The freezing winter weather that seemed to have lasted 6 months here in NYC has finally ceased. Flowers are in bloom and the cars are covered in a green film, a reminder that spring is finally here. With spring’s arrival comes Playcrafting NYC’s Sping Play event at Microsoft in Time Square. This was my first time at an event by Playcrafting, but seeing some hidden gems was worth it.
The room is full of developers right here from New York and New Jersey looking to get people excited about their projects. After speaking to quite a few developers, most of them solo, it was obvious that these projects were more than that to them. These were their babies. One said developers caught my eye and his name was Matthew Alan Estock.
A Crowd Gathers…
A small crowd was gathered around an LCD TV with four excited people with X-Box controllers in hand. On the screen was the frantic action of a game called Kingdom Bash. The laughing, oohs and ahhs, and the playful threats shouted across the half circle of seats were sucking me in like a tractor beam. Once my hands were on the controller it was no surprise why the crowd had gathered. Kingdom Bash is just plain fun.
Inspired by games like Towerfall: Ascension , Kingdom Bash takes the 1v1v1v1 format and sets it on an isometric playing field. You take control of eloquently balanced archetypes; the Warrior, Ranger, Enchantress, and the Javelin throwing Dragoon. Each class has its own benefits and weaknesses. I chose the Enchantress for her homing fireball, even with her dreadfully slow footwork. The Warrior runs circles around her, but he needs to get real close to hit you. The Dragoon has a nice mid ranged attack and the Ranger can take you out from across the map but his arrows fly slower than other projectiles. I took a strategy of using the trees on the left side of the map as cover. I would pop out from one end and shoot a fireball that would seek out anybody close. Luckily for me, this was enough to keep the other players at bay killing each other. This was a good strategy to stay alive, but not very good for getting points. When speed boosts would spawn I was able to grab them and be much more mobile. This allowed me to dart closer to the action and take out a couple players at a time.
A Delicate Balance in the Kingdom.
The cool thing about each match is that everybody is so close together that the action is immediate. Power-ups drop in and out to give you an advantage like a speed boost or a shield and sometimes you get the power of invisibility. I found that the speed boost and homing fireball was a deadly combination as I could shoot and move quite effectively. Another cool feature is the ability to have monsters spawn and chase players around the map as they frantically try to kill each other. While this mode was still being fleshed out, it was really funny to see a stalemate between two players who could not stave off the monsters long enough to actually win the match.
As I mentioned before, Matthew is a solo developer that is taking this project on alone on purpose. This is his baby and it shows. A lot of care is going into the look, feel and balance of this game. Kingdom Bash is simple, yet complex in the way that it has you thinking about the character you choose and how you use the environment to your advantage. Don’t just take my word for it, you can play the alpha build in its current state in a pay what you want model here. Trust me, this game is going to dominate couches in living rooms around the world hopefully very soon.
Follow the game’s progress here and follow Matthew on twitter here.
Behaviour Digital today announced the kick-off of the DEATHGARDEN™ Closed Alpha on May 9th Beginning 3PM EST where you will be able to join this asymmetrical multiplayer action game where powerful Hunters prey on agile Runners within the Garden.
With this first phase of Closed Alpha, the goal is to test the online infrastructure and gather feedback on the core gameplay. Keys will be sent gradually to people who signed up on Deathgarden’s website.
The creative director, Ashley Pannell, wanted to create a competitive game “where controls are always responsive for both the runner and the hunter. It is about the users’ abilities and the choices they make to master the map.” For each round, on top of choosing a class, players have access to a skill tree where they need to choose which powers to upgrade.
The depth of the gameplay is what matters most for the team. Every map is procedurally generated within the Garden, an arena-like complex where runners willingly enter to compete against the champion hunter. “Mixed with the agility of the runner and hunter, the map elevation helps create memorable moments where players hide, escape and outsmart their opponent using the terrain and buildings,” said Pannell.
I didn’t know a thing about Pixel Noir or developer SWDTech Games before hopping into this preview beta. I wasn’t particularly sure what to expect, I’m not a huge fan of JRPGs. I’ve never had the patience for them really. But, I came away from my short time with the game thinking that Pixel Noir might be a must-buy when it finally does release. It does so much right with its aesthetic and presentation that it’s hard to put down. There’s always something to do, a case to crack, or some dumpster coffee to find that keep things interesting. I always wanted to see what was around the corner. SWDTech Games has put together a really cool, slick, and surprisingly dark world that I think will strike the nerve of quite a few gamers.
Pixel Noir is a kickstarted game that doubled its initial goal. After listening to the developers Kunal Majmudar and Len Stuart as guests on Nintendo Duel Screens, I knew I just had to give this game a shot and see what it was all about. Now…I’m not gonna walk through the beta from open to close or give you detailed descriptions of every interaction I had in the world of Pixel Noir; I’d rather you experience it for yourself at some point. Instead, I’m going to give you a few of my negative and positive takeaways from my short time with the game.
Get Sucked Into a World Noir
The first thing that stood out to me about Pixel Noir was the artstyle. That gritty, smokey noir feel isn’t something I would normally associate with pixel art but SWDTech Games has really knocked it out of the park. They did a great job encapsulating the grime of a crime ridden city being illuminated by neon lights; The subtle constant fear that comes along with dimly lit city docks and back alleys. The character portraits and dialog are full of character. I felt this mixture of Frank Miller’s Sin City with some deranged demonic pulses of the first few Max Payne titles. Between the comic throwbacks and other-worldly manifestations are some more lighthearted comedic nods that had me chuckle out loud a few more times that I’d have expected from such a dark title.
The first time I went into the game’s “detective” mode to search my surroundings was a particular highlight. There’s this fuzzy graying effect that’s coupled with a booming silence and it really nails the insane ticks of a detective’s attention to detail. It makes you feel like you’re on the cusp of a mental breakdown while you’re searching for clues. This level of dedication to art seems to permeate through out the entirety of Pixel Noir.
New Dog, Old UI
One thing that’s always bugged me about traditional style JRPGs were how endless and unorganized all the menus seem. Unfortunately Pixel Noir could use some tweaking in this respect. Items are kind of just all shoved together in a list that eventually went far past what was visible on screen. Searching through this kind of a list for a specific Item can be a chore. There’s zero organization. Your main and side quests suffer a similar fate. They’re shoved into your “Cases” menu in the order that you pick them up. This sub-menu can fill up rather quickly and get a bit overwhelming.
I feel like this information overload is more a symptom of the genre as a whole than of Pixel Noir itself. Luckily, Pixel Noir is in early access and has more than enough time to make changes. I’d love to see some kid of “Sort By” Feature added or some kid of sub menu for different item types and a way to sort quests.
Jammin’ out in Crime Alley
The music in the game is a total standout. If you like bit chip or the sweet nostalgic tones of the NES and SNES in general this soundtrack will be right up your….Alley. Composer Kunal Majmudar nails the feel of the era Pixel Noir takes inspiration from and wedges it perfectly into a noir frame. I was bobbing my head along to all the battle music and the other area specific tracks; So much that I ended up listening to the, hopefully unfinished, soundtrack on a pretty regular basis the weeks after I played Pixel Noir. It can’t be understated how much this adds to the overall feel of the game. It cashes the check the visuals signed. Hell, it even won an award for audio at MAGfest 2017.
The Cannery Theme and The Ballad of Vance Royale are particular favorites. I’m looking forward to listening to whatever other music comes out of the final product. If it’s anywhere near as good as what I’ve already heard I’ll be rocking it pretty regularly.
As I stated at the outset of this preview, I’m not huge into JRPGs. Call me a blasphemer but they’ve never really been my thing. Pixel Noir does a great job of giving me a reason to play a genre I’ve often found to be boring and not very engaging. Don’t get me wrong, Pixel Noir does retain some of the turn-based tropes of JRPGs. It’s just that the rest of the game is so well put together that I’m willing to deal with the tedium of traditional turn-based gameplay. The balance that it finds between investigation, exploration, and combat make for impressive for a first outing for SWDtech. The more I play the more positive I am that almost anyone will find something to love about Pixel Noir. I’m amped to see what more they add to the game by the time it hits full release later this year.
Deathgarden is the newest game from Behaviour Interactive and is the spiritual successor to Death by Daylight. Following the same idea, Deathgarden has you assuming the role of one of five “runners” who’s goal is to try to activate 2 out of 3 totem poles to open the exits, while being actively hunted by a heavy armored “Hunter.” Once you activate a totem, your location is revealed to the Hunter who will come quickly and hard. Don’t worry though, the hunters are without ways to defend themselves.
Each Runner is armed with wrist arrows to stun and knock back the Hunter. Should you be downed by the Hunter, your team can rescue you and revive you, but you will most likely be sent to the blood post to think about what you have done. Once again, your team can rescue you from the “blood post,” but the Hunter can execute you removing you from the game. Once the “Hunter” has removed 3 people from the game, the round ends. Best 2 out of 3 rounds wins. The runners are playing in third person, while the Hunter is playing in first person. This whole experience creates a really fun “cat and mouse” type gameplay that I can see being fun for a long time.
Overall, although in early alpha, the game ran super smooth and without many hiccups. The Hunter did seem to be a little overpowered. Several times, I was downed and was instantly sent to the Blood Post only to have the hunter run straight over to me to execute me without my team having a chance to rescue me. When I explained this to the dev, they stated to me that the Blood Posts don’t become active until at least three people have been downed and even after a blood post is activated, there is a 15 second wait til a runner could be executed. Playing the game, it did not seem to be the case, but I also wasn’t counting the seconds or watching to see how many runners were downed before me. Which speaks well for the game and not me playing. I may have been a bad teammate, but the game was so intense that I was running for my life most of the time, enjoying myself while playing a game that normally would not have appealed to me. Deathgarden has opened my eyes to these types of games, giving me a reason to go back and try Death by Daylight.
Another Proven Gamer, Matt Murray, previewed the game from the Hunters Perspective. Here are his thoughts:
Hey everyone, Matt here. I previewed the Hunter role in Deathgarden opposite to Tricky’s experience with the runner. I’ve played quite a few asymmetrical multiplayer games but none have ever really nailed the formula. Jason was scary in Friday the 13th and the monsters in Evolve all were pretty cool but playing as the bad guy in these types of games often feels slightly limiting, underwhelming, and kind of clunky. I’ve always felt more like I was flailing and failing than some monster of total bad-assery. That is decidedly not the case in Deathgarden. I ended up playing two rounds, I won one and lost the other. The whole time I felt like I was walking imminent Death. I felt like the soldier from Doom that had been accidentally dropped into a bad teen slasher flick. They were a cabin full of kids expecting a machete wielding maniac. Unfortunately, for them, I was a shotgun duct taped to a cheetah.
Though I only pulled out the win in one of my two rounds I spent most of my time smiling like an idiot. Deathgarden, if nothing else, is incredibly fun to play. Bouncing between the three capture points I’d watch the runners scurry off like mice as I’d approach. Most times I would down at least one of them. I liked that I was able to see an outline when one or more of the runners was at a particular capture point. It made it easier to track who was where. I wasn’t entirely clear on how the Blood Posts worked. I know my win condition was to kill three of the runners, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to trigger the stands when I needed too. This was probably more due to how much info I had to take in prior to playing than poor instruction.
In my time with the game, even though I did feel extremely powerful, I never felt overpowered. The round I won was by the skin of my teeth and the round I lost wasn’t particularly close. I really had a blast playing Deathgarden and can’t wait for it to make it to full release. I think they’ve hit the nerve of the genre that so many have missed.
The game is in early alpha with no release date. Platforms unknown at this time though we played on PC for this demo. Price point is also an unknown at this time. One thing I was assured of, however, was Behaviour Interactive will be staying far away from loot-boxes stating “We don’t want to go down the same path as EA”.
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!
Since its release, Destiny has been one of the most polarizing titles in the industry. Hardcore fans swore that Destiny’s raids were well worth the grind while others damned its RNG heavy loot drops and progression system. While the base game never truly grabbed me, the initial beta back in 2014 had me amped. The gunplay was as tight as I’d expect from Bungie and the promise of a brand new universe to explore and learn about was too much to keep me (a lifelong Halo fanatic) away. What I found out when Destiny was finally released, and I’d made my way through it, was that Bungie may have shown a bit too much of its hand with the initial Beta.
In the months following Destiny’s release, myself and a host of others abandoned the game due to its extremely repetitive nature. The tone and cadence of, “We’ve Woken the Hive!!” is burned into our brains to this day. Trudging through the same areas over and over again became tedious, and the loot grind was a nightmare (RIP The Loot Cave). To Bungie’s credit, regardless of all the bad some of us saw, they hooked in tons of players for thousands of hours and created a fanbase as hardcore as the Halo players they had cultivated in the decade before.
As we come to the end of Destiny’s life cycle it is clear that Bungie learned a thing or two about what makes Destiny different from the gamut of other games on the market. They figured out how exactly to present this growing universe and gained a bit of knowledge about what makes its player base tick.
With all this in mind, I booted up the Destiny 2 beta Friday night and was greeted with an absolute spectacle of an opening mission.
Homecoming, Destiny 2’s first mission, bleeds storytelling. The familiar faces of Cayde-6, Zavala, and Ikora Rey pushed me through the destruction of The Tower. What was once a home for all Guardians under the safety of The Traveler, has now been reduced to rubble as the forces of Emporer Ghaul sweep in to capture The Traveler’s Light. Flaming pods crash down from the sky unleashing waves upon waves of Cabal soldiers. Fighting these fearsome foes feels more varied this time around thanks to some new Cabal troops; The Gladiator, The Incedior, and the War Beast, all of which fill a new role in the Cabal roster. It also had me wondering what new troops may show up for The Fallen and Vex factions.
Unable to stop the onslaught of Cabal on The Tower I was taken onboard a Cabal command ship. The command ship is daunting and impressively massive. Upon landing, I saw pods of Cabal being launched off the back toward battle. The fights here and at the Tower are more frantic and engaging than I remember from the original Destiny. After making my way through the ship and a few of the more beefy Cabal generals I finally come face to face with Ghaul. He laughs at how puny and weak I am as the massive machine that has attached itself to the Traveler seems to suck the light out of it and completely zap my powers. With my power gone, I’m helpless. Ghaul pitifully nudges me from the ledge of the ship with his foot claiming that The Light now belongs to him.
It’s immediately evident that Destiny 2 benefits from being developed for a single generation of console this time around, and maybe Bungie is finally giving us the story we deserve. Everything just looks and feels better; environments feel full and characters are more fleshed out from the get-go. The skybox is flooded ships swarming around the tower, far off battles being fought in the sky, and the sight of The Traveler being “captured” all make this mission as momentous as it should.
The Strike….Strikes back
The Inverted Spire strike is the only other playable mission in the beta. I went into it excited to see what new mechanics Destiny 2 would throw at me and it delivered big time. Two other guardians and I are tasked with investigating why the Cabal have sent forces to Nessus, a new Vex controlled planet in Destiny 2. After blasting our way through both Vex and Cabal forces and jumping through some “Vex Milk Waterfalls” we find out the Cabal is trying to dig out The Mind from deep within the planet. Soon we find ourselves at the active dig site. Giant drills swirl around while the Cabal lie in wait protecting whatever it is they find deep in the dirt of Nessus. The gigantic drill arms dangerously swung by as my two cohorts and I fought our way downward. I found out the hard way that navigating through the deadly tornado the drill presents isn’t as easy as it looks.
Finally making our way down we see exactly what the Cabal were digging for, Protheon; a huge Vex Minotaur. We start to chunk him down and fight off the supporting Vex forces when suddenly the floor disappears beneath our feet. We fall helplessly to the floor below and continue the battle. After a few rounds of Protheon throwing some new attacks at us and quelling the constant surge of vex troops, the floor again disappears beneath us and we descend to a third and final arena. A string of new attacks from Protheon begins. Vex milk surrounds the small circular pad we’re now fighting on and we’re being flung into it from all angles. Though the walk-able area of this new arena is quite small, the chamber itself is eerily enormous, and Vex seem to appear out of nowhere coming in from all sides. Protheon is visibly damaged in this last leg of the fight, which surprised me. It went from a hulking mass of electronics and metal to a broken down vessel more reminiscent of a broken terminator.
With a few final rounds of attacks, we take down Protheon, The modular mind, and make our way back to orbit.
As I mentioned before, Destiny didn’t hook me but I did play through it and much later played though some of the DLC. The Inverted Spire and Homecoming felt so much more intense than anything I’ve played in Destiny before. Let’s hope that the rest of the game pans out just as well.
Ah, yes, PvP. The other half of the Destiny experience. Two modes are currently available in the beta. Classic Control makes its return and a new mode called Countdown, which plays similar to Call of Duty’s Seek and Destroy. The first and most noticeable thing in both PvP modes is that the teams are comprised of 4 players each, scaled down from the 6v6 in the original Destiny. This is both a blessing and a curse. 4v4 feels more like home for Bungie and works well in the two maps for the respective modes: Endless Vale and Midtown. The downside to the downscaled team size is if a teammate drops out at any point, pulling out the win seems almost impossible. In a traditional deathmatch game type, I’m sure the extra player won’t matter as much, but in Control and Countdown every teammate matters. Maybe we’ll see enough outcry to at least get a 6v6 mode added, but for the time being, it seems Bungie is intent on keeping it at 4v4.
The maps mentioned above, Midtown and Endless Vale, are both pretty straightforward. Endless Vale, the Control map, is a relatively symmetrical map with A and C on opposite sides with many paths leading to B on a circular platform a bit set back in the middle of the map. It reminds me of a smaller version of Shores of Time from the original Destiny. The map design is full of great sight lines and lanes between flags, as you’d expect from Bungie. Neither side feels particularly imbalanced. I had a blast playing through it with different weapons figuring out what work best for different lines. It really brought me right back into the fold.
The second map, Midtown, is an asymmetrical map seemingly set in a town center or bazaar of some type. It’s different than any other map I’ve seen in destiny. Midtown is also host to the new mode Countdown. I’m not sure if the map is specific for this game type or not, but it was a blast either way. Much like Call of Duty’s Seek and Destroy, one team attacks by trying to set off bombs while the other defends. Either side killing off every player on the other team will win the game. I found out pretty harshly that this mode requires quite a lot of strategy and that the run-and-gun lone wolf approach didn’t work so well; coordination and communication is absolutely key. I could easily see this mode being a favorite among the more hardcore PvP fans out there.
The Destiny 2 Beta is an odd beast. Comparing it to the beta for the original Destiny, you can see that Bungie doesn’t want to spoil too much of Destiny 2 too early. But does that mean that we’re in for more of the same or have they truly learned their lesson?
Playing through the beta missions a dozen or so times and putting some serious time into the PvP, I can’t help but feel like I want to see more; though there’s not as much to play through here. Bungie has me hooked again and I truly hope this time they deliver. The PvP feels as crisp as ever even though the teams are a bit leaner this time around. If the cinematic tone of the two missions is any indication, we’re in for one hell of a treat. With new worlds to explore, some new enemies to fight, and a new home there’s a lot to look forward too. But what I am most looking forward to is Bungie delivering on their initial promise with Destiny. I know they can build a universe like no other, and hopefully Destiny becomes just that.
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.
Ninja Theory has announced that their upcoming game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice will launch for PlayStation 4 and PC on August 8, 2017. It was also announced that the game would be a digital-only release. Pre-orders are now available on all platforms. Players who pre-order on PS4 will get a Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Dynamic Theme that depicts the iconic burning tree scene from the game. PC players will receive an exclusive digital comic short, Hellblade: Senua’s Song.
Video game studio Microids and creator Benoit Sokal reveal new features in Syberia 3, the latest installment in the cult adventure game saga. Currently in development for Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac, Syberia 3 is scheduled for release on April 20 in the UK and April 25 in the US.
You may recall, in the latest chapter of Kate Walker’s journey, we find her adrift on a makeshift boat. By good fortune, a caravan of Youkol –who also appeared in Syberia 2–discovers her before she draws her last breath. Determined to escape their common enemies, Kate decides to aid the nomads accomplish their lone ancestral tradition: to accompany their snow ostriches in their seasonal migration to the sacred steppes so they can reproduce. A voyage through enchanting and wasted lands that will see the young woman experience her most dangerous and marvelous adventure yet,with her enemies always on her heels.
Now in true 3D, Syberia 3 has been developed for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac Since its inception. Players will enjoy an all-new freedom to explore the magnificent countrysides and cities, unraveling their mysteries and enigmas in a manner never before seen in the saga. Original score has been performed for the game by Inon Zur (Fallout, Dragon Age…), who also scored Syberia 2.
Since its announcement, players have been teased with short snippets and teases of the 4th installment of the Mass Effect Series, Mass Effect: Andromeda. Last night at the Game Awards, fans finally got what they were waiting for, an extended gameplay demo. The trailer showed off the fight for survival, resources, and allies. As the “Pathfinder” it is your role to find a new home for all of humanity.
The trailer showed off elements such as the Nomad, a six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle and a scanning tool to solve puzzles and gather information. Players also familiar combat that featured a combination of futuristic gun play, gear and powers to choose from.
Mass Effect Andromeda is slated for a March 2017 release on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out the gameplay demo below:
Earlier this year at E3, we saw Bethesda relaunch Prey. Last night at the Game Awards, Bethesda and developer Arkane Studios showed off an extended gameplay demo. The demo showed a wide variety of gameplay elements including gun play, stealth, the player gaining alien abilities, a crafting system, and a few other neat tricks.
Prey launches for Playstatino 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2017. Check out the extended gameplay demo below:
Today, Ubisoft revealed details of the Watch Dogs 2 Season Pass. Players will be able to continue their hacker journey with several hours of additional mission content including new co-op challenges and difficulty levels, outfits, vehicles and lots of customisation items. Each downloadable content will be available with a 30-day exclusivity for PlayStation 4 owners.
• DLC 1 – T-Bone Content Bundle: Players will get the style and the swagger of legendary hacker Raymond “T-Bone” Kenney with his truck and outfit, and discover Mayhem, a new co-op difficulty level that will pit players against a new enemy archetype armed with advanced weaponry. (Available on December 13th on PlayStation 4).
• DLC 2 – Human Conditions: Through several hours of additional mission content in three new world stories, players will uncover San Francisco’s biggest scandals on the cutting edge of science, medicine and misuse. In Human Conditions, players will also experience new elite co-op missions and face a new enemy type: Jammer, with the technology to hunt players down. (Available Spring 2017).
• DLC 3 – No Compromise: Players will experience an all-new world story which mixes Marcus up in the seedy underbelly of San Francisco and puts him in the crosshairs of the Russian mafia. Also includes a new co-op mode: Showd0wn, where only the best players will survive. (Available Spring 2017).
• Psychedelic Pack: Customise Marcus’ outfit, weapon, drone and car in the grooviest style. (Available on Day One).
• Root Access Bundle: Includes full sets of outfits, new cars, a drone skin and a new weapon, as well as the Zodiac Killer mission. (Available this Winter).
The Season Pass is included in the Watch Dogs 2 Gold Edition and is also available to purchase separately for $29.99. Watch Dogs 2 will be available worldwide on consoles November 15th and on Windows PC November 29th.
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
Today, Ubisoft revealed the full tracklist for Just Dance 2017, the latest installment in the best-selling* dance game franchise of all time. With more than 60 million games sold in the franchise since its debut in 2009, and 80 million players, Just Dance is back with its most diverse tracklist to date. Just Dance 2017 is coming to all motion-control gaming platforms, including Nintendo’s Wii U, Wii and NX system, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation4 computer entertainment system and PlayStation3 computer entertainment system on October 25th and for the first time in the history of the franchise, the game will also be launched digitally on Windows PC**.
This year, the game includes more than 40 hit tracks, such as “Cheap Thrills” by Sia ft. Sean Paul and “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, and classic favorites like “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen and quirky tunes such as “Oishii Oishii” by Wanko Ni Mero Mero. Additionally, the brand new Maroon 5 track that debuted this week, “Don’t Wanna Know” will also be included in the game.
The complete tracklist includes:
·“All About Us” – Jordan Fisher
·“Bailar” – Deorro Ft. Elvis Crespo
·“Bang” – Anitta
·“Bonbon” – Era Istrefi
·“Cake By The Ocean” – DNCE
·“Can’t Feel My Face”- The Weeknd
·“Carnaval Boom”- Latino Sunset
·“Cheap Thrills”- Sia Ft. Sean Paul
·“Cola Song”- INNA Ft. J Balvin
·“DADDY” – PSY Ft. CL of 2NE1
·“Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen
·“Don’t Wanna Know”- Maroon 5 Ft. Kendrick Lamar
·“Dragostea Din Tei” – O-Zone
·“El Tiki”- Maluma
·“Ghost In The Keys” – Halloween Thrills
·“Groove” – Jack & Jack
·“Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira Ft. Wyclef Jean
·“I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll”- Fast Forward Highway
·“Into You” – Ariana Grande
·“La Bicicleta” – Carlos Vives & Shakira
·“Last Christmas” – Santa Clones
·“Lean On” – Major Lazer Ft. MØ & DJ Snake
·“Leila” – Cheb Salama
·“Let Me Love You” – DJ Snake Ft. Justin Bieber (Ubi Club Reward)
·“Like I Would” – Zayn
·“Little Swing” – AronChupa Ft. Little Sis Nora
·“Oishii Oishii” – Wanko Ni Mero Mero
·“PoPiPo” – Hatsune Miku
·“RADICAL” – Dyro & Dannic
·“Run The Night” – Gigi Rowe
·“Scream & Shout” – Will.i.am Ft. Britney Spears
·“September” – Equinox Stars
·“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” – Beyonce
·“Sorry” – Justin Bieber
·“Te Dominar” – Daya Luz
·“Tico-Tico no Fubá” – The Frankie Bostello Orchestra
·“Watch Me (Whip/ Nae Nae)” – Silentó
·“What Is Love” – Ultraclub 90
·“Wherever I Go” – OneRepublic
·“Worth It” – Fifth Harmoney Ft. Kid Ink
Players can start warming up for Just Dance 2017 now with the free demo of “Sorry” from Justin Bieber, downloadable on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and the Nintendo eShop. Additionally, the Just Dance Controller App also makes the game more accessible for players on new-gen consoles by allowing players to dance without additional accessories such as cameras.
For players who just can’t get enough dancing, Just Dance Unlimited, the dance-on-demand subscription streaming service, available for current-gen consoles owners and PC players, will offer a catalog of more than 200 songs at launch and access to exclusive tracks and new content that will be added through the year. The Standard version of Just Dance 2017 will include three months access to Just Dance Unlimited on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U and Digital PC.
For the latest information on Just Dance 2017, the Just Dance Controller app, or Just Dance Unlimited, please visit: www.justdancegame.com .
Follow Just Dance on Twitter @JustDanceGame and use hashtag #JustDance2017.
Data from NPD Institute in NCSA and from GfK Institute in EMEA – April 2015
**Just Dance 2017 will also be coming to the NX system from Nintendo in 2017.
Check out the announcement trailer for Just Dance 2017 below:
Wired Productions announced today that the rock-themed, co-op dungeon brawler Super Dungeon Bros will support an extended Closed Beta starting on October 14th and Open Beta for the weekend of October 21st on Steam. The back-to-back Betas will serve as an opportunity for fans to get early hands-on with Axl, Lars, Freddie and Ozzie in Super Dungeon Bros ahead of its worldwide launch on November 1st, 2016 for Xbox One, PlayStation4, PC and Steam.
Gamers with access to a Steam account are encouraged to sign up for the Closed Beta, which begins on October 14th at 4.00PM BST and runs through October 20th. During this period, fans will have a chance to try out the game’s single-player and local multiplayer modes with four players. To sign up for the Beta and for more details, please visit www.superdungeonbros.com .
Gamers will also have the opportunity to get hands-on time with Super Dungeon Bros in a fully online Open Beta offering four player co-op matchmaking with other Beta participants. Interested gamers can download the game for Steam during its Open Beta period from October 21st until October 24th at 8.00AM BST when the Beta will close: http://store.steampowered.com/app/306000/.
Io-Interactive has announced the destination and release date for the Season Finale of HITMAN, which will take place in Hokkaido, Japan on October 31.
The Season Finale for HITMAN Season One features a mission called “Situs Inversus” and is the culmination of everything players will have learnt in terms of both gameplay and story.
The Hokkaido location is set within the grounds of the hyper-exclusive GAMA private hospital and resort. This secluded facility is a fusion of Japanese beauty and cutting-edge technology, featuring its own Zen gardens, organic sushi restaurant and traditional Japanese hot spring. Agent 47 must locate two targets in this climactic Season Finale.
“It was a brave decision to go fully digital episodic with Hitman, fundamentally changing how we make the game, and for us it has been a major success,” said Hannes Seifert, Studio Head, Io-Interactive. “I want to say a big thank you to all the players for making this possible! Together we’ve built and run the biggest and most replayable locations of any Hitman game and added new live content every single week since launch. And although we’re now completing season one, this is only the beginning for our ever expanding World of Assassination.”
HITMAN began with a Prologue and Paris location in March, continued with Episode 2: Sapienza in April, Episode 3: Marrakesh in May, the Summer Bonus Episode in July, Episode 4: Bangkok in August, Episode 5: Colorado in September and the season finale, Episode 6: Hokkaido on October 31.
Check out the teaser trailer for the finale below:
inXile Entertainment has announced that Wasteland 3, the sequel to 2014’s Wasteland 2, has successfully funded its Fig (www.Fig.co ) campaign launched on October 5, 2016, passing the goal of 2.75M USD. There is still time for fans to back Wasteland 3 as the campaign is not due to end until November 3, 2016.
“Wasteland 3 represents the most ambitious title that we have crowdfunded so far,” said Brian Fargo, CEO of inXile Entertainment. “We wouldn’t be here without our fans and backers carrying the torch and we want to continue to repay them by making the best role-playing games possible. With Wasteland 3 we aim to over-deliver like never before.”
In Wasteland 3, inXile builds upon its award-winning franchise, beginning shortly after the end of Wasteland, with the player starting the game as the sole survivor of Team November, a Ranger squad dispatched to the icy Colorado wastes. Colorado is a land of buried secrets, lost technology, fearsome lunatics, and deadly factions, most of which have never heard of the Desert Rangers.
About Wasteland 3 Wasteland 3 is a party-based roleplaying game, playable in single-player or multiplayer, with a renewed focus on reactivity and strategic combat.
· MULTI-PLAYER: Playable in single- and multiplayer experiences.
· COMBAT: Deep turn-based combat, evolving on Wasteland 2‘s strategic options and unique encounter design
• By including vehicles, environmental dangers, and a revamped, more fluid action system, Wasteland 3 evolves from Wasteland 2’s deep tactical turn-based combat and unique encounter design.
· GAMEPLAY: For the first time, players can play by themselves or with friends in a story-driven synchronous or asynchronous multiplayer experience. Choices open up mission opportunities, areas to explore, story arcs, and tons of other content.
· RANGER BASE: Your Ranger Base is a core part of the experience. As you help the local people and establish a reputation in Colorado, quests, and narrative will force you to make decisions on how to lead.
· ENVIRONMENT: The game will be set in the savage lands of frozen Colorado, where survival is difficult and a happy outcome is never guaranteed. Players will face difficult moral choices and make sacrifices that will change the game world.
· STORYLINE: Wasteland 3 will feature a deep and engaging story utilizing a newly-revamped dialog tree system from the celebrated writers of Torment: Tides of Numenera.
· PLATFORMS: Simultaneously releasing to Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Check out the “A Frosty Reception” trailer for the game below:
BioWare, an Electronic Arts Inc., and Lucasfilm has unveiled the world premiere of the new ‘Betrayed’ cinematic trailer, revealing a first look at the prequel story for the upcoming expansion Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Eternal Throne. The new digital expansion will be available for download on December 2, free* to all subscribers of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and will offer an exciting starting place for new players to begin their saga.
Knights of the Eternal Throne puts the player at the center of their own explosive battle to rule the galaxy. As the Outlander, a veteran of the Great Galactic War, players will have the power to make their mark based on their light and dark side choices. Stakes are high as the player faces the most powerful villains in the galaxy including Emperor Valkorion and Empress Vaylin, as you lead the fight to take control of the Eternal Throne!
Ruling the galaxy offers expanded power and influence through the new Galactic Command system. Alone or with friends, players can ignite light and dark side battles, face all-new erupting confrontations known as Uprisings, and unlock powerful rewards. In the latest expansion, players will be able to customize their combat encounters with three challenge levels, giving everyone the option to play their way.
BioWare also announced pre-order rewards for Knights of the Eternal Throne. Players who are subscribed to Star Wars: The Old Republic by October 25 get the infamous mercenary bounty hunter, Shae Vizla, as their companion. Those subscribed as of November 27 can rise above their enemies in the new Rapid Recon Walker Mount – stay subscribed throughout the entire period to receive 3-days of early access to the expansion. For more information on the Pre-Order Rewards, visit: www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com/Eternal-Throne .
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a Free-to-Play*, award-winning BioWare Online RPG set thousands of years before the classic Star Wars movies. Players team up with friends online to fight in heroic battles between the Republic and Empire, exploring a galaxy of vibrant planets and experiencing visceral Star Wars combat.
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. has announced that TALES OF BERSERIA will be coming to the Americas on January 24, 2017 for the PlayStation4 computer entertainment system and on January 27, 2017 for PC via STEAM. The latest installment of the long-running franchise has players taking on the role of Velvet, a tortured soul who acts purely on instinct as she sets out on a quest for revenge.
TALES OF BERSERIA will ship with a collector’s edition for the PlayStation 4 system when the game is available on January 24, 2017, and will be limited to 10,000 copies. Fans are encouraged to pre-order the TALES OF BERSERIA Collector’s Edition to secure their copy starting today. The individually numbered collector’s editions will have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $149.99 and are now available for pre-order at participating retailers.
The TALES OF BERSERIA Collector’s Edition will include the following items:
· TALES OF BERSERIA game software
· Exclusive TALES OF BERSERIA SteelBook® case
· Velvet and Laphicet Chibi Kyun Chara figures
· Exclusive 8-Bit retro keychain set
· Special Selection Music CD
· Hardcover prequel novel “A Witch’s Tale: A World Full of Daemons”
· Set of TALES OF BERSERIA trading cards
· TALES OF BERSERIA starter strategy guide artbook
Check out the “The Origin” trailer for the game below:
Dishonored 2 has released a new trailer, highlighting that sometimes the right choice is to get away. “Daring Escapes” shows Emily and Corvo using their abilities to escape the Royal Conservatory.
In the trailer, Emily uses her variety of misdirection abilities such as such as “Doppelganger”, “Transposition”, and “Shadow Walk” to confuse her enemies. She travels long distances using “Far Reach” and scouts out areas in advance with “Dark Vision”.
Corvo’s escape highlights his ability to bend time, blink from location to another, and take control of his enemies to move without being detected.
Dishonored 2 releases on November 11 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
To see all the abilities that Corvo and Emily bring to the table, check out the full trailer below: