Clash Royale is inviting clans on a new adventure. In Clan Wars II, you and your friends will sail down a river to collect rewards for you and the entire clan. The ultimate prize is a chest at the end of the river. As your set sail, you'll run into new game types, including Clash Royale's first version of PvE, which pushes you to take down defenses on a boat. Clan Wars II does away with collection day, and you instead use your own cards for its modes Duels, Boat Battles, and more.
Although a new Clash Royale season is about to begin in two days, the Clan Wars II content won't hit until August. Are you still playing Clash Royale? If so, are you excited for this new content? If you fell off of the game, are you intrigued to jump back in?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been updated today in a big way. You can now dip your toes in the ocean and go for a swim. If you see a shadow in the water, dive down and grab it. My first catch was an octopus for the museum. The update is free and shouldn't be any kind of hassle. Just boot up the game and away you go.
The game does a fine job of walking your through the process of getting your swimming suit (which set me back just 3,000 bells). Once you throw it on, you can hop right into the ocean. Along with my new eight-legged friend, there are 40 different creatures in the ocean to find, including a variety of crabs, a sea pineapple, garden eel, oyster, jellyfish, and sea pig (which will only be around between November and February). For the full list, check out Reddit user Chiiribi's post that even gives the seasons and time of day you'll find them. Happy hunting, everyone!
Evo 2020 has been canceled following allegations of sexual misconduct made against Evo CEO Joey Cuellar, who was placed on administrative leave earlier in the day, and is now being relieved of all responsibilities with the company and tournament. Early this morning, Evo released a statement saying "The behavior in these accusations runs directly counter to Evo's mission of building a safe, welcoming environment for all of our players and attendees."
Over the course of the day, commentators James Chen and Maximillian Dood tweeted that they would no longer be a part of this year's tournament. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, and other games were also pulled by the developers and publishers behind them. NetherRealm, the studio behind the Mortal Kombat games, said "We stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse. We will be pulling MK11 from EVO Online."
Over 1,300 people signed up to compete in this year's tournament, which would be held online due to the ongoing pandemic. Anyone who purchased a badge will be refunded. Evo is also donating the equivalent of the proceeds to Project HOPE.
You can read Evo's latest statement on the matter below:
In this week's episode of The Game Informer Show, several members of the Game Informer family say, "Goodbye." Sadly, this is my last week as Game Informer's editor in chief. Coincidentally, senior editor Matthew Kato and video producer Leo Vader are also moving on to the next stage of their careers as well, and will no longer call GI home. While this is sad for many of us, we take the chance to celebrate their contributions and wish them well.
We continue to do this show from our homes as we hunker down in quarantine, so please forgive us for any audio or video hiccups as we deliver content outside the studio.
Thanks for listening! Please make sure to leave feedback below, share the episode if you enjoyed it, and follow me @therealandymc, or Matthew @MattKato, and Leo @leovader to let them know how much you love them.
We recently had the amazing opportunity to go hands-on with Cyberpunk 2077, which you can read about in our full playthrough impressions as well as our biggest takeaways article. We also sat down with some of CD Projekt Red’s talented developers, learning more about their creative process and how they approached this ambitious project. One topic that consistently surfaced was the team's signature shades-of-gray storytelling and how it enhances the experience.
During our four-hour demo, we wrestled with who to trust, never feeling completely confident in our decisions or what the consequences would be. If you played CD Projekt Red’s Witcher series, you know this feeling all too well, but with each passing project, the developers only seem to be getting better at keeping you on your toes and making you second-guess your actions. To learn how much care and thought goes into these interactions, we asked lead quest designer Paweł Sasko for more insight into the complicated process.
“It’s a very complex thing,” Sasko says, laughing. “It’s very easy when you design things to just fall into one [extreme] or another, and this is how our production style comes into play.” According to Sasko, every quest gets created with the writer, quest designer, and cinematic designer working together and challenging each other to show different sides to the character. “We’re always keeping each other in check… to figure out the correct way to present elements or the character when you look at it from their perspective,” he says. “We always look at it from a perspective of balance.”
Sasko says it comes down to feedback from both designers and testers. If they feel strongly against a character, the designers come together to think of ways to better showcase the character’s point of view and give more context for their actions. Sasko worked on the famous Bloody Baron quest from The Witcher 3, where you find out the man who offered his hospitality to Ciri also has an abusive past. “One of our objectives was to find a parallel between Geralt as a father and Baron as a father, but also throw enough bad things in there so the player will like him and dislike him at the same time,” Sasko says. “This is what we are almost constantly playing with in Cyberpunk 2077, having it be like in real life where people say one thing and then do another.”
CD Projekt Red goes to great lengths to pull this off in its games, using body language and dialogue to throw you in different directions. Just like in real life, you can never really know someone’s true intentions or what they’re thinking. Cyberpunk 2077 offers a world of danger, where it feels like everyone is out for themselves, just waiting to pull one over on you. As customized protagonist V, you must try to navigate these shady people to the best of your abilities, and deal with the repercussions. “It might be that a character is speaking in a very convincing manner, but through the animations, through their poses, and through the setup of the scene, we are showing that the character is not like that,” Sakso says.
A character in our demo named Evelyn is a good example of this. Evelyn is shrouded in mystery when you meet her; she's a confident, charming young woman who contracted Dex, the fixer you get one of your first big jobs from. All your interactions with her prove she has some connection to Night City’s high circles, but every time you ask her questions, it feels like you’re only getting half the story. At one point, she offers to just cut Dex out of the deal so only you two split the riches. It’s suspicious, but then again, you don’t know Dex that well. Still, are you ready to cross a legendary fixer who could make your life hell?
“When you're meeting Evelyn in Lizzie’s [Bar], she's doing very specific things in the specific moments and there are things she is not certain about that she’s discussing,” Sasko says. “The way she's moving in that scene, that's specifically designed to present that character in the best possible way, and to give the player lots of different interpretations and hypotheses.”
Sasko says the team then throws in more potential clues to give players a certain perspective or vision of the character. Then in the next meeting with the character, the team tries to twist this a bit by adding more elements to the picture that test or confirm the player's hypothesis. It’s a tricky balance between conveying a sense of who that character is as a person, but also reflecting the complexity of people and their capacity to omit, forget, or alter details. After all, memory is a tricky thing, and people’s versions of events sometimes change as they relay them.
The audio and dialogue also play a huge role in uncovering new information and giving you different ways to interpret characters. “When you talk to the characters and ask more questions, they can actually throw things in that are contradictory or will give you some more clues to what they really think to make you question things,” Sasko says. “It’s just really fun because that makes the player be conscious and look at the characters. Of course, we cannot be all over the place with that, because if you go completely random, then it won't work. It has to be designed very specifically.”
People are complicated, multi-dimensional beings, and CD Projekt Red certainly likes to display that in its games. In Cyberpunk 2077, there are no correct answers – just a bunch of choices and seeing where they lead. Either way, we can’t wait to see more of the intriguing people and conundrums V will face.
Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Outriders is the upcoming cooperative shooter/RPG from developer People Can Fly and publisher Square Enix, and the companies are giving eager players a new look at the game in action. The latest video dives into how Outriders' world and quests are structured.
Highlights include some info about your base/truck, a look at some members of your crew, and an explanation about how the hub-and-spoke layout of the map accommodates different sidequests. Get those details and more by watching the footage above.
Kilter Films, Bethesda Game Studios, and Amazon Studios are bringing the popular apocalyptic RPG Fallout to light in a new way as a TV series. Few details are known about this upcoming Amazon Original show, but according to Deadline, it is the first project put together by Westworld creators and producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy who signed a deal with Amazon. They'll be partnering with Todd Howard and other people from the Bethesda Game Studios team to bring this project to life.
The announcement was made through a short teaser video on Twitter. No release date was given. You can see the teaser below:
The old Star Wars: Bounty Hunter video game is getting a little love again with the release of a new Black Series action figure from Hasbro. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter released for PlayStation 2 and GameCube in 2002, and was recently resurrected as a digital release for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, meaning it can still be played today.
This Jango Fett figure stands in at six inches in height, and is similar to one that released years ago, but is slightly different with a new jet pack and cleaner armor. It also comes in a Gaming Greats package that lines up with the recently released Darth Revan and Shadow Stormtrooper figures.
Like those two figures, Jango Fett is a GameStop exclusive. Preorders are now open, and the figure is slated to ship on September 15. You can take a look at the figure in the gallery below:
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Disclaimer: GameStop is the parent company of Game Informer
A successful Star Wars story is bound to expand into books and comics, and it's now happening to The Mandalorian, the hit show that launched on Disney+ last year.
Six Mandalorian books were announced on the official Star Wars site, the most exciting of which is an untitled original adult novel written by Adam Christopher and published by Del Ray. For more insight into the visual style of the show, fans can look forward to The Art of the Mandalorian book by Phil Szostak, as well as The Mandalorian: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Pablo Hidalgo.
Other books include an untitled junior novelization by Joe Schreiber, and a level-two reader book called The Mandalorian: Allies & Enemies by Brooke Vitale, who is also penning an untitled 8x8 storybook based on the series. There's even going to be A Little Golden Book that recaps season one. Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing are both making Mandalorian comic books.
No specific release dates were given for any individual book, but some will hit in the fall (likely around the launch of season two), and others will roll out in the winter and spring. If you want more of the show, Disney's inviting you to read and read and read.
Sony gave us another delightful indie reveal today for its PlayStation Indies initiative. Recompile has you exploring a digital landscape, either hacking or fighting to get by, all in the name of avoiding deletion.
Phi Dinh, co-founder, programmer, and game designer at Phigames, answered some questions about the game on the PlayStation Blog. "You’ll play as a sentient virus, trying to escape deletion as you infiltrate the digital, virtual world of The Mainframe in an effort to achieve sapience and bring about the first technological singularity. Humankind depends on it, but how you accomplish this goal will be up to you," he wrote.
A new trailer today revealed the game for PS5, showcasing the platforming, third-person combat, and environmental hacking puzzles. You can go guns blazing, hack security systems for distractions, or even turn enemies against each other with your hacking powers. The environment is also hackable to get past locked doors or disable complex machinery. But just remember, how you play will affect the A.I. you create.
"As you may have guessed, the game is all about creating the first self-aware Artificial Intelligence," Dinh wrote. "The question is, what kind of A.I. will be created? The answer depends entirely on you, your play style, and how you decide to resolve certain narrative situations. Beat the game with destructive weaponry and an aggressive playstyle, and you’ll end up creating a similarly violent antagonist. You can imagine what kind of fate this kind of intelligence will have on the future of humanity."
To see more of what's in store, check out the trailer below.
Revealed as part of PlayStation's recently announced indie-focused initiative, Where the Heart Is is an new narrative adventure slated to hit PS4 later this year.
The game is being developed by Armature Studio, and tells the strange story of a man named Whit Anderson. He falls down a sinkhole on his family farm, and then relives moments of his life in a series of vignettes. These story scenes have a dream-like quality, and players have the opportunity to make choices that impact the course of Whit's life and the consequences of his actions.
You can get more details (and see more of the game in motion) by checking out the spotlight on the PlayStation Blog.
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Right now, Where the Heart Is has only been announced for PlayStation 4. However, since the game is releasing this winter, the question of a possible PlayStation 5 release naturally arises. Though the team has no additional platform announcements at this time, a PR representative for Armature Studio tells us that the team is incredibly excited for the PlayStation 5 and what it means for gamers and developers.
"Maquette is a puzzle game, but not in the sense that Sudoku is a puzzle, more like a story that has puzzles throughout," writes creative director Hanford Lemoore in a PlayStation blog post. "As you explore the game’s recursive world, you’ll uncover memories of a young couple in love, solving puzzles through creative thinking."
The first-person puzzle game takes place in a "recursive world" (one nested inside itself, infinitely), where you manipulate object sizes to get past obstacles. This means what you do in a smaller, model-size version of the world will impact the regular world. This offers the opportunity for interesting puzzle solutions, like taking a key for the regular world and using its bigger object size in the smaller one as a bridge to get across a gap. The video below offers a good visual explanation of how it all works, so be sure to watch it if you're interested.
The mastermind behind the Nier and Drankengard series, Yoko Taro, has a new free-to-play mobile RPG, SINoALICE, that launches today. To celebrate the occasion, he sat down alongside Square Enix producer Yoshinari Fujimoto and Pokelabo, Inc. producer Shogo Maeda to discuss what's in store for this twisted adventure where fairytale characters must kill one another to revive their authors. Expect large real-time battles, gacha mechanics, and the traditional (or is that untraditional?) Yoko Taro-ness.
SiNoALICE launched back in 2017 in Japan. Why did you feel now was the time to reach a global audience?
Fujimoto: The folks at Pokelabo said, "We really want to release this globally." Pokelabo always treats us well, so we thought we can't ignore their wishes.
Maeda: Even before the Japan release, we thought this was a title that could put up a good fight globally in terms of its world-building and considering Yoko's fan base. It's been three years, but we still feel the same way.
How did you come up with the idea for the story, and how would you compare it to your previous work?
Yoko: I think of stories while I drink beer. Compared to other titles, I think maybe the amount of beer has increased?
What made you choose to use fairy-tale women as the main characters in this game? What about the idea that they were stories lent itself to what you wanted to do with this game?
Yoko: Supposedly we chose female characters because they'd make more money for gacha. Regarding fairy tales, I thought it would be nice because the copyrights have expired and it wouldn't cost money.
Which one of these characters is your favorite and why?
Yoko: I like Parrah and Noya. Well, more like, they are useful. They can get away with anything.
What about the gameplay sets SiNoALICE apart in a crowded mobile game space?
Maeda: What sets SINoALICE apart is Yoko Taro's world-building and massive guild versus guild gameplay that is simple and fun.
Are the gacha elements of obtaining weapons pretty standard for a mobile game, or are there any elements that differ or are especially exciting for this feature?
Maeda: There are cute characters with classes attached to the weapons. Users will be delighted to pull the cute characters!
What was the character creation process with Jino like? Did the character art concepts come first or did you dictate ideas for personality and appearance?
Yoko: I just submit the rough idea, and let Jino handle the rest. We're both shy, so at first it was hard to communicate, but now we're so close that we can throw punches at each other.
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Why are so many of your stories about characters who are defined by their relationships to their creators?
Yoko: Every person depends on others. Even if you feel like you're on your own when you grow up, we all have that childishness in our hearts, and feel like we want to be protected. The interdependent relationships between the authors and characters mirror that situation. ... I just thought of this randomly, but it's a pretty sound answer, right?
The word "bondage" is Alice's "keyword" in SINoALICE, and it's a concept that recurs in a lot of your works. Why do you think you are so attracted to characters who are bound to something?
Yoko: I'm always bound to deadlines, so I always use that concept. Did you wonder when I'll finally give a straight answer? I wonder that too.
Your games often include characters who are forced to participate in violent, absurd, or unfair systems that are imposed by absent, God-like creators… while you, yourself are in a sense the absent, God-like creator of these worlds. What are you trying to tell us about yourself?
Yoko: No, that isn't my intent. That violent, absurd, unfair system you speak of is probably the real world. Compared to the real world, the worlds in SINoALICE and NieR are pieces of cake.
In your view, are players part of your creation, or, because they're controlling things themselves, are they creating the violent system with you? How do you feel about summoning these fairy-tale women to die over and over?
Yoko: This is a great question. It relates to what I want to express in not only SINoALICE, but also NieR and Drakengard. So of course, the answer is "no comment."
Your games tend to linger on the violence and death they depict such that the player can't help but critically ruminate on them as they play. Why do you want your players to be thinking about the kinds of death they're participating in or even experiencing in your game?
Yoko: I always reflect real life in the characters that appear in the world of SINoALICE. We're covered in greed and have the dirtiest thoughts in our minds that we could never share, but pretend to be good people – I think that's so interesting, and that's how the stories turned out to be dark and violent.
Network integration and shared experiences are often a major aspect of your work. What kinds of experiences are you hoping your players will be able to have by interacting with each other online in the game?
Yoko: The customers are the ones who decide how they want to experience it. I'd be delighted if users enjoy the game in an entirely different direction from the intent of the creators.
Maeda: Mobile games bring user communication closer together compared to other platforms. There are many users who have met new friends or even lovers through SINoALICE. We'd love for players to expand their world through SINoALICE, beyond the game.
Inquiring minds want to know: What’s next for Yoko Taro?
Fortnite: Save the World has technically been in early access since its release in 2017, but that is no longer the case. Epic Games made an announcement explaining that this mode has left early access, and that the development of new content will be slowing down.
Save the World is essentially Fortnite's campaign mode, and players must pay to access it. This stands in contrast to the free Battle Royale mode, which stole the spotlight. Epic had previously announced plans to take Save the World free-to-play, but those never worked out. With this new announcement, the company confirms that Save the World "will remain a premium experience rather than going free-to-play."
All of your your current cosmetic purchases will continue to work in both modes, but Epic says that future cosmetic items released for Battle Royale won't be supported by Save the World. If you have more questions about Save the World content (including the upcoming Ventures feature), check out the full post from the Fortnite team.
Sea of Thieves' pirate life wasn't for me. I drank my weight in grog, dug up a few treasure chests, and screamed "fire the cannons!" way too much. I got into character and had some fun, yet retired my pegleg just a few days after the game launched in March 2018. I never envisioned going back to it.
I also didn't foresee the pandemic of 2020, which has pushed many of us to search for new ways to entertain ourselves from the safety of our own homes. Within the Reiner residence, my daughter and I are finding video games are a great way to pass the time. We sometimes play couch co-op on the same screen, but our favorite way to game is on two TVs in the same room that are connected to Xbox Live. Having two Xbox subscriptions is a bit spendy and makes me question why Microsoft doesn't take better care of families, but being able to move about a full screen independently is the way to go. You can't beat it.
In recent months, our gaming family has grown to include my girlfriend and her children. Between our two households, we can have four people online at once – it's amazing when we are all together laughing and enjoying each other's company. Depending on which children are playing, we are fed a steady diet of Minecraft, Roblox, and Farm Together (a wildly underappreciated co-op experience). Keeping everyone engaged and excited has been tough, as the kids' interests and attention spans are changing.
Expanding the number of games we can play on any given night makes sense, but there sadly aren't many family-friendly co-op options out there. To this day I will never understand why the Lego games don't have online play.
In my search to uncover the next great game for us to play, the name Sea of Thieves surfaced again. Given my unsatisfactory history with it, I decided to ignore it, and instead tried to track something else down. Sadly, no other game jumped out as an option that would check the kids' numerous interest boxes. With nothing else to try, I thought they may get a kick out of sailing together in Sea of Thieves. My thinking: We could ignore the rest of the game's activities and enjoy a relaxing evening on the high seas. It was worth a shot.
The game journalist in me also wanted to see how much Sea of Thieves' experience had evolved since launch, but dissecting content while paying attention to children who just want to play their way can be challenging. That night, I told my girlfriend about Sea of Thieves, walked her through the concerns of pirate violence (and grog), and we decided to give the game a shot.
When my daughter saw the pirate theme on the title screen, she didn't want to have anything to do with it. She thought it looked scary and "dumb." After telling her about the boat we would get, she agreed to try it, but just for a few minutes.
When my pirate character spawned into the world, a flood of memories came back to me. I cringed, and thought, "this was a mistake." My pirate was standing in the same pub I was in years ago, and my mind was suddenly filled with memories of mundane questing and loot. I remembered why I left the game behind.
On our own systems, my daughter and I went through the tutorials and then joined together for co-op play. She ran up to me, waved, and tried to hand me a few grubs that were wriggling around in her hand. She accidentally hit the wrong button and ended up eating them. She giggled and said, "oops!" I told her that her character's face was turning green and she ran over to my screen to see it for herself. She laughed out loud and then her character barfed all over me. My screen was filled with vomit, and my daughter was on the ground in a full-body laugh.
That's all it took to hook her. From that accidental snack, she was sold on Sea of Thieves' player interaction. We moved on to dancing, playing music together, fishing, swimming, and didn't once think about going on a mission. We were just having fun doing random things on shore. When we did finally board our ship, we didn't have a destination in mind. We just set sail onto the wild blue yonder, and my daughter used her eyes (and telescope) to tell me where I needed to go next. We didn't make any progress toward any objectives during our first night of playing. We instead enjoyed each other's company, as well as Rare's sense of humor for all things pirates.
When we woke up the next morning, Sea of Thieves was all my daughter could talk about. She wanted my girlfriend and her children to join us on the second day (since they couldn't on the first). They did that night, and again, we didn't complete any missions. We just had fun exploring the world together. My daughter got a little scared when ghost ships showed up, and didn't like seeing me get eaten by sharks, but our second session with this game was even more enjoyable than the first. Having more people playing with us was a blast.
I realized I was liking Sea of Thieves, and it wasn't because Rare made the game better. I, in fact, don't know if it is better or not. In the span of a week, we've only completed a few missions. Most of our time is spent messing around. I'm enjoying the game more now because I'm seeing it through a different lens. The lens is my daughter and extended family.
Sea of Thieves may not be a game I play with people from my Overwatch and Rocket League clan, but it's hitting all of the right notes for my family. Games can be experienced in so many different ways, and you sometimes just need to find the right group of people to figure out exactly what that fit is. For Sea of Thieves, the fit for me is family time.
It all starts in a familiar way, with an invitation from Princess Peach. Toad Town is hosting a special origami festival, and Mario and Luigi are among the requested guests. Say no more! The brothers head out to the event, only to find that the ordinarily thriving town is virtually abandoned. Worse, Peach has been transformed: Her body has been reconfigured into an origami form, and her normally friendly personality replaced with a detached automaton.
Peach is among the latest victims of King Olly, the diabolical ruler of the Origami Kingdom. After she drops Mario into a dungeon, Olly wraps Peach’s castle in five massive streamers and places it atop a far-away mountain. Fortunately, all is not lost. Mario meets Olivia, one of the few origami creations who isn’t his enemy. Together, Mario and Olivia need to figure out how to unravel this plot and restore Toad Town and the rest of the land to its normal, flattened format – even helping a partially origami’d Bowser along the way.
That’s the elevator pitch for Paper Mario: The Origami King, the latest entry in Nintendo’s RPG series. It may be hard to believe, but Paper Mario is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. Over the course of that journey, players have become comfortable with a “Mario, but flat” conceit that, if you step back, is about as weird as it gets. The tone is often as strange as the paper-thin setup, too, with plenty of humor and silliness scattered throughout. The Origami King is building on the past, but is also taking the series in some new directions, including an interesting ring-battle system and the introduction of open-world levels you can traverse seamlessly.
Ring Fight Adventure
“When continuing a game series, it’s much easier to carry over the basics from an existing game system rather than building new systems for each new installment,” says Kensuke Tanabe, producer at Nintendo. “But that’s not how you create new experiences or unexpected surprises. As a game designer, I want to deliver new experiences and surprises to our fans, so I always challenge myself to create something new. To be sure, I will sometimes use the same system in a subsequent game to further develop that system until I feel it has reached its full potential. But my goal is to continue to tackle new challenges as much as possible.”
This is a subject Tanabe knows a thing or two about. He worked on Super Mario RPG back in the Super Nintendo days, and has been involved with every game in the Paper Mario series since Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door released on GameCube in 2004. For the most part, combat has been consistent over the years, with turn-based battles that incorporate a little bit of timing. If you manage to hit your attack at the right moment, your attack will squeeze out some extra damage. It’s fun, but Tanabe and the developers at Intelligent Systems wanted to push themselves further with this entry.
“Mr. Naohiko Aoyama, who is a member of the staff at Intelligent Systems and the director of the previous entry in the series, Paper Mario: Color Splash, asked for a battle system in which the enemies surround Mario to attack from all sides,” Tanabe says. “That became our starting point when thinking about how the battles would work.”
The designers thought about how best to reflect this feeling of being surrounded, and came up with an unusual take on a battle grid. Rather than setting the action on a traditional checkerboard, they arrived at something similar to the concentric rings and segments of a dartboard. Then players could rotate each of the concentric circles to line up attacks. But something was missing.
“We kept thinking about what to do, until one day an idea suddenly popped into my head while I was in the shower,” Tanabe says. “The idea was based on a Rubik’s Cube. It inspired me to add vertical rotations to the horizontal rotations, so we got the slide mechanic added to the program, and it worked well. That is the moment I was convinced we’d be able to build our battle system.”
When combat begins, players have a set number of turns in the planning phase to optimize their positioning. The goal is to line enemies up in groups so that Mario can take them out efficiently. His stomp attack hits enemies lined up in a row, and his hammer deals more concentrated damage to groups of enemies that are standing side-by-side and one row deep. It’s almost like a puzzle, with each combat scenario having an optimal solution. You can spend coins to purchase more time to think if you’re running low on time, or your Toad friends can give you hints – provided you pay them. Even if you blow it on your first attempt, you can still rearrange the stragglers once both you and the enemies have taken turns.
Each of the five streamers encasing Peach’s castle is guarded by a member of the Legion of Stationary, which are realistic depictions of familiar art supplies such as colored pencils, rubber bands, and tape. Tanabe says the team initially wanted to use the same basic battle system in these boss encounters, but they ran into a problem: Since you fight these bosses one at a time, you didn’t have anything to line up.
“It occurred to us that one way to avoid introducing a different system would be for the boss battles to be the opposite of regular battles, with the boss in the center and Mario creating a route to the boss from the outside,” Tanabe says. “I drew concentric circles on a whiteboard, put mock-ups of some panels using magnets with arrows and other things drawn on them so Ms. Risa Tabata [the assistant producer] and I could simulate how a battle would play out multiple times. We felt that we had gotten something pretty good out of that process, so I proposed it to Intelligent Systems.”
A New Crease On Life
These bosses aren’t just waiting in one location for Mario to find them. Instead, they’re scattered around the world. That creates a striking visual, as players can see the streamers far in the distance, while also giving them a hint as to where their next challenge lies. One of the biggest departures with The Origami King is that the story isn’t chapter-focused as past games have been. Instead, players can travel from region to region seamlessly in an open-world setup.
“One major feature that makes the world where this adventure takes place special is that there are huge maps to explore at every turn,” says Masahiko Magaya, director at Intelligent Systems. “Because the game is laid out this way, we were careful during the design phase to make sure there is always something in the player’s field of vision to catch their attention.”
Players can watch the scenery unfold through several modes of traversal. Mario can run around, but crossing major distances might get tiring. Fortunately for his feet, he can drive a boot-shaped car around (a nod to Super Mario Bros. 3’s shoe power-up?) and pilot a boat. I also saw him aboard an airship, where he takes command of the ship’s defenses to fire rockets at incoming paper planes.
That variety extends throughout the game. Players can expect to encounter lots of one-off activities and miscellaneous diversions. During his travels, Mario encounters a host of Toads who have been folded into different origami forms. Hitting them with his hammer reverts them back to their normal form, then several things can happen. They might return to Toad Town, restoring valuable services to the location, like selling items or opening the dock. The Toads may also join Mario in battle, watching from the sidelines and helping when asked (and paid). You can also go fishing, if you’re looking for some downtime.
Mario doesn’t do any of this alone. Olivia is a constant companion throughout the adventure, and other characters join and leave along the way. The shuffling cast is a function of the story, so players aren’t deciding which allies to bring along.
“We never considered whether or not we should implement a party-based system like some other games,” Tanabe says. “As we worked on Paper Mario: The Origami King, we decided we could create more memorable moments if Olivia and the other characters team up with Mario along the way. In other words, we first determine what elements are needed in a game and then figure out how to implement and program them. Bobby, the Bob-omb, was the first character we decided to include, and from there we chose the characters that would be the best fit for the events in each stage of the game. Bowser Jr. was an exception. The director, Mr. Masahiko Nagaya, personally had strong feelings about including a storyline where a son sets out to save his father, so in this case, we decided to include the character before deciding exactly what we would have him do.”
With an interesting combat system and a larger world to explore, Paper Mario: The Origami King looks like a nice evolution for the series. There are certainly some elements that are foundational to Paper Mario, but it’s great to see that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are willing and able to color outside of the lines.
Paper Mario: The Origami King comes to the Nintendo Switch on July 17.
I was 19 when the first issue of Game Informer released back in 1991. For me, it was a dream come true. There I was. In print. Official. I had done something I (and my parents) thought was impossible: I turned my love of video games into a job.
By some miracle, I’ve had that job my whole adult life. I worked hard, moved up, and had the pleasure of being part of Game Informer every step of the way. However, this is where that journey ends; after 327 issues, this will be my last one. I’m stepping away from games journalism.
I’ve had the time of my life here. I owe some of my best friends and most memorable experiences to this place. Countless people throughout this industry have inspired me, believed in me, trusted me, and ultimately fought with me to make Game Informer the best we could make it. Things were not always easy; we had a long road to success with plenty of challenges, but I was always proud of the Game Informer team spirit that could fight through anything.
Photo by Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune (December 13, 1995)
Over the last 29 years, I have had the privilege to work with so many talented and amazing people. Andy Reiner (your new editor-in-chief) and I have worked side by side for 26 years – month after month, issue after issue. I don’t have the space here to individually thank everyone who is woven into Game Informer’s history, but you can find their names in every issue over the decades, and I am always happy to tell stories about our adventures together.
I am not leaving the game industry, so my time with these lovely people (or you) is not done. It will just no longer take place under the Game Informer banner – unless they invite me to be a guest on one of their shows! Please?
To the fans of Game Informer, there is no way for me to convey the depth of my gratitude for your support. From print and online to our shows and podcasts, you have always been the reason we do what we do. You are all part of the Game Informer family. The team here is so talented, you will barely notice my absence. Please support them in all they do. It is just time for me to try something new.
I love you, Game Informer fam, and I always will.
P.S. I’m not dead! Follow me on Twitter @therealandymc. Let’s talk games! Special shout-out to my Funcoland peeps! *Drops mic*
Brigandine debuted over two decades ago on the original PlayStation, and only now is it getting a sequel. It may seem like an unlikely candidate for revival, but Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia comes at a time when the strategy/RPG genre is getting renewed attention – partially thanks to Fire Emblem’s success. For those who want something in that vein, this certainly scratches a similar itch. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia personalizes the strategy/RPG experience by letting you recruit and get to know your combatants in side stories. Watching your team grow in strength and invading new areas makes you feel powerful, even if it lacks variety and gets repetitive.
The gameplay offers a lot of customization and freedom in how you build an army for world conquest. You begin your journey by selecting from one of six nations, each with its own leader, storyline, and strategic slant. I picked the Republic of Guimoule, where my leader has been performing under a secret identity as a ballerina, but must step up into a leadership role once her country is endangered. The game positions you well to think and feel for your nation, since each one has hopes and expectations riding on success, such as the Mana Saleesia Theocracy who is fighting a holy war in an attempt to convert everyone to their religion. As you pursue power, you see it reflected back in a satisfying way in the size of your army and occupied bases across a vast map.
Your goal is to occupy opposing bases, recruit allies, gather new weaponry, and train your combatants – all in the name of total domination. The action is split into organization and action phases for each turn. In the organization phase, you decide where to move your army, who to send on quests for experience or items, and how you want to manage your troops, upgrading their classes and summoning monsters for assistance. These decisions are a balancing act, and I enjoyed deciding when to be aggressive or defensive before even stepping on the battlefield. Positioning is key, as you need to be adjacent to an area to invade it, but you also can’t leave your bases undefended. If you send troops off to do quests, they are unavailable to fight if the base becomes besieged. The challenge comes in needing to do all things, and the push-and-pull is handled well; you can’t advance your power without trying to aggressively take over enemy forts, nor can you ignore quests due to their wondrous rewards.
When you reach the attack phase, you can invade rival nations’ bases, each with their own power level to consider. You can still win if you’re under-leveled, but you’re likely to lose monsters that you’d rather keep alive for future encounters. Battles play out on hexagonal grids, where you position your troops and select their actions. You can pick up to three leaders for each invasion, accompanied by a corresponding party of dragons, fairies, and ghouls with their own unique abilities. To finish your engagement, you can dole out enough damage and force an enemy to retreat, completely annihilate the leader and get any of their leftover monsters, or retreat yourself to save face.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
Watching your units grow and building parties to fit different strategic needs is a fun gameplay layer. Sometimes I had my leader was a mage surrounded by tanky golems or dragons for protection. I assembled groups entirely focused on healing, relying on my two other factions to do the dirty work. Your approach to combat has a lot of flexibility, and once you start leveling up your units, you really see the fruits of your labor as their skills grow in number and power. That’s especially true as you upgrade their classes, which often branch and have elemental variants. It’s a lot to tinker with, but also the most fun part of the game, since you have an expansive roster of different classes and unit types with distinct abilities to pursue. I had everything including sea serpents, high centaurs, pegasi, and more in my ranks.
Unfortunately, the battles themselves don’t play out in exciting ways. Every invasion feels similar, and the action unfolds slowly, so combat feels lethargic instead of energized. In fact, it usually takes a few turns before you even reach the enemy to fight. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia boasts about the different terrain being a difference-maker on the battlefield and shaking things up, as certain classes get bonuses or penalties based on their preference, but it didn’t do much for me. I factored it into my strategy when I could, but battles don’t play out that dramatically, nor did it feel like such a great tool I could exploit to my advantage.
Enemies are rarely pushovers, and completing a battle with your full team intact is rare. A lot of your success comes down to positioning, whether that’s keeping some units together or spaced apart – but which approach is correct often depends on pure luck. This is frustrating, and I can’t tell you how many battles I started over due to an unfortunate turn rather than any flaw in my strategy. The presence of permadeath makes this all the more annoying. You can revive monsters with their levels intact if you have a special item, but these are pretty scarce. When you consider all the time it takes to grind and upgrade these units into something satisfying, losing them can feel downright punishing, and I wish these items weren’t so hard to come to by.
Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia does everything pretty adequately, but there’s also nothing all that remarkable about the experience. I felt like I was going through the motions without anything meaningful to keep bringing me back for these tedious takeovers. The repetition just dulls the adventure, and everything plays out predictably. The game is decent and functional, but it doesn’t have any surprises, big innovations, or memorable moments.
Summary: Watching your team grow in strength and invading new areas makes you feel powerful, even if the game lacks variety and gets repetitive.
Concept: Pick a nation and work toward dominating a continent via grid-based battles
Graphics: Environments could use more variety, but the character models are beautifully drawn, showcasing the flavor of different nations
Sound: The music is not especially memorable. Also, be aware that the voice acting is only in Japanese with subtitles
Playability: Tutorials ease you into the mechanics well, but advanced features require more trial and error
Entertainment: Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia allows you to see your influence and dominance grow across its vast world, but isn’t varied enough to keep you invested
Remember Samurai Jack? Well, Genndy Tartakovsky's stylish cartoon hero is coming back, this time in an all-new adventure called Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time. In this episode of NGT, Matt Miller shares his thoughts on the title with me and Leo based on his recent hands-on demo.
Even if you aren't familiar with the show, which was a Cartoon Network staple back in the early 2000s, the combo-heavy gameplay is pretty self-explanatory. Just know that there's probably a canonical reason why he keeps losing the top part of his outfit, and that he's really good at using a sword, bow, and a host of other weapons.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC this year.
The Nintendo Switch has an incredibly strong library of games, with many worth recommending. For our 10 absolute favorite games, however, you can check out the list below. It's a list we will be updating as often as games worthy of inclusion release. We will kick games off and add new ones as the Switch's library grows.
Please note that while the list below contains 10 entries, we aren’t actually ranking them – if a game has made it this far (and managed to stay here), it’s a must-play, period. As such, we’ll be listing entries in chronological order. Also, you’ll find a rundown of previous entries at the bottom of the list. While those titles have gotten bumped for bigger and better experiences, they are still all great games in their own right and worth exploring if you’re already caught up on the latest hits.
Here are Game Informer’s picks for the top 10 games on the Switch.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Release: March 20, 2020
The tranquil, low-stress Animal Crossing: New Horizons hit at the exact right time in the world. With the news cycle becoming more tumultuous as 2020 continues, Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers refuge in the form of a virtual tropical island. Building and customizing your house and island the way you see fit is immensely rewarding as New Horizons delivers a fun and addictive daily loop full of goals and rewards.
For two decades, Pokémon fans have been waiting for the series’ mainline RPGs to come to home consoles. While 2018 delivered remakes of the first-gen games in Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee, 2019’s Sword & Shield represent the dream’s realization. Players get an exciting story based in an all-new region with a new generation of Pokémon, and with the titles receiving post-launch story expansions for the first time in series' history, fans have more reasons than ever to revisit the games after becoming champion.
While “Mansion” might be a bit of a misnomer since you’re exploring a haunted hotel this time around, the goofy and spooky spirit of the series is alive and well in Luigi’s Mansion 3. The fun adventure spans several themed-floors full of apparitions and other oddities as Luigi faces his fears on a quest to rescue Mario, Peach, and the Toads.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
Release: September 27, 2019
Initially launching on PlayStation 4 and PC, Dragon Quest XI garnered praise as one of the best RPGs of the console generation. However, with the launch of Dragon Quest XI S on Switch, players get an improvement over the original. This Definitive Edition adds new storylines, new quests, and all kinds of other exciting features to make it the best way to experience Dragon Quest XI.
The Fire Emblem series has built a cult following through handheld platforms in recent years, but with Three Houses, the turn-based strategy series explodes back onto TVs in the best way possible. Featuring outstanding strategic gameplay, a fun story to interact with and influence, and multiple paths to take through the narrative, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the best strategy games available today.
A crossover event two decades in the making, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate represents the series in its most realized form. Containing superb fighting mechanics, a terrific suite of modes to play, and a roster of fighters that features every character in series history and then some, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is all but an essential title for the Switch.
Every Nintendo console has to have at least one fantastic Mario platformer, and the Switch is no exception. Mario Odyssey released a few months after the launch of the console and it hits all the Mario checkboxes necessary to be considered a classic, plus a few surprising new ones. It's whimsical, has perfect controls, tons to discover, and features a city level where all the humans have normal proportions while Mario runs around as his short, cartoony self. It's a strange adventure, and a must-have for Switch owners.
The future of Harvest Moon is unclear and its recent past is underwhelming. Thankfully, Stardew Valley exists and improves on nearly every mechanic that series popularized. Managing a farm may sound like a chore, but in Stardew Valley it's a joy. Watching your crops grow over time and selling them for profit while getting to know the townspeople creates an experience that is difficult to put down. Adding the portability of the Switch only makes the experience better.
Far more than a simple port of the excellent Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, Deluxe includes all the game's DLC (extra tracks, racers, and cars), and Battle Mode, which was curiously absent from the original release. Playing split-screen Mario Kart is always a hit, and having a version of the game with two controllers you can take anywhere makes it the perfect showcase for the Switch.
We're not exaggerating when we say The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made. We gave it the rare 10/10 in our review and gave it our 2017 Game of the Year award as it sets a new high standard for open-world video games. Being able to go anywhere you can see on the map has never been more true than it is in Breath of the Wild and it is also filled with the kind of excellent puzzle-design you expect from a Zelda experience. It's a journey you won't soon forget and the optional DLC packs add additional challenge and new items worth pursuing to the overworld.
When The Outer Worlds released last year on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, it won acclaim from critics and consumers alike for its choice-driven gameplay and clever writing. However, when the RPG came to Switch, players on Nintendo's console didn't get to see the game at its best; the performance can be pretty rough.
To address concerns with the Switch version, publisher Private Division has announced that Virtuos (the team behind the Switch version) is working on ways to improve the experience, and that a patch is in the works.
Resident Evil is one of gaming's seminal franchises that's seen numerous variations over its 24-year history. Resident Evil 6 proved to be a catalyst for that change in that it not only marked the peak of the action-centric gameplay that long-time fans lamented but also pushed Capcom back to its horror roots with the following entry in the series.
Join Andrew Reiner, Ben Reeves, and me as we delve back into the bombastic terror of Resident Evil 6 and examine how it's aged now that the series has gone back to its horror origins.
We'll be going live at 2 p.m. CT, so be sure to come end your week the right way and hang out with us in the chat. If you can't get enough of our live shows, remember to subscribe on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, Twitter, and Facebook to get notified when we go live each week!
In sales data revealed on PlayStation Blog, Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II is now the fastest-selling fist-party PlayStation 4 game to date, selling more than four million copies as of June 21. The game officially released on June 19, so this impressive number is accounting for roughly just three days of sales.
Most game sales data is not made public, so we have no clear idea of how these numbers stack up against other games released in 2020, but as of 2018, The Last of Us sold over 17 million copies. Needless to say, it's one of Sony's biggest first-party franchises, and yet another hit for Naughty Dog, the studio behind the Uncharted, Jak & Daxter, and Crash Bandicoot series.
Game Informer's editor-in-chief Andy McNamara gave The Last of Us Part II a review rating of 10 out of 10, calling it "the best narrative game I have played."
The fog around next-gen hardware is lifting, and gamers are finally starting to get a clearer look at what to expect from Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles. Recent presentations for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X provided a sneak peek at the games that will shape the industry in the coming years, along with some of the technology that makes them possible. But even as more information is released, the answer to one key question remains vague: What defines a “next-gen” game?
This isn’t about the physical hardware you use to play them. People want to know about the new horizons being opened up; they want to know about the things that are not possible today, but will be possible soon. We’ve heard about ray tracing, solid-state drives, triangles, reduced load times, and more – but how do those translate to gameplay? How do they change how you interact with worlds and characters? How do they help create more than bigger, faster, prettier versions of familiar templates?
These aren’t new questions. They are the same ones we have asked with every transition to a new generation for the last 20 years. And just like previous transitions, it’s probably too early to expect definitive answers. This could be framed as a failure by Sony and Microsoft to fully “sell” the potential of next-gen gaming, but I don’t see it that way. In fact, gradually discovering the answers to these questions is my favorite part of moving from one generation to the next.
I’m not a game developer, but I know it takes time, iteration, and expertise to figure out how to make the most out of new hardware. Though we have received plenty of good, exclusive games in new console launch windows, truly groundbreaking ones are rare. As we wait for PS5 and Xbox Series X, it would be premature to point to one specific feature, capability, or specification that defines the next-gen gaming experience. Instead, the delight comes from seeing this vision solidify thanks to the efforts of many studios making games that push boundaries in different ways.
I’m surprised by the games in the current generation I think, in retrospect, exemplify experiences that weren’t possible before. I think of Dreams, which not only provides a wonderful creation toolset, but also facilitates creativity and community among players. I think of No Man’s Sky, which was ambitious in concept but really found its success thanks to Hello Games’ commitment to continual improvement through new content and updates. I think of Red Dead Redemption 2, which I initially thought would just be “bigger, faster, prettier” than the original, but instead brought the Old West to life through its magnetic characters and intricately detailed world.
My point is: All of these games looked interesting to me before release, but I had no idea how they would change my perspective and raise my expectations. I couldn’t have known, prior to the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, these games would possess qualities that would help define my perception of this generation’s biggest steps forward. And even if I could have known, I don’t know that I would have wanted to. I love being surprised and amazed. I love the moment of awe when I realize that I’m playing something special.
That’s why I’m not bothered by the “What does next-gen mean?” question. We just don’t know yet, and that’s okay. But I am excited to figure it out over the coming years. In the meantime, I am happily anticipating my time with cross-generation games on new hardware; even if they don’t represent what new consoles can exclusively provide, I know that I want to play games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at their best. Beyond that, I embrace the uncertainty of the future. I look forward to being shown things I didn’t even know I wanted to see.