Designer Mike Stout takes a look at examples of in-game training that skip the boring tutorials and teach players the rules of the game by letting them play the game. …
Sony closed out this year's PlayStation Experience showcase with a brief look at The Last of Us Part II, and while game director Neil Druckmann says it's "a ways off [from release]," he couldn't wait to reveal it. Following the showcase, Druckmann discussed more of his and Naughty Dog's vision for the forthcoming sequel, and was joined by the game's leading voice talent, Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie), in a panel moderated by Game Informer's own Editor-in-Chief, Andy McNamara.
The panel began with Druckmann boldly saying "this game is about hate," whereas the first game was about love and friendship and the bond between them. He then unveiled that the sequel is played via Ellie's perspective – a reveal that brought a boisterous cheer from the packed arena of thousands of fans. Taking place a few years after the last game, Ellie is now 19. Druckmann said he feels the same way some fans do about revisiting these characters. He believes in this new story so much, explaining that Last of Us is Ellie and Joel's story, and no one else's.
Johnson was asked about working with Druckmann, and she said that this project (and the original The Last of Us) were special in a different way, because it felt like a true collaboration between Druckmann, Naughty Dog, and the actors. Baker added that Joel is the character he misses the most and wonders what he's up to. He added that Naughty Dog feels like a family to him. He also said that he almost didn't get the role out of his own foolish fear of not being the right age for Joel. He said he almost walked out of the door when he saw the other people in the lobby who were up for the part, but the casting director called his name before he reached the door. He learned valuable life lessons from both the game and this moment, such as trusting yourself.
When asked about Ellie's shaking hand in the trailer, Johnson said she couldn't say much, but did say "she's gone through some s—." Druckmann added that the singular scene shown dates back two years to a time where he sent Johnson the idea of a musical sequence.
The Last of Us Part II uses new performance capture technology, and the most advanced character models Naughty Dog has ever made. We were shown a brief demo of the technology in action, and saw Johnson acting out facial motions which were reproduced in real-time on Ellie's character model.
Druckmann said that it's easier to find moments in an original game, and that there's a fear and danger of trying to replicate those moments in a sequel. He's hoping that they can create moments that are just as powerful, but without treading the same territory.
Both Johnson and Baker say Druckmann is their favorite director to work with. Johnson in particular emphasized just how much fun he is to work alongside. He gives them the freedom to experiment, and will often weigh their opinions into the flow of scenes.
Druckmann revealed that Gustavo Santaolalla is returning to score The Last of Us Part II, and concluded the panel by saying that Ellie and Joel are the heart of this series. It's about human relationships, with theirs being the focus in this story.
Indie game developer Andrzej Mazur talks about his game Wizard Quest, how he hated it, and how he managed to push it to completion four years later. (And he still hates it.) …
If there's one thing the gaming community loves, it's ragging
on Call of Duty. Every year, Activision announces a new installment
in the long-running military-shooter series, and every year a dedicated
contingency of gamers flock to the virtual dumping ground that is the Internet to revel
in their communal disdain for it. Hating on Call of Duty has become one of
gaming's most reliable and time-honored traditions. It's our demented version
of Christmas – Activision slides another sequel down our chimney chutes, and we
in return sneak into their living rooms and fill their stockings with as many CAPS-laden
insults as our poor, abused keyboard can muster.
As with any longstanding tradition, however, it feels like we've
gotten to the point where hating on Call of Duty is just a thing we do because
we've always done it, and the reason behind it is just as vague and forgotten as
why we're stuffing crap in each other's socks in the first place. This year's
reveal of Infinite Warfare achieved parody levels of hate, which I love,
because it makes my job that much easier.
Look, I get it. Hating on Call of Duty is fun. We parodied the
series in this
year's Game Infarcer (and were unintentionally right about the MOON
WAR! to boot), and will no doubt continue to parody it endlessly in the future. Call
of Duty is the Dane Cook of video games; poking fun at the series is unfairly easy
yet still feels completely justified given how absurdly popular it is, because nothing* should be that popular. Even diehard
fans have to be a little grossed out by the Scrooge McDuck-levels of gold
Activision is swimming in courtesy of CoD.
Not only that, but Call of Duty filled Activision's vault by
making Jerry Bruckheimer look like Andrei Tarkosvky (just click the link,
alright?). Each new installment doesn't just jump the shark – it hangs over the
shark Mission Impossible-style and
does a six-hour tap dance on the tip of its nose. I mean, you actually fought sharks in Call of Duty: Ghosts,
for crying out loud!
The shark attacks in Ghosts wouldn't even crack a top 10 list of batsh– crazy moments in Call of Duty.
And you can't even claim to be surprised by Ghosts' aquatic
escapades, because the series has always been that ridiculous. Modern Warfare
literally went nuclear in its first installment – the game was getting rave
reviews before the developers thought to ask themselves how they were going to
top a mushroom cloud. Even 24 had the
common sense to wait until season six to drop the bomb, and the show was off
the air two years later, because at that point what else is there for Jack
Bauer to do than drunkenly tackle Christmas trees? (Again, just click the link.)
So to reiterate, I get it. Call of Duty is such deliciously
low-hanging fruit that it's not even hanging – its big, ripe butt is resting
comfortably in the grass, just waiting for hungry haters to take a bite. But this
feels like the year when the branch finally snapped back up and slapped them in
Activision revealed Infinite Warfare with a widely panned announcement
trailer that I'll get to in a minute, but the community's first real look at
the game came via a surprising
gameplay demo during Sony's E3 press conference. I say surprising because many
viewers didn't actually realize it was Call of Duty – and I can't blame them.
The first half of the demo focused on an unrevealed pilot exploring the deck
of a starship and plotting a course through the galaxy, then transitioned to a
massive fleet-on-fleet dogfight in space. When the ship was finally ditched and
the battle rifles came out, the combat was defined by zero-G spacewalking,
grapple hooks, and gravity grenades. It wasn't until the very end of the demo
that the Infinite Warfare logo outed the game as Call of Duty – a "stunt"
orchestrated by the mad scientists at Activision to "trick" gamers into being "excited"
for the "game" (admittedly that last use of scare quotes might be gratuitous). Some of the curious lab rats who took the bait were none too pleased.
Massive ship-to-ship battles in outer-space? Awesome! It's Call of Duty? BOO!
I was neck-deep in the insanity at G.I.'s
E3 booth during Sony's press conference, but Reiner enthusiastically recounted the audience's
reaction to us after the show. Like the rest of the showgoers, two viewers sitting
behind him were fully on board with the demo's action-packed sci-fi shenanigans, but as soon
as the Call of Duty logo appeared, their oohing and ahhing was replaced with a
perfunctory declaration of "Lame!" Other
CoD haters raced to social
media, spewing out hasty insults in overdrive after getting caught with their
guard down like a
surprised Internet lolcat.
For us at G.I., the bald-faced reversals – while comical – came as no
surprise. The indiscriminate hate for our recent look at Infinite Warfare
spurred a wonderful new social-media trend of Cover Flushing – i.e., readers
posting videos of themselves tearing the cover off their newest issue and
flushing it down the toilet. Because it says Call of Duty.
What's the message here? That your illogical hatred for a series
is so strong that you're willing to clog up your own toilet? Isn't that the kind
of blind fanaticism that usually garners its own gleeful mocking? For more than
a decade, gamers have disparagingly recounted the time journalists cried
over a new Zelda announcement – crying that Call of Duty still exists is
just as embarrassing, and you shouldn't need a plunger to see why.
None of this is to say that you have to like Call of Duty, or that Infinite Warfare is above
reproach. The aforementioned
announcement trailer was justly derided for being set to a cover of David
Bowie's "Space Oddity" – I'm sure the recently deceased rock legend would be
thrilled to know that a lackluster derivative of his groundbreaking song is
being used to hock the latest billion-dollar military shooter. Everything I
know about Bowie suggests he was a huge CoD
I also sympathize with gamers who aren't thrilled by the
fact that Activision is holding its current-gen Modern Warfare remaster as a No-Russian-style
hostage for those who buy the deluxe edition of Infinite Warfare. Wanting to the
option to buy it separately is entirely reasonable, and unless Activision is
literally the dumbest publisher ever (haters need not reply), I'm sure you'll
be able to eventually. But as far as a reward for longtime fans goes, a
remastered version of the most beloved entry in the series is a pretty awesome
pack-in for Infinite Warfare – way better than novelty RC cars or cheap night-vision goggles.
Isn't that a good thing?
Getting your hands on Modern Warfare Remastered has its…Price… Muahaha!
And ultimately, that's kind of the point: Activision is catering
to its fans. Not the people who hate Call of Duty and vow to never buy another
installment – or the people who hate Call of Duty and buy it every year anyway.
Activision is appealing to the people who happily buy, play, and enjoy each new
game, every year, in record numbers. That sure beats the alternative of trying
to court those who incessantly claim that each installment is "exactly the same game!" Because let's be
real: The CoD trolls won't cede the same-game argument until Call of Duty has
been transformed into a Gone Home-style walking simulator, at which point
they'd probably complain that Activision is cashing in on indies, or lost sight
of what the series is "truly supposed to be."
But Activision isn't the one that's due for an eye (and/or
head) exam, and no matter how high #RIPCoD
trends on Twitter (because that's a thing people apparently care about now), the series is in no risk of dying. Every year, Call
of Duty charges ahead with one of gaming's biggest development teams and
budgets, and ends up delivering some of its most polished gameplay and stable launches.
This year they've even got Jon
Snow – a cash-in on Game of Thrones
hype to be sure, but if the game doesn't end with him rising from the dead and hanging
off the ass of a dragon as it flies through the final level, I'll be sorely disappointed – and you know you can't rule out the possibility!
Whatever the game entails, Infinite Warfare will undoubtedly
give fans exactly what they want: more Call of Duty, along with a steady stream
of multiplayer maps and ludicrous DLC to tide them over to next year's installment. If you're
thinking, "But that's not what I
want!," it's because you're no longer – or never were – the target audience.
Whether that calls for congratulations or condolences is up to you. I've certainly
fallen in and out of love with the series over the years, but never once has
Call of Duty's success ever made me angry, and I can't fathom wasting my time trying
to come up with spiteful ways to stick it to the men and women who create the games, and the millions more who enjoy playing them. If you
can't say the same, maybe it's time to find another focus for your attention. Your plumber will thank you.
*Notable exceptions that fully deserve their respective popularity: Pizza, naps, and napping after eating
Bethesda revealed the cover art for the upcoming Doom earlier last month, and to say that people were disappointed would be an understatement. The art, which featured a generic armored Space Marine against a hazy yellow backdrop with the Doom logo, became an online meme. Today, Bethesda is giving fans who weren't hot on the original box art a chance to pick their preference for what will be featured on the other side of the now-reversible cover art.
There are two options to choose from. Option A, which is the spooky skull and equally spooky demonic symbol, can be seen in the image above. Option B is directly below, and it features art clearly inspired by the original game's action-packed packaging.
Click this link to visit the Twitter poll and to cast your vote. Bethesda says that voting will be open for four days, so get a move on. If you want to see what caused all of this in the first place, scroll down for the original art.
— DOOM (@DOOM) March 3, 2016
Hopefully, Bethesda will release high-resolution images of both options at some point, so people can print off their preference if it doesn't make the cut.
For more information on Doom, including in-depth features and video interviews, visit our hub page by clicking on the banner below.
“The devs are the people that create games, the ones working hard to build features … they’re not the ones that make the rules or change things mid-development.” …
The knives were out for Assassin's Creed Unity, some justified and some not, leaving many with a bad impression of the game. Regardless, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is not only a new experience separate from Unity in several ways, but it's definitely a step up in many departments. If you didn't like Unity or are worried about its impact on Syndicate, don't let last year's game interfere with your enjoyment of Syndicate.
Here are some key areas where Syndicate improves on Unity's feature set and makes Syndicate worth checking out. For more on the game, take a look at Joe's review and be sure to check out his 10 spoiler-free tips for players.
The Fast Flash of a Blade
One of the deserved criticisms of AC Unity was that combat wasn't very fluid as you tried to strike multiple foes. This wasn't helped by Unity's propensity to drop frames and its revised approach to combat. Syndicate's contribution to the series' fights improves Unity's multiple issues.
Encounters are noticeably smoother than the last title, both in how they look and how it feels to execute your moves. The timing window for counters is communicated via a yellow indicator; sometimes the enemy you're countering is close or far away. Regardless, tapping the circle button (B on Xbox One) once to counter during the window does the job. This creates an easily understandable and reliable rhythm to fights. I concentrated on putting in my combo attack strings and threw in counter commands when I needed to (including pressing Triangle/Y to dodge projectiles). Things can get hairy and quite difficult when you're surrounded by a blood-thirsty gang, but you can trust Syndicate's combat to see you through.
Syndicate's altogether improved character movement, a big part of its fights, also aids general world traversal. Climbing into windows – an adventure in itself in Unity – is now easily executed by hitting L1 when prompted by an icon.
The City at Your Feet
Unity's online integration was a mess, and Syndicate avoids this completely by not only axing multiplayer, but also by doing away with a companion app or other connectivity. Apart from any unintended bugginess, the online components may have caused in Unity, it feels great in Syndicate to be free of any frustration with the map or what you see in the world. Thankfully, a chest is just a chest again, and if you see it, you can access it. Speaking of chests, the removal of the Nomad missions and chests gives players access to that feature's equipment rewards via normal side missions. A large map, an inviting city, and an urge to explore – this spirit is definitely back in full force for Syndicate.
Crafting New Meaning
The worlds of the Assassin's Creed franchise have never lacked for things to do, but Syndicate introduces a crafting wrinkle that gives new impetus to take on the game's many side missions. Crafting supplies are earned across four categories, and you must have the requisite items to create and unlock specific weapons and upgrade your gang (more on that below). Furthermore, crafting is also how you unlock important character upgrades such as being able to carry more medicine punches, bombs, knives, etc.
Giving players a reason to play the series' many side missions has always been a challenge, and the integration of crafting components gives players more of a reason to take many of them on. You are also encouraged to take on side missions since helping out allies will sometimes give you specific weapons or equipment beyond the normal XP and money.
Skills for Any Situation
I wasn't as annoyed by Unity's skill tree – where you had to spend points to learn even fundamental aspects of the Assassin craft – as some players were, but there's no doubt that Syndicate's version of the skill tree is simply better.
Like any good skill tree, Syndicate's gives you the freedom to pursue the avenues you see fit while unlocking some impressive and useful abilities along the way. It's broken into three sections: Combat, Stealth, and Ecosystem (which includes skills like becoming a faster driver, gang options, a bigger Eagle Vision cone, and more). There's simply more variety than in Unity, and this dovetails nicely with the Frye twins.
There are many instances in the game where it does not matter which Frye twin you're controlling. The game even encourages this by allowing you to switch freely between them when you're not in a story mission, but the skill tree is the one area where who you control actually matters.
You can effectively create two different character builds for the two characters, tailoring Jacob and Evie towards specific needs. For instance, I didn't spend points on lockpicking or other stealth-related skills for Jacob. However, that's not to say that I didn't buy combat skills with Evie. However you do it, be sure to investigate the six character-specific skills (three for each) to unlock their true potential.
Eventually you will earn plenty of skill points if you do enough of the side missions to unlock all the skills for both Fryes, but in the early and middle parts of the game, you won't have to waste points on branches of the skill tree you're not interested in.
The Fryes' adventures around London have also made them leaders of the Rooks gang – who have their own extensive skill tree. Apart from improving your gang (which costs money and craft items), you can also direct up to five members in the world. Although you can't command them to kill instantly like in AC: Brotherhood, they're handy in a scrape and remind me of the franchise's heyday.
Whereas the skill trees are about choice, Syndicate's 29 perks are passive upgrades unlocked according to how you play the game. For instance, if you perform 50 multi-counter kills you'll get an increase in your counter attack damage. These let you feel even more like a lethal assassin, something that Unity didn't always do.
As the DayZ creator embarks on a new venture, he speaks at length about the pitfalls and possibilities of Early Access development, as learned on that massively successful project. …
I really, really can’t stand Sunset Overdrive. Pretty much everything about it bugs me. I don’t mean that I simply don’t enjoy it, or that it’s a love/hate kind of relationship like one would have with Dark Souls. No, I mean that it is finely tuned t…
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With high-caliber voice talent and advanced recording technology, the quality of voice acting in video games is at an all-time high. Gone are the days of Jill sandwich and fill-your-dark-soul-with-light blunders. In their place, we have performances like Troy Baker’s nuanced turn as Joel in The Last of Us, and Melissa Hutchinson’s bold take on Clementine in Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
But even today, sometimes you can’t help but hate a character’s voice. No matter what they say or how they deliver it, every time these characters speak it just sounds like nails on a chalkboard. That’s not to say the voice actor performing the voice is bad, just that you don’t like their take on that particular character.
Earlier this week, I took a crack at playing Watch Dogs. I had played a brief level a few months back, but this was my first extended session with the game. While I enjoyed parts of what I played, I could not for the life of me stand Aiden Pearce’s voice. His low-pitched, emotionless grumble sounds incongruous with the rest of the game’s normal-sounding voice cast. Ubisoft is clearly trying to paint Pearce as a family man driven by revenge, but Pearce comes off like a person who’s never felt anything in his life. I can’t imagine his stodgy demeanor won him any uncle of the year awards even before his niece’s untimely death. With sandpaper vocal cords and gravely intonations, it’s no wonder his nephew is uncomfortable around him at the game’s start.
But enough about my beef with Aiden Pearce. Who’s the character that you can’t stand to hear? Sound off in the comments below.