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Overwatch League’s Season Two Debut Was Exciting Despite An Unpopular Meta

Image: Overwatch League

Standing in the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California for Overwatch League season two’s debut, I heard some of the biggest cheers of the night when, after a long evening of matches, Shanghai Dragons and Hangzhou Spark flipped the script. Tank-and-healer-heavy compositions had formed the core of every other match, but in this one, Reaper, Sombra, Bastion, Tracer and more made appearances on an electric third map. Then technical issues brought the fever pitch momentum sputtering to a halt.

That was the night in a nutshell: plenty of exciting moments, but also a handful of awkward pauses and other production foibles. It also didn’t help that a lot of matches looked very similar to one another thanks to teams’ frequent use of GOATS, a team composition generally made up of three tanks and three healers. It thrives on survivability, attrition, and clutch ult timing. It’s been Overwatch’s dominant meta since fall of last year, but it’s unpopular (even verging on reviled) among diehard fans. Coming into season two’s debut, people were worried that matches would be slow, DPS-less slogs—not exactly edge-of-your-seat viewing material.

GOATS, named for the team that first made it a mainstay in Overwatch Contenders, did form the backbone of three of last night’s four matches. The hotly anticipated rematch between season one finalists London Spitfire and Philadelphantifa Fusion was largely a mirror match, with both teams running Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Brigitte, Lucio, and Zenyatta. This ended up demonstrating how GOATS can be both entertaining and frustrating to watch. Both teams poked and prodded at each other while building ult charge, at which point superior timing and positioning on Zarya’s Graviton Surge ult became key. Whoever managed to slurp the other team into a tiny black hole would usually follow this with a windmill of Reinhardt strikes or a well-placed D.Va bomb—something that played especially well to the strengths of the league’s most notorious D.Va bomber, Philly’s Gael “Poko” Gouzerch. These explosive multi-kill moments were a thrill to watch, but the skirmishes that preceded them were often drawn out and marked by caution.

The two teams did, however, briefly vary things up, such as when London successfully rolled out with a quad-DPS comp that relied heavily on the ranged damage of Widowmaker and Pharah, and Philly defended the second point with Ashe, Widowmaker, and Hammond, among others.

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Philly ultimately won the match 3-1 with better GOATS fundamentals, claiming sweet, sweet vengeance after London made them look like amateurs in the season one finale.

The next match between season one juggernaut New York Excelsior and the sneaky-good Boston Uprising once again saw experimentation pay off. While it was disappointing to see fantastic NYXL DPS player Hae-seong “Libero” Kim confined to crucial yet plodding GOATS hero Brigitte, the team still managed to put on a show. They cinched a close match by strategically swapping Sombra into D.Va’s usual slot in their GOATS comp, using clever hacks to disrupt Boston’s brand new, shockingly talented Reinhardt, Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth, who looks like a young Conan O’Brien but plays video games much better.

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The next match, Seoul Dynasty vs LA Gladiators, was again GOATS-heavy, but it saw Symmetra improbably enter the fray for real, for the first time in OWL history. The match also had high dramatic stakes, given that Seoul’s current tank, Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek, spent the latter portion of last season with the LA Gladiators. The question, then, was whether LA knew Fissure well enough to counter him, or if Fissure had his ex-teammates all figured out. In the end, LA played hard, but savvy Reinhardt play from Fissure led to a 3-1 win for Seoul. This marks the second time Fissure got traded to another team and then stomped his previous team shortly after. During a post-match interview, an Overwatch League host asked Fissure if he believed he was the best main tank in all of OWL. “Nobody else,” he replied with a satisfied grin.

The final match of the night, Shanghai Dragons vs Hangzhou Spark, was entirely bonkers. Shanghai is best known for never winning a single match during OWL’s first season, and that sadly did not change last night. A last-millisecond switch-up forced the team to acquire a new main tank, Boston’s Noh “Gamsu” Young-jin, days before season two started, and they chose not to run him due to a lack of practice time. To make up for this, Shanghai threw out some truly bizarre compositions that mostly did not work. But when they did work, we got spectacular plays like this last-second Reaper ult that saved Shanghai’s bacon from defeat’s salivating jaws on the match’s third and potentially final map.

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This took the match to a fourth map, which—after technical issues led to one of the night’s handful of pauses—Hangzhou won pretty handily. Hangzhou, the team best known for slick AF jersey colors, proved they can play, but to Shanghai’s credit, they didn’t look terrible either, even without a proper main tank. Fan favorite Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim—for whom the audience erupted into cheers any time she so much as appeared on the big screen—pulled off some wild plays with Hammond, such as this perfectly placed storm of mines:

It was a fun closer to a more-varied-than-expected night. The aforementioned production issues, however, marred many of the matches’ momentum, and hopefully are not a sign of things to come. This season, there’ll be four matches per day every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so there’ll be plenty of chances for things to go right and wrong.

Source: Kotaku.com

Evo Japan stream taken offline as Dead or Alive 6 segment gets raunchy

Evo Japan, the companion event to fighting game tournament Evo Championship Series, kicked off on Friday in Fukuoka, Japan. It’s the Japanese tournament’s second year, and it’s off to an auspicious start, thanks to a segment that focused on upcoming fighting game Dead or Alive 6.

That segment, ostensibly meant to promote Dead or Alive 6, lead organizers of the tournament to take their Twitch broadcast offline and apologize to viewers.

Evo organizers appeared to take issue with presenters’ demonstration of Dead or Alive 6’s free-camera controls, which they used to zoom in on female fighters’ body parts. Another portion of the segment paused during a fight between wrestler Bass and fighter Nyotengu. Suffice it to say, the two were engaged in a grappling move that looked highly suggestive.

But it may have been other on-stage antics involving a pair of spokesmodels that led organizers to cut the stream. Gravure models Saki Yoshida and Yuka Kuramochi posed for the cameras, then mimicked the infamous “jiggle physics” of the Dead or Alive series, much to the delight and bewilderment of raucous Twitch chat, which joked that the two were violating the streaming platform’s terms of service.

Evo Japan organizers shut down the stream shortly after.

“The DOA ad that aired on our stream does not reflect the core values of Evo or the [fighting game community],” Evo co-founder Joey “Mr Wizard” Cuellar said in a since-deleted tweet. “We ended the stream temporarily to protect the integrity of our brand. We sincerely apologize to our fans.”

On stream, Evo business developer and commentator Mark “MarkMan” Julio apologized for the display. “I just want to get on stream and apologize on behalf of Triple Perfect and the Evo Championship Series,” Julio said. “The stuff that was just on screen just recently from one of our partners that were showcasing their recent title that is going to be coming out does not reflect the content and intention of Evo so we do apologize if we offended anyone during the broadcast.”

Dead or Alive 6’s Evo Japan representation stands in contrast to how Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo have pitched the game, deemphasizing the sexualized nature of its female fighters in early previews. The game’s attention at Evo is also overshadowing Koei Tecmo’s other announcements, which include a demo version of Dead or Alive 6 that will be available Feb. 22-24 and a pair of guest characters from SNK’s King of Fighters series: Mai Shiranui and an unannounced fighter.

Dead or Alive 6 will be released on March 1 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Source: Polygon.com

Apex Legends Caustic Guide: How To Gas Your Enemies Into Oblivion

Apex Legends is similar to other battle royale games, but it where it differs is its emphasis on teamwork. The game has eight different character to choose from, each with their own unique abilities. Deciding which character to play as and knowing how their abilities can best contribute to your team’s survival is essential.

For a character like Caustic, defensive tactics is the name of the game. His deadly gas traps can easily overwhelm and hinder mobility of enemy squads, offering your fellow teammates fertile opportunity for an easy ambush. At a glance, Caustic’s abilities often seem more contextual than universally functional, but with a little practice, you can use that to your advantage.

Keep reading for all the information you need on Caustic’s abilities, including his strengths and weaknesses, as well as tips on how to use him effectively and help your team to victory. We’ve also got plenty more guides, including things that Apex Legends doesn’t tell you, a list of myths we’ve tested about how the game works, and a full rundown of the game’s best guns. You might also want to check out our Apex Legends review.

General Overview

As stated above, Caustic’s strategies are a bit contextual. His Gas Traps are lethal, but it takes a firm understanding of their capabilities to use them effectively. And with such a large map where numerous battle scenarios are possible, finding the right time to leverage Caustic’s strengths proves more difficult than you’d expect. That said, getting a feel for that takes time, so remain patient and don’t hesitate to adjust his abilities to the needs of your team.

In battle, Caustic is best in close quarters situations. His gas abilities let you control a fight by blanketing areas to force enemies out of or away from them, and can give your team a serious advantage as your opponents are damaged, slowed, and blinded. He’s also good for countering tracker or scout characters such as Bloodhound or Wraith–gas traps placed carefully can slow people following you, block pathways, and force players to move through pathways that help your teammates.

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Use Caustic to try to control the battlefield and give your team strategic advantages, and sew chaos among enemy teams whenever possible by gassing them out. Just be aware that your gas can negatively affect your teammates. It won’t kill them, but it can blind and slow them.

Abilities

Tactical: Nox Gas Trap

Caustic can drop Nox Gas Trap canisters that release deadly gas when shot or triggered by enemies. Gas effectively blinds enemies, while damaging them over time, making it great for close-range encounters.

Passive: Nox Vision

Nox Vision allows you to see enemies through Gas. It’s pretty convenient, as enemies afflicted by your toxic gas are highlighted in green for both you and your squadmates.

Ultimate: Nox Gas Grenade

Caustic’s Ultimate Ability Nox Gas Grenade blankets a large area in Nox Gas. This ability can be used defensively or offensively, putting enemy squads into a state of panic in confined space or sending them running in the other direction.

Tips To Play

While you’re likely to be inclined to surprise enemies with Caustic’s traps, it’s a great idea to set some down as you’re fighting to tip the balance in your favor. It’s also possible to block doors and hallways with your traps, which can physically impede people from getting past them. You can throw up to six Nox Gas Traps at a time. You have three on cooldown, but once that ends, you can drop three more, or drop one as you get them back off a cooldown. Another great way to use the Nox Gas Traps is laying them down behind your team as you move up. This will alert you if anyone’s triggered them or are trying to sneak up on you. In addition, you can drop traps near downed enemies in hopes of luring their teammates near them. Any traps you don’t use, you can also pick back up, so keep that in mind.

No Caption Provided

The enemy outlining provided by Caustic’s Nox Vision is a nice perk that should encourage you to use your traps more liberally. The gas won’t hurt your teammates but be aware that their visibility in gas is still similar to smoke grenades, so try not to go overboard–lest you want to frustrate your squad.

Caustic’s Nox Gas Grenades are useful in leading enemies into an ambush. It’s also particularly useful in pushing enemies away, so you can give your squad time to revive downed teammates. You can even throw them in the opposite scenario, preventing enemy squads from bringing back their friends.

Another handy strategy is comboing Caustic’s gas trap and gas grenade in a confined space. If you’re able to block an enemy into a room with a trap, throw a grenade inside. Assuming they aren’t smart enough to grenade the door, this deadly combination should make for a guaranteed kill.

All this talk about deadly gas is great, but don’t think the enemy is completely powerless. Beware of incoming Grenades or Arc Stars while your gas is active on the field.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends Wraith Guide: Tips On How To Be The Best Interdimensional Skirmisher

Apex Legends is a battle royale game centered around the concept of surviving as a team. You can wordlessly ask for weapons and equipment or point out enemy locations with the game’s ping system. Downed teammates can be revived, and you can respawn dead allies if you grab their banner in time. Everything in the game revolves around your squad working together, and that starts with knowing how to use your chosen Legend’s unique abilities to benefit the team.

Wraith is one of the six Legends unlocked in Apex from the start (with two more you can earn or purchase), and this interdimensional skirmisher is one of the most versatile characters in the game. Although she’s designed to excel as a hit-and-run tactician, Wraith can fit into Mirage’s role as a trickster or handle Bloodhound’s recon duties in a pinch. In this short guide, we’re going to take a look at Wraith, and explain how this Legend can open up new avenues towards victory for you and your squad.

If you’re still on the fence about picking up Apex Legends, check out our review. If you’re already playing Respawn’s battle royale game and you’re looking for a few extra tips, we have a guide on becoming a champion, as well as a gallery of the best weapons in the game.

Other Character Guides

Wraith’s General Overview

Wraith is one of the three offense-focused fighters in Apex Legends, so she’s specifically designed to be one of her team’s major damage dealers. Her abilities make her an ideal candidate for your squad’s point person, so don’t expect to hang back when it’s time to move out. That doesn’t mean you should go off on your own though. Wraith may be able to take care of herself, but she’s a force to be reckoned with when she’s using her portals to help her entire team get the drop on an enemy.

Confusing the enemy should be your main concern as Wraith, but if need be you can use her skills to aid downed allies, scout ahead, get your team out of a losing firefight, set ambushes, or trick an enemy into killing themselves. Regardless of how you use Wraith, it’s important to keep moving during a fight. Wraith is most useless when she’s standing still and trying to snipe an enemy from afar, where her abilities can really only be used defensively. Because you’ll usually be in the thick of things as Wraith, you’ll want to nab at least one weapon with a decent fire rate that packs a punch at close range. The EVA-8 and Mastiff shotguns are your best bets, but the Peacekeeper, Wingman, and Flatline are all excellent choices as well. Also, try to avoid executing enemies. Wraith has some really cool execution animations, but you want to keep moving to kill the enemy team as quickly as possible.

Wraith’s Skills

Passive Skill: Voices From The Void – A voice warns you when danger approaches. As far as you can tell, it’s on your side.

With this passive, voices warn of any incoming threat that might harm Wraith, so stick close to your teammates to defend them as well. The voices are whispered, so for the best results, play Apex Legends with headphones, subtitles on, or both. On very rare occasions, this passive makes enemy footsteps louder as well, so headphones might be the way to go, since you don’t get an audible warning for those. Don’t forget to hit the button prompt when the voices speak up, so you can alert your teammates as well. Knowing an enemy has spotted you, that a grenade is fast approaching, or that one of Caustic’s Nox Gas Traps is waiting for you around the corner or behind a closed door can make a difference between victory and defeat

Tactical Skill: Into The Void – Reposition quickly through the safety of void space, avoiding all damage.

When Wraith journeys into the void, she becomes untouchable and nearly invisible. She also moves a lot faster too, so you can use this skill to escape an approaching ring wall. Wraith can’t interact with anything while in the void, though, meaning she can’t pick up weapons or items, see enemies or allies, attack, or open or close doors.

Ultimate Skill: Dimensional Rift – Link two locations with portals for 60 seconds, allowing your entire team to use them.

Wraith has one of the most useful Ultimate skills in Apex Legends. She can drop portals next to downed allies so they can crawl through and teleport to safety, or use the massive speed boost she gets from placing her first portal to escape an approaching zone wall. If you don’t have a Bloodhound on-hand, you can use Wraith to drop one portal, run ahead to scout some buildings, and escape through a quickly placed second portal if any enemies are hiding inside.

Tips To Play As Wraith

Once you’ve gotten a knack for Voices From The Void, Wraith can become nearly untouchable at long range. Not only are you warned when someone tags you, the voices speak up when you’re in a sniper’s scope. The second you hear that you’ve got a sniper on you, warn your teammates and use your tactical skill, Into The Void. You’ll disappear and become untouchable, much to your enemy’s chagrin.

Speaking of Into The Void, because of its drawbacks, it’s best used defensively to escape a firefight or ambush. However, you can also use the ability to reach downed allies or safely flank an enemy’s position. If your team has another pinned down, you can use Into The Void to get the drop on someone, but that’s much easier to do if you’re chatting with friends and they guide you to where an opponent is hiding. To truly master Into The Void, learn all the tiny details of Apex Legends’ map, so you know what you’re doing and where you’re going when you blink out of existence.

As a final note, pay close attention to the shadows that populate the void. They aren’t enemies or allies. They’re actually Wraith. Because she’s caught between dimensions, Wraith can see every outcome she’s ever made, making, or will make, in both this universe and others. Those shadows mark where she’ll come out of the void if she heads in that direction, so they’re basically marking her possible futures.

Above, we listed how Wraith can support her team with Dimensional Rift, but as an offense-focused character, this skill is best used for killing enemies. If Wraith uses Dimensional Rift, she can follow up with Into the Void to speed across the battlefield unscathed before placing her second portal. With this strategy, you can teleport your entire team into a flanking position behind another squad. To safeguard your first portal, you can have Gibraltar throw his Dome Of Protection over it, or have Bangalore’s Smoke Launcher hide its location.

If you really want to mess with an enemy, have your squad wait behind cover with grenades, before rushing forward and placing a portal next to an another team. The second it’s set, teleport back to safety while your allies step through to the enemy squad, drop their grenades at their feet, and then transport back. If you have a Caustic on your squad, his Ultimate can do insane damage with this technique, especially within enclosed spaces. If you’re in the midst of a firefight, drop one portal and run to the nearest map edge to drop your second. With any luck, in the confusion of battle, your enemies will think you escaped through the portal and “follow you” through it to kill you, only to appear in open air and fall to their deaths instead. You can trick people into teleporting outside the ring wall too. If the edge of the map and ring are far away, having a waiting Caustic Nox Gas Trap or a Gibraltar with a Spitfire or Devotion and his Gun Shield up can work too. We’ve done a lot experiments with what Wraith’s portals can and can’t do if you need any more combat strategies.

How To Counter Wraith’s Weaknesses

Despite the wide range of attacks Wraith can pull off with her skills, she can be easily countered by a Bloodhound. The technological tracker can tell where Wraith has gone, and see her through walls. If you’re playing Wraith and see a Bloodhound, taking them out should be your first priority.

Wraith is also at her best when she is the one causing the confusion, not the other way around. Disorienting Wraith with Bangalore’s Smoke Launcher, Caustic’s Nox Gas Grenade, or Mirage’s Psyche Out or Vanishing Act are the best ways of knocking her off her game once she’s within killing range. If you’re playing Wraith and your enemy responds with any of these attacks, don’t panic. Use Into The Void and get out. Remember, your abilities are best used to surprise the enemy. If you’re the one being surprised, you need to retreat and try again.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends Wraith Guide: Tips On How To Be A Dangerous Bamboozler

Respawn’s battle royale game, Apex Legends, is centered around the concept of surviving as a team. You can wordlessly ask for weapons and equipment or point out enemy locations with the game’s ping system. Downed teammates can be revived, and you can respawn dead allies if you grab their banner in time. Everything in the game revolves around your squad working together, and that starts with knowing how to use your chosen Legend’s unique abilities to benefit the team.

Wraith is one of the six Legends unlocked in Apex from the start (with two more you can earn or purchase), and this interdimensional skirmisher is one of the most versatile characters in the game. Although she’s designed to excel as a hit-and-run tactician, Wraith can fit into Mirage’s role as a trickster or handle Bloodhound’s recon duties in a pinch. In this short guide, we’re going to take a look at Wraith, and explain how this Legend can open up new avenues towards victory for you and your squad.

If you’re still on the fence about picking up Apex Legends, check out our review. If you’re already playing Respawn’s battle royale game and you’re looking for a few extra tips, we have a guide on becoming a champion, as well as a gallery of the best weapons in the game.

Other Character Guides

Wraith’s General Overview

Wraith is one of the three offense-focused fighters in Apex Legends, so she’s specifically designed to be one of her team’s major damage dealers. Her abilities make her an ideal candidate for your squad’s point person, so don’t expect to hang back when it’s time to move out. That doesn’t mean you should go off on your own though. Wraith may be able to take care of herself, but she’s a force to be reckoned with when she’s using her portals to help her entire team get the drop on an enemy.

Confusing the enemy should be your main concern as Wraith, but if need be you can use her skills to aid downed allies, scout ahead, get your team out of a losing firefight, set ambushes, or trick an enemy into killing themselves. Regardless of how you use Wraith, it’s important to keep moving during a fight. Wraith is most useless when she’s standing still and trying to snipe an enemy from afar, where her abilities can really only be used defensively. Because you’ll usually be in the thick of things as Wraith, you’ll want to nab at least one weapon with a decent fire rate that packs a punch at close range. The EVA-8 and Mastiff shotguns are your best bets, but the Peacekeeper, Wingman, and Flatline are all excellent choices as well. Also, try to avoid executing enemies. Wraith has some really cool execution animations, but you want to keep moving to kill the enemy team as quickly as possible.

Wraith’s Skills

Passive Skill: Voices From The Void – A voice warns you when danger approaches. As far as you can tell, it’s on your side.

With this passive, voices warn of any incoming threat that might harm Wraith, so stick close to your teammates to defend them as well. The voices are whispered, so for the best results, play Apex Legends with headphones, subtitles on, or both. On very rare occasions, this passive makes enemy footsteps louder as well, so headphones might be the way to go, since you don’t get an audible warning for those. Don’t forget to hit the button prompt when the voices speak up, so you can alert your teammates as well. Knowing an enemy has spotted you, that a grenade is fast approaching, or that one of Caustic’s Nox Gas Traps is waiting for you around the corner or behind a closed door can make a difference between victory and defeat

Tactical Skill: Into The Void – Reposition quickly through the safety of void space, avoiding all damage.

When Wraith journeys into the void, she becomes untouchable and nearly invisible. She also moves a lot faster too, so you can use this skill to escape an approaching ring wall. Wraith can’t interact with anything while in the void, though, meaning she can’t pick up weapons or items, see enemies or allies, attack, or open or close doors.

Ultimate Skill: Dimensional Rift – Link two locations with portals for 60 seconds, allowing your entire team to use them.

Wraith has one of the most useful Ultimate skills in Apex Legends. She can drop portals next to downed allies so they can crawl through and teleport to safety, or use the massive speed boost she gets from placing her first portal to escape an approaching zone wall. If you don’t have a Bloodhound on-hand, you can use Wraith to drop one portal, run ahead to scout some buildings, and escape through a quickly placed second portal if any enemies are hiding inside.

Tips To Play As Wraith

Once you’ve gotten a knack for Voices From The Void, Wraith can become nearly untouchable at long range. Not only are you warned when someone tags you, the voices speak up when you’re in a sniper’s scope. The second you hear that you’ve got a sniper on you, warn your teammates and use your tactical skill, Into The Void. You’ll disappear and become untouchable, much to your enemy’s chagrin.

Speaking of Into The Void, because of its drawbacks, it’s best used defensively to escape a firefight or ambush. However, you can also use the ability to reach downed allies or safely flank an enemy’s position. If your team has another pinned down, you can use Into The Void to get the drop on someone, but that’s much easier to do if you’re chatting with friends and they guide you to where an opponent is hiding. To truly master Into The Void, learn all the tiny details of Apex Legends’ map, so you know what you’re doing and where you’re going when you blink out of existence.

As a final note, pay close attention to the shadows that populate the void. They aren’t enemies or allies. They’re actually Wraith. Because she’s caught between dimensions, Wraith can see every outcome she’s ever made, making, or will make, in both this universe and others. Those shadows mark where she’ll come out of the void if she heads in that direction, so they’re basically marking her possible futures.

Above, we listed how Wraith can support her team with Dimensional Rift, but as an offense-focused character, this skill is best used for killing enemies. If Wraith uses Dimensional Rift, she can follow up with Into the Void to speed across the battlefield unscathed before placing her second portal. With this strategy, you can teleport your entire team into a flanking position behind another squad. To safeguard your first portal, you can have Gibraltar throw his Dome Of Protection over it, or have Bangalore’s Smoke Launcher hide its location.

If you really want to mess with an enemy, have your squad wait behind cover with grenades, before rushing forward and placing a portal next to an another team. The second it’s set, teleport back to safety while your allies step through to the enemy squad, drop their grenades at their feet, and then transport back. If you have a Caustic on your squad, his Ultimate can do insane damage with this technique, especially within enclosed spaces. If you’re in the midst of a firefight, drop one portal and run to the nearest map edge to drop your second. With any luck, in the confusion of battle, your enemies will think you escaped through the portal and “follow you” through it to kill you, only to appear in open air and fall to their deaths instead. You can trick people into teleporting outside the ring wall too. If the edge of the map and ring are far away, having a waiting Caustic Nox Gas Trap or a Gibraltar with a Spitfire or Devotion and his Gun Shield up can work too. We’ve done a lot experiments with what Wraith’s portals can and can’t do if you need any more combat strategies.

How To Counter Wraith’s Weaknesses

Despite the wide range of attacks Wraith can pull off with her skills, she can be easily countered by a Bloodhound. The technological tracker can tell where Wraith has gone, and see her through walls. If you’re playing Wraith and see a Bloodhound, taking them out should be your first priority.

Wraith is also at her best when she is the one causing the confusion, not the other way around. Disorienting Wraith with Bangalore’s Smoke Launcher, Caustic’s Nox Gas Grenade, or Mirage’s Psyche Out or Vanishing Act are the best ways of knocking her off her game once she’s within killing range. If you’re playing Wraith and your enemy responds with any of these attacks, don’t panic. Use Into The Void and get out. Remember, your abilities are best used to surprise the enemy. If you’re the one being surprised, you need to retreat and try again.

Source: GameSpot.com

The Umbrella Academy has echoes of Edgar Allan Poe among the superhero vibes

At times, The Umbrella Academy feels like it has more in common with the Gothic works of the Brontë sisters than it does with superhero tutelage.

Perhaps, given the series’ pedigree, this isn’t surprising. The comic the Netflix series is based on was penned by My Chemical Romance lead, Gerard Way. But there is a difference between Mall Goth and Romantic Goth, and there are elements in The Umbrella Academy that speak to the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Shelley. Were this interpretation of the Hargreeves siblings simply another tale of superheroes living together, it would not captivate nearly as much, but because the superpowers are treated more like elements of the preternatural, the landscape and aesthetic feel lifted from the pages of an 1800s Romance, and the characters feel less like superheroes and more like Byronic heroes.

Using a checklist of Gothic tropes from various online study guides, I thus present to you the reasons The Umbrella Academy is actually a Gothic novel and why that makes it work.

[Ed. Note: This post contains mild spoilers for The Umbrella Academy]

Courtesy of Netflix

The gloomy setting

One of the biggest staples of Gothic literature is the setting. Wuthering Heights wouldn’t be Wuthering Heights without the vast Yorkshire moors and the titular estate. Jane Eyre would be nothing without the halls of Thornfield Manor. There’s a reason why so many Gothic staples are named after places — The Castle of Otranto! The Romance of the Forest!

The physical location of the academy serves as the backdrop for the greater part of the series. There are few, if any, happy memories within its very aesthetic walls. The high ceilings! The intricate iron-wrought decor! The halls full of paintings that the robot mother gazes longingly at, knowing that these glimpses of the outside world are all she will ever get! The study their father holed himself up in that the children are never allowed to enter and still carefully tread around in his passing! The fact that there’s basically a cemetery in the backyard!

Rooting the show in the walls of the academy not only fuels this aesthetic, but also serves as a haunting reminder of the Hargreeves’ siblings upbringing. When they leave the academy, it represents drastic change, both good and bad.

Byronic Heroes, galore

Almost all the main cast can check off the qualities on the Byronic hero list. Some, admittedly — brooding Luther (Tom Hopper) and Diego (David Castaneda), as well as grown-man-trapped-in-teen’s body Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) — fit it more so than others but overall the Hargreeves siblings fit elements of this Gothic trope.

For those who forgot most of 12th grade English, the Byronic hero is a staple of the Romantic and Gothic periods, named for poet Lord Byron. Think of him as the brooding anti-hero, the bad boy that all the good girls go for, but with more 19th century woe than 21st century angst.

Superheroes don’t necessarily exclude Byronic heroes, but the difference between the Hargreeves siblings and other Byronic-esque superheroes (hi Batman) is that except for Diego, none of them are actually picking up their masks and determined to fight crime. They emulate the characteristics of the Byronic hero first, the superhero part coming afterwards.

Outcasts

By the nature of being superpowered and adopted by Reginald Hargreeves, all of the main cast are outcasts to society, but Vanya (Ellen Page) fits this trope the best. She is an outcast among outcasts, kept separate from her siblings for most of their childhood because she wasn’t born with powers. Her isolation fuels most of her arc, as she struggles to connect. She’s the lonely Jane Eyre wandering the halls of the academy, never quite sure if her siblings accept her, or if she will ever belong.

Her two-fold ostracization — from greater society for being a Hargreeves, from the Hargreeves for being “normal” — makes it so we never doubt that she would turn to the first person to give her validation.

Supernatural Beings

They are the supernatural beings. But it is particularly Klaus (Robert Sheehan) who falls most into this slot, considering his powers are tied with death. He’s able to communicate with ghosts and his constant companion is his dead brother Ben, whose own macabre power involved unleashing monster inhabiting his body. Klaus shuns his abilities for the most part, but when he’s actually compelled to use them, he struggles, and the result is particularly heartbreaking.

Supernatural elements in Gothic literature were used to explore fear of the unknown. At the time of Frankenstein, for instance, rapid growth in science and technology challenged existing norms. Klaus’s powers challenge emotional relationships and the ideas of love and grief.

Curses or prophecies

From the trailers, it’s evident that Number Five returns from a grim future. It’s not so much a curse or prophecy in the traditional sense, but it is a harbinger of potential doom hanging over the characters. Just eight days till the end of the world…

The haunting orchestral music

Okay, sure this isn’t on the literature checklist, but damn it if the lilting tones of Phantom of the Opera played on the violin isn’t absolutely chilling. Classical music plays an important part into the overall story of The Umbrella Academy and the selections chosen umph up the Gothic tone even more.


For the record, there are plenty of things about The Umbrella Academy that are not Gothic Romance tropes that work for it. Robert Sheehan and Ellen Page are captivating, and Aidan Gallagher holds his own among the adult cast. The musical selection — even when it’s not the ominous classical — is unexpected and amazing.

But for fans of 1800s Gothic novels, this show just might fill that Brontë-shaped hole in your deep, dark tell tale heart.

The Umbrella Academy is currently streaming on Netflix.

Source: Polygon.com

Doom Patrol succeeds by taking everything seriously — except superheroes themselves

Within seconds of the beginning of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, the show’s narrator-slash-villain Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) sneers: “More TV superheroes, just what the world needs.” He is, correctly, absolutely exhausted.

Beyond Marvel’s Netflix shows, its ABC series, its Hulu series, its upcoming Disney streaming series, Fox and FX’s X-Men shows, and DC’s Arrowverse, there are hundreds of hours of superheroes doing their thing on TV, to say nothing of their big screen, big budget counterparts. Doom Patrol, which premieres today on the DC Universe streaming platform, is itself a spinoff of Titans, another show on a streaming service that almost no one has subscribed to. What are we even doing here anymore?

But Doom Patrol is, somehow, pretty fun. The show follows the titular squad of misfit superheroes as they attempt to protect a small town. There’s Robotman (voiced by Brendan Fraser), the brain of a race car driver named Cliff Steele plopped into a bulky metal body. There’s Negative Man (voiced by Matt Bomer), a World War II-era pilot possessed by a nebulous energy being and transformed into a deeply anxious version of the Invisible Man. There’s Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby), a tightly wound ’50s actress who goes gelatinous in the face of stress. And there’s Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), who has a different superpower for each of her 64 personalities.

These are all rather generic, well-trod origin stories, but Doom Patrol manages to enjoy going through the beats one more time, largely by playing them for comedy: Within the first five minutes of the show there’s a shot of Fraser as a bloated, mulleted version of Robotman in flashback, decked out in full ’80s regalia boning his nanny. (This might be enough to justify Doom Patrol’s existence on its own.) The events that give the team their powers are themselves depressing and mundane: Elastigirl falls through a boardwalk and conks her head, Robotman is caught in a car accident during a fight with his wife, Negative Man crashes in a flight. The members of the Doom Patrol are, essentially, the products of horrific workplace injuries.

That’s part of Doom Patrol’s broader willingness to go for jokes, which helps it avoid the self-seriousness of many superhero properties. (Even all of the ribbing in your average Marvel movie is still employed with the ultimate goal of myth-making.) This is, admittedly, part of the formula Doom Patrol s playing with — if there’s one creative decision more reliable than a superhero thing, it’s making fun of superheroes. But rather than going full-bore into the goofiness of something like Deadpool, Legends of Tomorrow, or even Teen Titans Go, Doom Patrol throws itself into a sort of operatic brokenness, like a version of Suicide Squad where everyone is a touch more self-aware but just as deadly serious.

Superhero stories have gotten bigger and bigger, and even the cases where they dive completely into narrative fantasy, rely on a degree of gravity: Consider every single shot of Willem Dafoe solemnly nodding in Aquaman, easily the high points of a wonderfully ridiculous movie. But without immediate access to the aura of Willem Dafoe, how is TV supposed to respond?

Doom Patrol gets around this problem primarily by utilizing the voice talents of its big stars. Fraser’s Robotman is physically played by Riley Shanahan, while Bomer’s Negative Man is played by Matthew Zuk. In the pilot, at least, Bomer and Fraser show up only for brief flashback scenes depicting the characters’ bodies before their transformations. As Dr. Niles Caulder, Timothy Dalton seems prepared to show up for a few minutes every couple of episodes before vanishing back to the sixth season of Penny Dreadful of my dreams. This decision minimizes the characters a bit, but that’s part of the joke.

In that vein, Doom Patrol’s main strength is that it recognizes a fundamental truth of superhero stories: The villain is often, if not always, more interesting than the hero. In this case, that’s Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody, a man given reality-warping powers by a Nazi scientist. Though we don’t know the full extent of those powers, at least one of Mr. Nobody’s abilities is sucking up attention from the other characters — Tudyk narrates Doom Patrol, and almost everything in the show happens on his terms. He’s also aware of the fictional nature of the series.

At one point, Dr. Caulder asks who he’s talking to and Tudyk responds, “Grant Morrison fans, Reddit trolls with DC subscriptions, and the three new fans who stuck around after the donkey part.” This type of winking narration has been done before, but having Alan Tudyk mock how nerdy your show is helps take the edge off.

More than that, the gags highlight what could be Doom Patrol’s biggest strength, or its greatest weakness: It feels more like a normal TV show than an attempt to do a full superhero story. None of the members of the team know how to use their powers. Instead, the Doom Patrol has, somehow, spent decades holed up in their mansion hideout. (With the possible exception of Crazy Jane, none of the team members seem to age.) where the lovable misfits in your average outcast superhero team are forced into action to save people, the pilot’s climax is entirely driven by the members of the Doom Patrol themselves; when Elasti-Woman freaks out, she goes full blob and threatens to consume the town’s main street. Their most impressive use of superpowers is just Robotman picking up a section of road to stop her.

Other than the costume designs, the Doom Patrol could be any other group of self-consciously “weird” TV characters, inhabiting a comically idyllic town that looks like a soundstage, and plays up a 1950s, classic Americana vibe, complete with oddly clean diners and drives. (We have yet to see any drive-ins, but I’m sure they exist.) That makes an odd amount of sense: The series’ TV creator Jeremy Carver spent a few years working on Supernatural, another show that uses all of its bizarre genre trappings in service of a soapy, Byzantine, and yet, improbably, grounded story. Doom Patrol probably won’t make it to 14 seasons of Winchester-level drama, but I’ll be happy if it is given enough room to create a family half as weird.


Eric Thurm is the founder, host, and overall doofus behind Drunk Education, which started as a party at his house that several people had to be tricked into attending. He is also a writer whose work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club, and other publications, and the author of a book on board games forthcoming from NYU Press in 2019.

Source: Polygon.com

The New Apex Legends Skin Prices Are Too Damn High

Apex Legends got its first update on February 13th, and with it came Valentine’s Day-themed cosmetics. Although players have been posting online about how they are grateful for the treat, some have expressed worry about the relatively high prices of these cosmetics, and what that might say about the game’s future.

Apex Legends is a free-to-play game, although it does make money off of selling a premium currency called Apex Coin, that players can use to buy cosmetic skins for their characters, weapons, or player banners that are displayed at the beginning of a match. The game’s update for Valentine’s Day introduced two new romantic cosmetics—a skin for the Longbow sniper rifle and a banner for Pathfinder. So far, so good. Except that each item was priced at 1100 coins, which comes to about $11.

While players say they are happy to pay for cosmetic items, $11 for a banner and a weapon skin seems a little pricey to them. While some players are saying they’d go to town on cosmetics that were $3 to $5, spending over ten dollars on a weapon skin feels predatory to them, especially given that unlocking the characters Caustic and Mirage only costs 750 coins. To add insult to injury, the cheapest pack of coins you can buy will give you 1,000 coins for ten dollars, meaning you have to buy the next-highest pack in order to unlock the skins you want, which is 2,125 for $20. If you’re buying coins just to get that skin or banner, you’re basically looking at spending twenty bucks.

At the time of this writing, there are several threads about this controversy on Reddit and dozens of tweets about it. In a highly upvoted thread on the Apex Legends subreddit talking about the prices of the cosmetics and the coins, one player wrote, “That’s insane honestly, it should be like 2 lol. 10 bucks per character is fair, but asking 11 for a not even that good, character locked banner? Kill me.” Another player replied, “This is not a good sign of things to come.”

The undercurrent of this anxiety over what this means for Apex is related in part to concerns about EA, which is the parent company of the Apex Legends development studio Respawn Entertainment. Players say they do not like EA, and some are still stinging from some relatively recent events that they blame on the company. In particular, Apex Legends players continue to bring up how microtransactions were handled in Star Wars Battlefront II, which eventually had to temporarily disable their loot boxes due to public outcry. On that same reddit thread, one player wrote, “Jesus Christ, I hope that EA/Respawn see this since it’s at top of the subreddit. I don’t want it to be… like the Battlefront II game…”

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Kotaku has reached out to EA’s PR manager for Respawn but did not hear back before publication.

It’s not like players never want to pay for anything in this game. They just don’t want to feel taken advantage of. One of the highest upvoted threads on the Apex subreddit, with over ten thousand upvotes, is about that very topic. “Respawn, I would not hesitate to impulse purchase $3-5 for cosmetic items,” the title reads. “$11-18 though? GG. Will not even consider it.”

Source: Kotaku.com

FREE Metro Exodus Console and Spartan Edition Giveaway

We’re giving away one (1) Metro Exodus Xbox One Bundle, and two (2) Metro Exodus Spartan Collector’s Edition games to (3) lucky fans. Entering into our Instagram giveaway below is easy — just like and follow for a chance to win!

Metro Exodus Console and Spartan Edition Giveaway

Official Sweepstakes Rules

NO PURCHASE OR WIRELESS DEVICE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES, WHO ARE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD OR AGE OF MAJORITY, WHICHEVER IS OLDER IN YOUR STATE OF RESIDENCE, AT DATE OF ENTRY INTO SWEEPSTAKES. VOID IN ALL U.S. TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. IF YOU ARE ACCESSING THIS SWEEPSTAKES VIA YOUR WIRELESS DEVICE, DATA RATES MAY APPLY.

Administrator & Sponsor: GameSpot, a Division of CBS Interactive, Inc. (“CBSI”), 235 Second Street, San Francisco, California 94105.

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Sweepstakes Entities: CBSI and Deep Silver Inc.

THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS NOT SPONSORED, ENDORSED OR ADMINISTERED BY INSTAGRAM.

1. Acceptance of Rules. By entering the Metro Exodus Console and Spartan Edition Giveaway (the “Sweepstakes”) operated on the CBSI social web site accessible at the domain “instagram.com/GameSpot” (the “CBSI Service”), you hereby accept and agree to these official rules (the “Official Rules”) of this Sweepstakes and the decisions of the Administrator in connection with this Sweepstakes, whose decisions are final.

No purchase, entry fee or use of wireless device is necessary to enter or win. If you are a wireless service subscriber and have a smartphone, tablet or other wireless device that allows you access to the Internet, you may also enter the Sweepstakes via any of those devices during the Promotion Period (as defined below). If you chose to access this Sweepstakes via any of those wireless devices, you may be charged data rates according to the Terms and Conditions of the Service Agreement with your wireless carrier.

2. Eligibility. This Sweepstakes is offered and open to persons who are: (a) Registered Users (as defined below); (b) legal residents of the United States; and (c) at least 18 years old or age of majority, whichever is older in their state of residence, at the date of entry in this Sweepstakes. For purposes of these Official Rules, “Registered User(s)” means a person who has successfully completed the registration form, obtained a user identification, an associated password on the social website Instagram and follow GameSpot (@gamespot). There is no fee associated with becoming an Instagram Registered User. Employees, directors, and the immediate family members of the Sweepstakes Entities and their parents, affiliated and subsidiary companies, advertising and promotion agencies and legal and financial advisors are not eligible to participate in this Sweepstakes. For purpose of the foregoing, “immediate family” means parents, spouses, children, siblings or any members of the same households of such employees and directors. This Sweepstakes is void in all U.S. territories and possessions and where prohibited by law.

3. Entering the Sweepstakes: To enter the Sweepstakes, if not already, become a Registered User (as specified above), and enter, during the Promotion Period (as defined below), by following the instructions below:

1. Follow @deepsilver

2. Like the post related to the Sweepstakes on the CBSI Service

Participants can gain additional entries by Tagging their friends in separate comments on the CBSI Service. Participants may receive a maximum of five (5) additional entries to the Sweepstakes via this action; one (1) per each unique friend tagged.

Limit of six (6) entries per person during the Promotion Period.

4. Promotion Period. The Sweepstakes begins on February 15, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (“PT”) and ends at 12:00 p.m. PT on February 25, 2019 (the “Promotion Period”).

5. Prizes. The Sweepstakes will award one (1) grand prize (the “Grand Prize”) and two (2) runner-up prizes (the “Runner-up Prizes”). The Grand Prize consists of one (1) Metro Exodus Xbox One Bundle. The Grand Prize has an approximate retail value (“ARV”) of Five Hundred Dollars (US$500.00). The Runner-up Prize consists of one (1) Metro Exodus: Spartan Collector’s Edition game. The ARV of each Runner-up Prize is One Hundred Fifty Dollars (US$150.00). The Grand Prize, the Runner-up Prize, collectively, the “Prizes”). The ARV of Prizes to be awarded is Eight Hundred Dollars (US$800.00).

6. Prize Restrictions. No assignment, transfer, conversion to cash or cash redemption or substitution of a Prize is permitted, except Administrator reserves the right to substitute a Prize with a prize of comparable or greater value, should a Prize or part of a Prize become unavailable. Prize is solely for personal use and may not be used in conjunction with any other promotion. All Prize details are at the sole discretion of the Sweepstakes Entities.

7. Odds/Drawings/Winner Notification. Odds of winning a Prize depends on the number of eligible entries received during the Promotion Period. On or about February 25, 2019, after the conclusion of the Promotion Period, the Prize drawings will be conducted at random by Administrator, whose decisions are final and binding in all respects. The potential Prize winners (the “Winners”) will be notified by Administrator, via a message to their Instagram Service account. Potential Winners will be asked to provide their personal information, such as their name, physical address, date of birth and phone number in order to confirm eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules. For purposes of clarity, each Prize has its own standalone drawing. In the event a Winner does not respond within the allotted time frame, a new drawing will be conducted in attempt to fulfill that Prize and the Runner-up Prize Winner will not be eligible for the Grand Prize. Administrator will select up to two (2) alternate Winners per Prize. If no contact has been made with the alternates after a reasonable effort has been made during three (3) business days from the first notification attempt to the last alternate, such Prize shall not be awarded.

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11. Improper Conduct. Administrator, in its sole discretion, may disqualify any entrant from participation in or use of any or all portions of this Sweepstakes, and refuse to award a Prize, if a Winner engage(s) in any conduct Administrator deems to be improper, unfair or otherwise adverse to the operation of the Sweepstakes or detrimental to other entrants of the Sweepstakes. Such improper conduct includes, without limitation, falsifying personal information required during entrant registration or Prize claim, violating any term or condition stated herein, accumulating entries through methods such as automated computer scripts or any other programming techniques, allowing others to use entrant’s personal information for the purpose of accumulating entries, or intentionally trying to defraud, reverse engineer, disassemble or otherwise tamper with the computer programs in connection with this Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Administrator may void a Prize or any part of a Prize that a Winner may have won and/or require the return of a Prize or any part of a Prize that a Winner may have won as a result of such improper conduct. Winners further acknowledge that any forfeiture of a Prize and/or return of a Prize shall in no way prevent Administrator from pursuing other avenues of recourse, such as criminal or civil proceedings in connection with such conduct. WARNING: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS, AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, EACH OF THE SWEEPSTAKES ENTITIES RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR SUCH ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

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20. Identity Disputes. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of the winner based on an email address, the winning entry will be declared made by the Authorized Account Holder of the email address and/or wireless phone number submitted at time of registration into Instagram and/or entry into the Sweepstakes. For purposes of these Official Rules, “Authorized Account Holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational, institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.

21. Binding Arbitration. The parties waive all rights to trial in any action or proceeding instituted in connection with these Official Rules and/or this Sweepstakes. Any controversy or claim, arising out of, or relating to, these Official Rules and/or this Sweepstakes shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association. Any such controversy or claim shall be arbitrated on an individual basis and shall not be consolidated in any arbitration with any claim or controversy of any other party. The arbitration shall be conducted in the State of New York, in the City of New York and judgment on the arbitration award may be entered into any court having jurisdiction thereof.

22. Governing Law and Jurisdiction. This promotion is governed by U.S. law and is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited by law. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of entrant and Administrator in connection with this Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, U.S.A., without giving effect to the conflict of laws rules thereof, and any matters or proceedings which are not subject to arbitration, as set forth in Section 21 of these Official Rules and/or for entering any judgment on an arbitration award, shall take place in the State of New York, in the City of New York.

23. Winner’s List/Official Rules. For the name of the Winners, send a self-addressed stamped envelope for receipt by March 15, 2019 to “Winner List, Metro Exodus Console and Spartan Edition Giveaway” 1401 W. Cypress Creek Road, Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. For Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the above address marked “Official Rules: Metro Exodus Console and Spartan Edition Giveaway” for receipt by March 15, 2019. Residents of VT may omit postage on the self-addressed envelope. The name of the Winners may be posted, and the Official Rules will be posted on GameSpot.com.

Source: GameSpot.com

Six Hours In, Anthem Has A Lot To Love

I’ve played about six hours of Anthem, a game where players fly around in mechanical suits blowing stuff up in search of ever more rare loot, and while I’m still getting my bearings I already feel a lot better about the game than I did back during its two demos.

The game launched earlier today on PC for Origin Premier subscribers and on Xbox One as part of a 10-hour trial through EA Access, with a full-launch for non-subscribers and PS4 players on February 22. Unlike the two demo sessions earlier this month and last, I haven’t gotten disconnected from the servers or experienced any bugs on the scale of the never-ending loading screen. Load times are still a nuisance and I wish developer BioWare had done something to make them less noticeable and boring than a bar slowly filling up above a still image, but at least they’re not broken. There have been occasional graphical glitches, but nothing that lasted for more than a second or in any way interrupted what I was doing. So far, Anthem works.

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It’s also a lot of fun. The core of Anthem is flying through ancient caves and jungles dotted with ruins, and that part of the game could not feel any better. Punching the left analog stick to turn on forward thrusters or the right one to gracefully hover in place is easy and responsive but full of complementary camera effects and richly layered sound effects that really convince you you’re controlling a sentient rocket. Even if Anthem were just a fantasy-infused flying sim, it would still be a ton of fun.

But of course there’s a lot more to the game than just flying around. Anthem revolves around getting missions from the people in your hub, a city called Fort Tarsis, going out into the big, bad, dangerous world to complete them, and then returning and using the loot you collected to upgrade a mechanical suit, also known as a Javelin. You can play as part of a group of up to four players or alone, though some of the missions really are built for teamwork. Happily, Anthem offers automatic matchmaking for everything.

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One of the big questions facing the game prior to release was whether it would have any meaningful story beyond a few wacky sci-fi premises strung together to explain why you were flying around a strange world in robot armor. And while the narrative does take a back seat to everything else going on in the hours I’ve played, it does exist. Playing as a freelancer, a class of warriors tasked with protecting humanity from deadly forces of nature brought about by mysterious artifacts, you become entangled in a plot to stop a particularly ruthless faction called the Dominion from obtaining special artifacts that could be used to do any number of terrible things.

Based on what I’ve seen of it so far, it doesn’t have anything as complex as the political conflicts and intrigue at work in any of the Mass Effect games. Instead, it’s more in line with the Destiny games’ clear-cut drama around good vs. evil, and it’s decent enough with a world that feels somewhat more lived-in than Bungie’s series. Where Destiny’s hub, the Tower, is located up in the clouds and feels somewhat like a dream, Anthem’s Fort Tarsis feels more like a giant, greasy car repair shop with a bar inside it. I have no idea what the people in Anthem smell like but I’m absolutely sure they smell like something.

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The game’s otherwise straightforward plot is also helped out a lot by a cast of extremely well-voiced and well-acted characters. Motion-capture is the basis for a number of the performances and it shows, with small winks, bitten-lips, and idiosyncratic mannerisms helping to set each person apart. You can see this in characters like Owen, a side-kick who helps guide you over the radio during missions. He’s charming, scrappy, and way out of his depth.

So far Neeson Giles is my favorite, even though I only spoke with him once and the conversation didn’t go very well. A loser who just wants to hang with the cool kids, Giles told me Owen was weird and unstable before backtracking after realizing he’d clearly offended me to say he’d only heard other people say that Owen was weird and unstable. He then proceeded to say we should hang out again sometime, before eventually begging me to hang out again some time. I have no idea if Giles will play an important part in the main storyline or if he’s just there to add flavor. Maybe he’ll have an interesting set of missions for me at some point. I could have easily just walked past him and never met him at all. Did I mention he’s voiced by Brooklyn 99’s Joe Lo Truglio?

Though I’m running the game on medium settings to keep the framerate up thanks to my under-powered GTX 970, it still looks crisp and detailed, especially considering all of the action. Despite all of the flying around and almost non-stop explosions, everything has run smoothly. The few times I’ve slowed down to push my settings to the max to take in how the light peers over a ridge or bounces off the ripples in a pond, I’ve been really impressed. Even when the environments start to run together and feel repetitive, their size, scope and detail are breathtaking.

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Of course, the real challenge for a game like Anthem is whether it can still feel almost as exhilarating after 100 hours as it does after six. Even now I have concerns the breadth and diversity of enemy encounters and mission types. Almost to a one they’ve consisted of some version of a spherical arena space that requires slow, methodical circling. When I end up in a tight spot, I fly out of range and then begin a new sweep. The mission objectives have so far been simple, consisting of either holding down a point or collecting orbs to activate an artifact. Enemy AI doesn’t help either. On more than one occasion I’ve seen enemies standing completely still, or turning around and showing their backs, exposing their weak points to me, for no particular reason. Given all of the powers and mobility at the player’s disposal, Anthem seems to try and make up for these slip-ups by giving enemies a good chunk of health and throwing tons of them at you. In the end it can all feel a bit chaotic, more like a free-for-all than a tightly wound shootout than forces you to actually consider strategy and tactics.

I’ve only completed about a dozen missions so far including one stronghold—a longer dungeon that’s made for a party of four players and features a boss at the end. As I unlock more abilities and equipment, I’m hoping the game’s encounters will change things up as well, beyond just offering me higher difficulties to complete all the same old missions on. I haven’t yet found one I would love to run again just for the hell of it. For now, there’s plenty of other things to keep me coming back.

Source: Kotaku.com