We found out during E3 just how different Final Fantasy VII Remake's battle system will be from the original game. We also found out that Materia, the magical gems that can be slotted into equipment to let characters cast spells, still plays a big role in the game's battle system and it's even visible within the character's weapons. It turns out that, while Materia will still be in the game, not every single piece will make it, and some new Materia will be introduced.
The news comes from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, which printed an interview with director Tetsuya Nomura last week, but put up an expanded version online yesterday. In the interview, Nomura said that Materia works just like it did in the original, which presumably he is talking about the ability to equip it into weapons. He did also admit, however, that some Materia doesn't make sense for the new battle system, and some new Materia makes a lot of sense for the new battle system.
It does, of course, stand to reason that Materia like Enemy Away or Sneak Attack don't have much of a point in a game without random battles. While Nomura didn't detail which ones he was thinking of, it will be interesting to see what additions are made for the more active battle system. While summons have been confirmed for the game, it hasn't been made clear how exactly, as the pre-order listings for the games show different summons as DLC for different paid tiers. These summons might be available in the final game or not, but so far there hasn't been mention of any other Materia as DLC.
Final Fantasy VII Remake, or at least the Midgar portion of it, will release on PlayStation 4 on March 3.
Video game length can be a touchy subject for people. Some people can't stand games that are too short, while others don't want to play anything too long. Those spending full price on a new game want it to last a decent bit of time, however, and it sounds like Borderlands 3 is probably going to deliver.
In an interview with GamesBeat, creative director Paul Sage commented on the game's ambition by mentioning that the game will last you a while just to do the main campaign.
"There’s so much to the game," Sage told the outlet. "We go to these different worlds. The length of the game being 35 hours, if you just go through the main story — that’s not including doing too many side missions. I think there was a lot of ambition right at the beginning."
Usually when developers give hour counts for their games, you want to subtract a bit, but 35 hours does sound like it would be in line with Borderlands 2, if not a bit over. So you can expect to spend a lot of quality time with your friends, especially with the new level scaling feature, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 13.
Alongside the torrent of blockbuster games that occupy the open sprawl of E3's show floor, there is also a wave of smaller-budget, independent titles. This year the one that caught our attention (even winning our Best Indie award) the most is Carrion, a "reverse horror" game being developed by Phobia Game Studios and published by champion of small and weird games, Devolver Digital. We went hands-on with Carrion, where you play some kind of monster or science experiment gone wrong, trying to escape from a facility filled with scientists and soldiers.
Here's why we came away impressed with this horrific outing and why you should keep your eye on it as it slithers toward its 2020 release.
You Get To Eat People
As the mysterious creature, you have a number of powers that we'll get into soon. To recharge those powers, you need to constantly mitigate your size. To add mass to your form, you're gonna need to munch down on hapless fools who come your way.
Devouring foes in Carrion is a fittingly gory slapstick affair, with limbs being flung around in every direction to the sounds of munching and squelching. It's as frantic and goofy as it is hilarious and never got old during the hour that I played the game.
Your Powers Are Diabolical
Those aforementioned powers that you need to turn humans into snacks make your creature go from being a hulking monster of death to something even more dangerous. During the demo, we saw two powers on display: a webshot and invisibility. While invisibility is pretty upfront, letting you slither past security cameras and armored foes, it's still useful and nifty, making you feel like The Predator. Webshot blasts foes into walls and leaves them hanging, still kicking, for you to munch on later. It's a smart way to remove one foe from the equation when you step into a room filled with multiple enemies.
Phobia also said a power is in the works that lets you take on the form of certain humans to blend in with them but we didn't get to see that in action.
Carrion Is Actually Challenging
You might think the fact that you're a big roving monstrosity of death might make the game easy. That's not the case at all. Beyond having to navigate the Metroid-like structure of Carrion's facility, the enemies who roam it are often encased in armor and wield assault rifles and flamethrowers. They are, in other words, uneatable. However, that doesn't mean that killing them isn't fun.
You'll have to use your nasty beast's writhing tentacles to pick these fellows up and slam them against walls and ledges until the bodies inside said armor are fleshy, red mush. However, with multiple foes, you'll often have to strategize. This can mean grabbing one guy, pulling him into a vent, and smashing him around before going after the other one. Sometimes it's best to avoid fights all together since you can't eat these enemies for health.
It's Shaping Up To Be The Game John Carpenter's The Thing Fans Have Always Wanted
Yes, John Carpenter's The Thing has already had a solid video game adaptation (you can watch us play it right here). However, Carrion's (unofficial) take on that movie's concept, of a big nasty monster assimilating, destroying, and doing everything it can to escape mankind's grasp, is infinitely more interesting to me since it puts you in the role of the monster itself.
I had a blast tearing through the facility and the scientists that inhabit it. So far Carrion is good gory fun, and I look forward to untangling the mystery of who this creature is and whether or not the people I'm turning into chow deserve it.
Contra fans have a lot to celebrate recently. After the series was assumed long-dead, despite a vague teaser during Konami's E3 2012 presser, but has recently gotten a collection, a new game announcement, and soon a spiritual sequel in the form of Blazing Chrome. Now we finally have a release date for Blazing Chrome, a very Contra: Hard Corps-inspired 2D run-and-gun action game. You'll be fighting off a new alien menace on July 11.
The news comes as a result of a new, and presumably final, trailer drop for the game that shows off the hidden characters. One of those hidden characters is a ninja and that looks to pretty significantly change up the gameplay from the shooty characters. Check out the trailer below.
Blazing Chrome is developed by Brazilian studio JoyMasher and is part of The Arcade Crew, an initiative by studio DotEmu to channel old arcade-style classic games with new games in the modern era. Looking at footage and having played this game before at events, I feel like they're definitely nailing it.
You can pick up Blazing Chrome on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC in just a few weeks on July 11.
Rooster Teeth's animated show, RWBY, has been slowly inching its way into video games as of recent. Not only did the characters find themselves in Arc System Works' BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, but there's also been Steam and phone games for the series already. Now, Crunchyroll Games and Rooster Teeth are teaming up for yet another RWBY games for mobile devices.
Called RWBY: Crystal Quest, the newest game is a match-three puzzler that involves matching gems. Players choose from their favorite RWBY characters, in the RWBY Chibi spinoff style, and battle against other characters from the series. You do this, of course, through dropping gems and matching three of them in a row similar to something like Panel de Pon.
Characters thus far include expected mainstays like Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang, as you would think from a series titled RWBY.
Agent 47's latest assignment in Hitman 2 takes him to New York as part of the game's expansion pass, which is available for free for pass owners and those who've purchased the first expansion pack (it's not available for individual purchase).
The NY sandbox map features The Bank (Golden Handshake) campaign mission, contracts mode for the mission, Master Progression, items that can be carried over to other parts of the game, and more.
During our trip to Respawn for our Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order cover story we spent a lot of time with the developers talking about the process of designing and creating a new canonical Star Wars video game, played with the lightsaber combat extensively, and watched a handful of hands-off demos through various levels. We also talked about the story, but that was the element the game’s director, Stig Asmussen, was the most hesitant to offer extensive details about. His reticence is understandable as it is the element that hides the most surprises and is the most prone to spoilers. We got some spoiler-free details out of Asmussen and the team though, and we shared many of them in our cover story (which you can read in full here), but we wanted to take this opportunity to share everything we know so far.
Before diving into what we learned at the studio, Lucasfilm made a small, easy-to-miss announcement during E3 that sheds at least a little bit of light on the setup for Fallen Order’s story. Early in the game, Fallen Order’s protagonist, Cal Kestis, meets a Jedi named Cere Junda. Much like Cal, Cere survived Order 66 and the two work together to try and revitalize the Jedi Order during the course of the game. A five-issue comic book prequel series, coming in September, will look at Cere’s past. Through this announcement we learn her master is a Jedi named Eno Cordova and the two travel to the remote planet Ontotho to “oversee the excavation of a mysterious temple.” Cere and Eno are both entirely new characters and the planet they travel to, Ontotho, also appears to be new. We know that at least part of the game will “explore the mysteries of a long-extinct civilization in hopes of rebuilding the Jedi Order,” according to the game’s official website. Is the mysterious temple on Ontotho part of that long-extinct civilization? While at the studio we asked Asmussen if he could reveal anything about the “long-extinct civilization” and all he said was “not today” with a laugh.
You can read a broader rundown of the game's narrative in the cover story, but here are the big beats with additional quotes from Asmussen. It’s well known that Fallen Order takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope. That was one of the few details revealed alongside the game’s name at E3 2018, but Asmussen gave us a hint at about how long it takes place after the third prequel film. “It’s years,” he says, which gives you a little insight into how old Cal is and how old he was when everything happened, but it’s still vague. “You can kind of piece it together. When he was a padawan, he was an adolescent. Clearly he doesn’t look like that in the character art, but his age doesn’t really matter to us, to the point where we see [his age] in the databank, it’s just going to have a question mark. We just wanted to make sure we had a young protagonist in the game.”
We asked Asmussen what level of Jedi Cal is, and he said, “He’s a padawan.” He’s done some official Jedi work, but he’s not a knight, that we know for sure. “Before Order 66, he was seeing what was going on in the galaxy. He probably took part in a couple of missions, but it’s not like they were sending him out like Anakin or anything like that,” Asmussen adds.
Cal survived Order 66 and went into hiding on the planet Bracca where he keeps his abilities secret while working for a ship dismantling guild. “He’s working on the ship-breaking yard, and he’s kind of weary. They’re tearing down these old Republic vessels, which is symbolic to the Fallen Order,” Asmussen says. “He’s just trying to lay low.” Something causes him to use his powers publicly, and it’s safe to assume it is to help his co-worker and presumed Abednedo friend, Prauf, that we saw in the game’s story trailer announcement. Respawn was hesitant to fully confirm that, but Asmussen said, regarding when Cal will be thrust into the adventure, "It's very early. It’s kind of the call to action. We have a level at the beginning of the game where we kind of set up his reality and then we turn normal upside down. His life becomes chaotic within a matter of minutes. He comes in contact with [Cere] shortly after."
We don’t know exactly when or how Cere will discover Cal. “She pieces together information… I don’t want to give away exactly how she does it, but she pieces together how to find this individual. It’s not something I want to talk about,” Asmussen says. Once the Empire knows about Cal, the Second Sister is sent after him. The Second Sister is an Inquisitor, which is a group the Emperor established to track down and kill the remaining Jedi. Another of the Emperor's hunters is Darth Vader. We saw no hints or teases of an Emperor or Vader cameo during our time at the studio, but we know he's out there in the galaxy hunting, and wouldn't be surprised if he showed up. We asked for more on the Second Sister, but Asmussen cryptically said, “I think it’s best not to talk about her.”
Asmussen was also reluctant to offer up more details on the state of the Empire during the point where Fallen Order takes place, but mostly because those broader details of the Star Wars timeline, which are covered outside of the game in other media like TV, comics, and novels, are for Lucasfilm to decide on and extrapolate. “I think would be better for Lucasfilm to speak to that, but in our game, the galaxy is looking for strong leadership after years of war. They are looking for someone who is going to control things,” Asmussen says, “It’s not to the point where the population thinks the Emperor is bad.”
Cal reluctantly joins with Cere’s cause in an effort to stay safe, which is how he becomes part of the crew of The Stinger Mantis under its captain, Greez Dritus. We don’t know why Greez is helping Cere and Cal (or maybe they’re helping him), but we know in terms of what kind of character he is, Asmussen sites John C. Reilly and Mr. Furley from Three’s Company as his major inspiration.
From left to right: Cal Kestis, Greez Dritus, Saw Gerrera, and Cere Junda
The gameplay demo shown during E3 saw Cal exploring Kashyyyk and revealed Saw Gerrera is in the game, but while at the studio we got to see the few minutes of gameplay leading up to where that demo started. We got to see Cal and Saw’s first meeting and Cal revealed he came to the planet explicitly to find Wookiee chieftain, Tarfful. It seems like he came to Kashyyyk just to talk to Tarfful, but got caught up in the resistance efforts when he met Saw, which is why he gets put on the path to free him. Saw asked Cal what he wanted with Tarfful and Cal responded, curtly, “Jedi business.” To which Saw replied, “The Jedi are dead,” and Cere retorted, “Not all of them.” You can see clips, though brief, of this meeting in Fallen Order’s E3 2019 trailer. The other interesting tidbit from their meeting was when Saw looked at Cal’s lightsaber he asked, “Did you get that off a corpse?” “My master gave it to me,” Cal said. And that’s about where the E3 gameplay demo picks up.
The game’s narrative represents one of the biggest question marks we have for Fallen Order at this point. We enjoyed our time with the combat and were impressed by the exploration and Metroid inspirations of the level design. The story is something we won’t be able to get a clear picture of until we’ve played the final game, unfortunately, but given the details we know so far, and Asmussen’s history with the God of War series, we’re optimistic and eager to find out where it goes in November.
For a whole lot more on Fallen Order, you can read the full cover story here, and click the banner below for all of our features covering the game throughout the month.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was among one of the more unexpected announcements to appear on Microsoft's E3 2019 press conference stage. The series went mostly dormant after the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator X in 2006, but it is making a return soon.
The Microsoft Flight Simulator Team recently made a post online thanking fans for being excited for the series' return, and also answered a few questions about the game. The game is, expectedly coming to PC, but is also being "optimized for multiplatform support (e.g. Xbox)." The game is also confirmed to be supporting third-party content development and community content creation. And finally, the team says it is committed to making sure the game can be played by anyone, regardless of abilities writing, "no pilot should be left behind."
For more on the new Microsoft Flight Simulator, head here.
Kill la Kill – IF is brawler based on the anime of the same name and it represents the first original story content for the Kill la Kill since the anime concluded. The game is coming to PlayStatiom, Switch, and PC on July 26.
The monetization of nostalgia is nothing new, but the process seems to have accelerated in this current generation of consoles. HD remasters and "built-from-the-ground-up" remakes litter store shelves, and we're invariably delighted to lap up these colorful reminders of our gaming past. Occasionally, these are cynical ways to mine our memories for cash, but other times they give old gems the polish they need to shine once again. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is, happily, the latter, and thanks to modern updates in the right places it feels as good today as the original did 20 years ago.
There was a danger Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled would show its 1999 progenitor up to be a dated game best left in the past. Instead, developer Beenox has proved how impressive and durable Naughty Dog's original work was while also tweaking it in the right ways. The original game's list of 18 tracks has been expanded upon with 13 more from its sequel, Crash Nitro Kart, and these provide an extended list of topographically and visually distinct circuits, from underwater tunnels to ice caves to desert pyramids. Those visuals have of course also been given a facelift, and while no track looks bad, some look especially stunning. Coco Park has gorgeous pink flowers strewn across the road, for example, while Tiger Temple looks like it was taken directly from Uncharted 4 and Electron Avenue feels like racing through Blade Runner's vision of Los Angeles.
The handling takes a bit of getting used to, mind you. For anyone who's played any amount of Mario Kart, for example, over the past few years, Crash Team Racing's power slides will feel decidedly alien, at times too sensitive and at others not sensitive enough--and this leads to quite a few missed crates or headlong collisions with stationary objects. However, once you reacquaint yourself with the mechanic--which requires you to hold one bumper down to drift and press the other bumper with the correct timing to gain a boost--it reveals itself to be of greater depth than comparable turning methods in other kart racers. You can chain these boosts for even faster acceleration (but at the risk of spinning out), so while it's harder to get to grips with, Crash Team Racing's power sliding nets bigger rewards for those willing to dance with the drifting devil.
Nitro-Fueled's array of power-ups are the other obstacles in your path to the finish line. They are derivative of Mario Kart's selection--Crash's green beakers are Mario's bananas, Crash's Aku Aku and Uka Uka are Mario's Super Star, and so on--but, again, Crash Team Racing provides an interesting twist. Collecting Wumpa Fruit both speeds you up and turbocharges your power-ups. Green beakers transform into the more deadly red beakers, TNTs--which can be shaken off--become the instantly detonating Nitros, and so on. When the power-ups, boost pads, and handling combine, Nitro-Fueled boasts an exhilarating sense of speed.
These power-ups do, however, occasionally become frustrating during CTR's Adventure mode, which tasks you with coming first in every single race across the original game's tracklist, in addition to some optional challenges like beating certain times or collecting a certain number of crystals. Winning on every track is certainly manageable, barring a couple of trickier races, until you reach the boss fights, which feel a little unfair as bosses are quicker than any playable character and boast unlimited power-ups. Over time, after yet another run ruined by yet another bomb, it's enough to make you want to turn off Adventure--though perhaps just until you're back to craving that triumphant adrenaline rush the boss battles admittedly conjure.
In a welcome attempt to modernize the mode, Beenox has added a Nitro-Fueled variant of Adventure. This allows you to switch characters between races and adjust the difficulty, which goes a long way to resolving the campaign's more irritating moments. If you prefer the more punishing, "authentic" method of progressing, you can do that too. Mercifully, the game autosaves after every race, though those giant green screens are still around if you fancy saving there for old time’s sake. (Incidentally, this is an attitude Beenox has applied to the game's soundtrack, which allows you to switch between the revamped version and the original PlayStation audio--a nice touch.) Nitro-Fueled mode solves many of Adventure's problems and so allows the campaign's challenges, relics, and crystals to supply lone players an incentive to keep coming back.
Outside of Adventure, there are of course the standard single races or cups, as well as an extensive Battle mode. Within this are varied game types such as Capture the Flag and a battle royale-style Last Kart Driving. These are fun, but the relative lack of players (a maximum of eight, including AI, in local play) limits the chaos somewhat, so matches can sometimes feel a little lifeless. [Editor's note: At the time of writing, multiplayer servers were not populated enough to find a match. We will finalize our review once we've played the online multiplayer offering post-launch.]
As well as Adventure mode, character customization has also been modernized. As in the 1999 game, you can choose characters depending on your preference for higher top speed, quicker acceleration, or better handling. However, you can now also change your kart and character's appearance, with a selection of skins, badges, paint jobs, outfits, and whole new karts and characters to choose from. These are unlocked through normal play, but can also be purchased with in-game currency via the store. While they are, mechanically speaking, meaningless, they add a nice bit of flavor--and some of the outfits are pretty cool. My favorites are Robo-Cortex and the adorable Fisherman Polar. Look at him! Look at him!
Simply put: This is a remaster done right. Nitro-Fueled maintains the spirit and rock-solid foundations of a childhood favorite while building on it and modernizing it where necessary--even if the handling might take a bit of getting used to. Adventure mode's classic variant feels a little tough, but your first race on Roo's Tubes or Sewer Speedway will bring a nostalgic grin to your face regardless. When the nostalgia fades, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled remains fun and engaging enough to keep you racing on with a smile on your face for much longer yet. It's good to have Crash back.