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    New activities and lore secrets could give Destiny 2's Western-style yarn a long life.

    Review Megan Crouse
    Sep 9, 2018

    Release Date: September 4, 2018
    Platforms: XBO (reviewed), PS4, PC
    Developer: Bungie
    Publisher: Activision
    Genre: Online Shooter

    Editor's Note: This Destiny 2: Forsaken review doesn't take all endgame content or the expansion's upcoming raid into account. Once we play through all of that content, we'll update this review with a score. 

    Cayde-6 is dead, and you’re determined to avenge him.

    Bungie’s E3 announcement that the next large expansion for Destiny 2 would feature the death of a fan favorite character made a stir. It also raised expectations for Destiny 2’s version of the first game's landmark The Taken King expansion. Thankfully, Forsaken delivers, with expansive new maps, a unique and entertaining hybrid PvP challenge, and a story full of mystery. That said, Destiny 2 has not transformed into a character-heavy game; nor has it found a perfect balance between grind and levity for players of all commitment levels.

    The expansion includes two new social areas, the new campaign, and new PvP and PvE activities, and raises the level cap to 600. You can also purchase an Annual Pass together or separately, for more content throughout the year. I’m not sold on the idea that the Annual Pass will contain enough new activities to justify paying extra, especially when you’ll get seasonal events for free. That’s might be a story for another time. (Transparency: Activision provided me a review copy of Forsaken with the Annual Pass.) 

    Buy Destiny 2: Forsaken

    Forsaken's plot builds momentum well, especially toward the end, but some characters still feel under- or unevenly written. The silence of the player character is jarring, and Bungie seems to be doing some adjusting when it comes to dictating what is canon for the player’s Guardian and what roleplaying can be done within the game. Growing pains in that regard do hurt the immersion, but overall the game world is well crafted and adds compelling new challenges to chase. Lore-focused players will experience a different kind of connection to The Taken King, with some hidden quests and surprises. This expansion contains what might be my favorite Destiny 2 moment ever in the form of some payoff on a long-debated clue in the lore. 

    The story’s major weakness is that it presents a question that it can never really answer. Several characters suggest that the player could solve a problem with something other than violence. Regardless, the main game mechanic is still “shoot things.” The inevitability of the answer wasn’t a major distraction for me, but it does dredge up some old conversations about asking players to solve problems they aren’t actually capable of solving. It’s another case where the tension between what you imagine your player character can do and what the game actually allows them to do clashes.

    Related Article: How Destiny 2 Can Still Be a Good Game

    For the most part, I was happy to move on and explore instead of worrying about it. One of Forsaken’s major strengths is the size of its locations. The endgame location, Dreaming City, is a strained-glass heaven, beautiful and strange. Its polar opposite is the Tangled Shore, a grim desert where nearly every line of sight ends in a ridge or a cliff. Enemies are silhouetted against the sky like gunslingers at high noon. 

    The Baron enemies reminded me of some of the more unique big bads from the original Destiny. Each fights in a different way and their missions are varied and fun to traverse, if a bit short. I especially enjoyed the Machinist, which sends you hurtling through an industrial area in a tank, and the reality-warping Mindbender. 

    Also of note in these sections is the score by Michael Salvatori, Skye Lewin, Rotem Moav, and Pieter Schlosser. The music in both of the Baron missions and the cutscenes made me immediately want to find the soundtrack. It’s a big, symphonic score with less electronic sound than Destiny often employs, and it works great. (There’s also a musical in-joke stashed on the Tangled Shore.) 

    The new enemies, the Scorn, aren't as big a game changer as the Taken but do bring some cool new weapons. They’ve brought their own version of the Guardian tether, which can immobilize players, and their aesthetic is a creepy zombie look. 

    Cutscenes are well-crafted, with a distinct Western flavor and a story that kept me guessing what was going on and how the player would resolve some of the questions. In true Western fashion, violence and fighting for coin comes at a moral cost. Characters question whether their motivations are pure or their revenge justified. 

    Also pretty heavy on the Western flavor is the new hybrid PvP/PvE game type, Gambit. In this mode, players kill enemies to bank points; when the bank is full, a boss appears. Players can also jump from one team to another to take turns killing Guardians. The various mechanics mean the tide can turn very quickly, and it often takes coordination to win.

    A three- or four-Guardian team with an effective strategy can make a huge difference in Gambit. I felt real fear when an enemy Guardian invaded, and real victory when my team narrowly won. The biggest problem with Gambit is the long loading times — the Gambit announcer is a fun character, but between loading in from orbit and a brief lobby in his ship, just starting up the best two of three matches can take a matter of minutes. 

    Gambit is a unique multiplayer mode, and something I’ve been hoping to see shooters do for a while—introduce a game type for people who just want to dip their toes into PvP but aren’t quite ready for or interested in going head-to-head with other humans. 

    Forsakenalso adds a PvE event called The Blind Well, but I haven’t progressed far enough to tackle it yet. I have had a look at some of the Dreaming City's Ascendant Challenges and secrets. It doesn’t really match the Western theme, and some major questions about what this place actually means to the Awoken race aren’t really answered in the dialogue. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful new part of Destiny 2’s science fantasy aesthetic, and I look forward to spending more time there. With more to come, this might be Forsaken’s version of the Dreadnaught—a new public space that always offers new things to do. 

    The quality of life improvements are mostly welcome. Material requirements have become more stringent, but it is possible to buy them from vendors instead of farming them on planets. The menu now includes Collections, where you can see the gear you’ve picked up and recover items you discarded. At last, lore cards are available on screen in their own tab. 

    Of course, all of it comes back around to Cayde. Nolan North replaced Nathan Fillion for the roguish robot’s last mission. His voice doesn’t perfectly match, but he brings the same energy, and Cayde felt alive enough for me to feel real emotion at his death. I’ve spent four years with the Vanguard now, and after two Destiny 2 expansions that felt more like stopgaps than big story, it's a joy to get back into Forsaken. I expect players will be exploring the Dreaming City and firing up Gambit for a long time to come, especially after The Last Wish, the expansion's new raid, arrives on Sept. 14.

    Megan Crouse writes about Star Wars and pop culture for, Star Wars Insider, and Den of Geek. Read more of her work here. Find her on Twitter @blogfullofwords.

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    Shadow of the Tomb Raider is Lara Croft's greatest adventure yet. Here is our review...

    Release Date: September 14, 2018
    Platform: PS4 (reviewed), XBO, PC
    Developer: Eidos Montreal
    Publisher: Square Enix
    Genre: Action-adventure

    The rebooted Tomb Raider series’ third entry, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, continues the franchise’s run of success, marrying pulse-pounding action and challenging puzzles with a staggering, double-take worthy audio-visual presentation. The foundation laid by Crystal Dynamics in the first two titles is further refined and built upon by Eidos Montreal, who aided in the development of the previous games but has now taken the reins as lead developer, with Crystal Dynamics lending support. The swap in leadership couldn’t have been more seamless--Shadow maintains the spirit of its predecessors while introducing enough new elements to keep returning players on their toes, and by almost every measure, this is the most polished -- and perhaps best -- Tomb Raider game to date.

    Shadow completes a three-game character arc for Lara Croft, who is again voiced by the extraordinary Camilla Luddington. The first game introduced us to a young Lara, a frightened, neophyte survivalist left shriveled and traumatized when forced to take her first human life. Rise of the Tomb Raidersaw her cope with PTSD and uncover the truth behind the death of her father, and Shadow completes her transformation as we watch her master her skills and confront her inner demons, grappling with an intoxicating notion of “destiny” that haunts her dreams and pushes her ever closer to the fringes of sanity.

    While narrative and character development seem less central to the experience than, say, the Unchartedseries (whose DNA is inextricably linked with Tomb Raider’s), storytelling still remains a driving force in Shadow, and watching Lara come into her own and overcome the ghosts of her past is compelling from beginning to end. Her relationship with right-hand man Jonah (Earl Baylon) is handled particularly well, with the kind-hearted Kiwi acting as a voice of reason and compassion, anchoring Lara when her hubris and pessimism threaten to consume her.

    The game is set in the teeming jungles of Latin America, with Lara combating both the environment and cultist paramilitary group Trinity, who return from the previous title to again stand in our heroine’s way. Lara’s now a far more confident (almost cocky) and zealous adventurer, and her single-mindedness leads her to inadvertently unleash a series of apocalyptic disasters on thousands of innocent people. There are undercurrents of socio-political commentary throughout the main story, which focuses on subverting the white savior trope, capturing in horrific detail the inherent terror of catholicism, and exploring the fickle nature of nationalism.

    As in previous games, the map is hub-based, divided into a handful of open environments littered with smaller, focused challenge areas. But Shadowboasts the series’ most expansive hubs yet, with rolling hills and bustling jungled communities populated by roaming animals and chatty villagers, who more often than not reveal hidden items on the map or open opportunities for side missions. Exploration is especially engrossing here, as there’s seemingly something new to uncover inside every nook and cranny of the game world, from forgotten treasures to instinct-amplifying, consumable plants.

    Traversal has always been a key component in Tomb Raider games, and it’s more fluid than ever this time around thanks to new mechanics like improved swimming controls (and expanded underwater areas to make use of them) and the ability to rappel down cliff walls. While climbing and scampering isn’t as robust as the systems you’ll find in Assassin’s Creed or Insomniac’s Spider-Man, exploring the various environments still feels incredibly streamlined and efficient, which allows you to focus on sussing out puzzles without the added, unnecessary stress of fighting with floaty controls.

    Combat is more of a mixed bag. Controls are snappy and responsive when engaging enemies, but certain encounters can become frustratingly frantic and chaotic. The camera’s proximity to Lara is so tight that battling more than one enemy more often than not results in getting whallopped by grunts lunging at you from just off-screen, whose pre-attack telegraphing animations happen completely out of view, giving you little to no time to dodge effectively. To make things worse, projectile-launching enemies have infuriatingly accurate aim, which when combined with the camera issue can make for a truly un-fun experience.

    Stealth gameplay, on the other hand, is much richer and well balanced this time around. Lara’s been given the invaluable ability to re-enter stealth mode after alerting enemies by breaking their line of sight. She can also cover herself in mud and blend into mossy rock walls, which not only looks cool (she appears genuinely camouflaged when muddied) but opens up myriad opportunities to off wandering baddies quickly and discreetly. Verticality is a key element as well; preying on trinity soldiers from the treetops and stringing them up with a grapple line a dozen feet off the forest floor is endlessly enjoyable.

    Skills unlocked via the game’s skill tree open up Lara’s repertoire in inventive ways, with some highlights being the abilities to plant proximity grenades on fallen enemies, stealth kill multiple enemies at once, and craft fear arrows that cause enemies to turn on each other. Eidos Montreal does a good job of creating a sense that Lara is more adept than ever before, which speaks to her growth as a warrior-survivalist but also reinforces the narrative that she’s matured as a woman.

    Challenge tombs are more numerous than in previous titles, with each one presenting carefully curated set of obstacles, whether it be a physics-based puzzle, an infernal obstacle course, or a gauntlet of swarming enemies. The platforming puzzles in particular are tremendously well designed, and on many occasions a puzzle’s solution will be hidden in plain sight, with the “a-ha!” moments of finally unlocking the trick to a puzzle being some of the game’s highest highs.

    Gameplay is mostly rock-solid and enjoyable all around, but Shadow’s true wow-factor lies in its graphical prowess and immersive sound design. The game’s lighting is staggeringly good, especially when traversing the leafy hub environments in broad daylight. The glow of the blistering South-American sunlight is fantastic, with outdoor scenes looking truly spectacular on 4K displays. Each locale is richly detailed, with geometrically complex scenery that loses very little fidelity even upon close examination. Jungle vegetation is a highlight, with plants, vines, and trees arranged realistically and densely, to the point where at times it feels like the foliage is crowding in on you, threatening to swallow you whole.

    Of course, one of the defining characteristics of the current incarnation of Tomb Raider is the focus on cinematic set pieces that send Lara hurtling toward certain doom, and these moments are more spectacular and thrilling than ever. An early sequence sees Lara swept away in a flood through Mexican city streets, scrambling to keep her head above water as innocent people perish left and right. It’s a graphical tour-de-force, but it’s the emotional element of Lara’s inability to save the lives of the innocent bystanders (who fall victim to a flood that she caused) that really makes the experience feel special.

    Perhaps the most supremely impressive aspect of the visual presentation is Lara’s character model, which was already terrific in previous titles but sees a noticeable bump in detail and expressiveness here. Her animations are smooth as silk and facilitate player control inputs responsively without appearing jerky or unnatural, and little things, like the way she follows points of interest with her gaze and looks startlingly real. Granular details--like the tertiary animations of her tools and weapons jingling as she runs, or the lifelike scrapes and bruises you see on her elbows as she carefully shimmies in and out of tight openings in rock faces--really help to ground Lara in the game world and make it feel like she’s truly interacting with and changing her surroundings.

    By the same token, the most noticeable hitch in the visual presentation is Jonah’s character model. While Lara is exquisitely designed, organic-looking and is easily envisionable as a real person, Jonah’s model has an overly symmetrical, create-a-character look to it that simply doesn’t look as expressive and lifelike as Lara’s. NPC’s look even more manufactured, which is completely forgivable given the scale of the presentation, and the main villain’s model actually looks almost as good as Lara’s. But the iffy quality of Jonah’s is the most noticeable because he’s such a pervasive presence in the story and shares more scenes with Lara than any other character.

    Thankfully, Baylon’s performance helps breathe life into Jonah, and Luddington’s take on Croft is as sharp as ever. There’s quite a powerful emotional core to this final leg of Lara’s coming-of-age story, and the British-American actress nails every moment of anger and every heartbreak, without fail. She’s really doing some of the best voice work in video games today.

    Eidos Montreal’s audio designers do a fine job of supporting her performance and the dazzling visuals with tasteful sound that envelops but doesn’t ever feel invasive or distracting. Caves are echoey, prowling animals can be placed spatially without visual cues, and the sound design is the absolute key to making the otherwise unremarkable underwater sequences genuinely thrilling.

    Sound plays a major role in the developer’s approach to the semi-open world presentation as well, with the sprawling mountainside village of Paititi (the game’s largest hub area) truly coming alive thanks to ambient natural sounds and smatterings of locals’ chatter. Wandering around the village can become a bit of a chore when carrying out some of the game’s more uninspired, thinly-veiled fetch quests, but sometimes the game looks and sounds so good that taking a simple stroll can be engaging enough.

    Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an excellent game, and it’s heartening to see Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics’ trilogy capped off so brilliantly. There’s no game mechanic or concept introduced here that’s revolutionary or transformative for the series, but the truth is that the current Tomb Raider formula still holds up. If you look at the three games as a cohesive, larger experience, the fact that the developers were able to maintain such a high level of quality throughout the rebooted franchise’s lifetime is an impressive feat indeed.

    Bernard Boo is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.

    ReviewBernard Boo
    Sep 10, 2018

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    Dead or Alive 6 is coming sooner than you think. Here's when you can expect the game...

    News Matthew ByrdJohn Saavedra
    Sep 10, 2018

    Dead or Alive 6 will hit stores on February 15, 2019, publisher Koei Tecmo announced today. The game is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

    The release date announcement trailer offers up some new footage of the game, as well as some details on the different editions of the game. Check it out below: 

    Of note, players who purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition of the title will also receive "25 extra costumes, three bonus musical tracks, a DDX exclusive Kasumi costume, and an exceptional character added to the lineup, the formidable Kasumi clone, Phase 4," according to a press release.

    Team Ninja returns with another entry into one of the most beloved fighting game franchises ever. As you can see in the trailer above, some things about the series remain pleasantly intact. Fighters still bust-out outlandish moves, the game's roster features some wonderfully familiar faces (including Ryu Hayabusa, Kasume, and Helena), and you can still use the edges of environments to inflict additional pain onto your opponents. 

    However, there's quite a bit that the sixth major entry into the Dead or Alive franchise changes up. For instance, Dead or Alive 6 places a far greater emphasis on the injuries a fighter sustains during a match. You might notice in early footage of the game that fighters will sport a few cuts and bruises by the time that the battle is done. Furthermore, Dead or Alive 6 features the introduction of two new mechanics known as Break Gauge and Fatal Rush.

    The Break Gauge is essentially a super meter that allows players to utilize a powerful counter move or special attack when the time is right. Fatal Rush, meanwhile, is a potentially devastating special attack that can be executed by spamming the special button. The mechanics are designed to help players new to the Dead or Alive series do more than just throw out some basic punches, but they are not "easy buttons." They can still be countered and countering either move can lead to a significant advantage. 

    Otherwise, as IGN's hands-on preview shows, Dead or Alive 6 still feels like a Dead or Alive game at its heart. That means that it's still a fast-paced and largely outlandish fighting title, even if the Dead or Alive team has stated that they want to add a degree of maturity and "realism" to the franchise. 

    We'll keep you updated as we learn more about the game.

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.

    John Saavedra is Games Editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9

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    Sekiro, the mysterious new title from the developers of Dark Souls, is a mythical samurai adventure. Here's a new trailer...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the next game from the studio that brought us Dark Souls. FromSoftware's new action game takes place during the Sengoku era of Japan. In it, you play a warrior who has set out on a dangerous quest to save his master from a powerful foe who the warrior and his mater have been battling for years. The warrior's loss of a ligament means that some of his weapons and abilities come in the form of exchangeable prosthetics. 

    Regardless of what weapon you use, you'll have access to a resurrect ability that will let you instantly revive yourself upon death. This is a far cry from the Dark Soulsseries which often punished the player for death and used death as a way to teach the player how the game's mechanics - and the universe - really worked. It remains to be seen how Sekiro will retain the difficulty and mechanical mastery requirements of Dark Souls given that it sounds like the title won't treat death as quite the roadblock that it was in Dark Souls. 

    We're still waiting to hear more about this game, but for now, here's everything else we know about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice:

    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Trailer

    A new trailer for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has arrived ahead of Tokyo Game Show. Check it out below:

    And here's the debut trailer:

    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Release Date

    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is set to release on March 22, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. On that day, you'll be able to pick up the regular version of the game alongside a special Collector's Edition that includes a map, some art, coins, and a statue. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Everything we know about Left Alive, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    Square Enix is working on a new mech shooter called Left Alive, which shares certain elements with the Front Mission universe. In an interview with Weekly Famitsu, producer Shinji Hashimoto stated that "We wanted to make a Front Mission with a new lineup. We started this new title to see Front Mission in a slightly different perspective."

    In that same article, Square Enix members noted that Left Alive takes place in the year 2127. That means it occurs sometime between the events of Front Mission 5 and Front Mission Evolved. Additionally, the studio said that Left Alive will feature three playable characters that players will bounce between at certain points in the game's story and that the mechs from Front Mission - called Wanzers - will be featured throughout the game.

    Still, it doesn't sound like Left Alive is going to be a classic Front Mission experience. The developers noted that it's more of a third-person shooter that allows individual players to dictate a style of gameplay - as well as the direction of the story - through tactical choices. If anything, the game seems takes more gameplay cues from recent survival titles than it does from the original Front Mission games. 

    However, the biggest news regarding Left Alive is the team that Square Enix has assembled to work on the project. Metal Gear Solid series artist Yoji Shinkawa has signed on as Left Alive's character designer and has already contributed some comfortably familiar characters as part of the game's promotional materials. Meanwhile, Toshifumi Nabeshima (Armored CoreChromehounds) has been brought on to direct. It's also been noted that some members of the Front Mission development team have been brought in to work on this new project.

    For those keeping count at home, that means that Square Enix has brought in ringers from studios like Konami and From Software to work on this already compelling title.

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Left Alive News

    A new trailer has arrived for Left Alive ahead of Tokyo Game Show. Watch it below:

    Left Alive Release Date

    Left Alive is expected to be released sometime in 2018 for Windows PC and PlayStation 4.

    Left Alive Trailer

    This latest trailer for Left Alive is largely a cinematic preview, but the ending shots contain just the briefest hint of what the gameplay might look like. 

    Left Aliveis billed as a survival action shooter that seems to feature some kind of mech-based combat based on a previous teaser Square released a few months back.

    Here's the debut trailer:

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.

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    Cult classic Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is being remastered.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is getting a very surprising remaster.  This news comes ahead of Tokyo Game Show where Square Enix will showcase a bit of the game as part of the PlayStation Lineup. At present, it seems that the plan is to release the remaster for PS4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan sometime in 2019. Square Enix did not confirm any plans to release the game in the West that same year. 

    Here's the trailer:

    The good news is that the studio did confirm that the Crystal Chronicles remaster will feature global multiplayer (which we tend to think suggests that the game will get a global release at some point even if that term isn't always used in the literal sense). That means that it will be easier than ever to actually find people to play this underrated multiplayer game with. 

    It also appears that Crystal Chronicles has received a slight visual makeover. That said, this is a remaster and not a remake, so you shouldn't expect anything more impressive than an HD upgrade of the original title's colorful visuals and exaggerated character design. Fortunately, that style of visual design means that the game's original look has actually aged quite well.

    What's going to be fascinating to see is how Square Enix works around (or incorporates) the original game's unique set-up. For those who don't remember, Crystal Chroniclesrequired GameCube players to hook up four Game Boy Advances to their consoles via compatible link cables. The GBAs were used to control the game's characters and relay certain information, but everything else was handled on a single TV screen. 

    While we highly doubt that this new version of the game will utilize handheld devices in quite the same way (except for possible enhanced features via the Nintendo Switch), we're still excited to play this fairly brilliant multiplayer Final Fantasy title once more. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Fighting franchise Samurai Shodown is finally back.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    Fighting game Samurai Spirits (known as Samurai Shodown here in the West) is staging a comeback.

    As revealed at the Tokyo Game Show, SNK's Samurai Shodown is returning to the fight. The tentatively titled Samurai Spirits (which we imagine will be translated to Samurai Shodownoutside of Japan) looks like a reboot in terms of the game's title and the visuals displayed in the title's teaser trailer.

    Unfortunately, that teaser trailer doesn't offer much in terms of concrete details about this new installment in the fighting franchise. However, based on the few snippets of gameplay footage that are shown, it does seem like this game will be a 3D fighter (the original Samurai Shodown games were 2D fighters) and that it will feature some of the characters from the original. 

    We also see that this new version of Samurai Shodown will continue to emphasize the unique character weapons featured in the original titles. If this trailer is any indication, you can expect this new game to feature a variety of characters whose movements are based around their weapons and, in some cases, an animal companion or other easily identifiable character traits. 

    It's certainly nice to see so many elements of the original games make a comeback, but we're very curious to see how fans will react to this new title's art style and the decision to not return to the 2D fighting of the original titles. Those original games are not only mechanically brilliant but they featured some of the most jaw-dropping animations and stage designs that the visually bountiful 2D fighter genre has ever offered. 

    We should know much more about Samurai Spirits/Samurai Shodown as it nears its 2019 release for PS4 and possibly other consoles. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Project Judge is a investigative thriller from the creator of the Yakuza series.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    Ahead of Tokyo Game Show, Yakuzacreator Toshihiro Nagoshi revealed his new IP, Project Judge (also referred to as Judge Eyes). 

    While not formally tied to the Yakuza franchise by virtue of its characters and story (at least not yet), it's not difficult to spot the similarities between the two. Both are story-based, both are a little wacky, both seem to feature bombastic combat, and there are even hints that Project Judge will sport some crazy minigames. Nobody is going to be shocked to learn that this game came from the creator of the legendary Yakuza series. 

    However, Project Judge distinguishes itself from the Yakuzafranchise is some rather interesting ways. The game sees you play as a former lawyer turned detective who becomes involved in a murder that harkens back to an old case of his. It's a pure noire set-up that is enhanced by the game's surprising use of investigation gameplay. 

    Based on details coming from the initial reveal, it seems that Project Judge will often require players to do things like trail suspects and take photos (which is complemented by a somewhat silly minigame that rewards you based on the quality of your photos. It also seems that you'll be required to do detective things like interrogate people for more information. 

    That all sounds rather simple, but it's fascinating to see these aspects - which were almost entirely absent from Yakuza - added to the tried and true Yakuza formula. The result is something that is being referred to as a "courtroom thriller" (even if the game's courtroom elements haven't been fully explained quite yet). While the whole game still feels like more of a spin-off of the Yakuza franchise than the entirely new concept that Nagoshi seems to be hyping it as, we're quite intrigued by how this title seemingly utilizes those elements to enhance Yakuza's gameplay. 

    We should learn more about this game relatively soon as a Project Judge demo is being released in Japan today. The full game is currently set for a 2019 release date. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Project Awakening is shaping up to be an epic PS4 exclusive.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    CyGames, a studio mostly known for mobile games, has debuted a massive new console title called Project Awakening

    In the grand tradition of early game reveals, we don't know much about Project Awakening at this time. However, this title's trailer hints at a kind of Monster Hunter-like experience that sees the players take on gigantic creatures for a purpose that isn't entirely clear. The debut footage even utilizes the text "It’s time for the wolves of war to awaken," which either refers to the monsters we see in the trailer or perhaps the human warriors that are fighting the monsters. 

    Again, it's not much to go on, but there are a few things about this game that are worth highlighting even at this very early point in its reveal/development process. The first is the game's general visual design philosophy. Granted, medieval worlds are pretty played out, but there are aspects of this game (at least that we see in the trailer) which hint at more ambitious ideas. 

    For instance, the shadows of large creatures that we see in the distance at the end of the trailer remind us of a blend of Shadow of the Colossus and the Wild Hunt from The Witcher 3. The game's visuals are also quite good (again, if we're too believe that the trailer represents the final product relatively well). 

    The other thing that stands out about this title is the team that's working on it. We'd be lying if we said that we didn't have reservations about a mostly-mobile developer making a big-budget action RPG title for consoles, but the quality of this early footage suggests that this team might be willing to break free of the mobile realm and deliver something that is - at least - a glimpse into what they can do when they're able to work with some more substantial resources. 

    At present, Project Awakening is a PS4 exclusive set to release in Japan and the U.S. on an undisclosed release date. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    If you somehow need more Fortnite in your life, Monopoly and Nerf have got your back.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 10, 2018

    The Fortnite empire expands as Hasbro announces Nerf and Monopoly products based on the popular battle royale game.

    The FortniteNerf guns are, according to Hasbro, designed to "immerse fans into the player-versus-player action of the game, letting them play out the battle royale in real-world settings with blasters and accessories that emulate the onscreen battles Fortnite is known for." It's not clear at this time which weapons from Fortnite will receive the Nerf treatment, but considering that many of Fortnite's weapons are based on actual guns (to a degree), then this might be a case of getting a Nerf shotgun with the Fortnite logo on it. 

    There's no firm release date for the Fortnite Nerf blasters at this time, but they are expected to hit shelves sometime in the spring of 2019. 

    As for the Monopoly game...well, it doesn't sound like that's going to be just another branded Monopoly experience. Based on some early information coming from Hasbro, it seems that this version of Monopoly will incorporate a "battle-building twist to the iconic fast-dealing property trading game." What, exactly, that means isn't entirely clear at this time, but the back of the game's box references a "storm" that occurs when you pass "GO!" It seems that you'll somehow need to avoid that storm or "lose HP." 

    The back of the game's box also references the inclusion of loot chests and a special dice that lets you complete certain actions like picking up health packs, building walls, and hurting your opponents. The loot chests seem to replace the community chests from the original version of the game. The Fortnite version of Monopoly will also offer Fortnite-themed properties and up to 27 outfits for the game's playable character pieces. 

    Fortnite Monopoly is set to release on October 1st. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Everything you need to know about Call of Cthulhu, including latest news, release date, trailers, story, and more!

    News Matthew ByrdJohn Saavedra
    Sep 11, 2018

    Call of Cthulhuis a new detective game that takes place in the grotesque world of H.P. Lovecraft, the master of cosmic horror. Strange creatures from beyond our plane of existence, gruesome murders, and an evil cult make up the meat of this yarn, which might very well be the best game based on the Lovecraftian mythos.

    Though the dark cosmic entity known as Cthulhu has made quite a few appearances in video games over the years, few titles have attempted to really capture the Lovecraftian horror atmosphere that typically accompanies the tentacled wonder's exploits. In fact, the last game that was able to really successfully convey the horrific elements of this character's world was 2005's Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

    This journey into madness comes to us courtesy of developer Cyanide Studio, who you may know from their work on the Blood Bowl series. Though the studio has never developed a pure horror game before, you would never know it based on Call of Cthulhu's trailers, which show private investigator Edward Pierce navigating the terrifying island known as Darkwater in order to investigate a mysterious string of deaths. 

    Here's everything we know about the game:

    Call of Cthulhu News

    Focus Home Interactive has dropped a full hour of Call of Cthulhu gameplay. Get a taste fo the game below:

    Call of Cthulhu Release Date

    Call of Cthulhu will arrive on Oct. 30, 2018. It's coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows.

    Call of Cthulhu Trailer

    Call of Cthulhu trailer arrived at Gamescom 2018! Check it out below:

    And here's the trailer from E3 2018:

    Check out the trailer from E3 2017:

    Here's another preview - titled Depths of Madness - gives us a brief glimpse at protagonist Edward Blake's descent into Lovecraftian madness. 

    The upcoming Call of Cthulhu game may not share a direct lineage with Dark Corners of the Earth but, if its first trailer is any indication, this project most certainly shares that title's love for a good gothic atmosphere.

    Call of Cthulhu Story

    Here's the official synopsis:

    Plunge into the troubled mind of private investigator Edward Pierce, as his perception of reality becomes more and more skewed the closer he gets to the Great Dreamer’s sphere of influence. Clutch to your withering sanity to discover the conspiracies, the cultists and otherworldly terrors that inhabit the twisted universe imagined by Lovecraft… it is said that madness is the only way that can bring you to the truth.

    Sent to Darkwater Island to uncover the truth behind a mysterious death of a family, your original assignment spirals out of control against a backdrop of suspicious locals, mutilated whales, and disappearing bodies. Pierce’s mind will suffer - balancing a razor-thin line between sanity and madness, your senses will be disrupted until you question the reality of everything around you. Trust no one. Creeping shadows hide lurking figures… and all the while, the Great Dreamer prepares for his awakening.

    We'll keep you updated as we learn more!

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors.

    John Saavedra is Games Editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9

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    EA's refusal to remove FIFA's loot boxes has forced Belgium to launch a criminal investigation.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 11, 2018

    The Belgian government and EA are battling over FIFA's use of loot boxes. 

    In April, Belgium's Gaming Commission determined that loot boxes found in games like FIFA, NBA 2K, and Overwatch constitute a form of gambling that is in direct violation of the country's gambling laws. As such, the country considers any games that continue to utilize loot boxes to be illegal. This is why most companies that use loot boxes in their games have decided to remove them for their release in Belgium (although some publishers have protested that they need to do so). 

    However, EA has made it clear that they do not intend to remove FIFA 19's card pack system before the game releases in Belgium (and elsewhere) in late September. Now, Belgium publication Metro is reporting that Belgian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into EA over their refusal to remove the offending loot box system from the upcoming game. 

    Why would EA refuse to comply with a law that nearly every other major publisher is already adhering to? According to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, it's because they don't agree with the Belgian government's decision that such systems constitute actual gambling. 

    "We don't believe that FIFAUltimate Team or loot boxes are gambling," said Wilson during an investor's call in May. "Firstly, players always receive a specified number of items in each FUT pack, and secondly we don't provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money."

    That argument has encouraged quite a few people to roll their eyes. The idea that players "receive a specified number of items in each FUT pack" falls apart when you realize that you don't really know which specific items that you're going to receive in each pack and that some items are inherently much more valuable than others in terms of their in-game worth. 

    As for the idea that it's a good thing you can't sell the items for any form of currency...well, there are plenty that would argue that in and of itself makes these items more worthless than what you would receive through more traditional forms of gambling. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Insomniac has confirmed that Spider-Man PS4 is getting a New Game+ Mode.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 11, 2018

    Insomniac's Spider-Man is getting a New Game+ mode.

    In response to a fan's question on Twitter regarding the possibility of Spider-Man receiving a New Game+ mode, Insomniac confirmed that Spider-Man will eventually feature a New Game+ mode and that they are "working on it now and polishing it up."  It's a rather odd way to confirm the addition of a potentially major piece of content, and it's a reveal that leaves us with more questions than answers.

    Topping that list of questions is "When is this new mode coming out?" The game's current DLC schedule suggests content releases until the end of the year, but we don't suspect that you'll have to wait until 2019 to play Spider-Man's New Game+. Instead, we imagine that you'll be able to play it around the time that the game's first major piece of DLC releases in October (although that hasn't been confirmed). 

    Of course, that just leads us to wonder what Spider-Man's New Game+ mode will consist of. Generally speaking, such modes allow you to replay a game while keeping all of the character progress you've made in your previous playthrough. The trade-off to this arrangement typically involves an increased difficulty level as well as the addition of in-game objectives, items, enemies, and moments not featured in the base game. 

    Our dream scenario would be for Spider-Man's New Game+ mode to serve as a kind of "What If?" take on the base game. Neversoft's classic Spider-Man game (which we raved about in this retrospective) utilized such a concept by adding cameo appearances and slight story changes that weren't present in the original campaign. We'd love to see Insmoniac do something similar in order to show off their clear love of the Marvel universe. 

    Unfortunately, it seems we'll have to wait a little longer for the full official reveal of this new mode.

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Marvel's Spider-Man provides Insomniac's own, unique twist on the webslinger's world. Here is how the studio designed Spider-Man new suit!

    Feature John Saavedra
    Sep 11, 2018

    Much has already been written about Marvel's Spider-Man, Insomniac Games' excellent take on the House of Ideas' most beloved superhero. Spidey's dazzling adventure sees him zipping through New York City and fighting a whole slew of classic villains, including Electro, Kingpin, Vulture, Mr. Negative, and quite a few more we won't spoil. The point is that Spider-Man has his hands full. Luckily, he has a new suit to help him fight these dastardly villains. 

    The Spidey suit featured in Insomniac's game isn't the one you grew up with. While there's a distinct Steve Ditko influence in the game that harkens back to Spidey's earliest adventures and players have the opportunity to unlock the classic suit, the studio sought to modernize the suit while also paying homage to Ditko's great work. 

    No, the new suit shouldn't offend the Spider-Man purist, but it does feature some noticeable tweaks, such as the big white spider symbol that stretches across the torso. Additionally, the almost knee-high boots now look like trendy sneakers while his gloves are closer to padded gauntlets. So nothing too significant but why the changes in the first place?

    Buy Marvel's Spider-Man

    I spoke to Insomniac art director Jacinda Chew at a recent PlayStation event about how the team approached the new suit, why certain things were specifically redesigned, and just what's going on with Spidey's footwear. 

    "We needed to modernize the suit," Chew explains. "That was definitely something that was really important to us. The other thing too, if you look at comic books, it's all 2D. It's not photoreal. You have to translate what that 2D design might be if it existed in real life. When I design a suit, I always think about, 'Well, what would a 23-year-old, would-be superhero [wear]? How would he design his suit and what would his influences be?'"

    Chew reveals that the goal was to create a look that Spider-Man might wear in 2018 New York City. 

    "One of the first things you'll notice, for example, is that he's not wearing a red boot. But I was thinking, if [Peter] were a modern person living in New York, what would he be influenced by? I thought he'd be influenced by athletic gear and sneakers. So that's why you look at it, and if you ever go around swinging, you'll see the bottom of his shoes actually look like a sneaker, and again, it's short like a sneaker."

    Further Reading: Spider-Man PS4 DLC Details

    The traditional red and blue color palette is still in play in the new suit, with an added splash of white. Interestingly enough, each color has its own specific function in the game. That was especially important for Chew and her team: each element of the suit should be designed with functionality in mind. 

    "I also looked at athletic wear and compression clothing, basically," Chew says. "You'll see that his suit's got a lot of paneling. And each of the colors actually represents something specific. The blue is the most flexible part of his suit, so it's placed where he needs the most flexibility like when he raises his arms, things like that."

    "You can see that the red part is actually still flexible but it's a little bit thicker," Chew explains. "There's even red paneling on his thighs, so if he's swinging close to a building, it'll protect him from, I guess building rash, if he scrapes against the building. And then the white. It's located on his gauntlets, shoes, and chest so it's like a flexible carbon fiber. So when he's blocking or when he's punching, that's where you would want that protection to be. We definitely thought a lot about the materials of the suit and translating to real life."

    Indeed, it's a well thought out suit and Insomniac worked closely with Marvel Games, the entertainment company's video game branch, to make sure the new costume wasn't betraying any aspect of the character.

    "Marvel Games really knows their stuff," Chew says. "They know the Marvel Universe so I never felt that we were in unsafe territory. Even when we were designing the suit, they would give us their feedback and their advice and same thing with the story. What's really cool about Marvel is that they have a really, really deep lore. In fact, I believe they have an archivist so if you ask them something, they can look up anything."

    Further Reading: Why Neversoft's Spider-Man Is the Most Underrated Superhero Game Ever

    Spider-Man wasn't the only character Insomniac changed for its game. J. Jonah Jameson, for example, is more popular than ever as a right-wing radio pundit on a mission to soil Spidey's good name. Mary Jane Watson, traditionally a model and actress, is now an investigative reporter. The studio also looked at the villains. Chew shares that a bit of thought was put into modernizing Electro, the classic rogue first introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #9 in 1964.

    "If you're familiar with classic Electro, he pretty much wears a green onesie and he's got this giant yellow star that frames his head," Chew explains. "He was one of the more challenging characters to reproduce into modern times. I'm like, 'Well, that's pretty iconic but he'd look pretty dorky if he walked around like that now.'"

    Needless to say, Electro needed to change his look to fit in with the other characters. Electro's classic green onesie wouldn't even cut it at SantaCon, that most awful of New York City traditions.

    "Basically what we did is you look at these classic characters and you think about what's classic about it, or what's iconic," Chew says. "For me, it was the green and the yellow coloring, and then also that star. What we did was we just put that star, kept it on his head but we actually translated it into a scar on his face. So if you look at the scar on his face, it's actually star-shaped."

    Fortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, which departed from the original color palette to turn Jamie Foxx into a blue nightmare, Insomniac honored Electro's green and yellow while adding a modern twist to the villain's abilities

    "We kept the colors. The green and the yellow. But we actually created a vest that basically gives him the power to have electricity. Because I believe in the comics, it was a little bit more magical. That's one example of translating something that has been done before into something that's more modern and recognizable."

    Insomniac's take on Spider-Man and his world accomplishes something that has sometimes proved to be a bit difficult for other game studios and major film studios: a modern re-telling of the Spidey mythos that subverts the original material while still celebrating it and translating it for a new era. Marvel's Spider-Man is indeed amazing. 

    Marvel's Spider-Man is out now exclusively for the PlayStation 4.

    John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9

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  • 09/11/18--15:40: Halo 5 May Be Coming to PC
  • A change to Halo 5's Amazon listing hints at a PC port.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 11, 2018

    A change to Halo 5's Amazon listing points to a possible PC port of the 2015 shooter. 

    As noted by PC Gamer, the header image for Halo 5's Xbox One listing on Amazon features text that reads "Xbox One Console Exclusive." That's not really a big deal in and of itself until you realize that the text on the box originally read “Only on Xbox One.” 

    Microsoft hasn't confirmed that there's any significance to this alteration, but it's the fact that it's so seemingly insignificant that has us curious why anyone would bother to make this change at all. We don't imagine that Amazon would just change the listing to a three-year-old game on a whim, and we don't imagine that Microsoft would just casually decide that it's time to update the images for Halo 5's box art on Amazon just because they like this wording a little better. 

    In fact, so far as conspiracy theories go, we're having a tough time finding a logical explanation for this change that doesn't hint at Halo 5 being available on more than just the Xbox One in the near future. So far as that goes, it's worth noting that the only other games to feature this wording are titles that are part of the Play Anywhere program (such as Sea of Thieves). That is to say that they're games you can purchase on Xbox One/PC and play on the other platform.

    Why would Microsoft request that the language on this box be changed now if they haven't announced a version of Halo 5 that isn't available for anything other than Xbox One? It's possible that they're trying to prepare for that moment by alerting potential new players that there might soon be another way to play Halo 5. Of course, that's assuming that this chance of language means anything substantial at all. 

    For what it's worth, 343 has previously stated that they'd be open to a PC version of Halo 5 and that it wouldn't be particularly difficult to port the game to that platform. Microsoft has also alluded to a Halo game for PC after they shut down a popular fan mod that allowed Halo fans to play Halomultiplayer on PC. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    Dr DisRespect, a popular video game streamer, ended his Call of Duty stream early after shots were allegedly fired at his home.

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Sep 11, 2018

    Popular Twitch personality Dr DisRespect ended a Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 stream early today after shots were reportedly fired at his home. Dr DisRespect, whose real name is Guy Beahm, was playing the game's new Blackout battle royale mode when a bullet crashed through the upstairs window of his home, according to the streamer. After stepping away from the stream, Beahm returned to the camera, visibly upset, to explain that this was the second time in two days that someone had shot at his house. 

    A video captures the moment the shots were fired. The video below may be upsetting to viewers:

    "Ladies and gentleman...I gotta end the broadcast right now, someone shot at our house, broke the upstairs window," Beahm explained before signing off. "This is the second shot. Someone shot yesterday at our house and someone shot again right now and connected with the house upstairs."

    Beahm left a message for his fans on his Twitch channel to reassure them that he and his family were okay: "Doc and Family Are Safe. Proper Measures are [to] be taken while stream is down for the day" 

    Beahm, who has risen up the ranks of internet stardom in the last few years, thanks to his shooter skills (in Halo 2, H1Z1, PUBG, and other games) and larger-than-life parody of the machismo that plagues the genre's community, had been playing the Blackout Private Beta since yesterday.

    This comes just weeks after another deadly incident surrounding the gaming community. In August, a Madden 19 eSports tournament turned to chaos when a competitor opened fire on his opponents at the GLHF Game Bar at The Landing in Jacksonville, Florida. Three people, including the gunman, were killed in the shooting. 

    Late last year, an incident of swatting -- sending police to a person's house under a false emergency such as a bomb threat or active shooter situation -- also led to the death of a Kansas man after clashing with another player during an online session of Call of Duty: WWII. It should be noted that Beahm has also been a victim of swatting in the past.

    Kotaku confirms that the police has been informed of the latest incident at Beahm's home and is investigating. We'll keep you updated as we learn more.

    John Saavedra is Games Editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9

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    Black Ops 4's take on the battle royale genre is the best thing to happen to the Call of Duty franchise in years.

    Feature Matthew Byrd
    Sep 11, 2018

    In many ways, the Call of Duty series was built on the idea of "Anything you can do, we can do better." The first Call of Duty game, which was released in 2003, was developed by many of the people who worked on the revolutionary WWII game, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. These developers knew that they had to find a way to definitively surpass what they had achieved just one year before, and they accomplished that goal by finding little ways to improve nearly everything that made Allied Assaultgreat. 

    In recent years, though, the Call of Duty franchise has lost its identity as the series that forces everyone else to up their game. With few exceptions, it has settled into a kind of creative rut where the goal isn't to be better than every other game but to find ways to make little improvements over what made the previous Call of Duty game good. It's a pattern of complacency that has been frustrating but lucrative. As such, many had given up hope that the CoD teams would ever be so bold as to break from the beaten path and challenge other industry leaders at their own game. 

    That's just part of the reason why Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's new Blackout mode is such a shocking addition to the franchise. 

    The premise of Blackout is so familiar that it borders on insulting. Blackout is a battle royale game that sees 80 players inhabit a designated field of play that gradually gets smaller as a deadly electric field shrinks the arena. It's your job to scrounge for weapons, armor, and supplies as you fight to be the last player standing. Yes, Blackout belongs to the genre that you're either sick of hearing about or can't get enough of...and are probably already experiencing elsewhere via Fortnite, PUBG, Realm Royale, or one of the other smaller titles battling for their share of the battle royale pie. 

    Black Ops 4's inclusion of a battle royale mode was already something of a meme before the mode was ever even officially confirmed. In the grand tradition of recent CoD games, it was widely believed that such a mode would be little more than the least developer Treyarch could do. Fortunately, that's not the case.

    Yes, Blackout is instantly familiar, but in a world where we're ready to open our hearts to yet another Metroidvania game or an Arkham-like superhero experience, we're not convinced that familiarity is inherently a bad thing. Instead, it really comes down to whether or not Blackout is able to offer anything that its competitors don't or can't offer. 

    It's when you begin to look at Blackout from that perspective that you see how special this new mode really is. Essentially, Blackout aspires to combine the best of Fortniteand PUBG. That probably sounds like the line you'd expect from a major new entry in this genre, but what keeps that line from being more than an empty promise is the practical way that Treyarch has determined what makes those titles the industry leaders.

    That said, there's a lot more of PUBG in Blackout than Fortnite. The game favors a slightly more tactical approach to combat that forces you to listen for enemies at least as often as you try to spot them. This means that you must remain aware of your surroundings at all times and can't just run into battle. At the same time, you must be conscious of what ammo you currently need, what weapon and armor enhancements are better than what you've currently got, and where nearby vehicles that could help you escape a firefight are located. Come to think of it, it's actually surprising how closely Blackout resembles PUBG

    What keeps you from noticing the flattery in the heat of the moment is the way that Blackout utilizes elements of Fortnite as well as some recent CoD games. That is to say that this mode isn't afraid to get wacky and emphasize a fast-paced kind of gameplay once the action really gets heated. Gunfights usually occur within relatively close distance of your opponents (due mostly to the somewhat small size of the mode's map) and there are few spots on the map that serve as a sniper's playground. The PUBGelements make those intense firefights feel more intimate than the somewhat floaty fights of Fortnite, but you also rarely feel like you've entered a losing situation because you're in the wrong position or because you're straight up outgunned. 

    Besides, Blackout allows you to have too much fun to ever take the mode too seriously. From zombies that patrol the mode's CoD-themed areas to the use of RC Car bombs and the infamous Monkey Bombs that were introduced in Call of Duty: World at War, Blackout's developers are clearly not worried about compromising the tactical nature of the game's gunfights. Instead, the mode acts as a reminder that most people who play battle royale titles want to drop in, have fun, and repeat rather than try to make the pro circuit. 

    That isn't to say that Blackout doesn't have some wrinkles to work out. The game's "perk" system, which lets you pick up perks like you would any other item, feels a little underdeveloped, item management can be cumbersome if you're trying to properly manage attachments for multiple weapons, and resources are perhaps a bit too bountiful. Blackout isn't perfect. 

    What Blackout is, though is the best thing to happen to Call of Duty since the series made the leap to the era of Modern Warfare. That doesn't mean that everyone who has abandoned the game since Modern Warfare is going to swoon for Black Ops 4. It also doesn't mean that we're predicting that Black Ops IV is going to be nearly as great as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (it doesn't even feature a single-player campaign). Truth be told, we can't even promise that every battle royale fan that currently plays Fortnite and PUBGwill love Blackout. 

    What it means is that Blackout is the one thing we've seen from a Call of Duty game in the last 11 years that reminds us why we started playing Call of Duty games in the first place and why the franchise remains an industry leader all these years later. The moment you start playing Blackout, you get the feeling that it was made not by a team of developers who were ordered to capitalize on the next big thing, but by a studio that recognized what makes battle royale games great and what they can do to improve the genre while staying true to the beloved series. 

    More than its excellent use of vehicles, absurd weapons, tactical combat, item drops, and an incredible grappling hook, it's that genuine passion that shines through Blackout and blinds you to the fact that we're supposed to be tired of the battle royale genre. We don't know whether or not you'll be inspired to care about the CoD franchise after its various developers spent years preaching to the franchise choir, but we can tell you that Blackout represents the spirit of why you still bother to check in on whether or not the next Call of Duty game is worth your time. 

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is out on Oct. 12 for PS4, XBO, and PC. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    While not every feature works, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is a great reason to return to Blizzard's MMORPG.

    ReviewJason M. Gallagher
    Sep 12, 2018

    Release Date: August 14, 2018
    Platform: PC
    Developer: Blizzard
    Publisher: Blizzard
    Genre: MMORPG

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth went live the evening of August 13 in the U.S. and Den of Geek has spent much of the few weeks adventuring across the new continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar. The expansion features plenty of the kind of content fans have come to expect from a new WoW expansion, like new quests and dungeons. But Battle for Azeroth also introduces several features that offer entirely new ways to play the game, including Warfronts, Mythic+ dungeons, and Uldir, Battle for Azeroth's first raid.

    While we published our Battle for Azeroth Review in Progress back in August, we've now played through everything this new expansion has to offer to give our final thoughts as well as a review score. Here's what we think about World of Warcraft's latest expansion after a month of play:

    The Story 

    After traveling on a spaceship to Argus in order to save the world from Sargeras and the Burning Legion, Battle for Azeroth offers players a very welcome back-to-basics storyline: the Alliance and the Horde are at each other's throats again. Blizzard has done an outstanding job with Battle for Azeroth's storytelling both in and out of the game. You don't need to read Christie Golden's Before the Storm novel or watch the Warbringers: Jaina video on YouTube to enjoy the story, but Blizzard has included numerous nods to events that have taken place outside of the game as a reward for its most dedicated fans.

    As Battle for Azerothbegins, Horde warchief Sylvanas Windrunner has taken the torch to the Alliance city of Darnassus/Teldrassil and blighted her own Undercity to prevent the Alliance from capturing it in the Battle for Lordaeron. The initial impetus for both factions is to seek out a new ally who can help them in this ongoing war.

    Players are treated to two unique and completely separate stories based on their faction of choice. Alliance players accompany Jaina Proudmoore to her homeland of Kul Tiras where she must face her past, while Horde players explore a new partnership with the Zandalari trolls. This reviewer has played Alliance since vanilla, so Kul Tiras is where I've spent most of my time, but I have been leveling a Horde character across the three zones of Zandalar and I'm happy to report that Blizzard has done a fine job putting together an initial story for Battle for Azeroth across the board. Both faction storylines pack an emotional punch while dropping hints of what's to come in the months ahead.

    Further Reading: 25 Best Moments in World of Warcraft History

    Questing and War Mode

    Battle for Azeroth features so many different quest lines that it can actually feel a bit overwhelming, at least in the first few weeks of play. I started the expansion with an empty quest log and quickly found myself having to drop certain side quests to pick up new ones because I repeatedly reached the quest log limit. To be clear, it's pretty easy to get to 120 if you just focus on the main storyline, so there's no real obligation to do all of the side quests. But if you are a completionist, you might be a little annoyed by the cluttered mess your map and log can become.

    Just to give you an idea of how many side quests there are, I have friends who managed to hit 120 while only playing through two of the three zones each faction begins with. Once max level is reached, players unlock even more content in the form of repeatable daily World Quests and are also given additional access to the opposing faction's three zones. I've gotten things under control in the last day or so and I probably shouldn't complain about there being too many things to do in an MMO, but I did feel like the game was pulling me in one too many directions at times. The minor annoyance aside, if you like questing in World of Warcraft, Battle for Azeroth will give you all the quality content you can handle and then some.

    If you need a break from all of that questing or want to take your frustrations with your overflowing quest log out on somebody's face, Battle for Azeroth's War Mode has you covered. Prior to Patch 8.0, World of Warcraft's servers were split into PvE and PvP. Those who wanted to attack other players in the open world played on PvP servers while those who preferred to focus on the story chose PvE. Now, every player on every server can toggle PvP on or off anytime they are in Stormwind or Orgrimmar. Toggling War Mode on comes with some pretty nice incentives, including extra abilities that can help your damage output or survivability, and players also receive an extra 10 percent in experience points or max level resources.

    Just about everyone I know leveled to 120 with War Mode turned on so that they could hit the new level cap 10 percent faster. It's funny though, I've run past several Horde players with my Alliance paladin who clearly had no interest in a fight. There seems to be a significant portion of the player base who play with War Mode turned on for the extra rewards while hoping they don't actually get interrupted from their daily open world tasks. I've also noticed more and more players turning War Mode off in the last few days so they can tackle their World Quests in peace. If you enjoy PvP, War Mode has a lot to love, but it will be interesting to see how active the mode is a few months from now.

    Further Reading: Why Warcraft Is the Most Influential Game of All Time

    Dungeons and Island Expeditions

    Blizzard has always been the best in the business at creating PvE group content and Battle for Azeroth is no exception so far, at least when considering the traditional 5-man dungeons. The expansion offers 10 dungeons on three different difficulty levels to this point and I've really enjoyed almost all of them. The locales are diverse, with players battling through a pirate city, a goblin town, and an ancient temple among others. The boss fights are another high point, with many interesting mechanics that frequently require more than just "tank and spank."

    Some dungeons also feature interesting areas in between the boss fights, most notably the Temple of Sethraliss. There, players must walk through a maze of glowing orbs and then survive a gauntlet with constantly respawning mobs in order to make it to the last boss. It's clear that Blizzard had its time-based Mythic+ mode in mind when it designed certain parts of these dungeons. Mythic+ doesn't release until Sept. 4 but it's already easy to imagine the frustrated screams of players who fail at some of these more elaborate segments, causing precious seconds to tick off the clock. I'd like to see Blizzard maybe reduce the number of trash mobs in a couple of dungeons (Freehold and The Motherlode), but all in all, if you enjoy dungeon-crawling in World of Warcraft, you'll find a lot to like in this latest batch.

    Aside from the dungeons, the expansion also features a new form of group content called Island Expeditions that will feel somewhat familiar to anyone who played through Scenarios in Mists of Pandaria. Island Expeditions task three-man groups with collecting Azerite, a precious end-game resource while also battling a variety of PvE mobs, including computer-controlled members of the opposing faction. Each week will offer three different islands for players to explore, switching up the types of mobs players will have to kill and loot. Like dungeons, Expeditions offer three different difficulty levels, as well as a PvP mode where the opposing faction will be actual players instead of NPCs.

    My impression of Island Expeditions is that it's… generally just fine. The novelty of it kind of wore off pretty quickly for me and others in my guild. Players have a weekly incentive to complete a certain number of Expeditions in order to get a big boost of Azerite, and I've already seen people complain that the only reason they are queuing for Expeditions is just for that weekly reward. It's early, but there's already a sense that as time goes on, Expeditions could end up feeling like a chore you have to complete instead of something fun you actually enjoy doing. Those who enjoy PvP might get a little more joy out of the experience as PvP Expeditions offer Conquest Points that are normally only rewarded in high-end Arena or Rated Battlegrounds.

    Further Reading: World of Warcraft's 25 Best Story Moments


    With the release of additional content on September 4, the true endgame for Battle for Azeroth is now well underway. The expansion's first raid, Uldir, has seen release on multiple difficulties, dungeon dwellers are now plotting their speed runs through the game's Mythic Plus mode, and the Horde and Alliance have begun battling on Battle for Azeroth's first Warfront in Arathi Highlands.

    Let's start with the Warfront, as it's been one of this expansion's most highly touted new features. The mode gives players a taste of Warcraft 3, with both sides training troops and building bases as they attempt to gain control of the enemy fortress. The difference here is that players actually get to play alongside their troops as they charge across the battlefield in a PvE scenario.

    Warfronts are heavily time-gated. The feature started last week with the Alliance already controlling the Highlands while the Horde was gathering resources to launch an attack and take over the zone. The faction that controls the Highlands has access to an extra world boss and can complete a variety of world quests while also farming a large number of rare mobs that drop a mix of pets, mounts, and gear. Meanwhile, the opposing faction must turn in a number of trade goods, collecting a huge amount of resources before they are allowed to queue for the Warfront scenario. If you played WoW in vanilla, when players had to turn in runecloth and other trade goods in order to unlock the Ahn'Qiraj raid, you'll have a good idea of what this entails.

    In short, I found the World Quests, rare mob farming, and the actual Warfront scenario to all be fun diversions from WoW's bread and butter of dungeon runs and battlegrounds. I could do without the resource collecting, but at least it gives the other faction something to do while one half of the player base is out in Arathi on a rare mob farming spree.

    The Warfront experience is definitely different than anything else in the game, and I have to give Blizzard a tip of the hat for taking a risk, even if the end result didn't blow us away. The gameplay is especially interesting on at least the first run through. For example, enemies first attack your NPC troops before they turn their sights on you, the champion. Yes, that's right, Blizzard found a way to put a little MOBA into your MMO.

    Our more long-term concern here is that Warfronts are going to have the same problem as Island Expeditions. It's a fun romp the first time through but becomes less and less interesting with each passing week. Mount and pet collectors will want to hit Arathi on every new lockout to take down those rare mobs, but I could see the rest of the player base getting a bit tired of the experience over time. Blizzard badly needs to implement Warfronts in other old world zones because Arathi just isn't going to be as exciting the third, fifth, or 10th time through.

    As for the raid and Mythic Plus dungeons, there's really not much to say other than if you liked raiding and dungeon runs in Legion, you'll like them in Battle for Azeroth. The Mythic Plus system has seen a few tweaks with different affixes available on your Keystone and a chance for extra loot from your weekly chest reward. Uldir also seems a bit easy even on Heroic mode if you're a seasoned raider, but that is to be expected from the first raid tier.

    Looking at the big picture of the endgame, it's clear that the World Quests and Mythic Plus dungeons first introduced in Legion will be a staple of the WoW endgame for a long time to come. I'm a little disappointed though that Battle for Azeroth leans so hard on these already successful features instead of doing more to innovate. Two of the expansion's new additions, Island Expeditions and Warfronts, feel a little half-baked, and I can see players growing tired of both features fairly quickly if Blizzard doesn't do more to shake things up. At least I'll have the PvP War Mode to keep me busy. All in all, I've greatly enjoyed my time with Battle for Azeroth, even if many of the expansion's best features were originally introduced in Legion.


    Jason M. Gallagher is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.

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    Alan Wake returns as an upcoming live-action TV series.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Sep 12, 2018

    Alan Wake is being adapted into a live-action television series. 

    Variety is reporting that developer Remedy will be working with Contradiction Films and showrunner Peter Calloway (Cloak and Dagger, Legion) in order to bring the cult classic horror game to television. Based on information released thus far, it seems that Remedy's Sam Lake will be producing while Calloway is currently set to write the series. 

    Speaking about the property and their relationship with Remedy, Contradiction Films shared what made them so excited about this upcoming adaptation. 

    Alan Wake was basically a TV series that was put into a game,” said Contradiction’s Tomas Harlan. “That was Sam [Lake’s] vision. It was influenced by The Twilight Zone, Secret Window, Hitchcock, Northern Exposure, a lot of U.S. television...We plan to work closely with Sam on our this show. Sam is a huge part of this. This is his baby.”

    There's currently no word regarding what network the show will premiere on, which actors (if any) are attached to the project, and whether or not the show will serve as a kind of sequel to the original game or whether it will just exist somewhere in the Alan Wake universe. However, Remedy's Sam Lake did note that the show will likely draw upon some of the work that the team has done on a conceptual sequel to Alan Wake

    “Not only that, but through the years we’ve worked on multiple game concepts and stories for Alan Wake’s world that have never seen the light of day,” Lake said. “All of this material will function as potential source material for the show.”

    Regardless, it's exciting to see that Alan Wake will live on in some form. The 2010 title is generally regarded as one of the most fascinating horror stories in gaming history. Granted, the story drew heavily from the works of Stephen King, but it was a brilliant narrative experience. Sadly, Alan Wake has been pulled from all digital stores due to music copyright issues. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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    The most iconic plumber in video games has had many adventures. Which one's the best? Find out in our definitive Super Mario ranking!

    Feature Joe Jasko
    Sep 13, 2018

    There are very few other gaming franchises out there today that have managed to stand the test of time and continuously put out amazing new titles year after year as Nintendo’s iconic Mario. We got to thinking about what some of Mario’s greatest adventures over the years have been.

    Who could ever get tired of a new Mario game? Ever since he made his first appearance in 1981's Donkey Kong arcade game, we haven't been able to get enough of our favorite Italian plumber. 

    These days, Mario is even better than ever, as games like Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Odyssey continue to celebrate the character's long legacy of platforming adventures. And there are so many other great installments to choose from, too!

    So we decided to rank all of the best main entry Mario games, across all generations and consoles, to find out just exactly how our favorite platforming plumber has shaped the way we’ve played our games.

    Now of course, with so many great games to choose from, there’s no question that everyone will naturally have their personal favorites: so be sure to hit the comments and let us know what you think of our list, and what your favorite Mario games of all time happen to be!

    Further Reading: The Terrifying Scientific Implications of the Mario Universe

    20. New Super Mario Bros. 2 

    2012 | 3DS

    Kicking off our Mario list is last year’s 3DS-exclusive New Super Mario Bros. 2, which saw the long-awaited return of Mario and Luigi to their traditional sidescrolling platforming roots. But aside from the gorgeous 3D visuals, New Super Mario Bros. 2 wound up recycling many of the same environments and mechanics from its big-brother console version on the Wii, and the gimmick of collecting 1 million gold coins just felt like a cheap way of squeezing more replayability out of a game that was just uninspired and repetitive from the very start. Well at least the yellow game case was still pretty cool! 

    19. Super Mario Land 

    1989 | GB

    I still have some pretty fond memories of playing Super Mario Land back on the original Game Boy, and despite the obviously outdated black and white graphics, the game still holds a pretty impressive challenge even today. Taking everything that made the original NES games so great and squeezing it into a simplified portable format, Super Mario Land was a mind-blowing thing for us kids at the time. Nifty point of interest: this was also the first Mario game to feature Princess Daisy (albeit in a heavy pixelated form), who has now become a staple character for every Mario Kart and Mario Party release these days.

    Further Reading: The Underrated Brilliance of Super Mario Land

    18. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 

    1992 | GB

    Sticking with the portable theme for now, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was the direct sequel to Mario’s first outing on Nintendo’ Game Boy, and it managed to improve upon its predecessor in nearly every way. With highly refined monochrome graphics that actually resembled things like Goombas and Koopa Troopers, 6 Golden Coins pits our hero Mario against the evil Wario for the very first time. Providing classic Mario platforming gameplay through and through, 6 Golden Coins was a crowning achievement of its time on the Game Boy: not to mention responsible for the oft-forgotten Carrot power-up that turns Mario into a hopping bunny.

    17. Super Mario Bros. 2 

    1988 | NES

    Super Mario Bros. 2 is probably the most controversial of all the main entry Mario games, simply because most gamers tend to either love it or hate it. There’s no getting around the fact that Super Mario Bros. 2 is easily the black sheep of the series, with vastly different gameplay mechanics and just an all-around weird vibe going on (and that’s because it was basically a recostumed version of a Japanese game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic). Regardless though, the game is still quite a trip to play, and it was also responsible for introducing Birdo into the Mario universe, who never fails to give me the creeps.

    16. Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels 

    1986 | Famicom, SNES, GBC

    If you thought the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES was a difficult time back in the day, then you had no idea what you were in for when The Lost Levels came around. Billed as a collection of levels that had been removed from the classic game’s final release, The Lost Levels was like a sadistic reimagining of Super Mario Bros. with impossibly difficult platforming sections and a steep challenge for only the most hardcore of gamers. But besides the extreme new difficulty, though, everything else in the game, from the graphics to the enemies, were more or less identical to Super Mario Bros. Fun fact: The Lost Levels was originally released as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan but was deemed to difficult for American audiences, which is why North America got Doki Doki Panic

    15. New Super Mario Bros. 

    2006 | DS

    New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS was the very first entry of sub-games that served to reimagine the classic Mario sidescrollers with updated 3D graphics and gameplay. Released at a time when the Mario Party and Mario Kart games had all but taken over the Mario universe, New Super Mario Bros. was a breath of fresh air for those gamers who still longed for the Mario days of old. And the best part about it was that the game was pretty decent, and it also introduced the Mega and Mini-Mushrooms that have since gone on to appear in many other Mario adventures today. 

    14. New Super Mario Bros. Wii

    2009 | Wii

    Much like its predecessor on the DS a few years earlier, New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought the same new stylized form of platforming goodness to Nintendo’s home console, and its 4-player co-op capabilities positively blew the doors off the place (despite the odd inclusion of a Blue Toad and a Yellow Toad as players 3 and 4). Above all else, New Super Mario Bros. Wii served to show that there was still room in the gaming world for classic sidescrolling adventures, and its gorgeous environments and old-school boss battles are still some of the most memorable encounters that we’ve had in a Mario game today.

    13. Super Mario Galaxy 2 

    2010 | Wii

    The hugely successful sequel to Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii hit the scene with a bang in 2010 (not to be confused with the universal Big Bang, of course), and brought us more of that intergalactic 3D platforming goodness. This second time around, Nintendo decided to place an emphasis on using smaller, more compacted worlds than the rather explorative ones seen in the first Super Mario Galaxy game, and even though this ultimately made the sequel lose a bit of that initial wonder when compared to its predecessor, you’ll still be hard-pressed to find another game out there of any generation that can match Super Mario Galaxy 2’s heart and creativity.

    12. New Super Mario Bros. U

    2012 | Wii U

    The first official Mario game to be presented in glorious high-definition on Nintendo’s Wii U, many gamers were hesitant about New Super Mario Bros. U at first, especially given its extremely close release to the lukewarm New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS. But once gamers actually got a chance to take Mario on another sidescrolling romp through the Mushroom Kingdom, it immediately became clear that the mustachioed plumber had never moved so seamlessly. From the wonderful variety in level design, not to mention the insanely awesome Challenge Mode for the most hardcore of Mario fans, New Super Mario Bros. U is the pinnacle experience of this blend of Mario game.

    11. Super Mario 3D Land 

    2011 | 3DS

    Simply put, Super Mario 3D Land was a 3DS system seller for me, as I’m sure it was for many, many others. Not only were the quick bursts of 3D platforming gameplay an absolute blast to behold, but the 3D effects were simply superb, and the combination of the classic short level format from Super Mario Bros. and the light open world exploration elements from Super Mario 64 was an emphatic moment for many Mario fans, to be sure. And is if all of that wasn’t reason enough to fall completely head over heels for this portable gem, Super Mario 3D Land also marked the long-awaited return of Tanooki Suit after all these years!

    10. Super Mario Sunshine

    2002 | GC

    I’ll always have a soft-spot for Super Mario Sunshine as being one of my favorite Mario games of all time. The exclusive GameCube release just showed Nintendo taking so many exciting chances following Super Mario 64: from the extremely darker tone in the story, to the widespread use of Yoshi and his awkward fruit juice squirting animations, and of course, the introduction of F.L.U.D.D. and the way that simple water mechanics went on to define the entire groundwork of the game. The beach resort town of Delfino Plaza and its surrounding areas were just so full of life, and provided some of the greatest platforming challenges in Mario history. I’m still waiting for my HD remake of this one, Nintendo!

    9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island 

    1995 | SNES

    Even the mere mention of the name “Yoshi’s Island” today is still capable of making the most serious of gamers go giddy with nostalgic excitement. And rightfully so: there was just something so captivating about controlling the fearless Yoshi and having to protect poor Baby Mario at all costs through the many dangerous worlds that were positively bursting with color and charm (and lots and lots of smiling flowers). What’s more, the gameplay mechanics in the game were just different and FUN, especially throwing your Yoshi eggs at enemies and chasing after a crying Baby Mario as he floated off in the other direction, encased in his protective spit bubble.

    8. Super Mario Bros. (NES)

    1985 | NES

    Nothing beats the classics, am I right or am I right? For many people, the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES was their very first introduction to the wonderful world of gaming, and it’s hard to find another game that has really achieved the same kind of widespread iconic status. But the crazy thing about it is that Super Mario Bros. has still fared extremely well over all of these years, and it still proves to be one of the greatest sidescrolling platformers of our time. And for that reason, I guess we can overlook the fact that the game was once coupled with Duck Hunt, and that damn smarmy dog.

    7. Super Mario 3D World

    2013 | Wii U

    The Wii U's first addition to Nintendo’s incredible Mario legacy also happens to be one of its best, and it’s the most fun we’ve had with any video game in recent years, period. Super Mario 3D World builds on the foundations first introduced in Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS, but magnifies and improves upon every single concept by tenfold. The sheer amount of levels and variety in this game is simply astounding, the Cat Suit gives the 3D open world platforming an awesome vertical touch, and words cannot convey what the 4-player competitive co-op mode has brought to the genre as a whole. If you’re looking for a reason to dig out your Wii U from storage, then look no further.

    6. Super Mario Maker

    2015 | Wii U, 3DS

    Super Mario Maker is everything. Released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the very first Super Mario Bros. game, this side-scroller platformer/game creator is a must-have for lovers of the character's earlier adventures. Not only does the game come with remixed versions of classic Mario levels from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U, but it also provides the tools for fans to create their own challenging levels! Best of all, you can upload your creations and give other player creations a try. Super Mario Maker is basically the never-ending Mario platformer, full of dazzling creations and some truly hardcore platforming. Beware: there are some deliciously impossible levels in this game.

    Further Reading: Super Mario Maker and the Difficulty of Great Course Design

    5. Super Mario Bros. 3

    1988 | NES

    Super Mario Bros. 3 is just one of those games that are hard to put into words as to why they’re so amazing: but the second you actually start playing it, everything becomes immediately clear. Maybe it’s because of the highly updated graphics and pitch-perfect platforming gameplay as far as NES games went at the time. Maybe it’s because of the awesome introduction of the Koopa Kids and their nail-biting boss fights at the end of each themed world, like desert, lava, and sky. But if you ask me? My money’s on the Tanooki Suit and the Frog Suit that just made Mario look so darn cool and he’d run and jump across all sorts of sheer platforming perfection.

    4. Super Mario 64

    1996 | N64

    In terms of sheer innovation, few other games can match what Super Mario 64 brought to the Mario universe. For starters, it served as the commercial precursor for 3D open world platformers, as gamers were given free rein to explore the grounds of Peach’s Castle for the very first time. They could enter fantastical worlds by hopping through paintings, and of course, they could battle Bowser himself in one of the most climactic boss fights to ever grace the world of gaming. There’s just always been something so magical about Super Mario 64, and I can’t tell you how many days I spent as a kid trying to earn all 120 stars and unlock that mysterious cannon that gave access to the castle roof.

    3. Super Mario Galaxy

    2007 | Wii

    If Super Mario 64 was innovative in bringing the Mario franchise to the realm of 3D exploration, then Super Mario Galaxy on Wii further broke the rules of gravity and thrust our platforming hero out into the open universe. The overall space theme worked wonderfully well in this game, and each planet that players would come across was so unique and diverse from the last, that you’d never know what fun surprises would be waiting for you around the next bend. The spherical levels were also completely genre-shattering, and even the simplest of actions like using the Wii Remote to scoop up stray Star Bits had this immense amount of polish and satisfaction to it like no other Mario game quite before it.

    2. Super Mario Odyssey

    2017 | Switch

    Coming just year after Mario's 35th anniversary, Super Mario Odyssey is a true celebration of what makes Nintendo's beloved Italian plumber the greatest icon in video games. This game returned to the 3D open-world play style of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine while also paying tribute to the franchise's 2D platforming roots, with special retro levels integrated into each world. But Odyssey is also jam-packed with innovations, including the ability to control enemies and objects with Mario's new sentient hat, Cappy, and customization options that allow you to dress up the little Italian hero however you want. And then there's the plot, which is about the strangest narrative ever feature in a Mario game. There's so much to love in this game and so many Power Moons to collect. It's a must-have on the Switch. 

    Further Reading: Super Mario Odyssey Review

    1. Super Mario World

    1990 | SNES

    Well here we are at the top of our list at last, and if our number one Mario game comes as a surprise to you, then you’ve obviously never spent some quality time with a Super Nintendo before: of course it has to be Super Mario World! A sequel of sorts to the incredible Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mario’s shining debut on the SNES, Super Mario World managed to surpass everyone’s wildest expectations of what a Mario game could achieve at the time, with a massive adventure on an interconnected world map, to ability to ride on your trusty pal Yoshi, and just amazing platforming level design from beginning to end. 

    Joe Jasko is a staff writer. Read more of his work here.

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