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Horizon Zero Dawn expected to sell 4-6 million copies this year alone

22 Feb

Despite being a new IP, Horizon Zero Dawn may perform just as impressively as heavy hitters such as Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid.

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SuperData, the research and analytics firm, has published some favourable predictions for the sales of Horizon Zero Dawn. According to the company, the new IP could have sales numbers that rival those of other big franchises such as Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid.

“Based on our initial observations we believe that Horizon Zero Dawn can sell around 4-6M units by end of 2017, given its early in the year release,” said SuperData research CEO Joost van Dreunen (via MCVUK). “Lifetime sales will likely be around 6-8M, which puts it in the same category as Uncharted 4 and Metal Gear Solid 5.”

Van Dreunen attributed some of this to the the many excellent reviews the game has been getting this week, which creates anticipation for launch day.

The research CEO also praised the release timing, calling it a “strong strategic move” on Sony’s part to increase hardware sales for the console, which the report notes have been “softening”.

“Now that we are in the second half of the current console cycle forces Sony and its rival Microsoft into a price war for the more risk-averse consumers that typically enter the market at this stage.

“And the release of the Nintendo Switch in early March will further increase the pressure on Sony to remain the platform of choice for the current gamer generation,” added Van Dreunen.

Horizon Zero Dawn releases February 28 in North America, March 1 in Europe and the UK.

Overwatch season 3 has just ended, with season 4 opening in a week

22 Feb

The third competitive season of Overwatch has drawn to a close.

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With the season now over, it’s a good time to jump on and collect the spoils of your work, although you’ll have needed a top 500 rank to get the really good sprays and icons.

Season 4 is due to begin in a week, on February 28. Blizzard has not talked about whether they have new plans for this season, after seasons 2 and 3 saw fairly significant shake-ups to the ranking system. It’ll be interesting to see if the same thing happens again or if Blizzard feels that they have settled into a groove.

We’re also wondering if we’ll see a new hero for season 4. Blizzard just dropped an interview with a fictional scientist within the Overwatch world that may contain some hints, who we’re told probably isn’t going to be Doomfist.

One popular theory at the moment, based on an unverified ‘leak’, is that the next hero will be an omnic tank named Anchora.

In any case, hopefully we can get our rankings up in Overwatch’s fourth competitive season next week.

Total War: Warhammer’s Bretonnia Race Pack will add more units and features for free next week

22 Feb

Total War: Warhammer is getting a major update next week, and it’ll be free for all players.

The latest update will add 3 new playable Legendary Lords and new units, in what the developers are calling “he biggest release of free content yet”. A new edition of the game will also be released at retail, which will include the free updates released so far. If you’re a fan of discs, you can now order the ‘Old World Edition‘ of Total War: Warhammer. Along with the update, it will come with a novella by game writer Andy Hall.

There’s also a battle map editor incoming soon, if that’s your thing.

The content will be available on February 28, but you can access it a day early by signing up for Total War Access. Access will let you use the Total War forums, and “aims to offer a variety of exclusive offers and early access to Total War content in the future”. What form that will take isn’t entirely clear just yet.

Total War: Warhammer is available on PC.

Persona 5’s new Velvet Room trailer is a great reminder of Persona’s weird heart

21 Feb

Persona 5‘s English language release is fast approaching, and this new trailer reminds us of what we’ve got to look forward to.

This latest trailer returns us to Persona’s Velvet Room, a dream space where you can sort through your captured personas and fuse them together to create more powerful beings.

Our old friend Igor is back, now rendered in slightly terrifying 3D, although his assistants Caroline and Justine are new. This time the room is rendered more like a prison that the game’s protagonist is captured in. Persona fusion is now depicted through lovingly-rendered executions, which is the kind of weird fun we’ve come to expect from the Persona series.

There’s a lot going on in Persona 5. The script will be one and a half times the size of Persona 5’s script, and that game went on forever.

It’s been a long, long wait for Persona fans, but P5 will finally release on April 4 for PS4 and PS3.

Halo Wars 2 1TB Xbox One S bundle with Ultimate Edition, Season Pass on sale for $50 off

21 Feb

Real-time strategy title Halo Wars 2 is out today, and if you’re in the market for a new Xbox One S, you should give this bundle a look.

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Originally priced at $349, the Halo Wars 2 console bundle is now $50 off at $299.

It includes the 1TB Xbox One S, a wireless controller, a digital code for Halo Wars 2: Ultimate Edition, a code for the Season Pass, and a code for a Definite Edition of the original Halo Wars.

The code works for both Xbox One and Windows 10 as the 343 Industries and Creative Assembly venture is a Play Anywhere title.

It also comes with a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial and your choice of one of the following free, Xbox One games: Watch Dogs, Just Dance 2016, Hasbro Family Fun Pack, The Crew or Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

The UK store also has bundles at discount, but the Halo Wars 2 bundle doesn’t seem to be listed.

If you need any beginner tips for Halo Wars 2, we have you covered here.

Those who pre-ordered the Halo Wars 2: Ultimate Edition have been able to play the game since February 17.

Destiny weekly reset for February 21 – Nightfall, Crucible, raid challenge changes detailed

21 Feb

Another Tuesday means another Destiny server rest, here are all the relevant changes.

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This week’s Destiny reset is here, bringing changes to the usual suspects. You’ll find a new Nightfall strike, a reshuffle of Prison of Elders modifiers and bosses, a new raid challenge, new vendor inventory, and more.

Here’s what’s happening:

Weekly Nightfall

It’s been a while, but we’ll return to The Abomination Heist strike this week with Arc Burn, and modifiers Specialist, Juggler, and Exposure.

Specialist grants bonus damage when using special weapons. Juggler prevents ammo drops for your currently equipped weapon. Exposure increases your shields but they do not replenish.

Heroic playlist modifiers

Arc Burn, Brawler, Ironclad.

Crucible playlists

Mayhem Clash, Rumble Supremacy.

Wrath of the Machine raid challenge

Vosik takes a turn at hosting this week’s challenge in the raid. Those who dare venture forth are welcome to consult our guide, things will only get better from there.

Halo Wars 2 PC review: the spirit of Command & Conquer trapped in a dilapidated husk

21 Feb

Loving or hating Halo Wars 2 largely depends on what you look for in an RTS.

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“Being designed for a controller has evidently been to the detriment of the overall experience.”

Before Halo Wars 2 was announced, I never expected I’d be talking about a triple-A RTS that isn’t Dawn of War or Company of Heroes anytime soon. The RTS genre is more or less dead, and has been for a while. It gave way to off-shoots like the many MOBAs and other tower-defence variants, but the good ol’ game where you build your base, round up your troops and make a mess of your enemies is all but gone.

Games like Dawn of War 3 are trying new things; a mix of hero battles typical of MOBAs and a traditional RTS structure. Whatever approach new RTS games take, nothing has quite been able to replicate the Command & Conquer games. There’s either too many resources, distinctly asymmetrical factions, or some weird gimmick added in to “push the genre forward”. Although I enjoy them, nothing comes close to the brand of fun found in Westwood’s classic games.

Halo Wars 2 does come close, but after finishing the campaign and playing a few Skirmish and Blitz matches, I am hesitant to call it a spiritual successor to Command & Conquer, even if it plays a lot like it. Being designed for a controller has evidently been to the detriment of the overall experience.

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There’s a lot to like in Halo Wars 2, though. It’s a game built on a philosophy of providing accessible, mostly autonomous RTS battles. It’s also a game that offers a campaign with a surprisingly decent story and excellent cut-scenes. It even tries to introduce new ideas with Blitz mode.

Unfortunately, every one of those aspects eventually devolves into a lesser version of itself, leaving you to wonder if the initial lustre is what kept you going in the first place. The game’s campaign starts off with the introduction of a formidable villain, and sets up a struggle with poor odds. Characters are one-dimensional for the most part, but that’s because they’re mostly here to tell you stuff over the radio.

The first few missions introduce new mechanics, units, and create scenarios for you to fight your way out of at a steady pace. But then it just stops doing that, and starts going through the motions, undermining the opening salvo of good missions you were greeted with. Having recently played the remaster of the original game on PC, I was surprised to find a returning, near identical design for a particular mission.

That mission was to get long-range artillery units into firing positions, fighting enemies along the way before eventually securing the points and protecting them from enemy retaliation. Though the mission wasn’t particularly difficult or interesting, it wasn’t impressive either. And this is the sentiment that underlines the entire experience, not just in terms of what the game lets you do, but in the way some of its best moments are offered up.

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The PC version is a great example of this misdirection. Though not quite the nightmare I feared it would be, it was lacking to a sometimes frustrating degree. The menus and UI are identical across PC and Xbox to the point of hampering mouse and keyboard play.

Halo Wars 2’s menus are an unorganised mess, among the worst I’ve ever seen. The key bindings menu in particular is a case study of how not to make a menu for anything ever. Made of some 15 pages, and using up only 50 percent of screen real estate like there’s a law against utilising the full available space, this menu’s existence in its current state is itself an achievement.

I didn’t know how I could remove a key binding to remap it to another function because the game doesn’t follow the universal ‘hold escape or backspace to remove bindings’ rule, and it won’t bother telling you how to do it either. I later found out how to do this by accident, but after I had nearly finished the game.

Control issues would not have been much of a hassle had the game itself offered other basic RTS staples. There’s no concept of an attack move, or halt. Your units are always attacking, and you never know if they’re going to chase their targets forever or just drive them away.

The only way the game knows how to talk to you is through radial menus. They’re inefficient, and a waste of space a lot of the time, but more importantly, a hassle on PC. Said menus also mean you can’t queue up units remotely. You have to be at your base, clicking the particular building you want and training units there.

It’s perplexing how Creative Assembly, an expert developer of much more complex PC-only strategy games, somehow could not come up with a PC-specific UI. Anything else would’ve done it really, since it’s hard for me to imagine Creative Assembly staff playing the game with this UI on a PC and thinking it was fine.

Though in fairness, that’s exactly what it is: it’s fine. It didn’t stop me from playing, but I dreaded its shortcomings every time I was reminded of them, and that was often.

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It’s a shame, because removed from these problems, Halo Wars 2’s core gameplay loop is really fun. It’s a game that encourages scouting and taking action over everything else, a C&C principle. Unit roles are easy to understand, and the game even spills out the hard counters for you in the tutorial. The focus is on your ability to create a sizeable force and win skirmishes until you’re strong enough to take out an entire base.

It looks amazing, with beautifully-designed environments and animations that look great on the smallest and the largest units alike. Even building construction animations, something I usually analyse in these games, are very good, especially considering all buildings get air dropped. The intricate ways units navigate around each other and what they do while idling are all well thought-out.

It sounds good, too, and much like the mainline Halo games, you can easily tell the units apart by the sound of their weapons and the type of chatter they get into. Projectile weapons are crisp-sounding and energy weapons deliver a lot of oomph and thump.

Being very familiar with Halo units and vehicles, I often felt like a kid playing with his action figures on the floor. Only the toys here are high-polygon, and brimming with life. The zoom and follow cameras can seriously produce a lot of amazing moments, even when you’re on the receiving end of a bombardment.

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“Whether or not you’re going to have fun with Halo Wars 2 relies heavily on your tolerance levels for UI issues, and a core loop that’s not very advanced. If you’re looking for a StarCraft clone with Halo units, this is not it.”

Even Blitz, at its most basic level, is a mode designed to get people to like RTS games. It strips down all the base building and resource gathering parts of the genre for – quite literally – an instant action approach. Unfortunately, like I had suspected after playing the beta, the microtransactions side of it will end up ruining it.

You can spend $50 on day one and go in with a considerably higher-level, more powerful deck than what most other players would have starting out. And although matchmaking could theoretically account for this, and you obviously still need to play your cards right, it’s still an advantage. As for matchmaking, I don’t think the game will have anywhere near enough players – at least on PC – to support this split.

Sure, you earn card packs for free at a steady rate, and you can just ignore competitive Blitz and only play the Firefight variant with a friend. But why compromise the mode with a system like that in the first place? Halo Wars 2 is already fighting an uphill battle on both the platforms it’s on, wouldn’t it make more sense to appear player-friendly now to win the audience over rather than cut and run as early as possible?

Ultimately, whether or not you’re going to have fun with Halo Wars 2 relies heavily on your tolerance levels for UI issues, and a core loop that’s not very advanced. If you’re looking for a StarCraft clone with Halo units, this is not it. I was actively looking for the exact opposite, and that’s what I found. After more or less getting used to its bizarre quirks, I found a casual RTS that lets me build big armies and crush opponents that looks and sounds like it was made in 2017.

Final Fantasy 15 sidescroller originally exclusive to GameStop will be free for everyone next week

21 Feb

A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy 15 can be yours, very soon.

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Final Fantasy 15 pre-orders from GameStop and its international partners came with a sidescrolling action game called A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy 15.

Those of you who missed out on this exclusive are in luck: Square Enix has elected to make A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy 15 available to everyone – for free.

Gematsu reports A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy 15 will be free on the PSN and Xbox Live from March 1 in Europe. No word yet on the US release date, but it’s almost certainly going to be February 28 or at least within the week.

A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy 15 is just one of a number of transmedia offerings that can aid your understanding of the core RPG’s story; there’s also the Brotherhood anime series, and most essentially the Kingsglaive movie, which really should have been a pack-in.

Final Fantasy 15 drew criticism for its narrative, which didn’t work as well as it could have if players hadn’t taken in Kingsglaive at least. Director Hajime Tabata stands by the weirdness of the final third, but upcoming patches will address some Final Fantasy 15 story threads that go nowhere, among other narrative issues.

Final Fantasy 15 is available for PS4 and Xbox One.

Horizon Zero Dawn looks “phenomenal” on PS4 and PS4 Pro, the “best” 4K Pro title yet – report

20 Feb

When it comes to its technical side, Horizon Zero Dawn will not disappoint you, no matter which platform you’ll be playing it on.

Horizon Zero Dawn has not only been getting a positive critical reception, it’s also one of the most technically advanced PS4 titles.

According to the most recent Digital Foundry analysis, the game performs and looks great on both the base PS4 as well as PS4 Pro. The site even called it the best 4K release yet. On the standard model, Horizon maintains a 1080p resolution, whereas the PS4 Pro gets a checkerboard 4K presentation.

Performance is identical, however, with both consoles performing very well at the vast majority of times, a near-locked and well-paced 30fps. There are very few drops below 30fps, but they’re well-masked and don’t affect the gameplay. Curiously, they happen at the same spots regardless of the console.

That said, adhering to 30fps this well is impressive, and the report noted this is especially true for an open-world game, considering the number of times the game has to stream in a chunk of high-quality assets very quickly.

But PS4 Pro doesn’t just get a resolution bump, developer Guerrilla even managed to push the graphical detail a bit further to compensate for the non-native 4K resolution. Anisotropic filtering and texture resolution have been increased on PS4 Pro, making the image look even richer on 4K screens.

The site promised to take a deeper dive into the game’s tech soon, especially now that we know it’s getting a day one patch to offer a high-performance option. For now, you can see the initial impressions in the video above.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out February 28 in North America, March 1 in Europe, and the UK on PS4.

Final Fantasy 15 PS4 Pro patch makes for “wildly unstable” frame-rates that don’t hit 60fps

20 Feb

Wondering how the Final Fantasy 15 PS4 Pro patch is going down? Not brilliantly.

Final Fantasy 15‘s latest update has gone live and includes the PS4 Pro patch that introduces a Lite Mode that bumps up the frame-rate to 60fps.

Digital Foundry is on the case to test out how the PS4 Pro console Lite Mode performs, and ‘not well’ is the short answer.

The frame-rate is unlocked and “wildly unstable,” running between 30-50 fps, while the frame pacing issue present on the PS4 and the Pro is still an issue, exacerbated even more on the PS4 Pro with today’s update.

Digital Foundry’s verdict is that the PS4 Pro is now the least preferred platform to play the game on, followed by the PS4, with the Xbox One being the platform of choice.

What are your thoughts? Are you disappointed? Chime in below.

Horizon Zero Dawn day one patch adds Performance mode giving smoother framerates in 1080p and 4K

20 Feb

Horizon Zero Dawn is going to look even better thanks to a small day one patch.

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Horizon Zero Dawn is a PS4 exclusive that’s been tailored for the PS4 Pro and it’s reviewed rather well.

We saw a comparison between gameplay on the two consoles earlier today and it looked just marvellous.

While the game looks lovely on both the PS4 and the Pro, it seems we’re in for a day one patch that aims to jazz things up even more.

According to NeoGAF user thuway the day one patch was detailed in the review material.

It’ll be a “small day zero patch that will build upon PlayStation 4 Pro support, adding a Performance mode which will favor smoother framerates while delivering higher visual fidelity in the 1080p mode. This mode is available for both 4K and 1080p displays.”

So you don’t need a 4K TV to make the most of it.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out for the PS4 and PS4 Pro on February 28 in North America and March 1 in Europe.

Street Fighter 5 Character Introduction series shines the spotlight on newcomer Kolin

20 Feb

Here’s a sneak peek at some of Kolin’s moves before she makes her Street Fighter 5 debut next week.

Street Fighter 5‘s Kolin was revealed a couple of weeks ago and you can find out more about her in Capcom’s character introduction video.

Community manager Matt Edwards talks us through her history in the series, her V-Skill and V-Trigger, as well as telling us how and why to play Kolin. If you like mind games, she’s the girl for you.

Season 2 will see Street Fighter 5’s roster grow with the addition of six new characters, bringing the total to 28.

Kolin is making her debut on February 28, 2017.

Horizon Zero Dawn PS4 and PS4 Pro gameplay comparison will dazzle your eyeballs

20 Feb

Horizon Zero Dawn is a PS4 exclusive but if you have a PS4 Pro, there are a few treats in store.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out next week and if you haven’t checked out the reviews already, you can hop over to our review round-up or have a look at what Brenna thought about the game.

If you’re more interested in seeing some gameplay, then Alex has got you covered with his PS4 and PS4 Pro comparison video above.

Don’t forget to tinker with the settings on the video to give your eyeballs the full 4K 2160p experience.

Horizon Zero Dawn was developed with the PS4 Pro in mind, rather than getting scaled up from the PS4 version, so even if you’re not playing on an HDR-compatible 4K telly, there are still some differences that you’ll be benefiting from.

The PS4 Pro uses supersampling which is a high-quality anti-aliasing technique that renders the image at a high resolution, close to 4K, before shrinking it down to 1080p. Technical Director, Michiel van der Leeuw, goes into more detail on a PlayStation blog post from November last year.

That means that 1080p on the PS4 Pro will look somewhat better than 1080p on the PS4.

If you do have a 4K TV then you’ll be pleased to know that the game renders 2160p checkerboard, meaning that it’s pretty close to native 4K.

Essentially, if you have a PS4 Po, snatching up this game should be a priority.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out next week exclusively for the PS4 and PS4 Pro on February 28 in North America and March 1 in Europe.

Horizon Zero Dawn reviews round-up, all the scores

20 Feb

Horizon Zero Dawn is out next week and the verdicts are in. Check out the scores across the board.

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Horizon Zero Dawn is a new IP from Guerrilla Games that piqued our interest since it was announced at E3 2015.

It’s an action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world that’s filled with robot dinosaurs and the people have reverted to a more primitive way of life after the electricity was buggered.

Reviews are finally out in the wild – including our take on it from Brenna – and you can check them out below.

As usual, scores are out of 10 unless stated otherwise.

Horizon Zero Dawn review: Sony and The Witcher 3 had a baby, and it deserves to win your heart

20 Feb

Horizon Zero Dawn is going to make other open-world developers sick with envy.

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Before I played Horizon Zero Dawn I spoke with a senior producer at Guerrilla Games. He told me fans of RPGs from the last few years would really enjoy it.

I didn’t understand this at the time, but about two hours into Horizon Zero Dawn the comment fell into place. This game owes a great deal to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – and that’s not something we complain about hereabouts.

It is The Witcher 3 of post-post-apocalyptic robo-dino adventures; it is the sort of thing Ubisoft will wish you had never seen if it dares to release another time-sucking, glitch-filled Assassin’s Creed.

The similarities between The Witcher 3 and Horizon Zero Dawn are too numerous to waste space on, but you could also find a lot of comparables in, say, Rise of the Tomb Raider. If you have played either of those games, you already know what to expect from Horizon Zero Dawn: a bristling combat toolbox, customisation through skill choices and gear, a large map studded with distractions and narrative-driven missions to take you from zone to zone.

You also know whether you like that style of game or not – but not whether you have room in your life for another one. Suffering open world fatigue as I am (even very good 40, 60 and 100 hour games are a penance to games writers), I myself went into Horizon Zero Dawn wondering what it had to set it above or even alongside magnificent efforts from CD Projekt RED and Crystal Dynamics.

Some people are going to say it’s the beauty of Horizon Zero Dawn’s world, which stands amongst the best the medium has ever produced, and possibly bypasses them for sheer technical achievement.

Others are going to say the story of Aloy and the post-post-apocalyptic setting; certainly the narrative is compelling enough and falls into a better rhythm after the awkward Assassins Creed 2-style tutorial opening, and the key characters are varied and distinct.

For my money, it’s two things: the combat and the perfection of the package.

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Combat in Horizon Zero Dawn is more forgiving than The Witcher 3, but on normal difficulty most fights ask more of you than to just run in swinging your spear about and hoping for the best.

Though neither human foes nor individual machines are a real problem, enemies attack in numbers and combinations, which prevent you relying on any one tool and can rapidly overwhelm you. While you can duel single opponents action-style with rolls and well-timed heavy and light swings, in almost every single encounter you’ll be bashed off your feet by its pals before you can get more than a couple of hits in.

Fights ask more of you than to just run in swinging your spear about and hoping for the best.

This never changes even as you acquire better gear and a larger health pool: 15 levels above the recommended range on one side quest, and with gear far beyond what I ought to have had at that stage in the game, a single error against a boss ate most of my health bar and I had to leg it for breathing room to spam potions.

Rather than being a matter of raw level numbers, success is all about knowing what you’re getting into and approaching the encounter with a strategy. Will you take out the smaller beasts by stealth before diving into the fray? Would it be better to go in scattering bombs around, or to and rope the larger foes down while you clean up? What if you start by knocking off the component that gives the big baddie an advantage here – or blows nearby baddies up? Can you turn some of these baddies against each other? Are you wearing the right armour? Wouldn’t it be better just to go around?

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Getting it right is extremely satisfying, as you cut down foes with maximum efficiency, dismantle bullet sponges piece by piece to turn them into soft squeakers, and control the battlefield with status effects – and, when necessary, with rope.

When you get good – and y’all will get far better than I, an individual with all the hand-eye co-ordination of a decomposing possum – you’ll dive into battle against even the mightiest arrangements of foes with barely a flutter of an eyelid and maybe a quick glance through your Focus or check in with the machine encyclopedia.

Getting it right is extremely satisfying, as you cut down foes with maximum efficiency, dismantle bullet sponges piece by piece to turn them into soft squeakers, and control the battlefield with status effects

The Focus is the Detective Mode of Horizon Zero Dawn, and worth a special mention because Guerrilla has sensibly restricted Aloy to a slow walk when using it. You’re not tempted to spend the whole game looking at the world through a purple haze, instead using it to tag enemies and prepare for combat in advance – in turn reducing the amount of time you’ll spend changing equipment in the menu mid-battle.

The first time you encounter a machine its information goes into the encyclopedia, which is the most usable example of its kind I’ve ever seen. The variety of beasts in Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t so enormous that you can’t remember which one is which, but if it’s been a while since you’ve seen a particular kind of enemy it’s really easy to quickly locate the relevant info, rather than having to poke through a half dozen screens to see how many bits can be knocked off (your Focus can also supply this intel on the fly, but it’s hard to use in the middle of a fight if you’re surprised by something).

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Once you’re armed with knowledge, you arm yourself with actual arms, and Horizon Zero Dawn has at least 17 different types of ranged attack spread across seven weapons, in addition to melee capabilities. Juggling your weapon options to match the situation at hand is key. You can only equip four at once, and it’s impossible to cover all possibilities with one load out.

Some of the ranged attacks seem to double up in effect at first, but I came to appreciate the subtle differences between them. A very small number of these options fall flat, like the component harvesting arrow in a game where resources rain upon you from all angles. With this much variety it’s not surprising some elements of the sandbox are less compelling, though.

Incidentally, the combat challenge side missions in Horizon Zero Dawn are actually very good. Rather than being twitch-based tests of skill, which so often puts 100% completion out of my reach in open world games, they’re more like puzzles – if you find the right gear and adopt the right tactics you’ll ace them. This teaches you skills useful for everywhere else, most notably the capacity to think creatively about your tools and how to combine them with each other and the environment. The tutorial quests for each weapon, which offer generous XP rewards and don’t force themselves on you, are another excellent touch.

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The combat and preparing for it make up the core gameplay loop of Horizon Zero Dawn, and until you’ve seen and defeated every type of baddie in every combination, not to mention their more powerful Corrupted forms, you won’t be sick of it – and that should take you tens of hours at least, even if you’re checking off all the major missions you come to.

This is very probably the most flawless open world game ever made.

As for the rest of it: wow. This is a supremely polished game, and very probably the most flawless open world game ever made. Every complaint I have about Horizon Zero Dawn is a trivial niggle (Aloy’s hair behaves strangely in elevators, ambient dialogue is sometimes out of whack with story progress) or a criticism you could aim at pretty much the whole medium (swimming transitions are a chore, the uncanny valley is wide and deep).

Performance on a standard PS4 was smooth and slick as a lawyer’s grin, and glitches were so few and far between – even after playing for a whole day without reset – that they’re just not worth cataloguing.

Every design choice feels measured and makes sense in context, like the loot boxes that allow you to keep all your quest rewards even if your inventory is full, or the medicine bag motivating you to explore rather than fast travel so you can refill it.

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Even the old standbys of open world gameplay have been treated with care and elevated above the pack. For starters, non-climbing sequence traversal is extremely forgiving, so you can hop your way up most mountains and slide down the other side if you take a wrong turn and don’t want to go back around.

Almost all side content is laid out in such a way that you can complete it as you advance through the main plot without huge amounts of backtracking (pro tip: don’t go out of your way chasing icons until you’ve checked in at the quest hub along the main story route). Most of it is worthwhile, because it’s either fun and interesting in itself or rewarding in a material way, and even the collectibles are good – there are relatively few, none are stuck behind painful traversal barriers and you can buy collectible maps as soon as you finish the opening sequence.

Oh, and Photo Mode is sensational. I don’t know why every game boasting a large and good-looking world doesn’t ship with a photo mode, but this one is feature-rich and easy to use.

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There are only a few things I would gently suggest could use improvement for (the possible) Horizon 2 that don’t also apply to all video games, ever. Load times after fast travel on a standard PS4 are appalling; it is generally quicker to hoof it. There should be more indication of the suggested order of main quests, which occasionally seem to deviate from the general geographical and difficulty flow in puzzling, immersion-disturbing ways. That’s it.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a meaty but player-friendly open world epic with a solid action combat heart, unique setting and ravishing scenery. It is The Witcher 3 of post-post-apocalyptic robo-dino adventures; it is the sort of thing Ubisoft will wish you had never seen if it dares to release another time-sucking, glitch-filled Assassin’s Creed. It is the promise of open world games gloriously fulfilled. I don’t know what else to tell you.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Kingdom Hearts 3 screens show boss fights, gameplay

18 Feb

Along with Final Fantasy 14 Fan Fest going on in Germany, Square Enix also has a presence at the Monaco Anime Game International Conference 2017 (MAGIC). Here, the company showed new images of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Kingdom Hearts 3.

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Sadly, not much was revealed on either Final Fantasy 7 Remake or Kingdom Hearts 3, but a little information is better than nothing at all.

According to Tetsuya Nomura, speaking with Gameblog.fr (thanks, Gematsu), the screenshot shown for Kingdom Hearts 3 takes place in Thebes. You also get to see the new model for the Heartless.

Nomura said the Keyblade Sora wields will also turn “into a lot of things,” thanks to its Power Form such as a shield and even chariot.

Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced in June 2013 at Sony’s E3 press conference, and it doesn’t have a release date – but we hope it lands sometime this year.

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The Final Fantasy 7 Remake images Nomura showed provide a look at the combat system. He said the combat will occur with without interruption and that when using grenades, allies won’t take damage, but scenery will be partly destructible.

In the image below, you’ll see the Scorpion, which is the first boss in the game.

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Nomura also said he wanted to show a video of the game, but Square denied the request, but more would be shown at a later date.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake was announced at E3 2015 for PlayStation 4, and it too is without a release date.

These Horizon: Zero Dawn videos provide a visual recap of combat, exploration, more

17 Feb

Horizon: Zero Dawn releases in less than two weeks, and if you need something to scratch your itch in the meantime, Sony has you covered.

Four new videos for Horizon: Zero Dawn have been released, the first of which is a look at exploration. Aloy will be able to travel the various frontiers, find artifacts and discover ancient mysteries in the process.

The video above takes a look at some of the Machines players will come into contact with – some of which they will have to battle.

In this video, more combat is shown along with Aloy’s tracking ability.

The final video focuses on Aloy, both past and present, along with a look at some of the various NPCs.

While the majority of what’s shown in the videos have been revealed before, each are still a quick reminder of what Horizon: Zero Dawn has to offer come the end of the month.

If you want to catch up on everything we know about it, be sure to give our page hub a click.

The PS4 exclusive will be released on February 28 in North America and on March 1 in Europe for both the standard console and PS4 Pro.

Enjoy the short videos and look forward to more Horizon: Zero Dawn goodness from us closer to release.

Dawn of War 3 gets suitably epic story trailer, confirms Spear of Khaine is involved

17 Feb

The conflict wrapped up in the story of Dawn of War 3 becomes clear.

Relic has released a new trailer for Dawn of War 3, the first in a long while. It’s called Prophecy of War and is very much story-focused.

The prophecy in question is cited at the start of trailer, as Farseer Taldeer outlines the main story setup that will bring all three races to war. The Spear of Khaine is the impetus behind the events this time around, though not much else is known.

Farseer Taldeer’s prophecy is ominous though, as these usually tend to be. Gabriel Angelos, Farseer Macha, and Gorgutz are all here, and they all seem to be fighting enemies within their ranks, as well as each other.

Alongside the new trailer, Relic also put out a call to action themed around each of the three factions. These videos show a bit more gameplay, and highlight what the Space Marines, Eldar, and Orks are each fighting for.

Dawn of War 3 comes out this year on PC.

Horizon: Zero Dawn day one patch is only 250MB

17 Feb

If you’re getting the disc version of Horizon: Zero Dawn you won’t have to waste too much time grabbing update files.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn developer Guerrilla Games has confirmed that the game will have a day one patch.

Don’t fret, though, because the size of the patch is very small compared to many of today’s games. The studio confirmed in a tweet that Horizon: Zero Dawn’s day one patch is only around 250MB.

Guerrilla also said that more details about what’s actually in the patch will be shared at launch.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is out February 28 in the US, March 1 in the UK and Europe for PS4.

Halo Wars 2: 11 crucial tips for beginners

17 Feb
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11 crucial Halo Wars 2 tips for beginners

Halo Wars 2 may be one of the most accessible RTS games ever. Being designed to – at the very least – be playable with a controller is part of the reason why, but it also means you’ll have an easier time understanding its main mechanics than you’d expect.

That said, if this is your first RTS, or your first in a long time – let’s face it, we haven’t seen that that style of RTS for years – then you’ll want to get a refresher course. A lot of what you may remember about how the genre typically works will help you here, but not everything will transfer over.

We’ve been playing the PC version, and being RTS fans ourselves, we found that there are certain design elements and unique quirks here that are not commonly seen in other games in the genre.

The tips to follow are essential in helping you nail down how Halo Wars 2 works on a fundamental level. Some may seem obvious, but are worth being spelled out, just because of some of the differences that will throw you off at first.

You can use these tips when playing skirmish, multiplayer, and the campaign missions that don’t limit you for story reasons.

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Play the tutorial

There are three tutorials in Halo Wars 2. The first deals with basic unit movement and teaches you some handy keyboard shortcuts. If you played an RTS before, you probably don’t need to do this one, but it’s worth spending the ten or so minutes it takes to complete to get a Blitz card pack and some XP.

If this is your first RTS game, playing this tutorial is a must, especially since you’ll be introduced to concepts like “control groups,” “waypoints,” and other RTS vernacular.

The next one is where the game gives you control of a base, and exposes how base building, unit queuing and other integral parts of its core loop work. You don’t want to skip this one, as there are a few things Halo Wars 2 handles differently than say, Command & Conquer or StarCraft.

The third and final one is for Blitz mode, and like the previous two, gets you a free card pack and a bit of XP for your trouble. Blitz is relatively straightforward to get to grips with, so you’ll mostly just be learning the controls.

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Build a Supply Pad and a Power Generator ASAP

Now that you know how RTS games work, it’s time to talk about some of the better ways to start your match off. First and foremost, you’re going to need to build a Supply Pad (or Harvester for the Banished) before doing anything else. Every single unit, ability, and building will require a certain amount of supplies to build, and you really don’t want to wait until you’re all out before you start worrying about this.

The next building you should construct is the Power Generator (or Power Extractor for the Banished). Some units require both supplies and power to be produced, and the same goes for certain buildings.

Supplies and power are the only two resources in Halo Wars 2. They’re both produced in a linear fashion and through buildings that don’t require any input or upkeep from you once they’re up, and they’re both necessary.

Once you have one of each, you can then move on to other structures that’ll actually produce units. You should also consider buying the upgrade for both structures. The Heavy Supply Pad upgrade is cheaper to get than a Power Generator upgrade, so do that first.

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Scout, scout, and scout with mobile units like the Jackrabbit and Chopper

The Jackrabbit and the Chopper are fast, lightly-armoured units designed as scouts. Regardless of how ready you think you are, you should send one of those around the map to have a look around while buildings get constructed.

Everything that isn’t under your control will be covered in the fog of war, which is why you must physically take control of a scout unit and command it around to reveal what the fog of war is hiding.

The most obvious reason for doing this is to find out some of your opponents’ plans by surveying the type of buildings and units they focused on first. Scouting is also incredibly useful to learn if your enemies are building multiple bases outside their main ones, and how many they have.

Whatever your goal is, you must always send a very mobile unit around every couple of minutes to assess the situation and stay on top of the goings on. You should not engage any targets, no matter how tempting.

One other reason you want to be scouting is to locate strategic objectives that you can capture, which we’ll cover a bit more in the next point.

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Capture Forerunner structures, supply and power crates

Hopefully you’ve now located a few Forerunner power relays (lightning bolt icons on the mini-map) in your scouting run. Any standard infantry unit will capture these, but be careful, you’ll have to first fight the Sentinels protecting them. Once any of them is captured, they’ll provide a decent stream of power as long as they’re yours, which is even more important in the mid to late-game.

Outside of these Forerunner structures, there are a couple more items you should be aware of. You will notice that there are blue crates and yellow, battery-shaped cylinders lying around in some parts of the map. As you may have guessed, blue crates give you supplies and yellow cylinders give you power.

You can pick those up by sending any units to their location. They take time to get scooped up, and they don’t respawn once collected.

Finally, there are plenty of buildings all over every map that allow you to garrison infantry within. Garrisoning units in remote outposts – especially overlooking critical sections – can serve as an early warning for when your enemy makes a move. This is thanks to the line of sight advantage they provide, not to mention how safer your units will be inside.

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Basic infantry are created from the Firebase, not the Barracks

This is a tip for those who played RTS games before and whom we guarantee will be perplexed by this during their first few hours. The basic infantry units (Marines and Grunts), come out of your Firebase, not the Barracks.

There are other types of advanced infantry units you need a Barracks for, but for the Jackrabbit, Chopper, as well as the Marines and Grunts, you’ll need nothing more than your main building to recruit them. There are even upgrades for these early units that can only be purchased at the Firebase.

It’s a bit of Halo Wars thing, and it probably makes sense from a balance standpoint, but it’s still weird.

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Branch out early and build other bases

As soon as you’ve placed your first Barracks, make sure to expand into other bases. All maps have empty lots you can build new bases on (square icons on the mini-map). They vary in size, and the smallest allow you to attach a single building to them – not counting the mini-base itself.

All you need to do to claim said lots is for them to be empty, and for you to have a line of sight on them. You can send a small squad to their location just so you can clear the fog of war and build your new base.

Spreading out your forces and production across a number of bases, means the enemy will have a harder time eliminating you, all eggs in one basket and all that. Halo Wars 2 makes this easy, too, because all bases share the same tech and resource pool.

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Keep note of your base and factory levels

Each base has its own level, but your overall army level can be seen on the bottom right hand side, to the left of the mini-map. This level affects the types of buildings you will have access to. Keep in mind, though, that you will still need to upgrade each base separately to gain more building spaces.

Not every base you build later can be upgraded, but your home base always will be. Being able to raise the base level requires power.

Depending on the map, and how aggressive your opponent is, you may be forced to focus all your attention on your home base and one more at most. If you find yourself in that situation, remember to upgrade your base level regularly to expand the usable space.

If you can’t venture out, you may as well turtle up and be as powerful as you can.

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Upgrades you buy are universal

Any upgrade you purchase at any of your production buildings like the Barracks, Garage, and Airpad, apply to your entire army. This goes for unit upgrades like improved armour and added abilities, as well as the actual building levels, which grant passive bonuses like extra health and so on.

Even if you lose all buildings of the same type (all Barracks, for instance), your upgrades will not revert.

With that in mind, you should only upgrade factory levels when you’re trying to unlock a higher unit or upgrade tier, not just because you have a surplus of power and supplies.

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Power is your gateway to acquiring advanced tech

Assuming supplies aren’t an issue, your power production is going to be strained in the mid and late-game. This is for the simple fact that advanced units require a chunk of power to produce.

Some units you won’t even have access to until you reach a certain power thresholds. This is how Halo Wars 2 uses power as a gating mechanic, keeping powerful tools of destruction out of your reach until you’re ready for them.

When you feel you have a decent defence force of Marines and other cheap units, focus on expanding your power supply by building more generators or upgrading existing ones. Ideally, you’ll have already established multiple bases by that point, so space should be no issue.

Basically: worry about supplies early and power later.

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Get comfortable with the main keyboard shortcuts

This is a PC-only tip that may seem obvious, but is worth mentioning. Keyboard shortcuts open up a whole world of possibilities for you. Don’t play Halo Wars 2 using only the mouse – though it is possible, hitting buttons to quickly travel between bases and hot spots is a godsend.

Don’t get us wrong, this is no StarCraft! You won’t need to memorise 20 of these and combo them together like a pro or anything. Mostly, you’ll need to create a couple of control groups and learn how to quickly switch your view to where the action is, whether that be at one of your bases, or out in the field.

The tutorial should help you with a couple of these, but you’ll have to explore the rest in the controls menu. Best of all, you can customise them to your liking if you aren’t feeling the default options.

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Understand Leader Powers and how to best spend your leader points

Leader Powers are sort of like kill or scorestreaks. By pressing ‘F’, you’ll bring up the commander wheel, which allows you to spend your points on any of the available options. The skills you see in this wheel differ depending on which of the six heroes you’re playing as.

Because nothing else about the army changes, you’re going to have to decide before the game starts which hero you want to go in as, based on what you prefer from each of their available skills. Each leader also emphasises a certain playstyle, to make things interesting.

These abilities can either be passive, or active that you can call in to help you or devastate the enemy. They all have separate cooldowns, and require both supplies and power to call in, but they could be the deciding factor in your next skirmish – don’t neglect them.