It's been a long time I played through Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's infamous mission, No Russian, and for the first time, I just walked. I didn't shoot a bullet until the final segment, and even that I did hesitantly. I distinctly remember playing through the game all those years ago and finding it fun, if anything. A digital playground to mow down faceless, lifeless beings, not even questioning the context. In the modern-day, it's much more harrowing. Maybe it's because of the prevalence of mass shootings, the horror of which gets echoed and repeated near-infinitely by social and traditional media alike. Maybe it's because I feel more empathy than my teenage self did. Maybe it's because these hollow, digital people look much more like real people than ever before.
This is a theme that persists throughout Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Throughout my experience playing, I couldn't help but think about how different my perspective is now. Fighting through a Brazilian favela, you are told not to shoot innocent civilians, which run and cower with their hands over their heads while wearing plain clothes, a distinct departure from the armed soldiers you've been fighting up to this point. But then your enemies in the favela appear, with little difference to the civilians that ran. Seemingly, the only thing separating them, is that one decided to pick up arms when a heavily-armed, unannounced military force stormed into their homes and opened fire. It's much the same problem I have with The Division in the modern day: how can I, a trained and armed soldier, feel comfortable shooting down those wearing normal, everyday jackets, clearly struggling to survive? The Division's probably just on my mind because of the recent global pandemic, but that certainly helps me empathize with the "enemies."
But in those moments where it's two heavily-armed military factions facing off in war, bullets flying overhead and explosions surrounding you on every side, Modern Warfare 2 is every bit as good as when it originally released. It is admittedly a little odd, going from the realistic, bass-heavy, recoil-spraying gunplay of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone, but the guns of 2009's Modern Warfare 2 are somehow incredibly nostalgic. Long reload animations, barely any recoil, and clicky, familiar gunshot sounds. Somehow, despite being over a decade old, this game still plays brilliantly, and with the new remaster's visuals, it looks like a modern game too.
All of the familiar stages are rendered with higher quality textures and much more clarity than ever before, especially if you're running the game on a PS4 Pro. High resolutions, HDR support, brand new textures and cutscenes - this game looks the way you remember it. Which is, of course, far better than the original actually was. Cutscenes are all completely new, though if it's been a while since you last played the original game, you're unlikely to realize. It all comes together to make for a wonderful game to look at, and a great game to play.
Of course, we're missing the fan-favorite multiplayer of the original game, though in turn Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is also available for a budget price, which is honestly well justified by the quality of the remastered campaign. It really does look strikingly good, and the big-budget action setpieces that Call of Duty is known for look incredible here, and still have all of the impact that they did over a decade ago. It is honestly a testament to the high-quality of Call of Duty campaigns and their gunplay mechanics that this game still holds up against modern AAA titles to well.
And the nostalgia hit me. As I sat playing through the missions, locating the enemy intel, shooting down hoards of enemies, I felt like a teenager again, if even for a moment. It was a bit surreal, but I remembered the days when all of my friends would endlessly play multiplayer together, challenge one another to finish missions on the hardest difficulty, and stay up until the sun rose.
And even after I rolled the credits, I had the urge to go back, ramp the difficulty up a notch, and try all over again. I haven't felt the urge to jump into a Call of Duty campaign for years, usually preferring to focus on multiplayer, but returning to Modern Warfare 2 has changed my mind on that. We need more big-budget action setpieces in our shooters, just for the simple thrill of it. It's refreshing and cathartic in a way that the complex skill trees and unlockable systems of modern games just aren't.
But also, missions like No Russian, invading favelas to shoot down militia, have a different feel in the modern age. There's no real message to be extracted from the game in a modern context, but instead it's a fascinating time machine, taking us back to an age where we were so much more flippant about these things, and the fact that massively "controversial" scenes were often a selling point, a marketing ploy, and rarely little more than that. The controversy was hollow then, but in the modern-day rings true in a different way. Regardless, attitudes towards gun violence have certainly changed over the course of the last decade, and as a result, the context for all of the action feels totally different.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is a beautiful time machine, designed to take you back to when the world felt like a simpler place. For the hours you play through the campaign, you'll feel a bit younger, and at peace, though your reaction to some of the content might not be the same as your younger self. And if you've never played Modern Warfare 2? The nostalgia will be lost on you, but those big-budget thrills won't be, and very well may be worth a shot.
Review code provided by the publisher.
The post Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered Review – Both Aged and Timeless by Dave Aubrey appeared first on Wccftech.
Final Fantasy VII remake has a lofty bar to meet, as the original is considered to be one of the best JRPGs ever released and one of the best entries in the long-running series by Square Enix. Its impact on video games as a whole was immense, and JRPGs have never been the same since its release in 1997.
Knowing the impact of the game and its legacy, Square Enix put off remaking it for a very long time: Final Fantasy VII is a massive game, and a remake seemed impossible, just for the sheer amount of content the original release featured. In the end, however, Square Enix gave in and decided to finally remake Final Fantasy VII. Remake in the true sense of the word, as nothing is the same as it was in 1997, despite appearances.
The story of Final Fantasy VII Remake, at its core, is almost the same that fans know and love. Cloud Strife, a mercenary and a former member of the Shinra elite military corp SOLDIER, takes on a job for Avalanche, an eco-terrorist group that aims to destroy all of the company's Mako reactors, which are draining the planet of its lifeforce. Following the destruction of the Midgar's Sector 1 reactor, Cloud will find himself involved in something that will determine the fate of the planet.
On the surface, it is the same story seen in the original game. Right from the first bombing mission, however, it is clear that things are going to be a little different. Formerly obscure plot points are explained outright, and glimpses of events that are supposed to be revealed in full much later are shown rather frequently. The first meeting with Aerith provides the first major hints for what is to come. Bit by bit, as players get closer to the ending, it becomes evident that this is not the Final Fantasy VII fans remember, not entirely.
It is hard to explain things properly without spoiling anything. My expectations were completely subverted by the final sequences of the game, and I'm sure no one will expect this turn of events. This unexpected twist is definitely the most controversial aspect of the game, and most purists will hate it, no doubt about it. Others will appreciate this development, even though it doesn't make a lot of sense as of now. I did enjoy the surprise, but I am worried about how things will proceed in future installments.
Despite the unexpected twist, most of the main events are pretty much the same as the original's, and Final Fantasy VII Remake expands pretty much every one of them. The already mentioned Sector 1 reactor bombing mission, just to make an example, features additional character development not only for the other members of Avalanche but for Cloud and Barrett as well. And so is the same for most of the other major events. Generally, the expanding of the main story events is well done, they are coherent with the setting and what has been established in the original, and the additional development for the main cast feels in-character. The writing, however, is less subtle than expected, giving straight explanations for plot points that were left unclear in the original. It does make sense, given some of the surprising developments of the story, but it's hard to shake the feeling that things could have been made slightly more intriguing.
The major expansion of most of the main story events allowed developers to make Midgar feel alive like never before. In the original, we only got small glimpses of the life below and on the plates, but in the Remake, we see a lot more of it. Most of the story additions actually expand on how the Midgar population feels about Shinra, how it deals with the terrorist attacks, how it feels regarding the government of the city and the dangers posed by the abuse of Mako and so on. A lot of colorful new characters are also introduced in the Remake, and they help players a great deal to understand how life in Midgar is.
Some of the secondary characters, like Avalanche members Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge, also received massive character development in the Remake, making them a more integral parts of the events. Of the three, Jessie is the most memorable, as the game delves deeper in her story and in the reasons that made her join Avalanche. Villains also get much better development, giving players a much better idea on how Shinra managed to keep its iron grip on Midgar through the use of the media and propaganda.
The story isn't the only thing that has changed, anyway, as Final Fantasy VII Remake plays nothing like the original. The biggest change in gameplay is the battle system, which is a very peculiar combination between an action combat system and the series' Active Time Battle system.
Battles in Final Fantasy VII Remake are played in real-time, with the player controlling one character and the AI the other two. Characters can now unleash a basic attack combo, activate unique skills, dodge and defend. Most of these actions speed up ATB bar gain, and once one bar is full, it becomes possible to unleash special moves, cast spells, and use items. Among the combat options are also the iconic Limit Breaks, which can be unleashed once the Limit Bar is full, and Summons, which can only be used in select battles and once the related bar is full. It is also possible to set up four shortcuts so that it's possible to play the game more like an action RPG, unleashing special attacks and casting spells without having to go through menus. Those who want to play the game like the original can choose Classic Mode, which makes all of the combat's action automatic, allowing players to focus on using the ATB charges when available.
On the surface, the Final Fantasy VII Remake battle system is rather straightforward, but it hides a surprising amount of depth. Fights against the regular Shinra troops and other small monsters don't require any particular strategy, but stronger enemies and bosses require a better understanding of the Stagger mechanics. Returning from Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, players need to fill a bar so that enemies can get staggered and receive additional damage. Mashing the square button with the occasional special attack thrown in won't cut it, however: most enemies require specific elemental attacks to fill the Stagger gauge, and they will have to be timed properly, as only the weakest enemies get interrupted by regular attacks, while others are more susceptible to staggering following an attack and so on. Sweepers, for example, are weak to the Lighting element, so using Thunder spells while avoiding attacks and defending accordingly will fill the Stagger gauge quickly. Other enemies have high defense against physical attacks, but they can be staggered quickly with them, so using Tifa's quick combo attacks is the way to go to defeat them. Other enemies have shields, so they can only be damaged, and staggered, by attacking them from the back. Others, like Shock Troopers, can easily dodge physical attacks, so using magic and status ailments like Poison will make short work of them.
The different enemy types and the different strategies required to defeat them highlight how great the combat design is. All four playable characters have different roles: Cloud is the all-rounder who can deal with both groups and single enemies easily thanks to his unique stance ability, Barrett is the tank with high HP and Defense who can also deal with enemies effective from long-range, Tifa is the fast, close-range brawler who can obliterate enemies with her quick attacks and special moves, which can also be combed together, Aerith is the long-range magic damage dealer who also works great as a support-focused character. The characters, however, aren't stuck into their roles thanks to the Materia and Weapon Upgrade systems, which give players a lot of customization possibilities.
The Materia system is one of the original game's mechanics that hasn't changed much. During the course of the game, players will be able to gather Materia, mysterious orbs made of condensed Mako that grant special abilities. Most of the Materia seen in the original game makes a comeback, with the addition of a few new types, such as Auto-Cure, which gives players the ability to improve the AI-controlled characters' behavior when certain conditions are met, and Deadly Dodge, which unlocks an area attack that can be performed immediately after dodging. Like in the original, Materia has to be equipped in the Weapon and Armor slots to be active, and linked slots allow for some interesting combinations, such as granting elemental properties to basic attacks.
The Weapon Upgrade system is one of the new mechanics included in Final Fantasy VII Remake that uplifts character customization options to new heights. All weapons are viable for the entirety of the game, as they level up as characters do. Upon level up, players obtain SP, which can be used to unlock a variety of weapon-related improvements such as additional Materia slots, stats improvements and so on. Thanks to these, each weapon becomes better suited in one area instead of another, so a particular weapon, in conjunction with the right Materia setup, can make Cloud an excellent spell caster or a tank, instead of the all-rounder he is by default.
All of the different combat and customization options shine during boss battles, which are one of the many highlights of the remake. From the Scorpion Sentinel to the final boss, all battles have been greatly expanded, with multiple phases and a cinematic approach that makes them extremely memorable. It's these battles that highlight how well the unique action and turn-based elements of the battle system work, showing an almost rhythmic nature in the switching from Action Mode to Tactical Mode and back to Action Mode again.
Exploration mechanics have also changed significantly since the days of the original release, providing a much more involving experience. All the locations found in the original game have been expanded a lot, with both dungeons and towns feeling much bigger in scope. Dungeons now feature a variety of puzzles to complete as well as secondary objectives, called Discoveries, which often lead to treasure and Materia. Some of the expanded locations, such as the Sector 5 reactor, are extremely clever, and their inclusion wasn't just to lengthen playtime.
The Midgar story arc in the original Final Fantasy VII was the most linear segment of the game, and the remake certainly suffers from some linearity, as players never really get the chance to roam around looking for side content. These issues are partially addressed by a new quest system, which gives players the chance to branch away from the main story scenario for a bit. Quests usually fall into the usual fetch and extermination type, but they do prove to be a welcome diversion, as they provide some insights on how life is in the Midgar slums, not to mention the opportunity to explore some brand new locations that are not part of the main story. Battle Intel quests are especially interesting, as they task players with completing certain combat challenges, rewarding them with some rare Materia that makes fighting enemies even more varied. A nice selection of mini-games is also found in the game. Even with these, however, the game feels just too linear at times.
Excessive linearity isn't the only issue found in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Combat feels somewhat unbalanced, as some areas feature a combination of weak and strong enemies that can throw some players off, especially if they do not use the ATB mechanics properly. The camera, despite the multiple options, is also problematic while fighting in small spaces, as it often fails to reposition itself properly near corners or other obstacles, making it hard to defend properly. This is annoying, considering enemies also attack while off-camera and dodging doesn't have a lot of invincibility frames.
Despite these issues, Final Fantasy VII Remake plays great overall and the experience is made even more enjoyable by the excellent visual recreation of the iconic city of Midgar. The sense of scale is incredible, as the city feels immense and diverse in a way that the original game could only hint at due to the technical limitations of the original PlayStation. The art style and character design are excellent: the main cast design received some tweaks, but they all look incredible, with tons of detail and proper facial expressions and lip-syncing. All of the characters, from the main cast to the supporting character and villains, are probably the best ever designed by Square Enix: they retain the over-the-top steampunk and anime-like feel of the original designs, but they have been tweaked so that they look believable. Both characters and locations also benefit from the incredible use of lighting, which is used to mark the different times of day especially well. The performance is solid as well, as the game keeps steady 30 FPS framerate at pretty much all times even on base PlayStation 4.
The sound production values are just as high as the visuals'. All main characters are voiced by a new voice cast that does a great job in portraying the characters, especially Cody Christian, who does a great job as Cloud. The soundtrack went through a makeover of its own, and all of the old pieces retain the same power they did back in 1997, despite possibly an excessive use of orchestrations in the new arrangements. There are also plenty of new tracks with a distinct rock feel and they sound great.
Remaking Final Fantasy VII properly is something that was always going to be very difficult to achieve. Everything considered, Square Enix did a good job with the first part, but the controversial ending is going to divide the fanbase: some will love it, some will hate it. It is undeniable, however, that the developer managed to make this feel like an epic journey just by using a small slice of the whole adventure.
Review code provided by the publisher.
The post Final Fantasy VII Remake Review – There Isn’t No Getting Off This Train by Francesco De Meo appeared first on Wccftech.
A good gaming mouse is something we all need. One that doesn't break the bank is even more valued by people who are looking to get something of high quality, something that will last them through marathon gaming sessions, all at a reasonable price. SteelSeries are looking to offer this with the Rival 3 gaming mouse. Priced at just £34.99, you're not likely to many offerings from large names at this price range. It's certainly affordable, cheap even. The question then is how does it compete with the more pricey offerings out there?
After having used it for the past few weeks, with a hell of a lot of use this week thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown, I can say that the SteelSeries Rival 3 stands up well against much pricier mice, with a surprising number of features. Though it has to be said, there are some aspects that detract from it.
If you were going to describe the SteelSeries Rival 3 to somebody, you'd have to say it's a strange mixture of cheap and flashy. The mouse is a plain black matte plastic shell. It's got the usual five buttons you find on most mice now, with the ever-more-frequent extra one for flicking between four programmable DPI settings. Despite the fact that it can look cheap due to the shape and size, that's mitigated by the fact the mouse has lovely LED lighting across the bottom rim of the mouse and for the SteelSeries logo.
What makes me think the mouse looks and feels on the cheap side is the fact that it's got no features to speak of at all. There are no finger rests, no rubber grips at the side of the mouse, nothing to really promote the mouse as more than 'a mouse', nothing aside from the aforementioned LED. As a result of there being nothing, it's hard to get away from a sense of it being flimsy, with the smaller size just adding to that. In addition to this, the cable is also plain rubber rather than braided.
Due to the shape of the mouse, people like me with larger hands may find it uncomfortable over long sessions, depending on how you like to grip the mouse. Personally I prefer to go for a palm grip, this is just a little too small to comfortably go for that with my fingers hanging over the edge of the buttons at the best of times. I've resorted with a fingertip grip most of the time, just for comfort. Smaller or medium-sized hands, this wouldn't be an issue at all.
So what of the other components? This is where I have a bit of an issue with the SteelSeries Rival 3. The sensor offers a maximum of 8500 dpi and gives up to 300 inches per second accuracy. Can't complain at all for a mouse at such a low price point. However, what I can complain about isn't so much that the sensor offers some cursor wobble if you happen to pick the mouse up, it's that it gives cursor wobble almost permanently.
One thing I noticed while watching films and shows in full-screen on Amazon Prime Video is that the information kept popping up. I thought it was an issue with Firefox, tried different browsers. Same issue. It was only when I got to writing on here that I noticed that the cursor had a slight wobble, despite the fact that there was no movement from the mouse, mouse mat, the table or the floor beneath my house. The only way to stop it was by flipping the mouse onto its back.
I suppose what I'm saying is that while the performance of the sensor is great for the most part, you'll have no issue with general use or when gaming, it can be very bloody annoying when you're just trying to lay down and watch some TV or a film. I don't want things randomly popping up when they don't need to. Somebody needs to keep the SteelSeries Rival 3 away from the caffeine.
Fortunately, while the sensor could be best described as wobbly the buttons, wheel and everything else feel sturdy. Sturdy enough that they seem more valuable than the price of the mouse would imply. While the size and basic nature may make you think it'll be flimsy, the mouse can take a fair bit of use. It'll also withstand a few smacks into the table as well as my fist hitting it a few times. Just testing its strength, I wasn't getting frustrated with my games at all.
At least it wasn't due to the mouse. No matter what game I played, the SteelSeries Rival 3 performed better than you could honestly expect a cheap mouse to. It's smooth, responsive and there were no misclicks, no jumping over anything I needed it to. The timing was perfect and from Apex Legends to Total War: Three Kingdoms and Doom Eternal to Plague Inc: Evolved, it was great to have a high-end performance from a lower-end mouse. If only the issue didn't exist when watching shows.
Outside of the hardware, SteelSeries has provided a very good bit of software. It's nothing special or extravagant, but what it wants to do, it does it well. You can customise up to five different DPI settings, up to the maximum of 8500, as well as remapping all of the buttons on the mouse as well as creating macros. In addition to remapping the buttons, the application allows you to adjust the LED lighting on the rim of the mouse, with the mouse being divided into three different sections, adding to the customisation.
Without any shadow of a doubt, there's a lot to praise about the SteelSeries Rival 3, particularly when you remember that this is one of the cheaper gaming mice out there. The lighting makes the mouse look a lot better than the price, shape and size of the mouse would indicate at first glance. It's sturdy enough as well when you're using it, with a slight issue of comfortability for those with larger hands. Still, it's hard to deny that this is a very strong all-around mouse, particularly for the low price of £30/$35.
Provided by SteelSeries for review purposes.
The post SteelSeries Rival 3 Gaming Mouse Review – Entry Level to Greatness by Chris Wray appeared first on Wccftech.
Resident Evil and multiplayer have always got along like oil and water (or perhaps zombies and Molotov cocktails). Whether it be co-op in Resident Evil 5 and 6, all those tacked-on Mercenaries modes, or standalone games like Umbrella Corps, the results have ranged from merely decent to downright rotten. Despite this, Capcom just keeps on trying. Cue Resident Evil Resistance.
For those unfamiliar, Resident Evil Resistance is a full asymmetric 4v1 co-op game included with your purchase of Resident Evil 3. That may sound like a generous move, but is Capcom just bundling Resistance with another game because they don’t think it can stand on its own merits? Has the company finally done Resident Evil multiplayer right or is this just another co-op flop? Time to find out…
Resident Evil Resistance is somewhat ironically named, as it sees Capcom finally giving into the inevitable and doing their own version of Left 4 Dead. Teams of four players must work together to blast zombies, collect key items, and ultimately escape a series of villainous lairs within a strict time limit. There are six different Survivors to choose from (Jill Valentine will also be added post launch) each with their own abilities and starting loadouts. For example, the delightfully-named Martin Sandwich specializes in traps, while the gothy hacker January Van Sant can mess with surveillance cameras. There’s also a dash of unique Resident Evil flavor mixed in – characters have limited inventory space, there are a ton of multicolored herbs to collect, and you can buy additional weapons and ammo from item boxes strewn around levels.
The big twist is there’s a fifth player who acts as the Mastermind and has the Dungeon-Keeper-like ability to decide where traps and zombies appear. The Mastermind can even possess monsters and take it to Survivors directly. There are four different Masterminds, who also have their own strengths – Anette Birkin can boost the strength of zombies and call upon her mutated husband William Birkin, new character Daniel Fabron can unleash Mr. X, and so on.
If this sounds like the setup for a decent little multiplayer romp, well, I agree. I was optimistic when I sat down to play Resident Evil Resistance, but that enthusiasm evaporated quickly. Despite some solid ideas, RE Resistance just isn’t much fun to play. This is particularly true when playing as a Survivor – movement and gunplay is much slower and more awkward than something like Left 4 Dead or World War Z, which would be fine if Resistance felt like a traditional Resident Evil game, but it doesn’t. Zombies move too quickly, can absorb too many bullets, and shooting just generally feels off. Melee weapons are also badly overpowered, to the point half the players I encountered just ran around whacking things with bats and two-by-fours. Needless to say, that isn’t exactly true to the spirit of Resident Evil.
Level design is cluttered and confusing, with most maps consisting of narrow pathways packed with dead ends and bottlenecks. Granted, some maps are better than others – the Research Facility and Abandoned Park areas are okay, but the Casino is a garish jumble. RE Resistance really demonstrates the importance of art direction and polish, as the game looks bland and messy, despite running on the same engine that powers the visually-stunning RE2 and RE3 remakes.
Each map is divided up into three stages, each of which always features the same objectives. In the first stage players solve a “puzzle,” which is basically just a random scavenger hunt, the second stage requires player to kill an armored guard zombie then activate some computer terminals, then in the final stage you have to destroy a series of test pods. The repetitive nature of RE Resistance’s objectives makes all its maps feel rather samey, despite their visual differences.
Finding the items you need to progress can be also be frustrating, as they aren’t shown on your map until you get quite close to them. I get this was likely done to force players to split up and explore rather than just beeline from one objective to another in a pack, but there had to have been a better solution than this. You can tell the designers of RE Resistance knew their maps could be annoying, as they include a single-player Practice mode where you can familiarize yourself with their ins and outs (which, honestly, I kind of enjoyed more than multiplayer). Ultimately though, there are only so many places “random” objects can appear, so I expect Resistance will be quickly dominated by a few hardcore types who memorize where everything is.
Admittedly, playing as the Mastermind is good for a laugh, especially when you take control of a powerful BOW like Mr. X and start crushing skulls. Don’t expect any sort of satisfying challenge though, as the two sides in RE Resistance are wildly unbalanced. I never lost a match as the Mastermind, often grabbing an “S” rank without really trying, while my Survivor team almost always got annihilated. The traps and zombies you place as the Mastermind are assigned to cards, and it’s very easy to game the system by only spending throwaway trap and buff cards early on until you have a hand packed with monsters you can drop on your opponents all at once. There are action points that are supposed to prevent the Mastermind from swarming the Survivors, but they regenerate very quickly, and bizarrely, marginally-useful traps cost way more action points to place than zombies. The system is completely broken.
Even if Resident Evil Resistance was fun, the game would still probably wear thin quick, as it only includes a paltry four maps and no additional game modes. Capcom milks this meager content for all its worth, as every Survivor and Mastermind has to be leveled up individually in order to acquire new abilities, loadouts, and cosmetics, and the process is slooooow. All the stuff you unlock is obtained from random loot boxes, and while you can’t buy them directly with real money, Capcom is selling “boosters” than earn you boxes faster. It doesn’t take long for this game to start feeling like a manipulative grind.
Given the limited number of folks with Resident Evil Resistance review copies, I often had to wait a while to connect to a match. When I finally did connect after staring at a blank loading screen for five minutes or more, a thought would often flicker across my mind -- “Damn, I guess I actually have to play the game now.” I think that says it all.
This review was based on a PS4 copy of Resident Evil Resistance provided by publisher Capcom. You can grab the game along with Resident Evil 3 at a discount from Green Man Gaming.
The post Resident Evil Resistance Review – Lair of the Loot Box by Nathan Birch appeared first on Wccftech.
It's only been a mere two years since The Phantom Thieves of Hearts broke out into the spotlight in Persona 5. Since then, we've seen pseudo sequels get developed and released in Japan by way of Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Breakers , a full-length anime, and others. With a story that wrapped up neatly in the original game, I was left wondering what else is left for these Shujin Academy delinquents. Atlus has once again put these heart-stealing rogues onto center stage with Persona 5 Royal, a greatly expanded version of the original PlayStation 3/4 JRPG. Does Persona 5 Royal capture our heart just as the first game did, or should this be one treasure to pass up?
Expanded re-releases are nothing new for the Persona development team. Since the days of Persona 3 and Persona 3 FES that introduced an entirely new epilogue known as The Answer, each game in this Shin Megami Tensei spinoff has gotten a secondary release with new content. Persona 5 continues that trend with Persona 5 Royal, adding even more to an already meaty JRPG experience. While the original title clocked in around a hundred hours on its own, revisiting Persona 5 Royal means investing at least that much time alone just to reach the new treasures within.
With no transferring of save data from one game into the next (loyal players are rewarded with a number of in-game items for having a Persona 5 data but no real progression), Persona 5 Royal puts players back at the beginning of their first days after transferring to Shujin Academy. The first few story beats of banding together with an amateur fashion model and fallen track star to create The Phantom Thieves of Hearts is all too familiar a tale to those that played the original game. Glimpses of the new characters and content are interspersed throughout the calendar year, with two new confidants to befriend and earn their trust. Councillor Takuto Maruki and Kasumi Yoshizawa, bearer of the Faith arcana, are the two new confidants that can be wooed over to the player's side in the same fashion of the other supporting members that wish to see the Phantom Thieves succeed.
With the main school year at Shujin Academy going through until the end of December just as the original Persona 5 story, how can players manage to squeeze in two more confidants to spend time with? The main answer to this is with how liberal your companion Morgana is with letting you spend your nights. One of the greatest criticisms I felt with Persona 5 was with how limited your nighttime activities could be without Morgana telling you to get some sleep. Couple the extra time spending out late along with the secret perks from leveling up the Temperance arcana (typically you're limited to staying indoors after exploring a dungeon or Mementos but a massage on demand opens up those possibilities) and that's a lot of extra time to spend working on your social skills or meeting with those you wish to bring onto your side.
That extra time is also handy with being able to visit Kichijoji, the new city location to Persona 5 Royal. This small hub is home to a number of social activities, from visiting a local jazz club at nights to praying at a temple for good luck or spending time with friends at the local darts & billiard club. All of these activities have a secondary purpose that's integral to the RPG side of Persona 5 Royal: stat building. Praying at the temple raises the main character's SP, while playing darts and billiards can raise the effectiveness of baton passes in battle or increasing Technical damage. By the end of Royal's last semester, I was spending most of my time at the jazz club because of the increases to your party members' stats when you invite one of them out for a night of drinking mocktails (and a certain few nights bring on a jazz singer that can help that party member learn a new all-important skill in battle such as Debilitate).
The social calendar to Persona 5 Royal is more packed than its ever been and that can be a little daunting for new players. With only eight months to play through the main story of Persona 5 and being limited to one or two activities in a given day (and sometimes none at all, especially when exam time rolls around), that's not a lot of time to hone your skills. Unless you go into the school year with a clear plan of attack on who to talk to on what days, odds are you won't be able to see everything in a single playthrough (and aside from the in-game achievement in the Thieves' Den, there's no reward or unique persona for maxing out every confidant). That stress of having to choose who you spend those limited days with can lead to a bit of choice paralysis. If you're connected to the internet when you start Persona 5 Royal, there's a feature to see what options other players chose, as well as indicators on the in-game map of who is available to hang out with at that point in time. Aside from the mandatory dungeons that prop up every month, Persona 5 Royal is a game that's better spent going at your own pace without worrying about wooing every possible friend during that limited calendar year.
If you're wanting to reach the new content in Persona 5 Royal, however, you will need to spend time with the new confidants along with at least one other key character and get their social links up to maximum before the end of the calendar year. Reaching the third semester that marks Persona 5 Royal's new content can in fact be gate kept and locked away if you don't abide by this and simply coast your way through. Unless you max out Maruki's confidant rank by the time he leaves the school, the game ends as it normally would and locks the player out from seeing the new content. Imagine having to play through a hundred hour RPG and being locked out of the new content just because you didn't spend your time wisely enough.
The new semester in Persona 5 Royal falls in line with Persona 3 FES' story content, although in a shorter time span. By the time I defeated the final boss of the campaign and rolled into the new year, my party was in the high 80's level-wise and my Persona collection had few gaps in its effectiveness. The new semester itself lasts a month long with one new palace and a handful of Mementos missions to undertake. There are also a small number of additional Persona to recruit and fuse but the number was far lower than I expected. Lastly, each party member that you've gotten to max our their relationship to the main character with can awaken to a third evolution of their Persona, changing up their passive skill and unlocking one new ability each. With a properly leveled team and firm grasp on the battle mechanics, this new semester of gameplay took around fifteen hours but players that came unprepared and need to grind out a few more levels can easily spend closer to twenty or thirty.
Kasumi Yoshizawa, the newest member of The Phantom Thieves, is also a key member of the Persona 5 Royal story and finally becomes a proper party member during this final month. While she is teased throughout the story with a few key appearances and can be visited as a regular confidant, she truly shines once she is able to be recruited. With her Persona having skills that follow the Bless school of magic, she's a valuable team member that helps to cover all of the elemental affinities while the player remains the wild card.
Players may be frustrated to find out that their save data from the original game doesn't carry over into Persona 5 Royal, but there is a good reason for that. While the final semester is the main drawing point to the package, there are a great number of changes to the RPG and combat sides of Persona 5 Royal. Guns are finally useful, because as Morgana explains it, the enemies you run into always think you're going into battle with a full clip. No more rationing bullets between battles as you can finally fire away at your heart's content in each battle. Certain party member combinations also have new co-op Showtime attacks that are always super effective at clearing out weaker groups of enemies. Each dungeon hides a new type of collectible called Will Seeds that, once all three are collected, unlock a new accessory that is powerful in its own right but can be upgraded by visiting the Mementos dungeons. The other key change is in the addition of a grappling hook to aid in dungeon exploration; each palace has been slightly reworked to accommodate for this new tool, but it's just a tool for getting past specific barriers and not more of a open world tool (although it can be used to help sneak up and ambush pesky Shadows).
Now that I've spent 180 hours and can put my thoughts on paper, would I consider Persona 5 Royal to be an essential treasure on the PlayStation 4? The short answer is yes, but with a big caveat. On its own, the new semester at Shujin Academy isn't worth the $60 price tag alone, and while the gameplay has been overhauled to be a little bit more open ended with how you can spend your time, that's still a major time investment you'll have to spend to reach the new story. If you've never played Persona 5 before, then snatching up a copy of Persona 5 Royal is simply the best way to play this story. However, if you've already spent one year wearing the mask already, you might need to have a small change in your cognition to see whether or not it's worth a second playthrough.
Review code provided by the publisher.
The post Persona 5 Royal Review – The Phantom Thieves Are Back In Action by Kai Powell appeared first on Wccftech.
The last time I remember immediately falling in love with a games colour palette - not its overall art style but just the foundational colours that make up the world - was Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Its black and gold aesthetic was outstanding in an era hallmarked by muddy browns and dull greys. In Other Waters had the same effect on me, and is even more beautiful in its simplicity. Made almost entirely of an inviting blue and yellow combination, this game sets itself up perfectly with just two colours.
In Other Waters casts you as an exo-suit AI that is trying to help one scientist find another in a strange and sometimes dangerous ocean on an alien planet. You’ll have to scan the environment and plot routes across the ocean floor, getting brief written descriptions about the world around you, its native wildlife, and short conversations with the scientist you’re assisting. But that description doesn’t do justice to the game and how well it achieves its goals. You might be sitting there thinking that a game where you play as a diving suit with notions sounds boring, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
The writing in the game is fantastic. Each waypoint and description are only a sentence or two long, yet they perfectly conjure and invoke incredible images and truly alien landscapes and creatures within the player. This isn’t Mass Effect, the alien life here isn’t ‘women but blue’, they are bizarre and literally otherworldly, and that makes studying them so interesting. The landscape is more familiar, deep ocean trenches, reefs of rock and sand, and forests of plant life, but while we all might have watched Blue Planet, the concept of actually exploring them is still pretty alien. Reading about the topography and what the scientist can see and interpret coupled with the simple colour palette, the limited information that comes up on your display paints an incredible picture that other sci-fi settings wish they could create.
And while you’re exploring the ocean floor, the soundscape helps compound the varying waves of awe, tension, and serenity that the game and writing invokes. The soundtrack is reminiscent of No Man’s Sky with a range of beautiful but strange melodies. But in honesty, there is a lot more connection between In Other Waters and No Man’s Sky in the pure joy of gentle exploration.
Whereas No Man’s Sky was more freeform to begin with, In Other Waters has a much more focused scope. Even if the leash of In Other Waters might be tighter, it’s by no means too short. You’re able to explore quite a wide section of the ocean and spend your time finding new vistas or collecting new samples that help you study the alien life. I spent nearly an hour drifting between stone pillars, examining the aliens that lived on them. This was in almost the opposite direction to the objective, but the game still allowed me the time to do it. Likewise, you can use your time in the hub area to study the map and find places you might have missed earlier (the game generously tells you where you might find samples).
The controls can initially feel like they are hampering your urge to explore the ocean. Moving takes several mouse clicks as you perform all the necessary AI checks first. It might feel slow at first compared to similar exploration games that let you sprint from point to point without regard, but this really places you in the role of an AI performing an extraordinary duty. Scanning the environment, collecting samples, plotting a route and using your limited inventory all have their own on-screen buttons that make each action feel very deliberate. It’s a little reminiscent of games like Observation, but without ever taking direct control. One of the best things about In Other Waters is the way your interactions with the game directly echo the way the game presents your role, which really allows you to immerse yourself in the world.
A lot of the time, a game that doesn’t let you say what you want to say or do what you want to do feels limited or frustrating, but In Other Waters gives you enough freedom and enough of an explanation that you never feel unsatisfied by your options. When speaking to the scientist, you’re only ever given the choice of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This makes your interactions fairly short, but her character still manages to shine through in the writing and it doesn’t take long for you to become fully engrossed in her personal mystery as well as the alien ocean.
Exploring those waters isn’t always easy though. Some areas aren’t as welcoming as others, with toxic blossom, powerful currents and tangles of tentacles all potentially blocking your path. You’ll never need to rely on your finely tuned reflexes, but the ebbing and flowing of the tension and peacefulness perfectly balance the game.
If I had to find a fault in this game, and this is really looking for something to complain about, I’d have to say that the inventory can be a little unintuitive. When looking through your collected samples, some information is only revealed when you click on the item. But doing so sometimes causes you to use it. It’s a minor issue and you’ll soon learn to recognise the item from its image, but it can be frustrating if you accidentally use a sample you were hoping to take back to the lab for study.
I’ve avoided talking about the current state of the world now, but I think In Other Waters couldn’t have come out at a better time. If you’re feeling restless and closed in, this alien ocean provides a much needed escape. It lets your mind wander and distracts you with its truly creative alien lifeforms, beautiful descriptions and intriguing mystery, even if you feel like you’re trapped in your own personal exo-suit.
Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).
Blizzard's Overwatch is among the most popular multiplayer games ever released, but, surprisingly enough, it did not spawn an army of clones: the games inspired by Blizzard's titles haven't been a lot, and most brought interesting twists to the formula. Ninja Theory's Bleeding Edge is, in some ways, among these titles, but the inclusion of mechanics lifted from hack and slash games and MOBAs make it more than a derivative game. While the game does feel a little barebones in its launch state, Bleeding Edge can provide a lot of fun and has a lot of unrealized potential.
Bleeding Edge's premise is incredibly simple: two teams made up of four players compete in two different play modes, Objective Control and Power Collection, and the team reaching scoring the required number of points first wins the match. Things, however, are not as simple as they sound as, there a lot of variables involved, such as team composition and maps.
The Bleeding Edge character roster is extremely diverse. The 11 launch characters are divided into three different types - Damage, Support, and Tank. While players in a team are free to choose whichever character they prefer, a balanced team composition is extremely important to win games. The most balanced combination seen so far are two Damage characters, one Support, and one Tank, but it's possible to win with any combination, granted the team can coordinate well and adapt to the situations as they present themselves. Additionally, players are not stuck to the same character for the entirety of a game, as it is possible to switch them right before respawning after getting defeated.
The Bleeding Edge character roster is among the game's best features. The gameplay and aesthetic design of each character make them feel unique. Characters range from the Melee fighter Daemon, who uses stealth and shurikens to defeat unaware opponents, the Support fighter Miko, who can stand her only during a fight while creating protective fields around her allies, the Ranged fighter Maeve, a cyber witch who can imprison opponents and blast them from afar with ranged attacks, the Tank Buttercup, a young lady riding a motorcycle who can grapple enemies from afar and so on. All characters come with a basic combo attack, three different skills with a cooldown timer
and a special technique that can be activated once charged fully.
While the three skills and single basic combo attacks may feel limited to character action games fans, Bleeding Edge's characters feature a surprising amount of depth, as many of the skills have both offensive and defensive uses. Daemon and Nidhoggr RB dash skill can be used to close gaps with enemies, but also to escape from combos, in case a dodge cannot be performed. Miko's freezing attack can be used to dish out a lot of damage, but also to freeze an attacker and escape from a combo that could kill her. Mods obtained by leveling up characters can be used to customize each character's skills, giving even more depth to the experience.
Bleeding Edge feels a lot like Overwatch, especially in regards to character design, but the game is more akin to MOBAs in a lot of ways. Despite the good level of gameplay depth, there is simply no way that a single player can survive alone for long. Teamwork is the only way to succeed in Bleeding Edge, as all character's defensive options, including the dodge maneuver, are not enough when up against more than a single opponent. For this reason, teams that stick together and have proper positioning have a winning chance: no coordination always means utter defeat and an experience that feels very frustrating. To help teams coordinate, Bleeding Edge offers a plethora of tools, such as a ping system, voice and text chat, but not many players use them as of now. As time goes on, and players learn the game better, they are likely going to be put to much better use.
The two play modes currently available in the game, the already mentioned Objective Control and Power Collecting, are quite. Objective Control feels more traditional: to earn points, players will have to claim and hold objectives found in different points on the map. Some of the maps feature moving objectives, which spices up the experience. The other mode, Power Collecting, sees players collect power cells during the collection phase and deliver these cells during the delivery phase. The interesting thing is that players will drop cells once defeated, turning the moment between collection and delivery phases into a frantic hunt for the players with the most cells to steal.
Despite the cleverly designed maps featuring a variety of obstacles and traps which can be used to one own's advantage, and a few temporary bonuses to collect, such as constant healing, attack power, and defense up, Bleeding Edge starts feeling repetitive fast. Two play modes are just not enough to keep players engaged for tens of hours, and the progression system is currently limited to mods and aesthetic unlocks. A ranked mode and a leaderboard would have made things a bit more engaging for the long term.
Bleeding Edge is far from the best looking game we've seen, but the cel-shaded style complements the art style very nicely, as both characters and locations look vibrant. The game also runs rather well on PC. The PC used for the review, featuring an i7-3770 CPU, GeForce 980 Ti, 16 GB RAM, had no trouble running the game smoothly at 1400p resolution. There is some stuttering during matches, but that is related to connectivity, as no netcode can produce a smooth experience with players connecting from all over the world in a single match. Despite this, rubber banding has been minimal, so things are looking good on this front and can only improve in the future.
In its launch state, Bleeding Edge is a fun game to play for a few hours, but it can get repetitive quickly due to the limited selection of play modes and player progression. With more content, however, it has the potential to become a huge hit, so the ball is now in Ninja Theory's park to make it happen.
PC Version tested. Review code provided by the publisher.
The post Bleeding Edge Review – Killing Enemies is Never Enough by Francesco De Meo appeared first on Wccftech.
Last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake was a bit of a layup for Capcom. The original RE2 is one of the most impeccably-designed games of all time and the remake largely succeeded by sticking to the blueprint. Revamping Resident Evil 3 is a more challenging prospect, as the original game had some great ideas, but arguably wasn’t a great game overall. Resident Evil 3 also leaned more heavily toward action, which the franchise has had a mixed track record with.
It’s one thing to remake an undisputed classic like Resident Evil 2, but has Capcom managed to transform the middle-tier Resident Evil 3 into something special? Or will RE3 never be one of the staaaars of the franchise? Grab those green herbs again, it’s time for another trip to Raccoon City…
For those new to Resident Evil 3, the game is actually a prequel, taking place both slightly before and during the events of Resident Evil 2. You play as the Master of Unlocking herself, Jill Valentine, who must escape a fully-zombified Raccoon City with the help of the last surviving members of Umbrella’s mercenary squad, the UBCS, some of whom definitely know more about what’s happening than they let on. Oh, and Jill’s also being stalked by a big, ugly, superpowered bioweapon with a one-track mind for destroying former STARS members. Not exactly the most relaxing story to tackle during the COVID-19 pandemic, but hey, sometimes it’s best to face your anxieties head-on…with a rocket launcher.
Unlike the Resident Evil 2 remake, which made only minor tweaks to the original game’s structure, Resident Evil 3 gets pretty ambitious with its remixing. The broad strokes are the same, but new character moments are added, events are shuffled, entire sections are axed (say goodbye to the Clock Tower and Park), while others are significantly expanded (the Hospital, Sewers) or created from scratch (I won’t spoil it). Even sections that aren’t complete overhauls are still far from one-to-one remakes -- the narrow, claustrophobic Raccoon City streets from the original RE3 are now far more open and packed with new sights and secrets, and your return trip to the Police Station is turned on its head as you now play through the section as Carlos instead of Jill.
Make no mistake, while a lot has changed, Resident Evil 3 still delivers plenty of nostalgic nods. Memorable supporting characters, like that poor sap who hides in the shipping container at the beginning of the PS1 game, pop back up when you’re not expecting them. Boss fights take concepts from the original game and expand on them to the Nth degree. And yes, Jill drops her infamous “I’ll give you STARS!” quip, but this time you don’t have to wait until the end of the story to hear it. The game also contains some juicy new bits of backstory for Resident Evil 2 that hardcore fans ought to gobble up.
Ultimately though, the new Resident Evil 3 shines the brightest when it comes to characterization. Jill was a bit of a blank slate in the original game and Carlos was downright annoying. A new opening sequence, which actually starts out in first-person ala Resident Evil 7, elegantly sets up why Jill is still hanging around Raccoon City (something the PS1 game never bothered to answer) and establishes her mental state. Understandably, Jill is in a dark place and dealing with some serious trust issues following the events of the first Resident Evil, leading to some testy exchanges with Carlos, but as the game progresses, we see her open up and once again become the badass we all know she is. As for Carlos, he’s no longer the whiny superfluous sidekick, but an able and honorable protagonist in his own right. Yeah, he goes a little heavy on the pickup lines early on, it wouldn’t be Carlos if he wasn’t at least a little irritating, but by the end of the game he’s fully redeemed. Honestly, I wouldn’t be at all upset if this Carlos popped back up in Resident Evil 8 or some other future game. Overall, while fans may bemoan some cuts, Capcom’s changes have resulted in a smoother-flowing, more involving Resident Evil 3.
Resident Evil 3’s revamped story is elevated by fantastic RE-Engine-powered visuals. The new Jill is one of the most detailed, expressive character models I’ve ever seen, and Carlos, Nikolai, and other supporting cast members have received similarly-impressive upgrades. The somewhat dreary look of the Resident Evil 2 remake has given way to a more varied array of locales, with the bright neon-lit streets of Raccoon City standing out as particularly unique. You could argue Resident Evil 3 isn’t quite as atmospheric as some previous entries in the series, but that’s okay, as the game isn’t going for straight horror.
As mentioned, the original Resident Evil 3 was more action-oriented than its PS1 brethren, and the remake expands on that. Thankfully, this game is closer to Resident Evil 4 than, say, Resident Evil 6, as it delivers plenty of thrills without entirely abandoning the scary stuff. While basic movement and gunplay is lifted from the RE2 remake, Jill and Carlos can now skillfully dodge around enemies. Hit the button at just the right moment and you’ll pull off a “perfect dodge,” which rewards you with a couple of seconds of slow motion that can be used to pop off a few precision headshots. Master the perfect dodge and you’ll be able to make RE3’s zombies look dumber than they already are.
Of course, you’ll be facing enemies a lot more capable than zombies in Resident Evil 3. Nemesis clearly borrows his AI from the RE2 remake’s “Mr. X” Tyrant, but he has some new tricks, including the ability swing in and out of areas on a whim, leap across wide distances, and snatch you up with his tentacles. Nemesis is basically a very ugly Spider-Man, although all his powers don’t necessarily make him any more challenging or intimidating than Mr. X. The openness of RE2’s police station and not knowing when or where Mr. X might appear was what made him so unnerving, but RE3 is a much more linear game. There’s really only one section of the game (relatively early on the streets of Raccoon City) where Nemesis stalks you freely, providing that heart-pumping cat-and-mouse intensity. The other times you encounter ol’ gruesome, it’s in Uncharted-style cinematic action scenes and boss battles. Don’t get me wrong, these encounters are still fun -- the scripted action scenes are gripping and the boss fights are probably the best I’ve ever encountered in a Resident Evil game, they’re just not scary.
But don’t worry, while Resident Evil 3 mostly plays its Nemesis encounters for action-movie thrills, the game’s not without its horrific moments. I’ll admit, I screamed out loud a couple times during the Hospital stage, and a sequence where Jill has to navigate through a nest of parasites eager to plant their eggs in her stomach is downright disgusting. This is perhaps the best-paced Resident Evil game ever (or at least tied with RE4), as Capcom serves up the perfect mix of scripted action scenes, more traditional survival-horror, character bits, and epic boss battles. I wanted to savor my time with Resident Evil 3, but I ended up devouring the whole story over a mere two evenings.
Which brings us to Resident Evil 3’s biggest shortcoming, namely, it’s shortness. Depending on how often you die, it should take you around 7 to 10 hours to get through RE3, and unlike the original game, there are no branching paths or multiple endings to pursue. There isn’t a second quest to play through with another character as in RE2 either. Yes, there are multiple difficulties and things to unlock, but once you finish the game once you’ve pretty much seen all the content it has to offer. Ah, but what about Resident Evil Resistance, the Left-4-Dead-style multiplayer game included with your RE3 purchase? Surely that makes up for the main game’s briefness? Well, I’ll have a full review of RE Resistance later this week, but for now I’ll say, don’t buy this game for anything but the single-player. Multiplayer is a minor bonus, at best. Thankfully, Resident Evil 3 still kicks plenty of ass, even without RE Resistance as a crutch.
This review was based on a PS4 copy of Resident Evil 3 provided by publisher Capcom. You can grab a copy of the game on Amazon.
The post Resident Evil 3 Review – Abrupt Action Masterclass by Nathan Birch appeared first on Wccftech.
Pitaka MagEZ Bar is an interesting solution for wireless charging needs, as well as organization for various household items. It has a wall-mounted magnetic wireless charger, which charges two devices at a time, and also holds other items like keys, and Pitaka’s products like the MagEZ Wallet. Does it hold up items as well as Pitaka claims? Read our review to find out.
The MagEZ Bar ships in a large and heavy package. The box includes the following:
The magnetic case for your smartphone needs to be bought separately. Pitaka sells cases for most flagship Samsung and Apple smartphones. However, if you have a smartphone which does not have a MagEZ Case available, Pitaka ships metal plates that can be attached to the phone using an alignment paper. This ensures that your Qi-compatible smartphone can be magnetically attached to the MagEZ Bar.
Pitaka provides all the tools necessary to attach the MageEZ Bar to a wall, however, you might need some professional help if you do not have access to the right tools. The initial setup for the wall mount might seem like a bit of a hassle, but the process is worth it.
The MagEZ Bar is made of premium Aramid Fiber. This material is used for armor so it is very strong and durable. The black finish of the bar gives a very premium feel and looks good on just about any wall. Despite the length of MagEZ Bar, it only charges two devices wirelessly at a time. The other half of the bar is used for attached metallic items like keys, or products like MagEZ Wallet.
There are two USB-C ports on the bar, one on either side, allowing you to attach it to any wall without any issues. In case you are concerned, the magnets inside the bar are very strong, and during my usage, I was never worried that my iPhone or AirPods would fall down. Note that my iPhone X is not the heaviest phone in the world, however, the magnets are strong enough and should not have any issue with even the largest Samsung Note smartphones.
For $129, Pitaka MagEZ Bar is not the cheapest wireless charging solution out there. But if you have gone all-in on wireless charging with your devices, it will provide to be a valuable addition to your home. For the best usage, it is recommended to buy the MagEZ Case and other such Pitaka magnetic cases for your devices, so they work well with the bar and other products like the MagEZ Juice. This adds to the cost, but you can always opt to use the free magnetic plates that Pitaka provides with each product.
The post Pitaka MagEZ Bar Review – Wall-Mount Qi Wireless Charger by Imran Hussain appeared first on Wccftech.
Have you ever seen the film Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel? I'm not asking for any particular reason other than I recently re-watched the film and I like it. Actually, there is another reason, Frequency - like Iron Danger (read my earlier preview here) - deals with a very loose interpretation of time travel. In Frequency, there's a radio that can talk to itself thirty years in the past, or future depending on your perspective. In Iron Danger, a magical shard has embedded itself into a character's chest, letting her move back ten heartbeats.
There's a little bit of a plot hole here though. Surely, in a fight, her heart would beat faster meaning you can't travel as far back time-wise? I know I'm overthinking it, I just think that developers Action Squad Studios would have been better basing the game's core concept on seconds, not the beating of a heart, if only for the sake of not having a pedantic git like me writing this paragraph. Pedanticism aside, what do I actually think about Iron Danger? It's alright.
So Iron Danger is a real-time tactics game with a twist. It's not an RPG as others would have you believe (does anybody actually know what game genre's actually are anymore? Silly Steam tags). This twist is the aforementioned time-travel aspect. The main character, Kipuna, gets impaled by a magical shard after falling down a hole when her town is attacked by the Northlanders. This shard gives her magical powers to travel backwards and forward in time for up to ten heartbeats. For the purpose of this review, I'll now be calling these steps.
Alongside her ability to move backwards and forwards ten steps, Kipuna also has the ability to throw fire at her enemies, as well as enchant her allies' weapons with fire. These are the first of the powers obtained by Kipuna, with the story moving along to find five more shards, providing more abilities to Kipuna. The story also features the Northlanders, who couldn't be more stereotypically 'bad guy' if they were dressed in Scooby-Doo ghost costumes. You'll find a few more "did they really do this" tropes as well.
So, what I'm saying, is that the story isn't great. It's not bad either, but not great. For the most part, I've found myself engaged thanks to the dialogue. The core characters are pretty entertaining, even endearing to a point. The voice acting makes this all the better, with it actually being much better than I imagined it would be. The audio design overall is pretty damn good, with everything from the bolt of an arbalest and the explosion of a grenade, to the chill of a newly formed ice wall sounding great.
All of that works in line with the colourful aesthetic. Iron Danger is a colourful game, giving off a comic book feel. The design of the characters, enemies and more all lend to this too. The game hasn't got the most detailed of anything really, but this isn't really an issue due to the style choices that developers Action Squad Studios has gone for.
So all this talk about the story, sound and visuals, but what about the gameplay? So I can't help but really like the whole time-travel step-based combat. Or, I should say I want to really like it. For the most part, I do, but there are occasions where I'm asking myself what the developers were thinking. The actual combat is great, you're facing overwhelming odds and through trial and error, a lot of it, you're going to prevail.
The problem I have is that the game is infuriating in how much it doesn't want you to enjoy the mechanic. You'll stop time, rewind a few steps and choose a new action. The game starts back up again and everything keeps moving again. It doesn't make sense to me, particularly since you have two characters, that the game has to restart time every damn time, making you then go back to your other character and rewind another number of steps just to organise your moves. It's a little too repetitive and, honestly, it seems designed just to use up more of your time.
That wouldn't surprise me because at the end of each level it tells you how long you've taken in the game and also how long it would have taken if the moves that eventually happened all occurred in real-time, not including your take-backs and so forth. So yes, the concept of time travel and how it plays out is something I really like, it's new and it's interesting. How it controls leaves me feeling frustrated a little too often.
Which is a shame because, on top of the time travel mechanics, the game also has a group of features that let the game stand out tactically. For example, casting a fireball on an enemy in longer grass will cause more damage as the grass burns around that enemy. Maybe you want to use a roundhouse kick on an enemy, knocking them into a fuel canister, which you then ignite at the right moment by using the time travel to perfect the combination.
Each character you encounter and get to use have their own list of skills, usually fitting into a general class stereotype. At the end of some missions you have the option to improve and rank up certain skills. All of these contribute to the wide number of moves and combinations to be found in Iron Danger, including some that can result in unexpected laughs like combining an explosive attack with a fire-enhancement. Talk about something blowing up in your face!
Actually, talking about something blowing up in my face. I think sometimes I'm either a little too smart or eager for the game and it's trying to punish me. That or it's just buggy. I've had characters disappear into buildings and cave walls. I've had moments where the game has literally buggered up in a way that I've had to restart whole levels. As a matter of fact, these level-breaking bugs have cost me at least one and a half hours.
Two examples that come to mind are a battle where a magical force field appears around a tree, only it appeared with me outside of the forcefield ensuring I couldn't do the battle and also the game wouldn't let me call an elevator required to progress the level. Another thing I want to complain about, but isn't a bug - just a strange design choice - is the camera. I just find the thing to be too unwieldy. Controlling the camera with just the left mouse button just feels wrong, especially when it starts getting caught up on scenery.
As negative as a lot of this review has been, I do still think Iron Danger is an enjoyable enough game. It's made all the more enjoyable by the innovative time travel system as well as all of the other little features around. It's a very reactive world and the combat is made all the more enjoyable by the fact that there are so many tactical options. It's just a shame, then, that there are level-breaking bugs, that the camera is such an unwieldy beast and that the story isn't really anything to write home about. At least the characters are personable and enjoyable to be around.
PC version reviewed. Copy provided by the publisher.
For years, Corsair has been operating in the lower midrange segments for gaming headsets, but with the company’s most recent flagship line of premium gaming headsets, the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless and Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE, Corsair is positioning itself in the higher tiers of wireless gaming headsets.
In this review, I’ll be putting the Corsair Virtuoso RGB to the test. How does Corsair’s non ‘SE’ model stack up against wireless offerings from other brands?
The Virtuoso RGB comes in a solid box and Corsair has included the following items:
Corsair’s latest premium headset offers 50mm high-density neodymium drivers in memory foam earpads alongside a soft padded aluminum headband with 10 adjustment steps. Rulers on the left and right sides of the band show the height of both earcups.
The Virtuoso RGB supports three ways of connecting the headset to either PlayStation 4 or PC – through the supplied wireless 2.4Ghz wireless USB dongle, USB wired or via a 3.5mm cable. 7.1 (virtual) surround sound is supported but only on PC through Corsair’s iCUE software.
As said earlier, Corsair’s premium offering comes with a high bandwidth, omnidirectional, detachable microphone that features a light that indicates whether the mic has been muted or not. As the headset’s name implies – the Virtuoso packs dynamic RGB lighting on both ear cups, allowing for numerous color options of the Corsair logo.
Another nice addition to this premium headset is its ‘smart sleep and wake’ feature which automatically shuts off the headset when putting it down. In addition, it automatically powers the headset back up when putting it back on your head.
Last but not least, Corsair boasts a battery life of up to 20 hours on a single charge through a custom, high-capacity lithium-ion battery.
When it comes to design, the Virtuoso RGB is the best-looking gaming headset that I’ve come across so far. In general, gaming headsets often come in a familiar matt black design with some color accents, but this clearly isn’t the case with Corsair’s premium offering. Its looks appear to have been borrowed from the high-end headphone market and everything about the Virtuoso breaths sophistication. Granted, with its gunmetal finish and micro-perforation RGB Lighting, the SE-version of the Virtuoso RGB is even more appealing, but the standard version remains a beautifully designed headpiece that doesn't make you look like an air traffic controller while wearing it.
As mentioned above, Corsair boasts that the Virtuoso has enough juice for 20 hours of gaming on a single charge. I've drained the battery down to 0 several times during my testing period and I can confirm that, depending on volume level, indeed lasts for approximately 20 hours - on par or better than most wireless headsets in this price range.
As much as I like the aesthetics of the Virtuoso, I wasn't too pleased with its comfort. It's not that it's totally uncomfortable, but there are alternatives available that offer more comfort. I tend to believe that I don’t have the largest ears, but the ear cups feel rather small compared to offerings from other brands. In addition, the padding material on the underside of the headband feels rather hard while wearing the Virtuoso, and within less than half an hour of use, I felt a strain on the top of my head. I let my partner wear the Virtuoso as well and she also mentioned a certain strain after a short period. In other words - comfort, unfortunately, leaves to be desired.
The Virtuoso has been advertised for use on PC and PlayStation 4, and I can confirm that it doesn't work wirelessly on the Nintendo Switch. It does work wired, however, on both Xbox One and Switch through the supplied 3.5mm audio cable.
Corsair's premium offering delivers decent sound quality with somewhat boosted mids (vocals) and highs (treble), while the lows (bass), as with many gaming headsets, are on the low side. For a headset of nearly $200USD, however, I would have expected a more immersive sound experience. Sound quality can be improved by enabling surround sound and tweaking the EQ options in the iCUE software, but these options are only available on PC and those using the Virtuoso on the PS4 will be forced to use the default soundscape without surround sound.
Coming from the impressive-sounding HyperX Cloud Flight S, I was somewhat disappointed by the Virtuoso's sound quality. This doesn't mean that this is a bad-sounding headset - not at all. It's just that there are wireless alternatives available that offer a better sound experience in this segment, including HyperX's wireless offering and Razer's Thresher 7.1 PS4/PC headset.
The Virtuoso's microphone, on the other hand, is one the best-sounding microphones I've tested on a gaming headset. Voice quality is clear and warm and I haven't experienced any noticeable audio cracking or noise.
The Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless is unmatched when it comes to design and makes you wonder why the majority of gaming headsets come in a rather standard black design with some color accents. When it comes to comfort and sound quality, however, there are more viable options available in the same price range. On the other hand, Corsair's offering packs an outstanding microphone, which is among the best I've recently tested among wireless gaming headsets.
Review sample provided by the manufacturer.
The post Corsair Virtuoso RGB PS4/PC Headset Review – Wireless Sophistication by Aernout van de Velde appeared first on Wccftech.
There is an ancient saying that players will never question their actions when asked to shoot zombies, aliens or Nazis. But then 2016 happened. Since then, games like Wolfenstein have been accosted by the strangest corners of the Internet for daring to add political commentary into a game where you shoot at people indoctrinated by a political ideology. Broken Lines is a game set in an alternate World War II where you don’t shoot at Nazis but strange gasmask zombies with guns.
It’s a very frustrating experience when you first load up Broken Lines. The game recommends that you play through the painfully slow tutorial before launching the campaign but still tries to teach you the same basics during the first mission of the game. But beyond that, Broken Lines is a game so uninterested in telling a story that you honestly have to question why they choose not to have the player simply work their way through the simple squad-based recreation of WWII. Instead, players are shot down over a fictional country somewhere in eastern Europe, with no instructions or real objective. From there, the squad sort of casually wanders into missions and story elements that they seem aggressively indifferent about.
It’s a maddening affair where the game tries to come across as mysterious but it almost always falls flat leaving you feeling unsatisfied, confused, and often bored. Even the characters are uninteresting, following simple archetypes or otherwise stubbornly refusing to react meaningfully to the situation they find themselves in. As the missions progress, they all struggle to have an opinion on what to do, which makes the moments the game asks you to decide on which action to take all the more frustrating as it doesn’t feel like there are any real stakes.
This could all be forgiven though if the game had the kind of patient, tense and satisfying gameplay that it tries to emulate. Squad games like XCOM and Frozen Synapse are distinctive and memorable, forcing you to painstakingly measure each turn, constantly balancing the risk to your soldiers and the potential damage you could deal to the enemy. It is clear that Broken Lines took that formula, but failed to mix in the key ingredients. Having turns play out simultaneously works in Frozen Synapse because the game is crisp and clear. In Broken Lines, it can be hard to work out exactly what is going on thanks to the muddy graphics and hidden information. Shotgun wielders, for instance, wait an inordinate amount of time between shots and telling whether or not they hit the target can be tricky even when they do fire.
There are two meters you are told to keep track of during any skirmish, the health of the opponent, and their stress. It’s a nice idea that suppressing fire and flanking will make the enemy act more frantically and can be used to lure them into the open to deliver a killing blow, but when you have so much happening and a cover system that only ever seems to be half paying attention, it is often just easier to keep shooting until they’re dead. On the Switch especially, the controls are awkward and it can be difficult to position your troops exactly as you would like, further hampering any notion of real strategy in this strategy game.
And even then, Broken Lines struggles to run effectively under its own weight. Several graphical and gameplay glitches occurred for me in situations with a large number of enemies, making it all the more annoying. Sometimes enemies would fire at you during a cutscene, or they wouldn’t appear during the cutscene leaving you wondering what was happening. Other times your soldiers would be unceremoniously thrown across the battlefield, leaving them vulnerable or otherwise completely removed from the engagement.
There are sparks of enjoyment in this game when you manage to battle against the odds and develop and perform a complex manoeuvre. These are rare, however, and hardly make up for the issues you’ll encounter. It’s obvious the team behind Broken Lines wanted to do something more with their game, but the ideas they tried to fold together just didn’t work. The graphics and music are poor, which makes understanding the battleground more difficult. The overlapping strategy systems don’t work well together and often don’t work at all. And the story is deeply, painfully uninteresting and has that very distinct feeling of being crafted as an afterthought.
If you’re looking for a strategy game, you should probably look elsewhere. Hopefully, in the future, these mistakes can be learned from and the developers can build something more coherent than these broken lines of code and history.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (code provided by the publisher).
It is so disappointing when a game is so broadly good, but so very let down in so many key areas. My Hero Academia is one of the biggest anime and manga franchises in the world right now, and so when it gets a sequel to its huge video game adaptation, My Hero One's Justice, it should for be cause for celebration among fans. But it's not. The release has gone by with barely a mention, and that's because despite looking so good, despite featuring so many characters of differing playstyles, and despite the massive franchise the game is attached to, I can't help but come away disappointed from My Hero One's Justice 2.
That intro sounds incredibly negative, but broadly, My Hero One's Justice 2 is an incredibly well-made game. It continues to follow the story of Izuku Midoriya, a young lad born into a world of X-Men-like mutant heroes, with no abilities of his own. After being bestowed the gift of overwhelming strength, Midoriya, or Deku to give him his hero name, has his eyes set on becoming the strongest hero in the world, and we follow his path through hero school, learning the ropes of superpowered battling, making friends and enemies, and fighting against real villains alongside professional heroes.
The main draw of My Hero Academia is the story of Deku and his friends, and I have to say that the material My Hero One's Justice 2 covers is as up-to-date as it gets. The saga featuring Overhaul and his Yakuza crew has only recently been aired in the anime series, and yet it is included here in the story mode, with full Japanese voice acting. Not bad at all. What is a bit of a let-down though, is the way the story is delivered. The story is told with screenshots of the anime series laid out in a comic or manga-style paneling, while characters talk over the screenshots. These cutscenes outstay their welcome, and some of them are frankly too long, so you're likely to end up skipping through a few before too long. This is, unfortunately, not a good way to experience the story, nor does it provide any kind of supplemental material to flesh out the characters beyond what you have already seen. It reeks of missed opportunity and is disappointing when Dragon Ball, Naruto, and even Attack on Titan games get much of this right.
But the story mode is a good display of the characters and stages available to you. There aren't many My Hero Academia characters that aren't included here. We have the main cast, complete with their latest abilities, the new extended hero cast, including UA Big 3 Mirio, Nejire, and Tamakai, new heroes such as Fat Gum and Sir Nighteye, and villains including Overhaul, Kendo Rappa, and many more. It's a full cast, and the roster of 42 characters (when including characters which have multiple forms) is nothing to sniff at.
The stages also do a good job of replicating the schools, dungeons, streets, and general locations that you see throughout the My Hero Academia series - these locations are all fairly basic-anime-Japan, so they're not the most immersive, but they represent what you see in the series well. What's nice about the stages is their destructibility. Smashing opponents against walls will see them collapse, and fire sputtering from inside of buildings. The destruction is a bit nonsensical at times, honestly, but it looks really cool all the same and is nice to see in action.
Which brings us onto the combat of My Hero One's Justice 2, which is simultaneously very strong and a bit disappointing. It's a 3D arena brawler, as you might expect, where you lock on to an opponent, and dash towards them, around them, and deal out your attacks with a basic combo button, and two further buttons which have your quirk abilities attached to them. Depending on your character, and the two characters you set as assists, you can potentially deal out massive combos. A general hint is that assist characters that manage to lock an opponent in place are excellent to use to extend combos, and you should be able to keep attacking them before your assist finishes. Also, characters with a ranged quirk, like One For All or Todoroki, make great zoners. All of the characters have a wide variety of abilities, from basic attack-focused characters to speedy rushdown-lovers, huge, slow characters with devastating combos, and much more. Your battles will see you double jumping into the air, and very occasionally battling along the sides of buildings like My Hero Academia is suddenly being directed by the Wachowskis. When you couple the action with the fact that the characters are well animated and absolutely look cool, you have a preliminary recipe for success.
The battle system works perfectly well, but when you're either playing fight after fight in Mission or Story mode against CPUs, it quickly wears very, very thin. The Arcade mode doesn't offer much of a respite either, and while playing against real players online definitely mixes things up, you aren't likely to stand a chance against a player that has optimized their team for huge combos and long-range hit confirms. Zoners are the big issue of the game - they're very cool characters to play, but only because they seemingly have so few counters, and when long-range fighters can confirm their hits into massive combos, the game begins to feel very unfair.
But even if you happen to think the character and game balance is very good and fair, you still can't ignore the framerate. Most of the time the framerate is very good, but for whatever reason slamming opponents into walls to see them crumble, causing a lot of effects of the screen, and especially Todoroki's fire abilities will all just tank the framerate, reliably, time after time. It's incredibly odd, very noticeable, and annoying, especially since Todoroki looks so cool. Might I add, this was all while being played on a PS4 Pro - this game looks good, but not good enough to ignore these performance issues.
It all adds up to a game with so much promise, which just ends in disappointment. I love My Hero Academia, and I'm keeping up with the series as it airs right now, but this has put a damper on my spirits. Although I adore seeing Overhaul in action in a video game, and I love the fact that the combat system has hidden depth, it feels fundamentally off, and I can't even admire the action when the framerate drops. Finish it off with a story mode that could put you to sleep, even if you're a fan, and you're left with a game which is good but should've been so much more.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (code provided by the publisher).
The post My Hero One’s Justice 2 Review – Go Back To School by Dave Aubrey appeared first on Wccftech.
ID Software and Bethesda surprised everybody in 2016 when they released Doom. Not only did the multiplayer beta release to a resounding sigh, but Bethesda also started a policy in which reviewers wouldn't get a copy of the game until release, creating a lot of doubt. Fortunately, Doom was fantastic and the policy didn't last long. Following the excellent reception of Doom, expectations have obviously been heightened and the anticipation for yet another true old-school shooter is at boiling point. Can Doom Eternal and the Doom Slayer satiate this desire for demonic blood? Let's find out.
Note: This was a review in progress. Review now complete as of 24th March.
Let's answer the question right away. YES. Doom Eternal can and will satiate any Doom-like desires you may have. Much like the Doom rebirth in 2016, this is a fast-paced, action-heavy shooter that has that incredibly addictive quality of being relentlessly in your face. If you're playing Doom, you're slaughtering hordes of demons using a wide range of devastatingly entertaining weapons. Even better is that the demons that are terrorising the world are petrified of you.
Much like the earlier entry, the Doom Slayer is as talkative as he ever was. Unlike the earlier entry, he doesn't seem as impatient as he was before. Now and then you will have moments where somebody starts yammering off a long monologue, only to be pulverised by the slayer. However, there are times where the game seems intent on throwing a list of names, events and whatever else your way. There's something about a Khan who makes things. Honestly, the story interests me so little that I felt like the skip button should at least result in the cinematic murder of a demon, just to keep in with the nature of Doom Eternal. Sadly, it didn't the one time I tried it.
The part of the story I like is how the game represents just how the demonic horde feels about the Doom Slayer. As soon as he enters a room, the infighting suddenly stops and all they can see is him. It's elements like this that truly adds to the world. Rather than have the enemies just stood around waiting for him, you get to see elements of strife between the demons. Naturally, Darwinism should be at its height in such a competitive society. The fact that you are the ultimate boogeyman, the strongest of them all, is brilliantly displayed by something so simple.
If you want to delve into the world and the lore, the game doesn't leave you hanging. There are the aforementioned long monologues. In addition to these, there are a wide number of codex entries to find through simply playing the game and killing enemies, to hunting around for secrets - some of which can include random codex entries. These offer a great deal of inside into the world of Doom Eternal and, frankly, are more interesting than the cinematic story parts. Maybe it's just me, but the series has taught me to not care about the story in Doom.
This move towards actually force-feeding some elements of the story doesn't take away from the true draw of Doom Eternal though - the pure, visceral, violence. The game has ample of this to keep you entertained, creating that superb balance between offloading an armies worth of ammunition into a demonic horde, before running around like a headless chicken attempting to rearm, re-armour and heal up before getting back into the thick of things. Much like the previous outing, it offers a fantastic game of tug of war where you're often just getting by on the brink of death.
Of course, if you played the previous Doom, then Doom Eternal will also feature elements that you're well aware of. When you kill an enemy, they'll drop some health pickups to keep you going in the fight. If you take them down using your chainsaw, usually your method of last resort, you'll get a fair few ammo pickups. There are also combinations of attacks that can give you armour drops and more. It all works exceptionally well to keep the fast-paced combat flowing, at least if you're good at the combat loop. I'm not the best, to be quite frank.
This doesn't stop me from loving almost every second of the combat. Almost being the key word in that sentence. Doom Eternal can be pretty overwhelming at times, with almost too many weapons with multiple secondary attacks to use and work through. This is especially true when you also take into account the fact that these weapons have multiple customisation options and each of these has a challenge to complete, letting you achieve mastery of the weapon.
Even though there are a lot of weapons with their multiple secondary attacks, I have to give props to Id Software for the placement of everything. It all ramps up perfectly, where you never feel too overpowered and, at the same time, you never feel like you're in over your head. You are the Doom Slayer, so you should be able to demolish the demonic horde, but it also should be a reasonable challenge.
As much as Doom has always been about collecting new things, secrets and so forth, there's a case to be made that Doom Eternal has taken it a little too far. Each level has dozens of collectibles to find, from extra lives and dolls to records, sentinel crystals and more. Every mission is massive in its own right, but the issue then is that they feel a little too familiar, for lack of better word. There's no real surprise. You go from arena battle to arena battle, just going through corridors and platforming sections in between, now and then just looking for a little space to find the aforementioned secrets.
The campaign will take you a fair amount of time to complete. For me it was over the twenty-hour mark, though that's also because I love to explore every nook and cranny, picking up everything I can. There are a few frustrations to be found within the environmental puzzles, having to time almost too perfectly jumps onto monkey bars and dashes to clear large gaps. While I appreciate a little variety in a game and Doom Eternal does add a lot of verticality, it adds a little too much - linking into the earlier issue of maps being too similar in function, moving from arena to corridor and then repeating.
Even if the function is too similar at times, it never fails to be entertaining and appealing aesthetically. Maps are gruesome, gory and chock full of details. The same applies to the demons, all of them looking and feeling unique when fighting them. Musically, Doom Eternal also works perfectly, the heavy metal ramping up during a battle, adding to the fast and frantic nature of the game. It's rare that everything works so perfectly together, but it does here, even better is that I've not encountered a single glitch or bug, with the game performing perfectly.
Let's talk multiplayer. With all the talks of the multiplayer being a core component, with Doom Eternal being primarily an online experience, I expected more. The multiplayer, Battlemode, pits two demons against the slayer. This asymmetrical mode certainly has the Doom Eternal action you're used to. It even has some decent tactical options there, particularly when you take on the mantle of the mortally challenged. The issue is that it just feels lacking to me and there's only so much enjoyment I can get out of just one game mode.
That's the real issue with the multiplayer is that it's lacking the "eons old" deathmatch mode, the mode that people loved and still love from the franchise and multiplayer games in general. While Battlemode is fun, it is entertaining, it's just one mode. The other aspect about the game is primarily an online experience is the fact that both the multiplayer and single-player modes both tie into a levelling system as well as a number of challenges, such as killing a number of particular demons with particular weapons, which will rotate weekly.
PC version of the game reviewed. Copy provided by the publisher.
For the last two weeks, seldom has a moment gone by where I haven't thought about Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This morning I woke up, spent some time fishing, hitting rocks, talking to villagers, customizing my outfit, digging up fossils, and paying off my loan ready for my next house extension. While not playing, I'm thinking about rare fish, fossils, and pleasing Blathers with a collection of his favorite insects. While I am playing, I'm putting plans in motion, how the town will be decorated, how I will change the landscape with the terraforming feature in the future, what materials I'll need for upcoming DIY projects, and so on.
Animal Crossing is not an intense experience. It's slow-paced fun to be enjoyed day-to-day in small sessions. Despite that, two weeks of daily play helped me amass just shy of 40 hours of game time. So good news for Animal Crossing fans: this game is great, and offers a very familiar, yet substantially different, experience to what Animal Crossing has given you before. If you're a fan of the series, that's all you really need to know before jumping into your new island life (especially in the modern age of Corona-quarantines), but for the rest of you, allow me to attempt to convince you on why Animal Crossing: New Horizons is so good.
Animal Crossing is a game where you find yourself starting a brand new life. Previously you'd be moving into an established town, or becoming the new Mayor of a young village, but this time you are moving on to a brand new island. The landscape is barren, and the only building you'll start with is the Resident Services tent. You start from scratch, and that allows you more flexibility on how to customize your town than ever before. But for the short term, worrying about where to put down your tent is most important.
Traditionally in Animal Crossing the experience has no goal other than those that you set, but this one is far more structured than ever before thanks to the crafting system. Yes, Animal Crossing has continued the trend it set in the mobile Pocket Camp game, and introduced a robust crafting system that will see you gathering and putting together materials, much like Minecraft, honestly. You'll be using axes to cut wood from trees, shovels to smack iron nuggets, gold nuggets, and clay from rocks, shaking trees for branches, collecting weeds and flowers, and so much more. Much of the game has been changed to revolve around this new central crafting mechanic, and as a result, you'll be gathering a lot of materials.
You used to be able to buy a fishing rod and a bug net, and then use those for the rest of the game, never needing to change. Now, these items will likely break before you even fill up your inventory to take back to the shop for cold-hard-cash. There are even tasks handed out by Tom Nook to improve the island when you first start the game. He'll task you with collecting materials to put down new houses for villagers, or building DIY projects to help fill the town out and make it appear less like a deserted island. For the first time, it feels like an Animal Crossing game has a more tangible sense of progression, which admittedly means it loses some of the slow-paced charm the series is known for, though personally I liked having a bit more direction with my play, allowing me to target something other than solely expanding my home. Even the trash you fish out of the rivers will bestow upon you new DIY projects, and you'll be recycling those boots, tires, and cans into new furniture to place around the island.
For example, when you first start you will not be able to cross the river. The river will surround you on all sides, meaning you only have access to about one-third of the island. After a day or two, you'll be allowed to craft a vaulting pole to cross the river, and several days after that, you'll be able to build the ladder to get up onto out-of-reach cliffs - yes, this game doesn't even come with slopes to give you access to the whole island. At first, you'll need tools to get up here, and later on, you'll be giving Tom Nook bells so he can build bridges and inclines, joining your whole town together.
As you progress you will be able to personally choose where all the buildings in the game get placed, you will be able to select where the bridges in town get built, where the trees and flowers are located, and so on. This culminates in the terraforming ability, which freely allows you to create your own cliffs and rivers, shaping them into any design you wish, even if that includes having a thin moat surrounding your home, or perhaps raising your home on top of a cliff, overlooking the island from your mansion. You'll even be able to craft proper pathways and designs, making your town into, well, anything you want. The possibilities are endless, and the Animal Crossing experience has become shockingly more customizable and variable thanks to the inclusion of Minecraft-inspired mechanics such as crafting and terraforming.
But that's not where island customization ends. The ability to place furniture anywhere outdoors completely changes the game. Your bland island is quickly transformed with furniture, a Statue of Liberty on the beach to recreate Planet of the Apes, trash in the woods to make a comment about the environment, a bonfire outside your house, a flower garden surrounded by a fence of your choosing, street lamps, utility poles, lighthouses - the list goes on, and the point is that you can truly turn any part of your island into anything you want with enough furniture and dedication.
Your town will quickly evolve to include the museum, the tailor, Nook's Cranny, and much more. You start with a blank slate and quickly find yourself in a world that you have had a hand in every step of the way. Frankly, no matter how you play New Leaf or previous Animal Crossing games, there was a degree of randomness to your island layout and hows facilities are placed, but now you have true, full control over everything by the time you unlock terraforming, and as a result, this feels like your town. Not a town you moved into, not a town live in, but one you actually own the design of completely and entirely - and that is a very different feeling for an Animal Crossing game, and one I adore.
But not everything is perfect. The game does a good job of making your progression feel fairly slow - despite 40 hours of play, I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface so far - and classic aspects of Animal Crossing games feel oddly lacking. The villagers, for example, are far less important than before. You'll be tasked with increasing the population of the town, putting down houses, and choosing who moves in, but when the villagers are there, there's rarely a point in actually talking to them. They rarely have tasks or gifts for you, and usually only have something interesting to say if they approach you directly. They feel like an afterthought, which is odd since they were once the most important part of the game.
But honestly, that's almost all I can complain about Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I felt mixed on tool degradation and the importance of the crafting system at first, but I can't help but like it. It's neat, makes me feel like I'm constantly earning and improving, and when you run out of rocks to beat for clay and iron on your island, you can buy a Nook Miles Ticket to fly a plane to a random, small, deserted island which you can abuse for flowers, fruit, fish, bugs, materials, and more. These islands only exist for as long as you are on them, so you can feel free to take advantage of everything there.
Which brings me onto Nook Miles. The crafting system wasn't the only cue that New Horizons has taken from Pocket Camp. The Nook Miles program are essentially small quests - imagine daily quests and challenges that you'll find in most online and mobile games. For each challenge completed you'll earn Nook Miles, a point system where points can be traded for DIY recipes, furniture, music, and more exclusive items. Eventually, one day, you'll have collected all of the bugs, fish, furniture, DIY recipes, and participated in all the events, which will mean you'll be all finished with the primary Nook Miles challenges, but you'll still have an unlimited amount of daily bonus challenges, which will reward you miles for cutting down trees, collecting wood, fishing, bug catching, and the list goes on. Eventually, you can conceivably collect all of the Nook Miles rewards, but then the Nook Miles Tickets will still be there for you to earn an unlimited amount of, so you can keep visiting islands and collecting extra materials when your own island runs low. Again, Nook Miles is a weird addition I was unsure of at first, but I ended up really liking it.
And Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be a social experience than ever before, thanks to local and online multiplayer. Multiplayer with multiple Switch systems is great and allows you to play in other people's towns, buy from their shops, fish with them, etc. Multiplayer on a single Switch system is far more limited, with four players able to join, but they all must already have a home on the island (by playing the game with different accounts on the same system) and they all must follow a single "leader" villager, with extremely limited interactivity in the world, for example, only the leader can access their inventory. This makes single-system multiplayer an awkward experience while playing online or locally with another friend's Switch is pretty great, and of course, you can have up to eight villagers run around your town at once. As a bonus, you can even buy advanced DIY recipes from friends, even if you haven't made much progress in the game yet.
When I saw that I had played 40 hours of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I was shocked because it didn't feel like that long at all. And that's because it still has that Animal Crossing magic. I played for what felt like five minutes a day, but in reality was multiple hours of fishing, bug catching, material collecting, crafting, and more. I feel like a complete newbie still, like I have so much to do, so much more to learn, and I can't wait to see more. I have to. I'm going to continue playing, and build my perfect island. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has its hooks in me, and while I still don't know if it's my favorite Animal Crossing game, it's undoubtedly one of the best.
Review code provided by the publisher.
The post Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review – Essential Social Sim by Dave Aubrey appeared first on Wccftech.
Much like the grand old game it’s inspired by, Sony’s venerable MLB The Show franchise has long been a dependable if somewhat predictable presence. That may be about to change, as it’s been announced the series will officially be going multiplatform next year, but before that happens MLB The Show 20 is here to close out the series’ long unbroken run of PlayStation exclusivity.
Does MLB The Show 20 hit it out of the park in this last PS4-exclusive at bat? Or has series developer SIE San Diego opted for a meek bunt to first base as they prepare for the next generation? Spring training may have been cancelled in the real world, but the virtual ballpark is still open, so let’s see if this year’s big baseball game is pennant worthy, shall we?
While not as celebrated as Madden, NBA 2K, or other competitors, MLB The Show is one of the most fundamentally-sound sports franchises around. This is a series that knows when to drill down and deliver detail and complex mechanics, and when it’s better to streamline the experience. These games capture the intense back-and-forth dance between batter and pitcher particularly well, while generally keeping fielding simple and unobtrusive. Baseball may have a reputation for being a bit sleepy, but The Show can deliver a surprisingly-intense experience. The series also does a great job of appealing to players of all skill levels, with a number of different batting and pitching schemes, and “dynamic difficulty” that organically ramps up the challenge as your skills improve (this year dynamic difficulty is available in more modes than ever, including March to October).
So, MLB The Show 20 delivers a rock-solid on-field experience, but has much changed this year? Probably the most significant new development is the revamped UI for Zone hitting (the most advanced of the various batting control options) – the Plate Coverage Indicator (PCI) now includes both an outer ring representing your batter’s plate vision and an inner ring showing where you need to get the ball if you want to make serious contact. A series of dots have also been added to the center of the PCI, letting you know at a glance whether a batter is more apt to hit power flyballs or contact-heavy grounders. This may sound a touch complicated, but the end result is a system that better communicates each batter’s strengths and gives skilled players more control over the ball. Fielding has also been tweaked, with more varied animations and a new Extreme Catch Indicator, that allows players to be more strategic about chasing down challenging fly balls. MLB The Show 20’s new mechanics aren’t groundbreaking and mostly directed at hardcore players, but they’re welcome nonetheless.
Last year’s MLB The Show 19 represented a bit of an overhaul for the series, as SIE San Diego added a number of new modes, including Moments, which presents players with various historical objectives, and March to October, an alternative to the traditional season mode. Realizing that most sane people don’t have the time to play through a full season of 162 nine-inning games, March to October offers a series of quicker challenges throughout the season – succeed in these and you’ll earn momentum, which will increase your chances of winning simulated games in between challenges. March to October does a fantastic job of making you feel like you’re in control of your team’s fate, while drastically cutting down the grind needed to get through a season. I hope other sports franchises rip off the concept.
Unfortunately, MLB The Show 20 doesn’t introduce anything nearly as significant as March to October. The only major addition this year is online Custom Leagues, which are nice, but the concept could use some refining. Searching for a league you might want to join (there are already thousands) is a bit frustrating and mode doesn’t feel very integrated into the rest of the game at the moment. Custom Leagues aside, SIE San Diego mostly focuses on shoring up existing modes with some welcome new features. March to October gives you greater control over trades and call ups, Road to the Show puts more of an emphasis on player relationships, and the Franchise GM mode now lets you rebrand and relocate your team.
Probably the most significant new twist is Diamond Dynasty’s Showdown mode. Diamond Dynasty is The Show’s Ultimate-Team-style experience, and Showdown lets you prematurely play with some of the game’s more powerful cards as you draft a team and take them through a series of short challenges, culminating in a “boss battle” against a legendary pitcher. Basically, it’s a miniaturized version of March to October, and a great little bite-sized challenge you can complete in a single sitting.
All of MLB The Show 20’s core modes and their new features feel well thought out, delivering depth while also respecting the player’s time. Unlike most other sports games, there’s really no skippable modes here. That includes Diamond Dynasty, which is saying something, as I almost always ignore the exploitative card-collecting nonsense in other sports games. Yes, you can buy card packs with real money, but it isn’t aggressively pushed on players, and overall, Diamond Dynasty comes off less sleazy than, say, NBA 2K’s casino-like MyTeam mode. It never feels like the real experience is locked behind a paywall – even early on when you have nothing but scrub cards, you can still participate and have fun.
While MLB The Show 20’s gameplay and modes are unquestionably well-designed, the game is decidedly short on flash. The slick cinematic career prologues 2K and EA have been touting in recent years are nowhere to be found here, and overall, the game’s presentation is just a bit dry. Particularly dusty is Franchise mode, which features plenty of menus and options for wannabe general managers, but no story whatsoever. Visually, MLB The Show 20 is also hair below the competition. Players are solidly rendered and a lot of love and obsessive detail has been poured into the game's ballparks, but more could be done to accurately recreate the look and feel of MLB telecasts.
But hey, baseball has never really been about flash, and what MLB The Show 20 lacks in spice, in makes up for in portion size. There’s a lot of content to chew through here, with more modes than any other major sports franchise, and SIE San Diego promises to keep things lively with updated rosters, and a steady drumbeat of new challenges and events. The baseball season may be serious jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic, but MLB The Show 20 should keep fans plenty busy in the absence of the real thing.
This review was based on a copy of MLB The Show 20 provided by Sony. You can order your own copy from GameStop.
Spike Chunsoft’s line of roguelike RPGs are among some of my favorite diversions yet never seem to get much traction out here in the States. The Mystery Dungeon line of RPGs have been noticed with other recent releases, most notably the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon that our very own Nathan Birch reviewed fairly recently. Their latest title takes those roguelike conventions and combines them with a very unlikely IP: Way of the Samurai. The result is a spinoff known simply as Katanakami: A Way of the Samurai Story.
Now, Katanakami won’t require in-depth knowledge of the previous Way of the Samurai titles to enjoy but there is plenty of fan service to keep longtime fans of the first couple of titles engaged. The deeper politics of the three warring factions are still at play but the real story revolves around the town blacksmith Dojima and his crippling debt. Katanakami opens with Dojima’s daughter being taken as collateral for the massive debt that Dojima has been burdened with. As a wandering ronin with some selfless kindness in your heart, the player character opts to shoulder that burden and help Dojima pay off the massive debt in order to return his daughter back safely to the forge.
In order to pay off Dojima’s debts, it’s going to take some odd jobs that you can’t find on the surface of Rokkotsu Pass. Far below the lone pine tree named Ipponmatsu is a cave of mysterious dungeons deep within. The locals know not why this cavernous environment has so many floors or why it’s constantly shifting but true treasures lie within. It’s the player’s job to head into the dungeons within and explore them to their very end in pursuit of swords and loot. These swords can then be sold at Dojima’s smithery, either to the various factions by way of job board requests or the rare shopping frenzy where samurai of all backgrounds open their hearts and their wallets to helping Dojima’s daughter return home safely.
Mystery Dungeon games are usually light on story and Katanakami: A Way of the Samurai Story is no exception. Beyond the goal of freeing Dojima of his debt, there is little story to keep the player engaged in the worldbuilding of Rokkotsu. Instead, the daily newspaper that Dojima’s daughter helps pen is what fleshes out the world. You’ll get the daily goings on between the various factions, a daily horoscope and other small bits of flavor that keeps the world interesting. If you’re looking for a deeper choose-your-own-adventure that the mainline Way of the Samurai titles offer, you may find yourself to be rather disappointed. Instead, it’s the action and swordplay that fill the majority of this randomized adventure.
Katanakami still plays with the back-and-forth swordplay of previous Way of the Samurai titles and perhaps the only real shift is the moving of the camera into an isometric perspective. Blocking and sidestepping attacks is still of great importance to your livelihood but it’s the parrying that really shines in Katanakami. Pulling off a last minute parry not only feels satisfying but also opens the enemy up to a golden Kiwanis parry that can be chained one after another if you kill an enemy with the previous one. Another core mechanic is in the creative use of slowdown that’s obtained as soul orbs are filled up for your currently equipped weapon. Filling up three of these orbs imbues your weapon with an elemental attribute as well, but I often found just playing with one or two orbs was sufficient, especially because the timer to use this ability keeps refilling as you kill enemies, so it’s completely possible to kill nearly every enemy on a dungeon floor with just a single orb if you’re ambitious enough.
Having recently played through Sekiro and Nioh, I have a higher appreciation for the constant management of stamina and resources in Katanakami. The action gameplay may feel a little stiff at first, but as you grow accustomed to the controls, parries almost become second nature. Each weapon you come across has its own skill tree, so taking the time to stick with one sword as you grapple with the mechanics is a great way to learn how to survive in the mysterious dungeon beneath Ipponmatsu.
What I found most troublesome about Katanakami: A Way of the Samurai Story was in regards to its pacing. The primary dungeon that players will delve into is a 20-floor affair that while ever-changing will feel all too familiar whether it’s the first time or the twentieth. For most players, this will be all that you get to see in Katanakami because it not only requires paying off all of Dojima’s debt to unlock but also some extra work. Once Dojima’s daughter is released from her debtor’s prison, she can be selected as an optional AI character to join with you. Without spoiling any specifics, if she joins you on the final floor, tasks open up to unlock the second tier of dungeon floors. If you thought paying off Dojima’s debt was bad enough, the tasks to unlock the final 99-floor dungeon is even worse. This requires a betrothal gift that’s even pricier than Dojima’s initial debt as well as a couple of secret items that I discovered throughout my playthrough but may not be immediately obvious to the casual player. If you have any desire to learn more about the secrets within Katanakami, leave a comment below or feel free to reach out to me for advice.
If it weren’t for my perseverance, I never would have known about the secrets lying in Ipponmatsu Cave. Traditional Mystery Dungeon games aren’t nearly as cryptic as Katanakami: A Way of the Samurai Story and for good reason. When the latter 60% of your game is hidden away behind arbitrary requirements, most players won't stick around to see the story through until the end. Couple that with having to repeat the same dungeon over and over and over just to scrap together some extra money from selling swords and praying that a sale kicks in at your shop.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro (code provided by the publisher).
The post Katanakami: A Way of the Samurai Story (PS4) Review – Oh, What a Mysterious Dungeon! by Kai Powell appeared first on Wccftech.
The first Nioh was a strange anomaly in the gaming world. This Team Ninja-developed samurai sim was in development for more than a decade across two PlayStation platforms before it finally graced the PlayStation 4 with William of London's adventures in feudal Japan. This delicate balance of swordplay and Dark Souls formulaic design to combat wove together to create a gaming tapestry unlike any other. It wasn't until E3 2018 that a follow-up was announced and now, a mere three years since the first Nioh arrived on PlayStation 4, its successor has finally arrived: Nioh 2.
Despite its numbering as a sequel, Nioh 2 is actually a prequel and mostly unrelated to its predecessor when it comes to the story. While the first game centered around a Westerner named William supporting the Ieyasu's rise to power, Nioh 2 instead centers around one of the most influential men of the period: Oda Nobunaga.
The tale of Nioh 2 is told primarily from the perspective of the player, known as Hiddy according to his constant travelling companion, Tokichiro. Together (well, mostly the player since Tokichiro's off doing his own thing and gathering up spirit stones), they enter the service of Oda Nobunaga following the Battle of Okehazama. Upon sieging Inabayama Castle, the two of them are granted the right to become true samurai and share a single name: Hideyoshi. If you're much of a Sengoku history buff, you'll recognize the various stages in Nioh 2 as being based upon real battles and can make some logical guesses as to how the story will play out.
What wasn't a part of historical record were the amount of yokai and supernatural forces at play during the Sengoku period. Nioh 2's protagonist is a rare breed of half-yokai, able to use their powers far more effectively than even William could in the first Nioh. Guardian Spirits, attained by supporting those who are blessed with an unseen guardian force, are still the core of character customization in Nioh 2. Players can equip two of these Guardian Spirits at a time, a feature that was only patched into Nioh much later on, with the second conferring a small passive bonus depending on type. Which ever Guardian Spirit you imbue Hiddy with turns him into one of three classes of Yokai: Brute, Feral or Phantom. These change Hiddy's ability to perform a Burst Counter to strike back against a new type of enemy attack, one that has a bright red flash and obvious tell but hits the player with an insane amount of damage if it connects.
The other crucial new feature to Nioh 2 stems from the player's yokai pedigree. Upon felling the supernatural foes you encounter on the field of battle, they have a chance of dropping their soul core. These can be fused together with your Guardian Spirit to give Hiddy additional moves in combat that stem from the original yokai these cores came from. Skeleton Warriors serve as a pair of gunner support, hulking oni smash everything in their path, and more. These abilities run off a new resource in Nioh 2 known as Anima that's accumulated in various ways (typically dictated by your chosen Guardian Spirit), utilizing the same resource as the new Burst Counter. As these moves don't consume stamina, they're a great way to augment your combo strings when pressing the advantage or stepping back to catch a breath.
Stamina still plays a critical role in Nioh 2 just as it did in the first game. The speed at which it dissipates is what fuels the sense of urgency on the battlefield far more than any Souls game ever could. Changing stances or activating a Ki Pulse at the right time still recovers a significant chunk of expended stamina, so learning to pull a punch and hit R1 is often far more important than trying to bring up your guard. Blocking still renders you immune to damage but the stamina toll feels like a stronger hit this time around than in the previous game. Nioh 2 puts me into a zen state that no other Souls-like, save for Sekiro, could achieve. When the flow of combat and ki pulsing kick in, enemies can go down with no trouble. At the same time, when I run out of stamina and catch an oni boot to the face, moments like these remind me that it was my own fault and it's Team Ninja's way of telling me to get good.
Nioh 2's campaign is still broken up into individual levels as the first game was, bringing you back to a world map after each level. While the interconnected world of a Souls game is missed, I still really enjoyed the level design that Team Ninja prepared in Nioh 2. Each level has a critical path that routinely loops back upon itself, unlocking new shortcuts back to the shrine where players can rest and level up, respawning enemies in the process. Even on a solid run without deaths, most levels sit around the 20-30 minute mark and routinely end with a big boss fight that cap things off nicely. Levels are frequently reused and slightly remixed for side missions, so if you really liked the layout of one castle siege, chances are you'll revisit it at least one more time when trying to clear every mission in Nioh 2.
It's safe to call Nioh 2 iterative, in the nicest way possible. They've built up a formula from the first title that carries over into the new title, and if it isn't broken, why fix it? Weapons largely handle similarly to the first Nioh with the usual assortment of balancing changes thrown into the mix, but I could still pull off a lot of combos with katana and odachi that were my bread and butter for the past three years. Other key features like the blacksmith's crafting system or the hidden teahouse's clan battles still offer the same global power struggle (you could pick a winning clan and constantly reap rewards, or pick a clan that offers a passive bonus that compliments your weapon style).
Nioh 2 still offers multiplayer connectivity, a feature that I'm quite grateful for. Players can drop a benevolent grave in up to three missions at a time and these blue markers can summon AI versions of the character to aid you in combat. Red graves, on the other hand, mark a player's death and can summon revenants; these red phantoms want nothing more than the player's blood but felling them will usually reward the player with a weaker version of their equipment loadout.
The true multiplayer of Nioh 2 comes by way of offering up sake cups at the shrine in each level and summoning in a live player. Players seeking to be the helping party can either select an individual mission to offer their aid in or seek out a random encounter out of any mission they've previously completed. The downside to seeking out aid in this way is no different from a Souls-like: once the helper is defeated in battle, they're instantly teleported out of the level. There's a new Expeditions mode that fixes this by giving players a limited gauge that ticks down with each death. If you're able to stay alive after your partner goes down, you can help revive them and recover some of the lost gauge.
Even on the PlayStation 4 Pro, Nioh 2 won't aim for a smooth 60 FPS experience right out of the box. Much like its predecessor, it offers a few modes depending on your desires. Movie Mode stabilizes the frame rate at 30 FPS while offering a resolution somewhere between 1080P and 1800P depending on which console you're on. Action Mode swaps the priorities around and aims for 60 FPS while reducing the resolution down to 720P-1080P. The third option is a Variable Frame Rate for Movie Mode that tries to find a comfortable medium between the two. I spent my entire time playing Nioh 2 in Action Mode because those few extra frames really help to time a perfect guard.
When looking back at how ambitious the first Nioh was, playing through Nioh 2 feels like a more polished experience, offering new tools to play with and enemies to slay. This could be the start of a brand new samurai Souls series and I would be all for it. If you loved the first Nioh, there's more than enough reason to pick up a katana and embrace your inner yokai.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro (code provided by the publisher).
It's hard not to fall in love with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Even the title screen and its beautiful vista and haunting opening music, Ori will entice you in. But behind the aesthetics and the heartbreaking/warming narrative, there’s something unexpected for those that haven’t played its predecessor; there’s also an incredible platforming game as well.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the sequel to the 2015 Xbox One game, Ori and the Blind Forest that let players explore the birth of Ori, a small woodland spirit separated from its spiritual home. It was a game that deliberately, surgically broke your heart at the very beginning and it feels like some people were put off by that overt display of emotion. If anyone was, they missed out on one of the best platformers (which got our community's Best Platform Game of the Decade award), and probably will again.
Will of the Wisps takes Ori to a new forest in search of his missing friend and discovers the fate of this poor plagued land. There is something tragic embedded deep in the DNA of Ori. Behind its dazzling colours and cutesy feel, there is an old school fairytale filled with sadness. But rather than just be a game that tries to break your heart, Will of the Wisps actually tells a remarkably interesting story, which makes the tragedy even more effecting.
The story is far more expanded in Will of the Wisps, one of many improvements the developers at Moon Studios have made in the sequel. On top of your quest to find your friend, there are also dozens of side quests and fellow adventurers you’ll meet as you explore the island. Some of these quests are simply pointing the way to the game's various collectibles, giving you clues of the areas to explore. Others offer you the chance to explore areas of the world that are not on your main quest path, which is a reward in and of itself but also lets you speak to some of the characters. The dialogue is simple, but it does a fantastic job of expressing the feel of the characters and really reinforces the tone of the surroundings.
And the level design in Will of Wisps is just as good, if not better than the Blind Forest. At first glance, it might appear like you have nothing but the generic level templates to explore: water zone, desert, ice zone, etc but Will of Wisps has an incredibly unique and beautiful design that makes every single one of them feel fresh. Transitioning from the dense foliage of the forest to the sublime blues of the water is breath-taking and so perfectly captures that paradise the game wants you to picture. The opposite is also true, traveling into the Silent Woods and discovers a field of petrified giant owls is haunting and bleak, and the game captures that mood perfectly as well. Each area is stuffed with collectibles but honestly, you don’t need a reason to explore the island, though you might need to wait before you can delve into every nook and cranny.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps, at its heart, is a Metroidvania game, which means you’ll find a lot of the island closed to you until you unlock the abilities needed to traverse its many challenges. Some games of this type get the balancing wrong, waiting too long to unlock the relevant skill and accidentally allowing the player to forget where they are headed. Will of the Wisps does not have that problem. In fact, the steady pace at which you unlock new abilities, each letting you explore the previous zones just a little more is near perfect. And while you don’t start with anything, you have enough time to get to master each ability that you never feel overwhelmed, even when the game is demanding the most from you.
And some of these levels can be quite challenging. The bright colours might appeal to a younger audience but Will of the Wisps is not always so easy. There is no real consequence for death, but regardless some sections are harder than others, especially the boss battles. Combat in Will of Wisps has been greatly improved over Blind Forest, and you’re free to experiment with different combinations and upgrade them however you wish. While the sword and bow are good staples you’ll find an unusual arsenal of abilities to play with. But despite its improvement, some of the boss battles still feel a little out of place in Will of Wisps. While the chase sequences force you to use everything the game has taught you, the actual boss battles often fall back on button mashing and a bit of luck. One missable ability allows Ori to heal himself and I would highly recommend seeking it out before entering any of the later boss battles.
The final level in Ori and the Will of the Wisps was something of a letdown, though. Having acquired everything you need to navigate the island, you are sent to the most dangerous location. But rather than being a feat of heroic platforming for you to overcome, most of the level appears void and forces you to explore only through trial and error, slowly eking out the safe route. While the rest of the game was so beautifully designed to make sure you could always see what it was you had to do, the final gauntlet felt underwhelming.
And unfortunately, when I played this game for review on both the Xbox One and PC, there were some bugs. Most of them were harmless, some audio feedback or frame rate dropping as the game first loaded, but I did also encounter a game-breaking bug towards the end that forced me to quit the game and start again. While the developers are promising fixes and I’m sure they’ll come, they did happen during this review.
Despite all that, I am still totally in love with Will of Wisps. It is an incredibly satisfying experience as your skills and abilities grow steadily. It is a monument to the artistic and musical talent in the games industry, and it is another emotional story from Moon Studios that will have you genuinely empathising with the silent characters as they struggle with despair, grief and the faltering of hope. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a fantastic game from start to finish, even if it isn’t quite a perfect one.
Reviewed on Xbox One and PC (code provided by the publisher).
The post Ori and the Will of Wisps Review – A Tragic Masterpiece by Rosh Kelly appeared first on Wccftech.
Innovation is a good thing. Well, it can be. At times, something has been made a particular way for a long enough time for a reason. That reason is normally a simple one: it works. In the case of the mouse, we've had a few changes here and there, some made with what is essentially a keyboard attached to it. Others may have swappable panels and then there's whatever the Razer Nostromo is. Introducing the Lexip Pu94, the first mouse with two joysticks. Also, best described as a mouse that's making me feel a little like Roger Murtaugh.
The variety of mice that have been created over time have been made to work for specific genres, particularly ones like MOBA's and MMO's. This could be from the aforementioned swappable side panels, the inclusion of reactive LED lights or some other aspect that I just can't think of here. The thing is, some games have just never been ideal for a mouse and keyboard combo. This is where the Lexip pu94 comes in, being an outstanding tool for such as flight simulators, city builders or even - to an extent - games from other genres that you may not have expected.
Let's talk about the USP of the Lexip pu94. Two joysticks. Not only does the mouse have a joystick on the left-hand side, in a good position for your thumb to simply reach down and twiddle with as you please, but it also has a second joystick. This second joystick is the whole base of the mouse. Yes, you heard me, the whole base. While clicking the buttons you want to click, potentially twiddling with the left joystick with your thumb - or even pushing the two side buttons - you can also adjust the angle of your hand forwards, backwards, left or right, activating the base joystick.
This can be quite infuriating to begin with, frankly. It took quite a bit of learning just to get me out of the habit of moving the mouse with a bit of force or even picking it up or putting it back down. Each time I put down the mouse I would activate one of the joystick buttons on the base of the mouse. Browsing on Firefox, it would flick through the page. Watching a video? I must have paused videos more time than I can imagine. It was only when I finally went into the software for the mouse that I could finally get it working as I wanted.
What helps is that you can create a separate profile for whatever software you may want to use. That it let me remove all bottom joystick activations while browsing the internet or watching videos - frankly, whenever I wasn't in a game - was invaluable. It was only when playing specific games that I wanted the joystick to be in-use, though this does go against the whole USP of the mouse. Why have a key feature of a mouse that is interminably annoying if you don't deactivate it part of the time? At least one thing that can be said is that each and every single button and angle for the joystick can be remapped to your own specifications.
I'm being a little unfair. It was only interminably annoying when I wasn't playing a game. When I was playing games, it surprised me just how good the mouse could be. I suppose I should say specific genres of games. The combination of joysticks was exceptionally useful when playing games like Elite Dangerous, X3 and Ace Combat. In addition to games that have you flying around, the mouse also provided extremely useful for accuracy in city-building games like Cities: Skylines and for driving around in racing games. Further to this, I found the mouse extremely useful when using software like Photoshop, with the mouse enabling very specific movements with finer ease.
No matter the game you're playing, you'll be able to adjust the mouse to your perfect specifications. At least that's the idea, there are some games the software doesn't communicate with too well. It does require a little fiddling around and creating a separate setup for the specific piece of software, but for the most part, it works well. Very few titles seem to ignore the software, though others like CS:GO actually recognise the mouse, cutting out the middle man.
From the software and feature side, I can't help but really appreciate what they've gone for with the Lexip Pu94. It really is unusual and new, it's innovative and it is undeniably great for certain genres. Sure, it takes a little getting used to but that's not unlike most new things. The problem I really have isn't so much with the fact that it's got some new elements, it's the actual design of these new elements. Frankly, it's the design of the mouse that turns me off somewhat.
Why? Because I'm fairly sure if I used it permanently, I would end up crippled. The shape of the Lexip Pu94 and the movable joystick-base means you have to hold the mouse in a claw-like grip. The fact that the side joystick is so far forward actually made it more uncomfortable for me, with me having to move my hand further forward to use the joystick and then backwards to activate the side buttons and even just the left and right buttons.
Why this for the left and right buttons? Well, there's actually an immovable ledge between the buttons and the end of the mouse. Sure, this meant that there was no chance of accidentally activating the buttons due to the change of grip and when using the joystick on the base, but I found it very uncomfortable due to my larger hands. I actually imagine the mouse requires you to be in the goldilocks zone, your hands need to be 'just right'. Too large or too small, you're going to have issues and I found that my wrist ached over long sessions.
This isn't to say I know of a better shape or form. I imagine Lexip did a fair amount of R&D before the final release, even before their Kickstarter which raised a massive €430,000 on a target of €55,000. I also know that others are more than happy with the shape and design. Like all reviews, you have to take aspects of comfort as the personal assessment that they are. What I can say, without any shadow of a doubt, that the padding on the side of the mouse is very comfortable and exceptionally suited for resting your fingers.
Another good feature is how smooth the mouse is to use. On the base of the mouse are six ceramic feet which make it exceptionally smooth when gliding across your mouse mat or any other surface. Any movement you make is captured perfectly by the 12,000 DPI sensor, with the option in the software to set up four different DPI levels which can then be rotated through via the DPI button.
So what do I think about the Lexip Pu94? I've got mixed feelings. I can't honestly deny that I don't like to use it and I've returned to the HyperX Pulsefire Dart. At the same time, I also can't deny the fact that I'm impressed with the level of flexibility from both the mouse and the software. Rarely do you see this level of innovation and a game-changing difference in a piece of hardware or software.
The mouse is certainly a sturdy piece of kit and it does what it wants to do perfectly, particularly for specific genres. I've also got no doubt that other people are likely going to find it easier and more comfortable to use than I've found it. One thing that can't be denied is that the mouse is good value, coming in at just €79.99 or $79.99. It's impossible for me to recommend it for people like me, but I can honestly imagine this could be an excellent mouse for some people. Personally, I'm more interested in using Lexip's new Np93 mouse.
Provided by Lexip for review purposes.
The post Lexip Pu94 Gaming Mouse Review – I’m Too Old for this S… by Chris Wray appeared first on Wccftech.
Ultralight gaming mice have taken over and won the hearts and hands of gamers all over and Razer is not sleeping on the success of their Razer Viper with the Viper Mini. They have taken the concept and design of the Viper and shrunk it down to 90% of its original design, stripped away true ambidextrous support, added underglow lighting, and somehow still managed to shave HALF off of the MSRP. Voodoo, this is.
That, in a nutshell, is what the Razer Viper Mini is. It's a smaller and lighter version of the original Razer Viper that launched back in August of last year. While it mostly seems like a Honey I Shrunk The Mouse moment there were a few things that got the price point down to an incredible $39.99 MSRP. Starting with the switches, while they're still the delightful optical switches their rating is at 50m clicks rather than 70m of the OG Viper. Again, right side buttons have been removed so this is a righty only mouse. And, they have let their 5G sensor stay on the full size Viper and Viper Ultimate. But, do these cuts hurt the overall experience? Let's find out.
The cord is continuing to shake things up with its new Speedflex Cable design just like its big brother uses. Gone is the tightly braided cables like the Mamba and the Basilisk had and is replaced by their new 2.1m Speedflex cable. Similar to a paracord design but a bit looser the speedflex cable is a bit thicker than I had expected but is super flexible and doesn't get bunched up and stiff like other cables Razer uses. It's a good move and welcomed although with the lightweight nature of the mouse it actually feels heavy. A very important note on the design that the cord is not angled slightly upwards from the mouse body to extend the point which hits your mouse pad out by a little bit on the big Viper, a little thing but missed for certain.
The Razer Viper Mini features an ambidextrous design but isn't truly ambidextrous as the right side does not feature any buttons. Coming in at 118.3mm long, 53.5mm wide and a short 38.3mm tall the Viper Mini lends itself perfectly for a claw or fingertip style grip with my hand that measures in at 177mm, I know I have small hands. On the top of the mouse you'll find the scroll wheel, right and left mouse buttons along with the DPI adjustment button, a pair of forward/back buttons on the left side and these can all be modified in the not-required synapse software (more on that later) and the Razer logo is under the surface so it has a frosted look to it for the only RGB that's present which is pretty nice and this model has been upgraded to feature underglow while you're going fast and furious style.
The Razer Viper Mini comes in at a very light 61g from the 69g of the big Viper and managed to do so again without blasting it with buckshot thanks to very strategic internal shell designs. This was done by shrinking the size to 90% of the big Viper and dropping the need for additional components for the right side buttons. Even if you love the size and weight of the big Viper this one could offer itself to the perfect companion mouse to toss in a carryon bag for laptop use, and it'll add very little weight to the bad you'll be toting all day.
Flip the mouse over and you'll find two glide pads at the top and bottom of the mouse that is 100% PTFE and they're nicely sized. It does have glide pads surrounding the 3359 optical sensor with an adjustable 8,500 DPI, while that's lower than the 16k of the big Viper I never found it to be an issue. Tracking felt good and I never came across an issue with it but I kept the DPI at 1800 where I'm most comfortable. Thankfully this one has the DPI selection on the top so I can quickly switch in games depending on whether I'm on foot or in a vehicle in a shooter.
What about the scroll wheel? It's wide and has a good grip, but the scrolling motion feels muddy and unresponsive, definitely a low point on the mouse. The switches are much more interesting, however. They're implementing their new Optical Switches for instant actuation. But while the instant actuation is nice having been someone who suffered from losing a mouse in the past to the left click wearing out and double-clicking no matter what thanks to the debounce delay taking a dump I can appreciate no longer having to worry about it.
These switches are able to do that because they actually do not have any physical contact points, they're actuated entirely by light passing through the switch as it moves down. Thanks to this design they're able to extend the lifespan to 50 million clicks, count them up if you want on your own I can't validate this claim. Another claim is that they're 3 times faster than normal switches but that time frame is so small already you'll likely be like me and not be able to tell the difference. Sound-wise they have a nice solid thud and aren't very clicky sound, not very loud either.
Not everyone loves the Synapse Software for one reason or another and if you fall into that camp you'll be very happy to know that it's not needed unless you want to change the color of the cycling logo. There are 5 presets for the DPI saved to the onboard memory of the mouse, you heard me right ONBOARD MEMORY, and while you can use the Synapse software to change the settings of each and they'll stick it won't save the RGB configuration so you'll be left with a color cycle effect when you take the mouse off to use on another computer or want to uninstall the Synapse Software.
Razer nailed it. At $39.99 there really isn't much to critique. They took the look and feel of the Razer Viper and managed to shrink it down ever so slightly and shift a few things around in a way that makes sense for the price point they were trying to hit. They did that all while still managing to add even more RGB. The mouse clicks are solid and satisfying, the mouse feels good and solid in the hand while still being light enough to flick about in FPS titles. The scroll wheel, on the other hand, is a big let down, the step actuation is soft and mushy and the center click is passable at best. But at the price point if that is all I have to complain it's hard to fault the overall package, now if Razer would make these in Mercury White...
The post Razer Viper Mini Shrinks The Size And Price Of The Popular Viper by Keith May appeared first on Wccftech.
Pokémon is that rare franchise so prolific even some of its spinoff series are starting to get hard to keep track of. Case in point, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, which mash up monster collecting and roguelike dungeon exploration – the sub series has already been through five generations and 10 individual games and now it’s getting its first reboot, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX (a revamp of 2006’s Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team).
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have never quite measured up to Game Freak’s core RPGs, but given the current popularity of roguelikes, could this be the series’ time to shine? Is this Pokémon Mystery Dungeon the very best, like no game ever was, or is the series starting to get a touch musty? Pack some potions, it’s time to delve deep into Rescue Team DX…
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX casts aside the usual franchise setup – you don’t play as an aspiring trainer, but rather a human that’s been turned into a Pokémon for mysterious reasons. In a fun touch, the game opens with a personality test of sorts that determines what creature you’ll play as (don’t worry, you can make your own choice if you don’t approve of the game’s pick).
The rest of the game takes place in a world entirely populated by Pokémon that speak in full sentences, which is cute, but don’t expect anything too clever. The writing and localization of the core Pokémon RPGs has gotten sharper in recent years, but this game is from an earlier era, featuring dialogue aimed at players just learning to read. Dry writing aside, Rescue Team’s plot actually isn’t bad – the world is being rocked by a succession of natural disasters and it seems the player character turning into a Pokémon might have something to do with it. You’ll interact with a wide variety of Pokémon and other rescue teams, both friendly and not-so-friendly, and there are a few mild twists before you finally figure out what’s going on. Your mind isn’t going to be blown, but the story’s certainly more interesting than the standard “catch Pokémon, become champion” narrative.
Perhaps Rescue Team DX’s story and world would pop more if its visuals were a touch more polished, but unfortunately, the game looks kind of cheap. Developer Spike Chunsoft opts for a visual style that makes the game look a bit like an impressionistic watercolor, but low-polygon characters and environments, stiff animations, and smeary textures blunt the effect. Rescue Team DX serves up a few brief moments of beauty, but most of the time it looks bland at best. At least the game’s music, which sounds quite unlike anything from the core Pokémon RPGs, is pretty solid.
If you’re concerned Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is going to be a punishing slog given its Rogue-inspired elements and the nasty reputation of some of Spike Chunsoft’s other RPGs, like the Shiren the Wanderer series, you needn’t be too worried. Rescue Team DX is definitely more roguelite than roguelike. In traditional roguelikes you lose everything if you die in a dungeon -- progression, XP, items, money -- but in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games you only drop your items and money, and there are a number of ways to mitigate that loss. You can ask other online players to rescue you if fall or you can assemble a team from your backup Pokémon and save yourself. And if you decide not to bother with a rescue and take the loss, a special limited-time dungeon filled with good items will pop up so you can replenish your stocks. Don’t get me wrong, failure still stings a bit more than in your typical Pokémon game (be prepared for possible tantrums if you buy this one for young children), but as long as you prepare properly, death should be relatively rare.
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games may sand down a lot of their roguelike hard edges, but there’s still something compelling about exploring their randomly-generated dungeons. For those new to the series, dungeons are grid-based with enemies moving one space for every space your party moves. You also regain 1 HP every step you take, which means carefully watching the map and strategically choosing when to fight and when you avoid conflict and heal is key to success. Item rationing is also important and getting through a 25-floor dungeon by the skin of your teeth after you’ve spent all your healing and revival items will get your heartrate up. Sure, most of the dungeons you’ll encounter during the main story aren’t terribly challenging, but the postgame can be tough.
Unfortunately, a number of Rescue Team DX’s new “improvements” actually undermine its core dungeon hacking. For instance, the game has a new “Auto Mode,” which lets you turn over dungeon exploration to the AI with a push of the L trigger, and you can now unleash moves simply by pushing the A button. I’m all for timesaving features, but if you automate both dungeon exploration or combat, what exactly do you have left? Another example is the game’s revamped training dojo, which now lets you level up in only seconds if you trade in special tickets, trivializing the process of building up your Pokémon. I get that the developers wanted to make Pokémon Mystery Dungeon more approachable than it already is, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’d prefer some more thoughtful improvements. For instance, it would be great if the game made it clearer where you need to go to find certain items. As is, if you’re looking for something specific, you’re pretty much stuck randomly slogging through dungeons in hopes it will pop up. I don’t mind a bit of grinding, as long as I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time.
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games could also stand to reexamine how they handle the actual catching of Pokémon. The process is more complex than in the core Pokémon RPGs – occasionally when you defeat a Pokémon it will offer to team with you (there’s now an 8 critter party limit) and if it’s still around when you finish the dungeon you can keep it, provided you’ve built the appropriate Rescue Team Camp. There are dozens of these, and you don’t know which Pokémon belong in which camp until you encounter them, so more often than not the excitement of meeting and recruiting a new ‘mon immediately turns to disappointment when you realize you don’t have the proper camp to keep them in. There is a special item that will let you build new camps while in a dungeon, but many Pokémon, even some of the earliest ones you encounter, require very expensive camps and, of course, it’s not a good idea to carry a lot of money into dungeons.
Ultimately, trying to Catch ‘Em All feels more burdensome than it should. Rescue Team DX’s Pokedex is also somewhat uninspiring – the original Red and Blue Rescue Team games included a then-complete collection of 386 Pokémon, but don’t expect the remake to be similarly up to date. Without spoiling anything, I will say there are a few new Pokémon to collect, but I’m not really sure what rhyme or reason went into choosing the additions.
So yeah, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX might not be for you if catching monsters is your main concern, but if dungeon exploration is more your thing there’s plenty to keep you busy here. You can complete Rescue Team DX’s main story in around 15 hours, but beating the game is really just the beginning, as there are many additional post-game dungeons you can spend dozens upon dozens of hours exploring. You can get lost in this Mystery Dungeon for a good long time if it’s to your liking.
This review was based on a copy of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX provided by Nintendo. You can pre-order the game on Amazon.
The post Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX Review – Keeping it Roguelite by Nathan Birch appeared first on Wccftech.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is the fighting game that nobody knew they wanted. Cygame's Granblue Fantasy isn't exactly the biggest franchise outside of Japan, despite a dubbed anime series and an English language option included in the mobile game, so this isn't a game that was in demand - but now it will be. Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a visually striking and mechanically strong fighting game with a colorful cast of characters and some of the best grounded fighting gameplay I've seen in years.
If you're a fighting game fan you will already know what Granblue Fantasy: Versus is because it's a new 3D Arc System Works game, and that is something you know should have your attention. After games like Guilty Gear Xrd and Dragon Ball FighterZ, ASW is known for making fighting games that look stunning and play great, and that trend continues here with ASW continuing to uphold traditional fighting game mechanical depth while making concessions for new players coming into fighting games for the first time.
The main concession is made with the AB button. The AB button is an all-purpose special attack button, which will activate the special moves of your chosen character by pressing it and a direction, eschewing fighting game motion inputs. The problem is that the use of the AB button is followed by a cooldown for each of your moves, making a strategy like staying back and zoning with projectiles impractical with the AB button alone - though the easy access can make charge moves and DP motions much easier. It's a nice tool to make new players feel like they're on an even playing field - but they're really not.
Each of the Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks can also lead to auto-combos if the button is pressed multiples times, another aspect which helps new players, and lazy intermediate players, do more without feeling overwhelmed. But these auto-combos can also raise the skill ceiling, as advanced combos will require more accurate inputs to tap out attacks without activating an auto-combo, and still keep the opponent in hit-stun.
This is a traditional fighting game and not a traditional anime fighter. For those who don't know, anime fighting games are usually characterised by high-speed, highly-technical combos, air dashes, fast reaction times and more. They are not immediately user-friendly by any stretch of the imagination, and BlazBlue's more complex combo challenges will strike fear into even experienced fighting game players. Granblue Fantasy: Versus isn't so much about speed as it is strategy. Your feet will be on the ground for most of the game, using long-range attacks to poke at enemies, and projectiles to keep them at bay. You can absolutely use rush-down tactics, but many characters have invincible moves, parry mechanics, command grabs, and more that can scupper your bold strategies.
While the game does have plenty of combos you can execute outside of the auto-combos, most of them are underwhelming unless you have your opponent in the corner. You can use the wall to your advantage to juggle your opponent and extend your combos, but without the wall, most of your combos probably won't last as long as you'd like. But this is another testament to the smart design. You must play to keep your footing, pushing your opponent into the corner without being backed into one yourself, focusing on your command of the stage. You can jump over or dash past opponents, but smart enemies will catch slow jumps and will grab you out of dashes.
Your strategies will vary greatly between the base roster of 11 characters - and an extra unlocked once you've completed RPG Mode. Unlike Dragon Ball FighterZ's large roster of very similar characters, Granblue Fantasy: Versus has a humble roster of characters that all play very differently. Ladiva's Zangief-like command-grab style, Charlotta's stage-controlling charge attacks, Vaseraga's huge sweeping normals and slow speed - each has strengths and weaknesses you must learn in order to play as and against them, and it's great fun figuring out how to use each. Quick tip for Gran: EX Timbs.
But that is just the fighting itself, Granblue Fantasy: Versus also includes a robust RPG mode, modeled after the mobile game everything is based on. You'll even be earning premium draw tickets in order to pull weapons out of a random gacha distributor - but don't worry, this doesn't actually use any premium currency, and there are no microtransactions. In RPG mode each fighting is punctuated by cutscenes with characters. As usual in fighting games, characters have lost their memories and are fighting our heroic protagonists, before getting beat down and coming to their senses. The story is serviceable and frankly ignorable, and it can become tedious before long.
This is because in RPG mode you'll primarily be hacking through nameless goblins, slimes, and other boring enemies, with a few more interesting and entertaining boss battles sprinkled through. Though you can spice up RPG mode by either calling in online players, having a player 2 pick up the pad and fight through most of the RPG battles with you. This made RPG mode dozens of times more enjoyable for me, and I played through much of it with a friend in a single sitting after lacking the motivation to play it solo. A really nice touch.
And of course, you can expect online lobbies, ranked battles, local versus, Arcade mode, combo challenges, and a robust tutorial… Everything you expect in a fighting game is here, no corners cut, and it's great. Arcade mode is fun, playing against friends is fun, and when I had a seldom low-lag game against players in my own region I found the online experience to be, for the most part, very smooth, and I'm excited to get back in to play even more.
Finally, it must be said that while Granblue Fantasy: Versus looks very nice indeed, it's arguably a step down from Dragon Ball FighterZ in this area, and really doesn't hold a candle to what we've seen from the upcoming Guilty Gear Strive. It looks good because ASW's visual style is so captivating, not because it's an improvement on what they've done before. This feels like an incredibly trivial gripe when the game looks as good as it does, but it can look less impressive if you've seen a lot of DBFZ and Guilty Gear Xrd. As a final note, the music is often great. Some really cheesy songs during boss battles made me grin in a good way, and the reflective menu music is great when I want to cry after a brutal loss online.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (code provided by the publisher).
The post Granblue Fantasy: Versus Review – Grand Grounded Grappling by Dave Aubrey appeared first on Wccftech.
The One Punch Man franchise deserves the best. As both a bald man and a big One Punch Man fan, I expect the best from this series. I've been tainted by the spectacular Madhouse anime adaptation, and Yusuke Murata's incredible manga redraw of ONE's original webcomic. Both are outstanding in their fields and showcase both some of the best animation and artistry in the mediums respectively, all held together by ONE's comedic flair and heartwarming writing. I expect the best from this series, but One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is not the best it could be. It is incredibly admirable and has some shockingly fun moments, but I can't help but come away a bit disappointed.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows follows the story outlined by the first season of the anime adaptation. Saitama, the titular One Punch Man himself, is an overpowered god in human skin, capable of punching a galaxy into pieces if he so chose, but all he really wants is to find an opponent that will offset his boredom. In order to satisfy himself, he decides to rise through the ranks of the Hero Association, a protective police force made up of people with either an unyielding dedication to justice or supernatural abilities. Saitama meets all kinds of kooky characters in the Hero Association and finds a handful of challengers outside of it, and this is where you find yourself.
You're a brand new hero enlisting in the Hero Association, hoping to rise up the ranks and meet all of these characters for yourself. Honestly, I first went into One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows expecting just an arena brawler, nothing more. What I found was a surprisingly detailed recreation of the anime story which inserts your character into the fold, filled with dozens of new character moments and a surprisingly robust combat system. More effort has gone into this game than I was aware of, but I wonder if it was all worthwhile.
While rising through the ranks you will be able to slowly uncover and explore a recreation of OPM's Japan - and that really is what it is, it's just a fictional Japan. You can walk around a small sample of a city in OPM's world, condensed for the sake of brevity, and it's fine. You will quickly feel as if your character doesn't move fast enough in the overworld, and the environments are very simple and barren. It does what it needs to - it houses a variety of side-quests and characters for you to interact with, while also allowing you to see other players who are also wandering around. I do wish all of the unlockable shops were more easily accessed, perhaps on a single street instead of dotted around the town, but it all works.
The bulk of your time playing will be spent in battle. You will have character missions that allow you to bond with other heroes, main missions, special missions (which also increase your hero bonds), and a plethora of side-quests. There are side-quests in the overworld which involve talking to people and collecting items, but most of the side-quests are found in the Hero Association menu, and it's a big variety of burglars, muggers, monsters, miscreants, etc. You will be fighting side-quests over and over, as main story missions only unlock once you have raised your reputation to certain thresholds, which keep rising and rising. You very well may spend most of your game time completing side-quests before you reach the end.
But the combat is very interesting. It is the typical anime arena brawler format, you lock on to an opponent, have a block and a dodge, you can run in quickly, jump, and you have two attack buttons, supplemented by special moves you can access by holding down L2. The problem is that each of the combat styles you unlock start out awful, with limited special moves are hardly any combo potential. But as you level them up you can use more special moves, and have access to more combos. Every combat style starts out as frustrating but evolves into something much more enjoyable as you slowly get used to grabs, combos, juggles, which special moves work in tandem, etc.
And there are several combat styles, all modeled after key characters from the OPM universe, such as Mumen Rider's standard combat style with bikes, Genos' speedy machinery, Child Emperor's backpack of gimmicks, Tatsumaki's ESPer abilities, Metal Bat's heavy weapons, Atomic Samurai's speedy weapons… There is a shockingly wide array of styles and abilities available to the player so they can build their own character. It's definitely worth switching between styles to try new things, and this helps keep combat interesting - for as enjoyable as combat can be, with all of the side-quests and slow progress to level up each style, it becomes tedious. Tedious to the point where seeing how much reputation you need to access the next story mission can feel daunting.
And then there's the fact that everything just feels a bit cheap. The overworld looks like a budget last-gen Yakuza clone, there were frequent framerate issues throughout my gameplay experience, and it all just looks very unpolished. Even the cutscenes that emulate the anime series, arguably when the game looks best, it still can't achieve anything close to what the original anime did. It should've just been replaced with video files. The stages you battle on also look very unpolished, and it's a good thing you won't spend too much time looking at them. Thankfully the framerate was mostly smoothed out by a recent patch, but even then you can notice stuttering in the overworld and slowdown in battle.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows feels like a cheap adaptation, with a combat system that manages to carry the experience. Almost everything here feels like a budget game, but fighting battles and improving your character kept me coming back. This is a game with fairly significant problems, but they can be overlooked if you really want a One Punch Man experience - but not at full price. This is far from the outstanding experience I expected from One Punch Man.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (code provided by the publisher).
The post One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows Review – Class-C Hero by Dave Aubrey appeared first on Wccftech.
Pitaka has introduced a unique wireless charging solution for iPhone that involves a magnetic power bank and charging stand called MagEZ Juice. The wireless charger can simultaneously charge both the power bank and an iPhone, as well as deliver 30% extra battery power on the go, because the power bank can magnetically attach to smartphones thanks to the Magcase. The case allows the power bank to attach magnetically to an iPhone, which makes the whole setup extremely intuitive to use.
The Pitaka Magcase and MagEZ Juice ship in two different boxes. The reason is that the case can be used on its own, as well as with other Pitaka products. MagEZ Juice can also be used with Samsung smartphones, so make sure that you buy the right Magcase for your smartphone.
Pitaka has some decent packaging for each product. Although the external boxes are white, the inner packaging is all black. The case does not have anything else apart from a user manual. On the other hand, the charger has the following: power bank, charging stand, power brick, and a metal plate which allows users to make any smartphone compatible with the power bank. The metal plate comes with alignment papers for different iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S and Note smartphone models. For other smartphones that support Qi wireless charging standard, a little trial and error can help in attaching the metal plate properly.
Here are some technical specifications for the items included in the package:
The Magcase is made using Aramid Fiber, which is used for armor and jet engines. The material is five times stronger than steel, but still light enough to use as a case. It contains two metal plates that allow the magnetic power bank to stick to it. Despite the plates, the case causes no interference with WiFi, cellular and GPS signals.
The outer layer of the case is a soft but textured material, made using Pitaka's proprietary 'vacuum forming technology'. In simple words, it helps provide the 3D textured look and non-slippery grip.
The charging dock ships with a cable permanently attached to it so you cannot replace it with another one if you break it. The cable has a USB-A connector on its end, which works perfectly with the 5V charger that is included in the packaging. The charing stand has a sturdy bottom grip and did not slide at all on a wooden desk during testing, thanks to a re-usable gel base. The dock's angle at which it keeps your smartphone during charge, is really useful, specially for Face ID users. It allows you to glance at your notifications, or just quickly use your smartphone, without having to take it off the dock.
The power bank snuggly fits in the charging dock and connects to its USB-C connector. To use it, simply attach the smartphone to it, and slide up the whole thing. The power bank attaches to the smartphone and slides easily off the USB-C port. To place the power bank, and smartphone, back into the dock, just push it into the stand and slide it down a bit so that it attaches to the USB-C port.
The power bank also has four lights that indicate the battery charge. If you connect a USB-C cable to the power bank's port, it can also be used to charge other devices. Somehow, Pitaka has not made it very obvious on their website, or in the user manual, that you can use the power bank to charge devices via a cable. I tested it with an iPad Pro and it charged just fine, although very slowly due to the weak power output.
If your usage is similar to mine and you spend most of your day moving between your desk and meeting rooms, the MagEZ Juice is a no-brainer. It allows you to stop worrying about battery life as not only it keeps your smartphone charged, it also keeps the power bank prepared in case you need to leave your desk. You can always detach the power bank and put it in a bag to re-use later, or you can just keep it attached for an extra 30% battery capacity.
The post Pitaka MagEZ Juice Review – Wireless Charging Kit for iPhone by Imran Hussain appeared first on Wccftech.
HyperX is among my favorite headset brands – it delivers well-built and great-sounding headsets in basically every segment. Several months ago, Chris Wray already reviewed the Cloud Stinger Wireless, and most recently, he tested the Cloud Alpha S. Both headpieces were praised for their build- and sound quality at a decent price.
The brand’s latest headset comes in the form of an upgrade to one of HyperX’s best offerings, the Cloud Flight. Named the ‘HyperX Cloud Flight S’, this revision packs several additional features compared to its older relative, including 7.1 surround sound and wireless QI charging. Do these additional features warrant a purchase?
Inside the box
There isn’t much to say about the contents of the Cloud Flight S box, but this isn’t a bad thing at all – it basically reflects that this is a no-nonsense headset that works right out of the box. The following items have been included by HyperX:
Design and features
The Flight S features 50mm audio drivers with neodymium magnets, 90° rotating earcups with breathable leatherette and memory foam, a detachable bi-directional microphone with noise canceling and customizable onboard controls. In addition, instead of using Bluetooth for wireless transmission, the Flight S comes with a USB 2.4GHz RF dongle for lag-free wireless audio.
Wireless Qi-charging, stunning battery life and 7.1 surround sound on both PC and PS4, however, is what separates HyperX’s latest offering from the completion.
Compared to the original Cloud Flight, the revised Flight S is a much more elegant headpiece. Whereas the original model featured visible wires and red accents, the S comes in a matt black design that might be more appealing to a broader audience.
The left earcup of the S sports its main features, including the power button, a toggleable 7.1 surround sound button, a detachable microphone port, micro-USB charging port, and 4 customizable, slightly sunken, buttons for onboard controls. The well-placed volume dial can be found on the right earcup.
As with the original Flight and other HyperX offerings, the Flight S is very comfortable, and even after extended periods of use, I didn't experience any strains and the memory foam inside the leatherette earcups kept my ears sweat-free. While the headband doesn't automatically adjust to match the size of your head, it can easily be adjusted for a good fit. Those wearing glasses will be happy to learn that this headset can be worn for hours straight without feeling any pressure.
Ease of use
One of the things that I liked the most about the S is its ease of use. There simply aren't any other headsets available that offer 7.1 surround sound out of the box on both PS4 and PC without the need for additional software or the use of a wireless base station connected via an optical digital cable. Just insert the supplied wireless USB transmitter in either your PC or PS4 and you're ready to go. As mentioned above, surround sound can be toggled through a dedicated button on the left earcup, and this easily allows you to switch between stereo- and surround sound. While switching is easy, I did find it annoying that I had to re-activate surround sound each time after having powered down the device, and I do feel that HyperX could have included a simple led light to indicate whether surround sound has been activated or not.
While HyperX doesn't officially mention Nintendo Switch support, I can confirm that the Flight S also works on Nintendo's hybrid platform in docked mode. In theory, you should be able to get the headset to work on the Switch in portable mode through a USB to USB-C dongle but I wasn't able to test whether this actually works. Unfortunately, Hyper's offering doesn't work on the Xbox One as Microsoft's console doesn't support USB audio and, unlike the original Cloud Flight, the revised Flight S doesn't come with a 3.5mm audio port.
The programmable buttons on the left earcup are a nice touch to the revised Cloud Flight and can be programmed to your liking. By default, these dimpled buttons control mic muting, sidetone and game/chat balance. I needed some time to get used to these buttons, but after several hours of testing, I found these mappable buttons a pleasant new feature. Programming of the buttons is done through HyperX's NGenuity software. Mapping the buttons is fairly easy but saving your actual preset does require some time.
Battery life and wireless charging
HyperX boasts stellar battery life of over 30 hours when using the Flight S at 50% volume. For this review, I've tested the headset with a range of games and different volume levels, and I can confirm that 30 hours of play on a single charge can be achieved. I would even go as far as to say that 30 hours is on the safe side as the battery lasted for roughly 33 hours when on normal volume levels - aside from the original Flight, there's simply no decent wireless headset available that offers this kind of battery longevity.
In case you do run out of battery, charging a headset has never been easier as, in addition to micro-USB charging, the HyperX Cloud Flight S supports wireless charging. Just place it on a compatible Qi base and the Flight S will start charging. For this review, I was also supplied HyperX's own Chargeplay Base and this worked perfectly. This base, however, isn't included with the headset and will set you back another $60. Any Qi-certified charge pad should work with the Flight S, but after having tested some cheaper alternatives, not all pads seemed to correctly work.
HyperX's Cloud Flight revision offers a clear and distinct sound experience with mids and highs that are pretty accurate for a gaming headset in this price range. It uses a slightly boosted bass without overpowering other sounds. Overall, the Flight S is among the best-sounding wireless headsets in this price range, including the Arctis 7 and Razer Thresher Wireless.
In general, I'm not too fond of using 'Surround Sound' due to the audio being altered in some way, but this isn't the case with HyperX's custom-tuned 7.1 surround sound. As a matter of fact, it provides a more immersive sound experience and HyperX's surround implementation on the Flight S is one of the best I've heard so far. Once you've experienced the headset's surround mode, you probably won't be switching back to stereo mode anytime soon.
The HyperX Cloud Flight S allows you to connect the supplied microphone or one of your own choosing. While the supplied HyperX mic suffices, don't expect too much from it. There's certainly room for improvement on HyperX's side when it comes to the microphone.
The HyperX Cloud Flight S is among the best wireless headsets in its price range. It offers great comfort, versatility, unrivaled battery life, and impressive sound quality. On top of that, it packs exclusive features such as wireless charging and out-of-the-box 7.1 surround sound on both PC and PS4, that you just won't find on any other headset in this segment. The microphone isn't the best but will suffice for simple chatting. If wireless charging and surround sound are features that you're looking for on a headset in this price range, the HyperX Cloud Flight S is a must buy. If not, the original HyperX Cloud Flight remains a solid, and cheaper, alternative.
Review sample supplied by the manufacturer.
The post HyperX Cloud Flight S Review – Revised Wireless Freedom by Aernout van de Velde appeared first on Wccftech.
I remember the first Romance of the Three Kingdoms game I played. Which was it? Well, I'm glad you asked Chris; it was Romance of the Three Kingdoms VIII on the PS2. I'd played Dynasty Warriors before that and, as I said when I reviewed Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII, I've been absorbing all elements of the Three Kingdoms history and fantasy for a very long time. Knowing this, I came into Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV with a little trepidation.
Why? The series has been on a downward trend since Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, with XII and then XIII being perfect examples of Koei-Tecmo's unwillingness to fully back titles that aren't in core franchises like Warriors, Dead or Alive or other larger names. The question, then, does Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV buck this downward trend of the previous games?
You may be glad to know that it does. I was certainly glad to find that out. It should be noted that this comes with a sizable side-note and warning that while it is a series on the up, this is still a far cry from the best the series has to offer. In the case of XIV, the focus is on strategy rather than the role-playing aspects found in entries like VIII. The best strategy-oriented title in the series, for me, is XI and is still XI, despite this now being out. However, there are certainly some very interesting moves from Koei Tecmo here in Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV. Some good, others not so.
Normally I'd start with one or the other, talking about the good and then onto the bad or vice-versa. It's not that easy to do that here, due to how everything links together in the game. For example, one of the things I appreciate is the return to grid-based movement and combat, rather than following rigid roads between cities as in the previous iteration. This makes it very reminiscent of XI, though instead of squares, you have hexes. That offers a wider range of movement options and, adding to this, is the fact that the map is much larger than ever before.
What this means is that a long campaign, where you're travelling hundreds of miles, will feel like it. You will see the hexes change colour as units move through them, showing the fluidity of a border in war. No longer do you simply capture a region and it's all yours, now you're going around the area, converting each hex. Now, this may seem tedious, and it would be were there no shortcuts, so fortunately when you capture a city or village, you can appoint an officer to develop that location and they also automatically capture further hexes within that places natural border.
I genuinely love this system, I always have loved systems that show the true fluidity of a border during times of war. So what's my problem with it? The AI, that's what. The AI for an enemy naturally understands the needs to conquer these hexes as it adds to the productivity of a region and, I believe, the morale of a city. Why, then, when you create a division in your empire, placing the AI in charge, do they not bother capturing these things? Hell, they don't even seem to assign people into developing the cities and villages you put under their care.
Maybe it's just me that's missing something. Did I not assign enough officers to the regions for the viceroy to place people where needed? That's one curse with another improvement made here in Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, the interface. The UI and the game, in general, has been streamlined. This doesn't take any element of depth from the game, I'd say it's more detailed than ever before thanks to the larger scale of the map and other features that have been included.
So what are these features? Because the map has returned to a grid-based system, you can now build a myriad of support or defensive buildings, as well as traps, with each region in the game allowing a certain number of buildings. Naturally, the terrain also plays an impact on this, with you being unable to build on such as high mountains or in forests. The terrain also has a large impact on unit movement, creating a natural land barrier that can add as a great level of protection for your burgeoning empire.
Another great feature is the way your units are structured when you head into battle. Each general, with whatever their abilities are, can use a particular set of formations. These formations determine the speed, manoeuvrability, attack, defence and everything else of the unit in question. In addition to the regular formations, you can also choose whether a unit will be a siege unit (catapults or battering rams, for example). Going on the attack will very much be a case of looking at the distance you'll be travelling, terrain included, as well as the force your enemy has and could bring to bear.
Of course, the more units you send, the bigger a drain on your resources. Fortunately, you don't need to take supplies with you but the further away you get from nearby cities and villages, the bigger a draw it is on your home cities supplies. This lack of having to carry supplies and gold is certainly a handy feature and it also brings the hex control element into even more importance - if you have no rear guard then your supply lines could be easily cut, having a drastic effect on your morale and essentially guaranteeing defeat.
Much like the supplies, the use of skills both on and off the field has been taken out of your hands. In battle, your units will automatically use what skills are available to them, when they're ready and suitable to use. This can be ones that are simply used in battle alone or, in the case of officers like Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, who have a strong bond, them being together will raise their abilities and allow the use of further skills. Matching characters and getting them to work together, having them bond, as they fight side by side through the years, gives a high level of character development to the game.
The only selectable ability you have within battle is to choose to use a fire attack on the enemy, everything else is, as I've said, automated. You are left to choose your tactics in positioning and such as flanking manoeuvers. As for outside of battle, the abilities and skills are more limited than in previous iterations. In between turns, there are several orders you can give, some of these can be political moves, such as causing dissent between two other factions, offering a gift to another or potentially even starting an alliance. There are other options like giving gifts to your officers to boost their loyalty, even sending out an officer to hire another.
Other options and orders you can give include the placing of officers in charge of certain villages, having them build up either the commerce, agriculture or military of a region. Officers can also propose certain actions to take, these are often the most valuable, including the quick spending of gold to reinforce a unit in the field or build up the defences of a city or gate. These gates being areas like a village or town, but simply a large gate spanning the gap of a narrow pass.
While these options are fewer than in the previous versions, they are still extensive in what they do and the tactical options made available to you. I think it's just a shame that most aren't instantly selectable, particularly those that are offered by your officers in the planning mode. Still, you never fail to have multiple paths in how you can tackle your next objective. The simple fact is, though, that the objective is always to conquer china. How you go about it is up to you.
Want to know the worst problem I have with Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV though? It's too buggy and shoddily optimised. From the opening intro, which seems to run worse than a bloody zoetrope, to downright absurd issues where for some unknown reason, the game decides it won't save. It's my fault for carrying on after first seeing the warning signs, but the game's decision that I've played too long and it wasn't going to save has cost me hours of gameplay.
That's what makes it all the more annoying, that those hours were ones that I lost. I don't know where they went. I looked at my phone and it was 10:30pm. Roll on 3am and I'm wondering what I'm going to do. Do I just turn the game off and hope one of the autosaves was nearby? I did do that, the autosave was just after 1am. This is a game that made me forget to sleep, so it certainly has something going for it.
So, Chris, do you like Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV? Yes, Chris, I do - thanks for asking. It's a return to form for the series and while it's far from perfect, it's also riddled with too many issues, particularly due to poor optimisation and also has too many limitations (for god's sake please start supporting ultrawide monitors). If you like grand strategy games and like the Three Kingdoms period, and series, then this is a game worth buying. It will be even better (think at least +1 point) when the issues are patched out.
PC version reviewed. Copy provided by the publisher.
The post Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV Review – A Return to Form by Chris Wray appeared first on Wccftech.
Despite not being the first game ever to feature stamina-based combat, the original Dark Souls has become one of the most influential games of the last decade. Many developers offered their own spin on the formula in the past few years, like Team Ninja with Nioh and Deck 13 with The Surge, but they stuck to a formula that is pretty much the same as the one seen in the From Software series.
Unlike these developers, Clock Drive Games took a more experimental approach with Warlander The Serbian developer took the combat mechanics of the From Software series and added their own flair to it, changing the progression system as well with elements taken from roguelikes. The results are quite interesting, though not without flaws.
Warlander stars Bruce, a powerful warrior who awakens at the beginning of the adventure not remembering much of what happened before his awakening, including his clan's name. The Old God of the Forest has brought him back and granted him a sentient sword to exact revenge on those who have destroyed his tribe. Despite being an instrument of revenge, Bruce has his own stakes in the battle against the new God Morven, stakes that will become clearer as the adventure proceeds.
Warlander's story is based upon Celtic mythology and offers an interesting take on the conflict between the old and the new way, with the new God's acolytes, the Techno Forces, representing technological advancements, at the cost of everything else. Most of the game's story is told indirectly through memories collected in stages, which reveal some details on the backstory and the events that are unfolding while Bruce slices and dices his path towards the final confrontation with Morven the Immortal. The story isn't particularly original, but the Celtic mythology tones give it a unique flair.
As mentioned earlier, Warlander takes the Dark Souls stamina-based and challenging combat and adds its own unique twist to it. Like in the series created by From Software, players control Bruce in a third-person perspective as he travels to different areas and takes on a lot of different and powerful enemies. Bruce has a few basic attacks at his disposal: two horizontal attacks, a vertical, heavy attack, and a kick that stuns enemies using shields. His abilities are greatly expanded during the course of the adventure, as the game's vast skill tree features a lot of diverse attacks like a sword throw, a Vine Grab to throw enemies, long-ranged attacks, rush attacks and so on. The variety of special attacks available isn't just for show, as many of them are particularly effective against certain enemies, and they all come with multiple properties.
Depth is the name of the game in Warlander, as pretty much everything at Bruce's disposal can be used in different ways. The Vine Grab can be used to throw enemies against one another, or off a bridge, or against an explosive container to blow it up. Sword Throw has a unique property that makes the sword damage enemies even when going back to Bruce. Long ranged attacks with Stakes are weak, but they serve an extremely important purpose: take the armor off the enemy.
While Warlander plays like Dark Souls on the surface, the similarities end at the stamina management and light, heavy basic attacks. Lacking a lock-on mechanic, players are able to direct their sword slashes in any way they want, not unlike Metal Gear Rising: Reveangeance. And, like the Platinum Games developed games, a well-placed slash can cut limbs and heads. Cutting off arms prevents enemies from attacking, while cutting their legs makes them unable to stand, unlocking the ability to perform a finisher that kills the enemy, regardless of the remaining health.
Do not expect to kill all enemies using the same strategy, though: Techno Forces die instantly when their head is severed, while the Weaponized Corpses do not, so players must adapt to the enemy type. As already mentioned, most Techno Forces enemies come with armor, which must be removed to damage the body part it protects. Enemies hardly come in full armor, so players have the option to either target unprotected limbs or remove the armor with repeated blows. This is easier said than done, as enemies are always on the move, and they do not stagger when attacked, so finding an opening, blocking and dodging attacks creates an exciting battle flow that makes combat extremely satisfying. The enemy variety is extremely good as well, and each enemy type comes with its own traits, requiring a different approach for both offense and defense.
Any hardcore action role-playing game wouldn't be one without big bosses, and Warlander delivers on this front as well. All the bosses come with multiple phases, and require precise dodging, blocking and attack to be defeated. Bosses also represent one of the few aspects of permanent progression in the game, as defeating them allows Bruce to retain for the next playthrough one of the basic techniques that can be learned through the skill tree. This is rather important, as Warlander features permadeath and no way to recover everything that has been learned at the point of defeat.
Warlander progression systems are markedly different from anything we have seen up until today in Souls-like games. Taking a page from roguelikes, Warlander features a procedurally generated adventure presented by different nodes on a rather barren map. Each node may feature an enemy encounter against the Techno Forces, a boss battle, a treasure chest, an upgrade or a healing node. Enemy encounters node can feature one between a few different locations that belong to the general area the players are in, like Clan or Druid Lands. These nodes task players with surviving against multiple waves of enemies, which become more difficult to clear the closer players are to the final node featuring Morven the Immortal. Arenas are quite interactive, featuring bridges, explosive canisters and more that can be used by players to kill enemies. They may sometime include a treasure chest, which gives players the choice between two different bonuses that will stay active until the end of the current run.
Upgrade nodes are the only place where Bruce can upgrade his skills. Skills are learned by spending XP obtained by killing enemies and by using limbs, which act as a sort of currency. Limbs can also be used for healing at the dedicated nodes, so defeating enemies by cutting their limbs first becomes more and more important as the game goes on.
Warlander's gameplay loop is definitely engaging, but the experience is somewhat damaged by the general lack of polish. The interface and menu system are barebones, combat lacks a bit of weight, and the targeting system feels inaccurate, especially when players have to switch between offense and defense against the heavily armored Techno Forces enemies. Hit detection and hitboxes also feel disjointed, as I often got damaged by an unblockable attack that did not visually connect with the character. It's a shame because the game offers a lot of depth, and more polish would have made it a memorable experience. It's still fun, though it becomes annoying to deal with things that shouldn't have been in a game like this. The adventure is also not very long, and once Morven has been defeated for the first time, players likely have seen almost everything the game has to offer. An online multiplayer mode would have done wonders to extend the game's longevity.
Warlander is far from being the best looking game released in recent times. Locations look good, mainly thanks to the comic-book-inspired design, while characters generally look a bit rougher and a little generic, not counting Bruce and the bosses. Animations, sadly, are very stiff and lack refinement like many other features of the game. Optimization is also not that good: the game runs fine at 1080p on a machine featuring an i7-3770 CPU, GTX 980 Ti GPU and 16 GB RAM, but starts struggling at 1440p with ultra and even high settings, with frame rate often dropping in the 40 frames per second range when multiple enemies are on screen, which shouldn't be happening since the game is not demanding at all. Things will likely improve with future updates, but at launch playing the game at 1080p resolution seems to be the way to go unless you've got an extremely powerful system.
Despite the lack of polish, Warlander is an enjoyable experience. Clock Drive Games attempted to twist the Dark Souls formula in several different ways and mostly succeeded, especially for the deep combat and roguelike progression. It could have been much more than what it is, however, so it is difficult to recommend to those who are not die-hard fans of Dark Souls, Nioh, The Surge, and all other Souls-like games.
Review code provided by the publisher.
The post Warlander Review – Talking Swords and Falling Heads by Francesco De Meo appeared first on Wccftech.
My first experience with Hunt: Showdown was one fraught with sheer terror. I skulked through an abandoned farm crawling with the undead, and everything I interacted with made the most God-awful sound. I would walk past crows which would fly at me cawing, dead horses on the road would suddenly raise their heads and wail, and of course, undead humans themselves would come at me screaming and screeching, gurgling the rotted remains of their tongues. Every corner had a new horror, and it wasn't getting less intense.
Hunt: Showdown is a master of crafting a tense atmosphere. The sound design, and game concept as a whole, work together in tandem to put the player on edge. The undead enemies you come against are frightening, and the undead dogs, Hellhounds, can absolutely tear your health apart if you're taken unaware. But the monsters in the environment aren't even the biggest threat you'll go against while undertaking quests in this huge, Western-styled map filled with farms and threats.
You will go into each mission with a basic quest: find, kill, banish, and retrieve a bounty from one of the huge monsters lurking in the game. You have an ability called the Dark Sight, which allows you to see glowing indicators in the overworld, which you can cross-reference with the map to find clues, and eventually, the boss lair. The only problem is that there will also be other players scouring the map trying the do exactly the same thing, and if you encounter them, they will gun you down in cold blood. This adds a layer of stealth and strategy to the game that would be absent otherwise. Suddenly you'll be moving incredibly slowly through areas, for gunshots and screams from zombies will alert your enemies. The crows, horses, dogs, and litany of other environmental hazards are there not just to unnerve you and create that tense atmosphere, but also to alert your rivals to your haphazard gameplay.
The game is marketed as a unique take on the battle royale formula, and while you could argue that point, I wouldn't say that's what Hunt: Showdown is. After all, you can absolutely run through stages with reckless abandon, find the boss quickly, kill them, and extract yourself without ever encountering another player. In a few instances, I even did so solo and succeeded - though admittedly it was a scary experience. This is essentially what would be a fairly mediocre PVE singleplayer or co-op experience, given the touch of multiplayer and turned into something far more interesting. The fact is, once you have played the game a fair amount and are used to the surprises, enemies, and combat, a lot of the tension is lost. Right up until you come up against an enemy team, that is.
But things can feel like an uphill battle. Once you're out of the beginner ranks, permadeath will be enabled. If your hunter dies, they die forever, and you lose everything you were carrying. This is the key that makes PVP firefights so intense - everyone is battling not just to win the game, but to keep the hunter that they've worked hard to make progress on. The goal is to raise your hunter to level 25 - easily done after two good extractions - and then you can retire them, earning 100 experience towards your overall rank for every level you raised them. Raising your rank unlocks new guns and abilities - but of course, if you lose a hunter you were intending to rank up, your pride will be wounded, and progress delayed.
It's a simple enough task to get new hunters, but suddenly you may wish to think twice about the guns you'll equip them with, or how many items you'll give them to use in battle. Everything costs money, and while you should be able to make money quickly, your goal certainly isn't to throw it away. This is yet another aspect that ups the tension in matches, as this equipment management has stakes. This can also encourage some players to play more cowardly in the name of keeping their hunter and gear, and extract from missions before even accomplishing anything. Frustrating if you like to play to the death, and you're teamed with randoms. As with any multiplayer game, it is best played with a team of your friends.
What should hold all of this together is the gunplay, and unfortunately, it is very slow and awkward to adapt to. After coming off of fast-paced shooters like Apex Legends, Hunt: Showdown felt incredibly slow and frustrating, but after some sensitivity adjustments - and adjustments to how I play - I felt it was completely serviceable, though some small aspects still frustrate me, like having to press a button prompt to climb a ladder, instead of just walking into it. If you demand the best gunplay from your shooters or don't have the time necessary to adjust to how Hunt: Showdown plays out, this might not be for you.
But the Western-styled farmyard environment is gorgeous, even on console, despite some texture and enemy pop-in. Crytek has clearly honed their engine well, and while this doesn't look the same as it does on PC, it is very serviceable on the PS4 Pro. The dense environments do a lot to make the world feel real and lived-in, despite some buildings and areas looking familiar once you've spent several hours in the game.
I quite like Hunt: Showdown, but what I do not understand is why this game has F2P-style microtransactions. Legendary weapons are bought with Blood Stones, and Blood Stones are a premium currency. You can earn some Blood Stones in-game, but given the Blood Stones will also be necessary to refresh the Hunter Store if you've lost too many hunters in a day. These F2P mechanics don't have a place in a game which costs £35 to buy. This should've either been a F2P game in the first place, which would've given a much wider initial audience and player base, or dropped these microtransactions, especially since they are also selling DLC packs. Right now there are only a small handful of bosses and
one map two maps that you'll play repeatedly. In order for this game to have longevity, it needs active players, more bosses, and eventually, another map more maps, and selling these as DLC won't do, otherwise, this game will go the same way as Evolve.
I like Hunt: Showdown. It is not perfect, but it is intense, atmospheric, and great to play with friends. This isn't the premium-priced AAA shooter experience you might be looking for, but if you want to play a slow-paced, strategic, and high-risk high-reward FPS, then it might be the one for you. If Crytek can keep content coming and ensure an active online community on consoles, then this might be one I keep returning to over time.
Update 26/02/20: A previous version of this article claimed there was a dynamic time of day system. This is false. There are four pre-set weather conditions, which greatly change the appearance of the maps. This article also claimed there was a single map - this is incorrect, there are two maps: Lawson Delta and Stillwater Bayou. The author had assumed there was a single map since the maps are large, there is no way to choose between maps, and you have a random starting location at the beginning of each mission. We apologise for these inaccuracies.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (code provided by the publisher).
The post Hunt: Showdown Review – The Most Intense Multiplayer Shooter by Dave Aubrey appeared first on Wccftech.
Anker is among the best brands for power banks and back in 2018, it released the officially Nintendo-licensed 'PowerCore Speed 20100 PD Nintendo Switch Edition'. Following this portable charger's success, the company released a more compact version, the 'PowerCore 13400 PD Nintendo Switch Edition'.
I reached out to Anker to enquire whether there was an opportunity to review one of their Nintendo-licensed power banks, but due to both of the above-mentioned chargers not being available at the time, I was asked to review Anker's first premium power bank with 45W PD - the 'PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W' with 60W USB-C wall charger. Let's find out how this colossal-capacity charger performs when using the Nintendo Switch.
The following items are included in the box:
- PowerCore+ 26800 PD
- 60W USB-C wall charger
- USB-C to USB-C cable
- Travel pouch
- Welcome guide
Design and features
Let's start off by pointing out that this charger hasn't been officially licensed by Nintendo, but aside from offering much higher capacity and energy transfer rate, the internal specs don't really differ from the officially Nintendo Switch-licensed PowerCore Speed 20100 PD and PowerCore 13400. Like its smaller relatives, the PowerCore+ 26800 offers full Power Delivery (PD) support, allowing the Switch to charge while playing.
While the PowerCore Speed 20100 PD, and especially the PowerCore 13400, can be considered quite compact, this can't be said about the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD. Weighing approximately 1.1lbs, its substantially heavier than the Nintendo Switch and fairly large as well - 180 x 81.5 x 22mm. Then again, the PowerCore+ 26800 packs a massive 26800mAh battery, resulting in a less portable charger that is best carried separately from the Switch.
On the bank itself, we find a 45W USB-C port alongside two 15W USB ports and a led indicator sporting 10 lights to indicate how much power remains. Anker's premium offering has a strong metal body, but please be advised that metal objects can easily leave permanent scratches.
According to Nintendo, the battery life of the original Switch model is approximately 2.5 to 6.5 hours, while the battery inside the updated Switch model lasts considerably longer on a single charge - roughly 4.5 to 9 hours. For the Nintendo Switch Lite, the battery life is approximately 3 to 7 hours.
The use of a portable charger can greatly extend the playtime in handheld mode, and the additional playtime gained depends on the capacity of the charger. In general, higher capacity results in more playtime, but the faster charge of the 26800+ PD slightly lowers the amount of available capacity.
While Anker has listed the capacity of the power bank to be 26,800mAh, the actual capacity available to devices is always less due to differences in voltage and energy loss during transfer.
Using the PowerCore+ 26800 PD on my original Switch model resulted in roughly 11/12 hours of additional playtime. This was when using somewhat more demanding titles such as Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and DOOM. During testing, the Switch's Wi-Fi connection was enabled and I didn't cut down on brightness. When using the 26800+ with the new Switch model or Switch Lite, players will experience even more additional playtime.
When playing less demanding games with Wi-Fi disabled, and turning down brightness, more additional playtime will be gained.
The 26,800mAh battery allowed me at least 3 full recharges of my Switch and there was still some juice left in the Anker after that. This leftover, however, didn't allow for another full recharge.
Anker's premium offering charges Nintendo's hybrid platform under all gaming conditions. While playing a game, the charger completely recharges in the Switch in approximately 3.5 hours. In sleep mode, roughly 2.5 to 3 hours is required to top the Switch off.
The Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W comes with a 60W USB-C wall charger which allows you to fully recharge the power bank within 3.5 hours.
Another interesting thing to note is that this 45W PowerCore is also able to power the Switch dock for playing in TV mode. While I don't advise using third-party chargers for the Switch dock, it does show just how powerful Anker's premium portable charger is.
Overall, the Anker PowerCore + 26800 PD 45W is one of the best portable chargers currently available. If offers amazing capacity and allows users to fully recharge their Switch while gaming within 3.5 hours. Anker's premium offering, however, isn't as portable as the officially Nintendo-licensed Anker products and I would only recommend this offering over the considerably less expensive Nintendo-licensed PowerCore Speed 20100 PD and PowerCore 13400 if you're in the market for a charger that is also able to power your Switch dock or other high-powered devices.
Review unit provided by the manufacturer.
The post PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W Review – Anker’s Nintendo Switch Portable Charger by Aernout van de Velde appeared first on Wccftech.