Opinion – The Witcher 3's Side Quest Should Be A Model For All Open World Games

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If all games were like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I’d be in a lot of trouble. For the last several months I’ve been staying up late, sacrificing time with my friends and loved ones, and even shirking my household responsibilities in order to play this massive game. I would hate the game for consuming my time if I didn’t love it so much. Part of the problem is that The Witcher 3 can take upwards of 160 hours to complete. Another part of the problem is that most of those 160 hours are composed of compelling content that I actually want to experience. Whereas most massive open-world games pack in a lot of side content that's about as interesting as styrofoam, The Witcher 3’s “filler” content has just as much meat on its bones as the main campaign. I'm worried that upcoming games like Fallout 4 have a lot to live up to now.

The argument over game length is an old one. There are many opinions about the perfect length for a game, but every gamer has different needs. Some gamers – usually those who are younger and have a lot of free time – are eager to sink their teeth into a game with a nearly limitless amount of content. Meanwhile, gamers with less free time and more disposable income are more keen to pay for games that deliver a powerful experience with a shorter time commitment. 

Live Stream – Until Dawn

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Halloween might be two months away, but we're starting the scare season early with a seven hour live stream of Until Dawn by Supermassive Games. It's a survival horror game where player choice is paramount to the survival of the 8 playable characters and uncovering the mysteries of Blackwood Pines. The stream starts Tuesday Aug. 25th at 1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific and will last for about seven hours.

Warning: There will be major spoilers during the live stream. At a run-time of seven hours, it's impossible to avoid. So if you're okay with that, then kick back with us and watch the story unfold! If not, you've been warned.

Tune in tomorrow at 1p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific. When the stream goes live, you'll be able to view it here, or by clicking on the banner below. In the meantime, you can check out our Test Chamber of Until Dawn and read Jeff Marchiafava's review. See you on the stream!

What’s Going On In Destiny’s Story, Anyway?

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Destiny has taken a lot of well-deserved heat for its approach to storytelling, but after our recent cover story visit to Bungie and extensive hands-on time with The Taken King, it’s clear that the studio is moving towards a far more robust narrative experience in future releases. Knowing that existing story elements are about to become a bigger focus, and with only weeks before the new installment, we’re here to break down what we know about Destiny’s fiction – no grimoire cards required.

The following details are drawn from multiple sources, including in-game flavor text and conversations, grimoire card text, and conversations directly with Bungie developers. For newcomers to Destiny who plan to jump in with a level 25 character on September 15, the following is organized as a reference guide, in case understanding the fictional backdrop of the game is important to you. Simply click on the page you’re interested in learning about.

Test Chamber – Teenagers Die In Until Dawn

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Whether in movies or games, I've never been a fan of the survival-horror genre, but Until Dawn excels in ways that had me overcoming my reservation and obsessing over every detail in its narrative.

Player choices throughout Until Dawn's storyline result in dramatic and intimate changes in its narrative, character relationships, and even the life or death of its protagonists. Jeff Marchiafava's review of the game explores this in greater depth.

Andrew Reiner and Jeff Cork play through the first half hour of the game and give a glimpse of the mystery and horror that awaits within. Check it out below, and make sure to tune in to Game Informer's Twitch tomorrow from 12pm to 7pm CT for our live stream of the game! 

I've Finished MGS V: The Phantom Pain – Ask Me Anything

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After a long wait, next week finally sees the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I played through the whole game last week (and loved it), but I just couldn't fit every little detail or thought in my review. If you still have lingering questions you want answered before the game comes out, now's your chance to ask!

Just post your question in the comments below, and I'll come back to answer them (to the best of my ability) throughout the day. As a heads-up, there are some things I'm still not able to talk about – particularly surrounding the ending. However, I am allowed to be a little spoilery in other areas, so not everything is off-limits.

If you want to remain untainted by spoilers, you can just choose to not expand the comments on questions that veer into that territory. I promise I won't just dive into spoilers unprompted in my other responses.

Analysis: Two Reasons Why Playable Female Characters Are Here To Stay

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Video game protagonists have come a long way over the years. Consider the iconic Lara Croft: In her 1996 debut, she was a polygonal, sexualized figure, designed to appeal to an overwhelmingly male audience. However, she also stood out for being one of the few playable female protagonists at the time; her strong demeanor made her a beloved heroine for many female gamers as well. Almost 20 years later, Crystal Dynamics took the character to the next level by rebooting her into a more complex, multidimensional character. This year's E3 showcased that more playable female characters are following suit, suggesting this trend may soon become the new status quo.

At E3 2014, the press conferences showcased 28 games with exclusive male leads compared to 5 titles starring women. Around the same time, Ubisoft chose not to add a playable female character to its upcoming game Assassin's Creed Unity, alienating potential customers. These two occurrences encapsulate why controversy arose during last year's E3, an event some publications used to call out the video game industry on its lack of gender diversity. This year, however, the narrative seems to have flipped.

The Essentials – Chrono Trigger

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Welcome to another installment of The Essentials, our weekly feature that showcases the finest games to grace our interactive medium. These games have set a high bar, and can be considered "required reading" for any video game fan. We've already looked at a slew of memorable titles such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, BioShock, Doom, Final Fantasy VII, and more

This weekend, we're looking at one of the industry's most beloved role-playing games: Chrono Trigger.

Release Year: 1995Publisher: SquareDeveloper: Square
Released For: SNES, PS1, Nintendo DS, Wii (VC), iOS, Android

Replay – Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars

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1996 was a great year for Mario fans. We saw the release of Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64 among a strong lineup of other Nintendo games. But earlier in that year, Square (now Square-Enix) gave Super Nintendo owners one of the most beloved RPGs of that generation.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was the first role-playing game in the series, bringing turn-based battle sequences and 3D adventuring to the Mushroom Kingdom. And though it doesn’t have a direct sequel, Paper Mario is widely regarded as its spiritual successor. 

Join Andrew Reiner, Brian Shea, Kyle Hilliard, and Ben Reeves as they dive into this revered SNES game, all while providing meaningful and insightful commentary. Make sure you stick around for the second segment, it’s probably my favorite one this year.

An Unprecented Look At Destiny: The Taken King's Vertigo Map

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Some of the greatest multiplayer maps of all time have come from the halls of Bungie, so during our month of content highlighting Destiny: The Taken King we wanted to take a deep dive into the team's approach to creating a map for the Crucible. We gathered Bungie's senior multiplayer designer Andrew Weldon and Crucible level artist Adam Williams to break down every nook and cranny of The Taken King's new Mercury map Vertigo. Students of game design, Destiny's lore, or just fans of finding the best strategies in Destiny's Crucible maps should definitely not miss this video.

Watch the video below to learn why the developers consider Vertigo "one of the more unique map designs" in the Destiny universe. 

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