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The Art of Monster Crown: Interview w/Shad Shwarck – Lead Designer & Writer of Monster Crown + EXCLUSIVE Monster Reveal

If you have not been following the indie game Monster Crown prior to today, shame on you. Monster Crown has launched a Kickstarter earlier this week and subsequently smashed their goals. With over $11,000 raised and an initial a goal of $5,000 in less than four full days live, Monster Crown is primed to set the world on fire. Shad Shwarck and lead developer Jason Walsh are joining myself and Andy Asimakis on the next episode of Nintendo Duel Screens to talk all about the concept behind Monster Crown. Before that show launches I had the pleasure of sitting down with Shad to talk about the art of Monster Crown and the artistic process behind it all.

Proven Gamer: Hey Shad! First of all, congratulations on smashing your initial goal and then some on Kickstarter. That is an incredible feat!

Shad: Thank you and thank you so much to everyone who helped us out. None of us expected this much positive reception this fast, but we absolutely couldn’t have done it without some awesome fans and supporters of Monster Crown. We can’t wait to share the finished game with everyone. That goes for you guys at Nintendo Duel Screens and Proven Gamer, too!

Proven Gamer: Okay, so, for those who don’t know what Monster Crown is, tell us about it. What is the elevator pitch?

Shad: Monster Crown is a game where you meet, battle, tame, and breed monsters, and through breeding and training can create unique crossbreeds, even so far as discovering combinations other players may never find. Set in a universe where dangerous monsters roam, and the people have only recently started to rebuild their land from a brutal civil war, you find yourself face to face with the echoes of that bloody conflict. It’s up to you and the monsters you’ve contracted to traverse this dangerous world – I can’t say exactly how you’ll face the shadows of the past, and not just to avoid giving too much away – there’s a choice to be made, and you’ll just have to play to see what happens!

Proven Gamer: Man, it is no wonder people are flocking to support you guys. So, with a game of this scale and with all the designs needed, how did you handle that type of scale? What were some of the challenges for you?

Shad: There are a lot of designs needed for sure – I think one of the biggest challenges for handling that is making sure it stays consistent, while avoiding stagnation. You don’t want to make a game that looks like you have a cute round blob with anime eyes next to a realistic, muscular hellbeast that looks like the Predator. Key to handling large projects is to have solid art direction – by deciding guidelines on how visuals should look overall, even designs with a lot of variance look like they belong with each other. For example, monsters for Monster Crown use four colors: black, white, and two others that can be passed on in breeding. Pixel dithering is used to create more intricate shading, but we never exceed that color palette (except in very rare circumstances.) That way, even if you have a small, cute monster next to a big, terrifying nightmare, they still appear like they belong in the same world.

Proven Gamer: Consistency is key, and from what we can see, these monsters all seem to fit together really well.  Did you ever hit a wall artistically? A time where you just looked at the page and simply could not come up with anything? I imagine with all the Pokemon games, Digimon Games, etc, it could be hard coming up with original designs. Would that be fair to say?

Shad: I don’t have too much of a problem coming up with original designs admittedly – it comes fairly easily to me and if something looks too generic or needs some tweaks I don’t feel like that’s too hard. I think I’ve been doing it for so long, I can think through the process quickly. That said, I think the biggest walls I hit are trying to ensure that colors look okay, that I’m coming up with something that will look nice with any available color palette. That, and making some designs work nicely in low resolution – it can be a blessing as much as a curse though, because while on one hand working small-scale can be difficult, it also stretches my design muscles in ways that they wouldn’t get stretched if these monsters were high-res. You can’t fall back on ornamentation or texture at this size – it has to be solid in design and readable at small dimensions.

Yes…yes we would.

Proven Gamer: Shifting gears a little bit – On next week’s episode of Nintendo Duel Screens, releasing Monday 04/16 at 8:00am EST, you mention how you became involved in Monster Crown. It is a really cool story we wont spoil here, but can you tell us why this project is so important to you?

Shad: For one, it’s very fun and challenging and I get to work with incredible and ridiculously talented people. It’s the first time I’ve really had a chance to exercise my design and art muscles on a team project, and I couldn’t possibly ask for a better project to do it on. I’ve always been interested in art direction, writing, and character design, so I am incredibly lucky that I have a hand in all of those.

On a more personal level, I feel video games saved my life – it’s been a dream of mine to share the power video games can have to others by making games myself. Video games are a truly unique medium that immerses their players into a world they not only can lose themselves in visually and audibly, but in a tactile sense. Monster Crown is a very special chance to help create an atmosphere and experience that someone could get lost in and fall in love with; it even one person can feel that magic, can for a little while “move in” to the world of Monster Crown, to feel at home there and forget the real world for a while, that would be the most amazing achievement in my life so far.

Proven Gamer: I bet you don’t have to look very far to find gamers that feel a similar way about video games. Thank you for sharing that. So lets get back into the art of Monster Crown. This game has a very Pokemon-like aesthetic, yet the monsters seem to have a certain edge to them. A darkness. How did you settle on that?

Shad: That aspect was present before I joined the team, but it’s definitely one of the major things that drew me to the project. Both Jason and I are huge fans of creepy, dark, somewhat horror-tinged work, and that’s probably why our creative processes line up so well! We both wanted to instill that childlike wonder that you’d get playing the old Pokémon games – not just merriment, but terror, too. There was so much I didn’t know playing those as a kid, it felt like anything was dangerous and anything was possible. To me it’s just natural to want to instill that on-edge feel when working with a more “retro” aesthetic.

Proven Gamer:  How does the artistic process work? Is it as simple as pencil to paper?

Shad: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on what the specific asset I’m trying to make requires. Some monsters were sketched fully before being sprited. Some were basic doodles that then were fleshed out in spriting, and some were a vague idea that sparked a desire to push pixels around until something looked right. Sometimes multiple iterations are drawn out before deciding on one, but sometimes the first draft only needs a little tweaking. When it comes to things like backgrounds or illustrations, though, I always start with a sketch to ensure composition will be readable and to get the general idea down.

Proven Gamer: So now you have a little treat for our readers – you are going to go over the artistic process step-by-step and reveal a never before seen monster. I can’t wait to see it!

Shad: Neither can I! Here we go!

A simple drawing of two types of creatures that will be combined to make a new monster!

The terrifying reality begins to take shape. 

The sprite art comes to life!

Presto! The final product is a monster the kids of Stranger Things would be terrified of!

Proven Gamer: What a cool process! Thank you for sharing that with us! So with this example the idea seems to be something you toyed around with. Is it always that way or does the design team say “hey I want a monster that does x y and z” and you design from there?

Shad:  It’s a bit a mixture of both – sometimes I come up with an idea and show the team and we decide it’s a good idea and we should put it in, and sometimes we see that certain types of monster or biomes are lacking and I design based on that. I have a lot of free reign over the designs I do, so I’ve never followed any guidelines like “can you make a monster that looks like (animal) that lives in (biome) and does (action)”, but I think maybe it would be fun if I did. I’ll have to ask Jason for some prompts!

Proven Gamer: So… do you have a voice for the characters you design in mind?

Shad: Sometimes – I definitely have a voice in my head for some of the villains and a few of the monsters. Most of them I don’t imagine to have much of a voice at all, so I tend to envision them in their daily lives and see what happens.

Proven Gamer:  So the main monster is Laz is the main monster in the game. What song do you hear when you see him?

Shad: Ooh, can’t say I’ve thought of that! Probably the entire soundtrack to the game OFF. It’s creepy but occasionally fun – Laz is creepy but I find it kind of unnervingly cute too.

Laz – The Reanimated

Proven Gamer: I hear Sad But True by Metallica for some reason. Okay last question –  You have heard the Nintendo Duel Screens theme song 8-Bit Attack by Zazu Pitts – what would a monster design based on that tune look like?

Shad: Hmm.. a round, rooster-like bird (maybe one of those Polish chickens with the fluffy rockstar “hair”) with perhaps piñata paper feathers and a spiked bat in place of a tail comes to mind. Bright and bouncy, but it has an undertone of meaning business. It’s the piñata that strikes back!

Proven Gamer: Thank you so much for doing this!

Shad: You are very welcome! Thank you for inviting me to do this!

That is it folks. Monster Crown can be followed on Twitter and you can back them on Kickstarter as well. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Nintendo Duel Screens feed in Apple PodcastGoogle Play Music or RSS to listen to the interview with Shad and Jason where they talk everything Monster Crown.

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Proven News Wrap-Up: 4/5

News, and subsequently news stories, can be very fluid. With all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes stories will slip through the cracks. Well, the Proven News Wrap-Up is here to fix all that! Below are what we have determined to be the top five stories of the week. Although they are numbered, they are not ranked in any particular order.

1) Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Removes Microtransactions

Although this comes more than six months after the game’s initial release, it still is important that Middle-Earth made this change. Along with Battlefront II, Shadow of War was highly criticized at launch for its use of microtransactions, especially with how it related to the end-game content. With two of the biggest offenders of microtransactions now removing them entirely, hopefully, this is a sign of a new direction that games will be taking with in-game purchasing.

Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™_20170924122957

2) PUBG Tests New Map

One of the major differences early on between Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was new content releases and updates. Fortnite seemed to be pumping out frequent updates to the game, adding new weapons, limited time modes, and costumes. On the flip-side, the updates for PUBG sometimes seemed few and far between. So earlier this week, when PUBG allowed players to get their hands on a new map, everyone was all in. Along with the demo of the new map, they have started special events, similar to Fortnite’s timed game modes. With these two games are leading the way in the Battle Royale space, it is important for PUBG to keep the content rolling out in order to not fall behind.

3) Spider-Man Gets Fall Release Date

Insomniac announcing a release date Spider-Man (September 7) is a big deal on its own merits. The game is shaping up to be a huge success for Sony, with the latest gameplay clips showing off fluid movement, quick and exciting combat, and a tone that fits Spider-Man perfectly. However, if we zoom out and look at the release date as part of the larger picture for Sony, its importance is only amplified. Two of PlayStation’s big hitters, God of War and Detroit: Become Human are coming in the next two months. Putting Spider-Man in the Fall not only gives PlayStation an exclusive for that time window, but also shows the confidence that Sony has in Insomniac to make a top tier, action game. With everything that has been shown of the game so far, it is fair to assume things are swinging in the right direction.

4) Spyro Reignited Trilogy Coming in September

The rumors of a Spyro remaster have been swirling for some time now. It was announced that Spyro The Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon would all be getting remastered for the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, set to launch for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 21. Much like the Crash Bandicoot remasters, I can only hope that this Spyro collection is a sign of testing the waters for a brand new Spyro game. The purple dragon is back!

5) Divinity: Original Sin 2 Coming to Consoles

Divinity: Original Sin 2 will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in August. Although bringing a PC based RPG to consoles can present some tough challenges (controls and interface for example), the chance for having more players get their hands on one of the best RPG’s of the year can only be viewed as a good thing. It has also been announced that the game will have online c0-op up to four players, as well as two-player split-screen co-op.

Did we leave out any of the big stories of the week? Leave them in the comments below!

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Removes Microtransactions

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War will be removing all microtransactions. This will stop players from being able to purchase chests with gold, which were bought using real money.

The changes will go into place in two stages. First, on May 8, players will longer to be able to purchase gold. Then, on July 17, players will no longer be able to use gold to purchase chests. Additionally, it has been announced that there will be narrative and gameplay changes to the post-game content.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Proven Gamer’s Take:

This announcement comes on the heels of EA announcing that they would be removing all changes from Battlefront II. Along with Battlefront, Middle-Earth was one of the other major games that took a lot of heat for its use of microtransactions. Hopefully, this is a sign of changes coming to the way developers shape their post-launch content plans.

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Proven News Wrap-Up: 3/23

News, and subsequently news stories, can be very fluid. With all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes stories will slip through the cracks. Well, the Proven News Wrap-Up is here to fix all that! Below are what we have determined to be the top five stories of the week. Although they are numbered, they are not ranked in any particular order.

1)  Ubisoft Avoids Vivendi Takeover

This has been a slow-burning story that looks like it has finally reached its conclusion. Vivendi, the French media company, had slowly been buying up Ubisoft stock in an attempt to take over the gaming company. Throughout the process, Ubisoft had been looking for ways to prevent this from happening, and they were finally able to. With assistance from Tencent and the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, they were able to buy out the 27.3% of the stock owned by Vivendi. From a gamer’s perspective, Ubisoft maintaining its independence is huge. It allows them to continue to pump-out games from all of their franchises, while still being able to innovate and bring new ideas to the table.

2) Sea of Thieves Shaky Start

When it comes to games with a heavy online component, launch day stability is one of the greatest challenges. Release day for a game is likely when most games will see the heaviest traffic on their infrastructure, with everyone logging on to check out whatever they have been waiting months, if not years, to play. Sea of Thieves, Microsoft’s exclusive pirate game from Rare, was no exception. On the day of its release, Rare had to temporarily stop allowing new players to join the game while dealing with server and connectivity issues.

Server issues like this have become common with game launches, to the point where it is almost expected. It is totally reasonable to say that in time, the servers for Sea of Thieves will stabilize and people will have no issues logging onto the game. However, what is more concerning for Sea of Thieves is the early feedback on the game itself. When joining up with friends, if someone is to join in late, that often requires all players to exit the game and start over. Unbalanced PvP combat gives the advantage to full squads of four (there is also no way to turn off PvP at this time). Combat is reportedly incredibly basic, with sword fights boiling down to who can mash the fastest. The mission structure seems to be very repetitive, with things boiling down to go to a location, find a chest, and return to your outpost (there are also combat based missions that follow a similar thread but instead of a chest, you are tasked with taking out a pirate captain). Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of exclusives, and Sea of Thieves is one that was pushed hard by the company. Let’s hope that content updates and patches can make the game the pirate adventure everyone is looking for.

3) God of War Goes Gold

Yes, games going gold is part of development process and happens to every title that is being developed. However, from its reveal at E3 2016, God of War has felt like it has the potential to be something really special.

On the surface level, God of War seems new and fresh. A new Kratos trying turn the page and become a dad for his son Atreus, a new mythology and world to explore, a new weapon (axe hype!) for Kratos to wield, and a different camera angle and combat mechanics. All of this and more makes God of War stand out from the older games. However, when people got their hands on the game early this week, there was plenty of familiar elements as well. Despite the new camera and controls, combat was still as frantic and brutal as ever. Puzzles still play heavily into the game as well. This balance of old and new gives God of War a chance to be one of the great games of 2018.

4) CD Projekt Red Launches New Studio

The reveal trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 was released back in 2013. Since then, CD Projekt Red has been relatively silent when it comes to breaking news about its new, open-world game. The last activity on the game’s Twitter feed came when they simply tweeted out the word “beep” with no other information or context.

So when it was announced earlier this week that CD Projekt Red had created a new studio, CD Projekt Red Wroclaw to help with the development of Cyberpunk 2077, people, myself included, got excited. Even though there isn’t any news about the game itself along with the announcement of the studio. It is the latest reminder that this game is a real thing that we will get to play at some point. CD Projekt Red is one of the few studios out there that operates on its own schedule. They will show off more of Cyberpunk 2077 when they are good and ready.

5) Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG Go Mobile

I don’t think the announcements of Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds releasing on mobile is a huge surprise. The reason it is a big deal is that it is further evidence that these two games aren’t going away anytime soon. Regardless of how bad the touch controls are, or if they are buggy, launching mobile versions of these games opens the door to an entirely new audience base for both titles. In recent weeks, Fortnite has gone from PUBG’s competitor to something entirely new and unique in the public eye. Athletes, celebrities, and everyone in between seem to have been sucked up into the behemoth of a hype train that is Fortnite Battle Royale. This was highlighted when Ninja, one of top Fortnite players teamed up with rapper Drake and set a Twitch record with 630,000 concurrent viewers. The battle royale genre bubble may very well pop at some point. However, I don’t think it is happening anytime soon.

Did we leave out any of the big stories of the week? Leave them in the comments below!

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Into the Breach – Review

Human civilization is at its breaking point. Gigantic insectoid creatures known only as the Vek are on the verge of global domination. The only defence that humanity has left is a squad of powerful time-traveling mechs who’ve set out to eradicate the Vek and save the world. Sounds like a bad B-movie right? That’s because it totally could be the back-of-the-box description for any number of terrible Straight to VHS Sci-Fi movies you used to find at your local video store(YEAH I SAID VHS, I’M OLD!)

That’s all part of the charm of Subset Games’ Into the Breach. It’s equal parts Mystery Science Theater, X-com, and Chess. It blends these all together into a one of a kind silly, deceptively brutal, ingeniously tactical game. This Sci-fi rougelike had more than enough tricks up its sleeves to pull me in and keep me hooked.

At the outset of each run you’ll choose a squad of three mechs, one pilot, and one of four islands to start on. After completing at least two islands you’ll be able to access a 5th, final island. You can either try to tackle the final island at that point, beating the game, or continue your path clearing the remaining two islands. Completing more islands allows you to become more powerful but comes with the caveat that enemies will scale with you. While playing you’ll acquire coins by satisfying certain conditions specific to each squad that will be used to eventually unlock new pre-built squads of mechs.  After unlocking your second squad you’re also given the option to roll a randomized team selected from all the current mechs you have unlocked or put together a custom squad.

Each mech fits into one of five categories: Prime, Brute, Ranged, Science, and Cyborg which all have different specialties. On top of the mechs you’ll unlock Pilots in various ways as you play. Each pilot comes with a special perk like Extra XP per kill or extra grid defense. They gain experience  and level up over the course of a run, gaining extra perks until they reach a max level. At the end of a run whether you succeed or not you’re allowed to take one pilot with you, perks and all, to the next timeline.

All these things, the teams, the mechs themselves, and the pilots all play incredibly differently. Mixing and matching all these things can produce some wildly varied results.

A lot of what i’ve just described really embodies the brilliance of what Into the Breach is all about. It’s about making choices like what mechs to bring or if it’s worth the effort to tackle a third or fourth island and the consequences of those choices.

The turn-based battles play out on an isometric eight by eight grid; the same size as a chess board. Subset has even included the option to turn on a coordinate system that labels the rows and columns just like chess. I found they helped quite a bit in visualizing moves. Some streamers I’ve watched play Into the Breach, like LethalFrag, have used the coordinates as a way for viewers to suggest moves. I don’t know if Subset had intended on this but it’s a pretty cool consequence of the underlying system.  The eight by eight grid is not the only similarity Into the Breach shares with chess. Each battle is about thinking ahead and moving the pieces of the puzzle you’ve been given. It’s a weird hump to get over because As gamers we’re often told to try to kill everything.

Into the Breach presents itself like that type of game on the surface, but digging deeper you find it’s much more about mitigating damage and moving the pieces of the puzzle. How Subest manages to get this across is kind of brilliant and also a little dastardly. You are able to see the next action each Vek will take and how many Vek will be spawning in on the next enemy turn. This presents the odd dilema of “kill the things” vs “Move all the pieces….then maybe kill them.” A lot of the mechs in the game don’t deal much, if any, direct damage; however, most can shift enemies a tile or two in a given direction. Some have other ways of ensuring enemies can’t do damage, like being able to deploy shields or dropping smoke that completely interrupts a Vek’s attack.

It makes you feel both like a genius and an idiot as things either go your way or unravel entirely. Should you have killed that one Vek instead of shifting it? Could you have positioned your squad differently at the beginning of a mission? These are all questions you will ask yourself in your playtime with Into the Breach.

Let me explain a little with an incredibly simplified scenario. Let’s say you have a Vek with two health about to launch a long range attack at a building four tiles directly in front of it. To the right of that building is nothing, it’s completely empty. The tile to the right of the Vek shows a new enemy will spawn on the next enemy turn as well. You have an artillery unit that can do two damage with a direct hit but will shift anything adjacent to the target tile over one to the right. In this scenario you can either choose to kill the existing enemy or shift it over to block the spawn. You chose to kill the existing Vek and let the new enemy spawn. Turns out that new spawn is a powerful unit that heals all Vek by one every turn. Now you have to deal with it.

Choice and Consequence.

You’re main task on each stage is simple, to stop the Vek from destroying small civilian towers that dot the playfield.This task is key to the overarching objective of Into the Breach; Keeping the power grid in your current timeline alive. The more buildings that are destroyed the more the power grid drops. Once it drops to zero it’s game over. For most games in the genre death more or less just means starting another run; there’s not much of a story tie-in. Into the Breach tackles the “Why?” of rouge-likes in a way I can’t recall seeing before. It  makes me care a bit more about a run. Watching the Vek pop up out of the ground and swarm a stage when you’ve failed feels worse here than most losses in games. The game really hammers this home by letting you know that your team now has to abandon the current timeline and try again. That word, “Abandon” it evokes a different kind of emotion than “You died” or a game over screen. It lets you know that you’ve not only lost but you’ve also failed humanity to the point that they’re not worth saving. You have to leave them to die and try again.

Little details like that, or the little speech bubbles that pop out of the civilian buildings as you drop your mechs on the play field help, pull the narrative together.  They make the times you do succeed in a mission, or end up beating a game, feel every bit as victorious as the losses feel demeaning.

You’ll juggle the overall objective with missions within each stage. These range from “Kill x amount of Vek” to “Don’t let the Vek kill that one building” or “ Make sure this one Vek doesn’t die.”  Completing these objective will yield rewards that can restore power to your power grid or give you reputation to spend once you’ve cleared an island. Reputation can buy you new weapons or extra reactor cores to spend powering up a mech.

These reactor cores act as a modular level up system, you can activate them as needed to fill in power nodes on a mech and move them around if needed. If you’re familiar with Subset’s last game, Faster Than Light, it works much like the power system there.  Each mech comes with certain powers activated right out of the gate that can usually be enhanced by cores. Most weapons you’ll buy throughout a run will require at least one core to activate. On top of all that the reactor cores can also be spent to increase the area of movement or health for any given mech.

Again, this is a game all about choices.

Something that lives entirely outside of the bubble of choice and consequence is the overall aesthetic of Into the Breach. It’s got some really slick menus. When choosing a stage on a given Island you’ll see a fully laid out preview of the stage, the missions for the stage, and any additional hazards or special threats that may exist.  Loading into a stage from that preview is instantaneous and it feels damn cool. The Camera Just zooms in and the mission starts immediately. It’s oddly satisfying and speeds the game up in a place where I would normally expect a loading screen. The pixel art isn’t anything particularly mind blowing but does more than enough to get the ideas being conveyed across.

Subset Games’ follow up to FTL proves they’re not just a flash in the pan. The minute to minute gameplay of Into the Breach is so much it’s own brand that if you were uninitiated to the world of indie games you’d have no reason to think the same developer made both. Aside from the start menus looking similar they are almost altogether different experiences. Into the Breach is intelligently deceptive. It makes you think at the outset that it’s the kind of game where you need to “Kill all the things!” when in reality you’re just trying to “Move all the pieces.” Each randomly generated stage is it’s own puzzle with it’s own pieces. The only constant is the tools you’ve chosen to get the job done and how you use them.

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider Announced – Coming September 14th

Square Enix announced Shadow of the Tomb Raider is officially launching simultaneously on September 14th on PS4, X-Box One and PC. According to the press release “Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be unveiled on April 27, 2018. Fans around the world can visit for a chance to play the game and meet the developers at one of three exclusive reveal events”.

Watch the trailer below:

PG Thoughts: This rebooted series has been one of my favorite to play this gen. It is nice to see that it isn’t stuck on one console for a year, as I am sure that has hurt the sales of Rise of the Tomb Raider. It is a little disheartening that the Nintendo Switch is ignored at this moment, but I guess we shall see about that.

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Warner Bros. Announces Injustice 2 Legendary Edition

Warner Bros. has announced that Injustice 2 Legendary Edition will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 30.

The legendary edition of the game includes the following content:

  • All DLC previously released characters(Darkseid, Red Hood, Starfire, Sub-Zero, Black Manta, Raiden, Hellboy, Atom, Enchantress and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
  • Premier skins for specific characters.

Additionally, the game will include several new features such as an expanded tutorial, new gear, and an increased level cap for all characters.

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A Way Out Goes Gold

Josef Fares, the founder of Hazelight Studios has announced that their next game, A Way Out has gone gold. The game is set to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 23.

A Way Out is a co-op only game that focuses on the story of Leo and Vincent, two inmates who escape prison. The game can be played either locally, or online, but two players are mandatory. As the trailers for the game have shown, both Leo and Vincent will be on the screen at the same time, adding a new twist to the co-op experience. Check out the official gameplay reveal trailer for A Way Out below:

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Assassin’s Creed Origins Discovery Tour Mode Out Today

Discovery tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt, the new educational tool by Ubisoft is available today for free for all owners of Assassin’s Creed Origins. The mode can also be purchased standalone on PC.

Discovery Tour turns Origins into an interactive tool, allowing players to visit historical landmarks such as the Nile Delta, Sand Sea, Giza plateau, and many other places from Ancient Egypt. Altogether, there are 75 themed tours for players to check out.

Check out the official launch trailer for the mode below:

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New Biomutant Gameplay Teaser Unveiled

THQ Nordic has released a new gameplay teaser for their upcoming open-world, action-RPG, Biomutant. Although brief, the trailer lends a lot of insight into what players can expect when they get their hands on the game this year.

The trailer focuses on two key aspects: traversal and combat. Throughout the course of the video, the player controlled character (a raccoon with bionic and mutant powers) uses a variety of gadgets to move around the environment. The two highlighted the most are several forms of a grappling hook and a set of glider wings. These options allow for the character to move quickly around a large open-world filled with many different environments.

The combat showed off focuses on four key elements. Melee combat shows the character using a blade to perform various combos both in the air and on the ground. Dual-pistols allow for ranged combat, while different mutations allow for offensive and defensive options. The final combat mechanic showed off were various mech-type machines. Early in the trailer, we see the raccoon controlling a hand that is firing projectiles from a finger. The end of the video shows a quick glance at a full-on mech-suit.

Biomutant is set to launch for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2018. Check out the gameplay teaser below:

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THQ Nordic Acquires Koch Media

THQ Nordic has purchased Koch Media, the owners of titles such as Saints Row, Dead Island, and also publisher Deep Silver, who published Metro Exodus.

Along with all of the games that Nordic will acquire, they also have obtained all studios that are under Koch Media media. This includes Volition, the makers of Saints Row and Agents of Mayhem, and Dambuster, the developers of Homefront: The Revolution.

With these acquisitions, THQ Nordic has brought all of the original THQ titles back together. This is after the closure of THQ in 2013 when they were forced to sell off their IP’s.



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The Evil Within 2 Getting First-Person Mode

A new, first-person mode is coming to The Evil Within 2 via a free game update. Players will be able to switch between first and third-person through the pause menu of the game.

Along with the new first-person mode, Bethesda is currently offering a free trial of the game that allows players to go through the opening chapters of the game. All progress carries over if the full game is purchased. Check the first-person trailer for The Evil Within 2 below:

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Free Overwatch Weekend Coming February 16th

Blizzard has announced that Overwatch will be doing a free-to-play weekend starting on February 16 and running till February 20. The game will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The trial will include the full roster of 26 heroes and 17 maps. Games modes such as Quick Play, Custom Games, and the Arcade will be available. Any progress made over the weekend will transfer over to the full game if it is purchased.

Overwatch is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out the latest developer video for the game below:

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Gameplay Revealed for Injustice 2

Warner Bros has released the first gameplay footage for the latest DLC characters for Injustice 2, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

As the initial reveal trailer indicated, the turtles will fight as a team, coming in to assist each other throughout the match. The playable turtle will be determined by equipping one of four accessories, sword, bo staff, nunchakus, or sais through the gear customization options. This will allow players to play as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be available starting on February 13 for players who have purchased the Injustice 2 Ultimate pack, and February 20 as a stand-alone purchase. Check out the gameplay trailer for the turtles below:

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New Updates Coming to Star Wars Battlefront II

EA has announced new updates and game modes that will be coming to Star Wars Battlefront II in the coming months. Highlighting the list are a revamped progression system and a new game mode.

Although there aren’t a lot of details about the new progression system, EA has said that is has been built on player feedback. More details on the new system will be announced in March.

Jetpack Cargo will be coming to the game in a limited time mode. The mode will launch in February. In the mode, all 16 players on the map will be equipped with jetpacks, making for fast-paced action.

Star Wars Battlefront II is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out the latest trailer for the game below:

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Monster Hunter Crossover Costumes Coming to Street Fighter V

Before the launch of Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Capcom announced that there would be crossover costumes coming into the game from other Capcom franchises. Today, three new, Monster Hunter costumes were announced for Ken, R. Mika, and Ibuki. Ken will receive the Rathalos Armor set, R. Mika the Zinogre, and Ibuiku the Kirin Armor.

These costumes will be acquired through Street Fighter’s Extra Battle Mode. Players will have to complete a set of four challenges over a one month period. At the end of the month, if all challenges have been finished, they will be rewarded with the costume. Each challenge will cost players fight money to enter. In order to obtain all three costumes, players will need at least 30,000 FM.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is available now for PlayStation 4 and PC. Check out the launch trailer for the game below:

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New Map Locations Highlight Fortnite Battle Royale Update

Fortnite Battle Royale has received a new update, adding new locations to the map. Along with updates to current locations, new areas to explore such as Tilted Towers, the underground Shifty Shafts, and Junk Junction have been added to the map as areas for players to find weapons and resources.

The update also patched and improved several weapons in the game such as the Scoped AR. For the full post on the updates from Epic, click here. Check out a quick trailer for the new areas below:

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Two Points Hospital Announcement Trailer Revealed (Video)

Sega has released a trailer via the official YouTube channel for Two Points Hospital of , you guessed it, Two Points Hospital coming to Steam. Two Points Hospital is a sequel to Theme Hospital which looks to be a zany hospital building sim for those not “in the know”. No release date was provided at this time. See the announcement trailer below and keep it here on Proven Gamer for more information.

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Dark Souls: Remastered Coming in May

Bandai Namco has announced that Dark Souls: Remastered will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on May 25.

The remaster will be upscaled to 4K with 60 FPS for the PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X, and PC. For the Switch, it will run at 1080p and 30 FPS in TV mode. Along with the enhanced graphics, all DLC will be included in the remaster.

Check out the reveal trailer for the game below:

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Paladins Introducing Battle Royale Mode in 2018

Hero shooter Paladins is the next game to enter the Battle Royale arena. The game will be introducing a new, free mode, Paladins: Battlegrounds in 2018.

Much like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite before it, Paladins: Battlegrounds will drop 100 players onto a map with the last player alive being declared the winner. The map for these battles will be around 300 times larger than a normal Paladins map. In the trailer for the mode, different environments such as snow, sand and forrest were all shown. Along with collecting loot and weapons, the class system from the base game will carry over into Paladins: Battlegrounds. Characters will be able to use class abilities, as well as pickup mounts throughout the match.

Although the mode is set to come out this year, no release date has been announced. However, it has been confirmed that there will be a beta coming first. Check out the tweet and release video for the new mode below: