Microsoft is planning on revealing its next-generation hardware at this year’s E3, according to a report from French website JeuxVideo.
The two new devices, codenamed Lockhart and Anaconda, are set to be revealed this June at Microsoft’s E3 conference and released in the fall of 2020. Lockhart will be the cheaper of the two and won’t have a disc drive, leading us to believe it to be the all-digital Xbox that was rumored for this year. This digital device was said to be priced at $200. Anaconda is the more traditional device, featuring a disc drive and all the usual things you would expect from a console. It’s speculated to be priced similarly to the Xbox One X, which launched for $500.
Halo Infinite is said to be a launch title for this new family of devices. Microsoft has stated multiple times that Halo Infinite will launch on Xbox One, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that the title will be available on all three of Microsoft’s consoles, especially with Microsoft’s attempts to the blur the line between console generations through backwards compatibility, cross-platform functionality, and multiple devices.
Of course, these are still just rumors, so naturally, take them with a grain of salt. However, it’s looking more and more likely that there won’t be just one new Xbox in the coming years. News like this, alongside rumors that Microsoft is bringing exclusive titles and Game Pass to Nintendo Switch (via Direct Feed Games) and the upcoming launch of their xCloud streaming service, show that Microsoft is planning big things that will surely have lasting effects on the industry.
“My name is Reggie. I’m about kicking ass, I’m about taking names, and we’re about making games.”
Reggie Fils-Aime first came into our lives fifteen years ago, and after uttering that iconic quote on Nintendo’s stage at E3 2004, became an instant favorite among gamers. Now, fifteen years later, Reggie has an important message for us all: He’s retiring.
Fils-Aime has been one of the more recognizable faces at Nintendo, appearing frequently at events and during Nintendo Direct presentations. He helped provide character and charisma to the company at a time when it felt like it was losing its way.
He’ll be stepping down on April 15 and will be succeeded by Nintendo of America’s senior VP of sales and marketing Doug Bowser. “Doug is a passionate and powerful leader, and a guy who in his youth probably spent too much time in front of a Donkey Kong arcade machine. Inside Nintendo, people already know him as a driving force, and you’ll come to see that too,” said Fils-Aime.
Doug Bowser joined Nintendo of America in 2015 and has led the sales and marketing efforts for the Nintendo Switch. Bowser was an executive at EA prior to joining Nintendo of America.
“I really appreciate everything Reggie has done for Nintendo,” said president of Nintendo Shuntaro Furukawa. “Inside and outside our company, Reggie is known as an exceptional leader. We are grateful that he is leaving the business in good shape with strong momentum. While we will miss him and we wish him the very best in his retirement, we are also pleased to have such an able successor ready to step into that role. Doug Bowser and the rest of the team will ensure a seamless transition and continued momentum for Nintendo.”
Far Cry 5 ended on somewhat of a sour note. After spending hours adventuring across Hope County and battling the Eden’s Gate cult, nuclear bombs rained from the skies, and our protagonist was left in a bunker with the cult’s leader, Joseph Seed. Far Cry New Dawn is a direct continuation of Far Cry 5, bringing us from a largely forgettable story in modern-day Montana to a largely forgettable story in post-apocalyptic Montana.
Being a direct sequel, New Dawn feels like Far Cry 5 in a lot of ways. The game still takes place in Hope County, albeit only a small section of the original map, and there are a lot of pink flowers and colorful animals roaming around. Other than these minor aesthetic changes, New Dawn mostly has the same look and feel as its predecessor, which, after spending 20+ hours exploring Hope County last year, did little to engage me.
There are some changes to the game’s core design, but they feel half-baked and arbitrary. Many of Ubisoft’s major franchises have shifted their focus to RPG elements, and Far Cry has finally made the transition into RPG territory, although not to as great of an effect as some of its cousins like Assassin’s Creed. Weapons and enemies fall into one of four tiers now, and engaging enemies above your current weapon’s tier is doable, but it becomes an exercise in frustration due to how spongy they can feel. Tiers are not random, however, as the game’s campaign sends you further and further north, away from your base of operations, and enemies get stronger as you make your way through the world. This gives definitely gives the game a more linear feel, but you very quickly get access to high-tier weapons that make little work of any opposition, so it leaves the RPG elements feeling more like roadblocks than actual progression.
The perk system leaves a lot to be desired as well. Like Far Cry 5, you can complete basic challenges (get x amount of kills with this weapon, kill x amount of deer) to earn perk points. There are roughly 25 perks in total, and as I scrolled through them I thought to myself “I don’t want any of these”. Sadly, pretty much all of New Dawn’s perks suck. Being able to melee takedown high-tier enemies, swim faster, or carry more medkits are not enticing enough to actively work for perk points. Because the challenges are so simplistic, I ended up with a multitude of perk points just by playing, but that didn’t make the act of spending them any less boring. There are some more interesting perks later in the game, like a double jump and invisibility, but they come too late, leaving you with little time to get familiar with them and no incentive to incorporate them into your playstyle.
Luckily, New Dawn does have satisfying progression in other areas. The aforementioned base of operations, Prosperity, can be upgraded, providing you with access to better weapons, more health and ammunition, and other quality of life features like fast travel and maps. Prosperity is upgraded with the use of crafting materials that are obtained through Far Cry’s core gameplay loops. Liberating outposts, completing treasure hunts, and even hunting all grant materials, the most precious of which being ethanol, and the rewards make these activities feel more useful than in previous entries.
These side activities are the shining light of Far Cry New Dawn. Outposts function similarly to older Far Cry games. Sneaking in and disabling alarms or going in guns blazing with a co-op partner are both equally satisfying. New to this entry is the ability to scavenge an outpost, allowing you to retake it from enemy forces at a higher difficulty than before in order to earn more coveted ethanol. Each time you repeat an outpost, there is a change of a cosmetic drop, and it only takes a few tries to get a complete outfit. Some of these get pretty wacky, as per usual with Far Cry, and some personal favorites include the unicorn onesie and the knight armor.
Prepper Stashes from Far Cry 5 return in the form of Treasure Hunts, and they are easily the best content in New Dawn. They offer more cerebral challenges rather than combat and provide a nice change of pace from the game’s nonstop action. Solving a Treasure Hunt rewards you with a bevy of crafting materials and even a handful of Far Cry Coins, Ubisoft’s premium currency for this title. I had a blast trying to find my way into bunkers and hideouts full of rewards, and it’s a shame there are only 10 of these in total.
Hunting and fishing return as well, to little fanfare. Pelts can be traded in for crafting materials and meat is used in crafting recipes like bait and medkits. There is little restriction to how you go about hunting, and pretty much nothing will ruin the pelt save for hitting the animal with a car or burning it with a flamethrower. Coming off of Red Dead Redemption 2’s hunting system, it feels good to blast a deer point-blank with a shotgun, skin it without any animations, and put it into my endless video game backpack next to my four assault rifles and my bundle of crocodile skin. Unfortunately, there is little reason to go out and hunt. The time invested is not worth the small amount of materials you get in return, and you’ll have more than enough materials from outposts and exploration.
A new addition in Far Cry New Dawn are expeditions, side missions that take you to unique locales outside Hope County, like a theme park, a Splinter Cell themed plane crash, or even Alcatraz Island. Expeditions offer a welcome change of scenery and interesting, linear levels to play through, but they all have the same objective: get a package and extract as quickly as possible. This makes them feel samey, and the emphasis on speed doesn’t let you admire the new environments or explore at all. Expeditions do you net rare resources, though, so they’re worth doing if you’re short on supplies.
Speaking of exploration, the world is relatively bland. There is nothing of interest in New Dawn’s colorful wasteland except the things that are marked on your map. Because of this, exploration feels completely inorganic, and I found myself either fast travelling or flying to my objectives, ignoring everything else. The most interesting thing that’ll happen to you if you choose to walk or drive is an enemy encounter, and there is so little incentive to combat that I just drove past threats most of the time. Interesting locations or beautiful vistas would have been appreciated and could have done wonders to add variety to the game’s barren world.
I also wish New Dawn took better advantage of its setting. Despite being set in a zany, colorful post-apocalypse, everything is pretty much the same as before the bombs dropped. You still fight regular, humanoid enemies and the occasional animal, and, for the most part, you still use the same guns you did the first time you tore through Hope County. The guns and animals do look a little different, but fundamentally they’re the same thing, just with the odd splash of color here or duct tape there. The only new weapon is the saw launcher and it’s the first gun you’re handed. There is very little in the way of innovative new weapons or creative combat scenarios.
New Dawn’s story did little to grab me. I couldn’t stand the story in Far Cry 5, and New Dawn fares even worse. The plot and writing are absolutely insufferable, and after playing so many games with at least decent writing over the past year, this just feels inexcusable. There wasn’t a single likable character, not a single plot point resonated, and most of the optional dialogue was skipped. Even the game’s antagonists, twin sisters Mickey and Lou, leaders of the roving bandits The Highwaymen, are completely forgettable, which is strange for a Far Cry game. The plot takes itself way too seriously, provides no reason to care for its characters, and fails to deliver a satisfying payoff in any way, shape, or form. Performances are good, even great in some cases, but there’s nothing to back them up, and all the stakes feel wholly artificial.
Even the Guns For Hire, most of which return from 5, are flat out annoying. They do cater to widly different playstyles, Timber the dog spots enemies to help you with stealth, Horatio the boar soaks up damage to help you with a full-on assault, and Nana comes equipped with a sniper rifle to help you pick off targets from a distance, but I mainly used Timber not only because he’s a good boy, but also because the human companions kept talking to me. As much as I’d love to bring Hurk along for his RPG, he won’t shut up, and the same goes for every human companion. Their lines aren’t even just meh, they’re bad. All the dialogue in this game is awful, but luckily most of it can be skipped. It’s almost as if Ubisoft knows the writing is garbage because every quest giver has a voice line if you skip their dialogue, and some of these did make me crack a smile, mostly because of how ridiculous it is that there’s basically an “I don’t care” button.
Thankfully, Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s not nearly as long as the previous game, only clocking in at around 8-10 hours, and its more linear nature trims the fat and reduces the bloat that the Far Cry series is so well known for. The shooting is still impactful and fun and clearing outposts is as addicting as ever, especially with the new rewards, but the main campaign, both in its narrative and mission structure, is incredibly subpar and never comes close to realizing its full potential. There are a lot of good ideas in Far Cry New Dawn, but it does very little to capitalize on them in a unique and fulfilling way. It’s an enjoyable but wholly unremarkable and disappointing spin-off that could’ve been so much more.
A slew of new titles are getting added to Xbox Game Pass this week.
Three games will be available tomorrow, February 21st. Headlining this trio is Batman: Return to Arkham, a collection of the first two Batman: Arkham games remastered for current gen consoles. Alongside Return to Arkham are Adult Swim Games’s Headlander and Disney’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. This entire trio comes to the service tomorrow.
That’s not all for Xbox Game Pass this month. Two additional games will be added to the service next Thursday, February 28th. The first of which is Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2, the follow up to the critically acclaimed first season (which is also available on Game Pass). Joining The Walking Dead Season 2 is Alien: Isolation, a tense survival horror experience.
Xbox Game Pass is currently available at a special price of $2 for your first two months and grants access to a library of over 100 titles, including every Microsoft first party title like Forza Horizon 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and the newly-released Crackdown 3.
Will you be playing anything on Game Pass this month? Be sure to let us know down below, and follow us on Twitter for quick and easy updates.
A new giant may soon be entering the gaming industry.
Google is planning to reveal details about its unannounced gaming project at the Game Developers Conference next month in San Francisco. Invitations were sent to members of the media this morning, inviting them to “gather around” for a keynote in which “all will be revealed”. The cryptic invite also features a GIF of a hallway with an explosion of light that fades into a date: March 19th.
Not much else is known for sure about what Google is planning to unveil next month, but rumors of Google breaking into the gaming industry with either a streaming service or brand new hardware have been floating around for the better part of a year now. A report from The Information last year states that Google’s “Yeti” project is a streaming service that would work on either Chromecast or a Google console. A report from Kotaku followed, stating that Google was working on a streaming service paired with some sort of hardware, alongside efforts to attract developers to the platform, either through “aggressive recruiting or even major acquisitions”.
In October of last year, Google unveiled Project Stream, a service that allows streaming of new AAA titles through the company’s own Chrome browser. They partnered with Ubisoft to test the service with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and our experience with the service was better than we expected. If Project Stream is what Google is showing off at GDC, then it would be in competition with Microsoft’s Project xCloud, set to launch this year.
GDC 2019 will run from March 18-22, and Google’s Keynote will be on March 19th at 10AM PT/ 1PM ET.
What do you think Google will show at GDC? Are streaming services going to be the next big thing this upcoming generation? Be sure to let us know down below, and follow us on Twitter for quick and easy updates.
If you’ve been waiting for the return of Destiny’s notorious PvP mode, prepare to wait a lot longer.
Bungie, the developers of the franchise, announced that
the Trials of the Nine crucible mode will be taking an extended vacation until
further notice. Admitting to the dissatisfaction of the game mode in the second
iteration, Bungie has decided the best course of action is to further delay its
“With the introduction of Trials of the Nine in Destiny 2, we made a few changes to the formula which never really hit the same mark…Until we have a solid prototype for a pinnacle PvP endgame activity, Trials is staying on hiatus indefinitely and will not return over the course of the next few seasons. When we have those new plans ready, we’ll be sure to share them with you.”
This news came as both a shock and unwelcomed surprise as players anxiously waited for Trials to return. While no set date was ever given by Bungie, many anticipated a return of the PvP mode sooner than later. Prior to the launch of Destiny 2: Forsaken, Bungie made a series of announcements detailing their plan to rework some of the systems and features the game currently offered, with Trials being the most noteworthy. With the fate of Trials remaining to be seen, long time fans and players of the title have taken to social media to voice their displeasure.
Leading up to its launch in May 2015, Bungie introduced Trials of Osiris as a new PvP experience and changed the franchise for the better. Placing guardians in a unique 3v3 elimination mode, players went head to head in hopes of achieving the ultimate victory: securing 9 consecutive wins to visit the elusive Lighthouse. Additionally, players were able to obtain unique gear and weapons that doubled as trophies to symbolize their achievements. This format was changed during the launch of Destiny 2, which renamed the game mode to Trials of the Nine, among other changes that were initially accepted but later rejected by the community.
One infamous change was the inclusion of a short cut scene that highlighted the teams and their loadouts prior to the start of the match. While these introductions were initially accepted as they removed the need to navigate through menus to see what your opponents were equipped with, they were later rejected by the community as time went on. Although still helpful, the absence of a “skip” option brought frustration to players, especially to those that were that were being matched with the same rivals and found the clip to be repetitive and unnecessary.
Another change that affected the game mode was a change in the process of obtaining the elusive Trials gear and weapons. As an effort to double down on their plan to integrate more clan features within the game, Bungie allowed players to essentially obtain Trials gear without having to ever play a match. By joining a clan, members that were skillful enough to win 7 matches without obtaining 3 losses allowed for the whole clan to receive a “Trials Engram”, which would contain either an armor piece or a weapon. Due to excessive feedback, Bungie affirmed to the Destiny community that Trials gear should only be obtained by participating in the game mode and rolled back this feature.
While the absence of a Trials game mode will continue to be felt, the effects of Bungie’s decision to further delay its return will soon been revealed in the coming months. Since its introduction, the game mode has helped the Destiny franchise in times of content drought and provided players with a recurring challenge every week. With future content coming on March 5 during the “Season of the Drifter”, we’ll have to see if that content will bring a similar challenge and engagement to the game as Trials once did.
Do you miss Trials? Does Destiny need a mode like this to maintain its playerbase? Be sure to let us know down below, and follow us on Twitter for quick and easy updates.
Far Cry games are all about gratification. You get to run, drive, and fly around beautiful open worlds, armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry, gunning down the bad guys like an unstoppable killing machine. It feels good, but the games just sort of hand you everything. Not Far Cry 2, though. Far Cry 2 fights back, and that’s why it’s the best game in the series.
Far Cry always struggles with blending gritty realism and survival with lighthearted open world fun, and while later games lean more toward open world shenanigans, Far Cry 2 is all grit, all the time. Set in an unnamed African country embroiled in a bloody civil war, Far Cry 2 never lets the player feel safe. And that’s brilliant.
The setting itself plays a huge role in that. Being a video game from 2008, you better believe Far Cry 2 is drowning in different shades of brown and gray. That’s not to say it isn’t pretty, there are still stunning vistas and landscapes to behold, but the environment feels oppressive. Other games in the series try to do this by just throwing a bunch of wildlife at you, but I never felt as unwelcome in the mountains of Kyrat as I did roaming the jungles and savannas of Far Cry 2.
The gameplay is a far cry from other Far Cry games too (I apologize for that joke). 3, 4, and 5 supply you with shiny new assault rifles tricked out with multiple attachments, alongside buckets of ammunition. Far Cry 2’s weaponry is held together with duct tape. Your guns will jam, and they will jam at the worst times. Your guns will fall apart in your hands. These are not the pristine firearms of later Far Cry games, these are heavily used, poorly maintained weapons caked in dirt and grime, and you’ll have to work if you want better equipment. These guns aren’t the laser beams most other first person shooters give you either, you have to manage and control your aim to land shots. It’s tough, and combat is incredibly tense because of it.
There’s also the issue of malaria. Very early in the game, you contract malaria, and you need pills to suppress the negative effects. Pills, however, are scarce, and the malaria stays remains an issue throughout the entirety of the game. You’ll feel the effects of it at random, even in combat, and you’ll lose control until you take a pill, or pass out and wake up at the doctor’s if you’re out. Far Cry 2 very rarely lets things go according to plan. You may think you’ve planned out the perfect outpost takedown, but then malaria strikes, or your gun james in the firefight, or there’s a fire, or the car you planned to escape with won’t start. This forces you to react and respond, and it makes for incredibly engaging gameplay.
The buddy system is another one of Far Cry 2’s dynamic systems. Rather than playing a predetermined, voiced character, you choose one of nine mercenaries. The other eight aren’t just forgotten, though, they’re out running around like you are, and they’ll even help you out in combat, give you side missions, and save you before you die. Buddies can die, too, and you make even have to be the one to put them down. The buddy system creates memorable emergent stories. Maybe a buddy swooped in and rescued you after a malaria attack left you vulnerable. Maybe a buddy called you on your way to a mission and offered an alternative means of completion. The buddy system and the sandbox Far Cry 2 provides creates highly personal stories that you’ll want to share with people, just like something out of Breath of the Wild. Far Cry 4 and 5’s Guns for Hire system is just a hollow shell of what the buddy system once was. Sure, Hurk’s lines might get a chuckle out of me every now and then, but that’s nothing compared to the time I had to mercy kill my buddy Warren.
Far Cry 2 also excels in its UI. For the most part, there’s never anything on your screen. When you shoot you’ll get an ammo count and health info, but that’s pretty much it. The lack of UI really helps immerse you in the world, and, like the Metro games, the map is a physical item you have to look at, and it makes navigating more fun than just pressing start and placing a waypoint. The map might seem like a small detail, but it really adds a whole new layer to the experience.
Of course, the game does have its faults. Enemies at outposts respawn way too quickly, to the point where if you drive away and turn right back around, there’ll be new enemies. It really gets old when you’re just trying to reach an objective on the other side of the map. The voice acting is stilted to say the least, and the story is as generic as they come. The shooting also feels clunky compared to today’s standards. This is a decade old game, after all.
Despite these flaws, Far Cry 2 is still a phenomenal video game. It nails the feeling of a hostile environment like no other game. You really are just some guy lost in the jungle with nothing but a map, a worn down gun, and a deadly disease. Not even a character, just one of nine mercenaries. Just another solider in a world where you’re not treated like a superhero or a one man army. Far Cry 2 has a vision that it commits to wholeheartedly, and because of that, it fosters its own unique identity and I’ve yet to play anything like it to this day. It sets out to create a specific mood and it accomplishes that with flying colors. If only Ubisoft would look back at this one instead of the follow up.