Shaping Worlds

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The Super Mario franchise has a rich history of strong, iconic level design. With Super Mario Maker, Nintendo puts the power to design these levels in your hands.

Upon first picking up the Wii U GamePad for my Super Mario Maker demo, I'm taken to a large list of pre-created levels. The list contains 40 total levels, which are split into worlds just like the Nintendo-designed Mario games. Answering the calls of many fans, Nintendo is enabling players to more or less create their own Mario games. Levels you create can be separated into worlds, which can then be ordered however you want. When you play the levels, you can set it to take you to the next sequential level after you complete it, giving it the feel of playing a legitimate Mario game.

From this list screen, you can select a level and jump right in to edit it. As you play more, you unlock more elements to drop into your levels. The list of enemies and assets I played around with was robust. Taking an existing medium difficulty stage, I dropped a few Bloopers into a non-water level, as well as a cannon that would normally fire Bullet Bills. Instead of placing Bullet Bills in the cannon, however, I dropped Cheep Cheeps into it. This caused the cannon to intermittently drop a fish, which would then skim across the bottom of the level, jumping up every so often.

Doom Reboot Amps Up Ultraviolence With Fast Combat And Brutal Finishing Moves

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The last time we saw the Doom series, creators id Software strove to frighten and surprise gamers with atmospheric, foreboding environments and monster closets. After an 11-year hiatus that included one scrapped concept, the first-person shooter that put the genre on the map returns with a new look much more closely aligned with the fast-paced, bombastic original.

To be successful at Doom, gamers need to unlearn all the conventions that have dominated the shooter space over the last decade. You won't be hiding behind cover while exchanging bullets, retreating from battle when your health is low, or keeping your distance from menacing beasts. Instead, Doom urges players to run headfirst into the fray with complete abandon and an itchy trigger finger.

This play style, which id has dubbed "push forward combat" is the only way to stay alive. With no ammo crates or health packs to be found in many of the arena environments, players must kill enemies and collect the loot that spills out of their remains to resupply. The best loot comes from conducting melee executions, which id has dubbed "glory kills" to fit the spirit of the series. 

Hands-on With The Metroid Game Fans Aren't Sure They Want

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Hands-on With The Metroid Game Fans Aren't Sure They Want

Metroid Prime: Federation Force and its accompanying game, Blast Ball, were not the Metroid announcements fans wanted from Nintendo at E3. Metroid in both its 2D and 3D Prime forms are known for contemplative alien worlds and in-depth exploration, but what we saw on display during Nintendo’s Direct presentation was co-op action-focused shooting, and a sporting event. I’m not sure why the game gets the Metroid name outside of its science-fiction aesthetic, and playing the game did little to convince me it needed it.

That is not to say I did not have fun. The only mode on display at E3 was the Blast Ball game, which will be included in the Federation Force package. The game uses Metroid Prime style controls, which was a little surprising considering we were playing on New 3DS handhelds with second control sticks, but I got used to it quickly. The left stick controls all movements, except vertical looking, and you hold buttons to lock-on, strafe, or stand still and look around, just like the two GameCube titles.

Flying High And Going Big

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The fan favorite Mario Tennis franchise is finally coming to the Wii U. With Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, Nintendo is going big – literally.

Even for a series that has featured flaming tennis balls and friendly dinosaurs with rackets, the action in Ultra Smash's Mega Battles mode is over-the-top. Characters jump tens of feet in the air to return a high-bouncing smash, have a big arsenal of shot types during play, and field power-ups thrown onto the court by Toad. Though I only played the mode for a brief time, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash seems like the most frantic entry the series has seen to date.

In the build I played, the only power-up being thrown onto the court was a Mega Mushroom, which caused the character who grabbed it to grow massive in size – so big that Bowser takes up his the majority of his side of the court. There’s no telling if other kinds of power-ups will make an appearance, but with a rich catalog to choose from, the team could get really creative.

Choice-Driven Horror Gets Weird And Campy, In A Good Way

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Going for that b-movie flavor is tricky business. Too often, movie directors will overshoot the mark and end up making something too stupid to be fun or something so painfully trying to self aware that it's embarrassing. The horror genre is filled with examples of failed attempts, and examples of campy horror done right are even rarer in video games. That's why I was so surprised when I finally got a chance to play Supermassive Games' Until Dawn at E3 2015. I went into my hands-on demo with low expectations and decades of horror game/film fandom, but walked away amused and intrigued.

Why Fans Should Be Excited For The Legacy Collection

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New Mega Man titles are a rarity these days, which may cause fans to initially temper their enthusiasm for the recently announced Mega Man Legacy Collection. Even though the game only includes the 6 classic NES titles, there are plenty of cool features that make this collection much more than a bundle of basic Virtual Console ports. I spent some time playing and learning about the Legacy Collection at E3 2015, and walked away with much more excitement about the downloadable offering.

The Best HD Port AvailableMega Man fans are all too familiar with the myriad ports available. The classic games have been released on iOS, PS2-era systems, and multiple Nintendo platforms. However, some of those ports feature less-than-perfect control schemes, muddy 8-bit visuals, and in some instances precious milliseconds of input lag that might botch tough jumps. Capcom is working closely with developer Digital Eclipse to make these iterations look the sharpest they possibly can on HDTVs. I can tell you from playing the game firsthand, this is the best-looking version of the NES classics I've played outside of emulation-based systems like the Retron 5 or using a classic system with a standard TV.

Man's Best Friend(s)

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E3 2015 kicked off earlier this week with an epic trailer for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The video looked great, but a new batch of screens from the trailer show just how pretty the game is.

The selection of screens showcase a variety of different gameplay mechanics. Big Boss pilots a mech, drives a jeep, and rides a horse. Thankfully, the tried-and-true cardboard box stealth tool also makes a return. Scantily-clad sniper Quiet pals around with Big Boss and his one-eyed dog. There's also a sheep strapped to a balloon, floating back to Mother Base. As you can tell, the gameplay is wildly varied. The 20 screenshots barely scratch the surface of Kojima's massive game.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain releases on September 1 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Read about our hands-on time with the title here.

Five Tips For Surviving Kojima's Stealth-Oriented Open-World

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Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima may not be slinking along the halls of E3 2015, but his legacy is present in the form of MGS 5: The Phantom Pain. I got my hands on the game for the first time today after seeing it over a year ago in Tokyo for our MGS V cover story. I've completed MGS V: Ground Zeroes a few times in the meantime, so I was ready to take those skills into the open world of Afghanistan on the hunt for one of Big Boss' comrades.

5. Grenade Communications Arrays Around Enemy Bases

Getting spotted is frustrating in the moment, but Big Boss is more than capable of eliminating a single alerted soldier. Problem is, sometimes those nosey enemies call in backup before the legendary soldier can take them out. Even the most skilled players can find themselves on thin ice when trucks of reinforcements roll up. Prevent this by taking out the communications dishes around smaller bases, which will sever their lines with enemy headquarters. Long-distance grenade tosses do the trick nicely. Once they're out, you should be able to clear out bases without worrying about clown cars filled with bad guys showing up.

Dive Into Your Own Dungeons

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The concept of Sword Coast Legends always intrigued me, but I really wasn't sure how the sandbox-style build-your-own-adventure would play out in reality. Today at E3 I had some hands-on time with the game, and I really enjoyed it. A team of four of us took on the Dungeon Master (Also handled by another player, controlling a swarm of spiders, a host of traps, a massive boss, and other surprises) and crawled through a quickly hand-crafted dungeon complete with all the staples you'd expect from a real-deal Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

While the game has other aspects to it, this "build a campaign" feature feels like the next evolution of Dungeons & Dragons. Forget hours of setup and boxes full of pieces – everything you could ever want to play with is available here. I can definitely see this being used to host D&D games, especially for playgroups that may have become separated over the years as people move from place to place; all you have to do is log on voice chat and boom, you may as well be in the DM's living room.

I played as a dwarven rogue, fond of drink and stabby-style abilities. My ability to search and disarm traps was instrumental to the group's survival as we moved through the dungeon, and I'll admit I was probably too far ahead of the group in a lot of cases, placing me in harms way often.

[Update] The Real Intel On Metal Gear V's Forward Operating Bases

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[Update] The Real Intel On Metal Gear V's Forward Operating Bases

Update: I talked to Konami today about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's forward operating bases, how they tie into your single-player Mother Base, and what I got wrong about the FOBs in relation to Metal Gear Online. The new intel is inside!

First off, I want to apologize that I got FOBs wrong. I'm sorry. Here's the (real) deal: FOBs are indeed extensions of you Mother Base, but they are solely related to the single-player title, not Metal Gear Online. You can attack friend's FOBs, and if they're playing and online at the time, you can fight them on an FOB. If they're not online then you'll just battle against the A.I. staff at the FOB. You cannot attack a friend's FOB if they aren't online.

Konami's not talking about what you can specifically extract from an FOB, but a representative I talked did say you could steal staff and weapons from an FOB.