Tag Archive: preview


I had a chance to go hands-on recently with Yager, Six Feet, and Grey Box’s Dreadnought on PlayStation 4. It was my first time playing the game since PSX 2016 and I was able to pull down a decent K/D in this match of Team Deathmatch. Dreadnought is currently in beta on both PC and PS4 and the full game is coming sometime later this year to PC and PS4 and will be free-to-play.

Dreadnought, the long-coming free-to-play multiplayer spaceship battling game from developer Yager and publisher Grey Box—which is currently in beta on both the PS4 and PC—is bringing a new mode to that beta for fans to try out.

Havoc mode is Dreadnought‘s take on Horde mode, where up to three players can work cooperatively against wave after wave of computer-controlled space fleets intent on taking you down and conquering your little corner of the cosmos. The twist here, though, is that you don’t know what ships you’ll have at your disposal to do just that.

When the mode starts you and your friends will be given a small assortment of ships to choose from, and usually have enough choices to have a solidly put together team of damage dealers and healers. But there’s no telling that the ships offered to you will be something you might be familiar with, or even particularly inclined to using. And every three waves, you’ll have to spin the wheel all over again and choose new ships. It adds a degree of randomness that is worthy of the name “Havoc”.

I had a chance to try out the mode, and admit to only making it to wave five with some random allies (video below), but continue to be impressed by the variety of ships Dreadnought offers. And I admit I fell victim to my own hubris, which ended up costing my team before we could take on the boss ship in wave seven. I enjoyed the fact that to combat some of the randomness, and the ever-increasing difficulty of your enemies, you could purchase boosts with points earned in battle that stack as the mode continues on. Obviously, it wasn’t enough for us to overcome the enemy AI in the mode, but as you gain more experience with the game, it serves as a critical feature that could turn the tide of a potential battle. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what combinations of ships and buffs we’ll be tasked with utilizing in this new mode.

Dreadnought will leave beta and be fully available on both PC and PS4 sometime later in 2017.

When Knack launched alongside the PlayStation 4 back in 2013, it didn’t exactly take the world by storm. Although it was a pretty game that showed off some of the power of the system—with Knack being able to shrink and grow as he absorbed or lost relics over the course of a level—many found the gameplay severely lacking. So, when I had a chance recently to go hands-on with Knack 2—and have the game’s director, PlayStation 4 architect and legendary game developer Mark Cerny serve as my co-op buddy—I was curious to see firsthand what changes the series had undergone from its initial entry (and hear about them from the man himself).

Knack was a very different concept. I was focused on making a game that was accessible to people who had never played a video game before, and thought that would be an interesting part of the PlayStation 4 as a launch title,” explained Cerny as we loaded up the first level. “That ended up being a pretty heavy focus, which meant no platforming and a fairly small moveset. Knack 2 is very different title from that; the focus here is more squarely on gameplay.”

And Cerny wasn’t kidding about that. He ended up showing me seven sections of the game in our demo that highlighted not only a wide variety of different gameplay challenges, but also an expanded moveset for Knack punctuated by four skill trees. It should be noted that some moves are story based, and only by advancing so far in certain levels will Knack unlock them—like a super-strong punch that can shatter enemy shields. Collecting energy in each level can unlock many others, however, and then you can invest that energy into new moves or improve upon those you’ll obtain via progress.

Easily one of my favorite things I experienced in the demo was how expanded Knack’s moveset had become as a whole. Knack can now create a shield that, if timed properly, will deflect bolts and blasts back at enemies. He also has a bola-like projectile weapon that can ensnare foes, making them easy targets for a combo or removing them temporarily from a fight as you focus on other targets. Kicks, body slams, and yes, even more punches round out Knack’s repertoire. One of my favorites was a Fist of the North Star-style flurry of fists that sees Knack move super quick, rapidly punching an enemy several times.

Co-op also sees some combat improvements. Cerny mentioned in our conversation that something he and his team noticed amongst younger players is they’d often take a whack at each other as often as they would Goblins. So, a new move incorporated into co-op is if you hit your buddy, a single relic will fly off like a bullet at an enemy. This way, even if you’re simply messing around, movement isn’t wasted, and can still serve a purpose in gameplay and combat.

As great as it is to see the depth of combat now present in Knack 2, the biggest additions probably come with the breadth of gameplay now available to you. Entire sections of levels are dedicated just to true platforming, exploring, and puzzle solving. In fact, by changing sizes at will, I would have to shrink to Knack’s smallest from to fit into onto smaller ledges and platforms to reach certain areas, and then quickly switch back to a larger from for combat. Knack’s smallest from is all necessary to navigate tiny crevices in cliff sides or Goblin fortresses and discover energy for leveling up, or pieces of technology that can bestow Knack with even more in-game abilities.

There’s a bit of a lottery to the item pieces you’ll discover, however, so there’s even a social aspect added to discovering treasure. If friends of yours have received items you’d rather have from the same treasure chest in their playthrough of Knack 2, you can trade what you received to get the same item they snagged. And, if you don’t have a lot of friends playing Knack 2, don’t worry: there will be some computer explorers that can offer up some options, too.

Other levels, meanwhile, add a stealth element. For example, you’ll have to push crates around with Knack to avoid searchlights while hiding in the shadows to prevent alarms from being set off as you infiltrate a certain someone’s home. You’ll also have to use the size-changing ability—which now features the added bonus of always letting you know just how tall Knack is at a given moment thanks to a height counter in the game’s HUD (if visuals weren’t enough for you)—to shrink and hide under awnings or canopies to avoid robots on patrol.

Knack 2 even brings driving segments to the series. One section of our demo saw Knack get in a tank and drive around destroying enemies and encampments; when playing co-op, one player drives the tank while the other operates the turret. Some other levels also have turret emplacements scattered about, and Knack can climb into one to really whittle down Goblin forces with some green energy blasts.

As the demo was winding down, I admit I was sad to see my time with Knack 2 coming to an end. I hadn’t had this much fun with an action-platformer in a while; the variety of gameplay was stellar, everything handled very tightly, the game looked great, and the writing had me chuckling in my chair. Cerny was quick to point out that bringing on Marianne Krawczyk, writer of the God of War series, to write Knack 2 was a critical move. Although the game is still very much gameplay-driven, having her veteran hand come in for key narrative moments—like where an ally of Knack makes fun of him (and the first game) for only having three punches—was a big boost, and allowed Cerny to focus on directing the gameplay that has made such hugely evident strides.

Although it’s scheduled to release during what’s looking like a very busy second half of 2017, if you’re searching for a fun, high-quality action-adventure that the whole family can enjoy, don’t sleep on Knack 2. With its new depth of gameplay and tight controls, it’s like Knack has finally found all the pieces to turn itself from a pipsqueak PlayStation 4 exclusive into a game to be reckoned with—one that can hold its own with the big boys of the system.

It’s never easy to try to find a foothold in an established field like racing simulators. Despite entering a market already dominated by Forza and Gran Turismo, however, the original Project CARS was able to not only compete from a technical perspective in terms of the racing experience it provides, but offered up a unique enough take on how you would approach races to carve out a slice for itself amongst gearheads. Building on that initial success, Slightly Mad Studios went to work on a sequel, and after my hands-on last week at CXC Simulations here in Los Angeles, Project CARS 2 is primed to move into the pole position of this genre.

It needs to be prefaced that my time with the game will likely not be quite indicative of the final experience most people will have, since I got to try the game out via Oculus VR on a $50,000 simulation rig that CXC offers to professional racers to prepare before big races. (That was the beauty of this demo, however.) Already loaded and ready to go for us was one of the brand new tracks featured in Project CARS 2, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, just days ahead of the actual race itself was to be held. While being jostled around as if I was taking hairpin turns at breakneck speeds was definitely new, the immersion I felt from the VR was even more intense, showing off the meticulous detail Slightly Mad has given to this new track.

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I also got to run the course in two different cars—the Acura NSX GT3 and the Dallara Honda Indycar—and moving from one car to the other was a tremendous extreme. It was hard enough learning a brand new track in VR (although I was able to adapt after a few laps), but the Acura’s top speed paled in comparison to when I sat in the driver’s seat of the Indycar, as turns came up faster and I had to be far more cognizant of my shifting as I reached higher speeds more quickly. But while new tracks and cars are always expected with any racing sequel, it was the last machine I hopped in that was particularly exciting.

Projects CARS 2 unveiled Rallycross mode to us for the first time. Yes, the off-road sprint-oriented series of races will debut this go around in Project CARS 2, and that means not only even more new cars and tracks, but new paths for your career drivers to take and brand new surfaces to drive on. Gravel and dirt will combine with asphalt on these tracks just like in real life, and although Rallycross tracks are smaller that most other tracks, the shifting terrain combined with how differently the cars handle will provide entirely new challenges for players to overcome—and I can speak from some limited experience.

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If going from the Acura to the Indycar was night and day, going into a rally-fitted Honda Civic Coupe was like going from April to August. Drifting at high speeds is a must here, and as unintuitive as it may be, taking corners almost sideways can actually be beneficial (and even preferred) in order to best position yourself for the next straightaway. But knowing how to take those turns is only the beginning, as your car will handle completely differently on dirt than gravel or asphalt—and it’s extremely easy to spin out if you’re not careful or underestimate the ground beneath your wheels.

When you combine this new mode with the realistic tire degradation and fine vehicle tuning of the first game, you’re starting to get into the grittiest of details that will have you almost smelling the engine grease on your hands. Adding Rallycross on top of new tracks and cars is a huge boon for Project CARS 2, and if Slightly Mad gives this mode as much attention as they gave everything from the first Project CARS, then this racing series will have more than earned its place at the table alongside Gran Turismo and Forza—and may even be in position to get ready to overtake them.

People are always trying to combine things to make better and more interesting things: Peanut butter and chocolate; Batman with Superman—in comics, not in the movies; pineapple on pizza. Okay, the jury’s still out on that last one. In the case of Agents of Mayhem, though, all the best action of the 80s is being slammed together with the over-the-top humor and situations the Saints Row series was known for in a spin-off that takes place in the same universe. I recently got to go hands-on with Volition’s latest open-world foray, and it’s shaping up to be a love letter to everything great from GI Joe to Knight Rider.

In our demo, we got to play as nine of the 12 members of an elite super fighting force called Mayhem who, simply put, could care less about being heroes—the fact they’re saving the world from people even worse than them is a side bonus. They’re in it to win it for sure, but mostly just for themselves. It’s sort of like the enemy of enemy is my friend; they’re our friends just because they hate the really evil guys from a group called Legion a lot more than all of us. Each character fills a role on the team, offering up weapons and powers that make them great for different situations.

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Hollywood, for example, is the team’s pretty boy who loves nothing more than, well, himself. He wields an assault rifle for great medium range damage, and can fire a grenade from his groin—don’t ask. Then there’s Hardtack, who immediately comes across as a more narcissistic Shipwreck from GI Joe. Hardtack is a shotgunner who can take a licking and keep on…errr…shotgunning. What’s great about Agents of Mayhem is that before most missions you take on, you can choose three of the 12 characters on the roster, then switching between them on the fly. Finding a balance is often the best strategy, but depending on your style, you can specialize and go heavy offense, defense, or the like.

The game takes place primarily in Seoul, South Korea. Exploring the open world to find collectibles and side missions is critical to leveling your characters, which leads to better skills and stronger survivability stats like higher defense or health. Even moving about the world provides options, as you can utilize your powers, every character’s built-in triple jump, commandeer a car from the world, or call in one of your nitrous-outfitted Mayhem cruisers (including some with Kitt-like robot voice) should you so choose to.

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During our demo, we were able to check out five different missions. Two helped forward the story of the game as we took down high-ranking lieutenants inside Legion by blowing up basically everything in sight. Two other missions, meanwhile, were solo objectives that introduced us to new characters like Daisy, the roller derby girl with a Gatling gun and an alcohol problem (who ended up my favorite). Beating those solo missions unlocked new characters and gave us some critical backstory beats about the world and the team itself.

The last mission might’ve been the most interesting, because it was easily the most open-ended and tasked us with capturing a tower in the middle of Seoul. Capturing towers is great for experience, while also freeing areas of Seoul from Legion control. It’s a common video game activity at this point, but it definitely gave us a lot more reasons to explore the world. The mission also showed off some of the verticality of the game, as we had to climb several buildings to get to the capture point. It also highlighted the fast & frantic pace of combat, especially when swapping teammates as swarms of Legion soldiers attacked our position.

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My time with Agents of Mayhem might’ve only been a small cross section of the variety of scenarios the game promises to throw players into, but it was enough to pique my interest for sure. Its cutscenes and interstitials look like they could’ve aired as part of a Saturday morning cartoon block—with more adult themes, mind you—while the action felt like a cross between what we’ve seen before in Saints Row and something like Crackdown. There’s not as much customization as some would expect from Volition, with each character having a limited number of skins for themselves, cars, and their weapons—but that’s because the cast fits more carefully into a story that pays homage in its own weird way to a bygone era. If you ever wanted to see what might happen if GI Joe took a turn for the adult, then maybe got spliced with Archer or something along those lines, Agents of Mayhem looks like it’s ready to deliver just that in the package of a fun, open-world action game.

Agents of Mayhem is dropping on August 15 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Although the Nintendo Switch is only going to have five games released on launch day, it’ll have over 50 games impressively come out during the system’s initial launch window. I had a chance to go hands-on with over a dozen of these launch window games—including the five coming on day one—and put together a list of the ten best titles you should be looking forward to in the early days of Nintendo’s newest home console.

12Switch

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 3, 2017
1-2 Switch
It wouldn’t be a Nintendo console launch anymore it seems without a fun collection of minigames available to show off the system’s potential, and hopefully draw the entire family into the Big N’s warm embrace. 1-2 Switch features a handful of games that take full advantage of the Joy-Con’s variety of motion sensors while bringing out your competitive nature. One game requires you to listen for the sound of a ball smacking a paddle and to keep up with the rhythm in table tennis—minus the table. For all you wannabe cowboys out there, having to quick draw your Joy-Con and press the trigger in an old-fashioned duel at high noon might be more your speed. And the first game to fully take advantage of the HD Rumble, one minigame requires you to move your Joy-Con around and determine how many marbles are inside it—and, unbelievably, the sensors make it feel like there are actually marbles inside your controller. The most interesting thing about all these minigames is that they implore players to look away from their TVs and instead look at each other, livening up the play space and again driving home the potential portability of the fun the Switch has to offer.

ARMS

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Spring 2017
ARMS
Another new IP being introduced during the Switch’s launch window, the ARMS demo we played touted five different fighters, with a variety of titular appendages that you could snap into place, potentially providing a greater advantage on the battlefield. Each player requires a pair of Joy-Cons, with each representing a player’s left and right arm respectively. By turning the Joy-Cons you can move or block, and by punching forward you can send your spring-loaded arms forward at incredible speeds. You can even throw hooks by twisting your arms mid-attack, or throw your opponents off by punching both arms at the same time. Each armament touts different positives and negatives in terms of how powerful they are, and how many times they can potentially hit. The Trident, for example, shoots three finger projectiles out, while the BIG wrecking ball arms are slower but can do a ton of damage. Similar to many fighting games out there, each player has a lifebar, and each avatar also has their natural advantages and disadvantages in terms of health, speed, blocking, and other parameters you’d expect from a game such as this. Meanwhile, ARMS touts multiple ways to play: single-player versus the computer, local versus, and also online versus. Whether or not there’s an accompanying story to go along with ARMS is yet to be seen, but at the very least, if you can snag a second set of Joy-Cons, ARMS could be another game to potentially get the party started on the Switch.

FASTRACINGRMX

Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia
Release Date: March/April 2017
FAST RMX
FAST Racing NEO took the gaming world by storm by harkening back to the futuristic racing of games like F-Zero, and was a rare surprise hit on the Wii U. So, it was with great glee that I found that the original game is being ported over to the Switch with more tracks, more cars, and more modes than the original. Once again, players will hop into the cockpit of a futuristic, super-stylized, hovering race pod and will have to change the colors of their jet streams mid-race in order to get the biggest and best boosts possible if they want to exceed speeds of 1000 miles per hour. Impressively, you can play the entire game with only a single Joy-Con by turning it sideways, or use the Switch Pro Controller if you so choose. In another rarity, FAST RMX touts four-player local split-screen as long as you have enough controllers. There’s also 8-player online versus, and taking advantage of the Switch’s ability to connect with other consoles locally, even touts 8-player local multiplayer if everyone has their own Switch. If you missed FAST Racing NEO the first time around, this remix is a perfect time to test your racing mettle.

LoZBotW

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 3, 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
There was easily no other game that excited us more about the Switch than the newest chapter in one of gaming’s greatest franchises. After having played demos on both systems, I can attest that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks better and plays smoother on the Switch over its Wii U counterpart. Playing with the Joy-Cons inserted into the “puppy dog” dock felt amazingly comfortable, and it wasn’t long before I was off trying to figure out the secret behind Calamity Ganon in the largest Hyrule yet. The map was absolutely massive, but I couldn’t wait to explore every single inch. Of course, the demo was quickly cut short after only 20 minutes, but I found everything to be easier in the Switch version, from managing my inventory to combat, and I believe again it’s in large part to the Switch controller being far more comfortable than the Wii U tablet. Of course, if I so chose, I could also snap the Joycons to the side of the Switch console and take it on the road. There’s a small loss of quality there—the 900p visuals becomes 720p on the console’s 6.5-inch screen—but the fact I could be flying across the country and playing a Zelda game makes up for that in spades.

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Besides getting an obvious bump in visual fidelity on the Switch console, this latest version of everyone’s favorite kart racer is filled to the brim with content. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is easily the definitive edition of this game. All previous DLC characters are unlocked from the get-go, along with a couple of new ones added to this version. New tracks are also included, again upping the content and replayability should you have played the original the first time around. The most telling addition, however, comes on the multiplayer side. Yes, like many of the other games on this list, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe touts a variety of local and online multiplayer options all depending on how many Switches and Joy-Cons you have available. You can even play 2-player split-screen locally with just a pair of Joy-Cons, with each player turning them sideways like NES controllers. But the biggest multiplayer addition is the inclusion of old-school balloon-popping battles in classic arenas that were noticeably absent from the launch of the original Mario Kart 8. With all these additions and new features, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is almost an entirely new game, and a must have for fans of the series.

Snipperclips

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 2017
Snipperclips — Cut It Out, Together!
Lengthy title that should be shortened to just Snipperclips aside, this is another new IP that shows off the flexibility and creativity games on the Switch can potentially afford developers and players. This two-player game gives each player a single Joy-Con turned sideways, and sees them take control of living pieces of construction paper. By cutting your partner—and them cutting you—into a variety of different shapes, you must create the tools needed to solve puzzles of ever-increasing difficulty. No matter if you’re popping balloons, putting a basketball through a hoop, bringing a pencil over to a sharpener, or just matching shapes given to you, Snipperclips – Cut It Out, Together! will test your ability to collaborate (and maybe your patience) as you attempt to overcome all the challenges in your way.

SonicMania

Developer: Headcannon/PagodaWest
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Spring 2017
Sonic Mania
One of the big things seemingly keeping the industry afloat at times is its regular reliance on nostalgia. When that nostalgia hits home, it’s hard to deny the impact it can have on a particular fanbase. Of course, when that same nostalgia leads to disappointment, the impact it has can be felt even more harshly in the other direction. Few franchises have seen both sides of this effect as clearly as Sonic the Hedgehog, with most recent entries falling on the unfortunate side of the nostalgia effect. It’s no wonder then that SEGA is turning an eye back to the beginning—to Sonic’s clearly-defined roots—and bringing the blue blur back home with Sonic Mania. A combination of the original Sonic the Hedgehog and an entirely new adventure, Sonic Mania combines the 16-bit breakneck speed that Sonic blasted onto the scene with with new worlds, harder levels, bigger bosses, and even the inclusion of his buddies Tails and Knucles this time around. While Sonic Mania is the only non-exclusive title to make this list, it needs to be mentioned that being able to play the game with only a single Joy-Con controller might feel the most similar to how it did when we were children as opposed to the larger, bulkier controllers of the PS4 or Xbox One. Considering Sonic only ever needed a couple of buttons, even the single Joy-Con might be overkill to some. To the rest of us, it is an extra tool in SEGA’s efforts to re-hone in on Sonic’s core, and bring his fans back to happier times.

Splatoon2

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Summer 2017
Splatoon 2
Disappointment over the fact this wasn’t named Spla2oon aside, Splatoon 2 is doing everything you could hope for from any and every sequel. Aside from supporting both Joy-Con and Pro Controller play, and offering up local 8-player multiplayer if you have enough Switches, Splatoon 2 is coming at us bigger and better in every way imaginable. Just like in real life, two years time has passed in the world of Splatoon, and with it Squid-kid style has changed—along with their weaponry. New devices like the twin pistols allow for more accurate painting, and new modes, maps, and more are promised to bring the experience as a whole to a new level. I played a pair of classic turf war matches during our brief time with the game, and the core of bright colors and easy to pick-up gameplay remain centered on the Wii U’s biggest surprise franchise. We can’t wait to paint the town red (and blue, and green, and yellow, and pink) all over again this summer.

SuperBombermanR

Developer: HexaDrive
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Super Bomberman R
During the ending montage of Thursday night’s press conference where Nintendo really showed off the Switch for the first time, there were two things that I noticed. First was the confirmation of NBA 2K18, coupled with the earlier announcement of FIFA showing a clear sign of Nintendo finally supporting sports games again. But completely unrelated, and even more exciting for most of us, was the brief image of a familiar explosives expert who we hadn’t really seen in quite some time. The original Bomberman back in the day was one of those perfect little arcade-inspired adventures that flourished on the original NES. Over the years, the lore of Bomberman and his enemies was expanded upon, and he’s become a cult-classic for those of us who can’t get enough of his brand of demolition and destruction. Thus, Super Bomberman R was an extremely pleasant surprise that fantastically captures the essence of what makes Bomberman great, while giving us tough puzzles, persistent enemies, and just enough friendly fire to keep us on our toes when playing couch co-op. Another game that utilizes a single Joy-Con controller held sideways, Super Bomberman R is a great throwback for fleshing out the Switch’s launch-day lineup.

USF2

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: TBD 2017
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
Another retro surprise, Capcom is giving fans what could end up being the final revision of Street Fighter II in the game’s over 25-year lifespan. Featuring two new (to the game) characters in Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, the roster of that fighting game classic is finally considered complete now alongside original additions like Cammy and T. Hawk. The game plays exactly the same, as you would expect if you caught the title the first time around, and features Pro Controller support, unsurprisingly. Besides the two new characters (that channel aspects of Akuma in different ways), the game can be played in two different visual modes. The first mimics the 16-bit sprites of the SNES days, while the other uses the new art UDON provided for the game’s HD Remix release, giving every character a gorgeous coat of anime-style paint that just leaps off the screen. As great as the game looks, the real question now is if it could join the professional fighting game circuit—and how long before we see Ultra Street Fighter II alongside Street Fighter V at tournaments like EVO.

The third annual PlayStation Experience took place this past weekend, and this year was the biggest and best yet for Sony’s year-end celebration. More announcements than ever before were made at the show—but more than that, the show floor had more games than ever before, too. I was able to go hands-on with nearly two-dozen titles while at the show, and I’ve whittled those experiences down to the 10 best games that I think you should be chomping at the bit for.

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Developer: Metalhead Software
Publisher: Metalhead Software
Super Mega Baseball 2

The original Super Mega Baseball was the kind of arcade-y experience that baseball games started out as back in the day. Due to its initial December release back in 2014, it might not have gotten the love it deserved, but it was good enough to easily cement its status as a cult classic. Clearly, the love was heard loud and clear from the folks over at Metalhead Software, as they’re now working on a sequel planned for 2017. Super Mega Baseball 2 features more stadiums, more players, and more modes than the original, while still bringing over its 1-4 player couch co-op/versus play. Its controls remain easy to pick up but difficult to master, as your pitchers have every possible pitch imaginable, and knowing when to swing for power—and getting the timing right—or swing for contact is critical to success. If you love baseball, and are looking for an alternative to the more serious simulation that is The Show, Super Mega Baseball 2 is all set to knock it out of the park again.

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Developer: Yager Development
Publisher: Grey Box
Dreadnought

We’ve been hearing about Dreadnought for a while now, and on the precipice of its 2017 release, we got the awesome news that it’s also coming to PlayStation 4. For those unfamiliar with the game, you take control of one of a series of massive starships, waging space war against those who would stand against you. Each ship has different statistics based on their size, speed, and armaments, and playing what best suits your style—and what can best help your team win—will be critical, as the planning stages are just as important here as the actual combat itself.

My one worry with the PS4 announcement was how the controls (based around a mouse/keyboard) would transition to a controller. Luckily, the team found a way to do it. The PS4 controller’s touchpad is utilized when choosing to divert extra power to shields, engines, or guns, picking up the slack of the lack of buttons on the controller face. And, after playing a couple matches this way, I found using a controller to be just as intuitive—if not more so—than the PC controls. Now, it’s just a matter of time before we can get access to the beta and become captains of our own starships.

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Developer: PlayTonic Games
Publisher: Team17
Yooka-Laylee

If you loved the original Banjo-Kazooie games, then Yooka-Laylee is not only a love letter and spiritual successor to them, but to all the platformers of the N64 era. During my PSX demo, I was introduced to a massive world chock full of collectibles, puzzles, and colorful characters that shared the British tongue-in-cheek, fourth-wall breaking humor that made us all smile a little wider back in the ‘90s. The single area I saw required Yooka and Laylee to change the seasons in order to collect every single Pagie they could as they try to save all the world’s literature from nefarious forces. Besides the seasonal puzzles, Yooka the chameleon can also eat special berries that changed his attributes. For example, one makes him turn to stone in order to withstand high winds, while another allows him to spit ice and freeze platforms. Laylee the bat also gets in on the action, shooting out a sonic scream that can wake up sleeping totems and reveal new platforms to hop across. Simply put, the gamut of gameplay on display here—from shooting to platforming to puzzle solving—made me feel like a kid again in all the best ways.

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Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Pyre

I love games. Always have, always will. Being a games journalist for nearly a decade now, however, means I love them differently. I appreciate them, but it’s rare I ever get outwardly excited anymore. There is an exception to every rule, of course, and I admit I absolutely mark out for anything Supergiant Games makes. So, when they officially announced that Pyre would have a local versus multiplayer mode at PSX (something we speculated when we first saw the game earlier in the year), and I got to play it? I went bonkers. And, it turned out, with good reason, because it seems Supergiant has taken the time and care they always apply to their worlds and their narratives, and have successfully done the same with multiplayer.

Much like the main game, Pyre’s multiplayer has two teams of three face off as you try to get a special orb into your opponent’s base—like a game of celestial basketball. The strategy and intensity that emerges from playing another human, however, takes the gameplay to an entirely new level. It’s difficult to predict these things, but I could easily see Pyre turning into a couch versus phenomenon. Supergiant told me at the show they’re trying to get online to work, but would rather no online than broken online. I think that’s entirely the way to go, because even as is, this game is primed to be a slam dunk.

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Developer: Sloclap
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Absolver

Following E3 2016, I had heard from fellow EGMer Matt Buchholtz how amazing Absolver was. After finally getting to try it out at PSX, I don’t think Matt gave the game nearly enough credit. On the surface, Absolver is an arena fighter where your character moves through a world, taking on opponents, growing stronger, and learning new moves in the process. Dig just a little deeper, however, and you find a game that celebrates fighting as an art form, a complicated dance of fists and feet and force that when perfectly flowing together creates a performance unparalleled elsewhere. This is where Absolver makes itself special.

Its visuals are already beautiful; the character designs remind me fittingly a bit of the dancer from Bound. But when you start to understand the timing of moves, your fighter’s four different stances, how you can properly chain moves together, and even customize your own combos from dozens of moves, there’s a level of detail here rarely seen in any fighting game—and which has me equally excited for both the campaign and its versus modes.

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Developer: Whitemoon Dreams
Publisher: Sony
Starblood Arena

When I saw Starblood Arena announced at the PSX 2016 showcase, the first thing that came to mind was how it would it compare to RIGS—another game involving players shooting each other while piloting mechs that was, to me, PlayStation VR’s best launch title. After playing it, Starblood Arena might be even better.

Right off the bat, Starblood Arena provides a cast of colorful characters and mechs of different shapes, sizes, and stats to differentiate itself from other early VR shooters (and inject some personality into the game). It also provides a full six axes of motion, meaning your mechs are constantly flying through the air and that threats can come from any angle. What Starblood Arena also does smartly is provide standard FPS controls with the two sticks on a controller, and then have finer aiming done by moving your head. This not only gives most gamers a control scheme they’ll be familiar with, but also reduces nausea-inducing situations down to nothing for most. Although I only took on bots in the limited demo—19:1 K/D by the way—the game features deathmatch and other standard shooter-fare modes. If Starblood Arena can build a solid player base, it could be the next great multiplayer game for PS VR.

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Developer: Lightbulb Club
Publisher: Lightbulb Club
Games of Glory

The PS4 has been offering some interesting free-to-play fare recently, starting with the announcement that Gung Ho’s Let It Die was launching right there at PSX 2016 for everyone. Another F2P game that’s coming exclusively to the PS4 is Games of Glory, which could prove to be immensely popular among the multiplayer crowd. Combining MOBA elements with a Guardian mode, Games of Glory splits six players up into two three-person teams. Your team must attempt to win a best-of-9 series by holding the center of a map and keeping your designated captain alive for the entirely of a round. Who fills the role of captain always rotates between rounds, so every player could potentially be the captain three times. Each character has moves and roles similar to what you would see in your typical MOBA, including tanks, DPS, healers, and so on. Coming up with a strategy and combination of players to overcome your opponents isn’t easy, but it sure can be fun. Although only a few characters and only the one mode were available for play at PSX, some variety here could easily see Games of Glory catch on with its ease of play.

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Developer: Giant Sparrow
Publisher: Sony
What Remains of Edith Finch

I saw What Remains of Edith Finch a couple of years ago at E3, and have been waiting to find out the final, sordid history of the Finch family tree with bated breath ever since. Players are tasked with exploring the Finch family home, where whenever someone in the family meets with a tragic end, their bedroom is sealed off. By discovering new rooms, you also discover new tragedies and tales as you try to uncover the secret of the Finch legacy. With a release finally coming supposedly right around the corner, I played through one of the shorter stories on the tree, that of a twin brother who wanted to fly in the worst way—and got his wish.

What Remains of Edith Finch is the next step in interactive storytelling, providing players with fantastical experiences that also find ways to tug on heartstrings. The two stories I played through on two separate occasions took me places I never thought games might go, but when the game is finally done and we play through this entire collection of short tales, I think we’ll all be happy they did.

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Developer: Prideful Sloth
Publisher: Prideful Sloth
Yonder: The Cloud Chaser Chronicles

Imagine a Legend of Zelda game minus the enemies, and you’ll have a pretty rough idea of what to expect from Yonder: The Cloud Chaser Chronicles. Here, you play a boy or girl who, after waking up in a mysterious world, sets out both to figure out how they got there and help purge a mysterious force that is consuming the land. To do that, you’ll have to find fairy-like creatures on your journey that can help you purge the encroaching darkness. Along the way, you’ll also be able to build your own farm, befriend a variety of animals, collect resources, or go on quests for nearby villagers to earn the tools needed to open up more of the world. You can fish, chop wood, mine stone, and more to gather resources, which—when combined with your farming aspect—gives the game a bit of an open-world Harvest Moon feel as well. I admit, normally I prefer a bit more conflict in games of this ilk, but I’m curious as to where the story could go. As a change of pace, the peaceful open-world quests of Yonder might be just what we need as gamers.

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Developer: Exploding Tuba
Publisher: Exploding Tuba
Divide

The twin-stick shooter is a pretty common video game staple; rarely has it ever been tied to a complex narrative, however. Enter: Divide. It’s a science-fiction action/adventure game that will demand every second of your attention. Every bit of information needs to be taken with a grain of salt as you work your way through a futuristic dystopia in search of your missing daughter.

What makes Divide even more interesting is its control scheme, which uses none of the PS4 controller’s face buttons. Instead, everything is mapped to triggers and the control sticks. Whether hacking a terminal to open a door, or aiming down the sights of your gun when in confrontations with soldiers or security bots, you’ll have to master this simple control scheme to work your way out of some complex jams as you dive deeper into the story.  Much like the story itself, Divide may look simple at first glance, but when you start to get past the surface, there is so much more to discover.

When I previewed Let It Die—a PS4-exclusive, free-to-play, hack ‘n’ slash rougelike from the twisted minds at Grasshopper Manufacture—for the first time back in April, it was a rough demo that conveyed some interesting ideas and mechanics, but left a lot to be desired. Many of the systems that would really drive home what this unique experience was meant to be were still absent then, and left me hanging onto promises of great things more than any tangible evidence that this experience could be special. After getting to go hands-on recently with a more complete version of the game, though, I can testify that Let It Die might be gaming’s new roguelike craze. To help give you a sense of the insanity this game wants to bring to the PS4, here’s a video of my first hour playing the game, uninterrupted aside for some menu traversal and load screens cut for the sake of time.

I had a chance to play some For Honor at an Ubisoft pre-Gamescom event, and capture some sweet 4K resolution footage off their pumped up PCs. This is Dominion mode, first revealed at E3 2015, and is a 4v4 mode that combined Domination with a MOBA. It’s obviously seen some upgrades in a year. For Honor will be available on February 14, 2017, for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

The original Watch Dogs tried some interesting new ideas for incorporating multiplayer, and at the top of the list might’ve been the ability to invade a friend’s game in order to try and hack them (leading to a cat-and-mouse chase between players). Building on that idea, Ubisoft has unveiled the new Bounty Hunter mode for Watch Dogs 2, which I recently had the chance to try for myself thanks to a pre-Gamescom event at their San Francisco office.

Watch Dogs 2’s Bounty Hunter mode allows players to put a bounty on their own head. Doing so automatically sends the cops after you, but it also allows up to three friends to join your game and team up with the police to hunt you down. However, one of your friends can join your side if they so choose, turning the mode into a 2-vs-2 (with AI police) in addition to the possibilities for a 1-vs-1 or even asymmetrical 2-vs-1 or 3-vs-1 confrontation. If you don’t feel like being hunted, you can also do an online search to see if anyone else is on the lamb in order to join the police hunting them if you want.

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I had a chance to play as both the hunter and the hunted, and on both sides of the coin, it was nice that all my tools from the game’s single-player portion transitioned with me. I could hack cars and steam vents, use my automatic rifles, or even fly drones and place remote mines, just like in the single player, all helping to provide for a variety of options every time I played—making it so each time I tried the mode it never felt the same. Sometimes as the hunter, I would get a lock on the target, steal a car, and simply run them over when they were trying to escape on foot; other times, I would sneak up on them and snipe them from a distance.

Meanwhile, during the times when I was being hunted, my strategies shifted drastically. With my position immediately given to my enemies as soon as they signed in, I just tried to flee as fast as I could at first, hoping to lose my pursuers through back streets or by going off-road with a car. One time I had a friend drive the getaway car as I used my rifle to shoot out the tires of those hot on our tail. Sometimes, crippling would-be captors was more effective than trying to kill them outright.

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At a certain point, though, I got tired of running. On my final shot at the mode, I found high ground and planted mines near locations I thought people would try to come at me from. Unfortunately, most of the mines went to waste, as my enemies took unforeseen angles. Luckily I could remote detonate them though, and I was able to pick off another player who wasn’t close enough to trip the mine, but who was definitely within the blast radius when I set it off.

All told, I spent probably about a half hour with Watch Dogs 2’s Bounty Hunter mode, and got in maybe six matches (victorious in all of them)—which means the mode is also pretty quick. You don’t have to worry about a long time sink, and with the hunters always knowing where the hunted player is, it usually promotes quick and decisive confrontations, perfect if you want to get in and get out with the multiplayer, or really mess with some folks and go on a bounty-collecting spree.

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It’s nice to see Ubisoft continuing to support the multiplayer aspect of Watch Dogs, and this new mode feels like the natural evolution of invading someone else’s game while staying true to the tenants of the original’s gameplay. I can’t wait go collect some more bounties for real now when Watch Dogs 2 drops on November 15.