Pokémon Unite Launching On Switch This Year, Everything We Know About The MOBA So Far

Last summer, Pokémon Unite was revealed by President and CEO of the Pokémon Company Tsunekazu Ishihara during the Pokémon Presents showcase. A 5v5 team-based MOBA, Unite has players drive down their respective lanes to capture wild Pokémon and upgrade their stats and abilities. Because of Unite’s competitive nature, players will have to thwart one another’s progress while traversing the arena. This means that many skirmishes will likely take place so you’ll need to remain cautious as you progress down the battlefield; you can watch some cinematic and gameplay footage below. If this piques your interest you’ll be happy to know that, according to a new press release posted on the official site today, the game is launching on Switch and Mobile this year.

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Everything We Know About Pokémon Unite

The Location

So where will these epic team battles take place? The Hoenn region? Sinnoh? Well, no one really knows. What we do know is that you’ll be traveling to the mythical Aeos Island somewhere in the uncharted frontiers of the ocean. While competing in Unite battles on the island, players might discover Aeos energy which can be used to evolve Pokémon. You will star as a rookie trainer looking to find glory (and pocket monster friends, of course) in the legendary tournaments.

The Rules of Play

This is a 5v5 game, which means that direct lines of communication and cooperation is key to finding success. You win based on the amount of points you accrue throughout a given match. In ranked playlists, you’ll look to earn performance points which can increase or decrease depending on the results of battle; you’ll start at the Beginner rank and try to climb your way into Master. 

Even though type strengths and weaknesses don’t exist in Pokémon Unite battles, each playable Pokémon will start the match at Level 1. They’ll gain veterancy through fights against other players and will learn more powerful abilities as the match goes on. Aeos energy can be used to evolve Pokémon for even more statistical bonuses. 

Each Pokémon has a role with its own unique stats: Attacker, Defender, Speedster, Supporter, and All-Rounder. The titles are pretty self-explanatory, but, as you can see, there are enough for all types of playstyles. Of course, you can’t just grab any starter Pokémon you want and dive in. You’ll need to buy Unite licenses from the Unite Battle Committee with Aeos coins earned from combat. 

The Battle Pass & Other Content

Pokémon Unite comes with a seasonal battle pass which can be leveled up for exclusive rewards. You can also use Aeos gems to increase your battle pass levels. Aeos coins can be exchanged for cosmetic items for your trainer and Pokémon  as well as Unite licenses as stated above. Gems and coins can also be used at the Aeos Emporium to purchase held items and Aoes tickets will nab you all the fashionable items that you could ever want. 

Pokémon Unite launches on Switch in July and on mobile devices in September. Which platform will you be playing on, and what are you most looking forward to?


Resident Evil Has Come To Dead By Daylight And It Rocks

With Resident Evil Village still very much part of 2021’s best of gaming discussion, the iconic horror brand is finding its way to another realm. That realm is Behavior Interactive’s Dead by Daylight, one of the seemingly rare success stories in the asymmetric game category. Four survivors take on one killer in what amounts to a mini-horror movie experience when it works, and as of Tuesday Resident Evil has made its way into the game. With all the buzz of the last week solidly around E3 and new announcements, this content drop brings some big names into the long-running survival game.

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This certainly isn’t the first time major games and movies have come into Dead By Daylight, with characters like Michael Meyers, The Pig (Saw), Pyramid Head, Freddy, and even the Demogorgon from Stranger Things all hanging out there. Dead By Daylight has become a destination of sorts for creatures and characters horror, so it makes sense that Jill Valentine, Leon S. Kennedy, and Nemesis are all in the game now. In addition to the Resident Evil cast, a new map that lets players explore the Raccoon City Police Department is also available, and it’s very much in the spirit and design of how the area is featured in Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Dead by Daylight tends to do an excellent job at tapping into the various horror icons and translating their flavor into mechanics and features. Nemesis comes with zombies that appear on the map to create additional pressure for the survivors. While the zombies are slow, shuffling, and easy to avoid, they can create some passive problems when they decide to hang out around generators or land a lucky shot on a survivor that doesn’t see them around a corner. Granted, you have to dodge them playing as Nemesis as well as they can block you a the worst time during a chase, but watching a zombie hang out above the basement stairway is the best feeling ever if you’re playing Nemesis. 

Alongside your undead friends, Nemesis grows over the course of a match by inflicting T-Virus on survivors. Initially, you may find that the tentacle attack that conveys T-Virus is fairly weak as your basic attacks do more “damage” to survivors, but as it builds up you can use your tentacle to crush pallets and land long-range strikes through windows and over obstacles, giving you a serious edge when it comes to hitting survivors that have loops memorized and can kite you forever. While it can take a while to get going and leaves you at an early game disadvantage for focused survivor teams that start ripping through generators, it’s a fun mechanic that taps into the flavor of the franchise.

On the survivor end of things, both Leon and Jill have some serious tools that may find their way into the meta – or just really irritate killers. Leon can craft flashbangs that blind the killer, so grab your best flashlight tapper crew and get out there to really bully some bad guys. These flashbangs also serve as a noisy distraction if you need to divert the killer’s attention.

Jill has a special skill that lets her plant a trap on generators so that when the killer kicks them, they get a nasty surprise. Planting a bomb that stuns and blinds, this skill can be an unexpected problem, especially for killers that practice fastidious generator management via Surveillance or other watchful perks.

Have you tried out any of the new survivors or Nemesis? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!


Stranger Of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin Is Awesome Or Terrible. Possibly Both.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I sat down with Team Ninja’s take on classic Final Fantasy last night, but I sure as hell wasn’t ready for what I experienced. At once, it was both a nostalgic romp through one of my favorite Final Fantasy game settings in precision timing action form and a bizarre B-movie with characters hammier than a pork sandwich. I’ve heard a ton of people complaining about the graphics as well, but I actually didn’t have an issue with them. PlayStation 3? Have you actually looked at a PlayStation 3 game lately? Seriously, c’mon. Yes, it’s absolutely not the definitive “current gen experience”, but to call it a PS3 game is ridiculous.

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The goblins (imps), wolves, and the rest of the temple setting actually work for me and herald back to one of the more underrated games in the Final Fantasy series, the original game for the NES. At the time, creating your own party was a rarity when the JRPG was basically being shaped and molded by linear fare like Dragon Quest, so bringing your own concept team into a long playthrough was exciting. Sure, you could run the default team of fighter, thief/blackbelt, white mage, black mage, but it was way more fun to try to do something cool for your second or third playthrough like four blackbelts, four black mages, or the extreme four white mage composition. While playing Stranger of Paradise, I especially appreciated the callbacks to the early game creatures of Final Fantasy. I really, really enjoyed the soundtrack which played with the original music for the area. The combat and mechanics seem heavily inspired by both Nioh and Sekiro, and seem to work well once you get the hang of things – you can even “blue mage” your opponents by stealing their abilities by parrying and send them back at them, rewarding exact timing. While it’s impossible to tell exactly how in-depth the sets and skills get from the demo, I’m confident that the lessons and takeaways from Nioh will work out fine in that area in the greater game.

The team of Jack, Jed, and Ash is beyond puzzling. Is this some kind of galaxy brain discoverability and discourse play? Did they know we’d all be talking about these characters and how out of place they are in a Final Fantasy universe? Have we secretly become mere pawns in some genius marketing plan that seeks to create a conversation around this game via absurdity? Jack belongs in a wrestling arena or something and feels shockingly out of place among the fantasy trappings, an “angry dude” who loves powerbombing Bombs and ripping wolves in half. The dialogue is atrocious to the point that they should have just used text from the original Final Fantasy. I don’t know why this crew exists, but one thing is for certain – they are here to kill Chaos. Hell yeah. Jack is gonna snap into a Slim Jim right after he takes Garland out with a jump from the corner ropes.

The big boss fight with Garland actually worked for me as a battle. Taking him on by refusing to engage with the mage class was a lesson in parrying, blocking, and dodging, which brought out a bunch of mechanics that one could otherwise ignore during the demo. The battle absolutely felt Sekiro-ish, with careful and continued play rewarding me with opportunities to shred his stamina to nothing and lead to the critical blows. A phase transition halfway through the fight was both expected and pleasant. As boss battles go, I’ve had better. I’ve had worse. With Garland being the main villain of the original Fantasy Game (who yes, eventually becomes Chaos), I am really curious as to how many of the other major bosses in the title will translate into multiphase encounters, from Kraken to Tiamat. I can’t wait to see Jack rip one of Tiamat’s heads off and shove it into Warmech and say something like “This machine wants power? Let’s see it handle THIS! UNH!”. Maybe he’ll just pick up the entire desert tower and shove it into Tiamat. Who knows!

The Stranger of Paradise demo isn’t exactly what I expected when we all heard the rumors of a Team Ninja Final Fantasy Souls-like. Like an incredibly cheesy movie that borrows from big brands to create some weird spinoff, the more I think about it, the more I think it works in some strange way. It’s like the Freddy vs. Jason of games. It’s having fun with it, even if not everyone will. The amount of folks out there that care about canonical devotion to the source material can probably be counted on one hand, so maybe it’s alright that Jack is just gonna crush his way through Final Fantasy. The days of belts are over. The time for a new hero is here. A hero that KILLS CHAOS. What a ride, and somehow I’m curious to see what comes next.


Hands-On With Tales Of Arise Reveals Smart, Strategic Gameplay Tweaks

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco

September 10, 2021

Rating: Teen
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Tales series; whether it was watching Symphonia’s Llyod confront his naivety or seeing Abyss’ Luke realize he’s kind of a jerk, I love how the main characters become better versions of themselves through the bonds they build. While Tales’ strongest features are its character interactions and the fast and fun action combat, it’s struggled this last generation to both appeal to modern gamers and provide something new and exciting for its longtime fans. 

Tales of Arise is being called a “reinvention” for the venerable, if stuck-in-a-rut, franchise. Any time a long-established series uses the word “reinvention,” it’s hard not to be skeptical. Change is scary and risky, as developers try to toe the line between retaining the elements that fans cherish while also evolving the formula in different and interesting ways. I wasn’t sure what side Tales of Arise would land on, but after going hands-on with the game, I feel much more confident in Bandai Namco’s new vision for the series due to some smart tweaks to combat and a new interesting world that begs to be explored. Here are some of my big takeaways.

A Vast World With Cool Discoveries

The hands-on demo didn’t offer much in terms of story or character personalities, outside of allowing us to see protagonists Alphen and Shionne bickering. The demo did, however, highlight part of the game’s third region called Elde Menancia, which looked more rural, focusing on nature’s beauty with forests, streams, and even a hidden waterfall for good measure. The demo took place about 10-20 hours into the main story, when you finally have all your party members.

What stuck out about the world to me – outside of the breathtaking watercolor-like aesthetics – was just how much is hidden off the beaten path to discover. From items such as ores for crafting to ingredients for recipes, there always seemed to be a reward for taking the time to explore. This includes stumbling upon special treasure chests, where I found valuable materials, such as accessories and better weapons. At one point, I came across a small farm with cows, pigs, and horses grazing, and of course, the cows provide milk to use in cooking recipes. Yes, cooking is back. Bandai Namco said it will talk about this feature more at a later date, but so far it looks like what we’ve come to expect from these types of systems, offering stat boosts in battle, like giving you more attack power for a certain duration.

Alternate paths are all around if you seek them out. Later, I found a hidden stream, which had a waterfall with a small cave housing a valuable chest. I played the demo three times, and each time I found a new discovery, whether it was a hidden area or treasure to unearth. It appears that Bandai Namco is packing a lot into the zones, so they don’t feel like big, empty spaces like in previous games. Tales of Arise isn’t open world, but it certainly feels grander than any other Tales game. 

The Fluid Action Combat Still Shines

A strength of the series has always been its fast and fluid action combat that’s focused on chaining up combos and pulling off flashy moves. That isn’t changing; the action is still fast-paced and combo-driven, where you swap between regular attacks and your artes (special moves that cost points to use). You can string up to three normal attacks together, but this limit can be increased once you learn certain skills. Jumping and attacking in the air also causes characters to unleash different normal attacks, which is a nice touch and adds some variety to how you play and what moves you want to chain together. 

The controls are a little different than previous games and it did take me a few battles to acclimate to them. Your regular attacks are executed using the right bumper, while all your artes are on the face buttons. The right trigger acts as your defend/evade. If you time your evade/guard just right, you perform a perfect evasion/guard, nullifying any damage and giving you the opportunity to counterattack by pressing attack.  

You have two things to keep track of as you fight: AP (artes points) and CP (cure points). The former is all your special, damage-inducing attacks, while the latter is your support and healing artes. New to this entry is boost strikes –potent, one-hit kill co-op attacks – that can be executed once you fill a gauge up through combat. These are more likely to occur at low enemy HP and higher combo counts. In addition, every character also has their own unique boost attack, which you can use in battle with the d-pad. Filling up a boost gauge, which charges over time and by landing attacks and counters on enemies, enables you to activate these.

I was impressed with how smooth the controls felt, the variety of attacks at my disposal, and the satisfaction that comes from delivering those satisfying cinematic special moves. The battlefield remains chaotic, which means it can also be hard to keep track of where everyone is when the action heats up. Four total party members can be on the field at once, with two others in the support spots. At any given time, you control one character, but can swap to others in an instant. You can also play around with the party tactics, which allows you to focus your members on attacking, healing, or taking the default, balanced approach.

Different Character Playstyles Make Battles Feel Exciting

Party members all have something different to offer in terms of their playstyles, and each one has their own special perk and boost attack. I played the demo multiple times using various party members, and my strategy shuffled depending on who I controlled, offering a new and exciting feeling to how battles played out.

I started with knight Kisara, who wields a giant hammer and has a huge shield to match it. With her strong offensive and defensive capabilities, she’s perfect to fight on the front lines, but with big weapons and armor comes slower attacks and movement. Thankfully, Kisara’s perk is Guard Ignition, which means she uses her shield to block attacks instead of dodging them outright. She can even trigger some artes while guarding. If you successfully block with her shield, it raises her morale, making any artes and combos unleashed during this time stronger and harder to block. 

Kisara is a more advanced character to learn; she’s powerful but you need to use her abilities wisely to get the most out of her. For instance, her massive shield can also protect others, but that requires paying attention to your party members and the enemy in front of you. Like I said earlier, battles play out fast and chaotically, so this isn’t exactly always easy. It took me some time to find my rhythm with her, but she’s fierce and her boost attack can be a big blessing, as it downs any enemies it hits, weakens their charge attacks, and boosts all allies’ defense, both physically and elementally. 

The next character I tried was mage Rinwell, who, as expected, relies on magic-infused artes. Rinwell’s casting takes time, but her magic has far reach and is extremely potent. For her perk, she can charge up her magic; all you have to do is hold the arte button down to boost its power, and let go to unleash it. Better yet, you can charge a cast up and save it for later by pressing the bumper, which will activate it after your next attack/arte. However, that’s not all to this special charge power, if you cast the same arte in succession to the one currently charged, they combine into a higher-tier spell. 

My strategy was to get as far away from the enemy as possible to perform a charged-up cast before an enemy could thwart my plans. This wasn’t an issue for me in regular battles, but in the big boss battle I took on, I had to restart my casts a few times in order to dodge incoming attacks. Rinwell’s boost attack can cancel an enemy’s magic attack; if she executes it while they’re casting an arte, it not only downs them, but she steals the spell, charges it, and then blocks them from casting it for a while. 

The last character I experimented with was close-quarters martial artist Law, who is a purely offensive character. Expect to use his fists and feet to distribute flurry after flurry of strikes to overwhelm foes, but also be aware that his low defense means you have to keep your hand on that evade button. Law was by far the fastest, most get-in-the-action character I played, with rapid diving kicks and fiery punches.

Law’s perk, Awakening, raises his concentration the longer you avoid hits; this ups his attack and elemental power. The boost ends once he gets staggered or fails to land hits for any period of time. What you give up in defense, you gain in power. His boost attack, Breaker Fist, is highly effective on armored baddies, breaking through their defense and downing them.

More Strategy Is Part Of The Fun

The high action and flashy moves have always been fun in the Tales series, but the core strategy has certainly revolved around combos and special moves. As you can see with the different characters and their abilities, there appears to be much more to think about on the battlefield than mashing buttons at opportune times. From what I played, the addition of boost attacks alongside character perks really changed how I thought about battles. 

It all came together for me in a boss battle against a giant mantis, where I realized I had to study my enemy for success. Bigger foes now have weak points you can target to take them down faster, and this is essential in boss battles. With the left bumper, you can swap to different targets on the enemy’s body, and the weak points will usually have an orange glow to draw your eye. Attacking these orange cores and breaking them immediately downs an enemy, making them take increased damage from your strikes, so it’s smart to also use boost attacks during these windows. Combos also have diminishing returns if you repeat the same arte multiple times for four actions. This forces you to try different combinations and not rely on the same tactics.

Between targeting the mantis’ weak points, evading its big moves like a charge attack that could send my characters across the screen for high damage, and calling in boost attacks and strikes after I chained enough combos, I ended up victorious. However, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t a short battle. This fight really showcased the increased strategy behind the combat, and I loved how the adrenaline rush of it all. 

Tales of Arise makes a lot of smart tweaks to Tales’ core formula. I can’t say much about the story, but I saw a lot of promise in what I played. Varied enemy types with different weaknesses and characters having their own special skills via boost attacks to capitalize on feel like steps in the right direction. Time will tell how it stakes out, but I’m optimistic about the future of the franchise. 


Madden NFL 22 Release Date Set For August 20

Madden NFL 22

Madden NFL 22 releases on August 20, EA Sports and developer EA Tiburon have announced. When Madden NFL 21 launched last year, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X weren’t yet to market, but even so, those versions of the game didn’t release until December of last year. Now that EA Tiburon has one year of new-gen releases under its belt, Madden NFL 22 will release simultaneously on new-gen consoles, last-gen consoles, Stadia, and PC.

This year’s game comes on the heels of a game that was widely criticized for its lack of new features and improvements, particularly regarding the title’s franchise mode. While modes like The Yard, Face of the Franchise, and Madden Ultimate Team return in Madden NFL 22, EA Tiburon is paying close attention to the Franchise experience this time around. This version of Franchise implements more immersive interactions with players and coaches, as well as a weekly strategy planning session to allow you to pay close attention to the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of each opponent. On top of committing to various post-launch updates to the mode, all of the improvements made in Madden NFL 21 after launch are being carried into Madden NFL 22’s iteration of the popular mode.

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This year’s Madden title also promises various improvements related to stadium atmosphere, crowd behavior, momentum, and home-field advantages. For more on the newest edition of EA Sports’ long-running football franchise, check out our full preview here.

On top of all that, EA Tiburon has also announced its cover athletes as Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. For more on that announcement, you can head here. Madden NFL 22 launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC on August 20. For our review of last year’s game, head here. For a breakdown on some of the most recent improvements developer EA Tiburon implemented to the series’ franchise mode post-launch, click here.


Tom Brady And Patrick Mahomes Are Your Madden NFL 22 Cover Athletes

Every year, being named to the Madden NFL cover serves as a major honor for the player chosen. Despite the long-standing superstition that landing on the Madden cover guarantees that you’ll have a major downturn or, in some cases, an injury during that season, EA Sports and developer EA Tiburon have continued naming top players to be their Madden NFL cover athletes year after year. This year, the developer is going about it a little differently, as it’s bringing a rare two-athlete cover featuring quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

Interestingly enough, both Brady and Mahomes have been featured on the cover in recent years. Brady, the current quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 18 when he was still with the New England Patriots, while Mahomes, the man under center for the Kansas City Chiefs, was the face of Madden NFL 20. Both athletes are also seemingly impervious to the “Madden Curse,” as the 2017 season saw Brady play about as well as ever, making it to the Super Bowl that year (though his Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles), while Mahomes not only made it to the Super Bowl the year he was featured on the cover, but won the championship game and took home Super Bowl MVP honors. 

With both Brady and Mahomes on the cover, Madden NFL 22 features two of the most iconic players in the NFL today, with many considering Brady to be the greatest quarterback of all time and Mahomes to be one of the best quarterbacks in recent memory. These two also happen to be the two quarterbacks who faced off earlier this year in Super Bowl LV, with Brady’s Buccaneers emerging victorious, and Brady walking away with the Super Bowl MVP award at age 43. 

Madden NFL 22 launches on August 20 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC. For more on the next iteration of Madden and what it brings to the table, head to our full preview here

Are you excited for Madden NFL 22? If you were a detractor of last year’s game, are you hopeful for this year’s? What do you think about the developer bringing back two cover athletes who were on the cover in previous years? Let us know your thoughts about Madden NFL 22, the Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes cover, or anything else about the long-running football franchise in the comments below!


Madden NFL 22 Preview – A New Set Of Downs

Madden NFL 22

Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon

August 20, 2021

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

While a running joke among sports video game players is about what little innovation takes place in the space, last year’s Madden NFL 21 was a particular target thanks to minimal upgrades to the series’ most played modes. In response to a launch that brought about an unprecedented amount of backlash from the community regarding Franchise mode, EA Sports and EA Tiburon appeared to take the criticism to heart and laid out a roadmap that included free post-launch updates as well as improvements that would be implemented in Madden NFL 22. Today, the studio pulled back the curtain on Madden NFL 22 as a whole, including changes to Franchise mode, new ways that Next-Gen Stats are being implemented, and various improvements to the atmosphere of the games you play.

Feel The Atmosphere

If you’ve ever attended a high-stakes, live sporting event, you know the electric feeling that comes from being there for the tense moments of anticipation, the crescendo of the big play coming together, and the devastation of defeat. With Madden NFL 22 on new-gen consoles, EA Tiburon wants to replicate those feelings, and in the process grant gameplay advantages to the home team.

New Gameday Atmosphere mechanics bring the crowd to life and give the home team extra benefits beyond the cosmetic realm. While new crowd animations, remastered crowd recordings, and “hero” crowd characters help make the spectators more believable and realistic, they can and will impact the way games play out.

“We want you to feel like if you’re a fan and that’s your home team, you go there and you get that sense of what it sounds like; we hope to translate that to the game,” executive producer Seann Graddy says. “We also wanted to feel like that when you’re the away team and if you’re playing in Franchise with your favorite team and you’re playing as the Steelers and you hate the Ravens, but you’ve been there and you know what that sounds like when your team goes there. We want to bring that to the table.”

Madden NFL 22

Crowd noise can make it tough for opposing quarterbacks to hear the playcall, and new characteristics for each stadium grant special bonuses to the home team and apply various gameplay modifiers based on the location. For example, in the thin air of Denver, throws and kicks will fly further for both teams, while the visiting team will struggle to catch their breath, taking a hit to short-term stamina. Other examples include the Windy City of Chicago making it tougher for kicks to fly straight, Vikings players getting a red zone boost as the “Skol” chant rings through the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. And the notorious 12th Man of Seattle rattles visiting players, making it so their pre-snap play art is squiggly.

That might sound familiar for those who have played the NCAA Football series, but according to EA Tiburon, this goes beyond anything that series did. “Gameday Momentum, it really has its origins in what we had in NCAA for sure, but it’s modernized and one of the key pieces of feedback we got way back when we made an NCAA game was it was a little too ambiguous and there wasn’t a lot of different objectives to know when you unlocked certain things,” gameplay producer Clint Oldenburg says. “So that’s what we really attacked with Gameday Momentum, is giving you the proper feedback to know exactly what you need to do and what you’re going to unlock and when you’re going to unlock it. It’s a modernized version of that blast from the past, if I may put it that way.”

Of course, if you don’t give the fans something to cheer about, they can’t be a factor in the game, which is where Gameday Momentum, another new mechanic, comes into play. Now, when you play through a game of Madden, a Momentum meter appears at the top. Depending on performance of each team, momentum shifts back and forth, granting additional bonuses (called M-Factors) to the teams. These can include activating those aforementioned modifiers like making the play call more difficult, or other bonuses like making kickers less accurate or making receivers less effective at running hot routes. While each team can use these M-Factors, the home team gets a slight advantage with one additional M-Factor to hammer home the notion of home-field advantage.

Building Up The Franchise

As I mentioned before, the Franchise mode of Madden NFL 21 was perhaps the most maligned mode in the game. EA Tiburon made decent strides post-launch via three separate title updates, and while Madden NFL 22 will operate under that strategy, with post-launch updates planned throughout the NFL season, the Franchise mode will be stronger right out of the gate. 

“Just like when we started in Madden 21 when we started that title, players were saying they wanted more from the mode,” Graddy says. “We came back with the three title updates that we talked about and set out a roadmap that we wanted to achieve. For the most part, we delivered the things that we rolled out. At the same time, we said, ‘Hey, we’re going to come back in 22 and invest in this super popular mode – depending on the time of the year, it’s our most popular mode, the highest number of players inside of it. It was important to come back with a robust feature set for that audience that kind of started at the launch of Madden 21.”

The new Franchise Staff feature lets you build, grow, and customize four coaching staff positions using RPG-style skill trees. Using experience earned through play, you can develop your head coach, player personnel, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator with more than 60 different talents. Additionally, players can expect more talents to arrive following launch. 

Madden NFL 22

For Madden NFL 22’s Franchise, EA Tiburon wanted to make every week feel like a distinct struggle. Sure, it accomplishes that through the new crowd and stadium atmosphere mechanics, as well as the specialized team-based momentum modifiers, but each team behaves different, and the gameplay should reflect that down to the core of the experience. Now, before every game in Franchise, you can set your strategy heading in. Using a new interface, you can study your opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies, then shape your gameplan around that. For example, if you’re playing against the Ravens, you might want to set up some way to try and contain their hybrid quarterback, while facing off against the pass-heavy Bills might require a different strategy. Then, if you get into the game and see new tendencies emerging or that certain strategies are more or less effective than you thought, you can now adjust your gameplan at halftime.

It’s no secret the game of football is a grueling sport that can grind down the human body week after week, so Madden NFL 22 is including a new way to monitor player health. Now, when you set up the practices for the week, you can manage each player’s practice intensity and if they’re donning full pads the whole week in a careful balancing act of getting them the fullest benefits while also making sure they’re healthy when they suit up on Sunday.

The decisions don’t stop there, however, as you now have more engaging goals to complete alongside choices to make and challenges with better rewards. New storylines emerge, complete with cinematics, choices to make, and more goals specific to the team you’re controlling. Through these sequences, you can earn staff points, player experience, or even Dev Traits. 

It all comes together in the newly redesigned Franchise Hub, which has been streamlined to surface the most important and pertinent information to you. If all this isn’t enough, EA Tiburon is also planning its first post-launch title update for Franchise mode, tentatively targeted for September. In that mode, you’ll be able to dive deep into player scouting, with the ability to manage and assign national and regional scouts, with players that gain and lose value on your draft board throughout the course of a season. This much requested feature looks great in the small glimpse I saw of it, and hopefully it’s just as detailed in execution, giving players the much-needed tools to have better control over their draft planning.

Replicating Real Life

Of course, every new gameplay innovation and off-the-field mechanic is for naught if the on-the-field product is bad. While the actual gameplay itself may have been the best part of last year’s package, EA Tiburon has continued improving upon the successes while tightening up the shortcomings. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of Madden NFL 21 utilized NFL’s Next-Gen Stats to create a more realistic and less robotic experience, and EA Tiburon is continuing to tweak and expand the parts of the game that these specialized stats impact. 

Since this is the second year of Next-Gen Stat implementation, its effects are wider reaching. Players feel more accurate to NFL superstars and thanks to additional route-running and player-speed data, ball carriers feel more explosive, receivers have more control in catching (including more situational awareness for things like sidelines toe-drags and jump-balls against defenders), and quarterbacks have more control both in and outside of the pocket. 

Madden NFL 22

On top of that, new Star-Driven A.I. means players behave more like their real-world counterparts when under the control of the game’s A.I. According to EA Tiburon, more than 80 percent of Madden NFL 21 games were played against A.I. instead of real players, so the team wanted to make sure that experience felt just as dynamic and meaningful. Quarterback decisions under pressure are now more reflective of real life, as are situations like passing on the run, making decisions under pressure, open-field pathfinding, and the A.I.’s knowledge of opposing X-Factor abilities. On a team level, playing against run-heavy teams feels different from pass-heavy teams, as does driving down the field against a blitz-heavy defense. As tendencies emerge throughout the course of the real NFL season, EA Tiburon will update the characteristics of the players and teams in the game.

Finally, player momentum is more respected in Madden NFL 22. The upgraded system does a better job of taking player size, speed, and traits into account when collisions happen. Additionally, players can expect a more dynamic passing pocket that feels more authentic, and run blocking momentum enhancements lead to better running lanes and more realistic animations.

The package is rounded out with other returning modes, including The Yard, Face of the Franchise, and of course, Madden Ultimate Team. While details aren’t as readily available for those modes just yet, we do know that Face of the Franchise is called “United We Rise” and lets you choose quarterback, wide receiver, running back, or, for the first time ever, linebacker as you strive for superstardom with an all-new cast of characters. The new class system combines with player physiques and customization to let you create your avatar that will travel between Face of the Franchise and The Yard.

Only time will tell if these changes result in a meaningfully better experience both on and off the field, but the early outlook is positive for the next entry in the long-running football franchise. Madden NFL 22 launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC on August 20. If you want to experience the Gameday Atmosphere, Gameday Momentum, and Next-Gen Stats features, you need to play on the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S version.


Everything We Know About Redfall, The Vampire Co-Op Game Xbox-Bethesda’s E3 2021 Showcase Revealed

Let’s be real, Xbox-Bethesda absolutely slayed its shared E3 2021 showcase. From Starfield to an incredible look at Halo: Infinite and a plethora of other titles, Microsoft wasn’t playing around this year when it came to bringing the heat (something that was very much needed because overall, this year’s show had quite a few pitfalls). Among the titles showcased was a brand new IP from Arkane Austin, the studio that gave us 2017’s Prey. This time, we’re not going to space; we’re going to vamp town. For those curious, here’s everything we know about Redfall. 

From the co-op structure to the dark and explosive nature, many likened Redfall to Valve’s Left 4 Dead. But there’s so much more we don’t know. Luckily, we know more now than we did at the time of the reveal, thanks to Bethesda. 

Welcome to Redfall

Click here to watch embedded media

Redfall can be played solo or with a team of four friends, all with the task of going up against hordes of dangerous vampires looking to go in for the kill. Redfall is a tiny little island town that is pretty boring. That is until vampires decided to make it an all-you-can-eat buffet. Luckily, we’ve got some badass characters to help make sure that if we do all go down, at least we can go down on our terms (unlike Batman in the DC comics-verse, apparently, and not in that way). 

According to Bethesda, players will be able to choose their path when taking the fight to the vamps while having a few unique characters to choose from. Each playable character has their own special abilities and gear they like to bring to battle, and more customizable weapons can be found the more you explore the island. “Do whatever it takes to build the perfect vampire slayers,” tasks the studio. We say, “Challenge accepted.” 

Meet the squad

There are four heroes to choose from. Whether more will be added post-launch remains to be seen, but here’s what we’ve got so far: 

  • Devinder Crousley
    • Dev is that influencer with a claim to fame in the realm of all things paranormal. His shtick revolves around investigating the extraordinary, and he’s also a pretty nifty inventor. Want cool gear? He’s your guy because he can basically make it all. You know, if he survives. 
  • Layla Ellison 
    • A biomedical engineer, Layla actually has a connection to the sudden takeover. When in attendance at the mysterious Aevum Therapeutics research facility, Layla recalls that something “very wrong” happened there, but she can’t remember exactly what it was. Whatever happened, it gave her awesome telekinetic powers, effectively turning the vamp hunter into a kickass supernatural wizard.
  • Remi de la Rosa
    • Ah, Remi. Remi is a combat engineer and smarter than pretty much everyone else around her. She used to be a part of an elite Navy rescue force, but now she’s taking her talents to fight the undead instead. And she’s got a spiffy robot companion called Bribon. 
  • Jacob Boyer
    • Another character with a military background, Jacob is a sharpshooter than lands his mark every time. He also has a weird vampiric eye and a spectral raven that acts as his partner. 
      • (Yes, they had me at spectral raven)

All about science, baby

Oh, you thought these were your average vamps that Buffy herself would be familiar with? Nah, son, that’s not how Arkane rolls. These vamps were a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong, and then evolution decided to step up to the plate to say, “You know what? They’re not scary enough; let’s make it worse and throw in some psychic powers and psychological warfare into the mix.” 

There are numerous types of vamps that players will encounter: scientific, psychological, magical – you name it. Oh, and there’s a cult too. Because naturally.

“Every game we make is a little different for the last,” says Co-Creative Director Ricardo Bare. “Dishonored featured stealth. Prey leveraged tons of physics-related gameplay. Mooncrash introduced rogue-like elements. Despite those differences, in every case, our focus remains on deep world-building and inventive game mechanics. The same will be true of Redfall.”

Redfall makes its grand debut sometime in the Summer of 2022 and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day-one. To learn more on other big reveals from this year’s E3, check out our dedicated events hub here to play catch up! 


Why Metroid Dread Took So Long To Make

Metroid Dread

The announcement of Metroid Dread earlier this week was met with widespread excitement as fans of the series are finally receiving a new 2D Metroid. While some games in the series, primarily 1994’s Super Metroid on Super NES, are considered among the greatest games of all time, fans of the 2D style of Metroid have been waiting for news of a new adventure for Nintendo’s galactic bounty hunter to embark on.

Following the launch of the last all-new 2D Metroid game, 2002’s Metroid Fusion on Game Boy Advance, the name “Metroid Dread” began floating around as early as 2004. Though we’ve heard rumors of cancellation, development restarts, and platform changes throughout the last 16 years, Nintendo has been largely quiet on the follow-up game to Metroid Fusion. However, Tuesday’s re-emergence finally gave long-suffering fans the relief they’ve been waiting for.

Click here to watch embedded media

While the Metroid faithful have known the name Metroid Dread for more than a decade and a half, Nintendo’s Yoshio Sakamoto, who serves as producer on Metroid Dread, says development has been on and off rather than continuous. “At the time that we came up with the idea, the hardware wasn’t there; the technological concepts weren’t working with our vision,” he says. “We had to put it on hold. Then some time later, we started again, but then we stopped again for pretty much the same reasons.”

The technological hurdles were largely surrounding the platforms Nintendo had on store shelves at the time. Two years after the launch of Metroid Fusion on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo released the DS, adding additional hardware capabilities, including better graphics, more processing power, and a second screen with touch functionality. “Thinking in terms of the specs that I had in mind, it was a bit difficult to realize that concept with that hardware,” Sakamoto says. 

Metroid Dread

As the hardware continued progressing, Sakamoto kept his eyes open for ways to make Metroid Dread. He says that a confluence of events – better hardware, a better development system, and an established collaboration with Metroid: Samus Returns developer MercurySteam – led to the game finally getting made. “With Samus Returns, you know that we met with MercurySteam Entertainment to make that game,” he says. “The reason that I actually met with them was in the hopes that they’d be able to realize the concepts that I had for Metroid Dread, and with their ability and their technical know-how that they’d be able to make what was once a concept an actual reality. I’m sure you know having played Samus Returns that they are a good team. So, in meeting with them, I got the sense that they were a team that I could work together with towards a singular concept and realize this goal that I had in mind for Metroid Dread.”

Despite all of the time that has passed since the original idea, Sakamoto says that the main concepts endured since that initial period of wanting to create a direct sequel to Fusion around 15 years ago. The idea was the powerful warrior Samus would be stalked and chased by an overwhelming enemy and she would have to escape, creating a tense environment as players explore. That notion is realized through EMMI robots, nearly invincible adversaries who patrol certain areas of the game. These characters can deliver one-hit kills if they can get ahold of the bounty hunter, with only a tiny window available for players to try and counter the killing blow.

Metroid Dread

Now that Metroid Dread development is in full swing and the game is set to hit later this year, Sakamoto seems pleased with the results when compared to the vision he initially had when dreaming up a 2D sequel to Metroid Fusion in the early 2000s. “My excitement for Metroid Dread has to do with the EMMI gameplay,” he says. “It is really better than I imagined those 15 years ago when I had the idea for this. Seeing that realized made me really, really satisfied. It’s to the extent that I really can’t wait for this game to be released and for you to get your hands on it and enjoy it yourselves.”

Metroid Dread launches on Switch on October 8. For more, check out our extensive preview here.


Metroid Dread Preview – A Fusion Follow-Up Two Decades Later

Metroid Dread

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: MercurySteam

October 8, 2021

Rating: Teen
Platform: Switch

This last week we saw several announcements and reveals, but perhaps the biggest surprise was the unveiling of a new 2D Metroid game on the E3 2021 Nintendo Direct stream. Metroid Dread picks up following the events of Metroid Fusion, which launched on Game Boy Advance in 2002. While we’ve received remakes like Samus Returns on 3DS, a full trilogy of first-person shooters, and a third-person 3D action game since Fusion’s release, the newly announced Metroid Dread is the first all-new 2D game in nearly two decades. 

Dread is being developed by MercurySteam, the studio behind Samus Returns, and is under the watchful eye of Nintendo’s Yoshio Sakamoto. Sakamoto, who serves as producer for Metroid Dread, has a long history with Samus Aran’s series. In addition to serving as a designer on the original Metroid, Sakamoto was the director of the beloved Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, and Metroid: Zero Mission. While Sakamoto’s role is as a producer on Samus Returns and Metroid Dread, he says his input has gone beyond that of a typical producer.

Metroid Dread

“My role on Metroid Dread was similar to or the same as it was on Samus Returns, where [Nintendo of Japan] and MercurySteam worked together to be one team,” Sakamoto says. “They are different companies, of course, but we had one mind. Also the same as Samus Returns, I was always in communication with MercurySteam from a day-to-day basis, looking at the good and bad, what they were producing for designs. I guess I was called the producer, but I was more involved on the creative side of things as well.”

Sakamoto’s history with the series, as well as MercurySteam’s respect for the classic franchise, is evident throughout the demo I saw. Taking place after the events of Metroid Fusion, Samus makes her way deep beneath the surface of a mysterious planet to investigate a transmission sent to the Galactic Federation. However, once she arrives she discovers that the planet has been completely overrun by hostile alien life. However, the robotic threats, known as EMMI, might be even more horrific. These bots patrol certain rooms and hunt down any intruders. While Samus may be a formidable warrior, her power armor’s weaponry is no match for these creatures, so her only option is to avoid them or make a break for it if they discover her.

Metroid Dread

Samus is more nimble than ever before, and she’ll need to use her full moveset to survive the encounters with EMMI robots. In addition to moving quicker than in any previous Metroid game, Dread maintains many of the moves from Samus Returns. The Free-Aim mechanic from Samus’ recent 3DS outing is back, as is her ability to melee counter incoming attackers to devastating effect if the player times it right. Unfortunately, her missiles and arm cannon are no match for the thick armor of the EMMI, and if they catch her, she has a very narrow window to counter the killing blow and escape; if the player misses the chance to wiggle out of the EMMI’s clutches, it will deliver an instant kill. Samus’ only chance to stand toe-to-toe with an EMMI (that we know of so far) is the grab the temporary Omega Cannon power-up that can blast through their thick armor.

If you played Metroid Fusion, this gameplay convention likely sounds familiar, as one of the main antagonists was SA-X, a powerful parasite that mimics Samus’ abilities. Since SA-X is more powerful than Samus, the bounty hunter had no choice but to run or hide from it. The EMMI encounters are undeniably tense and add a looming, nearly invulnerable threat that constantly pursues you, similar to how horror games add extra layers of anxiety to their situations. Despite this convention being borrowed from that genre, Sakamoto doesn’t consider Metroid Dread a horror game. “It’s really about Samus encountering fear, but she actually stands against that fear and fights it and beats it,” he says. “That part of it is important. As far as where the inspiration came for my wanting to take the game in this direction, it comes from the tension surrounding the SA-X gameplay from Metroid Fusion, and how we wanted to take that style of gameplay and put it into what is considered to be the normal Metroid gameplay to make for an exciting experience.”

Metroid Dread

In stark contrast to other Metroid games, where Samus begins on the surface and drills into the depths of the planet, in Metroid Dread you start underground and work your way towards your ship. As you make your way through ZDR, you can expect all the trappings of a typical Metroid game, including unlockable weapons and abilities that allow you to explore new areas of an ever-expanding map. However, you often must solve exploration-based puzzles in order to obtain these powers. I see this play out in the demo as the player comes to a couple of rooms where heat radiates through the door; it’s too hot to go inside, so Samus blasts through several enemies and drops down an alternate route featuring timed flame traps. 

Samus reaches a terminal, where she can communicate with Adam, the A.I. of her ship. This section uses text to expound on the lore of the planet, as well as the situation Samus is in, but my demo intentionally skips through this section to avoid spoiling story details. As players experience Metroid Dread, they’ll encounter plenty of text, but that’s not the only way the story reveals itself. “With Samus Returns, we made use of cutscenes as well; there were 3D cutscenes and 2D scenes as well that transitioned very seamlessly between the two,” Sakamoto says. ” That helped us with showing expressiveness in the game. We found those very effective in Samus Returns. In a similar way in Metroid Dread, we use those to maintain a sense of tension and also expressiveness. Also, the story is very important in this game, so these cutscenes will be used to express the story as well.”

Metroid Dread

Samus eventually arrives at a device she can interact with to redirect fuel and change which doors are accessible; now she can double back and pass through those hot doors from earlier. However, the fuel redirection has blocked her path, so she has to find an alternate route back. Samus can blast through weak walls, but unluckily for her, the way back involves stepping through a pixelated door, indicating that she’s entering an EMMI-patrolled zone. 

As mentioned before, Samus doesn’t have much of an answer for these stalking robots, but her Phantom Cloak ability, which turns her invisible for a short period, is extremely useful. Players shouldn’t rely on it too much, though, as once Samus use up her Phantom Cloak’s energy, staying invisible eats away at her health. EMMIs track you based on sight and sound, but you have some tools at your disposal as well: A red dot on the map shows where EMMIs are, and their haunting chirps and beeps broadcast when they are near. The EMMI zones are tense affairs; the relentless robots stalk Samus with scary effectiveness, and losing them looks to be no easy task. As nimble as Samus is in Metroid Dread, the EMMI bots appear to be just as capable and intelligent.

Metroid Dread

Samus finds the exit to the next area and is finally free from the oppressive automaton. She accesses another fuel redirect, opening new doors in a previous area. Unfortunately, to get back there, she needs to once again go through the EMMI zone. This time, the EMMI gives a more spirited chase, even crawling through what looks like a vent that runs beneath Samus’ feet. The robot snatches Samus and goes in for the kill, but luckily the Nintendo Treehouse demoist times his counter perfectly and Samus is able to escape and continue running from the EMMI. 

The EMMI has lost track of Samus, but continues hunting her throughout the area. As with most stealth games, you have to make difficult calls about routes to take and when to make a mad dash for a clear path at the cost of making extra noise. After an intense chase, Samus finally exits the EMMI zone and the demo comes to an end.

Metroid Dread

With Metroid Dread, the five-part arc that began with the original Metroid game in 1987 and continued through Metroid II: Return of Samus, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion, will come to an end. However, that doesn’t necessarily spell bad news for the franchise. In fact, it sounds like the next idea may already be coming down the pipeline. “The Metroid story until this point has dealt with Samus’ strange fate that’s been intertwined around this strange being called the Metroid, and until now that has been the focus of the series,” Sakamoto says. “What this game represents is a bit of a pause, or kind of a new start to something else. Nobody wants the Metroid series to end, and we know that. We ourselves don’t want that either, but we just want people to know that there is some kind of new episode that is waiting in the works. We want you to look forward to what we do with that next, but there are no specifics now.”

After spending this extra time with Metroid Dread, I’m even more confident this 2D revival is what fans of the series have been clamoring for over the last couple of decades. The exploration, the combat, and the ever-encroaching sense of, well, dread all look to add up to be a stellar continuation of Samus’ galactic journey through the years. 

Metroid Dread launches for Switch on October 8. To learn why the game took so long to make, head here.


Everything We Know About Redfall, The Vampire Co-Op Game Revealed During Xbox E3 2021

Let’s be real, Xbox-Bethesda absolutely slayed its shared E3 2021 showcase. From Starfield to an incredible look at Halo: Infinite and a plethora of other titles, Microsoft wasn’t playing around this year when it came to bringing the heat (something that was very much needed because overall, this year’s show had quite a few pitfalls). Among the titles showcased was a brand new IP from Arkane Austin, the studio that gave us 2017’s Prey. This time, we’re not going to space; we’re going to vamp town. For those curious, here’s everything we know about Redfall. 

From the co-op structure to the dark and explosive nature, many likened Redfall to Valve’s Left 4 Dead. But there’s so much more we don’t know. Luckily, we know more now than we did at the time of the reveal, thanks to Bethesda. 

Welcome to Redfall

Click here to watch embedded media

Redfall can be played solo or with a team of four friends, all with the task of going up against hordes of dangerous vampires looking to go in for the kill. Redfall is a tiny little island town that is pretty boring. That is until vampires decided to make it an all-you-can-eat buffet. Luckily, we’ve got some badass characters to help make sure that if we do all go down, at least we can go down on our terms (unlike Batman in the DC comics-verse, apparently, and not in that way). 

According to Bethesda, players will be able to choose their path when taking the fight to the vamps while having a few unique characters to choose from. Each playable character has their own special abilities and gear they like to bring to battle, and more customizable weapons can be found the more you explore the island. “Do whatever it takes to build the perfect vampire slayers,” tasks the studio. We say, “Challenge accepted.” 

Meet the squad

There are four heroes to choose from. Whether more will be added post-launch remains to be seen, but here’s what we’ve got so far: 

  • Devinder Crousley
    • Dev is that influencer with a claim to fame in the realm of all things paranormal. His shtick revolves around investigating the extraordinary, and he’s also a pretty nifty inventor. Want cool gear? He’s your guy because he can basically make it all. You know, if he survives. 
  • Layla Ellison 
    • A biomedical engineer, Layla actually has a connection to the sudden takeover. When in attendance at the mysterious Aevum Therapeutics research facility, Layla recalls that something “very wrong” happened there, but she can’t remember exactly what it was. Whatever happened, it gave her awesome telekinetic powers, effectively turning the vamp hunter into a kickass supernatural wizard.
  • Remi de la Rosa
    • Ah, Remi. Remi is a combat engineer and smarter than pretty much everyone else around her. She used to be a part of an elite Navy rescue force, but now she’s taking her talents to fight the undead instead. And she’s got a spiffy robot companion called Bribon. 
  • Jacob Boyer
    • Another character with a military background, Jacob is a sharpshooter than lands his mark every time. He also has a weird vampiric eye and a spectral raven that acts as his partner. 
      • (Yes, they had me at spectral raven)

All about science, baby

Oh, you thought these were your average vamps that Buffy herself would be familiar with? Nah, son, that’s not how Arkane rolls. These vamps were a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong, and then evolution decided to step up to the plate to say, “You know what? They’re not scary enough; let’s make it worse and throw in some psychic powers and psychological warfare into the mix.” 

There are numerous types of vamps that players will encounter: scientific, psychological, magical – you name it. Oh, and there’s a cult too. Because naturally.

“Every game we make is a little different for the last,” says Co-Creative Director Ricardo Bare. “Dishonored featured stealth. Prey leveraged tons of physics-related gameplay. Mooncrash introduced rogue-like elements. Despite those differences, in every case, our focus remains on deep world-building and inventive game mechanics. The same will be true of Redfall.”

Redfall makes its grand debut sometime in the Summer of 2022 and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day-one. To learn more on other big reveals from this year’s E3, check out our dedicated events hub here to play catch up! 


Magic Arena’s Upcoming Events Include Commander-Like 100-Card Historic Brawl

With the next big set release still a month away, Magic: The Gathering Arena players are in waiting mode for the next update to the Standard and Historic formats. While there was a significant banning of the blue extra-turn spell Time Warp this week in Historic, the meta is still settling. However, there’s a lot to do leading up to the release of the next Standard set, Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Wizards of the Coast dropped a blog post today about their short-term roadmap for events in Magic Arena in the coming weeks.

Leading off the post is the introduction of a completely new format that is being tested for Arena. This week’s Friday Night Magic theme on June 18 will be a 100-card Historic Brawl event. Yep, that’s a full Commander-sized deck using any card currently available in MTG Arena minus those on the ban list which you can find here. From June 19 until June 25, 100-card Historic Brawl will transition to having it’s own event with an entry fee of 2,500 gold or 500 gems. Any losses will not matter as the event is set for unlimited play and will reward players with gorgeous Japanese Mystical Archives card styles for their first five wins. The card styles available here include: Gods Willing, Brainstorm, Doom Blade, Faithless Looting, and Regrowth.

Paired with the news of this new format, WotC has announced it has taken two popular Commanders off the Historic Brawl ban list: Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Winota, Joiner of Forces. Releasing these legendary creatures back into these casual formats comes with a change in style of how Wizards is handling banning cards while utilizing a power weighting system. “Our goal has been to better match players with similarly weighted commanders, keeping the challenge for competitive players while ensuring the formats remain hospitable to casual players,” Wizards explains regarding the reason for weighting these cards in the blog post. Regarding WotC’s approach to banning cards in Brawl the blog says, “With this system in place, we are now more likely to use weighting rather than banning as a tool for managing very powerful commanders. Players who still really enjoy the experience of playing with those commanders may continue to do so, and players who don’t want that high-powered experience can be free from it.”

While Historic Brawl was the biggest news, there are a few other events happening to keep Magic players busy. Jumpstart is still active in Arena until July 8 for 2,000 gold or 400 gems. This simplified draft experience has players choose two booster pack themes that are shuffled together and ready to play. All cards from these packs are added to your collection, and up to two wins will give rewards of rare or mythic rare cards from Jumpstart.

Premier Draft will switch to the Dominaria format from June 18-25. This fan-favorite set from 2018 is a celebration of Magic’s first plane, Dominaria, and features card mechanics revolving around history and legends. Finally, a “Chromatic Cube” event will be running from June 25-July 8, but nothing is known about which cards will be included in this draft-able format.

Considering the dates given in this update, Wizards will be moving into Adventures in the Forgotten Realms preview season and set release soon after. For other Magic news, check out the recently announced Secret Lair featuring a new Universes Beyond destination.


Our Favorite Games From E3 2021

E3 2021 was a pale imitation of its former incarnations, but that didn’t stop us from pumping our fists over several big game reveals and exciting indie game announcements. We polled the staff and rounded up our favorite games from the show.

Blake Hester: Somerville

Runners Up: Atomic Heart, Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl, Death Stranding: Director’s Cut

Amidst all the bombast of triple-A explosions and CG trailers, Somerville stood out as one of the most interesting games at E3. This indie game was developed by Jumpship, which partnered with Playdead (Inside, Limbo) co-founder and former CEO Dino Patti back in 2017. On its surface, Somerville looks just like a Playdead game. Which isn’t a knock against it! If anything, that’s what has me interested. Stories that highlight a family up against impossible odds (in this case, what appears to be an alien invasion) is a tried-and-true narrative hook that makes me want to know if/how they survive. On top of that, Somerville has great quasi-3D visuals, a striking art style, and a little dog to boot, so this seems like a sure-fire recipe to capture my interest.

Ben Reeves: Metroid Dread

Runners Up: Far: Changing Tides, Metal Slug Tactics, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

I regularly get asked, “What is your favorite game of all time?” If you’re like me, you probably hem and haw and then rattle off like five games in response. It’s hard to pick a single favorite sometimes, but I’ve noticed that Super Metroid is almost always in that list of five. Nintendo’s haunting exploration-based sci-fi thriller blew my mind as a kid, and it’s one of those rare classics that remains incredibly fun to play even decades after its release. I loved MercurySteam’s take on the series with 2017’s Metroid: Samus Returns, so I’m beyond thrilled that it’s getting a second bite at the apple with Metroid Dread. I can’t wait to explore planet ZDR, a whole new alien world, as I slowly acquire new powers. Samus can now use magnetic grapples to climb walls and the new Phantom Cloak renders her temporarily invisible. That last power sounds like it will be incredibly useful as a new enemy type, called E.M.M.I. (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier), is very hard to kill and will chase Samus relentlessly, like Resident Evil 2’s Mr. X. Who knows, maybe after Metroid Dread releases on October 8 it could crack my top five favorites.

Brian Shea: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel

Runners Up: Forza Horizon 5, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Metroid Dread

Since its 2017 launch, I’ve made it no secret that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my favorite game. So naturally, when a sequel was announced in 2019, I was beyond excited. While Nintendo has been largely silent since that initial announcement, this week finally gave more glimpses at what to expect when we return to Breath of the Wild’s vast version of Hyrule. The footage to date has shown everything from looks at new powers to cryptic teases of what could really be going on in the narrative, and everything in between. Combine that with another excuse to explore that version of Hyrule (complete with new areas to explore in the sky) and 2022 can’t come soon enough for my Switch and me.

Jason Guisao: Starfield

Runner-ups: Somerville, Elden Ring, Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5

I want the next Elder Scrolls chapter as much as any other Western RPG fanatic, but Starfield has been living within the dark recesses of my mind since its first E3 tease many years ago. If any team could lead a sprawling sci-fi project that chronicles humankind’s journey to the far reaches of space, then it’s the lovely folks at Bethesda. This game is giving me some serious Interstellar-meets-Fallout vibes. I couldn’t be any more excited/fascinated by its potential gameplay and exploration loop. It also helps that the game releases two days before my birthday in 2022. I mean, it’s almost as if Todd Howard and Co. were developing Starfield with me in mind! 

Alex Stadnik: Halo Infinite

Runners Up: Metroid Dread, Battlefield 2042, Somerville, Tunic

Halo Infinite and 343 Industries needs a win, pure and simple. 2020 was a tough year for the developer, full of negative online reactions to the reveal of John 117’s return and a subsequent delay that had fans nervous. But the Xbox-exclusive is back in a big way with an E3 showing that seems to have exorcised the ghost of Craig the Brute and most of the sour feelings with the game. The new showing smartly focused on its free-to-play multiplayer suite, 343 Industries showed off the return of equipment, beautiful new battlegrounds, and the return of the chaotic gameplay fans love. The multiplayer trailer was a chance for the developer to showcase the game’s improved lighting, character designs, and animation work, culminating in the absolute best showing from Halo Infinite yet. While we still have a ways to go and no hard release date quite yet, E3 2021 marks the biggest prerelease step for Xbox’s most iconic franchise and has reignited the hope for fans looking to dawn the Mjolnir armor once again.

Liana Ruppert: Redfall

Runners Up: Halo Infinite, Battlefield 2042

I love anything to do with vampires and the Bloodlines 2 delay had me hoping for something to fill that void. The characters introduced in Redfall’s reveal trailer looked so wildly different from one another and the dialogue was downright hilarious. Pair that with the magical elements Arkane showcased plus the imposing big bads, and Redfall has me insanely enticed. Depending on what Arkane shares next, it could quickly skyrocket to one of my most anticipated game releases.

Marcus Stewart: A Plague Tale: Requiem

Runners Up: Metroid Dread, Breath of the Wild sequel, Somerville, Elden Ring, Atomic Heart

In 2019 I lost my voice singing the praises of A Plague Tale: Innocence to anyone who would listen. Amicia and Hugo de Rune’s grim journey across 14th century France to find a cure for the latter’s mysterious disease while dodging a supernatural rat plague and hostile Inquisition soldiers was my favorite narrative of that year. The tragic tale was softened by the touching, and sometimes troubled, relationship between the siblings. I loved watching their bond grow along with the new relationships they formed with other displaced children. The storytelling was powerful, but the gameplay didn’t quite measure up. The stealth-focused mechanics were competent but unremarkable which is why a sequel is so exciting. If Requiem’s gameplay can build upon its predecessor’s foundation, it could make for a wholly phenomenal experience. The cinematic trailer revealed Amicia now has a crossbow, so combat might at least be more involved this time around. Best of all, Requiem is current-gen only. Innocence was quite a looker with a big emphasis on using light as an offensive weapon. Imagine how great that lighting will look with ray tracing. It’ll also be cool to see how the rat swarm ­– which looked awesome when it poured into rooms and washed over victims like a living flood – behaves when powered by stronger tech. 

John Carson: Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

Runners Up: Metal Slug Tactics, Battlefield 2042, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

After being overshadowed for years by its sister series Fire Emblem, nothing gave me more relief than seeing the trailer for Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Not because of my sick prediction on the GI Show, but because Nintendo still sees value in the Advance Wars franchise. Outside of the short-lived Battalion Wars, Advance Wars has been relegated to handheld devices, and while the Switch is still technically a handheld, this is the perfect way to reintroduce players to the series and deliver a bigger experience in the future. The gameplay in the Direct and during the Treehouse stream showed how everything has been translated immaculately from 2D sprites to 3D models. The characters and world are bright, colorful, and cartoonish, and the look of each unit gives the sense of playing with little army toys. The spirit of the original games remains intact in Re-Boot Camp. This might be a remake of the first two Game Boy Advance titles, but it is a wonderful addition to the Switch lineup. I hope this is just the beginning of what Nintendo has planned for Advance Wars in the coming years.

Alex Van Aken: Metal Slug Tactics

Runners Up: Breath of the Wild sequel, Somerville, Halo Infinite, Elden Ring

Metal Slug, the tough-as-nails arcade shoot-em-up series, is back in the form of a tactical RPG: Metal Slug Tactics. The franchise has always demanded a certain level of resilience from its player base (due to its origins in Neo-Geo arcade machines), and Tactics’ new grid-based battles and rogue-lite elements look to deliver the same grueling difficulty curve that fans have learned to expect. Additionally, the game reunites the iconic Peregrine Falcon Squad as they embark on a globetrotting mission to prevent long-time villain Donald Morden from usurping the World Government. With its gorgeously rendered pixel art and highly bombastic set pieces, Metal Slug Tactics aims to modernize the original series’ mechanics while honoring what made the franchise special to begin with; and with Dotemu at the publishing helm, I can’t wait to see how the game turns out.

<p>Read all of our coverage from this year’s show on our <a href=”https://www.gameinformer.com/e3&quot; target=”_blank”>E3 2021 hub</a>.</p>


Final Fantasy VII Remake Episode Intermission Review – The Ultimate Ninja

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix

June 10, 2021

Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

In Episode Intermission, Yuffie Kisaragi, self-proclaimed Wutai ninja extraordinaire, finally makes an appropriately pompous entrance and joins the anti-Shinra fray. Yuffie’s ninjutsu and shuriken-centric abilities are an invigoratingly frenetic addition to Remake’s deep, real-time combat system. New supporting characters make brief appearances and help bring the Slums, and the sectors beyond it, to life. And even though Intermission’s abbreviated plotline never really lands the mark, it ultimately serves as a strong introduction to a beloved protagonist while hinting at what’s to come in additional Final Fantasy VII content.

Intermission’s loop is virtually the same as last year’s Remake: scour visually arresting hub areas for treasure chests, arbitrarily placed Materia orbs, and optional task-givers (with the added benefit of Fort Condor, a new table-top minigame). Yuffie’s two chapters take you back to the Slums and Shinra Headquarters. In between the two major locations, you’ll also traverse meandering passages in never-before-seen factories and junkyards. These moments, however, play out like the linear, monster-infested locales from the base game. Despite spending most of my time in recycled environments, gossip from nearby NPCs and appearances from familiar faces like Johnny and Chadley made Final Fantasy VII’s world feel alive. I always found it nice to overhear pockets of citizens comment on my in-game feats as I completed missions around town. This also helps ground Yuffie and her tight-lipped companion, Sonon, in the larger tale. Even though Cloud, Tifa, and Barrett, aren’t the stars of this show, their momentous actions – e.g., the Reactor bombings – still inform Intermission’s story beats.

With the help of fresh-faced Avalanche operatives, Yuffie infiltrates Midgar to retrieve a top-secret, all-powerful Materia. However, this overarching goal often fell to the wayside because the side content was far more enticing to chew on. Still, I didn’t mind this because reconnecting with old pals like Jesse and Wedge in Fort Condor or slaying wild beats repeatedly with Yuffie and Sonon’s flashy flurries was where the experience truly came together.

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Combat is Intermission’s bread and butter. The minute I took control of Yuffie, I was enamored with her eye-popping agility – long-range shuriken throws transform into close-combat combos in the blink of an eye. Afterimage effects fill the screen as the whimsical ninja pierces her foes in mid-air while conducting high-altitude flips. Yuffie’s acrobatic barrages are reflective of her flashy and eccentric personality. She’s also quite resourceful as her default weapon can switch elements on the fly, which helps alleviate any menu parsing that you would normally do to equip Materia. Thankfully, I never needed to step away from the action to prepare for enemy weaknesses, making combat more streamlined and constant. Because of this, I only ever equipped other weapons to max out their proficiencies; the early-game 4-Point Shuriken was just too valuable to sideline.

Synergized attacks – tag-team abilities that can only be activated if both Yuffie and Sonon have at least one ATB charge – feel like miniature Limit Breaks with their own dazzling cinematics and substantial damage numbers. I can’t remember a single time where I didn’t try to take advantage of this feature, and I often wished that Remake implemented something like it. Watching Yuffie straddle Sonon’s staff, while bringing that final blow down on a boss never got old.

Fort Condor, an entertaining respite from the intense battle sequences, is a tower-defense mode where troops under three distinct classes (attackers, vanguard, and ranged) clash to take out enemy outposts. Each class has a specific weakness, and by customizing your roster before a match starts, you can create optimal builds that prioritize different playstyles. There is one caveat: spawning reinforcements drains an AP bar, which not only prevents overcrowding, but highlights split-second decision making.

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I enjoyed placing bases on the board to spawn lower cost units so that I wouldn’t have to micromanage every phase of a given match. Baiting enemy soldiers towards one side of the map and sending speedy attackers to barrage abandoned outposts was satisfying, especially on higher difficulties. With only a handful of competitors, Fort Condor still feels like a tagged-on feature. Similarly, I wish that there were more boards and units to purchase from local shops. Fort Condor reminds me of The Witcher 3’s Gwent and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Orlog, and I hope to see more of it implemented in the future.

Episode Intermission is brought to life by its bubbly, albeit goofy, main character. I loved how Yuffie’s personality came through in the myriad ways that she interacted with each setting – i.e., sliding down poles or flinging her shuriken at far off mechanical switches to solve environmental puzzles. Exploration and combat are bolstered by an eclectic score that sports jazzy trumpets as well as roaring guitar riffs. And the level of detail that the Graphics Mode brings to flowy garments, strands of hair, and other textures never ceased to amaze me. I wish that Intermission’s narrative was a little longer so that I could spend more time getting to know its small cast but Yuffie rises to the occasion. I can’t wait to see how she fits into what’s next for Remake.

Score: 8.75

Summary: Episode Intermission plays like a dream thanks to Yuffie’s high-speed and nuanced combat skills, alluring optional activites, and visual/performance upgrades on PlayStation 5.

Concept: Live out an exciting ninja fantasy as Yuffie while revisiting the sights of Midgar’s various sectors

Graphics: Final Fantasy VII Remake was a good-looking game, but the Graphics Mode cleans up any flat textures while upgrading character models. The sparkle in each character’s eyes is a nice detail too

Sound: This is the classic Final Fantasy VII fanfare with head-nodding jazz and rock compositions that mirror Yuffie’s eclectic nature

Playability: Controlling Yuffie in battle is the highlight of Episode Intermission since her abilities are so fast and impressive to look at

Entertainment: Synergizing with Sonon is the icing on the cake and watching the two fighters unleash their fury on unsuspecting foes kept me on the edge of my seat

Replay: High

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Mortal Kombat Legends Sequel Drops This Summer

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge came out last April and chronicles the journey(s) of its titular protagonist. A sequel, called Battle of the Realms,  is set to drop this summer, and while news about what the movie will focus on is practically nonexistent, we do have casting information by way of The Hollywood Reporter.

Many of the voices from Scorpion’s Revenge are returning. Some of the voice actors listed here will reprise multiple roles in the film: 

Joel McHale (Johnny Cage)
Jennifer Carpenter (Sonya Blade)
Jordan Rodrigues (Liu Kang)
Patrick Seitz (Scorpion)
Artt Butler (Shang Tsung)
Robin Atkin Downes (Shinnok)
Dave B. Mitchell (Raiden)
Ikè Amadi (Jax)
Grey Griffin (Kitana and Mileena)
Fred Tatasciore (Shao Kahn)

New actors will be joining the team, of course. Matthew Mercer, of video game acting fame (Overwatch’s McCree and Persona 5’s Yusuke Kitagawa), will play Stryker and Smoke. Bayardo De Murguia (Tiny Pretty Things) will be Sub-Zero. Matt Yang King (Numbers) plays Kung Lao, Paul Nakuchi (Overwatch’s Hanzo) is Lin Kuei Grandmaster, Emily O’Brien (Death Stranding) is Jade, and Debra Wilson (The Boondocks) stars as D’Vorah. 

Although it’s not an animated film like Legends, the live-action Mortal Kombat dropped earlier this year. Senior editor Brian Shea enjoyed the movie and ultimately gave it an 8, concluding, “Those who go into Mortal Kombat wanting a fun exploration of the loose lore surrounding the first game will not be disappointed. The fight scenes are terrific, the characters a well-represented throughout, and newcomer Cole Young is a solid addition to the cast of recognizable characters. While some of the writing is a little on-the-nose and the plot feels rushed at times, I’m excited to see how the teases sprinkled throughout the end of the movie come to fruition in subsequent installments.” 

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, drops towards the end of the summer.

[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]


Tunic – New Gameplay Today

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Some games stop you in your tracks the moment you first see them. Titles such as Sable, Solar Ash, and Cris Tales have such unique visual styles, but none more so than Tunic. Solo developer Andrew Shouldice has set out to create a memorable ode to the 2D Zelda titles of the past, but that’s far from painting a full picture of this gorgeous new action title.

As part of the ID@Xbox Demo Event for this year, the house of Master Chief has rolled out a ton of new playable experiences featuring some of the most exciting indies coming out in 2021 and beyond. As part of that, Marcus Stewart, Ben Reeves, and Alex Stadnik got to check out Tunic and are sharing their thoughts with the lovely GI community.

One of the most striking aspects right off the bat is the game’s deceptive difficulty. Booting up the demo, it becomes clear right away that players won’t be able to just spam the attack button and remain alive. Gamers will have to block, roll, and pick their attacks carefully especially when the enemies get larger and more numerous. It almost feels like a Dark Souls game in not only its deliberate combat (though, not quite as punishing) but in its checkpoint system, the way death is handled, and its mysterious world-building. If you’re curious how that looks in action, we show off all that and more in this fun episode of New Gameplay Today!

We unfortunately still don’t have a release date for Tunic, but we do know Andrew Shouldice’s exciting new indie title is coming soon to Xbox (Game Pass as well), and PC!

For more indie goodness, keep it locked to Game Informer! We have plenty of coverage from the smallest games making the biggest impact, including a New Gameplay Today on Sable, an update on Hades coming to new consoles, and a first look at Somerville, the latest game from the co-founder of Playdead!


Rockstar Is Shutting Down GTA Online On PS3 And Xbox 360 In December

Rockstar Games announced that it will be shutting down the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of its wildly successful Grand Theft Auto Online. If you’re a GTA Online player tearing up Los Santos on those platforms, mark December 16 as the final day you’ll be able to log in.

The shutdown also means stat tracking for those versions of the game will also disappear from the Rockstar Games Social Club. Additionally, Shark Cash cards will no longer be sold for PS3 and Xbox 360 after September 15. Rockstar’s FAQ on the matter explains that players will not be able to transfer character progress to current versions of GTA Online before the shutdown since no such feature exists. You also cannot transfer or refund virtual currency/goods since those are platform specific. Rockstar does stress that the shutdown will not impact players’ ability to play Grand Theft Auto V’s story mode or their existing progress there. 

In the Rockstar Newswire blog post, the publisher explains that the decision has to do with the company’s increased focus on updating and supporting the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of GTA Online. Rockstar is also busy prepping for the launch of the enhanced versions of GTA V and GTA Online for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S this fall.

Furthermore, website stat tracking for the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Max Payne 3 and L.A. Noire will also cease on September 16. Rockstar is also shutting down online multiplayer and leaderboards for those versions of Max Payne 3. Again, this will not affect players’ ability to play the story modes in either version of those games. 

This marks the end of an era of sorts. GTA Online began life on PS3 and Xbox 360 in October 2013, serving as the launch pads for the mode’s meteoric rise. I don’t know how active the player bases on those platforms is at this point, but it’s always a bummer to see an online service close its doors. 

What do you think of GTA Online’s shutdown on PS3 and Xbox 360, as well as the related news regarding Max Payne 3 and L.A. Noire? Share your thoughts and memories in the comments!

[Source: Rockstar Newswire]


Breath Of The Wild 2 Fan Theory Suggests We Play As Ganondorf

We all knew that the minute more Breath of the Wild 2 footage was shown, the community would take to YouTube to unearth all the little secrets hidden in the latest trailer. And, of course, those trailer breakdowns did happen. Moreover, of all the interesting theories out there, one has soared above the rest because of how downright compelling it is: what if we’ll actually be playing as Ganondorf the whole time in Breath of the Wild 2?

Barret Courtney from KindaFunny took to Twitter not only to post KindaFunny’s Breath of the Wild 2 trailer analysis, but to offer his own 2 cents. You can see the beginning of his Twitter thread above. He mentions playing as Ganondorf, offers solid lore to back up that theory, and even posits what the Breath of the Wild 2 official title will be; this is something that hasn’t been announced just yet because Nintendo doesn’t want to reveal the full name until the time is right.

“This game will be learning about the fall of Ganondorf the man and then saving him from the evil that has been ruling over him for generations,” Courtney starts. “And in doing so, we’ll break the cycle started by Demise. Whether we do that as Zelda or Link, I’m still unsure.” Courtney continues to say that the Skyward Sword port is also indicative of Zelda writer and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi’s larger goal of tethering all three of his major games, “Getting Skyward to Switch will give first timers the back story they need before BOTW2.”

You might also be wondering what Courtney thinks the game will be called. Well, here you go: Demise of the Wild. Courtney thinks that the “hero from 10,000 years ago” is actually Ganondorf: “‘Ganondorf is ALWAYS a Gerudo!’ There’s a huge gap between Skyward and Ocarina y’all. And Gerudo didn’t exist in Skyward. Whether it’s asset replacement rn or his hair turns red once he finds the sword with Demise inside of it – that’s dehydrated boy hydrated.”

What do you think about this theory? Do you think playing as Ganondorf could shake up the future of the Legend of Zelda franchise in positive ways?


Nintendo Won’t Reveal Breath Of The Wild 2’s Official Title Just Yet

We finally got a more comprehensive look at Breath of the Wild 2 yesterday during Nintendo’s E3 Direct. A montage of aerial combat, skydiving/gliding, and new and improved rune abilities set the sequel apart from the beloved original. In the next chapter of Link’s story, we know that Zelda will continue to play a big role (despite her gaping absence from the latest gameplay trailer) and that the narrative will take place at high altitudes. Apparently, the official title of Breath of the Wild 2 could tell us even more, so Nintendo has decided to keep it a secret until it’s ready to divulge more details with the general public.

Nintendo Treehouse’s Bill Trinen and Nate Bihldorff talked with IGN about Nintendo’s decision. There is definitely a subtitle that has already been agreed upon but it might be too early for all of us to know. “As for why we’re holding back on the name, you’ll just have to stay tuned because, obviously, Zelda names are kind of important,” Trinen said during the interview. “Those subtitles… they start to give little bits of hints about maybe what’s going to happen.”

It’s true that older Legend of Zelda installments have names that directly correlate with the story: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess to name a few. So, it’s only natural that Breath of the Wild would follow suit. We’ve been waiting for more news about the sequel for two years. As of right now, we know that it’ll be released at some point in 2022 for Nintendo Switch. Our very own Liana Ruppert compiled a list of cool features and mechanics that she’d love to see in the upcoming game, so be sure to check that out to fuel your excitement.

What do you think Breath of the Wild 2’s official name is? Throw down your wacky and/or serious title ideas in the comments section.

[Source: IGN]


E3 2021 Was A Bust

Over the last week, gamers got what they have come to expect at the beginning of the summer. A slew of big game announcements, thrilling trailers, and gameplay reveals set the stage for the coming year and showed an industry eager to stride into the future after the shared hardship of the last year in quarantine. For gamers, E3 has become a buzzword that represents a sort-of Christmastime for game reveals – with an accompanying crowd of ravenous fans who can’t wait to tear into the present of the next big announcement. Even among our staff at Game Informer, we used the words “E3 2021” to grasp the trends and cover the big news coming from the game industry.

The issue, of course, is that the news and reveals that excited us all this past week had little to nothing to do with the event run by the ESA – the actual official show called E3. That event – E3 2021 – failed to make the grade.

E3 has had a long history as a showplace for the gaming industry and is no stranger to changes in format and presentation. Over the years, it moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta and back again. It shifted to a small-form business focus in 2007 and 2008. In more recent years, it opened to the public, moving away from its trade show origins. And, like virtually every worldwide in-person event in 2020, it was totally cancelled.

The ESA was left in a tough spot when it had to determine plans for a 2021 event. By almost any measure, given the public health concerns, it was still too early to consider a large-scale in-person convention that might include thousands of attendees, especially when many of those attendees would arrive from international destinations. But I’m sure there was a sense, especially among the showrunners, that a second year without an official show would set a bad precedent.

Unfortunately, the resulting digital-only event felt shallow and ill-constructed, leaving me to wonder if the show should have just skipped another year. Amidst the happenings of recent days, I’ve spent time perusing the website that is ostensibly the official digital presence of the E3 event. It’s a depressing experience. The “booths” are little more than slimmed-down press sites, and some of these clickable booths are literally empty of any content whatsoever. Companies that did include clickable elements are mostly populated with older game content, and many weren’t updated over the course of the show as new games came to light. Likewise, included video content is a strange and disorganized mix of clips, mostly from studios, games, and content creators that I barely recognize. E3 is an event that has always been known as an interactive experience for the interactive gaming industry, but few of the games connected to this year’s show even offer playable demos or builds.

Meanwhile, larger-name publishers seemed to distance themselves from the official event in their own video conferences. Presentations from the likes of Xbox and Ubisoft remained on the official schedule for E3, but it was notable how those companies only mentioned E3 in fleeting moments, if at all. Some smaller publishers ran events that felt forced and unnecessary, claiming spots on a schedule only to eke out a trickle of inconsequential details. And following a trend that’s been building for some years as publishers like Sony eschewed this week of announcements completely, saving the bulk or the entirety of their upcoming catalog to show in a place and time of their choosing. Other game makers chose to work with external partners for their reveals, like the Summer Game Fest, which defiantly kicked off two days before E3’s official show was set to begin.

As a whole, the emerging sense was that E3 was barely a show in its own right this year. And even as most of us colloquially continued to term these recent days as “E3,” the event itself was a flop. Through a combination of unavoidable safety concerns from a real-world pandemic, and a growing cadre of publishers choosing to set their own communication parameters, the big show took a particularly punishing body blow to its reputation. Even the announcement that it will return to an in-person event in LA next year isn’t enough to block the strength of that hit.

From my perspective, that’s a real shame. For all of its many changing features, locations, and formats, I’ve been disappointed to see the show lose its potency in recent years. I recognize the great expense involved for publishers, and the way every game and company is forced to scramble to capture even a smidgeon of attention amid the deluge of news. But for gamers and game industry professionals alike, E3 has also been a brief moment of unified intent, shared communication, and community.

Over the years, E3 has united fans, game creators, media, and business people together in a shared celebration. It has also become a moment that everyone can take stock of the coming year, lifting our heads up from our day-to-day grind to perceive the vastness and excitement of the gaming industry and hobby. There’s value in that incredible wave of activity, and it often crests over the barriers to reach more mainstream attention, and that helps make a case to the broader culture for the way video games continue to evolve and grow. I’d love to see E3 achieve that kind of singular pull again. Unfortunately, E3 2021 fell short of that goal, and I wonder if it did more harm than good for future iterations to succeed. 


Sony Shooting For 2022 Release Of PlayStation VR Successor

Since before the launch of PlayStation 5 in late 2020, questions arose about when Sony might update its PlayStation VR hardware to the next generation. Throughout this year, there has been a small but steady trickle of information; first confirming the existence of a new headset, to now where we have a potential release year for the product.

According to a report from Bloomberg’s Takashi Mochizuki, Sony is working to bring the PlayStation VR successor to market in 2022. The news comes within a story focused on the LCD screen manufacturer Japan Display Inc. The company said it would be shifting its supply of screens from the mobile phone market to VR headsets. Having been a supplier for technology juggernaut Apple in the past, this move, while inherently to a smaller market, can lead to growth. JDI claims in the article it can produce higher resolution screens for headsets while keeping the cost down, both very important metrics in the VR space.

Mochizuki describes VR headset makers like HTC and Facebook are making the move from OLED displays to LCD due to the lower price point. However, Sony is taking a different course with PlayStation VR 2. Since the PlayStation Vita, Sony has implemented OLED screens into its gaming products. The original PSVR sported OLED screens within the headset, and according to the Bloomberg story, the PSVR2 will also be outfitted with OLED panels with are provided by Samsung Display Co.

Back in March we learned about the new controllers coming along with PSVR2. Sony is looking to retire the Move wands from the PlayStation 3 era in favor of something a bit more modern to keep up in the competitive VR space. Haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are making the transition from Sony’s DualSense controllers, as well as new finger tracking sensors which are standard on competing hardware from Oculus and Valve.

We’ll let you know more about the next PlayStation VR as news arises. While we wait, check out the recent experiences on the current PSVR hardware including the entire Hitman World of Assassination trilogy, or read the Game Informer review of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, the standout VR platformer from 2018.


The Medium Crosses Over To PlayStation 5 In September

The Medium, Bloober Team’s occult horror game, is making its way to PlayStation 5. The title launched in January as one of the first (if not the first) third-party Xbox Series X/S exclusive, albeit a timed one. The port adds full haptic feedback support for the DualSense controller. 

The Medium’s plot centers on Marianne, a spirit medium who is summoned to an abandoned and very haunted hotel in Poland. Marianne is not only able to communicate with the dead, but she can access and traverse the spirit world alongside the world of the living. This is represented by a split screen where players simultaneously explore the physical and spirit version of an area to access objects and paths accessible on one side to open routes for the other. As Marianne communes with spirits and uncovers the mystery of the hotel’s past as well as her own, she’s stalked by a malevolent (and invisible) entity bent on making Marianne’s visit an unpleasant one. 

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The Medium has some cool ideas that don’t always live up to their potential. In his review of the game, GI editor Ben Reeves wrote:

“Some of the best horror games of the last decade have offered combat-free frights. After all, abandoned buildings are scarier when you can’t push back against the shadows. However, The Medium’s lack of combat highlights the challenge of letting atmosphere and puzzles carry a horror experience. The idea of exploring split realities is neat, but Bloober Team needed another gameplay hook to hang its hat on, because this horror show is a bit shallow”

Still, if you’re a PS5 owner looking for a new horror experience to sink your teeth into, you can circle September 3 as the date The Medium arrives on the platform. On that same day, Bloober is also releasing a special version of the game called The Medium: Two Worlds Special Edition. The physical bundle comes packaged in a steelbook case and includes an artbook and soundtrack.

Are there any PS5 owners that have been curious to give The Medium a shot? Let us know in the comments!


GI Show – Metroid Dread And Breath of the Wild 2 In Our Final E3 Recap

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We interrupt your normally scheduled podcast to talk about anything and everything that happened during days three and four of E3 2021, which includes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, Mario Party Superstars, Metroid Dread, WarioWare: Get It Together, Shin Megami Tensei V, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot CampThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel, and much, much more. 

Join John CarsonAlex Van AkenBlake HesterMarcus Stewart, and Ben Reeves for another wet and wild episode. 

Thanks for listening! Please make sure to leave feedback below and share the episode if you enjoyed it. You can watch the video above, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Playlisten on SoundCloudstream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to send your questions to podcast@gameinformer.com for a chance to have them answered on the show!

Our thanks to The Rapture Twins for The Game Informer Show’s intro song. You can hear more of their music on their website.

To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below.

00:00:00 – Introduction

00:01:12 – E3 2021 Day 3 Recap

00:02:00 – Capcom E3 Recap

00:09:18 – Nintendo Direct E3 2021 Recap

00:55:00 – Favorite Games of E3 2021


Sable – New Gameplay Today

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2021 is proving to be a very interesting year in the world of indie games. We’ve already experienced some unique adventures in titles such as Before Your Eyes and Loop Hero, but there’s plenty on the horizon for those who love the smaller but impactful experiences the genre’s known for. Games such as Lake, Cris Tales, and 12 Minutes have us hopeful for the rest of the year, but one of our most anticipated upcoming indie titles is Sable, developer Shedworks’ new open-world stunner.

If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve seen the gorgeous visual style before. Recently shown off at the Geoff Keighley Summer Game Fest, Sable’s vibrant and distinct art style has generated a large amount of hype, and for good reason. But now that the game’s demo is out for Xbox and PC users, is it any fun to play?

Join Blake Hester, Ben Reeves, and Alex Stadnik as they set out to answer that question and more. We pick up from the midway point in the demo and show off the starting camp, how exploration and traversal work, and that sweet sweet speeder bike action we know you want to see.

The demo not enough to tide you over before Sable’s release for Xbox consoles (including Game Pass) and PC on September 23? Be sure to check out our article detailing the game’s latest showing and our reactions to its trailer along with the rest of Summer Game Fest 2021!

While the week may be winding down, we’re still in the midst of the video game industry’s biggest week of the year, and we’re celebrating in style. We’re live streaming all the biggest conferences with you, giving our spicy reactions on the YouTube channel, and filling a huge E3 hub with all the content you could dream of. Thanks for watching!


Star Wars: KOTOR And Spider-Man: Miles Morales Are Getting New Gaming Action Figures

Hasbro has been doing amazing things for Star Wars fans through its Black Series and Vintage lines of action figures. Almost every character who was on screen for a second in any of the Star Wars movies has been turned into an action figure. But that’s not all Hasbro has done. Numerous comic books, novels, and video games have also been mined for characters that can forever be remembered as action figures.

Through Hasbro’s Gaming Greats line of figures, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Battlefront, Bounty Hunter, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic have been represented in big ways. Today, the latter game is receiving yet another entry. For those of you who played KOTOR, you may remember running across Tatooine with a wookiee warrior at your side. That was Zaalbar, who is also lovingly called “Big Z.” This awesome new figure comes with a sizable sword and a blaster. He will be sold exclusively at GameStop. Preorders are available now.

With Zaalbar joining Darth Revan as Black Series figures, let’s hope Hasbro continues with the KOTOR line and eventually creates figures for Mission, T3-M4, Bastila, Canderous, Juhani, Jolee, and most importantly, HK-47. I left out Carth because he’s the absolute worst.

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Hasbro also announced a new Marvel Legends Gamerverse action figure for Spider-Man: Miles Morales. While we would love to see other characters from this game get action figures, this new version of Miles is pretty darn cool. He’s taping into his Venom ability to turn invisible. You can also add an item to his hand to make him look like he’s charging up a Venom Smash attack.

This figure is also sold exclusively at GameStop, and will release on October 1.

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Disclaimer: GameStop is the parent company of Game Informer


Breath of the Wild 2 Reactions + Nintendo Direct Recap (E3 2021)

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While the day started with a fervor of anticipation and excitement for what Nintendo would have to offer as part of its E3 2021 Direct, there still was a question of “what were we going to actually see?” Plenty of titles fans can’t wait for are in development from the house of Zelda, Mario, and more, but with nary a confirmation, all we had was our hopes and dreams to tide us over. When Nintendo’s Direct hit, it finally gave us a good look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel, but that was far from it.

What would a conference be if you didn’t have your favorite Game Informer editors to break it down? Join Alex Van Aken, Liana Ruppert, Marcus Stewart, and Alex Stadnik as they discuss the huge moments of the stream for them and lay out their ultra spicy takes. One of our highlights includes the shocking and exciting announcement of Metroid Dread, a 2D-action game from the team behind the 3DS game Samus Returns. We also get hyped about Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, and discuss our thoughts on the lack of the rumored Nintendo Switch Pro.


00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:16 – Kazuya Joins Smash
00:02:40 – Mario Party Superstars
00:04:13 – No Nintendo Switch Pro
00:06:20 – Metroid Dread
00:09:39 – WarioWare: Get It Together!
00:11:44 – Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
00:12:43 – Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
00:15:51 – Danganronpa: Decadence
00:17:15 – Zelda Section
00:20:42 – Breath Of The Wild Sequel
00:26:22 – Final Thoughts

While the week may be winding down, we’re still in the midst of the video game industry’s biggest week of the year, and we’re celebrating in style. We’re live streaming all the biggest conferences with you, giving our spicy reactions on the YouTube channel, and filling a huge E3 hub with all the content you could dream of. Thanks for watching!


Advance Wars 1 + 2 Are Being Remastered For Switch, Arriving In December

During today’s Nintendo E3 Direct, Intelligent Systems’ long-dormant  Advance Wars series returned, not with a new entry, but a remastered collection that brings back the first two entries in the series for Switch. Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is slated to release on December 3 with pre-orders available now.

Advance Wars is a turn-based tactical combat game that pits the player’s Orange Star Nation against various computer-controlled forces. Much like a game of chess, the positioning of different unit types is part of the strategy, and has you thinking numerous turns ahead. On some maps, victory is achieved by destroying all of the enemy’s units, while other locations push you to complete objectives and secure locations.

Although the first Game Boy Advance games are returning (Advance Wars and Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising), they have been completely reimagined and rebuilt from the ground up. All of the units are now polygonal in design, and your commanding officers are brought to life with stylish hand-drawn animation.

Both of these games were beloved by players back in the day, and offer up a wealth of variety in the maps, units, and changing conditions (such as terrain and weather). If you don’t want to take on computer-controlled armies, you can jump into multiplayer, which supports four-player skirmishes on dozens of maps.

Following Advance Wars: Days of Ruin’s release in 2008, the series went quiet, leading to the creation of the spiritual successor Wargroove, which is every bit as good as its inspiration point. Here’s hoping both Wargroove and Advance Wars continue on as series in the years ahead. For now, this remake will have to tide us over.


New Game & Watch System Collects Earliest Zelda Games

A new Game & Watch system from Nintendo collects the original NES titles The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. But that’s not all! The system also includes the original green-toned Game Boy title The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. But that’s not all! It also includes an original Game & Watch game called Vermin, which looks a lot like Whac-A-Mole; however, this time around Link is the playable character. But that’s not all! It also looks adorable.

Okay, that’s all.

This special Game & Watch is Nintendo’s way of celebrating the Zelda series, which turns 35 this year. The system also has a couple of neat time-keeping features – after all, it’s called a watch for a reason. In addition to playing four games, this Game & Watch features a playtime clock themed after The Legend of Zelda and an interactive timer based on Zelda II. Nintendo did something similar with Mario last year, so it’s cool to see this trend continue.

The Legend of the Zelda is one of Nintendo’s marquee franchises. Not only was it one of the earliest open-world games, but it helped pioneer the action/RPG genre. If you haven’t played these early titles, they might be worth a look, and this new Game & Watch makes them incredibly easy to pick up and play wherever you are.

If you’re not familiar with Game & Watch, this series of handheld electronics were manufactured by Nintendo starting in 1980 and was a big part of the company’s success, and one reason Nintendo continued to push into the gaming market with systems like the Game Boy and the NES. The classic system is so beloved that some modders have hacked old Game & Watch systems so they could play Doom.

Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda-themed Game & Watch will be available starting on November 12 for $49.99, and you can check it out on its official site.


Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One Arrives On Nintendo Switch Today

Ready to fight some more of the hordes of Hell? Of course you are! For those that have lovefor the Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One DLC, you can now take this adventure on the go with Nintendo Switch. Even better? It arrives today. The E3 2021 Nintendo Showcase showed off a little bit of how this expansion plays on the hybrid console, confirming its arrival.

Arriving today, Doom fans can jump right into the action on the Nintendo Switch. At the time this article was written, The Ancient Gods DLC wasn’t showing up in the eShop quite yet, but Nintendo promises that it will be arriving later today. 

Doom Eternal joined the Nintendo Switch library back in December of last year, and it runs pretty well on the portable system. The Switch has continued to surprise fans, in the best way, with its performance and impressive third-party support, so to be able to play the next step in the hellish franchise, and its DLC, is pretty darn cool. 

Need a little refresher on what The Ancient Gods has to offer? Check out the full announcement trailer below from when it was first revealed: 

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“Your mission is now your own,” reads the DLC’s official description. “The legions of Hell have razed the heavens, threatening to expand their control across dimensions. Unleash your vengeance and battle back to the Maykr’s realm. Defeat powerful new threats, restore order to the heavens and unearth the corruption that has thrown the universe into chaos.”

Missed a part of the ongoing E3 2021 showcase? Don’t worry, we have you covered! Feel free to mosey on over to our dedicated events hub here to catch up on anything you may have missed, including news, world premieres, watchalongs, and so much more. 


Nintendo Reveals New Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Sequel Gameplay

Players have been clamoring for more info on the Breath of the Wild sequel, and today’s E3 Nintendo Direct finally answered that need. The latest look at the game showed off new powers, curious locations, and lots of action. We still haven’t seen an official logo or title, but we certainly have now seen more of the game in motion.

The trailer opens with Link tumbling, skydiver-style, through an open sky, before breaking to a variety of action scenes of Link moving through the game world. Several of the powers shown are especially intriguing, such as one in which he seems to pull himself through the bottom part of a rockface with some sort of portal. We see Link use a flamethrower device against one of his monstrous opponents. In another sequence, he seems to take control of a vast tumbling spiked ball rolling downhill toward him and alter its trajectory. Finally, as the trailer comes to an end, we are treated to a menacing floating citadel in the distance, almost certainly the home of some challenging boss battle we have yet to learn about.

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More than anything else, the trailer hints that moving through the sky will be a big part of the new game. In an accompanying press release for the game, it’s even implied that a large part of the game will actually unfold in a “vast new world high above the kingdom of Hyrule.” That seems to strongly suggest that the game will flow out of the Hyrule setting seen in the first Breath of the Wild game and into new areas we haven’t yet explored, perhaps all floating in the skies above the previous game’s core locations.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel is headed to Switch in 2022. After numerous game of the year accolades for the previous game, it’s safe to say that the gaming community is especially excited to see if this follow-up can maintain the very high bar.

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Wario And His “Chumps” Bring Back Micro-Games In WarioWare: Get It Together!

Wario Ware has made its glorious return in Nintendo’s E3 Direct this morning. WarioWare: Get It Together! features the garlic-eating antagonist along with a ton of “chumps” from previous games in the series. Wario himself narrated the trailer, announcing the game and release date.

Framed as a brand-new game from Wario’s own development company, this new title continues to focus on the micro-games it made famous all the way back on the Game Boy Advance. Classic scenarios are shown, like squeezing a tube of toothpaste, avoiding bird poop, and hitting a Mario Land question-mark block.

A twist this time around brings the WarioWare characters into the micro-games where players must use their different abilities to complete fast-paced objectives. Wario is shown jumping and flying around to complete the various micro-objectives, instead of having to perform simple one or two-button solutions. Each of the playable characters has its own mobility and projectile options based on their personal style and quirks.

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Recent games have brought multiplayer into the series and Get It Together! will also allow for friends and family to play along. A two-player mode was demonstrated, with each player controlling a different character in the cast. Whether the mode is designed to be cooperative or competitive is unclear, but the gameplay presented looked like both were possible.

This will be the first taste Switch owners have had of WarioWare on the hybrid console. The last micro-game collection released was back in 2018 with WarioWare Gold on the Nintendo 3DS. Gold was a greatest hits of past entries in the series, collecting over 300 micro-games in one package. Take a look at Game Informer’s review of WarioWare Gold in anticipation for Get It Together!

Pre-orders are going live today for WarioWare: Get It Together! which is set to release on September 10, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. 

Nintendo’s Direct was full of news from games like Zelda and Metroid. Check out all the news from this event and the rest of E3 at our E3 Hub


Danganronpa Decadence Brings Four Games In One Collection To Switch For The First Time

The Danganronpa series is finally making its way to Switch. Danganronpa Decadence bundles the four games in one neat, twisted package to celebrate the franchise’s 10th anniversary. 

The collection includes the three main games in the Danganronpa series, which are: 

  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Anniversary Edition
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Anniversary Edition
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Anniversary Edition

Decadence also includes the brand-new Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, which is a board-game style title that features many of the same characters engaging in new interactions told through additional cutscenes. 

Nintendo also states that each game in the collection will be sold individually, though it’s unknown when that will happen and how much each game will cost. 

Danganronpa Decadence launches sometime later this year. You can also pick up a physical collector’s edition that includes a special outer box and remixed soundtrack.

What do you think about Danganronpa finally coming to Switch? Let us know in the comments!


Danganronpa Decadence Is A Collection That Finally Brings The Twisted Series To Switch

The Danganronpa series is finally making its way to Switch. Danganronpa Decadence bundles four games in one neat, twisted package to celebrate the franchise’s 10th anniversary. Now Switch owners can indulge in the fun of watching an evil bear force high school students into murdering each other. 

The collection includes the three main games in the Danganronpa series. You can also find our original reviews for each right next to them, in case you’d like an idea of what you’re in for and how they stack up. If you’re only interested in one or two of these games, Nintendo states that each title in the collection will be sold individually sometime later this year. 

  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Anniversary Edition (our review)
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Anniversary Edition (our review)
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Anniversary Edition (our review)

Decadence also includes the brand-new Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, which is a board-game style adventure. This expanded take on the Ultimate Talent Development Plan from Danganronpa V3 takes place on a tropical resort on Jabberwock Island where players can earn money and upgrade equipment through battles. Ultimate Summer Camp features several familiar characters engaging in new interactions as well as new cutscenes. 

Danganronpa Decadence launches sometime later this year. You can also pick up a physical collector’s edition that includes a 10th anniversary poster, remixed soundtrack, collector’s outer box, and a set of three lenticular prints. Check it out below.

What do you think about Danganronpa finally coming to Switch? Let us know in the comments!


Shin Megami Tensei V Release Date Set For November

At today’s E3 Nintendo Direct presentation, we finally got a release date for Shin Megami Tensei V. On November 12, players can finally catch a collection of demons all over again. Save the world? Doom it to chaos? Create a bold new order of law? If the other Shin Megami Tensei games are any indicator, we’ll have many of the same systems and structures coming back for another go, this time on the Nintendo Switch.

The Shin Megami Tensei series is actually the parent franchise to Persona, which over the years became more popular. Shin Megami Tensei titles eschew the high-school time mechanics and relationship building of Persona and are more about hardcore dungeon crawling. Fans of Persona will recognize aspects similar to the Velvet Room with things like the Cathedral of Shadows, where players can collect, combine, and assemble a perfect demonic composition in order to take on challenging and often unforgiving battles. The difficulty level of Shin Megami Tensei games is often on the top end of JRPGs, which has led to a bit of a notorious reputation. Clever use of buffs, debuffs, and correct demons for the job makes things easier, but you can’t just mash the attack button to get through them in most cases. 

Unlike Persona’s focus on hanging out with friends, dates, and finding your way through drama class, Shin Megami Tensei games often hinge on high-level philosophical and moral quandaries that let the player determine the outcome of a new world. Yeah, that’s pretty deep, but on the surface the games can be likened to a kind of demonic, occult Pokémon of sorts. If you like a lot of the demons in Persona, you’ll find a ton of them here in Shin Megami Tensei as well, from the adorable Jack Frost to… well, other things that ride chariots. I wonder if Mara will make an appearance in Shin Megami Tensei V.

It will be interesting to see if the Persona fervor fostered by the popularity of Persona 5 Royal and Persona V Strikers will carry over to the IP that started it all. I was a fan of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse and I enjoy the sheer absurdity and weirdness that radiates from the franchise, it’s quite unlike almost any other game you’re likely to find today. 

Shin Megami Tensei launches on Nintendo Switch on November 12.

Are you going to give Shin Megami Tensei V a try? Do you wish it was coming to other platforms? Are you going to chat with demons to recruit them?  Let us know in the comments!


Metroid Dread Announced For Switch

For years, gamers have grumbled about the dearth of 2D Metroid experiences on home Nintendo consoles. At times, it has seemed like Nintendo simply isn’t paying attention to how much its players love the classic 2D experience of navigating Samus through a vast interconnected 2D world. But all that is set to change this October, when the newly announced Metroid Dread is set to release.

The surprise announcement was part of today’s E3 2021 Nintendo Direct, and we saw an extensive trailer showing off some of Samus’ adventures in this new game, which was also informally introduced as “Metroid 5.”

In the game, a focus appeared to be on Samus’ flight away from a large multipedal robotic nemesis, name E.M.M.I., who chases her through the tunnels and pits of the game world. In addition to an increased focus on the fear element implied by the title, the video showed a number of different moves from Samus, from sliding underneath low overhangs, to melee uppercuts against enemies, a wall-climbing ability, and even a black camouflage that hides her from the robot’s scanners. We also saw a variety of big and scary monsters to fight.

The reveal of Metroid Dread is notable on a number of counts. For several years, Nintendo has seemed reticent to put a brand-new, mainline entry in the series on its flagship home console, but Metroid Dread seems to reverse that trend, bringing us the first brand-new story based in a 2D game in approximately 19 years, and it’s being built for the Switch.

Metroid Dread itself, as a title for a sequel, has been rumored for many years. According to a concurrent press release, Metroid Dread “concludes the five-part saga focusing on the strange, interconnected fates of bounty hunter Samus and the Metroids.” In short, it’s a game title that has been long anticipated, and with a significant legacy behind its arrival. 

Metroid Dread is targeting a release on Switch on October 8. 

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Hyrule Warriors Is Getting An Expansion This Week

Today during Nintendo’s E3 Direct presentation, the publisher revealed an expansion pass for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which first released back in 2020. The expansion becomes available in just three days on June 18, Nintendo revealed. 

Called “Pulse Of The Ancients,” this is the first wave of two expansions planned for Hyrule Warriors, developer Koei Tecmo’s musou game set in the Legend of Zelda universe. A brief trailer unveiled during the Direct showed the expected large-scale battles but also provided glimpses at controllable guardians, new weapons, and even Zelda riding a motorcycle – much like the one added in Breath of the Wild. A splash screen after the trailer expanded on the new additions, revealing the expansion would bring an “Apocalyptic” difficulty, new challenges in the Royal Ancient Lab, and new enemies, such as higher-ranking Wizzrobes and a Giant Chuchu.

Check out the new trailer in full below:

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To catch up on Hyrule Warriors, make sure to read our review, where we said the game is “far from a revelation, but it is an adequate diversion.”

For all the news, trailers, and game reveals from this year’s E3, get up-to-speed over at our ever-updating and growing hub page.


Tekken’s Kazuya Is Joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Today’s Nintendo Direct kicked off with the announcement of a new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter. Kazuya Mishima of Tekken fame is making his way into the game, and he’s got a volcano big enough to toss all of his victims into. 

Kazuya is one of Tekken’s most popular and longest tenured characters, appearing in most of the mainline entries.  His moveset appears largely identical to his Tekken arsenal but has been translated to fit the style of Smash, of course. The reveal trailer also showed off his ability to transform into his powerful devil form. You can watch the trailer in the embedded tweet below.

On June 28 at 9 a.m. PT, Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai will host a deep dive presentation breaking down Kazuya’s moveset. That’s likely when we’ll find out the date that Kazuya will join the game. 

What do you think of Kazuya’s addition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Let us know in the comments! 


BioWare Store Adds Liara Statue To Celebrate Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Pre-Orders Live

Everybody’s favorite blueberry is back and by the goddess, this is a nifty collectible. The BioWare Store officially debuted two versions of the Liara T’Soni collectible figure, much like it did with Garrus Vakarian. Fans of the space franchise can opt into the fully colored version or the prototype version, the latter being limited to just 250 units. 

BioWare teased this statue prior to the launch of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition earlier this year, giving fans of the wide-eyed Asari a chance to celebrate their love for this character: 

For those that may want a refresher on our favorite blueberry, Liara T’Soni is an Asari researcher that we first meet in Mass Effect 1. When we first stumble upon her on the planet Therum, she’s excavating a Prothean ruin and triggers a trap that encases her deep within the catacombs. In our first meeting with Liara she’s a wide-eyed lover of science and discovery. She’s also a bit naive, and that’s why many felt so attached to her right off the bat: she was brilliant, kind, adaptable, and, whether romanced or not, was a valued friend. 

In Mass Effect 2, she truly comes into her own power, a power expertly reflected by the trilogy’s conclusion. The latest Mass Effect collectible will pay homage to her character, which is fitting considering she is one of the most beloved companions to come from Shepard’s story. 

You can find the prototype (unpainted version) here, with the fully painted edition here

The two versions of the Liara statue retail for $95, the same as the previous Garrus collectible.  While you’re here, check out our frame-by-frame analysis of the Future of Mass Effect trailer, where I even pull from the comics and books to explore every facet of where the Mass Effect franchise could go next. 


Netflix’s Assassin’s Creed TV Series Lands Writer From Die Hard

Netflix announced its new live-action Assassin’s Creed TV series back in October of last year, a live-action story that goes beyond the limitations of film. With E3 2021 in full force, the streaming company has revealed quite a bit about its upcoming anime and TV line-up, including a new update about the Assassin’s Creed TV series. 

Another name has been added to the Assassin’s Creed TV series, this time with Jeb Stuart of Die Hard fame as the show’s writer. In a new report from VarietyStuart is joining the creative team on this new endavor, flanked by Jason Altman and Danielle Kreinik as the show’s executive producers. 

Stuart is the perfect person to pen this new take, especially when looking at his work on Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla, a spinoff from the hit History Channel Vikings series. Funnily enough, the Assassin’s Creed franchise itself has gone the Viking route with a game under the same name with Valhalla

“For more than 10 years, millions of fans around the world have helped shape the Assassin’s Creed brand into an iconic franchise,” said Jason Altman, Head of Ubisoft Film & Television, when the series was first announced. “We’re thrilled to create an Assassin’s Creed series with Netflix and we look forward to developing the next saga in the Assassin’s Creed universe.”

The Assassin’s Creed universe is expansive, and not just with the games. Though the gaming experiences have varied from Jeruselm to Egypt, the comics and books expand the lore beyond that of what can be seen on a screen. With so much that is still unknown about the Brotherhood and where this tale can continue on next, the TV series has a unique opportunity to meaningfully build upon the adventure that Ubisoft has built. 

“We’re excited to partner with Ubisoft and bring to life the rich, multilayered storytelling that Assassin’s Creed is beloved for,” added Peter Friedlander, Vice President of Netflix Original Series. “From its breathtaking historical worlds and massive global appeal as one of the best selling video game franchises of all time, we are committed to carefully crafting epic and thrilling entertainment based on this distinct IP and provide a deeper dive for fans and our members around the world to enjoy.”

It will be interesting to see what else Netflix has in store, especially when looking at the new Witcher anime that is also in the works. With a blend of anime and live-action, the gaming world is getting even bigger with so many adaptations coming down the pipeline. 

What do you hope to see from Netflix’s Assassin’s Creed TV series? A direct adaptation from the games or a completely new storyline? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 


BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites Remasters And Rebalances The Brutal 2011 Sidescroller

A decade ago, Wayforward attempted to freshen up the dormant BloodRayne franchise by reimagining it as a 2D side-scrolling action game, BloodRayne: Betrayal. While it didn’t result in a comeback for a series, it offered a competent, if not challenging, reinvention (here’s our review). Fast-forward to today, and Wayforward is dusting off Rayne’s final outing to date for another chance in the spotlight. 

BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites upgrades the 2011 title in more ways than one. The vibrant 2D visuals pop even more thanks to an increased resolution up to 4K. The game will also sport other non-specific modern features, and Wayforward has squashed bugs present in the original game. Furthermore, the voice-acting has been re-recorded with original cast members Laura Bailey and Troy Baker reprising their roles as Rayne and Kagan, respectively. 

Perhaps the best news is the new difficulty rebalancing. Betrayal was commonly criticized for being too punishing for its own good, so Fresh Bites rebalances the game to make it more approachable. If you’re a skilled player/masochist that enjoyed that higher challenge, don’t worry; you can still play Betrayal with its original difficulty setting. See the remaster in action in the trailer below.

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I liked BloodRayne: Betrayal well enough in its time, but I’m in the camp of players who thought the blistering difficulty caused more headaches than fun. I was proud to finish it, but it could stand to be better balanced so I’m curious to see how Wayforward reworks that aspect of the game. To date, BloodRayne: Betrayal is the third and final game in the series though the remaster is being published by Ziggurat Interactive, which purchased the IP last summer. Could this remaster, along with the recently enhanced versions of BloodRayne 1 and 2, act as ways to gauge interest for a grander return for Rayne? Fans can only hope. 

BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. It currently has no release window. Limited Run Games will also produce physical copies of the PS5, PS4, and Switch versions. 

Looking forward to playing a spruced up BloodRayne: Betrayal or are you a newcomer who missed it the first time around? Share your thoughts in the comments!