GoldenEye is a first-person shooter released for the N64 back in the 90s. You might notice a keyword in that previous sentence. “Shooter.” This means the player is equipped with various guns and then shoots them at enemies. But is it possible to beat this classic shooter without actually shooting? No. But you can beat it by only firing one bullet.
Ryan White, better known as Goose in the speedrunning community, is a popular YouTuber, streamer and GoldenEye speedrunner. He has set multiple records on many different levels. So, after seeing many other YouTubers trying to play games without shooting, killing or jumping, Goose decided to try beating GoldenEye on N64 without shooting. He recently created and uploaded a video detailing how he attempted this and what issues he encountered.
When he first started playing the game without shooting, Ryan almost instantly ran into a major problem. On the famous first level of the game, Dam, players have to shoot a lock to open a gate. Despite knowing various tricks and techniques, Ryan was unable to bypass this obstacle. So he had to fire one bullet to break the lock, pass through the gate and finish the level.
However, beyond this one roadblock right at the start, Ryan was able to beat every other level in the game without shooting. Sometimes he would have to play around with guards until they pulled out a grenade, then rush over to them and kill them before they could use that grenade. Doing this would award Ryan with the unused grenade, which could be used to blow up door locks or other obstacles that are normally bypassed with bullets. Unfortunately, this particular trick doesn’t work on Dam because enemies won’t pull out grenades on that level.
Other levels were far less tricky and Ryan was able to quickly run by all the enemies and beat the level without needing to use any tricks or complex strategies.
I wonder what the developers of GoldenEye on N64 would think after seeing this video. Nobody developing GoldenEye at the time was probably thinking “Can you beat this game without shooting any bullets?” Yet, outside of one small issue, this is totally possible. I find these kinds of runs really impressive.
Aside from the Bible and other great religious works, it seems fair to say that William Shakespeare’s plays are among the most far-read stories in the world. Of those, Hamlet might be the most well-known. A murdered king, a brother who marries the widowed queen, a woe-stricken son who plots revenge and everyone dies. Or do they? In Elsinore, available now on PC, Mac, and Linux, you play as the normally doomed Ophelia and experience the tragedy in real time, searching for a way to prevent it.
When my co-worker Nathan Grayson covered Elsinore years ago, he called it “Hamlet meets Majora’s Mask.” That’s both on the mark and not entirely right. Elsinore has less in common with Majora’s Mask than it does with Jordan Mechner’s underrated 1997 mystery game The Last Express. In that game, players explored a train in real time, trying to stop a terrorist plot and solve a murder. Take too long snooping somewhere and you might miss a key conversation elsewhere. Elsinore operates on a similar principle. Ophelia, Hamlet’s love interest, experiences a dream of the upcoming tragedies at Elsinore Castle. It’s her job to experience the story of Hamlet, going wherever the player wants as the rest of the cast acts out the story.
I have to imagine that Elsinore’s design team is intimately familiar with the site-specific play Sleep No More, which allows audience members to wander a giant warehouse space to similarly experience Shakespeare’s Macbeth in real time. That means you can wander around and try to follow the whole plot or just watch a single actor for hours. Elsinore operates on that principle, with a little bit of adventure game-y dialogue trees tossed in for good measure. By wandering the castle grounds, it’s possible to overhear events or interject into affairs such that you learn new information. For instance, it’s possible to hear King Cladius’ famous church confession that he murdered his brother. But now that you have that information, what do you do? Do you run and tell the queen? Maybe she believes you, maybe she thinks you’re mad. Hell, maybe it paints a target on your back and ends in a whole new tragedy.
Death is a key feature of Elsinore. Not only is is possible to stumble into fresh tragedies, but there’s also a spy in the castle looking to destabilize affairs. Waste too much time or wander down the wrong path at night and you might end up assassinated. The catch is that Ophelia simply wakes up in her bed, Groundhog Day style. Your journal keeps key information and a nifty calendar helps track when major events are happening, which you can then use to attempt to alter history. Maybe you help Hamlet kill his uncle. Maybe you find a way where no one has to die. On your first few lives, you’re stumbling in the dark and barely able to change affairs. Slowly but surely, your knowledge increases, and you can prevent key events from happening or find key evidence in hidden places that you couldn’t have known about at first.
As a theater major who took an extended yearlong study on Hamlet, I’m incredibly biased toward Elsinore. (Seriously, that’s a thing I did. I spent a year studying just one Shakespeare play instead of learning HVAC repair or something useful.) I wish more games experimented with the presentation styles of other mediums, like the variable frame rates of film or the spatial considerations of theater. 2017’s Tacoma experimented with space station logs that had multiple things happening at once, forcing you to go room to room to get a complete picture. Elsinore wears its theater inspirations on its sleeve and, in the process, creates a compelling mystery where players needs to really learn daily routines, castle layouts, and dialogue strategies. The slow pace might not be for everyone, but players willing to endure a few tragic deaths and existential loops will find a clever adventure game worth snooping through.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
I don’t play a ton of shooters, but after getting super obsessed with Apex Legends, I wanted to try Titanfall 2. I also wanted my boyfriend to try Titanfall 2, but I’d always rather play with someone sitting on the couch than online. Me and my boyfriend live about 10 minutes from each other—it would just feel silly to me. Since I had already convinced him to grab the game while it was on sale, this weekend I asked if he wanted to boot it up, just to check it out. We ended up having a wonderful time, and through the insight I gained just from passing the controller, I got farther than I had on my own.
Since I grew up with an older brother, passing a controller back and forth for single-player games has always felt pretty natural to me. Whenever my brother got frustrated or needed to rest his hands, he passed the controller to me. I didn’t often play well, but sometimes by getting a fresh set of eyes (and hands) on things, we could figure out a tough puzzle that eluded him. It was also a great way to learn how to play things. Nothing better than a more experienced player guiding you without judgement.
I had my moments of being a backseat gamer while my boyfriend and I played Titanfall 2—at one point I turned to him while he was futilely trying to climb up a tree and said, “Honey, you gotta do the objective.” At the end of the day, though, having someone to hand the controller to when I couldn’t figure out who the hell kept shooting me was not only a relief; it lead to both of us playing better.
When I played the game on my own, I had kept getting stuck in the same bottlenecks over and over, trying to defeat all the enemies instead of running past them. Playing with my boyfriend, he realized that you didn’t have to kill everyone as long as you kept moving. I’m a pretty stubborn person, so not shooting everyone to death had been anathema to me. I’m not sure I would ever have moved on if it weren’t for my boyfriend graciously taking the controller from me when I got frustrated.
I was glad I was able to help him, too. Titanfall 2’s movement is all about speed and fluidity. My boyfriend doesn’t play as many games as I do, just by virtue of not writing about them for a living, so at times wrapping his head around how to get through environments was challenging for him. Being able to show him how to traverse tricky platforming sections where you were expected to wall run and double jump without much leeway made me feel like I was sharing part of my life with him that I don’t often get to share with anyone.
Playing games for a living can be really isolating. Just finding time to share with someone I love can be hard, especially if I have the weight of an unfinished game hanging over my head. I’m glad I found a way to bring my boyfriend closer to a huge part of my life. I’m also glad that this new avenue for togetherness involved giant robots.
Ubisoft’s sprawling loot shooter The Division 2 just received its biggest free update since its March launch…except most of it isn’t really free until next week, except for two parts that won’t even be free then, but some of the free stuff won’t be out until the week after next, and one promised part is on ice and…Shall we start this over?
On Tuesday, The Division 2’s Title Update 5, which happens to also be considered the game’s first episodic expansion, was added to the game.
There’s a chart for what’s in it:
The update includes two new missions that extend the game’s story, one of which I played last night and liked a lot. That mission, called Manning National Zoo, involves hunting down the leader of the enemy Outcast faction while fighting enemies throughout dilapidated wildlife exhibits. If it seemed like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed artists were showing off with their downloadable content last week, well, check out what their Division 2 artists can do with a mission set in a zoo:
The mission took me about 90 minutes to solo, with a few tricky skirmishes and some time spent just soaking in the sights. It’s a very fun mission with a lot of eye candy as you fight your way through habitats set up for lions, crocodiles, birds and more. There isn’t that much wildlife around, but there are a few neat creature cameos.
Like much of Episode One, the zoo mission is available in The Division 2 now for people who bought the $40 year-one pass. It’ll be available for free for all players on July 30. The idea is that The Division 2’s downloadable content will be available for free, unlike that of its predecessor. The paid approach to DLC backfired in the first Division when Ubisoft tried to charge for new Underground and Survival modes while the base game was essentially on fire with problems and player complaints. By the end of The Division’s second year, Ubisoft was releasing a huge map-expanding expansion for free, a sign of things to come.
Aside from the story missions, the other major new content in the update is the Expedition, a new set of missions being offered in three parts. The first, accessible this week, is fine so far but not great. It’s set in Kenly College’s library and kicks off an overall investigation into the fate of a convoy that went missing nearby. It’s best to think of each part as a medium-sized mission with some goals to complete.
The game’s developers have pitched the Expeditions as more puzzle-based content that will ask players to think through what they’re doing. This first installment in the library isn’t that much of a puzzle. It starts with the discovery of an “echo” hologram that depicts members of the Outcast carting around some improvised explosive devices. The player can activate parts of the hologram to trigger what’s described as investigation. The investigations amount to going to different parts of the library, getting into shootouts with Outcasts, solving some basic puzzles such as activating four power nodes in the correct order, and picking up some audio logs along the way. The gunfights are slightly more intricate than most of the standard story missions, asking players to, say, stay in a specific area while a hack occurs, but they’re not complex. The audio logs are scant but good, as they’re more in the style of the ones from the first Division, telling stories of people in the college from before the societal collapse rather than after.
Missing from the Expedition is something called a Mastery System, which the developers said would incentivize replaying the investigations. Last week, the developers said it was not coming together well enough to release yet. A second Expedition area opens next week for all players (as well as the first one for those who don’t have the year-one pass), with a third to follow presumably a week later. It’s not clear if this three-parter is the only Expedition or if there will be more.
The new update also includes an easier difficulty for the game’s raid. It supports matchmaking and is intended to enable more players to experience its sequence of events, but the new “discovery” difficulty level also limits loot payouts: This version of the raid won’t drop the elite gear that’s obtainable by completing the default version.
Ubisoft’s developers have shown that the update includes a new flashlight pistol mod, answering player complaints that some areas of the game were too dark. It also appears to add a batch of audio logs that provide more information about major characters. It’s accompanied by a timed “apparel event” that rewards players who complete various in-game activities with silly, gaudy summer vacation wear.
Perhaps more important than any of this, though, is that the update is overhauling the game’s gadget-based skill system. While the game’s new content isn’t available to all players yet, these balance changes are. They ratchet up the power of players’ skills, be they shields, drones, turrets, seeker mines, or whatever, while also greatly reducing the cooldown on them. This follows months of frustration from players who said that skills were too weak to build a character around.
I’ve played most of the game solo and from day one have relied on skills such as the assault drone to help me through tough encounters. From the start, I had to manage my approach to in-game combat around long waits while my drone would cool down. I’d activate it, get it to attack some enemies while I focused on others, then wait more than a minute while it stopped working before I could use it again. After the patch, my drone is a near-constant companion. Its cooldown dropped to about 38 seconds, and with some gadget upgrades, I’ve shortened that further. It’s also clearly more powerful and has been effectively perforating enemies. This feels different and, so far, much more satisfying.
The game’s changes to skills were trialed on a PC-only public test server earlier this month. Strangely, all of the aforementioned content was as well, meaning that year-one pass owners are actually not the first members of The Division 2 player base to go through Episode One’s new missions. That’s provoked some discussion about what value the year-one pass has. Currently, the pass gives owners a chance to play stuff early while earning loot they can retain in the game.
The year-one pass also gives owners access to a slew of small but enjoyable missions called Classified Assignments, which actually weren’t on the PTS. The two that came out in May were polished and fun, with little audio log narratives threaded throughout. Two more are part of this update for year-one pass owners, with no announcement about when they’ll be available to others. I’ve played one of the two new ones set in an aquarium. It involves rescuing some civilians while fighting Outcast enemies and learning how the people and fish coped during the societal disaster afflicting The Division’s world. I liked it.
There’s no single thing for players to sink their teeth into with this Title Update 5 / Episode One addition to The Division 2, and there’s nothing about it, cool Classified Assignments aside, that makes it easy to recommend the game’s year-one pass. There are, however, myriad interesting things being added to the game via this update, and at least a short burst of fresh adventures to experience. Of course, it’ll take weeks to see how all that’s been added and tweaked shakes out. As a sign of the heft of the game’s free updates, it’s encouraging. As a marker of the developers’ progress with improving the game, it shows the team moving in a good direction.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is as pure a throwback Metroidvania game as you can get. After all, Symphony of the Night direct Koji Igarashi was at the helm. Besides a great double-jump and strong adherence to the Castlevania form, Bloodstained also has some tricky bosses. Turns out that Igarashi had a few rules in place for ensuring they were tough but fair.
In an interview with Gamasutra’s Kris Graft, Igarashi opened up about some of the design philosophies that helped guide the development of Bloodstained. Some are straightforward; there was to be a focus on exploration, as well as a concerted effort to make fans of the Metroidvaniastyle have a sense of immediate familiarity when playing Bloodstained. In addition to exploration, Igarashi and the team wanted a game that had replayability. That meant a twisty, turny castle to explore with plenty of weapons to use and different magical spells to collect. The team also had a specific rule involving the creation of bosses.
“I wouldn’t call it a design guideline, but Bloodstained does follow a strict rule that I always make the team [adhere] to,” Igarashi said. “That is…the developer who creates the boss must beat their own boss without taking a hit and only using a dagger! (We almost didn’t make it…)”
As a result of this challenge, it was possible for the designers to test how fair the game’s bosses were and to tweak attacks so that they weren’t completely outrageous. It’s a rule that I’ve sometimes heard variations on in apocryphal stories about the development of other games. For instance, it’s sometimes said that John Romero made sure that all his Doom levels could be completed with just the pistol. That may or may not have been true for the development of Doom, but now we know that it’s a fact for Bloodstained. You want to make a boss? You gotta be able to take it down with a piddling little knife and do it with perfect execution.
Video game music rules. Sometimes, it is legitimately great. Since the start of 2019, Twitter account 140 Seconds VGM has been breaking down game tunes into bite-sized chunks. Sometimes the songs are classics, sometimes they’re random oddities. But every new post brings a bright blast of music.
140 Seconds VGM posts a handful of times a day, with samples slightly over two minutes. It’s a good way to get a taste for well-known composers as well as find some of the stranger, lesser-known pieces of music. For instance, you might go from the JRPG boldness of Octopath Traveler’s Yasunori Nishiki to the operatic and inimitable work of Nier composer Keiichi Okabe:
Other times, it’s something a little more random and funky. For instance, you might stumble upon the pop music from the clumsy-to-play but still pretty charming Sega Saturn racing game Sonic R. 140 Seconds VGM has something for everyone.
Now, one might say “Heather, you bojo! This has been running nearly a year! Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” or even “Psh, I knew about this before it was cool.” But 140 Seconds VGM has just recently stumbled into my life, and I want to share the joy. Start your morning right with a little bit of music.
Super Mario Maker 2 has been out more than enough time for the most prolific creators to create tons of strange story missions, Kaizo deathtraps, and classic homages. It’s also been out for enough time to reach the course creation limit. Super Mario Maker 2 is doubling that limit, allowing players to make more courses.
As heard through Eurogamer andconfirmed by a quick peek into Super Mario Maker 2‘s notifications tab, the number of courses that players can upload has been increased from 32 to 64 levels. That’s twice the fun and twice the chances to have some fancy livestreamer stumble upon your level.
The notification also states that there are plans to raise that upload limit one more time. Will that mean 128 total courses? Hopefully it’s not just 65 or some other super strange number. Still, this increase is good news for dedicated Mario makers who want to entertain and frustrate the masses with their levels.
BeamNG, a very fun driving game that’s mostly about destroying cars in the best way possible, now lets you smash stuff up on the streets of Grand Theft Auto 3’s Liberty City, without any hassles like health meters or police intervention.
Desk, one of the most creative and technically gifted combo video creators in the fighting game community, has outdone himself with his latest project. Controlling both Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter Alpha’s Dramatic Battle mode, using one hand for each character, he beats the snot out of devilish dictator M. Bison and defeats the two-player cooperative mode by himself.
In addition to regular versus and story modes, the Street Fighter Alpha series is unique in that it allows two players to team up via the Dramatic Battle mode to take on a computer-controlled opponent. While it would expand in future games, allowing players to use every character in the game, the mode’s first iteration in the original Street Fighter Alpha was limited to Ryu and Ken as an homage to their final fight with M. Bison in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.
Unlike in the movie, however, M. Bison doesn’t even get a chance to breathe in Desk’s latest combo video. By combining the talents of both Shotokan masters, he delivers devastating attacks strings that keep the computer opponent locked down indefinitely. At various points, Ryu and Ken pin M. Bison between them, knocking him back and forth before ultimately finishing him off with a super attack. Desk even manages to fit some taunts in there for good measure.
The video is made even more impressive due to the fact Desk is playing two characters at the same time, with just one hand afforded to each. Plus, since there isn’t a training mode to practice these combos, Desk also had to learn how to deal with the artificial intelligence controlling M. Bison, which is known to be especially difficult in order to provide a challenge for two players.
According to Desk, it took him a week to put this all together, but he’s still ready to do it all over again in Street Fighter Alpha 3. In that game’s version of Dramatic Battle, players can pick any of its 30-plus characters, thus providing an enormous amount of possible combinations.
“It was fun but super frustrating at times,” Desk added in the video description. “Really happy I did it though, and I’m super satisfied with how the video turned out.”