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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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Payday 2 Take to the Battlefield in RAID: WWII

World War games are making quite a comeback lately, with the release of games like Call Of Duty: WWII and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, as well as Battlefield 1, which deals with World War I. Payday developer, Starbreeze Studios, looks to follow the trend of old-fashioned gunplay with Raid: WWII.  The game takes the Payday formula into the gritty fields of the European Front.

Experienced players of Payday and Payday 2 will be familiar with the overall mechanics of the game: tight, frenzied shooting mechanics and multitude of enemies. Players are part of a squad recruited by British Intelligence, but instead of going the normal route of fighting the good fight, your team goes through more unconventional routes, including sabotage, robberies and assassinations. Players need to work together if they are to survive and successfully win the battle.

RAID: World War II is now Available for PS4 and XBox One.

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Rogue Trooper Redux releases 101 Trailer, Now Available On PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam

Since it was announced this past winter, Rogue Trooper Redux, from English developer Rebellion, has been gaining a lot of traction and momentum. From PAX West to New York Comic-Con, Rogue Trooper Redux has garnered a lot of attention — and for good reason. Originally released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Rogue Trooper innovated many gaming mechanics that we see today as standard. From cover-shooting to the combat capabilities, Rogue Trooper blazed a trail for others to follow. Now, Rogue Trooper is set to storm the battlefield once more with Rogue Trooper Redux for the PlayStation 4, Steam, Switch, and Xbox One. To accompany the launch of the game, Rebellion has released a 101 trailer to show players the basics of what to expect on the battlefields of Nu-Earth.

Based on the 2000AD comic of the same name, Rogue Trooper Redux takes place in the distant future, where mankind has colonized several dozen star systems. They discover a new planet and name it Nu-Earth, but when the drums of war pound, all hell breaks loose. A massive intergalactic civil war is waged over Nu-Earth, engulfing the planet in poisonous gases and making it uninhabitable. Still, the warring sides continue to fight, fitting their soldiers in combat HAZMAT suits that are more dangerous than actual fighting. To adapt, one side has created the Rogue Trooper, a special bio-engineered soldier who is built to survive the fields of Nu-Earth and deliver a vastly superior advantage with cutting-edge firepower and enhanced physical abilities. Following a surprise attack turned massacre, you are the lone survivor (of your squad) — but your squad isn’t necessarily dead.  As you recover each member of your team, their consciousnesses are transplanted into bio-chips and added to your primary weapon. They are alive again, and they will give you live tactical feedback as you fight through the enemy.  The war is upon you; it’s time for you to go rogue.

Rogue Trooper arrives next week for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

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PC PC Previews

Cutthroat Gunboat

Cutthroat Gunboat is a fun multiplayer game that I had the opportunity to try out during Play NYC. It is a fun take on local multiplayer games and is currently available on steam for purchase.

Cutthroat Gunboat lets you pick from a wide array of ship each with their own stats and kinds of weaponry. It is 2-4 player local multiplayer with a few different maps to sink each other on. The controls need a bit of time to get accustomed to. The different ships have different degrees of difficulty in their control and use. This makes for very diverse combat with every match.

The different kind of weapons not only does differing amount of damage, but they also fire differently and have different effects. Some fire the traditional cannonball while another fires fireworks. One ship even launches a small AoE draining field which can affect the ship that cast it as well.

I also had the chance to speak with Boris Poletaev, Game Developer with Minor Faction. Be sure to check out Cutthroat Gunboat on Steam!

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PC Playstation 4 Sony

Gundam Versus Unleashes Its Launch Trailer, Now Available

 

 

Celebrating the release of Gundam Versus here in the United States, Namco Bandai has released its Launch Trailer of the game. The trailer encompasses a variety of feedback from various players, who had the special opportunity to play the game as it made its way to the United States and Western Territories. The game received positive acclaim in Japan, and the momentum generated from the West convinced the developers and Namco Bandai to release the game here in the United States

Gundam Versus is a 3D brawling video game that encompasses the entirety of the Gundam Universe. Players can choose from a large variety of Gundams, then take to the battlefield, fighting in 1v1 or 2v2 combat. Players will be able to utilize every possible action of their particularly chosen Gundam, from blasters cannons to beam sabers. With a variety of game modes and extremely high production values, Gundam Versus was a massive success in Japan. The gameplay was praised for being tight and accessible for newcomers and fighting veterans alike.

Gundam Versus comes hot on the heels of the 38th anniversary of Mobile Suit Gundam and the 10th anniversary of Gundam Zero. Originally debuting in 1979, Gundam has spanned the decades, taking on new iterations and interpretations of mecha combat and space action. The originally introduced viewers to a massive interstellar civil war, between the Galactic Federation and the Principality of Zeon. While the series was popular, it wasn’t until the release of Gundam Wing on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block that catapulted the franchise into an international sensation. Gundam Wing, a mecha and space epic opera, followed the stories of six Gundams, secretly sent to Earth to disrupt the military aggression of the organization known as Oz. Soon, a conspiracy reveals itself and the 6 are trapped into a terrible conflict that could bring the Earth and space colonies into ruin.

Gundam Versus is now available for PlayStation 4 and PC.

 

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PC Playstation VIta Sony

Son Of Scoregasm releases October 10th for PS Vita, Windows, Mac, and Linux

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk2bjSFUUs8

 

After three years in development, One-man developer CharliesGames have finally announced a released date for their unconventional twin-stick shooter, Son Of Scoregasm. On Otcober 10th, Son Of Scoregasm will release for the PlayStation Vita, Linux, Mac, and Windows. For fans of frsh takes on the tried-and-true formula of spaceship shooters and twin-stick action, Son OF Scoregasm will be worth the wait.

Son Of Scoregasm is a refinement of a previous title from CharliesGames, Scoregasm. Scoregasm is a non-linear spaceship shooter, where players embark upon a large variety of galaxies to defeat enemies and rack of the highest score imaginable. Players will come across all sorts of enemies and obstacles throughout their experience. Son Of Scoregasm is a greatly refined experienced, with new visuals, higher framerate, new scoring mechanics, and much more accesability for a quicker “pick-up-and-play” approach.

To celebrate the release of the game, CharliesGames has unveiled a new trailer, as well as the soundtrack by independent music artist John Marwin. Check out the soundtrack below.

 

Son Of Scoregasm OST by John Marwin

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PC

Pylon: Rogue Review

I consider myself a relatively hardcore rogue-like fan. I follow the genre closely and have played most of the more high-profile titles in the time since the genre took off a few years back. I might not be very good at them, but I love the challenge most of them present; that old school “Higher Score” mentality that brings me back to arguing with friends about how to best defeat a Megaman boss or who could beat Mario 3 the fastest. Games like The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky led the surge in the rouge-revival in recent years, and it’s a genre that doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. With what seems like a new Rogue-like dropping every day, it’s really hard for most games in the genre to stand out. It requires something either truly unique or just an overall great package to win over the rouge-like community.

On the surface Pylon seems like it could have been a contender in the flooded rogue-like market. Attempting to mix the rouge-like formula with Diablo and a little pinch of The Binding of Isaac sounds like a dream. What we get instead of this dream is a game that can’t quite figure out what it wants to be. Almost every facet of the game is so thinly spread that I had a hard time taking the game seriously.

Pylon’s minute to minute gameplay is nigh impossible to break through as two of the three characters available at the start of the game, Both melee fighters. The third of the opening classes, a ranger, fairs a bit better but is incredibly boring to play compared to the other two. When you start a new game, you choose one of the three characters and a fighting style which slightly alters that particular fighter. Only the first fighter, the ridiculously named Moneydin who has some weird version of Midas’ touch, had more than one style available. Once selected you’re dropped onto a randomly generated over world map that’s reminiscent of Mario 3. Different nodes represent different levels, but in reality they all just boil down to a randomly generated mishmash of procedurally generated arenas that are appropriately themed to whatever over world you’re initially plopped into.

This is where the game really starts to fall apart. Up until this point, we’ve just seen some poorly designed menu screens that look like they could have been ripped from bad Xbox 360 Arcade game, but nothing indicating the actual quality of the gameplay.

Spoiler alert. It’s really bad.

Combat for all three of the characters feels terrible. It’s not that the controls are sluggish or the animation is bad, it’s that the general gameplay loop of Pylon is tedious and insanely boring. Halo became famous for its 30 second loop that drew players in. In pylon any time frame of fun is entirely non-existent. Each stage is a series of gated in arenas that range from too small with too many enemies to so big that you may have to run around for a minute or two finding the last enemy to proceed to the next arena. When you enter an arena you’ll find yourself fighting such notable enemies as generic Zombie, Giant Scarab, Another Other Scarab, Maybe a Raptor! You’ll endlessly kite all these foes until you clear out the arena. As the Ranger this is pretty easy, but boring. You just cartwheel dodge away from everything and the game becomes a third-rate twinstick shooter. As the two initial melee characters it’s much harder simply because you have to get close to attack an enemy and will inevitably be hit. This essentially makes using these two useless for making any kind of meaningful progress.

Once you clear out one of these arenas a chest appears that always has gems and sometimes has a power-up. The power-ups work kind of like The Binding of Isaac where they are suppose to be synergistic, minimal upgrades that form some wacky run once you get enough, but none of them are interesting enough to care about. Sometimes there are slightly larger chests hanging around that require a key to open. These are literally just larger versions of the smaller chest and have a higher chance to have an item. There’s no visual change. If you clear out all the arenas in a certain level you’ll get an even bigger chest which, again, is just a larger version of the original chest. These chests are highly indicative of the lack of polish in Pylon.

As you move through the arenas in a given level you’ll notice that health drops are few and far between. As is normal with most rouge-likes, your total health persists through levels. So damage you take on one level carries over to another and once you croak the run is over. You can hop into a shop in the over world and use the gems you’ve accumulated to buy health, power-ups, and new gear that improves your overall character. Like the rest of Pylon these shops present nothing interesting or new.

That’s really my lasting impression of this game. There’s nothing that it brings to the table that it does even remotely well even down to it’s menus and basic UI elements. Nothing it does is interesting or new. It is a bad collage of ideas from other games that you should play instead of playing Pylon: Rogue. I’m sure the game will find a small audience, but for the most part, I would just suggest not wasting your time.

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Rockstar releases new trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2.

Rockstar just released the second trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. Looks like we’ll be riding off into the sunset this spring, though there was no specific date set.

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Assassin’s Creed: Origins to Double as an Interactive Museum

This is not an onion article. This is not a joke.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins will receive a free update post-release adding a mode dubbed “Discovery Tour”. Releasing sometime in 2018, Discovery Tour will take assets from the game and place them throughout the open world. Players can visit places like Alexandria, Memphis, the Nile delta, the Giza plateau, the Faiyum Oasis, and the Great Sand Seas to see NPCs going about their daily routine. In place of combat is a series of guided tours meant to teach players about the games setting and historical significance all arranged by actual historians.

When asked about how this mode came about Creative Director Jean Guesdon had this to say:

“From the beginning, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has always explored pivotal moments in history, from the Third Crusade to the Italian Renaissance, and this year Ancient Egypt. It’s a dream come true for us to offer Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt, an educational mode built specifically for people to learn more about the incredible history of Ancient Egypt through the interactive experience made possible via a video game.”

Assassin’s Creed has always been a bright spot in games that teeter toward educational without being too in your face about it. Now those of us that may have wanted a bit more context with all our bloody, brutal combat can have just that.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is set to release on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on October 27th.

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A Playstation Gamer’s case for buying XBox One X

The Xbox One X is right around the corner and pre-orders have been selling well. Until the past few days, however, I have not been interested in the least. As an ingrained Playstation and rekindled Nintendo gamer, the need for an Xbox in my house is nearly non-existent. Lets face facts: Xbox doesn’t have many games that Playstation doesn’t have. Then a little game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds takes over the world, selling 10 million copies. The desire to play the game is only halted by my PC’s inability to run the game. And there is where Xbox One X comes in.

In a recent episode of Trophy Whores, the topic of Microsoft including Keyboard and Mouse to their system came up. Some believe that this renders the console market moot from Microsoft’s standpoint. Why bother buying an Xbox if it is going to have the same experience as a PC? While that seems like a decent argument to have, that is precisely why owning an Xbox One X sounds appealing to me.

My current PC set up is too old to upgrade single components at a reasonable price. It appears, after scouring Reddit and Newegg.com, it would cost around $800 to upgrade my PC to its highest possible specs, and even then it would be a 6 year old PC. So it appears that I should go to the drawings board and build a PC from the ground up. Every person I speak to regarding a build says about the same thing: it will cost around $800 to build one to run most of today’s games, but if I want to future proof myself a little it will cost around $1500. This is when things start to make sense to me. The clouds clear. I hear the birds chirping.

If Microsoft is making all their games come to PC…doesn’t that mean that PC games will go to Xbox One X? Especially after they implement Mouse and Keyboard support? With Battlegrounds already coming, that seems like it could be the shot heard ‘round the world, so to speak. It makes sense. I, a Playstation gamer and longtime Xbox detractor…should spend the $500-plus and just get a One X!

Think about it! It isn’t so much that it will take place of my Playstation (let’s face it, regardless of how good One X games will look, Playstation still has infinitely better exclusives), but it could take place of my gaming PC, while I still keep my PC around for basic functions. This is the market I believe that Microsoft is trying to hit with the One X. Convert lapsed PC players to One X players for less than half the cost to have a comparable PC, give them Keyboard and Mouse, and all the games they love.

Of course, I will probably buy nothing and just envy those who can, but I think the argument can be made for the One X outside of just having THE MOST POWERFUL CONSOLE EVER MADE!

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No Man’s Sky Update 1.3: Atlas Rises has launched

Released almost a year ago, No Man’s Sky has had a turbulent ride through the gaming industry. Its initial release was met with mixed reviews from players and critics, claiming that early previews promised more than the final game offered.  Regardless of reviews and complaints, Hello Games has committed to keeping the game alive.  Over the past year, they have released a few updates (to the game) adding in a lot of content: farming, vehicles, base-building, and quality-of-life improvements — just to name a few. These updates have kept some players, myself included, hooked in for the ride and showed that Hello Games intends to work on No Man’s Sky until they reach their vision — and possibly beyond. While the previous two updates did add a ton to the game, they pale in comparison to the newest update: Atlas Rises.  To give you a brief idea of just how much this update offers, Atlas Rises’ file size (by itself) is about as big as the base game.

Atlas Rises is a total overhaul of many gameplay systems and graphical elements in No Man’s Sky. It introduces 30 hours more of story content, randomly generated missions, in-atmosphere dog-fighting, better crafting and inventory management (and so much more).  I’m glad that, through the haze of negativity, Hello Games is continuing its journey with No Man’s Sky.

Below is a link to the official release page for the update for the patch notes and a look into what this update entails. With that, I’m off exploring the galaxy once again. See you around the cosmos!

https://www.nomanssky.com/atlas-rises-update/

 

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Valiance: Online – Building a living City of Heroes – An interview with SilverHelm studios Producer, Aaron Victoria

November 30th, 2012 was the last time I logged into City of Heroes as my first max level hero, Lady Quickdeath. One by one, players logged off, saying goodbye for the last time. City of Heroes was closing down for good.  Some players were moving on to Champions Online, others were leaving the sub-genre forever. Some players, however, decided to take that day as a day to come together and create an online world where the spirit of City of Heroes can live on. One of those games is SilverHelm Studio’s Valiance: Online, which is set to enter a closed Alpha very soon. I recently had the chance to talk to Aaron Victoria, the Producer and Programming Director for Valiance Online:

Proven Gamer: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me. This is quite an exciting project.

Aaron Victoria: Thank you for doing this. This is great.

Proven Gamer: So let’s dive right in – Since the closure of City of Heroes/Villains, there have been a lot of indie projects made by fans to try and capture that magic. It is pretty obvious the same can be said for you and your team. So how did you and your team come together to try and make this incredibly ambitious project?

Aaron Victoria: It originally began with me searching the community for other players which were adequately skilled developers in hopes to find a team of professionals capable of using my existing technology to make a successor. At that time, I had been developing my own MMORPG for about 5 years, and had recently combined my technology with that of my friends whose technology had been in development for 4 years at the time of the merger. Essentially, I had a really powerful architecture that was built by 3 well-versed server and client solutions engineers and was open to lend to anyone interested in helping maintain a home for our community. I was pointed to the executives of City of Titan’s development studio, Missing Worlds Media and the team behind Heroes & Villains.

We had a meeting after which the founders of Missing Worlds Media determined that they weren’t interested in using the technology. I was planning to reach out to the team behind Heroes & Villains, but before that could happen allegations were made by one of their founding members to the validity and intentions of the Valiance Online team. With both of those option ending rather abruptly, I made the decision to form a team of my own.

I knew it’d be quite hard as I was still working on my other MMORPG project as well. However, it was something I felt I needed to do for the community to try to resurrect our home. Quite a few members of the community offered their assistance and joined quite quickly after a post I made on the original Valiance forums. Over the following years we acquired more dedicated members after they showed great dedication and commitment to the project through forum involvement, pre-alpha input, or eagerness to join.

PG: I was a huge fan of City of Heroes. That is what directly lead my to your website. Obviously, you don’t want to be known as another “City of Heroes like” game. So, what sets Valiance apart from CoH?

AV: One of the biggest things we’ve embraced as a team is that Valiance Online is its own product. It has a need to be unique, different, and robust and that’s our focus. We also make no delusions to the fact that our product exists within a completely different economic and market climate than City of Heroes existed within, so to thrive we have to maintain relevance to the current and future game market’s ever changing climate. Most importantly, we recognize our love for City of Heroes, and actively take in everything the game has taught us about where we want to go and how we need to proceed to launch the product successfully. We’re, therefore, taking that powerful inspiration and giving players a feel and atmosphere similar to what they remember, but with all of the great expansion and overall progress they’d expect from their “next” adventure. Our biggest goal is to honor the legacy of City of Heroes while remain obviously recognizable as a unique entity.

In regards to uniqueness, we have a strong focus on role-playing, player choices often affecting the game world, player creativity and some non-linear game-play, the living world aspect of the world, and the most obvious element being the era in which the game is set. Valiance is set in an era in time where the world is bustling with alien lifeforms and intergalactic travel and communication. Technology and space exploration have made the planet rich with minerals, life enhancing drugs, and freedom of humanity to grow exponential as a culture and species. These same elements have led to the introduction of hostile visitors for space or inter-dimensional planes, dangerous biological diseases and deformities, the introduction of the Super gene, and people struggling to feel safe in a world where people are born every day with highly dangerous capabilities; conditions that often lead the average person to disastrous attempts at self-modification just to feel protected.

So, we work hard with our art, content, dialogue, overall aesthetic, and visual effects to give people the proper ambiance of the world they now live in.

PG: Whoa! So what sets it apart from other superhero MMOs out there? Marvel Heroes and DCUO to be exact.

AV: Personally I find Marvel Heroes Online and DC Universe Online to be more casual MOGs (Multi-Player Online Games) rather than actual hardcore MMORPGs. Both, in my opinion, have very arcade-like game structures without a strong focus on grouping and even less on role-playing; it’s a bit hard to truly role-play when you’re forced to be a specific character or have a given history. Valiance offers a deep role-playing experience with a strong focus on group-oriented game-play and professions. There is also a hardcore PvP element within the game and the essential functionality to support solo-centric game-play. Though the game isn’t aimed at the casual market, we aim to provide a reasonable casual experience for those that wish to enjoy the game that way, and I think that sets our product apart from what other current products offer.

PG: Awesome stuff. You don’t get that kind of experience much anymore outside of very niche hardcore markets. So let’s talk about what players will actually be doing when they log in. What is the moment to moment game play planned? You mentioned non-linearity, how can an MMO be every changing with so many players making decisions?

AV:  The game is being designed as an open-world sandbox of sorts, with a primary focus on combat, a secondary focus on professions, and also includes the tertiary option to just start the game and head off in any direction you want; doing whatever you want. This gives role-players the options to do what they want and enjoy the game they way they want without being forced down a linear path.

Regarding non-linearity, it comes from many of our living-world systems, and I’ll try to express this in a way that doesn’t give up any of the events we have programmed and waiting for players. You’ll see either on-screen or in your journal the “Investigative Mission” panel. These mission are often part of the living-world system. An example would be that you are doing a mission, you find a lootable drawer that you wouldn’t have ever seen without actually interacting with objects in the mission instance. You find a book that appears to hold a secret ritual used by the cultist group you just apprehended, and it tells of a dark dimension that is said to be opened after some manner of moon-shift after the ritual is complete.

Further investigation of the building leads you to find a journal, the journal of the cult’s leader suggests that he has summoned the demon from the ritual and the moon-phase is the only event that remains to hold the demon at bay. In this situation the player can further explore, go to a local magician’s store, talk to the clerk and uncover more details on the rituals and find a way to stop it. The player finds that he/she has to enact a counter-ritual requiring a certain amount of players that are skilled in Darkness Manipulation, all must be equipped 10 warp shards, and stand over an alter created by someone of the enchanting profession. Together those individuals can stop this event from happening.

We expressly inform the players as to when they have successfully completed a living-world event and in some cases you find out that the crisis can’t be averted but that you can complete the mission by preparing properly for the start of the event. Investigative missions aren’t the only missions that can do this, but this outlines how the living-world element works. If that demon escapes, there will be a massive world boss destroying major parts of the city in a way that is visible to everyone. Those aware of the events probably will be awoken to the chilling fact that they had the opportunity to prevent the disaster.

We actually have one of these events planned for the public alpha launch. I think it’s going to be great and I look forward to seeing how players do.

PG: Speaking of the players, what can you tell me about character creation? How do you handle character creation in regards to a role playing focus? How do you force the role playing without seeming overbearing for players? 

AV: We aren’t limiting players in regards to character creation, we even over-exaggerate how apparent role-playing is by allow players to tag every region of their body in character creation and describe it for players that like investigating players and reading about details of their characters. If you have a cyber eye and it’s part of a story, in the details panel choose your eye and add a description/story to it. Player that browse your profile will be able to do likewise and will be able to read those fine details.

Our content is built around this level of freedom, even allowing players to straddle the lines between good and bad, tipping the scales either based on actions or due to NPC’s/group’s specific perspectives. There are many situations where the real-life dilemma of “what is wrong/what is right” plays into the experience whereby the player does something that can be viewed as inherently good, but the NPC views it as bad. There is lots of depth to our system.

PG: About that – with players being bad and other being good, will there be a PvP element to the game? Will players be forming their own unique arch nemesis?

AV: This is something our Systems Director is currently working out. He has decided that we will have hero vs villain battlegrounds that are essentially areas of the city that are labelled hazard zones and you can only go in if you’re interested in PvPing. However, he’s still exploring the idea of implementing in-world events where live villains create content for PvE players by just being there and violating the law. However, it’s one of those things that we’re still considering with no definitive idea as to how we’re going to do it in a way that doesn’t ruin things for PvE players that despise PvP.

And yes, you will be able to form nemesis association using our player database system. We’re building it for an incredible amount of usability. Even allowing players to request ancestry connection to characters from other accounts. The character experience is DEEP!!!

PG: You have my excitement levels RISING! Incredible ambition! I love it. Let’s speak on combat, since it is the biggest part of the game. What is the style of combat? Is it like traditional MMORPG? Or is it more action/combo based? How many powers/abilities do characters have? What does leveling up look like?

AV: Yes, it is very much like traditional, classic MMORPGs, whereas your character is rooted during attacks. We did experiment with mobility-supportive motions/animations and found that it made balancing the experience very hard. In one situation we had a ranged characters moving and attacking, maintaining an impossible-to-close gap between melee characters. To counter we experimented with giving melee character lunge attacks to close gaps, but in some cases, especially PvP situations, a melee character that was well-positioned during a combat scenario could dash to a ranged target, floor them, and finish them off rather quickly. Aside from that issue, we also experienced what we refer to as floating melee. Some melee attacks such as sword or staff attacks felt like it had reasonable impact during strafing and running, but it’s really hard to implement a martial arts style standing kick without sliding the character around on one foot. To really give the game proper balance, and to support the types of animations we’re creating for the game, we had to root players

However, we have worked really hard to blend animations and motion to give combat as fluid a feel as can be accomplished in this situation.

We currently have 90 power sets in-game; the majority of the powers do not yet have proper visual effects and/or sound effects. We have animations for nearly all sets, but are currently in the process of financing visual effects.

Leveling up has the player choosing abilities from 4 different power sets in an offset sequence. Those powers are Primary, Secondary, Pool, and Archetype. The primary and secondary power sets are your typical base combat ability sets. Pool powers offer utility powers such as travel powers like flight and surface crawling. Archetype power sets give you a repository of powers specific to your archetype. An example of an archetype power set would be the Titan archetype’s power set feature many taunt and tank abilities that expand beyond his actual primary and secondary powers.

In a similar sequential fashion, when you level up you unlock enhancement slots which allow you to socket enhancements onto your characters, these are similar to gear in other MMORPG. There are Red, Blue, Yellow, and Purple enhancement types with Blue, Red, and Yellow being various degrees of effectiveness across very common types of effects. Purple enhancements are what most would refer to as super enhancements and are very powerful; they often have 3 or more attribute or effects boosts on them.

PG: Honestly this sounds like a truly remarkable feat. I know you are a ways away from releasing this game, but you do have a few videos of the Alpha build , which our readers can find here:

(These Alpha Streams are very raw and are intended to be a peek behind the curtain.)

                                        Goodness starts around the 24:00 minute mark

AV: Yes, and we will also have some other events coming up. You’ll just have to hang tight for that information.

PG: Alright, alright. Thank you for your time! 

AV: No problem! Thank you for the interview!

 

It sounds like Valiance Online is taking a page from many MMO’s while also creating something incredibly unique. I, for one, can’t wait to see more details as they come to the surface.

You can follow Valiance Online on various social media outlets:
Twitch: twitch.tv/valianceonline
YouTube: youtube.com/valianceonline
Facebook: facebook.com/valianceonline
Twitter: twitter.com/valianceonline

If you would like to help fund the game, you can do so by visiting valiance.shogn.net/donate 

Post was edited to correct Silver-Helm to SilverHelm Studios. 

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Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind – Released Today!

Free to Play MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online has released its much anticipated expansion Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind today for PC, PS4, Mac and X-box One. Morrowind is a beloved game in the main line Elder Scrolls franchise and this expansion will take players back to that world. See the details and trailer below:

 

June 6, 2017 (Rockville, MD) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax Media company, has released The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, a massive new Chapter for the wildly popular The Elder Scrolls Online, worldwide today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. The brand new entry for the online RPG introduces more than 30 hours of fresh Elder Scrolls story content; a new playable class, the Warden; a new 4v4v4 fast-action PvP mode, Battlegrounds; a new 12-player Trial; and a return to one of the most beloved locales in the Elder Scrolls universe, the iconic island of Vvardenfell from the award-winning RPG, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is the biggest addition to The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) yet and redefines the traditional MMO expansion by delivering vast new content and features that are equally accessible and fun for both existing and new ESO players.

New players can start a character without completing any previous ESO content and head straight into Vvardenfell, with hundreds of hours of original ESO content available to them at any time. ESO veterans can upgrade and immediately journey to Morrowind to start the new epic adventure with their existing characters or with a new Warden.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind adds a host of new content for the game’s millions of players, including:

  • A Massive New Zone – Vvardenfell: The largest zone added to The Elder Scrolls Online since launch is also a nostalgic trip through one of the Elder Scrolls’ most beloved lands. Utilising the same geographic footprint as The Elder Scrolls III, including all key points of interest from the classic game,  Vvardenfell is painstakingly reimagined 700 years before the events of TES III, from the docks of Seyda Neen, through the volcanic Ashlands, the dense, mushroom-filled forests, and to the glory of Vivec City – still under construction in this time period.
  • New Class – The Warden: Players will harness nature-based magic to master the powerful new character class – The Warden. The Warden is the first new class since launch of ESO, and true to ESO and the Elder Scrolls franchise, the player will have the freedom to select from a number of abilities that enable a variety of play styles. The Warden also introduces a devastating new combat ally – the War Bear – a ferocious fighter that will stay by the Warden’s side through the most intense battles.
  • New PvP Mode – Battlegrounds: The Elder Scrolls Online is renowned for open world PvP battles, pitting hundreds of players in a massive battle for supremacy in Cyrodiil. The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind will introduce a new PvP mode – Battlegrounds – intense 4v4v4 battles in arena-like environments. Players take the battle to the Ashlands to claim their place among the fiercest and most accomplished combat veterans in Tamriel.

 

The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is now available worldwide for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. For more information, or to purchase the game, please visit http://www.elderscrollsonline.com .

 

 

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Rocket League 2 Year Anniversary Details

Rocket League will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary on July 5th and details have come way of the RLCS World Championship. Rocket League has an ever impressive player base and this celebration is sure to excite the players. Details below:

SAN DIEGO, CA – June 4, 2017 – Independent video game developer and publisher, Psyonix, creators of the sports-action hit, Rocket League, today revealed the Anniversary Update during the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) Season Three World Championship in Los Angeles, CA.

Launching on July 5, the Anniversary Update features a FREE new arena named ‘Champions Field,’ a standard, modern-looking stadium that will be available in Competitive, Casual and Private matches. The update also brings the end of ‘Competitive Season 4’ and the start of ‘Competitive Season 5,’ as well as the introduction of ‘Rocket League Radio,’ which adds 18 new songs from record label, Monstercat, to the game.

Additional new content includes two new Import Battle-Cars – ‘Animus GP’ and ‘Centio V17’ – available exclusively as drops inside the new ‘Overdrive Crate,’ and for the first time ever, new customization options like ‘Engine Audio,’ ‘Goal Explosions,’ and ‘Trails’ that are a mix of FREE selections and Crate drops. New Achievements and Trophies are also planned. Look for more details regarding all content for the Anniversary Update HERE.

The ‘Anniversary Update’ launches the week of Rocket League’s second birthday, which takes place on July 7, 2017. Since the game’s launch in 2015, the community has grown to more than 31 million players who have played more than 1.45 billion completed matches across all platforms.

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PAX East 2017 PC

Guns of Icarus Alliance PAX East

Guns of Icarus has been around for years, but Guns of Icarus Alliance changes it up and improves some deficiencies. It is Co-op based ship-to-ship combat against AIs instead of always multiplayer like the previous Guns of Icarus. While possible to play single player, there is a faction system that still brings the MMO mentality by rewarding succeeding factions in certain modes. GoI Alliance will also have new ships, guns, and modes of playing.

Guns of Icarus Alliance has a big learning curve and takes some dedication to get good at it. Those who are familiar with Guns of Icarus may not feel the pressure as badly, but, experience or no, everyone can get their shot at it on March 31st.

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Hand of Fate 2 PAX East

After his defeat to the main character in the first Hand of Fate, the Dealer returns for his revenge. You play as his protege, training up to enact his revenge. This Indie card based adventure brings a lot of new things to look forward to.

There is a lot of things that this sequel brings back such as the adventure and inventory system. Combat brings some new features such as dual wielding, two-handed weapons, companions, and smoother gameplay. Companions are gained for certain quests and give you a different dynamic to the story. Some other notable changes are added minigames to determine rewards as well a fame mechanic to get legendary items. Another big change is the addition of a character creation mechanic. Choosing different backgrounds will change the looks and affect the story. The story is also changed in that it is now 22 challenges instead of the 10 or so boss stories of the last game.

Deviant is also partnering with a tabletop company to create a tabletop card game based of Hand of Fate. Fans of this game can also look forward to DLC in the future as Deviant plans to bring additional content to their community.Hand of Fate 2 is expected to launch later this year with a closed beta starting soon.

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Super Dungeon Bros Available Now

React Games and Wired Productions have announced that its rock-‘n’-roll inspired co-op dungeon brawler Super Dungeon Bros is now available worldwide for Xbox One, PlayStation4, Steam and Windows PC for an MSRP of $19.99. Gamers with an Xbox Live Gold account can download Super Dungeon Bros on Xbox One at no charge starting today for the game’s first month of sale, and the recently-revealed cast of Broettes – four fearless female counterparts to the titular Bros – are available to download free from November 1 to November 15 across all platforms.
“We’re delighted to finally see the game hitting shelves and digital storefronts around the world,” said Leo Zullo, Managing Director at Wired Productions. “Super Dungeon Bros is a brilliantly fun game to play – whether that’s as a single player experience, in co-op or with three other bros in tow. It’s all about having fun and it’s no exaggeration to say that Super Dungeon Bros turns it up to eleven!”

“The game is the result of a tremendous ongoing effort by the React Games team,” said Brad Moss, CEO at React Games.  “Super Dungeon Bros began life as a concept over two years ago, and to see the game now available at retail is a truly humbling experience; we can’t wait to share it with fans who have waited patiently to finally get their hands on the finished product.”

In the multiplayer-centric Super Dungeon Bros, a band of heavy metal heroes are summoned to embark on a quest from the Gods of Rock. Their mission: to navigate the fantasy realm of Rökheim and seek out epic loot, vanquish hordes of evil undead and uncover the legends of long lost fabled rock stars! Featuring captivating, laugh out loud action and adventure, players can rock out on or offline with four bros as they fling their friends onto far off ledges and distant trap triggers, or unleash their best tag team tactics with the ultimate bro-op offensive. Legendary tools of destruction can be individually leveled up to carry progress across sessions, and players can unleash weapon-specific co-op attacks that grow in power as others join in, such as the Bronado (stack up to create a whirling totem pole of destruction).

Three unique and challenging worlds await the brave ones as they explore the rock-themed realm of Rökheim and dive deep into the worlds of Cryptheim (an underground dungeon complex), Chillheim (a brewery built upon a natural brew geyser) and Bogheim (a sprawling jungle filled with poisonous plants and animals). Players will never rock the same dungeon twice thanks to the random room generation AI, and near-endless dungeon combinations! To keep things fresh between campaign sessions, players are also able to assemble and compete against other teams in the daily and weekly challenges to see who can claim the top spot on the global leaderboards!

Developed by Utah-based React Games, Super Dungeon Bros is published by Wired Productions and physical retail distribution is handled by THQ Nordic. This title has been rated “E10+ for Everyone 10 and up” by the ESRB.

For more information and to stay up to date with all the latest Super Dungeon Bros news, announcements and more, please visit the official website at www.superdungeonbros.com , Like the game’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DungeonBros or follow the Dungeon Bros on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DungeonBros.

Check out the launch trailer for the game below:

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Microsoft Announces New Line of VR Headsets

Microsoft’s partners will ship a new line of virtual reality headsets to take advantage of Windows 10’s VR and holographic capabilities. At today’s event, Microsoft said that the headsets will start at $299 and will include inside-out tracking sensors, obviating the need for external cameras or laser systems like those on the current Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are all listed as partners.
Following Microsoft’s announcement, Eyetouch Reality and Digi-Capital Founder/CEO Tim Merel said, “Microsoft’s new VR headset is the next stage of VR going mass consumer. For consumers, inside-out tracking without the need to buy or set up external sensors in a dedicated VR playroom is huge. The $299 price point is much less expensive than other PC based VR products. Launching with partners HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer gives Microsoft an accelerated hardware platform and also spreads its market risk.

However the greatest potential for the Microsoft VR headset could come from bundling it with Xbox One Project Scorpio, which Microsoft has already highlighted as supporting next generation VR. With a Xbox One installed based over 20 million users, this might be Microsoft’s silver bullet for both VR specifically and the console market more generally. So Microsoft could be using its new VR headset to leapfrog competitors in two markets at the same time, leveraging for VR some of the great work already done by Phil Spencer, Alex Kipman and Kudo Tsunoda with Windows 10 and HoloLens in the adjacent AR market.”

If this bold move pays off, Microsoft could easily have a leg up on its competition and give PSVR a run for it’s
money.

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Battlefield 1 Available Now for Early Enlisters

The Battlefield 1 Early Enlister Deluxe Edition has been released worldwide on Xbox One, PlayStation4 and Origin on PC. Players with the Early Enlister Deluxe Edition will get into the full game up to three days before anyone else. Players will also receive three themed content packs stuffed with weapons, vehicles and other items, as well as three vehicle skins and five Battlepacks to enhance their Battlefield 1 experience. In addition, those who pre-ordered the Early Enlister Deluxe Edition will have up to a one-week advance on the new map, Giant’s Shadow, coming to Battlefield 1 as part of a free* update in December.

The three themed content packs include:
·         The Hellfighter Pack, inspired by the Harlem Hellfighters, the first African-American infantry unit and one of the toughest of the Great War. The pack contains themed items based on their heroic deeds.
·         The Red Baron Pack, to take to the skies crammed with items inspired by the famous fighter pilot, the flying ace of the German air force.
·         The Lawrence of Arabia Pack, where the weapons and items available are based on the adventures of the famous archeologist and diplomat who played a pivotal role in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.

Filled with a variety of new gameplay opportunities like piloting an airship through the French countryside or bringing a horse to a tank fight through the deserts of the Middle East, Battlefield 1 allows players to discover war on an epic scale at the dawn of all-out-war.

In Battlefield 1, DICE set out to build the most immersive and dynamicBattlefield game ever, continuing to improve their multiplayer sandbox experience. Through ever-changing environments with intuitive destruction and dynamic weather, no battle is ever the same. In the games unique single player campaign, players will immerse themselves in War Stories told by multiple protagonists with different backgrounds and skills from the Great War.

Battlefield 1 launches on October 21st worldwide on Xbox One, Origin for PC and PlayStation 4. The Early Enlister Deluxe Edition is still available for purchase until October 21st, for instant access to the game.

Check out the single-player trailer for Battlefield 1 below:

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The Jackbox Party Pack 3 Launches Today

Jackbox Games, the independent developer of hilarious party games like Drawful, Quiplash, and YOU DON’T KNOW JACK, has announced the release of The Jackbox Party Pack 3 . Like its predecessors, this newest bundle in the series features five multiplayer games that use phones or tablets as controllers. By visiting Jackbox.tv and entering a room code, players anywhere in the world can join the fun – and up to 10,000 spectators can participate in the audience, in some instances affecting the outcome of the game.

The Jackbox Party Pack 3 features four totally original titles: Trivia Murder Party challenges up to eight contestants to test their knowledge while being held captive by a hilariously unstable serial killer; Guesspionage is a game of percentages that asks up to eight players to guess the public’s answers to thought-provoking questions; Tee K.O. combines your artistic side with witty wordplay by turning drawings and slogans from up to eight players into hysterical T-shirts; and Fakin’ It tasks up to six players with secret, ridiculous instructions, with the exception of one clueless player who must lie and cheat to avoid being discovered as “The Faker.”

The pack’s fifth title is the exciting return of a party game favorite. Quiplash 2 is a bigger, better version of the original, with more say-anything prompts and a new final round, The Last Lash. And for the first time, Quiplash 2 allows users to write their own custom prompts, making it infinitely replayable.

The Jackbox Party Pack 3 also includes improved audience and streaming features. VIP status within games allows censoring of unruly players or audience members, keeping games troll-free. And for family game nights, mature content can be eliminated in Guesspionage, Fakin’ It and Quiplash 2 with the Family Friendly Filter .

The Jackbox Party Pack 3 is available today as a digital title for the PlayStation4 computer entertainment system via the PlayStationStore (in North America), Windows and Mac via Steam, and Amazon Fire TV. It will be available on the PlayStation4 system in Europe on Oct. 19, as well as worldwide on Xbox One through the Xbox Games Store on Oct. 21. All formats are priced at $24.99. This title is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB. The games in the pack are accessible in English only.

For the latest from Jackbox Games, please visit www.jackboxgames.com , and follow the studio on Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.

Check out the trailer for The Jackbox Party Pack 3 below: