A new map, a new killer, and a new survivor all arrive in the asymmetrical 4v1 horror hide-and-seek game Dead by Daylight today. In fact, they’re in right now! The killer, Carmina Mora, is the Artist – commanding a twisted murder of ink crows that can highlight and harm survivors with a little savvy placement. While her projectile assault may not be as direct as the Huntress’s ax or some of the other long-range options, her kit expands with add-ons and can be used to play keep away on pallets or windows that look prime for a chase.
Depending on how she’s played, she can either use her artistic swarm to help track down survivors and keep tabs on them over long distances or be used for direct assault at close range. However, even more interesting and important, especially as the Dead by Daylight meta continues to evolve, is one of her perks, Hex: Pentimento.
As the survivors have gained their own boons to help utilize totems to assist with game wins, the totems scattered around each map have grown in importance. No longer just killer tools to be used for hexes, the totems can be turned to either side to confer big benefits. With Hex: Pentimento, the Artist (or any other killer you attach the perk to can punish survivors that hunt down and take out hexed totems. This perk gives stacking powerful debuffs based on how many totems that the killer restores after they’ve been destroyed, so combining this hex with other hexes is likely to become a powerful suite. Force the survivors to remove totems like Hex: Ruin and then bring them back, fueled by Hex: Pentimento. The Artist has other perks to check out of course, but Hex: Pentimento seems like the real eye-opener.
On the survivor side, we have newcomer Jonah Vasquez, who comes with a bevy of useful perks. Overcome allows the survivor to get hit and run much longer and harder than usual, almost ensuring a successful escape from a chase. Boon: Exponential is absolutely wild, and lets survivors pick themselves up out of the dying state in its radius, and gives a huge buff to recovery speed on top. If you find yourself playing against a lot of killers that engage in “slugging” where they knock you down but don’t hook you, this is bound to give them immense headaches. Finally, Vasquez comes with Corrective Action, which is a perfect perk to bring into games with Dead by Daylight newcomers that are likely to miss a skill check. With Corrective Action, you can effectively store up points when you land great skill checks and then automatically spend them when a player fails one nearby to ignore that failure and turn it into a standard success – meaning the days of watching XxxDBDGodXxx come up and touch your generator, blow it up, and run off out of embarrassment are gone.
In addition to the new characters, there’s a new map for everyone to play in, the Eyrie of Crows. Perfect for throwing some ink around! Do either of the new characters (or, more succinctly, their perks that you can swap around) look interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.
A new Starfield trailer today takes a bit of a different approach compared to the traditional sizzle reel or gameplay blast. Instead, you can take a look at Starfield in a very different fashion, with a behind-the-scenes look with game director Todd Howard, studio director Angela Browder, and art director Matt Carofano. It’s more of a micro look at Bethesda’s approach to their games, their stories, and their open worlds. It’s more of a conversational approach than a lot of game trailers, but it looks like it’s simply setting the stage for lots more to come regarding Starfield. Check out the full video right here.
This is really just Episode One of a Starfield trailer series, so inevitably there will be a lot more on the way before Starfield’s release. In case you were wondering, Starfield is set to hit on November 11, 2022. That may seem like a long way off, but I’m sure we’ll get to see a lot more from the game as we progress into next year. Yeah yeah, I know. I want to see some serious gameplay slices too. We’ll get there. What do you think it’s going to be like? We do know some things… Expect wars, space pirates, and mysteries to unravel.
Are you excited for Starfield? When do you think Elder Scrolls VI will launch? Do you like discussions like this trailer about games? Let us know in the comments!
Media Molecule has announced Ancient Dangers: A Bat’s Tale, a new playable game the studio made in its 2019 creation game, Dreams.
The game seems to be centered on two dungeon-crawling protagonists who must battle “hideous monsters” and solve “fiendish puzzles” to advance through Ancient Danger’s medieval setting. There is, of course, loot and wealth to be found throughout each of these dungeons, and there seems to be a cute bat at the center of its story, as the name alludes to.
As you can see in the trailer above, Ancient Dangers looks quite great and it’s tough to picture it as a game made inside Dreams, which is itself a game. Credit to Media Molecule, though, for doing just that. Ancient Dangers looks great, too, which is especially exciting because it’s already out as of today.
Here’s the official description for Ancient Dangers:
“Join the teenage orcs Scoria and Gabbro as they team up with their new friend, Herb the Bat, on a quest to find the renowned snozzleaf. Will Scoria and Gabbro find the herb they need to cure their grandmother’s terrible snoring? Can their wise-cracking bat pal find his way home? Get playing now and go show those dragons what happens with you mess with teenage Orcs!”
Ancient Dangers is a third-person dungeon crawler, featuring a single-player mode where players control Scoria, and a co-op mode, which adds Scoria’s twin, Gabbro, to the mix. The co-op mode is couch co-op only, though. Media Molecule says new PlayStation trophies have been added to Dreams for players to unlock while playing through Ancient Dangers, too, so if trophy hunting is your thing, you don’t want to miss this.
Rockstar Games has a couple of updates for its recently released collection of Grand Theft Auto games from the PS2/Xbox era. First, the physical editions are being delayed, but only by ten days. A tweet from the company announced the change in date on Twitter, saying you can get your actual mitts on Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on December 17 instead of the originally planned December 7.
The release dates for the physical versions of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition have changed.
Xbox Series X / Xbox One and PS4 will now release on December 17. The Nintendo Switch version is coming in early 2022.
Tangentially, The Trilogy launched digitally earlier this month in a state that fans weren’t too happy about, awash with graphical issues, performance woes, and overly-intense downpours of rain. Since then, Rockstar has issued patches to the trio of products in an attempt to make good on the original promise of the remasters. Today, a new set of fixes have been added, alleviating over 100 issues spanning all three games. Even the cinematic camera that was missing from the initial release has been restored. Here’s a few fixes from the big list:
Fixed an issue where the rain appears under water when falling
Fixed an issue where the player was able to stretch a two-seater vehicle using the car crusher
Fixed an issue where the mission title would linger on screen too long at the beginning of any mission
Fixed a hole in the game world near Café Robina
Fixed an issue where the barrel of the minigun did not spin when fired
Fixed an issue where Lance would be duplicated after restarting the mission Copland
Fixed a save game issue at the end of the mission Blood Bowl
Fixed a missing bridge in the Shady Creeks section of the map
Fixed graphical corruption on CJ’s head and body during the motel sequence of the mission “Reuniting the Families”
You can see the entire list of fixes on Rockstar’s support site here. The changes listed are for all versions except Switch, which will be receiving adjustments in a few days. It just goes to show porting games can be hard to do, especially when the project involves three large sandbox experiences across half a dozen platforms. These updates are a huge step in the right direction to getting these games in the condition they deserve, though I’m sure many more patches are coming for the GTA trilogy in the near future.
What have your experiences with GTA The Trilogy been like since launch? Are these patches fixing your primary gripes or are there other aspects you’d like to see addressed? Hijack a spot in the comments and let us know your thoughts.
As you can see in the trailer above, it’s not the usual Warzone-guns-explosions-boom-boom type of video we’ve come to expect when Call of Duty highlights its battle royale. Instead, it adds a sense of mystery to the new Caldera map. Perhaps all is not what it seems on the map, which the trailer seems to suggest. It even ends by showing Caldera locales blown to bits and on fire, likely due to the action of a battle royale match.
Regardless of the trailer’s tone, we do get a glimpse at what to expect on Caldera: natural Pacific wonders, a hidden paradise, ridges and peaks, “sites from Caldera’s storied past,” hidden caves, rivers and streams, fields and farms complete with “artisanal organic produce harvested locally,” ski lifts, and more.
The teaser trailer also cheekily alludes to the more battle royale-centric events that will be happening on Caldera with a warning text at the bottom of the screen:
“Warning: Pacific Horizon Air is not responsible for any death, capture, imprisonment, forced one-on-one combat between fellow visitors, drowning, parachute-related accidents, gas-related deaths or injury, shrapnel, anti-aircraft fire, tennis elbow, food poisoning, or any other similar instances. Should Pacific Horizon Air become engaged in aerial combat with enemy aircraft, an early exit may be required. Travel to Caldera is not insurable. By deploying parachute, travelers indemnify Pacific Horizon Air, its pilots, and all service staff of all liability, regardless of destination or outcome on landing. Baggage fees…included.”
Flights to Caldera will begin on December 9 which is alluding to the launch date for the new Warzone map. However, as previously revealed, those who have purchased Vanguard can jump into Caldera a full 24 hours earlier on December 8.
The official Call of Duty Twitter account also released a shot of the Caldera map and marked the 15 named locations players can expect to find on it.
Players have had plenty of time to dive into Halo Infinite’s multiplayer experience, but as we move closer and closer to the December 8th launch date, anticipation has been building for the campaign experience as well. After weeks of throwing around the oddball and hacking up competitors with the sizzling sword, is it time to take the campaign trek? Well, here’s the first big trailer from the campaign, unveiled today.
FPS campaigns often range from the mundane to the majestic and we don’t know just where Halo Infinite’s falls just yet. Clearly, much has changed since the underwhelming demo slice of legend that gave rise to big-time internet memes and a fair amount of concern about what the final game would play like. That said, we’ll be looking closely to see what the verdict is as we get closer to launch. While multiplayer hasn’t been without issues, especially ones related to battle pass progression, game customization, and more, overall Halo Infinite’s “return to form” for Halo seems to be well received thus far. Take a look at how the campaign has changed from its initial reveal to now in the video below!
There’s not a whole lot you can extrapolate from a trailer like this except “get hype”, and with a game like Halo, you’re already probably either onboard for what this new campaign experience is poised to serve up or unlikely to be swayed by what’s on deck here. Where do you stand, Spartan? Are you ready to blast off in the new campaign or are you passing on it entirely? If so, are you still in for the free-to-play multiplayer part of the experience? Let us know in the comments!
Endwalker, the upcoming expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, is almost here. In fact, players with early access packages can begin playing the expansion as soon as Friday, December 3. Of course, as with any MMORPG launch (and many other online games), the first few days are likely to be dicey affairs when it comes to server queues, login woes, and other various assorted issues as players all attempt to login at the same time and play. We saw this happen earlier this year with New World – and seeing it occur in some capacity for the Endwalker launch would not be unusual, given the hype for this big, big expansion that features several new jobs and a ton of new content to explore.
We would like to share some information regarding the congestion that may occur during the Early Access period and release of #Endwalker.
To that end, Square Enix has released a post documenting some of the various issues players may encounter as the flood gates open. The list includes the most important issue, worlds reaching maximum capacity, resulting in lengthy wait times to log on. Other things can happen, too, like character creation being disabled. Players who remain inactive in-game for too long will also be booted in order to make room. For MMORPG veterans, nothing here should be surprising. If you’re taking your first steps into Final Fantasy XIV, it might be best to do what you can to prepare.
Ideally, this means you’d create your character before the expansion launches, so you don’t need to worry about getting stuck unable to make one, and you should probably not allocate days off to the initial pre-release and release dates for the game. If you’re planning to take time off to really soak yourself in the FFXIV experience, it would probably be best to shoot for a week or so after launch and not the early days. You’ll have a much better time playing the game than staring at login queues! If you really, really can’t wait to go hard on the new expansion, try changing your sleep schedule for a few days, as you will find it much, much easier to log in during the early hours of the morning (or late night, depending on how you view it) than you will during prime time.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, the other, other video game based on the popular tabletop game currently in development, has been delayed. It was tentatively set to release in February but is now launching on May 19.
It may be easy to confuse Swansong with the other two Vampire: The Masquerade games also in the works: Bloodhunt, the battle royale launching early next year that’s currently playable in Steam Early Access, and Bloodlines 2, the long-awaited sequel to the 2004 game that had its development rebooted. Swansong is a choice-driven narrative RPG that puts you in the role of three vampires in modern-day Boston.
A new leader has emerged to take control of the city’s sect of vampires, triggering a violent power struggle filled with twists, turns, and betrayal. Each playable vampire hails from a different clan and sports its own unique powers, which can be customized to your liking. Many of those skills influence characters to pry information out of them, using techniques such as persuasion and intimidation. Check out the game’s teaser trailer below.
In a tweet, developer Big Bad Wolf Studio says the delay will allow additional polish to ensure the game’s quality while also letting the team maintain a healthy work/life balance. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is heading to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Are you excited to play Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong? Let us know in the comments!
Techland has announced Dying Light 2 Stay Human has gone gold and is ready for production, two months ahead of its scheduled release date.
The company spread the news to Game Informer through a press release, saying the team achieved this milestone over the weekend. Techland’s press release also had some words from Tymon Smektała, lead game designer on Dying Light 2. In it, he speaks about how the work on the game isn’t quite done yet, saying, “The fact that the game is done and we hit the gold status two months before the release is a great sign but it doesn’t mean that our work ends here. There are still some upgrades and tweaks to add, and community feedback to implement, but the base is solid and ready to play.”
So, while much of the work is in the rearview mirror, there’s plenty to tweak and fix before the public is finally able to play it. Still, the feat of shipping a game is a massive undertaking and one worth celebrating. Tymon says, “I’m extremely proud of the whole team!” Considering the ups and downs the project faced over the course of a long development process, he should be.
The next time we’ll see Dying Light 2 Stay Human is just around the corner. This Thursday, Techland will premiere Episode 5 in its Dying 2 Knowseries, where about 15 minutes of new gameplay will be shown. You can find that at 12 p.m. Pacific on Techland’s Twitch channel.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is well on track to hit its February 4, 2022 date to release on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch (cloud version), and PC. For more on Dying Light 2, check out Brian Shea’s recent preview where he played four hours of the game.
If you’re wondering what games are coming up in 2022, we’ve put them all in one convenient location. This list will be continually updated to act as a living, breathing schedule as new dates are announced, titles are delayed, and big reveals happen. This should help you plan out your next several months in gaming and beyond.
As the gaming calendar is constantly changing, we highly recommend you bookmark this page. You’ll likely find yourself coming back to this to find out the most recent release schedule for the most anticipated games across PC, consoles, handhelds, and mobile devices. If you notice that we’ve missed something, feel free to let us know! Please note that games will not get assigned to a month until they have confirmed release dates.
For many of us at Game Informer, Halo Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer is a blast that feels nostalgic and refreshingly new at the same time. However, a point of contention (one that’s also been shared by the wider Halo community) is the monotonous grind of accumulating XP points. Infinite’s progression system leaves a lot to be desired, and leveling tends to be a painful slog. Initially, 343 Industries implemented an update to give players longer durations for XP boosts (among other features). Today’s new update goes a step further and increases XP payouts for the first six matches of each day.
After seeing how XP was earned with those changes, we noticed that players were starting their sessions with slower payouts than we’d like. To address this, we will be increasing the XP payout for the first 6 matches of each day. An outline of this update can be found below:
343 community manager John Junyszek took to Twitter (see above) to talk about how the new changes were in direct response to previous multiplayer progression updates:
“When we made our initial change to progression, which added Daily “Play 1 Game” Challenges, updated Weekly Challenges, and doubled the duration of 2XP Boosts, we promised that we’d monitor the data and make additional changes if needed. Now, it’s time to follow up on that. After seeing how XP was earned with those changes, we noticed that players were starting their sessions with slower payouts than we’d like. To address this, we will be increasing the XP payout for the first 6 matches of each day.”
This comes a day after 343’s head of design, Jerry Hook, noted his frustrations with Infinite’s progression and promised that the dev team would prioritize a fix. The XP points that correlate with each match are as follows:
1st Game = 300XP
2nd Game = 200XP
3rd Game = 200XP
4th Game = 100XP
5th Game = 100XP
6th Game = 100XP
7th+ Game = 50XP
Junyszek concluded the thread by stating that the new update is a quick response based on player feedback and that more substantial changes are on the way but will take more time to configure.
So, there you have it, Spartans. Halo Infinite’s singleplayer story (coop is still in the works) launches on December 8 for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. To prepare for the Master Chief’s upcoming journey, watch our exclusive interview about What You Need To Know About Halo Infinite’s Campaign.
Antstream Arcade is now available on the Epic Games Store, boasting over 1000 games to stream to your PC. We learned of its inclusion in the launcher through a story from the folks over at PC Gamer.
The streaming service has all kinds of games from the arcade, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, SNES, and many more. While the Antstream is free to download and access, gems or a subscription will be needed to play anything. Epic is offering a welcome pack available for free until Thursday for new players to check out the service, which provides 1090 gems to mess around with. Most games cost 30 gems per play, though, for the price of $39.99 a year, you can play any solo or co-op game without having to pay extra.
Antsteam features additional benefits to those playing on its platform, including achievements and challenges. Tournaments are also available, pitting your high scores and feats against others in games like Mortal Kombat, Dig Dug, Chain Reaction, or Marble Madness. Winning or scoring highly in these contests will payout in gems to spend on other games or enter future tournaments.
There looks to be plenty to check out with Antstream Arcade, with many cool old arcade and console games to try. I’m eyeing some of the SNK and Commodore 64 collections, myself. Keep in mind that you aren’t downloading any of these games, so making sure you have a strong network connection will be critical for an optimal experience. Along with the addition to the Epic Games Store, Antstream Arcade is available on PC, iOS, and Android devices.
Strategists ready to return to the battlefields of World War II have the chance to play in the Company of Heroes 3 pre-alpha multiplayer test starting tomorrow.
A video from developer Relic Entertainment, featuring principal producer Morain McLaughlin, details some aspects of Company of Heroes 3 players can expect to play around with during the test. While the final product will include more factions (including the Italian battalion, which will be detailed next year), players will get their hands on the American and German forces. Each military force will feature two battlegroups to explore, replacing the doctrines and commanders from previous games. These battlegroups will offer a tree of abilities, units, and upgrades to select and utilize throughout a match.
The pre-alpha test will primarily be a multiplayer-focused affair, but those who wish to take on the computer-controlled AI in 1v1 or 2-player vs. 2-CPU have the option to do so. If you’re playing by your lonesome against the CPU, you’ll have access to the tactical pause feature not present in modes with more than one person.
Other new features available will be outfitting vehicles with side armor, a veterancy system, and verticality in maps. Relic promises more updates in 2022, including new factions, units, and mechanics to be revealed over the coming months.
Preloading is available right now on Steam for established COH-Development account holders. Anyone new to the COH-Development program can head over to the game’s community site and sign up for an account there. Company of Heroes 3 is aiming for an unspecified 2022 release date for PC.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, the sci-fi strategy adventure game by Vanillaware (makers of Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown), is making its way to Switch on April 12. The game has only been available on PlayStation 4 since it launched in March 2020.
The game blends side-scrolling visual novel adventure with real-time strategy. Players control 13 ordinary high school students who also pilot giant mech suits called Sentinels. Okay, so they’re not that ordinary. The story primarily revolves around stopping an invasion, but the sci-fi tale branches in all sorts of wacky directions, many of which draw inspiration from stories like War of the Worlds and The Terminator. While you’ll use your mech to defend the world in RTS battles, the real meat of 13 Sentinels is navigating the intertwining, non-linear narratives of the students. Each teenager has their own story arc, and you’ll jump back and forth between them all to uncover the entire bonkers storyline. Take a look at the Switch announcement trailer below for an idea of what to expect.
In our review of the PS4 version, we scored 13: Sentinels an 8 out of 10, with former GI editor Joe Juba describing it as a “fun and ambitious experience that combines high-school drama and huge robots in a (mostly) beautiful package.” You can read our full review here.
Have you been holding out hope for 13: Sentinels: Aegis Rim to come to Switch? Let us know in the comments!
With Spider-Man: No Way Home set to release in just a few weeks, Sony producer Amy Pascal has revealed that we’ll be seeing more of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.
Pascal said No Way Home is not the last Spider-Man movie Sony Pictures Entertainment is making with Marvel Studios in a new interview with Fandango. She also revealed that Holland’s next movie will be the first in a new trilogy.
“This is not the last movie that we are going to make with Marvel – [this is not] the last Spider-Man movie,” Pascal told Fandango. “We are getting ready to make the next Spider-Man movie with Tom Holland and Marvel. We’re thinking of this as three films, and now we’re going to go onto the next three. This is not the last of our MCU movies.”
As you can see in Pascal’s quote above, Holland’s Spider-Man will be seen in at least one more Spider-Man movie. He could also appear in the following two movies, but that’s not guaranteed considering Pascal didn’t specifically say Holland will be in all three. Perhaps he appears in the first of this new trilogy and then hands off the title to someone like Miles Morales. Perhaps he remains Spider-Man in all three films of the new trilogy.
News of a new Spider-Man trilogy from Sony and Marvel is exciting, particularly because Holland is set to star in at least the first one. Some online have speculated that Holland would be meeting his demise in No Way Home based on trailers and footage released for the film so far. It would seem that’s not the case, though.
Alongside today’s news, three new No Way Home posters were released as well. You can check out each of them below.
343 head of design Jerry Hook tweeted about a game called Len’s Island and then replied to that tweet to explain that he was playing both Len’s Island and Halo Infinite’s multiplayer. He said he’s feeling everyone’s pain in terms of progression and that the team is working on it, as reported by Video Games Chronicle.
“Yes I am still playing Halo and feeling everyone’s pain on progression. We are back at it next week and this will be the top of my list with the team.”
Yes I am still playing Halo and feeling everyone’s pain on progression. We are back at it next week and this will be top of my list with the team.
As you can see in Hook’s tweet above, work on multiplayer’s progression continues to be a top priority for 343 Industries, which is likely also head down on the Halo Infinite campaign that launches on December 8. One important aspect of the entire discourse surrounding the multiplayer progression is that the game is still technically in beta.
Yes, 343 Industries is selling a battle pass that costs real money in it and it’s fair to want that battle pass to feel fair, but this beta period for multiplayer was likely enacted for this very reason: to get a feel of the community’s thoughts on it and progression, and make changes based on those feelings ahead of the full December 8 launch.
End Global 7, a coop company composed of prominent development studios, released a Q3 2021 Investor Presentation that detailed revenue/financial gains and a project pipeline for future IPs. The information packet revealed Dimensional Ink Studios, the team behind DC Universe Online, is working on another MMO. However, this time, players will be suiting up as created Marvel superheroes and (potentially) supervillains. The new Marvel MMO is currently in development, but the unexpected announcement is exciting nonetheless.
According to the slide entitled “Exciting Product Slate for 2022 and Beyond,” Dimensional Ink Studios is coming off a solid year with DCUO cornering the market for successful superhero-based MMOs. The studios’ most popular title is celebrating its 10th anniversary and “performing near its peak historical annual revenues.” Under the “medium-term” banner (seen above), a graphics overhaul and massive content expansion are in the works and slated for a 2023 release.
However, under the “longer-term” banner, an unannounced MMORPG is underway. The important bullet points read as follows:
Marvel IP based massively multiplayer online game
Being developed by Dimensional Ink Studios in Austin, TX
Led by Jack Emmert, who designed and helmed City of Heroes, and currently leads DCUO
It’ll probably be a long time before we get any notable info about this new Marvel MMORPG. Still, based on Dimensional Ink Studio’s pedigree, we can expect to see fun customization options, beloved heroes and villains to interact with, and exciting leveling systems with raid scenarios.
Deck Nine has revealed the new release date for Life Is Strange: True Colors on Switch after being delayed back in September.
Initially set to release in September alongside the other versions of the game, True Colors was delayed to a later unannounced date, putting less pressure on the team for the release of True Colors. Deck Nine has revealed that True Colors will hit Switch digitally on December 7, as reported by Video Games Chronicle. The physical release of it on Switch won’t happen until February 25, 2022, though.
Life is Strange: True Colors is just around the corner, and while the team over at Deck Nine is working on Alex’s story, as well as the Wavelengths DLC that stars Steph Gingrich, the studio did announce a delay for the Life is Strange: Remastered Collection.
Deck Nine offered an update on the Life is Strange series in a recent social media post, including confirmation that Life is Strange: True Colors will arrive on September 10, with the Wavelengths DLC slated for a September 30 release. Life is Strange: Remastered was originally expected to launch around the same time, but Deck Nine wants to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its team, which is incredibly important. To do just that, the decision has been made to push back the Remastered Collection to sometime early 2022.
Deck Nine via Twitter
In recent years, hidden studio culture has been slowly coming to light. We’re seeing it now with the Activision Blizzard lawsuit. We’ve seen it with other studios like Rockstar Games, Riot, and Ubisoft, and we’ve even seen worrisome reports from indie studios, as well. Now, more than ever, teams must look out for one another to promote safe and healthy work environments. Not just in games but all industries. Though it’s easy to be a little disappointed when an anticipated title is pushed back, it’s better to take care of those crafting these adventures than to burn out the experience totally. Whenever the Remastered Collection arrives, we’re excited to dive back into the journey of Max and Chloe once more.
UPDATE: The Nintendo Switch version of Life is Strange has also been pushed back:
Additionally, Life is Strange: True Colors for Nintendo Switch is running a little late.
We won’t be quite ready to release on September 10 – but we still plan to release this year.
Please watch our channels for a confirmed date over the coming weeks!
To learn more about the world of Life is Strange, be sure to check out our True Colors hub here to learn more about the newest protagonist and the darker side of empathy.
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The first season of Game Informer’s Video Gameography explores the history of the Metroid series, and this episode is set to wrap our talk on Retro Studio’s epic trilogy of Prime with a detailed discussion of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
Released on August 27, 2007 for Nintendo’s Wii, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is often considered one of the best games on Nintendo’s unique motion sensing console. During today’s show we talk about what made 2007 such an phenomenal year and why we Prime 3 often gets overlook in the shuffle. We also talk about how Prime 3 might be the best entry in the Prime series thanks to it innovative motion controls and the Hypermode system, which allowed Samus to dish out some serious damage. Finally, we speculate if Samus is just an intergalactic version of Batman.
Join hosts Ben Reeves (@BenjaminReeves), Marcus Stewart (@MarcusStewart7), and special guest, lead community producer at Twitch Zach Ryan (@ZachariusD) for the next hour as we explore Metroid Prime’s lore, development history, and lasting impact.
If you’d like to get in touch with the Video Gameography podcast, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join our official Game Informer Discord server by linking your Discord account to your Twitch account and subscribing to the Game Informer Twitch channel. From there, find the Video Gameography channel under “Community Spaces.”
If you buy the yearly iteration of your favorite sports video game, chances are you haven’t had much to cheer about the last few years. To put it bluntly, the genre is struggling, and even the new console generation hasn’t been the answer to rejuvenating it. Take just this year, for example. Metacritic scores are anything but impressive for the biggest sports around. Madden NFL 22 earned an abysmal 60, NHL 22, which promised to change its metagame, disappointed with a 74. NBA 2K has largely been the franchise to beat, but NBA 2K22 only holds a 76, some of the lowest marks the series has seen in years. FIFA 22 and MLB: The Show 21 earned the highest averages, around 78, but it’s telling that none of these franchises could even crack the 80 mark.
This downward trend has been going for some time now, and I’ve grown irritated seeing modes largely untouched and similar technical errors carrying over year to year. It’s like watching your favorite sports team when they’re in a slump. How long do you wait it out and watch the continual losses pile up before you just walk away and hope next season fares better?
The problem is, the hope that the following entry fares better has lingered for too many seasons now, and it’s not just with one or two franchises. It’s across the board. Last generation, the sports genre exploded with innovation, making sports games look and play the closest they ever have to real life. In addition, developers were looking at unique ways to build a community around them and cater to multiple types of players, from creating robust franchise modes to offering skill-based online play. And, most importantly, they were finding new and interesting ways to captivate the sports fan. Visual Concepts showed the power of sports storytelling, making NBA 2K’s MyCareer a must-play by letting you create a player and take them on a cinematic journey that delved into the highs and lows of stardom.
It opened a world of potential and lit a fire in their competitors, with FIFA creating Alex Hunter: The Journey and NHL’s Be A Pro becoming a choice-driven story. Heck, Visual Concepts had so much success it even implemented a storyline into NBA 2K18 and 19’s franchise mode, albeit with mixed results. But at the very least, developers were trying new things, taking risks, and learning from one another about engagement and what kept people playing their game year-round.
These days, sports games play it safe, offering graphical upgrades and a few new features to get by, but no series is really trying to reinvigorate the formula or shake up what’s been done before. And even when efforts are made, they feel half-hearted. For instance, NHL 22 tried to get inspiration from Madden by introducing Superstar X-Factors and made a push to shake up its metagame. The problem? These X-Factors ended up being a non-factor in making the gameplay more rewarding or exciting, and the metagame didn’t change enough to be notable, except for its flaws.
What’s more frustrating is watching various modes just go neglected without meaningful changes for years on end. I can’t remember the last time NBA 2K, NHL, or FIFA really touched Franchise mode. Madden made an attempt this year with Franchise mode, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make it a must[play. Even worse is the stuff that doesn’t work or needs improving stays the same; NHL’s dialogue in Be A Pro is laughable, and its poke check remains overpowered while Madden is still full of odd glitches and a clunky interface.
Sports games’ annual releases don’t allow time for wide-scale changes, but each year has always been about the developers making smart improvements to the foundation. I’ve come to expect a game in any sports franchise will play smoother each year, and specific modes will get a bigger focus with more effort toward meaningful additions. And when the gameplay starts to fizzle, developers will begin to invest in new strategies to keep it interesting, like finding ways to change the metagame or implementing a new system that changes how the gameplay feels, like NHL 19’s improved skating. But too much is staying the same for too long in a lot of franchises. Madden’s gameplay code is so old at this point that the developers are just working around the same problems, from snapped-to animations to players running into each other post-play, even when they try to add new features.
It also feels like sports games are at a crossroads of deciding what they need to be for this generation of gamers. I don’t envy this decision, as there are many different reasons sports fans pick up the controller. Ask anyone what their favorite mode is and why, and you’ll get a multitude of answers. One thing never changes, though: These games are meant to have a long tail and be played year-round. This has caused many developers to invest significantly in online-centric modes that they can keep updating throughout the year. But even here, the rewards never seem great enough, or worse, they feel very generic in their execution.
The limited resources don’t make the decision of what to focus on easy for developers. It’s a constant tug-of-war between keeping the hardcore fans happy and bringing in new players via more casual offerings, like FIFA’s Volta, Madden’s The Yard, and NHL’s Pro-Am. Somebody is always left out in the cold, and lately, it’s been the players dedicated to more single-player ventures like franchise modes. Let’s face it: Modes like these don’t bring in any extra cash.
NBA 2K22 probably made the most significant leap this year, trying to merge its popular MyCareer mode with The City, its bustling online world, where players can play against each other in pickup games and tournaments and shop around. Visual Concepts still has a long way to go with dialing down its intrusive microtransactions here, and it’s still too empty to be fun to explore, but I see the potential.
I just saw that WWE 2K22 is forgoing its usual fall release to allow more time to shore things up, and while the series has been full of highs and lows, I like the creativity that continues to shine in its various modes and how it caters to the things that excite hardcore fans. There’s 2K Showcase Mode, WWE 2K’s playable documentary where you follow the career of a legendary wrestler or a historical period and take on pivotal matches; My Faction allows you to assemble and manage your own stable to rival greats like The Four Horsemen; and this year, it’s introducing MyRise, a new spin on MyCareer that allows you to guide a WWE rookie to stardom in a choice-driven adventure.
To be fair, the challenges of COVID-19 have undoubtedly made the last couple of years even more difficult and taxing for the genre. However, these problems were already coming to a head at the end of the previous generation, and they’re not going away. A roster upgrade just isn’t enough these days to keep fans at bay, and it’s the loyal fans who end up feeling burned for getting their excitement up for another season, only to see the same problems pop up again.
Developers need to be unafraid to push the reset button and maybe take some extra time to rethink their game. As it is, sports contain a great deal of creativity and excitement, but that experience isn’t translating video games. Why? Because developers keep using the same playbook. They don’t want to take the risky play that nets the glory for fear of failure, but I’d rather see these games try something new and fail than give me the same tired experience I’ve played for years now.
The holiday gifting season is fast upon us, and many of us have kids in our family or friend groups who are hoping for something fun wrapped up to enjoy. Beyond gift-giving, if you’ve got a family of your own, you may be trying to come up with ways to keep yourself and the kids entertained over the holiday break from school. Either way, I can say with confidence that a good family board game is worth its weight in gold, both for keeping everyone happily entertained, but also ensuring some fun shared activities to make memories.
The board gaming hobby has no shortage of wonderful family games, but I’ve kept the focus here on mostly newer projects that you may not have heard of. As you consider which game might be right for your family group, make sure and check against the age recommendations listed, and zero in on something that all participants can enjoy, no matter how long they’ve been gaming.
The Fuzzies Publisher: CMYK Age: 6+
Looking to introduce the kids to their first dexterity game? Fuzzies is a wonderful twist on the stacking/pulling tower concept, but with a far lower threshold for angrily thrown wooden blocks than in a game like Jenga. Instead of blocks, Fuzzies features a tower of small fuzzy multi-colored balls. After packing them into an included tall cup, they can be stacked onto a base, and the cup removed, leaving a perfectly formed (and sort of adorable) mass of clumped-up color. Players use tweezers, or just their fingers, to remove a ball and place it back atop the tower. Knock some balls off, and you get a silly challenge on your next go, like having to use your non-dominant hand. This one is simple, fast, and if you strip out the card challenges, can be played with kids even younger. Just be prepared to spend a few minutes at the end of your play session gathering errant fuzzies – they’re sneaky little guys.
Bug Hunt Publisher: CMON Age: 5+
This simple memory and sensory game is a lovely change of pace from the norm. While it’s not likely to keep older players entertained for too long, it’s just the ticket if you have a busy group of younger kids looking for something new. Players each have a color of bug that they’re trying to collect, and each bug has its own unique shaped piece. Players peek inside the “shrub” where they’re hiding, and try to memorize where their colored bugs are lying. Afterward, you can’t see the bugs as you reach through a blind shield and try to pull out the correct options by feel. If you accidentally catch your opponents’ bugs, you’re just helping them win faster. Plus, there are little white bugs that “bite.” If you manage to pick up three of those, you’re out. No one should pretend that Bug Hunt is a complex or strategic game, but it does have a unique mechanic that I haven’t seen before, and kids I’ve played with enjoy the surprise of reaching in and trying to grab the right piece.
Dragon Prince: Battlecharged Publisher: Brotherwise Games Age: 10+
If you’ve got older kids at home, there’s a good chance you already know about the excellent animated series called Dragon Prince, currently streaming on Netflix. If not, go watch that right now, and come back. I’ll wait… Alright, back now? Wasn’t that great? Fortunately for fans, you can continue the adventures of Callum, Rayla, and their friends with this rewarding tactical miniature game. Each character has their own small deck of cards that lets them bring unique abilities into the fray during the skirmish. Players face off in battle, and the fun comes from seeing the ways each character clashes against the others. Battlecharged is by no means the most sophisticated miniature skirmish game on the market, and don’t go in expecting an extension of the show’s story, as this is purely about the battles. But veteran game maker Brotherwise has made conscious choices to keep things accessible for players new to tactical encounters, and the multiple battlemaps that are included keep things engaging on replay.
Disney Gargoyles: Awakening Publisher: Ravensburger Age: 10+
I’ve always considered Gargoyles one of the hidden gems of the Disney catalog. The dark themes and Gothic styling of that ‘90s animated show were a striking departure from the normal Disney fare. And the voice cast, which included some genuine acting heavyweights, helped the dialogue to pop. I’m clearly not the only fan, as Ravensburger has released this engaging battle game, in which players take on the role of the titular gargoyles as they battle the forces of Xanatos and Demona. One of the coolest features of the game is the 3D board, which sees your minis moving between the rooftops of Manhattan. The game includes four distinct scenarios, each of which offers a different style of play. Three of those happen to be cooperative, while the last provides a more competitive experience. No matter the storyline you play out, the high production values and smart combat and objectives ensure an enjoyable session. If sharing with kids who don’t know the property, I recommend taking a part of the holiday season to watch some of the show (it’s on DVD, but it’s also on Disney+ if you have that streaming option), and then use that as a catapult into a fun game night.
Jamaica Publisher: Space Cowboys Age: 8+
Jamaica is one of my hands-down favorite gateway games into thematic board gaming. Originally released back in 2007, this new edition changes very little (mostly a streamlined approach to learning the rules), but offers a new chance to snag a game that has been a surefire hit for more than a few families I know. Jamaica is both a racing game, and a game of acquisition, as each player controls a pirate ship as it zips around the island, collecting treasure, firing off cannons, and hopefully keeping your crew fed along the way. The game plays fast and easy, but is far more interesting and strategic than many “roll-and-move” family games. If your crew has a few pirate fans in the mix, this is an approachable and fun game they’ll adore, and I promise the older buccaneers will have a good time as well.
Dragomino Publisher: Blue Orange Games Age: 5+
The stellar Kingdomino released in 2016 to well-deserved critical acclaim. In fact, if your kids are just a bit older, that’s still a top recommendation. That original territory-capturing game offers a clever twist on Dominoes, but with some additional strategic complexity, and the added fun of a kingdom expansion theme. The game’s newer cousin, Dragomino, aims to make things even simpler as a welcome into this style of play. Players adopt the role of dragon trainers who must try to collect the most dragon eggs, and do so by linking together similarly colored territories. Dragomino’s gameplay is very similar to its older cousin, but features simplified scoring, no constraints on grid size (a big and challenging limit in the original), and art and colors that are simply more inviting. In short, stick with the original for yourself or for your older kids. But if you’re looking for a genuine strategy experience that even the Kindergartener in your family can pick up, this will be perfect.
Men at Work Publisher: Pretzel Games Age: 8+
This dexterity game challenges players to build a construction site, and attempt to avoid seemingly inevitable accidents. Tiny meeple construction workers mount the girders as the game plays out, creating increasingly precarious table tableaus that are amusing to look at, and doomed for collapse. Players take turns drawing cards, which dictate what piece to add to the site and specific instructions on how to do so. Knock something over, and you lose one of your safety certificates. Eventually, the bosslady shows up, and you also can try to compete to be the employee of the month. It’s a fun and surprisingly challenging stacking challenge. There are enough rules to make things a bit complicated for the youngest players, but most families will be delighted by the sturdy and colorful components and the hilariously poorly designed structures that emerge in each game session.
So Clover Publisher: Repos Production Age: 10+
Repos has some of my favorite party games in its catalog, including games I’ve previously recommended like Just One, Ca$h ‘n Guns, and Concept. So Clover is another memorable release from the studio and ideal for family get-togethers. Players receive a random assortment of cards with words on them, like “Banana,” “Shirt,” and “Firefighter.” You must write down keywords that link particular pairs of words. For instance, you might come up with the keyword of “Wool” to link “Sheep” and “Clothing.” Players then work together to try to guess the keywords. So Clover is cooperative, which helps keep things civil if one or more of the kids can get carried away with competitive games. The word association gameplay is simple and enjoyable, but of course, this one is only the right choice if everyone at the table is fully comfortable with reading and writing. If your gaming team has crossed that milestone, expect a good time.
The Game of Life: Super Mario Edition Publisher: Hasbro Age: 8+
Before I ever got into the more involved and thematic hobby board game scene, the old Game of Life board game was a popular fixture of my childhood. In my experience, it’s rare that licensed spin-offs of old classic board games add much to the mix. But I was pleasantly surprised by the Super Mario Edition of Life, which maintains much of the fun (the spinner, looping track, fun spaces) but adds enough Mario vibes to feel fresh. Instead of trying to make the most money and retire, players are instead trying to race to the finish and take out Bowser. Along the way, players encounter lots of fun spaces for power-ups and the like, as well as some spaces that demand brief minigames that you play with other folks at the table. In addition, you’re trying to boost your chances of a win against the big guy by collecting stars, which add to your final spin as you try to hit the numerical win threshold. While I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the original game, I think the Mario theming here is honestly more appealing for most families than a story about collecting more money than your fellows. Don’t go in expecting complex gameplay, and I think this one hits a nice balance between nostalgia and modern fun.
Disney Hidden Mickeys Publishers: Funko Games Ages: 3+
If your little ones are still especially young, I recommend this amusing game of hide and seek, in which players flip over cards with images of the iconic mouse, and then race around the house or yard to find the matching picture. After the markers are found, you’re also trying to spy out hidden mickey symbols on the cards themselves to score points. I like the way this game takes into account the likely behaviors of very young children, encouraging them to get up out of their seats and race around to find hidden items. But there’s also a focused component of play, where they need to slow down and look carefully at the cards. For Disneyphile families with young players, I suspect you’ll find this little gem gets a lot of requests for repeat play.
I hope one or more of the above games helps to brighten your family’s holiday season. If you still aren’t seeing anything that’s the right fit, don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to help you figure out an option. If you’re looking for great family video games this season, don’t miss our recent round-up. And if you’re looking for some more grown-up tabletop fare, you’ll find plenty of recommendations in our Top of the Table hub, which you can reach from the banner below.
With the U.S. celebrating Thanksgiving this week, today marks the official start of holiday shopping season. This week, host Brian Shea is joined by Game Informer editor-in-chief Andrew Reiner to offer up several great options for the Nintendo fan in your life.
The All Things Nintendo podcast is a weekly show where we can celebrate, discuss, and break down all the latest games, news, and announcements from the industry’s most recognizable name. Each week, Brian is joined by different guests to talk about what’s happening in the world of Nintendo. Along the way, they’ll share personal stories, uncover hidden gems in the eShop, and even look back on the classics we all grew up with. A new episode hits every Friday!
00:00:00 – Introduction 00:01:56 – First Nintendo Game/Favorite Nintendo Game 00:14:30 – Pokémon Go Ed Sheeran Concert 00:16:46 – Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition Problems 00:19:18 – Analogue Pocket Release Update 00:26:12 – Gift Guide: Which Switch Console is Right for You? 00:30:11 – Gift Guide: Family-Friendly Games 00:44:37 – Gift Guide: More Serious/Long-Term Games 00:56:06 – Gift Guide: Nintendo Merchandise and Peripherals 01:12:53 – Definitive Ranking: Gaming Gifts We’ve Received 01:21:21 – eShop Gems of the Week: Golf Story & Goblin Sword
If you’d like to get in touch with the All Things Nintendo podcast, you can do so by emailing AllThingsNintendo@GameInformer.com, tweeting to Brian (@BrianPShea), or by joining the official Game Informer Discord server. You can do that by linking your Discord account to your Twitch account and subscribing to the Game Informer Twitch channel. From there, find the All Things Nintendo channel under “Community Spaces.”
For more Game Informer podcasts, be sure to check out The Game Informer Show, which covers the weekly happenings of the video game industry, and Video Gameography with host Ben Reeves, which explores the history of video games – one series at a time!
I’ve played a lot of Halo Infinite since its free-to-play multiplayer suite launched during the Xbox 20th Anniversary Celebration last week. Coincidentally, I’ve also watched way too much TikTok since then. It’s a real problem I’m dealing with right now. In-between the cooking tutorials and cursed comedy sketches populating my For You page, I’ve stumbled upon several Halo Infinite multiplayer tips that positively affected my knowledge and skill.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving – and being the generous person I am – I’d like to give back to the gaming community by sharing a curated list of the best videos I’ve watched while doom-scrolling this hellscape of a social media app.
Win Stockpile Matches Quickly With The Razorback:
Stockpile is an objective-focused mode introduced in Halo Infinite that requires each team to fight for a limited quantity of Power Seeds that they must install in their base generator. This Big Team Battle mode is hectic, but a little team cooperation goes a long way. My friends and I typically form an assembly line of sorts by throwing the contested deliverables across the map to each other in a chaotic-but-humorous fashion. However, TikTok user lord_shacksspotlights a much better strategy that employs the warthog’s turretless cousin, the Razorback.
There are several options hidden within the depths of Infinite’s numerous menus that can give you a competitive advantage. The first piece of UI-related advice you should follow is to change the default outline color of enemy players. Pick a bright color like yellow to better contrast the game’s industrial color palette. Thanks for the great tip, hyrockr.
Double Jump With The Repulsor (You’re Using It Wrong):
This one is an Alex Van Aken original. After a few games experimenting with the Repulsor, an overlooked gadget in Halo Infinite, I’ve learned to use it to double-jump to previously out-of-reach platforms. This trick is especially beneficial when playing modes like Capture The Flag and Oddball on vertical maps like Aquarius and Bazaar.
Don’t forget me when you see pros use this strategy in the Halo Championship Series.
The Grappleshot has been stealing headlines surrounding Halo Infinite, and rightfully so. It’s enjoyable to wield the traversal-focused gadget since you can use it to swing above enemies, steal power weapons as they spawn, and even latch onto other Spartans to execute stylish melee kills. One of my favorite ways to use the Grappleshot is to hijack oncoming vehicles; however, I’ve failed to perform as excellent a move as my friend MrBadBit does in this video.
If you’ve played Halo Infinite for any number of minutes, then you’ll know that players are constantly lobbing grenades across the map. While overwhelming an enemy Spartan with explosives is usually an acceptable way to get a kill, sometimes there’s an even better approach. You can find grenade stations scattered throughout each arena in Infinite, and you can shoot them for a cheeky remote detonation. 343 Industries created a Mythic-tier medal for pulling this stunt off, too.
Fine, I didn’t learn this tip from Tiktok. But I think my friend Jesse did, and he told me about it, so it counts.
Rounding out our list is one more UI-related setting you should tweak. TikTok user tazamlive discovered a way to move weapons to the corner of the screen by adjusting a slider called Weapon Offset. Thank God we can finally see what’s in front of us when using the M41 SPNKR rocket launcher.
I hope this finely-curated list of Halo Infinite multiplayer tips will serve you well in future matches. Stay tuned to our exclusive coverage hub if you’re looking for more information ahead of the game’s official launch. If you found one of these TikToks particularly helpful, be sure to follow the creator. Oh, and be sure to leave a comment below, letting me know what you think about this innovative video game guide!
With winter just on the horizon, this is the last entry in our Fall For Indies series. So, it seems only fitting to end with a glut of great titles to keep players sustained over for the long, dark months ahead. One of our most anticipated games this year, Solar Ash, was originally slated to arrive earlier in the season but is now hitting just ahead of the frostiest time of the year. And while the nights are getting darker sooner, there are still plenty of bright indie launches we’ve got our eye on for the rest of 2021 and beyond.
A Heaping Serving Of Fall Releases
The last leaves are falling, but there’s no shortage of indies to serve up, as the upcoming feast has many appetizing courses. The Pathless, an action-packed adventure from the creators of Abzû, the brilliant roguelike Death’s Door, and the short-but-sweet A Short Hike are all coming to new platforms. With additional dishes to try like Moncage and Undungeon, this month’s gaming table is stuffed with goodies.
PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, iOS
Giant Squid’s action-adventure game released last year as a PlayStation console and Epic Games Store exclusive, but now it’s making its way to Steam. Playing as the Hunter, you traverse a vibrant open world with your eagle in order to make pincushions out of corrupted spirits and break the land’s curse. While that’s a very important goal, you should also take time to pet your feathery friend because not only is that adorable, but you can use your eagle to fly across the landscape, and it deserves a reward for all the effort. The Pathless hit Steam November 16.
PC, iOS, Android
If mysterious puzzle cubes sound intriguing to you, you’ll want to check out Moncage, which launched November 16. On the surface, it seems like an easy challenge. You have to rotate a box connecting shapes to progress. Each side of the cube has a different scene and, by figuring out which object from one scene matches up perfectly with another, you’ll solve the puzzle. However, as the scene grows more complex, the answers become harder to find. While the puzzle game has no dialogue, that doesn’t keep it from folding narrative hints into its evolving challenges.
A Short Hike
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
A Short Hike made an unexpected appearance during the recent Wholesome Snack Showcase to announce its migration to PlayStation and Xbox consoles. As the title suggests, this game doesn’t take a long time to finish, but its journey is touching and there’s a lot of fun packed in. Playing as a young bird, you head to Hawk Peak Provincial Park to get away from the world’s cares and summit its highest mountain. You can even choose to give the game a visual boost to 4K on new-gen consoles, making A Short Hike’s stylized beauty even clearer when it comes to the new platforms on November 16.
Have you ever thought about settling down after all that adventuring? Maybe setting up a small tavern with the fruits of your dungeon-delving labors? Tavern Master, out November 16, will get you started. Growing your charming, medieval watering hole from a one-room establishment to a bustling kingdom of tables, servers, and refreshments won’t be easy. You’ll have to attract paying customers with special events and a good bard or two before you can expand your kitchens and guest rooms.
Wandering Trails: A Hiking Game
It’s hard to think of a better way to escape from the real world’s increasingly cold weather than hopping into a world filled with sun-dappled fields, shimmering lakes, and no pressure. Wandering Trails is all about peaceful exploration. With no combat – or even objectives beyond enjoying the scenery – you’re free to traverse the game’s 20 square kilometers of wilderness as you see fit. Equipped with a handy camera, you can snap creative shots of the game’s various wildlife, dynamic weather, or memorable landmarks. Or you can simply admire the view.
Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Released November 18 on Xbox consoles via Game Pass and PC, Undungeon sets out to recapture the feel of action-RPGs of yesterday in a game designed for the modern day. Spectacular pixel-art graphics combine with frantic combat in this sci-fi adventure. The world’s detail is unbelievable, and every element of the game, including the smallest clump of foliage, is hand-drawn, according to the developer. The story is equally mind-bending as your quest to restore multi-dimensional order will lead to you crafting a multiverse after your own heart.
Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Changing pace from Undungeon’s combat-focused, pixilated sci-fi world, we move onto the incredibly naturalistic and mesmerizing alien journey in Exo One. This interstellar exploration title has been in development for nearly half a decade, with its expected 2020 launch getting pushed back a year. However, it finally hit Steam and Game Pass on November 18. The game places you in charge of a strange, disc-like craft which you’ll navigate through a multitude of absolutely stunning extraterrestrial landscapes.
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
For many, Death’s Door is not only one of the best indies of the year, but one of the best games of the year period. The roguelike title starring a death-dealing crow was released this summer for Xbox consoles and PC, but the hit game is now making its way onto PlayStation platforms and Switch next week. Combat the forces trying to hold death at bay, travel through cleverly designed levels, and watch the narrative unfold as you overcome the game’s difficult challenges. Death’s Door just landed on its new perches earlier this week.
A little over a year since its successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, Len’s Island is entering Early Access today. Described as a blend of action, exploration, sim, and building, the upcoming title promises to cater to the “hardcore dungeon-crawler fans, home-builders and decorators, explorers and completionists, farming fanatics, collectible hoarders, and people who just want to live the simple life of chopping trees as the sun goes down.” On top of all that, Len’s Island seems to have a dark secret lurking beneath its idyllic shores.
Hot Indies For Cold Weather
There’s a blizzard of small titles heading this way, and even though this round-up series is at its end, you won’t get left out in the cold. Here’s a helpful list of some major releases falling with the snow during the rest of the year.
PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC
After its delay a few weeks ago, Solar Ash is skating in before the close of the fall season. Lively in look and action, this colorful title follows the void runner Rei in her quest to save her home from the growing threat of the world-swallowing Ultravoid. Leaping into the rift, players will dash, grind, and grapple their way through the void. Along the way, you have to defeat giant foes, attacking weak spots found on their bodies – like a neon-dipped Shadow of the Colossus. Solar Ash is slated to release December 2.
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, iOS, Android
Among Us’ PlayStation and Xbox console debut is set for December 14 – just making it in before the jaws of winter close in around us. The social deduction/friendship-ending murder simulator saw an unbelievable surge of popularity on the PC in 2020, but now everyone is invited to join in. With the game’s recent update adding in much-requested roles and in-game currencies, there are a lot of reasons for new and returning crewmates to log a few hours in Innersloth’s killer title.
Get ready to make your way to the winner’s circle when Card Shark, from developer Nerial, gets dealt. With an irresistible hand-drawn art style and luxurious backdrop of France in the 1700s, the game is a feast for the eyes. But Card Shark’s gorgeous details aren’t the only thing you can lose your head over. Your opponents won’t suffer cheating in these high-stake contests, and some of the perilous games in this title aren’t the kind you play with cards.
“Fresh apples, hot cider, and delicious maple bar donuts. The perfect fall day.” This quote, posted to the game’s official Twitter recently, is not wrong. So hopefully, this sugary puzzle project gets a delivery date before too long. In Freshly Frosted, it’s your job to make sure a host of delightful treats are properly adorned with icing, sprinkles, and more before reaching the end of the line. You’ll do this by setting up a winding maze of conveyor belts in and around specialized confection-making machinery. Send donuts, cookies, and more along the path in the correct order to move on to the next level, and maybe go out and reward yourself with a sweet snack afterward.
No Place For Bravery
Currently set for a 2021 release date, No Place For Bravery is a brutal action-RPG with pixel graphics to die for. You play as Thorn, an aging fighter trudging through a deadly world, taking on foe after foe in your quest to find your daughter. The top-down title has some vicious combat, and even the smallest enemy can take an unwary warrior down. Developer Ysbryd hints that the choice-driven narrative may equal the fighting’s brutality, with increasingly challenging moral dilemmas thrown at the player. Between navigating these choices and defeating foes, reuniting with your daughter will be an uphill battle.
Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Soup Pot is ready to greet you with a sizzling hot bowl after a chilly day when it comes out later this year. And it’s not just limited to soup. This food-cooking adventure presents over 100 dishes to whip up and serve to your fictional social media audience. With several kitchen types to choose from, you can set up your preferred 3D cooking station before grabbing a handful of ingredients. The game encourages players to explore with their cooking, mixing, and matching ingredients to see what will happen.
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
While the incredible-looking, fairytale-inspired world in Wytchwood appears ready for a knight in shining armor or a woe-begotten maiden to take the limelight, it’s actually a witch at the center of this tale. And once upon a time looks a little different through her eyes. Recently awoken from a mysterious slumber, the game’s atypical protagonist discovers she’s made a deal with a suspicious goat, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any getting out of it. Luckily, you have some magic on your side. Wytchwood is slated to release on December 9, which technically meets the team’s fall release window.
Missed any of the indie titles in our Fall For Indies series? Check out the last entry here or grab the paper from the goose below to find the rest!
From Thanos to Batman, Fortnite is becoming a comic book fan’s dream come true. If Epic Games keeps adding Marvel and DC characters at a rapid-fire clip, there’s a chance we could have an awesome showdown of 100 heroes and villains years down the road. The latest addition is The Batman Who Laughs, a prominent character in the new Fortnite comic book published by DC Comics. Epic surprisingly didn’t create any skins for the recently released movie, Eternals.
You can take a look at all of the comic characters that were a part of a season or an event below:
When you think of Disney today, there’s a good chance either Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to mind. That’s not surprising either – it’s the two properties Disney pumps the most time and money into.
In games, it seems as if Disney exclusively pours resources into them – yes, there’s Kingdom Hearts, which has been great for decades but it seems that series is heading into a decidedly less Disney-based future – and it’s a shame because the nearly 100-year-old company has so much to offer to the video game space, both to classic fans and new ones alike. That’s why Disney needs to tap into its history.
I love a good Star Wars or MCU flick, and I, for the most part, love a game set in a galaxy far far away or in a Marvel-based timeline. But let’s be honest: we almost always know what we’re getting when Lucasfilm or Marvel flashes on screen when we boot up a game. If it’s Star Wars, you’re either getting a Jedi game, a dogfighting game, or a shooter.
On the Marvel side of things, games feel even more indistinguishable. You know that MCU character you love? Well, here’s a game using a different version of that character with a third-person viewpoint and a slant towards action-adventure gameplay. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I’d argue that players as a whole aren’t quite burnt out on these two Disney universes yet, but surely that day will come.
In Disney’s defense, it is attempting to break out of that mold a bit. XCOM developer Firaxis Games is currently making Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which is a turn-based, card-based take on the property of the (almost) same name. However, at the end of the day, it’s still a Marvel game, and one day when Marvel oversaturates the gaming market, people might be wary of booting up any game with that red logo on the box, regardless of genre.
Make an Alice In Wonderland game that allows us, the player, to make choices that fix everything wrong about the Tim Burton live-action remakes. Angels in the Outfield – boom, there’s your sports game. Fantasia, obviously a music rhythm game (and one that doesn’t use Kinect, please). Finding Nemo could make a great ocean ecosystem-building game. Frozen: A Let It Go karaoke experience writes itself. Bambi, clearly that’s a hunti…you know what, never mind.
The point is, Disney has a treasure trove of movies and more to lean on when it comes to developing games, and yet, we almost exclusively get Marvel and Star Wars games. The reality is that those two names make money, and they make a lot of it, too. They’re also great for endless sequels, but so are many of Disney’s other franchises. Pirates of the Caribbean immediately comes to mind.
There’s a dearth of pirate games out there, despite pirates being the most “uhhh yeah, pirates + video games = easiest financial slam dunk of all-time.” Sure, there’s Sea of Thieves, which I love, but that feels very particular in style and not for everyone. And yes, I know it got a Pirates of the Caribbean expansion, but that was never going to be as successful as a standalone game based on the IP, nor does it really allow for the sequels that Disney loves so much.
There’s also Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones, but that’s stuck in development hell, and who knows when that’s coming. Not only does Pirates of the Caribbean have a three-movie history to draw on – oh yes, I definitely am aware there are five movies – but it also has over 50 years of Disney Parks ride history to use. Want to avoid using movie characters? Easy, make a game with Captain Redd from the classic ride.
Hell, make a Halloweentown game and tell Hogwarts Legacy to kick rocks. Okay, so maybe Halloweentown isn’t a true Harry Potter killer, but you get the idea. What I’m saying is that the foundation for a great Disney game is out there. In fact, there are many great foundations out there, hundreds even. And yet, Disney continues to seemingly build its empire on just Star Wars and Marvel. When you think about it, not developing games based on other properties is really just money left on the table, and oddly enough, that’s not really Disney’s modus operandi.
Of course, there is the whole “mega-billion dollar company definitely knows its business better than someone writing about how they want a Pirates of the Caribbean game” aspect of this all, but even if a game like that doesn’t sell as much as Star Wars or Marvel, it’s not like Disney doesn’t have the cash to burn. Plus, let’s not act like every one of these games is a slam dunk, especially when Marvel’s Avengers, a game that absolutely should have been a slam dunk, was disappointing overall for Square Enix. So what gives? Just do the thing, Disney.
This holiday season, maybe you’re traveling. Maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re going to be stuffing massive quantities of turkey into your craw, with handfuls of stuffing and cranberry gobbler sandwiches for weeks of high-quality leftovers. Perhaps you’re just hanging out with a can of carbonated water and a good video game. Whatever you’re doing, the holidays can be full of hustle and bustle, stress, good times, and everything else – so it might be time for an idle game. A game you can boot up, make a few decisions, and then either return to it five minutes later, five hours later, or even five days later. Good idlers, also known as “clickers” since the genre primarily began with games that took tons of tapping or clicking alongside idle economy and resource management, can be tough to find. This holiday season, I provide you with two excellent choices for your playing (or lack thereof).
Cell to Singularity
The first choice is an excellent one for those of us that love going to museums, TV programming about dinosaurs, and just learning about anything and everything. Edutainment, baby! Hop on to Cell to Singularity, available on Steam, mobile, and browser. You start as a single cell and evolve into the sprawling tree of evolution, complete with cool models and hot facts about mammals, dinosaurs, and human civilization. In addition to working on your core loop (yep, you do reset your progress from time to time for enormous bonuses as you continue to work on your “simulation”), you’ll unlock macro story beats and advance separately in several other side areas.
You build up a dinosaur evolution track separately that impacts what you can build in your core evolution, like birds, lizards, snakes, and other reptiles. You also get to work up a track of planets, constellations, and asteroid belts in the Beyond after you unlock that. Filled with all kinds of fun facts, adorable models of whales that swim around the environment, and more evolutionary critters than you can shake a DNA strand at, Cell to Singularity provides a deluge of enchanting edutainment. Even better if you can talk some of your nieces or nephews into it when they can’t put their iPads down over a family dinner! Go evolve!
Runescape. Remember chopping trees and banging on rocks until your mouse broke? Imagine doing all that again but without actually having to move around a game world. Fish, chop trees, mine rocks, and slay dangerous monsters in Melvor Idle, which serves up a big RPG fantasy world in an idle package. You’re probably saying to yourself, “okay, but I can watch bars and numbers go up in any idle game – why Melvor?” Melvor has a ton of depth if you’re looking for it! Sure, you can set it and forget it and do whatever for hours and come back to a large resource yield, or you can play more actively, taking on unique monsters in real-time combat and exploring dungeons for rare drops.
Oodles of other pursuits feed into your core resource gathering, crafting, and battle mechanics, like studying the stars with astronomy for modular global passive boosts or training your agility on the obstacle course. Whether you want to cast spells, blast your foes with a bow, or wear a hefty suit of armor with a runed blade, your options are covered. Plant seeds at the farm to harvest food, alchemical wonders, and more. Cook up the perfect pie. Summon goblins, wolves, and other creatures to assist you in combat. There’s even a hardcore mode if you feel like putting it all on the line and having your character toasted for good if you die. And, bonus – there are no pay-to-win or pay-for-convenience features here.
Whether you only have mere moments to check your phone or if you’re blasting through a few hours on PC, idlers have a place in a well-balanced gaming diet. Which idlers have your attention? Let us know in the comments!
Is there anything better than sitting down to a big feast, surrounded by friends and family on Thanksgiving? Yes. Absolutely crushing a culinary rival before sitting down to that feast. Which is why, this year, I sparked up a totally friendly cooking competition with Game Informer’s resident Instagram chef, Brian Shea. Of course, I have no cooking skills. Even the least flammable foods turn to fiery ash as soon as I enter the kitchen. But that doesn’t matter because I have a virtual ace up my sleeve.
I’ve been putting Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ newly introduced stove through its paces, growing crops, stealing techniques from villagers, and gathering all possible ingredients to whip up some mouth-watering dishes. So, instead of a fair fight that I’d lose, I challenged my fellow editor to a battle between his real-life creations and my, obviously superior, New Horizons masterpieces (the secrets of which I’m ready to share). I’ll leave the reader to decide who gets the gold as we go through several courses, but I’ll bet a million Bells I know who wins.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
Okay, first round. And right out of the gates, I’m already smoking the competition with some mixed-fruits sandwiches. Those street tacos are no slouch, I’ll give you that, but the ingredients and teamwork put into my refreshing appetizer are clearly showing through. Anyone looking to replicate my success should start getting friendly with a culinarily inclined villager for the recipe. It also wouldn’t hurt to shake every tree you can find for an orange, pear, and peach. Oh, and put on your farming gear because you’ll need wheat for that delicious, fluffy bread.
In this salad showdown, you can go ahead and toss my competitor’s lettuce letdown right in the trash because my turnip salad is unbeatable. Anyone familiar with the Stalk Market will know the best and most valuable root vegetables come straight from Daisy Mae on a Sunday morning. What you might not know is she overnights her favorite customers the instructions for her secret turnip-themed dishes after a sale. So, if you want full wallets and full bellies, invest in this cash crop. You know Brian wishes he did.
I found this delectable bread gratin recipe in a bottle just sitting out on the beach, so it seems like fate wanted me to win this side dish category. Hopefully, the amber waves of grain in your wheat field are bountiful because, for this dish, you’re going to need enough to make regular flour and its whole-wheat variant. But pound-for-pound, bread gratin is going to give you a more satisfyingly cheesy mouthful than any macaroni. So, who can complain about waiting days for Leif to finally sell wheat starters or the slow work of picking crops one-by-one when the final reward is crushing my fellow editor?
Sometimes a perfect plate doesn’t need a ton of extra ingredients and effort. Case in point: carpaccio di marlin blue. Sure, some chefs may prefer to cook their fish, place it over rice and throw in some greenery for good measure. But, for that elevated simplicity in your Animal Crossing cuisine, you just need to catch one blue marlin at the nearest pier, chop it up, and serve it still tasting of the sea. And if you don’t hook the impressive cerulean creature right away, you can always give the unwanted fish to other cooks so they can make inferior meals.
With my Roost sable cookies up for the dessert round, you can stick a fork in this competition – and my rival’s waffle – because it’s done. It was a hard path to the winner’s circle on this one, as I had to order coffee from Brewster for six days, and drink every cup under the pressure of his judgmental stare, to convince the barista to give up the recipe. I’m either feeling the thrill of victory right now or the copious amounts of caffeine, paired with this winning sugar-and-flour-filled treat, are sending my energy levels through the roof.
Thanksgiving Day used to be the start of the holiday shopping season, and the parade Macy’s holds in the middle of New York City every year is designed to promote the biggest names and brands you’ll be hearing about for the next month. Given how big of an industry video games have become in the last 40 years, you’d think every other balloon in the show would feature a memorable Nintendo or Sony character hovering down the chilly street. Surprisingly, that’s not the case, and only a handful of characters and games have had the honor to join in the festivities. We’ve collected them here in one place for you to gawk at, and have ranked them for your enjoyment.
Here are all of the video game balloons featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade over the years:
2015 – 2017
Technically designed after the character from the Angry Birds movie, we’ll still allow Red on this list because he also originates from a video game. You know what? This balloon is a messed-up inclusion for this event. Angry Birds love to be flung at buildings to take them down. They’re beings of pure destruction that should not be anywhere near tall structures in a crowded city. It’s just not safe for a nice, family-friendly event.
On the other hand, it looks just like the character from the movie, so mission accomplished there.
Pikachu (Version 1)
2001 – 2005
The Pokémon craze hit America hard in 1998, captivating the hearts and minds of children across the nation. While it was arguably the biggest game phenomenon in recent memory, the enthusiasm arrived too late to be included in that year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Somehow, it took three years for Pokémon’s most prolific mascot, Pikachu, to make his Macy’s Parade debut and start its journey as the video game character to appear the most times.
Pikachu’s 2001 design is noticeably different from the electric rodent we know today. It has a protruding snout, more pronounced cheeks, and straighter, pointier ears. Its pose is a nod to the flying Pikachu from Pokémon Yellow, which has the mascot floating with the help of several attached balloons. How fitting!
2014 – 2016
Remember toys-to-life? Well, this is toys-to-larger-than-life (believe me, I’m not too fond of it either, but it had to be said). Eruptor made his gaseous, inflatable debut in the 2014 Macy’s parade and managed to stay in the show for three years. Maybe one of the best-realized recreations on this list, this sole Skylander representative features a fun, active pose that makes it look like he’s trotting through the streets of New York City.
It’s too bad this massive Eruptor didn’t make the PR cycle for Skylanders: Giants because that would have been *chef kiss* perfection. Honestly, I was going to bury the Skylanders franchise here a little, but this fiery fiend is growing on me. Maybe I should check eBay quick to see if anyone is selling their figures…
Pikachu and Eevee
Here’s our newest Pokémon balloon, set to debut in 2021. For the first time, Pikachu isn’t the only Pokémon floating through the NY streets. Eevee is included since it’s become the co-mascot for the franchise, thanks to 2018’s Let’s Go games elevating the adorable creature to that status. Both are seated in a Pokéball sled, reminding us of the coming winter and snow. Replacing the snowman Pikachu, this balloon celebrates the 25th anniversary of Pokémon. It’s … fine. The sled brings the design down a notch, and Eevee could stand to have its own giant balloon and crew pulling it along.
Pikachu with Snowman (Version 3)
2014 – 2020
It’s a Pikachu wearing winter weather gear and snuggling a little snowman Pikachu. What’s not to love? Having the second-longest reign of the Pikachu balloons in parade history, it’s not hard to see why this one was kept around until recently. It’s adorable, seasonably appropriate, and will be sorely missed in the line-up this year.
Sonic The Hedgehog (Version 1)
1993 – 1997
While it’s not the most impressive balloon in the history of Thanksgiving day parades, it is high on this list for one notable reason. This inflatable Sonic is the first video game balloon to fly in the annual event. The year this balloon debuted was even a notoriously off year for the blue blur, with the highly anticipated sequel Sonic 3 missing the vital holiday season the parade is meant to advertise for and instead released a few months later, in February 1994.
In an unfortunate series of events during Sonic’s inaugural 1993 parade, the balloon was caught in some strong winds, blowing the mascot into a lamppost and puncturing its eye. It deflated then and there, with pieces of the lamppost injuring two parade-goers. Not the right foot for video game balloons to start on, but luckily the floating blue hedgehog was patched up and flew in the parade for a few more years before being replaced with an updated design.
2018 – 2019, 2021
Okay, so technically, Goku isn’t a video game balloon, but he has been in some great games. Also, I feel bad for the folks who wanted to see him in Smash Bros., so this is my slight nod to the Saiyan fighter. It’s not often Goku is lauded in a grand American spectacle, especially at an event that even Mario has never appeared in, so we’re going to highlight this small win for anime’s most well-known himbo.
Goku didn’t appear in the heyday of Dragon Ball Z, nor is he in his iconic Super Saiyan form. His first time entering the parade was in 2018 to promote the newest iteration of the series he hails from, Dragon Ball Super. Adorned with blue hair, this is, of course, Goku in his Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan form, also known as Super Saiyan Blue. Surprisingly, his appearance wasn’t just a one-off, having appeared in the Macy’s event in 2019 and is returning for 2021.
Sonic The Hedgehog (Version 2)
2011 – 2013, 2021
Now, this is a Sonic. Look at those lanky limbs, that cool mid-run pose, friendly smirk, and a thumbs up… thumb pointing at… I don’t really know what that thumb is doing. Taking inspiration from the modern Sonic design, which debuted on the Dreamcast, this balloon is begging to fly through the city streets like the end of Sonic Adventure. Only without all of the flooding and destruction. Although, it would be cooler if this were Super Sonic instead. Minor point deductions there, I guess.
This Sonic was brought out of retirement after spending seven years off the parade route, and will fly again this year in honor of the franchise’s 30th anniversary. Points reinstated for making it this long, my spikey azure friend.
Pikachu (Version 2)
2006 – 2013
The simplicity of this Pikachu balloon is key. It’s huge, cute, playful, and most importantly, recognizable from blocks away. Out of the now four different Pikachu balloons, this has to be the best. It’s the character in its purest form and has light-up cheeks. In the early years of its run, this balloon was paired with a large Pokéball floating out in front of it, making the overall presentation even better. I don’t know what else to say. This is hands down my favorite of the character balloons. Let’s hope someone is brave enough to top it one day.
Solar Ash represents a dramatic leap forward for Heart Machine. After eleasing the 2D Zelda-inspired Hyper Light Drifter in 2016 to critical acclaim, fans of the game clamored to see what was next and many were surprised to see something totally different. Solar Ash is bigger and bolder than Hyper Light Drifter in every way, from its switch to a fully 3D world to its new emphasis on high-speed traversal over combat-focused dungeon crawling. But what is Solar Ash? Heart Machine’s creative director, Alx Preston, took us through a tour of the game to discuss its origins, gameplay, and how he is coping with the fear of the sophomore slump.
In Preston’s words the “stupid elevator pitch” for Solar Ash is Super Mario Galaxy meets Shadow of the Colossus. Given that Solar Ash takes place in a beautiful abstract alien world, features tons of platforming, and pits players against titanic bosses, the description has merit. Unlike the 2D pixels that built Hyper Light Drifter, Solar Ash’s fully realized 3D environments give Preston the chance to craft the sort of worlds that provided an immersive escape for him during the advent of 3D graphics.
“I definitely at a certain point had ambitions beyond just 2D that I wanted to get into with 3D because that’s where I think games really changed my perspective on what was possible creatively,” says Preston. “My first few 3D games I truly loved, like [Super] Mario 64 and all that stuff, it just opened my eyes to a whole new world.”
Heart Machine is still keeping most of the details about Solar Ash’s plot close to the chest, but we do know that players control a voidrunner named Rei. What is a voidrunner, you ask? Think of them as cosmic spelunkers who explore black holes in search of resources. Preston describes Rei as a “very capable” voidrunner with a good head on her shoulders. She’ll need to be good at her job, because one particularly dangerous black hole known as the Ultravoid threatens to swallow her home world. To prevent this, she’ll have to dive head-first into the Void to uncover a way to save her planet.
Within the Ultravoid lies a fragmented world of surreal alien beauty. Tree-sized mushrooms, sea anemone-like grass, and luminous orange rivers – all surrounded by a layer of thick green clouds – are just a few of the natural sights players will admire. Solar Ash is a trippy visual delight that pops with color.
The Ultravoid is divided into various expansive biomes, fragments of the worlds that have been consumed over presumably eons. Everything is designed to emphasize the game’s primary selling point: high-speed platforming. While designing Hyper Light Drifter, Preston originally wanted the game to feature speedy traversal elements. However, those ideas fell to the wayside due to Drifter’s more limited scope and to focus on its stronger combat aspects.
Rei is quickness personified, gracefully exploring the Ultravoid using a form of skating that Preston says is inspired by games such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Jet Grind Radio, and Super Mario 64. For Mario in particular, Preston was primarily fascinated in how speedrunners chain together plumber’s moves to complete the game in quick fashion. “Watching speed runs and how they do it’s like, there’s a flow to that. That’s super inspiring to me,” Preston says.
In addition to skating and jumping, Rei can also grind on rails and utilize a handy lasso to hook onto grapple points to pull herself across gaps. Solar Ash is all about flow of movement and traversal, and Preston hopes that seamlessly stringing these moves together to overcome obstacles feels as satisfying as it looks. It looks so cool that it hurts the ego to miss a jump but thankfully nothing else thanks to the lack of fall damage.
Along the way various monsters will appear to impede Rei’s progress. They don’t present a steep challenge; you can take them down in just a few hits. Don’t expect to learn new combo strings or anything complicated like that, either. Heart Machine wants to keep players moving so combat consists of simple hack-and-slash elements while using speed boosts and dodging to outmaneuver foes before quickly returning to exploration. Since you’ll still likely be in the middle of platforming while engaged in combat, the depth comes from how players incorporate the environment into their offense.
“We throw a bunch at you during platforming challenges to kind of elevate that,” Preston explains. “So, it’s a blend between the environment that they’re in and the individual mob or mobs themselves. It’s kind of that interplay and intersection that we’re trying to balance out.”
To that end, expect to face plenty of flying enemies or foes perched on platforms firing ranged attacks, in addition to opponents that just come at you head-on. But at the end of the day, enemies are more or less glorified speed bumps. They’ll get in the way, but if you’re both quick and savvy enough, you can drop them without losing your forward momentum.
You don’t have time to sweat the small fry for too long anyway. Your primary order of business in each zone is to seek out and slay its Remnant. These massive beasts come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re hidden and must be drawn out. To summon the Remnant, first Rei has to take out Dregs, strange eyeballs attached to walls and other surfaces that are scattered around the environment. It’ll take some platforming finesse to reach and destroy them all, but doing so provokes the Remnant to arrive in all of its majestic beauty. The Remnant we got to see takes the form of a massive flying serpent protected by a thick, bony armor resembling a spinal column.
Of course, getting the beast to show its face is the easy part. The real challenge comes in taking it down. Defeating this particular Remnant requires Rei to leap atop its back and work her way to its head. The Remnant soars through the air, challenging the player to stay on board as it twists its body in an attempt to knock Rei off. Rei gradually jumps and skates her way towards the front, taking out glowing nodes along the way until she reaches her target. Once perched atop the skull, she delivers a final stab to the head as a killing blow, the impact of which washes out the screen in a black and white flash for a striking dramatic effect. Although I got to see how Rei takes down this specific Remnant, Preston says other Remnants possess different behaviors and patterns. In terms of the number of Remnants players will face, Preston simply says there will be “a good amount” of them.
Once the Remnant falls, a node on a towering device called the Star Seed lights up. In every level we saw, this strange contraption can be seen from pretty much anywhere, and the central goal of the game is to activate all of its nodes. Visiting the Star Seed reveals that the imposing corpse of the Remnant Rei just killed now rests at its base. One would assume that this area will be the final resting place for the other Remnants but Preston cryptically says that “they lay as long as they may lay.”
Zones within the Ultravoid may appear to be little more than a series of platforming challenges but there’s plenty of secrets and lore to uncover should you decide to poke around. Certain pockets, which Preston refers to as narrative spaces, allow players to take their time inspecting ancient architecture and artifacts for information that feeds into the game’s world-building. Solar Ash spells out its narrative in a more straightforward fashion compared to Hyper Light Drifter. It has actual text, for example. Converse with NPCs and they’ll share personal stories about how they ended up inside of the Ultravoid.
“Our crews put a lot of time and effort into fleshing out and expressing a lot of different ideas about the kind of events that have happened here and sad or tragic stories that have occurred throughout these different biomes that have been sucked into the Ultravoid, “says Preston.
Speaking of other characters, Rei will also receive assistance from allies. One of them is Cyd, a sentient A.I. that provides guidance about each zone and backstory on the voidrunners. She also outfits Rei with some limited upgrades. There’s also the giant, ethereal humanoid seen in the trailers. Rei visits this being often, and its role is one of the game’s most tantalizing mysteries. However, Preston still isn’t ready to delve into that element of the story just yet, so the creature remains left to our imagination.
Solar Ash has been in development for four years now, and Heart Machine has grown from having under 10 regular employees during Hyper Light Drifter’s production to more than 20. Much of that growth has been staffing up on designers with expertise in crafting 3D worlds, and while the learning curve has brought its share of challenges, Preston says the secret to coping with those hardships has been ensuring he has good people on his team. “I think that’s the key for me, was making sure to keep bringing over talented, good-natured people that wanted to build really dope stuff together that were good collaborators … it becomes a whole lot more enjoyable and easier to bear the burden of the challenge.”
Of course, for every studio that has a successful first outing, there’s always the fear of the sophomore slump. As a designer, Preston says he suffers the same anxieties about failing as any other creative person. He’s his own worst critic, and despite his overwhelming pride for Solar Ash, the fear of disappointing players who loved Hyper Light Drifter occasionally rears its ugly head.
“That being said, you can’t let it get the best of you,” says Preston. “And you have to be able to push forward and focus on the stuff that’s right in front of you. Not the what-could-be’s or anything like that. Otherwise, you’ll spiral, you’ll just get trapped. And that’s all it is. It’s a trap.”
Despite those anxieties, Preston couldn’t be prouder of what Heart Machine has accomplished with Solar Ash and firmly believes it’s created a fun and unique experience.
“Regardless of scores, of people being disappointed because it’s not Hyper Light next, or whatever else, there’s a ton of really cool stuff in here that you’d be a fool to miss.”
This article originally appeared in Issue 337 of Game Informer.
Local co-op might’ve taken a nosedive in recent years, but multiplayer is still an intrinsic quality of some of the game community’s most popular genres, namely shooters and action/adventure. We want to take the time to highlight some of the best cooperative titles out right now, from wacky platformers to CRPGs. Here are ten games that you and your core group of friends shouldn’t ignore.
It Takes Two
2 Players – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
It Takes Two is an imaginative case study on heavy topics like divorce and emotional trauma. As wooden/clay miniatures of parentsCody and May, you and a friend (locally or online) must survive angry bee armies, a threatening space monkey, and more to help rekindle the couple’s love and mend a troubled relationship with their distraught daughter, Rose. The journey to rebecoming life-sized versions of yourselves includes a delightful array of team-based mechanics. Cody and May often have individualistic abilities and can’t find success without assisting one another. Perhaps, you’ll be piloting a fighter plane, swerving out the way of tree branches, while your co-op partner engages in hand-to-hand combat with a militaristic squirrel atop the aircraft’s rickety wings. It Takes Two is a quirky love story that’ll bring you and your friend or significant other that much closer. | Our Review
Back 4 Blood
1-4 Players – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Back 4 Blood, like its zombie-slaying sister franchise, Left 4 Dead, pits four survivors against a horde of grotesque “Ridden” across an infested, decimated American landscape. The AI-operated Game Director creates variations in campaign playthroughs so that each level constantly feels unique. For instance, sometimes, the Ridden mobs will be relatively absent. Other times, you’ll fight to the death in daring boss battles. A card system adds more nuance to the gameplay as your crew enters matches with stat increases or entirely new abilities. What you spend your accumulated skill points on – extra lives for the squad or personal buffs – gives Back 4 Blood a satisfying class-building metagame. And if you’re in the mood to truly tighten your bonds (or tear them apart), queue into Swarm Mode to take on waves of player-controlled monstrosities. | Our Review
1-2 Players – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac
Studio MDHR’s homage to retro cartoons and run and guns is about reaction speed, perseverance, and communication. Cuphead is far more than its vintage, hand-drawn aesthetic. Behind a welcoming theme park backdrop and jazz-inspired score lie sneering medusas and three-headed dragons. You and a friend hop into the brown loafers of Cuphead and Mugman to defeat the wily debtors of Lucifer himself throughout an arduous odyssey where minor mistakes meet swift punishment. However, the game also rewards chemistry. Weapon types – like homing bullets – ultimates, and special abilities (called charms) add cool variances to the freneticism. Whether you’re slaying an animated birdhouse in aviary combat or stomping out a mustachioed cigar, Cuphead is a fantastic cooperative title that perfectly balances both pain and pleasure. | Our Review
1-6 Players – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC
So, you and your pals downloaded Destiny 2 and don’t know where to start. That’s fair. Bungie’s latest space opera series has an overwhelming amount of content. Expansions like Shadowkeep and Beyond Light (to name a few) come with enticing lore, locations, gear, and missions – the features that make the game so timeless and iterative. Destiny 2 might not be the most accessible entry on this list, but it gracefully leaps over this hurdle with fun endgame challenges prioritizing gunplay, strategy, and synchronization. Your squad might choose to play Crucible and prove their skills to the world. Or, they might opt to try out Destiny 2’s popular PvE playlists. Raids are the ultimate test, forcing six players to survive high-stakes scenarios for hours on end. Yet, emerging victorious from these legendary bouts with a dedicated fireteam is always worth the immense effort and time sink. | Our Review
Diablo II: Resurrected
1-8 Players –PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Diablo II: Resurrected is wonderful ARPG nostalgia repackaged with a 4K sheen. Grim isometric environments come to life like never before in Blizzard’s classic 2000 dungeon-crawler. Matchmake (on console) or create lobbies (on PC) to vanquish legions of grotesque ghouls and defeat the deific Lord of Terror himself. With such a high player count, you’re better off prioritizing team-friendly builds to breeze through skirmishes and boss encounters. Watching casters like the Sorceress or Necromancer fill the battlefield with elemental attacks and summons, respectively, while melee fighters like the Barbarian and Paladin cover the flanks never gets old. | Our Review
Divinity: Original Sin 2
1-4 Players – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, iOS
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the most acclaimed western RPGs in recent memory and the highest-rated game on this list. Brimming with an ensemble cast of oddball characters as well as an open-ended, choice-driven approach to almost every situation, you’ll occasionally find yourself overwhelmed with Original Sin 2’s sheer depth. Spice things up by adding three other players (or one more for split-screen) to the mix. In Original Sin 2, the actions of your player-controlled party members can lead to unexpected emergent/divergent narratives. Deviants might get you in trouble with the law or other NPCs, while altruistic supporters do the opposite. Throw in turn-based combat, and that same chaotic quality bleeds into every aspect of the game. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is sort of like playing through a J.R.R. Tolkien novel with a party of your favorite genre fiction pals. | Our Review
Monster Hunter Rise
1-4 Players – Switch, PC
Monster Hunter Rise didn’t immediately impress us as much as World did, but venturing beyond the gates of Kamura Village with others guarantees exciting engagements. For example, mounting (wyvern riding) the Magnamalo while three other hunters buffet the malicious beast with charge-blade artillery, coated arrows, and hunting horn strikes is when Rise truly shines. But let’s not just forget about experiencing the game’s quieter, more immersive moments with friends: sprinting through lush forests teeming with unique fauna, galloping down ruined villages with a pack of multi-colored palamutes, or grappling/climbing ancient temples to the tune of an epic orchestral soundtrack. Even playing the lackluster tower defense “rampage quests” with companions is a treat. Rise is a solid Monster Hunter entry made way better with a dedicated friend group. | Our Review
Sea of Thieves
1-4 Players – Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Sea of Thieves didn’t set sail as smoothly as Rare wanted it to. Initially plagued by a lack of noteworthy content and task diversity, these issues have since been remedied with “seasons” of deliverables, including new cosmetics, missions, and PvP/PvE support. And now that the legendary swashbuckler himself, Jack Sparrow, is a full-fledged member of your seafaring posse, there’s never been a better time to be a pirate. Grab a troupe of gold-loving deviants and take to the endless blue waters while staying a few nautical miles ahead of tentacled krakens, leviathan sharks, and Davy Jones. When all is said and done, drag your collected treasure chests onto the ship’s bow, then break out the mugs and accordions. Leading up to its release, Rare emphasized that Sea of Thieves is a “pirate simulator.” This statement still rings true today. Now, go grab four people with sturdy sea legs and dive in. | Our Review
1-4 Players – PC
Ever found yourself surfing the horror section of YouTube, watching clips or low-quality reruns of Ghost Hunters with a bunch of friends? Phasmophobia lets you live out those paranormal fantasies. A first-person perspective throws you and your buds right into the action, exploring abandoned cabins in the woods, maze-like high schools, and sterile prison complexes with faulty flashlights, wooden crosses, camcorders, etc. There’s nothing quite like entering a seemingly vacant (and frostbite-cold) garage and watching your avatar’s shaky breaths become visible wintry whisps. When that ax-wielding animated corpse or nightgowned wraith comes rushing around a blind corner, the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck are bound to stand up, followed by a flurry of laughs and screams. Simply put, Phasmophobia is wicked fun.
1-10 Players – PC, Mac
Didn’t see this entry coming, did you? Tabletop Simulator beat out other heavyweight co-op titles because of its unparalleled uniqueness. There might’ve been a time when analog games only appealed to a niche audience, but nowadays (especially during a pandemic), gathering around a virtual table to roll dice, read cards, or place tokens is a solid game night option. Hell, you can even flip the table if you get frustrated! There’s an unfathomable number of multiplayer titles to check out – we recommend Hanabi and Betrayal at House on the Hill. Moreover, creation tools offer a rare chance to make your own tabletop projects. And let’s be honest, designing games with friends is a cooperative/collaborative experience like no other.
Are we missing any of your co-op favorites? Let us know in the comments section! If you enjoyed reading this, check out some other genre top 10s by clicking on our “List of Lists” hub below.
With Thanksgiving upon us, there are two types of people out there: the person who’s been thinking about the upcoming turkey meal since November 1 or the person who jumps straight to the winter holiday of Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else. Regardless of where you land, there’s a good chance that you’ll be eating some kind of breakfast, lunch, or dinner with family and friends sometime in the next two months.
These meals can be fantastic, but they can also be a nightmare for those that hate these typical family gatherings. The same can be said for family gatherings and meals in video games, and we’ve gathered up some of our favorites. Here are 10 of the best family meals in video games.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a massive game – the golden path spans at least 40 hours but can easily climb to over 100 hours with all that it offers. At the center of the playthrough is a story about a broken family, desperate to become unified again. It doesn’t help that one of the central figures (Kassandra or Alexios) is brainwashed to become the brutish killing machine of an ancient cult.
When your big fat Greek quest comes to an end in Odyssey, depending on your choices in the game, you’re treated to the one thing your character has been after the entire journey: a family meal. It’s more than a meal, though. It’s the family reuniting for the first time in forever, and everything is tastier as a result. It’s sure to warm your heart upon watching, and it serves as a great reminder of all that you fought for over your dozens of hours with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Final Fantasy XV
When you think of video game food, there’s one game that’s sure to come to mind: Final Fantasy XV. The game is about four bros taking a road trip, and right from the jump, the themes of family, love, and friendship are strong. The entire game, which runs for hours and hours, centers on those same themes, and throughout the experience, you’ll bring food to the metaphorical friendship table. As anyone knows, food is the great unifier, and Final Fantasy XV makes that clear.
The food, cooked by Ignis, looks delicious, and each recipe rewards you with some kind of stat boost. More importantly, though, every meal in Final Fantasy XV is a chance for your four-person unit to grow stronger. It’s a chance to reflect on what’s happened thus far and how much everyone on the team cares about each other. Be it a hot soup on a wooden table or a quick sandwich on a beach, the meals in Final Fantasy XV are sure to make you drool.
Like many others on this list, Persona 5 is about friendship (and friends-turned-family) at its core. It’s about going the extra mile, doing what’s right, and ultimately, relying on each other to succeed. One of the best moments of the entire 100-hour-plus RPG is the meal that happens after completing the first palace. You’ve just risked your life to save someone in your school, you’re downright exhausted, and as expected, you’re hungry.
You’ve also got a nice amount of money in your pocket too, so why not treat the Phantom Thieves of Hearts to a delicious meal? Joker and the crew head to a local Shibuya restaurant and chow down. It costs a lot of money, but the sounds of the Phantom Thieves crushing plates upon plates are so satisfying. The team deserves it; the food looks delicious, and it’s the perfect way to bring everyone together for one big congratulatory celebration. There’s more eating and chewing than talking, but that’s always the sign of a good meal.
Red Dead Redemption II
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a sprawling Western that connects directly to the first game. In the epilogue of Red Dead Redemption 2, which is nearly a dozen hours long, you’re treated to dinner with the Marstons: John, Abigail, Jack, and of course, Uncle.
It’s a family unit we haven’t had the chance to sit down with like this since the first Redemption game – now over a decade ago – and while it’s short and sweet, it’s exactly what we wanted. John ensures that Jack is growing up to be someone like him; someone that would protect his family at all costs. He also lobs sarcastic jokes at Uncle just as we all do with that one uncle at Thanksgiving. And never mind the food on the table – seeing this family gather in a newly-built house is exactly the vibe we’re looking for this holiday season.
Celeste is one of the best platformers released last generation. It’s challenging, backed by a powerful and unique score, and centered on a heartfelt story that keeps the momentum moving. Simply beating a Celeste level feels like a win in and of itself, but there’s a moment that tops all of it (yes, even reaching the mountain’s summit): the celebration meal that closes out the game. First off, the “meal” is a delicious strawberry pie cooked using the strawberries you collected throughout the game. Any meal that starts and ends with dessert is top-tier.
Celeste and all the people she met along the journey gather around the pie. Everyone’s happy (well, maybe not the ghostly Mr. Oshiro) and excited to be together. It’s also an on-screen representation of Celeste’s happiness, something she only just achieved after reaching the mountaintop. The meal gets some bonus points, too, because it uses just a single photo to exemplify all these feelings.
Stardew Valley features seasonal and holiday-centric festivals. They’re fantastic examples of what the farming game is all about: how each person’s contributions can make the whole experience better than it was before. While the events are entirely optional to attend, doing so is worth your while as it provides you opportunities to make new friendships and strengthen old ones.
Even better, your town’s community space is lined with tables of food, flowers, and more. All of that was made possible by you and your neighbor’s efforts. It’s a special moment in real life to see people come together over a meal you made, and Stardew Valley captures that feeling perfectly with its community feasts.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed is known for many things, but it’s not often associated with tears. The pirate take on the formula in Black Flag brought plenty of them, though. Perhaps one of the best pirate games ever made (that just happens to feature some assassins), one of the greatest joys of Black Flag is sailing around with your crew, singing shanties, stopping at ports to take down some Royal Navy soldiers, and finding treasure. Over the game’s narrative, you take new members to the Jackdaw crew and alliance. Eventually, you have the likes of Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Jack Rackham, and more on your team.
But, as any good pirate knows, the golden age can’t last forever, and that’s the crux of Black Flag. This is personified in a heartbreaking scene during the game’s final hours where Edward Kenway is drinking. While not technically a meal, a good round of drinks can be just as engaging as food. He looks around and sees all of the infamous pirates that accompanied him on his sea-faring journey. Then, they begin to fade … because they’ve died. Edward is drinking with the ghosts of his friends. Some meals are remembered because of laughter and smiles; this one, though, is remembered for the heartache Ubisoft used to signify the end of the golden age of piracy.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an excellent game for a lot of reasons – it’s built on the foundation of 2018’s awesome Spider-Man game on the PlayStation 4, it’s set during the winter holidays, and it features Miles Morales. However, one of the best parts of this succinct Insomniac title is a dinner scene in its opening hours.
What makes it so great is that it’s the most classic Spider-Man thing ever – something goes wrong, so Miles has to find a way outside to fix the electricity problem sneakily. It’s Spider-Man antics you’ve seen dozens of times in comics, movies, and TV, but playing it is even better. You have to sneak your way back to the dinner table, too, and once there, you’re treated with a heartwarming scene that showcases the importance of family to Miles.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season One
Okay, so we didn’t necessarily say that every family gathering and meal on this list would be rooted in the warm and heartfelt emotions typically associated with Thanksgiving and other winter holidays. Case in point: Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 1.
In a now-infamous scene, you escape a locked room as Lee Everett in a house full of cannibals. Clementine, the person he’s trying to protect, is seated at a table with these killers, unaware of what they’re dining on. As Lee barges into the room, he must stop her from eating a piece of human meat. It’s disturbing, especially when you consider the way different choices can play out, and it’s one of the most memorable parts of that entire season. What did it teach us? If someone tells you not to eat some mystery meat at Thanksgiving this year, listen to them.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Alright, you can’t say you didn’t know this one would be on here after reading the entry above. Resident Evil 7 was a great revival of the horror aspects of the franchise, and a dinner scene with the deranged Baker family during its opening hours establishes that from the jump.
After Ethan kills his own wife, patriarch Jack Baker gives him a good sucker-punch and it’s lights out. When Ethan finally awakes, he’s strapped to a chair, looking at what might be the most grotesque dinner in all of video games. Sure, the table is full, but it’s not your mother’s trademark stuffing or your grandpa’s 24-hour pot of beans. No, it’s human organs and guts. Delicious. Jack, unhappy with his son Lucas’ table manners, proceeds to cut off his son’s arm right in front of everyone … and it seems like a standard occurrence based on the reactions of all in attendance. Then, Jack has his way with you by way of a big rusty knife.
After that, everyone but Grandma Baker gets up from the table, upset and angry at the events that have transpired. No family meal should end that way, so hopefully, yours is much better.
Are there any family gatherings or Thanksgiving-like meals in video games that we missed? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Thanksgiving sucks. It’s the one time of year you see all those family members you spend the other 364 days of the year avoiding. You know, the cousin that’s way into NFTs and meme stocks. The uncle who listens to the Joe Rogan Experience and somehow finds a way to reference it at every drop of the hat. It’s all just exhausting.
And that doesn’t even get at how bad turkey is. Turkey is like the Bunny Bread of meats. Dry, flavorless, and gross. Thanksgiving is a problematic holiday for many reasons, but I think turkey is the cherry on top of this crap sundae. How have we made such a bland, ugly bird the centerpiece of this entire annual tradition? Don’t get me started on those weird things under turkeys’ chins. I find it unfathomable that people eat these creatures.
I tend to skip my family’s Thanksgiving. While that might make me a bad son, family member, and overall person, it makes me healthier mentally. I just cannot bring myself to deal with the awkward conversations Thanksgiving forces out of people. No, AJ, I do not want to hear your thoughts on the Bored Ape Yacht Club; it’s a bad investment. Mitch, I absolutely do not need to watch this clip of Joe Rogan interviewing Dave Chappelle on your iPhone 7. Literally, why does Jacob have a gun on him? In case the pumpkin pie tries something funny?
What does this have to do with video games? Not a lot. But since we’re off this week and need to fill the website with content, here are my picks for the five video game characters that would make Thanksgiving awkward.
5: This little person from the game Minit (not sure if they have a name)
If there’s one thing you can say about Thanksgiving, it’s that it lasts way too long. But you gotta be there, attentive, and conversable to keep up appearances with your family. So could you imagine if every 60 seconds, one of you literally died and had to start the whole day over?
I don’t know much about Minit – I’ve never actually played the game – but thanks to its Wikipedia page, I know that you play the game one minute at a time. Once that minute is up, you die and start over.
This would be the most obnoxious way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Everyone is suffering through this whole ordeal together, but this lil guy, Mike Minit, as we’ll call him, keeps starting over every 60 seconds. He walks in, says hello to the family, shakes one or two hands, grabs a plate, eyes the stuffing, then dies. Moments later, he walks back in the door, repeating the whole process.
Sounds annoying. I couldn’t deal with it.
4: Heartman from Death Stranding
You know what, while we’re at it, this guy would be even worse than Mike! Every 21 minutes, Heartman’s heart stops, he dies, and he goes to the Beach to search for his wife and daughter before being revived three real-world minutes later. That’s not quite as bad as Mr. Minit – but Heartman spends 21 minutes on this mortal coil constantly pontificating and over-explaining the science of the natural world. My God, you can’t get a word in edgewise with this guy.
Here I am, trying to grab a second helping of dinner rolls, and this freaking guy is telling me about extinction entities. Shut the hell up! The only thing that will be extinct around here is my patience if you don’t leave me alone, Heartman.
3: Mara from the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series
You can just look at the picture; I don’t gotta write anything here.
… Actually, while we’re on the subject of the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series, those games are chock-full of gross (and confusingly sexy) creatures you shouldn’t invite to your Thanksgiving get-togethers. I mean, look at this!
You know, for a series about high school kids, Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games are filled with creatures either closely resembling or outright brandishing their down-south features. Which, now that I think about it, it is somewhat appropriate given what’s on most high school kids’ minds.
Nevertheless, you can’t invite any of these folks to your family Thanksgiving! That’s a dang cancellable offense if I’ve ever seen one. How are you in good faith going to walk in with Arioch (second from the left) and ever look your grandma in the eyes again? They’re too sexy! You expect me to be able to eat mashed potatoes when Master Therion (far right) is across the table from me with all that going on? I don’t know about you, but I’d be too confused, distracted, and confusingly intrigued to get through dinner. At best, I’d need a moment to lie down and fan myself off.
Heck, if one of my family members brought any one of these creatures over to dinner, you best believe I’d be more than happy to talk to AJ, Mitch, and Jacob. Perhaps all three at the same time!
2: Trubbish from Pokémon
Hey, Pokémon fans, explain this one to me. Trubbish is literally just a trash bag with some googly eyes stickered on the front. The Pokémon Company is a multi-billion dollar company and this is what the brain geniuses over there are coming up with these days? That’s some rubbish if I’ve ever heard it.
Anywho, you can’t bring trash to your Thanksgiving get-together. Your aunt is already bringing her new boyfriend!
1: Wyzen from Asura’s Wrath
He’s too big! What’re you gonna do with this guy? Even if you lived in the Boeing Everett Factory – which CNET tells me is the biggest building on Earth, based on volume (3.5 billion gallons) – you still couldn’t fit this guy in your house.
Even if you could accommodate Wyzen’s size, how could you possibly feed him? He could eat all the Thanksgiving food prepared in all the homes that participate, and his stomach probably wouldn’t even register the difference. It’d be like you offering a normal human six dust mites and calling it a meal.
If Wyzen shows up to your Thanksgiving, you know you’re in for an awkward evening. Unseatable and unfeedable, you’d better leave him off your invite list.
Wow, so there ya have it, folks. Was our list correct? Let us know what you think! What video game characters do you think would make for an awkward Thanksgiving? Make your voice heard in the comments. Please, I’m begging you, engage with this story. Leave a comment. Any comment. The longer your comment, the better. Show a friend this article. Bring it up during Thanksgiving to your family members. Encourage everyone you know to sound off in the comments below! Please! PLEASE!
The Game Informer Show is back, and we’re discussing some of the best games of the year that may have not gotten the spotlight they deserve. We chat about Inscryption, Before Your Eyes, and so much more with special guest Ty Galiz-Rowe, editor-in-chief at Uppercut, a video game site focused on insightful features, articles, and reviews from people that come from marginalized groups. As always, we end the show with another fun round of listener questions as we wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!
The Game Informer Show is a weekly gaming podcast covering the latest video game news, industry topics, exclusive reveals, and reviews. Join hosts Alex Stadnik and Alex Van Aken every Thursday to chat about your favorite games – past and present – with Game Informer staff, developers, and special guests from all around the industry. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.
Check out the timestamps below to jump to a particular point in the discussion:
00:01:05 – Introduction
00:01:05 – Special Guest Ty Galiz-Rowe (Uppercut, Upcomer)
00:12:00 – Most Underrated Games of 2021
02:01:15 – Housekeeping
02:07:46 – Listener Emails
Topic Of The Show:
2021’s Most Underrated Games
2021 has been a fantastic year for video games despite the rash of delays. But in a year so stacked with great titles, it’s easy for smaller gems to fall through the cracks. Before we ramp up our Game of the Year talks, we wanted to take a moment to shine a spotlight on some of the best indie titles and underrated gems of the year, including chats about Loop Hero, Inscryption, and so much more!
Hello all, Below is a list of game properties, which I want the panel to rank based on their personal fatigue for the said franchise. But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like the panel to rank them using terminology for the holiday. Starving – I haven’t had anything for what feels like years. I need more! Satisfied – I’m satisfied but I could have seconds in a moment. Stuffed – Please, no more. There’s literally no room left for me. -AnAttackCorgi (Email)
I never understood the sentiment of giving player 2 the crappier controller. For me, player 2 is usually a friend or family member who may not be as used to the game as me so I usually let them have the edge and use the better controller to play with. Do you guys give player 2 your older/worse controllers when you game? –Landon VA (Email)
When Halo: The Master Chief Collection was announced in 2014, fans were excited at the prospects of bringing forward the mainline Halo series to the brand new Xbox One with myriad enhancements and ways to engage with the multiplayer. Unfortunately, the launch of the compilation, which originally included Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4, featured several problems surrounding the multiplayer suite and The Master Chief Collection seemed like it was well on its way to being one of the cautionary stories of unfulfilled potential within the games industry.
The disappointing launch, underwhelming feature set, and broken matchmaking could have been the way we look back on Halo: The Master Chief Collection in 2021, but developer 343 Industries wasn’t satisfied with releasing an unsatisfactory product meant to celebrate Xbox’s flagship franchise. We spoke with several key members of the Master Chief Collection team to learn how 343 Industries righted the ship and elevated the compilation to one of the industry’s models for how to listen and act on player feedback.
Wake Me When You Need Me
In 2014, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was introduced as a way to not only celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the beloved Halo 2, but Master Chief’s saga as a whole to that point. 343 Industries, which was founded to take over the Halo franchise from Bungie following Bungie’s split from Microsoft in 2007, was currently working on Halo 5: Guardians, but a separate team within the studio began exploring ways to celebrate Halo 2’s anniversary similar to how it did in 2011 with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
The basic idea of Halo 2 Anniversary, which includes revamped visuals and audio, all-new cutscenes from renowned visual effects company Blur Studios, and terminals that connect the story to that of future games, expanded on what the team did with its inaugural project with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. 343 even remade some fan-favorite maps from Halo 2’s multiplayer from the ground up, giving players modern, high-fidelity versions. In addition to all those elements, 343 Industries wanted to reduce the friction players felt in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary when going between the classic campaign and the multiplayer, which was based on Halo: Reach’s engine.
However, the team began looking into what it could do to further celebrate the launch of the Xbox One as well as Master Chief’s story to that point. “The team got really excited about thinking through kind of a bigger project, which would encompass this larger story of all these games,” design director Max Szlagor says. “Then it became a design challenge to think about if we look at a collection of Halo titles, how do we bring them together in a way that feels very seamless, making it easy to jump in and move between the titles, making sure the controls, the user interface, the networking, the ability to move between games was all as seamless as possible?”
Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s emphasis was not to deliver a completely faithful experience of how Halo: Combat Evolved through Halo 4 played at the time of their respective releases. Instead, 343 Industries looked into ways to improve the modern experience of playing these classic games. “We were trying to deliver the experience of these games as people remember them, which isn’t necessarily one-to-one with what the game is,” Szlagor says. “It was an evaluation of ‘How do we rebuild this mode or this map?’ What adjustments make sense in terms of the maps themselves because the maps received some changes: the weapons, the game modes, just a variety of different things in terms of how do we provide that extra value, extra options. Just more ways to really engage with that, fill out that sandbox, and make you feel good.”
The MCC developers examined things like user interface, matchmaking systems, and more to see what pieces the disparate games all had in common. The idea the team settled on was to have all the games connected, with matchmaking designed to allow players to bounce between the various titles in the compilation. Not only that, but Master Chief Collection unified control schemes, and added leaderboards to the campaign, as well as special features and achievements to give additional replay value to the campaigns many had already played through multiple times.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2 Anniversary were clearly the biggest leaps forward from the original versions, but Halo 3 and 4 also received boosts, with 60 frames-per-second performance and cleaned up user interfaces. While the two later games didn’t receive the visual and feature upgrades of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2 Anniversary, Szlagor doesn’t want to glance over how big of an undertaking the improvements of Halo 3 and 4 were. “It’s a big deal for those games,” he says. “They were really optimized for the hardware at the time these games were launched.”
As the compilation approached its November 11, 2014 launch, 343 Industries was feeling confident about what it had created. The team was excited for both new and old Halo players alike to get their hands on the game and get caught up on Master Chief’s story prior to the impending 2015 release of Halo 5: Guardians. Unfortunately, the launch didn’t go as expected, and The Master Chief Collection quickly became synonymous with disastrous game launches.
Immediately, players complained about a wide range of issues largely centered on the game’s online modes. These problems ranged from inaccurate in-game stats and uneven team compositions to players’ ranks being reset at random and matchmaking just outright not working. On top of that, players couldn’t join up with friends, in-game chat was spotty at best, and players were subjected to absurdly long load times. The campaigns were largely solid, but under the weight of the public trying to play the highly anticipated compilation, Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s competitive multiplayer crumbled.
As a result of the problems following the launch, 343 Industries and Xbox experienced backlash from both fans and critics. Halo: The Master Chief Collection gained long-lasting infamy for how poor its launch was. While players were shocked at the poor performance of the collection, 343 Industries seemed equally as surprised. “That was not the sentiment that we had expected,” Szlagor says. “It was a learning experience for us in terms of a big project without the infrastructure to test online services at the scale that’s needed for something as big as this.”
On launch day, both the developer and Xbox representatives recommended exiting and re-entering matchmaking if it didn’t work within the first few minutes, but despite the studio’s statement that it was “actively working on a fix” for the problem, widespread issues would plague the compilation for many months. The day after The Master Chief Collection launched, executive producer Dan Ayoub released an apology, calling the complaints “well deserved.” Ayoub also told the community, “You deserve better,” before laying out a plan of server-side fixes to try and improve the state of the game.
“A game as large as Halo: The Master Chief Collection has a massive surface area, and while we made every effort to have the best launch possible for our fans, issues surfaced with the launch and we’re committed to improving this as fast as possible and get you all into matches,” the November 12, 2014 statement from Ayoub read. “We’re committed to improving things as fast as possible so you can have the Halo experience you’ve been waiting for.”
As the problems persisted nearly two weeks after launch, head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross issued another apology, largely echoing Ayoub’s sentiments that the community deserved better and that the team will work to make it right with the fan base. “I personally apologize for this on behalf of us all at 343 Industries,” her statement on November 24, 2014 read. “Our team is working around the clock until these issues are resolved.”
The problems persisted beyond the launch window. In December 2014, 343 Industries and Microsoft made the call to delay the Windows-exclusive Halo: Spartan Strike in order to focus on fixing the game’s matchmaking. Later that month, 343 Industries laid out a roadmap for how it planned to make it up to players. “That really was a good point for us to look at things like building the Halo Insider program and pivoting our communication to be more transparent,” Szlagor says. “Having this greater dialogue and honesty with our community.”
With community faith at an all-time low, 343 Industries needed to regain player trust and work to make Halo: The Master Chief Collection not only the product the company originally envisioned, but improve upon every facet to create the compilation fans deserved.
I Think We’re Just Getting Started
At launch, Master Chief Collection featured 2011’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4, complete with all the multiplayer maps and extra features. However, once the state of the game was apparent, 343 Industries began looking into ways to make it up to players. As 2014 winded down, 343 Industries released a blog post detailing the first steps of rectification. The company announced every Master Chief Collection player would receive a free month of Xbox Live Gold, an exclusive in-game nameplate, and an exclusive in-game avatar. Not only that, but 343 Industries added an extra remake of a Halo 2 map, plus the campaign of Halo 3: ODST to the Master Chief Collection at no additional cost.
In March 2015, 343 Industries released perhaps the most significant patch to date to Master Chief Collection’s matchmaking and party systems. However, with the collection nearing six months since its launch, many players and critics began wondering if the project was beyond saving. The development team was not giving up, though, with both 343 Industries and Xbox doubling down that fixing the compilation remained a top priority.
“Going into the launch, our internal processes and testing methodologies had told us that we had a game that was ready to launch,” head of Xbox Phil Spencer told Game Informer at Game Developers Conference 2015. “Then, when it launched, we learned some things we didn’t know going into the launch – which is something we need to get better at; you can’t simulate the real-world environment inside of any sterile, fixed environment.”
To remedy this problem, the development team continued implementing deeper and more solid lines of communication with active and enthusiastic members of the community. “Reaching out to our communities is super important in engaging with them,” lead producer Michael Fahrny says. “If we had one secret sauce to our success for MCC over the last few years, it’s a group we have that we call Reclaimers. They’re members of the community; think of them as ambassadors. We give them access to a lot of the ideas, builds, features, content – all that stuff that we’re doing for MCC – and we get raw feedback from them. They help us gauge the temperature of where our readiness is and how the community is going to react to things.”
In the time since Master Chief Collection’s launch, 343 Industries and the game development scene as a whole has become much more reliant on the gaming community to ensure it has remained in touch with the wants and needs of the most passionate fans. Community managers, developers who are embedded in the various communities, are now essential members of most game studios. To deepen that connection with its community, 343 implemented a flighting program, where the developers could interact with Halo Insiders to ensure the game is reaching certain goals.
Among many checkpoints the team engages with through this flighting program, matchmaking time is one area where the developers check in to make sure the times are satisfactory and only take within 30 or 40 seconds. “Flighting is like a backbone to us,” producer Sean Swidersky says. “We will flight everything we can if we have time to do so. It’s an essential part of our development process.”
The studio worked tirelessly to improve the experience and ensure that The Master Chief Collection became the product fans wanted. After several patches and server-side updates, players began seeing marked improvements in the performance. The fixes to matchmaking and the overall multiplayer experience continued rolling out, and as the product stabilized in the year following launch, 343 Industries once again returned to focusing on content. The Halo 3: ODST campaign was released to The Master Chief Collection in 2015, and in 2019, Halo: Reach joined the compilation alongside seasonal content as a result of fan feedback.
“We’re always thinking about what the collection includes and certainly that’s a great question mark: What else can we add?” Szlagor says. “Initially, there’s a good story to tell in terms of The Master Chief Collection with the Master Chief story. I think there was a question of, thematically, does it make sense to include [ODST and Reach]? Certainly from a fan perspective, all the Halos is better than not all the Halos. There was definitely some discussion around that and it was just a matter of what could we do in what time frame and what makes sense for the theme.”
Part of the reason new content and upgrades continue to join The Master Chief Collection is that the team is full of people who had an appreciation and love of the Halo franchise before their job was to work on it. In addition to longtime developers, 343 Industries includes people who worked on Halo mods or were active in the Halo esports scene. The result is a constant stream of passion projects from individual members of the development team, many of which make it into the living product of MCC.
“We’re constantly surprising ourselves with some of the ideas we come up with and then we sit down and talk about it and figure out if it makes sense to put it out to retail MCC,” Fahrny says. “More often than not, we end up doing it because as Halo fans, we think it’s going to be cool and then we start the whole process and go through flighting and everybody really loves it. We end up doing all these things. That’s how the new Firefight options that came out with Season 8 came to fruition.”
Though Halo 5: Guardians will no longer be the flagship Halo title when Infinite launches in earnest on December 8, 343 says there are currently no plans to add it into the Master Chief Collection. While much of the MCC updates and seasonal content is coming to a close in the near future, 343 Industries has proven that sticking with a game, even one that launches in a bad state, can prove worth it.
“The thing I’m proud of is how committed the team is to solving this problem – that commitment to delivering what our customers want is great,” Spencer told Game Informer in that 2015 interview. “Now, anybody can throw a rock at me and say, ‘Hey, we shouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place.’ And that’s fair enough, but nobody’s thrown up their arms and run away from it. The team has doubled down.”
Finishing This Fight
With The Master Chief Collection now one of the gold-standard redemption stories in the games industry, 343 Industries has continued supporting the compilation, even expanding to new platforms. In addition to receiving enhancements on Xbox Series X/S when those new systems launched in 2020, 343 Industries made the bold leap to PC.
For the Master Chief Collection team, bringing the product to PC was an important step in the project’s post-launch lifecycle, but before they committed to doing it, they wanted to make sure they could do it right. “For us as a studio, PC was never a first priority, but what does it mean to actually be a modern PC game? Can we even bring The Master Chief Collection – all the games in the collection – up to that standard?” Fahrny says. “We sat down and did a lot of evaluations of competitive products – good and bad things that competitors have done – and we built a plan around it, and then evaluated it. We said, ‘We think we can do this and we think we can do a really good job at it. On top of that, let’s go back and learn from these past mistakes.”
This time, 343 Industries was much more methodical about how it approached bringing the collection to this new platform, rolling the games out one by one rather than all at once. Over the course of a year (starting in December 2019 and ending in November 2020), PC players gained access to each of the six titles in the current version of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The rolled-out approach allowed 343 Industries to learn its lessons one title at a time rather than all at once. Then, when it wanted to address a problem, it was more manageable and able to be implemented at launch for subsequent titles. For example, Reach’s high refresh-rate interpolation didn’t reach the standards the development studio hoped for, so it improved it within Reach, then made sure the five remaining games hit the mark the team desired.
With the transparency the team acquired from its rough, early days launching the Xbox One version, as well as the preexisting lines of communication with the community, the PC version was a success. It showed just how much the team has changed its approach to ensuring a game is ready for launch and listening to the community to improve the title in the following years. The team even introduced cross-platform play in 2020 – a huge leap forward when you consider how many troubles the game initially had only executing single-platform multiplayer – and mod support to the PC version this past summer. To this day, Halo: The Master Chief Collection continues to receive updates across all platforms.
343 doesn’t plan on stopping support for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but the eighth season, which started in October, is the final season of content for the long-running compilation. Going forward, in order to avoid providing seasonal updates for both Master Chief Collection and Infinite simultaneously, 343 will continue to deliver new features and fixes in MCC, but it will do so through smaller patches instead of large, season-sized updates.
“At a high level, the MCC support is changing; it’s not ending,” senior producer Matt Hohl says. “We’ve still got mod tools to deliver. We’ve still got more games with [Custom Game Browser] to deliver. We’re still viewing ourselves as the stewards of these classic games. […] We’re looking forward to the complementary relationship of Infinite and MCC next year.”
As 343 Industries turns its focus towards Halo Infinite, you can see that the lessons the studio learned from the early stumbles and later success of Halo: The Master Chief Collection paid dividends. In addition to listening to community feedback and delaying Infinite a full year (even if it meant missing the opportunity of being an Xbox Series X/S launch title), the studio held multiple technical tests during summer 2021. This gave players the ability to provide input into the direction of Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer.
“The community along with the flighting program helped us, not only for MCC but helped us pave the way for the studio as you’re seeing now with Infinite and their technical betas and flights,” Fahrny says. “We’ve been leading the charge and feeding all that back into the wider studio teams so that we can continue this great process that really helped us succeed as well. It’s been really good to see.”
During the Xbox 20th anniversary livestream on November 15, 2021, Xbox and 343 Industries announced a surprise soft-launch of the Halo Infinite multiplayer, giving all players immediate entry to a beta that provides access to the full suite in the lead up to launch on December 8. Players have already provided feedback on things like the slow progression of the multiplayer’s Battle Pass, and members of 343 Industries have already been implementing changes.
Now, as the team moves forward into what appears to be a very promising new chapter, it carries with it the valuable, often-harsh lessons it learned following the troubling launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. In doing so, the team hopes that all subsequent launches will avoid the need to bounce back in the manner that its celebratory compilation had to. With developers now interacting with the community on such a collaborative level, it’s clear that the lifecycle of The Master Chief Collection changed the course of 343 Industries for the better.
To learn more about Halo Infinite, be sure to visit our coverage hub by clicking the banner below.
It’s 4pm on Thanksgiving Day. You’re probably stuffed with turkey right now, or in the process of stuffing yourself with turkey, or still waiting to stuff yourself with turkey. (If you ate ham, get the hell out of here.) You know what that means? It’s time to make hats!
Making turkey hats is an old Thanksgiving tradition. It’s not hard to see why; turkey hats combine two of our favorite things: food and fashion. Hats also make your head look bigger, which will convince people that your brain is huge.
People who wear hats are often the life of the party. Need proof? Check out this picture of Spock.
Boy what a boring guy. Now, what if we throw a hat on him?
Instant party animal! You too can be this guy. But instead of making the traditional Turkey hat for Thanksgiving, why not make a hat using gaming’s first bird: the Chocobo.
Read on to find out how.
Making Chocobo hats is a fun family affair. It’s also practical. If that annual post-meal brawl breaks out, you’ll already be armed with scissors. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
Construction paper (all colors)
The unspoken disgust of your older cousins
Kenny Loggin’s Top Gun Soundtrack
Begin by cutting a piece of yellow paper into a large circle (don’t worry it can’t feel anything.)
This is what a circle looks like:
Next, cut out a beak and some eyes. Here is what you’re aiming for:
If your uncle begins screaming about how his ex-wife wrecked his boat or your nephews start a backyard wrestling match in the living room, crank up Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone” and shut out the sound of smashing dishes.
Next: putting it all together.
Families can be hard. Is your mom screaming at you to take out the garbage? Is your Dad yelling at you, because he doesn’t want you to cut off all the cat’s hair? Is some old man complaining that you broke into his house and stole his war bonds? Ignore them. They don’t understand you. You’re an artist. You need those war bonds to make your Chocobo hat.
It’s time to put the whole thing together. Glue your beak and eye to your circle and then affix the whole Chocobo head to another piece of paper (or war bond) and wrap it around your head. Feel free to add a few little extra details to your hat. Really make it your own. Add some extra tuffs off hair or a ruffled brow. If your Chocobo is filled with friendship and magic, add some glitter.
If you’ve followed our instructions carefully, you should end up with something like this:
*Results may vary
There you have it. You are now free to experience the true joys of Thanksgiving. Throw away the unused scraps of paper (ignore their cries for mercy; they weren’t good enough to make the cut.) Now, go have some pie and hug your grandma – not only will she be freaked out by your new hat, she’ll won’t know what to make of this random affection.
And remember, if you get bored later, you can always make Chocobo hats for your pets.
The arrival of Halo Infinite‘s campaign is imminent. To get you ready for December 8, we sat down with the team at 343 Industries to learn everything we need to know about the upcoming return of Master Chief.
Halo Infinite takes place 18 months after the events of Halo 5, and a lot has changed since we last saw the Xbox icon. The UNSC is fighting for its life on Zeta Halo, The Banished are getting closer to completing their nefarious goals, and humanity once again hangs in the balance. Some of those tropes may sound familiar, but 343 is here to tell you why Chief’s new story should have fans excited. Quick SPOILER warning: We discuss where the characters are and some of their motivations headed into Halo Infinite. If you want to go in clean, come back to this video after you play the game.
We set the table by answering the question of who Halo Infinite is for. The developers have worked hard to walk the line of appealing to both new fans and veterans alike, attempting to strike a balance such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt did before it. Next up, the discussion turns to where the game picks up again and what players can expect when The Pilot finds Chief floating in space.
But what’s a good story without a great villain? One of the other priorities for 343 was developing and fleshing out a threatening opponent in The Banished and their leader Escharum. While fans of Halo Wars 2 may be familiar with this splinter faction of Brutes, Elites, and more familiar alien faces, the team hopes to create new and engaging narratives around who Chief will be clashing energy swords with.
Next up, we continue to discuss the mysteries of Halo Infinite, mainly where Cortana is and what has happened since Chief went dark six months earlier. To do that, we need to get to know The Weapon, your new AI companion who looks suspiciously like another Jen Taylor-voiced character. How does her story factor into the larger narrative? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.
Finally, we end our time with 343 by talking about how the team has emphasized merging gameplay with the narrative and their desire to keep players immersed as much as possible. But were they successful in their execution? December 8 can’t come soon enough.
You’ve probably heard that the machines are coming for our jobs … and eventually our bodies. But what does this strange, machine-run future look like? To gain a sneak-peek into that world, we asked the A.I.-based text generator InferKit to rewrite some of our favorite games, and the results ranged from hilarious to outright eerie. Below are the A.I. rewrites – the seed text is in bold, and everything else is machine-generated.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
The inmates of Arkham Asylum have been set free – and it’s up to Batman to bring order to the chaos and take back the asylum. Along the way, he reunites with some old allies and discovers an even deeper secret: he isn’t the only one with a destiny, and this time, his isn’t a fairy tale. What you don’t know? It was designed by God to save his people. It has the power to send every human back to Heaven and reunite them with God. So why does the Great Spirit keep it locked away? And what’s with that smell, anyway?
The Last of Us
Joel and Ellie, brought together by harsh circumstances, must survive a brutal journey across the U.S. in a dangerous post-pandemic world. Two best friends, Joel and Ellie, survive the end of the world in a semi-ancient survivalist park. Traveling across the United States in search of food and water and finding more unexpected friends along the way. Endlessly imaginative, inspiring, and sometimes terrifying, this is an original survival adventure, like no other. This is the first book in a trilogy. There are four books.
Super Mario Bros.
The Mushroom Princess is being held captive by the evil Koopa tribe. It’s up to you to rescue her before time runs out. The green plumber’s missions also include helping a doll-like Princess Kameeze find the Unicorn Rod. Going back to the original Super Mario Bros., Yoshi’s sidekick is Super Mario Bros. 3’s Yoshi. And in Super Mario World, the mushroom-shaped dinosaur is the gamer’s little brother. These companions give Mario new abilities when he picks up the controllers or stomps on certain power-ups in games. Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved.
A dark presence stalks the small town of Bright Falls, pushing Alan Wake to the brink of sanity in his fight to unravel the mystery and save his love. Based on the comic book series If I Hadn’t Met You Eduard, a husband and father who loses his family in a tragic accident, travels to parallel universes to seek a better fate for his beloved wife. This drama series tells the astonishing true story of Israel’s most prominent spy who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s.
Red Dead Redemption II
America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. But at every turn, the traveling robbers find themselves faced with unintended challenges. Deep in the wilds of Iowa, they encounter the terrifying Mandrake, whose head is a hive of ravenous monsters … and who are on the lookout for fresh bodies. One by one, the members of the gang are picked off, revealing the truly terrible fate that awaits those who cross the Mandrake.
Despite his unstable nature, Arthur is a gifted con man, as well as an expert marksman, skilled guitarist, master carpenter, and above all, a man of extraordinary cunning and resourcefulness. Trapped in a world where he never seems to fit in, can the mysterious detective help the dark-haired, blue-eyed half-Irish half-African boy realize his destiny, or will he become another statistic?
The loss of the Seven-Hour War is still fresh. In the shadow of a rising Combine fortress known as the Citadel, residents of City 17 learn to live under the rule of their invaders. But among this scattered population are two of Earth’s most resourceful scientists: Dr. James Vega and John Baxter. Dr. Vega builds a time machine and contacts John, offering his assistance and guaranteeing his safety. Together, the two of them make a plan: they will travel back to 1984, to try to convince then-President Elizabeth Shower to negotiate with the Combine.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This world doesn’t need a hero. It needs a professional. Enter the witcher, one of the last monster slayers for hire. Joslyn Mael: Most famous for the notorious Hollows murder case. I will not get too much into my life and profession. You’ll have to make your own judgments. It’s a long story and a very long time ago. Suffice to say, I grew up as a very strong child, and even though my parents were terrified of me, they also wanted me to know how to defend myself and use my right hand for good. I grew up, bought my own gun, got a job, and the rest is history.
Indebted to the wrong people, with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun, Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. Escape the dark lands of Borderlands, a politically unstable nation in the not-too-distant future and repair his marriage before it’s too late. His target? The mysterious anarchist villain Cipher. The result was Titanfall, a rebooted brand-new shooter where different modes could be combined together seamlessly. Set in the city-sized spaceport of Forward Operating Base, the map editors allowed for a dozen ways to play the game, from quick engagements to mission-based battles.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Bent on humankind’s extermination, a powerful fellowship of alien races known as the Covenant is wiping out Earth’s fledgling interstellar empire. It is a fight for survival. For their children’s future. For the survival of the entire universe. A fight they are counting on you to join. In the original Halo, Master Chief leads a team of expert Spartans – along with an armored knight from an alien civilization – to face the Covenant in an epic struggle that will test your abilities, test your brotherhood and test the fate of the entire universe.
Final Fantasy VII
In Midgar, a city controlled by the mega-conglomerate Shinra Inc., the No. 1 Mako Reactor has been blown up by a rebel group, Avalanche. Avalanche leader Taiki Masaki has been seen walking amongst the ruins and filming the wreckage. In the Shinra Control Room, Shinra Corporate Executive Officer Hiroshi Amano tries to stop Shinra’s CEO Tetsuya Tojo from starting a catastrophic weapon of mass destruction. Founded by three children born of Digimon-like monsters, Avalanche was believed to be destroyed when Mako Reactor 1 exploded, but the video footage proves otherwise.
What do you think? Will we be playing A.I.-written games next year?
Hey, look, it’s almost Thanksgiving (AKA Black Friday’s Eve)! Soon, those of us in the U.S. will spend the day chowing down on all manner of homecooked foods. If you’re reading this, odds are you’ll be spending just as much time catching up on the year’s best video games. It’s a lot like treating yourself to a digital feast, and given that Thanksgiving dinner is, scientifically speaking, the perfect assemblage of food, there’s only one way to determine the best combination of games you can play. We must figure out which games are most similar to a classic Thanksgiving dish. Science demands it!
Turkey – Destiny 2
Like Thanksgiving dinner’s main attraction, Destiny 2 is reliable and familiar. Sure, it can be a bit bland at times; you know exactly what you’re getting with a few surprises. But there’s no denying that it feels great to experience, plus that fun often lasts days after you’ve initially dug into it. Unfortunately, if you take too long to come back for seconds, you may discover that all the good parts are suddenly missing.
Ham – Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ham often gets presented as turkey’s sidekick, but the right recipe can make it surpass even the tastiest birds. A game that might not be the obvious main event but still manages to steal the show? Sounds like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart to me! Like a good holiday ham, Ratchet & Clank is a consistently reliable addition to any gaming rotation and always manages to rival the best games of the year. Rift Apart is no exception and spices things up with its interdimensional gameplay and storytelling – like layering on a crushed ginger snaps cookie crust on a sweet ham glaze (try it).
Stuffing – Resident Evil Village
Stuffing is the scariest dish of any Thanksgiving table. Everyone has their definition of what makes a stuffing tasty (or edible, for that matter), which leads to disaster more often than not. Generally, the dish is a hodgepodge of flavors and textures. That reminds me of Resident Evil Village, an equally terrifying blend of experiences. The game cherry-picks the scariest elements of multiple Resident Evil games, such as 2, 4, and 7, mixes them up, then bakes them into one largely cohesive package. It’s stuffing in its most mouthwatering form. However, Village also features a lot of goo, much like your aunt’s famous stuffing, that you’ll pretend to enjoy as tears roll down your cheek with every chew.
Green Bean Casserole – Loop Hero
When I think of green bean casserole, I think of a dish that’s enjoyable, inoffensive, but also kind of weird and tends to be overshadowed by the larger offerings at the table – a unique B+ dish. Many games could fit that descriptor, but I’ll go with Loop Hero. Like a good casserole, Loop Hero combines several flavors – roguelite progression, city and deck-building, and good old-fashioned role-playing strategy – in an inspired package. Once you dig into Loop Hero, it’s hard to stop and becomes as comforting as the best green bean casseroles once you get your bearings. It probably pairs well with French fried onions too.
Mac And Cheese – Metroid Dread
Turkey is cool and all, but we all know mac ‘n cheese is the lowkey MVP of every holiday dinner. Everyone loves it, and it’s absurdly difficult to screw up. Best of all, it’s comforting. Metroid-style games sport a similar coziness, and who executes those experiences better than Samus herself? Metroid Dread serves up a winning rendition of a familiar formula, making you feel like a kid playing Super Metroid or Metroid Fusion all over again. It also sprinkles new twists in the form of nigh-indestructible E.M.M.I.’s, which Samus must evade. Though only a handful of these robotic terrors are present, their inclusion rockets the game to new heights. It’s kind of like adding savory bacon bits to mac ‘n cheese. Okay, I’m starting to get hungry.
Rolls – New Pokémon Snap
Taking bites from a fresh, warm roll in between shoving larger dishes into your mouth is heavenly. Ideally, you don’t want to fill up on the bread; bite-sized chunks are the way to go. I approached New Pokémon Snap the same way and found it the best way to experience it. I fill up on its gameplay quickly during extended sessions but completing a mission or two here and there keeps the photo-centric action from getting stale. And nobody likes stale bread unless you’re planning to use it later for croutons or French toast in the morning.
Cranberry Sauce – Death Stranding Director’s Cut
No one really knows why cranberry sauce is such an omnipresent part of the Thanksgiving meal. It often just sits there in a fancy dish, and most people aren’t even sure how to eat it. Do you spoon it into your mouth as is or pair it with the turkey? It reminds me of Death Stranding, a similarly polarizing and confusing oddity that, despite itself, has its share of rabid fans. Like cranberry sauce, Death Stranding can be sweet in spots but is perhaps best experienced in small portions to determine if it’s in your wheelhouse.
Pumpkin Pie – Toem
After all of that food, you’ll want to chase it down with something short and sweet. Might I recommend Toem, a brief yet charming adventure game about solving photo-centric puzzles? Most riddles are simple, so you won’t need to flex your gaming fatigued noggin too much. Plus, you won’t stop smiling at every friendly stranger or their humorous problems.
Do you agree with these picks or do you have a different game that feels like a better “turkey”, so to speak? Let us know in the comments!
2021 has provided players with a deluge of incredible games, some of which will be battling it out for lofty game of the year titles and other accolades. Sometimes, games worthy of note slip under the radar. While these titles aren’t unknown by any stretch, they can get lost in the year-end conversation as everyone determines their favorite fare before heading into what’s shaping up to be another blockbuster year for games. What titles may you have missed this year that really stand out? We’ve got a few picks for you – and maybe you have a few suggestions for us, too! Let us know what your favorite hidden gems from 2021’s gaming roster are in the comments.
Library of Ruina
Library of Ruina is a tough game to get going in, but once you’re on track, it’s incredibly difficult to put down and absurdly compelling. Combining aspects of deckbuilding games, tactics games, and RPGs, this romp through a bizarre and sometimes haunting landscape is an adventure well worth taking. Enchanting tunes from Mili enhance major battles and you’ll find yourself going back to listen to them long after you complete the journey. Don’t write this off after taking a look at screenshots, as the signature battles themselves exude such style in motion. Check out more on Library of Ruina here.
Inscryption begins as a sort of dark roguelike deckbuilder, but isn’t truly content to play around in a singular genre space. The twists, turns, and surprises that are uncovered along the way make discussion difficult without serious spoilers, but rest assured you’ll find mysteries worth discovering, puzzles, and curiosities littered throughout the excursion. This is one of those games where saying anything about it except “go play it” is probably saying too much. A creative little gem, you’ll find yourself captivated as the excursion goes into all kinds of places, leaving you to ponder questions and dig deeper for answers.
There are endless mobile card games to try out. Nova Island is really a genre-busting blast that’s sort of a mix of tactical board game and traditional CCG, where players must combine hero powers, custom decks, and special spaces to score twenty points before the opponent. This can be done in a variety of ways with oodles of strategies. Whether you want to make a weird deck that capitalizes on making the basement work for points, keep your move makers out of sight in the penthouse, or take the battle to the hopping lobby or mezzanine, the calls are yours.
Playing probability is the name of the game, and that keeps every game interesting even if you’re in a metagame mirror match. Each slot only has a certain posted percent chance to give the controlling player points each round. Also, there’s no cash shop or monetization at all. That’s right, not even cosmetics. Like, what? Give this game a try – it’s way too good to go unnoticed.
Tails of Iron
In a sentence, yes it’s kind of like Redwall meets Soulsvania. Which is all you really need to know here. With big boss battles, weapons and armors to master, and plenty of action on every screen, Tails of Iron is a challenging romp that should satisfy those looking for a dire adventure that’s more than a bit grisly and grim but contains cool fights and quests to explore. I guess if you need another hook, Doug Cockle voices the narrator. That’s right, Geralt from the Witcher!
Lost In Random
This Burtonesque battle of dice and cards is a whimsical mishmash of horror and fantasy, action and strategy, and more layered on top. This world of dark queens, quibbling royalty, and bumbling allies grand slams the recipe for fun while it pulls you into its enchanting setting. Maybe I’m just really a Nightmare Before Christmas fan that loves the way this game somehow pulled off this ultimately bizarre amalgamation of elements, but either way, you should give it a whirl. I bet you’ll enjoy it.
Obviously, this handful of games doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface for all the great stuff released in 2021. What were some of your favorites that probably won’t grace the giant game of the year lists or that you think people may have missed? Let us know in the comments!