作者彙整:Jeff Cork

Nintendo Getting Back In The Fitness Game With Ring Fit Adventure

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release:
Rating: Everyone 10+
Platform: Switch

Nintendo has officially revealed Ring Fit Adventure, an all-new fitness game that includes a resistance ring and leg strap for your Joy-Cons. The announce trailer highlights several modes, which include full-fledged adventures, activity-based minigames, and more traditional forms of exercise.

Click here to watch embedded media

The Ring-Con peripheral offers adjustable levels of resistance to give players of various strength levels a challenge. Using the Ring-Con in conjunction with the leg strap, players can engage in 40 different activities, arranged in four different categories: arms, core, legs, and yoga-inspired moves.

Ring Fit Adventure is coming to the Nintendo Switch on October 18. 

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New Gameplay Today – Contra: Rogue Corps

Click here to watch embedded media Konami is bringing back its Contra series with the release of Contra: Rogue… 繼續閱讀

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Blair Witch Review – Walking Around In Circles

Developer: Bloober Team
Release:
Reviewed on: PC
Also on:
Xbox One

The Blair Witch movie franchise started out strong, with the release of The Blair Witch Project. The pseudo-documentary became a cultural touchstone, with a companion website and TV special stoking the belief that the tale of three missing college students may have actually happened. A pair of follow-ups failed to capture the magic of that initial found-footage phenomena, because it’s tricky to pin down what exactly that magic is. Bloober Team takes a crack at it with its own Blair Witch game, telling an original story while tapping into the few common elements that the films share. The main character, Ellis, is a former soldier and police officer, but he’s just as susceptible as anyone when it comes to getting lost in the woods near Burkittsville.

Ellis and his dog, Bullet, are part of a search party looking for a missing boy, but it’s not long before the pair needs assistance of their own. The forest is dense and confusing, and it’s purposefully impossible to chart on a map. Walk away from an abandoned car in a clearing, for example, and you eventually loop back to it. Once that initial jolt of confusion wore off, I just wanted to be able to get to where I needed to go. Bullet can help navigate by sniffing out clues, but he’s hard to see in the dark forest and he tends to dart ahead. 

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Bullet is more useful during encounters with enemies. Unlike the films, which focused more on establishing a tone than overtly showing any supernatural beings, you’re going to see some weird things in the game. In the first type of encounter, Bullet barks at the enemies and you shine your flashlight at them to make them scurry away. Repeat it a few times, and they eventually leave. The other enemy encounters are less forgiving. In these stealth-oriented sections, you must avoid being detected by beings that you can only clearly see through your in-game camcorder screen. If you’re spotted, it’s game over. The balance between these two styles is inconsistent. The flashlight sections are trivially easy, and you’re allowed to mess up several times without penalty. On the other hand, the stealth parts are unforgiving. In one particular section, success and failure seem to be based on random chance; the visuals are so dark and murky that it seems impossible to know if you’re in the monster’s line of sight. 

Thankfully, these encounters are relatively scarce. Ellis and Bullet usually navigate the woods alone, save for a few radio conversations with the rest of the search party. It’s an isolating experience, and the atmosphere works well overall. Reality is fairly warped in the woods, as evidenced by that camcorder. During several key junctures, you get new videotapes. Some are just there to advance the plot of what’s going on with the missing child, while others show things like collapsing trees or slamming doors. By rewinding the footage, you can affect what happens in reality, like pulling a fallen tree up and out of the way, or opening a door before it’s shut. It’s an interesting concept, but the puzzles are so obvious that they don’t add much. Still, they’re a more interesting way to pass the time than going backtracking across a dimly lit moebius strip to find valves, cranks, and other doo-dads. Perhaps Ellis sums it all up best during a phone call with a friend: “It’s like we’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of bulls—.”  I’m with you, buddy. 

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The first three-quarters of Blair Witch are a bummer, but they’re redeemed by the last act. Here, Ellis confronts his traumatic past as he explores the interior of an abandoned house. It plays like a more realized version of P.T., with nonsensical architecture and imagery that’s flat-out disturbing. It’s a powerful counterpunch to the rest of the game, and it makes great use of the Blair Witch franchise’s limited mythology. There’s something unsettling about seeing dozens of child-sized handprints on the wall, especially when you know what typically happens to kids in these cursed woods. It’s not exactly scary, but a few decisions – and their outcomes – stuck with me hours after putting the controller down. 

Blair Witch ends on a high note, but you need to endure plenty of nonsense to get there. Navigating this world is more tiresome than frightening, especially once you realize that you’re not in peril most of the time. Instead, it’s more about how creepy you find wooden stick figures and walking around in the dark. 

Score: 7

Summary: Blair Witch ends on a high note, but you need to endure plenty of nonsense to get there.

Concept: A search for a missing boy gets weird as the hunt goes deeper into the haunted forest from the Blair Witch films

Graphics: Aside from a great ending section filled with trippy effects, the bulk of Blair Witch does a serviceable job in the visuals department

Sound: The soundscape is fairly sparse overall, which makes musical stingers and other moments pop all the more

Playability: You’re only armed with a camera and flashlight, which explains the emphasis on stealth. Enemy sightlines are poorly communicated and encounters can be more frustrating than freaky

Entertainment: Blair Witch does a good job capturing the sensation of getting lost – something I actively try to avoid. A memorable final act partially redeems the tedium of getting to that point

Replay: Moderately Low

Click to Purchase

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10 Of The Coolest Things I Saw At Gamescom 2019

Gamescom is kind of like Europe’s version of E3, if E3 were bigger and somehow more of a spectacle. It’s open to the public, so anyone with about 20 Euro can come inside and see what’s on the horizon. The sense of excitement and enthusiasm around the event is contagious, and it’s one of the reasons I look forward to going to Germany every year to attend. This year my days were packed, and I saw a lot of games. Of those, these are the 10 that stood out to me – from tiny indies to major upcoming blockbusters.

Borderlands 3

At Gamescom, Gearbox outlined some of what players can expect from the shooter’s endgame content. In addition to the return of Circle of Slaughter, a hordelike, wave-based mode, Borderlands 3 introduces Proving Grounds. These side missions are unlocked by discovering hidden Eridian language fragments throughout the world. Unlike Circle of Slaughter, which has enemies assaulting players in a small area, Proving Grounds has more of a linear A to B structure. I played one of these missions as the pet handler Fl4k, where I had to fight a variety of skags and spiderants – including a queen and king variant – while working my way through the mission path. Proving Grounds is designed to be replayable, and there are optional goals to achieve. I didn’t make it through without dying (I blame my pet, even though it wasn’t probably the pupper’s fault), but I did beat the final boss in the allotted time and mopped up all the enemies. Because of that, the chest at the end of the stage held better loot for me, including a sniper-shotgun frankengun. Seeing a few of the objective checkmarks left blank only made me want to dive back in and do better next time. Next time isn’t long away, either. Borderlands 3 is coming September 13.

Iron Danger

I’d never heard of Iron Danger before the show, and I’m glad I took the time to check out Action Squad Studios’ game. It’s a tactical RPG, which isn’t usually my thing, but the introduction of a timeline that players can scrub through like a video player makes defeat sting a lot less than in other games in the genre. The tagline says, “You will die, but you will not fail,” which is an appropriate sentiment. You play as a mage, and you and your party members fight against a variety of foes including 30-foot-tall steampunk automatons. Fortunately, you can swap between the real-time adventure mode to trance mode, where you advance and rewind time at your leisure. If you’re discovered or killed, you’re able to rewind time up to five seconds. You can also use that ability to have one character toss an explosive barrel, rewind, and do it again with the other – so they throw them in a coordinated attack. I watched a lengthy sequence where the party set up a trap, lured enemies over with a sound, and felled a tree to detonate it all. It didn’t work well at first, but thanks to rewinding and experimentation, it eventually resulted in a blast that wiped the enemies out in one massive explosion. It’s a more elegant alternative to save-scumming, which the devs say allows them to make enemies and encounters more challenging. It’s coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2020.

The Eternal Cylinder

The Trebhums have an unwieldly name and oddball appearance, but I grew quite fond of the little aliens during my hands-on demo with The Eternal Cylinder. The critters look a lot like Q-bert, and they face an existential threat in the form of a massive rolling object that is intent on moving forward – whatever is in its path, be damned. The Trebhums don’t start out able to do much more than flee, but they can eat different foods to manipulate their bodies in helpful ways. Chomp on a grasshopper-like creature, and you sprout springy legs to help you jump over walls. Cold weather got you down? Eat furry prey, and grow a fluffy coat. The unrelenting cylinder is far from the most surreal element in Ace Team’s game. As I progressed, I faced enemies including a giant pod thing that split in the middle, revealing a set of chompers. Weirder still was a torso and arms fused into a car. When I honked at it, it awoke from its slumber and chased me around – and the light from its headlights removed the modifications I’d picked up along the way. There’s also a narrator who would be right at home in a nature documentary, commenting on milestones and doing his part to contribute to the overall strangeness of the whole presentation. It’s coming to consoles and PC in 2020. 

Minecraft Dungeons

The first thing that struck me when I started playing Minecraft Dungeons was how hard it was. And I’m completely fine with that. The dungeon-crawler may draw from a kid-friendly universe, but the demo showed that it’s a competent game on its own. Our timed demo was set in the Desert Temple, and our group of four worked our way through the maze-like corridors to try to find the exit – and the big bad that guarded it. I immediately split off from the group, which I learned was a pretty bad idea. I could work my way through the low-level skeletons with relative ease, but became overwhelmed when facing tougher foes that could summon adds and were equipped with special status effects. You’re going to want to stick with your buddies when you play, is all I’m saying. There’s an impressive amount of depth in play, with enchanting systems and loot to collect. Being tossed into the world in a demo let me appreciate how well it controls and feels overall, but I’m looking forward to the satisfying accumulation in power that can only come from starting from scratch and working through the campaign. Minecraft Dungeons is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC in 2020.

Biomutant

I visited Experiment 101’s booth for the third consecutive Gamescom to see what the Swedish studio was up to. As it turns out, there’s a reason the team hasn’t been making headlines lately: They’re busy making the game. It’s been one of my most anticipated titles since I first saw it in 2017, and I was eager to see more of the post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable, as they call it. Rather than showing off a live demo as they have in the past, I got to watch a lengthy video that highlights just some of what players will be able to see if they spend enough time exploring the game’s world. Some of the highlights included a giant tortoise-like creature with buildings on its back, a boss battle where players pilot an octopus ship that can clamp down on the monster’s mouth and inject ink into its maw, and, my favorite, a mechanical hand vehicle. Players can ride on its hand as it creeps along like Thing from The Addam’s Family (sorry, I’m old), and it can activate a combat mode where it makes a finger-gun gesture while firing. I also caught a glimpse of the game’s six faction leaders, who each are masters of a unique weapon, such as a bo staff or nunchuks. Players choose to ally with one of the factions, and then can kill or spare the remaining ones as they work through the narrative. Be merciful, and you can even learn their abilities, seamlessly switching between them in combat. I wish I could have gotten some hands-on time with Biomutant, but I was still happy to see that it continues to look better every time I see it. Experiment 101 is a small studio of about 20 developers, and they’re currently working to ensure that it ships as bug-free and is as polished as possible. Look for it in 2020.

Disintegration

V1 Interactive’s debut is a tactical/FPS hybrid in which players give orders to A.I. squadmates and make snap tactical judgments while monitoring (and participating in!) the action on a weaponized hoverbike. The team wasn’t showing off the campaign, but I did get to check out one of Disintegration’s multiplayer modes. Retrieval is a lot like capture the flag, but with explosive payloads that can wipe your team if you aren’t careful. The matches I played were hectic, particularly since most members of the two four-person teams were still getting the hang of shooting on the bike and also making sure that their A.I. companions weren’t dawdling around. Once I got settled into the multitasking loop, I had a great time with it. Here’s hoping we get to see more of it soon. I wrote a longer preview on the game, too, which you can read here.

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break

Ace Team brings the stone-rolling action back in Rock of Age 3: Make & Break. As the name implies, the latest entry to the series adds user creation, allowing players to design, playtest, and share their tracks with the community. During a hands-off demo, I saw how easy it was to connect two points on an empty playspace by dragging the cursor around. Tracks were created automatically, following every bend the cursor made. From there, you can tweak the course further by clicking into the nodes that are automatically placed, widening the course or narrowing it, raising or lowering the height, and even adding banking slopes for high-speed cornering. Adding obstacles and other hazards is similarly simple. You’ll have to complete the track before you can share it with the world at large, so don’t get ay ideas about uploading something that’s impossible to complete. We saw a complete stage created in about five minutes. It looks intuitive and fun, and the developers say the tool is identical to what they’ve used to create the levels players will roll through in the campaign. It’s coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC next year.

Autonauts

Denki’s upcoming game is a boon for lazy people like me. You play as an adorable little explorer who lands on a procedurally generated planet to establish a new home. That sounds like a lot of work, but fortunately you’re not going to be doing it alone. Your character is a crafty one, capable of taking a few sticks and other materials to build functional robots. Once constructed, you’re able to program these bots to perform increasingly complex tasks. At first, having them chop down trees for you is a time-saving triumph. That’s nothing, though. Eventually you’ll be able to harness them to create entirely automated supply chains. For instance, you need blankets? You can have a series of robots feed and care for sheep, shear them when they’re ready, and then process the wool into blankets. You can even create clothes for your bots, outfitting your lumberjack bots in matching red plaid or putting ponchos on the farmers – while making new arrivals happy by fulfilling their needs and harvesting their love. Yeah. This agricultural focus is just the first step. After the game launches this fall, a free update will bring the industrial age to your tech tree, allowing you to upgrade bots to run on steam, build trains to ferry materials around, and more. Look for Autonauts on PC this fall.

Chernobylite

The Farm 51’s upcoming horror game was a must-see for me this year, probably because HBO’s Chernobyl is still so fresh in my mind. This isn’t quite as realistic as the show (time shifts and weird ghost-like apparitions are just a few of the things that stuck out in my hands-on demo), but it’s no less atmospheric. The team visited the actual site of the nuclear disaster to capture photogrammetric measurements and get as many of the details right as possible. They weren’t able to delve as deep into the facility as Igor and his group of mercenaries do in the game, but perhaps that’s for the best. The former plant worker is haunted by memories – and visions – of his missing fiancé, Tatyana, and he figures he can only find answers at the site of the tragedy. After claiming some radioactive Chernobylite samples to power some kind of reality-bending tool, everything falls apart. The setup is intriguing, and the game’s overall structure seems to build on it in intriguing ways. Your small group sets up a camp, which can be expanded and improved like a survival game. You set out on expeditions to learn more about Tatyana’s whereabouts and gather resources. Keep your recruits happy, and they’ll accompany you in battle, give you weapons, and more. Permadeath is in play, so you’ll need to be careful. If you’re unfortunate enough to die, you’ll have to start over, too. There’s a cool twist though: You retain your memories, so you’ll get new conversation options to bypass some missions and save time on subsequent playthroughs. 

Cyberpunk 2077

There’s not a whole lot else to say about Cyberpunk 2077 at this point, particularly since the live demo I saw at Gamescom was essentially identical to what CD Projekt Red showed at E3 (and also thanks to our exhaustive coverage of that demo). It was the first time I’d seen it, though, and I walked away complete impressed. I think what stood out most of all was how seamless everything appeared, from talking with NPCs to combat to riding vehicles. There’s a sensation that the player avatar is inhabiting the world that’s hard to ignore, and perhaps harder to articulate. It’s an astounding feat, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it April 16, 2020. Boring choice, I know, but what can you do? 

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Calling And Taking The Shots From Above

Publisher: Private Division
Developer: V1 Interactive
Release: 2020

Disintegration takes a familiar conceit from tactically oriented games – the shot-caller who monitors the action from above – and adds a clever twist. “What we wanted to do was turn that camera in the sky into an active participant in combat,” says V1 Interactive’s co-founder, Marcus Lehto. The result, which we played at its Gamescom debut, smashes together FPS and tactical action to create a fascinating, fast-paced hybrid.

Players control a crew of A.I. companions, while monitoring the action from above. You’re not just an observer, though; your vehicle, known as a grav cycle, is kitted out with both offensive weapons and defensive capabilities. As your crew of mechanized buddies scrambles on the ground below, you direct their actions by issuing commands via beacons and button presses while also taking out rivals with your own attacks. It’s a tense feat of juggling, but it became second nature after only a few minutes of hands-on time.

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Lehto says the sci-fi game features a complete single-player campaign, but that’s not what we’re playing at the show. Instead, we’re dropped into one of the game’s multiplayer modes, a take on capture the flag called Retrieval. Here, two teams of four take turns on attack and defense, trying to nab volatile power cores and deliver them past enemy lines before the payloads explode.

Players can choose between several themed crews, which Lehto likens to motorcycle gangs. These have their own cosmetic flair (the Sideshows are like maniacal clowns, while the Warhedz look like they were pulled straight out of Mad Max’s world), as well as gameplay specializations. From the six crews I see in the demo, I pick the King’s Guard, which gives me the ability to fire charged bolts as well as drop a mine that provides a slow healing trickle to allies that come within its range.

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The match takes place in what looks like a refinery, with choke points to guard and side passageways to slip through if you’re lucky. I hang back at first, doing my best to support the team with heals and taking shots when I can safely take them, but that strategy gets old after a bit. I find that I’m able to be far more aggressive than I initially thought, focusing on enemy grav cycles while my A.I. buddies provide solid backup. Both matches end in a draw, but I’m eager for more. Unfortunately, we’re out of time.

V1 Interactive is a small team of about 30 developers, which Lehto says is important. He says he’s seen what can happen when studios get too large (he left Bungie in 2012), which is an experience he doesn’t want to repeat. If this multiplayer demo is any indication, his team not only has some great ideas, but can potentially deliver on them, as well.

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New Gameplay Today – Astral Chain

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Hey! Astral Chain is kind of weird! Platinum Games’ Switch exclusive blends Batman-style detective work with the kind of high-octane combat the studio is best known for. Also, you have a bunch of buddies that you can summon at will, and use its chain leash to trip up the bad guys. Yep!

Reiner takes the Joy-Cons in today’s episode and shows off a whole lot of fighting as well as a little bit of puzzling. You like pushing blocks and standing on switches? 

Astral Chain is coming to Switch on August 30.

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New Gameplay Today – Rad

Click here to watch embedded media Double Fine’s upcoming game Rad is a post-post-apocalyptic Roguelite set in… 繼續閱讀

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New Gameplay Today – Jet Kave Adventure

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The upcoming Switch exclusive Jet Kave Adventure answers a question that we’ve been asking for years: What would happen if a caveman got a jet pack? As it turns out, he would fly around and do stuff. Now you know! In today’s NGT, Leo shows off a few stages of 7Levels’ platformer, including what he considers a boss battle*. 

This is definitely an under-the-radar release, but Leo is a big fan of how well it controls – even if he’s unable to beat one of the time challenges. We’ll blame it on the weather or something. Also, Jeff M in this episode, so there’s that!

Jet Kave Adventure is coming to Switch sometime this year.

 

*It’s not a boss battle.

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Here’s What You Can Expect From Red Dead Online’s Upcoming Specialist Roles

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games
Release:
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Back in May, we spoke with Rockstar about Red Dead Online’s future, which included a bit of discussion about its upcoming specialist roles. Today, the company has given more details about what players can expect from these three progression paths, whether you choose to be a bounty hunter, trader, or collector.

These three roles give players a more focused way to engage with the game, which is something that fans have been asking for since it launched. Regardless of which path you take, Rockstar says you can expect your character to find unique benefits and gameplay elements. You’re not locked into a specific role, either. You’re able to progress through all three branches simultaneously or focus on one, depending on what you feel like doing at any given time.

Bounty Hunters are perhaps the most self-explanatory role. Players earn cash and other rewards by tracking and taking down targets – including your fellow players, if their bounty reaches a certain threshold. If you like to take bounties alive, an unlockable reinforced lasso will make that easier (or, alternately, make it easier to torment your soon-to-be-dead targets before cashing them in). You can also unlock tracking skills like being able to use Eagle-Eye while you’re sprinting, or flashy new gun tricks. 

Players who are looking for a more dependable (and safer) way of filling their larders might be interested in the Trader. They’re essentially the hunter/trapper class, building their empire through collecting and selling meat, fur, and skins. Do well enough, and your camp can expand into a thriving business, with hunting wagons, weapons lockers, and guard dogs.

Finally, the Collector is perfect for people who like to explore on their own terms, without having to worry about collecting bounties or skinning animals. They’re all about finding valuables, using items like a metal detector, improved binoculars, and other new skills. 

Rockstar also says some other changes are coming later this summer, too. Defensive players won’t take as much damage, and the game will track your preferred playing style between Defensive or Offensive and automatically launch you into that style when you begin a session. There will also be more objects to loot in the world, including gold teeth from corpses.

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New Gameplay Today – The Outer Worlds

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Obsidian’s next RPG has people excited, with its blend of humor, sci-fi, and open-ended exploration. We were impressed when we saw The Outer Worlds for our cover story, and subsequent showings have only increased our excitement. In today’s NGT, Joe Juba shows me and Leo some of the footage he captured during a recent hands-on session – about 45 minutes of it, in fact. Also, he highlights what happens if you act like an absolute maniac. Enjoy?

You’re able to kill NPCs, including questgivers, as you can see in the video below. And while you’re able to talk your way out of conflict if you put enough points in your speech-related skills, we don’t see much of that here. Instead, Joe solves problems by, well, killing them.

The Outer Worlds is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25, with a Switch release coming sometime afterward.

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