Seven Things You Need To Know About The Prequel

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Seven Things You Need To Know About The Prequel

This week, Square Enix announced Life is Strange: Before the Storm. The three-episode prequel focuses on Chloe and her life in Arcadia Bay before Max reenters it. This allows us to see her friendship with Rachel Amber before she went missing. At E3, we were treated to hands-off demo and interview to learn more about the project.

This Is Chloe's Story

Insomniac Answers Our 10 Biggest Questions

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Insomniac Answers Our 10 Biggest Questions

Sony feels good enough about Insomniac’s Spider-Man game that closed out its E3 press conference, and the demo didn’t disappoint. With a mix of dynamic stealth and high-flying action, Spider-Man is definitely one to watch for 2018. Even though we’ve seen a good bit of gameplay, we still have several questions, so we sat down with a behind-closed-doors demo to get the full scoop.

Who’s behind the mask? The demo ended with a shot of Miles Morales – a Spider-Man originally from Marvel’s Ultimate comic line. However, we still don’t know how big of a role he’ll have in Insomniac’s Spider-Man game. This title stars Peter Parker, and the team hopes to focus on the drama of his personal life as well as his days swinging between skyscrapers fighting super villains.

Is this an open world game?
Yes. The demo briefly showed Spider-Man swinging through the open streets of New York during a helicopter chase, but players will be able to freely explore Manhattan between missions.

What Sets This Pirate Adventure Apart From Black Flag

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What Sets This Pirate Adventure Apart From Black Flag

Skull & Bones is the new naval combat game from Ubisoft’s Singapore studio, and during its reveal, the company openly acknowledged that the title builds on the legacy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. During my hands-on time with Skull & Bones, I was happy to discover that my many hours playing Black Flag paid off; the mechanics and controls are similar enough to make Black Flag fans instantly comfortable commanding their vessels.

However, after playing a few matches, it was clear the Skull & Bones also has its own identity; it’s not merely an isolated part of an old game. Though my time was limited, these are the things that stood out as the defining characteristics that set Skull & Bones apart from its predecessor.

TeamworkWhenever your ship in Black Flag would run into an opposing fleet, the battle was a one-versus-many affair that left you facing daunting odds. Though Skull & Bones will have a solo mode, the multiplayer modes provide an opportunity to coordinate their efforts and take down an array of foes that would have been impossible to beat in Black Flag. You can communicate with your team to flank, distract, and otherwise maneuver around your foes in a more tactical version of ship-to-ship combat.

Taking Out Cultists In Rural Montana

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Taking Out Cultists In Rural Montana

While the Far Cry series is often known to transport players to exotic locations like the Himalayas, this newest entry hits closer to home. Set in Hope County, a fictional locale in Montana, Far Cry 5 has you go head-to-head with an extremist cult. With its overt political themes and religious imagery, Far Cry 5 is creating a lot of buzz. We got a chance to go hands-on with the game at E3 to see how it fares.

The demo I played begins with having to choose a gun-for-hire companion; an interesting recruitment system that can give you an edge when deciding how to approach hostile areas. You can select one of three characters to help you overcome enemies. These include Boomer, a dog that helps identify and pick off foes; Grace, a deadly sniper; and Nick, a pilot who uses his biplane to shoot from above. In the two sessions I played, I chose both Boomer and Gracie on separate occasions. Boomer stealthily took down enemies without unwanted attention, and when I had Grace, I ordered her to climb up a water tower so she could kill cultists from afar with her sniper rifle. 

A Brutal Open World Playground

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A Brutal Open World Playground

Last year, Bend Studio showed off a first look at Days Gone, in which hero Deacon St. John fled and fought his way through a desperate escape from what appeared to be zombies. After that early demo, many aspects of the game remain undetailed. This year’s E3 presentation painted a far different picture, and made it clear that Days Gone is in fact an open world action and survival game, filled with brutal violence, constant danger, and a variety of solutions to any encounter. 

Bend showed off one version of its 2017 E3 demo at Sony’s press conference, but it was only after I saw the game played behind closed doors the next day that the real sense of the game emerged. That second demo showed off the same major beats of encounters as the one that was presented on stage, but a different time of day, weather, and pathing vector into the battles made the experience feel totally different.

With the cold of winter snow, the freakers (infected humans) are more powerful, and at night there are more of these freakers moving through the world. Setting off to save his friend from some marauders, Deacon rides on his signature motorcycle; Bend says that Deacon’s connection to his bike is a central aspect of the game experience, and it seems like there will be ways to improve it over time. 

Samus Looks And Feels Great On 3DS

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Samus Looks And Feels Great On 3DS

Arguably the biggest surprise of E3 2017 was the announcement, finally, of a new 2D Metroid game. And not only was it announced, but it isn't too far away. Metroid Prime 4 exists in the ambiguous future of, "beyond 2017," but we will be able to play Metroid: Samus Returns on September 15.

For my hands on time with the game, I got to play the game's opening. It wasn't an isolated demo created for E3 as far as I know, as they let me play through the game's opening and quite literally had take the 3DS out of my hand in order to prevent me from progressing any further.

A few stills open the game's story, which benefit from the stereoscopic 3D. The game's producer (and director of Super Metroid) Yoshio Sakamoto says the game's story is unchanged from the original Metroid II released on Game Boy in 1991. After outlining her destination, Samus lands on the planet and departs from her ship. The game feels fantastic. Holding down the left trigger plants Samus' feet so she can aim in any direction and the X button performs a melee attack that can counter enemy attacks. The prompts to counter are clearly broadcasted with audio and visual cues, and though I missed the first few prompts, it did not take long to block and blast nearly every enemy that I attacked.

A Fun Mix Of Pinball And Adventure

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A Fun Mix Of Pinball And Adventure

The idea of making a pinball game that ventures outside the pinball table isn't new. Games like Sonic Spinball, Odama, and Kirby's Pinball Land have melded the progression of a single-player game with the speed and timing of pinball to varying results. Yoku's Island Express is the latest game to give the idea a go, and from I played of it at this year's E3, it has a lot of potential.

Playing as Yoku the Dung Beetle, you land on the island of Mokumana to replace its current mailman. As is usually the case in situations like this, it's not that simple. Pushing a small boulder around, you quickly find that much of the path has been blocked off, and can only be traversed tethering yourself to the boulder and and using the many flippers and bumpers strewn around the island to move around. Though the colored pinball components look out of place on the island, moving with the analog stick and bouncing around the island feels completely natural. After a short learning period, I never felt the instinctual urge to press the A button to jump. I did, however, occasionally forget which trigger to press to activate which flipper, though the game color codes these (yellow for right, blue for left).

Hiding Depth Behind Charm

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Hiding Depth Behind Charm

I came into my playtime with Mario + Rabbids with a certain degree of trepidation. After my initial surprise at seeing these two properties being mashed together, I quickly began  wondering about how well the franchises could play together, and also worried about the idea of a tactical combat game being the genre in which they would merge. 

After an extended gameplay demo, I’m happy to say that many of my concerns have been assuaged. Kingdom Battle is a charming and colorful affair, and it offers plenty of homages to the Mario fiction and gameplay for devoted fans. Meanwhile, the core combat loop is engaging and nuanced, riffing heavily off the formula established in the recent XCOM games, but adding humor and mechanics that evoke the adventures of Mario and his crew. 

A Beautiful And Familiar Thrill

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A Beautiful And Familiar Thrill

E3 has provided our first chance to get hands-on with the standard non-VR version of Ace Combat 7 on PS4. The game had previously teased out some first looks on PSVR. For players who’ve been longing for a return to form for Bandai Namco’s arcade-leaning flight combat game, I’ve got good news. For better or worse, the gameplay returns to what we’ve seen before in this newest numbered entry. At the same time, the gorgeous plane, cloud, sky, and ground visuals may be enough to charm even returning air warfare veterans. 

After a minor departure from both setting (into the real world) and gameplay with Assault Horizon, Ace Combat 7 returns to the fiction and gameplay conceits that have characterized the prior games in the Ace Combat series. I was struck during my playthrough of a mission how quickly I fell back into familiar patterns of banking turns, firing off missiles, and dropping flares to dodge enemy fire. In fact, that sense of familiarity is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Ace Combat 7; the game feels wrapped up in a play paradigm that has remained largely unchanged for many years and multiple iterations. 

Encounter Space Giants In Virtual Reality

about X hours ago from
Encounter Space Giants In Virtual Reality

Star Child is a space-themed sidescroller played in virtual reality. Rather than utilizing VR as a way to immerse the player from a first-person perspective, Star Child instead opts to use virtual reality as a way to enhance its third-person camera.

Star Child’s E3 2017 announcement trailer follows the player character as she navigates past towering mechs and mystical interstellar creatures. Towards the end of the trailer, she is gently picked up and comes face-to-face with a gigantic machine. It'll be interesting to see if developer Playful can magnify the player's sense of scope by utilizing virtual reality.

Star Child will release on PlayStation VR. No release window was given.