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October 22, 2018

Hands On with Battlefield V's War Stories

Recently, Electronic Arts hosted a Battlefield V preview event, where those invited were able to go hands on with the War Stories mode, the games single player content, something that had not playable until then.

In attendance at the event was Eric Holmes, Design Director at DICE and the man responsible for the War Stories components especially. After getting a nice introduction to all of the War Stories, Nordlys, Under No Flag, Tirailleur and The Last Tiger and the games prologue, we were given access to play them all, except The Last Tiger and things are looking very good for the series.

War Stories was something that DICE added to the series in Battlefield 1 and whilst they played just like any other single player campaign, in the Battlefield series, their shorter length, allowed for more varied gameplay and much more variety of the stories that were being told. No more were players given control of a single soldier and responsible for defeating all enemies and becoming the hero of the world, this time, it was about the person in the story and their singular action, which helped a few fellow soldiers. Perhaps the most impactful element of Battlefield 1 was the games prologue, which gave you control of a host of soldiers and left you to try and survive a brutal wave of enemies, whilst Battlefield V does have a prologue, it is something different than we had last time.

The prologue here is more of a sampler than anything, you will get the chance to experience a host of environments and gameplay objectives, the moments never last too long and by the time you understand one, you are moved onto the next one. A nice narration by an unseen soldier helps explain parts of war and how no one really knows what to expect and even the most hardened individual can be changed by war; after the prologue though, it was time to experience the first War Story, Nordlys.

Nordlys is the story of Solveig, a young Norwegian girl, who is using guerrilla tactics to fight back against the Germans who have invaded her country, whilst she is formidable in a fight, she is a reserved person. The mission you are given is to locate a captured resistance fighter, someone who is being held in a water treatment facility, high up in the mountains and it is getting up to that location, where things feel vastly different to previous games.

Solveig’s story is one of isolation and quiet, so for the most part, you are alone in the woods, with little noise around you and it works for when you want to hunt down a lone soldier, but also works against you, as if you make too much noise, the enemies can hear you as well. If you manage to play the entire way stealthy, the experience so very different than that of a run and gun method, so replaying is always an option, whilst the final goal is the same, its all about how.

For Under No Flag, the mission is very different, there are a lot more explosions for one and open combat, there are some smaller moments of stealth, but the majority of the time, its about how you run and gun your way through. What makes the two missions so different is not only their locations, but the people you play as we, in Under No Flag, you are in the desert with Bridger, who never stops talking, when you do something against the mission, ie blow your cover, he will make a comment about how he should have done something different, or how his dad would be disappointed in him.

The location is also a massive difference, the desert is far more open and violent than the wilds of Norway, which considering the former is exposed to a blizzard at one point, is saying something. You are exposed a lot more here and the weather can help and hinder you, and stalking enemy soldiers through a thunderstorm, is a truly wicked experience. In a latter part of the War Story, I was tasked with infiltrating a base and blowing up a plane, the first attempt had me encounter a large squad of soldiers, which resulted in my death. Replaying the same part, but mounting a giant gun and blowing them away, which of course blew apart the stealth, but also the soldiers, was rewarding. However, running around, ended up running right into a flamethrower soldier, the rain however did not put myself out and I died.

While Battlefield 1 introduced the concept of these micro stories and while some were a lot better than others, Battlefield V seems to have a more even spread. How they pan out at release and beyond is still anyone’s guess, but so far, I am excited to play some more.

Coverage of the game was made possible by the support of Electronic Arts Australia

Nvidia is bringing some tech and a world exclusive game to PAX Australia

Nvidia is not only bringing a host of hardware to PAX Australia, including the Nvidia TV Shield and for the first time in Australia, the GeForce RTX.

Those who stop by the GeForce RTX gaming zone, will get a chance to play the hottest new titles, including Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, on the latest GeForce RTX platforms and featuring award-winning G-SYNC HDR gaming displays.

Powered by the new NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture and the revolutionary NVIDIA RTX platform, GeForce RTX graphics cards bring together real-time ray tracing, artificial intelligence and programmable shading – enabling a whole new gaming experience.

Also, for the first time anywhere, attendees will be able play Metro Exodus on PC, enhanced with real-time ray tracing powered by GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

To celebrate the Australian gaming community’s annual pilgrimage to Melbourne for PAX, NVIDIA is hosting two amateur tournaments – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Battle Royale and Fortnite Battle Royale – at its booth. Participants will take home items from a range of fantastic NVIDIA merch, including sunglasses, T-shirts, mugs, backpacks and more.

Finally, if you want to stay on top of all the news leading up to the show, be sure to follow the NVIDIA Facebook Group.

Dead or Alive 6 will be playable at PAX Australia

Koei Tecmo's Dead or Alive 6 is coming to PAX Australia with help from the local Couch Warriors, those going to the show can head to the Console Tournament Area and get hands on with the game, ahead of its February 15th release.

DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is the latest instalment in the DOA series and the first entry to be built from the ground up for current gen platforms. Pushing for the highest quality possible, players can feel every punch and drop of sweat as the new engine offers an all-new realistic fighting experience. With 2 new characters & several new stages, and a plethora of returning fan-favourite characters & stages, this will be the most immersive experience to hit both the fighting/tournament stage and home consoles.

Blizzard and the Red Cross are coming to PAX Australia in search of blood donors

Each year, one game company comes to PAX and works with a charity group, to help raise awareness, funds or in this years case, blood.

Blizzard Australia has announced that they are coming to PAX Australia and joining forces with the Australian Red Cross, in the hope of getting more people to sign up and donate blood.

Blood Service staff will be distributing refreshments at the Diablo-sponsored Handheld Lounge (next to the main theatre) and roaming the show floor with teams of Diablo cosplayers, encouraging attendees to make an appointment to donate post-show.

Diablo III Eternal Collection on Nintendo Switch will be playable on the Nintendo booth ahead of its release on 2 November, plus there will be plenty of prizes and refreshments up for grabs in and around the Handheld Lounge. This will include limited-edition Pinny Arcade Diablo pins, and a Nintendo Switch™ Diablo III Eternal Collection Bundle, so make sure to swing by.

To learn more about the Red Cross, including finding your nearest donation centre, hit up their website.

Xbox Australia is bringing some massive hits and a few indie ones to PAX Australia

Xbox Australia have announced that attendees to their 2018 PAX Australia booth can look forward to playing, from recent releases like Forza Horizon 4 to some of 2019's biggest games.

Drop into battle in PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS War Mode, exclusively on the Sanhok map: the first time this mode will be playable on the new map. Get your crew together as the heart pumping FPS action won’t stop there - Battlefield V will have 32-player multiplayer featuring the Rotterdam map on Conquest mode, courtesy of EA. The fantasy action adventure Ori and the Will of the Wisps will be playable in all its beauty before release, while you can get up close to the McLaren 720S supercar and play fan favourite Forza Horizon 4 in person on the floor.

ID@Xbox head, Chris Charla is also making another trip downunder, for his second consectutive year at PAX Australia; he will discuss his expert views on the indie scene at various panels during the show.
In addition, exciting new ID@Xbox games will be playable in Australia for the first time: Discover the foxy RPG action adventure Tunic, alongside Rooster Teeth’s Bendy and the Ink Machine, hit party game Supermarket Shriek, and the highly anticipated Ashen from New Zealand’s Aurora 44.

Some of the great Xbox games on show this year include:

Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Battlefield V
Forza Horizon 4

Supermarket Shriek
Bendy and the Ink Machine
Xbox Game Pass titles featured in the Xbox Lounge

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Rocket League
Human Fall Flat
Halo 5
The Division
Quantum Break

October 20, 2018

Interview with Battlefield V's Eric Holmes - Design Director for War Stories

Electronic Arts recently held an event in Sydney for Battlefield V and invited me to attend, we got to play the game, at least the single player content and I got to have a sit down with Eric Holmes, Design Director at DICE.

Maxi-Geek: Can you explain how the decision for these stories were made?

Eric Holmes: Oh that’s a good question, how long do you want the answer to be?

MG: As long as you are willing to talk.

EH: It’s jus that I could suck up a lot of time with that answer. So there is kind of a gameplay answer and then a narrative answer and then there is a ‘as the parts relate to each other’ answer. I guess I will start where we did, we knew we wanted each one to occupy a different space, we did not want four tank stories, or four plane stories or four submarine stories, we wanted each one to be different, like flavours of ice cream.

So the more one is something, the more others need to gravitate out from it, so for example, the two you can most clearly see, from a gameplay example would be Nordlys, where you are a ski commando effectively and Under No Flag, where you are a naval commander. Each has their own unique parts, but they still feel connected, however in Nordlys, you are a teenage girl, not a commando, just a young girl who is trying to rescue her mother and the location is white and sterile, because of the winter, but it is still a very beautiful location. The characters are very loving to each other, to her mother, they are depicted as good people.

Swapping over to the SAS one, Under No Flag, the first thing you do, once you have control is first person vomit onto the floor, you are not noble, you’re under handed. You are not quite, but boisterous and loud, maybe a little toxic to each other, it is funny, in a black humour kind of way and the characters are obnoxious, they do like fighting. So it was like ok, they are going in two different directions, and you can find any other stories in there and identify points, you can see they are pushing away from each other.

The idea was to create a world for them to exist in and create a world of contrasts. One of the thing we found in Battlefield 1 was that players really liked the different stories, there wasn’t a best one and a worst one, other than the Australian people, really liking the Australian story, it was pretty consistent. We tried to embrace that, they hey you like to play stealth, there is one for you, though if you want to use the machinery, we have that for you as well. That is kind of dividing up the quadrants kind of way, but the other is the locations.

The history of the war told us what the places would be, so when we are looking at Norway, the first thing we looked at, was doing a commando story, because they would be inserted from the air, parachute in, get around on skis, but when the team went and started digging into it, they started finding that hey, there were a lot of women involved, and that would be unexpected and unusual and so the commando got thrown and away and it became a story about family, rather than army. So using all that, and the Battlefield toolkit, we ended up with these.

MG: So with these stories and maybe the ones you didn’t include, were there any singular elements in each story, that made you realise that they worked? Or was it more just to do with the gameplay?

EH:I think you are right with the first part, the special sauce in this is a writer named Stephen Hall, who we worked with this time and last time, and where he is really good is finding good character journals through stuff.

What can I do without spoiling anything, ok, so this won’t spoil Under No Flag, but it will be a good example. What does a player do, in an open world space, where you can go and mess with things, lets look at ‘Nothing is Written’ from Battlefield 1, where there are three different bases, that you can attack in anyway you like, what do you do?

MG: For me, first thing is scouting.

EH:Yeah, keep going

MG: Once I know what is at which base, then make a plan of attack, for the order they will be targeted in. So hit that one, then the next and then the final one, but it could change, depending on equipment I find in the first one.

EH:Ok, you just described a great plan, if it all works, but usually what happens is, you start and then it all goes to hell and you have to improvise and you either improvise a fix, you die or you create yourself an exit. I think this is where Stephen’s super power lives as he manages to get stuff, story that connects with players, so in ‘Under No Flag’ this is a guy who never gives up, that’s who that is. Someone who messes up, but manages to connect that to the player, you will see that in the opening scene, you will see him get pulled out of prison, because he robbed the same bank three times and got arrested for it. There is something special about a person who can rob the same bank, three separate times and that jibbing of him, at the start of the story is his weakness. But by the end, he works out how to make it work for him and uses that determined nature, to make plans work.
I think all of our stories have a journey in them, that special connective tissue that connects to the gamer.

MG: How authentic would you say that these stories are? You have to have suspend your belief for a little bit, to make them interactive and playable for gamers, but are they 1-to-1 recreations, or is it more that this is the overall story and this is our interpretation of how it may of happened?

EH:So what we tried to do, is always make sure that our stories, is always built on this bedrock of truth, so if you go looking for location names, places or such, you will find that this stuff, could have happened. You will find that they didn’t happen as they are not based on a specific person in history, but for example Nordlys, takes place between a thing called Operation Graus, where some commandos were gliding in and crashed them, many died in the wreckage, but the ones that did not were captured by the Gestapo, tortured and then executed and through that happening and the interrogations that followed, your family member was implicated in what was going on. That is what kicks of the events in Nordlys, it didn’t happen, but it could have happened.

In The Last Tiger, it takes place on the banks of the Rhein in 1945, Americans did come to cross through many cities, over key bridges and near certain landmarks, that could be interpreted to be any number of cities and we never name which one it is. But that place, the Rhein rue region, is the front door to Germany, and Patton and Bradley were both busting to be the first across it first. So there is even examples of things that we were creating that drew parallels to real life, maybe a tank was a different one or the time of day was wrong.

MG: So with he way that each of the War Stories unfold, is player choice going to impact the overall result, or is it a fixed point, but how you get there is on you?

EH:So all the narratives, but one are fixed, there is one thing that is flexible by, I don’t want to say anymore cause it will spoil something. But you are right, the meat of the player choice is in the gameplay, and they are choosing how to do things, how to approach them. We tried to make sure that there is in game narrative, VO about what is going on there, for example, Solveig in Nordlys is very quiet, but Bridger in Under No Flag never shuts up, he is always muttering to himself.

In the Last Tiger, we always have the crew interacting with each other, as you might expect a crew inside of a tank to and in Tirraleau we have a framing narrative device, where the older player character talking about the past, so not only do you have your character who is this young guy who wants to fight and become glorious and succeed, that is offset, by this very fragile looking old man, whoi seems to have been broken by something, so you know he has to become him, but you don’t know how he gets there.

MG: World War 2 was much more global than the first world war, with Japan and the Pacific theatre, are there any plans with DLC to delve into those stories?

EH:So, all I can talk about today, is the stuff that we’ve got here, but the mechanism for rolling out more things is the Tides of War, which, I think is the next big beat we are going to be talking about. I am not sure of the details, as it is not my thing,

EA Lady – Stay tuned, we’ll go with that. There will be more about it though. Your question makes sense and we will address it soon.

MG: I figured it was a safe question, because it's either a hard no or a maybe.

EA Lady – It’s not a hard no, but we will talk more about it.

MG: Ok then, my final question is, what sort of takeaways do you hope players will get from the stories?

EH:There are so many, one thing I was really happy about, well, not just me, one thing DICE was really proud about last time, was hearing about how much people started reading up on and following up on World War 1, after they had heard about the game. So for the gamer generation, maybe this could be something to open their eyes, that might have only been a name before.

So with World War 2, I don’t want to go out there and say that we are making that statement or this statement, because I don’t think it’s the role of the creator to tell someone what they should get out of it, but I think there are good messages and all, they have something to say and they are there for a reason, so be more aware of what happened in those areas, especially considering the messages themselves and getting something out of it

Battlefield V drops a new trailer for War Stories

Electronic Arts and DICE have released the first proper trailer for the War Stories component of Battlefield V and it looks good, check it out.

I recently got the chance to play a lot of War Stories, so look for hands on soon, as well as an interview with Eric Holmes of DICE.

The game is out on November 20th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

New trailer for Shakedown Hawaii has been released

VBlank Entertainment have released a new trailer for Shakedown Hawaii, which adds a massive amount of content to the game, past what we have seen before.

The game is set to release soon on Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, but no firm date has been given. It will also becoming in physical form on some platforms, but they have not been announced yet.

Ubisoft is bringing some epic titles to PAX Australia

Ubisoft Australia has announced that PAX Australia attendees will get to play at their booth, from epic battles in space and the past, to intense shootouts across a ruined city and wacky dancing, there is something for all.

At the Ubisoft Booth, located at stand #1620, players will get hands on with some of the biggest titles for Christmas and beyond with 48 gaming stations dedicated to the following games:

Assassin’s Creed®  Odyssey: Players will be able to choose their hero, Alexios or Kassandra, and take a historic voyage through Ancient Greece amidst one of the deadliest conflicts in history, the Peloponnesian War. Players will also receive a limited edition Spartan Helmet whilst stocks last.

Tom Clancy’s The Division® 2: The next evolution in the open-world online shooter RPG genre. Players stand as the last hope against the complete fall of society in a fractured and collapsing Washington D.C. whilst enemy factions vie for control of the city.   

Starlink: Battle for Atlas™:  An open world, action-adventure game where players assemble pilots, ships, wings and weapons into their dream starship and launch into an epic space adventure.

Trials® Rising: The newest iteration of the gripping motorcycle platforming series, which combines core gameplay with over-the-top action.

Just Dance® 2019: The Just Dance stage will once again bring the party to PAX Australia with 40 new chart-topping playable songs.
Space Junkies™: A jetpack fueled VR arcade shooter, where players fly through deadly Orbital Arenas to face off in extreme battles (playable only at the PAX Arena on Saturday).

IF that was not enough, the ESL Stage at PAX Arena will host the 2018 Six Masters, the largest eSports event in Australia and New Zealand for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. The one-day invitational event will take place on Saturday, October 27, and will showcase four of Asia-Pacific’s best teams fighting it out for a prize pool of $25,000. Competing teams will include Australian organisations FNATIC, ViewSonic.DarkSided and Athletico, as well as current APAC champions Nora-Rengo from Japan.

The streams will be live from 10am.

The Red Dead Redemption 2 launch trailer is here

We are less than a week away from the release of Red Dead Redemption II and Rockstar Games have released the games launch trailer.

America, 1899. The end of the Wild West era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang must rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.

Meet the students of The Caligula Effect Overdose

NIS America have released a new trailer for The Caligula Effect Overdose and meet the new additions to the cast and learn more about your fellow students!

Ayana Amamoto and Eiji Biwasaka are two new members of the Go-Home Club, a group dedicated to leaving Mobius and returning to reality. Ayana, a second-year student, detests men and cannot be near them. Eiji is a third-year upperclassman with a penchant for business. 

The Ostinato Musicians—μ's composers—see Stork and Kuchinashi joining their ranks. Stork is an odd individual who loves peeping on women and has the power of mimicry. Kuchinashi is calm and doesn't have much to say, relying instead on the gas mask-like device covering her mouth. 

Sharpen your weapons as Soul Calibur 6 is out now

Bandai Namco has announced that Soul Calibur 6 is available now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, letting players fight with sword or spear.

Featuring two epic story modes - the canonical Soul Chronicle mode, and the RPG-inspired Libra of Souls mode - a cast of new and returning fighters including Geralt from the Witcher series, plus online battles and huge character customisation, Soul Calibur 6  is the most complete edition of the series to date.

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