and eliminate opponents, which is fun at its core. This stays interesting over the course of a run even though you may engage in a ton of fights because your characters are constantly changing if you let them. Maybe you have allies who become possessed by a dark spirit or you gave your tank a giant golem fist that changes their attack style. Things change, things happen, and it's way more impactful than just picking inconsequential options from a dialogue tree – the story flows into the combat in a great way, and by the end of a campaign you’ll likely have several characters you adore, for all their struggles and triumphs.

The overworld system is probably the weakest aspect of Wildermyth. Here you manage resource collecting and enemy invasions as your territory holdings expand over the course of a campaign. What this really amounts to is a bunch of busy work that’s easy to ignore as you try to push through the more interesting content. As fun as the core combat is, these additional battles bog down some campaigns with too much fighting.

If you’ve always wanted a fantasy Dungeons & Dragons stylized XCOM game, Wildermyth might be exactly what you’re looking for. Designing a game around randomized storytelling is tricky, but Worldwalker pulls this off with gusto and gravitas.

Score: 8.75

Summary: Story, style, and strategy come together in one whimsical package.

Concept: Pilot a team of adventurers through various stories and campaigns that feel like tabletop adventures

Graphics: The pop-up storybook fantasy look is enchanting and conveys a lighthearted feel

Sound: The effects and soundtrack complement the gameplay well enough, but aren’t very memorable

Playability: Because of the options available and the winding story, Wildermyth may be a bit overwhelming at first. Playing the introductory campaign is advised, and the difficulty is adjustable

Entertainment: Wildermyth expertly gives players stories to explore with choices that have a significant impact on gameplay. If you like tactics games or tabletop roleplaying, Wildermyth is not to be missed.

Replay: High

Click to Purchase

Almost 1,000 Activision Blizzard Employees Sign Open Letter To Leadership, “We Will Not Be Silenced”

Nearly 1,000 employees of Activision Blizzard are speaking out against the company's "abhorrent" response to the details of the ongoing labor lawsuit going public. The response from executives denounced the lawsuit, claiming that details represented in the legal documentation were "unfounded," "distorted," and "untrue." You can read the full statement here, but now the employees hurt by the company's response and continued culture are speaking out, making it known that they will not be silenced as the lawsuit progresses. 

Details on the allegations emerged last week when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, following years of investigation.  The incident once more puts a spotlight on the games industry around issues of misconduct, especially against women, recalling recent revelations from publisher Ubisoft. In the case of these latest claims against Activision Blizzard, 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. The details of the lawsuit included allegations of widespread gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and an underlining "frat-boy culture" that has even contributed to the suicide of one female employee. After the details went live, Activision Blizzard quickly scrambled to get a statement out, a statement that further added fuel to the ongoing fire resulting from these allegations. 

In a new open letter to Activision Blizzard's leadership, nearly 1,000 employees signatures have been added. The letter is in conjunction with hundreds of social media posts we've seen over the past weekend from current and former employees alike detailing their own experiences. The contents of the signed statement were first reported by Bloomberg, and Game Informer has independently seen the letter as well.

The full letter is as follows: 

To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,

We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.

We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.

Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action -- and the troubling official responses that followed -- we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse is simply unacceptable.

We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees -- as well as our community -- have a safe place to speak out and come forward.

We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.

The letter comes just days after former CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime issued his own statement, telling former employees that he understands that he failed them when they needed him the most. His statement received mixed reactions from the industry and community members alike, with some former employees thanking him for taking responsibility. In contrast, others pointed out that he knew exactly what had been going on over the past decade. 

As mentioned in our previous coverage, the report alleges that Activision Blizzard has many women dodging "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.

The lawsuit, a result of over two years of investigation, also claims that HR was fully aware of the culture happening and that attempts to seek help from Human Resources were reportedly ignored. "Employees were further discouraged from complaining as human resource personnel was known to be close to alleged harassers," details 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."

The suit also details a significant 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. Game Informer has talked to many current and former Blizzard Activision Blizzard employees about the details of the lawsuit, with several male developers stating that they have posted their own salaries publicly to support their co-workers. The suit also details opportunities that were seen as primarily going to men first, stifling progressive growth within the company's infrastructure. The lawsuit details specific examples of alleged mistreatment, abuse, and other disturbing behavior through the years, which can be found here

[Source: Bloomberg]

Indie Watch: Smaller Games Worth Keeping An Eye On

We're firmly in the half of 2021 and inching ever closer to the holiday rush of big-time triple-A releases. While we’re excited to play the next Halo, Metroid, and Forza, it’s always worth keeping in mind the slate of promising indies releasing alongside the big guns. That's why we put together a list of smaller titles that we can’t wait to play, several of which we haven't spotlighted until now. These games are arranged in chronological release order, and a few are just around the corner. If you're itching to play something off the beaten path, hopefully you can find something here that perks your ears. 

Eldest Souls

Release Date: July 29
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Are boss battles your favorite part of a Souls-like game? Eldest Souls may be right up your alley. This challenging title is a 16-bit boss rush that pits you against beings known as the Old Gods. Cutting down these intimidating adversaries with your oversized sword rewards abilities unlocked from an extensive skill tree. Despite emphasizing large-scale battles, you’ll also interact with NPC’s and complete sidequests. If you find your interest piqued, you won’t have to wait long to find out how Eldest Souls shapes up. It launches this week, July 29.

Grime

Release Date: August 2
Platforms: PC, Stadia

Law requires that every indie list needs at least one Metroidvania, and Grime fills that quota. Besides its maze-like level design, the upcoming game also bleeds Dark Souls in all the ways you'd expect but with one big twist: your character’s head is an all-consuming black hole. By parrying incoming attacks, you can absorb enemies instead of cutting them down the old fashioned way (which you can also do). Suck up enough members of a certain enemy type, and you can adopt their traits to permanently augment your abilities. This adds a fun wrinkle to the well-worn dance of attack/parry/dodge. Grime’s surreal world and unique progression helps it stand out in a crowded pack of similarly styled games. Check out its free Steam demo to see if it’s up your alley. 

Foreclosed

Release Date: August 12
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

Cyberpunk! Sure, you might say the style has been done a lot recently but you should still keep an eye on Forcelosed. The game blends a stylish comic book-style presentation and a heavy focus on narrative with explosive action. You control Evan Kapnos who has had his identity “foreclosed”. That means he’s lost his job, his brain implants, and he’s cut off from his own city. Even worse, Evan must now escape before his identity and body is auctioned off. You’re armed with a symbiotic pistol that can be customized in a variety of ways (like firing explosive or stealth bullets) as well as special powers like telekinesis. You can also hack into electronics; this is a cyberpunk game after all. Who foreclosed Evan’s identity? That’s up to you to uncover.

Road 96

Release Date: August 16
Platforms: Switch, PC

Procedurally generated levels in games are nothing new but what about a procedurally generated story? That’s a feat that Road 96 will attempt to pull off. Set in a fictional country ruled by an authoritative regime, you’ll flee your home by hitchhiking to the border. The people you meet, how you interact with them, and the skills you learn all promise to constantly reshape the narrative in a more organic fashion than traditional choice-driven stories. With storytelling inspired by the works of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, Road 96 is making a lot of big promises so here’s hoping it will stick the landing when it launches next month. 

The Big Con

Release Date: August 30
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

Throw on your best oversized flannel shirt and relive the totally rad ‘90s in The Big Con, a comical puzzle adventure game about life as a teenage con artist. Your mother’s video store is in jeopardy of being absorbed by loan sharks. Saving the store calls on you to lie, cheat, and steal your way across a cross-country road trip. Pickpocket strangers, don disguises, spy on folks, and pull whatever dirty trick necessary to raise enough money to keep your mom’s business afloat. The Big Con is billed as the ultimate ‘90s time machine but even those with no nostalgia for the decade may find entertainment in its quirky humor and silly puzzle-solving.

Lake 

Release Date: September 1
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

It’s 1986 and big city girl Meredith Weiss returns to her small hometown of Providence Oaks to deliver mail in place of her father for two weeks. By bringing parcels to the lake town’s colorful residents such as an old cat lady or snarky video store owner, you’ll reconnect with your humble roots. Some may find Lake’s laid-back tone and pacing boring, and that’s okay. We think there’s something utterly relaxing about the idea of driving a mail truck down scenic roads and dropping off letters. Plus, conversing with residents presents narrative choices that can branch the story in different ways. Who knows? During your stay you might find love or rekindle long-dormant friendships. Or you could accidentally send your truck into the game's titular lake. That's something you can do as well. 

Aragami 2

Release Date: September 17
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC

2016’s Aragami was a neat action stealth title in the vein of the Tenchu series with a cool hook in manipulating shadows to sneak around and eliminate targets. You’ll still have command over the darkness in Aragami 2, but the sequel ups the ante by pairing you with up to two friends in three-player online co-op. Having the option to tackle the story alone or in a group sounds awesome, as does the myriad of traditional and supernatural ninja tools at your disposal. Kunai, smoke bombs, teleportation, and invisibility are some of the slick abilities you and your friends have at your fingertips. Like a skilled ninja hiding amongst the reeds, Aragami 2 has all the makings of being a sneaky hit.

Dordogne 

Release Date: 2021
Platforms: Switch, PC

Dordogne is one looker of a narrative adventure game thanks to its gorgeous art direction. Seriously, it looks like an interactive indie animated film. In terms of gameplay, it’s a point-and-click style puzzle game centering around Mimi, a woman exploring the home of her grandmother who recently passed away. You then travel back in time to play as a 10-year old version of Mimi to relive summers spent in this French countryside. As child Mimi, you’ll solve puzzles and collect keepsakes such as photos, all of which affect the present. Dordogne is overflowing with charm to the point that you probably need a soul transplant if you aren't smiling at it. We are looking forward to seeing more of it when it launches later this year. 

Eastward 

Release Date: 2021
Platforms: PC

Eastward is set in a beautiful pixel art world on the brink of collapse. As dual protagonists John and Sam, you’ll embark on a journey to different cities, encountering the quirky remnants of humanity all while confronting dangerous creatures with your trusty...frying pan? Eastward’s gameplay is an action-adventure RPG with Zelda trappings where players use both characters in tandem to explore dungeons and overcome obstacles. The art direction, inspired by ‘90s Japanese animation, looks fantastic thanks to a 3D lighting system that makes the retro-style visuals pop even more. Eastward is tentatively scheduled to release sometime this year for PC and we’re desperately hoping it gets a firm launch date soon.

No Place for Bravery

Release Date: 2021
Platform: Switch, PC

An old, retired warrior named Thorn is on a brutal quest to find his long-lost daughter. Locating her whereabouts calls on you to battle across a war-torn world in the style of a 2D dungeon crawler. Developer Glitch Factory name drops Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in describing No Place for Bravery’s parry-focused combat design; expect to face challenging foes that will probably humble you more often than not. When you aren’t surviving by the skin of your teeth you’ll be faced with making equally demanding moral choices in a narrative inspired by the developers’ own personal history. Namely in the role parents play in shaping the world for their children. 

Nobody Saves the World

Release Date: 2021
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

The shapeshifting dungeon crawler comes from Drinkbox Studios, the makers of Guacamelee and Severed. As Nobody, you have no form, color, or clothing for that matter. That is, until you find a magic wand that allows you to transform into different identities such as a magician, a vampire, and a horse. You know, everyday stuff. Nobody Saves the World is a top-down, procedurally generated dungeon crawler packed with color, personality, and variety as you mix and match forms to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. You can watch us take it for a spin in this episode of New Gameplay Today

She Dreams Elsewhere

Release Date: 2021
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, PC

This surreal RPG centers on a comatose woman named Thalia who must battle her own nightmares in order to reawaken. The presentation and turn-based battle system is reminiscent of classic JRPGs, Shin Megami Tensei in particular. Players can also bond with their party members to learn about their stories via a Connection system. She Dreams Elswhere’s themes surrounding mental health (such as anxiety) and self-identity make it one of the more mature titles on this list, and one we find ourselves drawn to the more we see it. If you’d like to try before you buy, you can download a demo on Steam and itch.io.

Baldo: The Guardian Owls

Released Date: TBA
Platforms: Switch, PC

Do you enjoy 3D Zelda games? How about Studio Ghibli? If you answered “Yes” to both questions, Baldo: The Guardian Owls should be in your crosshairs. This impossible to overlook gem takes players across a vibrant, magical open-world where you’ll try to decipher an ancient prophecy. Along the way you’ll explore intricate dungeons and solve all manner of puzzles while also defending yourself against monsters with your trusty sword and shield. Baldo is exciting in its ambition and we hope it can pull off everything it’s going for. Though its release window is technically labeled as “TBA”, we’re pulling for it to arrive before the year ends. For a recent look at the game in action, IGN recently showed off 13 minutes of gameplay

Is there any game on this list that piques your interest? What upcoming indie game should we keep tabs on? Let us know in the comments!

Popular Final Fantasy 14 Encyclopedia, Poster, And Picture Books Are Being Republished, New Manga On The Way Too

If you clicked into this article, then, like me, you’ve been enamored with Square Enix’s classic Final Fantasy franchise. While XIV isn’t my preferred experience - I’m more of a traditional single-player JRPG kind of guy - I can say that I truly enjoyed the hours that I put into it a couple of months back. But any fan of the franchise should be excited to learn that a couple popular Final Fantasy XIV texts are being republished: an encyclopedia, a picture and poster book, and some new manga inspired by other IPs. Everything that's coming out is detailed below. Some covers haven't been finalized yet

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                           

Encyclopaedia Eorzea, vol. 1 and vol. 2

 

Compiled by the development team, the two volumes of the encyclopedia delve into the locales, organizations, and history of the game world, Eorzea. Additionally, you can get some valuable insight into the regions beyond the main continent to the east. There’s also a complimentary code for the Namingway minion if you’re still unconvinced. Both volumes will drop on April 12, 2022 and you can pre-order them today. 

Final Fantasy XIV Poster Collection

Everyone loves posters. What if I told you that you could get 27 removable Final Fantasy XIV posters in one sitting? Sounds too good to be true, right? The poster collection book has stunning character art from A Realm Reborn and Shadowbringers. They’re even printed on press-varnished card stock. I have no idea what that means since I’m not much of a poster collector, but it sounds incredibly enticing. Pre-orders begin on August 10, and the book will actually be available on May 10, 2022.

Final Fantasy XIV Picture Book (English Translated Edition)

This one is a real treat. Lead Story Designer Banri Oda and Concept Artist Hiroyuki Nagamine have joined forces to make a picture book for all you Final Fantasy XIV fanatics out there. Don’t be fooled, this book is meant for all ages and, for the first time ever, it’s been translated into English for Western audiences. Pre-orders start on October 26, and the picture book itself drops on July 26, 2022. 

SINoALICE and My Happy Marriage vol. 1 (Manga)

 

SINoALICE vol. 1 is inspired by Yoko Taro’s mobile game of the same name and drops on February 8, 2022. You can pre-order it today. 

My Happy Marriage vol. 1 is a Cinderella-inspired historical romance. Personally, I love anything with the romance tag, so I’ll probably be grabbing this for myself. Pre-orders are scheduled for September 21 with a June 21, 2022 release date. 

So which text(s) are you going to buy, or … are you planning to purchase them all? Let us know in the comments!

Halo Infinite Flight Test (Beta) Will Offer Weapon Drills As Part Of 343’s Largest Technical Test To Date

The Halo Infinite beta flight is dropping soon and 343 Industries wants to make sure that Insiders know what to expect before dropping into the world that gave us Master Chief once more. From weapon drills to Battle Passes, here is what you can expect from the upcoming early play period. 

As with any testing period, the studio was very careful to ensure that players knew that there are going to be some "bumps" with the early play access, which is to be expected in any beta test. The team also let fans know that this is technically called a technical preview, simply because it's past the point of being alpha but not quite yet to the point of being as complete as the term beta suggests. 

To prepare players for what sort of experience the Halo Infinite technical test will have to offer, the blog post reads: "We also want to be very upfront and transparent about the fact that we will certainly have some bumps and rough edges in this build. Our teams have been working hard to ensure that the build and experience are such that it can deliver on our goals, but this is very much still work-in-progress, and we expect some hiccups of varying degrees over the course of the technical preview. For further context, this technical preview is a couple of months behind where the development team and ‘main’ game build currently is given the process and time it takes to go through all the gates and steps before releasing to the public."

Click here to watch embedded media

With Halo Insiders preparing to "flight" the upcoming technical preview, a few of the core areas the team is looking for feedback on includes stability, online services, core gameplay, maps and modes, weapon drills, and menu/Battle Pass UI. The stability feedback is standard, as is server connectivity, but the weapon drills are going to really give players a chance to dive in deep into the familiar guns and new weapons joining the fray, as well. 343 is also looking for feedback regarding how the maps are designed and whether or not players feel that they flow naturally and that they feel "fun and fair."

THis is one of the biggest technical previews for the company to date, which allows for a more encompassing experience for Halo fans to dive into. It also means a higher risk for things to go wrong, so please keep in mind that this is an early testing period, which means it is not going to be perfect or necessarily indicative of what will be available at launch. Feedback is crucial, so the more you have to offer, the better. 

To learn more about the upcoming Halo Infinite beta technical test, check out the full blog post here

Digital Exclusive Mechanics Come To Magic: The Gathering Arena With Jumpstart: Historic Horizons

Wizards of the Coast is changing the Historic format on Magic: The Gathering Arena in a huge way with its upcoming Jumpstart: Historic Horizons set. Not only are cards from Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons 2 hitting the client in this release, but so are 31 brand new Arena exclusive cards, some of which have mechanics only possible in a digital game of Magic.

In an exclusive reveal with IGN, Wizards announced some cards coming to Jumpstart: Historic Horizons and looked at two new Arena-only mechanics. “Seek” brings the power of searching your library for a card but allows you not to have to shuffle your library. When a player “seeks,” a random card is chosen from their library using the predetermined variable in the rules text and is put into their hand. The deck does not shuffle afterward because the player doesn’t see any of the cards in their deck when the card is found.

Another mechanic making its debut in Historic Horizons is called “perpetually.” When a card is modified “perpetually” by an effect, those changes stay with the card regardless of whether it’s in hand, shuffled into the library, on the battlefield, or exiled. Perpetual effects are permanent on that specific card for the remainder of that game. Parts of a card that can be affected include casting cost of spells, power, and the toughness of creatures.

Our final look at the digital exclusive mechanics comes in the form of a new Planeswalker, Davriel, Soul Broker, which uses “Conjure” and a handful of choices that don’t exist on the card itself. Conjuring brings a card into existence from out of thin air and into your hand without the need for the conjured card to be in your library or sideboard. Examples given in IGN’s article include conjuring the dual land Tropical Island or card draw spell Ponder. Davriel allows conjuring up Manor Guardian, a creature which “seeks” a non-land card with mana value two or less upon its death. One of this Planeswalker’s abilities involves “offers” and “conditions.” “Offers” are choices like drawing cards or receiving an emblem for a permanent benefit for the remainder of the game, while “conditions” are equally punishing options as a price for your previous beneficial choice.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jumpstart, it’s an event set where you pick two themed booster packs and shuffle them together. No experience with deckbuilding is required at all. Previous themes included goblins, unicorns, discard, lands, and elves. While the original Jumpstart had some variations to theme packs, new to Historic Horizons is the randomization of card slots within a theme giving even more possibilities for what can be found within a pack.

Jumpstart: Historic Horizons is scheduled to hit MTG Arena from August 12 until September 9 and comes with these new mechanics among 31 Arena-specific cards in a massive 782 card set featuring tons of new cards injected directly into the Historic format. Magic also added its first Dungeons and Dragons-themed set this month, and you can read about its dungeon mechanic here


Adding digital-exclusive effects is bound to be divisive among the Magic community. How do you feel about this change to Historic? Should a new format be created to house these big changes? Plant your respectful takes in the comments.

Tribes of Midgard: Early Game Impressions

Tribes of Midgard gets a release tomorrow. The multifaceted title makes you an Einherjar, a warrior carried to Valhalla after death, sent to Midgard to protect the Seed of Yggdrasil. Tribes of Midgard borrows from the action, role-playing, and survival genres while offering a campaign-style Saga mode and an endless Survival mode. Having played about five hours split across both modes, I have some initial observations for those interested in this Norse-inspired title. Take a seat by the fire, it’s time for a saga.

Peaceful bird chirps rise above a light-hearted orchestral score. The sounds spill out over a sunny woodland realm, and everything seems peaceful. But it’s not. Behind the game’s idyllic visuals, the clock is ticking; you have nothing, and time is running out.

One of Tribes of Midgard’s most compelling aspects in these early stages is the ever-present tension between what I hope to do and the time I have to do it. Danger always looms on the horizon – like nocturnal Helthing raids and recurring Jötunn assaults – and I only have a brief day to decide how to prepare for the attack. Many of my early attempts to defend Yggdrasil came to an abrupt, and cataclysmic, end because I chose poorly. Rather than frustrate, failing provoked me to jump back into a session to try different strategies.

Click here to watch embedded media

Getting a Game Over is part of the experience with Tribes of Midgard, and while I find its gameplay loop interesting for now, I wonder if recollecting the same materials to fight the same threats could begin to wear thin later on. With all the foraging, crafting, upgrading, building, exploring, and every other thing that needs doing, it’s easy to see that Tribes of Midgard is, at its heart, a multiplayer game. I’m not saying you can’t go it alone – there is a solo play option – but the game is appreciably less rewarding for lone warriors.

Tribes of Midgard is not the only Viking-inspired cooperative survival game on the block and some of its mechanics, like the crafting cycle, feel strikingly familiar to Valheim's. However, Tribes of Midgard succeeds in forging its own identity with the vibrancy of its world and the urgency of its gameplay. Thus far, Tribes of Midgard seems like a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends and hopefully, its repetition doesn’t become tedious. To get a better sense of the action, you can check out Game Informer’s earlier hands-on preview, here. Tribes of Midgard releases on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC on July 27.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

Netflix Live-Action Pokémon TV Series Reportedly In The Works Under Lucifer’s Joe Henderson

Netflix is continuing on its venture into the realm of gaming, this time with a new Pokémon live-action series under the helm of Lucifer's Joe Henderson. 

The latest Netflix adaptation comes by way of Varietywhich reports that the project is still very early in development and that there are no details available at this time. A source close to the site said that Henderson, who is the co-showrunner and executive producer for the Netflix adaptation of the Lucifer comics, is slated to write and executive produce the series about catching 'em all. 

According to Variety, the project is shaping up to be "akin" to Ryan Reynolds' Detective Pikachu film that came out in 2019 in terms of live-action and CGI. Nothing has been confirmed at this time, however, and Netflix has not responded to a request for comment. 

We've seen shows, movies, comics, and games aplenty centering around the popular pocket monster franchise, including the live-action take with Detective Pikachu. Where the company decides to take this franchise is anyone's guess, but with a property as beloved as Pokémon, we hope that they don't overthink it too much and keep the formula recognizable for longtime lovers of this series. 

As for Henderson, he's currently working on another comic book adaptation for Netflix called Shadecraft, which was announced back in March. Henderson himself wrote the comic with Lee Garbett as the artist, so if he is attached to this reported Pokémon take? He's going to be a busy, busy man in the coming years. 

It will be interesting to see where this series goes, especially since Pokémon has been a beloved experience since it first began back in 1995. Since its inception, the franchise has grown to be a powerhouse of various media adaptations, merchandise lines, and so much more. 

Apex Legends Season 10 Trailer Shows Seer’s Abilities, New Weapon, Map Changes, And More

Click to watch embedded media

The end of Apex Legends Season 9 is in sight. So much so that the time has come for Respawn to start dropping a bevy of new cinematics to announce what exactly is coming next for the popular battle royale. The new legend joining the roster is Seer; we’ve seen his Raiden-inspired design, and we’ve heard his mystical backstory. Today, however, Season 10 got its most revealing trailer to date that showed Seer’s abilities, a brand new weapon, the incoming map changes, and some battle pass cosmetics. 

Officially titled Emergence, Season 10 is taking us to Worlds Edge once again. Parts of the map give way to large rivers of lava, meaning that there will be more environmental hazards to watch out for as you and your team make swift rotations. Of course, there are new laboratories that offer a lot of cover and precarious but fun zipline routes. Moreover, Seer finally made his in-game entrance. His ultimate casts a large holographic dome that reveals enemy locations in a large radius. And his passive allows him to spot enemy footsteps and movements through solid surfaces. In all honesty, he seems like a much better version of Bloodhound. Hopefully, our favorite felagi fighter isn’t sidelined until further notice. 

A new LMG, called Rampage, can be seen decimating squads throughout the trailer. Based on the footage, I’m not entirely sure what ammo type it’ll take – I’m hoping for light since that’s the only weapon tree that’s still missing a light machine gun. And was that a thermite that someone loaded into the gun?! In any case, the Rampage LMG can shoot down doors, so for any players that like to door block to pop off quick heals, you’d better start counting your blessings for the rest of Season 9. You can also get a brief look into new legendary skins for Valkyrie and Horizon; there will undoubtedly be more to unlock and equip when you purchase Emergence’s battle pass. 

Apex Legends Season 10 finally launches on August 3.


Let us know what you thought about the new trailer in the comments below!

Olympic Gold Medalist Rocks The Witcher Medallion During This Year’s Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics are in full swing and gold medalist Vitalina Batsarashkina is once again wearing her love of The Witcher on her proverbial sleeve. Unlike last time, however, this time she's wearing that love around her neck. 

CD Projekt Red's Radek Grabowki spotted the Witcher medallion that Batsarashkina was sporting during this year's event noting that this isn't the first time she's let her fandom love shine. The first time, at least that we know of, was back in 2016. Given the several Witcher shows in the works and how expansive the third game was, it's easy to see how she's kept that love going and it's awesome to see her bring in a little more gaming to the ... well, the games. 

Others were quick to note other ways she showed her Witcher passion, including on her eyewear that she sported during the Rio games in 2016: 

Batsarashkina not only represents the Witcher fandom unofficially, she's also at the Olympic games representing Russia. She is a part of the female shooting team where she competed this past weekend in the 10m air pistol competition. For those that may need a little reminder, the medalion she can be seen wearing is the same one that Geralt of Rivia dons in the games by the Polish studio. 

Needless to say, she did the RPG community proud because she took home the Gold. Who knows, maybe the studio will find a neat little way to pay homage to her love of the series in the next Witcher game? Stranger things have happened. 

Mortal Kombat 11 Surpasses 12 Million Copies Sold Worldwide

Mortal Kombat 11 is the latest entry in a renowned franchise that has spanned decades. The game features a sizable roster with (literally) bone-crushing combos, a solid single-player story mode, and a continuously burgeoning multiplayer scene. Like many of the other NetherRealm titles that have come before it, Mortal Kombat 11 has reached an impressive milestone; it's surpassed 12 million copies sold worldwide.

According to an emailed press release, NetherRealm Studios Creative Director Ed Boon expressed heartfelt words after learning about Mortal Kombat 11’s latest achievement. “When Mortal Kombat launched nearly 30 years ago, I never dreamed it would grow into the franchise it is today with more than 73 million games sold,” Boon said. “We have some of the most passionate fans in the world, and we appreciate the support they have shown us over the years.” 

It’s not particularly surprising that Mortal Kombat 11 has found this level of incredible success. After all, the franchise is one of the industry’s biggest video game dynasties – even Mortal Kombat Mobile has over 100 million installs! – that has spawned many television shows, animated movies, and live-action films, including the latest one that Brian Shea reviewed. However, additional content updates have stopped now that NetherRealm is moving to its next project. What the next chapter in the Mortal Kombat franchise will look and play like remains to be seen, but based on how beloved the IP is to millions of fans around the globe, it’ll likely be another well-earned success story for Ed Boon and co.

Andrew Reiner enjoyed his time with Mortal Kombat 11 despite some loot problems, concluding his review by stating, “Mortal Kombat 11 may have loot issues, but the combat has never been more rewarding. You can finish the entertaining story mode in one sitting, but getting the gear for the character you want could end up being more of a time-stealing tale than the one the game tells.”

Mortal Kombat 11 is available on current- and last-gen consoles as well as Switch, Stadia, and PC. Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is a more expanded version of the game that launched towards the end of last year; be sure to play that for the complete experience. 


What do you hope to see in Mortal Kombat 12? Or, more broadly, what do you hope to see in NetherRealm Studios’ future games?

Neo: The World Ends With You – Review In Progress

The sequel to Square Enix’s acclaimed and inventive The World Ends With You drops tomorrow and it’s bringing plenty of infectious beats, stylish fashion, and over-the-top boss battles. I’ve been playing the game for review and have clocked in over 40 hours so far, but I have yet to reach the end credits. Until then, I’m not ready to deliver a final score but can share some impressions to give you an idea of where the game stands, especially in comparison to its predecessor. In many ways, Neo: The World Ends With You is just more of the DS original. It captures the magic of what made the first game so special, but it also retains some of its bigger issues and frustrations with difficulty balancing and the repetition of tedious tasks. 

That being said, as a fan of the first game, it instantly sucked me back into the Reaper’s Game, with a fantastic soundtrack that I can’t get out of my head, entertaining combat that encourages experimentation, and keeping the fun hook of exploring Shibuya and finding new clothing and food options to improve your chances in battle. The new main character Rindo is as likable, if not more, than former hero Neku, as a cautious and compassionate leader. I really enjoyed the other unique faces he meets, like the awkward-yet-perceptive Nagi, who takes her video game fandom very seriously. The plot also finds unique ways to reference the first game’s events, but also still tells its own compelling story about a Reaper’s Game that’s become horribly rigged and solving what’s at the root of this and why. 

Similar to the first game, you can expect fast-paced combat that rewards you for chaining combos with team members to eventually “drop the beat” for devastating specials. The game still centers on pins to customize your abilities in battles. You can equip these on every character for their main battle ability, and every pin has a cooldown and gets assigned to a specific button input that you either have to tap or hold to execute. Not having a touchscreen like the first game, this actually works better than I expected, but I still found it difficult to keep track of all the chaos on screen at times. Trying to play characters’ abilities using multiple buttons at a time, the combat demands you multitask – for better or worse. 

The action most shines in the boss battles, which are memorable and complex. Yes, you’ll fight everything from dinosaurs to gorillas and even the game’s famous giant cat mascot, Mr. Mew. Every character also has their own special ability to use within the world. For instance, Rindo has the ability to turn back time once a day, which functions as part of the overall story, whereas his buddy Fret can make people recall memories. You perform the latter by tilting the left and right sticks in the correct directions to complete a picture. Unfortunately, I liked Fret’s ability the least, as it requires more precision than I expected in getting the stick direction just right. I’m playing on Switch and using the Pro Controller fared better for me than the Joy-Cons. Speaking of the Switch version, the game has crashed several times on me, so I’m hoping the day-one patch Square Enix confirmed is coming helps alleviate this issue.

Neo: The World Ends With You feels very similar to the first game, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a reason so many fans have pined for a sequel. It quickly got its hooks in me and kept me engaged, but it has its flaws. A repetitive structure with tedious tasks doesn’t do it any favors, like making you kill a certain amount of enemies to go into a new area (the new turf wars called Scramble Slams are egregiously bad with this). The difficulty balancing is also off; the game would often be ridiculously easy, and then I’d hit a huge difficulty spike out of nowhere where I’d barely survive. And yet, despite those frustrating aspects, I can’t put Neo: The World Ends With You down. The world and its characters just drew me in, and when I’m firing on all cylinders with the combat and watching my groove meter rise, it’s a rush. If you liked the first game, chances are you’ll find a lot to love here. Just don’t go in expecting a huge evolution or departure from its predecessor.

I feel like the game’s end is just around the corner, so stay tuned for the final review!