The Scuf Vantage is an incredibly comfortable, highly customizable third-party controller for the PlayStation 4. It’s got four customizable back paddles, extra side buttons, swappable faceplates and analog sticks—it’s basically the PS4’s answer to Microsoft’s Elite Wireless. Well, now Scuf has announced the Vantage 2, which is all that, only better.
Tim Rogers and I swear by our Scuf Vantage controllers. I have one sitting inches from my hand as I type this. That’s convenient, as the Scuf Vantage 2’s list of improvements makes me want to grab this old piece of junk and toss it in the trash. The grip is better. The trigger functions are upgraded, with even more customization and fine-tuning options. There’s a brand-new customization app for players to configure their controller for PC play. Here’s a neat little list of what’s getting better.
Improved High-Performance Grip
Upgraded trigger functions
PC Customization App for Windows
Improved button haptics
Refined tactile textures in the faceplate, trigger, bumper, and Sax buttons
Enhanced USB connection system
That’s all on top of the original Vantage’s slew of features, including adjustable trigger sensitivity, swappable analog sticks and D-pads, on-the-fly button remapping, that weird touch-sensitive audio control bar at the base, and the four-piece paddle control system on the back.
And it’s still pretty expensive. The Vantage 2 starts at $170 for the wired-only model, with a version capable of swapping between wired and Bluetooth running $200. Both are available for preorder on the Scuf website and start shipping in mid-October. For those wishing to pay even more, there’s a special Call of Duty: Modern Warfare edition that runs $220 and comes with special stylized parts and a code for an in-game sniper scope charm.
Sony’s been trying to nail down pricing on PlayStation Now for half a decade. Today’s dramatic price drop brings the streaming game service as close to reasonable as it’s ever been. Here’s how pricing breaks down by region.
That’s not bad. A $9.99 charge from Sony for something you forgot you subscribed to is a lot less shocking than a $19.99 charge popping up. There’s something soothing about single digits.
Along with the new pricing plans, Sony is adding a selection of big-name PlayStation 4 games to the service for a limited time, including God of War, Grand Theft Auto V, inFamous: Second Son, and Uncharted 4. These four games will be available on the service now through January 2020, and more games will be rotated in and out on a regular basis.
Sony is so excited about the price changes it’s made a minute-long commercial.
First a lot better, now a lot cheaper. Nice moves, PlayStation Now.
This week Ghost Recon Breakpoint releases, letting players explore a large open-world map as super tactical soldiers. If it is anything like the last game, it also means players will be able to cause all sorts of mayhem using vehicles and explosives.
I enjoyed the gameplay of the last Ghost Recon game, Wildlands, but the world felt so boring and the story never hooked me that I stopped about 60% of the way through. I’ve been tempted to go back and finish off the last leaders of the Cartel for a while now. Maybe I should do that before I play Breakpoint? Or maybe I’ll skip Breakpoint and never play Wildlands again! Who knows?
There’s more coming out this week beyond a new and big Ubisoft game. Warsaw looks like a cross between World War II and Darkest Dungeon. Destiny 2′s big new expansion drops this week, alongside the jump to Steam. And for Ghostbusters fans out there, that game from a few years back is being remastered for current-gen systems. I remember liking the first few hours of that game and hating the rest of it. Maybe I’ll like it more on new consoles?
Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:
Monday, September 30
Chop Is Dish | Switch
Blockoid | PC
Fallen Empires | PC, Mac
Nobodies | PC, Mac
Duck In Town – A Rising Knight | PC, Mac
Balloon Fighter | PC
Cube World | PC
Ten Days To War | PC
Spaceland | PC
The Lost | PC
Tuesday, October 1
Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation 2 | PS4
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep | PS4, Xbox One, PC
YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World | PS4, Switch PC
ReadySet Heroes | PS4
80 Days | Switch
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition | Switch
Lanternium | Switch
Super Crate Box | Switch
Hunting On Myths | PC
Particle Wars | PC
Wednesday, October 2
Asdivine Kamura | Xbox One, PC
Warsaw | PC
We Were Here Too | Xbox One
Spooky Ghost Dot Com | Switch
Marginalia | PC
Norman’s Night In | PC
Drawn Down Abyss | PC, Mac
RaceXXL Space | PC
The Long Return | PC
Thursday, October 3
Neo Cab | Switch, PC
Legrand Legacy: Tale Of The Fatebounds | PS4, Xbox One
Candleman | Switch
A Hole New World | PS Vita
Paranoia: Happiness is Mandator | PC
Fault: Milestone One | Switch
CASE: Animatronics | Switch
Galaxy Champions TV | Switch
Cubixx | Switch
Tic-Tac-Letters by POWGI | Switch
Hexagroove: Tactical DJ | Switch
Hero Of The Forest | PC
Hexxon | PC, Mac
Endless Fables 4: Shadow Within | PC, Mac
Alive 2 Survive | PC, Mac
Friday, October 4
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint | PS4, Xbox One, PC
SlabWell: The Quest For Kaktun’s Alpaca | Xbox One
We’re about to begin the final weekend before Destiny 2‘s big expansion, Shadowkeep, launches, and it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little listless.
One of the nice things about Destiny is how it’s always endeavored to offer something for every style of play, and as a result, everyone plays at their own pace. In that spirit, I’ve got three categories of tips for you: Some general things everyone should do, a few tips for the hardcore, and finally, a few pointers for less intensive players.
Tips For Everyone
Don’t try and raise your power. This is kind of counterintuitive to how Destiny works, since the primary goal of the game is finding better gear that raises your stats, but come Shadowkeep, the current power level ceiling is going to be the new floor, and everyone’s going to rocket up to 750 power. So, while you will almost certainly climb a little bit as you naturally play, don’t make it your goal. Just do what’s interesting.
Don’t infuse anything. That big power jump also applies to all of your gear, so there’s no point in wasting materials to upgrade weapons or armor unless you absolutely need them for something you plan to do this weekend, specifically.
Break down your cosmetics. We’ve known this for at least a month now, but it bears repeating: break down all the cosmetics you aren’t using for Bright Dust, stat. (Bright Dust, remember, is a currency used exclusively for cosmetics and earned through play, unlike Silver, which is bought with real money.) After next week, cosmetics will instead break down into legendary shards, and you can pull previously owned cosmetics from your collections menu with the requisite materials—so you’re essentially sitting on free Bright Dust. Cash in!
Also mods. Mods are converting from one-time-use to permanent unlocks in Shadowkeep, so you’ll only ever need one. If you have multiple mods of one type, break them down now, and stock up on Mod Components—they’ll come in handy as mods are about to become very important.
You’ve finished the campaigns, right? A hiccup of the Destiny 2 base game going free-to-play means that, if you haven’t completed any of the story campaigns—the base game’s Red War, its Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions, or Forsaken—your progress will be reset. Thankfully, they’re all short, so if you’re midway through any of them, you can probably knock them out this weekend. And if you can’t do that, each planet in Destiny 2 will be unlocked via experience points, not campaign progress, so don’t sweat it.
Ignore armor. Armor is going to change completely once Shadowkeep drops, don’t even bother.
Remember: You can’t play the game on Monday. Destiny 2 is shutting down for a full 24 hours before Shadowkeep’s global launch on October 1, from 10 a.m. PDT/1 p.m EST on Monday until the weekly reset at the same time Tuesday. Make sure you wrap up your affairs by Sunday night, or at the very latest, early Monday morning.
Tips For The Hardcore
Farm Everything. If you’re a hardcore Destiny player, you probably have loads of materials in your inventory, but do a sweep and make sure your coffers are full—the economy’s changing, and it’s nice to stay liquid. Stock up on anything you can think of: planetary materials like Dusklight Shards and Microphasic Datalattice, upgrade materials like Legendary Shards and Enhancement Cores, and make sure you’re carrying the maximum amount of Glimmer.
Fill Out Your Arsenal. Maybe you have everything you think you need to handle whatever Shadowkeep throws your way, but are you sure? Just about every type of weapon is going to perform a little differently when the expansion hits, so you need to be thinking about versatility, and be ready to experiment. Which is fun! And even more fun if you’re prepared. Make sure you don’t have any blatant holes in your arsenal, and maybe spend some time chasing down weapons you didn’t really think highly of before. They could end up being your new favorite in Shadowkeep’s earliest hours.
Consider Stocking Up On Bounties. This tip comes via Datto’s brief-but-excellent guide to Shadowkeep prep. Spend some time completing bounties this weekend, and don’t cash them in. This way, you bank a bunch of readily available experience points that will level up your seasonal artifact and also might come with some sweet new loot that scales to Shadowkeep’s higher power levels. The viability of this trick wasn’t known when Datto made his video, but Bungie confirmed Thursday afternoon that most bounties will still be honored, with the exception of Crucible, Vanguard, and Gambit bounties.
Tips For Everyone Else
If you’re returning, just dip into the most recent stuff. The last year of Destiny 2 is a bit overwhelming for lapsed players, but since Bungie made last year’s Annual Pass content free this week, you might want to check it out. You need to be level 30 for these extras. I recommend you focus on the Season of Opulence stuff, which is kicked off by talking to Benedict 99-40, a robot tucked away in the Tower Annex. It’s the most well-rounded of the last year’s three updates, with a grind that feels fair and a killer activity, The Menagerie, attached. And like all of last year’s Annual Pass content, it’ll still be here when Shadowkeep launches, regardless of whether or not you buy the expansion.
If you crave direction, find a weapon you want and go for it. There are a lot of performance tweaks inbound with Shadowkeep, so there’s no must-have gear, but there is a wide range of interesting weapons to pursue, some of which might make you play in a way you don’t normally play. Get some friends together and try a big exotic quest for a gun you didn’t think you could get, like the Lumina healing hand cannon. Look at your Lore Books, and figure out where the missing pages might be. Make your own goals, and surprise yourself.
Think about friends who might be into joining you. While lots of exciting new stuff is exclusive to Shadowkeep, the Destiny 2 base game is also getting an upgrade and going free-to-play alongside the Shadowkeep launch, so it’s the perfect time to recruit some pals. They won’t be able to do everything with you, but they’ll have free access to every destination, so they’ll definitely be able to come along on the grind.
If you need help, ask for it! The Destiny community has by and large maintained a pretty positive atmosphere, and is full of people willing to help solo players do things they can’t pull off alone. Consider this weekend as a time to make friends and mix it up, so you won’t be going into Shadowkeep alone.
That’s all I have for you right now. See you on the moon next week.
For all its singleplayer focus and plaudits, The Last Of Us also shipped with a multiplayer mode. Its upcoming sequel will not.
Developers Naughty Dog announced the news with a short statement yesterday, while suggesting that whatever had been cooking for the game’s multiplayer will be released at a later date, just “not as part of The Last Of Us Part II”
You know what? That’s fine. I’d be happy if every single-player-focused game shipped without a tacked-on multiplayer experience. Plus, whatever is being teased later down the line—a spinoff? The Last Of Them?—might end up being a lot more interesting if it’s given space to breathe, instead of being relegated to a secondary spot on the original game’s main menu.
There are nearly 500 eyebrow options in Code Vein’s character creator.
There is a lot of every option in the robust character creation toolset of Bandai Namco’s post-apocalyptic vampire adventure. Players begin by choosing a gender, one of the creator’s simplest options. From there, they can choose between 32 different premade characters. These serve as a starting point for a much larger series of decisions. Each preset character is stunning in their own way.
Once a preset is selected, the best option is to skip down to entering a name and advancing directly to gameplay. Otherwise, moving on to “Advanced Settings” opens up a staggering amount of customization that kept me occupied for several hours when I was supposed to be playing the actual game.
There are 58 different hairstyles in Code Vein’s character creator. Each hairstyle has multiple color options, base color, and highlights. Once you’ve chosen and colored the perfect hairstyle you’ll discover the accessories menu. Along with glasses, hats, gloves, jewelry, and other random bits, the accessories menu has an entire section filled with hair extensions.
There are only a handful of outfits in Code Vein’s character creator, which is good, because each one can be customized with dozens of different colors and patterns. Flat colors. Glowing colors. Plaids. Animal patterns. Metallic sheens. Vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, and checkerboard.
Sweet Christ, there are 66 different options for eye highlights in Code Vein’s character creator. EYE HIGHLIGHTS.
This is why I spent an hour and a half creating my first character in Code Vein. Then I played through the opening section and realized I didn’t like the character I created. I made a new character and started the game over. Eventually, I found the in-game headquarters, where characters can be edited on the fly. I felt stupid for not checking this out sooner, but also pretty.
In the video up top I spend ten minutes showing off Code Vein’s character creator while gushing. It’s deep and complicated, as a character creator should be. It’s the game’s best feature.
Bandai Namco’s anime vampire apocalypse adventure Code Vein is clearly meant to be a Dark Souls-style joint. It’s got that signature slower, methodical combat and massive, challenging bosses. Hell, it’s even got a Souls-like currency that can be lost when a player meets their untimely end. But Code Vein also has hot anime AI partners, a homey headquarters with a fully stocked bar and working jukebox, and a relaxing hot springs to help drain what little tension the game manages to muster.
For a game about vampiric revenants battling over dwindling blood supplies at the end of the world, Code Vein is surprisingly laid back. During the game’s early moments, following my apocalpytic bloodsucker’s awakening from an incredibly robust character creator, things look pretty grim. My character, with no memory of her life, finds herself enslaved by a group of revenants who plan on using her to harvest blood bulbs from blood trees. Fortunately, however, her first mission ends with her encountering Louis, a friendly vampire determined to find a away for humans and revenants to live in peace and harmony.
Louis is researching the strange blood bulb-producing plants that have been popping up, hoping that by discovering their source he can tap into an endless, cruelty-free food supply. How fortunate! In a world filled with scavengers desperate to survive and infested with The Lost, twisted, feral creatures who were once human before surrendering to their endless thirst, we run into the one guy trying to make things right. We’re the luckiest revenants ever.
Louis and his cadre of like-minded vampire pals are a big part of why Code Vein feels so safe to me. Almost immediately, the game lets me know that I don’t have to go it alone. Whenever I’m out exploring the deep caves or ruined cityscapes, Louis or one of his friends tags along. They fight by my side. Hell, sometimes they fight for me.
Take one of the game’s earlier bosses, the Butterfly of Delirium. She’s a scantily clad anime woman in the front, a weird lizard thing in the back, and she was giving me a hell of a time. I’d fight her, die, and respawn a few enemies away at the “Mistle,” Code Vein’s version of a campfire. Then I’d hop into the game’s menu, fiddling with my character’s weapon and skill loadout. Maybe change the “Blood Code” or character job I was using. I’d head back to Madame Butterfly, run out of healing items in mid-battle, miss a dodge and get poisoned and die.
I repeated this process several times. Sometimes I’d farm “Haze” (read: Souls) to upgrade my weapons or unlock new abilities. Mistle comes in incredibly handy, as every time the player rests all the nearby monsters respawn. There’s a Mistle located in an abandoned parking garage just down the ramp from a large enemy that drops valuable items. I like to pop over there and do some farming. It also helps that I can teleport back to home base at any point, sell some gear, buy some power-ups, and maybe listen to a little music before charging back into the fray.
After several painful deaths at the wings and poison clouds of the Butterfly of Delirium, here’s the strategy that finally worked: I dodged. I spent the entire battle dodging her attacks, resisting the urge to charge in and get a few whacks with my broadsword or perform a special ichor-draining attack to reload my ichor-powered rifle. Instead, I just let my AI-controlled companion kill the damn boss. Louis wasn’t quite cutting it, so I switched to Yakumo, Louis’s hotter, red-headed friend. His massive sword did all the work. I didn’t even both casting any shared buffs. Didn’t want to make the boss mad.
Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra participated in Code Vein’s network test earlier this year and complained that calling additional players into battle trivializes boss battle. I’m playing pre-release—the game launches for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One tomorrow—so I’ve not been able to find other real people to play with, but so far the AI companions are doing a fine job of trivializing combat without human help. Outside of the Butterfly battle, the only real challenge I’ve faced are Trials of Blood, special in-game events where hordes of The Lost swarm the player and their partner, attempting to overwhelm them with sheer numbers.
Code Vein isn’t a very challenging game, and I don’t mind at all. It’s all about unlocking that next Mistle and regularly spending Haze on leveling up your character and unlocking skills. Initially I was worried it would be another dark and dreary Souls-like game, dulling its anime vampire edge with plodding, brutish combat. Instead, it’s this weird sort of Souls-like playground, where players are free to experiment with new weapon combinations and Blood Code builds without worrying too much about losing progress or getting overly frustrated or being challenged in any meaningful way.
Hell, I spent an hour grinding to gather enough Haze to unlock and master some abilities from the Hunter and Ranger Blood Codes to help me find items and make enemies show up on radar. I had no plan. They just sounded like cool skills, and this is the sort of game where I can spend hours acquiring cool skills and then more hours creating loadouts of said skills and figuring out which combination of blades, guns, and magic spells are best at making an easy job even easier.
It’s those sorts of game mechanics that will keep me coming back once Code Vein goes live. I’m not particularly interested in the game’s story, as I’ve already gotten my fill of “hot anime people at the end of the world” from Astral Chain on the Nintendo Switch. The post-apocalyptic world is pretty in many places but plain in many others.
Nah, I’m here for teams of players gathering online and completely fucking this shit up. My NPC friends and I can do an awful lot of damage to the dark denizens of Code Vein’s crumbling society. I can’t wait to see the sort of carnage real players can summon. I am here for that.
The practice of platform holders securing console exclusives took a new and weird turn yesterday, when Sony and Activision announced that Modern Warfare’s Survival Mode—a mode within a mode, as it’s part of Spec Ops—is appearing exclusively on the PS4 until October 1, 2020.
Spec Ops, first introduced in the original Modern Warfare 2, is a series of short scripted missions that can either be played solo or co-op. They’ve been missing from the last few Call of Duty games, so their return here has been seen as a welcome move by longtime series fans.
That excitement from PC and Xbox users will be a little tempered by yesterday’s announcement, though. While the core Spec Ops experience will appear on all platforms, Survival Mode—basically a Horde mode for Call of Duty, available as an option within Spec Ops—won’t be turning up outside the PS4 until October 2020, which conveniently is right around the time the next Call of Duty game will be due.
This isn’t the first time Sony has secured an exclusivity deal for Call of Duty content, but those have previously been for a matter of days. To lock something down for almost an entire year (the game is due out on October 25) is a little more drastic.
You can see the exclusive announced twice in the video below, once at the beginning in small print, and again near the end.
I can’t remember the last time both of these games so underwhelmed.
In recent years both have had their individual highs and lows. FIFA’s last pre-Frostbite seasons were rough, and PES has long been walking a knife’s edge between eccentric brilliance and outright embarrassment.
This is not a normal Kotaku review
Sports game reviews are usually pretty boring, so for a few years now I’ve decided against giving each of these titles a spotlight of their own, instead pitting them in a caged fight to the death. Only insane people are going to get both of these games, so most football fans probably just want to know which of the two is the one to pick up. Most years it’s FIFA. Some years it’s not.
Every time one stumbled, though, the other was there to carry the day, whether it was PES’ Fox Engine revolution or FIFA’s surprisingly excellent single-player story mode, “the Journey.” I’d always be able to point to one of these two games, combatants in the last genuine competition in the sports game market, and say this one is definitely the one to get.
This year, instead of a confident thrusting of my finger, I can only half-heartedly wave my hand. PES is stuck in the same rut it’s been in for years now, capable on the pitch but increasingly a shambles off of it, while FIFA has somehow, in a genre defined by its obsession with incremental upgrades, managed to go backwards.
Here’s how this year’s head-to-head review is going to work. I’m going to give you what I like most about both games and what I don’t like. I’ll give a reluctant endorsement to one of them, and then we’re going to go our separate ways and reconvene same time next year to see what’s up.
THE GOOD STUFF
CAREER MODE – This is less of a big 2019 update and more of just the slow accumulation of features over the last few seasons, but FIFA’s career mode—especially as a manager—is now so fully featured that it’s like a Football Manager Lite, down to keeping players happy and getting into the nitty gritty of international scouting. The new contract negotiation system, which plays out with agents in a tense cinematic office/restaurant environment, is fantastic.
MISKICKS – While for the most part FIFA has tried to get more realistic over the past decade (it was originally a decidedly arcade experience), one area where it always lagged behind PES was the way you could string together pinpoint passes regardless of the direction the person receiving the ball was facing in relation to where he was kicking it.
In FIFA 20 there are now very strict rules regarding this, so if you try and just spam quick throughballs into the centre of midfield with your back to the opposition’s half, your players won’t perform leg-snapping miracles, they’ll just completely miskick it. Combined with the physicality and 1v1 “strafing” of the setup touch, it really helps to slow down FIFA’s pace, and really helps with allowing for calculated build-up play in an opponent’s final third, a ploy previous FIFA games just weren’t interested in accommodating.
ULTIMATE TEAM – Every year Ultimate Team inches closer, NBA 2K-style, to becoming the central focus of the FIFA experience, and every year that bums me out a little more. This mode is essentially gambling, it’s bad news for kids, and it has no place in a retail video game that’s already asking for you a big up-front investment.
THE GOOD STUFF
“THE PITCH IS OURS” – Every year PES’ gameplay, with its methodical player animation and 1:1 ball physics, gets a little closer to playing like the real thing. This year it got a little closer still. I never, ever score the same goal twice in PES, and its midfield battles are far more tactical than FIFA’s breakneck race to the penalty box.
MENUS – This seems like a minor thing to heap praise on, but for the longest time PES’ front end has been a nightmare to plod through. This year it’s much nicer, which for a game you might be spending hundreds of hours with, makes a big difference!
THE BAD STUFF
SLOPPY – PES 2020 is just so rough around the edges. It launched without correct team rosters, data updates take forever, in-game replays are doubled in length due to constant splashing of the game’s logo…everywhere you look, there’s just stuff there (or not there) that feels unfinished.
COMMENTARY – I think Peter Drury is the worst commentator working in football today, so his mere presence in the game isn’t helping here, but even were I a fan I’d still be criticizing PES for this. Its commentary is repetitive, slow and bizarrely unspecific, and after a few games got so tiring I just played games without it.
AI – Here’s the real deal-breaker with PES though: Throughout my review, the AI would continually just break down, especially when it came to player movement off the ball. Sometimes my striker would start to make a run behind the defense then just stop and wander off, while my defenders would see an opposition striker heading at them and turn their backs. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened more than enough for it to make a difference on the scoresheet in several key games, which was absolutely unforgivable.
Both games underwhelmed this year because neither failed to progress significantly from where they were in 2018. FIFA 20 in particular feels like a lesser offering than FIFA 19, because“the Journey”was such an accomplished and enjoyable addition to the game; its absence this year is sorely felt, especially when Volta’s own story is so poor by comparison.
We’re here for a recommendation, though, not commiseration, and so despite its shortcomings I think FIFA is once again the better overall offering. Volta might be a misfire, but the way I can try and take defenders on 1v1 is now more fun than it’s basically ever been in a football game, regardless of the publisher, and the state career mode is in threatens to pull me away from Football Manager (of which I’m admittedly a pretty casual player) entirely.
PES, meanwhile, tried a little harder than usual this year, spending more on licenses (not having Juventus in FIFA is weird) and changing the name of the series itself. As befitting a game mired in quicksand, though, the more it struggled, the more it found itself stuck.
The overwhelming impression I got playing both games this year is that they’re just tired. Both series are in need of a fresh shot of adrenaline (and a fresh coat of paint), and they were never going to get it in 2019, in the twilight of the sixth console generation. We can only hope that this year’s stagnation is just a result of something bigger and better coming along next year.
Note 1: I played a retail copy of PES on PC, and had a prerelease copy of FIFA on PS4.
There’s a limited edition PS4 Pro coming based on Death Stranding, and it’s a very fetching shade of white. The drippy black handprints on the top are a nice touch, but nowhere near as nice as the decision to base the accompanying controller on the game’s Bridge Baby.
The console launches alongside the game on November 8, and is a 1TB version of the PS4 Pro. It’ll be $400.
The controller has a partially-transparent orange casing, letting you see the insides. Sadly there’s no room in there to add a floaty baby, but the execution on a cool concept here is still one of the best for an official controller I’ve seen in years.