ISSUE 176 gamesradar.com/opm
38 NEXT-GEN GAMES + FIRST GAMEPLAY SCREENS
THE LAST OF US PART II 53 reasons why you need Sony’s PS4 exclusive
COMING TO PS5
Sharpen your axe for Ubisoft’s Nordic next-gen debut PS5 REVS UP
DIRT 5 VS WRC 9 The rally racing giants go
tyre-to-tyre on PlayStation 5
IT ’S A HIT
The classic GTA-alike comes to PS4, and it’s breathtaking
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“ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA IS THE FIRST ESTABLISHED FRANCHISE TO BE CONFIRMED FOR SONY’S NEXT GEN.”
e’re inching closer to next gen, and this issue is proof. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is heading to PlayStation 5 as well as PlayStation 4, and is the first established franchise to be confirmed for Sony’s next gen. We meet the game’s narrative director, Darby McDevitt, who shares its influences, structure, and more in our in-depth interview (p50). The PlayStation 5 reveals keep coming this issue as we dig into the first details of next-gen Dirt 2 and WRC 9, as well as new games Chorus, The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum, and anime Devil-May-Cry-alike Scarlet Nexus. Oh, and turn the page to see the first in-engine screens running on PS5. Showing lots of love for PlayStation 4, we turn our gaze on The Last Of Us Part II; the game is finally released this month and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Turn to p60 for our 53 reasons to get excited. Stay well, reader, and we’ll be here next month with a special 180-page super-issue!
PS Plus users: get three issues of OPM for just £1!
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GAME OF THE MONTH Telling Lies BEST BEARD IN A GAME King Of Cosmos
GAME OF THE MONTH Arcade Spirits BEST BEARD IN A GAME Cloud
GAME OF THE MONTH Moving Out BEST BEARD IN A GAME McCree
GAME OF THE MONTH Streets Of Rage 4 BEST BEARD IN A GAME Zangief
GAMES EDITOR 53 reasons to get excited for The Last Of Us Part II? Oscar’s got ’em all, and he has the tattoo to prove it. Skip to p60 to read ’em all.
STAFF WRITER Having not left her flat for seven weeks, Jess became attached to the homes in Moving Out (p76). DON’T BREAK THE WINDOWS.
OPERATIONS EDITOR Hwæt! Mim’s knowledge of Saxon history was tested as she fact-checked our AC Valhalla feature (p50). No, Wheels Of Steel isn’t in.
MANAGING ART EDITOR Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol, Skol…
HIGHLIGHTS The big story
006 UNREAL ENGINE 5 004
The engine that’ll fuel the next generation’s games, shown first running on PS5. The big 10
010 MAFIA TRILOGY All three games to be re-released, with a ground-up remake for the first. review
034 DIRT 5 Getting mucky never looked as good as it does on PS5 – plus two of our favourite voices. Feature
050 ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA Brush your beard and polish your axe; we’ve looted all the details of the next Creed. Feature
060 THE LAST OF US PART II Still need a reason to get excited about this one? We’ve got 53 reasons to be enthused. review
070 PREDATOR: HUNTING GROUNDS Illfonic cooked up a story and dropped the four of us into a meat grinder…
Love these unique covers? Want to get the best-looking version for half the price you’d pay in a shop? Turn to p58 for our latest subs deal.
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S E C T I O N S AT A G L A N C E
THE BIG 10
All the hottest news Latest info, screens and playtests and biggest games 010
To-the-point, detailed analysis
In-depth verdicts on every big new game
Max out your PS4, online and off
THE Games index 078 A RCADE SPIRITS 050 ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA 090 BIOSHOCK 048 BUBBLE BOBBLE 4 FRIENDS 022 CHORUS 023 CYGNI: ALL GUNS BLAZING 074 DAYMARE 1998 018 DESTROY ALL HUMANS! 034 DIRT 5 086 FALLOUT 76 089 FINAL FANTASY XIV: SHADOWBRINGERS – REFLECTIONS IN CRYSTAL 048 FIRST CLASS TROUBLE 042 GUILTY GEAR STRIVE 078 JOHN WICK HEX 038 LIBERATED 048 LITTLE TOWN HERO 010 MAFIA: TRILOGY 046 MOONRAY 080 MOTOGP 20 076 MOVING OUT 048 PORT ROYALE 4 070 PREDATOR: HUNTING GROUNDS 024 PSYHOTEL SIMULATOR 088 REMNANT: FROM THE ASHES – SWAMPS OF CORSUS 048 REMOTHERED: BROKEN PORCELAIN 084 RESIDENT EVIL RESISTANCE 040 RESOLUTIION 075 SAKURA WARS 015 SCARLET NEXUS 039 SONG OF HORROR 074 STRANDED DEEP 079 STREETS OF RAGE 4 081 TELLING LIES 060 THE LAST OF US PART II 014 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: GOLLUM 078 THE WALKING DEAD: SAINTS AND SINNERS 020 TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER 1+2 074 TRIALS OF MANA 047 VADER IMMORTAL: A STAR WARS VR SERIES 016 WRC 9
UNREAL ENGINE 5 ON PS5 GODFALL
Epic Games has worked closely with Sony to develop Unreal Engine 5. Is this what all PS5 games will look like?
UNREAL ENGINE 5 ON PS5
PS5 IS UNREAL
Epic Games demos Unreal Engine 5 in real time on PlayStation 5. Take your first look at the next gen in action
he walks firmly into a craggy canyon and the camera pans around and zooms in on the rocks to our left, which look tangibly real. Though she’s performing the moves of a familiar tomb-raiding icon, scurrying and clambering about
the photoreal world, this is no game. This is Epic Games showcasing Unreal Engine 5, the new toolset almost every developer will tap into in the next generation, and it’s running in real time on PlayStation 5. This is a tease of what Sony’s next gen can achieve. One of Epic Games’ goals is to deliver the kind of photorealism we’ve become accustomed to in film CG and VFX. The broader aim is to ensure every developer of any size can get these results.
“EVERY DEVELOPER OF ANY SIZE CAN GET THESE RESULTS.”
READER REACTIONS Il-Lumen-ating responses 008
Spectacular I don’t think I was expecting gameplay to be like this. I’m absolutely mind blown.” Jeff McNiven looks absolutely incredible though and makes next gen something to get very excited for.” Matt Mcnamee
 The demo makes use of 8K textures to deliver a photoreal world.  The rock textures used here are those usually used in film VFX, not in a game.  We love Lumen – now Epic, put her into her own game.
It was running at low pull too being 1440 and 30fps, so it’s extremely exciting moving forward. […] this has truly put the excitement back in me in a big way.” Kris Collyer
We’re back in the demo running on PS5, called Lumen In The Land Of Nanite, and we see our heroine pull herself up a sandy ledge, dust herself down, and the fine flecks sprinkle into the wind, light dancing off them as they disperse. The camera pans up, and above looms an ornate temple dappled by sunlight that realistically picks out spots of metal glinting from the ancient rocky forms. The world looks real and tangible thanks to new tech Epic Games calls “Nanite virtualised micropolygon geometry”. This new next-gen feature enables videogame artists to create as much geometric detail in a scene as the eye can see; this means film-quality models and art that would normally be optimised
Imagine what Naughty Dog, Santa Monica and other first party studios, will be able to achieve on PlayStation 5 with all the power. Now I wanna see a new Infamous game so bad.” Alexandra Tashkina Amazing! I was left in awe and excitement, beautiful graphics, lighting, details, everything I was expecting to see in a next gen console.” Paul Garay
and reduced in detail to work in a game can simply be imported and run – that’s art made of billions of polygons imported into UnrealEngine-5-powered games on PS5. It means devs no longer need to count polygons to fit their games’ memory or draw budgets; the need to manually manage detail to get everything to work is gone. The ‘one wheel in our new game has more polygons than an entire car in our last game’ bragging of developers on current gen is a thing of the past. The counts will be so high on PS5, you may just as well stop and admire the worlds you’ll play in.
“ARTISTS CAN PUT AS MUCH DETAIL IN A SCENE AS THE EYE CAN SEE.”
REFLECT ON PS5
Epic’s explorer pushes on into her realistic world. PS5 is easing
through the workload, effortlessly delivering incredible visuals as the sunny canyon gives way to a dark cavern. The lighting alters and shifts as we move from sunny exterior to torchlit temple interior. The magical torchlight reflects off a multitude of metallic statues (imported directly from ZBrush with no downgrade) placed around the room, casting and magnifying light in real time through the chamber. This is new to Unreal Engine 5, called Lumen (geddit?). It’s the engine’s fully dynamic global illumination tech, which – in simple terms – means it can immediately react to changes in a scene and alterations to a game’s lighting setup. To quote from Unreal Engine 5’s technical documentation: “The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed
UNREAL ENGINE 5 ON PS5 5
 New tech Lumen reacts to moving light sources and changes to the environment, delivering real-time realistic lighting.  These statues were imported from ZBrush without the geometry being scaled down.  UE5 supports unlimited polygon counts even when creating open worlds.
environments, at scales ranging from kilometres to millimetres.” It means developers and artists can simply move the camera to relight a scene without the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish calculating; this is a massive time-saver as anything done in the engine to tinker or test will look identical in-game, whether it’s a small room or a wide-open environment. Imagine a game scene in which you blow a hole in a cave ceiling so the light streams in, reflecting and bouncing around you, interacting with objects and your movement, and it’s all done seamlessly in real time. This is the power of UE5 on PS5.
We see this running on PS5 as Epic’s demo moves on. Our heroine, who we are becoming more attached to as time passes, leaves the temple and returns to the sunny outside. The rock and stone statues feel baked into the world by the heat of the sun. The view is vast and unending, showing the detail we wowed at earlier can be stretched into open-world games. Now the demo lurches into full videogame spectacle. Leaping from the temple’s altar, Lumen soars into the air – she can fly! – and flees the ancient ruin as her meddling causes everything to crack, crumble, and collapse above and around her. This sequence makes use of existing Unreal Engine tools – Chaos physics and
“DEVELOPERS CAN SIMPLY MOVE THE CAMERA TO RELIGHT A SCENE.”
Sounds awesome!!! Very excited about this next-gen console.” Revan Wars If the graphics get any better on these games I am going to need eye surgery to see it.” Matt Reed That looks simply stunning!” Abby Wallis One PS5 tech demo has blown the Xbox reveal out of the water. Look at the graphics on this, I want this as a game and I don’t even care what it is!” Ivan Reillo Looks immense.” Kris Clark
destruction, Niagara VFX – but inside UE5. With Lumen and Nanite delivering heightened detail and illumination in real time, rather than through scripted VFX animation, it’s pure next-gen.
NEXT GEN NOW
We’ve now glimpsed what PS5 can deliver, and it’s a clear step above PS4. Visually next gen’s appeal looks to lie in increases in detail on a par with movie CG. Yet it’s the speed and ease with which this kind of step up in spectacle is achieved that really impresses Unreal Engine 5 and PlayStation 5 aim to offer incredible technical and artistic achievements with increased accessibility that both indies and Triple-A studios will be able to deliver equally (Epic Games is waiving the first $1 million profit a dev makes). We’ve dipped a toe into PS5’s beautiful pool and we love it. This is illuminating.
The Big10 STORIES EVERYONEâ€™S TALKING ABOUT
THE MAFIA REMAKE FEATURES AN UPDATED SCRIPT, NEW CUTSCENES, AND ADDITIONAL GAMEPLAY SEQUENCES.
Car chases in 1920s Mafia are thrilling. Few games have managed to capture atmosphere like this classic.
14 IT’S PRECIOUS
PS5’s Gollum finally emerges.
16 RALLY GOOD
WRC 9 speeds onto next gen.
20 GRIND AND GRIN
Tony Hawk 1 and 2 remade for PS4.
TheBig10 STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
2K’s making an offer we don’t want to refuse
The original Mafia is being remade from the ground up, and we love it 2K is turning back the clock on its 18-millionselling American gangster series with Mafia: Trilogy. Created by 2K’s narrative specialists at Hangar 13, this collection of remasters and remakes will bring Mafia and Mafia II to PlayStation 4 for the first time, as well as delivering a revamped edition of Mafia III. While you can grab Mafia II and Mafia III Definitive Editions digitally from the PS Store right now, you’ll have to wait until 28 August for the physical release of Mafia: Trilogy and the ground-up remake of the original Mafia – the real reason to get excited about Hangar 13’s handiwork.
MADE (AGAIN) MAN It’s been 16 years since Mafia sped and shot its way onto PlayStation 2. The same year we glided through Grand Theft Auto: Vice City listening to Flock Of Seagulls we also took to
the richly detailed streets of Lost Heaven and Duke Ellington was our jam of choice. The incredible-looking remake of the first game is the trilogy’s clear draw, hence you need to wait for it. Mafia’s storyline follows cab driver Tommy Angelo as he rises up within the Salieri crime family. It hits all the American-Dream-gone-bad notes you’d expect from a game inspired by The Godfather. This PlayStation 4 overhaul is comparable in scope with the likes of Resident Evil 2’s extensive remake. Hangar 13 has built a new game engine to power the remade gangster epic, and it shows in the reflective rain-soaked streets, the period-perfect car models, and the incredibly accurate character detail. The Mafia remake also features an updated script, brand-new in-engine cutscenes, and additional gameplay sequences that never made it into the original game. Though we’ve enjoyed many criminal capers over the years, few games have managed to capture the atmosphere of a particular moment
The Big10 STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
in time in the same way as Mafia (and its sequel). Rising through the ranks of the mafia in Prohibition America, Tommy gun in hand and Louis Armstrong on the wireless, always felt unique. This remake, with its beautiful rendering of an all-American city, a jigsaw of inspirations from New York to Chicago, looks set to double-down on the sense of existing in a time capsule the original evoked. Crucial to this remake is the devs’ desire to replicate how we remember Mafia playing on old hardware, refined to play how we expect a game released on PS4 to. New, modern control, pacing, and AI refinements have been incorporated into the faithfully recreated gameplay. The original soundtrack and voice acting have been re-recorded, too. This is the original Mafia looking, playing, and sounding like a new game built for PS4. DENT TO DETAILS Mafia was renowned for its realism and attention to detail, with a physics model that was unique for the time that meant cars would dent, crumple, and break up in authentic ways. Heavier cars would tear apart lighter ones in a chase, for example. With a new engine powering this remake we expect Hangar 13 to bring that level of detail up to date with a bang. The thought of
peppering cars with a machine gun, their windows smashing and tyres bursting under fire, is tantilsing. We expect the ability to target fuel tanks to send a rival mob’s car up in smoke will feel unrivalled on PS4. 20-30 VISION Mafia puts the details of its 1920s/1930s gangster world under the microscope and allows you to revel in the drama of being a mobster with a conscience. When you’re not putting hits on rival mobsters or taking part in bank heists and double-crosses, the allure of the game comes from the opportunity to simply walk the streets in this interwar era, to go on a date under moonlight or cruise the billboarded streets listening to classic jazz waft over the skyscrapers. Mafia is a mood. We’ve already teased how new gameplay enhancements and extra content will be built into Hangar 13’s remake, and we fully expect motorbikes to feature in the game alongside those crunchable cars. We can’t wait to take to the game’s
CRUISE THE STREETS LISTENING TO CLASSIC JAZZ WAFTING OVER THE SKYSCRAPERS.
WAIT TO PLAY
If you already own Mafia III you get access to the new edition right now if you order Mafia: Trilogy digitally. But you’ll need to wait until 28 August to get the real deal, the Mafia: Definitive Edition remake.
streets and race track on two wheels as well as four. THREE-UP “Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for my family,” drawls Mafia’s protagonist Tommy in the teaser trailer, before the sequel’s Vito Scaletta suavely joins in with a similar sentiment: “For the last ten years all I’ve done is kill. I’ve killed for my family. I killed anybody that got in my way”. Mafia III’s Lincoln Clay joins his brothers in time and crime: “Family ain’t who you’re born into, it’s who you’d die for.” The thematic links are clear, and ensure there’s a dramatic purpose to playing all three parts. While you’ll need to wait until August for Mafia: Definitive Edition, Mafia II and Mafia III are available now to download. Neither has undergone the extensive reworking Mafia has witnessed, but with Mafia II getting a 4K HD remaster and DLC, and Mafia III including all DLC, there are reasons to replay. Owning all three games gains you crossover bonuses – for example, owning Mafia III means you can unlock Lincoln Clay’s Army Jacket and Car in Mafia and Mafia II Definitive Editions. As an incentive, if you own Mafia III you can download the Definitive Edition now. Order Mafia: Trilogy now, or check out mafiagame.com for more details.
■ Mafia III added more strategic world
development into the Mafia template.
Mafia III is set in ’60s America and is already on PS4. If already you own it you can play the Definitive Edition now.
■ The lively and realistic city of New
Bordeaux is the real star of Mafia III.
The jewel in the Trilogy package, the Mafia remake delivers jaw-dropping visuals.
â– Mafia II transfers the mobster antics to 1940s and 1950s Empire Bay. The remaster can be played now, and delivers new 4K HD visuals.
Mafia lets you live out all your mobster fantasies, including the requisite restaurant shootouts.
There’ll be more to do than stealthily scurrying through caves. We can’t wait for this new adventure.
STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Precious new glimpses of Gollum Raw and wriggling screens reintroduce a classic character Skulking out of the shadows, it’s our first look at the confirmed PS5 title Lord Of The Rings: Gollum. First announced in March last year, it’s still a way off yet, with a release window set for some time during 2021. However these new screens definitely look very precious as they offer an early glimpse of the in-game action and UI. As the titular former ring-bearer, you navigate dialogue choices and dank caves. Gollum may be small and scrawny but in your hands he’ll need to be tricksy too if you want to avoid detection by orcs and oversized spiders alike.
In JRR Tolkien’s original text, Gollum is a solitary creature given long life and twisted beyond all recognition by the One Ring’s influence. Often seen speaking in the third person or otherwise referring to himself as ‘we,’ your most important dialogue choices are with yourself. The developer has previously stated that these inner dialogues (monologues?) occur frequently throughout chapters as you fight with yourself over the best way to handle a situation, all leading up to major decision points. We’re told that it’ll be harder to hear the reasoning of, say, the Sméagol side if you’ve spent a lot of time siding with the Gollum side beforehand. At the very least it’ll be
THE GAME WILL DRAW DIRECTLY FROM THE BOOKS.
in character for this particular videogame protagonist to start muttering to himself about what he should do next.
team talk I’m all for taking established, popular characters and turning them on their head, but so far I’m not seeing the unique perspective Daedalic has said it hopes to offer on the character. I’m looking forward to being surprised the closer we get to 2021. Jess Kinghorn Staff Writer
RING HOLLOW Currently in development at Deponia developer Daedalic Entertainment, the project is the result of a partnership with Middle-earth Enterprises, a part of the Saul Zaentz Company. This non-Warner partnership means the game will draw directly from the original books, not from the films – though with Hobbits being basically small people, and Gollum a mutated Hobbit, the game and film versions of him do have clear similarities. Not satisfied with simply recreating recognisable moments, the developer is hoping to offer a unique take on the central character while remaining true to the source
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Senior brand manager Stephen Akana says, “Scarlet Nexus aims to change the way gamers view Japanese RPGs with a powerful futuristic aesthetic as well as a streamlined combat system.”
The Big10 STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT Throw, cut, break – the world enables you to have a smashing time in combat.
Scarlet Nexus to paint PS5 red Stylish slasher will debut on next-gen hardware From a team that worked on the Tales Of series comes a new anime-infused franchise: Scarlet Nexus, which is set to make its debut on next-gen hardware. It takes place in the far future, when strange monsters have appeared with only one thing in mind: human brains. Protagonist Yuito Sumeragi lives in the cyber-pop city of New Himuka. He is part of the Suppression Force, ‘humanity’s last line of defence’. The Brainhungry creatures are known only as the ‘Others’ and boast wonderfully twisted designs. They are impervious to all normal types of damage, but Yuito has an ace up his sleeve… or, rather, under his floppy fringe.
material. A pitiable creature in the books, Gollum is a decidedly non-standard game protagonist and we’re looking forward to seeing in what direction Daedalic takes things from such an unusual starting point. Just how far it manages to get from the films remains to be seen, though – as does what shape gameplay will take beyond stealth and tense internal conflict through heated soliloquy. The real question for us, however, is, in light of Andy Serkis’ iconic performance, who on Middle-earth will be tasked with reinterpreting the voice of the transformed Hobbit? Talk about a tough act to follow. Watch this space for who takes on that herculean task – and more news about all things PS5. Who do you think could voice this Gollum? Tweet us at @OPM_UK.
telekinetic. Every member of the Suppression Force is similarly psychically gifted, and extra-sensory abilities are a common occurrence in this alternate age, thanks to the discovery of a psionic hormone in the human brain. Unfortunately, while this hormone grants psychic powers, it also makes any attuned humans’ brains especially delectable to the Others. Yuito’s only defence is a good offence, picking up whatever he can and hurling it at his foes. Scarlet Nexus sounds very much like it will be in producer Keita Iizuka’s flashy combat wheelhouse. Known for his work on Code Vein and God Eater, he says, “Players can expect visuals and psychic battles with high resolution and framerate along with fully interactive real-time battles with dynamic animation.”
YOU CAN EXPECT BATTLES WITH HIGH RESOLUTION AND FRAMERATE.
SET YOUR MIND TO IT The Others’ one weakness is a psychic attack, and our boy Yuito is
Tell us what you hope to see in the PS5 launch lineup – tweet us @OPM_UK.
FAMOUS FOR ITS FAST CHAINS OF TURNS […] RALLY NEW ZEALAND STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT TRULY OFFERS A PARTICULAR EXPERIENCE.
TICKLES THE DUALSENSES
KT Racing has confirmed WRC 9 is coming to PS5. We’re eager to feel how it makes use of the console’s hapticenabled DualSense controller.
■ We expect playing WRC 9 on a DualSense to be unmissable.
STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
■ The glow of a sunset through the car’s dust trail: WRC 9 is definitely a looker.
WRC 9 powers onto next gen The officially licensed rally sim heads to PS5 Publisher Nacon has confirmed its premier rally sim, WRC 9, will release on 3 September for current consoles, and will powerdrift onto PlayStation 5 some time later. This hints at a two-pronged approach to Sony’s consoles, with the PlayStation 5 edition teased but not confirmed as a different disc-based release. While we love Codemasters’ Rally series (and Dirt 5 looks phenomenal, turn to p34 for details), WRC 9, which includes 50 teams and 15 historical cars, is the only fullylicensed official game of the FIA World Rally Championship. Flexing its connections to the sport, developer KT Racing reveals this year’s game will feature three new rallies: the Safari Rally in Kenya and Rally Japan are joined by Rally New Zealand, which has been the first course to reveal how WRC 9 performs in-game.
The first footage of WRC 9 in action reveals a slick, smooth racer. On PS5 we’d love 4K at 60fps, but it’s the adoption of DualSense that gets our engines revving; haptic feedback and rallying are a perfect match. KIWI LOVE IT “Roads in New Zealand are among the most beautiful and the most appreciated in the Championship’s history,” says Benoît Gomes, lead level designer at KT Racing. He continues: “Famous for its fast chains of turns and a sustained pace rhythm, along with breathtaking landscapes, Rally New Zealand truly offers a particular experience. A long preparation work allowed us to replicate, as closely as possible, the luxuriant vegetation, the light and unique ocean views, as well as the roads’ topography and surfaces, mainly composed of gravel. We’re convinced that players will enjoy taking up this challenge as much as we did in WRC 9.” Watch the first in-game footage of WRC 9 on YouTube at bit.ly/wrc9-reveal.
The the bigBig shot 10
STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT eagle-eyed analysis
Each map is a vibrant open world for you to explore at will, either in your flying saucer or by jet pack.
Probe Day is set for 28 July Destroy All Humans! sets a date Explore, destroy, and cause havoc in idyllic ’50s America in the remastered Destroy All Humans!, set for release 28 July. The action remains the same: as Crypto-137 you run riot in the suburbs, take on America’s military with your array of super-weapons, and find time to probe the locals for information. A game out of time that feels completely unique, the freedom to explore how your exotic weapons
and psychic abilities can affect the world turns the usual dry opportunities for destruction seen in other games into moments of playful extravagance. This remaster even includes areas omitted from the original. Want to destroy a tank with a telekinetically thrown cow or batter a human with their own hat? Then sign up for Crypto137’s mission to strip humans of their brains in July. Visit destroyallhumansgame.com for the latest pre-order details.
Crypto-137’s telekinesis ability enables him to grab and throw objects, including tanks.
number game we do the maths
Almost everything in the game’s world can be destroyed, including this tempting fuel depot.
Pages in the The Art Of Darksiders Genesis book, out 30 June.
03 Seconds between Streets Of Rage 3 releasing and our review of its sequel.
Probe and steal humans’ brains for their DNA, and you can inhabit the skin of defeated humans.
The number of days it took FFVII Remake to ship and sell over 3.5 million.
£46 Price of the Death Stranding DX Nendoroid of Cliff. Import only.
08 Cost of the Destroy All Humans! Crypto-137 Edition – it’s a whopper.
The hours it took Bosslogic to paint the Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla reveal.
The remaster offers a visual makeover but also gameplay that merges systems from past games.
100 The file size, in GB, of The Last Of Us Part II. It’s coming on two discs.
Though it’s a remake of TH1 and TH2, this duo will have the combo-friendly revert move of TH3.
STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Kick-flipping back the years Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 spins our way in September Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is back yet again, and this time it promises to be for the better. The iconic series has had a few sketchy entries in the last couple of gaming generations, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 looks like landing its jumps. With Vicarious Visions helming the skate decks, it’s on track to hit a big 900 spin into a smooth landing. Not only is Vicarious Visions responsible for Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, which stayed lovingly true to its PS1 source games, the studio’s been collaborating with with the Hawkster for a considerable
time, working on impressive handheld ports of the original THPS games since the early 2000s. And if that doesn’t reassure you, let us add the studio was not responsible for the lacklustre efforts to modernise classic Pro Skater (we’re looking at 2012’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD and 2015’s Pro Skater 5 here). Vicarious Visions has the series in its DNA, and is committed not just to giving the classic first two games a fresh coat of paint, but to bringing the feel of those games to a new generation. It’s been important to Tony Hawk and the dev team to stay true to what made those first two games special while also making them faithful to players’ experiences of
BRINGING THE FEEL OF THE CLASSIC GAMES TO A NEW GENERATION.
team talk “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was as iconic as Crash and Lara back on the original PlayStation, and to have the series making a comeback from a dev that gets the games is crucial. I can’t wait to relearn every combo all over again.” Ian Dean Editor
the series as a whole. “I dont wanna remember a time before we had the revert,” shared Tony Hawk during the game’s online announcement stream. Despite that trick being introduced in Pro Skater 3, it was core to creating the endless combos that made the later games so memorable. Some of the core mechanics from later in the series are included in the remade games. After all, that’s where the muscle memory for playing the series leads. The look and physics of the games, missing in previous revivals, remain intact in these two remakes. PARK LIFE Of course, there’s more to bringing these classics back to life than teaching old Hawk’s slightly newer tricks. The stage design and licensed soundtrack (Dead Kennedys, Papa Roach, Rage Against The Machine,
Collectible tapes were integral to Tony Hawks Pro Skater and we expect them to return (here’s one). But what unlockables will we earn in these two remakes?
The Big10 STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
info patches update your brain
■ You can use the analogue sticks or the D-pad for a more old-school feel.
After the game was announced, Tony Hawk immediately tweeted to his large audience of followers, saying: “Thanks to all the fans of our series for keeping this dream alive.” He’s made it clear that over the years he’s had more than a few hundred requests to bring the series back, and thanks to an offhand discussion with Activision while he was working with the company for a charity event, the idea to bring Vicarious Visions on board to do the series justice came about.
and so on) are equally iconic, and also returning. Some returning aspects, meanwhile, have evolved. We can now enjoy the multiplayer options online as well as in local split-screen. Create-A-Skater and Create-A-Park are both back, featuring brand-new options. You can dive deeper into tweaking the look of your own skater and board than before. But the changes to the park creator mode are the most significant. Making a skatepark is no longer a matter of snapping premade objects onto a grid; now you can go in and play around with each object, bending rails and extending ramps. You can then share your creation online, and play other people’s, meaning that on top of all those classic Pro Skater levels you’ve got a potentially limitless supply of stages made by other players across the world.
TIMELY RETURN It’s fair to say that the original games are so old, many newer gamers may not even remember this series – which was, for a lot of us playing on PS1 and even PS2, indisputably iconic. You couldn’t get away from the Hawk’s games. They’re indirectly responsible for numerous skateboarding injuries as people took up the hobby just because of them, but that also means they literally shaped lives, often in a truly positive way. Let’s hope this revival is just the first great trick at the start of a brand-new combo chain.
JUST ROLL WITH IT Skully, a new platform game from Modus Games, will be rolling our way 4 August. The lively skull of the title is on a mission to prevent a war between siblings. Action revolves around making use of pools of magical clay to sculpt new abilities. It’s a heady idea, and we’re all ready to roll. 021
ONE TO TAKE A PUTT ON Play against the pros on exquisitely recreated real-world courses in PGA Tour 2K21. If playing against the world’s best isn’t enough, then 2K’s golf sim offers the opportunity for total customisation: you can create your own character, tournaments, and courses. Offand online this one’s in full swing.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 ollies onto PlayStation 4 as soon as 4 Sep.
■ Play online or in local split-screen for the genuine Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater feel.
Forget the PS5 controller’s haptic triggers – the internet had other concerns. Users online are saying it looks like all sorts of things. Many claim to see a Totoro face between the sticks, and at least one viral comic imagines the controller as an adorable spiderbot. What do you see? Tweet us @OPM_UK.
Chorus reaches for the stars Next-gen space-bound title is singing a novel tune Out in the chilly vacuum of space, no-one can hear you chat to your sentient spaceship. Chorus’ protagonist Nara, an ace pilot haunted by her past, is on a quest for redemption and revenge. Her ship’s AI and co-star Forsaken is her sole ally at the beginning, and has his own murky past to uncover. Together they seek to unite the galaxy against the cult known as the Circle and its head honcho, The Prophet. Nara has a complicated history involving the cult, and some strong reasons for wanting to leave it out in the merciless cold of open space.
STARRY-EYED DUET This next-gen single-player story game won’t just feature exploration and dogfights among the stars. Nara goes beyond space stations and stellar fields, over the boundary of known space into alternate planes of existence. On top of the more stock-in-trade weapon upgrades for your ship, you pick up strange abilities for Nara, such as teleportation and telekinesis, along the way. These unique capabilities play a pivotal part in combat as you chain abilities together to take out waves of enemies. Knowing we’ll be venturing beyond the stars and acquiring mind-bending abilities, it’s no surprise we’re told to prepare for ‘a journey beyond the void’. Chorus feels a bit ‘Control but with space cults’ at the moment, so we’re looking forward to learning more about it and seeing how it comes into its own closer to release next year. We’re especially intrigued by the storytelling potential of sci-fi shenanigans split between the dual protagonists of Nara and Forsaken. What can we say? We’re ever so partial to brooding and mysterious leads in games. Open your third gaming eye when Chorus finally lands sometime in 2021.
The Epic MegaGrant is a $100 million fund established by Epic to help up-and-coming indies. These grants could help new studios make your next favourite game (or even the next Fortnite).
STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
PS5 shooters get a Hollywood makeover Former Pixar VFX artists bring Cygni to life
■ Pilot animations and other little touches really help bring Cygni to life.
the month in mouthing off
“I made sure to add my board […] that was a vain-ass move on my part, and I’ll admit it!” Pro skateboarder Jason Dill spills on his involvement in new Tony Hawk’s.
Did you love Resogun during PS4’s launch? Bullet hell shooter Cygni could be for you.
As any pilot knows, sometimes you just need a good co-pilot. KeelWorks is a team of two former Hollywood film and VFX production artists (whose previous employers include Pixar) turned game developers. Their goal? To bring Hollywood production values to shoot-’em-ups. The genre doesn’t exactly need reinventing. Fans love it for
ThePlayStation Big 10 voices
what it is. But the devs’ work to match polished gameplay with visual effects and animation a level above the norm make Cygni: All Guns Blazing stand out. Built in Unreal Engine, engine creator Epic Games awarded the team the Epic MegaGrant to fund further development of the shooter. Coming to PS4 and PS5, the colourful effects catch the eye immediately, but you’ll be captivated by the little things too, such as detailed animations as the pilots prepare to launch. Playing through the levels feels like flying through a sci-fi movie, in which you need to reroute power between your shields and weapons to repel waves of enemy ships. Throw in an orchestral score, and you’ve got a lavish shoot-’em-up, the likes of which we’ve not seen since the glory days. Fly us to the moon. Cygni: All Guns Blazing launches in 2021 on both PS4 and PS5.
“She used to walk around with a green parrot on her shoulder […] She’d tell jokes with the parrot answering her.” John Romero on his greatgrandmother, who appears in Empire Of Sin.
“We’re building this studio to last for decades, and that doesn’t happen without putting the team first.” Drew McCoy explains the ethos behind ‘anti-crunch’ dev Gravity Well.
All work and no slay makes Jack a dull gamer. All work and no slay makes Jack a dull gamer. All work and no slay…
instant opinion strong vs wrong UBI-DAYS
The Assassin’s Creed publisher has revealed its E3-style online event, called Ubisoft Forward. On 12 July it will showcase new games and details of ones already announced.
Sony Bend, the developer behind Days Gone, has begun recruiting for a new PS5 game. We’d love a Days Gone sequel, but we’d take a new Syphon Fliter. We can’t lose.
PS5 KICK-OFF 024
EA’s CFO, Blake Jorgensen, revealed to shareholders that the publisher’s new games for 2020 – FIFA, Madden, and NHL – will lead on next-gen hardware. Ray-traced Bobby Firmino’s teeth? Magic.
Techland has teased development of a brand-new game to release after Dying Light 2. We can’t wait to see what the dev does on PS5.
Elite Dangerous developer Frontier has quietly signed a Games Workshop deal to create a PS5 RTS based on Warhammer Age Of Sigmar. The rub? It won’t be out until 2023.
Check in but never leave the PsyHotel Indie dev RG Crew reveals what PS5 offers If you set Hitman inside John Wick’s Continental Hotel you’ll get an idea of how PS5-bound indie PsyHotel Simulator plays. As the owner of said hostelry, you have the prime opportunity to take out some of the world’s worst criminals. At its core PsyHotel is a macabre spin on the management sim. You need to keep the hotel running while planning your hits, which can go from poisoning patrons (that disclosed nut allergy will prove useful) to setting traps, such as crafting a bomb into an alarm clock.
KEEP THE HOTEL RUNNING WHILE PLANNING YOUR HITS.
The Last Of Us Part II director Neil Druckmann has reported death threats. Disgusting.
What’s clear is indie developer RG Crew understands its limitations, and even on PS5 will prioritise gameplay over the graphical excesses the next gen will offer. The game’s lead programmer, Piotr Rycabel, tells us: “This is not [a] Triple-A production, so the graphical benefits would be quite limited. However, surely PsyHotel Simulator would draw on the high computing power of PS5. […] The PS5 version would certainly focus on using most of its resources and keeping the gameplay flow.” Where the game could embrace PS5’s tech is in making use of the console’s new DualSense pad. “Haptic feedback could play a big role in stealth gameplay. Moving heavy objects, slowly opening the door with a sense or using the traps mentioned above in various ways,” says Rycabel, before going on to explain: “DualSense cannot only provide features that allow more immersion into the game world, but also be a part of gameplay solutions.”
■ We’ll have fun making some special ‘welcome’ packages for our guests.
Are you ready to welcome guests? Tell us at OPM@futurenet.com.
During an earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the start of a new franchise for the publisher. The game has sold over eight million copies to date.
STORIES EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
just one more question… 10 the team debate this month’s burning issue Where should EA take the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order series?
IAN DEAN EDITOR
JESS KINGHORN STAFF WRITER
OSCAR TAYLOR-KENT GAMES EDITOR
MILFORD COPPOCK MANAGING ART EDITOR
THERE’S NO SIGN OF A NEW UNCHARTED, SO CAL AND THE CREW OF THE STINGER MANTIS WILL DO JUST FINE.
FROM THE MOMENT I SAW NIGHTSISTER MERRIN, I KNEW SHE’D CAST A SPELL ON ME
MASHING UP GENRES MEANS WE SHOULD MASH-UP THE NEW FRANCHISE’S CHARACTERS TOO.
FIX THE TERRIBLE PLATFORMING AND I’M ON BOARD WITH RESPAWN’S STAR WARS STORY.
I don’t want just one more thing from Fallen Order sequels, I want many. Specifically, more faces. As much as I loved Cameron Monaghan’s adorkable Cal Kestis, one of Star Wars’ strengths has always been its characters. I want the Mantis to be filled not just with NPCs but with playable characters. Fallen Order already mashes up multiple genres, so lean into this with different types of personality as well as Cal: a stealthy Twi’lek; a blaster-spinning scoundrel. Why not give BD-1 some bombs for demolition missions? (And yes, Jess, Nightsister Merrin can join in too). Give me a squad. n
EA can go almost anywhere with the setup for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. We have the bickering, throwntogether crew, the junkyard ship, and the potential of a galaxy of Jedi-in-hiding with their own stories to tell in this post-Order-66 universe. But let’s shoot down the tauntaun in the room: the game’s platforming sections almost dragged this into Force Unleashed levels of disappointment. Making a leap of faith after soulsborning a room of enemies was never fun. If Respawn can wrangle these moments into a better whole, then I’ll be on board with Cal and the gang. n
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order tapped into the mysticism and otherness of the broader Star Wars universe. Jedi-in-hiding Cal Kestis evolved over the course of the game into a lightsaber-swishing Nate Drake, as happy swinging about ancient alien tombs as he was bouncing lasers back at hapless stormtroopers. The structure is in place: Merrin leads a great supporting cast, the Stinger Mantis is your space-van for hire, and there’s a galaxy of temples to plunder. Refinements to the platforming are essential but this could be our proxy Uncharted. n
I’m not completely anti-Cal but I’m intrigued by his crewmates aboard the Mantis. Specifically, I’d love Nightsister Merrin to have more room to breathe in the role of protagonist. I don’t just want more of her spooky vibe or face tatts, I loved that her interpretation of using the Force is casting dark magick. Having recently read Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, I’m all for seeing a female protagonist reinterpret and redefine in-universe rules of magic that were previously thought to be fixed or otherwise unmalleable by other characters. Besides all that, who doesn’t want to control their own undead army? n
INCOMING PS5 GAMES Every game you can expect to play on your new PlayStation 5 together in one handy list
EXPECTED RELEASE KEY: THE LATEST ON…
12+ MONTHS /
6-12 MONTHS /
A Rat’s Quest: The Way Back Home
Experience our world as a rat in this narrative-focused platform adventure. Stuart Little’s grubby cousin?
A next-gen remake of an aging PC roleplayer that has a whiff of The Witcher about its premise and gameplay.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Live out your Viking fantasy without the need to grow a beard, as the famed sci-fi series heads to Dark Ages England.
The classic American football sim could be a surprise draw given how DualSense can make every tackle hurt.
The latest iteration of DICE’s sublime shooter series has been confirmed for PS5. Come back next issue for more info.
This indie shrinks you to the size of small mouse and throws you into a world of wildlife. Can you survive?
Play as ex-cultist Nara and a sentient AI starfighter in this epic story-driven shooter, promising 4K at 60fps. See p22.
Comic artist Grim Wilkins is designing this surreal soulsborne.
Cygni: All Guns Blazing
Satisfying your itch for Resogun-style action on PS5, this twinstick shooter comes from former Pixar artists.
Ray-traced ice? Go on then. This could be the first NHL you ever buy because you’re a sucker for new console shine.
Nth^0 Infinity Reborn
The free-to-play RPG was confirmed for PS5 a while ago. Will Epic Games use this to test Unreal Engine 5?
This alternate-universe, dimension-hopping RPG promises realistic swordplay that has no health bars. Weird.
Observer: System Redux
Codies’ rallying expertise piped through an old-school arcade feel: this could be one the launch window’s surprises.
The Polish horror specialist is remaking its classic cyberpunk detective adventure in 4K at 60fps.
Dragon Age 4
It’s been six years since the last game but a sequel is definitely coming, and it will be on Sony’s next-gen console.
This co-op sci-fantasy shooter delivers on spectacle, and the developer knows how to deliver a solid blast.
Dying Light 2
Path Of Exile 2
The ambitious zombie-parkour-RPG has been delayed, but everything we’ve seen points to one of PS5’s best games.
The free-to-play Diablo-alike’s a wallet-friendly PS5 experience.
Development is leading on PS5, which is exciting. Could FIFA 21 be the only place we’ll see football next season?
Run a hotel and kill off your unsavoury guests. But don’t forget you still need to keep the ‘nice’ guests happy. See p24.
Exclusive to PS5, this colourful soulsborne came out of nowhere to become everyone’s day-one game.
Doom meets Control in this dimension-breaking FPS that could be a surprise shot of fun. This indie dev is ambitious.
Gods & Monsters
Rainbow Six Quarantine
The Assassin’s Creed Odyssey team spins its know-how into a colourful, open-world action-adventure in ancient Greece.
An expansion-turned-spin-off that’s heading to next gen, this horror take on Siege’s gameplay could be a blast.
ETA 2021 / PUB HANDY GAMES / DEV THE DREAMERIANS
ETA 2020 / PUB UBISOFT / DEV UBISOFT MONTREAL
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla LAUNCH GAME?
Ubisoft’s bringing its epic sci-fi stealth fantasy roleplayer to PS5 and it’s taken a leap of faith to the top of our next-gen Most Wanted list. Promising a unique narrative structure, a historically accurate England to roam, new combat, and endless refinements, Valhalla could be our GOTY.
ETA 2021 / PUB EA / DEV DICE
ETA 2021 / PUB DEEP SILVER / DEV FISHLABS
ETA TBC / PUB KEELWORKS / DEV KEELWORKS
ETA TBC / PUB EPIC GAMES / DEV PHOENIX LABS
ETA 2020 / PUB CODEMASTERS / DEV CODEMASTERS
ETA TBC / PUB EA / DEV BIOWARE
RUMOUR CONTROL Though it’s confirmed for the ‘other’ console, CD Projekt Red is being coy about bringing Cyberpunk 2077 to PS5, though we’d bet one of our spare augmented right arms it’ll end up on Sony’s new console. It’s hard to imagine Crystal Dynamics’ Marvel’s avengers won’t be heading to PS5 given the game is planned as a multi-year event. We may start Ms Marvel’s adventure on PS4 but we doubt it will end there. Similarly Ubisoft’s Beyond good and evil 2 looks far too ambitious to be confined to the limitations of current-gen hardware. This galaxy-spanning RPG takes the notion of ‘open world’ gaming very literally; you can venture to many open worlds with your monkey crew.
ETA TBC / PUB TECHLAND / DEV TECHLAND
ETA EA / PUB EA SPORTS / DEV EA VANCOUVER
ETA TBC / PUB GEARBOX / DEV COUNTERPLAY GAMES
ETA TBC / PUB UBISOFT / DEV UBISOFT QUEBEC
38 Confirmed games in development for next gen.
ETA TBC / PUB THQ NORDIC / DEV PIRANHA BYTES
ETA 2020 / PUB EA SPORTS / DEV EA TIBURON
ETA TBC / PUB GLOB GAMES / DEV GLOB GAMES
ETA SUMMER 2021 / PUB EVERYTHING IS FULL OF GODS DEV EVERYTHING IS FULL OF GODS
ETA 2020 / PUB EA SPORTS / DEV EA VANCOUVER
ETA FEB 2021 / PUB KITATUS / DEV KITATUS
ETA 2020 / PUB BLOOBER TEAM / DEV BLOOBER TEAM
ETA 2020 / PUB SQUARE ENIX / DEV PEOPLE CAN FLY
ETA 2020 / PUB GRINDING GEAR GAMES DEV GRINDING GEAR GAMES
ETA TBC / PUB ULTIMATE GAMES / DEV RG CREW
ETA 2020 / PUB TEAMKILL MEDIA / DEV TEAMKILL MEDIA
ETA TBC / PUB UBISOFT / DEV UBISOFT MONTREAL
Rainbow Six Siege
ETA TBC / PUB UBISOFT / DEV UBISOFT MONTREAL
The PS4 eSports sensation is transitioning to PS5, and we expect it to make the most of the 60fps PS5 offers.
Redo! Enhanced Edition
ETA 2020 / PUB ROBSON PAIVA / DEV ROBSON PAIVA
Pixel art on your new PS5? Hardly why you’re going next-gen but this post-apocalypse metroidvania has proved popular.
THE LATEST ON…
ETA TBC / PUB BANDAI NAMCO / DEV BANDAI NAMCO
Psychic powers like telekinesis add a novel twist to combat in this anime RPG. Better buff up your brain.
PREPPING FOR PS5
Sniper Elite 5
ETA TBC / PUB REBELLION / DEV REBELLION
Details are sparse but we know Karl Fairburne is bringing his X-ray-ted ball-shots to next gen, and we can’t wait.
The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum
ETA LATE 2021 / PUB PIXELMAD STUDIOS DEV PIXELMAD STUDIOS
Developer Daedalic has a reputation for classic story-led point-and-click adventures, and feels a perfect fit to bring a literary interpretation of Gollum to PS5. As well as wrangling his dual identities you’ll need to use your wits to solve puzzles and survive Tolkien’s high fantasy world.
Explore Midgard at your leisure in this open-world RPG.
ETA TBC / PUB BETHESDA SOFTWORKS DEV BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS
The first new franchise in 25 years from the Elder Scrolls dev.
The Elder Scrolls 6
ETA TBC / PUB BETHESDA SOFTWORKS DEV BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS This epic RPG is years away but we know it’ll be worth the wait.
The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum
ETA 2021 / PUB DAEDALIC ENTERTAINMENT DEV DAEDALIC ENTERTAINMENT
Play both side of the Hobbit-gone-bad’s personality in this RPG.
The Sims 5
ETA TBC / PUB EA DEV MAXIS, THE SIMS STUDIO
A generation-spanning sequel could have online features, as EA has mentioned “social interaction and competition”.
Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
ETA 2020 / PUB ULTIMATE GAMES / DEV MASTERCODE
New fish AI systems! Okay, we’ll take it seriously. This could surprise if the dev can deliver a photoreal experience.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
ETA TBC / PUB PARADOX / DEV HARDSUIT LABS
Live out your blood-sucking fantasies in this long-awaited RPG sequel. It promises some of best writing in videogames.
ETA TBC / PUB DIGITAL EXTREMES / DEV DIGITAL EXTREMES This free-to-play game evolved from a so-so shooter into one of PS4’s best. Can it continue to dominate on PS5?
Watch Dogs Legion
ETA TBC / PUB UBISOFT / DEV UBISOFT TORONTO
The delayed open-world adventure puts us in a post-Brexit London and every character in the city is playable.
ETA 2020 / PUB NACON / DEV KYLOTONN The licensed rally sim is heading to PS5 in an enhanced edition. We’re banking on it running 60fps at 4K.
H AV E Y O U R S AY
godfall ETA 2020 / PUB GEARBOX PUBLISHING / DEV COUNTERPLAY GAMES his soulsborne co-op adventure from indie dev Counterplay Games shot onto our radar as it was one of the first games confirmed for PS5, and it’s exclusive to Sony’s next-gen hardware. We trust our readers to cut through the hyperbole, so we asked what you thought of Godfall given the info to date. The response was mixed…
THE GOOD 8
THE BAD 2
THE MEH 6
“I’ve been stoked for that game since day one. Soulsborne meets Destiny meets Monster Hunter World. I’m aboard day one baby. […] To me. That sounds freaking awesome. I’m going to play Godfall day one.” Dani Mezei
“Not amazed by what I’ve seen so far. A handful of very obvious influences being merged by the looks of it. And there’s a whiff of Darksiders off of it that I find very offputting.” pete wisdom
“Need to see a full game play reveal to be able to pass an opinion.” manu cr
Can you feel it? Sony’s next gen is bubbling just below the surface and ready to breach any time now. The reveal of Unreal Engine 5, demoed in real time on PlayStation 5, has made everything more real. It’s telling that Epic Games is waiving the first $1 million a studio makes from a PS5 game if it uses Unreal Engine 5. It’s a step that would be hard for any indie dev looking to break out on the next-gen console to resist. It should ensure outfits like TeamKill Media, which is working on horror FPS Quantum error, can compete with the Triple-As in terms of ambition and quality. Unreal Engine 5 looks like delivering high-end, cinemaquality CG and VFX with lower overheads and in quicker time than on PS4. Any dev starting development on Unreal Engine 4 can upscale to the newer tech in 2021, too. It should ensure we’ll have more time for the indies coming to PS5, and one of those is twinstick shooter Cygni: All Guns Blazing. Created by two former Pixar artists with a love of retro bullet hell shooters and massive boss battles, this blaster is already sliding into the part of my life that needs a new Resogun. Not every PS5 game needs to be a photoreal, open-world epic. You’re going to need a palate cleanser before you embrace Valhalla’s main meal.
ARE SPOILERS REALLY SO BAD? WHAT COULD BE POSSIBLE IF WE WERE SLIGHTLY LESS PRECIOUS ABOUT THEM? Spoil us rotten! Then we’ll talk
llegedly, spoilers for The Last Of Us Part II have been leaked online. Mute those keywords now, because this leak has kicked up yet another spoiler culture discussion (though maybe we should re-examine the crunch and collective labour action convo too). I won’t be divulging anything that may or may not happen in TLOU2 here, but the same can’t be said for a particular Remake. You have been warned. If you play JRPGs, chances are Final Fantasy VII has always loomed somewhere in your stratosphere; fan or not, you know the plate falls on Sector 7, Aerith dies, and that’s not Sephiroth’s final form. Despite a large part of Square’s release schedule over the last 20 years relying on at least some familiarity with Final Fantasy VII’s plot, there’s still the expectation that spoilers should be quarantined online – if you’ll forgive the timely expression. That expectation of ‘make it hard to stumble across but easy to seek out’ seldom extends to reviews or other post-release press, though. But as a bairn desperate to be part of the conversation but without the cash to fund first-hand experience, seek out spoilers I did. Knowing Aerith is killed by Sephiroth is one thing, but spending time with Aerith, growing attached to her, and slowly realising how painful it will be to lose
WRITER BIO Jess Kinghorn was awarded the dubious title of ‘Queen Of Spoilers’ by our TV-show-spoiling colleagues at GamesRadar. [Ironic – ed.] Her playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake has only served to highlight the many down sides of OPM Towers’ open-plan office.
her is totally different. Like so many weebs in the mid-oughties, I watched Advent Children without playing Final Fantasy VII. The film pitched Aerith as a pure maiden Lifestream ghost, prompting eye-rolling disinterest from teenaged me. That impression has been redressed by playing the original game and Remake in quick succession. There’s a lacuna between knowing Aerith dies and knowing why that’s a moment that has stuck with so many for so long.
SPOILING FOR A FIGHT
With Remake I’m almost looking forward to the emotional devastation that’s coming. Not because I don’t like Aerith, but because I’ve
spent the time getting to know her on the games’ own terms. Now I’m going to get the whole story for myself. As just another member of the audience, spoilers are a tool that help me gauge whether I’m on board with a title’s shenanigans – or not. Once spoiled, I can appreciate all the threads leading up to a twist (and some scientific literature even suggests that being spoiled can heighten your enjoyment of a piece of media). As an industry professional, I can’t get away from spoilers; whether I’m reporting on leaks or covering a long-running series, spoilers are part of the job. It makes sense to avoid divulging those spoilers pre-release, but how long after does the secret need to be kept? I’m not pro ‘sliding into someone’s DMs just to spoil them’ because that’s a sword-in-the-gut-move no matter which way you slice it. But that’s very different to seeing a headline like ‘Why this Remake twist is the best in years,’ and then angrily commenting about spoilers. In the process of reviewing a title, avoiding spoilers means avoiding in-depth discussion of crucial elements of a game and that can hamper journalists’ ability to properly inform, and kneecaps the scope of post-release coverage. If you love games then you care about how they’re put together – the big reveal and everything leading up to it included. Spoilers aren’t a stand-in for first-hand experience and they rarely truly detract from any eventual enjoyment of a game. Perhaps it’s time to rehabilitate their image… though coming from someone with the dubious title of ‘Queen Of Spoilers,’ maybe that’s a bit rich.
STEALTH GAMES NEED TO REMEMBER THAT TOO MANY TOOLS CAN OFFER DIMINISHING RETURNS.
SEGA IS MORE THAN SONIC THE HEDGEHOG AND SHOULD USE MORE OF ITS BACK CATALOGUE.
Throwing in XP and powerful abilities can sometimes detract from engaging play
Sega’s current mascot grabs the headlines, but what about the publisher’s other games?
etective modes encapsulate a lot of the problems with overpowered stealth game mechanics. Don’t get me wrong, they’re ingenious, and I love fighting skeletons in the Batman Arkham games. But it can really detract from a game when most of the time there’s some sort of weird filter over the screen to indicate where enemies are and provide extra information. In stealth games in particular I need to feel like I actually pulled off something difficult if I’m to get any sense of achievement or believe in my character’s coolness. Ghosting through a complex with nobody spotting me feels great, but in a lot of recent stealthy games you can just chip away, one enemy at a time, clearing out every threat piece by piece, and then calmly walk through. These days it’s not even that hard to do. Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey can easily slice her way to victory, and Big Boss can balloon every enemy out of the map. What’s worse is, like it or not, this is often the best way to do it in terms of experience points and
equipment. Engaging directly with the sneakier elements isn’t just harder, it’s more often than not discouraged in the broader context of a game’s bigger systems.
It feels like a lot of big releases could do with remembering that sometimes less can be more. Sure, big, powerful attacks can make you feel good even in a stealth game, but they have less meaning when I can simply crouch in a bush until my ‘kill everyone in one go’ attack meter passively regenerates. The same applies to X-ray vision; there’s rarely any disadvantage to spamming this until you know exactly where every single enemy in a level is. Being sneaky and skilful can be its own reward, and by leaning too far in the other direction developers really take the bite out of engaging gameplay, creating a repetitive loop where players just zone out rather than feel properly challenged. It’s a tough balance, but dedicated stealth games used to hit it the best… and still have the capacity to reach those satisfying heights again.
scar, put your hands over your ears: I’m bored of Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic Mania was fantastic but with the publisher marking its 60th anniversary and a new PlayStation generation around the corner, it’s time Sega embraced more of its fantastic back catalogue. If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, or playing Shenmue, then you’ll love Sega for its arcade hits as much as its peppy blue console mascot. The smoky, sticky arcades were places where our dreams could run wild, powerdrifitng along palm-lined beach roads in OutRun, enjoying the freedom a loin cloth allows in Golden Axe, and mastering the intricacies of martial arts in Virtua Fighter. Sega took us to new, colourful places, and it’s time we had now- and next-gen iterations of these classics. OutRun running in 4K at 60fps, caked in raytraced light and reflections, with every curb-close drift rumbling through our DualSense, would be fantastic.
The focus on bringing more Sonic games to console has meant Sega’s suffered from an
identity crisis on PS4. Pivoting between more Blue Blur and Yakuza releases, Sega has narrowed its brand and its appeal to anyone who doesn’t realise the wealth of games the 60-year-old publisher used to champion. The success of Streets Of Rage 4, developed by an indie dev and publishing team, has proven Sega’s older franchises have a place in the modern era. Now’s the time to dip in and give us remakes and new franchises. I’d love to see more Crazy Taxi, Shinobi, and Comix Zone (it has its haters, but the idea of playing inside a comic has never been bettered) but let’s not forget Sega was the publisher that took risks on PS3 when others found the going difficult. We had Binary Domain, The Club, Bayonetta, Vanquish, and the phenomenal Alien Isolation, one of PlayStation’s greatest horror games. Sega has already shown it has the talent to deliver remakes that matter, and experimental experiences, and the willingness to back talented developers. If Sega can get out of Sonic’s slipstream and embrace its heritage and experiment, it could be a leader on PlayStation 5.
Oscar Taylor-Kent has been in stealth mode for the last two months. He keeps boasting how none of Team OPM can see him. But he’s no Drax, he’s just been working from home and refusing to turn on his computer’s camera.
Ian Dean is probably the only person who still plays Alex Kidd In Miracle World and has the OutRun soundtrack on rotation (it goes surprisingly well with when playing Days Gone, he claims). To get this stuck in your ways takes Ages.
34 DIRT 5
Codemastersâ€™ next-gen racer roars up in all its ray-traced glory.
CONTENTS LIBERATED 38 | SONG OF HORROR 39 | RESOLUTIION 40 | GUILTY GEAR STRIVE 42 MOONRAY 46 | VADER IMMORTAL: A STAR WARS VR SERIES 47 | FIRST CLASS TROUBLE 48 REMOTHERED: BROKEN PORCELAIN 48 | BUBBLE BOBBLE 4 FRIENDS 48 | PORT ROYALE 4 48
Dirt 5 brings back bumper-tobumper simcade racing, and itâ€™s heading to PlayStation 5 (and PS4) this year.
“NOLAN NORTH AND TROY BAKER WILL MENTOR YOU IN DIRT 5.” FORMAT PS4, PS5 / ETA OCT 2020 PUB CODEMASTERS / DEV CODEMASTERS
Codemasters is preparing to get mucky on PlayStation 5 Prepare to get dirty like you’ve never done before as Codemasters’ premier rally-racer series powerslides onto next gen with an optimised PlayStation 5 version joining the PlayStation 4 release. After all, is there a better way to showcase the features of a new console than with a racer? No, and so the tradition continues this October. With Dirt 5 Codemasters is promising a racer that takes in some of the world’s most exotic locations (which feels like a tease given our current lockdown), and a variety of rally-based race styles. It’s being voiced by veteran videogame actors Nolan North and Troy Baker. This racer has narrative pretensions, and characters voiced by the duo memorable for their banter in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will mentor you through Dirt 5’s Career mode. Who doesn’t want rally tips from Nate and Sam Drake? We’ve come a long way from Colin McRae. Though you’ll be put to the test by Career mode’s variety of event types and tough terrain, you can express yourself off the track. A livery editor offers more customisation options than any previous Dirt entry. The new game also features a non-linear progression path, ensuring you can take on more of the events you love when you want.
It’s clear that this sequel is aiming to deliver spectacle, with the rallying set against a backdrop
PREVIEW Left A new livery editor will enable you to create the car of your dreams. Perfect for taking online. Right It’s a Codemasters racer so you can expect incredibly detailed models of real-world cars.
Few developers create racing games as well as Codemasters. Dirt 5 could be a day-one PlayStation 5 purchase.
Race the world
Dirt 5 will feature global events. Here’s a tease of what’s to come
New York City’s ice-based frozen river race looks like a challenging event that will put your powersliding skills to the test. It’ll shine on PlayStation 5.
The China-set races look beautiful, and the race event revealed is a buggy-racing, mud-covered affair full of jumps and dramatic shunts.
We’re off to Norway for the third stage shown at the game’s reveal. This is a traditional rallycross race featuring twisty snowy roads.
Tracks and events in the game can be replayed, with weather and racing at night or day affecting how you need to approach a race or series of events.
PREVIEW that’ll give you a full-on sensory overload: a thunderous soundtrack, punk visuals, and dynamic weather to test your reflexes add an arcade sheen to the familiar racing realism Codemasters is known for. “As a studio, we are big fans of Dirt 2 and 3. This game is our homage: a bigger, amplified Dirt off-road experience in a setting that is alive, challenging, and fun,” says Robert Karp, Dirt 5’s development director at Codemasters.
Above Dynamic weather will play a part in some races – will lightning strike your car and cause damage? We can’t wait to see how this plays out.
“THE POWERSLIDING GAMEPLAY LOOKS LIKE THE CLOSEST WE’LL GET TO A NEW SEGA RALLY.”
Taking in New York and Rio de Janeiro as well as events in the wilds of Greece, Norway, and China, Dirt 5 is loaded with glamour. Each location promises unique challenges, both on the track and from the weather; lightning might not strike twice but you still don’t want it hitting your car. This being Dirt, the racing isn’t confined to the licensed rally cars of other series but extends to a variety of classes. Joining the traditional rally performance cars are extreme vehicles, including dune buggies, unlimited trucks, and rock bouncers. Not only will the classes of vehicle differ but you’ll put them to unique uses. We’ve seen New York City’s frozen river race in action, and this ‘muscle cars on ice’ circuit is a slip-sliding slice of mayhem we can get behind. The Norwegian-set night race showcases the game’s lighting, including a flash of FACTRICK drama as lightning strikes the snow1. NORTH-CAST covered track ahead of you. It’s the kind Nolan North and Troy Baker of arcade pomp Sega and Namco used to will host an in-game podcast with celebs from sport and consistently deliver. Similarly, the Chinavideogames set to star. set mud-slinging powersliding buggy race gameplay looks like the closest we’ll get to 2. ONLINE LIFE a new Sega Rally. Every turn churns mud in Codemasters is teasing an online ‘Dirt universe’ to a realistic way as tyres dig into the sludge, play in. Online races could which propels Dirt 5 into pole position. feature 12 players. This hearkening back to old-fashioned 3. PHOTO FINISH arcade racing is reflected in the game modes Dirt 5 will feature an in-race Codemasters has revealed to date. Dirt 5 photo mode for players is bringing four-player split-screen racing wanting to shoot their bespoke liveries. back, as well as introducing an all-new mode that will focus on your creativity and is built around couchplay and online bragging rights.
Above Gameplay looks like a return to the arcade chaos of old, but with Codemasters’ sim-racing know-how.
Above Which vehicle class will you perfect? We’re gearing up to put time into the muddy buggies.
With PlayStation 5 fast approaching, Dirt 5 is yet another game aiming to grab headlines with its nextgen credentials. Currently Codemasters has simply revealed the game will be enhanced for Sony’s next console, meaning we can only speculate on how ray tracing, 3D audio, SSD, and the capabilities of the DualSense controller will be harnessed. Racing sims are always the perfect games to test a new console with, as they put its speed and graphics capabilities to the test – Codemasters is teasing two modes for next-gen consoles: 4K at 60fps and a 120fps mode. Dirt 5 looks beautiful, and the inclusion of New York’s ice-racing stages suggests it has ray tracing in its headlights. Real-time reflections from this slippery surface onto the shiny bodywork of the cars will impress players and viewers alike. Likewise Dirt 5 is a game made for DualSense. The new controller’s haptic feedback will make every bump under your car’s tyres feel unique, ensuring you can react to what you feel through the controller as much as what you see on screen. We can’t wait to get our shiny new PlayStation 5 a little dirty later this year.
The black-and-white comic style even translates to things like sound effects and, yes, headshots.
“EACH COMIC-BOOK PANEL IS A SHORT CUTSCENE OR ACTION SEGMENT.”
on the box
judged only by their covers
FORMAT PS4 / ETA Q2 2020 / PUB L. INC, WALKABOUT / DEV ATOMIC WOLF
You must guide the wanderer to the castle across haphazard bridges, Tetris-style. Oblivious to danger, he walks ever onwards as you hastily use blocks from the ancient runs to construct makeshift bridges. FORMAT PS4 ETA 26 JUN
Get ready for a graphic and novel adventure Ever looked at a page of action in a comic book and thought “I’d love to get involved in that?” That’s Liberated’s whole premise. Its story is presented as issues of a comic, each panel a short cutscene or gameplay segment. Jumping between character perspectives, you’re thrust into playable slices of the story as you follow the dystopian narrative. It’s a tale of cyberpunk authoritarianism: the government has instant access to everyone’s data through extensive surveillance. Liberated is a faceless revolutionary group which opposes the government, its members sporting plain white masks reminiscent of Anonymous and, of course, V For Vendetta. The art style is black-and-white, but the story explores grey areas. Sure, the government’s oppressive, but you also see Liberated being brutally murderous. When we go hands-on with the game, the two ‘issues’ we play show very different points of view – in one, we’re a new Liberated recruit trying to get off the grid, in the other a police detective participating in a guns-hot raid on a Liberated base.
The game’s not just about blasting, though. You also have puzzles to solve, from comic-style pop-outs when trying to crack a password, to simply figuring out where to push a box so you can jump up and reach a switch to open a gate. Another part of our second mission has us remote-controlling drones through a dark room in order to blow up several Liberated members simultaneously. Which is… pretty gruesome. After all, the fight for freedom was never going to be a clean one. Swapping from using a pistol to drones that are hunting for us in one mission to being the person controlling drones in the next is an interesting perspective shift. The action’s quite simple, but the short segments punctuated by other comic panels you watch keeps things varied and flowing. We’re keen to read on.
HUNTING SIMULATOR 2
Shift between bird, dog, deer, and boar form as you track the ultimate quarry: man. You have to sneak attack to disable him using brutal animal moves, and an occasional killer dog fart. FORMAT PS4 ETA 25 JUN
OFF THE PAGE
The action takes place in a 2D plane, with occasional sections where you hide in the background for cover or press yourself against a wall to dodge spinning fans. There’s plenty of shooting too, but it’s kept simple in the twin-stick fashion. Lining up headshots enables you to take enemies out quickly. In the second issue we play, the base is defended by revolutionaries with assault rifles, so our detective has to sneak around and take them out from behind.
DELIVER US THE MOON
Above Cutscenes take place in panels placed right next to interactive frames.
Pizza, curry, kebab? Nope, your new demanding customer wants you to ‘deliver them the moon’ in this couch-play co-op silliness. Can you do it? FORMAT PS4 ETA 31 JUL
“YOU HAVE TO PICK A NEW CHARACTER IF ONE MEETS A GRUESOME END.”
Strong characters are better at keeping doors closed, serene ones at hiding. All of them make for tasty prey.
FORMAT PS4 / ETA SUMMER 2020 / PUB RAISER GAMES / DEV PROTOCOL GAMES
SONG OF HORROR
Forget Wonderwall, this new jam is even more spinechilling Horror is best when it’s surprising, and that’s Song Of Horror’s spooky bread and haunted butter. The Presence, a Lovecraftian-style being, has been unleashed from a music box that plays a melody that won’t get out of the heads of those who listen. Mechanically the Presence is an AI, learning from how you play to come at you in new ways, at times that are hard to predict, so no two playthroughs are quite the same. Dread and anxiety build up as you explore, never quite sure where the next scare is going to come from. When we go hands-on with the first episode (all five will be bundled together when it releases on PS4), not only does the Presence disappear, so does the character we play as in the prologue. As a result, one of four characters then attempts to find him in an old manor while avoiding the strange Presence.
A SENSE OF FOUR-BODING
Each character in the quartet plays differently, has their own tools (like nerve-steadying scented candles), and has different things to say about the objects they find. The manor’s housekeeper, for instance, has extra insight into what to expect.
Cue cautious poking around as you solve puzzles and hunt for items. Listening at the doors of rooms is a must, as is jamming doors closed when the many-handed dark entity tries to force its way into a room, or hiding in a closet until it passes on, trying to keep your breathing steady so it won’t find you. (That one’s going to delight Clock Tower fans.) Thanks to permadeath, you have to pick a new character if your current one meets a gruesome end. The new investigator will have to pick up the last victim’s inventory. If they all die? Back to the start of the episode. Song Of Horror naturally lends itself to being replayed. Things can always reach a different conclusion, and trying to make sure everyone stays alive is a challenge. Each episode sees you exploring a fresh location, with some new characters and some that carry over. It’s genuinely tense and brutal, and one of the most exciting survival horror games we’ve played in an age.
Above Keep your wits about you. You never know when The Presence is going to try to invade the room you’re in, so think ahead.
Taking care of enemies unleashes a fair amount of glowing pink gore. Things can get messy.
PREVIEW This sort of caption which sits on the image doesn’t have the little coloured box at the start. 4 lines.
“IT’S HARD, BUT YOU CAN MASTER THESE ENVIRONMENTS A LITTLE AT A TIME.” FORMAT PS4 / ETA 2020 / PUB DECK13 / DEV MONOLITH OF MINDS
Sharpen up your cyberware and get cracking Fractured. Strange. Surreal. The world of Resolutiion is what we imagine goes on inside a computer when you spill blue raspberry Panda Pop on it – something unnatural worming its way into the chips and wires. In this future where biology and technology have become almost synonymous, you play an old killer tasked with guiding an AI, Alibii, to unravel “the mystery of the Cradles”. Exploring this grim cyberpunk world takes place from a top-down perspective, where you’re relatively small on the screen. Not only does this allow you to grasp the often-frantic action when you’re under attack, it also shows FACTRICK you the unnerving scale of the world, filled 1. OH BROTHER with unsettling structures. Whether they’re The dev team is led by “two angry brothers” monuments to gods or the last remains (self-described), who are dedicated to keeping it indie. of giants is unnervingly unclear. The lo-fi pixel-art is like an extra-detailed version 2. 20’S PLENTY of the earliest PC graphical user interfaces, We played for two hours, but the devs have promised simple geometry built into a distorted world. the adventure will take around 20 to complete.
3. GUNS APLENTY
HACK AND SLASH
Holding q lets you use your energy meter (which recharges passively) to Accelerate, leaving an after-image behind yourself as though you’re a computer window being dragged around too quickly. You also use energy to fire weapons, so you need to spend it wisely, but tough encounters will require you to get out of the way of large attacks or dodge through bullet-helllike situations, so Accelerate is a valuable skill.
From Bolshie The Worm to the Chromatic Aberration, there are plenty of strange tools at your disposal.
You have a simple melee attack combo that doesn’t require energy, but you do have to get close to your foes to use it. In our hands-on we get to grips with the Calmer (a rifle that fires in three directions), the Resolver (a Gatling gun), and Stardust (a parasitic virus bomb that can devour obstacles, enabling us to progress). After exploring a large desert we end up in a treacherous cave system. Following thorough exploration we hit the switches required to clear a path ahead. Most of the enemies are unpredictable and more than a little creepy, but if you die and respawn at a checkpoint (cue what we’re sure is an ancient PC boot sample), common enemies stay dead. It’s hard, but you can master these environments a little at a time, and while the boss fights put us to the test in our time with the game, checkpoints are handily placed and we uncover shortcuts to make returning to boss rooms a lot quicker. We spend a good two hours fighting through Resolutiion’s strange world, and at the end of that time we feel like we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. For one thing, we’re still keen to explore the mysteries behind the strange cults and techno-religions. It’s time to wash the fizzy pop off our DualShocks and prepare to log in.
Above Get hit with any of those glowing pink fungi and you’ll become a tripped out, screen wobbling ‘fun guy’.
PREVIEW You have to explore to progress, and sometimes new tools are needed to open blocked-off routes.
Some of the boss-level enemies you face
The Buddha-like Green appears at various moments. Here, he possesses a corpse for a tough cybersword duel. Exorcise him with extreme prejudice.
Mr P is a confused creature that charges at you, falling over when he hits a wall. Attack him enough and he splits into smaller, hungrier Mr Ps.
This massive goo worm protects one of your marks, Marty. You have to dodge its bouncing attacks while tracking down Marty to call it off.
This sand-submerged killer kitty is too powerful to take on (at least in our hands-on). Sometimes you’ve just got to know when to Accelerate to safety.
Left Each of your cybertools is useful in different situations, but they can all be quickly accessed with i to change things up.
Above Enemy attacks can chew through your health. So… just don’t get hit, okay? Gotta go fast (and remember to Accelerate).
Combos might be more focused, but Guilty Gear is still visually spectacular.
“EVERYTHING FEELS CHUNKIER AND EASIER TO FOLLOW.” FORMAT PS4 / ETA EARLY 2021 PUB BANDAI NAMCO / DEV ARC SYSTEM WORKS
GUILTY GEAR STRIVE
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Combo Number Four Fighting games can be personal. They’re playgrounds players keep coming back to because they love the repetition, clashing within those systems time and time again. That’s partly why fighting games get so many iterative follow-ups as opposed to full-on sequels. But make no mistake, Guilty Gear Strive is, as promised, a fresh take on Guilty Gear. The goal has been to make Strive a more accessible fighter than Xrd, which was filled with hyper anime action and excessively long turn-taking combos. At a glance Arc has succeeded. Everything feels chunkier and easier to follow, whether you’re watching a veteran play or hopping into the series for the first time. In-your-face presentation makes it clear what’s happening. Every Overdrive move has a quick animation flourish that makes it clear it’s happening, but without interrupting the action too much, and counter-hits pause the action briefly as the camera zooms in, the word “Counter” filling the screen, allowing you to quickly adjust your strategy. This is one anime fighter that may ultimately feel closer to the likes of Tekken and Mortal Kombat.
HIT OR MISS
Combos are now, as a rule, a lot shorter, yet deal higher damage to make up for it. Tension meter, used for overdrive moves, fills faster too. Rather than
PREVIEW Left There’s no way you can miss when counters happen now. Massive text tells anyone watching. Right Faust’s afro haircut grab attack actually increases the size of the opponent’s hitbox.
Special moves don’t interrupt the gameplay that much, but still look fantastic in motion.
Heaven or hell
A few who dare enter the mayhem…
Like boxart boy Sol, Ky Kiske is a Balanced character type. His sword slashes incorporate overheads, sweeps, and dragon punches – plus a stun debuff.
Potemkin takes up the screen, and his command grabs and charge attacks can demolish health (expect a pre-release nerf). This Power type can’t dash normally.
Axl Low is a Tricky type, and his kusarigama chain hits require solid technique. Put the time in, and he can devastate from mid- to long-range.
They’re not in the beta, but Millia Rage and Zato will be joining the roster. Millia uses her devilish locks to strike, while Zato uses the very shadows.
Above Potemkin’s self-titled buster move takes up the entirety of the screen. Don’t get grabbed by this large lad, or you’ll surely regret it!
“WHILE THE GATLING SYSTEM STILL EXISTS, IT’S LESS FREEFORM, SO THERE AREN’T AS MANY COMBO CHAINS.”
being about trying to break out of massive combos, Strive is built on quick back-and-forths between fighters. The RISC system means blocking too long will result in you being struck with a counter-hit, so it encourages you to stay on the offensive. Getting trapped in a corner has also been resolved, as once you slide down the edge of the screen the wall can be broken, causing a stage transition and giving the attacking player a buff, but returning the players’ positions to neutral. The biggest change to the core gameplay is a bit of a double-edged Junkyard Dog. While the Gatling combo system still exists in Strive, it’s less freeform than it was in Xrd, which is why there aren’t as many massive combo chains. It removes simple complexity at the cost of entry-level simplicity. The buttons themselves are all in Strive: your weaker punch and kick attacks; your stronger slash and hard slash attacks; and your dust (which is now more of a knockback or sweep attack than the air combo launcher it was before). Unlike in previous entries, you can’t always rely on every attack cancelling into combos as they advance in strength. Links still exist between them, but it’s on a much more character-by-character basis. The focus is now on learning these shorter combos and how to use them situationally, and then finishing off with a special move or command normal, either to rack up damage, FACTRICK pressure against a block, or mix up with 1. NET WARRIOR overheads, sweeps, or crossups. Characters While the beta used delaypack a variety of these moves, and their based netcode, the final situational usage is clearly defined within game will use (the oftenpreferred) rollback netcode. the friendly command list – an excellent helping hand to fighting game newcomers. 2. FOUR THOUGHT The “IV” in “Strive” denotes But you’ll still need to take the time to a four, and moving away learn each character’s combos and specials, from using “X” subtitles is as our hands-on didn’t include any stylish so it stands alone. mode equivalent (an autocombo feature 3. WALL BE-GONE that was a big deal in Xrd). Still, there’s Strive features stage transitions because series an undeniable flow to matches – as the combat exchanges have been simplified, creator Ishiwatari thought corner trapping wasn’t fun. Strive might not need a stylish mode.
Above Like anime in motion. The camera still knows when to zoom and pan to convey a complete sense of impact.
Above The action has been stripped back in some ways, but flashy anime fighter effects are still plentiful.
When we play during a beta period, we have no problems finding matches. A departure from the traditional 3D rooms explored as chibi characters, the current lobby system has you controlling a customisable pixellated avatar in a 2D tower. Drawing your weapon means other players can run next to you to engage in combat. Floors in the tower are split up by skill level, and you can access new floors as your rank increases. It’s a system that works well (though we miss Xrd’s cute chibis), but constantly being bounced back to the floor selection after matches breaks the flow a little. However, it’s still up in the air how this will feel in the full release. So far, though, Guilty Gear Strive is shaping up excellently. Some of the changes might make series veterans anxious, but it’s encouraging to see Arc System Works delivering on the promise of making a Guilty Gear that feels like it’s heading in a new direction (especially as we’ve had iterations on Xrd since 2014). It’s still early days, and balancing and UI tweaks are sure to come, but every aspect from the familiar-yet-new characters to the way combos and clashes have been redesigned reminds you that this isn’t an old playground with a fresh coat of paint, but a brand-new one.
“THE WORLD WILL DEMONSTRATE PLAYSTATION 5’S RAY TRACING.” FORMAT PS5 / ETA 2020 / PUB EVERYTHING IS FULL OF GODS / DEV EVERYTHING IS FULL OF GODS
MOONRAY A ray of light
Promising conventional gameplay in an unconventional world, this pulsating PlayStation 5 hack-and-slash shows how indie developers are embracing next gen’s technology to deliver brave new worlds. 046
A god-like entity, Iltar, is close to death after a cult has captured and beaten her. In a last grasp at survival she creates you, a golem, to fight for her life, set her free, and slay the inhabitants of It-Ao. Moonray is a solid soulsborne experience heading to PlayStation 5. Heavy and melee strikes deliver the hits, a Hyperblaster deals distant death, and resting points known as Beams Of Light offer safe spaces to upgrade health, stamina, and abilities using the powerful element miium. Fights are tests of your parrying and dodging skills, and will be familiar to any seasoned survivor of Yharnam. What is different is the world; created by Image Comics artist Grim Wilkins, It-Ao is a pulsating, surreal landscape of crystal structures, mercury ponds, and glassy fields. The reflective environment looks like the perfect way to demonstrate PS5’s ray tracing feature, and a sign of how this indie is aiming to deliver Triple-A visuals on a budget. We’re told the single-player story will take around 15 hours to complete, and with new weapons to discover and upgrade, as well as unlockable melee moves, the journey will be eventful.
Moonray has been written and designed by Image Comics artist Grim Wilkins.
Above Though playing like a standard soulsborne, the world of It-Ao promises a surreal landscape to experience.
“LET LOOSE WITH YOUR LIGHTSABER SKILLS INSIDE PS VR […] THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE HERE FOR.”
You get your own special lightsaber but there are classics from the films to use.
FORMAT PS VR / ETA SUMMER 2020 / PUB DISNEY INTERACTIVE STUDIOS / DEV ILMXLAB GAMES
VADER IMMORTAL: A STAR WARS VR SERIES This will Force you to buy a PS VR
This PS VR release has as many Game Of The Year awards on Oculus as it has helping hands. Developers including Ninja Theory, Epic Games, and ClutchPlay lined up to help Lucasfilm, and Hollywood writer David S Goyer joined the party too. The result has been one of the most memorable Star Wars games not to appear on PlayStation – until now. Simply being in a virtual space face-to-face with Darth Vader is worth investing in a headset for, and the fact you can swish a lightsaber about too only makes it more fun. Telling a canonical Star Wars story inside PS VR, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series is an ambitious release. As a Force-sensitive smuggler, Darth Vader enlists your help in his search for a way to resurrect his wife Padmé, who died giving birth to their twins Luke and Leia. Set on the planet Mustafar, between the events of Revenge Of The Sith, when Anakin turned fully to the dark side, and A New Hope, you must explore Darth Vader’s lava-moated fortress for an ancient Sith relic called the Bright Star, which can aid the Sith Lord’s resurrection plan.
While the story is engaging and underpins the momentum from one action sequence to the next, it’s the act of using the Force in a virtual world that never fails to excite.
MUSTAFAR BE GOOD
Though movement is done by ‘teleporting’ to areas to prevent VR sickness, combat is flexible and imaginative. Eventually you’ll learn all the Force powers needed to deflect stormtroopers’ laser fire, Force-push enemies off ledges, and Force-pull a befuddled foe’s blaster from their hand and turn it on them. If after all that you fear Vader Immortal is just a three-hour rollercoaster where cinematic spectacle trumps gameplay, then you’ll want to play Lightsaber Dojo. These wavebased rooms enable you to let loose with your lightsaber skills (unlocking famous Sith and Jedi weapons from the films) inside PS VR and ultimately that’s what you’re here for.
Above Combat is flexible and draws on all your Force powers. Your droid, ZO-E3, is on hand to guide you through the game’s world.
PREVIEW ROUND-UP The return of a bubble-bursting classic duo fills us with joy, but the terrors of Ashmann Inn bring us back to reality. Still, we could sail into the sunset in our galleon…
FIRST CLASS TROUBLE
FORMAT PS4 / ETA TBC PUB INVISIBLE WALLS DEV INVISIBLE WALLS
In this social deduction game, you and your fellow players find yourselves in the midst of an AI uprising aboard a luxury space cruise ship. As this is the future, the key problem is that the human passengers are almost indistinguishable from the robots. Through asymmetric multiplayer, it’s up to you to figure out who’s who before things go off the rails quicker than you can point and make that horrendous noise Donald Sutherland makes at the end of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, so get your poker face ship-shape. (And we’re not done with the puns on this page.)
BUBBLE BOBBLE 4 FRIENDS
FORMAT PS4 / ETA 2020 PUB ININ GAMES / DEV TAITO CORPORATION
An ’80s hit along with Michael J Fox, thin ties, and Teddy Ruxpin, Bubble Bobble was one game every puzzle-platform fan wanted to play at home. (Pac-who?) Taito is bringing Bub and Bob to PS4 after a test-run on Nintendo Switch. This PS4 edition will feature new modes, stages, and the return of villain Baron Von Blubber. There are fresh graphics to admire but the game plays like it used to: defeat rooms of enemies by capturing them in bubbles, before popping them. Now with four-player couchplay it’s found extra life.
REMOTHERED: BROKEN PORCELAIN FORMAT PS4 / ETA SUMMER 2020 PUB MODUS GAMES / DEV STORMIND GAMES
Lore connects this to the previous game, and, importantly, Remothered is still incredibly tense. The gameplay demo we’re shown reveals better AI – so, unfortunately for heroine Jennifer, the Stalkers are more dangerous than ever as they pursue her through the Ashmann Inn. But your escapes can be cleverer too. You can vault railings and scoot through service hatches, and new tools mean you have options to create your own opportunities.
PORT ROYALE 4
LITTLE TOWN HERO
Have you ever wanted to be a badass lady pirate? Well, this long-running sea-faring series fulfils that swashbuckling fantasy, as well as a few others. Take to the high seas for trade, city building, or combat. Featuring a wealth of in-depth systems (including simulating price fluctuations and production in real time), this is a crunchy management sim with plenty to offer. All the while you’ve got to manage your reputation, weighing the pros and cons of piracy. Be warned: if you pursue illegal booty too often, that’ll close the door on other opportunities.
Axe dreams of a world beyond his village, but the power of a mysterious castle ensures nobody can leave. After discovering a red stone that allows him to use the power of his imagination, he’s able to fend off monsters and unravel the mystery. Developed by Pokémon creator Game Freak, Little Town Hero bucks the RPG trend, with grinding eliminated – bite-sized fights require individual strategies rather than higher levels as you use mind-powers to upgrade your izzits (ideas) into dazzits in a rockpaper-scissors-style combat system.
FORMAT PS4 / ETA 2020 PUB KALYPSO / DEV GAMING MINDS STUDIOS
FORMAT PS4 / ETA 26 JUN PUB NIS AMERICA DEV GAME FREAK
ASSASSINâ€™S CREED VALHALLA VAL
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
GROUNDING THE VIKING FANTASY Narrative director Darby McDevitt reveals the influences that will make Assassin’s Creed Valhalla the perfect saga for now and the next gen
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
ikings, eh? Pirates, pioneers, or poets? Realistically they were all of these things and more: complex characters who were ready to die for their friends and kill for an ale. It’s a fitting backdrop for Assassin’s Creed, a series as comfortable with letting you play as the storytellers of Platonic Greece as the buccaneering pirates of the Caribbean. “Our primary goal in creating this game, first and foremost, was to create a Viking fantasy and to really deliver on all aspects of that just like we did for Black Flag and the pirate fantasy,” identifies narrative director Darby McDevitt. “Very early on, though, in the game, Eivor does meet an Assassin and starts to learn about the Brotherhood, and starts to learn about The Order Of Ancients as well.” It’s telling that McDevitt worked on Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, one of the few games in the series to gel together the fantasy of living and exploring a historical place with the bubbling undercurrents of the sci-fi lore that stitches the series together.
KEEP IT CANON
“[With this game] I want fans to be able to wander through the world and almost at every turn really feel like they’re discovering something that increases their knowledge of the whole,” explains McDevitt. Rather than shoehorn Assassins and Templars (still referred to as The Hidden Ones and The Order Of The Ancients, as in Origins and Odyssey) stories
into the broader arc, it appears in Valhalla lore is seeded into the world for us to discover at our own pace. “It really feels like there’s not a wasted moment in this game where you just really feel like every discovery, every narrative discovery, has a kind of a grand purpose. Really like [it] just tickles you if you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan. Hopefully there’s quite a number of moments where your jaw drops because you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s how that connects to that. Okay, that’s cool.’” That sense of connection is key to Valhalla, as McDevitt describes the game as the “bridge” between the Hidden Ones and The Order Of The Ancients, as set up in Origins and Odyssey, and the Templars and Assassins as we know them in later games. This ensures within the broad sweep of the series the origins of these factions are historically consistent, “but it’s also why we’ve spent a lot of effort trying to fill our world with lore that has really
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
Will we be heading back to Norway, and what reception lies in wait for Eivor?
Composer Jesper Kyd has returned to the series, ensuring fights will feel epic.
meaningful connections to a lot of these titles before and after. Some things that are happening are starting to set the stage for what comes in the games that follow.”
You’ll be doing a lot of exploring too, as we’ve seen in-game locations ranging from neolithic sites such as Stonehenge to enormous fortified towns and rolling hills sweeping toward distant snow-capped mountains. It’s Dark Ages England, but a little concatenated to enable us to enjoy the wanderlust.
Using your raven you can search the coastlines for monasteries to plunder.
Christian Saxons, and now they’re all using these old Roman ruins and trying to make the best of them. So we’ve got quite a cool architectural diversity. There are Saxon wattle and daub huts, they’re one-storey made with wooden patch roofs, but they’re set in amongst all these amazing Roman ruins.” McDevitt paints a romantic picture of the game’s England, one filled with thatched huts sitting within jagged and crumbling fortified Roman ruins rising from the mists of the countryside. Naturally, the larger cities – London, Winchester, and Jorvik (modern York) are in the game – ensuring some heady heights to scale, such as Saxon palaces. McDevitt adds: “We’re putting a lot of effort into making sure that everything you find, every piece of the world that you find,
“IN-GAME LOCATIONS RANGE FROM NEOLITHIC SITES SUCH AS STONEHENGE TO ENORMOUS FORTIFIED TOWNS.” So what will we be climbing? It’s a blunt question that draws a laugh from McDevitt, who recognises England doesn’t have the Pyramids or the Parthenon to clamber up. “Something that modern England does not have the benefit of, is lots of amazing Roman ruins,” ruminates McDevitt, revealing how Dark Ages England was a peculiar place where Britannic and Celtic tribes inhabited existing Roman temples and towns, but without the knowledge to maintain the buildings these places fell into ruin. “They get decrepit over time, and so 400 years later you have the
has a handcrafted feel and you’re never without some kind of feeling of ‘wow’.”
Reaching these areas could be slightly different from how you travelled in Origins and Odyssey, with less of the grinding and gating of those games in favour of an emphasis on storytelling, “The game has a very unique structure,” identifies McDevitt. Having left Norway for England (we’ll posit on the whys later) you pick a spot to settle, “for very specific narrative reason,” teases the
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
INSPECT -A-NORSE From your eye in the sky to boots on the ground, this is your life
There’s no place like home
our settlement is your hub. Here you can forge weapons and make friends and perhaps even enemies. Division plays a big role in the stories in Valhalla, and your camp is no different. Darby McDevitt explains: “We have a few overlapping, parallel storylines in this game much like
any film would have an A and a B plot. One of the continuous stories is the evolution of your settlement and the people within it. And as it grows, it experiences growing pains, and as one of the leaders you have to deal with that. And you have to make some tough decisions.”
Not-so hidden blade
All the right moves
Two axes good, forearms better cDevitt says, “I call it the conspicuous blade,” as he reveals why Eivor wears the usually-hidden blade openly on his forearm. “It was very important in Norse culture that when you got into battle and you killed somebody that you’d be very
upfront about it. There’s this idea of being upfront about your actions, so we decided that symbolically if we put the hidden blade on the top he would feel like he wasn’t being clandestine, or shady. That’s kind of a philosophical reason behind why it’s on top of his wrist.”
Raid or trade – whatever floats your boat
our longboat is your settlement on water, enabling you to sail around England. You can call it to you and use its map to scan for places to raid or trade. Who you take along could play a bigger role than in Odyssey. Your crew members all have names and personalities.
“Over time you can get unique raiders to join your crew and they’ll hang out with you on your boat,” explains McDevitt. ”They have personalities that persist even after you’ve put them on your ship. So you’ll hear from them a lot more [than in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey].”
Fight for your right to parry ombat is being refined for Valhalla, with sword and axe strikes delivering all the winceworthy crunch you’d expect in the hands of a Viking warrior. In particular, the developer is ensuring there’s a real sense of weight to your attacks, which, combined with a focus on
close combat, means you can dismember and behead enemies. Dual-wielding combat is in the game too, and unlocked moves include the ability to hurl axes. Shields makes a return after being absent from Odyssey, pointing towards a block and parry system.
Axe to grind
Treasure your weapons
he lootbox system that featured in Origins and Odyssey seems to be gone; instead new unique weapons and gear are earned and valued, and most can be used throughout the entire game. “Every piece of gear is unique in the game and [can be]
upgraded extensively so that when you find a piece of gear, you’re excited and you celebrate it, and that can stay with you for quite a long time,” McDevitt says, adding, ”And it can be viable for quite a long time. So it’s quite a different approach than the previous games took.”
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
Siege the day
Tat’s a lot
You’re going to borough them
he in-game sequences we’ve seen reveal epic battles as well as smaller raids on less well-defended settlements. It’s the mammoth assaults on fortifications that catch the eye and suggest a development of Odyssey’s dominance-building Conquest Battles.
It sure beats keeping a diary The game is set during England’s era of four kingdoms – East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex (antagonist and notorious cake-burner Alfred’s home turf) – and director Ashraf Ismail has stated we can forge alliances, suggesting the world of Valhalla isn’t so black-and-white.
o, it seems Eivor is into manscaping, or, erm, ladyscaping, depending on which gender you choose. (As in Odyssey, you can choose whether to be male or female, though that’s the sum of your options.) You’re able to proudly display your actions to the
world through the tattoos you choose to ink on your body. Just as setting up a blacksmith in your settlement is important, so will be heading to the tribe’s tattooist for bespoke inking, and perhaps this plays into the secretive online features Ubisoft Montreal has yet to reveal.
Ye olde gods
Hanging out with a bunch of stoners
e definitely tried to make sure that England feels like it has many layers. There’s lots of historical sediment, where you have evidence of even the pre-Roman Britannic tribes, and there’s evidence of Neolithic peoples,” says McDevitt. You can visit and climb Stonehenge,
and uncover the secrets of the ancient people who built the mysterious monument. McDevitt teases we may even meet lost tribes still worshipping England’s pagan gods, though we’ll have to put a bit of effort into it. “You’ll have to explore to find them,” he says.
Raven about it
he raven is important in Norse mythology (Odin had two, whose names translate as ‘thought’ and ‘memory’) so it’s only fitting one will be Eivor’s companion in place of Odyssey and Origins’ traditional eagle. While the use of the raven remains the same, with
You’ve got to have faith – but in what?
istorically, many Viking settlements eventually sought peace with Alfred and adopted Christianity. The gameplay slices we’ve been shown to date include a glimpse of a Christian altar, suggesting some of the Viking communities you meet will have sided with
Alfred. Perhaps even members of your own village will want to take on the new religion. Will you allow it? Will you gamble with the balance of your settlement to deny or encourage your people’s wishes? How will this play into trade deals and alliances with other settlements?
Gods and monsters
A viewpoin to crow about
Norse deities are Æsir-tain to feature your feathery chum scouting the world to pick out points of interest, the UI has been reduced and discovering secrets will be more instinctive and rewarding. Could this be where DualSense’s haptic feedback comes into its own, enabling us to feel the world’s treasure locations?
hile the Norse gods and myths are being woven into Valhalla (it’s even in the game name, of course), McDevitt reveals the mythology will be treated more like it was in Origins than Odyssey. The gods exist within the world through the belief of the characters: in
the reveal trailer it’s shown how Eivor sees Odin on the battlefield and this gives him the energy to fight on. This raises some interesting possibilities – for example, could belief in the gods be channelled into the character buffs? And how does that tie in to the growth of Christianity?
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA scriptwriter. From here McDevitt reveals there are two approaches to exploration when you begin: you can either go raiding, or move afield to build alliances. If you choose to raid you can bring resources back to your settlement, building it up, adding a blacksmith or stable or beginning to cultivate farmland. McDevitt says: “So you can build new buildings and new people will show up, new characters show up to give you new services and things like that over time. And it’s fairly extensive.” The other approach plays on the feeling of being vulnerable in a foreign land. “You need to make friends, you need to make alliances, you maybe need to subdue parts of the country,” reveals McDevitt, who teases there are people out there other than Saxons and Vikings. The settlement is the space where you can accept longform quests. These are the big narrative arcs which can fit into the broader story
Valhalla possibly has a smaller map than Odyssey, but it’s hand-crafted.
five-act structure, which means a simple errand could spiral into an epic saga. “That [has] produced really fantastic results where we have these great stories in our game, multiple-part stories that really feel like they have a rise and fall just like a proper Shakespeare play.” The upshot is this will mean we’ll be more engaged with the characters we meet. “You’ll feel invested in their problems,” asserts McDevitt. Many of the quest-givers will
“YOU NEED TO MAKE FRIENDS, YOU NEED TO MAKE ALLIANCES, YOU MAYBE NEED TO SUBDUE PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.” of Valhalla but can also simply be sprawling stories that expand the world and your skills. They could involve building alliances with a neighbouring territory, “and you’re going to do that many, many times during the game as well. So the settlement is kind of the hub for those two big activities”. However you develop your foothold in England, McDevitt says, “You’re always coming back. We call it a flower petal structure, where you go out from your settlement, you spend a few hours out in the world doing lots of stuff and then you’ll come back, and you’ll do that many, many times. And so the end result, if you were to chart your footsteps, would look like a big flower.” McDevitt tells us some sidestories adopt the Shakespearean
remain in the world and could even become residents of your settlement or drop in to shed light on how the world is changing. “The story structure is a little bit different in this game, and I’m really proud of it. But the goal, again, is to feel like you never have a wasted moment,” says the writer. He explains his pet hate with RPGs is the fetch-quest which asks you to gather items for a character who then vanishes. This won’t feature in Valhalla. “We wanted to make sure that the characters you meet in this game are more memorable than that; you are more likely to remember them for a long time.”
WHAT’S UP, ALFIE?
This plays into how McDevitt has written Valhalla’s Alfred Of Wessex.
Positioned as the game’s villain in the reveal trailer, McDevitt explains there are greater scales of grey to who you’ll be fighting against, and we’ll see Alfred go on a very personal journey of his own. “‘Villain’ is the wrong word, but ‘antagonist’, certainly. He was historically what you’d call the antagonist to the Vikings, or the Vikings were antagonists to him,” reveals McDevitt. “Because we are trying to put you in the shoes of a Norse settler, a Norse Viking, we then have to do everything we can to make you feel like what you are doing is necessary for the survival of your crew, your people, your village, and your settlement. That means stepping into this place, into this England, and pushing back. Alfred is an antagonist to that effort but he’s
Valhalla’s vision of Dark Ages England is a beautiful, historically accurate place that teases fantastical secrets.
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
Epic battles will feature new siege gameplay, perhaps with the ability to command soldiers.
a very complex guy and he’s one of my favourite characters in the game. And I think we did right by him.” Taking events from Alfred’s perspective; he has the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, including his own territory of Wessex, and the various Viking settlers all vying for his attention. “That’s all orbiting around [Alfred’s] personal journey that we feel is the heart of our story.” As the conversation turns to the inspirations for Valhalla’s narrative, the position of Alfred becomes more nuanced, as it emerges Eivor and their clan could have greater enemies within the world. Why has Eivor left Norway? Did The Order Of The Ancients have something to do with it? When Eivor returns to Norway, what will happen? McDevitt says he took influence from a lot of the Icelandic sagas for the events in Valhalla. Some are fantastical stories featuring dragons and magic, but others, such as the poetic Egil’s Saga, are more grounded in realism; this latter caught the writer’s attention. “Egil’s Saga was really very inspiring, and it’s quite long but I
drew a lot from that,” says McDevitt. Interestingly Egil’s Saga relates the history of generations of one man’s family as they tussle with Viking kings and royalty for land and treasures, fall out with one another, and fight over ale. Will Valhalla span generations of Eivor’s family and follow the fortunes of the people within your settlement, and their journey to and from England? McDevitt dodges that particular question, and instead simply says: “We’re gonna just talk about a war story.”
While the dev is being coy about where Valhalla’s story will go, he does share that we can branch stories and develop relationships with characters on our terms but within the context of who Eivor is. “In that, Eivor is actually a coherent personality rather than a blank slate,” comments McDevitt, explaining we can call out a lying character, string them along to watch their tall tales unravel, or punch them. All are consistent responses for Eivor but each will affect how that character feels towards him in different ways.
It’s a reminder that Valhalla is embracing being an RPG, possibly in a deeper way than Origins and Odyssey. Your settlement will develop as much as your version of Eivor, with characters falling in and out of favour. Romances will be back and will have “a little more depth”, possibly used to foster alliances between clans and kingdoms, though McDevitt wouldn’t confirm this. It’s not all war and thunder either, as hunting, fishing, dice, and drinking minigames add colour to the tasks you undertake. The more we chat to McDevitt the better that ‘Viking fantasy’ sounds. We’ll be setting sail for Dark Ages England before the end of the year on PlayStation 4, and yes, on PlayStation 5.
Alliances need to be struck to ensure the safety of your settlement.
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53 REASONS WHY IT’LL CLICK Still undecided about The Last Of Us Part II? We’ve got all the reasons you need to look forward to 19 June 060
ELLIE AND THE FOUR SEASONS
Like the first game, The Last Of Us Part II changes with the seasons. Trailers and hands-on time with the game reveal very different climates and environmental changes. It seems the world will reflect the mood of the story. Who will we play as? Who’s the villain? Who lives and who dies? These questions will be answered when you play it on 19 June. One big difference this time is technical: Naughty Dog is able to represent the different seasons even
better visually because this game has been developed for PS4, late in the console’s life cycle, and the developer understands the tech perfectly. It seems that the game will begin in winter, time progressing as Ellie makes her way north to Seattle. Most of the travelling we’ve seen so far has had Ellie and her companions on horseback, riding through lush forests, golden fields, and deep snow. We’ll go
beyond ruined cities to see even more rural areas this time. In the wintry portions of the game we’ve seen how Ellie leaves footprints
THE LAST OF US PART II
Horseriding returns and it looks like it might be a bigger feature this time around. In previews we’ve seen Ellie on horseback across multiple seasons and environments, trekking through green forests and white snow. Many years after society fell apart, is this now the predominant means of long-distance transportation?
and pushes clumps of snow aside as she moves, suggesting it’s possible enemies can use these tracks to hunt her down as she tries to avoid being detected by her pursuers.
Not only does the game take place during various seasons, the weather effects are some of the best we’ve seen on PS4. The weather in turn affects how Ellie has to wrangle with the environment, so she gets muddy as she crawls through undergrowth.
THE LAST OF US PART II
You don’t need us to tell you how much you’re looking forward to the game, but it doesn’t get more official than winning five ‘most anticipated’ awards since it was announced, and being nominated for more. Do games get more anticipated than this?
AMONG THE WEEDS
Ellie can take cover in patches of long grass, crouch to remain unnoticed or even lie prone in the weeds. Who needs waist-high greenery?
HAVE A LIE DOWN 062
Stealth has been improved, and you interact with the world in much finer detail than in the first game. You can also hold e to make Ellie go prone at any time, enabling her to stay below human enemies’ line of sight and even to hide under trucks. The environment is your hidey-hole.
No post-apocalypse is complete without collectibles to hoard. Over here we don’t get the mega Ellie Edition of the game, but the Collector’s Edition comes with a fantastic 12-inch statue of Ellie jamming on an acoustic guitar, plus a replica of her bracelet, a steelbook case, a 48-page mini art book, six enamel pins, an art print, and five stickers.
Even when you’ve been spotted you can lose your pursuers. While human enemies can communicate and investigate where they last saw you, figuring out where you might have gone next, they can be fooled so you can get the drop on them once again.
The 100GB install means this sequel will be one of the largest on PS4. Those textures illustrate why.
Coming at the tail-end of PS4’s life, The Last Of Us Part II represents the cutting edge of the console’s capabilities, bringing together everything Naughty Dog has learned over the years, and it looks beautiful.
A SOLO ADVENTURE (FOR NOW)
Plans for multiplayer (which features in the first game) were scrapped in favour of refining Ellie’s adventure. Coming in at a whopping 100GB file size (double that of the first game), this is going to be a epic journey crammed with detail. It remains to be seen if multiplayer could turn up as DLC or be expanded into its own project down the line.
Years after the events of the first game the brain-devouring cordyceps fungus is still a major threat, and the Infected are just as lethal as the physically healthy cult members. Since the first game the infection has evolved to create Infected that are even deadlier: faster, more resilient, and with brandnew mutations. But how else has it evolved? Does it have new ways of infecting hosts? Will Ellie remain resistant? Nature finds a way.
EL’ OF A GAME
Building on the approach taken by the excellent (and heartbreaking) Left Behind DLC for the first game, Part II is all about exploring Ellie as a character, and seeing how she’s been shaped by this world and her experiences. But can this possibly be a positive thing? And how has Ellie in turn affected the world? This sequel is ambitious in its world-building, so you’d better expect some surprising twists in the storyline.
THE LAST OF US PART II
Ellie is out for revenge, but has she gone too far? What will the consequences be?
“THE LAST OF US PART II REPRESENTS THE CUTTING EDGE.”
Ellie’s arsenal of guns can easily drop enemies provided you have enough ammo. But those unsilenced blasts will alert nearby enemies – especially Infected like Clickers. The bow’s a great alternative for silent but deadly arrow headshots. Take a bow.
YOU WOUND ME
An injury gauge keeps track of how beaten up Ellie is, though serious wounds have more of an impact than simply knocking points off a health meter. Get an arrow in the shoulder and you’ll need to deal with it, taking time to pull it out with u. But do you have time to get to cover first?
her new lover, Dina, another resident of the Jackson settlement. We’ll follow them throughout their early runs for supplies in areas around the settlement, and get into trouble in the process, their connection visibly deepening as we play. But this sweet romance is juxtaposed with relentless hatred from a new faction. We’ve seen Ellie dealing with cult-like enemies. She must crawl in the mud to take out both humans and the Infected. She’s fuelled by hate, on a revenge quest. Which makes us nervous about what fate might have in store, not just for Dina, but also the rest of the Jackson community. We’re going to see some tender moments for Ellie beyond what we saw in The Last Of Us and its Left Behind DLC, but we’re also going to see this world get grimmer than it ever has before. Bring some tissues – the crying kind.
The Survival skill tree enables you to upgrade things like Ellie’s health and the distance she can throw objects. You can also use it to improve her listening range, allowing her to locate and identify enemies and items around her more easily, which is a must.
Spending points in the Craft skill tree not only boosts Ellie’s ability to create things like melee weapons, it also unlocks useful tools such as smoke and stun grenades. It can even improve her speed when crafting on the fly. When you’re running low on arrows, you’ll appreciate it.
Most of the early-game sections we’ve seen revolve around Ellie and
We’re definitely on some sort of watchlist for writing this, but the ultraviolence in the latest chapter of The Last Of Us is sublime. And gross, horrifying, and more than a little uncomfortable. We’ve seen throats sliced and intestines cut out of bodies. No other game gets this grim.
We really want a happy ending for the pair, but can there be such a thing in this world?
The third and final skill tree, Stealth, gives Ellie the edge when it comes to staying quiet. It’s good for more than avoiding Clickers: faster stealth kills and prone movement speed help her dispatch enemies silently, and you can unlock a silencer for the pistol here.
THE LAST OF US PART II
The Infected are the least of your worries as humans prove to be smart adversaries.
A quarter of a century after the fungal outbreak, America’s cities look verdant.
Five years have passed since the end of the first game, which also makes it 25 years since the initial in-game outbreak. We’re well into the postpandemic period now, and that’s reflected in some of the environments Ellie has to navigate. Not just in terms of ruins, but also in how nature has reclaimed even more of the cities and other urban areas. This played a factor in the first game too, but in both urban areas we’ve played so far we’ve felt the sprawl of nature in different ways. In some it can help Ellie, serving as useful cover. But it also makes some areas tough to navigate, closing off routes you would have expected to be able to flee through. Help or hindrance, the scenery never looks anything but spectacular. The first game had some greatlooking vistas, but those in Part II are sometimes breathtaking, making us pause to take a look around. The mix of concrete and greenery is a unique art direction that sets TLOU2 apart from standard grey apocalyptic games. In showing how nature reclaims lost spaces, offering a vibrant, verdant world to set Part II’s story against, the game delivers a unique experience.
FAR FROM LAST
Besides the new game, a TV series based on the franchise is coming to HBO and is being co-written by creator Neil Druckmann. Ellie is confirmed to appear (probably alongside Joel), and events will cover the first game and might span into the second. It seems future seasons are a possibility, which suggests Part II is far from the last we’ll see of this world.
While Joel and Ellie sometimes linked up with other survivors in the first game, the story was mostly just about the pair of them. In Part II, they’ve settled down in Tommy’s community in Jackson, and those new connections and people matter, and will affect the events of the game.
Inventive use of the intricately designed areas means you can get the drop on most enemies even when you’re being chased. You can quickly clamber onto rooftops, jump through second-storey windows, and squeeze between shop aisles to avoid your enemies. Ellie can be quick and deadly in the right player’s hands.
THE SHAMBLING DEAD
New Infected, Shamblers are an evolution of the fungus that makes the world of Part II even harder to survive in. Like Bloaters they explode on death, but they’re faster, their pusclusters oozing a cloud of spores as they get close. They’ll really put your ability to stay alive to the test.
BLESS THE JESS(E)
Dina’s ex, Jesse may play a larger role in the story than Naughty Dog has let on, particularly as he was one of the first new characters to be revealed. It certainly feels like he’s got a lot invested in Ellie’s need for revenge, and it may be about more than Dina.
KNOW THINE ENEMY
Human enemies you come up against, primarily the Seraphite cultists, all have unique names. As they hunt you down they call their friends by name to co-ordinate looking for you, smartly figuring out where you are. And because they all have unique names, it feels like you’re killing a real person. Keep track of those names; they may come back to haunt you as the story evolves.
ACTION-READY We now know Jesse’s connection to Dina and Ellie, but what’s his link to the Seraphites?
With Infected and human enemies after Ellie’s blood she’s got to be ready for action. Even when prone Ellie is able to ready her weapon, popping off quick shots with her bow while grounded. It’s especially handy as a last line of defence.
THE LAST OF US PART II the truth, giving her no chance to say whether she wanted to sacrifice herself to cure humanity or not. Does finding out about that cause a rift between her and Joel?
As you move around, keep one eye out for junk Ellie can use to craft things like tools and upgrades. Sometimes you’ll have to weigh the cost of scavenging for material versus the danger of patrolling enemies.
“EVEN WHEN PRONE, ELLIE IS ABLE TO READY HER WEAPON.”
While Ellie can hide closer to the ground now, increased verticality within scenes changes how you can pick her routes through places. You can clamber over abandoned vehicles to reach new areas, or head upwards to break enemies’ line of sight.
SILENT BUT DEADLY
Groups of Infected can be dangerous, but a lot of the time you can sneak past them. You need to stealth past Clickers, throwing objects to distract them just like in the original game. Now, however, you can grab and lob objects like glass bottles while you run.
A lot of Ellie’s gear might be cobbled together, but she’s become an expert cobbler by this point. Not only can she craft new grenade types, she can knock up some extra varieties of ammunition as well. Explosive arrows might draw a lot of enemy attention, but it can blow away (heh) the competition when Ellie lands in a pinch.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Director/writer Neil Druckmann has been keen to emphasise the title “Part II” is important, rather than a fancy way of referring to a sequel. The story directly complements the first game, building on its core themes. Remember, Ellie and Joel killed a lot of people on their journey: are they the heroes or villains of this world? Druckmann has been clear nothing in these games is black-and-white.
Outbreak survival 101: take any tablets you find. As in the first game, if Ellie finds pills she can chow down on them to improve her skills. Presumably she already has some sort of pharmacy skill, or she’d be hiding from Clickers at heaven’s gates already.
Members of the mysterious Seraphite cult seem to be Ellie’s main antagonists in her revenge quest. Far from angelic, they perform ritual sacrifices, displaying mutilated bodies around their camps to ward off “demons”. That’s what they call the Infected, who they believe to be a punishment for humanity’s sins. They also scar themselves to seek atonement. Heavily armed and relentless, they have no qualms about putting down humans outside the cult, either with a bullet or as part of their sacrifices. At one point we see them suspend someone from a lamppost, then disembowel him. The corpses might not be to ward off Infected, but an offering to keep them satisfied. It’s still not clear how the cult formed or what its goals are, but Ellie makes enemies of the members, which makes it likely they’re somehow involved in the reason she embarks on her revenge quest in the first place. And they’ll put her to the test, as their smart AI means they can organise their groups to systematically hunt her down once they know she’s in the area, and even pull her out from cover. Sometimes it might be better to run.
Ellie’s uniquely resistant to the cordyceps fungus, which is why the Fireflies wanted to cut her up and find a cure at the end of the last game. Joel stopped this, and never told Ellie
Ellie’s enemies aren’t faceless fodder, ensuring you’ll remember them all.
THE LAST OF US PART II
Recently-infected runners behave like classic ‘zombies’ and will relentlessly chase Ellie.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
Runners are the earliest form of Infected, orange-eyed and shambling – at least, until they spot you, when they’ll dash for a tasty meal. The cordyceps fungus has evolved since the last game, meaning these weaker enemies will be stronger and more deadly than you’re used to.
The printers might have stopped, but print media is still highly sought after in The Last Of Us Part II. Finding and reading magazines like Hunting Quarterly unlocks more abilities to spend your collected skill points on.
“WHAT WAS THAT NOISE?”
Most groups are too large for Ellie to handle, so she has to sneak around them. Rather than a seen/unseen toggle, they move between states of awareness, indicated on screen and via an audio cue, telling you if you can hide and remain unseen.
Ashley Johnson provided an emotional heart playing Ellie in the first game and its Left Behind DLC, and she’s more than capable of carrying this massive multi-hour story. We love everything about her nuanced delivery in Part II, and it could easily become one of videogaming’s greatest-ever lead performances.
“THE GAME TAKES PLACE FIVE YEARS AFTER THE FIRST ONE.”
FROM JACKSON WITH LOVE
The game takes place Joel’s brother Tommy, who we saw in the first game, returns. He’s still the five years after the first leader of the Jackson settlement (as he was five years previously). It seems one, but we begin with he has an inkling what Joel’s up to and is keeping an eye on Ellie on Joel’s familiar faces and places. behalf. With a sense of foreboding, he warns her to not get involved with the Joel and Ellie have joined Seraphites, so he might know more about them than he lets on. Joel’s brother Tommy’s settlement in Jackson, Wyoming. The game kicks off with you helping out WEAPON TINKERER with upkeep and getting to You can craft tools on the fly, but you need a workshop to upgrade and know the community that customise weapons to make them more useful. Higher damage, lives there (before things go much quicker reloads, better zooms – you name it. As you upgrade, the menu wrong, we assume). is all in context, with Ellie physically
placing guns down and dismantling them, which is a great touch.
SILENT BUT DEADLY
Ellie can craft silencers from old bottles for some weapons, such as the pistol. But like the real-world ones, these ones in the game break down over time, and when they do you’ll see the makeshift tool pop off the weapon. It’s another way the systems have a physical, realistic presence within the world.
We love the way you can see Ellie working when you’re upgrading your weapons.
THE LAST OF US PART II the cost of moving more slowly (well, she’s got to concentrate). It means you can prepare for danger and play carefully, while also being aware of Clickers shuffling ever-closer…
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?
You’d have thought the developer had designed naughty dogs before this! Part II introduces guard dogs, which can track Ellie’s scent. In addition, get too close to a guard with a dog and the hound may sniff something is off, leading to an investigation.
Joel and Ellie are living in Jackson, helping build the town… until the past catches up with them.
Slow-moving Bloaters are the stage of infection after Clickers. As they take years to form, they’re rarer, but even more aggressive. Fungus acts as armour around their bodies, soaking up damage. All Infected are most vulnerable to fire, but you might want to save some molotov cocktails for dealing with big problems like these.
Ellie’s internal conflict will be key to Part II’s story, which Neil Druckmann has revealed is centred on “hate”. At the beginning she’s found peace in the Jackson community, but something terrible happens and she has to risk everything to get revenge. But what will be the cost of her personal vendetta in a story Druckmann has revealed as cyclical?
HAVING A JOELLY
Where once Joel was the star, he’s faded into the background, only appearing sporadically in trailers. We know he’s holding onto secrets about the last game’s ending and his own pains. He lied to Ellie about the Fireflies (who wanted to use her to find a cure at the cost of her life), and still feels the loss of his daughter. It’s clear he thinks of Ellie as a fosterchild of sorts, but only now, five years since the events of the last game, have the two really settled down to work through what a future in this infected world might look like. As Part II mostly involves playing as Ellie, we’re now much more detached from Joel’s perspective, and how he’s dealing with five more years of life after the collapse of civilisation. This creates a lot of tension and anxiety about just how he’s holding up, and what he’s up to given his large absences. We feel uncomfortable about this character; once we literally were him, now he’s a stranger to us, and that’s something that may very well be mirrored in part of Ellie’s journey. Whatever happens, Joel is still integral to the sequel’s events.
BAKING A CHARACTER
As Joel, actor Troy Baker brought a lot of weight to the first game, and his role here is still packed with depth. Baker is just as good at giving a tight, small performance, and ensures it’s harder to understand what he’s thinking now you’re not playing as him.
Blinded by their infection, Clickers shamble blindly, drawn to any noise. Infected take a year to reach this form, and they’re so strong, if they catch you you’re probably dead. The infection’s evolution means they’re faster and deadlier than before.
GO WEST, YOUNG ELLIE
A significant portion of the game will take place in Seattle, which is quite a distance from Jackson, Wyoming. Ellie’s going to be going the distance, and it’s likely she’ll have to do it on horseback. We expect a tough journey: it’s a dangerous world out there.
CLIPPING YOUR WINGS
The Seraphites don’t like defectors or outsiders, using the phrase “clip their wings” to refer to their torturous forms of execution. The earliest trailer we saw followed some defectors. Just how will former members play into Ellie’s journey, and are they involved with the Jackson settlement?
GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
Listen mode returns from the first game, enabling Ellie to keep track of nearby enemies by highlighting them through walls for a period of time, at
Joel strums on a guitar in the recent story trailer; it’s a moment of tranquility.
While Joel hit the Fireflies hard in the first game, their insignia is present in this one. They might have an impact on the story, and maybe they’re still aware of Ellie. Both the Fireflies and the Seraphites have wing-centric names, so could they be connected?
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GOLD AWARD GOLD AWARD
Awarded to a game that’s brilliantly executed on every level, combining significant innovation, near-flawless gameplay, great graphics and lasting appeal.
EDITOR’S AWARD EDITOR’S AWARD
Not at the very highest echelon, but this is a game that deserves recognition and special praise based on its ambition, innovation or other notable achievement.
10 INCREDIBLE The kind of phenomenal experience rarely seen in a console generation.
9 OUTSTANDING Unreservedly brilliant – this
should be in every collection.
8 VERY GOOD A truly excellent game, marred by just a few minor issues.
7 GOOD A great concept unfulfilled or
the familiar done well, but still well worth playing.
6 DECENT Fun in parts, flawed in others, but more right than wrong.
5 AVERAGE What you expect and little
more, this is for devotees only.
4 BELOW AVERAGE Any bright ideas are drowning 70 PREDATOR: HUNTING GROUNDS Only one thing stands between the Fireteam and da choppa…
in a sea of bugs or mediocrity.
3 POOR A seriously flawed game with little merit on any level.
2 AWFUL Disgraceful: the disc would be more beneficial as a coaster.
1 HORRIFIC Own this and you’ll be swiftly,
justifiably, exiled from society.
CONTENTS STRANDED DEEP 74 | DAYMARE 1998 74 | TRIALS OF MANA 74 | SAKURA WARS 75 MOVING OUT 76 | JOHN WICK HEX 78 | ARCADE SPIRITS 78 | THE WALKING DEAD: SAINTS & SINNERS 78 | STREETS OF RAGE 4 79 | MOTOGP 20 80 | TELLING LIES 81
REVIEW “WHEN IT CLICKS, THIS ONLINE SHOOTER FEELS LIKE THE MOVIE.”
While not perfect, Predator: Hunting Grounds manages to evoke the spirit of the ’87 movie.
PREY ITS GOOD
PREDATOR: HUNTING GROUNDS One ugly mother*blorp*er or worth sticking around for?
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es, you can ping “Get to the chopper!” at your teammates as a plasma bolt fizzes from the tree line, the tribal drums roll in the background, and you pause to cake yourself in mud. Any advantage against the famous alien threat is to be embraced eagerly. When it clicks, in your duel to the death against the odds this online shooter feels like the movie you remember. There’s clearly a lot of love for the source material in Predator: Hunting Grounds. This affection permeates everything from the title screen to the thunderous soundtrack that builds in momentum as you approach a mission’s drop zone. The cutscene shows your custom character eyeballing others’ maker-heroes just as Dutch and the gang did in 1987; sadly there’s no option to tell a sexual tyrannosaurus joke. But this ability to drag the film’s mood onto PS4 screens doesn’t give Illfonic a free pass on the missteps that hold this asymmetrical multiplayer back from being the perfect Predator game.
The setup is simple – refreshingly so in a world of battle royales. As one member of a four-player spec ops Fireteam you need to venture into the jungle to perform a series of randomised missions. These comprise multiple parts and involve infiltrating enemy camps, sabotaging machinery, stealing documents, and more. Crucially, the stealthier you are, the harder it is for the Predator to discover your whereabouts. On the flipside, as the Predator you’re dropped into a random spot on the same map and must hunt down the spec ops team. Along the way you
Right Enemy AI rarely poses a problem; it’s the alien in the trees you need to worry about.
Left Each weapon has a rank you can level up with XP, which in turn unlocks new attachments.
can pick off AI soldiers for bonus XP. Controlling the alien hunter is incredibly fun. Moving through the trees is as easy as pushing forwards and tapping q to jump to highlighted branches. Leaping to set points by holding u ensures you can drop into a group of soldiers, slice and dice, and hop out of danger back into the tree canopy. The balancing of these two approaches is impressive. As the Predator, armed with cloaking tech, infrared vision, and all manner of blasters, swords, and a fun mobility-reducing net, you’d think the odds would always be on your side, but if the spec ops players work as a team they can easily defeat the Predator. Using mud (find a puddle and hold r to get messy) can mask you from the creature’s sensors. Up close you can even parry the Predator’s claw strikes, but it takes timing and nerves. Yet when you come up against a well-versed Predator-player you feel vulnerable, and a little terrified of what may come out of the trees. It could start with those eerie, high-pitched clicking noises the alien makes, or you might hear a
“THE DIRECTNESS OF THE SETUP CAN MEAN THE CORE LOOP BECOMES FAMILIAR.”
mimicked ping of spec ops chatter, or maybe you’ll glimpse the shimmer of the creature’s silhouette just before a plasma bolt crackles towards you.
TIME TO DIE
These moments of filmic exhilaration come with a number of problems. The game, as we write, is plagued by matchmaking problems. While it can take 30 seconds (good) to get a game as the Fireteam, it’s over five minutes to be able to hunt as the Predator (very bad). The jungle is often no place for a seasoned soldier either. If it’s not the screen-stuttering drops in framerate when the action heats up, it’s the sluggish enemy AI that fails to react to your presence. When these AI troops do fight back it’s often to stay rooted and soak up bullets like a PS3-era enemy. Realistically the AI opponents are here as a distraction, to force you to show your hand and alert the
Predator. They’re a tool in the game’s sandbox, a means to ignite the hunt, and taken as such their complacency can be (just about) overlooked. The directness of the setup can mean the core loop of the game becomes familiar very quickly. Your trek to accomplish given tasks always results in a duel with the Predator, and playing as the prey tends to offer fewer tactical choices, other than group up or run for your life to ‘da choppa’. However, there is a sprightly upgrade path to take, ensuring there’s always another reason to head back into the jungle. Earning XP for completing mission objectives, your number of kills, defeating the Predator, or just surviving, unlocks new shaders as well as weapons, items, and perks. These enable improved aim, damage, and in the case of our favoured Pig In Shit, speed up the sensormasking mud-smearing, and can be game-changers.
REVIEW THE OPM BREAKDOWN W H AT Y O U D O I N… P R E D AT O R : H G
18% Enjoying the teamwork needed to kill the Predator.
9% Finally getting into the alien’s armour and wreaking havoc.
7% Waiting (and waiting) for a chance to play as the Predator.
Listening out for the Predator, then stripping the jungle of its greenery in fear.
11% Tinkering with the spec ops loadouts to find the perfect balance of perks.
the many film references that just keep coming.
Above The alien’s tech is fun to play with – if you get the chance.
S TAT PA C K
100 3 330 4
Right These jungle maps offer a number of hidden areas. All are handy hiding places.
Ranks to level up Semi-open world towards – then maps to explore you can unlock and master. the Elite outfit to Learning their showcase your pathways can gym guns. save your life.
The average time Classes to in seconds it took unlock. Each has us to get a match unique stats, as the Predator. including the This really puts ‘weight’ of perks a dent in the fun. you can assign.
H O W T O… C A P T U R E T H E P R E D AT O R ’S B O D Y Take down the Predator. by teaming up. Once it’s defeated, the creature begins laughing. Now you can press r to enter a bomb defusal minigame. Match the symbols to disarm the mini-nuke. Defend the Predator’s body as the local militia close in to earn your XP.
Above Predator’s nets slow you down, and if you don’t escape it’ll take a trophy.
There are constant rewards for anyone who loves the movie, including this mini-nuke cinematic if you survive the explosion.
The game throws a lot of lootboxes your way – roughly one every three matches. The downside is there’s a lot of repetition.
TROPHY CABINET UN
Just when matches veer into being routine, little divergences begin to show themselves, ensuring you must think on your feet and shift focus. For example, a defeated Predator will start its self-destruct process, giving you two choices: run for your life or stay and defuse the alien’s mini-nuke. Either way your mission is over, so often it’s best to keep the Predator at bay long enough to accomplish your primary goals for more XP.
L O V I N G / H AT I N G
Whatever the outcome, the many film-referencing cutscenes and audio cues help sell every moment – there’s even a bicep-testing bro-shake straight out of the film’s opening crawl to enjoy. When you catch sight of your teammates spraying the jungle with bullets, tree branches splintering into wood chips, anxiety dissipating in a bulletstrewing exhalation, it evokes the film perfectly. It’s these moments that ensure you’ll return to Predator: Hunting Grounds for short spurts of fun, even though there are numerous flaws holding it back. It’s those indulgent nods and winks that help keep this one on target.
MUD A F ICI
Different classes’ stats vary in the levels of health, armour, and movement they offer but also in ‘weight’, ensuring you can’t over-power a class. Tactics are as simple as your preferred loadout. As the alien menace you’ve greater scope to experiment; whether it’s through unlocking new kit or simply refining the approaches to taking down your prey in new creative ways.
Predator: Hunting Grounds’ fun procession of film references and solid gameplay loop distract from the many flaws that hold it back from being an essential online shooter. Ian Dean
Cover yourself in mud 50 times to bag this trophy. You’ll need to, as it’s the only way to mask the Predator’s vision.
You’ll need to play as the Predator 50 times for this one. Given the slow matchmaking, this one’s tough.
Kill five AI enemies with one explosion to earn this Gold gong. With so many red barrels around, it’s not hard.
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TRIALS OF MANA
The sun always shines on teepee
Should you Capcom and get it?
Not a trial, not a triumph
he idea of being stranded on an island with only animals and your hunger for company may not sound very appealing right now – as we’re all stuck in our fourwalled islands – but who can resist a sunny, sandy beach to relax on? After your plane crashes and you paddle your life raft to a randomly generated island, there’s nothing to do but to gather resources and craft. That’s really all there is to Stranded Deep. There are story targets to reach which will result in your rescue, but realistically the game is about the challenge of building a new life alone on your island.1 Within minutes of arrival you’ll have built the basic tools for success (a knife, fire, shelter) but to do more, such as create large shelters, stoves, and seafaring craft, you need to do a lot of gathering and exploring. It helps that the game looks bright and sunny, and below the waves are ancient wrecks often harbouring ready-made tools.2 Set against this familiar craft-exploregather-craft grind is a control system that can be clumsy and a crafting system beset by foibles that can eat into the fun. Everything in the game requires base materials (lashings, rocks, sticks), which are Deep Stranding’s currency. Often you’ll have piles of materials you risked your virtual life for but are unable to use until the game ‘grows’ more plants or delivers more rocks. Gazing at your loot, unable to use it, is like the gaming equivalent of Too Hot To Handle; you can look but you can’t touch. It’s rarely original, occasionally frustrating, and often clumsy in execution, but when it clicks there’s a meditative vein to Stranded Deep’s grind that will make time spent indoors sunnier. Ian Dean
isually scratchy, featuring derivative gameplay you actually played in 1998 and just one original idea (that’s often game-breaking), any admiration you might feel for this shot of nostalgic Resident Evil-ness evaporates the further you play. A homage to classic Capcom survival horrors from the ’90s, Daymare 19981 demands you escape a town plagued by zombies and mutants. Though split across three characters’ stories, each plays in the same unwieldy way. Combat is slow and functional, solid when facing one or two enemies but against the slew of undead and late-game bosses it becomes unworkable. That one new idea? Manually loading a gun’s magazine before loading the weapon. It’s laborious and unnecessary. Dropping a clip (easily done given the delays to button inputs) ensures a gun is unusable no matter how much ammo you have squirrelled away. This kind of finicky approach permeates much of the game, and frustration ensues. The script is terrible. This is the kind of game that subtitles sighs. Characters lack any emotional connection, except anger. Everyone is furious. All the time. Yet for every moment of frustration, or flaky enemy that ignores you, or boss that fails to navigate scenery, there’s a genuinely inventive puzzle that recalls Resident Evil in its prime. If you hanker after the lever-pulling, statue-fiddling brain-teasers Capcom’s series was famed for, this delivers.2 Is it enough to make you forget you spent ten minutes trying to load a gun, or ignore the way the characters look like they were made in 1998, or forgive a story that delivers the emotional impact of Question Of Sport repeats? No. Ian Dean
FOOTNOTES 1 The more you build and explore, the faster your skills level up, meaning you can do more with less energy. 2 Exploration is vital but you may not be able to make use of all your materials.
FOOTNOTES 1 You know it’s set in the ’90s becauses of the Terminator 2 references and cassette tapes. 2 For the first time in years you’ll need a pen and paper to hand to make notes.
FOOTNOTES 1 The remade soundtrack never strays far from its roots, and switching to the original is an option. 2 People like to complain about Charlotte’s baby-speak, but the VA is great.
aving been in the works since the poor Secret Of Mana remake, for Trials Of Mana Square Enix employed fan feedback to deliver a better game. What we get is a full 3D remake with an over-the-shoulder camera and the original locales lovingly remodelled. The change to 3D isn’t always smooth – while the colour scheme captures the brightness of the original, ugly textures abound and there is noticeable pop-in, especially during cutscenes. Combat is another aspect that received a makeover: while you still take on classic monsters of the Mana franchise, like the rabite, in mostly free-roaming action, whacking foes is a lot more lively in 3D, aided by new strong attacks and special attacks for each character. You can now also invest skill points into your character’s different abilities. Combat is a simple, joyous affair, but questionable teammate AI can make planning strategies hard. Elsewhere, it’s unchanged in terms of music1 and text, or the different character classes. Back in 1995, Trials was unparalleled in its adaptability, even when it came to its story – you choose a party of three out of six possible characters to take on a journey to restore the sacred Mana tree and hopefully stop wars breaking out between different factions. Some parts of your characters’ backstories will overlap, leading to shared experiences. However, despite new additional lines, interactions between characters can feel random, and the dialogue doesn’t hold up for a modern game. The English voiceover, too, strongly varies in quality.2 A win for fans, Trials Of Mana nonetheless proves not every game ages well. Malindy Hetfield
REVIEW Even with a strong female ensemble, Sakura ultimately gets the most character development.
Will this Sega revival steal your heart?
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ne theatre revue past its glory days, one combat division unable to defend its own city, and one looming demonic invasion that may or may not be led by a former heroine – Sakura Wars is something of an underdog story. It’s a fitting narrative given this soft reboot marks the first time the series officially arrives on PlayStation in PAL territories, the latest of Sega’s recent successful revivals. But if you’re going in with Persona on your mind, prepare to temper your expectations. While it is an RPG-visual novel hybrid, it leans much more toward the visual novel side than RPG combat and levelling up. No doubt you’ll sympathise with ex-navy captain Kamiyama, who finds himself leading Tokyo’s all-girl mech combat Flower Division (which doubles as a theatre troupe), only to find he doesn’t have his own mech to start with, while his contribution to the ailing theatre is performing odd jobs like collecting tickets and posing as an elephant mascot. Eschewing the original’s tactical turn-based action in favour of real-time combat somewhat undermines your role as a captain giving orders
“COMBAT IS SO EASY, YOU CAN S-RANK YOUR WAY THROUGH MOST OF IT.”
to your team since you’re paired with a specific member relevant to the story. Missions mostly take part in a demon dimension (read generic, cavernous tunnels) divorced from the story’s romanticised steampunk Taisho-era setting. Combat isn’t without spectacle – dodging attacks slows time Bayonetta-style, and special attacks have their grand sequences – but it’s so easy you can S-rank your way through most of it without breaking a sweat.
TALKING IT UP
It’s for the best, then, that combat plays second fiddle to story. The comedy and drama as you get to know the Flower Division takes centre stage. It’s a handsome production, not least because you’re exploring 3D environments while your steampunk smartphone keeps track of the locations of every person you can speak to. Most scenes play out in-engine with expressive animations, and where stills are used, they’re bolstered with detailed writing.
It’s only a shame that voice acting isn’t used throughout, leaving some scenes awkwardly silent. You’re also limited to exploring the Imperial Theatre, with only a handful of smaller nearby locations opening up later. But there’s no denying the anime credentials, with over 40 minutes of animated cutscenes throughout, terrific character design from Tite Kubo (Bleach), and the catchiest theme song you’ll hear all year, composed by Kohei Tanaka (One Piece). It’s not without some glaring tropes: it’s guilty of too many to-peek-or-not-to-peek dilemmas only for the game to linger on somebody’s legs or sideboob anyway. Nonetheless, when the acting hits its high emotions in close-ups as the theme song fires up, it would take a cynic not to get swept up. VERDICT
Sakura Wars may lack depth in combat but that’s ultimately secondary to its storytelling and lovable characters, which it delivers with a big dose of anime heart. Alan Wen
Yes, that’s a ghost. You can block them in with items or give them a slap. 076
MOVING ON UP
Four-player co-op? There goes the neighbourhood
ess, can we just… play the game, please?” has become a common refrain from our games editor. We’re desperately trying to put back the furniture we mistakenly hauled out of our employer’s own warehouses in a flooded underground lab somewhere in the juice district. It’s going less than smoothly; after all, attempting to co-ordinate moving furniture around various hazards is a tall order when the floor is guava. As it is, I’m doubled over laughing at just how many times I’ve managed to send my put-upon colleague into the drink. As freshly qualified Furniture And Removal Technicians (yes, there’s an acronym), you can play either solo or with up to three other techs through local-only multiplayer. You’ll tour the town of Packmore, navigating residents’ bizarre architectural choices and corralling unusual furniture along the way. After a refreshingly to-the-point tutorial, we’re sent to a meagre maisonette. After that we clear a beginner’s bungalow while facing the added challenge of a pizza-obsessed turtle. Levels are impressively varied as they slowly teach you how to communicate and solve problems together with your teammates. Every level feels unique and you’ll want to replay them, not just because of the bonus challenges that unlock
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after an initial runthrough or to improve your time, but also perhaps just to see a different living space for once. Joking aside, we enjoyed the steady evolution of everything this co-op game had to throw at us. For example, you go from having to avoid one plucky chicken in one level to needing to herd an entire farmyard into the back of the truck. It’s a lot of fun to discover all the possible variations on ‘get the thing into the back of the van.’
A LITTLE HELP
Spring 2020 has hardly turned out to be the ideal release window for a co-op game with no online multiplayer; if you’re anything like Team OPM, chances are you’ve been
separated from your colleagues, friends, and usual gaming buddies recently. Playing as the loneliest FART in all of Packmore is definitely slower going than doing removals with a gang of mates, but there’s still plenty to enjoy for those who are all about the zen-like solo experience of creating order from chaos. Assist mode features a number of options to make levels just a bit more manageable, whatever your play situation. From making certain items a little easier to move on your own to extending time limits, Assist mode allows you to create accessible gameplay conditions. Whether you’re playing alone, with friends, or with someone
“AN ENGAGING EXPERIENCE WHETHER YOU’RE PLAYING ALONE OR WITH PALS.”
REVIEW Right Team up for heavier items. If you drop things, it will cost you seconds.
THE OPM BREAKDOWN W H AT Y O U D O I N… M O V I N G O U T
21% Creating a route to the van by smashing windows.
Below Later levels put you up against environmental hazards.
7% Avoiding abandoned pets… or other inhabitants.
4% Becoming an agent of chaos and nudging your pal into the pool.
Ill-advisedly lobbing valuables into the back of the truck.
15% Driving around and wondering if you could become a stunt driver.
18% Jimmying awkwardlyshaped furniture around a really narrow corner.
M U LT I P L AY E R Jury-rig an online co-op mode from local multiplayer using Share Play. Hold the Share button in-game, select Share Play from the menu, and don’t forget to give your fellow FART control. Unfortunately, this only supports one non-local Player Two. L O V I N G / H AT I N G 077
Above left You’ll need to to-me-to-you around awkward corners. A HELPING HAND
Moving Out knows it’s best to keep things simple, the chaos coming from the mechanics and visuals rather than too much being thrown at a player. I wasn’t as big a fan of later gimmicky levels, but the pure house-moving action is the best co-op I’ve played in years. If you have a Player Two (or Three, or Four), make sure you play this. Oscar Taylor-Kent
IV E SS MA
Deliver every pet. The trick here is catching them first. Good luck and watch out for that blasted turtle.
A pitch-perfect party game for you and those who’ve come home to roost after flying the nest (or those who never actually left). Not as frantic as Overcooked but still a truck-full of fun. Jess Kinghorn
K TAC AT
While a lot of the fun is had with friends, there’s an impressively small gap between that and playing on your tod compared to other titles in the genre. For example, Totally Reliable Delivery Service’s wacky physics open world made for an entertaining half-hour with chums, but its unpredictability made for a frustrating time playing solo. Moving Out, however, doesn’t leave the solo run languishing by the wayside. On top of sharp presentation and jokes that don’t outstay their welcome, responsive controls and levels with clear moment-to-moment goals make for an engaging experience whether you’re playing alone or with pals. Its focused structure makes it the perfect game for long weekends
SECOND OPINION TO HER, TO HIM
FLYING THE NEST
confined to the couch or just a quick one with drinks before heading out with the gang. Moving Out doesn’t reach the same frantic heights as either Overcooked, but that doesn’t mean your sous chef won’t get anything out of hurling things into the back of the truck. You can slap away enemies with a quick tap of r but it seems like a glaring omission to not be able to pick up and hurl your fellow removal technicians too. But rest assured that there are plenty of avenues for the agent of chaos in your life to explore – just ask our games editor, who’s still wringing guava juice from his shoes.
LEAVE US HANGING
While we can’t fault the local co-op mode, it’s baffling that there’s no online multiplayer mode. Share Play (see above) is a workaround.
Smash 100 windows. Any time you see a window, jump through it like it’s your job (which it is).
who needs a level playing field, this thoughtful bit of design is something we’d like to see become more widespread.
Assist mode offers options to tweak the difficulty, from making sofas a bit lighter to offering just a little more time to complete levels.
Sit on every single toilet you can find and survey your kingdom from your favourite seat. Take a magazine…
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PS VR REVIEW
JOHN WICK HEX
Introduce foes to six sides of pain
Two quarters and a heart down?
THE WALKING DEAD: SAINTS & SINNERS Be brave, stay the corpse
icture a world where the game industry crash of 1983 never happened: games are respected as more than the lucrative media industry they are today, yet arcades are still a widespread phenomenon. That’s the alternate reality in 20XX, and you, the protagonist of this cute visual novel, are… single and unemployed. But don’t worry, you soon become the new floor attendant for a local arcade. There’s a bit of nerdy wish fulfilment at play in the setting and your suitors, but the storytelling softens any possible bristling at this by giving you the option either to play along or to do something less tropey. For instance, you get to choose your first impressions of characters rather than the writing telling you what to think. You can customise a wealth of things, from your appearance and pronouns to removing romance; if you don’t want your entanglements to become romantic, the power remains in your hands as choices are well-signposted and you have plenty of opportunity to make your intentions clear. Playing to make friends is as engaging as playing for keeps, and having the option turns what could’ve been a rote romcom into something more interesting. Within the fiction itself, you’re discouraged from the playstyle too many VNs give way to, of just being whoever you think your fave wants you to be. Overall the writing, though at times clumsily reference-heavy,1 generally feels emotionally sincere, and playing through character conflict with this charismatic cast2 gives us (an extra) life. If you’re burned out on mainstream VNs, this is a perfect palate cleanser. So, got any quarters? Jess Kinghorn
FOOTNOTES 1 Bithell Games missed a trick by not having a rewind function allowing you to try different things. 2 The stages offer a nice variety of challenges, though the bosses are a little annoying.
FOOTNOTES 1 It comes with the geeky territory but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. 2 We’re Queenbee’s Number One fan. Do you think she’ll give us a shoutout on her next stream?
FOOTNOTES 1 We certainly hope it involves more killing than your real life. 2 The bells attract dozens of Walkers, and trust us, you won’t be equipped to comfortably battle your way out.
aba Yaga is back, and this time he’s got… leg cramp, we guess? He now walks in a zig-zag pattern between enemies thanks to the hex-grid nature of this tactical take on the highlychoreographed action of the Keanu Reevesled movies, on the hunt for a villain who, coincidentally, is also named Hex. Turning a movie series known for its deliciously over-the-top action into a strategy game might seem counterintuitive at first, but in practice it makes a lot of sense. You could never match Wick’s reactions in real-time, so instead everything is slowed down, time frozen unless Wick’s performing an action: reloading, moving, or flipping a guard upside-down. All these actions are displayed on a timeline at the top of the screen, alongside a chunk of enemy actions. So, one after the other, you clip together moves to ensure you will just undercut the next enemy out to get to you.1 Force of nature that he is, Wick always has the advantage, even against heaps of enemies. As a default he’s always slightly faster, and moving through his fog of war he’ll stop immediately when he spots a new enemy, so you can always react to a previously unseen threat. When you finish a level,2 you get the option to replay what you did in one fluid motion, which ends up a little stiff thanks to the gridmovement and somewhat limited moveset. But you quickly get the hang of how to use each move, and soon you’re reacting quickly to each challenge rather than taking a while to figure out your next move. When you hit that rhythm, John Wick Hex sings, but it doesn’t delight as much as the movies. Oscar Taylor-Kent
ur maximum health and stamina have been reduced due to overexertion, and a Walker has spotted us. It shuffles forwards a little quicker than the others; but this gives us the perfect opportunity to try out our freshly-crafted spiky baseball bat. Grabbing the bat with both hands, we swing, and it embeds itself into the Walker’s head with one satisfying hit. Wrenching it free, we prepare ourselves for the next zombie. The Walking Dead in PS VR might sound more like a punishment than a game, but it’s actually a fan’s dream. It’s great for non-fans too, but it’s important to realise what this isn’t. It’s not a horror game with constant cheap jump scares, nor is it an action game. It’s basically a zombie apocalypse survival simulator, where cramming your backpack with random rubbish you find is essential in order to craft items and upgrades at your base. The PS Move motion tracking is (mostly) excellent, which is just as well given all the item manipulation you do. It’s like using your hands in real life! But with more killing.1 It’s pretty unforgiving, in that restoring health can only ever be done via scarce consumables, and firearms and their ammo are also incredibly rare. Nonetheless, each mission is a tense delight. You’ll mostly walk to conserve stamina and avoid drawing attention, yet rasslin’ zombies is unavoidable, and you’ll want to be done before the town bells ring.2 Throw in humans both friendly and unfriendly – who will sometimes even fight among themselves – and you have a wonderfully oppressive, unpredictable world. And, yes, you get to slather yourself in guts. Yay! Luke Kemp
Traps can be used to juggle enemies, slow them down, or deliver crowdclearing explosions. BLAZE OF GLORY
STREETS OF RAGE 4
To be this good takes ages, and ages, and ages
his latest punch of nostalgia is a shell suit and a Fresh Prince quote away from perfectly capturing the feeling of gaming in the ’90s. Rampant EDM underpins every punch, kick, and piledriver. As sequels go, it’s better late than never.
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It’s been 25 years since Mr X met his match, but Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding are back, along with Cherry Hunter, daughter of Adam, and Floyd Iraia, apprentice to Dr Zan. Mr X’s son and daughter want to cause chaos by playing dance music with the power to turn anyone within earshot into a blood-hungry brawler. What follows are ten side-scrolling stages of thuggery, with character-specific punches, throws, and specials enabling you to combo through the throng. The simplicity recalls the Sega originals; crowd-controlling specials eat up health so you need to use them sparingly and tactically. But Streets Of Rage 4 is more than a simple button-tapper. You need to approach every enemy in different ways, using quick combos against shield-bearing cops, dodging and grappling one-punch karate men, and jumpkicking leopard-print biker gals. The DNA of the
“YOU CAN JUGGLE ENEMIES OFF THE BACKGROUND AND WEAPONISE ENVIRONMENTS.”
originals has been refreshed for modern times. When an enemy grabs a knife you throw at them from the air and hurls it back at you, you’ll admire the detail. Then you’ll try it yourself. You can juggle enemies off the background and weaponise environments for added style points – kicking enemies into a ball and chain on a building site sees it swing chaotically, causing carnage.
A Life Time Score system sees new characters unlocked the more you play. These include pixel-art recreations of familiar faces from the first three Streets Of Rage, playable in the hand-drawn sequel. These are no cosmetic offerings; they all play differently. Replicating the timing, special move systems, and moves from their past games, each offers a new way to replay Streets Of Rage 4’s beautiful stages. Alongside Story there are also Stage Select and Arcade modes to test your skills
against. The latter offers one credit to complete the game. If you really need a challenge, Mania difficulty doubles the number of enemies on screen, and in four-player co-op it’s a sea of flailing specials. In motion everything flows impeccably, and the animation never fails to massage your eyes with its snappy combos and colourful, flinching villains. It’s possible to play the whole game in pixel art mode, but it’s a visual effect rather than a ground-up remodelling, which leads to blurring. This is the only toe-stub in a sequel that warmly embraces its heritage – Easter eggs offer the change to play random ‘greatest moments’ from past games – and never fails to raise a smile. This is the sequel teenage me always wanted. VERDICT
Combat so crisp it punches your nostalgia into next week, Streets Of Rage 4 is a time capsule well worth cracking open for a short bursts of expressive thuggery. Ian Dean
REVIEW A subtle (optional) motion blur is barely visible but makes a massive difference to fluidity.
HELLO (AGAIN) MOTO
Waiting months for MotoE races is almost too realistic
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aking a leaf out of Codemasters’ F1 book, this year’s official game of MotoGP is available months earlier than usual, with extra content such as the new MotoE season being added for free via DLC in June. The bare-bones launch version reviewed here feels like a DLC update rather than a £49.99 game, but the truth is that, beneath the hyperbole, the many minor tweaks have demonstrably made for a better game. The bike handling is more enjoyable. Heavier than in Milestone’s old engine yet more responsive than last year’s game, all three bike tiers feel great. Once you’ve dialled down the traction control, the wobble is superb – blowing TT Isle Of Man 2 out of the water in terms of controllability and giving you clear feedback on how your aggression is affecting the improved tyre simulation. The zonal, asymmetrical tyre wear isn’t just a gimmick; again, learning from that F1 book, managing heat levels and even your engine mode makes for deeper gameplay, though you’ll run out of fuel on lap three if you don’t know how to reduce the power setting. Once learned, this extra tactical element is welcome.
“THE BIKE HANDLING IS MORE ENJOYABLE – ALL THREE BIKE TIERS FEEL GREAT.”
Also welcome are the elongated crash scenes, which now play out with winceinducing ragdoll effects. The bikes can sustain aerodynamic damage too, adding to the realism. But you’ll probably find you fall off less often anyway, thanks to more forgiving impacts with other riders and better overall stability. Less frustration means more enjoyment, and Time Attack sessions are a real blast here.
ODD ONE OUT
The only real downer (besides the po-faced seriousness) is the AI. It’s supposed to be a big improvement over last year’s, but right now it’s very inconsistent. Computer riders slow too early on the straights yet somehow find extra speed late in the braking zone (very frustrating). After normal mid-corner behaviour, they sometimes pull away very quickly on the exit. Setup changes improve the latter, but the computer doesn’t seem to behave like a person – which was theoretically the whole
point of ANNA, the returning ‘neural AI’ system. The Historic Challenges are fiendishly difficult, with three randomly-generated races appearing each day, allowing you to spend your winnings on rare bikes and riders as you see fit. These races are just about winnable (perhaps with a few cheeky rewinds), but even Easy challenges are rock-hard. Besides some choppiness in the first few corners of a race, the movement overall is way smoother than last year’s game, particularly on the base PS4. With a deeper career mode, a 1,000-layer customisation suite for stickers, and the ability to create your own team from official sponsors, this is the definitive MotoGP game. It just needs some balancing when it gets those updates. VERDICT
An evolutionary update with unconvincing AI makes for a tough sell, but updates are scheduled. The improvements create genuine moments of greatness. Justin Towell
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LAST MONTH ON PS PLUS @KoeniginKatze
If you’ve been keeping up with this column then you know fanfiction is always a comfort. However, as we spilled over into May, I found myself longing for the consolation of making order from all the chaos. The May lineup from PS Plus really hit the spot.
TELLING LIES Seeing isn’t always believing
oyeurs will love this one, and if you’re not a voyeur, Telling Lies is going to make you feel like one anyway. You play a former FBI agent who, during one long night, has to scrub through hours of footage in order to piece together the uncomfortable truths behind FBI Agent David Smith’s undercover mission to infiltrate activist group Green Storm. While the database revolves around David (Logan MarshallGreen), you also get to learn a lot about those he’s spoken with, piecing together one-sided fragments of conversations. While other, less important, characters appear, most of David’s threads of influence are tied to his wife and daughter, Emma and Alba; a camgirl he confides in; and Ava, a young member of an activist group he grows close to in order to gain a foothold in the organisation.
We’ve been pretty vague about story specifics, and that’s because every small piece of information you come across is a potential clue you can gobble up and spit into the database’s search function to find other examples of where that word or phrase is mentioned. Locations, names, and odd phrases are all things you latch onto as
you watch these people living their lives. As the game’s name suggests, you often have to cut through the lies these people hide behind, digging deeper and seeing things from other points of view to get to the real truth. You can’t simply flick to any point in a video any time you like. Instead, you have a range of rewind and fast-forward speeds you operate with p and i or the right analogue stick, depending on how hard you press down. Clicks and whirrs come through the DualShock 4’s speaker, and it’s all very neatly done. Despite the virtual desktop acting as a framing device, it feels completely natural with a controller. You can manually type in terms to highlight clips that contain that particular word, or navigate into the subtitles in a clip to dive deeper into the rabbit hole. You’ll be rapt trying to piece everything together, and the terrific actors sell every scene, whether they’re dramatic ones or just low-key moments of downtime. Every player will piece together the narrative in their own way, following their own leads and building their own oddly personal relationship with the candid footage. VERDICT
A perfectly executed peep-’emup that makes you feel in control of your investigation, and tells a twisting tale that you won’t easily forget. Oscar Taylor-Kent
Leading the charge at a, uh, steady pace was Farming Simulator 19. Having long been the butt of jokes online, it arrived last month like some sort of soil-encrusted saviour. Yes, we wanted to till the earth into regimented lines. Yes, we wanted to keep our paddock nice and neat. Yes, we were desperate for a virtual space we could have even a smidge of direct control over! But if you were more desperate for the simple joy of a wide-open space, you could also hop on your horse or take the driving seat in your very own John Deere tractor, take a tour of the farm and take a load off. If, after logging hundreds of hours in Farming Simulator 19, you found your inner control freak not quite sated – not that we’re talking from experience – you couldn’t go far wrong with May’s other offering. Cities: Skylines was perfect for anyone even remotely interested in civil engineering. This city builder gave you a small town with big ambitions and tasked you with fulfilling them. As the new mayor, you were responsible for everything from building new roads to handling city policy. Perhaps you wanted to create a car-free district. Or maybe you were all about ‘education, education, education,’ and wanted to overhaul your school districts? The power was in your hands. Who needed an island escape? With so many gamers cooped up indoors, last month really was the best time for PS Plus to push out these indepth sims. Here’s hoping that when we emerge from hundreds of hours spent poring over city systems and tubers, we’ll all feel just a little more in control.
the long game
dlc & live games
the long game 86 Fallout 76: Wastelanders With this third DLC, Fallout fans finally get the NPCs they’ve been asking for. So is it time at last to step out into an irradiated Virginia?
on the store 88 Remnant: From The Ashes – Swamps Of Corsus A fresh chunk of story for the campaign plus two new modes for Gunfire Games’ unique soulslike.
Resident Evil Resistance
Four versus one doesn’t sound like very fair odds – but a Mastermind will argue otherwise.
Live games 89 Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers – Reflections In Crystal The Shadowbringers tale concludes.
online tests what we’re playing now
MULTIPLAYER MODES PUT THROUGH THEIR PACES BY OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS
APEX LEGENDS It’s now called Jess Kinghorns Canyon…
Against my (and perhaps his) better judgment, Oscar and I take to Duos mode to take on rivals as a team. Masters of communication while working on this very mag, we unfortunately find ourselves in for a rude awakening about the strength of our teamwork. However, innumerable matches ending in “But why didn’t you just, y’know, shoot them?” are soon made up for when we find ourselves gunning for the top two. Forming an uneasy alliance with two rival snipers to take out a third duo, we were so close and yet so far. What a rush!
GRANBLUE FANTASY VERSUS
Oscar Taylor-Kent says nice to beat you Most of Arc System Works’ latest fighter’s first batch of DLC characters has dropped, and I’m still finding which one I groove with the best. Learning how to fight new characters is a great challenge. My Zeta uses her spear to knock a few to the ground before my greatest adversary appears: another Zeta player. Spear against spear, I’m launched repeatedly into the air. Mirror, mirror, on the wall…
PREDATOR: HUNTING GROUNDS
Ian Dean has a lot of time to bleed Somewhere in the trees the Predator is watching us. We can hear its familiar clicking and swooshing around us, and before we realise everyone is shooting haphazardly into the jungle foliage. Recalling the buzz of gunfire from the movie we chop away at branches and leaves with our machine guns. It’s cathartic, powerful, but oh-so-pointless. Behind me I can hear the shink-shink of the alien’s blades cutting through my squad, and though I manage to get a few hits in, our hunt ends in failure.
INFO FORMAT PS4 PUB CAPCOM DEV CAPCOM REVIEW #175, 7/10
Resident Evil Resistance Mastermind? More like Tipping Point
esident Evil flirted with multiplayer in the past with Outbreak, and the Mercenaries and Raid bolt-on modes. Capcom has decided that Resident Evil 3 needs a multiplayer counterpart, and given us this asymmetrical 4v1 game. Four players pick from a selection of teenagers, unwittingly co-opted into the experiments of the fifth player, The Mastermind. Each has a set of abilities, unlocked with level progression, like combat and support role buffs. Maps have three areas to escape from, the teens needing to avoid monsters and traps while locating and solving puzzles. At the start, ammo, green herbs, and weapons can be bought with Umbrella Credits, earned or found in-game. The Mastermind (pick from Annette Birkin, Oswell Spencer, Alex Wesker, or newly created Daniel Fabron), has to kill or confound the teens until time runs out.
While the Survivors have RE Engine thirdperson action controls, the Mastermind views his domain by switching between security cameras. Picking from a deck of abilities, the Mastermind lays traps and unleashes monsters as those cards enter the deck. An ultimate ability, like setting Mr X or the G-Birkin on the survivors, is the Mastermind’s biggest play – and taking direct control of these
big boys is the best it gets for your villain.
While it’s a good idea in theory, being Mastermind is an oddly joyless experience. Magicking up monsters is fun for two minutes, before you realise you’re just spawning zombies on top of players. Even directly controlling Mr X is just a matter of thrashing about. Right now, in the game’s early days,
SETTING MR X OR THE G-BIRKIN ON THE SURVIVORS IS THE MASTERMIND’S BIGGEST PLAY.
MR X FACTOR?
Famous villains and monsters from the franchise are playable as The Mastermind; hopefully we’ll get more baddies in future DLC.
Please, zombie friend, finish us quickly!
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4
Seabound clobbering is better with crewmates INFO FORMAT PS4 PUB BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAINMENT DEV KOEI TECMO, OMEGA FORCE REVIEW #175, 8/10
groups of survivors are bumbling due to players’ unfamiliarity with the maps, but once groups know exactly what they need to do and where to find those puzzle pieces, the Mastermind will still just be spamming zombies. Surviving isn’t much more fun though. Unlike Revelations’ Raid mode, this is not a game developed around good combat mechanics. We’ve experienced a laggy-ness that results in seeing your damage-point score and exploding zombie brain a good half-second behind when you fire your gun. Movement is restricted; stacks of chairs form immovable barriers that funnel you through an area, resulting in an unnaturally claustrophobic game. Somewhere in here is a decent idea. We can only hope there are plans to add more maps and characters, because it’s going to take a lot of post-launch love to keep people playing this. VERDICT
A multiplayer misstep that will neither have you cackling maniacally nor whimpering in terror. We’d love to see a good, scary multiplayer Resi – but this isn’t it. Chris Burke
he only thing better than mowing down hundreds of seaworthy enemies is doing so with a pirate pal at your side. Omega Force’s Warriorsstyle games have always been terrific fun in co-op, and that’s no different in Pirate Warriors 4. Not only can you match up with friends or randoms to take on the Dramatic Log story mode, you can do the same in all the extra battles in the Treasure Log too (which feel more built around multiplayer), levelling up and unlocking new skills and characters as you go. Despite more action happening on-screen, the game can handle KOs into the thousands without hassle. There are plenty of options to search for online games too, so you can narrow it down to certain stages or sections of the log. VERDICT
While you’re best off going with a friend to tackle specific battles, plenty of people are playing online if you just want a high-seas scrap. Oscar Taylor-Kent
T Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy Of The Duelist: Link Evolution Please click yes – it’s time to duel INFO FORMAT PS4 PUB KONAMI DEV OTHER OCEAN INTERACTIVE REVIEW #175, 7/10
his game’s single-player campaign spans many generations of Yu-Gi-Oh, and this is translated into the online play. Hopping online in Ranked or Casual mode, you’ll be thrown into matches with people running all types of decks from classic RedEyes Black Dragon to those that are all about the newer Link cards. Constructing decks is fiddly, but there are plenty of filters and ‘related card’ features to help you get yours ready to take online. But one annoyance is exacerbated online: dialogue prompts that ask if you want to use a card to counter rather than allowing players to interject themselves. More often than not you have to wait for the other player to approve of every phase of action, meaning some games can become a slog. VERDICT
Everything works better than you’d expect, and with a variety of game modes it’s a lot of fun. Bring some friends for Battle Pack play. Oscar Taylor-Kent
the long game
GAMES WE’RE STILL PLAYING – AND YOU SHOULD BE TOO
Fallout 76: Wastelanders Does this renovation finally make settling down in Appalachia worthwhile?
hen Fallout 76 was announced at E3 2018 we immediately had concerns. Would a Fallout with no NPCs to chat with even work? Was the focus really going to be on bringing Fallout online, rather than battle royale game modes? Well, the last update added battle royale, and this third one finally adds NPCs. As it takes guts for a dev to change direction, it’s only fair we should give it a go. Waking up as a new character ready to leave Vault 76 (explained away in-game as your character having overslept for literally months), we immediately find the post-nuclear Appalachia is now much more familiar. The titular wastelanders have arrived, and while they’re few in number (everything’s been irradiated, after all), we stumble upon a fair number of them before taking on our first quests, centred on helping out a nearby bar, The Wayward, the new starting hub. You can jump right into some of the new content (before an eventual Level 20 gate), but even old quests now have NPCs sprinkled around to add extra texture to the previously empty environments. So, what’s in store if you let those country roads take you home?
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It turns out dropping NPCs from Fallout didn’t work out so well (as we all suspected), so Wastelanders rectifies that. There are new starter quests, a fresh endgame, tweaks to old content, dialogue stat checks, and more that make this feel more recognisable to fans.
The Wayward’s bar-crew, who’ll introduce you to what’s new in Wastelanders
Things you need to know now
MORDECAI ‘MORT’ MCCOY
When you meet this Assaultron she’s just a head, and you can use her as a laser gun to fend off Appalachia’s Scorched enemies. One of our favourite introductory quests had us exploring the nearby semiabandoned robot shop to find her a new body.
Voiced by Jason Mewes of Jay & Silent Bob fame, this ghoul mercenary has made The Wayward his home of sorts. His Headmaster Mort series of holotapes provides a more palatable tutorial on Fallout 76’s systems, and he gives you some valuable information to help you complete quests to protect The Wayward.
She runs the bar and will send you off on your first quests after new wastelanders waiting outside Vault 76 point you in her direction. With a murky past, she’s travelled to Appalachia for a fresh start, brewing her own alcohol and providing a safe haven for travellers. But she’ll need your help to keep it that way, getting bloody on her behalf…
He might seem like a simple ranger, but Sol is actually a smart roboticist. Calling Polly his “bot-sis”, the two make quite the team, and he’s always worried about putting her in danger. Sol goes out of his way to make sure Polly’s treated as the intelligent ’bot she is.
Over the hill, you finally meet Vault 76’s absent leader in Wastelanders, as the second half of the main quests kick off from her house. You can begin them at any time, but she’ll only allow you to take them on if you’re Level 20 or higher.
We could just give Polly a body from the Protectron display room. But we found some bobby pins in the back, and a locked door to the storeroom. We don’t think she’d be happy with a Protectron form, so it’s time to investigate further.
Unearthing a new keycard, we follow the trail upstairs and listen to audiotapes from the Duncan brothers. Past the Mr Handy showroom (another body option) there’s a keypad to the Assaultron room, and a mysterious message.
Deciphering the code grants us access, but it’s still protected by lasers. We can plant the extraction device by squeezing through a walkway behind the room and reaching through the boards. Job done. And it feels like our own journey.
It’s worth starting afresh to see the tweaks to the early game, but you’ll reach a point where you need to grind for Level 20. Either way, Wastelanders’ quests start just outside Vault 76, so head back there.
A whole land is a terrible thing to waste
Questions, answered We’ve finished Wastelanders, but we’ve got the base game to go back to. It feels a little lacking in comparison.
Would it be Fallout without weird bugs and absurd ragdolling during emotional moments? Fallout 3 feels not so long ago.
2 New (as in, old) dialogue systems make quests feel alive. Some branches require you to have low stats for some stupid (and often funny) dialogue options. It makes our choices feel like they have consequences.
We’re out of Vault 76 and already chatting, with NPCs, who give us brand-new quests. No wasting time here.
NPCs might have arrived in Appalachia, and there are more quests like in previous Fallout games, but this is not single-player. Playing with pals is the best way to get the most out of Fallout 76.
How this slice of early quest allows you to find your own way
Searching for a new Assaultron body for Polly we enter Duncan & Duncan Robotics. Picking the right dialogue choice when talking with robo-server Skinner (who thinks we’re a ghost) gets him to hand over a key to various robot frames.
1 DWELLER FELLAS
The Wayward’s stalwart protector is Bessie, a powerful robot who moos pleasantly at you robotically when you interact with her.
Get up to speed on Fallout 76: Wastelanders
We’re raring to go, but we have to be Level 20 to continue with the quests. We’re level 9. Time to grind. TIME
Walking through new faction settlements The Crater and Foundation, it feels like the single-player Fallouts of old. 21 hours
Q: What did I miss in the base game? A: New hive-mind enemy The Scorched threatens the world, so you need to take out the Queen Scorched Beast. You also follow the lead of various NPCs’ audiotapes, never meeting them (though you do in Wastelanders). Q: Does Wastelanders feel like old Fallout? A: Yes and no. NPCs and dialogue options liven up the world and improve Fallout 76 a lot, but it also invites some unfortunate comparisons. Q: Do I need friends to enjoy Fallout 76? A: Not exactly. There’s plenty to enjoy solo, and meeting random people can be helpful. But singleplayer options don’t match up to the true solo experience of classic Fallout games.
on the store A new world to travel to in your mission to save humanity.
EMPTY YOUR WALLETS NOW WITH THE LATEST DOWNLOADABLE DIVERSIONS expansion
THE PERSISTENCE (NON-VR)
Remnant: From The Ashes – Swamps Of Corsus 088
One of our favourite PS VR games gets a free update that allows you to play it on the big screen, no PS VR required. Similarly, if you buy the non-VR version, you also get the PS VR version. There’s no excuse for missing out on the horror. £3.99
Iskal’s followers make this a cult classic
unfire Games’ latest is the sort of unique soulslike you just want to keep playing. Thanks to procedurally generated elements, each playthrough feels unique. Now, Swamps Of Corsus brings some fresh content to shake things up and gives you even more reasons to explore the gruesome and challenging world yet again. In the world-rerolling Adventure mode, the Cult Of Iskal has taken over the realm of Corsus. The cult is on a par with The Root, the demon race that’s taken over Earth. In this story you have to slay the Cult’s Queen to save humanity’s last holdout. That means traversing a brand-new zone with previously unseen enemy types, side-dungeons, and two bosses.
Clearing it rewards you with new weapons, traits, items, and mods. The DLC also adds a Survival mode that sits nicely alongside the campaign and Adventure modes. In a roguelike twist, it challenges you to see how far you can get through completely randomised adventures on a single life. Do well
and you’ll be rewarded with new armour skins (which you can also now earn in the other modes’ harder difficulties). There’s still plenty of life left in Remnant: From The Ashes, and this major DLC addition shows how it could continue to challenge for quite some time to come.
THE CULT OF ISKAL, A NEW THREAT ON PAR WITH THE ROOT, HAS TAKEN OVER THE REALM OF CORSUS.
A new look for both seasons of the Telltale Batman series, with remastered textures and recoloured visuals. With the stripped-back colour palette creating a darker, moodier film noir look, you’ve another reason to replay the unique story. £TBC
MORTAL KOMBAT 11: AFTERMATH
also on psn
BUS SIMULATOR – OFFICIAL MAP EXTENSION
NORTHGARD – SVAFNIR, THE CLAN OF THE SNAKE
Go further into Seaside Valley. Two municipalities, nine missions, and 20 bus stops make for one happy Drive. Cheers!
BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES – SHADOWS MODE
Another clan arrives in this Viking strategy game. Led by Spear Maiden Signy, its folk specialise in guerilla warfare.
GRANBLUE FANTASY VERSUS – ZOOEY
This new girl (geddit?) is Grand Order personified, fighting with sword and shield combos. She comes with some RPG quests of her own too.
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN ULTIMATE NINJA STORM 4: ROAD TO BORUTO – NEXT GENERATION PACK
WRECKFEST – AMERICAN ALL-STARS PACK
And breathe. Four years from release: two more Boruto characters!
Also available in the season pass, three American legends return: The Grand Duke, Wildking, and Little Thrasher.
The big summer event sees the series’ first story expansion taking up where the main game ended. New playable characters include Fujin, Sheeva, and, erm, RoboCop (starring in his original 1990 sequel forms). The ’90s mood continues with the return of Friendships finishing matches.
Alongside everything else, the base game, A Realm Reborn, has had a massive update. Old quests have been streamlined, and flying mounts can now be used in these original areas. It’s not always about the new stuff, you know.
THE MONTH IN… DESTINY
Balancing any game is hard, let alone a live and evolving one with a player base in the millions. How do you juggle adding new content without burning out casual players? With Destiny 2 Bungie is attempting to solve the conundrum… UPDATE
FFXIV: Shadowbringers – Reflections In Crystal Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest RPG of all?
eflections In Crystal didn’t just gear up for the final act of the Shadowbringers questline, it proved the MMO is a breeding ground for Square Enix’s most creative JRPG content right now. The YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse Alliance Raid was one of the most exciting crossovers the game has had, with Nier creator Yoko Taro having direct input into the design.
APEX LEGENDS SEASON 5 – FORTUNE’S FAVOR New Legend Loba has been headlining the latest season, and it felt so good to see her properly after all Remedy’s ingenious teasing – showing how she was orphaned when Revenant killed her parents in Revenant’s reveal trailer, and hiding her in the lobby screen. On top of that, Season 5 introduced season quests, giving more to do than any seasons before it.
The Puppets Bunker was the second part in the series, and revealed more about The First’s machines. The Sorrow Of Welt, added more to the Ruby Weapon series’ storyfocused questline, including a climatic battle. Yasumi Matsuno’s Save The Queen questline received additions
too. This is all on top of extra trials, dungeons, beast tribe quests, more New Game Plus content, and the continued Ishgard Restoration world event. This patch extended the fantastic Shadowbringers story. Playable mostly solo, if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, don’t skip out on FFXIV.
A BREEDING GROUND FOR SQUARE ENIX’S MOST CREATIVE JRPG CONTENT RIGHT NOW.
GTA ONLINE – GERALD’S LAST PLAY
MONSTER HUNTER WORLD: ICEBORNE – THE DISTANT DARK TIDE
Six missions came to GTA Online revolving around Gerald, the drugdealing ‘business associate’ of Lamar Davis from GTAV’s story. He wanted to get out of the game with a big payout, and needed your help to do it. This meant finding missing ‘product’, tackling biker gangs and other dealers, and more. You could tackle the missions in any order, making it perfect to pick up and play on your own or with up to three friends with minimal hassle.
Last month’s update and big event was all about the Arch-Tempered Namielle, which you could hunt to craft Namielle Gamma + armour, and other high-tier equipment and layered armour. Much of this was prep time for the upcoming gamechanging Alatreon, which has been delayed owing to coronavirus. All the more time to prepare…
When you have a community that includes some of the most hardcore players around and people who just dip in and out, finding the middle ground between providing a deep, engaging challenge and enabling chill time with friends is tough. Destiny 2’s recent seasonal events have been meaty, but many players felt like they had to complete a checklist in a limited time in order to keep up. Now it’s independent, Bungie is more able to adapt to the feedback from its player base. It’s already planning to change how seasons work from the autumn update onward. The big change is that core seasonal activities will remain live for a year, rather than being pulled when the next one lands, giving you more time to earn rewards. It should make Destiny 2 friendlier to newcomers, and help stop time-pressed players feel like they’re missing out. With so many games vying for our attention, we need reasons to keep returning, and Bungie understands that.
CL AS SI C GA ME
INFO PUB 2K GAMES DEV IRRATIONAL GAMES PRODUCTIONS RELEASED 2008, PS3 GET IT NOW PS STORE £44.99, IN BIOSHOCK: THE COLLECTION (PS4)
NEED TO KNOW
1 2 3
It’s a spiritual successor to System Shock. It was originally set on a space station. Director Ken Levine voices the Circus Of Values.
BioShock’s narrative proved so engrossing, a movie version was floated about for years. Alas, Gore Verbinksi’s adaptation was shot down.
ONE OF THE EARLIEST GAMES TO OFFER THE PLAYER A GENUINE CHOICE.
BioShock is an undersea treasure trove of complex ideas, but despite how outlandish the idea of a still-functioning sunken city sounds at first, a general sense of coherence helps to make it seem plausible. Being set within an alternate history version of 1960 is also no bad thing, as it means you often find yourself gawping at the art deco gorgeousness around you whenever you first step out into a new area. Add in a splash of melancholy (relating to the joys that came before), moody lighting, and plenty of blood on the walls, and you have an atmosphere so thick
’SHOCK AND AWE
■ Always prepare before taking on a Big Daddy.
since has struggled to replicate, right up to today. The genius of it is in how run-down areas such as Fort Frolic, Olympus Heights, and Neptune’s Bounty all tell their own unsettling stories using environmental design almost alone. Few shooters before or since have placed equal emphasis on action and world-building.
hen it comes to gripping singleplayer narratives in videogames, it really doesn’t get any better than Irrational Games’ underwater magnum opus. Released on other platforms in 2007, PS3 players got to experience the dystopian beauty of BioShock just a year later, quickly discovering that the wait for this noticeably-more–profound–than–usual FPS had been worth it. Was it the richness of its world, the interactions with the tortured characters you met along the way, or that iconic revelation (which still rivals some of the best plot twists ever portrayed on screen)? It was, of course, the result of all three working in harmony, something that was only possible thanks to the creative talents of game director Ken Levine and his team. BioShock sticks with you for a plethora of reasons, but arguably none more so than the city of Rapture itself. A submerged metropolis originally intended to be a place where artists, philosophers, and scientists could escape post-WW2 political restraints and work freely, there’s a richness to Andrew Ryan’s idyllic utopia gone wrong that almost every game released
Every month we celebrate the most important, innovative, or just plain great games from PlayStation’s past. This month, we take a deep dive into an art deco underwater dystopia as we explore Irrational Games’ modern classic
you could cut it with a knife – or at least smash with a spanner. Of course, your exploration of Rapture is hampered by the hulking Big Daddies stationed throughout; yet another instance of story expertly colliding with your actions. BioShock was one of the earliest games to offer the player a genuine choice, asking you either to take down these deep-sea-diver-like beasts to secure precious ADAM (the chemical that keeps the wheels of Rapture turning) or to leave them be for fear of ending up in a Vita chamber. Doing the latter hinders your efforts significantly, so it’s always worth trying to separate an ADAM-harvesting Little Sister from her dedicated protector. Armed with the appropriate plasmid powers, these tussles almost always result in an intense back and forth, to the point that you wonder whether Irrational made the act of shooting deliberately unintuitive, making shocking, incinerating, or whatever-ing your way through enemy encounters equally appealing. Though dual-wielding wouldn’t be possible until the sequel, switching between plasmids and guns on the fly adds a nice tactical touch to combat that’s in keeping with the rest of BioShock’s eccentricities. Today BioShock stands above its peers because it’s a game that dared to look above and beyond player action. Deep narrative, cool locations, creative activity… you’ll find it all within Rapture. Some follow-up DLC to BioShock Infinite may have attempted to fill in some narrative gaps, but it doesn’t dampen the mystique of the original any less.
■ Plasmids make combat feel unlike any other FPS’s. ■ Your first meeting with a Little Sister gets grisly.
TI ME MA CH IN E
Name that game Guess the four games, and their scores, from these review quotes
OPM TIME MACHINE
5 YEARS AGO We had the world’s first hands-on with Metal Gear Solid V in OPM #111 – and we weren’t going to keep Quiet about it
THERE ARE FEW WORDS ADEQUATE TO DESCRIBE EXACTLY HOW JOYOUS YOU’LL FEEL AS YOU DON THE BATSUIT.
3 THIS CHALLENGING SCI-FI HORROR IS STRUCTURED PERFECTLY FOR PS VR. IF YOU’VE GOT THE NERVE – AND THE STOMACH TO MATCH – IT’S A MUST.
Above Saving animals by attaching them to Fulton balloons, using boxes as toboggans, and the more serious task of rescuing Kaz Miller: that world-first time with The Phantom Pain proved to be a real pleasure for our lucky previewer.
Below left Ten reasons to love PS Vita. And you know what? We still adore the underrated handheld. Below right “One of the deepest and most involving narrative-led RPGs of the current generation.” Yup.
4 A SCARY ADVENTURE THAT SACRIFICES AS MUCH GAMEPLAY AS THE CULT IN ITS STORY DOES FOLLOWERS. 1. Batman: Arkham VR, issue #129, 8/10. 2. Star Wars Battlefront, issue #118, 8/10. 3. The Persistence, issue #152, 9/10. 4. Outlast 2, issue #136, 5/10.
A STRONG, YET UNIVERSAL, SHOOTER IN A VIBRANTLY REALISED STAR WARS SETTING, BUT IT PROBABLY WON’T STAND UP TO MONTHS OF SPACE SHENANIGANS.
Far left Artist Johnny Barry created limitededition PlayStation trainers. We couldn’t even afford the box. Left The heroes just kept coming in issue 111: Rocksteady ended the Arkham trilogy with a Knight to remember.
DON’T MAKE ME PLAY!
FINAL FANTASY XIV ONLINE Don’t like it. Never tried it. Every month we force one of our team to play their most feared game
WHAT? INFO PUB SQUARE ENIX
DEV SQUARE ENIX RELEASED 2010 (PS3), 2013 (PS4) GET IT NOW PS STORE, £12.99/£44.99
A second massive multiplayer online game in the Final Fantasy franchise. You’re an adventurer on clean-up duty during a period of rebuilding following a calamity that befell the realm of Eorzea.
Malindy Hetfeld dislikes MMOs but loves Final Fantasy, and rave reviews for this one’s expansions, plus the fact she previously claimed to give any game a try, mean she’s giving it a go.
uriosity is only natural when people around the world act as if director/producer Naoki Yoshida descended on the initially pretty broken Final Fantasy XIV like Jesus (Yesus? Yeezus?) and turned a horrible mess into an enjoyable experience. I was even more on board when I heard that this is an MMO where you’re largely independent if you want to be. My time with the game, however, consists largely of wondering where all that amazing content is. After the initial onslaught of information aimed at getting me started, I mostly cull the local monster population. Or I deliver messages and items, being told there’s “no-one quite like me”, while other players queue behind me to receive the very same task. In other words, I’m experiencing the thrilling life of a
I MOSTLY CULL THE LOCAL MONSTER POPULATION OR DELIVER ITEMS.
■ I don’t know what other glorious adventures other players are up to in this beautiful-looking
game, but I’m here to kick ass and take names… so I know who to deliver various letters to.
freelancer, only now through the eyes of a badass Roegadyn woman over six feet tall. That is, she would be badass if she wore any of the trimmings I’ve seen on players with irresistible names such as ‘Shadowmoon Velvetmoon’. The Shroud, the area I’m exploring, is a pleasant-looking forest full of little nooks and crannies, but the quests doled out to me can’t seem to make the most of it. I try to emote at random strangers who help me with the monster slaying, only to end up ignored and oddly lonely for someone who wanted to stay independent, so I quietly go back to my deliveries. It’s relaxing just to complete a few undemanding tasks each evening, but so many other games have them, games that don’t promise to give me the good stuff only after I’ve persevered through mindless fetch quests for 80 hours. Come to think of it, I’ve played a game just like that before – it was called Final Fantasy XV. Forget playing postie; my next mission is to rejoin Noctis and co.
HLEL HTA E 5A0M PF TOOF
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CURRENT-GEN’S GREATEST GAMES
PS4 HALL OF FAME 1
UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END
Nathan Drake’s swan song is a daring evolution. It combines seriesdefining set-pieces, quietly devastating storytelling beats, and sprawling levels that make you feel like a real-life explorer. This franchise finale retains its signature charm, with the wisecracks flowing as fast as the bullets, while the new characters each justify their inclusion. With an astonishing attention to detail, it’s Naughty Dog’s best yet.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
PERSONA 5 ROYAL
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
GRAND THEFT AUTO V
GOD OF WAR
SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION
MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD
ASSASSIN’S CREED ODYSSEY
RESIDENT EVIL 2
There are a lot of open world games, but none that make you feel like you’re a part of a world in quite the same way as Arthur Morgan’s wild west adventure. Tremendously physical, an epic story, and some of the most satisfying headshots you’ll ever find.
The most stylish JRPG ever made finds its definitive form in expanded release Royal. It combines dark and moving teen angst with unforgettable friendships that power you up in the heart-invading dungeons, and sets a genre gold standard.
It feels like the game you remember from PS1, and that’s Square’s greatest achievement. Everything is dragged up to date, from the combat to the visuals. This remake even manages a late-game twist that could reset the franchise. Brave, bold, essential.
A departure in some ways but a resounding return in others, Kratos is back with a son and a ruddy big axe. Taking the legend from Greek to Norse mythology, this entry brings a lot to the table while improving on what was core to the earlier series’ identity.
Though it’s still in early access and lacks PS VR support, this is still a feature-laden platform of artistic tools that enables you to create games, and resets what a console ‘game’ should be and do. Dreams should be installed on every PS4.
The White Wolf’s epic journey is an RPG experience like no other on PS4. It’s been made even more spectacular with this gigantic pack stuffed with DLC, making it a must-have part of any gaming library.
A beautiful open world where every Greek island tells a unique story. AC Odyssey is a epic in the truest sense, with lively writing, mythical beasts to battle, and a poignant Assassin’s Creed story that lays the bed for all the lore to come. A brilliant spectacle.
HORIZON ZERO DAWN
A staggeringly large world that condenses cracking combat, accessible systems, and uncut eye-candy into an action RPG that will please anyone. In Aloy, PlayStation might just have a new icon. Come for the robo-fights, stay for the exquisitely dense mythology.
Borrowing heavily from Rocksteady’s Batman series, this delivers the heart and soul of Marvel’s superhero. It ticks every box you could ask for: perfect web-swinging, a powerful story, a roster of classic villains, and all of New York to defend.
Laughing in the face of other cross-gen ports, GTA V on PS4 is more than a mere HD remaster. Upped to a glorious 1080p, it weaves everything that made the PS3 original great, with new music, more dynamic weather, and a game-changing FPS mode.
FromSoftware’s latest adventure repackages its unflinchingly difficult combat into a fantastical take on feudal Japan. More accessible than Bloodborne but layered with equally clever and subtle ideas, this is director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s best yet.
With the finest third-person melee combat in gaming, drool-worthy art design and the most twisted monsters imaginable, this is a gorgeously gothic must-have. The Old Hunters expansion adds enough nightmare fuel to make a return to Yharnam essential.
Presenting a vibrant open world, light on story but heavy on action, this is the most accessible entry in the series yet. Perfecting the feel-good grind through its complex systems and pitch-perfect multiplayer, it’s a PS4 must-play.
Powered by the RE Engine, this remake is more than a classic game with a facelift. New Tyrant and zombie AI adds tension, and fresh areas not seen in the original PS1 classic update the core gameplay making this Resi 2 is a celebration of PS1 and PS4.
Agent 47 sneaks his way into the ultimate PS4 stealth-‘em-up. With a fantastic set of new maps, it also plays host to legacy content for all the missions in the first game, making it the new de facto Hitman hub. No stealth game is more satisfying.
Running, gunning, flying, flinging – this one has it all. Satisfying gunplay plus a slew of telekinetic powers make a winning combination as you explore one of the most compelling settings on PS4 to date, the Oldest House. (New) weird and absolutely wonderful.
DEVIL MAY CRY 5
RESIDENT EVIL VII: BIOHAZARD
Alternative picks We mine the library for gold. This month: must-play party games P IC K
JACKBOX PARTY PACK
Jess Kinghorn fights for her right to play
Another classic PlayStation series returns to form on PS4. Slicing up demons and doing so stylishly has never felt better, especially when each of the three characters (Nero, Dante, and V) plays so uniquely. It looks stunning, and plays even better.
Capcom’s greatest series returns to terrifying form thanks to a trip to Louisiana to meet the Baker family, who stalk you around their mansion. While the second half of the game doesn’t match the intensity of the first, this is still essential for any horror fan.
This series has been an office favourite for some time. It’s hard to pick just one pack but favourites have emerged over the years: Quiplash taught us to give as good as we got, Survive The Internet taught us that anything can be a meme if you try hard enough, and Fibbage taught us never to trust ever again. As the games are playable from your smartphone, the series is great for good, potentially not-so-clean fun for the whole family. P IC K
Oscar Taylor-Kent will visit Hell for a party This might be the only strategy game that can light up a party. Played on one screen, up to four players must quickly build turrets and barracks and command their marines to overtake each other’s forces. Matches are fast and frantic, and plenty of maps ensure you keep wanting to try to get one up over the other players. There’s a coop challenge mode too, but it’s the quickfire PvP that gets any party popping.
You haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed a four-player free-for-all in this instant couchplay classic. The solo campaign is fine by itself, but almost nothing beats the arrow-grabbing, death-defying last-second kills of local multiplayer’s mayhem.
THE LAST OF US REMASTERED
The follow-up to a PS3 great, mixing a creative skillset with impressive level design to create a Kaldwinning immersive sim. From the shifting rooms of The Clockwork Mansion to learning to link your powers, there’s so much scope for experimenting.
This modern masterpiece just gets stronger with age, like a full-bodied stilton. A brutal, emotionally honest take on the end of the world, Naughty Dog’s stealth shooter is simply one of the best games ever, even if this PS4 port doesn’t add much to it.
Larger but maintaining an emphasis on storytelling and experimentation, this sequel to Last Light pulls no punches. If you’re looking for one of the best narrative-led shooters on PS4 this mix of FPS, horror, stealth, and survival shouldn’t be ignored.
HELLFRONT MIGHT BE THE ONLY STRATEGY GAME THAT CAN LIGHT UP A PARTY. P IC K
ROCK BAND 4
Ian Dean asks for more cowbell If you can find someone brave enough to take on vocals, and find all the peripherals, then there’s not a lot better than jamming through rock’s greatest hits with three friends. Rock Band 4 is Guitar Hero turned up to 11, and when it finally clicks remains one of PS4’s most unique things to do with lumps of plastic. Released five years ago it can be hard to find, but it’s well worth tracking down. Spandex is always optional.
A beautiful, epic story told at its own pace, Days Gone is a modern western played out across a society that’s just crumbled. The challenge of the hordes and the emotional clout of the narrative manage to push above the cookie-cutter ideas.
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Bluepoint completely overhauls the visuals of Team Ico’s masterpiece but still manages to match the original step-for-step in its remake. New controls and a beautiful photo mode add to the package. Wander’s tragic quest has never looked or played better.
■ If you’ve got the specialist controllers to play it (try finding them
secondhand), get the band back together and start jamming!
HLEL HTA E 5A0M PF TOOF
THE VIRTUAL REALITY HITS YOU HAVE TO PLAY
PS VR HALL OF FAME 1
Tetris, yeah? It might be a great game, but it’s easy to understand why you’d brush this off as just more Tetris at a glance. Yet Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s trippy, transcendent take on the block-based puzzler is nothing short of a masterpiece. Sure, you can play it without PS VR, but in the virtual space it really becomes next level, transforming one of the tightest puzzle games ever made into an emotional ride.
ASTRO BOT RESCUE MISSION
TO THE TOP
BLOOD & TRUTH
STAR TREK: BRIDGE CREW
KEEP TALKING AND NOBODY EXPLODES
EVERYBODY’S GOLF VR
This first-person horror roguelike offers perfectly sized chunks of survival bursts. It’s everything you’d expect from a full PS4 release, but in PS VR it’s filled with clever ideas, unique weapons, genuine jump scares, and fab looks – plus great couchplay.
Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s vision becomes reality in PS VR. This psychedelic rhythm rail shooter has achieved its final form. Its crowning achievement? New level Area X; it’s powerful enough to bring players to tears. Worthy of its name, this is a timeless title.
Make no mistake: the brave chrome beetle gives Rez a run for its money. Hurtling down a violently kaleidoscopic track, pounding notes and scraping round corners is exquisitely tough – and the manic magic is enhanced and perfected in PS VR.
This pint-sized adventure packs charm in spades even if it isn’t chock-full of challenge. Bringing the classic puzzle platformer formula bang up to date in PS VR, it won’t take many levels before you’re calling out, “Beam me up, Botty!”
The truth? You can’t handle the truth. But if you can, then you’ll discover one of PS VR’s best shooters, tied to the kind of slick cinematic narrative we’re used to from Sony’s non-VR releases. Blood & Truth is one of the most complete games for PS VR.
Who knew bombs could bring people together? With one headsetted Defuser, and as many Experts as you can fit around a 23-page manual, no other VR game comes close for inclusive, endless multiplayer fun.
Saw meets Portal in this fantastic puzzler. It makes ingenious use of the DualShock 4 by giving every button a specific function. You’ll need to use them all to free your hands from the strange box in which they’re trapped. An intriguing concept done well.
FIREWALL: ZERO HOUR
There’s only one game mode, a cat-and-mouse assault to find and either destroy or protect a laptop, but when the shooting is this laser-focused, who could want more? A PS Aim controller is a must to get the most from PS VR’s standout shooter.
RESIDENT EVIL VII: BIOHAZARD
Can you can go eye-to-eye with the Bakers? Playing in VR raises the tension to almost unbearable levels and has gameplay benefits such as face-aiming, which makes shooting a lot easier. A brilliant example of how VR can improve already great games.
A new take on a classic game, this proves firstperson shooters can shine in VR. A mix of control choices, including the PS Aim controller, ensures Doom is as fast and fluid in VR as it’s ever been. Every PS VR owner needs this in their collection.
This creative platform-puzzler enables you to scamper, jump, and skate across its 35 sandbox worlds, with the aid of your PS Move controllers. It’s as physically demanding as it is perplexing, and all the better for it. To The Top is a PS VR one-off.
Mixes the fanboy fantasy of nestling in the Captain’s chair (or taking control of the helm, weapons, or engineering section) on a USS starship with the strongest co-op experience on PS VR. This is Star Trek’s finest hour on PlayStation.
Golf and virtual reality go together like ham and eggs or rhubarb and custard. In PS VR you swing and chip shots, lean over putts, and become immersed in the act of putting a ball in a small hole. It’s near perfection, and one of PS VR’s essentials.
A crazy mix of SSX racing and obstacle course hijinks, Sprint Vector makes use of the best control setup on PS VR to deliver a near perfect experience. A single-player Challenge mode and online races impress; only the poor single-player AI holds it back.
BATMAN: ARKHAM VR
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM VR
Not only is the training mission an unparalleled exercise in wish fulfilment (Wayne Manor! The Batcave! Batarangs!) but the defiantly sharp, if short, campaign is the epilogue to Arkham Knight we needed and deserved. Bats off to you, Rocksteady.
Though compromises have been made to texture detail and controls, you get all of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, including the expansions, inside PS VR. The scale and organic nature of the world at your feet overcomes any shortcomings.
PS VR firmly on and PS Move controllers in hand, Beat Saber feels like the game both pieces of hardware were made for. In it you have to master songs and challenges by swiping your neon swords through the air, and dodging with your head.
Guide adorable mouse heroine Quill through a fantasy storybook world full of virtual puzzles, fights with insects, and perfectly pitched Disney influences. There’s no need to say cheese, because you’ll be smiling as you play, all day long.
One of PlayStation’s funniest games is a dark, twisted journey into the world of accounting. It’s an Inception-like dive into increasingly bizarre and frequently hilarious scenarios that will scratch the itch of any Rick And Morty fan.
This sci-fi shooter is a brilliant showcase for the PS Aim controller, a versatile bit of kit that makes the satisfying range of weapons feel weighty and real. The game matches it, delivering a strong story and challenging co-op for great VR action.
Punching things is possibly the least creative use of the VR medium, but when it’s used to create a classic arcade boxing sim that plays like a brutal puzzle puncher, it’s irresistible. It’s also good for you: it tracks your calorie count as you work up a sweat.
This story-driven FPS demonstrates five-to-eight hour adventures can work in PS VR. Building its narrative organically through physically exploring the game’s world while fending off mechanical creatures with a trusted bow and arrow is a delight. Ambitious.
PS Now for something completely different Recently joining the ranks of the gaming-on-demand service were multiplayer heavyweight Rainbow Six Siege (until 2 Nov), psychological thriller Get Even, and the chilling The Evil Within 2. It’s that final one that caught my attention, as now’s a good time for some horror. Even though Shinji Mikami stepped into a more supervisory role for THE EVIL WITHIN 2, it feels like a culmination of the sort of horror he’s championed his whole life. Tense, thrilling, walking the line between giving you the tools to fight back and causing enough anxiety to make you question whether you really should. A fusion of classic survival horror and modern psychological horror, this dip into a warped shared artificial reality is a bizarre and compelling game no horror fan should miss. Coming off that high I jump into more PSNow horror. THE EVIL WITHIN is also on here, and while it’s still a spooky time, detective Sebastian Castellanos’ first outing into the world created by the STEM
machine has since been overshadowed by both its sequel and other horror games, and feels like a notquite-as-good Resi 4. So naturally I jump into RESIDENT EVIL: CODE VERONICA X next, and catch up with what Claire Redfield did after escaping from Raccoon City. (You know, I’d love a remake of this one). Before I know it, I’ve become a full-blown adrenaline addict. Give me the scares. I’m fiddling around with SOMA, FEAR (plenty of gunplay here), DEADLY PREMONITION (a cult classic that ensures you’ll never look at trees in the same way again), FORBIDDEN SIREN, SILENT HILL 2, and *shudder* HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: MONSTERS OVERBOARD. I awake from the horror haze in a stupor. I can’t go on. I’ve run out of pants.
Come home to these ghosts in the machine. Traipsing through each family member’s surreal vision of the apartment they share in first-person horror is a wonderfully dreadful experience. Trespassers will be thoroughly spooked.
Time moves only when you move in this exceptional PS VR first-person shooter that manages to make you feel like you’re playing through a slow-mo action movie. The free Superhot Forever update adds even more challenges. Make time for VR bullet time.
■ Headshots aren’t always enough to finish the Lost in The Evil
Within 2. If that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.
PARTING SH T
Celebrating PlayStation’s finest moments
Getting an eyeful Detroit: Become Human spices up police work Last Month Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2
Ryu takes on a heavy-handed metaphor in his fight against Lady Liberty.
FORMAT PS4 / PUB SONY / DEV QUANTIC DREAM / RELEASED 2018 / SCORE 7/10
fter a rash of android attacks on humans, it’s up to curmudgeonly detective Hank and his android partner in solving crimes, Connor, to investigate. In a textbook Cageian move, their latest lead takes them to a saucy club staffed exclusively by glistening androids wearing naff undies. The scene of the crime is a private room – one dead human patron’s tangled up in red sheets at one end and a busted android lies in a pool of blue blood at the other. Bringing the scantily-clad andy briefly back online, Connor
can only ask so many questions before she shuts down again. With the right choices, you learn she didn’t kill the patron but another android did – and they might still be on the premises. As it’s club policy to wipe the androids’ memories every two hours, it’s a race against the clock to gather what evidence you can and figure out where the assailant might’ve gone. Using Hank’s credit card to rent the android eyewitness holed up immediately opposite the private room, her memory reveals the assailant first headed for the club entrance… but did she leave?
Connecting with a pole-dancing andy reveals she changed course and headed back into the club. But where is she now? Scrubbing through your eyewitnesses’ memories, you piece together the android’s confused path through the club, ultimately leading to what we dare say is one of the game’s more memorable, ahem, climaxes. But the following choice (and all of the skeeviness leading up to it) aside, the Eden club remains a novel bit of puzzle design. We just wish the game showed Hank explaining this investigation’s expenses to the Captain. ■
Next Month Batman: Arkham Origins
It’s not the Suicide Squad tease but the Deathstroke fight that we love.
O N S A L E 30 June Subscribe on page 58
REVIEWED – THE LAST OF US PART II Forget everything you’ve heard. We’ve played the whole game, and have the definitive verdict