Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is The Most Welcoming Game I’ve Played In Years

about X hours ago from
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is The Most Welcoming Game I’ve Played In Years

I love playing life sims. I enjoy how the genre transmutes low-stakes routines into compelling loops and satisfying progress, all in a peaceful domestic package. However, despite being a longtime fan of The Sims and Harvest Moon series (and sinking hundreds of hours into Stardew Valley across various platforms), I never gave Animal Crossing a fair shot. I resolved to change that with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. When we were sent copies of the game, I dove in to act as support for Jeff Cork (whose review you can read right here), but I was not prepared for how completely absorbing this world is. Both thematically and mechanically, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is among the most welcoming games I’ve ever played.

That may seem like a strange category to single out; we often discuss games in terms of things like narrative, weapons, or characters rather than how “welcoming” they feel. That’s not necessarily bad, but those elements don’t figure heavily into the Animal Crossing rubric. Instead, this is a game about creating a bright, idyllic virtual world that you can inhabit for days, weeks, and even years. To pull that off, New Horizons does a few key things that make the game approachable for almost all players – whether they’re seasoned fans or newcomers like me.

Where Is Our Persona 5 Royal Review?

about X hours ago from
Where Is Our Persona 5 Royal Review?

Persona 5 Royal hits later this month, but you may be seeing some reviews around the internet right now. However, this is a long RPG (over 100 hours), and I haven't reached the end yet. One of the key selling points of this enhanced edition is a whole new semester at the end of the narrative, so I want to be sure to experience that before I render my final verdict.

However, with around 75 hours put into the game, I am sure that Royal delivers the best way to experience Persona 5. The new interactions, confidants, and palace additions give more context to the story and fun ways to further connect with the world. I really like Kasumi and Maruki, two new confidants introduced in Royal. These characters not only add interesting and endearing conversations and scenes, but they give you meaningful upgrades and stat boosts for ranking them up. However, I am disappointed and confused about why Kasumi only has 5 ranks instead of the normal 10 for confidants.

Where Is Our Persona 5 Royal Review?

about X hours ago from
Where Is Our Persona 5 Royal Review?

Persona 5 Royal hits later this month, but you may be seeing some reviews around the internet right now. However, this is a long RPG (over 100 hours), and I haven't reached the end yet. One of the key selling points of this enhanced edition is a whole new semester at the end of the narrative, so I want to be sure to experience that before I render my final verdict.

However, with around 75 hours put into the game, I am sure that Royal delivers the best way to experience Persona 5. The new interactions, confidants, and palace additions give more context to the story and fun ways to further connect with the world. I really like Kasumi and Maruki, two new confidants introduced in Royal. These characters not only add interesting and endearing conversations and scenes, but they give you meaningful upgrades and stat boosts for ranking them up. However, I am disappointed and confused about why Kasumi only has 5 ranks instead of the normal 10 for confidants.

The Sports Desk – What 2K's NFL Deal Could Mean For The Future Of Football

about X hours ago from
The Sports Desk – What 2K's NFL Deal Could Mean For The Future Of Football

Football fans have been praying and petitioning for EA’s exclusivity deal with the NFL to end so the public could once again get more than one officially licensed NFL title. The news that 2K will be putting out “non-simulation” NFL titles starting in 2021, however, probably wasn’t what they were envisioning. Although it signals 2K’s return to the gridiron, these upcoming games won’t be competing on the same playing field as Madden.

The phrase “non-simulation” is, of course, a clear indication that this isn’t the return of the NFL 2K series as we knew it back in 2004 when 2K and EA competed for the football crown. Historically, leaving licensing exceptions for certain kinds of experiences (like an MMORPG) or on specific platforms are common. They allow other companies to make different kinds of games that don’t infringe on the core deal because the audiences are considered different, and therefore they won’t cannibalize sales from the main piece of pie. For instance, when NASCAR handed out its official license to 704Games (then DMi) in 2015 it was just for simulation titles. 

The Sports Desk – What 2K's NFL Deal Could Mean For The Future Of Football

about X hours ago from
The Sports Desk – What 2K's NFL Deal Could Mean For The Future Of Football

Football fans have been praying and petitioning for EA’s exclusivity deal with the NFL to end so the public could once again get more than one officially licensed NFL title. The news that 2K will be putting out “non-simulation” NFL titles starting in 2021, however, probably wasn’t what they were envisioning. Although it signals 2K’s return to the gridiron, these upcoming games won’t be competing on the same playing field as Madden.

The phrase “non-simulation” is, of course, a clear indication that this isn’t the return of the NFL 2K series as we knew it back in 2004 when 2K and EA competed for the football crown. Historically, leaving licensing exceptions for certain kinds of experiences (like an MMORPG) or on specific platforms are common. They allow other companies to make different kinds of games that don’t infringe on the core deal because the audiences are considered different, and therefore they won’t cannibalize sales from the main piece of pie. For instance, when NASCAR handed out its official license to 704Games (then DMi) in 2015 it was just for simulation titles. 

New Gameplay Today — Nioh 2

about X hours ago from
New Gameplay Today — Nioh 2

The first Nioh was no slouch when it came to difficulty, but apparently it wasn't enough for Team Ninja. Nioh 2 is even more brutal, according to our own Dan Tack, but he was more than up for the challenge. 

In today's NGT, Dan takes Kim, Alex, and me on an in-depth tour of the upcoming Souls-like. You'll get a good look at his overpowered ax build, and also learn more about many of the game's complex, interconnected systems. There's a lot to take in, but Tack makes it look easy. Because of course he does.

Nioh 2 is out on March 13 for PlayStation 4.

New Gameplay Today — Nioh 2

about X hours ago from
New Gameplay Today — Nioh 2

The first Nioh was no slouch when it came to difficulty, but apparently it wasn't enough for Team Ninja. Nioh 2 is even more brutal, according to our own Dan Tack, but he was more than up for the challenge. 

In today's NGT, Dan takes Kim, Alex, and me on an in-depth tour of the upcoming Souls-like. You'll get a good look at his overpowered ax build, and also learn more about many of the game's complex, interconnected systems. There's a lot to take in, but Tack makes it look easy. Because of course he does.

Nioh 2 is out on March 13 for PlayStation 4.

Top Of The Table – Vindication

about X hours ago from

Just because a game offers a fun play experience, it doesn’t always necessarily follow that it holds up to repeated replay. Board game developers must wrestle with that challenge at every step of the creation process. A big surprise element of play in the first game can be wonderful, but that same dynamic can feel stale three playthroughs later.

The creative team at Orange Nebula clearly had that dilemma at the center of their minds when crafting Vindication. This is a rich, high-end board game built for dedicated hobbyists, filled with gorgeous components, evocative art, and a creative premise. But after many months exploring the game, the feature that impresses me the most is Vindication’s comprehensive and layered approach to replayability. Vindication is a game that begs to be played on repeat, in which players rotate optional elements in and out, and rediscover the game with each playthrough. Thanks to an array of interacting systems and mechanics, it’s a tabletop experience that genuinely maintains that sheen of newness, even after returning to the game many times.

Top Of The Table – Vindication

about X hours ago from
Top Of The Table – Vindication

Just because a game offers a fun play experience, it doesn’t always necessarily follow that it holds up to repeated replay. Board game developers must wrestle with that challenge at every step of the creation process. A big surprise element of play in the first game can be wonderful, but that same dynamic can feel stale three playthroughs later.

The creative team at Orange Nebula clearly had that dilemma at the center of their minds when crafting Vindication. This is a rich, high-end board game built for dedicated hobbyists, filled with gorgeous components, evocative art, and a creative premise. But after many months exploring the game, the feature that impresses me the most is Vindication’s comprehensive and layered approach to replayability. Vindication is a game that begs to be played on repeat, in which players rotate optional elements in and out, and rediscover the game with each playthrough. Thanks to an array of interacting systems and mechanics, it’s a tabletop experience that genuinely maintains that sheen of newness, even after returning to the game many times.

Valorant Preview: A Deep Dive On The New Hero-Based Tactical Shooter From Riot Games

about X hours ago from
Valorant Preview: A Deep Dive On The New Hero-Based Tactical Shooter From Riot Games

Last October, when Riot Games announced a slate of new titles, one of the outliers was Project A, a first-person shooter that combines the popular hero-based shooter genre with tactical gameplay. We now know Project A is officially called Valorant, and will launch on PC this summer as a free-to-play title. I traveled to Santa Monica, Calif., to spend a day in the offices of Riot Games to not only learn about the upcoming shooter from all angles, but also play it for several hours.

While most of the games announced during Riot's 10-year-anniversary stream are set in the League of Legends universe, Valorant is unique in that it does not feature any connection to Riot's juggernaut IP. "It was actually a point of debate for a while: Should we put this in [the League of Legends universe] or should we not?" says game director Joe Ziegler. "It was really hard to get the concept of this crisp, tactical shooter with mechanical bullets firing out of your gun, and then putting that on Ryze or putting that in the hands of a Piltover soldier ... it didn't mesh well with the fantasy we were creating. We needed to create a thing that we thought would be the right combination of this tight, mechanical, physical gameplay with this very rich, creative, well-established concept of abilities that we were playing."