作者彙整:Matthew Kato

Grid Review – The Retread Reboot

Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Rating: Everyone
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also on:
Xbox One, PC

Rebooting a franchise involves taking something with a beloved history, updating its technology, and imbuing it with the spirit of the times. Grid, however, doesn’t fully live up to this objective. It simply does not contain enough beyond Codemasters’ solid racing gameplay to jumpstart the brand in this day and age. The Grid reboot brings the franchise back, but without pushing past its previous incarnations, it feels like it’s just going around in circles. 

Grid offers a plethora of races across six types, spanning GT, stock, tuner, and other types of cars. You’re free to move among them (as long as you can afford the requisite car), but Grid’s career mode is missing structures, like being in charge of a full racing operation that may actually get you emotionally invested in creating your legacy. Only two race types exist: regular race and time attack, and there aren’t any larger sponsorship incentives that serve as motivating carrots. You don’t upgrade your cars’ parts or performance, and the teammates you hire don’t give you a boost on the track or have any personality or anything else to tie them to you in a meaningful way. In short, Grid is a game of numbers. It’s a game with a lot of races, but it doesn’t give you enough reason to care. It hits the bare minimum of what a racing title should be, but it doesn’t try to break out of the mold like the original Grid once tried to.

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At least Codemasters confidently executes on the racing itself. Grid’s gameplay is between an arcade and sim-racing title, a fun space that encourages experimentation with the normal, generous range of difficulty and handling options Codemasters is known for. Because of the relatively open structure of Grid’s available races, it doesn’t take long to race some powerful cars, and it similarly won’t take long to become comfortable braking hard, throwing the steering wheel into a corner, and holding on for dear life, playing with the throttle to find that sweet spot between skidding and sliding. Even when you go back to cars with stiffer suspensions, there’s still joy and skill in finding the limits.

While you’re in the throes of racing concentration you may spare a moment for the nemesis and teammate systems, but not much more. Nemeses duly give you a bump if they reach your rear quarter panel (their anger resets after each race), but the role teammates play is less obvious. They have different levels of aggression, skill, and loyalty, but most races are only three laps; this doesn’t give you time to wait around for a key moment for them to block a specific racer for your benefit, or help you out at all. Your teammates are just other cars to pass on the track, and they don’t have any personality off of it, which doesn’t leave them with much of a purpose.

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You may be paying their wages for nothing, but at least it’s not hard to earn enough gold to buy the cars needed to race across the various silos. Your earnings are also shared between single-player and multiplayer, which is nice. In multiplayer, I like how cars ghost at certain times to prevent huge pileups, like when a player is using the rewind function. But like the career, multiplayer lacks race types. You also can’t form teams, nor can you see which public lobby you are joining, or set up which assists racers can use in private matches.

The Grid series offers a fun, gorgeous racing experience, and I can see value in bringing it back. But this incarnation of the game performs the bare minimum of the reboot mandate when it should be doing so much more. We race to be in first place, but unfortunately, Grid seems content to be in the middle of the pack.

Score: 7

Summary: This reboot from Codemasters lacks the ambition that a good racer needs to get to the front.

Concept: Drop into a world with over a hundred races and six different disciplines

Graphics: Codemasters does a great job making races look gorgeous and feel alive

Sound: You can hear the track announcers before and during races, which adds atmosphere. However, your crew chief who talks in your ear piece is a hilarious, dead-pan dolt

Playability: I highly recommend taking the assists off and spending a little time getting used to the cars. Once you get over the learning curve, you’ll get comfortable and become a better racer

Entertainment: Codemasters’ skill in the genre makes Grid a competent entry, but nothing more

Replay: Moderately High

Click to Purchase


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New Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Trailer Ignites

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Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Electronic Arts and developer Respawn Entertainment have released a new trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in conjunction with other announcements for the Triple Force Friday merchandise blitz on October 4 (Fallen Order itself hits stores on November 15 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One).

The trailer shows Cal’s companions, Jedi Knight Cere Jundo, pilot Greez Dritus, and droid BD-1, as he searches for something “precious to the Empire” and encounters Inquisitor the Second Sister as Cal and Cere try to resurrect the Jedi Order in the wake of Order 66.

The footage also appears to show worlds other than Kashyyyk, including Cal’s battles with some very large and angry indigenous beings.

For more on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, be sure to read our full cover story and check out supplemental stories by visiting the cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.


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FIFA 20 Review – A Well-Worn Institution

Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Vancouver
Rating: Everyone
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also on:
Xbox One, PC

It’s hard to know what FIFA is anymore. Like EA Sports’ Madden or 2K’s NBA 2K, FIFA has been absorbed into the larger sports culture. It’s been adopted by the athletes themselves, and is a symbol for video games in general. FIFA may be everywhere, but where does that leave FIFA 20? The game is not any worse off than it was a year ago, but it also feels anchorless. It has noticeable little improvements in every corner, but it lacks a strong core. FIFA 20 feels like a team without a captain.

Volta, the new small-side football mode (sometimes with sideline walls), is not strong enough to carry the torch for FIFA 20. The optional story (which you may as well call Volta: Hold Square to Skip) isn’t compelling, and the mode’s relatively confined spaces only accentuate some of the weak points in FIFA’s gameplay. Loose ball pickups, ball physics, and poor teammate A.I. can all go wrong; when they do, Volta’s small playing spaces mean the loss of possession can lead to a swift goal against. Similarly, I don’t get fancy with the ball much (apart from passing it off the walls, which is fun) due to the risk involved of coughing it up. In fact, you don’t even get bonus points after a match for stylish play, which makes me even more reluctant.

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When the gameplay is on a normal-sized pitch, which allows wingers to run free and more team strategies to develop, FIFA 20 feels more at home. Smart passing opens up attacking opportunities. Playing defense, while not as overpowering as last year (in fact, calling over a teammate for help doesn’t do much), feels rewarding. I like to take control, cordon off an opponent’s attack, and clog up passing lanes. One of my favorite things to execute – given the time, skill, and teammate movement – is to pump the ball into the wide channels for the wingers. This puts immediate pressure on the opposing fullbacks, and is something that the A.I., to its credit, does right back at you.

FIFA 20’s gameplay produces satisfying moments, like addressing the ball with small touches to maneuver the ball and keep possession, but it’s hampered by foibles like inconsistent/sometimes-floaty ball physics, bad keeper rebounds, and players comically falling down or feeling like they’re on ice. The latter happens even though the actual jostling command is well executed.

As usual, these kinds of eccentricities are magnified in Ultimate Team mode, when chemistry and other variables are involved. While this mode is the financial powerhouse of the series and EA as a company, Ultimate Team in FIFA 20 isn’t a destination mode. The new season format doles out linear rewards for your activities, but the rewards (coins, cosmetics, the occasional pack, and more) are often shrug-worthy. Unexciting things like balls and team badges are placed on steep ascending tiers that bake more grind into the mode.

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Ultimate Team’s multiplayer may be hyper-focused on getting the right players, but even the mode’s bad pack odds are preferable to the fact that Volta only gives out cosmetic items (at launch, anyway). Sadly, it’s more exhilarating to try and survive in Ultimate Team’s piranha tank for player cards than it is to play Volta for throwaway cosmetics. Unfortunately, this is where this series is at: Asking fans to put up with less-than-ideal aspects for morsels of fun.

Other modes like Career (player or manager) and Pro Clubs are also stingy, including a few new elements that may solve long-standing problems or address fans’ requests (like being able to practice in Pro Clubs) but which simply cannot disguise that these modes haven’t been fundamentally improved. For instance, the new manager interviews/conversations during career mode are a thin way to address player morale, which is a system that behaves erratically. Some players demand more playing time when they’ve already been in the starting lineup for months. The career-mode A.I. also falters in managing its rosters correctly, keeping the transfer market stocked, and fielding the right lineup alongside you in the player-centric version of career mode.

FIFA may be more popular than ever, but FIFA 20 is a standard bearer with no clear focus. The gameplay comes up just short of carrying the title, and while Ultimate Team is engaging in its own way, it’s the same grind it’s always been. The next-generation of home consoles is approaching, and I can’t tell if EA has run out of ideas or is running out the clock.

Score: 7.5

Summary: Developer EA Vancouver has made changes across the game, but what does it all add up to?

Concept: Add a new small-side mode called Volta, along with other changes throughout the game

Graphics: Player faces look pretty good, but their facial expressions are limited to the stoic end of the emotion spectrum

Sound: The soundtrack is well-suited to the Volta locations around the world

Playability: It’s worth learning the variety of dribbling options due to their usefulness in different situations

Entertainment: FIFA 20’s finer gameplay moments are overshadowed by the series’ overall malaise

Replay: Moderately High

Click to Purchase


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eFootball PES 2020 Review – Fine Margins

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Rating: Everyone
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also on:
Xbox One, PC

It’s halfway through my first season as manager of the club in PES 2020’s Master League franchise mode and everything is going swimmingly – we’re top of the league and leaders of our group in the European cup. At the beginning of the season I made a promise to our board that we could win both competitions, and we are well on our way.

Then, towards the end of the January transfer window, Paris Saint-Germain swoop in and pay the release clause of one of my best players. I hurriedly propose a new contract to him in the hopes of rebuffing the poachers, but his head has already been turned and he’s out the door. Our domestic and continental campaigns continue nonetheless, but the loss of our star particularly hurts because I hadn’t arranged a suitable replacement.

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This is one of the scenarios in the mode, along with choosing season objectives and press conference answers, that plays out in new cutscenes without spoken dialog. The intrinsic value of something enigmatic like the pressure of an upcoming derby or the team selection is hard to measure, but it captures a hard-to-quantify quality that this often-sterile mode has lacked. Similarly, it’s nice to finally see realistic transfer amounts although the A.I. still doesn’t know how to manage rosters during the transfer windows. This is emblematic of the title as a whole, a game whose charms and flaws are both apparent.

PES 2020’s gameplay changes can also be very noticeable (I play on Top Player difficulty) even if they don’t seem monumental on paper. Players’ physicality gives gameplay a measure of grit; even if a defender is in a good position they can be held off so a shot or pass can be completed. This, along with defense in general requiring more discerning timing, introduces tension and excitement around the box. Fouls still aren’t consistently fair and collision sometimes fails, but I like the defending overall.

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Timing is also important in passing and shooting, creating windows that separate the delicious from the merely ambitious. Some players have an inspire rating that causes teammates to make runs because they know your player has the ability to get them the ball – that’s if you pick your head up and see their movement. There’s also a difference between getting your body correctly set up to put the ball accurately on net and just swinging your leg at it and sending it into the stands. A less-than-ideal pass or one to the wrong teammate may slow your counterattack just enough to let the opposition gather its forces. Your striker may snatch at a chance that would have been a sure goal if you just took an extra second to get composed.

Relative to gameplay and Master League, PES 2020’s online and MyClub aspects stand out less. Fantasy collection mode MyClub is still generous in how it gives fans starting out a chance at acquiring decent players, and I anticipate the title’s post-launch outlay of agents and ways of accumulating GP, the in-game currency, to be the same as last year. Overall, online play is still at the mercy of players’ connection, Konami’s infrastructure, and the limited matchmaking model – which is to say it’s not very different – but at least you can see your opponent’s connection strength before diving into a match.

PES 2020’s small details create moments that bring into focus the fine margins that determine the results of many soccer games. When compared to the game’s similarities to last year it seems like minutia, but these are the things that elevate it from previous efforts and make PES 2020 look and feel correct. It’s a better game, even if it’s not evolved in every way. It’s like when a manager expresses how pleased they are of the team after a draw: You know they wanted the outright win, but they are also satisfied with the team’s overall performance. PES 2020 can be a familiar experience, but that shouldn’t blind you to its finer moments.

Score: 8

Summary: Konami’s latest entry in the soccer series adds more official licenses and drama to its Master League mode, but it’s the action on the pitch where the game makes its mark.

Concept: Add small but noticeable touches to mainly gameplay and the Master League mode to create an experience that is both familiar and new

Graphics: The Master League cutscenes show both how good the models are but also how hard it is to capture realistic facial expressions

Sound: The crowd swells, but it doesn’t add to the overall matchday atmosphere. There needs to be more vocal away support and back-and-forth between supporters

Playability: The new way of controlling the ball with just the right analog is simple and useful

Entertainment: PES 2020 creates a vibrant drama on and off the pitch through small details that can make a big difference

Replay: Moderately High

Click to Purchase


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NBA 2K20 Review – A Game Of Runs

Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also on:
PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

The NBA 2K franchise has gotten so large that it services niche fanbases as much as it tries to appeal to the masses. Some players grind out progress and chase the badge meta of MyCareer, others rebuild the NBA as they see fit in MyLeague, and then there’s the never-ending card collecting of MyTeam. All are rightfully NBA 2K fans and deserve to get joy from their favorite basketball title.

This, however, puts developer Visual Concepts in a tough position because if you try going in different directions at once you risk going nowhere at all. This is nothing new for the franchise, which has not only become the preeminent basketball title, but some argue the best sports title period. Visual Concepts has responded in recent years to this pressure by adding new features to many of its modes. NBA 2K20 does this like its predecessors, but as much as it tries to carry the franchise forward, it is burdened by the past.

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A prime example of this is MyCareer, which lets players loose in the open world-ish Neighborhood area to grind their player up the ladder. NBA 2K20 tweaks how you make your MyPlayer, letting gamers choose their hard attribute caps within templates of preset strengths and weaknesses. Your abilities are broken out into the finishing, shooting, playmaking, and defense/rebounding buckets, which also house the all-important badges that confer bonuses.

Grinding to increase your attributes through the VC currency (earned throughout the game and buyable with real money) is a central part of the experience, and although you can create multiple builds, each one starts over at 60 OVR and any VC you’ve earned cannot be re-allocated to the new build. This exposes the illusion of freedom of having different builds in the first place, and given how important having the appropriate attribute levels, badges, and even physical features are in multiplayer, you must choose carefully.

The mode’s grind itself is exacerbated by an infrastructure that needs updating. You still have to wait in real-time for MyPark games and training stations, and there is no matchmaking in the mode. This significantly dampens my incentive to take my lumps against players who may have paid real money for VC to expedite progress.

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Thankfully MyCareer also lets players grow through NBA games against the A.I., providing a different outlet for your character. This is bolstered by cutscenes along the way, including the well-done Prelude story put together by Lebron James’ SpringHill Entertainment that advocates players embracing what agency they have in power structures that preferred they didn’t.

MyGM also surfaces the needs of players via the conversation system, but it drags down the mode. The action-point system driving what you can do in a day isn’t interesting when you have to spend it constantly chit chatting with players to hold inane, repetitive conversations about waffles just to keep up their morale. You also have to constantly fend off their requests for minutes. Unlocking GM abilities like training and scouting is understandable, but I don’t like that it’s tied to objectives that might not make sense like signing lots of veteran players at the behest of the team owner. The actual skill tree itself, which is a part of the entire process, is okay but nothing special.

MyLeague is similar to MyGM in many respects, but without the action-point system, and reveals many of the series’ strengths, such as the ability to customize the league in myriad ways via rules, rosters, and the teams themselves (including adding historic ones), as well as the analytics at your disposal. These are the kind of franchise options that few sports games deliver. The series adds the WNBA for the first time, although this is just for a single playable season and in Play Now.

NBA 2K20 also comes through in the gameplay department, allowing individual expression within a team dynamic. Pulling off fancy dribble moves isn’t hard, but passing the ball around, running plays, and putting it all together at the right times to generate space to sink shots is a deep, satisfying path to consistent scoring. Although the low post area can be a jumble of animations, the game adapts well to your commands with branching animations that give you the flexibility while driving to the basket to reroute your path or pass the ball at the last second to an open teammate.

Playing defense is just as important, and I appreciate the fine line between success and failure in contesting shots and the physicality of trying to get in front of the better players so they don’t just blow by – although I haven’t mastered the timing of boxing out and rebounding.

At launch the game has had problems, such as MyCareer players not being awarded earned progress, and MyTeam single-player Triple Threat challenges not being accessible (at least MyTeam’s overall progression isn’t bad). These kinds of hiccups are usual for Visual Concepts, and partly prove that the NBA 2K series – as strong as it is in some areas – needs to keep working. 

Score: 8.5

Summary: The gameplay heart of the series is well intact, although some of the choices developer Visual Concepts makes with parts of the modes aren’t the best.

Concept: Keep delivering on the gameplay front and the overall strength of its League structure while inadvertently reinforcing how MyPark needs significant changes

Graphics: A nitpick of an otherwise gorgeous game: Sweat only comes in one flow – heavy-duty

Sound: I love having multiple commentary teams, and I appreciate that they callout substitutions during timeouts

Playability: The controls easily accommodate a surprising amount of actions, letting you concentrate on what’s actually going on instead

Entertainment: There’s a lot to chew on in this game, good and not as good, but thankfully the gameplay delivers

Replay: Moderately High

Click to Purchase


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NASCAR Heat 4 Review – Pit Stop Adjustments

Publisher: 704Games
Developer: Monster Games
Rating: Everyone
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also on:
Xbox One, PC

This year’s additions to NASCAR Heat are perhaps the most subtle for the franchise so far. Still, the title’s gameplay, career mode, and online suite are sufficient and compelling, making NASCAR Heat 4 the strongest title in the series to date – even if its flaws make it more admirable than excellent.

The best addition to the game is the host of sliders that change both your car and those of any A.I. racers. These cover aspects like tire wear, pack spacing, ability by the A.I. to recover from contact, as well as those addressing the overall difficulty of the experience. The effect on the track is more exciting racing due to a host of factors created by those sliders, from more drafting partners to the overall nerfing of the A.I. drivers, resulting in more interesting currents during the race such as realistic A.I. lap times that create pit strategies during long green flag runs or surprise cautions.

NASCAR Heat 4 has better pack spread, whether that’s stretching out the overall field or having A.I. cars choosing different lines on the track. That being said, I question the viability of those different lines on the tracks. It’s good that some A.I. cars take a high line at times, but either through their setups or driving ability, they aren’t faster overall and they don’t stick with these lines consistently. This means you’ll still get freight trained from below because that’s the default fast line for the A.I.

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As far as the game’s A.I. has come, more work is needed. The localized rubber banding causes cars to catch up and pass you, but then settle in and slow down in front of you. Also, the A.I. lap times do indeed reflect tire wear, but they don’t drive like they actually have worn tires.

Online racing has its own problems. Not only is it missing features like matchmaking, grief protection, or leagues, it still hasn’t instituted practice/qualifying sessions. It also doesn’t offer settings available in other parts of the game that could aid the experience such as restricting the effects of car collisions.

The game’s career mode is improved, although it’s not drastically different from last year. It can take longer to save money for your racing organization due to more differentiated contract payouts – but not too much longer. Similarly, I like juggling different cars chassis that are best suited for specific track types as well as employee specialization; resource management is tougher but not excruciating.

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One of the areas that needs work is the friends and rivalries system. Someone praising or shaking their fist at you often doesn’t match up with what actually happened on the track. However, no matter what there’s always a draft partner available, which goes to show how surface the whole rivalry system is in general.

NASCAR Heat 4’s A.I. is a work in progress, the career mode is adequate, and the online suite is behind the times. Nevertheless, it’s the best offering to date even if it’s not totally dialed in, forcing you to get up on that steering wheel and dig deep for your spot on the track.

Score: 7.25

Summary: The series’ latest from developer Monster Games makes some tweaks to improve the on-the-track experience.

Concept: Give players more control over the title’s gameplay and career options in an attempt to make the game as a whole more realistic

Graphics: The PS4 version again has framerate problems. Thankfully the PC edition does not

Sound: Hearing the shaking and rattling of your car in cockpit cam is pretty cool. Overall, the new sound for the cars is good

Playability: The numerous slider options governing both your car and the A.I. ones offers enough flexibility to accommodate a range of players

Entertainment: Despite its limitations, NASCAR Heat 4 contains enough improvements to make it attractive

Replay: Moderately High

Click to Purchase


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Returning To A New World

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Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios
Release: 2020
Platform: PlayStation 4

Sega and Yakuza series developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Games have announced Yakuza 7 – a new mainline Yakuza title set for a release in 2020 here in the States on PlayStation 4.

According to Gematsu, who has a translation of the game’s debut in Japan, the game is subtitled Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon here in the West, and in its home-country goes by the name Yakuza: Whereabouts of Light and Darkness.

The series is known for its ferocious street fighting, but Yakuza 7 mixes things up by layering on a “live command RPG battle” system where players select techniques with effects such as attack, recovery, support, etc. How this plays out for gamers moment-to-moment and how it combines with Yakuza’s traditional gameplay will be an interesting challenge for the title.

The game introduces a new protagonist: Ichiban Kasuga – a member of the Arakawa family of the Tojo Clan who has just been released from jail after serving an 18-year sentence. Kasuga was taking the fall for a crime actually committed by a yakuza higher-up in the organization.

Instead of being greeted by a grateful boss, however, he’s literally left for dead in Yokohama – a city that’s apparently three times the size of Kamurocho in previous titles.

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[Source: Gematsu, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio]


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What’s Coming Up For Madden 20?

Launch day isn’t the end of video game development anymore, rather it’s just another step in the process of supporting the product. Developer EA Tiburon supports its Madden titles with patches, roster updates, new commentary, and Ultimate Team content, but that won’t be all for Madden 20.

Here’s a quick look at some of the other currently announced additions coming down the road.

Playbook Additions

Creative director Mike Young told us that this is the first year that the developer is able to update the game’s playbooks from week to week. While EA hasn’t committed to a specific cadence, this could offer great flexibility and is necessary. One thing EA Tiburon has announced is that the defensive playbooks will be refreshed during the year.

5th Yr. Contracts for First-Round Picks

Teams like the fifth-year option for first-round picks because it lets them kick the tires on the rookie for four years, with the fifth year adding extra time to sort out a possible new contract before the player tries to cash in on the free agency market. Or the team can decline the fifth-year option and let the player walk if it’s just not working out. During a livestream, the developer announced the game would be adding fifth-year options during the season. It’s about time.

X-Factors/Superstar Abilities Updates

These new abilities are one of the cornerstones of the game, and it only makes sense that, like a normal roster update, the list of who is and isn’t deserving of them would change during the season. Although the NFL season hasn’t started yet, EA Tiburon has already given abilities to some offensive linemen. For the future, the developer says the release cadence of these changes won’t be the same as the roster updates, but will likely come out after the game’s larger eSports tournaments.

New Scenarios

The new scenario engine is a key part of the franchise and QB1 modes, and updating through the year to freshen things up is something the company has wanted to do for a little while now. It’ll be interesting to see if the developer creates new scenarios to try and mirror what drama we may see in this year’s real-life NFL, which we know there will be.

MUT Superstar Ability Tiers

X-Factors and Superstar abilities are going to make Ultimate Team an interesting beast as players pick which ones they want to use. At launch upgradable players can only get three Superstar abilities, one per tier. Afterwards, the team says it has plans to offer more choices for each tier, diversifying the possibilities.

MUT Power Up Pass Reminder?

The MUT Power-Up pass is a great way to boost your Power Up player a level, as it fills that tier’s requirement for a specific card (like a Core Elite, for example). The first-world problem for users is that it’s easy to forget you have them in your binder. While EA Tiburon says you might want to keep a pen and paper by your couch in the meantime, during a livestream it said some kind of in-game reminder might come later in the year.


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Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy Once Again Crossing Over Into Monster Hunter: World On PS4

Click here to watch embedded media Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy has already appeared in Capcom’s Monster… 繼續閱讀

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Heading Into The Season

PES 2020 comes out on September 10 (PS4, Xbox One, and PC), but its demo already gives us a glimpse of what we may see in the game’s final iteration. Although Konami has promised that some changes are on the way, such as to fouls (see below for more), the demo could advertise that a solid year of gameplay is in store. Here’s what the demo does well and what I hope it means come release time.


The demo showcases more player contact expressed through jostling animations, providing players a way to slow down and pester attackers until numbers arrive or to prevent clean passes and shots. You can even tactically foul players in some situations.

Related to this are the number of fouls the refs call. I like that more calls are being made than in previous years, since they are called on you when you’re trying to make standing tackles from behind or slightly to the side of the dribbler. This is as it should be since these are risky areas. I’ve also noticed in the demo that even defensively engaging opponents from the front can cause fouls if you are rash and don’t time it right. Konami says that it believes the refs in the demo call fouls too excessively, so I hope they balance the final game correctly.

One thing related to fouls I would like to see is more of them called on the opponents, since it seems like the A.I. still gets away with bloody murder at times.


I’ve never been very good at headers in the game, but I like their timing in the demo. I think the window to execute them isn’t as early or is possibly more forgiving than last year. This includes being on defense, where clearances are of the upmost importance.


Your A.I. teammates are very helpful in throwing their bodies, feet, and even faces at shots which is great. The one speculative concern I have with this for the final game is that I hope my teammates are smart enough and defensively organized enough to clear the resulting rebounds. I say this because there are times in the demo, like in PES 2019, that defenders are unaware of what’s going on or switch off. Having said that, and ending on a positive note, I’ve seen plenty of times in the demo where your teammates get in good defensive positions and harass dribblers without being directly commanded to.


Dependable online play has consistently been a problem for the series, whether it’s lag or simply getting matched with an opponent with a good connection. While the demo environment doesn’t match the final release, one thing I really liked in the demo was the ability to see your opponent’s connection before deciding to accept or decline. This won’t stop lag cheaters who purposely overload their connection to produce automatic drops when they are losing, but at least it gives you a heads up before your jump in.


The default speed for the game feels slower than last year, which I don’t have a problem with. This highlights one-on-one matchups, which themselves are helped by a new finesse dribbling technique performed by letting go of the left analog stick and just using the right analog. This is advertised as a new feature, but it’s basically a refresh of the old R2 close control. Either way it’s a useful and easy-to-perform way to buy yourself some time by dragging the ball back or shifting from one foot to the other to keep opponents at bay without having to go into a multi-input, full-blown special move.


PES 2019 was notorious for the way the A.I. patterned its attack. This had to be addressed in a post-release patch, and it’s nice to see the demo carriers forward that progress. Long balls into the channels, lay-offs and cuts inside at the top of the box, and drags along the end line, are all different ways the A.I. attacks.

The larger question for PES 2020 proper is the matter of overall A.I. scripting – something that fans complained about in 2019. How overpowered will teams feel when behind and/or nerfed when ahead? It’s a big issue that the game has to sort out, whether it’s overt or a more subtle balancing issue that gives players that sensation.


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