Sixteen years after Battlefield 1942 changed the landscape of competitive first-person shooters with its large-scale land/air/sea battles, the series returns to the same setting with Battlefield V. Today DICE dropped a kiloton of information on its eager fan base, revealing dramatic changes to some core Battlefield tenants, exciting new modes, and a new approach to its post-launch plans. Here's what we know about the game so far.
Battlefield Returns To World War II
Yes, Battlefield is going back to the place where it all started for the series. But DICE isn't interested in retreading the most famous battles of World War II. "To be frank, we've all played it – we've all been there," says senior producer Andreas Morell. "We've all stormed the beaches of Normandy and cleared every bunker in France. I think some of us can probably navigate the countryside by muscle memory alone. And we've also seen the movies. So for us, we really wanted to give our players something new."
What does that mean for a war that's been retread in games and films so many times? The studio created this edict: Take players to unseen locations, tell untold stories, and have them fight unplayed battles. DICE teased a few of these during the event, including arctic battles in Norway, airborne operations in Rotterdam, and tank battles in North Africa. We also saw concept art for the French countryside, so not every location will be off the beaten path.
Battlefield 1942 featured some of the most memorable maps of all time, so I asked design director Daniel Berlin how DICE plans to leverage those classic maps. While he said they aren't ready to announce anything, you can tell they have some plans to capitalize on that game's legacy. "I can't say anything about yet, that but there are ideas around these things – there is a lot of good stuff," Berlin says. "I can also say we are drawing inspiration from those old maps. We know that people will play this game and look back to 1942. To certain degrees we want them to be at certain locations and go, 'Oh! I'm getting that feeling that I had [in 1942].' Playing the game, you will definitely get those nostalgic vibes."
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Operations Returns, With A Grand Renovation
After the success of Battlefield 1's new Operations mode, a long-form match that took place over multiple maps, DICE is doubling down on the concept in Battlefield V. Now called Grand Operations, the modular experience now switches between different modes as well as maps. In the example DICE gave us set in Rotterdam, you may start the battle as part of an airborne invasion in a new mode called Airborne. The attacking team must drop behind enemy lines and take out the long-range artillery so their invading force can advance. In the beginning, every soldier must spawn in the aircraft and pick where they want to jump as the plane moves across the map. Defenders in AA cannons can target these carriers and rack up crazy kill counts if they manage to down one with several soldiers waiting to deploy.
On day two, the battle still takes place in Rotterdam, but now the invading force is moving in to capture points in the classic Operations fashion, which is now a mode called Breakthrough. The number of troops and vehicles is determined by how quickly the paratroopers took out the long-range artillery in the last round.
When day three begins, the map changes to a bombed-out version of Rotterdam where the players see the destruction from the early bombing runs. This operation could end on this day if the attackers achieve a decisive victory. But if the battle is close, it extends into day four, which in this case is a new Last Stand mode.
Last Stand is the ultimate war of attrition. Ammo is low (you may only start with one magazine), vehicles are scarce to nonexistent, and if a squad is wiped they cannot come back into the match. This puts heavy emphasis on squad coordination to resupply and revive each other.
This is just one example of how DICE could construct a Grand Operation. The developers can modify the modes included, the number of vehicles, and types of weapons at teams' disposal every time they introduce a new one. DICE also plans to use this mode to introduce all the new maps and content coming to Battlefield V over its lifespan, but that content will eventually migrate over to the classic modes like Conquest, Domination, Frontlines, and Team Deathmatch. New (or renamed) modes like Airborne, Last Stand, and Breakthrough will also be available as standalone experiences. We'll play Grand Operations for the first time during EA Play at E3.
Squad Cooperation Matters More Than Ever
As the waning rounds of Grand Operations demonstrated, you really need to work together to emerge victorious in Battlefield V. This is the reasoning behind why players automatically spawn into a squad when joining a match in Battlefield V. You can still opt out of the squad and go lone wolf, but the design stresses cooperation more than ever before, and if you go lone wolf you'll miss out on some tide-turning weapons.
This renewed focus on team play begins with the squad leader, who has more power than ever before. If the designated squad leader isn't issuing orders and another player is continually requesting an assignment, the job will automatically switch to the person showing an interest in getting objectives. As the team performs actions together, they earn squad-reinforcement points over the course of the match. Once they hit certain thresholds, the squad leader then has powerful new tools at their disposal that they can deploy to benefit the team. This includes special vehicles only your squad members can spawn into, supply drops, a smoke barrage to supply cover, and even a V1 rocket you can drop on a tough-to-crack frontline to punch a hole in the defense. The squad leader must weigh this decision and determine whether they want to spend these points early for an immediate benefit, or save them in hopes of unleashing one of those deadly rockets later in the match.
One of the most significant changes to Battlefield V relates to revives. For the first time in the series, all squad members can revive each other, regardless of what class they are using. These "body revives" take much longer, and they leave the saved player with much less health than they would have if a medic did the job. If your downed squad member is out in the open, you can now drag them behind cover before attempting a revive, as well.
The squad spawn revamp lets you page through over-the-shoulder looks at each of your comrades to get a better understanding of what you are getting yourself into. You come to this screen by default instead of going back to the full deploy screen every time – unless your squad is wiped. In that case, new indicators tell you where your teammates plan to spawn so you can more quickly get back on the same page.
Scarcity Changes The Way You Play
In another move to force team play, DICE is taking a new approach to loading out soldiers when they respawn. You still get a few clips of ammo and a grenade, but unless you're an ace shot, don't expect that supply to last very long. You also don't regenerate your full health after taking a bullet, so staying by a medic is going to be key to survival. To help with the resource scarcity, you can always resupply ammo, gadgets, and health on a flag position – provided one has been built there. Bold soldiers can also run to collect ammo off the corpses of their downed enemies as well, keeping them in the fight a bit longer. We're curious to see how these changes affect the scout class. Snipers who like to camp are going to need an ample supply of ammo before they go perch on the ridge. Maybe this will convince more player to PTFO. DICE hopes this new scarcity creates more micro-lulls in the action where squads regroup before pushing forward, lending the play a more measured and tactical rhythm.
Major Gameplay Changes
The list of gameplay changes coming to Battlefield V is long, but let's start with the tool everyone uses the most in the game – guns. DICE is changing how weapons work to reduce the randomness while firing and give each gun a more predictable burst pattern that players can learn over time and eventually master. Where you aim is now where you shoot – no random bullet trajectories going left or right. DICE demoed this new technology on a test range and the variant between burst patterns was dramatically more reliable. This should increase the viability of LMGs for the support class, which can now rip through cover thanks to a new bullet-penetration ballistics system.
Those who like to go heavy have a fun new toy at their disposal in Battlefield V – towing stationary weapons. Now you can attach an AA gun or stationary .50 cal to the back of your tank and drag it to a more strategic location. You can even have one person firing the AA gun on the go while the tank driver is lobbing shells, turning the duo into a mini armored train of sorts.
Grenade spam has been a constant topic in the Battlefield community, and DICE has finally addressed it in a meaningful way by adding the ability to shoot grenades out of the sky or throw them back. Hopefully, this mitigates some of the shrapnel-filled death corridors that have a tendency to develop during battles.
DICE also changed how soldiers move through the environment, adding a layer of realism to wading through water or running through mud. If a player is trudging through shallow water, the soldiers will now lift their legs higher. Running on mud or rocks may cause your soldier to slip slightly, and they now charge into cover with full physicality, violently banging their bodies on the cover when running to the position. The environment also reacts to soldier movements in realistic ways. If you are moving quickly through high grass or shrubbery, enemies may see the blades or bushes moving.
Soldiers have more varied options when going prone as well. Dropping quickly to prone, you can now land on your side to keep your aim in a particular direction. You can backpedal while prone, and even turn 360 degrees. This will be handy when you are positioned in a building but need to get a look at who is approaching up the stairs.
The last major change DICE teased is a revamped spotting system. You can no longer just spam the spotting button to reveal icons all over the map. DICE isn't explaining how the new system works exactly, but we'll get our first look during E3.
Destruction Gets Physical
Destructibility has always been a hallmark of Battlefield, and DICE is introducing some impressive physics-based tweaks to the system in 2018. When shredding buildings to pieces with heavy ammo, you will see it react naturally. Exploding a wall from the inside will send the debris outward, and the decimated parts are now all real pieces of the building, not just pre-rendered chunks. Similarly, blasting a building from the outside will send the debris inward. Some pieces may end up hanging by a thread, eventually succumbing to gravity a bit later should another blast shake it free.
Fortification Counters Destructibility
One of the most interesting new mechanics Battlefield V introduces is fortification. We've all been hiding in a house, only to have a tank shell rip it to pieces and leave us with no cover. Now, soldiers of any class can make fortifications and rebuild parts of these structures. The fortification mechanics even work out in the open – you can deploy sandbags, anti-tank obstacles, barbed wire, resupply centers near flag points, etc.
Support class builds faster and can create more fortifications than the other classes, including stationary machine guns. They can also repair these types of weapons.
EA Choses Live Service Over Paid DLC
The new Tides of War live service replaces the Premium Pass approach from past Battlefield games. Design director Daniel Berlin says DICE has ambitious plans to keep this service evolving. Most content will come in the form of chapters that advance to new fronts of the war, giving the player a deeper context on the breadth of World War II and introducing new modifications to existing modes, new narrative experiences, new cooperative missions, new maps, and new rewards.
The big question this raises: Does this new approach mean a dramatically reduced number of maps? "I can't say anything in terms of numbers, but we are really f---ng dedicated to making sure that this journey in Tides of War is something we're really leaning into," Berlin says. "I can't talk specifics, but there's going to be tons of stuff for you guys."
Dramatically Expanded Customization
For the first time in the Battlefield series, you can now customize your characters from head to toe. As the screenshot above indicates, this even extends to gender – expect to see a lot more female soldiers in the field. Customization options include facial features, hair, face paint, upper torso, pants, and accessories like goggles and gloves. The trailer shows a woman with a mechanical arm, so expect to see some unique offerings.
Guns and vehicles also have dramatically expanded customization options that extend beyond skins. Weapons each have five-to-seven different visual parts you can customize, including the chassis material, muzzles, stocks, scopes, and trinkets. We saw some guns decked out with immaculate marble stocks, and others that looked more DIY, like having foliage bent over the muzzle.
Customization extends beyond the cosmetic and includes perks. Each character class has different archetypes you can purchase with the grind currency to unlock new play styles, and the same goes for tanks. Maybe one of your Tiger tanks is outfitted with heavy armor plating to take more damage, and your other one is outfitted with upgrades that improve its speed and handling.
All your various class characters, weapons, and vehicles can be accessed via your Company page. This is the all-in-one customization hub where players will spend a significant amount of time.
Yes, EA plans to allow players to buy a currency to unlock customization options, but some items will only be achievable by completing specific tasks in-game. DICE also assured us there are no pay-to-win microtransactions that could give a player a leg up on their competition.
This new system spells the end for battlepacks. Instead of these random loot drops, you can buy what you what when you want it.
The expanded Assignment system gives you a lot of ways to earn more currency, including daily orders and more time consuming special assignments. Since not everyone always had the skill to meet special assignment objectives in previous Battlefield games, DICE offers multiple ways to meet the objectives.
Players can show off their customized look in more places than the killcam in Battlefield V. Now when you go in for a melee kill, your opponent sees the whites of your eyes (and your immaculate fashion sensibilities). You can also get an up-close look at your teammates when they rush to revive you.
War Stories Return
Battlefield 1's approach to single-player content won over fans and critics alike with its focused, short-story-style war missions that gave you a deeper glimpse into the lives of the various soldiers fighting the good fight across many fronts. War Stories return in Battlefield V as well, though DICE isn't going into much detail about the breadth of content available just yet. All we know is they are inspired by real events and intended to "make people feel something," as senior producer Lars Gustavsson says. We did get a brief tease of one story featuring a Norwegian woman who puts her life at risk to save her family. Expect to hear more about War Stories as we get closer to launch.
Introducing Combined Arms, A New Cooperative Mode
For years, DICE has searched for a new way to onboard players to its impressively deep but sometimes hard to understand intricacies of Battlefield multiplayer. This year, the studio hopes to bridge the gap between single player and multiplayer for good with a new four-player cooperative mode called Combined Arms. DICE built a mission generator that allows the team to customize new experiences quickly in a variety of environments. One mission may have you parachute behind enemy lines and try to stay undetected as your squad moves through objectives. When the mission gets hairy, you will have a tough decision to make: Do you extract to keep everything you have gained to that point, or tough it out to try and retrieve the big reward at the final objective?
By introducing squad mechanics in a PvE space, DICE hopes this properly acclimates new players, while giving veteran soldiers a fresh experience at the same time. All the things you unlock in Combined Arms feed into your company.
Classes Are Being Rebalanced
Battlefield V introduces some significant changes to the class system because of the new systems being introduced in the game. "We're adding stuff to the sandbox, meaning the fortification system and towing, and we're adding more abilities to the player – how they can interact with the world and they can shoot grenades in the sky or throw them back, or backpedal and all these things," Berlin says. "With these new ingredients added to the sandbox, we are doing a rebalancing phase as well to make it fit this new formula."
The Battlefield V Play First trial begins October 11 on Xbox One and PC. Players who buy the deluxe edition can join the fray on October 16, and the standard edition launches on October 19 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Posted on 23 May 2018 | 8:44 pm
The story behind Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle predates its announcement, when a blurry image of the game leaked out onto the internet and set Nintendo fan expectations to a level of nervous excitement at best. When the game was officially revealed and released, players saw that the synchronicity between the two licenses and how well they gelled together, with our own Jeff Marchiafava declaring "it ended up being my favorite Mario game in recent years." Earlier this year, Ubisoft and Nintendo announced a Donkey Kong-themed DLC expansion for this game with a new world and new characters and we got a chance to try the new content out.
In the main game, Rabbid Donkey Kong served as the boss of the first world and was ultimately defeated thanks to Rabbid Peach dismantling a tower and pushing the lagomorph-ape down a cliff. The DLC shows that Rabbid Kong ended up falling into the world's reality-bending washing machine, sending him to Donkey Kong's island. Later on, Rabbid Peach also ends up in the washing machine, inadvertently also following to a Donkey Kong Island that has been taken over by Rabbid Kong with the power of corrupted bananas.
Donkey Kong, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Cranky join forces to take down Rabbid Kong and his hierarchy of magic banana-powered mafioso beneath him.
The island's titular Kong is the real star of the party as he functions differently from pretty much every character in the main game. Rather than dashing through enemies or jumping off teammates, Donkey Kong picks up friend and foe alike and thus becomes a gamechanger for mobility and defense on the battlefield. The large rabbids who aggressively stalked your team and got closer to doing massive melee damage with each attack are made almost trivial by Donkey Kong's ability to pick them up and throw them out of the way. Throwing teammates closer to objectives or within skill range can also totally shake up how you use your long-range squad members.
A further upgrade in the skill tree also allows Donkey Kong to pluck enemies in the ground that are waiting to spawn the next turn, allowing you to get a leg-up on damaging them before they get to you. Donkey Kong's ability to traverse the battlefield is also unparalleled, with special vine platforms introduced in this new world that allow DK to swing around the stage in ways plumbers could only dream of.
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The DLC is much of what you remember from the main game, rewarding creativity and speed in achieving your goals. Thankfully, the Donkey Kong DLC expands upon the existing mission types and introduces things like objective destruction to help vary it up. An early mission has your team attacking and destroying bunches of corrupted bananas, giving players who have mastered Donkey Kong's movement options a chance to strut their stuff.
While our demo finished after a few battles, the game is both more of the surprisingly good main game with its own small twists and changes. Moving around as Donkey Kong and basketball free throwing enemies into each other or into teammates' range is genuinely fun and hopefully the DLC has a satisfying challenge progression to keep it fun through the whole expansion.
The Donkey Kong DLC is part of the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle season pass or will be available on its own for $14.99. You can also find footage of us playing the game in the New Gameplay Today episode right here.
Posted on 22 May 2018 | 3:00 pm
Soulcalibur VI is set for later this year and the time travel/semi-reboot is slowly introducing a lot of fan favorites. This time, longtime Soulcalibur alumnus Yoshimitsu is back with a new armor design. Check him out in action below.
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The often off-kilter samurai is still as strange as ever and incorporates a lot of his favorite moves from previous games. He also appears to have a super where he removes the opponent's soul, slashes it with a sword, and then puts it back in the body. It feels like that should be a round ender, at the least.
Soulcalibur VI is scheduled for release this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Posted on 18 May 2018 | 9:38 pm
Nintendo and Bandai Namco are teaming up to bring an HD port of the activity-filled family game to Switch, complete with a few bonuses.
Go Vacation is essentially Bandai Namco's take on Wii Sports Resort, featuring over 50 mini-games including scuba diving, tennis, horseback riding, and snowball fights (it's a very diverse island). Up to four players can partake in the activities together, and you can also own and customize your own villa with hundreds of different pieces of furniture. Nintendo has a variety of daily content lined up as well, including different costumes and dog companions you can collect, as well as daily challenges.
Go Vacation originally launched to mediocre reviews on the Wii in 2011, but the Switch port will include a few new surprises, including fishing and over 40 different animal types that you can photograph. For a taste of the other activities you can expect, watch the trailer below.
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Go Vacation launches on the Switch on July 27.
Posted on 18 May 2018 | 5:51 pm
Kingdom Hearts bring a special excitement with it. Whether you get giddy at the sight of Disney characters or have spent the last 16 years piecing together every intricate detail of its spiraling plot, a new mainline entry in the series brings a certain level of fervor. Every new reveal is dissected, theories are born, and cheers (sometimes even tears) pour from fans after seeing Sora and company on screen for a new adventure. This franchise has brought a lot of people joy; it has also left them hanging to see the final chapter in the Xehanort arc. After slowly trickling out information and showing off some worlds, in particular Pixar’s Toy Story and Monsters Inc., Square Enix finally allowed hands-on for the game at a recent press event in Santa Monica. For a game that always seems off in the distance, this was a big step, making its 2018 release window seem not so far off.
Raining On A Titan’s Parade
In Kingdom Hearts III, everything is bigger, with more detailed environments and a speedier feel. Think of it as a cross between Dream Drop Distance’s Flowmotion and Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, where you have to use the world around you to get the jump on enemies alongside comboing your heart out to unleash special attacks. The demo first placed me in a boss battle with a titan at Olympus Coliseum. I quickly notice movement is much more fluid and the increased verticality for this entry really shows. Sora can run up walls in a jiffy, and in one sequence, must consider his speed and placement as the titan throws huge boulders to deter his progress up the wall. That being said, be prepared for the poor camera that’s plagued the series since its inception.
Soon, I’m attacking the titan’s humongous feet in hopes of stunning him so I can attack his most vulnerable areas. The key to dealing major damage is using keyblade transformations, attractions, and links. Sora’s keyblade transformations occur by building up combos. Early keyblades only have two transformations, but later in the game, you get three. In this fight, I often activate his second form, which issues a stun impact. In another instance, I trigger Goofy shot, spinning and flinging him at the enemy. Attractions are only available at certain points and can also be activated by building up combos. Big Magic Mountain is the attraction option for this battle. Once activated by pressing a button when the prompt appears on screen, you get to do basic attacks with the attraction, before pulling off your big finisher, which has you trying to line up your shot in a smaller area to hit the target for increased damage. At first, the window seems small to get it perfect for optimal damage, but I do better on another playthrough.
Links have now taken the place of summons and can be activated by using the d-pad. This fight is early in the game, so the only link I have is Wonder Balloon, which features Dream Eater Meow Wow, who fans know from Dream Drop Distance. Combos flow quickly and build up to specials at a speedy rate. You also want to use magic in your combos, because it gives you access to higher spells like Firaga. Before I know it, the titan is stunned and I must climb him, which is another speedy process of jumping from one gold orb to the next, to deal a deadly blow to his head. It sure feels like a Kingdom Hearts fight, damaging this larger-than-life foe by taking out specific body parts.
Enter The World Of Toy Story
The Toybox in Andy's Room is the next area where the demo takes place, and later has us escaping to Galaxy Toys. Although we saw a lot of this footage last year at D23, this is our first look at the English voice acting. It’s worth noting that the actors who originally voiced these characters are mostly absent, such as Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks as Woody. That being said, the performances do justice to these characters and match up well with the original film’s voiceovers. In Andy’s room, I face off against Heartless dressed as toys, and it’s my first real look at the power of the Infinity keyblade, which can transform into a deadly hammer that lets you knock your enemy around, making you feel as powerful as Thor. Another transformation lets you fly an unwieldy rocket with Buzz and Woody in tow, lining up your attacks to crash directly into the enemy. I also get a look at the Mad Teacups attraction here, which is just as fun as you’d expect it to be. You control the direction as it spins rapidly to knock into baddies. I should also mention parties are no longer regulated to three characters. Buzz, Woody, Donald, and Goofy can all fight with Sora at the same time.
Since this is further in the game, this is my first look at the Wreck-It Ralph and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel links. Wreck-It Ralph’s 8-Bit Blast link lets you lunge forward and topple over enemies, similar to a gorilla. He can also build. The more blocks he creates, the higher the damage he deals. Ariel’s Lagoon Showtime lets her dive and throw enemies into the air, and then you can attack them using the splash command. Her finisher is a beautiful sequence of her teaming up with Sora for a water-filled attack.
Once we enter Galaxy Toys, I get my hands on the Gigas for the first time. These are mechs that Sora can battle and control. Three different Gigas are in this demo, all with special attacks, such as the ability to launch canons, create explosions, and tackle enemies to the ground. The mechs control really well and were one of my favorite additions in the demo. Each has their aforementioned special attack, but you can also fire your guns and have a punch option to line up a hit that can make the enemy fall. If your Giga takes too much damage, you can always eject and enter another one on the battlefield. This level also has you riding on rails. Each is a different color that leads to various areas, as we saw in Dream Drop Distance. In this level, we do everything from finding a way to new areas through vents to running around on a record player to get musical toys to perform. We also fight a good variety of enemies, such as those called “Monstrous Monsters” and a creepy doll boss.
I also use this time to test out more keyblades. The Monsters Inc. keyblade, called Smile Gear, transforms into agile claws (it’s just like what it sounds like) and twin yo-yos that spin with speed to damage baddies. The Ever After Keyblade from Tangled gives you access to a flowery mirage staff, but the big highlight is its finisher which features Rapunzel’s tower and her teaming up with three Soras to damage an enemy. Speaking of Rapunzel, what they’ve done with her hair is amazing. She holds a great deal of it, with some of the excess she can’t carry flowing on the ground; she also has some mean attacks she can do with her hair. I also manage to unlock another attraction: the pirate ship, which just like the ride sways back and forth into enemies.
So far, it’s hard to say just how the rest of the game will shape up. I like how much smoother combat feels, and there’s certainly a lot of bombastic action going on at every turn. Sometimes keeping track of all the keyblade transformations and activating them accordingly has you watching your action commands more than paying attention to what’s happening in front of you. I have no doubt this will take some adjustment time. My other observation is just how detailed the environments are and how fun it is to explore them. For instance, Galaxy Toys housed a cool video game section and even had a nod to Dissidia, the Final Fantasy fighting game spin-off. Even the fun interactions between characters I love are here. At one point, the whole party inhales helium to have high-pitched voices for a fun, optional dialogue. The game plays very in line with what Square Enix has said they wanted to achieve, from going bigger and incorporating various elements from past entries. I just hope we have a release date soon. It sounds like Square Enix may have more information for us in June.
Posted on 18 May 2018 | 1:00 pm
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12, and will not feature a traditional single-player campaign. However, players will be able to engage with some other modes that have traditionally been limited to multiplayer as solo players, as well as embrace a story that takes place between Black Ops 2 and 3 via single-player missions that focus on multiplayer specialist training. At a Call of Duty community event in Los Angeles today, many aspects of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 have been unveiled.
Black Ops 4 features grounded combat, "boots on the ground" for those familiar with the franchise. This means (with some exceptions due to special abilities on the "specialists" or classes) that there won't be any boosting around or wall running. Instead, weapons get some additional time in the spotlight - each weapon will have unique attachments (instead of broad attachments for a family of guns), including an operator mod. Operator mods add a good deal of differentiation to a weapon. For example, one operator mod might enable suppressing fire that could inhibit enemy vision as the gun lays down a salvo.
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Predictive recoil is in - meaning, you can sit and learn exactly how a gun is going to respond and master a weapon's kick. Healing is NOT automatic as it is in most other Call of Duty titles, and must be manually initiated, leaving you vulnerable to attack as your heal ticks up. Some specialists, like the medic, can assist with healing on the fly. Fog of war plays a role on the minimap – things like surpressed weapons are even more valuable since they won’t break the fog, and another specialist, the recon, can help disperse the fog for the whole team. Another specialist can lay down invaluable cover and razor wire to thwart enemy movement into an area. Still other specialist abilities include the reactor core ability which lets you punish any enemies in an area, allowing you to effectively practice area denial. All of these specialist skills look to help competitive multiplayer CoD become more of a team effort and less of a killfest. Don’t worry, scorestreaks are still there! Learning to play a specialist? Single-player missions server as both tutorials and story vessels for those looking for a bit more narrative before digging into multiplayer mayhem.
Zombies, Zombies, and more Zombies
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches with three distinctly different zombie modes. This is a brand new zombie storyline with new characters that draws upon both real and mythological history. Zombie modes feature a 4-player cast as is the standard, but now there are a slew of customization options and a difficulty selection option. Don’t want to play online? No problem, you can now play with bot pals and make your way through the mysteries. If the default difficulty of zombie modes turned you off in the past, you can now select a range of difficulty options to make the undead massacre a touch more friendly. Looking to compete? Zombie players can now use sharable codes (similar to seeds) that let them handle the same challenge and compete for the best scores. In addition, constant updates are scheduled to roll out to zombie mode over time, including seasonal events known as callings.
In one mode, we see our protagonists battling in a gladiatorial arena with melee weapons against a swarm of zombies that seem to have been summoned by an ancient sun-worshipping Egyptian cult. The protagonists use maces, swords, and more as a giant boss zombie bursts into the fray. Treyarch didn’t comment on any details on this mode but as is the standard for Treyarch zombies, it looks massively bizarre and quite interesting.
We get a slightly better look at another mode called the Voyage of Despair, which takes place on the Titanic. Things go a slightly different than the historical iceberg tragedy as a heist turns into an insane barrage of the undead on the ship as the crew are turning into abominations. Showcased are various player abilities that lead me to think that in this mode each character may have its own special skills instead of just being a voice and an avatar.
The last zombie mode is called Blood of the Dead, and we don’t really know anything about this one yet.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode (current player support count unknown) is Blackout. This mode features a map 1,500 times larger than your typical Call of Duty multiplayer map alongside characters from the entire Black Ops franchise (including zombies). Even more interesting is that this mode includes vehicles of all kinds – ground, air, and sea. In an extremely short teaser trailer, we do see some helicopters dishing out some firepower - but it was more conceptual than anything, and we'll likely have to wait for any footage or details for this mode.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is releasing on PC on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform, the first for the series and the only game other than Destiny to currently share the hallowed halls of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and more. This has exciting prospects for social support and systems, and even more exciting is that PC players can expect uncapped framerate. Aww yeah.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 may not have a traditional single-player campaign, but I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of a CoD serving up a wealth of multiplayer modes that have tons of depth. We’ll see what happens as we head toward release on October 12.
Posted on 17 May 2018 | 6:00 pm
Driving in games has always been meant to feel freeing, giving players the opportunity to cast off the bonds of traffic and speed limits and roads for complete feeling up until the nearest body of water or wall or extremely off-road terrain. Racing games thus design around these issues, giving you inaccessible terrain to keep you on the course. Where Ubisoft's newest stab at open world racing wants to differentiate itself is how quickly it allows you to circumvent these designs.
With a push of the button, players can change their vehicle in The Crew 2, switching between planes, boats, and automobiles with the same speed as changing weapons in Assassin's Creed. This does, of course, mean that you're taking ramps from the highway and switching to a boat in midair to land in a river and continue up that way. You can also switch to a plane, fly all the way to the top of your vertical limit, turn into a car, and aim for the road.
This switching speaks to a playground mentality of The Crew 2 that differentiates it from the first game. Developer Ivory Tower is crafting a much more playful atmosphere from the underlying mechanics all the way to the story. Gone is the morose crime family story of the previous game, replacing avenging the murder of a family member with getting more social media followers by winning more races and doing more tricks.
This makes The Crew 2 a decidedly lighter narrative and on the whole more narrative-light. Progress is determined by endearing yourself to multiple families who obsess over disciplines in plane tricks, car driving, and boat racing of different stripes. As a rising superstar, the player unlocks new vehicles and further competitions like street racing and off-roading by spending the requisite money.
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Once the player earns enough followers with each family, there's a multi-vehicle race event held by an extreme sports organization. Players go from racing speedboats, to navigating shipyards on a BMX bike, to racing through the city in quick succession and changes for each event. These races are thrilling and fun and I hope are more common than they seem.
This illustrates a line in The Crew 2 where the game can be separated between its designed races, segments where you're pushing around competitors to shave off a second from your total time, and a genuine sense of relaxing and almost meditative calm from doing literally anything else. Flying over a peaceful countryside, boating along an idyllic lake, inviting a friend and watching them do donuts in the desert, The Crew 2 occasionally feels like an experience to which you can measure your resting heart rate.
There are still some concerns, however. Though the story of the first game felt laughable in its seriousness, the lack of narrative hooks to the sequel feel mildly demotivating at the same time. I'm unsure what the sweet spot is for story in a game like this, but I don't feel like Ivory Tower and Ubisoft have cracked the code yet. While I enjoyed flying around in the plane, it also changed the least of any of vehicles, and I felt like I was just doing the same trick events over and over.
Despite that, I am excited to play more of The Crew 2. There is a spark here that the original game did not possess and I can't wait to explore more of it when the game releases on June 29 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Posted on 16 May 2018 | 4:00 pm
Mario Tennis Aces is shaping up to be a solid offering in the series, and if you're looking try it out for yourself, you're in luck.
Nintendo has announced the arcadey sports game will be getting a free demo from June 1 through 3. The demo consists of both offline and multiplayer modes, with a nice little incentive for online players: A small tournament between demo players in which the winners unlock more characters to play as by earning points.
The four starting characters in the demo are Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Bowser, but Nintendo has not announced who else players might unlock. Finally anyone who plays the demo (offline or online) will unlock Mario's classic outfit in the main game once it hits on June 22.
Additionally, the company has also released a new trailer, showing off the various ways the adventure mode plays around with the base tennis, including teleportation mirrors, extra nets, and Shy Guys.
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Posted on 15 May 2018 | 7:26 pm
Bethesda has been hosting a week-long campaign teasing Rage 2 after Walmart leaked the game's existence. Yesterday the publisher officially announced the game with a live-action clip, and today we finally got a peak at gameplay.
You can watch the trailer in all its tire-burning, slobbering mutant glory right here:
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Bethesda says that you'll be playing as a ranger named Walker and that "you'll have to rage for justice and freedom" as you take on gangs and a bloodthirsty authoritarian power. The publisher also characterizes Rage 2, developed by Avalanche Studios (Just Cause, Mad Max) as a shooter/open-world hybrid where you can take on foes with upgradeable weapons, powers, and any vehicle you can get your hands on.
Rage 2 arrives in 2019. Bethesda will reveal more about the game at its E3 showcase this year on June 10.
For more on Rage, check out our review of the original Rage here.
Posted on 15 May 2018 | 2:05 pm
Wargroove is shaping up to be a neat little tactics game, and the game's recently announced weather system should make battles a little more harrowing and dynamic.
According to Chucklefish, the weather system consists of three weather types: sunny, windy, and severe. While the first two are self-explanatory, what "severe" depends on a particular map's biome, and can consist of rain, snow, or sandstorm (so no snow in the desert and now sandstorms in a forested village).
How do these effects change battle? When it's windy, boats will be able to move further, archers will be able shoot farther, and flying units like dragons will deal more damage. Severe weather instead limits units, meaning would-be commanders will have to be more careful when building their gameplan.
Chucklefish is still messing around with individual effects and settings, but you can see weather in action in gif form on the company's official site or below. If you'd rather just keep it simple, you can turn off weather entirely in the game's multiplayer settings.
Posted on 13 May 2018 | 7:10 pm
Later this year, Koji Igarashi's Bloostained: Ritual of the Night is heading for release. Before that happens, however, Igarashi has yet another Bloodstained coming out, and it's releasing this month.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an 8-bit, Castlevania throwback. You play as Zangetsu, a demon slayer with a vengeance who travels through an ominous land to defeat a powerful demon. Zangetsu will meet other characters along the way, who can join your party to help you defeat enemies on your journey.
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Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was promised as a stretch goal for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $5.5 million.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is coming out on May 24 and will cost $9.99. Those who backed Ritual of the Night on Kickstarter for more than $28, however, receive it for free. It's coming to a slew of platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Vita, 3DS, and PC.
Posted on 12 May 2018 | 6:46 pm
Today, Nintendo made a big announcement about Capcom's successful action/RPG franchise. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is coming to Switch, and its release date is only a few months away.
Monster Hunter Generations originally hit 3DS back in 2016, and many diehards were hoping the Switch version, which released a year ago in Japan, would make its way to our shores. Thankfully, that's now a reality. Generations Ultimate is an HD port and expansion of the 3DS version.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate holds the basic gameplay loop that fans have adored, which includes hunting monsters and customizing their avatars with their parts. However, due to the game launching last year in Japan, don't expect this version to contain the enhancements, such as the more accessible controls, from Monster Hunter: World. That being said, you still can hunt with up to three other players online to take down the biggest and hardest foes.
Our own Dan Tack loved the 3DS version for its variety of bosses and landscapes, as he wrote in his review: "While Monster Hunter can be distilled down into a basic loop of hunt, gather, upgrade, micromanage inventory and Palico perks, rinse and repeat, the process is quite satisfying as the “boss barrage” continues to serve up interesting encounters across snowfields, volcanos, and lush islands."
Nintendo also provided a trailer for the announcement, which you can watch below.
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Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate hits Switch on August 28. This is the series' first foray on the console, giving players the option to hunt on the go or on the big screen.
Posted on 10 May 2018 | 4:45 pm
Konami has officially revealed details regarding this year's installment in its long-running Pro Evolution Soccer series – proving that an earlier leak promising new licensed leagues and major changes to the series' MyClub and Master League modes was true.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 comes out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 28 in the Americas with Barcelona and Brazilian national team star Philippe Coutinho as the cover star. The game comes in Standard, David Beckham, and Legend Edition varieties, with pre-order gifts for the digital version. For more info on the game and its different versions versions head over to the official Konami site.
We'll get our hands on the title at E3 in June, and can not only size up the gameplay but hopefully get a tour of the revamped Master League.
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Posted on 9 May 2018 | 2:40 pm
Rockstar is capping off its week of Red Dead Redemption 2 content drops with a small batch of screenshots.
In the four screens revealed via a twitter, Facebook, and Instragram, you can see the members of the Van der Linde gang interacting in various ways. In one shot, Sadie Adler and Bill Williamson exchange a few words, and you can check out some of how detailed the game's horses are. Another shot shows most of the crew celebrating around a campfire, while another shows Arthur Morgan shooting someone dead inside a building as the sun beams down on the town and seeps through the windows. You can check out all ten screens below.
Rockstar has been busy unveiling various parts of Red Dead Redemption 2. Earlier this week, it premiered the third trailer for its highly-anticipated open-world game, revealing the members of Dutch's gang, even revealing that yes, John Marston would indeed show up. Later the company unveiled some of the game's various aspects, including the changes it's planning for the sequel, such as a narrower distinction between main and side quests, an larger emphasis on taking care of your crew and horse, and, well, even more incredible vistas and detailed faces.
Posted on 6 May 2018 | 4:26 pm
White Owls and Swery, the creator of games like Deadly Premonition and D4, have released the first trailer of The Good Life.
The game was funded on Kickstarter yesterday with the campaign ending later today officially. To celebrate, the developers have released a story trailer today, named the STROY trailer at release, that is certainly early. The text captions are full of typos and the gameplay is decidedly nascent. You can check out the trailer below.
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The mystery adventure game is set for release on PlayStation 4 and PC with a Switch version as a possible stretch goal.
Posted on 4 May 2018 | 9:52 pm
Today, IGN and The Telegraph dropped the most comprehensive overviews yet of Rockstar Games' next open-world western, Red Dead Redemption II. The blitz of coverage is definitely worth checking out yourself, but we also wanted to surface our biggest takeaways after wrangling up the written and video features.
Another Generational Leap In Open World Design
We have yet to see the game in action ourselves, but judging from impressions of the first live demo, it sounds like Rockstar is taking another big step forward in its design. By strengthening the connective tissue between the myriad systems driving the game, the studio is dissolving the visible stitches between gameplay, cinematics, missions, and emergent play to make it feel like a more seamless experience. The world and characters are constantly aware of Morgan's presence, and the player has a new level of agency when interacting with them.
Red Dead Redemption II doesn't transition away from the game camera into cutscenes when talking to characters, and new missions arrive organically through conversation, not necessarily creating distinctions between golden path story missions and side missions. They are simply activities that present themselves as you live in this world.
Players have more control over how these interactions play out as well. Depending on the circumstance, the player has multiple contextual options for engagement. Upon first coming across a person, Morgan could act politely, intimidate, or even rob them. How the person reacts depends on their disposition. They also take note of whether Morgan's weapon is holstered and react accordingly.
No Protagonist Swapping
Coming off the massive success of the Grand Theft Auto V story, you couldn't fault Rockstar for going back to the well of giving players control of multiple characters. But Rockstar has other designs for Red Dead Redemption II; this time players control Arthur Morgan through the entire story. As gang leader Dutch van der Linde's righthand man, Morgan shoulders a lot of the responsibility for keeping this rag-tag group of outlaws together. Though he's a murderer and thief, IGN's impressions made it sound like he's also a likable character that many in the gang look up to, and he treats them like family. Ultimately, it's up to the player how honorable this outlaw will act throughout the story.
The Outlaw Camp Is Your Mobile Hub
After a Blackwater heist goes awry, the van der Linde gang is on the run for the vast majority of the game. As such, don't expect to take up residence in a town like a respectable citizen. Instead, the gang sets up camp on the outskirts of the area they happen to be in at that juncture of the narrative. This social hub is where the players get to know the rest of the gang members, which includes familiar faces like Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella, and Dutch, plus several new personalities as well. The blonde, female outlaw seen in the last two trailers is Sadie Adler. The old man telling stories around the campfire is Hosea Matthews, one of Dutch's oldest acquaintances. The scraggly blonde who tells Morgan that sometimes brothers make mistakes is Micah Bell. Players choose the degree to which they interact with these characters, and will go on missions with unique combinations of them throughout the game.
The camp has resource demands that need to be met, but it's up to the player if they want to take time out of their day to hunt for a fresh supply of meat or stay the course on their current activity. Expect your fellow campers to comment on your contributions or lack thereof. This camp evolves over time as the gang travels deeper into the Old West.
Keeping Your Horse Alive Matters
Horses were very gamified in Red Dead Redemption. You could whistle anywhere in the world and your steed would gallop to your side, and breaking in your horse only took a short while. Red Dead Redemption II amps up the realism in this department. The more you ride, feed, and groom your horse, the deeper the bond between you two forms. This is critical for the horse becoming more comfortable in precarious situations like shootouts and coming across nature's most formidable predators. If you bond is weak, the horse may throw you off its back and take off away from the threat, taking your supplies and best weapons along with it. This makes training your horse (and keeping them alive) a critical component to RDR II. Should your horse die, you must start this process over again with another thoroughbred.
Exciting New Locations
We know Red Dead Redemption II returns to some familiar locations like Blackwater, but you can also expect to visit several new areas as well, including snowy mountains, deep south swamps, and even industrialized cities. This demo took place in a region called New Hanover, which featured rivers, forests, and mountains of its own. IGN said these areas all felt teeming with life. Flies buzzed around the forests, farmers herded sheep over rolling pastures, and the small town of Valentine bustled with activity, especially after the gang robbed its bank and the lawmen chased them into the countryside.
Posted on 3 May 2018 | 7:01 pm
Ever since its cinematic trailer reveal at E3 last year, fans have been eager to learn more about Beyond Good and Evil 2. A livestream in December showed off character and ship customization, as well as concept art. Today, another livestream gave us some details about the upcoming space pirate adventure, including gameplay footage, answering fans' questions, and giving a breakdown of Beyond Good and Evil 2's timeline of events.
Ubisoft's Guillaume Brunier (senior producer), Emile Morel (associate creative director), and Michel Ancel (creative director) took part to give this overview. They mentioned the continued success of the Space Monkey Program (a community-driven initiative where fans give feedback about the game's development) and how more Ubisoft studios are collaborating on the project. Additions include Ubisoft's studios in Sofia, Barcelona, and soon Bordeaux will work on it too.
You can view the timeline of Beyond Good and Evil 2's world events below. We are explained some history leading up to the golden age of piracy, which is when Beyond Good and Evil takes place. The game is a prequel to the first title, and is set before the birth of Jade. Here is the breakdown Ubisoft shared:
2040: On Earth, humankind is experiencing a golden age of science. One of the most notable inventions is a propulsion engine that allows us to cover huge distances in space and colonize distant planets.
2063: A crisis occurs. Earth's advanced technology backfires and attacks humanity.
2086: The first talking hybrid, who is the pig/human Pey'j, is created. He was Jade's companion in the first entry.
2108: Humankind is forced to leave Earth, and expeditions are made to different solar systems. Humans start to colonize System 3.
2225: System 3 is where Beyond Good and Evil 2 takes place. At this point, the Ganesha City that is largely influenced by Indian culture is built. Ubisoft teases that Beyond Good and Evil 2 takes place in one solar system, but it will have a "few surprises."
2314: A mysterious giant ship is attacked and there is a massacre. This is one of many bizarre events that unfold during this time, and is a big part of the main storyline.
2360: We enter a golden age of piracy. Beyond Good and Evil 2 puts you in the shoes of a space pirate who travels around recruiting crewmembers.
????: Though this section isn't dated, the team mentions that later on, Jade is born.
Following the reveal of this timeline, Ancel was quick to mention that it's a "working document" and that certain details could change as they inch towards release.
About mid-way through the stream, Ubisoft showed off some pre-alpha gameplay footage. The clip is short and doesn't show much, but it does give us a better idea about what spaceship travel looks like as well as combat. Take a look for yourself below.
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Following the demo, Ancel explains that "everything is connected." Nothing in the demo is scripted. "You can have a fight inside a spaceship that’s being attacked," he says. "At one point Knox [a character we met in the announcement trailer] is in a huge spaceship. He could fight inside or try to escape."
During battle, you can use your jetpack to dodge attacks or evade conflict completely. He also describes that exploration throughout the solar system will be seamless with no loading screens.
At the end of the stream, there was a brief Q&A period where the team responded to fans' questions. One of the questions was whether we would be given answers to Beyond Good and Evil 1's cliffhanger or if it would be left unexplained. Ancel responded with "yes and no." While the team isn't going to tell us what happens after the cliffhanger, certain mysteries surrounding it will become clearer as we explore the world's origins.
Ubisoft teases that the team is heavily focused on E3, and that we can expect some bigger reveals next month during the show. For more on Beyond Good and Evil 2, read our preview from last year's E3.
Posted on 3 May 2018 | 5:55 pm
The last time we saw Vampyr, we got to check out the game's version of 1918 London, which was roiling from the effects of the Spanish flu. Today, Dontnod is showing a bit more personality – or, at least, the personality conflict between Jonathan Reid's duties as a doctor and his needs as bloodthirsty vampire.
Players have to find their own balance between humanity and depravity, as they choose to help the citizenry or consume them to gain access to terrifying vampiric powers. These choices will have rippling effects throughout the world and storyline, so players should at least weigh the possible outcomes before baring their fangs.
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Vampyr is coming to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 5.
Posted on 3 May 2018 | 2:54 pm
Rockstar just rolled into town with the latest Red Dead Redemption II trailer, and it's packed to the brim with an information overload that our Red Dead fanatics have been working all morning to unpack. Here are the biggest takeaways from Rockstar's latest glimpse into its return to the Old West.
Familiar Faces Everywhere
The last two trailers showcased mostly new faces. This one served as a reunion with some of our favorite characters from the original game, including freshly scarred John Marston and a woman we're 99.9 percent sure is Abigail. It looks like Uncle shows up as well, sitting around the campfire during story time. You can peek at a younger Javier Escuella in some scenes as well. However, the most interesting cameo has to be a fellow who looks a lot like a younger not-so-scummy-yet Edgar Ross, standing off in the background, complete with a mustache and bowler hat. There's no sign of his trademark cigar, though.
Dutch's Gang Takes Center Stage
The history of John's time with Dutch's gang wasn't just some background history in the original game, but also the impetus for everything that happens in Red Dead Redemption, with John and the rest of his former crew trying to escape the sins of the old days. It looks we'll find out just what those sins are and how new protagonist Arthur Morgan fits into the whole thing, per a plot synopsis Rockstar released alongside the new trailer:
America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed.
After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang must rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.
From the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age.
You can see what we presume is the full size of the gang in the shot above. One thing we do know is that at the start of RDR, the only gang members left were John, Abigail, Dutch, Bill Williamson, and Javier Escuella. Expect to see the herd thin dramatically in this game.
Not So Back To The Future
During the last breakdown we did, we latched on to several clues that suggested Red Dead Redemption II might be hopping along the timeline, taking place in the days of Dutch's gang as well as serving as an epilogue of the original game. Nothing in the new trailer suggests that theory holds. On the contrary, this collection of scenes pushes back against that. The woman we theorized could be Bonnie McFarlane last time is probably not her after all, given there are scenes in the trailer where she's running with Dutch and crew.
A Glimpse At The New Antagonist
Though Edgar Ross shows up in Red Dead II, it appears the rival this go-round is an unnamed dude who's a cross between a fire-and-brimstone preacher and the kind of villain you'd see in an Indiana Jones flick, with Ross possibly working under him. We have no idea what his particular beef with Dutch's crew is yet, but he definitely has anger issues.
A Bigger City?
We see Blackwater in the trailer, but we also saw glimpses of a burgeoning, turn of the century city of brick and stone featuring the kinds of amusements (like the theater shown above) that not even Blackwater featured in Red Dead Redemption. We're excited to learn more about this new town, which is hopefully filled with activities for you to enjoy. We also saw another glimpse of small-town life in the trailer, which looked much more vibrant than the hamlets of the original. Expect to see NPC activities more on par (or even surpassing) those in GTA V.
The trailer showed Arthur chasing to break in a wild horse, a stagecoach hijacking, another robbery, and folks getting down and dirty with their fists. Chances are these are the kinds of gameplay sequences you can expect to play in RDR II.
The Technology Looks Amazing
Rockstar's always pushing the boundaries when it comes to tech (remember how incredible Grand Theft Auto V looked and ran on aging last-generation hardware?). It looks like Red Dead Redemption II is another step forward for the developer's output in that regard, with impressive fire particle effects, improved horse animations, great weapon details (you can even see the pistol barrel rotate while firing), and awe-inspiring environments and skyboxes.
For more on Red Dead Redemption 2, be sure to check out our breakdown of the previous trailer here.
Posted on 2 May 2018 | 4:43 pm
We've dissected and analyzed the previous two Red Dead Redemption II trailers to extract as much information as possible and formulate theories about the return of the van der Linde gang and potential new features coming to the game. Seven months after the last teaser, Rockstar Games has dropped another slice of gameplay footage to fuel our insatiable thirst for information about the upcoming open-world western.
You can watch the trailer here:
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Red Dead Redemption II is still slated to release on October 26 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Posted on 2 May 2018 | 3:00 pm