Games To Help Keep My New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time to put 2021 in the rearview mirror and look forward to the new year. For most of us, that means thinking about how to make 2022 an even better year than the last with some New Year’s resolutions. Every year when this time rolls around, I make big plans. And while I resolve to better myself and start up good habits with the best of intentions, I notice they start to break down as the months go on. So this year, I’m bringing in a little backup: video games.

It’s Time To Get Healthy

Like many people, my first resolution every year is to be a little healthier after the indulgent past few weeks. Despite video games being a mostly sedentary hobby, there are a handful of titles that can help keep this goal from fizzling out. First, I’m turning to Ring Fit Adventure. Sure, there are a ton of games that get you up and moving, like the Just Dance series or Beat Saber, but there is something about my motion propelling the main character forward to save the world that’s really motivating. I’m not going to lie, though; I’ve tried the game before and only made it through the first area.

Sometimes I find it more helpful to get out and exercise in the fresh air. So, on days when doing jumping jacks to fight dragons feels a little overwhelming, I’ll take a pleasant walk with my Pikmin crew in Pikmin Bloom. The result of a partnership between Niantic and Nintendo, Pikmin Bloom is an AR mobile game that acts essentially as a step tracker. Unlike other fitness apps, this one lets you grow and travel with a herd of cute leafy creatures. Maybe that’s just the motivation I need to keep those regular walks in my routine.


Of course, being healthy isn’t just about exercise, which is why I’m looking to Soup Pot to help make me a slightly better chef. This isn’t the first time I have used video games to augment my cooking skills. But with Soup Pot, a game about making dishes from fresh ingredients, I might actually learn how to make a wider variety of nutritious meals. Attempting recipes in a virtual kitchen at least mitigates the possibility of setting everything on fire.

It’s also important to keep an eye on your mental as well as your physical health. For video game enthusiasts, almost any game can help in this particular category. If a title helps you relax or puts a smile on your face, you’re doing yourself a favor. There are also games that, while a little intense, dive into what it means to struggle with mental health, like the upcoming She Dreams Elsewhere, which examines anxiety. The game is not officially announced for 2022, but hopefully, it will hit in time to help with my year’s objectives.

Spend More Time With Friends And Family

It has been especially difficult to keep up with loved ones these past few years. On top of getting a new job and all the normal, day-to-day things that get in the way, the pandemic has been doing its best to make in-person visits difficult for me. Speaking face-to-face might be out of the question in some cases, but keeping in touch can be as easy as turning on a gaming platform. It’s no surprise that the popularity of social games has been rapidly increasing since 2020. It is certainly a bandwagon my friends and I have jumped on and will hopefully keep riding into 2022.

Among Us is one of the easiest games for a big group of friends to hop into on a virtual hangout night. It’s not complicated to learn, talking is encouraged, and a lot of people can play it at once. If a larger player count isn’t a concern, though, some other good games we like to play together include Fall Guys, Valheim, Sea of Thieves, and Phasmophobia. More recently, we have been able to all get in the same room together, and when that happens, there are also a ton of fun party games to help everyone have fun.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human

Try New Things

While I could, and hopefully will, abandon my comfort zone in several different categories – like food, activities, career, etc. – I’m primarily interested in trying new types of video games next year. Coincidentally, that also means shaking things up in my career, so I get to cross two items off the list at once. There are a ton of new indies to get excited about for next year, and some I didn’t get the chance to try out in 2021. But there are also some big hits I’m hoping will broaden my horizons a little more.

One of the biggest coming up soon is Dying Light 2: Stay Human. Now, zombies aren’t usually my thing, but my fellow editor, Brian Shea, seems pretty excited for this title. Parkour, choice, and memorable characters all seem like good reasons for me to give this post-apocalyptic game a chance.

There are a lot of amazing games coming in the next year, however. Hopefully, I have time to fully explore titles like Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, and maybe even Breath of the Wild’s sequel while still making some space for those titles I usually wouldn’t pick up.

What are your resolutions for 2022? Do any of them involve video games? Let us know in the comments below!


Halo Infinite Player Wins More Than 100 Consecutive Free-For-All Matches

There are decent Halo Infinite players, really great players, ranked Onyx players, and then there’s Remy “Mint Blitz,” an Australian streamer who won more than 100 free-for-all matches in a row. 

First reported by Kotaku, Mint Blitz originally set out to win 50 consecutive free-for-all matches in the recently-released (and free-to-play) multiplayer portion of Halo Infinite. After winning 50 in a row, though, he upped the ante and sought to win 100 consecutive matches…and he did it. In fact, he continued on to win even more, finally breaking the streak around “105, 106 straight” wins. 

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The streamer said it took him about a week to amass 100 consecutive wins and it went essentially flawlessly, save for one hiccup: his PC froze and he was forced to quit out of Halo Infinite. However, his video shows that he was up by 10 points, meaning he was almost certainly going to win. Considering a PC freeze is out of his hands, Mint Blitz absolutely gets the pass on that. When he booted the game up again, he was back to his winning streak.

After all was said and done, Mint Blitz provided some feedback for the free-for-all mode. At the top of his list was the lack of Sniper Rifles present in free-for-all. He said it spawns on just one map and even then, only about 50 percent of the time. This forced him to tackle the challenge in a different way (rather than relying on sniper multi-kills, which he seems to indicate is how he would have typically completed so many wins in older Halo titles). 

He also highlighted some guns he found especially useful, and some odd quirks he discovered with them, too. Mint Blitz says the Shock Rifle is great – it insta-kills with a single headshot – but that in order to get a headshot, you have to actually shoot behind a player when they’re running in a direction. He also said the Plasma Pistol needs its EMP features back, but that otherwise the classic “noob combo” – fire a charged blast, switch to a precision weapon like the pistol Sidekick, and take them out with one quick shot – works as well as ever. 

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He said the Mauler is probably the best gun in Halo Infinite, citing its large ammo capacity, its deadly precision, and its strong melee. If you watch his video, you can see that the Repulsor is something he uses quite often to launch enemies off cliffs and over gaps to fatal deaths, too. 

“Winning 100 games straight was incredibly stressful,” Blitz says in the video he posted on YouTube breaking down the feat. “I had my friends, and when I was reaching the 90s, they all [said] ‘don’t choke at 100, Remy, don’t choke. It’d be really bad if you messed up the last game.’ I was panicking that I was going to choke.” 

The streak came to an end after he couldn’t outkill someone on Halo Infinite’s Bazaar map, though. Here I was feeling proud of myself for ranking up into Diamond…

For more about Halo Infinite, read about why it’s Game Informer’s 2021 Game of the Year and then check out Game Informer’s Halo Infinite review. Read about why we think Halo Infinite’s grapple shot is a game changer after that. 

[Source: Kotaku]

What do you think your longest Halo Infinite multiplayer streak could be? Let us know in the comments below!


Looking Ahead To 2022 | All Things Nintendo

With 2021 officially in the rear-view mirror, this week’s episode of All Things Nintendo is all about looking ahead to 2022. With the upcoming year looking extremely stacked, Brian invites Game Informer creative director Jeff Akervik to talk about the biggest games scheduled to arrive on Switch in 2022.

If you’d like to follow the people from this episode on Twitter, hit the following links: Brian Shea (@brianpshea), Jeff Akervik (@JeffAkervik)

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!

Be sure to subscribe to All Things Nintendo on your favorite podcast platform. The show is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:02:01 – First Nintendo Game/Favorite Nintendo Game
00:23:47 – Working in Game Informer’s Creative and Design Department
00:36:35 – The Most Anticipated Games of 2022
00:37:16 – Pokémon Legends: Arceus
00:43:38 – Dying Light 2: Stay Human
00:46:32 – OlliOlli World
00:48:05 – Triangle Strategy
00:50:02 – Chocobo GP
00:51:31 – Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
00:52:10 – Advance Wars 1+2: ReBoot Camp
00:55:13 – Kirby and the Forgotten Land
00:58:41 – Bayonetta 3
01:00:33 – Splatoon 3
01:04:02 – Card Shark
01:04:30 – Marvel’s Midnight Suns
01:06:04 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel
01:12:38 – Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
01:13:44 – TemTem
01:13:57 – Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
01:14:33 – Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
01:17:20 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
01:19:27 – Two Point Campus
01:19:59 – Blossom Tales 2: The Minotaur Prince
01:20:30 – Metal Slug Tactics
01:20:52 – What About Metroid Prime 4 and Overwatch 2?
01:24:18 – What About Mario?
01:26:43 – Definitive Ranking: Switch Games of 2021
01:39:22 – eShop Gem of the Week: Gris

If you’d like to get in touch with the All Things Nintendo podcast, you can do so by emailing, 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!


SaGa Series Creator Hints At Possible Remaster, Remake, And New Game

SaGa series creator Akitoshi Kawazu has revealed that a remake, remaster, and a new game might be on the way. 

First reported by Kotaku, Kawazu tweeted yesterday to thank SaGa fans for their support in 2021, teasing what 2022 might hold. According to Google’s translation service, Kawazu’s tweet also reveals some exciting game developments in the works. 

“We will work on various things so that 2022 can also be supported,” Google’s translation of Kawazu’s tweet reads. “We will do our best not only to manage the service but also to remaster, remake, and produce new works so that we can deliver good news to everyone.” 

It’s important to note that Google’s translation service is not always correct, sometimes missing some of the context that might be picked up on through a real translation from a translator, for example. With that being said, it’s tough to take this Google translation word-for-word, but the general gist seems apparent: Kawazu is teasing a remaster, a remake, and something “new.” 

Kawazu is now an executive at Square Enix, but the SaGa series is still his pride and joy, as he developed the first way back in 1989 shortly after serving as a co-writer on Final Fantasy. The first SaGa game was called The Final Fantasy Legend in the West, but it was known as Makai Toushi SaGa in Japan, as noted by Kotaku. Since then, more than 15 SaGa games have been released, with 2019’s Imperial SaGa: Eclipse being the most recent in the franchise (if you don’t count SaGa Frontier Remastered, which was released this year). 

Only time will tell if a remake, remaster, and new game are actually on the way, but nonetheless, it’s a good time to be a fan of Kawazu’s work. While waiting to (hopefully) learn more, read about why one Game Informer editor believes that the SaGa series’ willingness to be different is what makes it so special, and then check out this Game Informer interview where we talked to SaGa series producers about JRPGs, western capabilities, and more

[Source: Kotaku]

What SaGa game would you like to see remade? What SaGa game do you want to see remastered? Let us know in the comments below!


Update: Deep Rock Galactic On PlayStation 5 Will Get New Features Thanks To DualSense Controller

Update, 12/31/21:

PlayStation announced earlier this week that Deep Rock Galactic, as well as Persona 5 Strikers and Dirt 5, will be the January 2022 PlayStation Plus titles, and now, new details about one of the games have been released. 

As first reported by VG247, Deep Rock Galactic will contain some PlayStation 5-exclusive features thanks to the console’s DualSense controller. More specifically, the DualSense touchpad can be used to control the Terrain Scanner in-game. Plus, the controller’s built-in speaker can be used by characters to tell you orders as if said characters are actually using a radio to communicate with you, as one might do when mining deep into an alien planet’s terrain. 

For more about the game, check out Game Informer’s Deep Rock Galactic review

The original story continues below…

Original Story, 12/29/21:

The first batch of PlayStation Plus games has been revealed. Are you a fan of Persona, arcade racing, and/or co-op experiences? If so, January looks to be your month.

Persona 5 Strikers headlines the month. This follow-up to the acclaimed Persona 5 launched in February and centers Joker and the gang embarking on a cross-country road trip. Developed by Dynasty Warriors maker Omega Force, gameplay shifts to frantic hack-n-slash action instead of the turn-based battles of its predecessor. You can read our positive review of Persona 5 Strikers here

Deep Rock Galactic is a beloved co-op shooter that has only been available on Xbox and PC. This marks the game’s debut on PS5/PS4. Up to four players play as dwarf miners under different classes to mine underground caverns for precious gems while battling giant alien bugs. Deep Rock Galactic’s fun blend of resource gathering and combat netted an 8.5 out of 10 review score from us, which you can read more about here

Lastly, Dirt 5 brings its brand of off-road racing to PS Plus. The latest installment in the long-running series boasts a choice-driven career mode, community-made courses, and tight arcade-style racing. To learn more about what Dirt 5 has to offer, check out our review

All three games arrive on January 4. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to grab December’s PS Plus games – Godfall: Challenger Edition, Mortal Shell, and Lego DC Super-Villains – before they make their exit.


Best Shooter Of 2021: Halo Infinite

Xbox’s flagship title makes its triumphant return, touting a resounding, deeply personal narrative arc for the Master Chief alongside popular PvP modes that appeal to Spartan veterans and novices alike. Simply put, Infinite is the total package; a love letter to the original trilogy that helped define the shooter genre. Gone are the overly complicated plot points, invasive loot box rewards, and ability kit-focused metas. 343 Industries’ latest installment is a lesson on finding balance in simple storytelling and leveling the competitive playing field. It’s also a revolutionary step that’ll undoubtedly inform the next generation of Halo projects. Read more…


Koei Tecmo Says It Will Reveal Games That Show ‘Full Power’ Of Company In 2022

This year was a great one for Koei Tecmo, which was behind several releases by way of either development or publishing, but the studio is teeing up 2022 to be even better. 

First reported and translated by Twinfinite, Japanese website 4Gamer published an article about 2022 plans for local game developers, including Koei Tecmo. In it, Koei Tecmo’s entertainment division general manager, Yosuki Hayashi, says the studio will reveal several games that have been in the works for years in 2022, stating that these titles “will pave the way for the future of the company,” Twinfinite writes. 

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Hayashi says the “full power of the current Koei Tecmo” will be shown in 2022 and that the year will mark the release of several games developed by the studio. As for what, Team Ninja director Fumihiko Yasuda said fans can look forward to future titles such as an action game set in the Three Kingdom era and another game that he’s actually directing. 

Finally, Fatal Frame producer Yosuke Kikuchi said that in 2022, “his team will challenge the development of something that they have never done before,” according to Twinfinite’s translation and that while it will be a long time before it’s formally announced, the studio is excited to get started. 

Perhaps 2022 will bring a new Nioh game to consoles and PC, or maybe even a new Fatal Frame, especially since the last one was released in 2015. Check out our thoughts on it in Game Informer’s Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water review and then read Game Informer’s Nioh 2 review after that. 

[Source: Twinfinite]

Are you excited about Koei Tecmo’s 2022? Let us know in the comments below!


Where Is My Yu-Gi-Oh Battle Royale Game?

As a fan of the film Battle Royale and The Hunger Games books (the movies are fine too), I’m surprised the battle royale genre hasn’t permanently sunk its teeth into me. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed my time with Fortnite and Apex Legends, the two titles I’ve dabbled with the most. They’re well-crafted games. But each of them also occupies the same niche being shooters. I’m itching for more creative spins on the formula. 

The recently announced Rumbleverse, a pro wrestling flavored take on the genre, tickles my fancy as a long-time fan of sports entertainment. But I’m selfish, so give me more battle royales based on my specific interests. If you’ve listened to me on podcasts or watched me on streams, you probably know I’m a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan as well. Since its inception, it’s been my trading card game of choice and is primed for the battle royale treatment. No, I’m not talking about the Yu-Gi-Oh Rush Duel: Dawn of the Battle Royale, which only features the concept in name. I want the real thing. How? Simple: it’s been done already. 

The first and most well-known Yu-Gi-Oh anime featured two battle royale-style tournaments: Duelist Kingdom and Battle City. Both contests dropped dozens of players onto a tropical island and a sprawling metropolis, respectively. They tasked competitors with freely dueling each other under elimination rules until only a handful remained (who then competed under traditional brackets). It proved a more entertaining approach than the standard tournament and provided some of the series’ most exciting moments. 

Yu-Gi-Oh season one villain Maximillian Pegasus overlooking the competitors of Duelist Kingdom

I more or less want that exact concept as a multiplayer video game, and given the continued popularity of battle royales and Yu-Gi-Oh, it’s time to strike while the irons are hot. Take a large number of players represented by customizable avatars a la Fortnite, drop them into a huge map, and let them run around and play card games against each other until one duelist remains. I don’t want to say this would be easy because game development is anything but. However, with an established template already in place, this feels like the natural evolution instead of releasing another by-the-numbers card game simulator.

Let’s say you recreate Duelist Kingdom’s island. Winning duels, then walking around until you find the next opponent, could get dull. I’ve always admired how Fornite’s islands feel more like amusement parks than shooter maps. Fortnite lets its players engage with the world itself in other fun ways instead of just adding corpses to it. Duelist Kingdom players could navigate the hidden maze of the Paradox Brothers or sneak into Pegasus’ castle and uncover lore on the flamboyant villain. Just when you’ve finished cooking fish at Mako Tsunami’s campsite, boom, a random player arrives to challenge you in a dramatic fashion. The excitement! 

One obstacle is that even with only, say, 50 players instead of the standard 99, waiting for dozens of people to finish dueling may take a while. I don’t think an increasingly shrinking ring works for a card game tournament either. One solution could be adopting the speed duel-style format used in Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links. But I’m a traditionalist (give me my Main Phase 2), so I say stick to the regular format or divide them into filters so that time-sensitive players have quicker options. I’d also ditch the star chips/locater card collection of the anime as well as the bracket tournament for the final handful of competitors. You lose once – a single duel as opposed to a best two-out-of-three match – and you’re out. 

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

As good as this idea is (if I say so myself), money talks, so the only way this game gets off the ground is to make it financially worth it for Konami. They could sell individual cards and booster packs for actual cash. Acquiring the best meta cards requires a financial investment in the real-world game anyway; this won’t be anything new for seasoned players. Purchasable cosmetics could include Yugi’s iconic hairdo, Kaiba’s slick white coat, or Bandit Keith’s patriotic bandana. I know players would throw money at the screen to rock a Rare Hunter’s cloak. Anime conventions and The Wizarding World has proven that we nerds love buying fancy robes, and the Rare Hunter is basically the Organization XIII look of Yu-Gi-Oh. Maybe give players duel monsters pets, too; who doesn’t want a Kuriboh floating alongside them while they search for the next challenger? Of course, everything should also be reasonably obtainable through in-game progression and toss in a battle pass for good measure. Just … don’t turn any of these into NFT’s for the love of the Egyptian Gods. 

A true Yu-Gi-Oh battle royale game would be amazing and the second-best thing that could happen behind actual duel disks/holographic card technology (we’ll get there one day). The genre and the Yu-Gi-Oh video games could use a big shake-up. If Konami realizes a million-dollar idea has been staring them in the face for years, I’d wager thousands of players would be ready to drop in and get their game on in a heartbeat. Or it sucks, and we collectively banish it to the Shadow Realm. At least we can still say Konami gave it a shot.


Studio Creates Petition To Remake Original Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Reportedly Received Ed Boon’s Blessing Back In 2016

Remakes and remasters continue to become more common with each passing year and as Mortal Kombat has reached 11 mainline entries, some fans are looking back at the series’ history, especially as its 30th anniversary nears. 

If it was up to Eyeballistic, a game development studio with multiple titles in the works, that 30th anniversary would include a remake of the original Mortal Kombat trilogy. In fact, the studio has created a “Mortal Kombat Trilogy Remake Petition” on to get this theoretical ball rolling, as first reported by Nintendo Life

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“Mortal Kombat’s 30th anniversary is next year and we’d like to honor this amazing franchise by remaking the original Mortal Kombat Trilogy (MKT) on PC and consoles,” the petition reads. “MKT is a classic game combining all of the characters from MK1, MK2, MK3, and UMK3. It also includes nearly all of the stages from those games.” 

Any studio could create a petition asking to remake a beloved game like this, but what makes this specific one interesting is that Eyeballistic says it received series creator Ed Boon’s support for such a remake back in 2016. However, Warner Bros., which owns the Mortal Kombat IP, didn’t bite. 

“Eyeballistic are a team of Mortal Kombat fans who approached series creator Ed Boon back in 2016 to remake the game in HD,” the petition reads. “Although Ed fully supported us, Warner Bros., who owns the Mortal Kombat IP, was unconvinced that the game would sell over 100,000 units worldwide and thus they determined it wouldn’t be worth the substantial cost of marketing the product for sale.” 

Click here to watch embedded media

The studio says it’s grown a lot since 2016, having signed multiple contracts to produce games for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Switch. It has also improved its work on online rollback tech, which is very important to the fighting game community, by way of proprietary technology. 

Touching on what to expect from this theoretical trilogy, Eyeballistic says it would use Epic Online Services to support crossplay between all platforms and that the team is confident its remake would be “welcomed by the [fighting game community] scene including ComboBreaker and Evo.” 

“Were planning to painstakingly recreate every detail of every stage and character in glorious 3D,” the petition reads. “Of course, every fatality, brutality, friendship, and animality will be there too. The characters and stages will get a facelift to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second gameplay action through the power of Unreal Engine 5. We’ll even remake all of the music by giving it a modern cinematic sound that incorporates real instruments.” 

Eyeballistic says it would target PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and PC with a $39.99 price tag. The remake would include “everything the original MK trilogy had plus the standard online matchmaking and worldwide leaderboards.” The petition is targeting 25,000 digital signatures – it’s at 17,156 at the time of this writing – but the studio would ideally like to hit 100,000 before formally approaching Warner Bros. with the pitch. 

While waiting to see if anything comes of this petition, read our thoughts on the latest game in the franchise in Game Informer’s Mortal Kombat 11 review, and then check out this story about how it surpassed 12 million copies sold worldwide. Read about how NetherRealm is done with Mortal Kombat 11 and working on a new game after that. 

[Source: Nintendo Life]

Would you want to see Eyeballistic’s original Mortal Kombat Trilogy remake? Let us know in the comments below!


Valorant Game Director ‘Giving Up The Mantle’ To Work On New Project At Riot

Riot Games’ Joe Ziegler is saying goodbye to his role as Valorant’s game director to work on something new at the studio.

This news comes by way of a new post made by Ziegler on the official Riot website, in which he discusses his last eight years there. He reveals that Valorant, which was officially released last year, is something he’s been working on for eight years as the game director and that now, it’s time for him to move on. 

“It is with a heart full of gratitude and deep excitement that I come to you today with news,” Ziegler writes. “After eight years working on Valorant, building it from the ground up with a team of dedicated and passionate developers who’ve worked tirelessly to serve you all with the respect and admiration that you deserve, I am giving up the mantle of game director of the Valorant tac-shooter to my good friend, Andy Ho [senior director of game direction at Riot].” 

Ziegler said Ho is someone who has put many years of work into Valorant as well and that his dedication to the tac-shooter sets high standards of inspiration for developers on the game. Ziegler also said he’s confident that Ho’s time as the new director will see Valorant grow and evolve year-over-year “to become even better than what I could imagine it to be.” 

As for Ziegler, he’ll be staying at Riot but he’ll be “starting something new (*wink, secrets…) in the hopes that we can even scratch the surface of the amazing impact Valorant has already had so far.” This could mean any number of things – perhaps he’s working on a game for Riot in a genre that’s popular that the studio hasn’t yet touched, much like Valorant was a success in the tac-shooter genre dominated by the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Perhaps it means he’s working on a new game set in the same universe as Valorant. Only time will tell for now. 

For more about Valorant, check out our thoughts on it in Game Informer’s Valorant review and then read about the new map, battle pass, and cosmetics added to it earlier this year. Check out this story about how Valorant Mobile is in the works after that. 

Are you excited to see what Ziegler is working on now? Let us know in the comments below!


Cobra Kai Joins Fortnite In Celebration Of The Show’s Fourth Season

Cobra Kai returns to Netflix for a fourth season tomorrow. The runaway hit show is based on The Karate Kid films of yesteryear, and even rekindles the feud between Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). We recently had the chance to play a mildly amusing Cobra Kai video game from developer Flux, and now we can show our love for the show with new skins in Fortnite.

Sadly none of the characters from the Netflix show are represented in likeness, but their schools are. This means you can suit up as generic characters in the styles of Cobra Kai, Eagle Fang, and Miyagi-Do. Each character you purchase for 800 V-Bucks can change to any of the three schools. You have a variety to pick from, such as Shuto Striker, Mat Master, Keri Commander, Kata Captain, Dojo Defender, and more. You can get five styles in the Karate Ko Bundle, and another five in the Dojo Showdown Bundle. Both sell for 2,000 V-Bucks.


The only recognizable character is Agent Jones, who, like the other characters, can switch between dojos. He retails for 800 V-Bucks.

The best item offered is The Crane Kick emote that plays a clip from Joe Esposito’s song “You’re The Best Around.” This item will set you back 300 V-Bucks, or you can get it in a bundle with The Teachings of Miyagi back bling, Cobra Coin back bling, Dojo Logo harvesting tool, and Cobra’s Curse harvesting tool. That bundle is 1,500 V-Bucks.

The Fortnite store has also been updated today with a variety of 2022-themed items, with many festive characters returning for New Year’s celebration.


The Top 10 Soulslike Games

Demon’s Souls started it all. Sure, folks will argue that the concepts that would go on to become the modern-day Soulslike started even earlier in From Software’s history with games like Shadow Tower or the King’s Field games. But the modern incarnations feature challenging action/RPGs that offer battles with larger-than-life bosses, risk/reward offerings, mysteries to explore, and tight combat mechanics that force the player to commit to their choices.

For the purposes of this list, I’m acknowledging that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has plenty of Soulslike framework, but due to some significant differences in player development and build options, it’s being left out of consideration here as a Soulslike. That said, it’s a great game and you should give it a try if you haven’t already. Alright, let’s hit up the list and find out what Soulslike titles are most worthy of your time as we wait with unbridled anticipation for new options to arise and take their own places on this list – including Elden Ring!

And as a quick aside, qualifications and quantifications for what exactly falls into the Soulslike category can be somewhat nebulous, so before you opine at its lack of inclusion here, we love Hollow Knight, but don’t exactly consider it a Soulslike. You should still play it! As more and more Soulslikes enter the ring, this list may change in the future, so keep an eye out as more genre players come hailing from lands afar.


Code Vein

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

We chastised this one quite thoroughly in our review, and the issues stand. That said, as a pick for getting your anime on with some catchy tunes while you wail away on enemies, you could do worse in the Soulslike category. This isn’t the only Soulslike that features sidekicks, but having a companion on the journey can also make the challenges a bit more palatable, depending on your tastes. While this recommendation comes with considerable caveats, it’s a solid choice if you’re anime inclined, and you can even build relationships with your favorite character for special rewards.

Check out the full code vein review here.


The Surge 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

While the first Surge is quite divisive, the second outing has been much better received. With a multitude of weapons to explore and aspects to upgrade and improve, your search for scraps, metal, and parts never end. Folks are always asking for options in the Souls vein that fall outside traditional or dark fantasy, and Surge 2 might be exactly what you’re looking for. Targeting various limbs and zones on enemies adds a new wrinkle to combat, and winding levels will keep you exploring. If you want a little more sawblade and nanomachine in your Souls, Surge 2 has you covered.

Check out our Surge 2 review here.


Salt and Sanctuary

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, Vita, PC

Salt and Sanctuary is a Soulslike through and through, with one of the primary differentiators being that it’s 2D. This translates to a more significant focus on platforming elements that third-person offerings have mostly eschewed, where you can hop around scenery for advantages in boss battles, jump around treetops, and climb the castle walls. Some exploration elements are also present, encouraging players to revisit earlier areas with new abilities like being able to walk upside down on structures in a sort of anti-gravity jolt. Big bosses abound, and the dark aesthetic makes the somewhat cartoony world plenty grim. If you want something that takes all of the core mechanics that make Souls great and turns it into a kind of side-scrolling 2D soiree, look no further than Salt and Sanctuary.

Check out our Salt and Sanctuary review here.


Remnant: From the Ashes

Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC

Multiple games have tried to mix Souls with shooting, and most of them have failed. Remnant: From the Ashes succeeds, combining fast-paced third-person shooting and looting with Souls features and mechanics. Gristly stages can hold more than one boss option, making traversing the same places or playing through more than once interesting, and co-op play is encouraged and fun. Bring a friend along, crush some levels, get some intriguing perks kicking and even make a build as you amplify your weapons. A roguelike mode is also available if you’re looking to keep things flowing long after you’ve completed what the game has to offer. It’s dark, fast, and a lot of fun. 

Check out our Remnant: From the Ashes review here.


Nioh 2

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC

The original Nioh is also highly recommended, but feel free to go immediately to Nioh 2. Nioh 2 has all the bells and whistles of the first game, and more options. While the mechanics added to Nioh 2 don’t really add a whole lot to the equation, there are more weapons, more playstyles, more challenges, and basically just a whole lot more of the good stuff all around – you’ll have a hell of a time exhausting the content on this beast. Not only is there a lot of meat on the bones here, but it tastes pretty damn good. Nioh 2 owes plenty to the Souls series, but also defines itself as a wholly separate entity with a slew of engaging features. If you’re feeling particularly spicy, try the fist weapon out and really get in there. If you want, the Nioh Collection eloquently delivers all the action you could desire and more.

Check out our Nioh 2 review here.


Demon’s Souls (PS5)

PlayStation 5

From Software and Hidetaka Mizazaka would usher in the entire subgenre with this title, and Bluepoint’s recent remake is a stellar vision of the original PS3 title. If you never had an opportunity to play the original, you can play it today – with incredible graphics. Encounters that simply couldn’t relay their intended majesty in the original due to hardware limitations like The Storm King are absolute joys to experience here, and the game runs buttery smooth. Demon’s Souls is an easier and simpler Souls game than what would come after. It features numerous puzzle/gimmick bosses that are fairly easy to defeat but levels that can overstay their welcome significantly without convenient checkpoints. That said, Bluepoint’s remake is something special to behold and an important part of anyone’s Souls journey. 

Check out our Demon’s Souls review here.


Dark Souls (Remastered)

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

Dark Souls solidified and popularized the genre with its powerful atmosphere, deadly bosses, and world full of secrets. Dark Souls was willing to let players fumble and find their way, with learning coming from mishaps and mistakes, whether that’s being run over by a boulder trap or simply falling off the edge of a cliff with an errant sword swing. The first time I played Dark Souls, it was a short journey indeed, as I incorrectly assumed that the only routes from the bonfire were either into the cemetery or into New Londo. As anyone who has played can tell you, these routes are probably not ideal for a first-time player. Of course, when I came back to the game a bit later and found my road into Undead Burg, my love for Souls was locked in. Finding your own way through Dark Souls’ many challenges is an experience and an adventure, no one tackles it quite the same way. Triumph over adversity in a weird, wonderful world.

Check out our Dark Souls review here.


Dark Souls 3

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Dark Souls 3 is my recommended pick for first-time Souls players. It’s the most streamlined and polished of the titles, even if it doesn’t conjure up the same mystique as some other games in the series. While it contains some of the most difficult and challenging encounters in the series in the DLC, the standard game has more of a traditional difficulty ramp instead of some of the frontloaded brutality found in the others. What does this mean? It means you’ll still be swimming in the deep end, but you’ll have time to get your toes wet first. Dark Souls 3 has a ton of excellent content, and the DLC contains some of the most exciting and intense battles available in games today, including the inimitable Sister Friede and Darkeater Midir.

Check out our Dark Souls 3 review here.


Dark Souls 2

Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC

Dark Souls 2 is one of the more divisive titles in the franchise, but its bold additions and experiments are a blast. The use of bonfire ascetics to let players replay areas on NG+ without completely finishing a run, power-stancing, and an absolutely vast array of bosses and locales make it stand out. There’s no arguing that the adaptability and agility effect on rolling and invincibility frames wasn’t a great change, so if you plan to play, I suggest putting points in these stats early to get a “traditional” roll that feels like normal. I also don’t particularly care that having a molten castle above a swamp windmill breaks some kind of immersion – this is a fantasy world, and while I admire the interconnectivity that is often heralded in the series, it’s not a dealbreaker of any kind. Dark Souls 2 also has some of the best bosses in its DLC, including the notable duel with Sir Alonne, Fume Knight, and more. If you have been putting off Dark Souls 2 because it’s seen as the black sheep of the Souls family, don’t. It’s really, really great.

Check out our full Dark Souls 2 review here.



PlayStation 4

It’s rare that every aspect of a game syncs up like a singular mastercraft work of art. Bloodborne is one of those games. Atmosphere, gameplay, music, art, and sound come together as a singular entity of classic Victorian horror giving way to cosmic terrors. Bloodborne’s slight deviations from the Souls formula encourage unbridled aggression, ramping up the tension for its incredible battles and rides through hellish landscapes. While we’re all hoping that we’ll get to play Bloodborne on other platforms and in 60 FPS someday, the core game and associated DLC is one of the best games you can play today. From snake-filled forests where your eyes deceive you with every shadow to nightmares and dreamscapes, Bloodborne serves up a buffet of horror and whimsy in one fell stroke.

Check out our Bloodborne review here.


Here Are Steam’s Most-Played Games Of 2021

It’s the end of the year, and Steam is running down the games the most people played in 2021. To check out the entire expansive list, click the link here. Read below for some of the most surprising games Steam players invested their time into. 

Starting out, news games like Valheim, New World, and the first season of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer top the list with more than 200,000 peak players. However, some old stand-bys also make appearances, such as Grand Theft Auto V, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Perhaps most surprising is Cyberpunk 2077 appearing in the top spot – somewhat shattering the illusion that CD Projekt Red’s most recent game was an overall disaster. At the very least, a ton of people are still playing Cyberpunk more than a year later. 

With over 100,000 peak players, Capcom’s excellent Resident Evil Village makes an appearance, as does Farming Simulator 22 and Battlefield 2042. Games you might expect to see here are also accounted for, such as Among Us, Rocket League, Destiny 2, and Dead by Daylight. 

Back 4 Blood, Phasmophobia, Sea of Thieves, and Final Fantasy XIV all stand out in the over 60,000 peak players listing. And not to be forgotten, Left 4 Dead 2, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout 4, Dying Light, and Loop Hero all had big years, being played by more than 30,000 people in 2021. 

 While we’re here recognizing video game achievements in 2021, why not check out Game Informer‘s picks for the 10 best games of the year? Thinking about next year, here are the games we’re most excited to play in 2022


The Version Of Bully 2 You’ll Never Get To Play

For a while in the late 2000s, developers at Rockstar New England thought they were working on the next big Rockstar game.

They were excited to push the company’s tech and to bring a cult hit into Rockstar’s vision for the future. They were excited for the chance to prove themselves as a Rockstar studio, having recently been purchased by the company. They were excited to lead development on Bully 2, the sequel to Rockstar’s critically acclaimed open-world adventure about life in a private school.

But things don’t always go as planned, and other obligations on a release schedule get in the way of passion projects. Rockstar New England’s Bully 2 was shelved in favor of other, more troubled projects in development, like Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption.

“[Rockstar New England] wanted to be sort of the golden child in the Rockstar thing, but it’s really hard when Rockstar North was the one that was producing all the golden eggs at that time,” one developer says. “Living in the shadows of someone who casts a big shadow like Rockstar North, and trying to usurp that role, it’s really difficult and nearly impossible. But man, did they try. Oh, did they try.”

To find out what exactly the studio was planning with Bully 2 and why it was ultimately let go in favor of other projects, we recently spoke to five former employees from Rockstar’s New England studio and one from its New York City headquarters, most of whom requested anonymity out of fear of repercussions from Rockstar. Their story is one of shifting company cultures, tech that would finally find its way into Rockstar games as late as 2018’s Red Dead Redemption II, and disappointment over the way things went.

The Name Rockstar

In the late ’90s to mid-2000s, Rockstar Games was on a spending spree. After the initial success of its massive series Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar bought a lot of its third-party partner studios. One of those studios was DMA Design, renamed Rockstar North, developer of the first Grand Theft Auto. Another was Angel Studios, the developer of Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption, and the Smuggler’s Run and Midnight Club series, which the publisher acquired and renamed Rockstar San Diego. 

Mad Doc Software, founded in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1999 by former Activision technical director Ian Lane Davis, was another Rockstar acquisition. Davis holds a doctorate in artificial intelligence and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. According to former developers Game Informer spoke to, as well as an archived version of Mad Doc’s website, A.I. was a core pillar of the studio’s pedigree. The website claimed that the studio’s team,  composed of developers who previously worked on franchises like Civilization, System Shock, and Thief, had an “unmatched expertise” in the field.

For its first decade, Mad Doc operated on a work-for-hire basis, taking projects for publishers such as Activision, Sierra Entertainment, Disney Interactive, and Vivendi Games. Prior to its purchase by Rockstar, Mad Doc mostly developed PC strategy games, such as the Star Trek: Armada and Empire Earth series. 

Empire Earth became Mad Doc’s bread and butter once the studio took over development on the first game’s expansion pack, The Art of Conquest. Though that initial release was met with middling reviews, Mad Doc’s next two Empire Earth games, Empire Earth 2 and its expansion The Art of Supremacy, were successful enough to lead to deals with publishers like Bethesda Softworks and Rockstar. 


In October 2006, Rockstar released Bully as a PlayStation 2 exclusive. The game, developed by Rockstar’s Vancouver studio in Canada, was a subversion of the formula that had made the publisher’s games famous. Where in other Rockstar titles, like the Grand Theft Auto series, players controlled a criminal free to cause mayhem around an open-world city or state, Bully put players in control of Jimmy Hopkins, a high school student at the Bullworth Academy boarding school. Rather than kill people, Jimmy got in fistfights. Instead of guns, he had stink bombs and slingshots. Rather than pull off robberies or heists, Jimmy pulled pranks and went to class. Coincidentally, the game was set in New England, Mad Doc’s backyard.

Bully was critically and commercially successful, receiving the highest possible review scores from outlets like X-Play and 1UP, and a game of the year nomination from GameSpot. In March 2008, Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar’s parent company, announced that the game had sold more than 1.5 million copies. For comparison, Grand Theft Auto IV, released in April 2008, sold more than 8.5 million copies within its first month. 

Back over at Mad Doc, Empire Earth 3, released in November 2007, was critically panned. The company was in a tough spot, a former Mad Doc employee says. “Mad Doc, up until being acquired by Rockstar, was pretty typical of most independent game studios in that it mostly survived by working on IP from publishers, while trying to develop and pitch its own games,” he says. 

Those tough times would be alleviated by a new partner: Rockstar. After the success of Bully on PlayStation 2, Rockstar approached Mad Doc about developing Bully: Scholarship Edition, a remaster with new missions, characters, and items. Mad Doc led the development of Scholarship Edition’s Xbox 360 and Windows PC versions, released in March and October 2008, respectively, while Rockstar Toronto developed the Wii port.

In April 2008, Rockstar announced it had acquired Mad Doc Software for an undisclosed amount and renamed the studio Rockstar New England. Speaking in a news release announcing the acquisition, Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser said that making Mad Doc a Rockstar studio would “enhance our core technology and further support our commitment to creating progressive and innovative gaming experiences.”

“We’re eager to bring our expertise to bear in the character-driven, open-world stories that make Rockstar Games titles so uniquely compelling,” Davis, who became studio head of Rockstar New England after the purchase, said in the release. 

According to developers Game Informer spoke to, opinions on becoming a Rockstar studio were positive at the time. Some staffers, such as 3D artist Tim Samuels, were excited by the prospect of making games for one of the biggest developers in the world. “I thought it was actually really, really cool,” Samuels says. “It’s like, Hey, Rockstar! I mean, these guys are triple-A. They’re No. 1, on the top. […] We just took it in stride and started working.”

“Rockstar itself […] you say, ‘I work at Rockstar,’ people were really in awe of that,” one former developer says. “It was nice to have some clout to a job. You know? I was excited to work on anything that they had, because most of the games that they’d churned out [had] been pretty golden.”

However, some say that they gradually started to see Mad Doc’s workplace culture disappear after the acquisition, and that crunch became a more prevalent issue within the studio once it was under the Rockstar banner. 

“Don’t get me wrong – during the making of Empire Earth 3 there was crunch [at Mad Doc], but it was handled well,” says a former developer. “There were days to make up for it. No one was cracking a whip over our heads. Every now and then we would have ‘fire drills’ on Fridays. You could put the fire drills in air quotes because it was really just the producer at the time; it was his way of letting us out early. There was a much better balance between work and life.”

Shortly after Rockstar purchased Mad Doc, Rockstar’s former vice president of development Jeronimo Barrera visited the studio, the developer continues. Barrera was there to field employee questions but left some feeling uneasy about their new employer. 

“One of the first red flags was when someone asked about hours and weekends and stuff like that,” the developer recalls. “Jeronimo’s answer was something to the effect of, ‘Well, we don’t work every weekend.’ He’s like, ‘For example, I’m not working this Saturday.’ The emphasis on the word ‘every,’ and then ‘this,’ were a little disquieting in their effect.” (In 2019, a report from Kotaku detailed Barrerra’s reputation within Rockstar, citing multiple employees describing him as “abrasive” and “volatile.” One employee also accused Barrera of sexual assault while working at Rockstar. Barrera categorically denied all of the allegations of misconduct.)

Shortly after the purchase, developers at Rockstar New England began work on numerous projects. There was still work to finish on the PC version of Scholarship Edition, but the studio also assisted in the development of other Rockstar games, such as Grand Theft Auto IV’s two story expansions and Red Dead Redemption. In addition to support work, Rockstar New England was given the chance to develop its own game, a sequel to Bully.

According to some developers, it was a chance to prove themselves.


The late 2000s marked a shift in direction for Rockstar. For much of the company’s early history, it released games at a rate that co-founder Jamie King called “relentless,” sometimes developing or publishing as many as 9 or 10 new releases a year, not including ports. While the Grand Theft Auto series has been a massive moneymaker for the company since the success of 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III, the bulk of the publisher’s library from its first decade was padded out with forgotten games, such as Surfing H3O, Austin Powers: Oh, Behave!, and State of Emergency.

After Grand Theft Auto IV launched in 2008, that schedule slowed down. While Rockstar still released plenty of ports of its older games on new platforms, which it continues to do today, its number of annual games dropped to one or two. After the launch of Grand Theft Auto V in 2013, which went on to become one of the most successful entertainment properties of all time, Rockstar stopped putting out new games on a yearly basis. Its next tentpole release wouldn’t come until five years later with the release of Red Dead Redemption II in 2018. 

The change in the company’s release schedule also marked a shift in direction for its games. Early on, Rockstar put out a hodgepodge of titles of different genres and qualities, but after 2008, the publisher began to lean further into more expensive, more prestigious releases, often focused on an older audience and built around gunplay. The company touted the tech behind its games more – such as L.A. Noire’s facial capture technology. Its development budgets sometimes reportedly pushed more than $250 million. A new Rockstar game became an event, something that didn’t happen often. 

Grand Theft Auto IV

Rockstar New England’s plan for Bully 2 was in line with this vision, according to developers on the project. It was a chance to let the Bully series sit alongside Rockstar games of the time, such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. It was a chance, as one former developer recalls, to “shoot for the moon because even if we don’t quite make it, we’re already much further than if we had aimed a little bit lower.”

“There was a lot of focus on character, very deep systems, seeing how far we could push that, and putting it up there alongside a GTA,” one developer on the project says.

“I think that they wanted to bring that kind of [world] to the Bully universe,” another says.

For developers at Rockstar New England, this meant making the world of Bully 2 bigger and deeper than that of the original game – and putting a considerable amount of resources into its creation. While Game Informer wasn’t able to get an exact number of people working on the project, three people say almost the entire studio worked on Bully 2, at some point, with overall headcount estimations being around 50 to 70 people. 

“At one point, I think it was everybody,” one former developer says. “The studio itself, that was going to be their game.”

Three different developers told us that the game’s open-world map wouldn’t have been as big as that of, say, Grand Theft Auto IV, but their estimates on its planned scope describe it as ranging from the size of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s open world to “three times” the size of the original Bully’s school map. What it would have lacked in overall size it would have made up for with depth. For example, Rockstar New England planned to make every building in the game enterable, either by normal means or by forced entry. “If you could see it, you could go into it,” one former developer on the project says.  


“[The player] was not going to be driving a car anywhere, so the total playable space [and] land size [was] definitely going to be smaller,” another developer says. “Mostly because kids – he’s not going to be driving – and also because we wanted these very deep systems. Like, if you can go into every building, that’s a lot of work. We’d rather not have a really massive world; maybe scale that back a little bit just so that we can make sure that we have all these meaningful things in there.”

Bolstered by Rockstar New England’s pedigree in artificial intelligence, the studio was experimenting with ways to make the player’s actions more meaningful than in previous Rockstar games. Take, for example, the honor system in the first Red Dead Redemption. If protagonist John Marston helps a nonplayer character, his honor rating rises. But if the player directs Marston to commit crimes, then Marston’s honor falls. While this affects how NPCs react to Marston out in the world, specific NPCs don’t remember his individual actions.

In Bully 2, however, Rockstar New England was trying to develop ways for characters to remember Jimmy, for there to be good and bad consequences for his actions. 

“We really wanted to make sure that people remembered what you did, so if you pulled a prank on your neighbor, they’d remember it,” says one developer. “That your actions had more meaning beyond a 20-foot radius and the five-second memories of the [non-playable characters] near you.”

Parts of this system can be seen in Red Dead Redemption II, two developers tell Game Informer. Players see changes in protagonist Arthur Morgan’s behavior based on his honor. If Morgan has high honor, he’s a more compassionate character. If Morgan has low honor, he’s driven by greed and apathy. Similarly, if Morgan robs a store, he can’t just walk back into it a few minutes later as if nothing happened. The store clerk remembers Morgan and denies him service, asking him to leave. 

“The way that you interact with other characters in the world, more than just with your gun or with your fist, they have some sense of memory – a lot of that stuff [originated in Bully 2],” one developer says. 

“From what I remember reading [in] some of the design docs and my conversations with people is that you could build relationships with characters in the world,” he says about Bully 2. “You’d be, like, best friends with the chef in the mansion or whatever, or the chef could really hate you or something, and that would open up different options. I don’t know to the extent of where that ended up – if that got pared down into a general ‘you’re good Jimmy’ versus ‘you’re bad Jimmy’ or what – but I know in some of the early ideas being thrown around, you would have that fine-grained level of relationships to other characters in the world.”

Beyond the game’s open world, developers describe a breadth of different interactivity options and new features. One detail recalled by two developers was a progressive grass-growing system, where grass throughout the world would grow realistically and players could see individual blades. “You could go and mow the lawn, and then it would actually be lower,” one former developer says. “You could actually do a good job, go back and forth, and create lines on people’s lawns, that kind of thing.”

“It sounds so silly, but it was something that we were all excited about because [of] the technology behind it,” another developer says of the grass-growing mechanic. 

Because Rockstar New England wanted to give players the option to break into houses, the team developed a new glass fragmentation system, new tech made for Bully 2 that hadn’t been used in prior Rockstar games – though it’d find its way into later titles. “If you’ve played Max Payne 3 and you shot some glass, instead of just the glass breaking the same way every time, we had built this whole system so that this chunk right near the impact of the first bullet would break out, and you would see a little spiderweb of glass,” one developer says. “Then if you shot some more of the glass, little individual chunks near where you actually shot would fall out. [It made] it look realistic.”

Footage courtesy of Jacob Geller
Glass fragmentation in Max Payne 3

Multiple people on the project describe an in-depth climbing mechanic planned for the game. When exploring the open world, Jimmy would be able to climb trees, fences, and ledges, on top of roofs, as well as out of his window when sneaking out. “Trees were obviously a big one; we wanted the player to be able to climb up the tree to hide or do some hijinks with all sorts of things like paintball guns or water balloons, all of that sort of stuff,” a former developer says. 

While the developers put a lot of work into figuring out how the climbing would be implemented in Bully 2, they never got far enough into development to completely nail it down, according to three former developers on the project. 

“We worked with a lot of GTA assets just so that we could get something prototyped quickly,” one developer says about the climbing. “We tried to work a lot of that in. It’s like, Well, when he’s hanging for this long, how long does he hang for before he lets go? Do we wanna do [a] foot-over-foot balancing act if you’re walking along a branch? Versus side stepping, side to side, if you were working along the branch but to the side? It was stuff like that, and trying to figure out what worked, or what looked the best as the player.”

Housing these new features was a vertical slice of Bully 2 that Rockstar New England had up and running. According to four developers at the studio and one person at Rockstar’s New York City headquarters, Bully 2 was playable. Developers could run around the world and interact with objects and non-player characters, and there were some missions – such as one involving go-karts, another with a beekeeper, a Kamp Krusty-style mission, and one that had Jimmy in his underwear, even featuring a crotch bulge. 

“It was definitely going to be a little risqué,” a former developer says. 

“There were a lot of ’80s-kids-on-bikes movies, like Goonies, that came up as reference. Porky’s was another commonly used movie for reference,” he says. “We [looked] at a lot of those kinds of things. It’s definitely in that style.”

As one developer on the project recalls, the team had mapped out all the terrain for the game’s world. Additionally, NPCs were walking around doing various day-to-day tasks. Buildings and houses within the game were also starting to become feature-complete, though he points out that they weren’t in a shippable form yet. 

“The game was at least six to eight hours playable,” says Marc Anthony Rodriguez, a former game analyst for Rockstar’s New York City headquarters and one of the project leads on Bully: Scholarship Edition. “So, fully rendered, fully realized.”

“That sounds about right for the size of vertical slice that Rockstar projects were being built around [at] that time,” a second source says when asked about whether, during his time working on the project, the game was playable for six to eight hours. 

Two developers Game Informer spoke to estimate that if development had continued, Bully 2 would still have needed two to three or more years before being ready to be shipped. 

But those years wouldn’t come. Over time, Rockstar began pulling people off the project and putting them on other in-development games that needed help. For the developers Game Informer spoke to, once anyone got pulled off of Bully 2, they never returned.


None of the developers Game Informer spoke to knows exactly why Rockstar New England was chosen to develop Bully 2, though it’s worth pointing out that Rockstar Vancouver, developer of the first Bully, was leading development on Max Payne 3 at this time. The developers say they felt that the opportunity to work on Bully 2 was a chance to prove that Rockstar New England was worth the money Rockstar had spent to acquire it, which was a sentiment shared by employees at other studios purchased by the company around the same time. 

“I mean, that’s a pretty common thing that – I’ll refer to them as ‘New York’ – the New York office kind of asks of any new Rockstar studio, is for them to prove that they’re worth the investment,” one ex-Bully 2 developer says.

Rodriguez echoes this sentiment, saying the Bully 2 project was New England’s “heavy lift” for Rockstar, though he admits the studio had a history with the company before the acquisition. “This [was] not their first rodeo with working with Rockstar,” Rodriguez says. “The only way I could state it is, they had a proven track record, and that was the only reason they were acquired.”

“The main acquisition was to have a foothold that was closer than [Rockstar] North and that was going to be able to handle the A.I. aspect of what the interaction within this game was going to be, the communication tools within this game,” he adds. “Mad Doc wasn’t, like, something to f—ing turn your nose up at.”

Rockstar declined to participate in this story. All other interview requests Game Informer sent to current or former members of the New York office were either ignored or turned down. 

Regardless of the why behind it, former developers on the project describe a lot of excitement for the chance to develop a sequel to Bully. “It was really just, ‘Let’s do everything that they’re asking really well because we want to impress these folks,’” one former developer says.

“There [were] some late nights for sure, staying until midnight, 1, 2 in the morning,” says another developer on the project. “We were hustling to prove ourselves because I think just about anybody working on Bully 2 just absolutely loved it. It was certainly a labor of love by just about anybody that was working on it. I think most of the people that worked on it look back on it fondly and kind of wistfully, wishing that it would’ve worked out.”

But Rockstar had other priorities. There were other games in the company’s pipeline that needed help and attention. In 2010, Rockstar New England began pulling people off of Bully 2, developers say, having them focus solely on projects like Max Payne 3.

This point in Rockstar New England’s history marks a decided shift in tone. While most developers speak fondly and excitedly about their work on Bully 2, when talking about projects such as Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption, their tone turns dour. 

The developers make two main points regarding this specific time in Rockstar New England’s history. One is the crunch. Developers describe months-long crunch periods where they’d have to work late into the night and on weekends, sometimes between 12- and 16-hour days. Others describe joining a project only to immediately start crunching or crunching on one project just to be rolled onto another project and having to crunch on that one, too. One developer speaking to Game Informer uses the word “endless” to describe the crunch at the studio.

“I mean, it was just ridiculous,” one former developer says, describing the development of Red Dead Redemption. “I know that it won game of the year, and that was great and satisfying, but the approach to development was just – it was ridiculous. It took no one’s life outside of work into account.”

“You know, usually you’re like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta get this out. We wanna try and hit this,’” another developer says. “So everybody works really hard for, like, a week, two weeks. But then when the milestone ended, they’re like, ‘Well, let’s try and preemptively fix the things that we know that they’re going to say. So we’ll just keep crunching until we get word back.’ And then we wouldn’t get word back for six more weeks or something like that, so people were kind of breaking. It was breaking people quickly.”

The other thing developers bring up is a culture change within Rockstar New England. It wasn’t instant, they say, and wasn’t much of a problem on Bully 2, but three developers Game Informer spoke with say that as time went on, the studio got further from the culture that had attracted them to join Mad Doc Software. 

As some developers describe it, they felt they were expected by other people within the company to prove their dedication to Rockstar through long hours, and that they would be “harassed” when trying to leave the studio. “When it came time for you to leave, it was a lot of just trying to get out without being harassed on the way out of the door,” one former developer tells Game Informer

“The culture just – it just changed,” another former developer says. “I saw people that previously I really liked become just sycophantic. And then there was the whole ‘bodies in chairs’ thing, you know? You don’t have work to do, but you’re going to be here on the weekend, because there’s some studio head that’s going to be walking around. This doesn’t even get into the off-work hours stuff where it was just – it was like a hardworking frat house. There is an age and a person that is really drawn to that. Rockstar, in my opinion, is well aware of this.”

Red Dead Redemption

Some of the developers Game Informer spoke to describe how they decided to leave the studio as the workload increased and the culture kept changing. One describes it as voting with his feet. 

Others had that decision made for them.

In June 2009, Rockstar New England went through a sizable layoff. Sources within the studio told Kotaku that “at least 10 percent of the studio” had been let go. This included the entirety of the quality assurance department, as Rockstar shifted all of its QA to a dedicated studio. Members of the studio’s art team and other departments were also let go. 

At the time of the layoffs, outlets reported that Rockstar would help those affected find new jobs. According to 3D artist Tim Samuels, who lost his job in this round of layoffs, that didn’t actually happen. He also says he wasn’t told why he was being let go. Due to the timing of the cuts – before the release of Red Dead Redemption, which was the last project that Samuels and others affected by the layoffs had worked on – none of them received bonuses for their work. “We didn’t even get a copy of the game,” Samuels says. 

“That layoff was pretty devastating to a lot of people in the studio, and stuck with me even after I had left,” says one developer who spoke to Game Informer anonymously. “It never really made much sense to me as to why it happened, and I don’t recall there ever being an official explanation.”

As of February 2017, Rockstar had shipped more than 15 million copies of Red Dead Redemption. It’s considered one of the best games ever made. In April 2020, Kotaku reported that Rockstar was taking steps to address its crunch problems across all of its studios.


Over the years, news of Bully 2’s development has spread around the game industry. Higher-ups at Rockstar have also talked several times about their interest in the series.

In 2009, Shawn Lee, composer on the first Bully, told The Gaming Liberty, “It looks like I will be doing the soundtrack for Bully 2 in the not so distant future.” In 2011, Dan Houser told Gamasutra that the company might work on Bully 2 after it released Max Payne 3, which ended up launching in May 2012. In 2013, Houser told Polygon he wanted to make a Bully sequel. “There’s a lot of directions I could go with that one,” he said. In February 2020, Rockstar announced that Houser would be leaving the company the following month. 

There have also been a small number of reports and leaks about the development of Bully 2. In 2017, the Twitter account Bully 2 Info posted numerous pieces of supposed concept art and in-game screenshots. According to Game Informer’s contacts, the large majority of those leaks are legitimate. In July 2019, YouTuber SWEGTA uploaded a video based on a conversation with a former Rockstar New England employee about Bully 2 and Rockstar Games’ decision to shelve the project in 2009. In October 2019, VGC published a report about the game, saying the project was in development at Rockstar New England for between 12 and 18 months before fizzling out. The report said that while Dan Houser had a script and story outline as early as 2008, development at New England occurred sometime between Red Dead Redemption’s release in 2010 and the end of 2013. That roughly lines up with what Game Informer has heard, though developers we talked to say they remember the game being in development between 2008 and 2010, before the release of Red Dead Redemption.

Rockstar Games has never said anything publicly about Bully 2 being in development. We weren’t able to confirm whether there was anyone at Rockstar New England – or any other Rockstar studio – still working on the project. Although, one developer says a build of the game still existed at Rockstar New England as recently as a few years ago, parts of which were used as reference material for later projects. 

We don’t know if a version of Bully 2 will ever see the light of day. But a decade after development, people that worked on the project still express fondness for the game and their work. And they say they still hope they’ll get a chance to play a full release. 

“It was going to be really cool,” one former developer says. “What we had was pretty amazing, especially given the very short amount of time that we were working on it. […] It certainly would’ve been very unique, very interesting, certainly a lot of fun. A lot of cool and interesting mechanics that we were working on that still aren’t in other games.”

“It’s still a concept, in my opinion, worth exploring,” another says, “and I think that it would be a missed opportunity for them to let it go forever.”

Special thanks: Matt Leone, Jacob Geller

If any current or former employees of Rockstar’s various studios would like to speak about their experiences, the author can be reached by email, Twitter, or via Signal. The writer’s email is Reach out through Twitter direct messages for Signal information. Game Informer can guarantee anonymity to anyone that requests in exchange for their stories. 


Most Anticipated Games Of 2022 | GI Show

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Join us on this bursting episode of The Game Informer Show as we celebrate making it to 2022 and look ahead to our most anticipated games of the new year. The Alexes are joined by Dan Tack and Jay Guisao to break down all the big hitters from Elden Ring, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, and so much more in one of our longest and zaniest episodes yet.

Programming note: Due to the massive volume of titles next year, we’re giving the News, Playlist, and Listener Questions segment a well-deserved rest this week. All your favorites will be back in 2022!

Follow the crew on Twitter: Alex Stadnik (@Studnik76), Alex Van Aken (@itsVanAken), Dan Tack (@dantack), and Jay Guisao (@Jason_Guisao)

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 PodcastsSpotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Check out the timestamps below to jump to a particular point in the discussion:

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:03:46 – Jay Guisao’s 2021 Top 10
00:12:32 – Final GI 2021 Top 10 Lists
00:14:36 – Most Anticipated Games 2022
00:16:14 – January
00:21:44 – Pokemon Legends: Arceus
00:28:53 – February
00:29:53 – Dying Light 2
00:41:31 – Horizon Forbidden West
00:48:54 – Elden Ring
00:54:12 – March
01:08:09 – April
01:08:55 – S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl
01:12:23 – May
01:21:00 – August
01:21:20 – Saints Row
01:23:42 – September
01:24:03 – November
01:24:13 – Starfield
01:30:33 – Most Anticipated Games Without Release Dates
01:56:13 – God of War Ragnarok
02:00:21 – Gotham Knights
02:26:25 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

For more Game Informer podcasts, be sure to check out…; delay=”150″ href=”…; rel=”noopener noreferrer” tabindex=”-1″ target=”_blank”>Video Gameography, our video game history podcast, and…; delay=”150″ href=”…; rel=”noopener noreferrer” tabindex=”-1″ target=”_blank”>All Things Nintendo with host Brian Shea which deep dives into Nintendo’s library of games every week.


The Tomb Raider Trilogy Is Free On The Epic Games Store

The Tomb Raider reboot trilogy is available for free on the Epic Games Store right now. Between now and January 6, 2022, you’ll be able to grab the Game of the Year Edition of 2013’s Tomb Raider, 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, and the 2018 definitive edition of Shadow of the Tomb Raider.  

While the Tomb Raider trilogy is the biggest name in Epic’s free library right now, there are several games currently being sold for up to half-off during the storefront’s holiday sale. This includes Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Red Dead Redemption 2, Far Cry 6, and Cyberpunk 2077. 

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should pick up the new Tomb Raider games, check out our reviews. Here are handy links for Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider


Best MMO 2021 – New World

It’s easy to take a look at existing MMORPGs and applaud how they’re continuing to push forward with amazing expansions and new content like Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, but breaking into the MMORPG sphere is ridiculously tough. In the olden days, we’d have new MMOs hitting all the time. Today, the lines are blurred where many games now take features and aspects that were once relegated to the genre proper, and few new offerings in the classic space ever appear. New World was awesome in a few ways here. Not only did it seek to break into a space that’s ruled by titans that have been around for eons, but it did so with a good deal of gusto, willing to explore features and mechanics that are anything but safe. Read more…


Breath Of The Wild Is The Greatest Game Ever Made, According To Japanese TV Audiences

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the greatest game ever made, according to more than 50,000 people who voted in TV Asahi’s recent poll to find out the 100 best games of all time. Thanks to Kotaku for the story. 

On December 27, the Japanese TV channel ran a three-hour special revealing the ranking. The list was also posted on Twitter by user @MLZ0902.

Of the 100 games on the list, there are a few surprising stand-outs. Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima snagged a spot, coming in at number 66, as did Minecraft, ranked number 20. Both versions of Persona 5 – the original base game and the expanded edition, Persona 5 Royal – were on the list in spots 42 and 93, respectively. What made Persona 5 better than Royal in the minds of those voting, it’s unclear. Lastly, despite only being released last year in 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was voted the fourth-best game of all time by TV Asahi’s viewers. 

Here’s TV Asahi’s full list (via Kotaku): 

  • 100. Persona 3
  • 99. Pokémon Platinum
  • 98. Persona 4
  • 97. Super Mario World
  • 96. Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • 95. Mother
  • 94. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
  • 93. Persona 5 Royal
  • 92. Monster Hunter 4G
  • 91. Street Fighter II
  • 90. Final Fantasy VIII
  • 89. Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • 88. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • 87. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
  • 86. Monster Hunter
  • 85. Dragon Quest VI
  • 84. Final Fantasy XI
  • 83. Dragon Quest VII
  • 82. The Legend of Mana
  • 81. Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • 80. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  • 79. Metal Gear Solid
  • 78. Nobunaga’s Ambition
  • 77. Mario Kart Wii
  • 76. Kirby Air Ride
  • 75. Animal Crossing: Wild World
  • 74. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
  • 73. Gran Turismo 4
  • 72. Kirby Super Star
  • 71. Dr. Mario
  • 70. Monster Hunter World
  • 69. Super Mario RPG
  • 68. Pokémon X/Y
  • 67. Bloodborne
  • 66. Ghost of Tsushima
  • 65. Suikoden
  • 64. Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver
  • 63. Final Fantasy III
  • 62. Xevious
  • 61. Super Smash Bros.
  • 60. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2
  • 59. Dead by Daylight
  • 58. Animal Crossing
  • 57. Super Donkey Kong
  • 56. Super Mario Galaxy
  • 55. Yokai Watch 2
  • 54. Dragon Quest VIII
  • 53. Tales of the Abyss
  • 52. The Legend of Zelda
  • 51. Final Fantasy IV
  • 50. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire
  • 49. Kingdom Hearts
  • 48. Nier: Automata
  • 47. Final Fantasy XIV
  • 46. Dragon Quest II
  • 45. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
  • 44. Dragon Quest X
  • 43. Xenoblade
  • 42. Persona 5
  • 41. Momotaro Dentetsu: Showa, Heisei, Reiwa mo Teiban!
  • 40. Xenogears
  • 39. Dark Souls III
  • 38. Puyo Puyo
  • 37. Final Fantasy IX
  • 36. Pokémon Gold and Silver
  • 35. Xenoblade 2
  • 34. Final Fantasy V
  • 33. Final Fantasy VI
  • 32. Resident Evil
  • 31. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
  • 30. Apex Legends
  • 29. Okami
  • 28. Mother 2
  • 27. Dragon Quest XI
  • 26. Pokémon Black and White
  • 25. Tetris
  • 24. Pokémon Red and Green
  • 23. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • 22. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • 21. Splatoon
  • 20. Minecraft
  • 19. Suikoden II
  • 18. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
  • 17. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • 16. Kingdom Hearts II
  • 15. Dragon Quest IV
  • 14. Pokémon Sword and Shield
  • 13. Undertale
  • 12. Super Mario Kart
  • 11. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl
  • 10. Super Mario Bros. 3
  • 9. Final Fantasy X
  • 8. Chrono Trigger
  • 7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • 6. Dragon Quest III
  • 5. Splatoon 2
  • 4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • 3. Final Fantasy VII
  • 2. Dragon Quest V
  • 1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild

While we here at Game Informer haven’t gone so far as to say Breath of the Wild is our pick for the greatest game ever made, we did award it our 2017 game of the year. Read our review, where we gave the game our highest review score possible, to find out why.  


What We Want From BioShock 4

There’s always a city. There’s always a lighthouse. There’s always a man. There’s also always an opportunity for a company to create a new game in a franchise to make some money, and while I recognize that’s exactly why a fourth BioShock game is in development, it’s hard to stop myself from growing more and more excited about what it might be. 

BioShock Infinite, the last in the series, was released in 2013, and at the earliest, the next one, now in development at 2K’s new Cloud Chamber studio, hits next year. That’s a massive nine-year gap, which has hopefully given those at Cloud Chamber enough time to stir on what a new BioShock game needs and doesn’t need – it has for me, at least. 

Ignoring rumors of above-ground and underground cities and Antarctic metropolises – because after all, those are just rumors until Cloud Chamber reveals what it’s cooking up – here are five things the next BioShock needs to do and three things it does not.

Needs: A City

If there’s one thing people think of when they think of the BioShock franchise, it’s the cities that players inhabit. Be it the first two games’ underwater utopia-turned-dystopia Rapture or the high-in-the-sky Christian religion-inspired Columbia of Infinite, the city itself was a character. Rapture was iconic as an underwater city, filled to the brim with 1960s glitz and glamor. It was also designed in such a way that finding your way around was easy.

Columbia was a bit more open, leaning heavier into the shooting gallery aspect of the FPS genre, but it was saturated with color and iconography that made a seemingly bright and sunny place feel daunting and alien. If one thing is certain, Cloud Chamber’s BioShock must feature a setting that’s long-remembered after its debut. 

Needs: A Strong Narrative That Highlights The Flaws Of A Particular Philosophy

At its core, the first BioShock about the flaws in objectivism, particularly as it’s presented in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged novel. It’s not trying to hide that, either (see: that character named Atlas). John Galt’s utopia is Rapture, except gone wrong. What was supposed to be a perfect paradise for artists, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs who wanted to break away from the Church and the governments above the surface was quickly destroyed by class warfare after the discovery of ADAM. It turns out the ultra-rich are always going to do what the ultra-rich do regardless of where they’re living, huh?

On that same note, Columbia also represents an ideology perceived as a utopia that quickly becomes anything but when put into practical play. A society built on the foundation of God, led by one man who thinks the rest of the world should fall in line behind America – what could go wrong? Well, if said “one man” begins to think he is God, or at least someone who thinks God looks like him and acts like him, a floating and isolated city quickly becomes a place rife with oppression, particularly for people of color.

At the heart of both BioShock, BioShock 2 (which largely continues the objectivism critique of the first), and Infinite are stories that critique these philosophies in unique sci-fi ways. It’s the commentary on real-world philosophy that’s core to the pillars of the series’ storytelling, and without that foundation, the next could risk becoming blasé, losing what makes these games interesting in the first place.

Needs: Plasmids And Vigors

Memorable settings and characters aside, BioShock is also a fun and tense first-person immersive sim – though Infinite leans further into being a straight-shot shooter. What makes the series’ combat so great isn’t the guns – in fact, I’d argue the guns need some heavy tweaking to stack up against other immersive sims like Deathloop – but rather, the plasmids and vigors.

These are essentially magical abilities that come by way of ingesting something you probably shouldn’t. It can be the ability to shoot fire, ice, lightning, or even a flock of crows. Instead of shooting an enemy, you can look for oil on the ground to light them up with ease. Perhaps they’re standing in water – a quick shock of electricity would take them out much faster than your measly pistol. These almost puzzle-like scenarios that BioShock has traditionally built into its combat are what make it memorable at all.

Needs: A Mascot Enemy

When you think of enemies in these games, you probably think of the Big Daddy. The same can be said for the Songbird of Infinite. They’re the stalking brutes of each entry, and anytime they appeared, you knew bad (for you) things were about to go down. They’re meant to up the ante of combat against standard mobs while injecting some terror into the formula. Everyone remembers their first encounter with a Big Daddy or the screech of the Songbird as it crash-lands onto the roof of the building you’re in.

These enemies are the mascots of their respective games – they reside on the covers, too – and the next BioShock needs one that stacks up against them. Shooting mobs is fun, but a mascot that terrorizes the setting with the ability to appear at basically any time is what keeps us on our toes.

Needs: An Omnipresent Antagonist

Both Andrew Ryan and Zachary Hale Comstock are seldom seen but often heard in their respective games. They almost mock you as you navigate Rapture and Columbia, discouraging you from further destroying what they’ve supposedly built. As discussed above, Andrew Ryan is the Ayn Rand representation of Rapture’s objectivist society.

While Zachary Hale Comstock is reminiscent, if a bit on the nose, of Anthony Comstock, a 19th Century self-proclaimed anti-vice man who attempted to censor and remove anything not upheld in the Bible. Much like his real-life inspiration, Zachary wanted God present in every aspect of life, but Zachary was able to literally rise above (into the clouds) to build the city of his godly dreams.

Andrew Ryan and Zachary Hale Comstock were both easy figures to want to take down, largely due to their always-in-your-ear pest-like nature. They mock you, preach to you, and ultimately oppose you every step of the way (when they aren’t controlling your mind, of course) until you get to finally take them down. Both men go down with ease, too. Funny. Anyway, their presence in their respective games is the icing on the cake that is the narrative of BioShock games, and nobody wants a cake without icing.

Doesn’t Need: An Open-World Design

There’s a non-zero chance the next BioShock is an open-world game. If that happens, there’s a non-zero chance that Cloud Chamber makes a really interesting open-world game, proving this entry completely wrong. A new game in the series does not need to be 40 hours long. One could argue that existing in these settings would be exhausting after 15 hours, and if it’s open-world, it more than likely would exceed that.

Plus, open-world design often introduces side quests, an abundance of collectibles that many don’t really care about, and a lack of unique polish. That’s not to say open-world games aren’t polished – in fact, many are, but BioShock levels have always felt more personally designed with a developer’s vision in mind. In an open-world take, Park B might be closer to a copy-and-paste of Park A rather than one park designed to house bees to help pollinate flowers with another designed to be a celebration of art and culture (looking at you, Silverwing Apiary and Dionysus Park). Again, Cloud Chamber might create an open-world that’s better than both Rapture and Columbia, but I personally don’t believe the next BioShock needs an open world.

Doesn’t Need: A Live-Service Play Model

Though I can accept an open-world BioShock, I’m absolutely opposed to it resembling anything live-service. If the franchise has done one thing right, it is committing to single-player, narrative-driven experiences, and it should stay that way. Playing with friends and strangers while attempting to pop some colorful loot out of an enemy is fun, but the inherent design of live-service games would remove the tension and thrills of a BioShock game.

Imagine killing your first Big Daddy and seeing two purple orbs, a blue orb, and one green orb pop out of its helmet? Imagine unlocking a Songbird outfit after the Songbird goes down in Infinite? Do both scenarios sound cool on their own, right? Sure. But when placed inside a game that has presented its narrative tension as the priority, emphasizing something like loot or being able to emote to another player feels odd.

Doesn’t Need: A Direct Connection To The Games Before It

BioShock and its sequel were connected. Infinite was not directly connected to its predecessors, although the use of multiverse theory did allow the game to harken back to Rapture. However, Infinite’s Burial At Sea DLC directly connected the games, making the events of BioShock only possible because of some things and characters in Infinite. That’s fine – it’s not surprising that Infinite director Ken Levine wanted to connect that title to the first game in the series.

However, that story is a closed-loop now thanks to the events of Burial At Sea. There’s no need for Cloud Chamber to associate its game with its predecessors. 2K has named Cloud Chamber the new BioShock studio going forward, and this team’s first entry in the franchise should represent that. It should say, “we’re the new BioShock team, this is our first crack at the series, and this is what BioShock is going to be moving forward.” 

What do you think the next BioShock game needs? Let us know in the comments below!


[UPDATE] Fortnite Is Back Online, Rewards Planned For Next Week

Update: 7:40 p.m. Eastern: Fortnite is back online after being taken offline for several hours due to server issues. The official Fortnite Status Twitter account confirmed the fix and also promised a make-good of sorts to compensate players for the time spent offline. More details on what that reward is should arrive next week. 

Original Story: If you’ve been having trouble logging into Fortnite today, you’re not alone. Epic Games has confirmed that the battle royale is currently suffering from login and matchmaking problems.

As of right now (2:07 p.m. Eastern), attempting to launch a Fortnite match slaps you with the following message:

Epic doesn’t share an explanation for the outage but promises to provide info when a solution becomes available. In the meantime, if you were hoping to rack up Victory Royale’s in the game’s ongoing Winterfest event, you’re out of luck for the time being. The same is true if you’re looking to blast foes as Boba Fett to celebrate today’s premiere of the character’s new Disney+ series.

We’ll keep an eye on the situation and provide an update when the problems are resolved.


Five RPGs You May Have Missed In 2021

Cris Tales

Every year a glut of video game releases hit the market, making it hard to keep track of everything. RPG fans had a pretty good 2021, from fantastic indies to new games in popular franchises. Bandai Namco gave us two stellar RPGs in Tales of Arise and Scarlet Nexus. Remakes and remasters, like Nier: Replicant, Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, provided plenty of nostalgia, while also bringing new fans into the fold. Longawaited entries finally debuted with Shin Megami Tensei V and Neo: The World Ends With You. And that’s only scratching the surface. Here are five RPGs worth your time that may have slipped past your radar.


Switch, PC, Mac

If you enjoy RPGs with a nostalgic ’90s feel, Eastward is worth your time. Between the pixel art style, whimsical atmosphere, and endearing bond between protagonists John and Sam, there’s a lot to love. The quirky adventure is full of surprises as you unravel the secrets of this strange world, using frying pans to whack enemies out cold and bombs to blow past obstacles. It’s equal parts bizarre and heartwarming and pays homage to Earthbound with its own arcade game called Earth Born for you to play when you need a diversion from the main story. If you want an RPG with simple mechanics and a unique setting, look no further. Read our review for more.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

Switch, PS4, PC, Stadia

The long-running Ys series continues to shine and proves it isn’t afraid to take some risks along the way with Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. The series still follows the iconic red-headed hero Adol, but he gains supernatural abilities and the power to exorcise monsters for this entry. During his adventure, he meets others gifted with these powers, and they all have their own specialties to help you traverse the city and take on baddies. The unique methods for traversal and increased verticality make exploration a blast, and the big bosses and fast-paced action don’t disappoint. Plus, the story goes to some wild places. Watch our New Gameplay Today for more.

Cris Tales

PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Stadia

With a beautiful aesthetic and intriguing concept, Cris Tales catches your attention and offers more than a few reasons to stick around. Ultimately a love letter to classic RPGs, Cris Tales takes well-worn genre tropes, such as time travel, and makes them more than a gimmick. For instance, Cris Tales’ time-hopping mechanic lets you simultaneously see the past, present, and future, which makes for not only fun exploration but interesting battle opportunities. Think: using a water spell on an enemy’s powerful shield and then moving to the future to make it rust, bringing down its defense. It’s fun seeing the impact of your actions through the different timelines, and if the game proves anything, it’s that no future is guaranteed. Read our review.



This character-driven, procedurally-generated tactical RPG has received its share of acclaim, but still managed to fly under many people’s radars. Its PC exclusivity could be part of the reason, but it’s worth finding a way to play it, especially if you enjoy table-top role-playing experiences. Just like running your own Dungeons & Dragons campaign, you gear up a team, make decisions that affect their story, and take on hordes of enemies in various turn-based combat setups. While each campaign is self-contained, the cool part of Wildermyth is that you can take characters you develop into subsequent campaigns, complete with all their stats. Our own Dan Tack said it best in his review: “If you’ve always wanted a fantasy Dungeons & Dragons stylized XCOM game, Wildermyth might be exactly what you’re looking for. Designing a game around randomized storytelling is tricky, but Worldwalker pulls this off with gusto and gravitas.” Read the full review here.

Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny

PS4, Switch

If you like strategy/RPGs but prefer a little zaniness and over-the-top antics, a new entry in the long-running Disgaea series came out this past summer. This entry is a bit more streamlined, but still retains its humorous bent and fun strategy combat that lets you chain ridiculous damage numbers. This time you play as a lowly zombie named Zed who uses the power of Super Reincarnation to come back to life every time he dies. Zed’s persistence to get better every time and improve those around him makes for one of the better storylines in the series. Graphical upgrades and a new, though divisive, auto-play feature add some paint to the series. If you’ve played other entries, you’ll probably enjoy this one. And if it’s your first Disgaea rodeo, this is also a great place to begin.


Nintendo Reveals The Best-Selling Indie Games On Switch In 2021

If you’re a long-time Switch owner, you’ve probably figured out that the console is an indie powerhouse. Sure, the Marios and the Zeldas are great too, but there’s something special about loading up on some great indie games to play in bed or on the go. 2021 was a strong year for indies across the board, but if you’re curious which games attracted the most eyeballs on Switch, Nintendo’s got you covered.

The company released a brief video showing off the best-selling indie games on Switch. Sadly, the montage doesn’t reveal actual sales numbers nor does it rank these titles in any kind of order based on performance. Apparently, all we need to know is that they outsold the gazillion other indie games to hit the eShop in 2021, which is still an impressive feat.

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If you don’t feel like watching the video, the best-selling indie games on Switch in 2021 are (in alphabetical order):

That’s a strong list of quality games, so it’s reassuring to see that they’ve earned a buck on top of garnering critical praise. I’d personally recommend giving just about all of them a look. 

If you need a guide to other great indie games from 2021 across all platforms, check out our handy list of the best-reviewed independent games of the year.

Which of these games have you played on Switch? Let us know in the comments!


How Does February’s Packed Release Schedule Compare To Gaming’s Other Big Months?

Next year’s slate of games looks spectacular! But unlike most years, a ton of the games we’re excited about already have a release date, coming just a couple of months after the prime holiday season. February 2022 is currently looking like one of the most stacked months in gaming ever, reminding us of the biggest and best weeks of the fall. We thought it’d be fun to compare the upcoming 28-day gauntlet, which is gaining more killers every day, to massive release calendars of gaming’s past. First, let’s take a look at what we have to look forward to this February.

The month starts out strong with the Life is Strange Remasted Collection on February 1, followed shortly behind by Dying Light 2 Stay Human, Techland’s open-world zombie RPG, on February 4. OlliOlli World from Roll7 lands February 8, the same day as the promising martial-arts-focused Sifu.

A brief gap in releases allows us to catch our breath and enjoy the month’s strong opening salvo of games before The King of Fighters XV kicks in the door with its release on February 17, allowing an avalanche of must-play titles to pour onto our growing 2022 backlogs. Horizon Forbidden West continues Aloy’s adventure the next day on February 18. The following days bring the coming of Savathun in Destiny 2: The Witch Queen on February 22 and possibly the most anticipated game of the month, From Software’s Elden Ring, which plans to take over our consoles and PCs on February 25. Square Enix has also delayed the release of Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster to sometime during the month – in case you also wanted to play one of the best RPGs of all time.

It just doesn’t let up. But let’s look at other relentless months of releases from recent memory. In our first comparison, we look back to November 2006, not just the hottest point of a big holiday season, but the eye of the storm for two big console launches in the Wii and PlayStation 3. Not to be outdone, previous-gen consoles and the now one-year-old Xbox 360 bringing its first massive franchise to the console are firing shots across the bow of the newcomers as well. Here are the November 2006 game releases that devastated our bank account balances.

November 2006 Releases:

  • Elite Beat Agents – November 6
  • Call of Duty 3 – November 7
  • Gears of War – November 7
  • Guitar Hero II – November 7
  • Tony Hawk’s Project 8 – November 7
  • Sonic the Hedgehog – November 15
  • PlayStation 3 – November 17
  • Resistance: Fall of Man – November 17
  • Nintendo Wii w/ Wii Sports – November 19
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – November 19
  • Red Steel – November 19
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas – November 30
  • Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness – November 30

Granted, some of the games listed above are fondly remembered in hindsight, while others, like Red Steel, were panned by critics and consumers alike. That’s also not even close to the full list of releases from November 2006. Still, the month was undeniably delectable for gamers, many of which were worthy of preorder to secure a copy during the busy shopping season. Compared to the current time crisis we’re facing in a few weeks, the selection is pretty even in terms of anticipation.

Honestly, it’s hard to find these kinds of blockbuster months in the last decade. Most companies became savvier about laying claim to a certain month or week, avoiding competition that may cut into precious sales. The closest week after week assault without a console release happened in October 2018, which positioned a hefty handful of big games to capitalize on the holiday rush, anchored by arguably the year’s biggest release yet in Red Dead Redemption 2. Like this upcoming February, there was also a similar spread of exciting remasters and intriguing indie games to anticipate.

October 2018 Releases:

  • Forza Horizon 4 – October 2
  • Mega Man 11 – October 2
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – October 5
  • Super Mario Party – October 5
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – October 12
  • LEGO DC Super-Villains – October 16
  • Starlink: Battle for Atlas ~ October 16
  • Return of the Obra Dinn – October 18
  • Soulcalibur VI – October 19
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 – October 26

So why are we seeing a holiday season’s rush of games so soon after the start of 2022? In some cases, games are pushed to the beginning of a new calendar year to show a financial return before the end of the fiscal year, which usually concludes at the end of March. That, combined with development complications due to the pandemic over the last two years, there may not be a better option for companies right now than to launch their products and improve the numbers for this current 12 month period. February was once home to the release of the new Saints Row before it was bumped until August. Though, moving out of the way of a Horizon or Elden Ring may not be an option for organizations that rely on their bottom line looking good year over year.  Hell, look at the ever-growing list of games now with release dates in March, which is starting to look like a repeat of the stacked which precedes it. 

Which months or seasons do you remember having an almost impossible deluge of releases? Are you in favor of having release schedules this packed just after the holidays, or would you like them to spread out more throughout the year? Let us know in the comments!


Batman: Arkham Asylum’s Titan Joker Is Transforming Into A McFarlane Toys Action Figure

New Batman comic books release each week, and we are also frequently treated to new movies and animated shows that put the Caped Crusader in the spotlight. With so much new Batman material to pull from, it’s amazing that toy manufacturers are still turning to 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum video game for new action figures.

McFarlane Toys is the latest company to create an awesome (and terrifying) figure from this dark game. Falling into McFarlane’s DC Multiverse line, fans will soon be able to get their hands on the monstrous and hulking Titan Joker action figure. If you played the game, you know The Joker ingested a chemical compound called Titan to try take down Batman. That plan didn’t go so well, which becomes a plot point for the sequels.

McFarlane shared a first look at this mega-scale figure on Instagram:

Other than this tease, McFarlane hasn’t shared any details regarding release time frame or pricing. The Batman figure that Titan Joker is holding retailed for roughly $25 when it released a couple of years ago. The Titan figure should be considerably more than that.

McFarlane Toys has a long history of making awesome video game collectibles. You can check out some of the company’s other offerings here.


Yoko Taro Is Possibly, Maybe Finished With Nier

Yoko Taro is known as the mastermind behind the Nier series (and its predecessor, Drakenguard) though he may be putting the former behind him for good. The eccentric game director with the bizarro mask has teased that he’s putting Nier behind him for good.

In a holiday message recorded on December 22, Taro, along with Nier producer Yosuke Saito and series composer Keiichi Okabe, discussed the last year as well as the sales success of Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 (which has pushed past a million copies, according to the team). The update comes off as a friendly chat between old friends, as they bounce between discussing traveling abroad to meet fans, want they want for Christmas, and complaining about shoulder problems. 

But when Saito asks Taro if he has anything new to share regarding the Nier series, Taro bluntly replies “Nah, nothing!” When Saito asks if he’s fine with not doing anything more with YoRHa, Taro half-jokingly declares “We announced it here today folks! The Nier series is now finished!”  You can watch the video by clicking the embedded tweet below. 

Of course, Taro could easily be kidding and Saito immediately calls him out on it. Taro admits abandoning Nier could be a lie, saying “But … you never know …I might do more if I get a big ‘ol pile of money…”

So is Nier done for good! My money is on “probably not, but don’t expect anything new for a long time.” Especially if Taro does indeed receive bags of cash. In October, Taro released Voice of Cards, a turn-based RPG revolving around cards (but isn’t actually a deck-builder). He’s got some “free time” on his hands now that it and Nier Replicant are out the door, and we’re intrigued to see what he’s got up his sleeve next.


Fortnite Suffering Login And Matchmaking Issues

If you’ve been having trouble logging into Fortnite today, you’re not alone. Epic Games has confirmed that the battle royale is currently suffering from login and matchmaking problems.

As of right now (2:07 p.m. Eastern), attempting to launch a Fortnite match slaps you with the following message:

Epic doesn’t share an explanation for the outage but promises to provide info when a solution becomes available. In the meantime, if you were hoping to rack up Victory Royale’s in the game’s ongoing Winterfest event, you’re out of luck for the time being. The same is true if you’re looking to blast foes as Boba Fett to celebrate today’s premiere of the character’s new Disney+ series.

We’ll keep an eye on the situation and provide an update when the problems are resolved.


The Top 10 PlayStation 5 Games

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“What games should I get for my PlayStation 5?” This is the question we’ve been asked the most since Sony’s new generation of gaming arrived last November. People want to see what games are the best showpieces of PlayStation 5’s power, and also which ones take their beloved medium to new heights. Although the PlayStation 5 is still young, it has already amassed a nice library of games, including a few titles that you can’t play anywhere else.

The Game Informer staff has selected 10 games that we consider to be the PlayStation 5’s absolute best. Over time, this article will be updated with the latest releases that we think crack the top 10.

Please note that while the list below contains 10 entries, we aren’t ranking them. If a game has made it this far (and managed to stay here), it’s a must-play, period. As such, we’ll be listing entries in reverse chronological order. Also, with future updates, you’ll find a rundown of previous entries at the bottom of the list. While those titles have gotten bumped over time, they are still all great games in their own right and worth exploring if you’re already caught up on the latest hits.

Here are Game Informer’s picks for the top 10 games on PlayStation 5:


Release: September 14, 2021

Arkane Studios, the makers of Dishonored and 2017’s Prey, combined its immersive sim expertise with a groovy sci-fi 1970s aesthetic to create an engrossing time-looping adventure. As Colt Vahn, you’re stranded on an island trapped within a 24-hour time loop. To break the cycle, you must eliminate the island’s eight visionaries in one day while dodging the sniper fire of Julianna, a rival assassin that an anonymous human player can control. Deathloop is as much a puzzle game as it is action, as figuring out how to eliminate your targets before midnight requires uncovering and connecting clues about their behavior and movements to determine the time and place to strike. Deathloop presents several ways to commit your dirty deeds, and a suite of fun supernatural abilities complement your wacky firearms. | Our Review

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut

Release: August 20, 2021

This samurai epic wowed players on PlayStation 4, and the Director’s Cut leverages the PS5 to make the game look and perform better than ever. Cutting down invading Mongols as samurai Jin Sakai has never felt better, and riding across Tsushima’s scenic flower fields in dynamic 4K is a sight to behold. On top of welcomed additions like 3D audio and full Japanese lip sync, the Director’s Cut also includes the Iki Island story expansion. Set on a small neighboring island plagued by a supernatural threat, this addition almost feels big enough to be a standalone sequel. It’s a great bonus that perfectly complements the primary campaign, giving Ghost of Tsushima fans an excellent excuse to extend their island revenge quest. | Our Review


Release: August 13, 2021 (PlayStation)

With Hades, Supergiant Games created a roguelite for people who don’t care for the genre. The compelling tale of Zagreus, son of Hades, and his attempt to escape the Underworld brilliantly unfolds bit by bit with every run, hooking you until its satisfying conclusion. That means failing and starting anew often feels rewarding since you unlock extraordinary narrative moments and fascinating conversations with the memorable cast of gods, heroes, and misfits. The adrenaline-inducing combat feels godly in its own right, too. No matter which divine weapon you choose, slaying mythical threats room after room is thrilling. So is strategically stacking a multitude of helpful boons and abilities. Few games demand “one more run” as effectively and effortlessly as Hades. | Our Review

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Release: June 11, 2021

Ratchet & Clank is a pillar of the PlayStation brand, and the franchise’s latest entry, Rift Apart, offers a great reminder of why that’s the case. The topsy turvy story sees the duo battle Dr. Nefarious across a multiverse, specifically, a dimension where the villain has conquered the galaxy. Rivet, a female counterpart to Ratchet, joins as a welcome co-star in a story chock full of humor and heart. Meanwhile, the blend of platforming and gunplay is tighter and more dazzling than ever. Using the rift tether to warp between realities seamlessly offers a unique wrinkle to combat and exploration. It also helps that Rift Apart is a graphical showcase, giving you the perfect title to show off the PS5’s horsepower. | Our Review 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

Release: June 10, 2021

2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake accomplished the impossible feat of recapturing the intangible essence that makes the 1997 game so beloved while reinventing the story and gameplay to make it feel like a new title. If you missed it the first time, FFVII Remake introduces a winning blend of fast-paced action and turn-based-style mechanics to please players on both sides of the coin. As the first chapter of an episodic journey, the story centers on Cloud and his friends as they try to take down the evil Shinra corporation, spanning the entire Midgar section of the original adventure. Intergrade, the enhanced PS5 edition, made the already stunning PS4 game look even better. Best of all, it includes the console-exclusive Intermission story chapter starring the charismatic ninja Yuffie along with an even better spin on the already stellar combat system. | Our Review

Resident Evil Village

Release: May 7, 2021

The Resident Evil series has struggled with balancing horror and action in the past, but Village hits the sweet spot, offering a series of tense atmospheric frights punctuated by sweat-inducing firefights. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard protagonist Ethan Winters returns for another round with everything that goes bump in the night. However, this time Ethan is on a mission to save his daughter from gangs of werewolves and vampires who have set up shop in a medieval castle and its surrounding village. Capcom’s first-person combat has been refined so the combat feels better than ever, and a whole host of ghastly monsters stalk Ethan from the shadows, so whether you’re in or out of combat Village generates a powerful sense of tension. Sure, these puzzles could use a little polish, but Resident Evil’s boss battles have never been better. | Our Review


Release: April 30, 2021

As both a fast-paced third-person shooter and an atmospheric, mysterious journey through alien horror, Returnal succeeds at delivering an incredibly competent and cohesive experience. Returnal takes advantage of all that next-gen gaming has to offer, including comprehensive feedback from the DualSense controller. With adrenaline-fueled and creative boss fights, hundreds and hundreds of impressive “bullet-hell” projectiles to dodge, and an assortment of impressive weapons to experiment with, Returnal keeps you enthralled to the very end. | Our Review

It Takes Two

Release: March 24, 2021

One of the best cooperative games ever made, It Takes Two demands teamwork, communication, and a little bit of patience in every second of play. Both players have different abilities that must be combined to overcome challenges. Just when it seems like you and your partner have developed a good rhythm, the gameplay changes to challenge you in an entirely different way. The vast array of gameplay concepts that are explored is just part of what makes It Takes Two such a joy to play. It Takes Two also captivates with a heartfelt story that explores themes not often seen in games. | Our Review

Demon’s Souls

Release: November 12, 2020

The wait for From Software’s Elden Ring was made a little less painful thanks to the excellent Demon’s Souls remake. Returning to the roots of this series and seeing it come to life in such beautiful (and disturbing) ways was one of the highlights of PlayStation 5’s launch. The small changes that developer Bluepoint Games made help give this classic a modern touch, and helps it stand tall against the other great Souls games. If you already played this game to death on PS3, the new Fractured Mode changes up the dance just enough to make it feel new again. | Our Review

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Release: November 12, 2020

Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man universe is starting to look a little like Marvel’s Cinematic Universe with a story continuing through the eyes of different characters. Miles Morales’ debut game is shorter than the original game, but is every bit as enthralling. Miles’ coming-of-age story is excellently spun, and while he shares the same Spider-Man name as Peter, he emerges as a different type of hero, using invisibility and electricity to clean up the evildoers who are threatening New York City. Here’s hoping the next game puts both Peter and Miles in the spotlight equally. We can’t wait to see where this Spidey story goes next. | Our Review

For more lists about the best games on other platforms, check out our lists of the top 10 games on…; target=”_blank”>Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation”>… 4, Xbox”>… One, and Switch.


Previous Entries: 


Best Sports 2021 – Knockout City

best sports game 2021

When Knockout City was first announced earlier this year, I confused it with Rocket Arena, the other stylized 3-versus-3 third-person multiplayer game published by Electronic Arts in 2020. However, unlike the latter, Knockout City was highly praised by fans and critics alike when released earlier this year. And while it’s a rather unconventional pick for Game Informer’s Best Sports award, Velan Studios’ eccentric dodgeball game is an easy standout in a year when most sports franchises are coasting by. Read more…


Persona 5 Strikers, Deep Rock Galactic Among January PlayStation Plus Line-Up

Persona 5 Strikers

The first batch of PlayStation Plus games has been revealed. Are you a fan of Persona, arcade racing, and/or co-op experiences? If so, January looks to be your month.

Persona 5 Strikers headlines the month. This follow-up to the acclaimed Persona 5 launched in February and centers Joker and the gang embarking on a cross-country road trip. Developed by Dynasty Warriors maker Omega Force, gameplay shifts to frantic hack-n-slash action instead of the turn-based battles of its predecessor. You can read our positive review of Persona 5 Strikers here

Deep Rock Galactic is a beloved co-op shooter that has only been available on Xbox and PC. This marks the game’s debut on PS5/PS4. Up to four players play as dwarf miners under different classes to mine underground caverns for precious gems while battling giant alien bugs. Deep Rock Galactic’s fun blend of resource gathering and combat netted an 8.5 out of 10 review score from us, which you can read more about here

Lastly, Dirt 5 brings its brand of off-road racing to PS Plus. The latest installment in the long-running series boasts a choice-driven career mode, community-made courses, and tight arcade-style racing. To learn more about what Dirt 5 has to offer, check out our review

All three games arrive on January 4. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to grab December’s PS Plus games – Godfall: Challenger Edition, Mortal Shell, and Lego DC Super-Villains – before they make their exit.


The New Machines Of Horizon Forbidden West (That We Know So Far)

Horizon Forbidden West’s new setting is teeming with exotic, dangerous, and never-before-seen machines. We already broke down the fearsome Slitherfang, and Guerrilla divulged some additional details on previously revealed robotic creatures. But, for those who haven’t kept track of the game’s fearsome new faces, here’s a handy round-up of the new machines that have been revealed thus far. 


Rollerbacks resemble giant armadillos that, you guessed it, like to roll. They fold their massive bodies into spinning balls of death and hurl themselves at targets, seemingly using the flames firing from their scale-like armor as propulsion. We’ve also seen them eject their scales as projectiles, then magnetically recall them. Additionally, Rollerbacks are even capable of launching themselves airborne. The underbelly of this machine reveals several components players can target to hopefully disable and slow the Rollerback down long enough to dismantle.  


Burrowers are a basic enemy type that Guerrilla describes as the successor to the Watchers from the previous game. Resembling an otter or weasel, the Burrower is highly agile and functions as a recon machine that uses its high-pitched sound to stun targets and alert allies. Per their animal inspiration, Burrowers are also adept at swimming. 


The boar-like Bristleback travels in herds and uses its tusks to unearth buried resources. Think of this as their form of grazing, as Bristlebacks make for a peaceful sight when admired from afar. However, ticking off the Bristleback causes it to attack by combining its recovered scrap with elemental material for a powerful ranged assault. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of those tusks, either. 


Clamberjaws are scavengers that are baboon-like in appearance and structure. Thus, they’re as acrobatic as they are aggressive. In addition to scaling walls, Clamberjaws possess several debilitating attacks. It doesn’t help that they often travel in groups, meaning players will need to keep their eyes on the ground and in the trees when dealing with them. 


The mammoth-like Tremortusk is one of the first boss monsters that wowed players when Horizon Forbidden West was first shown off. This fortress-like titan is armed with an array of heavy weaponry, such as cannons and highly resistant armor plating. Tremortusks rival Zero Dawn’s most powerful machines, the Thunderjaw and Stormbird, making it especially worrisome that the human Regalla faction has captured and weaponized them for their own use. 


Clawstriders were among the first of Forbidden West’s new machines, though they briefly appeared in the Horizon comic. These mechanical velociraptors are as fearsome as their extinct counterparts and travel in packs. That means it probably won’t be the one you see that gets you; it’ll be the Clawstrider you didn’t know was there. Clawstriders also emit a debilitating sonic “scream” that temporarily stuns Aloy. Clawstriders can be mounted despite their aggressive behavior, as seen in previous footage with Regalla soldiers riding atop them to attack Aloy. That also means players can override and hop aboard a Clawstrider of their own. The most recent trailer from The Game Awards also revealed a fire-spewing variant. 


We first glimpsed this majestic giant turtle lifting its camouflaged body from a swamp after encountering Aloy in the debut trailer. It may look wondrous, but the Shellsnapper is a combat machine that ambushes those who intrude on its territory. It can extend its neck to bite prey ala snapping turtles and fire pressurized water blasts as well. There’s also that pesky shell protecting it, meaning players will have to find clever ways of toppling this beast. 


Looming beneath the depths is the Tideripper, an aquatic creature that follows the prehistoric theme of several other machines by resembling a plesiosaur. It commands the ocean and accumulates resources by filtering sediments from the water. Although it looks relatively harmless, Tiderippers have no problem attacking Aloy in the sea or on land, for that matter. 


Seeing Sunwing soar across the West is an awe-inducing sight. The wings of this Pterosaur-like machine consist of flexible, sun-absorbing panels, presumably to power itself. Guerrilla has previously stated that Sunwings are vulnerable while gathering solar energy but are also more alert to threats while stationary. 

Be sure to visit our cover story hub to read more features on Horizon Forbidden West.


Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origins Has Exclusive Digital Pre-Order Missions

If you’re excited to kill Chaos in Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origins, experiencing everything the adventure has to offer will require jumping through an extra hoop. Square Enix has announced that the game will feature additional, downloadable missions that won’t be available at launch. The catch? You can only get them by pre-ordering the game digitally. 

The missions in question are called Trials of the Dragon King, Wanderer of the Rift, and Different Future. There are no details on what they entail content-wise, only that they won’t be available to purchase separately. The only way to access them is via the Digital Deluxe Edition of the game, which runs for $89.99. This means that pre-ordering the physical edition does not include the extra missions, so fans on that side of the fence will be missing out. 

While tying DLC missions to pre-orders is nothing new, reading the replies to the embedded tweet shows that fans aren’t exactly pleased with this news. Those who have already thrown down cash on a physical pre-order (which has zero bonuses) are understandably up in arms. A few people who reserved the standard digital edition have reported an inability to upgrade to the Deluxe edition (on PlayStation at least). Since Square hasn’t divulged specifics of these missions, it’s unclear how vital they are to the game’s main narrative. One would assume they’re merely bonus missions that won’t impact the primary storyline, but Final Fantasy XV was semi-infamous for having glaring plot holes that were later filled in with DLC episodes. 

It’s worth noting that pre-ordering any digital version of the game nets you early access to the game 72 hours ahead of launch, the Rebellion weapon, and Braveheart weapon/Lustrous shield. The Digital Deluxe Edition also tosses in a digital artbook/soundtrack. 

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin launches March 18 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

What do you think about Square Enix locking mission content behind digital pre-orders? Let us know in the comments!



NFL Hall Of Fame Coach, Legendary Commentator, And Video Game Icon John Madden Has Passed Away

Legendary commentator, broadcaster, and NFL Hall of Fame coach John Madden has passed away today at the age of 85.

Madden was best known for his role in the NFL as head coach for the Oakland Raiders from 1969–1978, where he led the team to a Super Bowl XI victory in the 1976 season. He later became an unforgettable, bombastic broadcaster for CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC, covering and commentating on NFL games every week. Along with his memorable advertisements for companies like “Tough Actin'” Tinactin to his various cameos in film and television, he was a nearly inescapable part of American culture for well over 30 years following his successful coaching career.

We also know John Madden from his years of being involved in video games, having a franchise emblazoned with his name since John Madden Football in 1988. For 23 years, he had given his name, likeness, and often times his voice and infectious persona to the games developed by Electronic Arts now known as Madden NFL. He has an indelible legacy in the world of sports, video games, and culture at large. The least we can say is thank you, John, for the years of sharing your knowledge with your players and audience, being endlessly entertaining, and playing such a big part in making video games what they are today.

Our condolences go out to John’s wife Virginia, their sons Michael and Joseph, and their families, friends, and loved ones who knew John. 


NFL Hall of Fame Coach, Legendary Commentator, And Video Game Icon John Madden Has Passed Away

Legendary commentator, broadcaster, and NFL Hall of Fame coach John Madden has passed away today at the age of 85.

Madden was best known for his in the NFL as head coach for the Oakland Raiders from 1969–1978, where he led the team to a Super Bowl XI victory in the 1976 season. He later became an unforgettable, bombastic broadcaster for CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC, covering and commentating on NFL games every week. Along with his memorable advertisements for companies like “Tough Actin'” Tinactin to his various cameos in film and television, he was a nearly inescapable part of American culture for well over 30 years following his successful coaching career.

We also know John Madden from his years of being involved in video games, having a franchise emblazoned with his name since John Madden Football in 1988. For 23 years, he had given his name, likeness, and often times his voice and infectious persona to the games developed by Electronic Arts now known as Madden NFL. He has an indelible legacy in the world of sports, video games, and culture at large. The least we can say is thank you, John, for the years of sharing your knowledge with your players and audience, being endlessly entertaining, and playing such a big part in making video games what they are today.

Our condolences go out to John’s wife Virginia, their sons Michael and Joseph, and their families, friends, and loved ones who knew John. 


Best VR Games For Your Oculus Quest 2

The Oculus Quest 2 is now available, offering a wireless virtual reality experience for those craving new adventures. Whether you’re looking for a shooter or a way to get some cardio in, here are a few of the best VR games for you to play with your new Oculus Quest 2. 

While the Oculus Quest has its own library, the variety of games is enhanced due to the ability to use the Link as an option to play even more adventures. Some of our recommendations below don’t need the Link, but we’ve noted which ones do require the additional component for transparency. 

Vader Immortal 

Does this require Oculus Link? No. 

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You fight … with lightsabers. Enough said. While this game is very short, it’s honestly a great workout alternative for those looking to squeeze in some cardio while also still having fun. Plus, again: lightsabers. 

Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

Does this require Oculus Link? It did at launch, but now a Quest version is available. 

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If you like The Walking Dead, or just like the zombie genre in general, Saints & Sinners is the perfect VR game for you to check out. It’s a single-player adventure that will pit you against zombies in a way that will feel familiar to Walking Dead fans while still retaining a uniqueness that makes it inclusive for all. 

With the heart of the game set in New Orleans, you’ll have to deal with warring factions, the deadly undead, and survivors that need your help. This game is the surprise of the year for me personally; I can’t recommend it enough. 

Star Wars: Squadrons

Does this require Oculus Link? Yes. 

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We couldn’t get enough of Star Wars: Squadrons but for those pilots that want to take this adventure in a galaxy far, far away to the next level? VR is the way to do just that. Take out X-Wings, be the epic Star Wars character you were always meant to be, and do it all safely from your living room. No IRL Empire encounters needed for this experience. 


Does this require Oculus Link? No.

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Superhot has been around for a while now, and it’s not a VR exclusive. That being said, the VR version of this game is a unique experience all on its own, even if I still haven’t managed to successfully nail down the “just chill and be still for a second” aspect of this particular journey. Shoot guns, throw guns, Matrix-style offense … it’s an awesome game and a must-have for any VR owner.  

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Does this require Oculus Link? No.

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This game is great to play with fellow Star Trek fans, though it hasn’t seen the same love that many other VR titles on this list has. Take charge of the starship of your dreams through different missions that are great to tackle with friends. While not the most innovative title, Star Trek: Bridge Crew knows its target audience: fans who love to live long and prosper. 

Phantom Covert Ops

Does this require Oculus Link? No. 

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This is a game that Splinter Cell fans will like and perfect for those that are big lovers of military-style VR adventures. Be stealthy, get the info needed, and complete objectives correctly in order to beat the story and be the best spec ops person out there. All while in a kayak. 


Does this require Oculus Link? No.

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Myst will send you straight into a mysterious island filled with beauty but it is also shrouded in injustice. You’ll need to use both our imagination and your wits in order to uncover the secrets linked to an intense betrayal, offering a narrative that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

If the name sounds familiar, this is a VR spin of the original classic puzzle adventure game with more modernized touches as seen with the puzzles themselves, the game’s sounds, and more. 

This is also the only game on the list that isn’t available yet, but it is coming this December.  

Half-Life: Alyx

Does this require Oculus Link? Yes. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Half-Life: Alyx is the third game in the famed Half-Life franchise from Valve. While some were wishing for anything but a VR iteration, the game itself has seen a lot of positive feedback from players that have access to VR. This game is great for longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike, especially for the chance to take on the role of Alyx herself. Small warning though: there are a few epileptic triggers that I would advise being wary of. 


Does this require Oculus Link? No. 

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This is another rhythm game that is more of a shooter, a nice change for those not looking to lightsaber it up with Beat Saber. With Harmonix’s music that has won countless awards, this is another great game to either just enjoy or to implement into your daily workout routine. 


Does this require Oculus Link? No.  

Click here to watch embedded media

Do you want something adorable to sink into after a hearty day of Star Wars VR? Moss is the perfect experience for that. The adorable protagonist, a mouse named Quill, is too precious for words as he takes to the world around him with a sense of awe and wonder. There is combat too, but the sheer size of this world is the most stunning part.

Beat Saber Multiplayer

Does this require Oculus Link? No. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Beat Saber is a rhythm game where you use lightsabers to bust a move and burn some serious calories. I was pretty skeptical about it at first, even with so many praising the game, but now? Now I’m hooked. I also blame this game for getting me hooked on the League of Legends K-Pop group K/DA. 

VR has many more tales to discover, including co-op adventures like Wander, Crisis VRigade, and Spaceteam VR. There are sports games like Oculus Quest Golf and Real VR Fishing Quest. There are also horror adventures like Phasmophobia, which I specifically left off of the main list because honestly? I’m just genuinely too scared to try it out in virtual reality. I’m not ashamed, I’m not proud. 

There are a lot of different adventures to take on with the Oculus Quest 2 for all types of gamers and for players of all ages. It’s a wireless way to scape somewhere else for a little bit while also taking on new experiences. 

The Oculus Quest 2 is available now. You can learn more about the latest headset through the official website right here


The Best Tabletop RPG Releases Of 2021

Like the prior year, 2021 turned out to be unusual for the tabletop role-playing hobby. Many gaming groups began or continued to play remotely over video, while others made tentative steps back into in-person get-togethers. But regardless of the extenuating circumstances affecting weekly playgroups, publishers continued to release a bevy of superb new game systems, setting books, adventures, and supporting products.

Below are 10 of the very best RPG products of 2021. To discover more awesome tabletop games of all kinds, including lists featuring the best board games of this year or the top games from previous years, feel free to peruse our entire Top of the Table hub. And don’t miss this feature’s companion article, highlighting the Best Board Games of 2021

Alice Is Missing
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Undoubtedly one of the most innovative and surprising role-playing games in recent memory, Alice Is Missing is a silent role-playing game for 3-5 players, meant to be experienced in a single gameplay session of two to three hours. Emotionally sophisticated and demanding that its players embrace and play out their roles, this is a memorable and heartbreaking story about the disappearance of a high school girl named Alice, exploring both its effect on those she knew and unraveling what actually happened.

Instead of a traditional GM and players structure, Alice Is Missing encourages all players to take on one of the main characters. Still, one player does need to understand the rules and facilitate the advancement of play. Instead of speaking to each other, the entire game is conducted via a group text message thread, where clues gradually come together, and players act out their character’s emotional arcs. To say much more would spoil the experience.

Alice Is Missing (which arrived in December last year, too late for consideration in that year’s list) is an incredible short-form RPG that tests the boundaries of the medium. And while it would likely win praise in any year because of its innovative format, it’s an especially appealing game for 2021, as its emotional core has a cathartic quality for anyone confronting loss, and its structure virtually encourages remote play.  

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium
Publisher: Modiphius

Modiphius has repeatedly made good use of its excellent and adaptable 2d20 gaming system, tweaking and overwriting notable features to customize its playstyle for a variety of big licenses, including Star Trek, Conan, and Fallout. This year, the studio’s take on Frank Herbert’s Dune universe was especially impressive, offering a framework to play out games of open warfare, spycraft, political espionage, and more.

Players take on the role of the members of one of the noble Houses of the Imperium, navigating the many conflicts and machinations that might help to move your faction into greater power and control. An interesting dynamic at play allows players to control both the macro-level decisions of steering their House, but then dive down into the nitty-gritty combats and infiltrations that enact those plans.

The 2d20 system maintains its core identity; namely, players roll two d20 dice to resolve most tasks. Extra successes help fuel momentum for future tasks, but at the risk of increasing threats. One of the most exciting additions this time is the focus on a character’s drive (think: motivation) on fueling their success or failure, which really helps to instill that inimitable “Dune” feeling of characters pushed forward by their own irresistible urges, honor, or motives.

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium features a wealth of setting information and a beautiful presentation. Whether as a longtime fan, or a new fan recently wowed by the latest film, you’re likely to enjoy the deep dive into lore. But this is also a complex and challenging game to navigate, so be ready for an uphill learning climb if you’re an RPG newcomer.

D&D Icons of the Realms Miniatures
Publisher: Wizkids

This list rarely veers from actual games, adventures, or settings to highlight a specific supporting product line for RPG play. But WizKids deserves accolades for its phenomenal year of new pre-painted miniatures. The Icons of the Realms line has been active for some time, but this year brought a huge range of exciting miniatures. Extensive mini-lines supported individual products like The Wild Beyond the Witchlight and Curse of Strahd, but we also saw massive premium sets like the Yawning Portal Inn and even the five-headed dragon queen herself, Tiamat.

Across the board, WizKids has made strides in detail and paint application and offered intriguing gimmicks, like specific minis that combine to form a larger figure, such as a mount and rider. In response to fan demand, we’ve seen some especially striking large-scale figures, including those ever-coveted dragon minis. WizKids has also found success by mixing releases of mainstay monsters and characters alongside unusual surprises, keeping each new line feeling fresh and intriguing.

Many role-playing fans still prefer classic theater-of-the-mind play without tactical miniatures. At the other end of the spectrum, some miniature hobbyists still prefer unpainted minis to complete themselves (which WizKids also offers). But for the vast majority of players, plastic pre-painted line-ups hit the sweet spot for enhancing tabletop play, and WizKids’ recent work in that regard is simply excellent.

2021’s Icons of the Realms line-up gets a nod for the sheer breadth of amazing individual miniatures on offer, but it’s worth noting that WizKids’ other pre-painted miniature lines, including their Pathfinder Battles, Starfinder Battles, and Warlock dungeon tiles, all offer similar levels of quality and polish. It’s an excellent time to be a miniature enthusiast.

D&D: Van Richten’s Guide To Ravenloft
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

The booming popularity of the world’s original role-playing game continues to astound, especially for longtime fans who remember the days when admitting to being a player was tantamount to social exile. But there’s no denying that the 5th Edition of D&D is going strong, appealing in equal measure to weekend gaming groups and massive streaming entertainment options.

Wizards of the Coast continues to capitalize on that success with some top-notch rules and setting expansions. The most exciting addition of 2021 was Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. A very old D&D campaign setting brought to new life, Ravenloft offers everything players need to tell stories of horror, gothic adventure, paranormal investigation, and tense monster hunts.

For most fans, the biggest treat will be detailing the various Domains of Dread. Each of these locales acts as a sort of walled garden themed around particular horror tropes, from post-apocalyptic zombie survival to lycanthrope murder mysteries to Lovecraftian madness. In many ways, you can think of these a bit like a bunch of mini-settings under the broader banner of Ravenloft, with the ability to move characters between them as the DM sees fit.

But there’s also some exciting other content to discover, including new player options like the dhampir lineage, new monsters such as the delightfully creepy and doll-like carrionettes, and a haunted house-themed mini adventure to get you started. In a year filled with some tremendous new D&D supplements, Ravenloft brought the well-deserved return of one of the oldest and best.

The One Ring: 2nd Edition
Publisher: Free League Publishing

Years of anticipation and disappointing delays have led to the triumphant new edition of the classic Lord of the Rings role-playing game, with a late release that’s just starting to reach gamers. Following in the tradition of decades of RPGs attempting to adapt Tolkien’s setting, this new version of the excellent The One Ring hits some very high notes, balancing the narrative richness of Tolkien storytelling with the need for some concrete structure to ground play. The result is a unique system that captures part of the magic that has so enraptured fans for decades, set in a period that tells the story following the events of The Hobbit but before Frodo’s journey begins in The Lord of the Rings.

Even after all these years, there’s a distinct style to Tolkien’s writing that sets itself apart from other fantasy novels, and it’s clear that the game designers recognize that distinction and are trying to capture it here. There’s a focus on the journey and the small moments of wonder and discovery between big battles or encounters. That manifests as two distinct phases of play. The adventuring phase plays out as exciting scenes of encounters and exploration. In contrast, the Fellowship phase focuses on the characters’ lives in moments between the big adventure, but are nonetheless important to the story – think the Fellowship’s time resting in Rivendell.  

Alongside that play structure, a streamlined set of rules features mostly abstracted combat and other encounters and uses a clever dice resolution system (optionally using custom themed dice). A wonderful character creation system focuses on distinct cultures and backgrounds and how they come together to face the Enemy’s looming threat.

As a whole, The One Ring: 2nd edition manages to capture something special about the vibe of Tolkien storytelling that is distinct from other fantasy settings. For fans of the books or movies, it’s a refreshing and rewarding game.

Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City By The Spire
Publisher: Monte Cook Games

In recent years, Monte Cook Games has pursued an interesting strategy, crafting some of its RPG books in two distinct formats. One utilizes its internal (and excellent) Cypher System ruleset, and the other capitalizes on the popularity of the familiar 5E D&D rules. Whichever format you prefer, Ptolus is one of the biggest and most richly fleshed-out settings and adventures you could imagine. It offers what could add up to years of play sessions in one incredibly massive tome, allowing for exploration of a vast city and its environs.

These two new versions of Ptolus are reworks and rewrites of a popular experience by the same name from back in 2006 after Ptolus came to life as the setting for Monte Cook’s home game, played by several other RPG luminaries of the time. Now, with years more reflection and refinement, it’s a sort of master class in RPG city and adventure design.

At nearly 700 pages (plus another 300 pages of included downloadable content), you’re unlikely to run out of material to run with your gaming group. Thankfully, Ptolus is very well organized and indexed, making it remarkably easy to navigate for a busy GM.

As a play experience, Ptolus offers a wide variety of flavors. From dungeon delving into the catacombs beneath the city or the spire that looms overhead, to political and factional intrigue in the streets, fleshed out by an array of thoughtfully imagined NPCs. Simply put, Ptolus is an overwhelming treasure trove of adventures and secrets. It is perfect for gaming groups looking for a campaign to dig deep into a particular locale and its many individuals and groups.

Starfinder: Galaxy Exploration Manual
Publisher: Paizo

The core rulebook release of Starfinder provides an intriguing conceit; advance the fantasy setting of Paizo’s Pathfinder universe thousands of years into the future so that fantasy magic and sci-fi tech collide in a boundless outer space setting. The game has steadily expanded since its launch in 2017, but the new Galaxy Exploration Manual is one of the best ways the game has grown.

The core rulebook discussed a whole galaxy of worlds to explore, but its main focus was on a central star system and its various planets and factions. The Galaxy Exploration Manual exists to help gaming groups who want to venture beyond those familiar locations go on genuine missions of discovery.

The main focus here is on providing tools for GMs to build bespoke worlds for the players to uncover, and the game does so in an organized and engaging way. The 12 distinct biomes described can be customized and developed, and further rules help you build interesting cultures, technologies, religions, and more for the denizens of that visited place.

Of course, we also get a bunch of great new character options, including good stuff for all the classes in the game, new equipment, and even new activities for far-flung galactic explorers to tackle in their downtime. The original Starfinder game release laid a remarkable base. Still, for many gaming groups, the Galaxy Exploration Manual will turn out to be the other half of the puzzle that opens up the style of play they really want.

Twilight: 2000
Publisher: Free League Publishing

Twilight: 2000 traces a circuitous path through the history of the RPG hobby, but prior editions always offered a satisfying departure from the standard fantasy fare that dominates so many gaming tables. This latest edition borrows heavily from Free League’s existing expertise, in particular, borrowing the core Year Zero ruleset that has served that publisher’s games so well. But even with the new approach to rules, the developers have maintained a focus on core themes and feel of play that has always defined this game.

Set in an alternate history of the year 2000, players take on the role of soldiers or civilians trapped in a corner of Europe after the Cold War (which never ended) resulted in a nuclear exchange between America and the Soviet Union. In the aftermath, survivors face a bleak and tense landscape of exploration and endurance in the dark days of World War III.

Following in the footsteps of the excellent fantasy-themed Forbidden Lands RPG from Free League, Twilight: 2000 plays as a sandbox role-playing experience. Players explore a vast map and gradually uncover a landscape of adventure, even while carefully trying to gather enough ammo and supplies to stay alive for another day. When the large-scale map exploration leads to inevitable conflict, the game turns to a satisfying tactical structure that leverages the nuanced but understandable rules system to great effect.

Twilight: 2000 manages that rare feat of being nostalgic, yet also fresh and exciting. For a gritty departure from standard role-playing experiences, it’s well worth a look.  

Publisher: Possum Creek Games

If you’ve had enough of violence and killing in your game nights, perhaps you’d enjoy a heartwarming adventure about anthropomorphic animals building communities and helping each other? That’s the draw of the lovely Wanderhome, a diceless and GM-less role-playing game all about crafting a shared narrative in a quiet and pastoral setting.

Players take on the role of animals with distinct goals and natures. You could call them classes, but these “playbooks” are far more freeform than that, casting you as the “exile,” “caretaker,” or “poet,” as they move through distinct seasons of the year, weaving together a story that links the characters together and helps define the surrounding community.

Without a GM guiding the action, the system uses tokens to let you steer the action, gaining them for enriching the story in a fun way and spending them to resolve something in the manner you’d like to see it addressed.  

Wanderhome isn’t without possible danger, and interpersonal conflict certainly plays into the experience. Still, as a rule, the game is much more interested in friends telling a structured story together rather than getting your heart pumping with an extensive combat scene. We could all use a little beauty and idyllic natural settings in our lives, and adorable talking animals have a pretty universal appeal. If that simplicity and focus on joy and beauty sounds especially good right now, track down a copy of Wanderhome right away.

What Next?
Publisher: Big Potato

We’re used to thinking of role-playing games as big, complex systems that support imaginative narrative play and exciting encounters, but role-playing experiences can be all sorts of things – including a party game. At least, that’s the explicit goal of What Next?, a charming release that ably walks the line between RPG, board game, and party experience, all rooted in storytelling.

Players make their way through one of three replayable stories, all structured roughly like choose-your-own-adventure tales. Players debate and consider the path forward through the story as they make their way through these (often silly) narratives. As you encounter problems in the story, you’re asked to undertake a multitude of challenges, which come together through a variety of strange components included with the game. These are usually some variation of dexterity challenges, like stacking pieces or flicking a wooden disc to a specific location. Players cheer each other on, work their way through the adventure at hand, and ultimately laugh about how it all resolves before starting over again with a different (or the same) scenario to see how it plays out this time.

What Next? is the opposite of the epic and rules-heavy role-playing systems that characterize the hobby, and it’s a game that can easily be tackled piecemeal when you have free time. It’s even a family-friendly game. And while the included scenarios will eventually run their course, there’s enough laughter and fun at hand that you won’t mind replaying them.

We’ve got dozens of tabletop gaming recommendations to discover in our Top of the Table hub, including everything from asymmetric strategy board games to family game night options. If you’re struggling to decide the right role-playing, board, card, or miniature game to bring to your next game night, don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and I’ll do my best to offer some individualized recommendations!


LEGO Sonic The Hedgehog Green Hill Zone Set Available On New Year’s Day

LEGO and Sega are teaming up for a New Year’s release of the LEGO Ideas Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone set. The build is a take on some iconic stage pieces from the speedster’s first outing, complete with a Sonic minifig and a devious Dr. Eggman.

You’ll be able to build this 2D-inspired set early next year that features modular elements, which looks to allow the level to be rearranged or connected to other LEGO sets for fun mashups. 

Here’s the full rundown of features as told by LEGO:

  • 5 minifigures, including a new version of Sonic and also Crab, Motobug, Dr. Eggman, and Phantom Ruby
  • 10 ring boxes
  • Modular build, which can be linked to other architecture sets
  • Interactive elements and easter eggs, such as:
    – A Technic lever on the spring module to launch Sonic and his friends into the air
    – Sit Dr. Eggman inside the Egg Robot
    – Just like in the game – get a gem reward as you build the set
    – Super speed and shield TV screens also included

Those gem rewards are colorful Chaos Emeralds you can collect and store on a special pedestal as you find them.

LEGO fans design these LEGO Ideas sets and this Sonic-themed kit was submitted by Viv Granell, described as a LEGO superfan based out of the UK. After submission, Ideas are voted on by the public, and those who get a total of 10,000 votes are considered by LEGO to be released as a real set. Fortunately for Sonic fans and Granell, this one made the grade just in time for the blue blur’s 30th anniversary. 

This LEGO Ideas Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone set will be available for purchase through LEGO’s website on January 1, 2022, and will cost $69.99. 

What do you think of this Sonic LEGO set? Does it do justice to Green Hill Zone? What other levels would you like to see in brick form? Let us know in the comments!


Game Informer’s Best Reviewed Indies Of 2021

From death-dealing crows to rockstars in space, there was an astounding array of independent titles to enjoy this year. Some tackled hard topics like mental health. Some let us escape into a carefree world. They released on every platform, starred in gaming presentations big and small, and even let us go hands-on before launch.

But it’s not just the amazing variety that makes these titles interesting. It seems like this year, more indies than ever walked away with top marks in Game Informer‘s reviews. Did your favorites get the top scores? Are there any amazing experiences you missed out on? Check out our list of 2021’s highest-scored indies below to find out.


A touching narrative adventure about life and, more centrally, death that the player can control with the blink of an eye and a webcam. | Our Review

This game takes the phrase ‘sleep on it’ deadly seriously as you battle your nightmares to improve your waking life. | Our Review

Recalling classic RPGs like Homebound, Eastward follow two characters, John and Sam, on a journey to escape a stifling life underground. | Our Review

Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights


PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

June 22, 2021 (Switch, PC), June 28, 2021 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One), July 20, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)


The world is falling to a terrible blight, and a young priestess and her loyal knight are the only ones who can stop it in this Metroidvania-style title. | Our Review

In F.I.S.T., you explore and fight through a detailed, sidescrolling world as a rabbit with a heroic past and one big mechanical arm. | Our Review



PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

September 17, 2020 (Switch, PC), August 13, 2021 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)


Escape from the depths of hell, and your father who runs it, in this roguelike title from the makers behind Pyre, Transistor, and Bastion. | Our Review

Knockout City

With few of 2021’s triple-A sports games hitting the mark, this fast-paced dodgeball title may well be one of the genre’s best titles this year. | Our Review

Loop Hero


Switch, PC

Release Date:

March 4, 2021 (PC), December 9, 2021 (Switch)


Even though you don’t control the character, there’s a lot to do and explore that will make you want to go for one more loop. | Our Review



PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

January 28, 2021


Don’t let the pixelated art style lull you into a false sense of security; this story of a warrior in a strange land has some wicked combat. | Our Review

The card-building meets city-building mechanics in Ratropolis are only topped by the adorable design of the game’s rodent denizens. | Our Review

Race across the galaxy defining your identity and wailing on your guitar in a space adventure colored by stunning visuals and rocking sound. | Our Review

Young Souls


PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

Release Date:

August 17, 2021 (Stadia), 2022 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)


Twin orphans Jenn and Tristan discover their adoptive father has been kidnapped and set off to save him, taking down anyone in their path. | Our Review



Chicory: A Colorful Tale


PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, PC, Mac

Release Date:

June 10, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac), December 15, 2021 (Switch)


Though its coloring book aesthetic and painterly objectives may seem simplistic at first, Chicory actually takes a deep look at mental health. | Our Review

Whether in conflicts of weapons or words, you’ll want to play your cards right in the deck-building Griftlands. | Our Review



Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

Release Date:

September 23, 2021


Take in the beauty of the desert as you roam the sands looking to discover your own identity and help those around you. | Our Review

Skate through the galaxy destroying enemies and searching for a way to keep your home from being swallowed by the Ultravoid. | Our Review

No two stories are ever the same in Wildermyth, so feel free to roll up multiple characters and get going on your adventure. | Our Review



Death’s Door


PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

July 20, 2021 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC), November 23, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch)


It’s your job as a crow to reap souls, but your latest acquisition has been snatched, and you must retrieve it to restore order to the world. | Our Review

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut


PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

Release Date:

March 30, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Stadia, PC), October 12, 2021 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch)


This ultimate edition of developer ZA/UM’s award-winning RPG includes full voice acting and more story content. | Our Review

Another of the indie sports titles that are up there with the best of them this year, Dodgeball Academia is filled with personality. | Our Review

If you’re looking to play something that goes to unexpected places, this enigmatic card game should shoot straight to the top of your must-play list. | Our Review

Winner of The Game Award’s best indie prize, Kena puts you in the role of a spirit guide helping souls transition to the afterlife. | Our Review

Diving into this chilly sequel title feels just as good as the first, as it builds nicely on the original game’s formula. | Our Review

The Forgotten City


PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

July 28, 2021 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), September 23, 2021 (Switch)


What would you do if you found yourself in an ancient civilization where one wrong move means certain death for everyone around you? | Our Review



PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

September 30, 2021


The clock is ticking, and time is running out as you try to save everyone from turning into mindless killing machines. | Our Review



It Takes Two

It Takes Two took home this year’s Game of the Year award at TGAs, and it also got our best indie review score of 2021. | Our Review

To check out Game Informer’s top 10 games of the year, head here. Or if you just can’t get enough of lists, click on the goose below.


Remedy Partners With Tencent For Multiplayer Game Codnamed Vanguard

Remedy’s recent dealings with Epic Games haven’t stopped the developer from making moves elsewhere in the industry. It’s been revealed in a communication to investors that Remedy Games has developed a relationship with Tencent for a global license, development, and distribution deal for a new cooperative multiplayer game currently codenamed Vanguard.

Vanguard is said to be a free-to-play, co-op, PvE shooter that’s an IP owned by Remedy and will combine “Remedy’s narrative expertise and action gameplay into an immersive multiplayer experience.” The deal will apparently have Tencent localize and publish the game for “selected Asian markets,” while Remedy will handle development and distribution globally in other territories. It also allows Tencent the license to create a mobile version that the two entities have “agreed on a separate revenue sharing scheme for.

Here’s Remedy Entertainment CEO, Tero Virtala’s statement on the partnership:

“Vanguard marks Remedy’s first entry into Games-as-a-Service business model, executed by our top tier team of free-to-play experts. We are building something new and exciting for co-operative multiplayer space, on top of Remedy’s strengths. Expanding our capabilities to take on publishing responsibilities is the next step in the development of our company. We are excited for this long-term partnership with Tencent and with confidence can say that it is an excellent fit in supporting Vanguard’s ambitious plans. Vanguard is a global opportunity, and Tencent can support Remedy internationally, and lead the operations in Asia and the mobile markets.”

We don’t know much else about Vanguard other than it’s being developed for consoles and PC using the Unreal Engine. You can read the full announcement on Remedy’s investor site here, and after that, read about its current deal with 505 Games, which includes another multiplayer game set in the Control universe. For even more Remedy check out the Alan Wake 2 trailer from The Game Awards earlier this month.


Halo Infinite’s Grapple Shot Is A Game Changer

Master Chief is one of gaming’s most iconic figures. Standing at roughly seven feet in height and weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, he has the stature of a superhero. His exploits on the battlefield back up his size – a one-man army capable of turning the tide of war. We’ve seen how resourceful and powerful he can be in story sequences and advertisements, but many of those dynamic actions don’t cross over to when the player controls him. He can swing big hammers, pilot any vehicle, and run and gun with swift grace, but so can most combatants in the game. Prior Halo gameplay hasn’t made him look like the super soldier we envision. Enter the grapple shot, a new gadget in Halo Infinite that adds dynamic layers to this series’ beloved combat and makes Master Chief look like a gun-toting superhero.

The grapple shot’s most basic use gives Master Chief a boost in mobility. Fired from an arm-mounted device, the grapple rockets through the air a good 40 to 50 feet, and the second it connects to a surface, pulls Master Chief forward with just as much speed. Master Chief can use this device to reach heights he never could. He can also use it much like Spider-Man swinging on a web line to cover ground faster. Once the grapple connects with an object – like a tree, for example – Master Chief can cut the connection mid-movement to propel himself forward a great distance. If he doesn’t cut it, he will be pulled to the grapple point, which usually allows him to grab onto a ledge to climb up.

I can’t stress just how much fun Halo Infinite’s grapple-based movement is. It completely changes the way you look at the environment and how Master Chief can interact with it. No mountain is too high for him to ascend. Yes, you still cover ground faster in a Ghost or even a Warthog, but the grapple shot is the more satisfying way of moving around.

Click here to watch embedded media

The grapple shot is surprisingly versatile, especially when applied to combat. If you see a weapon that is out of reach, or perhaps an explosive container, a carefully placed grapple shot will pull that item to you, allowing you to wield it immediately.

Enemies with shields often require repositioning or specific weapons to be used against them, but another carefully placed grapple shot will stun these foes and make them raise the shield for a split second – plenty of time to light up their exposed bodies.

Click here to watch embedded media

Foes without energy shields can be viewed as moving grapple points. If you can latch onto them, the fight will quickly become intimate. In single-player, the grapple can stun foes, allowing for them to be finished off with a melee strike. In multiplayer, the grapple is best used to fell unsuspecting adversaries from behind but can make for exciting face-to-face moments, almost like a melee version of a high-noon showdown.

Long story short, the grapple shot adds dimensions to Master Chief, and using it successfully requires skill from the player. We always viewed this green giant as a super being, and thanks to this handy device, he truly fits that mold now. Halo Infinite is an excellently crafted game, and I think 343 Industries handled most parts of it with the care and attention that fans expect. The studio’s best work, however, is the grapple shot, an innovative element that truly takes Halo’s tried-and-true gameplay to exciting new places.