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February 21, 2019

Far Cry New Dawn - Review

Ubisoft have found themselves a nice little niche with the Far Cry series, since 3, they have released a main game and then within a year, dropped a spin-off, for lack of a better word, but with New Dawn, they have changed the formula somewhat, but is that a good thing?

The game starts out with Carmina Rye explaining how the world ended and how people have slowly been making things work in this new world, but with the advent of people like the Highwaymen, looting anything and everything as they desire, help is needed and that is where you come in. As the Captain, your role was the security of a group of people that had been travelling up and down the east coast of America, helping people restore some sense of a normal life and now you are heading to Hope County. Your reason for going is pretty great, helping people out and the position that the Captain finds themselves in, as you can choose your gender again, make sense, once the opening sequence plays out. As this is a direct sequel to the events of 5, if you have played that one, then you will see a lot of familiar places and a few faces, as you help restore this little part of the world, assuming you care to.

The games biggest hook this time around, is the upgrading of the base, finding people that can help at stations and getting them the right things to make them work, it’s a solid cycle, giving you more of a reason to explore the world than anything else. With each section, like the Armoury, Medical or Cartography (that is the study of maps), you unlock more upgrades or items to assist you, for example that is guns for the armoury section, which now have levels to them. In order to upgrade things, you need to scavenge for supplies all around the place, the problem with this system is that the numbers can be quite exorbitant at times, requiring searches of multiple locations to find the right number of supplies. Things like ammo are now crafted with copper wire, which is everywhere, but unless you loot everything you can see, you can run out of supplies in which to craft with.

Weapons and vehicles are using this crafting system as well and while you can scavenge things from around the world, adding them to your collection, finding and collecting the resources to build your own is the best way and fastest way of obtaining them. If you have played any recent Far Cry game, the shooting is going to feel quite familiar as it is as tight and responsive here as it has been in recent games, driving is still as awkward as ever, being confined to the first person view and while the vehicles might be similar to 5, the addition of armour plating make them all feel more dangerous. The odd thing with the vehicles, excluding the fun Carmila (the plane) is that there are a lot of motorbikes with side cars in the game, I don’t recall ever seeing one in the previous game, so it makes me wonder, how did so many bikes find their way to Hope County, after nuclear bombs dropped.

Now, it is almost a sin at this point to not talk about the baddies of a Far Cry game and while the Twins do a solid job of presenting a threat, they never feel like they can follow through, thanks to the game making them feel worse than they actually are. Case in point after you first upgrade the base, the twins will shoot some fireworks into the sky, letting you know they are around, it turns out they have some kids hostage and want to tell you that they are not happy with you, the Captain, causing them pain. While on of the Twins is clearly dangerous, given her perpencity of randomly snapping and beating people to death with awesome looking bike helmets, the other is way more so, with her threats and plans. The issue is, once they leave, you have a single mission to check in with a scout, which triggers their promised attack, leaving you to defend Prosperity from their relentless attack. My problem with this and the Twins is that I never felt threatened by them, the enemies would charge at the gate, they would be shot before they got there, the trucks that would plow into the walls, letting enemies rush in and if one did, they might plant a bomb. What happened that first time, two people and a dog got up the wall and into the grounds I was protecting, but they were killed quite quickly, however the game decided that a lot more people got in and blew stuff up, the cutscene was quite odd, but then the game returned to how everything looked post upgrade.

The inconsistency also carried across to missions and random encounters, thanks to the games reliance on levels, which while making sure things scale better than past games, means that it blocks out of some stuff early on. As before, the vehicles and weapons have levels, but so do the enemies, most of the earlier ones you come across are low levels, which makes it easy to take them down, but as the idea of Far Cry is to explore the world and do things how you see fit, to now come across enemies that are 2 or 3 levels above you, only to have yourself  utterly destroyed by them, goes against what the series has been about for years. The idea of having levels is actually rather clever, as it keeps the challenge alive, no matter how long you play for, but it is not implemented correctly, and the game suffers because of it. The other gameplay issue comes from the lack of variety in things to do, the game boils down to run somewhere, collect all the junk, capture an enemy stronghold, upgrade your base and then do it some more.

One part that I did like was the enemy bases that you can capture, the mechanics of still sneaking in, taking out all the baddies, without being spotted are still there, made a little more challenging with levels and such, but it is what you can do afterward that mixes things up. Once the base is yours, you can salvage it, meaning you strip it of all useful items, then leave it and head back to your base, though if you do this, it will give the baddies a chance to move back in and when they do, they will increase the number of foes and protections around the place. This also means you can take it back a second time, and a third if you wanted to, which is something that works very well, but it also proves the baddies have no spunk as they won’t try to take back a base you are using.

Where the game shines though, for me at least, was in its presentation, the game looks amazing, there are times when I stopped and just enjoyed the views I was being show, it was just that good. Now as the map is the same as Far Cry 5, there are a lot of places that exist in both, Prosperity being one of them, but while it could have been easy for these places to be ruined shells of what we know, they actually have multiple levels of detail attached to them, some look mostly ok, some are just ruined shells and others have signs that people have been using them to survive. The world itself is far brighter and inviting than almost any other game in the series, thanks to the abundance of colours like pink and white, with some of the wildlife embracing those colours to fill the world in a nice way.

Characters from the last game also make a return, some in exciting ways, like Grace, where are some are the same people, just older and while it is easy to see they are the same character, they honestly don’t look like they survived the nuclear apocalypse. There are some ancillary folks that do look like that, but you rarely interact with them, unless you are looking for treasures in the wild, even the Twins look fine for growing up in the new world. Sadly, there is one character that I did not want to ever see again, as one of the Seed’s is back and they are as boring now as they were in the last game, something I hoped would never happen. The game feels the same as the last game, thanks to the amount of nature sounds in it, creatures doing what they do, people responding to attacks by shouting and what not, it is all good, the only odd side with the audio is the music. The underlying score is fine, but as you wander the world there are a dozen or so cassette players lying about, blasting their music, but also when you approach bases, you hear it, the music choices aside, it just never feels right, the world went to crap, but people were able to salvage music players, not important things, just music players.

Far Cry New Dawn is a game that I can easily recommend to series fans, as it takes what we know and adds a little more to it, all the while giving us a new reason to return to an old place. The levelling system is a great idea, but because it adds arbitrary restrictions to a series that has been known for player freedom, more so when Far Cry 5 was built upon that idea. Getting a chance to revisit Hope County and some of its citizens was fun, but some returning characters did not need to show up again, but now I hope this is the last time we them.

Review copy provided by Ubisoft Australia

Dreams is getting a special release this Autumn

Media Molecule, the creators behind Little Big Planet and Tearaway have announced that Dreams, the long running title, will soon be getting a very special release, early access.

Media Molecule took to PlayStation Blog to say, “ If you are a creator – this is definitely for you – the Dreamiverse needs curators, tastemakers, testers – it’s a great time to carve out your niche. At Media Molecule, we love to give players a way to be a part of the games we make. With Dreams, our ambition from the start was to put all the tools needed to make games in one accessible package – and allow players to make their creative mark on the world from their living room. We want community to be able to create in a way that is fun, fast and expressive and see where they take it next.”

Early access will be available for creators who want to be part of the Dreams experience from the beginning and for those who will create, play others’ creations, get involved in the social features of Dreams and have the opportunity to give feedback.

Check out this video to see just what is possible in Dreams

The Dreams’ Creator Early Access will be $39.95 and will be available later in Autumn.

First details from the new studio Embark

It is always news when someone who is high up in a major gaming company leaves and begins something new, but that is what happened when Patrick Söderlund did just that, leaving Electronic Arts to form Embark and now he and the other founding members, have given a glimpse into what they are working on.

Patrick took to Medium, to relay the update and it is worth a read, here is the beginning and the rest can be found here.
Some three months have passed since we started Embark, and things around here are taking form.
We’ve read through thousands of applications, hired over 50 people, moved into our own house in the heart of Stockholm’s Old Town, and begun building what looks to become our first game.
So I thought now’s as good a time as any to share an update on why we started this venture. I want to let you in on some decisions we’ve made, and give you a glimpse into our progress so far.
They also dropped some concept art as well, here it is.

The above concept art is not for a final project, as things change and evolve over time, but it does show the direction that the studio is looking to head. It was stated that the game is going to be a "cooperative free-to-play action game set in a distant future, about overcoming seemingly impossible odds by working together."

But it has not just been some still images, a team of three creators over a few weeks, crafted the below test, to see how their choice of engine and design goals would go together.

The update helps set the scene for what the studio is working on, but it will be sometime until we see it for real, I for one though, can't wait to learn more about this new world they are creating.

Xbox Game Pass adds even more to its impressive collection today

Xbox has announced, even more titles are coming to Xbox Game Pass is expanding again, with new games coming today and next week.

On February 21, that is today, Batman Return to Arkham, Headlander and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two are available to subscribers of the service, but when you consider that the Batman collection actually comes with 2 games, you are getting even more value.

On the final day of the month, scares are the order of the day as February 28 will see the release of Alien Isolation and The Walking Dead: Season 2.

Below are some descriptions on all the games, in case you forgot about them.

Batman: Return to Arkham (February 21)

Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, the first two games in the iconic Batman Arkham series, are coming to Xbox Game Pass in this comprehensive compilation that includes the definitive edition of each game, complete with all post-launch downloadable content. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, journey into the depths of Gotham City’s high security psychiatric hospital and battle supervillain inmates who have taken over the Asylum. Then go soaring into Arkham City, a super-prison built to contain Gotham’s worst criminals in Batman: Arkham City, one of the most critically-acclaimed games of all time.

Headlander (February 21)

Have you ever looked at the glass head in a jar on those retro-futuristic TV shows and thought, “What would that be like?” Look no further my friends. In this 2.5D metroidvania-style game, you are the last known human (well, human head) in the universe. You’re suffering from amnesia like anyone might do if their head was stuck in a jar I suppose, but you do have lasers and beams to attack and yoink the noggins off of robots and put your own there to take over the body. Explore rooms, solve puzzles, defeat hostile machines, and discover what has happened since humanity uploaded their minds into the cloud…

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (February 21)

Unleash the power of the brush in this co-op adventure with Mickey Mouse and Oswald in Disney’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two! With paint brush and remote control, Mickey and Oswald visit the alternate magical world filled with music, forgotten Disney characters, and attractions. Forever change the Wasteland in this heroic adventure where your “PlayStyle Matters”, and you can conduct your own unique soundtrack to this magical world, and truly save the Wasteland.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 (February 28)

A horror-themed adventure game where your every choice could determine the fate of young survivor Clementine. Following the harrowing events of The Walking Dead: Season 1 (available now with Xbox Game Pass), Clementine is now alone in a world ruled by the undead. Experience the unique perspective of playing as a child in the apocalypse, where you’ll have to outsmart what you can’t fight. Explore gorgeous comic book style environments, survive harrowing action scenes, crack puzzles, and decide who is friend or foe. Every choice is on the clock, every call is yours, and the consequences will follow you to the very end. With control over her story, what horrors will you let Clementine witness, and what kind of person will she be in the end? In anticipation of the Walking Dead series finale, download and play with Xbox Game Pass the second season of Clementine’s journey in the undead apocalypse.

Alien: Isolation (February 28)

Experience the modern horror classic that captured the core of the Alien movies and won over 50 Game of The Year awards. Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, is trapped aboard Sevastopol space station while an unseen threat lurks, stalking and killing the remaining survivors from deep in the shadows. Hunted by this terrifying creature, Ripley must find some way to escape the station where every breath and movement could be her last. Developed by Creative Assembly in partnership with 20th Century Fox, Alien: Isolation is the perfect distillation of gut-wrenching fear and survival horror.

February 20, 2019

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 adds new free content today

Activision and Treyarch have announced that today, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, is getting new content that will add even more to the game, including new Zombies content as well. Called Operation Grand Heist, the update is free to all players, but those that own the Black Ops Pass will get more content.

Available today for PlayStation 4 and soon for other platforms, the update adds a new Specialist, two brand-new Multiplayer maps, new playable destinations across the Blackout map, as well as a wide variety of personalisation items, accessories, new vehicles, new game modes  and much more.

“With Operation Grand Heist, the team has packed in an incredible amount of new content, and we can’t wait for fans to jump in and check it out,” said Dan Bunting, Co-Studio Head, Treyarch. “We love the 1970s-style heist theme of this Operation, and the fast-paced action that it brings to Blackout and Multiplayer, along with the brand-new Zombies experience following in March.”

 “One of our favourite things at the studio is creating new ways for the community to play,” said Mark Gordon, Co-Studio Head, Treyarch. “We set out since day one to support Black Ops 4 long after launch, so we’re delivering a ton of new ways for players to engage with each mode of the game and we’re committed to giving fans new reasons to keep coming back week in and week out.”

Here is all the free content included in Operation Grand Heist:
  • New Specialist – Available in Multiplayer and Blackout, Outrider makes her Black Ops 4 debut, allowing players to silently take out enemies with explosive precision with her longbow, the Sparrow.
  • New Blackout Location and Updates – Drop into the roughest, toughest, and wildest new Blackout location, Ghost Town, which features two areas. Inspired by Standoff, an intense classic multiplayer map fromBlack Ops II, the above ground destination provides flanking routes that call for strategic positioning with long and medium ranged combat. Below ground, fans can also explore underlying caverns inspired by the classic Zombies map Buried, where they’ll find heavy duty gear amongst hordes of the undead. Additionally, Operation Grand Heist introduces a new Blackout mode called Hot Pursuit, launching on February 23 in ANZ on PlayStation 4 and other platforms to follow. Hot Pursuit is fast-paced and frenetic, and debuts three new vehicles – SUV, muscle car and PBR assault boat, all in special variants themed toOperation Grand Heist – as squads race to supply drops placed around the map containing high-level armour, weapons and grenades to dominate their opponents.
  • New Black Market Gear – The Black Market has been restocked with new weapon camos, outfits, gestures, and accessories themed for Operation Grand Heist. This includes notable weapons like the Rampage Auto Shotgun, Switchblade X9 SMG, and the Home Wrecker demolition hammer, all unlockable through the Contraband Tiers as fans play through the game. A new long-range weapon called the Vendetta Sniper Rifle is also coming later in the season.
  • New Zombies Features – Operation Grand Heist delivers new features to the Zombies mode including a new round-based Gauntlet challenge mode for the Classified map, along with a brand-new perk addition called the Ethereal Razor that substantially increases a player’s melee damage with area of effect and life re-gen for each hit.

There is a heap of content that is only for those with the season pass, like:
  • New Multiplayer Map, Casino – A medium-sized map set in a luxurious casino in Monaco where elite thieves formed an elaborate plan to steal the winning racecars on display. Casino features high-intensity combat as players weave through buzzing slot-machines and topple across gambling tables. This wide-open space allows for long-range to mid-range combat with little protection from enemies.
  • New Multiplayer Map, Lockup – A medium-sized map set in a Los Angeles police station, Lockup was the site of an assault to destroy evidence that led to the headquarters of an organised crime syndicate. Fans can dominate the rooftop positions, bail out when cornered and tactically shut down areas with operational doors to gain the upper hand on their opponents.
  • New Blackout Character, Cosmic Silverback – Black Ops Pass owners will unlock this deadly Zombie silverback gorilla, an iconic fan-favorite boss originally from the Dead Ops Arcade from Call of Duty: Black Ops.

So, update your game on PlayStation 4 and get to playing this new stuff, but if you want to know what else is happening, then you are in luck as Treyarch have released a roadmap as well.

Take a trip to Paris in the latest Overwatch map

Blizzard has announced that the city of love is now a place where Overwatch battles can happen as the assault map, Paris is out for all platforms now.

Players can journey through iconic locales in the world-renowned city, battling their way through narrow streets before duking it out next to the historic Seine, where you can visit the Cabaret Luna, home to musical talents of diva, Luna.

If you have the time, stop by the Pâtisserie Galand, known for their delicate mille-feuille and colourful macarons or if walks are your thing, then be sure to take a leisurely stroll through the Maison Marat – a grand palace hosting a gala in the heart of the city.

Join the dark side as Iratus: Lord of the Dead is coming soon

Daedelic have announced a new dark tactical RPG coming to PC, this Winter and in it, players will have to embrace their dark side if they want to win.

The game is crafted by a new studio, Unfrozen and as they are new, they are holding nothing back in the development of their first title. An inversion to classic heroic tales, Iratus: Lord of the Dead lets players use heroes they vanquish to create fearsome monsters for their personal army. With a heavy focus on tactical combat, Iratus is set to be a complex and rewarding experience for those with dubious ethics and a love of dark fantasy. 

In Iratus: Lord of the Dead players use bones, flesh and other... squishy parts from deceased enemies to create monsters which they personally control and customise, with more than 50 different skills to choose from. As players defeat enemies and venture further into the dungeon, Iratus’ power grows too with different alchemy, magic and tactical talents to unlock and utilise.

Easy right, the DiRT Rally 2.0 launch trailer is here

Codemasters have released the launch trailer for DiRT Rally 2.0, giving us a final look at the game, before it is released on February 26 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, check it out.

The new trailer showcases the breadth of challenge on offer: from piloting legendary rally cars through the fast and flowing mixed surfaces of Poland, to fighting for first place in an FIA World Rallycross Championship supercar, to conquering tricky weather conditions in the Porsche 911 RGT Rally Spec. With new features including improved handling, stage degradation and tyre choice, DiRT Rally 2.0 brings the most immersive and truly off-road racing experience ever.

Codemasters’ SVP Product Development, Clive Moody, said of the game: “DiRT Rally 2.0 builds on the challenge thrown down by the original DiRT Rally and delivers the toughest challenge in the DiRT franchise. The combination of enhanced handling with each individual car and improved weather systems, alongside the new track degradation, makes every stage feel completely different. Every corner in every location has its own personality, requiring drivers to remain focused and determined from start to finish. Aim for a clean stage, but failing that just try to get to the end!”
If the launch of a new game was not enough for you, they have also announced that additional content will be made available through out the first season of the game, which kicks off on March 12, here is some of the cars coming as part of it.

Week 1: ŠKODA Fabia Rally, Citroën C4 Rally
Week 3: Monte Carlo Rally, Special Livery
Week 5: BMW M1 Procar Rally, Opel Manta 400, Special Livery
Week 7: Sweden Rally
Week 9: Ford Focus RS Rally 2007, Subaru Impreza, Special Livery
Week 11: Germany Rally

The game is out on February 26th, so not long to go now.

Million Arthur: Arcana Blood is coming to PC this Winter

Square Enix has announced that a new fighting game will be releasing on PC via Steam this Winter, called Million Arthur: Arcana Blood, the game will see many Arthur's fighting to try and become the only one and thus the true King of England.

This 1-vs-1 2D fighter has a roster of 13 playable fighters and 31 ‘Support Knight’ summon characters, who assist in battle and execute ultimate attacks.

Million Arthur: Arcana Blood brings together fan-favorite characters from the Million Arthur series, such as Blade Protector Arthur, Thief Arthur and Lynx Arthur, as well as guest fighters including ‘Otherworldly Riesz’ from Seiken Densetsu 3, ‘Otherworldly Koume Sakiyama’ from Lord of Vermilion and ‘Otherworldly Iori Yagami’ from The King Of Fighters XIV.

The game will also feature an all new, original story from series veteran Kazuma Kamachi, so fans of the series can look forward to the game even more for that. Square Enix have also released a gameplay video, which shows off how it players, check that out below.

A final release date has not been announced yet, but you can look at some more screens, which show off the support characters that the game has.

Experience Golf like never before in Gold Peaks

Have you always been puzzled by Golf? Well Golf Peaks might not help you understand the actual game, but this golf themed puzzle game will challenge you still, with over 100 levels and a card based movement system and now the game is coming to Switch.

Golf Peaks is a puzzler where you climb mountains by playing golf. The title uniquely combines puzzle mechanics with an easy-to-learn card-based movement system, providing the player with numerous action cards. Each card moves the ball in a different way and at varying distances.

The game offers over 100 challenging levels and nine worlds to discover. Each level has various block types to experiment with, which brings diversity to the gameplay. The minimalistic visuals accompanied by a relaxing soundtrack make Golf Peaks a mind-soothing experience.

The game is already available on PC and iOS and will land upon the fairway of Switch on March 14th.

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