Tag Archives: game news

Fallout 76 player gets inside, shares pictures from, mysterious sealed Vault 63

A Fallut 76 player accidentally clipped into and was stuck inside the supposedly inaccessible Vault 63 — a sealed area players believe may be the scene of some upcoming story extension or DLC. After radioing for help from Bethesda Game Studios itself, they managed to get free on their own, but still have the lingering worry of a ban or another sanction.

Redditor McStaken said they got stuck there doing a Rad-Rat horde event. While inside, they snapped and shared these nine pictures (via imgur) of Vault 63’s interior.

Vault 63 is located in Fallout 76’s Ash Heap region in the southwest of the map. The entrance is inside a small cave that is accessed through the door of a shack outside. A terminal by the sealed Vault 63 door has a keycard slot that accepts a “Vault 63 access ID card,” implying that there’s some way to get inside — which McStaken has now confirmed.

According to Nukapedia, Vault 63 is one of three vaults part of a team quest that was evidently cut from the game prior to launch. The only other detail about Vault 63 known before McStaken got inside is that its number appears to reference West Virginia’s statehood date (1863).

We’ve reached out to Bethesda Softworks representatives to ask for more information about Vault 63 — and also to verify that McStaken isn’t in any kind of trouble for ending up inside it.

Players who got inside a semi-secret, developer-only room containing every item in the game (and Wooby) faced an inquiry and potential sanction for doing it. If their activity turned up evidence that they’d been inside the Wooby room, their accounts were automatically suspended and they got a note from the principal’s office asking them to explain themselves.

McStaken says they submitted a support ticket to Bethesda and “very nicely asked them not to ban me.” A further update said they hadn’t been banned and “nor has Bethesda been breathing down my neck.”

Source: Polygon.com

The Weird Desire To Play Resident Evil 2 Even After Quitting Out Of Fear

Two days before the release of the Resident Evil 2 remake, I had a nightmare about zombies.

In my low-budget looking dream, I was fending off undead hordes in a sunlit hallway resembling those of Resident Evil 2‘s Raccoon Police Department (R.P.D). The dream was a result of my decision to play the game alone and anxiety began to eat away at my subconscious. As a person who gets scared easily by the horror genre, you can already imagine that plan didn’t go very well at all.

This is not the first time I’ve had the questionable idea to tackle a Resident Evil game alone.

I get these bouts of momentary “bravery” sometimes. In 2012, I told myself that the 3DS’ small screen would somehow shield me from the fear that Resident Evil Revelations would bring. Needless to say, I still have palpitations thinking about the unfortunate, transformed Rachel hunting me through the hallways of the game’s cruise ship setting.

With the Resident Evil 2 remake, I steeled my nerves and told myself it was just a game—one I was familiar with having watched my brother play it back in 1998. I failed to remind myself that it was a game with a bunch of scary-ass zombies waiting to bite me in the neck, and that the original terrified me too. And so my dreams did that for me.

Screenshot: N. Ho Sang (on PS4)

It would be a few days before I gathered enough courage to try. But I copped out a little. I called up a friend to ask her if she’d do a share play of the game with me. We both get terribly unhinged by the illogical fear that horror games bring but there’s something to be said about safety in numbers. Right? As I discovered, that’s actually a resounding “no”.

With our headsets on, and state lines away, my friend and I booted up the remake after 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. Leon, I decided, would be a hero in the easiest mode the game offered. I wanted as much assistance as I could get, and in the opening gas station sequence, managed to waste all five of my precious bullets. If not for the cutscene, I’m pretty sure I would have lost my life, too.

With zero bullets, I somehow made it safely to the R.P.D. It was here the game was really supposed to begin, and my fond childhood memories of lickers chasing my brother were supposed to be re-lived in crisp 2019 graphics, and improvements, only this time with me at the helm. Instead, it was there in the very first hallway that the survival horror game ended for me. Fear took over and I could not proceed.

“I can’t do this,” I remarked. I was thinking about how I struggled with getting my aim right at the beginning of the game, my lack of bullets, and how woefully unprepared I felt in that moment. It was an all too familiar feeling—the feeling of starting a game and being frustrated at not mastering the controls immediately. And I needed a firm grip on those right away because Resident Evil 2 doesn’t waste time throwing you into its action, and certainly isn’t interested in coddling its players.

Games usually allow for this trial and error, and for players to adjust accordingly. In Resident Evil 2’s case, the intensity of the opening scene felt like there was little room for mistakes for a person like me, where fear worked against my taking control. It’s one thing to walk around an empty gas station market practicing on thin air. It’s a whole other experience being faced with a threatening monster in a dimly lit, narrow aisle, even if it’s slowly shambling towards you. In that panic, I wasted my ammo and broke the number one Resident Evil rule that was ingrained into my experiences with the earlier games. From there, it became a downward spiral.

I looked at these shoes without owners, in the middle of nowhere, and noped on out of there
Screenshot: Narelle Ho Sang (on PS4)

Still reeling from my poor performance, I was met with a decision once I began exploring the police department: open a door or enter a corridor. I knew one of those options would trigger a sequence of events that would lead to my demise. Practice makes perfect they say but I would have had to allow myself to suffer a few deaths to get a feel for the game’s aiming controls. But I couldn’t take the next few steps to even make an attempt. I had never felt so paralyzed before by a game. When my friend offered to take over the controls, I cannot begin to describe how relieved I felt.

I’ll never understand why I cannot play scary games. Some of us just can’t, and that’s okay. Maybe what I should really grasp to understand is why I keep trying. Part of it is that I know I can do it if I really push myself. When the first Uncharted threw zombies at me in the last stages of the game? I pushed through despite my fear and knee-jerk reaction to quit. I managed to push through Yomawari, to the point where its jump scares and my deaths became so routine, I started viewing the game as more of a puzzle to solve. Okay, you got me. Yomawari isn’t actually that scary at all but it was to me for a short period of time! And for the record, I finished Resident Evil Revelations.

If you’re wondering how I fared with my first adventure with the Resident Evil 2 remake, I lasted all of 22 minutes and 33 seconds. That includes the few minutes I spent fiddling with the game’s camera.

Right now, I’m just a sad statistic—my contribution to the global Resident Evil 2 community is that I’ve killed a grand total of two zombies. I’m still willing to push myself to try again. I’ll just have to make peace with the fact that I’ll be dying a lot. But first I’ll have to build up the courage to make another attempt.

Source: Kotaku.com

Monster Hunter movie releases in September 2020

Capcom’s next Milla Jovovich vehicle will ride in September 2020, when Monster Hunter graces the silver screen. Sony Pictures made the announcement this past week and, yes, husband Paul W.S. Anderson is writing and producing, just like he did he with the six Resident Evil movies that collectively made a billion dollars.

Anderson is also directing Monster Hunter (as he did for Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Retribution and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter).

In Monster Hunter, Jovovich portrays one Lt. Artemis, whose unit is transported from the normal world to the monster world where they gotta fight to survive against big ol’ monsters. There Lt. Artemis discovers a co-star (Tony Jaa) who knows how to take the fight to the beasts.

Ron Perlman is also in this, along with T.I. Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman and Jin An-Yeung. Deadline notes that the Labor Day 2020 weekend’s scheduled premieres so far count only Monster Hunter.

Not that this is expected to be a commercial flop. Whatever the critical reception of their work, Jovovich and Anderson’s six Resident Evil flicks all made money, with The Final Chapter raking $312 million worldwide.

Capcom’s also got a live-action Mega Man adaptation in the works with 20th Century Fox. That movie, announced in October, doesn’t yet have a release date or window.

Source: Polygon.com

Exploring One Of Dragon Quest XI’s Most Devastating Stories

Screenshot: Square Enix

Dragon Quest XI features a collection of gut-wrenching, bittersweet redemption stories.

The Dragon Quest series often puts the spotlight on tragic stories affecting its main characters and NPCs alike. NPC characterization is strong in the worlds of Dragon Quest, with Dragon Quest XI paying special attention to its cast as well as the characters they meet along the way. The common theme with just about every important character in the game is that their story arcs entail overcoming personal guilt and carving out paths of absolution, even if this means getting a chance to do so in an altered timeline.

One of Dragon Quest XI’s best story quests has two very different endings. One gives its central characters a happy, fairy-tale ending. It’s a stark contrast to the other ending in which the forgiveness one character achieves comes at a horrible cost.

Screenshot: N. Ho Sang (on PS4)

In the village of Hotto, the Hero and his companions learn that the head chief, Miko, is in an awful predicament. The story takes many turns but at the heart of it, the party discover that Miko chose a mother of two young children, Atsuo and Atsuko, to be a sacrifice to appease the gods and temper the volcano near their village. It’s an alarming decision given the usual village rites are performed with fruit, corn, and silk.

In an attempt to find out what’s really going on, the kids and your party learn Miko’s secret: Tatsunaga, a dragon which terrorizes Hotto, and which Miko said she slayed in a battle alongside her son Ryu, is actually still alive. As the children deduce, Miko intends to feed the beast with humans. In true Dragon Quest form, the twist doesn’t stop there. Miko’s real secret adds another complex layer to the entire affair: Ryu, who supposedly died in that battle, was actually cursed by the beast during the fight and transformed into Tatsunaga.

Ryu as Tatsunaga returns to the village in an attack that sees Miko throwing herself to the beast in an effort to protect him from being killed by the villagers. In that moment, Miko decides to give herself up as food to satiate Tatsunaga’s hunger. It’s later learned that she found the magic mirror, a mythical item that reveals true forms, and was trying to use it to cure Ryu but could not get it to work, hence her decision to use the villagers’ lives as food until she could figure it out. Eventually, the group face off against Tatsunaga and the curse is lifted (Miko has the mirror on her when she is consumed, and it works from the inside—yikes), with a tragic ending of a young man’s soul freed without the knowledge that he killed his own mother.

It’s a complicated story that poses a difficult scenario for Miko in which she weighs the life of many against that of her beloved offspring. Dragon Quest XI does a curious thing here: it pulls at heartstrings by giving Ryu peace, and he’s able to cross into the next life with his regained human soul. But while Miko’s last minute decision is a selfless act, she arguably gets an ending that is deserved for her commitment to execute a grievous sin—her punishment fit the crime, so to speak.

Achieving redemption isn’t always a cut and dry affair in Dragon Quest XI’s world of Erdrea, leaving characters with profound consequences to bear.

Screenshot: N. Ho Sang (on PS4)

Neither character gets much of a happy ending in this scenario. When Ryu gives Atsuo a message to deliver to his mother he unknowingly kills, it’s heart-wrenching. In that message, he says that he’ll wait for her in the afterlife. It’s unclear to me if Miko would even be able to join him given the gravity of her sins. I found it particularly sorrowful, as the player looking into this world, that I became the keeper of the horrible truth of Miko’s demise.

Miko, for her part, gets her forgiveness from the villagers after her death. Atsuo notes that although she betrayed them, sacrificing herself is what ultimately saved them.

There’s a second meeting with Miko and Ryu that is attainable in the post-game where altering events of the past is necessary for achieving Dragon Quest XI’s true ending. In the post-game timeline, crafting a powerful end-game weapon will take players back to Hotto. In that quest, Miko and Ryu get a happier ending without their respective deaths as the magic mirror works without Miko being eaten, and Ryu surviving the curse. It’s a better resolution to a story in which Miko does not resort to murder out of desperation. For me, the original timeline’s story is much more impactful even though it’s quite tear-jerking seeing their reunion. But I might be a horrible person who much preferred the drawn-out twists and turns that Dragon Quest XI dishes out to disastrous results.

But there’s something poetic about the fact that I had to work hard to give Miko and Ryu that good ending, given that it is a part of the post-game. I’m not a person who usually delves into a game after seeing the credits roll the first time. It adds a whole other layer to the game where these characters could live in one timeline and never see a second, if not for players actively seeking it out. Although to be fair, Dragon Quest XI gives you a very good reason to play the post-game content, which I won’t spoil here.

Miko and Ryu’s tragic tale is just one of many in Dragon Quest XI’s world. While the post-game can bring about relatively happier endings to some, how the game expertly crafts each of its stories is one of Dragon Quest XI’s greatest achievements. Even for some of the more predictable outcomes, the game deftly subverts expectations on how the stories play out by including subtle twists to draw out empathy and emotion in players. For some characters, redemption comes with endings that humble them. For others, forgiveness does not come as easily, resulting in incredible depth to the narratives the game tells.

Source: Kotaku.com

What does Apex Legends’ success mean for Anthem?

Electronic Arts is under enormous pressure. The company’s stock has tumbled in the wake of news of a troubled Star Wars game and a weak showing from Battlefield 5, and investors are growing restless. That’s likely why EA is taking the risk of cannibalizing its own success with the release of Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends, a free-to-play battle royale shooter.

EA’s roadmap was straightforward as of last week: Anthem in February, and a major Battlefield 5 update, with the long-awaited Firestorm battle royale mode, in March.

The surprise launch of Apex Legends upends that plan.

Early feedback on Respawn’s new game is overwhelmingly positive. More than a million players logged in during the first eight hours, with 2.5 million playing in the first 24 hours. That number then jumped to 10 million players in the first three days. Apex Legends took Twitch by storm, thanks to popular streamers like Shroud and Dr. Disrespect playing the game. Even Fortnite poster boy Ninja is playing, and streaming, Apex Legends.

The problem is that there are only so many hours in the day, and players will only spend those hours playing a limited number of shooters. EA isn’t just competing with its rivals by launching two games that appeal to similar audiences as many of the other February releases do; it’s also competing against itself.

Every day matters

Apex Legends is part of a bold strategy. A stand-alone, AAA, free-to-play battle royale game is a risk, even from a studio as respected as Respawn. But solid gameplay, an early bump from influencers, and features that set it apart from other battle royale games show that Apex Legends could have staying power. It might even be enough to stand tall against Fortnite.

A game like Apex Legends doesn’t come together overnight. Respawn told Polygon that it saw PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds blowing up in 2017, and designed Apex Legends to capitalize on the growing battle royale trend. It was an opportunity to make a mark in a genre that was still finding its footing.

Since then, battle royale hasn’t just taken off; it has solidified, with clear market leaders that have pulled away from the pack. In July 2018, analytics firm SuperData noted that executives were finally willing to admit what everyone else in the industry already knew: Fortnite was starting to eat into traditional game sales. Notably, this was just three months after Epic launched the game on iOS.

The opportunity Fortnite posed when Respawn started development also now comes with a downside: Apex Legends is casting a long shadow.

Apex Legends taking off would be great news for EA, in a vacuum. But with Anthem only two weeks away, the popularity of Apex Legends could jeopardize the launch of BioWare’s first game since the underwhelming Mass Effect: Andromeda. Most companies wouldn’t release a surprise free-to-play shooter in the middle of promoting another high-profile online game, but EA isn’t most companies.

There are a number of possibilities for how this will shake out:

  1. Apex Legends holds onto its audience, with Respawn essentially convincing a portion of the audience to hold off on purchasing Anthem. The result could be another blow to investor confidence, says SuperData co-founder Joost van Dreunen. “EA is looking for a win in the shooter category so I expect them to go in guns blazing,” van Dreunen says. “But given how many of its investors still look for the total unit sales immediately following its release as a yardstick for the firm’s overall success, it may shoot itself in the foot by maneuvering in such a small space.”
  2. Anthem draws as strong audience as it might have without Apex Legends, but keeps players away from Respawn’s battle royale game. This would reduce player count and microtransaction spending, the lifeblood of free-to-play games, for Apex Legends. Given the game’s early success, EA would have to take its hands off the wheel entirely for this to happen.
  3. Everything works out as EA hopes, and Apex Legends and Anthem build their own large, dedicated audiences without hurting each other’s chances for success.

Option No. 3 isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but history provides reason for concern. EA made a mistake when it released Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 just one week apart in a crowded holiday season in 2016.

CEO Andrew Wilson was confident about the decision at the time.

“We believe that Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, while they have some overlap, fulfill very different motivations in what a player is looking for,” Wilson said during an earnings call. “So we think there are really three types of players: people that really love Battlefield, and that type of big strategic gameplay that will orient in that direction; the player that loves the fast, fluid, kinetic gameplay of Titanfall 2 and really orients in that direction; and the player that just has to play the two greatest shooters this year and will buy both.”

Fast-forward to an earnings call on Jan. 31, 2017, when EA announced that Titanfall 2 fell short of sales expectations.

EA’s current situation is a bit different. Anthem has no competitive multiplayer mode, and Apex Legends does not offer a single-player experience. But they’re still competing for players’ time. That’s compounded by stiff competition elsewhere: Deep Silver’s Metro Exodus, Microsoft’s Crackdown 3, and Ubisoft’s Far Cry New Dawn all drop in February as well.

And there’s one more potential casualty of EA’s decision to release Apex Legends this month.

The coming Firestorm

Battlefield 5 is getting its own take on the battle royale genre, called Firestorm, in March. Firestorm missed the game’s October launch, but in exchange, it gives EA an opportunity to resurface Battlefield 5 this spring for new players and recapture those who have lapsed.

“Audiences tend to be more loyal to a category or genre than a specific franchise,” van Dreunen says. “Consequently, it is possible that Apex eats into BF5’s battle royale mode.”

Battlefield 5 is already in a tough spot. It’s telling that all EA had to say about the game in its third-quarter earnings release this week is that … it was released. Comparatively, here’s what EA had to say after Battlefield 1’s debut: “Battlefield 1 was our biggest Battlefield launch ever and has a player base more than 50% larger than that of Battlefield 4 in its comparable launch quarter.”

It’s not what EA is saying about Battlefield 5; it’s what it isn’t saying. There’s no praise or glowing stats. Acquiring and retaining players is going to be harder than it has been in years past for the Battlefield franchise, especially for the first entry to launch without a traditional season pass.

Wooing new players to a premium game with a battle royale mode is a tougher proposition when you’re offering another game in the genre for free.

The road to March 31

Chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen summed up EA’s biggest challenge on Tuesday’s call, suggesting that the publisher faced “unprecedented competition for players’ time.” That challenge isn’t changing anytime soon, and EA now has two brand-new games in similar genres vying for attention.

The competition for players’ time will only become more crucial as publishers put greater importance on monthly active users over initial sales. Getting players to boot up a game regularly creates emotional investment, which leads to recurrent in-game spending. The developers of these games must accrue players quickly, and find ways to keep them playing. There’s no reason to purchase a skin for a game you may never return to.

EA needs to retain the players flirting with Apex Legends for the long term if it wants to monetize them. Too often, new games see a large audience at launch, as a sort of “vacation” from the franchises that players are actually invested in.

“Free-to-play titles that initially draw a large crowd — with or without the help of a string of tastemakers promoting it — eventually see players return to their preferred franchises,” van Dreunen explains. “For one, because of the social layer in many games, switching costs are increasingly high. So what you’re seeing is a form of tourism: People play the hot new game for a bit and then just go back. This means that despite strong initial enthusiasm, playtime only becomes an indicator for spending over an extended period.”

EA’s best hope is to coordinate content drops in both Anthem and Apex Legends that encourage players to hop back and forth between the two games, while also somehow keeping alive the audience’s interest in Battlefield 5. Taking additional steps to ensure that BioWare and Respawn’s games don’t step on each other’s toes (at least for the first few months) will be an important way to ensure the long-term health, and profitability, of both games.

With EA’s stock price rebounding on the back of Apex Legends’ early success, the company’s strategy seems to be paying off at the moment. However, if the publisher doesn’t have a focused plan to promote Anthem as it sits in Apex Legends’ shadow, EA may be sacrificing BioWare for Respawn.

Source: Polygon.com

The Division 2 Has A Big Surprise Ready For The Endgame

Since its debut at E3 2018, the developers behind the The Division 2 have focused on the sequel’s endgame. It’s a recurring topic for many online looter-shooters such as Destiny and Anthem, as it’s often seen as the make-or-break point for a game’s long term success. That’s something the developers of the original Division know all too well. Players who finished its vanilla campaign inevitably hit a slump, leading to a repetitive cycle. Ubisoft eventually overhauled much of the game’s mechanics and added in new encounters–leading to an impressive post-launch life for The Division. However, many players still burned out by the original release missed out on the revival once other games came around.

With the sequel, Ubisoft is taking steps to ensure that it won’t fall into the same traps as the original, while also giving the campaign a greater sense of purpose. We recently spent some time getting an early look at the game’s upcoming private beta–playable February 7-10–which offers a tease for what’s to come in the early hours of the campaign and the late-game content that follows. After you’ve established yourself in The Division 2’s turbulent setting of post-outbreak Washington D.C. during the campaign, things take a more chaotic turn after the conclusion, forcing you to defend what you’ve built up in the expanded endgame.

No Caption Provided

During this event, the developers spent some time reflecting on what they learned from the original game and detailed their approach in the sequel.

“One of the biggest things for The Division 2 is the importance of the endgame and our focus on it,” said creative director Julian Gerighty. “We launched The Division 1 with very little in terms of endgame content. It was a great campaign, you reached level 30, the endgame started, but it was lacking in activities. We were trying to operate this live game, yet we saw things that weren’t working out for the long term. That’s why a very tough decision was made before patch 1.4, which was to stop the development on all of the planned features and the DLCs to be able to focus on the technological debt and on the improvements to get the game to where we wanted it to be. That all fed into how we’ve set up The Division 2 production-wise, creatively as well.”

The Division 1 is a vastly different game now than it was at launch, and all for the better. That second wind is something that the developers wanted to carry over into the sequel, which they did in a few important ways. For starters, The Division 2 will incorporate much of the existing game’s content from the post-launch updates, which includes update 1.2’s bounties, 1.4’s world tiers, 1.6’s exotic weapons, and 1.8’s PvP arena. These features will also be available for all players at launch, and future DLCs for the first year will be free. This is not only to stay consistent with the current game’s flow and meta but also to ensure that the community would stay engaged.

No Caption Provided

With the new game, there also comes a fresh start for all players. Whereas the original was set in Manhattan, Division 2 brings a new set of agents to the nation’s capital, which introduces new systems and world events that occur in the field–presenting more moments and opportunities to leave a large footprint. At the beginning of the demo, our first mission was to retake the White House from one of the opposing factions, which becomes your base of operations soon after.

Over the course of the campaign, the White House increases in influence and followers the more you expand the Agency’s reach throughout Washington D.C. In order to reassert control over the city, you’ll set up new settlements and interact with key characters who will aid in your rise to power. Some NPCs are recruitable and can even be brought to the White House to upgrade the various areas–leading to new items and perks to acquire.

Exploring ruined D.C. offered plenty of opportunities to meet new characters and come across control points that are in constant dispute. Though D.C. doesn’t have nearly as strong of an atmosphere and eerie vibe as the original, it does fill that void by presenting more reasons to explore and engage in the various side-missions. Much like in the original, there are ECHOs that allow you to play back moments from the lives of supporting characters. While the original’s take felt one-sided since the characters were dead long before you arrived, several of the persons of interest in The Division 2 are alive and reasonably well, and the ECHOs offer more details about their connections to others throughout D.C.

Things, however, take a particularly surprising turn in the endgame. A new threat in the form of Black Tusk emerges, leading into the broader endgame that shakes things up. Similar to the Hunters from The Division’s 1.8 update, who only appeared in the Survival mode and Underground DLC, Black Tusk is a roaming faction that serves as the antithesis of the Division agency. Possessing an arsenal of high-tech weapons and gadgets that match your own, this new faction invades D.C. and actively tries to retake areas of the city–and even the Dark Zones. In the two endgame missions we played, one in the Air and Space Museum and along with the Federal Emergency Bunker, the Black Tusk proved to be a powerful force to be reckoned with. Along with using robots that look like they come right out of the Boston Dynamics lab–except they actually have guns this time–the endgame faction also uses mini-drones, and have soldiers wearing heavy armor that require strategic shots to open up weak points.

During the endgame, you’ll unlock new specializations that further enhance your character, which also open up power weapons like the grenade launcher, heavy sniper rifle, and the crossbow. In order to find better loot and gear, you’ll have to tackle missions that are several notches more challenging than the campaign. But as is typically the case for endgame content, you’ll also be repeating some older missions. The Division 2 does, however, spice things up by introducing a new tier called Invaded missions. During the endgame, all previous missions from the campaign will have a new difficulty that replaces the existing enemies with the Black Tusk. To cut down on repetition, the Invaded missions will also randomize each encounter with Black Tusk in the level, leading to different fights with enemy squads on each playthrough.

This new faction also changes the dynamic of the Dark Zones in the endgame, which actively occupies one of the areas. As we detailed in another preview, the Dark Zone’s PvPvE (player-versus-player-versus-environment) dynamic has been upgraded for the sequel. In addition to three separate zones, all of which have story missions that allow you to get your feet wet, the endgame will introduce an Occupied Dark Zone. With one Dark Zone under occupation by the Black Tusk faction, which cycles to a different location every week, the occupied zones also remove certain handicaps from the base version of the PvPvE mode, particularly level-balancing and friendly fire.

No Caption Provided

The skirmishes with Black Tusk during the two missions we played were intense and required some solid communication from our team to make it through. However, the invaded missions also felt a bit exhausting as well, leading to some moments where we were trapped in a room for up to 10 minutes dropping squads of bullet-spongy enemies as they funneled in. Though this is often the case for endgame content, it definitely hurt the pacing of some otherwise thrilling missions. Granted, we were just dropped into these missions for the purpose of this demo, which came after the rather brisk early game missions we played at the beginning. They may flow better once you’ve invested the hours to work your way to this content.

However, this also reminded me of some of the larger issues I’ve felt from The Division 2, in that it comes off a bit too similar to the original. It strongly emulates much of what worked in its predecessor, almost to a fault. Though some of the new innovations make for a more engaging and interesting setting to explore, the general looter-shooter loop itself can be exhausting, and lead to those familiar moments of occasional tedium that bogged down the first game. Having said that, I do feel the new approach to the endgame, though somewhat overwhelming, does offer a more compelling hook that felt absent from the original. By tasking you to defend the place you’ve been actively building up and investing yourself in throughout the campaign–which can be taken by the enemy faction. It creates a greater sense of urgency in the late-game, which was lacking from the original.

Ubisoft seems to be on the right path for The Division 2. Though it’s obviously building off of what came before, the new features do seem to be a natural step up that plays to the renewed strength the series saw with its revamped gameplay from the original. Ubisoft’s approach with this private beta was a neat way to kick the tires from both ends, and it’ll be interesting to see how players–even those that missed out on the revival of the original game–will take to it. The Division 2 is series’ second chance, and hopefully it’ll be able to make good on it’s renewed vigor.

No Caption Provided

For more info on The Division 2, including how the new Dark Zones work and how to get into the private beta, you can check out our features and articles on here on GameSpot.

Source: GameSpot.com

Warhammer: Chaosbane — a Diablo-like hack-and-slash — launches in June

Warhammer: Chaosbane, the Warhammer franchise’s class-based Diablo-esque crawler, has been given a June 4 launch date for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. The game will also see two closed betas sometime in March and April.

Those betas are, of course, open only to those who preorder the $59.99 game. Warhammer: Chaosbane is a drop-in cooperative (up to four players) hack-and-slash set in the Warhammer world.

Players will take control of a human, high elf, wood elf or dwarf in the game, somewhat similar to last year’s Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor for PC. Each class has a combat role and a skillset serving it. Players will also use “bloodlust,” described as “a unique mechanic which lets loose a devastating power that can change the outcome of a battle.”

These two videos from December and January, and the gallery of screenshots above, give a better idea of what to expect from Warhammer: Chaosbane, which is developed by Warhammer creator Games Workshop and published by Bigben Interactive.

Source: Polygon.com

What Is The Hardest Game Level You’ve Played?

Dark Souls, Battletoads, Ninja Gaiden, and Cuphead wear their difficulty as a badge of pride. They crush souls and spirits alike, and results in a lot of fatigued fingers. Playing them feels like Groundhog Days of death; Live, Die, Repeat, and Repeat! Sometimes it’s about memorization, recognizing patterns, knowing where random enemies spawn, like in Contra and Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Other times, there’s an art to it as mastery of specific skills makes the levels manageable, like in the Souls series as well as the modern Ninja Gaiden games. Of course, there’s hard levels like the final stage of the Lost World in Donkey Kong Country 2, the technodrome in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. as well as the dams in Phantasy Star II that caused me so much gaming anguish. Being a videogame protagonist in one of those game’s must be an excruciating series of painful deaths that must make them wonder what cruel individual is forcing them to relive their nightmares repeatedly.

Every so often, the difficulty can be due to a well crafted combination of tension and gameplay, and those are my favorite sequences.

There’s a moment in Shadowrun on the SNES when you go to fix your datajack. You hear a ticking sound inside your head and realize someone had installed a cortex bomb to stop you from fixing your jack. The next few minutes are a frenetic dash to save yourself before your brain explodes. The commodification and corporatization of society is one of the major themes in the game and there’s a grim, but darkly humorous, commentary on technology like this being used to enslave, and destroy here. It was for me, one of the most tense and difficult moments I’ve experienced in a game.

So Kotaku, what is the hardest game level (or game) you’ve ever played?

Source: Kotaku.com

The Brilliant Use of Mode 7 In Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts’ Fourth Stage

When I think of the toughest games of my childhood, the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series from Capcom immediately comes to mind. They’re unforgivingly difficult, taunting you at each corner with a thousand deaths. Arthur’s armor gets shredded by every moving object and even upgraded weapons offer little protection. What’s worse is that you have to beat each game twice, which might mean double the fun, or pain, depending on your tolerance threshold for thumb-numbing suffering.

But the series also has some of the most devilishly tricky levels in gaming. As part of my ongoing series examining some of my favorite levels in gaming, I’ll be looking at the nifty mode 7 graphics of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts’ Stage 4.

The Ghouls’ Stomach

There are games that are difficult because they are badly designed. Then there are games that are intentionally crafted to be soul-crushing experiences inducing controller destruction. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is one of the latter. The Super Nintendo version was the third game in the series and the first not to be an arcade port. Even though it wasn’t designed as a quarter cruncher, Capcom made sure it still felt like one.

In a small concession to the game being designed for the console, Capcom did give players a new ability: the double jump. It made surviving a little more manageable. But to be completely candid, that “aid” is just an illusion because the ability to double jump results in some excruciating new obstacles requiring perfectly timed leaps to survive.

There’s also armor upgrades that allow players to charge their weapons and fire magical attacks, along with a shield upgrade that protects Arthur from projectiles. Obtaining them is difficult because one stray hit, regardless of if you’re wearing bronze or gold armor, will immediately take you back to underwear Arthur. But you’ll need to collect all the help you can get as its get difficult, whether you’re jumping from raft to raft amidst the turbulent tidal waves in the Sea of Despair, or trying to stay warm in the desperate cold of the Deep Chill.

A lot of geographic displacement takes place in the game, like the ever shifting hills in the opening stage. Stage 4 takes that to another level with the entire background rotating in place. Known as the Ghouls’ Stomach, it is one of the creepiest levels in the game.

It’s also remained indelibly one of the most memorable for its use of Mode 7, the graphics mode that allowed the scaling and rotating of background layers. Scattered across the ground are fang-like spikes and the walls look like chemically doused brain matter. When Arthur jumps onto one of the specific platforms, a cage of bones surrounds him, trapping him within. That’s when the entire stage spins and blood oozes through the walls, a flashing effect makes the disorienting turn even more disturbing. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world when I first saw it. Super Castlevania 4 had a similar effect on one of its levels, but the organically disgusting nature of the Ghouls’ Belly lends itself to a stronger effect.

Through the section, Genie Ghouls hunt Arthur down and Green Skull Flames fire up to try and impede him from getting to the next platform before the room spins again. If Arthur can’t reach it in time, spikes emerge from the ground and impale him. In this chamber of gruesomeness, up, down, left, and right ultimately have no meaning.

The second half of stage 4 has Arthur riding a platform made out of blood organs. It moves in random swings as it’s unable to keep steady in the chaotic channel of the belly. Monstrous circular globs sprout in mid-air and steam geysers out of the aorta field surrounding Arthur. Obstructions come at a steady pace as the globs grow where they’re most likely to harm. The miniaturized version of the blue devils add to the tension (while they’re cool in Gargoyle’s Quest, they caused a whole lot of gaming trauma in the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins and the sight of them, even in their smaller form, evoked trepidation and sweat). Arthur has to jump onto new platforms when they form and move from one end to the other to avoid death from the globs and steam attacks. The atmosphere oozes with an uncomfortable sense of horror and disgust. Hell isn’t just torture and punishment, but a series of quick deaths that you have to play over and over again.

There is no safe spot in either section. Everything is in flux. The music intensifies the sense of anxiety with higher pitched beats and a sense of ominous foreboding. “The hills are alive with the sound of mucus,” a friend, Comet, said. The level as a whole constantly forces you to move forward without knowing where it might take you. Being too cautious almost certainly leads to death by acidic digestion. And while all the other levels have their share of dangerous enemies and difficult pits, this is one of the few where the environment is actively trying to murder Arthur.

In the final fight against the Hydra, it looks like you’re in a morass of snot. As you’re wading through the phlegm, the three-headed Hydra slithers out. It spits fireballs at Arthur and transforms into three separate creatures when it wants to swap sides. After you take out each of its heads, a key helps Arthur escape out into the freezing cold.

The best part, of course, is you have to play through the entire level twice.

Source: Kotaku.com

Captain Marvel’s official site dials up some 1990s web design

I don’t know if it’s too soon to call a film set in the 1990s a “period piece,” but Captain Marvel’s marketers are doing their damndest to earn that label with a Comic Sans-tastic throwback website that recalls the days of Adobe PageMill and HTML 1.0.

It’s slam full of ultra-dated features, my favorite being the crummy RealMedia player embed (OK, so it’s “KREE PLAYER 1.0”) showing the official trailer at a 14.4-killing 310×175 pixels. Play the “Kree or Skull?” multimedia game and remember a time when advertising on the web was a ridiculous novelty, not the all-consuming life force that will destroy all of our jobs and herald the coming of the machines.

Rainbow typefaces, 3D text, clip art backgrounds, .gifs that are animated in name only and, yes, a visit counter round out the dial-up motif. The only thing I didn’t see was that “NeW!” header for all of those updates made five months ago.

The site is either an homage to or a ripoff of Warner Bros. still-extant Space Jam official page, which is old enough to rent a car. You figure whoever sloshed this thing together knew they’d be obligating Marvel.com to host it for the next quarter-century so, well played my dudes.

Space Jam, incidentally, is getting a sequel courtesy of LeBron James and Ryan Coogler, sometime soon. Captain Marvel is more imminent, releasing in theaters on March 8. Or you can wait for it to show up on Primestar.

Source: Polygon.com