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    A project known as Alien: Blackout may make its debut at the 2018 Game Awards.

    Alien Blackout
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 26, 2018

    Tweets from Geoff Keighley seem to be hinting at the impending reveal of a new Alien game at the 2018 Game Awards show

    Keighley has been sending tweets that include some familiar Alien imagery (including font types, color schemes, and perhaps even logos commonly associated with the Alien franchise) as well as the somewhat cryptic words "WORLDS WILL CHANGE."These tweets might not amount to much in and of themselves, but when you pile them atop the reports which state that 20th Century Fox has filed a trademark for a game called Alien: Blackout. Put it all together, and we'd be shocked if a new Alien game wasn't revealed when the Game Awards air on December 6. What remains to be seen if whether it will be as brilliant as Alien: Isolation or if it will sink to the dark depths of Aliens: Colonial Marines

    Of course, that's hardly the first time we've heard rumblings of a new Alien game. Earlier this year, 20th Century Fox acquired developer Cold Iron Studios, which reportedly was working on a new shooter based on the Alien franchise. The deal was made via FoxNext Games, the interactive entertainment division of 20th Century Fox.

    Cold Iron Studios is actually a relatively new studio that was started by former members of Cryptic Studios. You may remember them as the studio behind the conceptually brilliant - but ultimately doomed - MMORPG City of Heroes. The rest of the studio's staff largely consists of a hodgepodge of veteran talent who have worked on everything from Metroid Prime 3 to BioShock Infinite

    In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, FoxNext Games president Aaron Loeb explained why Cold Iron Studios was the perfect choice to work on this new project.

    "Cold Iron adds a whole dimension of game development and play to our arsenal: long play-session MMOs targeted to PC and console gamers," said Loeb. "The kinds of games Cold Iron develops will enable us to deeply explore the worlds of our franchises, starting with the Alien universe."

    While that statement seems to suggest that this Alien project could eventually become an MMO - or MMO-lite - type experience, it is currently just described as a shooter that will be released for PC and consoles at an unspecified date. The only thing we really know about the game at this early stage is that it will "explore areas of the universe that fans haven't got to experience."

    That's not the only takeaway from this interview, though. No, that would be a comment Loeb made regarding how 20th Century Fox views its video game division moving forward. 

    "FoxNext Games seeks to make games as important a part of Fox's business as movies and television," said Loeb. "Games will be the defining entertainment medium of this century, in our view."

    While Loeb mentioned that this new emphasis on game development will include mobile titles - FoxNet is already working on a mobile Marvel game - Loeb says that Fox is just as interested in creating console and PC gaming experiences. 

    "Mobile is an intimate game platform - it's with you all the time and the games become part of your day," said Loeb. "PC and console are immersive platforms that will allow us to transport users into their favorite worlds. It's an incredibly important skillset and game type to add to our arsenal as we pursue our mission."

    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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    Fury’s pursuit of the seven deadly sins is frantic, fun, and worth the wait. Here's our review of Darksiders 3...

    Darksiders 3 Review
    Review Aaron Potter
    Nov 26, 2018

    Release Date: November 27, 2018
    Platform: PS4, XBO, PC
    Developer: Gunfire Games
    Publisher: THQ Nordic
    Genre: Action-Adventure

    The road to Darksiders III has been a long one. Just when you thought developer Vigil Games was getting into the groove with its hack-and slash-franchise, which pits the four horsemen of the apocalypse against the forces of heaven and hell, series publisher THQ went bankrupt in 2012, leaving the future of the remaining two entries for this planned quadrilogy uncertain. A few IP acquisitions from new publisher THQ Nordic later, however, and the epic tale thankfully rages on – this time with Fury, sister to earlier protagonists War and Death, ready to wreak havoc. A few technical hitches aside, Darksiders III is a thrilling action romp through the end of the world.

    Much like the first sequel, the story of Darksiders IIIruns parallel to that of the original game. War is facing judgment for his alleged attempt to pre-emptively start the apocalypse, Death has embarked on a personal mission to prove his brother’s innocence, meaning it falls to you as Fury to hunt down and rid Earth of the seven deadly sins. Doing so consists of regular bouts of glorious hack and slash combat, varied puzzle-solving, along with a healthy number of platforming challenges. All three elements have a slightly new flavor to them this time around thanks to Darksiders III’s addition of a new central weapon: the blade whip.

    Further Reading: 25 Underrated Xbox 360 Games

    Technically known in-universe as Barbs of the Scorn, Fury’s whip makes it immensely satisfying to unleash pain unto the hordes of demons that consistently cross your path. Whereas in previous games combat encounters like this would be gated, active movement and dodges are now made better use of thanks to the labyrinthine spaces you get to fight through. It’s no longer a matter of explore, fight, rinse, and repeat. Instead, Darksiders IIIfrees you up to gain a better angle on enemies, improved even more thanks to the whip’s various upgradable forms and broadened range compared to, say, War’s mega-sword from the first game.

    Maybe we should have seen this coming given how similar the series names are, but the influence of Dark Souls can certainly be felt in this third iteration. Outside of the ability to lock on to opponents and dodge their attacks (allowing you to retort with a vicious counter), should Fury die in battle the souls that act as your currency will stay there rather than accompany you at respawn. As with most games that utilize this mechanic, this adds a little extra conservative risk to how forceful you might act in fights; you’re always asking yourself: “Should I attack carelessly and risk dying, or take a calmer approach and guarantee the soul rewards?”

    The temptation is almost always to do the former, thanks to the excess of upgradable weapon forms and customizable special attacks Darksiders III presents you with. The best example of this are "Hollows": elemental powers that can be actively switched during combat to gain the upper-hand over enemies and bosses. Fire is the first of these you acquire, letting you light up those who get too close to you. It also plays into the game’s many platforming sections, thanks to its second function as a jump boost. Darksiders III is full of these abilities that serve multiple purposes – they’re the game’s chief way of keeping you surprised.

    Darksiders IIIis yet again no slouch when it comes to the puzzles. The previous game’s affinity for seeing you get a glowing ball into the socket of a Rube Goldberg machine is thankfully done away with, replaced with a variety of tasks such as setting alight webs in the right order and tracking down swords needing to be slotted into the correct place. Most puzzles won’t have you scratching your head for too long, but all serve as a nice break from what would otherwise be an endless onslaught of action that could soon grow tiresome. Traversal is equally functional if a little uninspired, with at least a diverse set of environments to rush and swing through.

    Further Reading: 30 Games to Play in 2019

    The 20 hours it takes to complete Fury’s journey of bringing balance back to a ravaged Earth are fun, but marred ever so slightly by a few technical hiccups indicative of that old-school scrappiness we used to see when mid-tier game releases were far more affluent. All this is to say that Darksiders III remains totally playable for the most part, but isn’t as polished as, say, this year’s God of War or even Shadow of the Tomb Raider, with constant framerate dips and lengthy load times holding the game back from true greatness.

    In a way, it’s quite charming, and to a certain degree, expected, given the size of Gunfire Games. But when taken as a whole, these little irksome instances soon add up and can lead to frustration. It never got so bad that it took me out of the experience, but slowdown is most noticeable during moments when small areas become packed with more enemies than Darksiders IIIcan comfortably handle. At its worst, it made me apprehensive to deploy a screen-demolishing special move for fear of experiencing a crash and losing progress.

    Another quibble comes as a result of the seven deadly sins, who act as the game’s bosses, sporadically placed throughout Fury’s adventure. Each one looks distinct, is well-voiced, and generally is as imaginatively realized as the rest of Darksiders' lore, but beating them almost always boils down to just wailing on them with the same set of attacks repeatedly. This works well in terms of how creatively you can choose to approach them, but it would have been nice for every personified sin to work more like a puzzle that can cinematically be taken down.

    Darksiders III does a lot right to put the cult fantasy series back on track following a long absence, making the act of embodying one of the four horsemen as thrilling and as action-packed as ever. Yet, it’s an experience that could be greatly improved should those few technical oversights get ironed out with the release of a patch. Overall, Fury’s pursuit of the seven deadly sins is a great addition to this multifaceted story, one that we will hopefully see the conclusion of when Strife takes center stage next time around.

    3.5/5


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    Prodeus is an ultra violent FPS with modern sensibilities. Check out its reveal trailer:

    Prodeus Reveal Trailer
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 26, 2018

    We're not entirely sure what's fuelling the resurgence of '90s-style first-person games (it may be delayed fallout from the success of the 2016 Doom revival), but we do know that it continues with the reveal of Prodeus

    Indie developers Mike Voeller and Jason Mojica describe Prodeus as an old-school shooter with some modern sensibilities. It's not entirely clear what that means from a gameplay perspective, but if recent games of this type are any indication, we're assuming that Prodeus will feature such gameplay features as an improved navigation system, less obscure puzzles, and overall smoother controls. 

    However, Prodeus' visuals certainly exemplify what the developers are hoping to achieve with this project. In fact, Prodeus features some of the most fascinating visuals we've seen in an indie shooter in quite some time. While the game doesn't look particularly special in screenshots, footage of the title reveals a strange mix of old-school pixelated visuals coupled with a surprisingly smooth framerate and more modern special effects. 

    It's almost like a '90s FPS developer gained access to modern technology and did what they could to develop a game with it based on their understandings of the design principles of the time. It's a bit unnerving at first, but it's a step above the purely old-school visuals we typically see in games like this. We're less certain about the crowded HUD, but there's always time to tweak that. 

    Of course, this is still an old-school FPS at its core. That means that you can expect an extreme level of violence, over-the-top guns, and plenty of monster closet situations designed to test your reflexes and abilities. 

    If the brilliant Ion Maiden didn't quite scratch your itch for a classic FPS shooter with over-the-top action to spare, then we'd suggest keeping an eye on Prodeus as we approach the game's 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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    Some gamers will be able to access Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode very soon.

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Beta
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 26, 2018

    Rockstar has shared new information about Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode

    First off, it seems that Rockstar will be utilizing a staggered release system for the launch of the game's online mode. This means that anyone who purchased the Ultimate Edition of Red Dead Redemption 2 will be able to access the beta starting on November 27 at about 8:30 AM EST. Anyone who played Red Dead Redemption 2 on launch day (October 26) will be able to access the beta starting on Wednesday, November 28 (no time specified). If you played during launch weekend, you'll be able to start the beta on November 29. Finally, anyone else can join starting on November 30. 

    It's not entirely clear why Rockstar has decided to go with this staggered release system, but it might have something to do with them treating this beta like a pure beta. That means that they expect some "turbulence at launch" (according to a press release) and plan to work with the first group of players when it comes to perfecting the game as well as fixing any tech problems that might linger. In case you are wondering, you will be able to access Red Dead 2's online beta - and presumably the full mode - for free of charge as long as you own a copy of the game and meet the time requirements noted above. 

    What can you expect from Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode once the beta is live? Rockstar's full release regarding the mode sheds a little light on that subject. 

    "With the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 as its foundation, Red Dead Online transforms the vast and deeply detailed landscapes, cities, towns, and habitats of Red Dead Redemption 2 into a new, living online world ready to be shared by multiple players. Create and customize your character, tailor your abilities to suit your play style, and head out into a new frontier full of things to experience...Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; or fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; compete with other players or whole posses in open world challenges and much more."

    Based on that information, we're led to believe that Red Dead 2's online mode is going to be similar to GTA V's online mode when it was first released. That is to say that it will likely utilize a kind of free-roam take on the concept where you and your friends will make your own fun as well as participate in a few arranged modes. However, this time around it sounds like there will be a much greater emphasis on forming your own gang and battling rival gangs across the online mode's sizeable map. 

    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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    Red Dead Redemption 2's rumored battle royale mode has seemingly been leaked.

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Battle Royale
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 27, 2018

    Leaked data suggests that Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode will feature a battle royale game type. 

    This information comes from data hunter illogicalmods claims to have uncovered a series of jobs, activities, and online mission types related to RDR 2's online mode and has posted his full findings on his Twitter account. There, he highlights a mode referred to as "Make It Count" that will reportedly force players to do battle against each other across a battlefield that shrinks as time goes on. The objective is to be the last player standing. 

    That probably sounds like a fairly standard battle royale mode, but RDR 2's take on the concept features a rather interesting twist. Assuming that the information in this leak is accurate, it sounds like this mode will prohibit the use of any firearms. Instead, you will be forced to rely on either a bow or throwing knives based on which map you're playing on (either the Saint Denis Plantation or Tall Trees). 

    The idea of a battle royale mode in RDR 2 that doesn't feature firearms does strike us as the kind of odd that most people might call suspicious. However, we wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the validity of this information or the idea of a gun-free battle royale mode in the game. It's entirely possible that Rockstar decided that limiting weapon selection would help balance their take on the battle royale concept. It's also possible that this decision is based on their desire to enhance the tension this kind of mode can offer. 

    Besides, we'd be a little more surprised to learn there isn't a battle royale mode in RDR 2. Rockstar was quick to add a battle royale-like game type to GTA V, and there's no denying the global popularity of the battle royale genre. 

    Most of the other game types listed in this leak are fairly standard (missions, races, area control maps, etc.), but it will be interesting to see how this rumored battle royale mode fits into the world of RDR 2. We should know much more about it as the game's online beta starts rolling out this week

    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 Telltale's The Walking Dead season 4, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 4
    News John SaavedraMatthew Byrd
    Nov 27, 2018

    The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has stepped forward to rescue Telltale's The Walking Dead: The Final Season. The game's fourth season was set to bring a fitting conclusion to the company's epic tale of survival in a world ruled by the undead. But then mass layoffs at the company in September put the conclusion of Clementine's story in jeopardy. Telltale eventually had to place a hold on all ongoing projects and has formally shut down.

    Now Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment will be taking ownership of The Walking Dead: The Final Season and ensuring that the project is completed. Skybound had just commenced work on the final episodes, according to a recent statement. Skybound had some more good news, too: "We’re excited to let you know that many of the talented, passionate team members who originally worked on the game are resuming development efforts today!"

    The company also revealed that people who already purchased season 4 won't have to pay again for the new episodes now that they're coming from Skybound: "If you already purchased Season Four, you will NOT have to pay again; future episodes will be available to download as soon as they are released via your original point of purchase."

    All good news. Now we're just left to wait to reunite with Clementine. Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 4 Release Date

    The first two episodes of Telltale's The Walking Dead: The Final Season are out now on XBO, PS4, and PC. Skybound is finishing up the series' last two episodes, but no release dates have been announced. The last two episodes are titled "Broken Toys" and "Take Us Back."

    Related Article: What Telltale's Stranger Things Game Would Have Looked Like

    Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 4 Trailer

    Since we don't know when episode 3 might arrive, here's the trailer for the latest episode released:

    Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 4 Story

    Here's the official synopsis from Telltale:

    Clementine, now a fierce and capable survivor, has reached the final chapter in her journey. After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be her chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. Clem must build a life and become a leader while still watching over AJ, an orphaned boy and the closest thing to family she has left. In this gripping, emotional final season, you will define your relationships, fight the undead, and determine how Clementine's story ends.

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

    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.


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    Fallout 76's controversial refund policy has inspired a law firm to assist gamers.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 27, 2018

    A Washington D.C. law firm is assisting in an investigation of Bethesda's business practices following a series of fan complaints regarding refunds for Fallout 76

    As you may have heard, Fallout 76 is a bit of a mess. Even if you look beyond the complaints surrounding the game's lore and its general treatment of the Fallout universe, you're still left with a game that is loaded with bugs that make the game everything from annoying to downright unplayable. These bugs seem to be the main reason that even some of the game's biggest supporters have decided to ask Bethesda for a refund. 

    Here's where the legal issues come into play. While some state that Bethesda has been quick to honor their refund requests, many other users have reported that Bethesda's support team have denied their refund request because "customers who have downloaded the game are not eligible for a refund." Despite defying all logic, it appears that very policy can be found amongst the terms and conditions of Bethedsda's game launcher service

    Now, law firm Migliaccio & Rathod LLP are saying that Bethesda is not only being unreasonable in regards to their refund policy but that that the various glitches and bugs found in Fallout 76 are unacceptable. 

    "While minor bugs and glitches are expected with the release of most new games, Fallout 76 launched with a 56GB patch that has proven to be but a starting point for the game's problems," reads a statement from the law firm. "Gamers who have tried to receive a refund because of the game's myriad glitches have been unable to do so since they downloaded the game, leaving them to deal with an unplayable experience until patches bring it back to a playable state."

    At this time, it does not seem that Migliaccio & Rathod LLP have begun a full and formal legal investigation. That means that any possible lawsuits or other such legal remedies may be months or years away (if they come at all). However, this law firm's assistance may prompt Bethesda to pursue other solutions. 

    Regardless of how this ends, it's pretty clear that Fallout 76 is in very bad shape and that its remaining players might not remain long enough for the game to redeem itself in the same way that games like Destinyand No Man's Sky eventually managed to turn things around. 

    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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    Rockstar is seemingly no longer developing the former PS3 exclusive known as Agent.

    Rockstar Agent Trademark
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 27, 2018

    Rockstar has abandoned their trademark for former PS3 exclusive, Agent

    Eurogamer and other outlets have spotted that the US Patent and Trademark Office now lists the Agent trademark as "abandoned" due to the original holder failing to file a request for an extension or issuing a Statement of Use. In other words, Rockstar seemingly no longer has any interest in doing anything with the name. This would theoretically allow another studio to develop a project using that name. 

    To explain why this seemingly uneventful trademark expiration is significant, we must take a trip back to 2007. That was the year that Sony announced that Rockstar was developing a PS3 exclusive title. Considering that this announcement came shortly before the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the idea of Rockstar developing a PS3 exclusive was came as quite the shock to industry figures and fans. 

    The game itself wasn't named until 2009 and was described at that time as being a single-player stealth action game about a group of spies in the 1970s. Rockstar hyped it as being a revolutionary and "genre-defining" game. In any case, its fascinating premise and undeniable design pedigree managed to propel it to the top of many gamers' most wanted lists. 

    Sadly, that was the last time we ever heard anything concrete regarding the specifics of the Agent project. Rockstar claimed to still be working on Agent as late as 2011 and even bothered to renew the trademark for the game in 2013. By that time, though, Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto V had already been released, and the PS3 was entering its final days. The fact that Rockstar hadn't bothered to talk about Agent in any meaningful way in five years also indicated that they might never finish the project. 

    What, exactly, happened to Agent may remain a mystery, but most reports indicate that Rockstar simply decided to shift their attention to other projects. We highly doubt that Rockstar will ever re-visit this game given that they no longer seem interested in developing smaller titles to complement their major releases, but we'd be fascinated to hear more regarding the development and fate of this lost 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


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    Fallout 76 is getting a series of needed updates. Will they be enough?

    Fallout 76 Bethesda Updates
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 27, 2018

    Bethesda has announced that Fallout 76will receive a series of updates largely designed to address some of the quality of the common quality of life complaints users have been reporting. 

    First off, Bethesda is increasing the game's stash limit from 400 to 600 in what is simultaneously the biggest and least impactful of the planned updates. While Fallout 76's stash limit is a big problem, many users were hoping that it would be increased to over 1,000 in order to address the game's inventory issues. Bethesda acknowledges that this amount is lower than their desired stash limit, but state that they need to test a smaller number in order to "verify that this change will not negatively impact the stability of the game."

    Bethesda will also be changing the way that C.A.M.P. building works. A future update will make it so that players have the option of either placing their C.A.M.P. on a new spot if their previous spot is occupied by someone else by the time they log back in, or they can switch to a new server where they will be able to retain their original spot. Players will also have access to a new bulldozer building option that will allow them to knock down trees, rocks, and other environmental obstacles. 

    Additional updates include character respec options, a fix to boss loot that will ensure they drop the proper number of items for players, a fix to the Cryolator weapon that greatly reduces its time of effect, fixes to various glitches, and the long-awaited arrival of push-to-talk for PC. The first wave of these updates will arrive on December 4 while the remaining updates are scheduled to be released on December 11.

    Bethesda has also taken to Reddit to apologize not only for "the state of things right now," but for "the lack of communication about fixes, updates, or news." They promised to be more active moving forward in terms of communications and fixes. 

    Whether or not these initial updates will be enough to convince fans that Fallout 76 is on the path to redemption remains to be seen. The big concern at the moment is the implication that the addition of too many additional resources may have some kind of notable impact on the game's performance. That does not bode well for the prospect of significant content updates sometime in the near future. 

    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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    Battlefield V has less to offer in the box than we hoped, but what we do get is incredibly polished and fun to play. Our review...

    Release Date: November 15, 2018
    Platform: XBO (reviewed), PS4, PC
    Developer: DICE
    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Genre: First-person Shooter

    Battlefield Vis like your best friend showing up to a party with a couple of bottles missing from a really good six-pack. You’re glad to see him, and the six-pack isn't going to spoil an otherwise good time, it’s just kind of confusing and maybe a little rude that he came with something that was enjoyable yet clearly incomplete. The launch version of Battlefield V is a very good game that’s clearly missing a few parts.

    The last game in the series, Battlefield 1, was well-received, so EA DICE smartly decided to build on what worked, keeping many of the modes and gameplay intact, but moving the setting from World War I to World War II. Yes, World War II is well-tread ground in video games, but Battlefield V's campaign wisely focuses on lesser known parts of the war: the Special Boat Service in Northern Africa, the Norwegian resistance, and the Senegalese Tirailleurs.

    Further Reading: 50 Underrated Multiplayer Games

    The campaign is short, with all three stories clocking in at under six hours total, but that just means less filler. This may be DICE’s best campaign yet, full of huge set pieces, smart level design, and truly emotional storytelling that rivals some of Hollywood’s greatest war epics.

    The highlight of these three stories is “Nordlys,” which focuses on a young woman’s attempt to rescue another member of the Norwegian resistance and stop Germany’s fledgling nuclear weapons programs. Not only is it a great story, but it’s also filled with tense stealth, an awesome skiing mechanic, and a memorable survival mission. While the entire game looks great (especially on the Xbox One X), running through the snow-covered mountains of Norway under the aurora borealis is an especially stunning use of the Frostbite 3 engine.

    “Under No Flag,” the Special Boat Service campaign, focuses more on guerilla action and two freedom fighters destroying parts of the Axis war machine in the desert. It requires a good amount of scouting and smart strategy that feels a lot like Far Cry in a World War II setting.

    Finally, "Tirailleur,” is a more traditional Battlefield campaign set during the allied invasion of France. From a gameplay perspective, it’s probably the least interesting of the three campaigns, but the story of these oft-forgotten French-African recruits is a compelling one.

    Further Reading: 25 Underrated Xbox 360 Games

    That said, as strong as these stories are, it’s also here that Battlefield V’s unfinished nature becomes apparent. A fourth campaign “The Last Tiger” is locked out on the menu and labeled “coming soon.” It's a shame that DICE has given fans so little single-player content to start.

    My playthrough was largely free of technical issues, but it wasn’t uncommon to see enemies flying 50 feet in the air after I shot them. There are some more minor annoyances throughout, though. For example, while it may be authentic that all the characters in the campaign speak in their native languages, keeping up with subtitles in the midst of a gunfight isn’t optimal. It’s even worse when the bright white text is set against a white background-- like the snow covering much of the “Nordlys” campaign. This is undoubtedly nit-picky, though. Battlefield V is ultimately a very polished experience.

    As for multiplayer, it’s as fun as ever, but pretty barebones at launch, with only Conquest, Grand Operations, and other traditional match types available. “Grand Operations” is similar to the Operations mode introduced in Battlefield 1, but now culminates in a “final stand” that arms players with only their default weapon, limited ammo, and no respawns.

    At its core, the multiplayer still follows the traditional Battlefield formula. It’s the most enjoyable large-scale shooter around, one that truly rewards those who put the time into it. Online play is silky smooth and I had no trouble with matchmaking in my playtime before wide release.

    Further Reading: All the Video Game Movies in Development

    Just be aware that Battlefield V’s most innovative multiplayer modes aren’t yet available. “Tides of War,” the new evolving multiplayer narrative that replaces a paid season pass won’t be out until December. The new battle royale “Firestorm” mode doesn’t launch until 2019, and that’s likely when the four-player cooperative “Combined Arms” mode will hit as well. All of these modes will be free for early adopters, but it’s still disappointing that more of them didn’t make it into the game at launch.

    Battlefield V in its current state isn’t a revolutionary game. At this point, it’s almost everything that’s made the series great distilled into its leanest, purest essence, but between what’s available now and what’s coming down the line, there’s no reason not to check out one of the 2018’s best shooters.

    Chris Freiberg is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.

    4/5
    ReviewChris Freiberg
    Battlefield 5 Review
    Nov 28, 2018

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    Playing through Red Dead Redemption II, something starts to become clear: Rockstar Games has outgrown Grand Theft Auto.

    FeatureGabriel Bergmoser
    Nov 29, 2018

    Their western opus feels like both a massive leap forward and a logical culmination of the company’s trajectory so far. With many yet to finish the game and an online version ostensibly forthcoming, it might be premature to be looking to the future, but it’s impossible to finish Red Dead Redemption II and not wonder at least a little just how it could be topped. So, considering how Rockstar has progressed so far, what might the company's next move look like?

    If one word was to characterize Rockstar’s approach to video games, it would be ambition. The studio's advancement was swift from the top-down early Grand Theft Auto games to the 3D, open-world crime saga of Grand Theft Auto III. Then came Vice City, a game that took the same template and, realistically, the same plot, but injected it with far more personality, the soundtrack of eighties hits and neon drenched aesthetic instantly making its predecessor look primitive.

    2004’sSan Andreasseemed like the peak for the franchise, and in some ways it still does. The game gave you a whole state to explore, with three cities, many small towns, and vast stretches of diverse landscape to play in. Not only that, the story was a leap forward. Carl "CJ" Johnson might not have been complex, but he had a clear motive that was about more than getting rich - to win back his home and save his family. Enhancing this was the fact that said family was made up of likeable characters in their own rights, giving the open-world mayhem a sense of stakes. San Andreas ranged from street level shootouts to James Bond-esque spy shenanigans and somehow did it all within a consistent tone that balanced cartoon violence with the sense of an epic journey that left you with real satisfaction at the final victory. In what feels retrospectively familiar, it was hard to guess how Rockstar could top it.

    And honestly, maybe Rockstar wasn’t sure. Bully transplanted the open world mission structure of GTA to a high school, but in terms of ambition, it wasn’t exactly on par with San Andreas. Likewise the two made-for-PSP GTA games, Vice City Stories and Liberty City Stories, were fun, but neither exactly reinvented the wheel.

    In fact, Vice City Stories might provide the earliest template for what Rockstar would perfect in the Red Dead Redemption games. It might also suggest Rockstar's way forward. While every preceding GTA featured a relatively blank-slate criminal rising through the underworld, Vice City Stories instead focused on Victor Vance, an honorable ex-soldier pulled into crime by his irresponsible brother and other forces around him. Playing Vice City Stories introduced a level of cognitive dissonance. The plot of the game, much of which centered on Vic’s reluctance to get any further into crime, didn’t exactly sit comfortably with running down pedestrians or shooting random passers-by.

    The dissonance only got worse in GTA IV, a game that, rather than trying to top San Andreasfor size, instead aimed for depth. With its darker tone, GTA IV was certainly a change of pace but as a playground for mayhem – arguably what people want from these games – it left a lot to be desired. Rockstar reintroduced some ridiculousness to the two DLC spin off games, The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, but neither could really shake the sense that the developer was trying to get more thematically ambitious while giving people what they wanted simultaneously.

    Further Reading: How Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare Found the Fun in Horror Gaming

    It was the first Red Dead Redemption that really demonstrated where Rockstar could go outside the confines of Grand Theft Auto. Structurally, it might as well have been a GTA game, a crime story set in an open world with various missions given to you by characters you meet along the way. But scoffs about it just being "Grand Theft Horse" proved wildly incorrect. John Marston, a man trying to be reunited with his wife and family, was an empathetic character with a noble goal. And while you could kill random strangers if you wanted, the honor system served as a constant encouragement to not do that – after all, John wouldn’t.

    Without the expectations inherent in a GTA game, Red Dead Redemption soared. It told a sweeping, emotional story about grappling with the past to try to secure a future, but ultimately arrived in a place that suggested you can atone for your crimes, but never truly escape them. Red Dead Redemption moved many to tears and left players with a story and a protagonist worth caring about. By applying the formula to a very different kind of game, Rockstar created a beloved classic.

    Subsequently, with its giant map and three protagonists, GTA V couldn’t help but come off a little like the company was trying to have its cake and eat it too. Franklin provided the rags to riches structure of the earlier games, Trevor was the character who could be as violent and psychotic as the player pleased, and Michael was, quite obviously, the character who Rockstar really wanted to tell the story about: a retired criminal pulled back into the world he left due to, I dunno, something about the economy. If you squint, he’s a bit like a less likeable John Marston. It’s arguable that GTA games need the rags to riches element to provide satisfying structure, but giving you the option to jump from struggling Franklin to rich Michael whenever you wanted took the wind out of those sails.

    As a virtual playground, GTA V was unparalleled. As a story, it left a lot to be desired. Without the stakes and clear objectives of a San Andreas or the character investment of a Red Dead Redemption, there wasn’t much propulsion or incentive to complete the missions apart from making more money to buy bigger guns. You can’t argue with the commercial success of the game, but all you have to do is put it up against Red Dead Redemption IIto see the difference. Both games are enormous. Both games offer jaw droppingly beautiful worlds to explore. But only one can rightly be called a masterpiece.

    Further Reading: Revisiting Manhunt, Rockstar's Horror Masterpiece

    If Red Dead Redemption represented what Rockstar could do without the shackles of a GTA title, its prequel shows what the company is capable of when it not only has a popular property, but one it knows will reward depth and thematic ambition. Every character feels fully realized. The plot is both gripping and tragic. The tone is perfect - melancholic with moments of fun and epic import that never feel out of step with each other. The honor system is more than just a reminder to maybe not be a jerk. How good a person you are in the game has genuine consequences. Beyond that, it enriches its predecessor in the most surprising and devastating ways.

    Arthur Morgan starts out as a pretty straightforward Rockstar thug. Then comes the reveal that he is suffering from tuberculosis and only has a few weeks to live. Suddenly Red Dead Redemption II becomes a very different game. Arthur is forced to look at his own actions and the actions of the gang he has devoted his life to. The final stretch becomes about saving John Marston from suffering Arthur’s fate. The worst part is that Arthur succeeds. If you take the honourable route, then he dies smiling, content in the knowledge that John escaped with his family and will be okay. Except we the players know that not only will John eventually be cut down by lawmen’s bullets, his son Jack, who Arthur cared for and protected, will take up the mantle as a vengeance-seeking bounty hunter himself, continuing the cycle of violence. Rockstar took advantage of audience familiarity and love for the previous game to widen the scope and turn the games into an epic saga of revenge, regret, and redemption.

    It’s not even the first time the company tried something like this. Vic Vance from Vice City Stories was initially introduced as a criminal shot to death in the first scene of Vice City. Knowing his fate from the earlier game lends the later one that much more power.Red Dead Redemption II pulls the same trick on a grander scale.

    But what, if anything, does it mean for Rockstar’s future?

    The prevailing wisdom is that another GTA will be next, but given the constraints of what people want from that series, it’s hard to imagine that Grand Theft Auto VIwill really allow Rockstar to step up the game in any way but the technical. Undoubtedly it will be good, but it’s hard to shake the sense that the perfect GTAwas probably San Andreas, which both nailed the formula and provided a hard-to-top benchmark. Ensuing games have certainly been more impressive technically, but haven’t struck the same balance between fun and a reason to care.

    As such, would Rockstar be best served moving on from its flagship series? It’s doubtful it would ever happen, but it seems fair to suggest that far more passion went into Red Dead Redemption II than GTA V. Does that suggest a future made up of cowboys rather than car chases?

    Further Reading: Revisiting Red Dead Redemption

    While I wouldn’t bet against another Red Dead being fantastic, what was pulled off in the second game feels like a trick that would be hard to manage again. Both games take place near the very end of the Wild West era. As such, the only real options would be either another prequel, perhaps focusing on a young Dutch or Hosea, or a sort of interquel that picks up the story of either Charles or Sadie Adler. But it’s hard to imagine what either approach could do that we haven’t already seen in the previous Red Dead games. Even a pre-prequel with built-in tragedy based on knowing the outcome would still essentially be a repeat of Red Dead Redemption II.

    After two games that were so closely interlinked, a hypothetical third that focused on a new set of characters in a different corner of the west couldn’t help but feel like an outlier running the risk of diluting the brand somewhat. If I were Rockstar, I would be avoiding returning to the Red Dead well. One advantage of the Grand Theft Auto series is the ability to refresh by choosing a new city to focus on each time (even if they’ve only ever used three). The Wild West doesn’t exactly offer the same malleability.

    Of course, Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption aren’t Rockstar’s only titles. Sequels to L.A. Noire and Bully have been mooted for a while, although it’s uncertain whether either could achieve the same popularity as the other two franchises.

    The open world formula, by its very nature, is one that offers countless possibilities. What Rockstar does so well, what made both Red Dead Redemption games so special, is telling a highly directed story in these worlds in ways that allow every player’s experience to be slightly different while still following the same fundamental narrative. When the story is over, well, there’s always so much left to explore. That Rockstar’s work is indebted to cinema is well known, and thus far every one of its open world games has existed in the tradition of a different beloved genre, from gangster, to western, to noir, and even high school. If any educated guess was to be made regarding the company’s future direction, then that pattern alone suggests several tantalizing possibilities.

    In the wake of Red Dead Redemption II however, it feels like another Grand Theft Auto is the least exciting direction the company could go in, unless it gave the series a major overhaul – i.e., telling the story from the perspective of a policeman or something. Even then, GTA seems weighed down by too much baggage to really innovate in the same way that Red Dead has so successfully done twice.

    What the Red Dead Redemption series represents is the potential for video games to tell sprawling stories with a deeper emotional pull than many television shows or films. Instead of just making a fun cowboy game as an extended trailer for Red Dead Online, Rockstar told a powerful story that took advantage of the love for its predecessor to create one of the greatest recent westerns, regardless of medium.

    By allowing us to become Arthur Morgan and, at least to a degree, shape what kind of a man he is, our investment in his fate and ultimate sacrifice becomes enormous. Is it an illusion? Sure. We don’t decide what happens to Arthur any more than we decided the fate of Walter White or Michael Corleone. But in a way, that underlines the point. Arthur’s fate is sealed early in the game. What’s left to him is only to decide what kind of person he wants to be in his last hours. That much is in our hands, and in making that choice, Rockstar reels us in and makes the final devastation of the game that much more acute.

    Further Reading: What Capcom's Red Dead Revolver Would Have Looked Like

    This achievement is inarguably far more impressive than the potential of a new GTA with a really, really big map and six interchangeable protagonists. It’s proof, if proof were needed, that video games can not only tell stories on a par with film but can provide an interactive experience that would be impossible to replicate in any other medium.

    What makes Red Dead Redemption II so great is that the scope of its world and the depth of its story complement each other to create something truly singular. If Rockstar’s development thus far is anything to go by, that's something that will provide a platform for greater advancement to come. Strong themes, characters we can invest in, an embrace of whatever genre Rockstar chooses to play with, and engaging stories that take advantage of the video game format provide the clearest path to pulling off the same trick again.

    Rockstar doesn’t make bad games. Even titles they could have phoned in such as Vice City Stories are strong in their own right. If we can learn anything from the trajectory of the company, it’s that ambition will always push it to greater heights. Sometimes the push won’t be enough. Other times, you end up with something as spectacular as Red Dead Redemption II. As long as Rockstar keeps that ambition alive, the chances of hitting those heights again remain high. I wouldn’t bet against this studio.


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    Obsidian will reveal their next title during the 2018 Game Awards.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 29, 2018

    Obsidian Entertainment, developers of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Pillars of Eternity, and Fallout: New Vegas, are teasing the reveal of their next game sometime during the 2018 Game Awards

    If you head over to Obsidian's website, you'll be greeted by one of two "ads" that feature a countdown that ends around the time that the start of the Game Awards. One ad features text advertising something known as Auntie Cleos and the other is presented by "Spacer's Choice." When you click on the skip button featured below both ads, you'll see a secondary screen related to the previous ad. The Spacer's Choice screen features some kind of gun while the Auntie Cleo's ad takes you to some images of beauty products and groceries. 

    There's no more official information available about this mysterious game at the moment, but there are a couple more details you should pay attention to when trying to guess what Obsidian might be teasing. 

    First off, each ad features "old-timey" art and jingles that suggest this game is going to at least partially be based on the past. It's hard to nail down exactly what era the developers are capturing with these ads, but it seems to be somewhere around the '50s and early '60s. Of course, the implication seems to be that this is an alternate version of that era's timeline that perhaps features some advanced technology (similar to what we saw in BioShock and Fallout). 

    Actually, there's more than one reason you should be thinking of Fallout when you see these adverts. Kotaku's Jason Schreier is reporting that this project is being developed with assistance from two of Fallout's original creators (Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky). When you also consider the fact that Fallout 76 is currently being trashed by just about everyone, it's not irresponsible to suggest this game might touch upon some classic Falloutconcepts. 

    It will also be interesting to see whether this game benefits from Obsidian's recent acquisition by Microsoft. Of course, it might take some time for that partnership to result in some higher budget projects. 

    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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    Path of Exile, the best Diablo game not made by Blizzard, will be released on PS4 in 2019.

    Path of Exile PS4
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 29, 2018

    The PS4 release of Path of Exile has been delayed to February 2019. 

    An update from developer Grinding Gear Games suggests that this delay is due to delays in the certification process. The studio states that they "underestimated the amount of work it would take to finish the certification process during the busy Christmas period." It doesn't sound like the delay is at all related to technical problems, but the developers do claim that they will use this time to perfect the port.

    When Path of Exile does come to PS4 next year, it will retain its free-to-play model. As the studio is quick to point out in their press release, that's "free-to-play (and of course, never pay to win; your success in the game is dependent on the depth of your skill, not your wallet)." As anyone who has played Path of Exile can attest to, that is a 100% accurate statement. 

    Anyone familiar with Path of Exile will also tell you that Path of Exile is considered by many to be the best Diablo game that doesn't bear the Diablo name. Much like Diablo, it allows you to choose between one of several different character types, engage in some hack and slash combat, loot better gear, and build your character as you face a series of escalating challenges. 

    What some say separates Path of Exile from Diablo III (and almost certainly Diablo: Immortal) is its depth and style. Path of Exile features one of the deepest and most-engaging skill trees ever seen in a game of this style. There are an almost endless number of ways to build your character before you even factor in the hundreds of items that you can loot and craft. Path of Exile also utilizes a dark art style that is spiritually much closer to Diablo II than the art style we saw in Diablo III

    In fact, Path of Exile is pretty shameless when it comes to copying Diablo II's best ideas. That's ok, though, because Path of Exile has been tweaked and expanded for years. The result is a game that has even hardcore Diablo fans "jumping ship." Of course, it's entirely possible to enjoy both franchises for their unique merits. 

    In case you can't wait until next year, Path of Exile is currently available for both PC and Xbox One. We highly recommend trying it if the recent Diablo: Immortalannouncement has left you disappointed. 

    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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    Fallout 76's most expensive edition was shipped with a cheap replacement item, and Bethesda's apology isn't pleasing fans.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 29, 2018

    Fallout 76's woes continue as fans report that the game's special collector's edition isn't all that special. 

    Recently, many of the people who purchased the $200 Power Armor Edition took to various online outlets to report that the promised canvas duffel bag that was supposed to come with the rest of the items in the package had been replaced by a much cheaper nylon bag. Even IGN noticed this during their unboxing video of Fallout 76: The Absurdly Expensive Edition. 

    That's unfortunate, but here's where things turn bad. Some of those same gamers who noticed the swap tried to contact Bethesda for an explanation. The general response that many of them received suggested that Bethesda replaced the originally advertised bag with a cheaper alternative because of an "unavailability of materials." However, some earlier replies from the company suggested that the swap was made because Bethesda had underestimated the cost of shipping the Power Armor Edition with the originally advertised bag. 

    Representatives from Bethesda took to Reddit to address a particular post from a gamer who noticed the swap and received a very curt reply from a Bethesda customer support rep. Bethesda stated that the reply was made by a "temporary contract employee" and their "response was incorrect and not in accordance with our conduct policy." The reply in question is one that implied the original bags were not shipped due to the cost of the items and even stated that Bethesda isn't "planning on doing anything about it."

    Well, Bethesda has since done something about it by issuing those who purchased the Power Armor Edition of Fallout 76 500 Atoms (about $5 worth of in-game currency). However, this has not pleased many of the people who reported this problem. As one Twitter user points out, that amount isn't even enough to buy an in-game version of the canvas bag that the Power Armor Edition was originally supposed to include

    Where this latest disappointment ranks amongst the grand scheme of Fallout 76 disappointments is up for debate, but there is something to be said about the symbolism of Bethesda shortchanging Fallout's biggest fans by delivering an objectively inferior product. 

    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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    Fortnite enters the crosshairs yet again as people become concerned about how addictive it is.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 29, 2018

    Lorrine Marer, a behavioral specialist, is suggesting that Fortnite is not just the world's most popular game but is basically heroin for kids. 

    “This game is like heroin,” said Marer. "Once you are hooked, it’s hard to get unhooked."

    Marer's outspoken comments regarding the impact of Fortnite and how it is corrupting society's youths come as part of a large report published by Bloomberg that argues that Fortniteaddiction is spiraling out of control. One mother, Debbie Vitany, even reports that her son plays the game for 12 hours a day and that his parents have not been able to find a way to get his life back together. She even goes so far as to say that she has "never seen a game that has such control over kids’ minds.”

    While one could also side with the counter argument offered by Forbes ("Don't Blame 'Fortnite' For Your Bad Parenting And Lazy Kids"), the Bloomberg article is quick to point out that the Fortnite phenomenon isn't actually limited to kids. We've previously noted that Fortnite addiction has been cited in a shocking number of recent divorce cases and Bloomberg adds that a surprising number of professional athletes have become addicted to the game. David Price, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, reportedly even further injured his wrist as a result of long Fortnite sessions. 

    All of this information comes on the heels of a highly-controversial statement from the World Health Organization in which they announced that they had classified gaming addiction as its own psychological disorder. The controversy surrounding that classification wasn't really based on an argument against the idea of gaming addiction but rather the idea that it should somehow be separated from addictions of any other kind. 

    That's roughly where we land in regards to these latest statements regarding Fortnite. Is the game highly addictive? Potentially, yes. Is it aimed at children more so than more traditionally addictive substances like heroin? It is. However, the core of this problem seems to be addiction itself which has manifested itself via many mediums over the recorded history of humanity. Fortnite is just the latest example. 

    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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    We've played the Red Dead Online beta and have some thoughts about Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode. Here are our hands-on impressions...

    Red Dead Online Hands-on Impressions
    FeatureJohn Saavedra
    Nov 29, 2018

    This Red Dead Online article contains spoilers.

    The fog rolls up during a night ride in the Heartlands. I've just left four men for dead on some train tracks, the memory of their final pleas for mercy still fresh in my mind, when suddenly a stranger approaches from just up the dirt path. I'm nervous. I do not know this stranger or his intentions. Is it Death come for me for my sins, for the decaying soul of a man who would steal and kill for money? My long journey from Tumbleweed to Valentine has taught me to expect the worst and so I draw my revolver (a dirty thing; I'll need to find gun oil later). 

    A few tense moments as the stranger (perhaps my killer) approaches, both our horses moving slowly toward a collision. Only a few seconds to make a decision. I can see him now, covered in shadow, a wide hat covering his face, but I know where to aim. Then, almost face to face, he makes his move. I aim for his head and then he...waves? Quietly, he rides on until he's lost again in the fog. 

    While not the explosive encounter you probably hoped for, tense moments like this one make up the best Red Dead Online's beta has to offer so far. From meeting other players on the road to jumping into a random shootout, I've had the most fun with Red Dead Redemption II's online mode when organically interacting with others. These encounters feel unpredictable, especially when you run into someone in a secluded part of the mode's giant map. In fact, it's the emptiness of Rockstar's version of the Wild West, where no one can hear you scream for help, that makes every interaction feel dangerous. 

    It's not all tension, of course. During my first couple of hours with the beta, I also participated in four-player cooperative story missions, side quests, horses races, manic team shootouts in the middle of Western towns, and a few public events that provide a variety of flavors to the experience. All in all, Red Dead Online is a really enjoyable experience so far, even though it definitely has an assortment of kinks it still needs to iron out. 

    Story

    Not unlike Rockstar's other big online gambit, GTA Online, Red Dead Onlineopens with quite a bit of handholding, as you meet the major players in the mode's story and get acquainted with the progression system. The first few hours of gameplay don't offer anything particularly captivating in terms of the story, which involves a prison escape courtesy of a mysterious benefactor and a plot to avenge a man's murder. Most of the story missions I played felt more like tutorial levels meant to show you how to use treasure maps or where to sell stolen horses or how to set up a camp than meaningful narrative. 

    Some of the more interesting story missions involve helping lawmen pursue criminals and bring them to justice. There's also a great assault on a fort that sees you man a cannon to shoot down a horde of enemies. While these missions tend to involve lots of shooting (and a few explosions), and at least one unexpected setpiece in a canyon that doubles as a hideout for a gang of bandits, I found these sections a bit repetitive. Most of these missions can be completed by shooting your way through all the bad guys and escorting a specific NPC back to the quest giver.

    I didn't really feel that the four-player co-op was even particularly necessary for most missions, as there weren't even that many enemies to shoot (except in the aforementioned canyon section). That said, perhaps these cooperative missions are more fun with your gun-toting friends. Unless you roll up with a posse (Red Dead Online's version of a four-player squad), matchmaking will set you up with three random players. One positive thing to note about matchmaking is that the wait time to jump into a mission is almost non-existent. I expected long waits in lobbies since this is a beta, but so far, that hasn't been a problem. 

    Further Reading: Red Dead Redemption 2 Review

    Story missions also offer an interesting voting system for some missions that allows your team to decide what to do with your target. For instance, one mission sees you take out a cabin full of thugs in order to find a man's wife. When you meet the woman, she tells you that she doesn't want to return to her husband and that she's fallen in love with one of the bandits. This triggers a voting sequence where your team can choose to either bring her back to the husband anyway or let her escape. In this particular instance, the vote was a tie and one of my teammates decided to just shoot the woman's lover and escort her back for the money. While that wouldn't have been my choice (I voted to let her go), it seems that there was nothing I could do to stop my teammate since it was a tie vote. 

    On the technical side, the story missions are where I encountered the most lag, from dead enemies taking several seconds to fall over to being suddenly teleported to a different area during a shootout. The most annoying glitch I've had to deal with so far was after a cutscene when the game wouldn't reveal a new quest giver I needed to visit to progress in the story. After a restart, the Marshall showed up on the map. Most of these kinks aren't game breaking though, but they do show where the mode still needs work. 

    So far, the main story is the element of Red Dead Online that leaves the most to be desired, but that feels like a small gripe since Red Dead Redemption II already features a massive story mode for players to enjoy. Even as I write this, more missions continue to pop up on my map, so there's clearly more to discover yet. 

    Free Roam

    Speaking of discovery, Red Dead Online takes place on the same exact map as the story mode, meaning that there's a lot of ground to cover once you're free to explore. Strangers sprinkled around the map offer side quests such as fetching a lost cart for Bonnie MacFarlane, a major character from the first game, or delivering mail for the post office. The latter even pits you against other players, who can rob the mail bag from you as you ride to your destination. There are plenty of Strangers to talk to from the start, which should offer up a nice chunk of stuff to do when not completing main missions or exploring the multiplayer playlists.

    Free roam events also allow you meet up with other players for special multiplayer matches, including a bow and arrow challenge where you have to hit targets around a town while also taking out other players. The more bullseyes yo hit and people you kill, the more points you get. After getting a couple of kills with the bow and arrow, you'll unlock a rifle, which should make disposing of the other players a bit easier. It's a fast-paced and frantic race for points that's surprisingly fun and shows how Rockstar thinking outside the box for its online Western world. 

    Another free roam event is more of a traditional free-for-all deathmatch where players can only use sidearms. It's a pretty fun way to practice your Dead Eye skills and shooting from the hip.

    Further Reading: Revisiting Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare

    These free roam events pop up at random and they're a nice way to break up riding around from point A to point B. Just accept the invite and you'll be teleported to the event area. My only complaint about these events is that, once a match is over, you're not sent back to where you were before joining the event. Instead, you're left to ride all the way back on your own, which gets a little annoying when you end up especially out of the way of where you need to be. You can find a fast travel post and pay $5 of in-game currency to head back to the proximity of where you were, but money feels a bit more scarce in Red Dead Online than in the story mode for the obvious microtransaction-related reasons I'll get to in just a minute. 

    Your camp is another minor annoyance in that you can't fast travel to it outright. There are ways to circumvent having to ride across the giant map to get to your camp, of course, such as fast traveling to a nearby town or choosing to free roam in a different region of the map in the start menu. You can also move your camp closer to you for $2 of in-game currency, which seems silly, especially since your follower, an old coot named Cripps, inexplicably moves your camp around the map when you're not looking. One second he might be in Rio Bravo and the next the camp will be in the Great Plains. I get what the game is going for, automatically moving your camp closer to your location, but so far, Cripps has missed the mark every single time, making me trek back or spend money to reach something as simple as my wardrobe.

    Microtransactions

    Here comes the kicker: Red Dead Online allows you to buy a fast travel post for your camp once you've hit Level 65 (!!) or you can unlock it early for 112 Gold Bars, the game's not-so-subtle hint that microtransactions are coming down the line. Yes, Red Dead Online does allow you to unlock a fast travel post for your camp without spending any real money, but it seems that it will take an exorbitant amount of time to do so -- not to mention that fast travel is such a basic feature that it should be free in the first place. While microtransactions are (mercifully) turned off at the moment, you can already see how Rockstar plans stick its hands in your pockets. There will definitely be players who will absolutely pull out their wallets for the convenience of a fast travel post in their camps as soon as possible. That darn camp is just annoying enough to almost convince me to buy some Gold Bars.

    It's not clear how much Gold Bars will cost in real money at the moment, but early estimates suggest that it could take up to eight hours to earn ONE Gold Bar through gameplay for those who don't want to spend any of their hard-earned cash. Red Dead Online doles out gold nuggets for completing multiplayer matches at a snail's pace -- about 2 to 4 gold nuggets per match. It takes 100 gold nuggets to make a single Gold Bar. Now go calculate how long it's going to take you to earn 112 Gold Bars for that damn fast travel post I won't stop telling you about. You might as well hold off for Level 65. 

    Further Reading: Revisiting Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar's Western Adventure

    Wisely, Rockstar has seemingly focused Red Dead Online's microtransactions on cosmetic items, such as clothing, nicer digs, designs for your weapons, and the aforementioned fast trav--okay, I'll shut up about it. There don't seem to be any pay-to-win opportunities hidden within those microtransactions just yet, but as the game's economy hasn't been turned on yet, it remains to be seen what final form it takes. 

    Progression System

    As far as character progression is concerned, it's your basic setup in terms of leveling. You earn XP by completing missions, participating in multiplayer matches, and other activities. Each level you reach unlocks more items you can buy in your catalog, which you can use to buy most of the things you might need from anywhere on the map without having to visit specific stores. Items you purchase will be delivered to the lockbox back at your camp. Items you unlock by leveling up include clothing, weapons, horse breeds, saddles, and other equipment. While it might feel a little convoluted at first, considering all items are available for purchase from the start in story mode, I found that I could always get all the basic stuff I needed, even at the earliest levels. 

    On top of rank unlocks, players also unlock ability cards as they progress, which contain special perks for your Dead Eye as well as passives. One Dead Eye perk, "A Moment to Recuperate," allows you to regain health while in Dead Eye, while "Slow and Steady" lowers the amount of damage you take while in a gunfight. You get three passive slots, which can be unlocked at levels 10, 20, and 40 respectively. All of these cards can be upgraded by earning more XP as well. 

    Further Reading: The Legacy of Manhunt, Rockstar's Horror Masterpiece

    The story mode's honor system also makes a return in Red Dead Online. This time around, how honorable you are directly affects the sorts of missions and tasks you can perform. Play as a good guy and you'll unlock missions that reflect that status, such as helping a marshal put a known felon behind bars. If you're of a ruthless type of player, you may instead help someone break out of jail. Your actions, whether to spare or kill someone, how you treat innocents, and whether you steal from others, will directly affect your experience as you progress. I'm playing as mostly a good guy, who just so happens to enjoy throwing the corpses of those he's murdered into campfires, but may take a turn for the worse to try out some of the more rogue missions. 

    Multiplayer

    Besides the story missions and stranger encounters, I've also spent a bit of time with Red Dead Online's multiplayer, which is broken up into three playlists: Showdown Series, Showdown Series Large, and Race Series. Showdown Series and Showdown Series Large offer up the PvP third-person shooter match types for 16 and 32 players, respectively.

    Match types include Shootout and Team Shootout, your typical solo and team-based deathmatches; Make It Count, Red Dead Online's bow-and-arrow version of a battle royale mode; Hostile Territory, your standard capture-and-defend-the-territory contest; Most Wanted, a take on King of the Hill where players hunt down the top scorer; and the creative Name Your Weapon, a deathmatch in which you're awarded points based on what weapon you use for the kill. The latter is a lot of fun, as you have to use quick thinking when deciding to rush into a situation with your bayonet, which will earn you more points for the kill, or get yourself out of a sticky situation with your repeater (fewer points). The Race series is a bit more straightforward but no less enjoyable, with classic races to a finish line as well as a match type where you have to hit markers sprinkled around a course as quicky as possible. 

    Overall, the multiplayer provides more of an arcade experience for those just looking to shoot things with friends or race other players on their favorite steed. The team deathmatch modes offer up a bit of a twist in terms of the number of teams competing for the win. Some matches are played between two teams, but others will see players sorted into multiple teams, creating a perfect storm of bullets in town squares, as you and your teammates are assaulted on all sides. Each team is represented by a color and a team name. I assume this is how "persistent posses,"Red Dead Online's version of clan system, will come into play. Rolling up to a shootout with your custom-named posse will undoubtedly add some pride and ownership to the experience.

    Further Reading: What's Next for Rockstar After Red Dead Redemption II?

    I have to mention that I don't love Red Dead's shooting mechanics (or GTA V's for that matter). Pulling the trigger always feels a bit stiff and having to visit a weapon wheel to switch weapons feels very outdated in this era of fast-paced shooters. You basically have to rely completely on Dead Eye if you want to get off a quick, clean kill. Some people are already pretty sick at Dead Eye kills in the multiplayer, but to me, it feels like I'm being forced to press two or three extra buttons just to score a headshot. My advice is that you spend a lot of time shooting NPCs in the story mode before facing off against other humans who know how to not run in a straight line. 

    The real standout for me is the horseracing, which mixes a standard race to the finish line with guns. As you race through the course, you're able to kick and punch other players off their horses and also unlock guns by riding through barrels that contain perks to help you along (think the item boxes in Mario Kart). You'll need to hit these barrels in order to keep your horse's stamina up too, as it won't last through the whole race. There's something really twisted about shooting down your fellow competitors in the final stretch of the race, their limp bodies flying off the track. I recommend the rush of adrenaline.

    I've not spent any time with Make It Count, but I suspect Red Dead Online's battle royale mode deserves its own article anyway. I'm going to give it a try this weekend and report back. 

    Work in Progress

    Red Dead Online feels like a new frontier for Rockstar's Western epic and I hope the studio continues to improve on the experience, one that feels much more dangerous by the inclusion of other players, who may be friends but will often prove to be foes. There's no proper release date for the mode as of yet, so expect a lot of trial and error in the coming weeks.

    One thing to keep an eye out for is the game's economy, which isn't quite as balanced as I'd like it to be. Eight hours to earn a single Gold Bar feels like less of an accomplishment or well-earned reward and more of a way to make impatient players spend money to cut down on the time it'll take to earn the currency through gameplay. I'm hopefull that Rockstar will at least continue to restrict microtransactions to cosmetics where they belong. 

    The business of Red Dead Online aside, I'm having a lot of fun with the mode so far and I look forward to seeing how the experience changes as more players jump into the servers and more posses form. Rockstar will finish rolling out beta access to all players on Nov. 30. 

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


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    The Elder Scrolls Blades has been delayed for unknown reasons.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 30, 2018

    The Elder Scrolls: Blades has been delayed. 

    Bethesda announced via a brief tweet that they have delayed the mobile game until sometime in early 2019. The title was originally scheduled for release in December. No explanation was given for the delay, but some people suspect that this decision might be partially based on the negative reception of Fallout 76 as well as the negative reception of Blizzard's mobile Diablo game announcement.

    What makes all of this even more interesting are the rumors which suggest that Bethesda's Todd Howard wanted to release the game shortly after its E3 2018 reveal (similar to how Fallout Shelter was released). The idea that this game would have possibly been released months ago and is now delayed until next year does raise some questions regarding what exactly has Bethesda so hesitant to release it. 

    Based on the information that was shared during that E3 presentation, Blades will reportedly resemble a proper Elder Scrolls title in many ways. It sees you play as a member of the fabled Blades (the top agents of the Empire) whose home has been destroyed by unknown forces. As you wander from the only home you've ever known, you encounter an epic adventure that makes up the bulk of this experience. 

    It seems that most of this game will take place in first-person, but there is still some kind of character creation game available (even if you're not always able to see your character). You can control the game either by tapping on the screen to move your character or by using virtual dual joysticks. 

    Gameplay-wise, there's quite a bit to do in Blades. Along with a more standard adventure that sees you explore the world and a series of hand-designed dungeons (similar to the hand-crafted dungeons seen in Skyrim) it seems that you'll also be able to participate in a roguelike mode that features an endless variety of randomly generated dungeons that you must wander until your character falls. On top of that, Bethesda teased the inclusion of some kind of town building mode that lets you design and grow your very own settlement in this world. 

    While Bethesda teased the appearance of Blades on every major platform - including VR - it seems that it will arrive on mobile devices first. So far as that goes, you can pre-purchase the game (even though it will be free-to-play) by visiting this website

    This isn't the Elder Scrolls game that we were waiting for (that would be this one), but it's might prove to be a cool take on the franchise that looks far more substantial than the average mobile title. 

    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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    Fallout 76 isn't quite Bethesda's biggest bomb, but it is the weakest entry in the post-apocalyptic series. Our review...

    Release Date: November 14, 2018
    Platform: PS4 (reviewed), XBO, PC
    Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
    Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
    Genre: Online RPG

    It’s easy to understand the motivation behind the creation of Fallout 76, a multiplayer offshoot of one of the most wildly popular franchises in video games. Allowing players to trounce around a bombed-out West Virginia wasteland with their friends seems like a no-brainer on paper. Unfortunately, Bethesda is infamous for flubbing the execution of its open-world titles, which are invariably released to the public riddled with bugs and irritating (if not game-breaking) gameplay imbalances that mar the experience. These issues are almost always largely forgiven by players as the essence of the Fallout formula is just too good to dismiss completely. Yet, the studio’s tendency to release shaggy products is unfortunately exacerbated by Fallout 76’s sheer scope and complexity. This is a frustratingly buggy game, and with many of the franchise’s greatest virtues nixed from this online iteration, there sadly isn’t enough good on offer to outweigh the bad.

    Before jumping into Fallout 76’s strengths and weaknesses, there’s a conceptual misstep that must be addressed, one that is perhaps the root cause of the game’s general feeling of wonkiness. At Bethesda’s E3 press conference this past June, the studio’s executive producer, Todd Howard, revealed the game and said that the studio had always wanted to tell the story of the first “characters” to leave the vaults but that there was one big difference with Fallout 76. “Each of those characters is a real person,” he said as he addressed the hundreds of Fallout faithful.

    Further Reading: Fallout 3 Is Bethesda's Scariest RPG

    This was a puzzling proposition. One of the best things about Fallout games is the sense of exploration and world-building, discovering not just new locations but new characters to interact and develop relationships with. Almost every wastelander you meet harbors a sordid history or some bizarre life issue for you to take care of (even if these NPCs don’t have a quest attached to them, that personal history feels baked into their dialogue). This is one of the great joys of the franchise. Despite the desolation and hopelessness of the post-apocalyptic milieu, these stories, delivered via the colorfully written NPCs, breathe life into an otherwise bleak, lonesome experience.

    Bethesda’s decision to demolish this key pillar of narrative and gameplay and put in its place a rickety online multiplayer component was a mistake. Human players will never provide the same narrative substance of written NPCs, and while multiplayer can be a lot of fun in certain contexts, eliminating NPCs makes the game feel empty, soulless, and disposable in the larger context of the franchise’s legacy.

    Execution is absolutely an issue here. Yes, the game is buggy, and yes, the online experience isn’t nearly as seamless as it should be. But the real issue is that the idea to rid Falloutof NPCs is ill-conceived. Even if the multiplayer component worked perfectly, there’s no way to take NPCs -- the franchise’s primary storytelling device -- out of the equation without the game feeling like a heartless shell of its former self. Uncovering the game’s lore via holotapes, computer documents, and handwritten notes simply isn’t as engaging as speaking to and interacting with other characters.

    Further Reading: Fallout Lore Changes Explained by Bethesda

    There are times when, without a doubt, wandering the wasteland with a pack of friends is a blast. You can easily spend hours exploring, tackling daily events, trading supplies and weapons, sharing custom-built bases (more on that later), and simply jabbering away with human companions and never run out of things to do. Discovering new locations by marching toward hollow icons on the in-game compass has always been one of the great joys of Fallout, and sharing that discovery with friends is a genuine thrill. Plus, each player can search corpses and containers separately, which means high body counts racked up by large groups result in plenty of loot to go around for everyone.

    Grouping up is the best way to play, and while the lack of NPCs and a litany of other issues make Fallout 76 the weakest game in the series, there’s still fun to be had here, especially if you link up with like-minded friends. Most of the random player encounters you experience will amount to little more than a shaky, short-term alliance in which very little of consequence is gained loot-wise or fun-wise. But if you find people to play with who embrace a true role-playing approach, it makes the game exponentially more enjoyable. One player I linked up with was a gun-crazy pharmacist of sorts, who specialized in trading stimpaks, buffouts, Radaways, and the like to support their proclivity for rare and weapons, armor, and mods. After looting a bitchin’ drifter outfit in an abandoned house, I felt compelled to adopt a nomadic playstyle, setting up camp in an area, spending a few in-game days raiding and looting whatever I could find, and then packing up and finding a new town, dungeon, or irradiated farmland to plunder. My doctor friend joined me on my journey and our respective roles gelled quite well: they’d keep me stocked up on life-saving drugs, and I’d help them find rare armor and artillery.

    This kind of simpatico interaction is encouraged too strongly throughout the game, as PvE encounters are crippled by limitations. You can only deal minimal damage to others unless they choose to return fire, and even then, combat feels woefully imbalanced. Melee-based players with a strong V.A.T.S. ability seem to almost always dominate the field, for example, and the hit boxes and responsiveness of the controls feel fidgety and loose. The worst part of bumping into players of the griefer variety, who have more of an interest in being trolls than immersing themselves in post-apocalyptic West Virginia, is that the real-world trash talk can often break immersion in the game world. This is a matter of preference, of course, but immersion has always been one of the strengths of the series, and to break that immersion can feel distracting in the worst way.

    Further Reading: Revisiting the Original Fallout Game

    Despite this fatal flaw, let’s not forget that Bethesda is a tremendously talented studio and that many of the things that make Fallout great remain intact in 76. When you exit Vault 76 and stumble into the blinding sunlight for the first time and begin to wander along, you’ll find that, like its predecessors, the game has the ability to feed mercilessly on your compulsions, constantly presenting new avenues of progress, common-to-rare items, and new bits of lore to uncover via holotapes and notes. The loot-based, level-building mechanics remain the game’s greatest strength, so while the game’s anemic, hollow narrative fails to engage in the way past titles’ have, the traditional RPG elements help to buoy the experience.

    In fact, weapon, armor, ammo, and food crafting feel better and more robust than ever. From classic pipe guns, to laser rifles, to outlandish melee weapons (my favorite was a deadly guitar sword), each piece of your arsenal can be modded to your heart’s content with myriad upgrades. Cooking is more flexible this time around as well, and instead of leveling up to “learn” new recipes, you’ll find them scattered about the wasteland (you can also buy them from merchant bots or trade with other players).

    Scrapping items is as crucial—you’ll sometimes find yourself one or two components shy of crafting some awesome piece of armor, and recycling some nearby junk will often yield the missing pieces. Item scarcity plays into the survival aspect of the gameplay, which adds an element of immersion to the game and never feels like a chore. You’re forced to constantly keep yourself nourished with food and drink, which can often be the key to managing an overstuffed inventory. Overall, the looting and crafting feel well balanced.

    Further Reading: Why Interplay's Fallout 3 Didn't Happen

    Combat, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. The time-stopping V.A.T.S. we know and love is understandably nonexistent in this multiplayer-based affair, and in its place is an almost useless mechanic that’s best used as a way to target small or hard-to-see targets when entering new areas. Third-person combat is incredibly clunky, and while first-person play fares better, the game’s perpetually herky-jerky framerate makes combat feel infuriatingly imprecise at times (V.A.T.S. helped alleviate this in previous titles, but alas…).

    Unlike V.A.T.S., the Perk system is overhauled this time around for the better. The traditional SPECIAL (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck) format is still in place, but now modifiers are applied to your character via a sort of trading card system, in which you’re given random packs of perk cards when you level up. Some cards make you more resistant to radiation, some make medical items weigh less, and some cause enemies to explode into bloody bits when defeated. There are countless ways to customize your character to fit your playstyle. You can stack duplicate cards to increase their effects, and each card can only be applied to one of the SPECIAL subsets. The coolest aspect of the new system is that you can trade cards with other players, yet another way Bethesda has incentivized group play.

    Another excellent idea Bethesda has integrated quite well is the expanded building system, which sees players outfitted with a portable camp that they can set up and tear down almost anywhere in the game world, as opposed to the specific build sites offered in Fallout 4. The actual building mechanics can still be frustrating when trying to build on top of jagged pieces of terrain, but the ability to move your camp around and even show off your custom abode to friends makes building a much more gratifying feature this time around.

    Further Reading: Why Fallout Shelter Is the Darkest Mobile Game Ever

    While the absence of NPCs is crippling to the game’s storytelling, Bethesda nevertheless proves once again to be adept environmental storytellers, with dozens of bizarre, ruined locations populating the enormous game map, each with a history baked in. Sometimes you’ll find notes or holotapes, but on most occasions, the environments tell intriguing stories on their own. A towering, crashed space station called Valiant offers little narrative in a concrete sense, but the way in which its shell is half plunged into the earth, ghouls aimlessly roaming the gutted innards, hints at a catastrophe with darker underpinnings than one might first infer. When you find a spacesuit and helmet inside one of the airlocks, putting it on may feel somewhat macabre when you consider the skeletons of the space station’s crew strewn about the crash site. If this kind of subtle storytelling sends chills down your spine, know that the game has no shortage of these haunting, experiential tales just waiting to be discovered.

    It won’t come as a surprise to anybody that Fallout 76’s presentation is a bubbling jambalaya of every common open-world glitch you’ve ever seen and then some. Heads and limbs will expand and shrink randomly, vanished data will block your progress on main quests (“How am I supposed to fix this vending machine when I can’t even interact with it?”), and, of course, the game sometimes crashes, the most frustrating and unforgivable glitch of all. Textures load at alarmingly slow rates, as do post-processing effects, and animation is as stiff as ever.

    Glitches and goofs aside, the game looks...okay. In certain respects, it’s better looking than its predecessors, particularly when it comes to enemy design. Some of the creatures prowling the wasteland, munching on hapless neo-West Virginians, are fantastically imaginative, from the plodding, muscly Grafton Monster, to the insectoid nightmare Honey Beast. In fact, one of the most compelling reasons to continue playing Fallout 76 in spite of all its shortcomings is to see all of the awesome beasts Bethesda has churned out of their monster factory.

    Further Reading: Bethesda Details Fallout 76 Updates

    What Fallout 76 lacks, though, is a sense of artistic cohesion, something Fallout: New Vegasstruggled with as well. While much of the environmental and character designs are, frankly, eye-popping, there isn’t an overarching aesthetic vision tying the visuals together. The landscapes are varied and more colorful than ever before, which is nice in a way, but the presentation simply doesn’t feel as grounded and polished as Fallout 4’s.

    Progression/loot-based games can be a lot of fun despite their repetitiveness. Joining up with a group of players to fight off hordes of enemies to find launch codes for a nuke, giving you access to the game’s ultimate high of highs, is an arduous process that maybe isn’t quite worth it in the end (the explosion sure looks spectacular, but beyond that, the rewards are light). But as the cliche goes, sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination. The hamster wheel that is Fallout 76’s primary gameplay loop -- kill enemies, loot items, craft better items, kill stronger enemies, loot even better items, etc. -- isn’t for everyone, but some, like yours truly, will find themselves being a relatively happy hamster.

    There are a lot of terrific ideas bouncing around Fallout 76, but they’re all mired by a grand irony that hovers over the game like a dark mushroom cloud: Bethesda meant to make a bustling, social, multiplayer version of Fallout but instead created the loneliest entry of them all. Sure, the companionship of real-life players has its appeal and makes for some solid fun, but the game feels devoid of life because none of the characters you encounter belong to the game world -- they belong to ours. This dissonance zaps Fallout of its charm, which results in an intrinsically confused game that can’t measure up to the legacy of its predecessors.

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

    3/5
    ReviewBernard Boo
    Fallout 76 Review
    Nov 30, 2018

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    BioWare suggests we might hear about the next Dragon Age game before the end of the year.

    Dragon Age BioWare Reveal
    News Matthew Byrd
    Nov 30, 2018

    A new update from BioWare's Casey Hudson suggests we will hear more about a new Dragon Age game before the end of the year. 

    "If you’ve been following these blogs, or myself and Mark Darrah on Twitter, you know we’re also working on some secret Dragon Age stuff," said Hudson in a recent blog post. "Dragon Age is an incredibly important franchise in our studio, and we’re excited to continue its legacy. Look for more on this in the coming month (though I won’t tell you where to look…)" 

    At the moment, the popular theory is that a Dragon Age trailer will be shown during the 2018 Game Awards as that's really the only significant remaining gaming event of 2018. However, we wouldn't completely rule out the possibility that BioWare will choose to showcase this through their YouTube channel or some other internal means. 

    This is hardly the first time that we've heard rumblings of a new Dragon Age game from BioWare. Hudson himself had previously stated that he is aware of the interest in a new Dragon Age game and that BioWare was working on secret projects possibly related to the franchise. 

    "We hear loud and clear the interest in BioWare doing more Dragon Age and Mass Effect," said BioWare GM Casey Hudson as part of the company's mid-summer update. "...rest assured that we have some teams hidden away working on some secret stuff that I think you'll really like - we're just not ready to talk about any of it for a little while."

    In so many words, that statement seems to address the growing speculation that Anthem is not a "BioWare game" and rather a directive from EA (whom we assume are twirling their brandy in front of a fireplace and bearskin rug as we speak). Despite comments from current and former BioWare employees who insist that Anthem is very much a game the studio is interested in making right now, there is no shortage of BioWare fans who would rather see a more traditional RPGs from the studio. 

    So far as that goes, we're not entirely sure what to expect from this next Dragon Age game. BioWare has previously noted that fans shouldn't expect all of their future games to be like Anthem. That, combined with comments from people close to the Dragon Age series, would seem to suggest that the next Dragon Age game will be a "proper"Dragon Age game (that we'll currently refer to as Dragon Age 4). However, the fact that some people closely associated with the Dragon Age franchise (and classic BioWare games in general) have left the company in recent years casts some doubt as to what form this next Dragon Agegame will take. 

    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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  • 12/03/18--12:00: 25 Best Star Wars Games
  • There have been plenty of Star Wars games over the year, but these are the 25 best!

    Best Star Wars Games - Super Star Wars
    Feature Chris Freiberg
    Dec 3, 2018

    There have been dozens of Star Wars games over the years, but just like the movies themselves, some are remembered much more fondly than others. For every Star Warsgame as beloved as The Empire Strikes Back, there’s a half-dozen that are as hated as much as The Phantom Menace or as divisive as The Last Jedi.

    Then there are those all-time classics, like Knights of the Old Republic, which some fans claim to be better than the entire film saga. It's a big claim, of course, but it's hard to beat a Star Wars experience in which you get to be the hero of the story and shape the galaxy as you see fit. Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy even let you train as an apprentice and become the hero (or villain) you were always destined to be!

    So which games are strongest in the Force? Here are Den of Geek's 25 favorite Star Wars games:

    25. Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles

    2000 | LucasArts | DC, PSX, GBA

    Jedi Power Battles delivers something that you’d think would be more common in Star Wars games: the simple joy of using a lightsaber to slash through hundreds of enemies with a partner by your side. It’s not the prettiest or deepest game, but it’s fun, and it does feature a solid selection of Prequel-era Jedi. There are even quite a few unlockable characters and levels if you really get into the game. And while the Dreamcast version is easily the best, even the Game Boy Advance port isn’t too shabby.

    Further Reading: How The Phantom Menace Teaser Trailer Became a Cinematic Event

    24. Star Wars: TIE Fighter

    1994 | Totally Games | PC

    Star Wars: TIE Fighter is the very definition of an oldie but a goodie. While its graphics show their age, the gameplay is timeless. Even though the battles take place in space, they feel more like World War II dogfights. Thankfully, this game is now readily available on Steam and other modern PC platforms.

    23. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

    1996 | LucasArts | N64, PC

    Shadows of the Empire’s graphics haven’t aged very well, but that shouldn't make it feel any less epic. The beauty of having the game take place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi is that it lets you play out so many cool moments connected to those films, like the Battle of Hoth and the confrontation with Boba Fett. Admittedly, this one was kind of clunky to play when it first came out, but an HD remake could iron out the kinks.

    Further Reading: Revisiting Shadows of the Empire, the Gritty Star Wars Epic of the '90s

    22. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

    2010 | LucasArts | PC, PS3, Wii, X360

    The first Force Unleashed was a fun but flawed game. Hopes were high for the sequel, but unfortunately it still faltered in many ways - primarily with a silly story about being a clone that lasts all of three hours. But The Force Unleashed II is still a beautiful game to behold, and there’s something extremely satisfying about tearing into stormtroopers with Force lightning and dual-wielded lightsabers. It’s just too bad we’ll never get to see how the planned sequel would have turned out.

    21. Star Wars: The Old Republic

    2011 | BioWare | PC

    The Old Republic is not Knights of the Old Republic III, and some gamers will never get over that. What it is, however, is an MMO that takes its story very seriously. The type of commitment required for an MMO isn’t for every gamer, but for those gamers who really want to feel like they’re living in a galaxy far, far away, there’s no better option. And it’s been free-to-play for years now, so there’s no reason to skip over it.

    Further Reading: What Happened to the Golden Age of Star Wars Games?

    20. Super Star Wars

    1992 | LucasArts | SNES

    Super Star Wars is a bit of an oddity compared to later Star Wars games. It tracks the plot of A New Hope pretty closely, but also takes some pretty big liberties, like adding levels where Luke fights giant scorpions and infiltrates a Jawa Sandcrawler. It’s a little odd, but keep in mind this is the era when even TV shows like Home Improvement had video game adaptations with out of place enemies. Super Star Wars and its two sequels at least hold up better than most other early ‘90s game adaptations.

    19. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

    2011 | Traveller’s Tales | PS3, PC, Wii, X360

    Just like the movies themselves, sometimes Star Wars sequels can’t quite live up to the hype. Traveller’s Tales had already cranked out three awesome Lego Star Warsgames at this point, so you’d think they could do even more amazing things with a game based on the popular Clone Wars cartoon. And… they sort of did. It’s still fun replaying episodes and collecting thousands of studs, but the baffling inclusion of RTS elements brings this one down a few pegs.

    Further Reading: 25 Most Memorable Moments in Star Wars Games

    18. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

    2005 | LucasArts | PS2, Xbox

    Aside from the Lego games, there haven’t been too many video games that directly adapt the Star Wars films in recent years. Revenge of the Sithis extremely faithful to the movie and adds in a fairly deep combo system, as you play as either Anakin or Obi-wan. And if you play through the final mission as Anakin, you get an ending very different from the film.

    17. Pinball FX 3

    2017 | Zen Studios | PC, PS4, Switch, XBO, Wii U

    The latest version of Pinball FX contains more than a dozen tables featuring characters from all three Star Wars trilogies. And while the quality of each table varies slightly, it’s always fun to play through scenes from Episodes IV-VII (and Rogue One!) or go for the high score while listening to “The Imperial March” on the Darth Vader table.

    Further Reading: How Star Wars Games Are Made, According to EA

    16. Star Wars: Dark Forces

    1996| LucasArts | PC, PSX

    DOOM and Quake are often seen as the pinnacles of first-person shooters in the ‘90s, but Dark Forces actually deserves a lot of credit for its innovations. This classic introduced jumping, free aiming, and multi-step puzzles, which have all become cornerstones of the genre. Thanks to that depth, it holds up better than a lot of other ‘90s PC shooters.

    15. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

    2002 | LucasArts | GCN, PS2

    Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever get to play Star Wars 1313, the cancelled game about Boba Fett’s bounty hunting adventures in the less respectable areas of Coruscant. But we have Star Wars: Bounty Hunter at least, the story of his father/the guy he was cloned from and his own adventures during the Prequel era. It’s admittedly a little janky, and not terribly innovative, but there will always be something empowering about playing through a game as a Fett.

    Further Reading: Best Star Wars Bounty Hunter Stories

    14. Star Wars: Empire at War

    2006 | Petroglyph games | PC

    Admittedly, Empire at War isn’t as deep as Starcraft II, but Starcraft II doesn’t have X-wings, AT-ATs, or Darth Vader as units. This is an above average RTS game that finally lets you plot out victory for either the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance. The RTS genre is such a perfect fit for Star Wars, it’s surprising that more games haven’t gone this route.

    13. Star Wars Rogue Squadron

    1998 | Factor 5 | N64, PC

    While several games let players pilot an X-Wing prior to Rogue Squadron, Factor 5’s masterpiece just made it piloting these starfighters more fun with its more arcadey controls and missions. And even today, the game looks and sounds phenomenal. Factor 5 pulled some real magic out of the aging N64 hardware to make a game that still holds up 20 years later. Just be warned though: the later missions are extremely challenging.

    Further Reading: Rogue One Easter Eggs and Reference Guide

    12. Star Wars Battlefront

    2015 | EA DICE | PC, PS4, XBO

    A lot has been said about the game Battlefront isn’t. It’s true that it’s a little light on content, and it’s even missing features that were in its predecessors, released a decade earlier. But Battlefront is still a fun multiplayer shooter to jump into for a few minutes or hours, and it captures the feel of the movies better than any other Star Warsgame before it. It’s one of the best looking games of the current generation, and the inclusion of Rogue One content a year after release kept the experience fresh. Even if this revival isn't perfect, at least it avoided the microtransaction mess that plagued its sequel.

    11. Disney Infinity 3.0

    2015 | Avalance Software | PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, X360, XBO

    Toys and Star Wars go together like George Lucas and bad dialogue. Even if you find the gameplay in Disney Infinity 3.0 to be too kiddie or easy, it’s hard for any Star Warsfan to resist the dozens of plastic toys released alongside the game. Plus, it’s the only game to date where you can see Darth Vader interact with Spider-Man and Mickey Mouse.

    Further Reading: Disney Infinity 3.0 Review

    10. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    2016 | TT Fusion | 3DS, PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, X360, XBO

    Despite dabbling in numerous other franchises over the years, the first three Lego Star Wars games are arguably still among the very best to come out of Traveller’s Tales. It’s no surprise then that the prolific developer did justice to the Lego version of The Force Awakens. This isn’t a revolutionary title, just a perfect (and often hilarious) take on the movie, with the added bonus of canon missions set after Return of the Jedi and playable characters spanning the entire saga.

    9. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

    2008 | LucasArts | PC, PS3, Wii, X360

    While it’s not a perfect game by any means, perhaps no other Star Wars game has better captured what it would be like to have the full powers of the Force at your disposal, whether that means engaging in extremely satisfying lightsaber and Force lightning combat, or taking down a Star Destroyer using only the ancient energy. And unlike its sequel, The Force Unleashed actually had a pretty great story that even tied into the Original Trilogy, at least until Disney bought out Lucasfilm and declared that it was no longer canon.

    Further Reading: Why The Force Unleashed Was the Most Ambitious Star Wars Game Ever Made

    8. Star Wars Episode I: Racer

    PC | LucasArts | DC, N64, PC

    Though The Phantom Menace is often considered the most disappointing Star Wars film, it actually resulted in some of the best games. Maybe it's because they didn’t follow the movie so closely? Racer took one of the best scenes from the movie, Anakin’s epic podrace victory, and turned it into a full-featured game heavily inspired by F-Zero and Wipeout. It’s a concept that was pretty much impossible to screw up and made for one of the very best Star Wars games.

    7. Star Wars: Republic Commando

    2005 | LucasArts | PC, XBOX

    Republic Commandotakes some big risks that end up paying off. It doesn’t feature any Jedi, and it shuns the action/adventure gameplay of most Star Warsgames for tactical first-person shooting, as you lead an elite group of Clone Troopers at the beginning of the Clone Wars. More than a decade later, there still aren't many FPS games as fun or as innovative as Republic Commando. If there’s any Star Warsgame begging for a proper sequel or HD remake, it’s this one.

    Further Reading: Why Republic Commando Is the Darkest Star Wars FPS

    6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

    2004 | BioWare | PC, XBOX

    The storyline of Knights of the Old Republic II may not quite match its predecessor, but the tale of the Jedi Exile restoring his or her connection to the Force is still one of the most captivating in Star Wars. Plus, the characters that join your party, like Kreia and Hanharr the Wookiee bounty hunter, are arguably even better and more fleshed out than the first game's roster. And Darth Nihilus still stands out as one of the most badass Sith Lords to ever terrorize the galaxy. It’s too bad that LucasArts rushed Obsidian to finish the game in time for the holidays, because with a few more months of polish, this sequel might have topped this list.

    5. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

    2001 | Factor 5 | GCN

    No game has nailed the feel of what it would be like to pilot an X-wing quite like Rogue Leader. The graphics were mind-blowing when the game first came out in 2001 as a GameCube launch title, and they still look remarkable today. No X-wing game has quite capture the Death Star trench run as well as Rogue Leader, either. Unfortunately, the sequel failed to capitalize on Rogue Leader’s success, adding some ill-advised on-foot missions, and Factor 5 barely exists as a developer after the even more ill-advised Lair for PS3.

    Further Reading: Why Rogue Squadron 2 Is a Space Combat Masterpiece

    4. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

    2002 | Raven Software | GCN, PC, XBOX

    The biggest issue most fans have with Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars is how many great stories were tossed aside without a  second thought in order to make way for the Sequel Trilogy. One of the biggest losses was Kyle Katarn, the Imperial officer-turned Jedi who starred in the very best Star Wars action game. A lot of Star Wars games let you wield a lightsaber and Force powers, but none have mastered the combo quite as well. And few games have had such freedom to explore the post-Return of the Jedi timeline as Jedi Outcast did. Players even got to spend some time with Luke Skywalker at his new Jedi temple on Yavin IV. Unfortunately, post-Disney, we’ll probably never see Katarn again.

    3. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

    2007 | Traveller’s Tales | PC, PS3, Wii, X360

    Surprisingly, this is the only Star Wars game to date that lets you play through the first six movies in their entirety. Don’t let the Lego veneer fool you, this is a great game with fun and varied gameplay that’s fairly true to its source material (with a few hilarious deviations). And with a ridiculous 160 playable characters, it’s likely that you’ll find all of your favorites here no matter how obscure they are.

    Further Reading: 10 Darth Maul Facts You Might Now Know

    2. Star Wars Battlefront II

    2005 | Pandemic Studios | PC, PS2, XBOX

    Few games have developed rabid and loyal fanbases like Battlefront II. Even after two graphically superior spiritual sequels, many fans argue that the campaign, Galactic Conquest, and the multiplayer maps are far superior to what EA is making now. Fire up this classic on the PC, and it’s hard to argue against this title's superiority. And as of October 2017, the previously shutdown online play for PC is back in full force with no signs of slowing down.

    1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    2003 | BioWare | PC, XBOX

    Knights of the Old Republicaccomplished what virtually no other Star Wars game has: it created a story that’s even better than anything in the movies. The tale of your character’s growth as a Jedi and the story's big twist are still beloved today. No other Star Wars game has given you as much power over the fate of the galaxy either, allowing you to choose whether to save the Republic or rule it with an iron fist. Now if we could finally get all of the interested parties to agree to let BioWare make Knights of the Old Republic III

    Further Reading: Star Wars Canon Timeline

    Chris Freiberg is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.


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