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Weekend Warrior – Cold November Rain

Well, winter has finally struck here at Game Informer HQ. Even the Minnesota natives are bundling up and wearing hats on their way to and from work, which means it's legitimately cold out there for any transplants to the area. But that's okay, because there's still tons to do, whether it's Pokémon- or Watch Dog-flavored. What will you be playing, watching, reading, and otherwise doing this weekend? Let us know in the comments! Here's what the crew here will be up to:

Brian Shea (@BrianPShea) – This weekend I’ll be waist-deep in Pokémon Sun, but I’ll definitely be playing tons of Overwatch as well (still trying to figure out how to be good with Sombra). In between those two, I’ll probably start up Watch Dogs 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s campaign.

Ben Hanson (@yozetty) – What a great time for the weekend to arrive! I’m hoping to spend a ton of time with Pokemon Sun this weekend, we have the GI Game Club coming up soon! Outside of that, I’m sure I’ll pour more hours into Overwatch and some other nonsense like Planet Coaster. Have a good weekend!

Joe Juba (@joejuba) – With Final Fantasy XV on the near horizon, I’m afraid to start any gaming projects that are too long and complicated. That’s why I’m currently tackling Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice. It’s not exactly a short game, but it’s rewarding in both brief and marathon sessions, and I don’t need to worry about forgetting how to play if I need to put it down for a while. I may also continue playing some Tyranny this weekend, though after spending about 10 hours with it, I may have seen all I need to with that one.

Kyle Hilliard (@KyleMHilliard) – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out this weekend, so I think a viewing of that will be in order. I also need to see Arrival, as everyone cryptically reminds me whenever the topic comes up. I’m still dabbling with Pokémon a bit, but I think my main video game focus this weekend will be Dishonored 2. Last time I tried to play, I fell asleep while it was loading, but I might have a little more energy next time. Also, Westworld.

Michael
Leri
 (@OrangeFlavored) – It finally happened. Snow. Sort of. I’ve seen more “snow” fall from the sky today than any other day of my life. That’s a decent enough excuse to lock myself inside this weekend and play some Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, and Watch Dogs 2, where I can transferred to the sunny California that I so dearly miss.

Javy Gwaltney (@Hurdyiv) – This weekend I’m seeing Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, buckling down to power through Infinite Warfare and doing evil nasty things in that Tyranny game that Miller reviewed.

Kim Wallace (@kstar1785) – This weekend is very similar to last weekend. I’ll be trying to finish up Dishonored 2 (which I’m loving) and playing Overwatch in between. Now that Sombra is out there, it’s interesting seeing how she affects the game. Right now, people are still learning to play her, so I feel like you can’t even get the full potential of the character yet. I tested her out and so far she’s not someone I think I’d main, but I love what she can bring to the table. Hopefully, people I team up with find that she fits their playstyle. Other than that, I started the anime ReLIFE, which I’m really enjoying so far. Have a great weekend everyone!

Kevin Slackie (@KSlackie) – As if anyone didn’t see this coming, my weekend will be filled with Pokémon Moon. So far it’s had some fantastic improvements, so I can’t wait to dive in and make a competitive team. I’ll try to get some rounds of Heroes of the Storm too for the Nexus Challenge.

Suriel Vazquez (@SurielVazquez) – If the new patch for Dishonored 2 on PC actually does it what says it does, I may jump into that. I’ll mostly likely be playing Overwatch on the PC as well, just to get back in the swing of things. Then, I’ll probably play through Quantum Break on Xbox One, since I missed it earlier in the year. Additionally, I’ll probably play some Overwatch on Xbox One, since they’re having that free weekend and a few of my friends play there. I may also start playing Watch Dogs on PlayStation 4 now that I finally have time for it. I’ll likely play some Overwatch on PlayStation 4 too, since I just bought it on sale to play with some friends who play it there. Finally, I’ll be working through Pokémon Moon for the GI Game Club. They should put Overwatch on the 3DS, by the way.

Ian Boudreau (@iboudreau) – I picked up Endless Legend on sale last week and I've been very impressed by its magical spin on the Civilization formula. I'm hoping to learn how to be less bad as Sombra and try out some of Overwatch's new arcade modes as well. For some reason I started playing through Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare again the other night, so maybe I'll hang out with Evil Kevin Spacey some more.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Review – Continuing To Impress And Surprise

Every so often an RPG comes along that makes me care so much about the characters and the world that it becomes easier to look past its flaws. This is exactly what happened last year when I embarked on the first entry in the Trails of Cold Steel trilogy, and this second entry is no different. Cold Steel II takes the cast and story in such interesting directions and provides so much to do that it’s hard to put down. If you enjoyed the first entry, you won’t want to miss out on this follow-up.

Cold Steel II picks up shortly after where the first game left off. Our do-gooder protagonist, Rean Schwarzer, is reeling from his friend’s betrayal and learning more about his new ancient, powerful mech, but he’s also right in the middle of a dangerous civil war. Politics are getting uglier, with both sides doing whatever it takes to gain more power. The narrative deftly showcases all the different sides, presenting various dilemmas and showing the harsh sacrifices that come in the face of a power struggle. For those wondering if you can just hop right into Cold Steel II without playing the first, you theoretically can, but I don’t recommend it. The characters and their growth are what makes the series so special, and you’re missing out on the full impact of some killer plot revelations that the first game built up so wonderfully. 

Despite not being able to put the game down for hours on end, I wasn’t in love with it for the first 10 hours. It begins with Rean separated from his classmates, forcing you to track them all down, which is the weakest part of the experience. The characters add life to the journey, and being taken away from them and removed from the school setting from last game hinders the beginning. However, once you reunite with the cast and gain access to the airship, the game eases into a more entertaining rhythm. 

Cold Steel II focuses more on the cast coming to terms with the war and what it means for them, which is my favorite part of the game. Some classmates are from nobility and have obligations there; others are dealing with looking in from the outside as a common citizen. Either way, the game has a strong message about choosing the path that’s right for you, and for every character that means something different. For instance, for Alisa that means reevaluating her relationship with her mother, while for Jusis it means standing up to his father. The social system allows you to spend time with the classmates of your choosing to get more insight into their mindset and struggles. 

Cold Steel II doesn’t reinvent the turned-based battle system established in the previous entry, but it does add more depth. The battle system has a new overdrive system, which allows you to act in three consecutive turns, cast magic instantly, and restore all your health once you land enough attacks. This is a godsend in combat, and using it at the right time is vital, since boss battles can be super challenging. Bosses have a lot of HP, and the A.I. is smart enough to strike with an instant death attack or heal up just when you think you’re about to polish them off. Sometimes these are battles of attrition, but there’s a sense of accomplishment in overcoming them because it’s all about making the most out of your turns and using the most beneficial skills and buffs at the right times. 

As introduced at the end of the last entry, you now can engage in intense mech battles, which are a big part of Cold Steel II. Depending on which classmate you link up with, you can gain access to some of their skills to use in addition to your mech’s special attacks. These break up some of the tedium from exploring dungeons and engaging in regular battles. Plus, controlling your own robot is pretty cool, and you can even customize it to your liking. 

I also enjoyed the airship that acts as your headquarters. You can recruit former NPC classmates to help you on the ship with combat training and shops. Tracking down familiar faces and watching your once empty ship fill up with new places is fun in its own right. The airship also allows you to fast travel to places on the map, and once you visit certain locations you can use your motorcycle or horse to get around faster. I wish these were available at the start of the game to cut down some laborious hikes, but once you get them they make exploring much easier and fun.

The majority of the enhancements feel for the better, but Cold Steel II suffers some of the same issues that plagued the previous entry. The tedious, boring dungeons are too focused on hitting switches to unlock paths and battling enemy after enemy. I wish they had some more imagination; you fight through typical dungeons based on the four elements (fire, water, wind, earth). The later ones get a little better in terms of presentation, but then you get into a loop of endless boss battles that make them lose their luster and get predictably boring. I wish these later boss fights were spaced out better, so they could feel more exciting instead of exhausting. That’s what’s frustrating about Cold Steel; it has so much depth to its battle system and customization options that make it feel fresh for even a turn-based RPG, but the creativity falls flat on the dungeon design.

That being said, Cold Steel II does exactly what the middle arc of a trilogy should do – keep you intrigued and guessing. Upon finishing, I was even more invested in the narrative and characters and looked up how Falcom’s progress on the third entry was going. The wait already seems unbearable because I need to know what happens next; I haven’t had this much fun with plot twists and crazy villains in a while. When a video game story just gets its hooks in you like that, it’s done its job well. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

EA’s Peter Moore Splashes Cold Water On Mass Effect Remaster Hopes

In a recent interview, Peter Moore reiterated the company's previous stance against doing a remaster for the first three Mass Effect titles – something that's seemingly at odds with a comment this month to Game Informer by fellow EA executive Patrick Soderlund.

In a video interview with IGN Moore stated: "Could we make an easy buck on remastering Mass Effect? Yes. Have a thousand people asked me that? Yes they have. Do we have…No. We just feel like we want to go forward.

"There's a little thing called Mass Effect Andromeda that we're totally focused on at BioWare," he continued. "Anything that distracts from that… Do we have teams lying around that are doing nothing right now that could go and…No we don't. We want to focus on the future and delivering new IP and new experiences."

Later on, Moore pointed out that EA is often asked by fans to revisit and/or remaster various franchises from the company's past such as Fight Night, Skate, and Road Rash, but he says, "We're focused on the future."

Hopes for a Mass Effect remaster in particular were stoked during last month's Gamescom event when executive vice president at EA, Patrick Soderlund, presented a different line of thinking. "The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it," he said. "I can't announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully."

[Source: IGN]

 

Our Take
While Soderlund and Moore's comments are not entirely mutually exclusive, they appear to lie on opposing ends of the philosophy spectrum. It's possible that Moore could be playing on semantics in that a developer outside EA could be doing the main work on the project. However, even if that were so, most likely some part of BioWare/EA would be involved in overseeing the project in some capacity, and, according to Moore, EA wants to focus on Andromeda.

Andromeda is scheduled to release early next year, so it's possible that once that's released Moore believes the decks will be sufficiently clear for a remaster. Although from a release standpoint it would seem more logical to prime the pump first with the remasters and not the other way around since Andromeda takes place after the first trilogy.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

EA’s Peter Moore Splashes Cold Water On Mass Effect Remaster Hopes

In a recent interview, Peter Moore reiterated the company's previous stance against doing a remaster for the first three Mass Effect titles – something that's seemingly at odds with a comment this month to Game Informer by fellow EA executive Patrick Soderlund.

In a video interview with IGN Moore stated: "Could we make an easy buck on remastering Mass Effect? Yes. Have a thousand people asked me that? Yes they have. Do we have…No. We just feel like we want to go forward.

"There's a little thing called Mass Effect Andromeda that we're totally focused on at BioWare," he continued. "Anything that distracts from that… Do we have teams lying around that are doing nothing right now that could go and…No we don't. We want to focus on the future and delivering new IP and new experiences."

Later on, Moore pointed out that EA is often asked by fans to revisit and/or remaster various franchises from the company's past such as Fight Night, Skate, and Road Rash, but he says, "We're focused on the future."

Hopes for a Mass Effect remaster in particular were stoked during last month's Gamescom event when executive vice president at EA, Patrick Soderlund, presented a different line of thinking. "The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it," he said. "I can't announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully."

[Source: IGN]

 

Our Take
While Soderlund and Moore's comments are not entirely mutually exclusive, they appear to lie on opposing ends of the philosophy spectrum. It's possible that Moore could be playing on semantics in that a developer outside EA could be doing the main work on the project. However, even if that were so, most likely some part of BioWare/EA would be involved in overseeing the project in some capacity, and, according to Moore, EA wants to focus on Andromeda.

Andromeda is scheduled to release early next year, so it's possible that once that's released Moore believes the decks will be sufficiently clear for a remaster. Although from a release standpoint it would seem more logical to prime the pump first with the remasters and not the other way around since Andromeda takes place after the first trilogy.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Arriving In North America September 6

XSEED revealed an official North American release date for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II. The RPG will be arriving on western shores on September 6.

The game will be available on both PlayStation 3 and Vita. It's priced at $ 39.99 and will be available later in the Fall for European players. It originally released in Japan in 2014. 

Cross-save functionality between both available platforms will be supported, with save data from the original title The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel offering special in-game bonus stats and extra items. The sequel takes place one month after the conclusion of the first and utilizes the same turn-based combat as its predecessor. 

The third game in the series, Trails in the Sky The Third has been announced for a 2017 western release as well, but we have no details on specifically when or what platforms it will be hosted on.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Test Chamber – Taking On The Cold World Of Banner Saga 2

Stoic's second chapter in the Banner Saga introduces players to plenty of new faces alongside grizzled veteran vikings and battle-weary wanderers in a beautiful world that's coming to an end.

Join Daniel Tack and Ben Reeves as they take on a few fights in the story-heavy, "decisions matter" tactical role-playing game and make a few choices that have immediate consequences. 


Check out our review of The Banner Saga 2 here.

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www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Final Rise of the Tomb Raider DLC, Cold Darkness Awakened, Out Next Week

Lara Croft’s latest adventure is nearly complete, with the final piece of DLC dropping next week. With endurance mode and the Baba Yaga story expansion already out, we have the biting cold of Siberia ahead of us.

Cold Darkness Awakened brings us back to the frozen wastes, where an affliction has been revitalized. The result is that Trinity soldiers have become rampaging monsters.

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Lara will take on the Tomb Raider version of zombies on March 29 for Xbox One and PC (via the Windows Store). For more on Rise of the Tomb Raider, check out our review and coverage of the Baba Yaga DLC.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

GI Show – Doom, Trails Of Cold Steel, Back-Of-The-Box Trivia

Sadly, the holiday break and all the lazy gaming that comes with it is now behind us. On the bright side, we have recon intel from Reiner's recent trip to id Software for the latest cover of Game Informer: Doom. In addition to impressions from Reiner's extensive time with the gory single-player and mutliplayer modes of Doom, the rest of us are here to report on all the great games we played over winter break. Kim discusses her unexpectedly  fun experience with the JRPG The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Ben Hanson returns as your co-host this week to chat all about the joy he's had diving deeper into Amplitude and Tim is all about EarthBound right now.

Stick around after the first segment as we unpack all the emails that were waiting for us during our week off. We close out the show with a special themed-round of the wildly entertaining Back-of-the-Box Trivia. Place your bets now. Will it be Tim, Reiner, or Kim? And that's not all…

Officially announcing the Game Informer Show Game Club! The game club will begin with the classic RPG Final Fantasy VII, which is on everyone's mind as we learn more about the highly anticipated FF VII Remake. Dust off your old PlayStation discs or download it on PC or PS4 so you can play along with us and come back to discuss it on the podcast in coming weeks. Our goal for the first episode is to complete the entire Midgar section of FF VII for reconvening and discussing our thoughts. Our suggested focus on this first "chapter" of the GI Show Book Club is to examine how Midgar is pieced together by Square. Pay close attention to the pre-rendered backgrounds, 3D character models, and how they play off each other. Additionally, we encourage you to listen closely in the burrows for Midgar lore and see what you can piece together. Please your game club related observations/questions to [email protected] so we can possibly discuss them when the time comes.

You can listen to episode 281 below, listen on SoundCloud, or subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes. Also, be sure to send your emails to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show and win a prize by becoming Email of the Week!

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To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the timestamps below…
1:55 – The Doom cover story trip
17:00 – The Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
30:50 – Disney Infinity: The Force Awakens playset
39:25 – Amplitude
 43:40 – Minecraft on PS4
47:05 – Lionel Battle Trains
50:00 – Reiner's old-school adventure game deep-dive
57:13 – Emails
1:29:50 – Announcing the Final Fantasy VII Game Club
1:33:25 – Back-of-the-Box Game Trivia

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

See Skywalker Force Push A Cold Assault Stormtrooper Into A Tie Fighter

Star Wars Battlefront is in the hands of reviewers and EA Access members, which means this is just the first of what will likely be many, many insane moments to show up online.

Below you will find a clip of Luke Skywalker force pushing a Cold Assault Stromtrooper off a cliff as a Tie Fighter speeds by, hits the Stormtrooper, and explodes. It's ridiculous.

For more insane moments from Star Wars Battlefront, head here to see seven crazy moments from the beta.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed