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E3 2018: Assassin's Creed Odyssey Deserves A Discovery Tour

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 13:01

Of all the changes Assassin's Creed Origins introduced to the formula, the smartest may have been the post-launch addition of a Discovery Tour mode. The series has always been firmly rooted in history, but its tendency towards the fantastical--Leonardo Da Vinci making assassin gadgets and the like--often overshadowed the time and effort Ubisoft has put into its historical research. Discovery Tour shone a bright spotlight on all the work the studio put into researching ancient Egypt, and now a year later, Assassin's Creed Odyssey deserves the same treatment.

A lengthy E3 2018 demo was littered with historical details. The costuming and fashion appeared period-appropriate and correct down to the rope used for tying off armor or braids. The architecture was gorgeously recreated to show how the still-standing ornate structures of ancient Greece would have appeared minus 2000 years of wear and tear. The characters casually reference the gods with a precision that represents a people who regarded this as religion, not superstition.

Certainly there's no shortage of pop culture representations of ancient Grecian culture. From 300 to Disney's Hercules and even the God of War series, Greece is better represented than Egypt ever was. But precisely because the society has been so remixed and blended into modern myths, a more reverent and exacting take would be truly valuable.

Just like the first, it would serve as an advertisement for Ubisoft. Like any studio commentary, it peels back a layer of mystery around the development process, giving insight and context to the difficult work of making a game. And it poses the studio as well-meaning and passionate.

This may well already be in the cards for Odyssey. An Ubisoft representative was coy when asked, refusing to offer a yes or no. But it is a distinct possibility that the cost of Discovery Mode was too high for a free value-add feature to justify doing it again this year, and that would be a shame. Both for the educational value, and for showcasing the impressive work of Ubisoft's historical research, Discovery Tour should come back to stay.

E3 2018: Halo Infinite Returns To The Franchise's Roots And Is "Bigger And Bolder," Exec Says

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 12:18

Halo Infinite was announced during the Xbox E3 2018 briefing by way of a game engine tech demo, not a reveal of the game itself. We still don't know what that looks like or what it really is. But now, Xbox marketing boss Aaron Greenberg has commented further on the title, telling GameSpot that it will return to the franchise's "core roots." It remains to be seen exactly what that means, but the brief look at Master Chief's helmet from the engine tech trailer is meant to be evocative of the classic vibe.

That's all Greenberg had to say on the matter of Halo Infinite returning to the franchise's roots. But he did say that he's eager to see the team at 343 Industries do something more ambitious than a straightforward sequel called Halo 6. "I'm personally excited that it's not just Halo 6. This is a bigger, bolder, more ambitious title," Greenberg said. In 2014, Halo boss Bonnie Ross said we may never see a Halo 6 because 343 wanted to move away from numbered entries. Now, that's happened.

Also in our interview, which you can watch in the embed above, Greenberg doubled down on the fact that the Infinite trailer from E3 was not the game. It was a tech demo, and an impressive-looking one at that, which showcases what Infinite could be, not what it is. What we do know is that Infinite will tell a more Master Chief-centric story, which is good news after Halo 5 steered away from him.

"What you saw was an in-engine demonstration," Greenberg said. "And of course we are announcing that we are making a brand-new Halo, Halo Infinite, and that the story will feature Master Chief. And you get a sense of some of the technical capabilities of the engine as well. But beyond that, we're just announcing the title. We're not getting into a lot more detail. But it's been good to see the reaction."

Greenberg added that the team at 343 has "done a lot of thinking" about where it wants the story to go, though he shared no further details. Taking a page out of Blizzard's playbook, 343 will share more details on Infinite "when they're ready."

No release date has been set for Infinite, but it sounds like it won't launch anytime soon. The game has a new art style and goes in "new and unexpected directions," while 343 has also teased that you'll get to play early in beta tests. For lots more on Infinite, check out GameSpot's breakdown of everything you need to know from E3.

E3 2018: New Last Of Us 2 Details About Ellie And More Revealed

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:51

Sony has revealed more details about the much-anticipated PlayStation 4 game The Last of Us: Part II. In a blog post, director Neil Druckmann discussed Ellie and her motivations, while he also confirmed the role of another celebrity who is working on the game.

We knew Ellie was older in The Last of Us: Part II, but now Druckmann confirmed that she is 19 years old. After the horrific events of the first game, Ellie has found "a semblance of peace and normality." She is on a path towards finding peace in her world--but it doesn't last.

"When that peace is disrupted by a violent act, Ellie is thrust into a brutal journey of retribution, fueled by a need to bring those that have wronged her to justice, pushing her to her very limits," Druckmann said.

While Joel was the playable character in the first game, Ellie is the lead playable character for the sequel. As we saw in the gameplay reveal trailer during Sony's E3 2018 briefing, Ellie is a more than capable fighter. "You're going to feel her physical, emotional, and mental state expressed through every facet of gameplay," Druckmann said. "We've completely overhauled our engine, developed new combat mechanics, created a new analog stealth system, and revamped our animation system to fully express Ellie's desperation, resourcefulness, and unique agility."

Regarding the game's advancements overall, Druckmann said the environments are "broader, more complex, and more detailed." This brings "unprecedented realism, verticality, and player choice," the game director teased. The enemy AI is now more sophisticated as well.

In other news, we knew that Westworld actress Shannon Woodward would appear in The Last of Us: Part II, and now her role has been revealed. Woodward plays Dina, the woman who shared a kiss with Ellie in the new trailer. Woodward and Ashley Johnson, who voices Ellie, recreated the scene in real life at the Sony E3 2018 briefing.

Had a pretty great Monday.

— Halley Gross (@Grosstastic) June 12, 2018

The Last of Us: Part II is on the way for PlayStation 4, but no release date has been announced. For more, check out GameSpot's breakdown of the four big things we learned from the new trailer.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Seems Like The Best Smash Game Yet

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:34

We've known that a new Super Smash Bros. game has been in development, and during the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was revealed. It's an original Smash game built specifically for the Nintendo Switch, and it features every single character that has ever been included in a Smash game.

We got hands on with the E3 2018 demo of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate shortly after viewing the Direct. It's a build that features a limited character and stage selection, but it gave us a good feel for how new game feels to play.

Edmond Tran, 1v1 only, no items, Final Destination: The first big surprise we got as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was being announced was the reveal that Snake was returning (along with everyone else), so I immediately picked him when we got to play. He certainly feels like the same old Snake--he feels weighty, his rocket launcher feels devastating to groups from afar, and his normals feel very hard hitting. That's what I'm primarily interested in with Ultimate: How do all these classic, formerly one-off characters feel to play? My overall impression was that, unsurprisingly, the game felt a little different to past Smash games during the 25 minutes we had to play it, but that could've been due a number of factors--playing a character I hadn't touched for a while, using a Pro Controller--or, it just might just actually feel like a different game.

Justin Haywald, cheap-move-spammer and item-opportunist: I really wanted to try out the Ridley and the Inkling, but I tempered my excitement and started the first few matches with my standard choices: Link and Kirby. I wanted to see how this felt from just a broad gameplay perspective, and, it sounds silly to say, but this feels like a great Smash game.

Smash on Wii U is still a terrific game, and I think it holds up surprisingly well, but the little gameplay additions to the Switch version really do make matches feel even faster and more intense. Obviously, we only saw a sliver of what the full game will include, so I'm sure there are even bigger changes in the works (if there's a single-player mode, how will that work?), but for a base experience, I'm overly excited to just play some more Smash.

As a player, I'm definitely much more casual--I like the chaos of lots of characters on screen, unpredictable stage effects, and crazy item powers. We only got to play on a TV, but I'm really curious to see how this plays on the smaller, handheld screen. Ed, as a more "serious" player, what're your feeling so far?

Edmond: I'm the exact opposite, I really enjoy fighting games the clash of skills that one-on-one competition brings, and I'm basically not going to care about any new stages or items, only characters and mechanics. I was very pleased to hear about a couple of changes, namely the fact that damage would be increased overall during one-on-one battles, and the new limitations in dodging.

I'm very accustomed to my Smash matches devolving into frantic shield/dodge matches, and the idea that you can only do this a handful of times before you start being seriously penalised is very intriguing. The Perfect Shield technique is also exciting--I'm probably not at the level where I can't wait to see what professional matches look like now. I also really like how they're trying to make some of the more advanced techniques at least somewhat more accessible, namely hop jump attacks.

But I'm very excited about the more mundane changes like the out-of-bounds minimap that appears when you're knocked outside of the visible screen, the hype-building slowdown effect that now happens during significant attacks, and the fact that you pick a stage before you pick characters. But that might be a bit technical for you, Justin; what are you most excited about?

Justin: I'm most excited about playing as new characters and exploring new stages. I tried out Ridley for a bit, and the beast feels a little overpowered for the demo, but I felt like a dominant force on the battlefield, even without really knowing the character's moveset and peculiarities. Ridley plays like a mix between Ganon and Bowser, powerful, heavy, but able to quickly get around the map and cause some damage.

I tried the Inkling, but that's a character that will definitely take a little more practice for me to get a handle on, but I think you had a little more success?

Edmond: I rotated between a different character each round. The Inkling felt like a very mobile character with the Splat Roller and Squid Jump, but needing to refill your ink in the middle of a match might make them a more technical character to play--there's never going to be a great time to do that.

Ridley felt really brutal to use, his moves look devastating and can really hit your opponent's morale--he's got a special where he flies across the stage, grinding an opponent into the ground and throwing them off the edge. I remember when I used Gannondorf for the first time, and Ridley has that same feeling of unhinged power.

My regulars, Ness, DK, and Samus felt relatively unchanged aside from their Final Smashes, through DK's spinning attack now ramps up in speed toward the end and you can now obviously charge DK and Samus' specials in mid-air, which is great.

Of course, these are just our very first impressions and I'm really, really looking forward to playing more matches over the course of E3. Nintendo hasn't said whether there will be an open multiplayer beta, but that would be very exciting, and I'm very glad that we won't have to wait until 2019 to get our hands on the full thing.

E3 2018: CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 Is Even More Ambitious Than You Think It Is

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:33

CD Projekt Red's next game, Cyberpunk 2077, is a massive departure from the developer's previous efforts on The Witcher series. Instead of lush forests, picturesque fields, and towering mountains, the devs are creating a world set in the concrete jungle of Northern California in the distant future. Unlike a lot of fiction focusing on a darker future, Cyberpunk 2077 aspires to move away from grimdark and towards a more exuberant but equally cynical vision for a future where capitalism and technology has run amok.

Inspired and influenced by the original Cyberpunk 2020 pen and paper RPG, 2077 extrapolates many of the themes and iconography while capitalizing on the developer's skillset for crafting dense and visually rich environments. We saw a near hour-long gameplay demo behind closed doors at E3 2018, showcasing many of the game's systems and locales, and came out impressed by the scope of CD Projekt Red's ambitious project.

Set in an alternate universe 2077, you'll take on the role of V, a vagabond and hustler living in the bustling Night City located between SF and LA. You undertake sketchy gigs to fund cybernetic enhancements and pay off debts from society's most unsavory characters, and dive further into the seedy underbelly of the technopolis and its surrounding areas--all which are run by factions and mega corporations vying for power. Unlike CD Projekt Red's previous games, your protagonist, V, is entirely who you want them to be. At the beginning of the game, you'll be able to create a custom character--choosing their gender, characteristics, and picking backstories--along with tweaking particular stats.

The open world of Night City is a massive urban environment encompassing several regions with different warring factions . With no load times (according to the devs), you'll be able to freely explore the city both on foot and in your vehicle, even engaging in high-speed shootouts on freeways, tightly packed streets, and alleys--leading to some of the more unsavory parts of town.

During the demo, V traveled to a gang hideout with their close associate Jackie--an imposing but ever jovial ally--to find a missing cyborg. Things quickly went south as the player engaged in a shootout with a gang of scavengers running a black market harvesting operation. Action looked punchy and impactful, with V sliding in and out of cover--with bits of the environment, including walls, tearing apart from all the gunfire--to get the jump on the bandits. Sticking to its RPG roots, attack damage numbers pop up in real-time when attacking enemies, which takes into account the statistics of your current loadout. After taking out the gang, V and Jackie bring their target outside to await pickup from the Trauma Team, a crew of heavily armed EMTs assigned to the super-wealthy of Night City.

Experiencing all these aspects of Cyberpunk lore took some getting used to, as key terms and locations were referenced quite often. However, the core concepts behind them are familiar enough to get a handle of. The heavy sci-fi aesthetic, where advanced technology gives people some extraordinary abilities, gives it a very familiar vibe akin to CD Projekt's past fantasy games. Seeing the setting in action showcased the game's superb visual style and aesthetic, which feels like a heavy contrast to other dark and gloomy cyberpunk fiction like Blade Runner, Altered Carbon, or Johnny Mnemonic. In Cyberpunk 2077, there's a lot more variety on display, which plays with many of the sub-genre's familiar tropes.

Cyberpunk is deeply entrenched in its PC RPG roots, and The Witcher devs wanted to lean in harder on the more adaptive and varied styles of storytelling from their past games, with many of your decisions altering the course of your character's journey in strange ways. 2077 features an involved dialog system, where you'll be able to make choices that can determine your path towards a number of different outcome. In the dialogue system, you can show off different facets of V's personality as you appear imposing, curious, or outright lie to other characters in order to get what you want. However, certain characters are able to turn the tables and use some similar tricks against you.

During a character interaction--which can be avoided entirely if you choose--V is taken captive by a Milicorp agent who has one of her bodyguards hack into the main character. This invasive hack made certain dialog choices more difficult, with the bodyguards being able to tell when the main character was telling the truth or not. After cutting a deal with the corporate agent with some non-confrontational options, V headed into an engagement with the Maelstrom gang, a group so heavily upgraded that they have the appearance of neon-lit ghouls.

The theme of transhumanism is one of the core pillars of the game, and you're constantly seeing the impact of technology on society, which also plays a role in V's development. Cyberpunk 2077 features many familiar RPG systems and mechanics, such as leveling up, skill-checks, and loot--including some nasty high-tech weapons like the assault rifle with homing bullets--but it has a mostly loose approach to character growth. You don't pick classes--such as Cyberpunk 2020's Fixer, Techie, and Nomad archetypes--but instead outfit your character with new tech enhancements they'll need at any given time. You can give your character a set of outfits that offer Street Cred bonuses--reputation experience points that open up places in the city--along with visiting the local RipperDoc to outfit yourself with new parts.

Dropping by Doctor Victor's spot in a back alley near V's apartment, we saw a few of the enhancements you can get. After choosing a new cybernetic eye, which added a zoom function and a target analyzer that allows you to see the level and stats of other characters, the ensuing upgrade sequence was gruesome, as the RipperDoc pulls out V's old eye with its vision still engaged--showing a full-view of the protagonist laying on the operating seat. This upgrade can come in handy as you'll occasionally wander into high-level characters that can pummel your character easily. While exploring the Maelstrom hideout, V utilized a number of bizarre, but powerful enhancements and tools--such as a hacking skill that allowed them to hijack an enemy's internal memory to steal precious info, along with a set of combat drugs that activated a bullet-time effect. During one moment, V hacked into an enemy's weapon to disable it remotely, and followed up with a set of advanced acrobatics to land an attack on the unsuspecting foes using with a set of arm blades, like the ones shown during the game's original teaser trailer.

While this section led to the demo's most action-packed moments--such as a boss fight that showcased feats of cybernetic skill-chaining and some of the game's most powerful weapons, like the double-barreled shotgun that fired through walls--there are apparently many different approaches to take. The developers stressed throughout the demo that many of the events and sequences shown were optional, and while the shootout in the Maelstrom hideout or making deals with the mega corporations can happen, they'll play out much differently based on their choices.

The E3 2018 demo for Cyberpunk 2077 was overwhelming with all its detail, but it did give us the impression that there was a large world with all sorts of systems to explore and mess with. The setting and some gameplay ideas are certainly a big departure for CD Projekt Red, but it also has a number of cool and visually stunning details that show off an incredibly rich world to jump head-first into. The game has been a long time coming, and we're excited to see more of it soon, and hopefully not too much later.

For more info on CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077, and all other games we saw during E3 2018, be sure to visit GameSpot's E3 Hub page.

E3 2018: The Elder Scrolls Blades Won't Have An Open World At Launch, But Could Add One Later

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:17

One of the biggest surprises to come out of Bethesda's E3 2018 press conference was The Elder Scrolls Blades, a brand-new mobile installment in the RPG series. Bethesda describes the title as a "pure Elder Scrolls game" with "console-quality graphics," but one notable difference between it and recent entries like Skyrim is that Blades doesn't have an open world.

We got a chance to speak with Bethesda's Todd Howard at E3, who talked a bit more about the upcoming mobile RPG. He confirmed that Blades was in part inspired by Elder Scrolls Arena--the earliest installment in the series--and builds upon that style of gameplay.

"We go back to Arena, which is really an awesome but glorified dungeon hack," Howard told us. "We like the old Eye of the Beholders and all of that stuff, where I wanna go through a dungeon experience, and I still find that very interesting. We do it a lot. So Blades started there. And then you have full quests and a storyline and a hub. When you get those quests from the town, you either get a handcrafted dungeon or it will generate one. And then you play through that dungeon. And some of those dungeons are big outdoor areas."

While it may not have an open world at release, Howard notes that some of the areas in Blades are still "very large." He also says Bethesda may introduce an open-world to the game down the line depending on how players interact with the game.

"We could do it," Howard said when asked if an open-world would be added to Blades. "We'll see how people interact with it. Because it's mobile, we know people may play ... We need you to get something meaningful done in 10 or 15 minutes. Do you know what I mean? Even though you could sit down and play it for as many hours as you want."

The Elder Scrolls Blades is coming to Android and iOS later this fall, and it'll be free to download. Pre-orders on both platforms are already available, and players can pre-register for early access to Blades via Bethesda's website. Bethesda has also said the game will come to PC and consoles in the future, although it hasn't revealed a release window for those versions.

E3 2018: Telltale Working On Stranger Things As Minecraft Heads To Netflix

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:15

Telltale Games is bringing its MineCraft: Story Mode to Netflix as an interactive adventure this fall. The studio made the announcement during E3 2018, where it tweeted about the move and announced that it is also developing a game based on Stranger Things.

Details are still emerging, but Telltale said that it is now working on the Stranger Things game, which will be coming to consoles and PC. It said it doesn't have any further details to share right now, but would have more to say about the game later in the year.

Now, Netflix has responded to both stories. The company has confirmed to TechRadar that MineCraft: Story Mode for Netflix will be five-part licensed interactive narrative series. The streaming service said the Stranger Things Telltale series would not be on Netflix, but is rather an extension of its marketing efforts. Lastly, Netflix said it has no plans to get into gaming. "There’s a broad spectrum of entertainment available today," the company said. "Games have become increasingly cinematic, but we view this as interactive narrative storytelling on our service."

At E3 2017, Telltale Games told GameSpot it was very interested in bringing its games to new platforms. "I think there is a lot of space for Telltale to move on to platforms that most people don't even really consider to be game systems," the company said. "A lot of boxes of many different varieties in homes--millions and millions of homes across America, where people don't even think game-playing is possible on them, but maybe they're watching stories or consuming narrative-driven content or streaming it.

"And for us, we're looking at that. It would be unfathomable to think about playing a Grand Theft Auto [game] over Netflix. But it wouldn't be so unfathomable to think about playing a Telltale game over a streaming video service of that calibre."

E3 2018: From Software On Why Dark Souls, Bloodborne, And Sekiro Don't Have Difficulty Options

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:06

From Software is famed for making difficult games--most notably Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and now Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice--but it refuses to add difficulty levels. Now, in an interview with GameSpot, the company's president and director of many of its games, Hidetaka Miyazaki, has explained why From's games only have one punishing difficulty level.

"We don't want to include a difficulty selection because we want to bring everyone to the same level of discussion and the same level of enjoyment," Miyazaki said. "So we want everyone … to first face that challenge and to overcome it in some way that suits them as a player."

The creator continued: "We want everyone to feel that sense of accomplishment. We want everyone to feel elated and to join that discussion on the same level. We feel if there's different difficulties, that's going to segment and fragment the user base. People will have different experiences based on that [differing difficulty level]. This is something we take to heart when we design games. It's been the same way for previous titles and it's very much the same with Sekiro."

Finally, Miyazaki said Sekiro is "probably even more challenging than previous From games." Despite the difficulty level Sekiro possesses and the similarities it bears with Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Miyazaki insists Shadows Die Twice is not part of the Soulsborne series. Meanwhile, in a separate interview, From Software confirmed to GameSpot that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will not contain any multiplayer.

The game was revealed during Microsoft's Xbox E3 2018 press conference. It's to be published by Activision, and it's coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2019. For more on the upcoming action title, check out our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice gameplay impressions.

E3 2018: In Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, How Much Of A Villain Is Lara Croft?

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:57

Lara Croft--the Tomb Raider--has always had right on her side. In adventure after adventure, Lara has solved countless puzzles and killed hundreds of people, all with the steadfast belief that she's on the side of angels. And the bad guys, well, the bad guys had it coming to them. But in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, doubt has crept in. For the latest installment in this long-running series, Lara Croft's actions and motivations are under the microscope. Is the Tomb Raider actually causing more problems than she's solving?

It's an interesting concept for developer Crystal Dynamics to explore, and from all of our early looks at the upcoming game, it's not an angle they're only paying lip service to. This questioning of Lara seems core to the experience of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It's there in one of the game's trailers, where you see Lara scaring a child after approaching him with blood literally on her hands. It was there in the very first gameplay demo we had hands-on with, where Lara's thoughtless actions in desecrating a tomb kicked off a huge natural disaster that ends up killing hundreds of people. And it was there when we were shown the game's new hub area of Paititi, where Lara has to work hard to make the local residents see her as a trusted partner as opposed to a foreign invader.

During a recent interview with GameSpot, the game's creators said that this questioning of what being the Tomb Raider is was the necessary next steps in Lara Croft's journey.

Jill Murray, Lead Writer: In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we see Lara at the height of her powers, and now she's able to be the architect of her own chaos. She's already questioning, 'Now that I have all this power, what am I going to do with it? Can I keep going like this? Always pursuing my obsessions? Always trying to be the first one to get there? Or am I better off learning from this and finding a new way of doing things?'

You're almost setting her up to be the bad guy, right? In the trailer, you literally have her with blood on her hands and the child running away. At the end of the demo we just played, the lead characters are questioning what she's doing, whether she's thinking of the greater ramifications. Why go down that route with such an iconic character?

Chris Johnston, Brand Manager, Crystal Dynamics: This is the most capable Lara Croft players have ever seen before, as a result her decisions have much larger implications than they've ever had. So we're seeing a character that the player's ultimately growing with. Now that she's more powerful, she's being confronted with decisions that aren't as easy as A or B, or left or right. Each of these decisions have very different consequences, and it's about Lara being able to fully understand the consequences of her actions. In the classic storylines, it's always Lara racing against someone else to get something first. Now we're seeing this different exposition of Lara's racing against Trinity, but by her taking the artifact, it actually ends up triggering a Mayan apocalypse. We're seeing a very different situation that players haven't seen Lara in.

Are you trying to present that as a flaw in her character that she needs to reconcile? This insatiable drive that she has?

Murray: I don't know if we would call it a flaw, but it's definitely a core characteristic, and it's definitely something she's gonna be examining more deeply. It's something that, in this game, causes her a lot of conflict and guilt and grief, and she has to work through her contrasting feelings of responsibility and guilt.

The new hub area in this game is different from the large areas in the past two in that it's a living, breathing city filled with inhabitants. Why make the change to this habitated area?

Murray: The short answer is it's more interesting, and it's not just dead, quiet artifacts. There are people that you can engage with, missions she can take on, and things she can discover. The other thing that's great is that any idea that she might have had about coming in and fixing everything is probably not going to work. She's gonna learn most of the time that the people there are helping her a lot more than she could ever help them.

Johnston: I don't want to get into spoilers, but being in this space allows us to explore her character as well, where we see a different side of her. It allows us to touch a deeper narrative into who she is as a person and the emotions that she's going through.

Murray: What we mean is she's not coming in from the outside as a fixer of problems. She's going to have to work with the local people directly. She's going to have to, for the first time, let other people be the drivers and not just keep doing that thing where chases down her obsession. She has to listen to what people are telling her, wait for them to invite her in. If they need her help, they'll ask for it.

E3 2018: Rage 2's Shooting Feels Like Doom, But The Open World Remains A Mystery

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:54

I can't imagine anyone foresaw Rage 2 owning a piece of the spotlight at E3 until Walmart leaked the game and Bethesda smartly followed up, but here we are, a bit excited but mostly surprised that Rage is back. The first game was received well enough when it launched in 2011, but its not-quite-open world and comically abrupt ending all but guaranteed folks would move on and never look back. But there's hope that this new attempt could be something special. Bubblegum-punk marketing aside, it's Avalanche Studios' partnership with id Software that's the most enticing aspect of Rage 2 thus far. The team's open-world prowess and id's knack for gunplay could very well be a match made in heaven, and just the thing an unlikely sequel like Rage 2 needs to get people talking.

Considering that, it was a bit surprising when I visited Avalanche in Stockholm last month to play Rage 2 and I was only given access to a small chunk of the game; miniscule, actually, if you consider that the playable portion was merely a single building with four or five waves of enemies. After chatting with id's Tim Willits and Avalanche's Magnus Nedfors, it sounds like this could be due to the fact that Avalanche builds its games in phases, laying broad foundations before working down to the finer details--a common practice, but likely the reason Rage 2's world at large simply isn't ready for showtime.

Trailers remain our only source of insight into Rage 2's open world, then, and they at least suggest that Avalanche's particular set of skills are being put to good use. We've seen a diverse range of environments and heard claims of a wild world where "insanity rules." Nedfors fully owns that the team loves to "blow shit up," and that seems to be part and parcel of the Rage 2 experience. Avalanche has worked in similar spaces before, with Mad Max and multiple Just Cause games giving the team plenty of opportunities to hone their craft. It feels natural to be optimistic about their chances, especially with id and Bethesda as partners.

So while we can't say word one about the quality and effectiveness of Rage 2's new structure or how "Avalanche" it really is, id's telltale gunplay is immediately recognizable. The question now, however, is how the added layers on top factor in as you develop new abilities and acquire new weapons over time.

Replaying the original Rage prior to the event reminded me how much I enjoyed its combat and level design. The smartly orchestrated battles and clever AI made for engaging fights where using cover or flanking was key. Quite the opposite, Rage 2 encourages you to dive headlong into a firefight. Like 2016's Doom, you stand to benefit from fighting face to face, and a quick-dash maneuver has been introduced to help you get in and out of fights quickly.

Rather than lavishly dismembering your enemies to earn ammo and health, running into a fray after killing a few enemies from afar allows you to pick up energy reserves that recharge your superpowered attacks, like a ground pound and a force push. You've also got access to an overdrive meter that can be activated to run faster and hit harder, transforming an imposing group of enemies into unfortunate gaggle of sitting ducks, much the same way that you power up and lay waste to smaller enemies in Destiny 2. To be blunt, 20 minutes (two trips through the same demo) isn't nearly enough time to form a confident opinion about Rage 2's numerous combat mechanics. It's fair, however, to say that you'll be encouraged to be both proactive and creative to get the most out of the game's expanded potential.

The not-quite-a-boomerang Wingstick is back, and like its advanced form in Rage, you can have it home in on multiple enemies before you let it fly, or charge it up to spin in place once it lands on a single target for prolonged damage output. Bethesda's footage from its E3 Showcase featured a creative combo attack with a grenade and a Wingstick to send a disabled enemy flying upwards while being whittled away. This is the first example of dynamic, physics-based systems in Rage 2 that we've seen, and it would be great to know if that's a core element of the game at large. It wouldn't surprise me to see new games employ multiplicative systems in the wake of Breath of the Wild's popularity, but it'd be very surprising to see it happen in Rage 2 of all games.

Though it was probably for the purposes of the demo, the AI we fought against was practically braindead. Enemies typically just stood in place and fired away once alerted without much regard for personal safety. Trailers have also echoed a similar lack of urgency. It's probably a safe bet that grunts will be commonplace in order to encourage use of your special abilities on a regular basis, but I really hope to find more challenging enemies populating Rage 2 as it develops. Even the boss fight Avalanche showed off looked too simple. A giant football-helmet-wearing mutant that throws cars is naturally threatening, but its attack pattern was transparent and seemed easy to overcome with minimal effort.

Despite having played Rage 2, I'm still not sure what to think about it. It's obviously early days, and I've seen relatively nothing compared to what's been promised. I'm very curious to uncover what Avalanche has in store and what it can do in tandem with id to make the best of their combined talents.

Accommodations and travel to Avalanche Studios in Stockholm we're provided by Bethesda.

E3 2018: GameStop Expects "Feeding Frenzy" For PS5 And Next Xbox

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:52

Microsoft confirmed during its E3 2018 briefing that it's working on at least one new Xbox console. And before that, rumours were circulating about a new PlayStation. Those consoles have yet to be announced, but they are expected eventually, of course, considering it's been more than four years since the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November 2013. Gamers are eagerly awaiting new consoles, and retailers are too. We spoke with GameStop merchandising boss Eric Bright at E3 2018 and he told us that hardware transition years are huge for GameStop, and he expects the next shift to be no different.

"When is always the big question," Bright said about when the new consoles might launch. "Phil Spencer announced they are working on a new Xbox, which I think everybody expects. When, I don't know. I honestly don't. But like every hardware transition that occurs--and GameStop has gone through many of them in the past--it's a tremendous time for us."

As an example, Bright pointed out that the Nintendo Switch launch in March 2017 was a huge success for GameStop. That success was driven in part by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being a can't-miss launch title. "We were selling more than we could get in," Bright said.

The executive added that he expects a similar situation for the PlayStation 5 and next Xbox console, saying he anticipates a "feeding frenzy" for the new systems. Beyond the hardware sales along, Bright said GameStop expects to be a market-leader in terms of "attach" rates for games and accessories.

"It's going to be a feeding frenzy that I expect to drive tremendous traffic into our stores," Bright said. "And we'll attach better than anybody else accessories, software to that."

Bright went on to say that GameStop's trademark buy/sell/trade model will also pay dividends during the next console transition. The retailer historically offers nice trade-in offers for people who are looking to trade in their older systems to get cash or store credit to buy new ones, and Bright said you can expect this to continue when the next consoles launch.

Importantly, new consoles from Microsoft and Sony have not been announced. However, as mentioned, evidence for their existence is mounting. Recently, Sony management said the PlayStation 4 was entering the final phase of its lifecycle, while Microsoft is already openly talking about working on new hardware.

Yves Guillemot, the CEO of Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft, said in an interview recently that he expects the next wave of consoles from Microsoft and Sony to be the last. He told Variety that the industry will instead move towards a streaming model that doesn't require expensive hardware.

GameSpot's interview with Bright covered a number of topics, including how Fortnite's immense popularity has helped the developer, the state of PlayStation VR sales at the retailer, and more. Keep checking back for more on these topics and others from E3 2018.

E3 2018: The Biggest News From Wednesday

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:37

While the press conferences are all done, the news is certainly not. New updates, impressions, previews, and announcements continue to stream in at E3 2018, including lots of news and first impressions of CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077.

If you missed something and want a recap, we've rounded up all of the biggest news of Wednesday below. You can also check out our recaps of all the news from every press conference by heading to our E3 hub for all of our coverage.

Cyberpunk 2077Upcoming Games NewsGameplay ImpressionsPre-Order GuidesNew Gameplay

E3 2018: The Biggest News From Tuesday (Including Nintendo Direct)

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 08:48

The last press conference of E3 2018 wrapped up Tuesday, and Nintendo did not disappoint. Along with a lot of big news from Nintendo Direct, including the official reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the surprise announcement that battle royale shooter Fortnite would be available on Nintendo Switch immediately after the press conference, there were lots of updates on Tuesday about on top upcoming PS4, Xbox One, and PC games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Fallout 76.

If you missed something and want a recap, we've rounded up all of the biggest news from Tuesday below. You can also check out our recaps of all the news from every press conference by heading to our E3 hub for all of our coverage.

Super Smash Bros. UltimateOther Top Nintendo NewsCyberpunk 2077Resident Evil 2 (Remake)Fallout 76

E3 2018 - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Is Not Part Of The Soulsborne Series, From Software Says

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 08:27

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the next game from and Bloodborne and Dark Souls developer From Software, and despite the fact that it introduces new mechanics and differs from those games in many ways, it still looks to be in the same vein as those action-RPGs. However, From Software insists this new game is something entirely new and separate from those.

"Sekiro was not designed as an evolution of Soulsborne, of the Souls series," series creator and Sekiro director Hidetaka Miyazaki told GameSpot. "It was designed from the ground up, from scratch, as an entirely new concept, as a new game. So we don't know if you'd call this an evolution of the series in this sense."

The creator continued: "Of course with Sekiro, we don't intend to disappoint or turn away fans of previous From Software games, that core fan base. We want to keep the challenge. We want to keep that core experience very much intact for those people."

Given Sekiro contains a resurrection mechanic, it would be an easy assumption to say the game would be easier than previous From Software games. Miyazaki, however, disagrees: "The resurrection system is not created to make the game easier in any way. It's created to assist the flow of battle and that general rhythm and tempo throughout the game that was made difficult by that constant pressure of death and that constant fear of death."

In a separate interview, From Software confirmed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will not contain any multiplayer. The game was revealed during Microsoft's Xbox E3 2018 press conference. It's to be published by Activision, and it's coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2019. For more on the upcoming action game, check out our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice gameplay impressions.

E3 2018: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate GameCube Controllers Up For Pre-Order Now

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 08:04

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arrives on Nintendo Switch this December, and while it'll support several different controller options, the only way to play the game for many Smash fans is with a GameCube controller. At E3 2018, Nintendo confirmed existing GameCube controllers will be compatible with the game via an adapter, but if you don't have any or are interested in adding more to your collection, you can now pre-order one.

The Smash-branded GameCube controller is available to pre-order from both GameStop and Amazon. It retails for $30; however, if you purchase it from the former, be advised that it appears orders are limited to only two controllers.

As was the case with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the GameCube controllers require an adapter. Those who have the Wii U controller adapter will be able to use that with Switch. Nintendo is also offering a newly rebranded variety for those who may not have one yet. That is likewise available to pre-order now via Amazon and costs $20.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launches for Switch on December 7. It features the largest roster in the series to date; every character who has ever appeared in a Smash title is returning for Ultimate, including Young Link, Pichu, and Snake, who is voiced by original voice actor David Hayter. You can see the full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster here.

What Incredibles 2 Learned From The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 07:58

When Pixar's The Incredibles hit theaters in 2004, it was very early in the superhero movie renaissance. Two Spider-Man movies had arrived in theaters, along with the first two X-Men films. However, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had yet to be born, and fans were still a year away from Batman Begins.

Now, in 2018, as Incredibles 2 prepares to arrive on the big screen, things are very different. This year alone, we will see Aquaman, Teen Titans Go: To The Movies, and five different films based on Marvel properties in theaters. Given how common the genre has become, it was impossible for it to not have some sort of influence on the sequel that is 14 years in the making.

For Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird, though, the lessons he has taken away from the world of superhero films is what to avoid when making the further adventures of his super-powered family. "I started saying things like, 'No three-point landings. Do you know what I mean? No, no,'" he jokingly tells GameSpot of the generic superhero pose you'll see in just about any comic book movie.

Truthfully, though, the non-stop train that is the MCU--along with a plethora of DC Comics films--left Bird unsure of whether he could bring something new to the table. "When I got serious about making this, and I pitched something that the studio was ready to go with, it gave me doubts because I thought there's already too many superhero films, and in two years, people are going to be just sick of it," he admits.

However, that's when the writer-director looked back on what made the original film stand out in 2004. "What excited me about the idea in the first place was not the superhero part," Bird says. "It was the family part, and then using the superhero genre as a lemon wedge to squirt on this story that I cared about. Primarily, this is a story about a family that happened to have superpowers [more] than it is about superpowers."

That family aspect is the driving force of the Incredibles franchise--even more so in this second film. Like the first, there are two distinct stories to follow in the movie; however, this time it's Helen Parr, otherwise known as Elasti-girl, that gets to relive her superhero life. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible has essentially hung up his spandex costume. What's left is Bob Parr, staying at home to take care of the kids, which he isn't too fond of at first.

For Craig T. Nelson, who voices the character, his first reaction to this turn in the story was similar. "I kind of had the same reaction he did, 'Why not me?'" the actor admits. However, once he saw the direction Bob was taking and his Incredibles 2 didn't become yet another standard superhero tale, his tune changed. "...It was perfect, really, because it was like, 'Okay, this is an area of his life. This is part of who he is, as a father, that he hasn't really had to deal with, hasn't been a part of that much. Okay. Yeah, and what happens?'"

That leaves him to do things like cook the meals, watch baby Jack-Jack, help with homework, and be there for his daughter as she prepares for her first date. "It explores and enriches his character to a degree that is so much fun to play," Nelson says. "There's a lot of stuff in Bob that comes out in this film that wasn't in the first one."

Say what you will about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but chances are this isn't a side of Iron Man you're going to see play out in Avengers 4 or whatever comes next. In most superhero films, the primary story if the hero versus the villain. For both Incredibles movies, though, it's the Parr family versus the world.

Incredibles 2 is in theaters on June 15.

E3 2018: Fallout 76 Beta Only Available To Players Who Pre-Order

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 06:58

We're getting tons of new details about Fallout 76, which will be a multiplayer open-world game with survival elements. Since the PS4, Xbox One, and PC game is shifting to this new focus, it will have a beta testing period, and there's only one way to get in: by pre-ordering.

According to an FAQ posted on the Fallout 76 website, anyone who pre-orders the game for all of the platforms available will automatically receive beta access when it launches. Bethesda didn't say when that beta period will start, but the game will release on November 14, so it won't be too long. You'll need a free account, and once you have that you'll be able to enter the redemption code on the pre-order receipt from the retailer you chose to confirm your interest. For more details, check out our Fallout 76 pre-order guide.

In Fallout 76, you can still play solo, but the other characters you encounter in the game are other human players. The game is "always-online," and is a prequel to all of the previous games in the series. You play as a member of Vault 76, who is now tasked with rebuilding the world as you emerge from the vault.

In addition to standard release, the game is getting a big collectors' edition that contains a glow-in-the-dark map and wearable Power Suit helmet. The helmet includes a functional headlamp and voice modulation device. Aside from that, the Power Armor set also includes a glow-in-the-dark map and figurines that can be put on that map. Check out GameSpot's full E3 2018 coverage of Fallout 76 for more details, and read our interview with Senior Vice President Pete Hines on how Bethesda plans to stop players from being jerks in the game's multiplayer environment.

E3 2018: Ghost Of Tsushima Pre-Order Guide For The US

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 05:01

Ghost of Tsushima will be heading exclusively to PlayStation 4, though no release date has been announced yet. Made by Sucker Punch, the developer behind the Infamous series, Ghost of Tsushima is an open-world action stealth game set in feudal Japan. You play as one of the only samurai to survive the Mongol invasion of the island of Tsushima in 1274. Your job is to sneak around, fight enemies, and take the island back. We still don't have a release date quite yet, but you can pre-order it for PS4 right now.

At E3 2018, Song released a new extended trailer, giving us another look at Ghost of Tsushima's stunning world and gameplay. Reminiscent of traditional samurai films, we see the protagonist, Jin, in the Otsuna Grassland. He squares off with three Mongol invaders, to meet up with his ally Masako. Not only is the open-world absolutely breathtaking, the battles are beautifully choreographed to fit into the picturesque beauty of feudal Japan.

If you're ready to pre-order Ghost of Tsushima, you've come to the right place. We've gathered all the information you need to decide which version of the game to get and where to get it to find the deal that's right for you. As more retailers list their options, we'll update all the details here.

Ghost of Tsushima Pre-Order Bonuses

No pre-order bonuses have been announced at this time.

Ghost of Tsushima Standard Edition

Matt Reeves' Batman Movie Likely Going Forward Without Ben Affleck

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 04:40

The wild world of the DC movies universe is very hard to predict. We know for sure that Wonder Woman is getting a sequel, while Shazam and Aquaman have standalone movies on the way. Beyond that, there are no official release dates set in stone for anything.

However, the movie universe is still continuing to form behind the scenes--especially where Batman is concerned. While there are reported to be two Joker movies, a Harley Quinn-led Birds or Prey film, and numerous other projects in the works, there's been little said recently about the state of The Batman, which is being written and directed by Matt Reeves.

Until now, that is. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reeves has turned over the first act of his screenplay, and it's believed the project centers on a younger Batman. If that's the case, chances are Ben Affleck is actually leaving the cowl behind.

Thus far, Affleck has appeared in three movies as the Caped Crusader--Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Justice League--but it's been reported for months that the actor was looking to make his exit from the franchise. Initially, it was Affleck himself that was writing and directing The Batman, before he stepped away from the helm and was replaced with Reeves.

Given that Justice League was not considered a box office success--it earned $657 worldwide, compared to the $2 billion and counting made by Avengers: Infinity War--it shouldn't come as a surprise that the winds could be changing at Warner Bros., as far as their DC film universe goes.

That said, nothing is official yet. Until Warner Bros. announces a new actor to take on the role of Batman, who knows what will happen? In the meantime, get excited about the arrival of Aquaman on December 21.

Halo Infinite: All The Key Details From E3 2018

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 04:38

It's been almost three years since the release of Halo 5, so it was exciting when Microsoft opened its E3 2018 showcase with a trailer for Halo: Infinite. But as we later learned, the video was a "game engine demo" that was meant to show off the capabilities of 343's new proprietary Slipspace engine, and it was not necessarily representative of the game itself. With that in mind, we're rounding up some key details about Halo Infinite and its developer to help clear up some lingering confusion and give you a snapshot of what the game is.

Not A Game Yet?

The Halo Infinite trailer released during the Xbox briefing was a tech demo meant to show off what the Slipspace engine was capable of achieving. In a blog post that all Halo fans should read, studio head Chris Lee said 343's ideas for Halo Infinite are so ambitious that it had to make new tech to realise that ambition. Everything in the trailer is running in-engine, but it doesn't necessarily represent what the game will be. Lee stressed that 343 still has "a long way to go" until launch. He added that he is sure that Halo Infinite will "evolve" between now and launch. This is all to say that what you saw at E3 was not Halo: Infinite the game but instead a snapshot of what Halo: Infinite could be. It was an impressive-looking demo, showcasing a gorgeous world and sprawling environments, as well as a variety of new creatures. Halo 5's 24-player Warzone mode offered a first look at larger-scale Halo, and it's exciting to think about what 343 might do to push things further with the new engine.

Poor Messaging

The Halo Infinite trailer at E3 was presented as a first-look at the game, but it wasn't that, and Microsoft should have done a better job at making that immediately clear. No one from the 343 leadership team stood up on stage to talk about Infinite, and that felt odd given the size and stature of the Halo brand. Fans are clearly thirsty for more news and details on the next game, and it was a big bummer that we got nothing of the sort on stage. We would have liked to have seen someone like 343 founder Bonnie Ross or Halo franchise manager Frank O'Connor tell fans what Halo: Infinite is all about and why they should get excited about it. It does not inspire confidence in Halo as a franchise that so little was said. Additionally, we are told that Microsoft is not doing Halo interviews at E3 this week.

The Story:

While Halo: Infinite may not be a game yet, we do know some important story details about it. Halo Infinite is a follow-up to Halo 5: Guardians. It picks up after the events of that game, and tells a more Master Chief-centric story, according to Lee. He explained that 343 is aware of the concern some fans had regarding how Halo 5's story strayed too far from Chief. Indeed, that game's campaign split up time between playing as Chief and Agent Locke. Some wanted more focus on Chief, and it's good to hear Halo: Infinite will deliver that. The Halo universe is a rich tapestry, replete with storytelling opportunities, so it's exciting to think about what 343 might do with Infinite's story.


During the Xbox briefing at E3, Xbox boss Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft is working on new consoles that will follow the Xbox One. Media reports at E3 suggest that one of these is codenamed "Scarlet" and it could launch as soon as 2020. This is especially intriguing and noteworthy in the context of Halo: Infinite. With 343 stressing that Halo: Infinite is a "long way" off from release and the general comments on its technical ambitions, there are some who believe the game might not come until the next Xbox. Microsoft hasn't commented on this.

"New And Unexpected Directions"

Lee, the 343 studio head, said in the blog post that 343 is "making changes to how we approach things" with Halo: Infinite. This could mean a number of things, but the quote stands out in the wake of reports this week. Reports claim Halo: Infinite will be two separate releases. It is rumoured that Halo: Infinite could split up multiplayer and single-player. Noted Microsoft insider Brad Sams said he's heard from sources that single-player for Halo: Infinite could launch in late 2019 with the multiplayer portion arriving in 2020. This would indeed be a big change for Halo. In the same blog post, Lee said he looks forward to taking players in "new and unexpected directions" with the new Halo game, though whether this pertains to a delivery model, the story, or something else remains to be seen.

You'll Get To Play Early

Lee said 343 hopes to develop Halo: Infinite alongside the community, making changes to the game based on fan feedback. To that end, 343 will hold "flighting programs" for the game where people will get to play early and provide feedback to 343. If this sounds familiar, it's because 343 is currently doing that with Halo: The Master Chief Collection as it rolls out new features. Halo: Infinite's beta tests are not coming anytime soon, but Lee said you can expect them to start small and grow over time. Microsoft already has the Game Preview program where people can play unreleased games, but never before has this happened for a franchise as large as Halo. It is exciting and encouraging to see 343 incorporate fan feedback in this way, and hopefully it can lead to a better game in the end.

A New Art Style

Halo Infinite will have a new art style that appears to be evocative of the original game. Nicolas Bouvier, who has been on the Halo team since Halo 4, is Halo: Infinite's art director, and the overall aim of the new style is to "draw significant inspiration from the most iconic and historic parts of the Halo franchise." At the same time, 343 will be trying to "modernize" and "take advantage" of the power of Xbox One consoles to make the game look great. Master Chief's helmet is meant to be a good example of the new art direction for Halo: Infinite.

Get Comfortable

By all accounts, Halo: Infinite will not be fully released anytime soon. In the blog post, Lee said he understands waiting is difficult, especially now that it's been so long since Halo 5. He stressed that 343 is taking as much time as it needs to make "the right game." Not only that, but the blog post with all the details is titled "Our Journey Begins," which--along with everything else we already mentioned--suggests that Halo: Infinite is a long time off. The pre-release testing periods will soften that blow somewhat, but it's the final product people really want, and that sounds like it is not coming anytime soon. Halo is one of the biggest and most beloved franchise in gaming, with a huge community of dedicated fans. No one would want 343 to rush the next big game out, but it is somewhat disappointing to know the next game is still a long time away from release.

Keep checking back with GameSpot for more on Halo Infinite as more details become available.