The final sequences of Travis Strikes Again have some interesting twists for fans of Grasshopper Manufacture’s games who might want to know what’s coming next from Goichi Suda’s studio. If you want to experience them for yourself, read no further! If you’d rather get spoiled, this is for you.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, out today for Nintendo Switch, consists of levels presented as individual “virtual reality” games that are played by acquiring items known as Death Balls. Travis finds new Death Balls during sequences that play out like old-school computer adventure games.
The penultimate Death Ball is acquired from a “real asshole” named Damon Riccitiello. He’s the CEO of “Utopinia,” a Silicon Valley tech company with a sprawling campus including a “full cafeteria” and a soccer field, which Travis dismisses as “just for show.”
Any comparison one might draw to one John Riccitiello, who is now the CEO of game engine company Unity and was the CEO of Electronic Arts when the company published Grasshopper’s 2011 game Shadows of the Damned, is, I am sure, totally coincidental.
Travis gets the Death Ball from Riccitiello, which is said to contain an RPG called “Serious Moonlight.” But once he starts playing it, it turns out to actually contain a game called “Damned: Dark Knight,” which, yes, is a pseudo-sequel to Shadows of the Damned, a real-life Grasshopper Manufacture game that apparently also exists in the fictional world of No More Heroes.
Throughout this level, Travis gets to meet up with Shadows protagonist Garcia Hotspur and his talking gun Johnson. The sequence also seems to break the fourth wall a bit by hinting that a new port of the game might be on the way, or that we may even see the future adventures of Garcia at some point.
After “Damned,” there’s one final level between you and the game’s ending. I won’t spoil what gets revealed in it, even though we’re deep into spoiler territory here, because it doesn’t contain anything I’d consider newsworthy. But there’s also a post-credits stinger that—again, if we’re taking the game’s fourth-wall breaking as an indicator of real-life happenings—teases No More Heroes 3.
Once the credits finish rolling, we see (and can control) Travis inside a gray-box development environment. Here’s how the brief sequence goes down:
The scene closes on the No More Heroes logo.
So, what’s real, and what’s fiction?
“TSA is a game commemorating Grasshopper Manufacture’s 20th anniversary, so it contains a handful of cameos from previous Grasshopper characters, some of which are featured largely as with Shadows of the Damned,” said Suda in a statement emailed to Kotaku.
“Please think of it as a sort of allusion to the next 20 years and beyond in the future of Grasshopper, as well as a passionate message regarding our strong desire to make NM3.”
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown delivers the supremely satisfying air combat players crave and the melodramatic narrative we’ve come to expect. There’s nothing quite like shooting down drones while your squadron calls you “murderer.”
Ace Combat has been serving the arcade-style dogfight loving public for more than two decades. Since 2005’s Air Combat for the PlayStation, the series has weaved a story most players would be completely content without around some of the best aerial warfare available on consoles. The only truly unpleasant entry in the series thus far is 2014’s Ace Combat Infinity for the PlayStation 3, a free-to-play experiment that fell flat.
Which makes Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the first new game in the series’ primary continuity since 2007’s Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, a return to form. Following Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Infinity’s trips to the real world, Skies Unknown returns to the fictional world of Strangereal. The Osean Federation and the Kingdom of Erusea are at war. The player character, callsign “Trigger,” is a promising young rookie in the Osean Air Defense. Or he is until he kills the former president.
Here there be drama.
Was it on purpose? An accident? Who knows. Murder is bad, so Trigger is sent to prison. Fortunately, that prison is also a faux airbase, where an attractive young prisoner (and sometimes star of the game’s gorgeous cinematic cutscenes) has been getting battered old fighter planes air ready. Trigger becomes part of an outlaw squadron, battling for the Osean Federation in order to atone for his sins.
It’s a ridiculous storyline that’s woven together with Ace Combat’s signature flair. The game opens with the young mechanic reminiscing about her grandfather, explaining how she and her grandfather’s friends rebuilt an old airplane, which she then flew into the middle of a conflict, which got her tossed in prison. Several missions into the game, Trigger winds up at the same prison. Now, instead of being a promising rookie, Trigger is a “murderer!” Other pilots are betting on his demise. Instead of encouraging him to fight, control is saying things like, “Don’t worry about dying, worry about your sins.” Those guys.
Threads slowly come together in a compelling fashion. It’s a pity many players will skip all of it just to get to the dogfighting. They won’t be disappointed: The dogfighting in Ace Combat 7 is quite nice. The scenery is splendid. The planes look outstanding. I don’t know if it’s a result of the game moving to Unreal Engine 4 or some other subtle tweak to the formula, but machine guns feel a lot more viable as an air-to-air weapon this time around. They’re so viable that I often find myself crashing into other planes because I think I am a hotshot machine-gunner.
I crash into planes, sure. I also crash into cliff walls. I get so overzealous about taking out ground targets that I often find myself slamming my expensive warplane into the ground. Despite nifty new mechanics like muffled audio when flying into dense clouds capable of ruining missile aim or icing over wings, I have been known to stall out, which can lead to more crashing.
But that’s okay, because Ace Combat 7 has plenty of planes. So many planes. An entire plane tree of planes. As I complete missions, I earn points to spend on expanding the plane tree, unlocking new weapons, vehicles and upgrade parts. Things like increased missile capacity or a tighter turning radius can make all the difference when flying the unfriendly skies. Plus, unlocking everything on the expansive tree is an excellent reason to play both the single-player campaign and online multiplayer.
I’ve only played a couple rounds online, mind you, and I am timid about playing more. Not because I am not good at it. To the contrary, aerial combat is entirely my cup of multiplayer tea. In the rounds I’ve played I’ve been MVP twice. I went an entire bout without dying once. I don’t want to let that glory slip away as more skilled fighters take to the skies.
The first mission, AKA shoot some stuff.
While I work up my nerve to potentially end my winning streak, there’s plenty of stuff to do in campaign mode. So far the handful of missions I’ve run have had a nice variety of objectives. The first mission is a simple shoot-all-the-planes deal to get players acclimated with the flight and combat controls. Then we move on to some ground-based objectives, taking out a radar truck convoy. There’s a very cool mission that begins with a tense bit of enemy radar dodging, as Trigger attempts to make it to his objective undetected.
Things get really interesting once our pilot falls from grace, and we start getting missions the Oseans would only give to convicted felons. Like flying unarmed planes to make it seem like a fake airbase is a real one. Or being sent to gauge enemy ground defenses by being a target for enemy ground defenses. Things get much more exciting once there’s nothing left to lose.
The only thing that’s missing for me from Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown so far is a flight stick. My PlayStation 4 controller works fine, and there’s an option for expert controls that give players more control of yaw and pitch. But nothing beats a good flight stick. Unfortunately the only stick I own is for the PC, so I have to wait until that version comes out February 1.
Again, not a problem. Ace Combat is the sort of series one can play again and again, approaching missions from different angles with different loadouts, and Skies Unknown is no exception. Not a mission has gone by that hasn’t left me wondering how it would have gone had I done things differently. Maybe if I’d flown high and dropped down on ground targets instead of coming in low. Or if I’d loaded up weak missiles capable of targeting multiple enemies instead of slower, more powerful ordinance. Hell, sometimes I just use the mission replay’s “free flight” option and fly through a level with no mission or objective, just for the joy of it.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a joy. It’s a triumphant return for a series that’s spent a couple of years flying in the wrong direction. Minutes into my first mission, after watching the first of many melodramatic cutscenes, I settled back into my chair and smiled, because this is the stuff right here.
In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the challenge doesn’t just lie in the dogfight, but the weather and terrain. Strap in for some tight turns and close calls in this gameplay video captured on the PlayStation 4 Pro.
Activision and Bungie broke up recently, with Bungie getting the rights to Destiny and announcing it will self-publish the sci-fi series going forward. Now, for the first time Destiny’s franchise director, Luke Smith, is speaking out about the breakup and what it means. OK, so Smith did already respond with a fiery tweet, but this is his first full statement on the matter.
Speaking on behalf of the Destiny team, Smith started off his note by thanking Activision for supporting Bungie and the Destiny franchise over the years. Bungie and Activision locked down a 10-year publishing deal back in 2010 for a game that we now know is Destiny. The first game was released in 2014 with a sequel arriving in 2017, in addition to numerous expansions. Activision was behind Destiny and Bungie in a big way, even if the relationship isn’t continuing. Smith also thanked Destiny support studios High Moon and Vicarious Visions, the latter of which continues to work on a new piece of content for Destiny 2. Smith teased that Vicarious Visions is “currently readying their Destiny swan song with content that will appear in the upcoming Season of [Redacted].”
After this, however, it remains to be seen if Bungie will enlist the help of other outside studios to work on new Destiny content or if Bungie will develop everything in-house. We also don’t know what this move means for High Moon and Vicarious Visions; it’s possible that the studios, which are owned by Activision, will shift to other projects within the publisher.
“We’ve learned a lot from Black Armory that we will apply to future releases, most notably that we’d like the beginning experiences of content drops to be a better point of convergence for the playerbase,” he said. “In Black Armory, we set the Power requirement for the first forge too high, and that meant it wasn’t a great chance to jump into some new content. We want to find the line between new content that many players can play, and aspirational content for players to progress toward. We’re exploring improvements to catch-up mechanics for players in upcoming seasons.”
On a longer timeline, Smith said Destiny fans can rest assured that Bungie is “committed to Destiny.” Now that Activision is out of the picture, Bungie controls its destiny (sorry).
“We created the universe and we hold its future entirely in our hands,” Smith said. “The vast majority of the team is hard at work envisioning future experiences, enemies, and ways to play the Guardian you’ve been building since 2014. We’re going to keep doing that.”
Without the help of an established, global publishing leader like Activision, it sounds like Bungie is moving fast to determine the best way forward.
“We’re thinking about what it means to be truly independent, what it means to self-publish, and crucially, what Destiny’s future can now look like for our players,” Smith said. “It was a busy Fall, and it is going to be a busy year. When I look ahead and think about Destiny and where it could go, I see a bright future, with roots in a memorable past. Not everything has been lost in the dark corners of time. See you soon.”
On the immediate horizon for Destiny are changes to Super Abilities, and fine-tuning for weapon balance in the forthcoming 2.1.4 update. A number of changes for the Black Armory are also planned for the next update; head to Bungie’s website to see a full rundown of the changes.
Destiny 3 is expected to launch in 2020, according to an analyst, who also said Bungie likely paid Activision a fee to end its publishing arrangement. In addition to more Destiny content, Bungie recently raised $100 million from Chinese internet company NetEase for non-Destiny projects, so it seems the studio is keeping itself very busy these days.
It’s been a very big day for Mortal Kombat 11, and things aren’t slowing down yet. Embedded in this post (above and below) are some new gameplay videos for the much-anticipated fighting game showing off Sub-Zero, Raiden, Sonya, and more.
The Sonya vs. Raiden match below is particularly impressive to watch, as it’s a fight between the professional players SonicFox and Rewind. Check it out below.
Mortal Kombat 11 is on the way for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. The game is slated to launch on April 23, and those who pre-order it will get a bonus character: Shao Kahn. Reserving the game for either PS4 and Xbox One will also get you access to an upcoming beta, which is scheduled to take place on March 28.
For lots more on Mortal Kombat 11, check out the stories linked below.
I don’t tend to replay video games very often. The demands of this job mean I’m normally straight onto the next one as soon as the credits roll on the last. But every year I try to find the time to revisit one of my all-time favourites: EA’s Mirror’s Edge.
It’s not a perfect game, I know. When it first released in 2008 I remember that, despite its mostly positive reviews, Mirror’s Edge had its fair share of significant criticisms as well, many of them entirely valid. It was short (you can tell it was 2008 because that really mattered), and there were too many moments where you’d encounter repeated and frustrating deaths that would sap the game of its speedy lifeblood. Oh, and the combat sucked.
Time has been kind to Mirror’s Edge and its best intentions, though, and the last thing it needs now is my help defending it. It even (belatedly, and regrettably) got a sequel.
But as good as it was, I think the most remarkable thing about Mirror’s Edge is that it’s still good, and just keeps getting better with age.
Partly, I think, this is on me. I’ve played Mirror’s Edge so many times that even with year-long breaks in between runs I can instantly recall routes and navigate its twisting corridors without getting lost, which isolates me from many of the game’s bigger problems. You don’t need to worry about combat, for example, if you know the best path to just sprint past the bad guys.
Another contributor is the game’s visuals. There’s nothing terribly fancy going on in Mirror’s Edge, at least not at first glance: there aren’t many weather effects, not much goes BOOM and there’s rarely another human being on the screen. All you ever really see while you’re running is crisp, clean architecture and a colour palette designed as much to aid the player on their runs as it was to just look cool.
It could have looked boring, or basic. Instead those white walls, red pipes and blue skies have, over the last decade, become iconic visual signatures, instantly recognisable as this game’s thing. It doesn’t matter that Mirror’s Edge was released in 2008, because those clean lines and bold colours look as modern in 2019 as they did back then.
Not that I want to undersell the rest of the game’s graphics. It’s all aged gracefully; Mirror’s Edge’s player models and facial animations look surprisingly good for a game of its age, and I remember how amazing it was at the time—with an Nvidia card, anyway—to see things like flags flapping in the wind and glass that genuinely shattered (both of which still look great in 2019).
It’s impossible to look back on Mirror’s Edge and not at least mention its failings. I’m slightly biased, since I’ve now played through the game hundreds of times and so am almost immune to its deficiencies, but the more I play the game the more the purity of its core vision pushes all of its frustrations to the margins.
Yeah, the combat wasn’t great, and the indoor sections were a pain, but I think those are issues not because they’re issues in of themselves, or were broken, but because they’re seen as padding, roadblocks keeping you from enjoying the one thing the game was made to do: breakneck parkour.
Folks hated anything that wasn’t parkour because parkour is what we were here for. Mirror’s Edge is about the thrill of the chase, and the joy of performing superhuman—but also very human—acrobatics across rooftops. It’s so good that every moment spent in the game not doing this is agony.
It’s ironic that the game’s narrative portrays you as a hunted rebel, because while there are certainly moments of terror and pursuit, much of Mirror’s Edge is actually incredibly liberating. The entire game is built around the conceit that you’re playing as a regular human capable of extraordinary feats, and you’ll spend most of your time in levels designed to let you express yourself and make the most of those skills.
To take a running jump off a ramp, the world blurring around the edges of the screen as you leap between buildings, a bright blue sky flashing in front of you before returning softly to earth, is magic. It’s a singular gaming moment that’s almost without peer, right up there with snapping up an iron sight in Call of Duty, a Tony Hawk grind or a Halo melee attack.
And it wouldn’t mean shit without the game’s absolute commitment to the first-person perspective, which I admire more with each passing year. The simple and predictable AAA Electronic Arts thing to do for a game that’s a platformer at heart would have been to reduce it to a third-person perspective, in order to make it easier for players to time and place their jumps.
DICE were having none of that. Mirror’s Edge is so first-person that there are cutscene hugs that play out in the perspective, which might be hilarious in those rare instances where it jars, but for 99% of the game are absolutely essential to the experience.
Being locked into first-person and all its accompanying momentum and effects means that basic jumps and rolls that would be mundane in another series are transformed into gut-churning, white-knuckle rides. A leap in Mario is a constant, as unremarkable as drawing breath. A jump in Mirror’s Edge, no matter how small, is thrilling.
As is the fall when you mess it up.
I couldn’t round out a love-in of Mirror’s Edge without mentioning the work of Swedish musician Magnus Birgersson, aka Solar Fields. His soundtrack to the game, comprised mostly of gentle, other-wordly electronica, is the perfect match for the city’s Tokyo-future-inspired aesthetic, whether it’s the more chilled backing for some exploration or the pulsing rhythm of a chase. And much like the game’s visuals, the music has aged remarkably well.
I love Mirror’s Edge because it’s stubborn. It’s as though EA signed a tiny indie game rather than a massive international studio. Nothing feels watered down, or focus tested, or softened for a broader audience. It’s a game that wanted to look and play a certain way, and was content enduring its shortcomings in order to achieve that.
So much of the Mirror’s Edge experience is wholly owned by the game: the architecture, the colours, the characters, the perspective, the acrobatics, the music. Everything about Mirror’s Edge just screams Mirror’s Edge, most of it as timeless as it is beautiful. It’s been 11 years since I first fell in love with the game, and I bet I’ll be sitting down in 11 years time feeling much the same as I do now.
BioWare released a new trailer for Anthem, its upcoming third-person shooter/action RPG. The video is the first part of a series devoted to explaining the gameplay mechanics and features of Anthem.
In this first part, BioWare discusses the upcoming game’s story, progression, and customization. The bulk of the video is devoted to the latter two topics, and discusses the different playstyles, loadouts, and abilities of Anthem’s four Javelins: Ranger, Interceptor, Colossus, and Storm.
You’ll start with the Ranger in Anthem, but you’ll have the chance to build all four Javelins–and multiple versions of them too–by the time you’re done with the game’s story. Ranger is built for precision play, relying on a variety of abilities and weapons to target specific enemies. Interceptor is fast and has the strongest melee attacks, allowing it to launch into battle and deal massive damage before ducking out of harm’s way. Colossus is best suited for the front lines, and can withstand devastating attacks with its heavy armor and massive shield. Finally, Storm’s elemental attacks makes it one of the most powerful Javelins, but it’s lack of armor ensures it remains a glass cannon.
Each Javelin can be customized to fulfill multiple roles. Ranger, for example, can be outfitted to survive on its own with a balanced assortment of weapons for solo play. However, if playing with a team, you could either customize the suit with tech that makes it your squad’s damage dealer or pick support abilities that ensures everyone remains alive.
BioWare ended the trailer promising that the next part in the series would offer details on “the expanding shared world of Anthem and its massive end game, including a look at [the game’s] strongholds.”
Anthem is scheduled to release on February 22 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. If you pre-order the game, you can play an exclusive VIP demo on January 25.
In the “Competition” section of a letter to investors today, Netflix succinctly said, “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO” as it relates to screen time.
Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities thinks Netflix’s popularity measurement against Netflix was “downright idiotic.” Time is a finite commodity, and Pachter points out that Netflix also competes against school, work, and defecating.
Not everyone agrees with Pachter’s point, however, as Amazon Studios’ former head of strategy Matthew Ball argues that Fortnite’s huge popularity is impacting Netflix. He shared how he probably would have finished the new season of Narcos were it not for all the time he spent playing Fortnite. Looking at your own life, you can probably remember a time when your latest obsession–be it a video game or anything else–impacted how much time you spent with another activity. It’s impossible to confirm specifically how Fortnite is impacting Netflix viewing, but few games have ever been as popular as Fortnite, so there has surely been some effect.
The point made is that they compete based on providing engaging content and value for subscriber fees spent. The comment about losing to @FortniteGame is downright idiotic. If they’re measuring things like that, they lose to sleep, sex, pooping, eating, school, work, etc. https://t.co/9vuRHVfCtb
For its part, Netflix acknowledged that there are “thousands of competitors” in the marketplace trying to entertain consumers, and Fortnite is just one of them. The company said it is not focused on responding to competitors but rather on improving the experience and value of the offering, which would theoretically get more people to sign up.
If the Queen never opened it, and THQ are long gone, then it was going to take some digging, but Bratt eventually tracks down the console in the Netherlands and gets to check it out—and meet its owner—in this very nice little video of the whole investigation: