When EA Sports signed its deal with the UFC in 2012, the
publisher had an uphill battle. The previous UFC series by Yuke’s set a high
bar that EA initially struggled to meet. With UFC 3, EA Sports refines and
sharpens the entire package, finally earning its place as the champ of
mixed-martial-arts video games.

No game captures the calculated-yet-violent spirit of mixed martial
arts better than UFC 3. The rush of entering the Octagon with the sole purpose
of topping your opponent is well represented through both gameplay and
presentation. The UFC brings multiple martial-arts disciplines into each fight,
and you must always be on guard against both ruthless knockouts and technical
submissions. Fights often turn into breathless affairs, keeping you on the edge
of your seat. Just because you’re winning the fight doesn’t mean a single
well-placed uppercut or takedown won’t turn the tide in your opponent’s favor.

UFC 3’s striking controls are the best the series has ever
seen. From the base knowledge of each face-button corresponding to a limb to
the more advanced strikes using shoulder buttons as modifiers to your basic
attacks, the stand-up game in UFC 3 is intuitive and accessible while
maintaining depth. New vulnerability windows leave you open to damage when you
attack to make striking a more careful art. This, when combined with the finely
tuned stamina bar, successfully balances out the number of fighters who come
out swinging for the fences, as getting caught with a head kick in the middle
of throwing a haymaker puts them in a precarious situation.

Animations have been rebuilt from the ground up for UFC 3,
making for seamless transitions between moves. In addition, there are few
awkward strikes and glitches during gameplay, and fighters look and move much
more like their real-world counterparts. Each fighter’s stance, pre-fight
routine, and post-fight celebrations looks authentic to how they behave in
real-life.

With how great and authentic UFC 3 typically looks and feels,
I’m disappointed by how often the commentary fails to keep pace. Play-by-play analyst
Jon Anik does a great job in his debut effort, but longtime color commentator
Joe Rogan adds little in way of new voiceover, a noticeable detriment in
sequences where Anik and Rogan are going back and forth. In addition, the
commentary sometimes lacks contextual awareness, with incorrect calls or set
ups that give the wrong storyline of fights.

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UFC 3’s overhauled career mode is a huge success. The new
GOAT Career mode peppers in multiple short-term goals to keep you engaged at
every turn. I enjoy watching my fighter climb the ranks on his way to his first
title shot, but the satisfaction of completing smaller goals every few fights
on my way to a better contract is much more exciting. I also love how each
contract gives me a new rival to trash-talk throughout my contract before
facing off against them. UFC’s licensed shows help tell the story of your
fighter each step of the way, making each milestone even more satisfying.

Earning the title is still one of the ultimate goals, but to
become the greatest of all time, you need to perform well inside and outside of
the Octagon. I love the balancing act between training and promoting during the
lead up to a fight. Do you want to boost your fight’s hype by talking trash to
your opponent on social media, or do you want to learn a new submission that
might come in handy during that fight? I often struggled with the answer to
that question, and because of that, I looked forward to each training camp as
much as the fights themselves.

In addition to career, players can engage in several diversions,
both returning and debut. Popular one-off exhibitions like Knockout mode return
(with Snoop Dogg delivering humorous commentary), while the new Tournaments
feature allows you to pit 8 or 16 fighters against each other in a
bracket-style tournament with custom rules. I’m glad Live Events are back, as I
enjoy following along with real-world cards and putting in my picks for who I
think will win.

Online, you can play in ranked championship in pursuit of a
belt, or unranked quick-matches, resulting in a basic-yet-enjoyable suite. Online
play is mostly smooth and absent of lag, but I’m annoyed you still can’t skip
the long-winded pre-fight and mid-round presentations unless both players agree
to.

Ultimate Team also introduces many new features. As you
fight through opponents online and offline, you earn in-game currency, which
can be used to purchase packs. Each pack you open features fighters, moves, and
consumable boosters that can be applied to different slots of each fighter in
your starting lineup. Items can also boost your chemistry rating if you apply
them to the correct weight class, fighter type, and slot (for example, punches
to the arm category). With each added move and consumable boost, your fighter
becomes more competitive, which helps whether you’re jumping into online
matchmaking or staying offline.

With items carrying different tiers of effectiveness, and
better packs costing more in-game currency, it opens the mode up to tempt you
with microtransactions. However, without paying any real money, I still fell into the addictive loop of earning
coins through completing in fights and opening packs to improve my fighter. Opening
a pack to reveal your favorite fighter, or the move you’ve been missing from one
of your starters’ arsenal is a thrill. I love that the online portion of
Ultimate Team has been complemented by a fully featured offline mode for those
who don’t want to throw down in the fiery gauntlet of online competition or
worry about players who have paid money to acquire the best items.

By building on its already strong foundation and
adding meaningful new gameplay and modes, UFC 3 delivers a terrific MMA
experience from top to bottom. Whether you want to play against a friend in a
single bout or develop a fighter from local favorite to greatest all time, UFC
3 allows you to live out the fantasy of stepping into the Octagon like never
before.

Note: The online portion of this game was evaluated using EA Access servers prior to official launch.

Nintendo have announced that soon people will be unable to add Wii Points, the currency used to buy games from the Wii Shop Channel, to their accounts.

Beginning at
1 p.m. PT on March 26, Wii Points cannot be added via credit card or a Wii
Points card. The points will be disabled to prepare for the Wii Shop’s closure on January 30, 2019.

Other than Arcade
Archives and some Neo Geo titles, the Switch currently has no Virtual Console
or ways to download older Nintendo titles. The Wii U, 3DS, and Wii are the only  platforms in which retro Nintendo games can be digitally purchased. The Wii Shop
Channel in particular is the only way to download over 220 games, according to
redditor Mechageo
.
Those titles include Chrono Trigger, Earthworm Jim 1 and 2, the first three Final
Fantasy games, and Super Smash Bros.

[Source:
Nintendo]


Our Take

It makes perfect sense that Nintendo is moving on from a 12-year-old console’s
service, but it’s also tragic since the only way to legally download more than 200
games, a few of which are staples in video game history, is on the Wii. I’m
certainly no expert on how the technology works, but it’s also strange they are
cutting off additional Wii Points nine months before the Wii Shop shuts its virtual
doors forever. It’s not like their central profits are coming from the Wii at
this point, but that’s still nine months Nintendo could use to get some
last-time purchases.

The Game Developers Choice Awards in March will be honoring three prominent industry veterans with awards being given to Nolan Bushnell, Tim Schafer, and Rami Ismail.

The three are being recognized with different awards focusing on their contributions to the video game industry. Rami Ismail, co-founder of Vlambeer and independent game developer, is being honored with the Ambassador Award. This award is for individuals “who are helping video games advance to a better place through advocacy or action.”

Nolan Bushnell has long been at the forefront of every video game history book, and as such is receiving the Pioneer Award from the GCDAs in recognition of his breakthroughs in business. Bushnell is best known in the industry for co-founding Atari and, well, pioneering the video game market as we know it.

Tim Schafer, the founder, president, and creative director of Double Fine Productions, is receiving the Lifetime Achievement award for his three decades in game development. Schafer started at Lucasarts, bringing to life beloved games Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango before founding Double Fine and creating games like Psychonauts and Broken Age.

The Game Developers Choice Awards will take place in San Francisco on March 21.

 

Our Take
All three recipients are well-deserving of their awards and it is always interesting to see who the games industry recognizes for their contributions.

Wolfenstein II’s Freedom Chronicles opened strong with its first episode: The Adventures Of Gunslinger Joe. Gunslinger Joe not only combined Wolfenstein’s wackier inclinations by embracing camp and gore, but also made Joe himself a compelling character within a short amount of time, showing explicit examples of the Nazis’ cruelty to black men and women in Wolfenstein’s universe and how Joe rises against it. The levels were also well-designed, with great combat encounters and pacing. I was excited to see where the Freedom Chronicles after finishing Gungslinger.

Unfortunately, the second DLC Diaries Of Silent Death fails on pretty much every count to live up to the promise of the first. Here’s why:

The Story And Protagonist Are Dull And Cliched
Jessica Valiant, a one-eyed former OSS agent seeking to avenge her husband’s death at the hand of Nazis, is a great character on paper. Fierce, deadly, and witty. The first two are true, but Valiant’s monologues are mostly about drinking and trying to fill the hole in her heart left by her husband’s death…by stabbing Nazis. Diaries Of Silent Death throws Wolfenstein’s sober storytelling to the side to focus on wacky shenanigans, which would be fine if the writing was strong enough to support it, but Diaries Of Silent Death is weak in that regard.

The Stealth Is Bad
Wolfenstein II’s campaign shines with its gameplay flexibility, letting you choose to play stealthily or go guns blazing. The Freedom Chronicles sections off gameplay options, though. Joe had to play as a bruiser, capable of tackling Nazis into red mists and hurling cans at fatal speeds, which were fun. The stealth gameplay of Wolfenstein II is strong enough on its own, but the poor level design of Diaries Of Silent Death make it a chore. The last level in particular is frustrating, with precious few infiltration points (like vents), and tiny areas crowded with massive enemies capable of taking out Valiant with a few shots. The campaign is just consistently frustrating rather than fun.

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The Levels Are Uninteresting
Diaries Of Silent Death goes to Hollywood. That journey should be exciting but instead, it’s a brief jaunt that isn’t fun at all. The other levels are also the sort of military compound infiltrations we’ve come to expect from the series, except these are all drab and dull.

The Playtime Is Pitifully Short
It took me an hour and ten minutes to blow through Diaries Of Silent Death. As one of the most ardent Wolfenstein fanatics out there, it’s easily the most lackluster time I’ve spent with a Wolfenstein game.

For more on Wolfenstein, check out our feature on the history of the series here.

Mercy’s Resurrect ultimate used to be an incredible factor in the difference between victory and defeat, which led to her reworked ultimate Valkyrie. While being able to revive players at a slower rate, her temporarily increased damage, mobility, and healing have compensated for this weakness. The latest changes to her abilities have been tested on Overwatch’s test servers for the past several weeks and have gone live today without any alterations.

As a minor recap, the changes further nullify her resurrect ability by allowing it to take longer to perform in Valkyrie mode. She will no longer receive bonus charges for resurrect and can move not only half of her original Valkyrie speed, but also has five seconds less to utilize it. In addition, Junkrat’s newfound ability to throw out two concussion mines has given him a significant buff, so players will now need to be more accurate since their effective range has been reduced.

And even though Blizzard tossed in plentiful goodies with its big cosmetic update, there are some fresh sprays and icons, Torbjorn voice lines, and Tracer emotes themed after Warcraft. However, you’ll only be able to access them if you pre-order the upcoming expansion Battle for Azeroth via the collector’s edition or digital deluxe edition.

This update also adds 4K for Xbox One X owners who have been waiting on Blizzard to up the resolution.

[Source: Blizzard]

 

Our Take
“Must-picks” are when Overwatch players know the meta is out of sorts. This has been a long-time issue with Mercy, as I’ve especially noticed recently since one of my friends (who mains healers) has felt pressured to play her at all times due to her overpowered abilities. Other healers simply aren’t as effective in comparison, but this patch holds much promise to bring her down (maybe too much?) so other heroes in her class are more viable. I also can’t tell you how scary it’s been to be around Junkrat as of late, so the little adjustment to his concussion mines is much appreciated. It will certainly be interesting to see how this will impact the meta.

The demo for Project Octopath Traveler, an exclusive RPG
for Switch that blends HD visuals with pixel art, has been downloaded over
1 million times.

The main purpose of the demo, which released on September
13, 2017, was to receive player feedback on the game through a survey. Nintendo
released a video today in which developer Square Enix gives a sneak peek at how
the 45,550 responses from the demo have helped shape the final product.

  • Instead
    of holding the B button to run, characters now automatically run when the
    control stick is pushed all the way in a direction. Pressing B now makes the
    player sprint. However, enemy encounter rates increase the faster you run. Fast
    travel, which is not in the demo, has been added.
  • General
    visibility, especially in dungeons, is being refined. Changes include traversable
    areas standing out more, floor and wall color adjustment, and added landmarks.
    A radar, which Square says couldn’t be added to the demo in time, will help
    players see entrances, exits, and designated areas. Players can also adjust
    brightness and the level of “HD-2D” filters.
  • Ten save
    slots, one of which is for autosaves, will be available in the final game. Players
    are now less likely to accidentally overwrite a save. Help text size has increased,
    as well as general improvements to the user.
  • Event
    scenes can be skipped. If you enjoy an event scene, a replay feature allows
    players to rewatch them. The default text speed has increased but can be
    adjusted.
  • With
    gameplay difficulty, Square says they are refining the balance so battles can “provide
    a good challenge, without being overly frustrating.”

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Project Octopath Traveler is slated to release this year. Watch
us play the demo here.

[Source: Nintendo on Twitter]

 

Our Take

Knowing player feedback truly is playing a part in the development of a game is
important. This video provides a nice, brief insight into how player
feedback is molding Octopath as a final product, which is looking better each time its shown.

A host of Microsoft-exclusive characters are appearing, or in one case returning, to Nintendo consoles for the first time in a Minecraft update today.

A new skin pack for Minecraft allows players to take on the appearance, blocky though they may be, of characters from Halo, Banjo-Kazooie, and Gears of War in the Switch and Wii U versions of the game. While this obviously isn’t the first time Banjo has been on a Nintendo system, I believe it does mark the first appearance for Master Chief and the coalition gang.

This is part of an effort on Microsoft’s part to prep the unification of Minecraft servers cross all compatible platforms. Sony has refused to participate in Minecraft crossplay, so the Microsoft mascots appearing on Switch is the first time they’ve crossed the console barrier. 

The skin pack is available for purchase on all cross-platform versions today, though it has been available on Xbox for ages.

 

Our Take
This is interesting, because I cannot imagine this mascot exchange works in reverse with Mario packs being available on Xbox One. Who knows, though, maybe that’s part of the cross-platform deal. We’ll have to wait and see.

All month long we’ve been talking about the upcoming God of War on the PlayStation 4, to coincide with our cover story. Now it’s your turn to ask questions. In an upcoming episode of The Game Informer Show podcast, we’ll be speaking with God of War’s creative director Cory Balrog and asking him questions from the community. What do you want to know about the game’s latest trailer, the game’s development, or Kratos’ journey? Please leave your question in the comments section below and you might hear it answered during the interview.

Subscribe to The Game Informer Show podcast by clicking here and get ready for the bonus episode airing this Friday.

Click on the banner below for more exclusive features on God of War.

After undergoing maintenance for the last couple of days, Destiny 2 has welcomed back the Iron Banner event for the first time in its second season. The competitive playlist features the Control playlist, which tasks players with holding down up to three map positions to increase point totals for kills. Iron Banner will be running until next week’s reset on Tuesday, February 6.

Along with Iron Banner, Destiny 2’s most recent update also brought a few changes to the game, including weaponry to buy from Lord Saladin himself and the addition of masterwork armor.

For more on the update, check out Bungie’s latest patch notes.

Fresh off of its announcement of over four million players on Xbox One, PUBG Corporation has released a new patch for the preview game that primarily addresses vehicle damage.

Here are the details for the update from PUBG Corporation:

Gameplay

  • We’ve listened to your feedback and further modified the damage players can inflict on vehicles, increasing areas of vulnerability. This includes:

    • Increased damage to the vehicle body, and significant damage to the wheels when targeted with gunfire
    • Increased vehicle damage when successfully targeted with a grenade
    • Both driver and passenger will suffer increased injuries from crashing into objects or other vehicles (Dacia, UAZ, and Buggy)
    • Slight reduction to player damage when being struck by a vehicle

Optimization

  • Continued optimization to controller input lag
  • Visual quality of reticle is improved for Xbox One (Red Dot, Holographic, and 2x Sight)

Bug fixes

  • Resolved issue where inventory may highlight the wrong column when looting
  • The sensitivity setting for 4x Scope is now also applied to the permanent scope on the VSS
  • Auto-run (double-clicking the left stick) is disabled when aiming down sights
  • Players can now use the D-Pad while in the map view without switching melee, pistol, or throwing weapons
  • Removing the marker from the map when pressing (Y) will no longer switch primary/secondary weapons
  • Fixed issue where the crosshair is not correctly displayed after players reconnect to a game session

[Source: PUBG Corporation]