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You can now study EA’s lost sci-fi shooter Battlefield 2142

If you ever wanted to see how DICE would make a science fiction version of its hit Battlefield series, now’s your chance. …


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Get Your First Look At Battlefield 1′s Campaign

DICE's last two Battlefield campaigns have played very similarly: linear mission design coupled with one main protagonist. For Battlefield 1, DICE is reworking both of those aspects.

Missions will no longer require loud gunplay, nor will they only consist of mandatory objectives. Instead, you can choose to sneak around and use melee kills in some instances instead of gunning down everyone in sight. This varied approach also helps the more open mission structure since you'll be able to choose the finer points of most objectives. For example, you can blow up a big turret that stands in your way, or you can hijack it for your own personal use. DICE's newfound campaign philosophy stemmed from their multiplayer philosophy rooted in improvisation. By tearing off some of the restrictions, DICE wants to make the single-player campaign more like the "high-agency game that it is [online]."

But the mission framework isn't the only thing changing in the campaign. DICE is opting to go for an anthology format that revolves around a swath of different people, all with unique backgrounds and skills. Variety was a key point in World War I and DICE said they wanted to embrace that diversity, which led them to this format over the traditional one-protagonist narrative. Cultures range from Arab to British, and this assortment of viewpoints fills out more than the one side we usually see in games about real-life war.

DICE's single-player campaigns never pulled their weight when compared to their multiplayer offerings, but with these big changes, the Swedish developer might finally churn out a narrative worth playing through.

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Battlefield 1 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 21.
EA Access users on Xbox One get access to the game on October 13, and
those who buy a deluxe edition get to start playing on October 18.

If you want to see what's in Battlefield 1's Premium Pass, check it out here. To see how Battlefield 1's multiplayer is different than the other Battlefield games, click here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Science-Fiction Weekly – Everspace, XCOM 2 On Console, Rogue One

In an attempt to save as much money as I can to buy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story toys on Force Friday, my lunches have consisted mostly of peanut butter and honey sandwiches for the last two weeks. This self-inflicted punishment has saved me roughly $ 90 that I can use to buy the Black Series versions of Jyn Erso and K-2SO. My remaining money will either go to the U-Wing, which I just learned features awesome transforming wing positions, and a few of the 3 3/4 inch figures for my collection. All of these collectibles and many more release in just four days (which is a good 75 days before Rogue One hits theaters on December 16).

As excited as I am to go shopping (I'll be at a handful of stores at midnight!), the wait hasn't been that excruciating, thanks in large to two new science-ficton games hitting this week. The first is the console port of XCOM 2. When developer Firaxis Games announced XCOM 2 last summer, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One editions were not in the cards. In an interview with IGN, Jake Solomon, Firaxis' creative director, said that to make a more dynamic sequel with procedural generation the team had to shift gears to a PC-only focus. “To do that, we
had to use all of our studio expertise, and our expertise here is PC," he said.
"That's our home, and that's where we're really comfortable." Firaxis wouldn't rule out a console version at the time, but it didn't sound likely, and for a year, it appeared it would remain a PC and Mac exclusive.

Enter The Workshop, a developer that has helped other studios bring their games to console. Through a collaborative development effort with Firaxis and Blind Squirrel Entertainment, XCOM 2 is now on console, and it's a damn fine port. I'm just at the beginning of my campaign, which is set 20 years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Within and tells the story of the aliens seizing control of the world, and I'm having an absolute blast. Firaxis clearly had fun designing a world in which humanity is on the verge of extinction. While many of the enemy types from the first game return, they've evolved and showcase terrifying new abilities, such as a sectoid's ability to reanimate fallen soldiers.

If you haven't played XCOM before but have always wanted to, you don't need to go back to the previous console generation to play the first entry. This sequel stands well on its own, and the tutorial at the beginning is brilliantly devised, giving you all of the tools and knowledge you need to dive deep into the turn-based action. Just know this: death matters. If your troops are slain, they aren't coming back….unless you turn off permadeath, but don't be that person. XCOM is best experienced when a loss of life means something. You'll grow attached to your troops, more so than you would think. When you get a few hours into the game, you'll hate seeing them take on damage.

I'm playing through the Xbox One version, and the controls work remarkably well on the controller, as well as its predecessor did in the previous generation. On the visual end, I have experienced a few hitches in the character animations, and a slight dip in framerate when an abundance of effects (like fire) are on screen. The game also periodically freezes for a few seconds between player or enemy turns, creating a moment of uncertainty as to what is happening. These are minor (atom-sized) complaints in an otherwise excellent game. Again, I'm still early into the action, but I don't foresee any other problems occurring in the campaign. With that said, I still haven't explored the multiplayer landscape. You can check out a playthrough of a mission in the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Are there any Colony Wars fans out there? If so, you may want to keep your eyes on Everspace, a roguelike space shooter developed by Rockfish Games for PC, and Xbox One. You can play it right now through Early Access, but I have some concerns about that. First, let me begin by saying it's a beautiful game.

Stunning even.

So good that almost every screenshot looks like the cover of a science-fiction book.

Damn.

Okay, I may be overselling the visuals a little bit, but asteroid fields hold a bit of a siren's call for me, and most of the areas in Everspace feature them. They also happen to be one of the game's biggest problems, but more on that in a second.

Since it is a roguelike, expect to die a lot, not from a lack of skill, mind you, but from the difficulty being blistering from the outset of play. The Early Access version doesn't offer a story, (although one is planned for the final release), and at the moment just features a series of level-specific challenges to complete before new stages can be reached. These goals range from earning a specific amount in a run, to downing a specific number of enemy fighters. Again, the game is brutally difficult, and you'll likely die repeatedly before achieving victory.

Although your ship is destroyed, almost everything you earn in a run is stored and can be used to improve the vessel you'll send out on the next run. So theoretically, over time you'll be able to outgun the opposition and make it to the next stage, which will likely turn up the difficulty a notch. Only one ship is controllable, but three will be available in the final game. It's a little slow in movement, but needs to be to a degree. Dogfighting against other ships requires aiming precision and quickly rotating to stay locked on the target. Keep in mind that these battles often unfold in asteroid fields. If it were any faster, you'd likely die more from crashing into rocks than by opponent rockets. Your base vehicle is equipped with lasers to kill shields and a gatling gun that can tear up a hull. It's also outfitted with light missiles that deal significant damage. The combat is rewarding and a true test of skill, but there isn't enough of it in this early version.

Right now, most of my time is dedicated to mining asteroids for materials that I can later use to upgrade my ship. Scavenging is the central focus, and it's execution leaves much to be desired. After blasting asteroids, useful debris must be excavated, a slow, and tiring process that nets the smallest of gains. Some asteroids are gigantic and you'll have to fly inside of them to find what you are looking for. This action is somewhat terrifying and cool (and again reason why the movement is somewhat slow), but ends up being repeated too often in each run.

We'll see where Everspace goes from here, but it isn't too far off of the mark. The combat and flight mechanics are right on the money, and if resource gathering can be lightened, this could be a fun, and unique rogue-like experience. I recommend passing on it for now, but keep it on your radar to see how the full release turns out. Again, here's a quick look at it in action.

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I'm going to conclude this edition of Science-Fiction Weekly with a bit of news that may not seem noteworthy, but it carries a bit of mystery that we should keep an eye on: Alan Dean Foster is writing the novelization to Ridley Scott's upcoming Alien: Covenant film. The point of interest comes from Foster's website where he says he is taking an "unusual approach that's never been tried before in a novelization." What could that mean? We'll have to wait for more details to find out. Until then, have a great week!

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Overwatch Director Says Symmetra Could Receive Major Changes

In an ideal game of Overwatch, every hero plays their role. Some defend, some attack, some heal, and everyone finds their own way to be useful. But according to Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan, Symmetra is having a tough time finding her place. Fortunately, that could change come November.

Speaking with Business Insider, Kaplan says Blizzard is looking into making major change to the character. "She’s one of our least-played heroes, [but] you have to read the stats with a little grain of salt there," said Kaplan. "She’s a hero who’s very situational and she actually gets played a fair bit, but she gets switched off of. What happens commonly is players will play her on defense on the first part of a point, and then when they’ve lost that point, then they’ll switch off of Symmetra. So, that definitely impacts her play time when you’re looking at the stats."

According to Overwatch stats site MasterOverwatch, Symmetra is currently the second least-played character on PC and Xbox one (she's third least-played on PlayStation 4), with only the game's most recent character, Ana, being played less often across all of the game's platforms. This could be due to her odd mix of roles; she's listed as a Support in the game's character select screen, but carries many traits of a Defense hero. Players may not full know what kinds of lineups she works best in, or as Kaplan mentions, may assume she isn't useful past the first lost objective.

According to Kaplan, "I don’t think we’ll see a change go live until probably some time in November." Though the team has implemented some character changes more quickly in the past, Symmetra's changes are substantive enough to take longer to implement. "It’s one thing when we do something [minor] — like, we have a change to Junkrat on the [Public Test Realm] where his Ultimate activates faster," says Kaplan. "But it’s a very incremental, safe change — whereas the type of changes we think need to happen to Symmetra require a lot more internal testing and discussion."

[Source: Business Insider UK]

Our Take
Symmetra is one of my most-played characters, so the idea of her getting major changes both delights and scares me. She could become a lot more useful, but she could also no longer be the character I fell in love with. I do think the character could use a more defined role, so I'm for the changes overall.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Report: Destiny 2 Coming To PC, May Start Fresh And Include More Populated Areas

With Destiny: Rise of Iron out last week, it's expected the team at Bungie would begin to look toward the next iteration of the series. What few expected was that we'd have any details about the game this soon.

Earlier today, neoGAF poster benny_a posted that they knew someone at Activision, and that they had told them the company had begun communicating early details on Destiny 2; this includes the game coming to PC, and that Vicarious Visions (which has worked on the Skylanders franchise) and High Moon Studios (which collaborated with Bungie on the first Destiny) would be helping with development.

Now Kotaku reports details on Destiny 2 corroborating some of benny_a's details. Additionally, Kotaku reports Destiny 2 will undergo some big changes from the original Destiny. "[Destiny 2] is a completely different game," says one Kotaku source. "The Taken King was a reboot for Destiny 1 to fix small things. This is the overhaul to fix big things.”

Other details from the Kotaku report include planets being more populated with towns and outposts, and for quests to be more involved than the patrol missions players can undertake in Destiny.

We've reached out to Bungie for comment and will update this story should we hear back.

[Source: Kotaku]

 

Our Take
Of all the changes it looks like Destiny 2 might make, I'd be most interested in the more populated in the actual playspace in the world — anything to make the world feel like a real place. Players will no doubt have mixed feelings if Destiny 2 turns out to be a fresh start, or if some of the relevant locations from the first game don't return. After many hundreds of hours playing their Guardians in the base game, a hard reset would be a big change, if it turns out to be the direction that Bungie is going. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

PlayStation Experience 2016 Will Take Place This December

Every year, Sony makes a number of announcements and has a number of new games on display at its PlayStation experience. This year will be no different, as the event will be happening again this year on December 3-4 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The event registration page for last year's even has been updated with a new header image for this year's event. Those interested can't register quite yet, but expect for official registration to open up soon.

Considering the date of the event, it's likely we'll be hearing more about future plans for the PlayStation VR, as well as games coming down the pipeline which will take advantage of the PlayStation 4 Pro. Considering some of the announcements made at previous PlayStation Experiences, we can also expect some other major announcements.

The show will also be home to the Capcom Cup, which will take place Saturday, December 3 at 6 p.m. PT. You can watch the event to see Pro Street Fighter players compete for $ 250,000. For more on the even head here.

[Source: PlayStation Experience 2016 registration page]

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Video Analyzes The Dungeon Design Of The Zelda Oracle Games

Mark Brown is a prominent Youtuber responsible for the "Game Maker's Toolkit" series, as well as a number of other one-off videos diving deep into gaming topics. His "Boss Key" series specifically looks at the dungeon design of the Legend of Zelda series.

In his latest video, Brown dissects the dungeons of the Capcom-developed Game Boy Zelda duo, the Oracle of Ages and Seasons. One of the most interesting things about the video is the way Brown breaks down the strucuture of every dungeon in Oracle of Seasons into a simple formula (laying out how the objective in every dungeon is first to get the dungeon's key item, the locks that impede you from doing that, and the obstacles you'll have to revisit once you have the item), and how each dungeon (in Seasons and in the series in general) plays with that formula.

It's something most us likely understood already, but the way Brown visualizes the concepts he's talking about make the video worth watching.

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You can check out more of Brown's "Boss Keys" videos on his Youtube channel.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Hyper Light Drifter Update Adds 60 FPS, Boss Rush, And An Easy Mode

Despite initial reticence to bring the game up to 60 FPS, a new update for the PC version of the game boosts the framerate, and adds some new modes.

In a post on the game's Steam page, developer Heart Machine wrote, "Many moons ago, shortly after launch, we stated that a 60 fps conversion of the game was no small task; it would take a large pile of months and much effort to implement, if it was even achievable at all. Now we can proudly present our latest update and say it has absolutely been worth the work." Creator Alx Preston also touched on the difficulty of 60 FPS at around the hour mark of this episode of the Playscape: Los Angeles podcast.

You can learn how to opt into the update here, which adds new achievements, a Boss Rush mode, and Newcomer mode, "for folks looking for a less intense challenge." The update is currently only available for the PC version of the game. Other platforms are on the way, however, with Heart Machine writing, "We do plan to expand this update to Mac, Linux (and consoles) after we have some time to make sure this is in the best condition possible."

For our very positive review of Hyper Light Drifter, head here.

[Source: Steam]

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Investors put $4M into new game streaming startup LiquidSky

Samsung and others have poured $ 4 million in funding into LiquidSky, a startup that aims to stream access to high-powered virtual PCs to mobile devices — chiefly to play demanding PC games. …


Gamasutra News

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice Review – Getting Warmer

With each new Sonic the Hedgehog game, fans hope Sega can
recapture the series' classic magic. The Sonic Boom titles haven't done that so
far, but Fire & Ice makes strides toward improving the standing of this
spinoff series. This latest installment combines more seamless level design and
a bigger emphasis on speed to help Sonic take steps toward redemption.

Just as with traditional 2D Sonic games, you control the
blue hedgehog or one of his friends as they rush through stages, collecting
rings and destroying robotic baddies. In Fire & Ice, Sonic harnesses the
power of the two titular elements to progress; if blocks of water are the only
thing between you and some spikes, switching to ice freezes the water to create
a safe path while switching to fire melts away any ice blocking your path. It's
a simple concept, but the game is at its best when the stages require you to
react quickly to switching back and forth between the two elements.

The entire game has been streamlined to focus more on speed
than previous Sonic Boom games. Each stage is lined with boosts to get you
moving faster as the characters run through loops and corkscrews. I enjoyed
seeing Sonic and company fly through levels, but I didn't feel like I was doing
much as they zoomed across the long paths. Because of this, the stages can drag
when Sonic and friends get locked too much in the autopilot sections, but most
of those moments are broken up by platforming and swapping between the fire and
ice elements.

Enemies and environmental obstacles are set up to push the
pace of the stage rather than impede your progress. Your run through a level
isn't brought to a screeching halt because you run into an enemy; they almost
help you get through the stage faster as you bounce from baddie to baddie. On
the other hand, this approach doesn't leave much room for difficulty, since the
chance of enemies taking you out is low. Instead, the challenge lies in
completing stages as swiftly as possible or exploring as much as you can.

You're able to swap between the playable characters on the
fly, but the stage design rarely requires you to (beyond the initial levels)
where you need Tails' laser to blast through barricades or Sticks' boomerang to
hit out-of-reach switches. I enjoy being able to play as Sonic for the vast majority
of the game, but the underuse of this swapping mechanic undermines the point of
giving each character unique abilities in the first place. Regardless of any
unique abilities you gain by unlocking a new character, the game almost always
boils down to running through the levels with a few optional areas being
blocked off by character-specific blockades, which feels shallow.

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This is not the case for boss fights, as each encounter has
you bring two characters into it with specific sequences that require their
abilities. An early boss required me to use Amy's hammer to smash down
platforms to give room for Sonic to platform up to hit the boss' weak spot,
while another tasked me with using Knuckles' ability to dig to attack the enemy
from below. Much like the rest of the game, the boss battles aren't
particularly challenging, but the creative attacks make for fun encounters.

The levels feature several alternative paths to explore, but
you're able to ignore all of that and just run and jump along the main path. Though
the rewards of weapon upgrades, concept art, and local multiplayer stages
aren't a motivating factor for me, I always loved scrounging each level to find
the hidden challenge room. Each standalone area relies on a single element from
the main game with an extra notch of difficulty. One room required me to time
my jumps just right across platforms alternating between traversable and
deathtrap, while another had me quickly switching between fire and ice as I ran
through the area. Though some of the more timing-based sections made me replay
them a few times, none of these rooms managed to push me to my limit.

In addition to the main story missions, the hub world holds optional
side missions. From Sonic stages where he races against Eggman's robots and blistering
3D on-rails to Tails' vehicle segments, I found most of them worthy of
attention. Each one serves as a fun diversion that helps break up the breakneck
pacing of the main stages, but I always made sure to never miss the races
against Eggman and the 3D stages, as those are the most intense areas of the
game. You can also engage in fun multiplayer racing similar to the Eggman races
against a local opponent, but these are an afterthought – they are pushed to
one unlabeled corner of the map and several of the maps are locked behind collectible
requirements.

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice is a big step in the right
direction for the spinoff series. While it still has quirks, it's a fun, easy
experience that anyone can play. Though I still vastly prefer the classic Sonic
games, Fire & Ice is an enjoyable spinoff title that brings some great
elements of those games back into the forefront.

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