Xbox E3 2018: Top 5 Announcements

Microsoft’s conference didn’t miss a beat this year, with trailer after trailer broken up only occasionally by short game demos or concise developer monologues.

Its no secret that Sony has had the edge when it comes to E3 shows in recent years, and the pressure has been on for Xbox to address its comparative lack of system exclusives and first party games. This year they met that citisism head on, with head of Xbox Phil Spencer confirming as many as eighteen exclusives, and over fifty games.

There were so many exclusive ‘world premiere’ trailers and exciting footage for upcoming titles, that you could be forgiven for not catching everything Xbox put out there. To help you out with that, here are the top five announcements, plus a summary of every last thing Microsoft announced at E3.

  1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

There has been much speculation about this one since the teaser at last year’s The Game Awards, with fans predicting Bloodborne 2 or a sequel to Tenchu.

The Xbox E3 conference revealed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brand-new property and the latest game coming from Bloodborne and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki, brought to you by both FromSoftware and Activision.

The trailer showed off a beautiful, bloody world and intense action, as you follow the journey of a “hard-hearted warrior whose mission is to rescue his master, a young lord, and exact revenge on his arch nemesis.”

  1. Devil May Cry 5

Rumours have been circling lately about the future of Devil May Cry, but Capcom has finally announced the long-awaited sequel.

A whole decade has gone by since Devil May Cry 4, and five years since Ninja Theory rebooted the franchise. Game director Hideaki Itsuno took to the stage to announce the project, which is set to launch in Spring 2019.

  1. Acquisitions

Phil Spencer announced that several of the team’s behind the games shown off at the conference had been newly incorporated into Microsoft Studios. This included State of Decay developer’s Undead Labs, We Happy Few’s Compulsion Games, Forza’s Playground Games and Ninja Theory, the developers of the 2013 Devil May Cry reboot and more recently Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

  1. Gears of War 5

The best thing about was a masterclass in trolling, as Microsoft teased the Gears logo only to show off a Pop! Figurine mobile game.

Microsoft went on to announce what they promise will be the “biggest and most beautiful” Gears world to date, with Gears of War 5 coming 2019. Players will be able to play solo, split screen co-op or online multiplayer.

Fans were treated to this along with the new mobile game, plus a new strategy game for PC, Gears Tactics.

  1. Cyberpunk 2077

The conference ended on a high with a brand-new trailer from Witcher 3 developers CD Projekt Red for their next big title.

In a dramatic late announcement, the Xbox conference appeared to glitch out just as Phil Spencer began to bring the show to a close. It wasn’t a deep dive into gameplay, but it did give us a good look at the world in action, with the kind of detailed, fleshed out worldbuilding we’ve come to expect from the studio.

No release date has been announced and it isn’t clear when we’ll see more of this, but hey its better then another Gwent.

 

Here’s the full list of every announcement at Xbox’s E3;

Halo infinite

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Fallout 76

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Crackdown 3

Nier: Automata

Metro Exodus

Kingdom Hearts III

Sea of Thieves: Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shore

Battlefield V

Forza Horizon 4

Studio acquisition (Compulsion Games, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs)

We Happy Few

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds War Mode

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

The Division 2

FastStart

Xbox Game Pass (The Division, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, Fallout 4, Halo: The Mastear Chief Collection, Ashen, Warhammer: Vermintide 2)

ID Xbox (Outer Wilds, Fringe Wars, Below, Conqueror’s Blade, Waking, Super Meat Boy Forever, Planet Alpha, Sable, Children of Morta, The Wind Road, Generation Zero)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Session (not Sakte 4!)

Black Desert Online

Devil May Cry 5

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Tunic

Jump Force

Dying Light 2

Battletoads

Just Cause 4

Gears 5

Gears Pop!

Gears Tactics

Next Generation Console (well, a shrouded image of the future of Xbox)

Microsoft AI

Microsoft Game Streaming

Cyberpunk 2077

 

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God of War Photo Mode is Coming Soon

Santa Monica Studios have teased upcoming updates for God of War, including Photo Mode and larger text.

The studio released a support update outlining what might feature in future patches. It firstly confirms the photo mode that was previously announced (and heavily memed), which is set to include special usual camera controls, lens adjustments, depth-of-field and the ability to control Kratos’ facial expressions.

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The studio also revealed they will be “introducing a global increase to text size in all menus and subtitles,” addressing issues some players had with the size of text on screen. This aims to make text such as journal entries or item descriptions more legible, and follows the previous update which added the option to increase text size on certain areas of the menu such as maps or goals.

The patch will also offer the option to remap Rage Mode, currently L3 and R3, and aims to fix reported bugs, including a potentially progression halting problem they are currently still investigating.

“We are continuing to investigate an issue where selecting the “New Game” option from the main menu without closing down the application first may result in missing dialogue and possible progression blockers,” the Studio said. “To avoid this in the meantime, please close down the application before starting a new playthrough.”

There is no release date for the patch as of yet.

Nintendo Announce Nintendo Labo

Nintendo have announced the launch of their new Switch peripheral, Nintendo Labo.

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The new build-and-play experiences are aimed at a younger bracket of gamer, and are designed to work perfectly with the Switch’s Joy-Cons. Starting as flat card templates, the Labo kits come as perforated card that can be assembled into various toys. The video demonstrates examples such as a piano, a fishing rod or a robot suit – all making creative and clever use of both the Switch screen itself and the Joy-Cons.

These cardboard creations, which Nintendo call ‘Toy-Cons’, come in a variety of complexity and can be customized with all kinds of colours, stickers and stencils from Nintendo’s Customisation Kit, which will be sold separately for £8.99.

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The idea is that players can build these Toy-Cons themselves, and then bring them to life with the technology of the Switch. The piano for example, which takes roughly two hours to assemble, uses the IR Motion camera built into the right Joy-Con to read which keys are being pressed and communicate that to the Switch console, which then plays through the devices speakers.

Even the most basic of designs, the remote control car, makes clever use of the Joy-Con’s HD rumble to move whilst the player controls their vehicle through the Switch screen.

Two kits will launch in the UK on 27th April. The basic kit will be available for £59.99 and includes the RC car, Motorbike, Piano, Fishing Rod and House. The second will be available for £69.99 and contains just one design, the advanced giant robot.

Kit Toy-Con 01 – Variety Kit Toy-Con 02 – Robot Kit
Price £59.99 £69.99
Designs RC Cars (two cars included), the Fishing Rod, House, Motorbike and Piano. Robot suit
Software Software Included Software Included
What’s in the box? cardboard sheet x28 (includes extra sheet for customisation) cardboard sheet x19
reflective sticker sheet x3 cardstock sheets x4
sponge sheet x3 reflective sticker sheet
orange string orange string x2
blue string blue string x2
grey eyelet set large grey canvas strap
blue eyelet set medium grey canvas strap
large rubber band x2 + spares small grey canvas straps x2
small rubber band x6 + spares grey eyelet set x10
orange eyelet set x2

Zelda Breath of the Wild gets Xenoblade Themed DLC

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is getting new DLC this week, but not the one we were expecting.

In a direct today, Nintendo revealed Xenoblade-themed content is making its way to Hyrule with a new side quest to follow and a brand new outfit to unlock based on Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

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The announcement came in a direct highly focused on the upcoming Xenoblade release to Switch, which revealed expansion pack details and a closer look at the game before its release on 1st December 2017.

Nintendo didn’t give a clear update on the release of the Zelda DLC we’ve all been waiting for, which is set for release this year. Whilst many speculated the Champions’ Ballad DLC would drop in line with the release of the new Champions Amiibo on 10th November, but the latest evidence points to a later release date.

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime confirmed in an interview with Kotaku that the company would be, “shortly be announcing the date for that content, so I would not lock and load on November 10th.”

Eiji Aonuma also recently commented that the DLC would be available by the end of the year, and Twitter users have uncovered nods to a December 2017 release on the Switch eshop.

 

Review: South Park the Fractured But Whole

Its quite something that South Park: The Fractured But Whole manages to deliver a really entertaining super hero themed turn-based RPG, whilst constantly and mercilessly mocking super hero franchises, and turn-based RPGs.

Throughout the game you’ll encounter combat in the streets of your quiet mountain town, and just when you’re beginning to take the grid-based battle seriously, you’ll be interrupted and scorned by passing cars yelling for you to get out of the road. Its an occasional friendly reminder that many of the game’s enemies are just children with tinfoil on their head, and there’s something very endearing about watching them break character mid-battle to scurry out of the road.

The Fractured But Whole is full of these moments, from the name itself to the items you collect or the powers you amass. That isn’t to say that the game is suddenly a sweet, nostalgic dive into childhood make-believe – rest assured it is still very much indicative of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s sharp, satirical humour. Whatever your background or beliefs, this game is out to insult and offend you in the most inclusive way possible.

Boss fights don’t get as dark as the zombified aborted foetus of a reality TV star (an actual enemy in the first game), and this time round no scenes warranted European censorship, but Fractured But Whole has its moments. Among the worst of these are scenes in a strip club and a church, though I’ll refrain from spoiling just how terrible they are.

If you’ve played the Stich of Truth, you’ll be familiar with all this, but the sequel builds on its predecessor by expanding combat and adding enough content to almost double the length of the game.

sp2-chaos-1920_208824The biggest upgrade is in the game’s new grid-based combat, which adds greater complexity to the turn-based mechanics introduced in Stick of Truth. The moves are still largely fart jokes, true, but the system itself has matured to give the player greater agency over play-style. New considerations for your team’s moves based on positioning, range and knock-back potential gives the combat the depth it was missing in the last game. These mechanics also evolve throughout the game, introducing more moves and demanding more from the player, with real-time timers that endanger or incapacitate multiple team members in a set zone and enemy summons that prolong the battle. There are also several battles that include swarms of  enemies that don’t stop coming until you make it from one end of the battle to the other, to escape the battle. It doesn’t do much for the game’s difficulty but it keeps battles from getting too stale as the game progresses.

Equally you unlock more options for your team, each with a specialised set of moves to try out. Knowing the strengths and styles of your teammates is vital, and it fits in perfectly with the narrative of the show. The (slightly) more considerate Kyle has a focus on shielding your team and pulling them close to heal, where Clyde’s moves are largely centred around grossing out your opponents, and the seemingly immortal Kenny’s are typically rash.

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One of the things I found most impressive around this is the tailored banter between the characters. It gets repetitive if you continually use the same team as is often the case with RPGs in this style, but each of your team mates has dialogue specifically targeted toward certain members. Super Craig might single out the Human Kite during a fight to call him lame, whereas you would get entirely different dialogue if you swapped one for Cartman or Clyde. It’s a clever touch that makes each team feel fresh.

You also have a similar level of customisation with your own character development. Armour and clothing continue to be largely cosmetic, but Fractured But Whole introduces new ways to tailor New Kid to your play style. You begin with choosing a class of hero from three distinct styles based on speed, strength and range, but you can return to Cartman to amend this even in the early game. As you go on however, you have access to a greater range of choice and can mix and match within that selection, including Cyborg, Elementalist, Psychic.

Rather than levelling up in the traditional sense, your level is based on artefacts you assign to your character. Starting off you have one slot, but this expands to multiple slots each with greatly varied options. You can choose artefacts that not only increase your overall level, but buff your abilities in particular moves. You could choose moves that focus on knock-back for example, and select artefacts that give a boost to knock-back damage.

Despite the added complexity of combat, it is at times a little too easy. Personally I didn’t find this to be a negative thing, as the variety of experience is still engaging and the hilarity of writing kept me hooked, but if you are someone who needs a challenge to keep you interested you may find this somewhat lacking even on the most difficult setting.

This is also true of the game’s ‘puzzles’, which given their simplicity shouldn’t be considered puzzles at all in the sense you might expect from an RPG. It reminded me a lot of Zelda games, not for clever memorable dungeons design but for those moments where you notice a hookshot target early on but don’t have the right equipment yet.

That said, there is a lot to keep you interested outside of actual gameplay. Exploration of South Park is still entertaining as ever, with plenty of inside jokes to stumble upon or familiar characters to seek out and take a selfie with. Mini games like this will appeal to completionists, as will collecting costumes or seeking out memberberries. Its not that they’re exceptional side quests but they give you an excuse to go out an explore every inch of the town, which will expose you to how much effort has gone into hiding jokes in every corner.

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If you’re a South Park, fan you should absolutely invest in this game. It isn’t your average licensed game, like some of the early South Park titles. As someone who played South Park, South Park Rally and Chef’s Luv Shack on the N64 in the late nineties, I know what happens when you lazily slap a well-known-name on something that’s below average. This is a world apart from those early games, and its very apparent that a great deal of work has gone into this both from the studio and Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves.

Essentially what you’re getting for your money is an epic, twenty hour episode of the show wrapped up in a parody of super-hero films and turn-based RPGs. If you’re a fan of all three, you’ll be blown away.

TL;DR

Pros

  • Combat is more complex, with new grid-based mechanics
  • It is likely the funniest game around, both in narrative and dialogue
  • Looks and feels like you’re in a South Park episode

Cons

  • Fairly easy and unchallenging
  • Less daring than the first game, in terms of dark humour (this could easily be a pro depending on you)

Nintendo adds Video Capture to Switch

Nintendo Switch just got a big update (4.0) and some highly anticipated new features, including in-game video capture and save transfers.

The video recording functionality will allow you to capture and share your gameplay and will, for now at least, only work with the most recent versions select games; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (version 1.3), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (version 1.3), Splatoon 2 (version 1.2) and Arms (version 3.1).

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The second big point is probably the most frequently requested function, the ability to transfer your game data from one console to another.

The update will also include tweaks to the news app to make it both easier to read and unsubscribe from, and more changes to the eShop that adds pre-ordering for select titles.

Most importantly, the update brings you brand new profile icons, including a T-Rex in a hat..

 

EA shuts down Visceral Games

Electronic Arts are shutting down their Visceral Games studio, EA vice president Patrick Söderlund has announced.

The studio, which was founded in 1998 as Redwood Shores and later became Visceral Games in 2009, is best known for Battlefield Hardline, Dante’s Inferno and the Dead Space series.

“Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA,” Söderlund said.

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Whilst the future of the team has been thrown into uncertainty, the statement shed light on the future of their current project. Visceral Games have been working on a Star Wars universe game since 2013, and the announcement will be significantly changing the direction of the project from a Naughty Dog style story-based, linear adventure to “a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency.”

It also means that the game, set for a 2019 release, will be delayed indefinitely whilst the project is handed over to another team.

“A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project,” Söderlund said, though there are no specifics. The EA vice president didn’t mention the game’s writing in the statement, which was previously worked on by former Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig and Todd Stashwick.