Tag Archives: gaming news

Judgment Gets A Western Release Date

Judgment is coming to the west. Sega announced that the game from the studio behind Yakuza is coming to PS4 on June 25. Those who pre-order digitally will get a head-start on the detective adventure game on June 21.

Originally titled Judge Eyes in Japan, Judgment is a narrative-driven game in which players assume the role of investigator Takayuki Yagami looking into grisly crimes. It’s been described as Yakuza meets Phoenix Wright, for the way it blends a heavy story focus with investigative gameplay sequences. It also shares a setting with the Yakuza series: Kamurocho, the fictionalized city modeled after Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Though it shares some common traits with Yakuza, though, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio head Toshihiro Nagoshi says this game is “completely different” from its other works. Yakuza has become a critically acclaimed series of its own, most recently concluding the gangster melodrama series with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.

For more on Judgment, check out our extensive hands-on preview.

“If I’ve learned anything from seven Yakuza entries, it’s that Ryu ga Gotoku Studios makes good on the details it throws into its games,” Michael Higman wrote. “Judgment provides a fresh perspective of a familiar setting. It may not be a Yakuza game by name, but the spirit seems to still be there. You can investigate Kamurocho’s latest crimes as Takayuki Yagami in Summer 2019 when Judgment launches exclusively for PlayStation 4.”

Source: GameSpot.com

How Fortnite Patch’s New Buried Treasure Map Works

In its ongoing quest to keep things fun and fresh, Fortnite developer Epic Games has introduced a new gameplay feature for Season 8 with the game’s latest update. As part of patch 8.01, players will now be able to use maps to hunt for treasure. However, this isn’t like the treasure hunts from seasons past, so we’ve put together a short overview of how it works.

Naturally, the first part of hunting for treasure is getting your hands on a map. These maps can be found as Floor Loot or in Chests. They are a Legendary item that take up an inventory slot, and you can also only carry one at a time–so no hoarding them! Using your map will make a small dotted red line appear in front of you. However, this line doesn’t extend out very far, so it’s designed to serve as an indication of the general direction you should be heading instead of a direct path to it.

Once you’re close to the location you’ll see a golden shaft of light marking exactly where you need to dig with your pickaxe. There’s also a very hand “X” to mark the spot. Digging takes a little bit of time, so be careful and make sure there aren’t any other players around to pick you off. When you successfully open the chest, you’ll be treated to some items of Legendary rarity level.

One thing to keep in mind is that, like other items, treasure maps can be forcefully taken from you. That means that if a player kills you, they can grab the map and hunt down the treasure instead. Naturally, you can do the same, so if you’re feeling a bit piratey, you could hunt down players using their maps and then take them out to snatch their loot.

The first set of weekly challenges for Fortnite Season 8 is now available, and the two trickiest of them task players with visiting the new Pirate Camps and finding a giant face in the desert, jungle, and snow. You can see the complete list of this season’s objectives in our full Season 8 challenges guide.

Source: GameSpot.com

Fortnite Patch Notes (8.01 Update): Buried Treasure Map, Slide Duos, And More

Following the launch of Fortnite Season 8, which flooded the game with new content, developer Epic Games has once again updated the battle royale experience with something new. Update 8.01 is out now, and its primary addition is–as is appropriate for a pirate-themed season–the new Buried Treasure item.

As detailed in the patch notes for update 8.01, the game now lets you track down treasure. Buried Treasure specifically refers to a Legendary-tier item that takes the form of a map; players use it to uncover loot hidden across the island. Players can only hold one map at a time and anyone who manages to find a chest will be rewarded with Legendary loot. Once you arrive at the target location, you’ll dig up the treasure with your pickaxe. These maps can be found from floor loot and chests.

Although Buried Treasure is the big new feature, there are some smaller additions, tweaks, and changes to the game too. Slide Duos has been introduced as the new Limited Time Mode. This makes it so you essentially slide around everywhere–your run speed has been increased, but friction is “greatly lowered,” and there is no fall damage. Everyone else gets a Grappler with unlimited ammo to help them traverse this slippery world.

In terms of balance tweaks, the Infantry Rifle has a lower chance of appearing out of chests and being found on the floor, as does the Clinger. Bottle Rockets have been vaulted altogether, meaning you won’t encounter them in the game for the time being. Additionally, you can now slide down terrain without taking damage from an increased angle. Check out the full patch notes for the Battle Royale below to see everything that’s new with this just-released update on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile.

Fortnite: Battle Royale Update 8.01 Patch Notes

Gameplay

  • Increased the angle at which you can slide down terrain without taking damage from 65 degrees to 75 degrees.

Limited Time Mode: Slide Duos

Summary

Ice blocks on everyone’s feet, infinite ammo Grapplers in everyone’s inventory – a recipe for a slippery good time!

Mode Details

  • Friction greatly lowered.
  • Max run speed greatly raised.
  • Falling damage removed.
  • Infinite ammo Grapplers added to everyone’s inventory.

Weapons + Items

  • Buried Treasure
    • It’s a map that is used to track down buried chests on the map.
      • Chests contain a trove of legendary loot.
      • X marks the spot! The chest must be dug up using a pickaxe.
    • There is a limit of one map held at a time.
    • Legendary Rarity.
    • Can be found from Floor Loot and Chests.
  • Reduced Infantry Rifle availability
    • Reduced the chance of receiving an Infantry Rifle from Chests from 14.41% to 13.39%
    • Reduced the chance of receiving an Infantry Rifle from Floor Loot from 2.41% to 2.24%
  • Reduced Clinger availability
    • Reduced the chance of receiving Clinger’s from Chests from 9.42% to 5.52%
    • Reduced the chance of receiving Clinger’s from Floor Loot from 1.27% to 1.02%
  • Vaulted
    • Bottle Rockets

Events

  • New Tournament: Gauntlet Solo Test Event & Gauntlet Duo Test Event
    • We are running a new type of tournament as a test of several format updates.
    • Extended Hours: This event consists of a single session which lasts until March 9th 00:00 GMT.
      • Due to the extended hours for this event, Duo players will each have their own score that remains when changing partners.
      • Note: Due to the playlist featuring matchmaking based on your score, the quality or availability of matches may differ at certain times of day.
    • Updated Scoring:
      • Match Limit: None
      • Bus Fare: -2 Points
        • Each match played will reduce your score by two points in the form of a ‘Bus Fare’ at the start of the match.
        • Tournament scores cannot go into the negatives – at the end of a match, if a player has a negative score for the tournament then their score will be reset to zero points.
      • Victory Royale: +3 Points (+10 Total)
      • 2nd – 5th: +2 Points (+7 Total)
      • 6th – 10th: +2 Points (+5 Total)
      • 11th – 25th: +3 Points (+3 Total)
      • Each Elimination: +1 Point
    • Matchmaking:
      • Players are still matchmade against opponents with similar point totals.
      • Matchmaking will wait for up to 8 minutes before creating a match with the closest players available.
      • Matchmaking will search in a considerably wider points range after 4 minutes of searching.
    • At the conclusion of the Gauntlet Test Event, the Top 5% of players based on their final score will unlock the ‘Gauntlet Finals’ tournament.
  • New Tournament: Gauntlet Solo Finals & Gauntlet Duo Finals
    • Scheduled 3-hour event, check tournament in-game for your local time.
      • Note: NA East and NA West are now separate for scheduled tournaments, and no longer share a leaderboard.
    • Scoring:
      • Match Limit: 10 Games
      • Victory Royale: +3 Points (+10 Total)
      • 2nd – 5th: +2 Points (+7 Total)
      • 6th – 10th: +2 Points (+5 Total)
      • 11th – 25th: +3 Points (+3 Total)
      • Each Elimination: +1 Point
    • Top 3000 players in each server region will advance to Round 2 on Sunday during same time block.

Audio

  • Improvement to the standard AR sound so that it’s not overbearing on the shooter.
  • The sound made when a player destroys a structure is now louder when instigated by enemies.
  • Footstep audio blends in the above/below layers, rather than binarily switching between them.
  • Footstep occlusion traces from the head of enemies when they’re above or below.
  • Reduced the volume of the Season 8 Victory Umbrella.
  • The Season 8 Victory Umbrella now uses the correct sound on Mobile/Switch.

Mobile

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue when pressing the fire button with 2 fingers causes fire action to continuously loop.

The launch of Season 8 means there’s a new Battle Pass to get too. This gives players a chance to unlock a number of new skins and other cosmetics. There are already fresh challenges to complete as well. You can find tips for those in our complete Season 8 challenges guide.

Source: GameSpot.com

I’ve changed my mind about Days Gone

I’ve changed my mind about Days Gone. I used to think it was bad. Now, I’m beginning to convince myself that it’s going to be good. Maybe even better than that.

Back at E3 2016, when Sony Bend first demonstrated its post-apocalyptic open-world survival game, I thought it was just plain silly. The main character, a grizzled biker called Deacon St. John, came across as a bloviated paragon of old-school road warrior machismo. He was so badly written that, at one point, assembled critics laughed at his lines.

Days Gone did show glimmers of promise in its lovely Pacific Northwest world of dripping forests and tough little towns. The game’s zombie behavior patterns, which prompt the player to create strategic choke points, looked like an interesting focus.

But in a world where The Last of Us Part 2 lurks, along with any number of other post-apocalyptic adventures, there didn’t seem much reason to give excessive mind space to this tale of an anguished biker bloke.

So I sent Days Gone to the back of the line, forgot about it, didn’t care a bit when it was delayed.

At a recent media event, I spent more time playing the game, getting acquainted with its biker ethos, its combat mechanics, its varied environments. I found it to be a much more focused, more enjoyable game than I remember from that sorry demo almost three years ago. So much so that Days Gone is now near the top of my most-anticipated list for 2019.

Days Gone - Deacon moves to avoid a sniper’s laser sight SIE Bend Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Character is destiny

Deacon St. John is now less anguished, more understated and appealing. Sure, he’s still pretty much what you’d expect from a grungy post-apocalypse biker. He’s gruff and grizzly, and he’s all about loyalty and all that.

He’s hyper-practical, knows his way around a toolkit, and takes care of his friends. He’s also a violent man who shows no mercy to those who contravene his code of honor. He’s been bitten by the world, and he means to bite back.

We all know this dude from a million TV shows, movies, and games. As action heroes go, he’s fine, even if he feels a bit like a relic of years gone by. It’s worth recalling that Sony Bend has been working on this game for more than five years, and a lot has changed since its inception.

In the last few years, the fashion has moved away from overly familiar pissed-off mid-30s white-man protagonists. A young woman is the star of The Last of Us Part 2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey featured a woman as an (optional) protagonist. Gears 5 will star a woman. Even Battlefield 5 made the effort to subvert narrative shooter protagonist norms.

Sony Bend stayed with straight, white Deacon St. John, but has softened him. I’m curious about how he’s changed in the two-plus years since he first appeared, and why I find him much more tolerable than when he first appeared. So I asked game director Jeff Ross.

“We got it from everyone,” Ross replied, referring to the initial criticism of the character. “Just the way some of the lines were read or the way they were written. We’ve refined some of the rougher edges, where he may not have come off as the most relatable character.”

I also asked writer John Garvin about Deacon St. John’s evolution. “We worked really hard on making Deacon’s character realistic,” he said. “It wasn’t about trying to make him likable. We wanted him to grow over the course of the story, and you have to start him someplace, so he can end up someplace else.

“In the early development of Days Gone, we didn’t realize how long the player would spend with this character before he starts regaining his humanity. Nobody is willing to spend eight hours with somebody they don’t like. This was just part of us learning and growing as developers of an open world.”

Novelists and scriptwriters labor over edits and redrafts in private, before showing anything to the world. Games are often shown years before they are released. The public gets to see and judge embarrassing early drafts. But Garvin says he’s “grateful” for the feedback, and for the time Sony has given the team to make improvements.

“There were a lot of moments that were too on the nose,” he said. “We edited a lot of that out so we could allow the player to fill in their expectations of how the character behaves and reacts, and not just spell it all out for them.”

Days Gone - an abandoned police car on the side of a road SIE Bend Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Survive and thrive

Days Gone is a third-person narrative adventure in which I ride around a ruined version of Oregon on a motorbike. This is a post-pandemic story, in which the vast majority of humans are either dead or transformed into ravenous creatures called “Freakers.”

I loot abandoned houses, shops, and camps to survive. These places are often inhabited by Freakers, who come in a variety of models. Some are strong loners, others are opportunistic lurkers; still others are marauding swarms. My strategies depend on who, or what, I’m fighting.

In one early scene, I’m required to work my way through an abandoned motel and gas station, picking up medicine as I go. Specifically, I need a part to fix my bike. The first time I play this level, I go stealthy, sneaking around, making use of distractions by throwing stones, and supplementing my progress with a few quiet zombie takedowns. The Freakers aren’t stupid, and I note their differing behavior patterns.

Then, I play the same scene again, just to try an alternative plan. I fire my weapons; I charge into melee attacks. I make lot of noise. This is much more challenging, as Freakers home in on me. They are difficult to kill en masse. But I prevail, mainly by isolating my attackers.

The combat feels slick and highly iterated, as I expect from the developer behind the much-admired Syphon Filter series of yore.

I enjoy each approach — stealth and gung-ho — in its own way. Although some parts of the game include single-route action sequences, other combat areas are built with variety in mind.

Days Gone - Deacon aiming at a Freaker SIE Bend Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Combat wheel

Focus is one of three meters (along with endurance and health) in Days Gone. It allows me to slow time and make use of the combat wheel, which is a sophisticated, powerful piece of the interface. It brings up weapons and explosives as well as decoys, health boosts, and on-the-fly crafting. I’ve played with a lot of combat wheels, and this one feels like it’s been designed with due care and attention.

When I fight, I try to save my ammo, relying on easily craftable bolts for my crossbow or takedowns.

My map also displays directional warnings about the whereabouts of Freakers, so I can alter my course in order to avoid them when I’m out in the wild woods. This gives me choices about how I move through the world and how I interact with its dangers. But there are times when confrontation is unavoidable.

By nature, I’m inclined toward avoiding fights where I can, but the game also rewards me for taking out enemies. When I kill a Freaker, I can collect one of its ears. I can then trade these for currency, which allows me to boost weapons and buy stuff.

This grisly currency is just one hard-edged aspect of Days Gone’s world. Small, childlike Freakers called “Newts” hang around in packs, looking to exploit the weak and wounded. In life, they were children (“adolescents,” in the carefully parsed language of the game’s PR). Now they are little more than animals.

It’s a brave decision, I think, to include post-apocalyptic kids not merely as side-character victims, but as adversaries with their own patterns of behavior, loosely modeled on the way kids behave in the real world.

I also encounter human scavengers who cross my path or invade my territory. This is a dog-eat-dog world of limited resources. These interactions make me feel like I’m living in a realistically challenging environment, where survival depends on making difficult choices.

My fights against human gangs generally involve making use of cover, as well as divide-and-conquer strategies and smart implementation of available weapons. Charging around firing off weapons is generally ill-advised, as it would be in real life.

I follow the story as it opens out into new terrains and pretty vistas of Oregonian landscapes, from high-altitude deserts to hillside forests to mountainsides. I find small settlements where I collect missions, advance the story, upgrade my stuff, and boost my bike. I spend time with my pal Boozer, getting a sense of the world’s dangers and opportunities.

As I play through, I find myself engrossed and impressed. I’ve pretty much forgotten that I came to this media event expecting to be disappointed. Days Gone is one to watch. It’s out for PlayStation 4 on April 26. I really didn’t think I was going to say this, but I’m looking forward to it.

Source: Polygon.com

Days Gone Is A Familiar Experience, But That Might Not Be So Bad

The upcoming PS4 exclusive Days Gone is fast approaching its release on April 26. Coming from Bend Studio, the developers behind the Syphon Filter series and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, the third-person open-world game takes a lot of cues from previous Sony AAA titles, all while set within the popular setting of a zombie apocalypse. After a recent hands-on session with the game, GameSpot editors Edmond Tran and Alessandro Fillari came together to share their thoughts on what it was like exploring Days Gone’s take on the Pacific Northwest during harsher times.

For more on Days Gone, check out our interview with the developers from Bend Studio about the making of the game, and stay tuned for our video impressions detailing how the new open world game stacks up.

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Alessandro: So to start things off, what do you think of Days Gone in the broader sense? The basic premise is essentially Sons of Anarchy by way of The Walking Dead, and I certainly got the impression it was sticking fairly close to those sources of inspiration. Like the main character, Deacon St. John, seems like he’d fit right in within either of those shows.

Edmond: I’ve never seen SOA and I actively dislike the TV adaptation of TWD, so Days Gone didn’t spark excitement in that sense. My reaction to the trailers and demos was that it looked okay, if a bit generic. But after reading preview coverage from yourself and Oscar last year, where you both sounded pretty unimpressed, this just flew way off my radar and I had very low expectations going into my first experience of the game.

Alessandro: Yeah, I was fairly underwhelmed by last year’s demo. To reiterate a bit, in addition to it feeling a bit run of the mill as an open world game, a big factor that left me unimpressed was the poor technical performance. In the 2018 demo, this was particularly noticeable during moments when you encounter massive swarms of Freakers–zombies, basically–which made these encounters a major drag. However, this recent build of the game was far more improved. I still felt a bit underwhelmed by some parts of what Days Gone is about, but I ended up finding more to like in this newer slice.

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The Freakers

Edmond: Oh wow, I actually didn’t see any of the huge hordes of zombies–I’m sorry, “Freakers”–in my three hours of the game at all so I can’t really speak to how I found those, but I did run into one noticeable technical hiccup: I raided an enemy encampment where all the environmental dressing failed to load, so enemies were taking cover behind nothing and pickup items were floating in thin air. But I’m taking a “whatever” stance on bugs since this isn’t the final product.

Alessandro: Yeah, I saw some weird bugs as well, like some moments characters had their guns stuck to their hands during cutscenes. But anyway, the times I saw herds of Freakers during this demo were some of my favorite moments during my playthrough. The first time was in a cave, which they like to hide out in, and the other time was when I was trying to rescue a survivor. When I went back to my bike after helping this NPC out, I found it surrounded by a hoard of freakers. I tried running for my bike, but they quickly got to me and I died. It was a brutal way for Deacon to go out, but with that said, I actually really dig how much of a presence the undead have because of their sheers numbers and how easily they can catch you off guard. They’re a lot more unnerving to encounter than in most other zombies games.

Edmond: Please, Alessandro. The “Freakers” don’t like to be associated with common zombie folk, since Freakers are not actually undead, they’re just really messed up living beings, hence the hibernation in caves and their need to eat and drink. Also a factor which really makes things very uncomfortable when the game put me in a situation where I had to kill freaker CHILDREN. It’s messed up.

I saw a few other freakers types, which were basically Witches and Boomers from Left 4 Dead, or Screamers and Bloaters from State of Decay, but the kids, the “Newts”, mostly avoid you unless you’re low on health. I got into a situation where I had to beat one with a baseball bat and I don’t think I’m going to heaven anymore.

Alessandro: Yeah, Newts only appear in specific areas where they set up dens, so thankfully they don’t come up too often. It was very off-putting seeing them watch you from afar, just sort of looming in the distance. They’ll only attack if you get in their space.

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The Open World

Edmond: Which is something you don’t necessarily have to do. I hate being reductive, but I really think the best way to describe this game is a narrative- and character-focused State Of Decay with a Far Cry level of freedom in approaching scenarios.

My biggest takeaway from this game was how much I enjoyed the different ways you could use your variety of abilities and the environment to complete objectives, whether that be to get into a place, or destroy people or things. I respect any game that attempts to emphasise a flexibility to move back and forth between stealthy and loud approaches, or the fluidity to switch between ranged, melee, and guerilla combat techniques on the fly. I like mixing things up.

Alessandro: That’s actually a pretty fair way to describe the game. You do go around collecting herbs and helping survivors in the bases around the map. It channels a lot of the survivalist-experience you’d find from State of Decay, all within a large open world like Far Cry.

And you know, I actually have to say that I ended up enjoying the setting of the Pacific Northwest a lot more than I thought I would. It went against a lot of my expectations for the region and it was pretty educational to be honest. The second area we got to explore in the demo seemed fairly close to a desert environment. It was inspired by the Belknap Crater, a real location that has a volcano. On one occasion I kinda got distracted by the beauty of the world that I totally didn’t catch an obvious ambush spot in the road that was set up by one of the enemy factions.

Edmond: Oh man, I was really caught off-guard by the random ambushes, and they led to some great watercooler moments, kinda like getting mugged in Red Dead Redemption 2. There was a moment during my session where I was wandering around, deeply focused on using the game’s tracking mechanic to search the ground for some footprints, when I got jumped and overwhelmed.

There were too many to fight close-quarters so I booked it into a nearby forest when I got an opening, dodging gunfire by weaving between the trees. I eventually ran down a hill, over a big rock, and hunkered under it. They lost sight of me but eventually, one passed right by the rock, I ambushed him as he wandered past, and thought: “thank you, varied environment for giving me that movie-like chase.” They’re definitely pitching the “high desert” and variable weather and terrain thing pretty hard. I’ve never been to Oregon, but the developers lead me to believe that there can be a blizzard in one region, real hot in another, there’s no sales tax and everyone has their own craft beer, all of which affects how enemies behave, and how your motorbike reacts.

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Deacon’s Bike

Alessandro: Yeah, your bike is like your best friend in this game. It’s your lifeline and it’ll get you out of trouble fast. In addition to some general upkeep and keeping it gassed up, you can also upgrade the different parts to make it more durable. This all ties back into the survivor camps as well, since you can only upgrade it with their mechanics once you’ve built up enough trust with these camps.

Edmond: …which you do by completing missions, side stories, and bringing back freaker ears, animal pelts, that sort of thing. The bike really felt like my own, I had to protect it and keep an eye on it at all times, especially since I couldn’t just whistle for it like a horse. I’m sure you can steal other bikes and maybe even buy a new one later in the game, but man I did not want this bike to get ruined, especially since Deacon loses his souped-up bike as part of the story in the first hour.

Alessandro: Usually when you get a bike in a game, you want to go as fast as possible and do sick jumps, but it’s like the total opposite here. I really went out of my way to avoid danger as much as possible on the bike. I seldom used the nitro boost.

Edmond: My first inclination was to use the bike to ram enemies, but that kills its durability which I certainly did not want, since it’ll then require more scrap to repair. I also really got into fuel conservation–I found myself being very light on the throttle and making the most of hills and momentum when riding it, which leads into the whole scavenging, crafting, and conservation aspect.

Alessandro: During one encounter with some freakers on the road, they literally threw themselves at my bike to take me out. It did a lot of damage to myself and the bike. Even though it gives you a lot of mobility and freedom to explore, you’re still very vulnerable on the bike, which I kinda like. It’s very much an extension of you.

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Combat Encounters

Edmond: You know what else was an extension of me? The spiked baseball bat I used across my entire session. I loved that thing so much that when it got close to breaking (most weapons have durability), I switched back to the weak-but-indestructible knife until I could get enough materials to repair the bat.

Alessandro: There are a surprising amount of melee weapons to find. It sort of reminded me of a classic beat-em-up game. You can get lead pipes and spiked bats, and even machetes. Unless you’re squaring off against heavily-armed bandits, close-range combat is generally really reliable.

Edmond: It is! Well, unless you’re fighting more than two people. But I really enjoyed relying on melee not only because it saved ammo, but because it was satisfying to perform and watch. I’m one of those Uncharted players that hip-fires like a maniac while closing the distance and then finishes with melee, and Days Gone caters to that same kind of flow. There’s even a perk that enhances the damage when do when you switch it up like this, among other perks to boost weapon damage and durability. The shooting on its own felt serviceable enough, but at this early stage I found it was only really useful when you used it in tandem with the focus/slowdown perk. What did you think about the combat?

Alessandro: For me, that was actually one of the areas where the game fell a bit flat. I mean the combat mechanics and amount of tools you have at your disposal are all well and good, but it just felt a bit unremarkable in actual practice. The mechanics on display, the slowdown shooting mechanic, and along with the variety of skills found within the fairly robust skill-tree, all of these are ideas that I’ve seen executed in plenty of other games. That’s not totally a bad thing, but the way Days Gone goes about just felt more like going down a checklist of features to have in an open-world adventure game.

Edmond: I definitely can’t argue against that, though I feel like there’s only so much you can do with a grounded, realistic setting like this without diving off the deep end. Although there is a gameplay element where you upgrade your stats with bio-injectors from the game’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control) equivalent, so who knows? Maybe we’ll get a double jump like New Dawn.

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Alessandro: I enjoyed the stealth gameplay however–which even comes with a tracking vision mode. That to me felt a bit more developed and also more in keeping with the tone. I especially liked seeing how the systems in the world would interact with one another, like when freakers attack other hostile humans.

Edmond: Yes! I really appreciated the quality-of-life stealth features. You really need go out of your way to mark enemies with binoculars to get their pips on the map (it’s not as generous as Far Cry), but you also get their vision cones. There’s a sound indicator, they do the hiding in bushes thing, there are a few different tools to misdirect enemies, and the line-of-sight logic actually felt natural and believable.

Alessandro: Yeah, the game does a nice job of helping you keep track of all these systems. I do hope we’ll see a lot more variety towards the later sections. However, I felt that each of the systems–stealth, combat, and exploration–were better when they were blending different mechanics together, rather than in isolation. It’s all about being super resourceful.

Edmond: For sure, it’s the ease of flowing between different states which keeps the encounters interesting, which I think they did for the three hours I played. I found certain situations where one kind of approach is just not effective–melee is impossible if there are more than two people like I mentioned before, for example, but I also found myself running low on ammo in prolonged firefights, meaning I would have to break line-of-sight, crouch-run between buildings to get across town, and find advantageous vantage points (like a hole in a boarded-up window) to get the jump and make sure my shots counted. I love doing that shit.

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Characters

Alessandro: What’s your take on Deacon, the protagonist? The game really goes out of its way to try and sell you on the really harsh struggle he goes through.

Edmond: Going in, I thought he was going to be a one-note, gruff biker dude. But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that he goes through a lot of real emotional twists and turns that really do work to make you empathise with him–this is a First-Party, “Wasn’t The Last Of Us Great?”-Styled Sony Game, after all. I saw enough in the preview to suggest that he’s got range and maybe even some shit going on deep down.

I thought the performance was pretty good. He’s believably uncomfortable in some situations–there was a point where he had to coerce a teenage girl to come with him, he fumbles over his words and seemed like he had no idea what to do, so he lies to her. He visibly regrets it later on, but it’s communicated purely through his facial expressions, which I found notable.

Out in the world he’s certainly tough, but it also seems like he has some repressed anger and deep sorrow when he’s put into situations where he has to face Bad People–you can hear him breathing heavily and angrily, he mumbles things to himself like “oh so you wanna rob and murder helpless people? Well how do you like this, you scum”, that kind of thing. It certainly adds a lot of character to the game and reminds you that this is a game about Deacon, not necessarily your own survival fantasy.

To that point though, one thing I noticed about this demo was the absence of branching story choices. I saw some earlier gameplay demos where the same cutscenes we saw had moments where you had to choose what actions Deacon takes (like mercifully kill a man or leave him to the freakers, give your partner back his gun or keep it). These choices were previously pitched with the idea that you can change Deacon’s relationship to the characters and perhaps the overall narrative, Telltale Games style. Maybe they’re doubling down on the “Deacon’s story, not yours” thing. Did you see any of that stuff in your previous demos?

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Alessandro: I didn’t, actually. The recent stuff we played covered a lot of the same ground from last year’s demo. It does seem like there’s a greater focus on specific storylines for characters–which you can view in the game’s menu. That young woman that you mentioned actually opens up her own storyline called “You’re Safe Now”, which deals with her circumstances in the camp you bring her to. This particular camp has its own troubles, most of which are related to the leader who imposes some harsh rules on everyone inside the safety of the base. Deacon clashes with her numerous times, which leads to some tense moments.

But to your point, it does seem like there are moments that are prime for choices and player-agency. I do wonder if that’s even a thing in the game at this point during the section we played. There was a particular moment early where you have to make a choice in executing a particular character. They sort of linger on the scene for a bit before Deacon ends up going through with it.

I was initially a bit lukewarm on Deacon, in some cases I found him unlikable even, but I do agree that advancing the story helped humanize him a bit. I am curious to see how he’ll change towards the end-game, and what sort of storylines will come about.

Edmond: I also need to draw attention to the fact that the actor who plays Deacon, Sam Witwer, was the voice and face of the moody protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. So I think we all know how this story is going to end: Darth Vader saves him from a ravaged Earth and becomes his senpai.

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Closing Thoughts

Alessandro: I do have to say that I feel a little more positive about the game compared to last year’s demo. The world itself was a lot more expansive and varied than I expected, and it was interesting seeing how those systems sort of mingle together. However, I still have some reservations. This game has been in development for over six years, and I feel that’s very noticeable in the style and type of gameplay it employs–which is something that’s been seen in numerous other games. The zombie apocalypse feels a bit passé for me, and I’m hoping that Days Gone has a lot more going on than what I saw.

Edmond: I played a lot of DayZ, which well and truly burnt me out on the zombie thing. But I still enjoy scavenging and survival gameplay if the loop is done really well and there’s a good hook. I wanted to like State of Decay 2, but it was a little too monotonous and soulless for me. I went into Days Gone with similarly low expectations, which is probably why I ended up feeling so positive on it. The fact that Days Gone is going to be so focused on narrative, characters, and flexible combat options has me eager to put time aside for it. But like you, I also hope it has some surprises up its sleeve.

And an unlockable horn button. Let me beep the damn horn on the bike.

Days Gone will release for PlayStation 4 on April 26, 2019.

Source: GameSpot.com

Days Gone Devs On Bringing The Zombie Apocalypse To An Unexpected Place

Bend Studio, the developers behind the upcoming PS4 exclusive Days Gone, have seen the PlayStation platform grow through the ages. Starting out with Bubsy 3D, one of the earliest 3D platformers, they pivoted to great success with the Syphon Filter series–one of the original PlayStation’s more defining first-party games. In the time since, Bend Studio worked closely with other developers on franchises like Uncharted and Resistance, but on the year of Syphon Filter’s 20th anniversary, the studio is launching its first new IP in two decades.

After spending some hands-on time with the game, we spoke with creative director John Garvin and game director Jeff Ross about the studio’s formative years and how the new open-world game set in the Pacific Northwest aims to shake up the familiar trappings of the setting. The following interview has been edited for clarity and readability.

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Bend Studio is actually one of the oldest PlayStation developers still around today. This is the first new IP coming from the studio in a long time, so with that, there seems to be a lot of perspective on what makes a good Sony game.

John Garvin: Well for 20 years, I worked on the Syphon Filter series, Resistance: Retribution, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and among others. We’ve always been working on third-person shooters that are narrative-driven, that’s really what we do. But you’re right, it’s our first new IP in a long time. However, we’re always thinking of ways to push the gameplay and ourselves further. The thing about working on Days Gone, is that the PS4 obviously has got a lot more power than anything we’ve worked on before. We couldn’t have done something like the hoard gameplay on any other platform like the PS3 or Vita, and it was really exciting for us to do work on the PS4.

Jeff Ross: To me, Bend Studio just always goes for it. We’re in Central Oregon, we’re kinda outsiders, but we’re about making this big game. This one is certainly the biggest, but as a developer, we’re small, scrappy and we’re willing to kinda go for it and let it all hang out on this title.

Garvin: And we’re really lucky because Sony, I think, is unique to publishers and to platform holders because there is so much longevity in the production team. Some of the people on staff have worked on Bubsy 3D, and they’ve gone on to work on bigger games. But to your point about seeing the evolution of PlayStation, it’s been pretty incredible because I love the fact that Shuhei Yoshida is willing to take chances and say, “Hey, how about a next-gen handheld platform? Or how would you guys like to build an Uncharted game on that?” That was quite an opportunity for us and that was something that we really appreciated happening.

So Bend Studio has been making Days Gone over the course of six years, and we saw the game for the first time during the midpoint of that at E3 2016. Over this period, both Sony and the popularity of the zombie sub-genre has changed. Can you talk about how the game has changed over the years, and what’s stayed constant?

Garvin: Here’s the funny thing about Days Gone, the core idea has been the same from day one. We had a concept painting that our art director had done, just spitballing ideas, and it’s this character–we weren’t calling him Deacon St. John back then–but he was sitting on the roof of an old sawmill and 1,000 zombies are snaking their way up to him. Our first tech demo was a re-creation of that and you have this one guy who’s going to be fighting them. So we really asked ourselves “how do we turn that into a game?” You see movies that kinda do that, but the question is, how do you turn that into a game and make it fun? That was literally what drove the development early on for Days Gone.

Ross: That key image, as a matter of fact, was the basis for our first E3 2016 demo. We knew it was a risk to come out with our biggest asset. That sawmill from the original concept piece was our first public demonstration of the game and we executed on that vision. Six years is a lot of time, but we also see it as a plus. It gives us the time to get things right. It’s a great luxury. It is a long time to work on a game, but it’s also a huge open world, dynamic game in next-gen fidelity.

All the highways are destroyed and you’re doing a lot of off-roading because they were trying to stop the hoard. These pieces all kind of tied together and basically what it’s taken over the last six years is turning that into a game that had elements that were familiar because we feel really strongly that that’s what genre is. It’s the players that bring expectations to a game and they want to experience something that they’re going to have fun with, but at the same time, we actually want to go against those expectations as well.

I actually kind of appreciate that this game is set in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a bit of an unusual area to have an open-world game.

Garvin: Yeah from the beginning we wanted it in the Pacific Northwest. Most people actually don’t know that the region is actually the mostly desert. Seattle is on the west side of the Cascade Range, as is about a third of Oregon, and that’s where all the rain is. That’s where all the green forest is. Where we live, it’s mostly all desert which means that it’s all scarred by volcanism. Which means you have ravines, you have buttes, you have all these steep sort of crevices everywhere. So all the vegetation is built up around that because it’s high desert, it’s very harsh, very extreme.

We haven’t seen this in a video game, and we thought it would be interesting, fun to explore and it would look beautiful. What better backdrop to fight a horde than this amazing environment that you’re in.

It actually went against a lot of my own expectations for what the setting was all about.

Garvin: Yep, and it’s all absolutely real. All this stuff is heavily researched so like the Belknap Crater is a place you can go in central Oregon. Something that we really haven’t talked about, that we’re really proud of, is the fact that all the different regions in the game have unique weather systems. It rains a lot less in the Belknap area, whereas the Cascade region it rains a lot more. As you move further south and into other biomes, you’re gonna run into other types of weather patterns that are totally unique to those regions.

Ross: Right, it’s a beautiful and sinister environment. And honestly, it’s like a character in the game in its own way. It can be snowing in the morning, it can be hot at lunch, then it can be snowing again or raining at night. It can snow as late as June or July too. It’s really a dynamic environment, so we’re not really stretching much for the game. We’re just delivering on what’s there.

A common element for a lot of first-party PS4 games is that there’s a strong focus on character, and Deacon seems to find himself in a lot of different events with other characters. I noticed there was a section in the main menu called Storylines, which kept track of your current relationships and objectives for these key characters.

Ross: I’m glad you noticed the Storylines. We wanted to make sure there was very little dissonance in the open world and the story. We haven’t really shown a lot of the main story yet, but everything you do in this world matters for an important reason. The Storylines mechanics was a way to kinda emphasize advancing the smaller threads in the larger storyline. It’s a way for us to connect the open world activities that the player is doing and kinda frame it in a way that shows why it matters. There is a really tight integration between the two–the story and the open world systems.

Garvin: I can tell you that when it comes to making a Sony first-party PS4 AAA exclusive, there’s a heavy emphasis on character-driven storylines and narratives. You see a little bit of that in the demo, where you might see the storyline where you meet this girl you have to rescue. Last time I beat the game, it took me 30 plus hours to beat the golden path. That’s one of the things we’ve been doing at Bend Studio for all these years; Character-driven experiences, and Days Gone is absolutely no exception.

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The release of this game is slowly coming up. So after spending so long on this game, is there anything about it that sticks out most for you?

Garvin: Yeah I mean, to me, when I’m still playing I always have to pinch myself. It’s something that we set out six years ago. We kinda told Sony that “Alright, we are going to make this huge open world game, with all these systems”. And nobody really believed us, they trusted us, but they didn’t believe it. To see that stuff come together, ultimately, when you get to the final credits of the game, the feels are there. Everything you’ve said it came together and the game stung, and it’s everything we set out to make and more.

Ross: It’s really transformed us. When people tell us no, that redoubles our effort. It’s like when they say something is impossible, we’ll prove that we can do it. And man, I think we did it. So I’m really super proud of that. From my point of view, like you said, it’s all about the feels. People are not expecting it and they’re going to be surprised. By the time you get done with it you’re going to have experienced a lot.

Garvin: I think [Days Gone] is everything Bend Studio represents. We are sort of punching above our weight. We are really ambitious and we really want to create something that is awesome, even when we’re just a small studio in the middle of the high desert.

Source: GameSpot.com

Just Cause 4 Comes To Xbox Game Pass Just A Few Months After Release

Just Cause 4, the open-world sandbox game from Avalanche Studios, is now available in the Xbox Game Pass free game library. WindowsCentral discovered that the game is now available in the Xbox Game Pass library, following a teaser that the Xbox Game Pass account tweeted.

In a silly, fake email purporting to be from “Melissa McGamepass,” it’s revealed that a game starting with a “J” would come to Xbox Game Pass on March 7. As it turns out, that game is (likely) Just Cause 4, and it’s arrived a day early. The email image also says another game with a longer title is also coming to Xbox Game Pass on March 7, but it hasn’t been revealed yet.

Further out, Microsoft will announce another title coming to Xbox Game Pass in April later this month on March 12. Keep checking back with GameSpot for more on that.

Given that Just Cause 4 was only released commercially in December, it appears to be one of the newest titles in the Xbox Game Pass library apart from the first-party Microsoft games that release into Game Pass like Crackdown 3 most recently.

In February, Microsoft released a number of high-profile titles into the Xbox Game Pass library including Batman: Return to Arkham, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Alien Isolation.

Xbox Game Pass offers all-you-can-play model where you can play more than 100 Xbox One and backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games as much as you for as long as your $10/month subscription remains active. Outside of this, Microsoft also offers Games with Gold for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, which grant a few games every month.

Source: GameSpot.com

March’s Free NES Games For Nintendo Switch Online Subscribers Revealed

Nintendo has announced the free NES games being added to the library of freebies on Nintendo Switch for people who subscribe to the system’s Nintendo Switch Online membership.

Available starting March 13 will be two titles: Kid Icarus and StarTropics. Members in Japan are getting a different lineup of games. According to Gematsu, players in Japan will get Kid Icarus, but instead of StarTropics, they’ll receive Yie Ar Kung-Fu and Fire Emblem. It’s not uncommon for the NES Switch Online freebies to vary by region like this.

The NES library for Switch Online subscribers launched in 2018 with 20 big-name games, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Dr. Mario, Ice Climber, Metroid, and Donkey Kong. More have been added since, like Zelda II: The Adventures of Link in January and Super Mario 2 in February.

A subscription to Nintendo Switch Online costs $4 USD/month or $8 USD for three months. A 12-month membership is available for $20 USD, while a Family Membership for up to eight Nintendo Account members costs $35 USD for a year. New subscribers can sign up with a seven-day free trial. In addition to free NES games, subscribers get access to cloud saves and online play for many titles such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart 8 Ultimate.

Source: GameSpot.com

Halo Boss Confirms Halo Infinite Will Launch On Xbox One And PC Amid Rumors

With Microsoft set to finally, maybe, talk about Halo Infinite at E3 this year, fans are understandably eager and excited to learn more about the long-in-development next Halo. One rumour about the game making the rounds is that Halo Infinite will be a “next-gen” game that skips Xbox One.

That’s not going to happen, Halo franchise development director Frank O’Connor says. Responding to someone on Twitter who mentioned this rumour, O’Connor said, “I have no idea what leak you’re talking about, but Halo Infinite will be released for Xbox One and appropriately spec’d PCs.”

The rumour in question may be based on comments from noted Microsoft insider Brad Sams. He recently said on his YouTube show that Microsoft focused on showing Infinite’s engine, SlipSpace, at E3 last year and not the game because the game itself looked … too good.

“They didn’t want to show off any part of the game because it actually looked pretty damn good and they didn’t want to make current-gen stuff look bad,” Sams said.

In the video, Sams never says Halo Infinite won’t be released on Xbox One, but you can imagine people making that connection regardless.

Microsoft is rumoured to announce new Xbox hardware at E3 this year, so that is also likely contributing to the worry about Halo Infinite not coming to the Xbox One hardware on the market today. However, none of the credible reports out there today are suggesting that will happen.

The Xbox One is now considered a “family” of devices. For example, games that play on the mega-powerful Xbox One X also work on the lower-power Xbox One S. Presumably this kind of compatibility between hardware options will continue with the new Xbox hardware set to be revealed at E3 in June. A disc-free Xbox One will be released in May, according to a new report. This kind of compatibility between generations of hardware has been commonplace and generally accepted in the mobile phone market for years, so it seems games are finally catching up.

Halo Infinite will be the first new mainline Halo game since 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians. It’s rumoured to be a launch title for the new Xbox hardware, and that would be notable given 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved was the only time a Halo game was released as a launch title for new Xbox hardware; in that case it was for the original Xbox. The new Xbox consoles are reportedly scheduled to launch in Fall 2020.

In other news, Sams also reported on his show that Halo: The Master Chief Collection may finally soon be announced for PC. For lots more on all the ongoing Xbox rumours, check out this roundup of all the big news.

Source: GameSpot.com

New Doom Map Recreates A Famously Terrible Bathroom

Two years ago, a Something Awful user decided to renovate his bathroom, and did it in about the worst way possible. Not only was it a garish mess—it looks like a Helghast home improvement show—but he violated a bunch of building codes with some reckless DIY along the way.

As bad as all that is, you can now enjoy it from a distance with a Doom map that faithfully recreates the room. It also has an excellent name.

If you’re wondering why the ground around the bath is causing damage, that’s because the actual bathroom featured rocks all around the bath (designed to grow moss), and the damage caused to Doom Guy is a reflection of the damage we have all had to take looking at this casino/Yakuza bar colour scheme.

You can download the map here.

Via Motherboard.

Source: Kotaku.com