Throughout the 2021 Call of Duty League season, the Minnesota Rokkr hasn’t got a lot of respect. The team got off to a slower start and wasn’t competing at a level that was acceptable to the organization and its fans. But then something happened. Head coach Brian “Saintt” Baroska and V1 director of esports strategy Jake “Reppin” Trobaugh put their faith in a 19-year-old kid to try and bring a spark to the Rokkr roster. The results were instant and exciting.
Deathloop is the upcoming action-adventure game that has graced our cover for the last month, and as part of our exclusive coverage, we sat down with the game’s narrative designer to chat about Deathloop’s story. Following their critical success with the Dishonored series, Arkane Studios has crafted a brand new world to explore. Set on the island of Blackreef, Deathloop is a story that follows Colt Vahn, a man who is stuck in a never-ending loop with a secret society that’s led by antagonist Julianna.
In this exclusive interview, we chat with Bennett Smith about the backstory of Blackreef and why the island’s time loop was originally set up by the AEON Program. We also asked about the relationship between Colt and Julianna, and more specifically, why the latter wants the former dead. Separate from the main narrative thrust, we learn more from Bennett about how the game encourages players to become comfortable with death in an effort to gain more knowledge about their surroundings.
It’s morning on Blackreef Island, and Colt has just emerged from the underground tunnels that wind their way across this desolate landmass. Colt just woke up, but he’s already ready to collapse. His legs feel heavy; his arms are dead weights. A hangover from the night before is beginning to ease, but Colt’s real troubles have only begun. So, Colt fights through the pain – pushes against entropy – and presses deeper into the island. He knows he’s marching toward his own death, but he has no other choice. If Colt wants to get off this blasted rock, he must orchestrate a seemingly impossible series of assassinations in less than 24 hours.
If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to subscribe to the Game Informer YouTube channel so that you don’t miss any of our exclusive Deathloop video coverage.
Ashwalkers is an ambitious new narrative survival game by French developer Nameless XIII, a small studio co-founded by Life Is Strange co-creator Hervé Bonin. Set 200 years after a volcanic disaster transformed Earth into a ravaged wasteland, players must keep a party of characters alive as they fight to survive this hostile, ash-blanketed world.
These four survivors (referred to as “The Squad”) have their own distinct personalities with an ever-evolving relationship between each other. Gameplay involves keeping these four alive by seeking out shelter and harvesting vital resources. You’ll need to carefully manage your rations, however, as there isn’t always enough to go around. Party members can succumb to madness and other mental traumas if they aren’t well taken care of. When the lack of resources isn’t threatening to wipe you out, Ashwalkers’ world presents plenty of other hurdles such as deadly weather (including lightning storms) and clashes with other survivors.
Given Bonin’s history with Dontnod developing Life Is Strange, it’s not surprising to learn that Ashwalkers features choice-driven gameplay, non-linear storytelling, and multiple endings: 34 different conclusions total, in fact. With so many different ways that Ashwalkers’ story can go down, Nameless XIII promises players will discover new paths every time they play, depending on their choices.
“We are huge fans of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure books'” said Bonin in a press release. “Our ambition is to combine that sense of a detailed unfolding world with the interactivity of a video game, a game where every choice matters. The player feedback we have gotten for our public demo in the latest Steam Festival was extremely positive so we are super excited to let players explore the world of Ashwalkers.”
If Ashwalkers sounds right up your alley, you’ll be happy to know the game is just a month away from release. Ashwalkers launches April 15 for PC. There’s currently no word on if the game is coming to consoles. Check out the gallery of screenshots below.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
What do you make of Ashwalkers? Share your first impressions down in the comments!
Without a doubt, the latest version of the original tabletop RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, remains a driving force for the current success across the industry. The excellent 5th edition has done wonders for
With the recent confirmation from Sony Interactive Entertainment head Jim Ryan stating that more PlayStation games will be making the jump to PC, starting with Days Gone this Spring, it got us
Fortnite has been embracing crossover character skins for ages now, and two big names are about to join the cast! More information is dropping tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time via official Epic channels, but for now we’ve got a spiffy new reveal trailer showcasing Ryu and Chun-Li from the Street Fighter franchise. After Master Chief, Kratos, and many others have entered the Fortnite universe as skins, this is hardly surprising, but it’s always great to see additional faces from other games come into the universe! Check out their debut trailer above!
Ryu’s penchant for Hadoukens and Chun-Li’s furious flurry of kicks have been staples of the fighting game scene from when we would gather around the one arcade unit in the Walmart mini-arcades and stack quarters on the side of the machine, eager to dragon punch and kick our enemies into oblivion while the crane game chirped noisily in the background. While those days can never return, we can now play as some of our favorite Street Fighters in Fortnite. At this point, I don’t think any crossover could surprise me, with myriad names and faces joining Epic’s free-to-play foray on a regular basis.
Game Informer reviewed Fortnite back in 2018, and while many things have changed, the core battle royale experience stands strong. “The sheer replayability of Fortnite Battle Royale is one of its greatest strengths. Despite there only being one map, nothing ever plays out the same from game to game. Your learned experience about chest spawns, terrain, and weapon functionality carries over, but how these aspects intersect is fresh every time,” I said in my review. “Maybe you land with 10 other players in the middle of a house, forcing you to decide whether to book it to the next area or go Rambo, hoping to reap the rewards as the lone survivor of a grim melee. Maybe you get a great weapon right away, but wander into the middle of a skirmish between two snipers. Like Dota 2 or League of Legends, despite the single primary playspace, the rest of the variables mean that one map is more than enough.”
Are you planning to pick up the Ryu or Chun-Li skins? What do you think about the deluge of crossover skins? Let us know in the comments!
Over the weekend, Viking survival game Valheim crested to a concurrent player peak of over 360,000 players on Steam. While Steam and other game storefronts are inundated with survival titles to choose from, ranging from Minecraft (and its many assorted mods) to Ark to Terraria to Rust, the new early access title from Iron Gate AB is barging its way onto the scene. From a core list of features and mechanics, Valheim may not appear different at all from many other survival titles. So what separates Valheim from any of the other survival titles out there? Should you give it a try? Here are a few key takeaways that help explain Valheim’s rise through the ranks…
Two Distinctly Different Speeds
You can explore the world of Valheim by yourself or with 9 other friends, on dedicated servers or just by joining your friend’s world. While the single-player experience is fundamentally the same game, it plays much differently. Alone, the game is more of a Zen garden of sorts, allowing you to take each day at your own pace, enjoying every little piece of cooked grub and being the sole owner of every exploration, every triumph, and every discovery. Pacing as a solo player is much slower, and becomes a sort of survival meditation as you plan each day and overprepare for every step outside your door. After all, there’s no one to help you out should you get killed and need to perform a dreaded corpse run to get your gear.
Multiplayer is more traditional survival as players work together to craft multiple bases and take on the challenges of building, gearing, exploring and boss-slaying together. Some players shy away from this style of play, as not logging into the game for even a single day can have profound effects on what tier the server is at (We’ve all started Terraria worlds, left for a day, and come back to our friends zipping around in the sky with laser guns as we hold up our little baby wooden pickaxe…). But after around a week of diving into Valheim, the co-op multiplayer is the best way to play. Meeting up with your friends and bonding over a raft ride in a storm or just heading out to mine some copper together is a blast.
In fact, you can resummon big bosses and they have multiple spawn locations per world, so if you did want to play independently but still have a support group on a server, that’s an option as well. If your crew is anything like mine, players will naturally fill the archetypal buckets of builder, explorer, fighter, and more, making for a fun time whenever you log in. If you choose to go the multiplayer route, I highly recommend forking out the cash for a dedicated server so you and your friends can come and go as you please instead of having to wait for a friend to set up the world every time you want to play. While I think the multiplayer is vastly superior and teamwork makes the dream work, the solo game is an enjoyable, albeit incredibly different, activity in which you’re sure to enjoy every discovery yourself.
Of additional note, the barebones PvP is entirely opt in and pretty much just for fun, making the multiplayer aspect of Valheim completely co-op. This (almost) eliminates the griefer vibe that can permeate some other survival games. Yes, theoretically someone could come into your game and smash your house down if you open your world up to the public, so try to play with people you know!
Simplicity Is Key
Valheim’s structure is immediately discernible and understandable even for players far removed from the survival genre. Essentially, each biome is a tier and ruled by a boss. Farm the zone for resources, make new gear and recipes, kill the boss, rinse and repeat with tools to tackle the next zone via the boss drops. The boss battles create server-gathering events for you and your friends, and if you’re playing with a particularly inquisitive or adventurous group there are creative ways to sequence break the natural order of progression. The key here really is that the game is understandable from the get go, with a helpful crow giving players tutorial steps. You don’t need to worry about making fifty other items to craft a single item or complex multifaceted crafting schools, it’s just get up and go and start making progress in your world.
Conquering the Meadow is a breeze, the Black Forest offers a significant bump up in exploration and challenges, and things get considerably more intense in the Swamp, Plains, and Mountains. And Valheim has optional secrets to discover as well that exist outside the biome hierarchy that can greatly enhance your options and progress, like the merchant and a certain sea creature I won’t spoil. There’s something to be said that you aren’t tasked with trying to cobble together thirty different types of resources just to get things going, wood and stone is enough. Survival titles are somewhat inherently intimidating by genre, and Valheim is surprisingly welcoming for a game where vikings battle werewolves in the snow.
Rewards Instead Of Punishment
Yes, Valheim has some fairly hardcore consequences for death in that you need to run back to your body to recover your gear and items, but you can prepare for it quite well. Outside of that though, Valheim rewards you for interacting with survival mechanics rather than punishing you for failing to do so. Eating food makes you much harder to kill, providing hit point regeneration, stamina, and other bonuses – but you won’t die from not eating. You’re incentivized to find shelter and warmth from the cold and wet conditions, but these things won’t kill or damage you either. From a gameplay standpoint, this makes dealing with the world a lot easier. You know that if you’re going to be doing any difficult task like forging ahead into a new biome or taking on a boss you’re going to want to be fully rested with hearty meals in your belly, but you are not constantly nagged to death by hunger, thirst, or weather meters. This design shift is highly significant for alleviating excess player frustration in a hostile world.
Punctuated, Powerful Discovery
Most survival games have meaningful discoveries, and Valheim puts an exclamation mark on them with sparse musical notes and well-utilized effects. Valheim’s world is surprisingly beautiful at times, with impressive lighting and weather adding accents to the action. Rainstorms. Lightning. Blizzard whiteouts. The first time
Coming Back To Reality
Yes, there’s also the COVID-19 factor that is shining the spotlight on gaming experiences both solitary and social, but it would be dismissive and wrong to attribute Valheim’s success to that aspect alone. I’m happy that Valheim is seeing a ton of early access success, and I hope it means the team can eventually push out an amazing final product. The realities of the situation are that because it is early access and only about half the content is there worldwise, there’s going to be an inevitable fall-off as players hit the end of the current content offerings. Many will likely wait until the full version is available rather than tackling every patch on the roadmap. While this is perfectly normal and expected, expect plenty of cries from the peanut gallery that Valheim is a “Two-week game” or “Lol dead game!” as the playerbase trickles out after the initial surge. Valheim is looking great as an approachable, intriguing, and flavorful world. You should probably take a look.
Nioh 2: The Complete Edition is available now. You can snag the samurai slasher on PlayStation 5 or PC, and as part of the big The Nioh Collection package. If you’ve been waiting to play Nioh 2, now is definitely the time, as the complete edition comes with all of the DLC content, adding on to the already meaty game. To say you could easily spend 100 hours on the game isn’t embellishing things at all, and even then there are still always more weapons, builds, and set bonuses to try. If you like smashing (and getting smashed) by giant demons, Nioh 2 offers an immense surplus of treats for you to enjoy.
So, we’re going to stream some Nioh 2: The Complete Edition today! I’ll be piloting our scrappy samurai warrior through some levels, taking on some deadly bosses, and inevitably dying a bunch of times over the course of today’s show, where I’ll be answering your big questions about Nioh 2, souls-likes, and the mysteries of life. While I can’t pretend to be an expert with every build, weapon, and burst counter, I can offer a lot of general tips and suggestions and help you determine if Team Ninja’s dark, punishing adventure is the right fit for you.
One big question I can answer right here that I get often about the Nioh games, especially in light of both Nioh and Nioh 2 being available in one complete set, is… Should you play Nioh before Nioh 2? My answer is no, as Nioh 2 expands and polishes many aspects of the original. Story and lore hounds should in fact play Nioh first as there is some shared narrative DNA between the games, but I have never found the story in these titles captivating in the slightest. These games are all about gameplay, mechanics, and combat. And that’s pretty awesome!
Join me today at 3:30 CST for a look at Nioh 2: The Complete Edition!
The greatest trick I repeatedly pull is convincing myself I’ll play the latest Pokémon title, but then never actually doing it. Like many kids of the ‘90s, I fell in love with Game Freak’s lovable Pocket Monsters when they initially took the U.S. by storm. I lost countless hours playing Red, Blue, and Yellow multiple times, invested just as much time in the anime, and collected way too many cards. I was a certified Poké-maniac.
When Generation 2 rolled around, I was eager catch some new monsters, but a series of unfortunate events pushed me away from the series for good. First, my Game Boy Advance was stolen with my copy of Pokémon Gold inside (which I’ve never completed to this day). Then the anime let me down for the final time when Ash lost the Johto League finals even after defeating Gary, cementing Ash as a choke artist I could no longer get behind. My enthusiasm for the franchise simply vanished after that. Outside of a brief, random return with Pokémon Platinum and partaking in the beautiful phenomenon of Pokémon Go’s early days, I haven’t touched the series since. Still, I kept an ear to the ground for every subsequent release, secretly hoping for an irresistible new feature that would lure me back.
Over the years, I imagined what the series would need to do to draw me in again, but the goalposts moved every time they were met. I said I wanted an entry with full 3D graphics. Then X&Y happened, and I never touched it. I said I wanted a mainline console RPG. Then Let’s Go and Sword & Shield release – and I haven’t played them. I said an MMO would be cool. Then someone made TemTem and … well, I’ll get back to you on that when it hits consoles. The point is: What does this series really have to do to get me interested again? With the Pokémon’s 25th anniversary in full swing, I took time to really consider what it would take for me to dust off the old Pokédex one more time.
A Story-Driven RPG Starring Team Rocket
Pokémon protagonists are about as interesting as catching a Pidgey. They’re all chipper-yet-bland avatars devoid of personality outside of a love of capturing helpless critters and forcing them to fight. Give me protagonists with pizzazz, charisma, and moxie. Give me Team Rocket!
By that, I mean Jessie, James, and Meowth, the bumbling goofs who are usually the highlight of most episodes of the anime. They’re hilarious personalities that I’d love to see get a full, dedicated game. Let me try to abduct Ash’s Pikachu or, better yet, have the trio embark on their own zany adventure away from the series’ typical heroes. Games that put bad guys front and center can be a novel experience, and few villains are as entertaining or endearing as these three knuckleheads.
Wacky, Absurd Side Quests
The Pokémon anime is bursting with strange side characters, and the games have apparently failed to fully capture that charm so far. While there are some colorful personalities, they’re typically the main or supporting cast. Many of the people you meet regularly are “cheerful lass looking to battle #3.” I’d love it if the side activities took a page from the Yakuza series and dialed the silliness all the way up.
The sub stories in Yakuza are ridiculous and endearing; they’re a delight I regularly go out of my way to seek out. If Pokémon took a similar approach (or ripped it off wholesale) by offering some truly far-out sidequests, I’d be inclined to not avoid the vision cone of every passerby I see. For example, one of my favorite quests in Yakuza: Like a Dragon involves preventing the last persimmon from falling out of a tree from a sumo wrestler, a wannabe sniper, and a high school occultist. And Yakuza is supposed to based on real-life! The humans in Pokémon share a planet with three-headed birds, sentient garbage piles, and a living mystical alphabet. The comedic gold is sitting there, waiting to be mined.
Eliminate Random Encounters Forever
For years, Pokémon has maintained a stubborn reliance on random encounters. Sword & Shield got halfway there by having some Pokémon appear in the overworld and Wild Area, but I’ve been playing a lot of Bugsnax recently, and that game nails what I’d like to see from Pokémon going forward: a world teeming with bizarre wildlife as far as the eye can see. I want to look up and admire Ho-Oh soaring across the horizon the way Ash did in the anime’s pilot episode or feel a stronger sense of disappointment when a Rattata approaches me. Random encounters are old hat in standard RPGs, but seeing them remain a near constant in Pokémon feels more and more like a disservice to the franchise in terms of what it could do for wonder and immersion.
Ditch The Turn-Based Combat
I grew up playing RPGs, so turn-based combat will always have a place in my heart, but I’m also ready to move on. One of the things I love most about Final Fantasy is its willingness to reinvent its battle system with each entry, and it ditched traditional turn-based combat long ago (frankly, for the better). I don’t know how you do that using the usual Pokémon template, but that’s what makes the possibilities exciting.
Maybe take a page from the Final Fantasy VII Remake playbook and blend pure action with RPG elements on the edges. Perhaps let players control Pokémon directly instead of just issuing commands to them? Having a party of six creatures with an array of unique abilities allows for some exciting ideas that feel constrained within the current, well-worn battle template. Give me something fundamentally different and you’ll not only have my curiosity, but my interest as well.
Release It As One Version
I’ve never really understood the appeal behind Pokémon’s two-version approach. Sure, it’s great for lining Game Freak and Nintendo’s pockets, but I’ve always felt a lingering anxiety with the idea of buying a game knowing some of the monsters are locked away in its counterpart. For players, what’s the actual good reason for doing this other than “Well, that’s just how it’s always been done”? Dropping another $60 for the opportunity to catch the other Legendary Pokémon stinks, as does having to do the work of trading to fill missing Pokédex entries.
It’s hard enough deciding whether or not to buy a new Pokémon game at all, so removing the added pressure of deciding which Legendary looks cooler/less silly would help me pull the trigger a lot faster.
Add Settlement Building
Whether it’s the Assassin’s Creed series, Spiritfarer, or even the recently released Olija, I’m becoming more and more of a sucker for building up home bases. The mechanic can often provide a compelling incentive for collecting money and resources during exploration, plus it feels rewarding to turn a patch of dirt into a sprawling headquarters. This could apply to the Pokémon template too.
Instead of just sending extra Pokémon to Professor “Some Dumb Tree Name” what if you could build and upgrade your own Pokémon ranch of sorts? Maybe I can construct an aquarium for my water-types to hang in or maintain a ranch of Tauros like Ash had for some reason. It’d be fun in a similar manner to filling Blather’s museum in Animal Crossing. Given the various biomes Pokémon can inhabit, this HQ could get real wacky real quick in terms of its diversity, and it’d add another fun element to raising Pokémon, namely the ones you have no intention of engaging with on the battlefield.
Make The Pokémon Say Their Names!
Look, I know this is minor but darn it, the fact that Pokémon don’t say their names in-game has always irrationally bugged me. I know some of the reason has to do with translation, but that’s not my problem. Plus, Pikachu gets to do it, apparently. Give me that cute Squirtle voice instead of his upsetting digital battle cry of “bla7m#fpowr7@*!!!” Be honest, wouldn’t you rather hear Charizard proudly proclaim…okay, he doesn’t actually say his name in the show (which is a whole other can of worms), but you get the idea. If not that, go all the way and just put subtitles on the Pokémon’s speech, like that one really cool episode of the anime. You know the one.
I like to think that these idea would rope me back in, but I’m not sure I can trust myself anymore so who knows. I guess Game Freak will just have to implement all of my ideas to bring me back! Because that’s what they’re focused on, of course: winning me back specifically. Anyways, if you’re a lapsed fan like me, what would it take for you to get back into the series? Let me know in the comments.