Kazuma Kiryu brings people together, whether it’s helping random couples with their love troubles, smoothing out relationships between criminals, or giving Yakuza players a common appreciation for the long-running series. Yakuza 6 gives the hero a new way to unite people, with the introduction of a clan-creator minigame. Think of it as a slightly more violent version of the series’ hostess clubs. OK, it’s a lot more violent.

Kiryu will be able to recruit a variety of different foot soldiers for his clan, which can be leveled up through battles. Those battles are fairly ambitious affairs, featuring dueling teams of up to a dozen combatants each. Players assume the role of battle tactician, giving commands to Kiryu’s men and helping them take on enemies – including the Six Lunatics. You can see the lunatics and more in the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is coming to North American PlayStation 4s on March 20.

I don’t think I am being hyperbolic when I call Shadow of the Colossus a masterpiece. Even among Fumito Ueda’s small-but-impressive collection of games, Shadow of the Colossus stands out as my favorite. I know I’m not alone in that, which is why remaking Shadow of the Colossus is a tall and dangerous order. Thankfully, developer Bluepoint was up to the task. While it does not improve on the original game (or the HD remaster from 2011) in every way, this version of Shadow of the Colossus is absolutely worth seeking out for both fans and newcomers.

The biggest and most notable overhaul to the game are the visuals. Remakes are often complimented for allowing you see dated games as you remember them as opposed to how they really looked, but Shadow of the Colossus goes well beyond that sentiment. You can see individual blades of grass as you ride with Agro, and the portals to the sky that appear above defeated colossi take on a new beauty. With so much to look at, the added detail leads to fewer moments of boredom as you travel. It adds more weight to the moments between colossi, and made me more eager to explore.

The new environmental details are impressive, but the colossi are astounding. The beard on the sixth colossus looks better than it ever has. The eyes on colossus number 10, who chases you underneath the sand, have a humanity I’ve never seen before. The fur in particular, on all the colossi, is especially realistic. Even the new details impress, like a wave that accompanies the bird colossus you fight on the lake as it speeds toward you. Along with looking great, the wave gives the beast more implied weight, and even gives you a better cue for when to jump. The impact of meeting each colossus has never been lost on me, even after -multiple playthroughs, and it has only been elevated for this remake. I gasped at near-falls, and my heart raced as I leapt from Agro’s back onto the flying dessert colossus just as it did in the past.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For all the visual steps forward, one element falls short. Mono and Agro look great, and even Lord Emon (who had the least amount of detail of any human character in the original) has a new impressive wizened look – but Wander’s face looks bad. Something was lost in translation on the way to PlayStation 4, and Wander looks like he has been recast by a younger actor with softer features. Newcomers may not be bothered by his new appearance, but I couldn’t get over the fact that he simply never looked right.

A number of other changes are small, but still improve the experience. The original control scheme was atypical, to be polite, and the new default control scheme is more in line with contemporary button layouts (X to jump, circle to roll). Your items are now quick-select on the d-pad, making it easier to quickly change from sword to bow. Changes to the stamina bar also make its upgrade progress clearer, and it uses less screen space while still offering the necessary information. You also get a detailed list of stats you can refer to anytime, tracking things like distance traveled, time riding fish and hawks, Agro stunts, and your fastest times for defeating colossi. I love stat-tracking, so I definitely appreciate their inclusion.

The option to play a mirrored version of the game after you beat it is one of the few true additions, and it’s an inoffensive unlock that doesn’t change the game in a substantial way. While the lack of more significant content additions might be disappointing for some, I appreciate how true this remake remains to the original I adore. Bluepoint strikes a good balance, making welcome changes that leave the core experience intact.

The original Shadow of the Colossus is easily one of my favorite games. It was among the first that made me want to violently point at the screen and yell, “Look! Video games are art!” at anyone within earshot. Bluepoint’s remake feels different in some respects, but is exactly like Shadow of the Colossus in the important ways. Scaling beasts feels appropriately epic, and the few story moments that exist still tell a heart-wrenching tale of sacrifice in the face of impossible odds.

The PS4 Pro Edge
A few advantages exist if you’re playing Shadow of the Colossus on a PS4
Pro. Outside of the expected additional 4K display options, you can
also choose to play the game in Performance mode. As the name implies,
this mode prioritizes performance, boosting the framerate to 60 FPS. The
other mode, Cinematic, lowers the frame rate to 30 FPS, but displays
the game in 4K. On a standard PS4, the game plays in 30 FPS. Performance
mode was my preferred way to play. The higher frame-
rate makes the
game lose some of its filmic qualities, but it plays and feels better as
a result.

Sega announced today that they have entered into a publishing deal with London-based Interior Night, a new studio founded by former Quantic Dream lead designer Caroline Marchal.

The studio which has a mission statement of delivering narrative-driven games for mature audiences, is not discussing the new IP yet, nor is Sega. Marchal’s experience on Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls combined with the studio’s stated intention makes it fairly easy to guess what the game will end up being.

Interior Night is made up of former staff from Quantic Dream, Sony, and Slightly Mad Studios, the developer behind Project Cars. Quantic Dream itself has recently been facing criticism after reports alleging harassment and a toxic work environment at the studio.

Sega has not given a target date or platforms for this new game, so it is likely to be some time off.

 

Our Take
It will be interesting to see what ex-Quantic Dream staff can do. It’s also good to see Sega supporting new studios and taking a chance on seeing what different visions they have to offer.

Now that Monster Hunter World is out and seemingly quite successful, millions of players have gone through the character creator and made their own hunter. Capcom, however, is thinking about whether people should be able to remake those designs after they’ve started the game.

There has been a rash of players who have created their hunters only to be surprised at the result in the game. When Game Watch Impress brought this up to producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, it seems like the idea was not one he had considered.

You can’t redo it, but when making a character you can check their expressions, so you might want to do that first while making a character,” Tsujimoto said in an interview translated by Gematsu. “However, if there’s enough demand for it then I’ll put it under consideration.”

Since the game’s release on Friday, some Japanese players have been complaining online that they have spent significant time in the character creator but the actual facial animations and lighting in the game are not well represented in the character creator itself.

Monster Hunter World is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC version planned for Autumn of this year. You can read our review of the game here, where Dan Tack calls World “the best game in the series.”

[Source: Game Watch Impress via Gematsu]

 

Our Take
I usually just keep my helmet on, but yeah, the faces can look really weird when animated. Players should be able to change their character design or sex whenever they want to, so it’s strange that the game lacked these things in the first place. Hopefully they hear demand and either patch it in or add it in an inevitable update.

Announced at EVO Japan, SNK is bringing King of Fighters 97 to modern systems with online play (iOS version pictured).

Dubbed Global Edition, the new version of the game is essentially a straight port of the game with the added benefit of playing online. Little else is known about it, but hopefully there are additional training features and replay modes available, as well.

The new game should be available in Spring 2018, though with it being an announcement at EVO Japan, it’s difficult to tell if that window is regional. We’ll see in just a few months!

 

Our Take
I am a little surprised they went with 97, considering how much more popular KoF 98 is. I’m also a little surprised at the lack of a Switch version, the arcade ports have been selling pretty well. Then again, this is a re-release based primarily on online play, so maybe the Switch infrastructure just isn’t there for them yet.

In hopes of solving its exclusive software issues, Microsoft may be looking at Electronic Arts among other companies as a possible target for acquisition, Polygon reports.

The information comes nestled within a broader discussion on Microsoft’s software portfolio, but Polygon claims that the mega-publisher is one target among several for Microsoft to acquire.

“Some of the names being thrown around as possible acquisitions by Microsoft are, frankly, astounding, even unthinkable,” the article’s author Colin Campbell writes. “But the fact that they are doing the rounds is instructive. The most recent one we heard (from a reliable source close to Microsoft) was, in fact, Electronic Arts. We also heard a whisper about Valve and about Korean outfit PUBG Corp., which Microsoft last year signed to a timed exclusive for its hit survival shooter, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.”

The possible options here are somewhat mind-boggling. Picking up Electronic Arts would be one of the biggest acquisitions in the gaming industry’s history and would so massively shake up the market that it is hard to even conceive of what the industry would look like afterward.

Valve is a privately owned company, which would make any acquisition difficult enough on its own, and founder Gabe Newell is well known not to be a fan of his former employer Microsoft and their Windows 10 strategy for gaming. Of all the mentioned acquisitions, PUBG Corp. seems the most reasonable, though it would only solve the problem of how to secure Battlegrounds forever, not how to right the internal software ship.

We reached out to Microsoft for comment, who told us “Microsoft
does not comment on rumors or speculation.” 

[Source: Polygon]

 

Our Take
To be absolutely clear, we have no knowledge about this or any acquisition Microsoft might be considering, so take the story with a grain of salt. It is a fascinating thought experiment, however, and it’s interesting to think what would happen if Microsoft threw their war chest into the middle of the ring. If there’s any grain of truth to this, interesting times could be ahead.

Philadelphia Fusion’s Gael “Poko” Gouzerch is becoming one of the most feared tank players in Overwatch League. Throughout the first three weeks of the season, Gouzerch has turned D.Va’s Self-Destruct into a difference maker for the Fusion, often surprising the opposition with its timing and placement. Fans have latched onto Gouzerch’s expert use of the attack, dubbing it the “Poko Bomb.”

The Fusion have been one of the more entertaining teams to watch thus
far, thanks in part to high kill counts coming from Poko, and teammates
Carpe and ShaDowBurn. After handing New York Excelsior its first loss last week, the Fusion appear to be on the rise, and are in the hunt with a 4 and 2 record to start the season. I talked to Poko about his style of play, the league, and why certain heroes are not being used by any team.

You weren’t in the lineup against the Shanghai Dragons. Why did you get the rest?

I obviously wanted to play, but it was out of my control. They wanted to do a different lineup. I think we have a flexible team and a deep roster so we can do that.

Who determines the lineup? I’m guessing it’s the coach, but do the players have input too?

It’s all of the coaches. They talk between each other to determine who is going to play based on the team. Shanghai is 0-5 right now, but we knew it was going to be a tough [match].

After the first two games against Shanghai, it looked like smooth sailing for Philadelphia. Shanghai made it interesting with two consecutive wins, forcing a game five. From your perspective, what changed in Shanghai’s strategy?

We were up 2-0, and I think we lost a bit of focus on Oasis. They defended very well, especially [Roshan]’s Winston. He had a lot of flanks, and kept killing Carpe. They continued that on Junkertown.

Your D.Va ultimate is now called The Poko Bomb. You’ve had more kills with it than any other player in the league. Can you walk me through your strategy in using it? You often use it like a stealth attack.

If we are working against a dive comp, the first thing I do is ask my teammates is if there’s a monkey bubble. We want that bubble to be free so the bomb can kill enemies. I find a corner of the map, making it hard for the enemy to hide. They have to make a decision of what to do, die from the D.Va [attack] or go forward and face my team. I think we are doing fine with it.

When you came into the league, people expected you to play Zarya. What happened there?

Exactly. I am known for my Zarya play. My previous team was pretty bad at dives, so we played a lot of tanks like Zarya. But now dive comp is pretty strong, so we had to play that style. With the new D.Va changes, a team absolutely needs her. When I saw the change, I said “I need to train with D.Va and play her all of the time.” I did that, and now I play her for the Fusion.

What do you think of the new version of D.Va?

I think it’s great. Before the changes she was a bit boring, but now you have so many possibilities. You can play aggressive, or do some stupid s— like and try to do 1v1 against Winston. There are so many things you can do now. It’s amazing.

You are lucky enough to have your own D.Va skin for the Fusion. When you aren’t in the league and are just competing, what skin do you like the most for her?

Definitely the new cat one. Oh my god, it’s so good.

What are you ranked in competitive play?

I’m eighth, I think. I didn’t play the 50 games, so it’s not official, but I think I’m up there. I’m at 4,600 ranking.

My highest ranking is 2,500.

[laughs]

How are you settling into the league so far?

Blizzard did a great job. It’s so professional. I was used to competitions in Europe where you would be waiting for hours to get into a match. Now, I enter [the arena], I’m focused, ready, and I go on the stage to play.

You’ve done a lot of esports stuff in the past. You are no longer home. You’re with your team at all times. Walk me through that.

I’m living dream. I didn’t know what would happen before the league, but now I’m living in a big house in [Los Angeles], getting paid a lot of money. Everything is paid for – the food and transport. I love it. We are living in a big gaming house, all of us under one roof. It’s so good.

One things fans don’t like about the league is the lack of hero rotation. Some heroes like Symmetra and Zarya are not used. What does Blizzard have to do to make these heroes (or others) league ready?

I don’t think they can do much about it. There are some characters that just won’t be used. Orisa is pretty great so far, but you can’t play her on every map. You won’t stand a chance. Same with Mei. You can’t play them all of the time.

What if Blizzard changed up the game types and inserted something like Mystery Heroes into the mix? I know it sounds like a nightmare, but that would force you to play different heroes. We’d see everyone that way. We’d get to see you play as Bastion.

That would be horrible. I am not good with certain heroes. No way. I’m not going to play if they do that. [laughs] We train so much every day that it would be a disaster.

I was somewhat shocked to here that you scrimmage against other teams in the league. That has to make it difficult to surprise teams.

Exactly. That’s why the Fusion have a 12-man roster, so we can play 6v6 outside of those scrimmages. That way we don’t leak any strategies, and people don’t know what we are playing.

We don’t know much about the future of the league. Did you just sign on to play this one season with the Fusion?

For now it’s only a one-year contract. It’s for just one season.

So that means you could maybe be on a different team next season?

Sure.

When you came into the league, how were your approached about the contract?

I was known in Europe for my Zarya, and a little bit for D.Va. I placed in the top five for Overwatch Contenders [in 2017]. After that, Kirby, one of the Fusion coaches and GM, contacted me, and said “Hey, Poko, want to do a tryout for the Philadelphia Fusion?” I was like “Sure. Let’s go!” [laughs] I had nothing to lose. This was such a great opportunity for me. I was in tryouts for a few weeks against a few players going for my role.

Are there any other heroes you want to play as either in this season or if you come back next year?

I would like to try a bit more of Soldier 76. I love him. He does so much stuff. He runs fast, and you can play aggressively or defensively. He can run along for a long time. Such a great character.

Blizzard isn’t exactly up front with new heroes, but does enjoy teasing them. What type of hero would you like to see added next?

I would say another tank because the game is lacking dive tank abilities. There’s Winston and D.Va, who can play aggressively. Another tank who can do some jumping would be great.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For people who want to play D.Va, are there any general strategies you can give them to help with their game?

That’s a tough question. If you’re trying to play as a team, don’t try to dive too much. Don’t be too greedy when diving. I like to play it safe.

When you aren’t playing Overwatch, are there other games you play for either fun or to help with your reflexes and skills?

I play some Fortnite with friends. I mostly focus on Overwatch in my free time.

Steamforged Games found widespread success with Dark Souls: The Board Game, which raised over $5 million with its Kickstarter campaign. CMON coincidentally followed suit with game designer Eric M. Lang’s take on Bloodborne as a card game in 2016. It’s only appropriate that Steamforged would ride the coattails of adapting From Software’s popular property with another interpretation of Dark Souls’ ruthless difficulty.

Dark Souls: The Card Game is focused on surviving by yourself or working closely with up to three other players. You’ll assume a class from the start that gives you special abilities and build your deck with armor, item, and weapon cards that can mean the difference between life and death. The goal is to acquire as many souls and treasure as possible and use them toward acquiring bigger, better decks, which is an intensely collaborative effort when playing with friends.

As an example, Bloodborne: The Card Game thrives on double-edged competition and cooperation because players take out enemies together while attempting to backstab and leave others to die. With Dark Souls: The Card Game, your chances of getting to the final boss hinge on keeping each other alive and not only executing the right moves together, but also wisely ordering and enhancing them with stamina cards. With changing conditions due to a plethora of enemy types, no match is bound to be the same.

Dark Souls: The Card Game will be released on March 16 and be available for pre-order soon from Steamforged’s website. It comes with 400+ cards at launch and will retail for $49.99 if its listing on Amazon is to be believed. You can check out a quick rundown of its features with its announcement trailer by clicking here or watch a recent live stream by Steamforged below that shows off the game’s complex, nerve-wracking encounters.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[Source: Steamforged Games via Polygon]

Teddy Dief, creative director at Square-Enix Montreal and former designer for Hyper Light Drifter, has announced he is leaving the publisher after a project cancellation.

Dief made the announcement today on his blog, saying that he felt a need to explain his reasoning for the departure despite it being his dream job. “My team were working on a game that I deeply wish we could have shared with you,” he explained. “But the business strategy of the studio shifted, and our project was sadly no longer compatible. Thankfully, the talented team remain employed and valued, assigned to other projects. Because of this shift and the loss of our project, I no longer feel this is the place for me to pursue the type of work I aspire to make – the avenues of storytelling in game design I’ve been trying to explore in my career.”

Square-Enix Montreal is best known for the Go series of games, such as Hitman and Lara Croft Go, which are considered some of the publisher’s strongest games on mobile. There is no indication what Square Enix Montreal was working on under Dief or why the project was cancelled beyond nebulous business reasons.

For Dief’s part, he suggests that he is returning to the world of indie development and is more immediately returning to Los Angeles ahead of the impending Game Developer’s Conference in March.

 

Our Take
SE Montreal is an incredibly talented studio and their mobile games are by and large some of my favorites. Hopefully whatever they find themselves working on next is a project that matches their level of talent, though it is discouraging to lose a designer as accomplished as Dief.

OOTP Developments just announced this year’s entry in its lauded simulation series, OOTP Baseball 19 (due for PC, Mac, and Linux on March 22), and while the studio isn’t ready yet to show off one of its big features – the improved 3D stadiums and better player A.I., models, and animations – the game’s creator Markus Heinsohn and OOTP Developments chief marketing officer Rich Grisham spoke with me about various aspects of the title.

Heinsohn and Grisham discussed many of the title’s new features, detailing aspects such as changes to the ratings system and the new free fantasy-based online card mode: Perfect Team – which Heinsohn says at some point will also be added to OOTP Developments’ Franchise Hockey Manager and planned football sim title.

Heinsohn is proud of what the small studio is delivering for OOTP Baseball 19 no matter what angle you approach the game from. “Each year it’s not like we add three or four headline features or headline improvements,” he said, “but every year we tweak so many things sometimes we don’t even keep track. The game has grown so big that … now this sounds really cheesy but, sometimes when I play it myself I sometimes I discover features that I had forgotten about because we added them like 10 years ago. It’s incredible. It’s at a state right now where you can discover so many things and try out so many things. Like I said, we’re tweaking so many things that I’m sure that there are a lot of tiny bits and pieces that will be surprising to lots of customers who were waiting for certain kind of tweak over the years and now it’s finally in there.”

Will there be a demo for the title? 
RG: “Truth is, we just don’t have the resources to put a demo together. We’d have to not deliver on a couple of features if we had to build a demo. We’d love to do one, but we can’t fit it in.” Grisham adds that at some time there will be a private beta involving hardcore users which is separate from the spring public beta planned just for the Perfect Team mode.

On the Perfect Team mode: 
The mode is being created by outside devs that the studio has hired and brought in-house just to work on Perfect Team. The feature is being added after launch, and the studio is using new server technology to make it happen. “Honestly, we wanted to have Perfect Team ready for launch,” says Heinsohn, “but it’s a very, very complex thing … but we’re taking our time. We don’t want to rush something that in the end crashes all the time and has lots of server downtime and things like that. We just want to get it right.”
Heinsohn says that while it’s “incredibly difficult” to balance a mode like this to cater to both those who want to pay for shortcuts versus those who would rather grind in lieu of spending money, the team wants to make it fun and feasible for those both. In general, the mode follows other fantasy-based card modes like Ultimate Team in that you play the game, earn in-game currency, and spend it on packs. Perfect Team has a league structure, but it is not replacing the game’s traditional online leagues.
When I asked Grisham if the studio had considered paid DLC for the series, he said it had, but only in the most general sense and that “paid DLC does not match the way we build and design our game.” 

Since the mode is coming out after the game’s launch, does this give you the ability to expand the mode even from what it is now? 
MH: “Yes, definitely. I expect 25 percent of it to change during beta and open beta. I totally expect the game mode to change. Obviously the basic ideas probably will not change much, but there will be tons of things which we currently have planned in a certain way which will probably change because of customer feedback.”
Looking further into the future, Heinsohn added: “Obviously [Perfect Team is] not only in the future for OOTP Baseball, but we’re going to add this mode in a future version of NHL Franchise Hockey manager as well. And then we’re also working on an American football game, and this in the future will also have this mode.”

With similar modes like MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty and EA Sports’ various Ultimate Team iterations, what is going to make Perfect Team different? 
MH: “We will have a unique twist, something to our knowledge hasn’t been done before.”

On the improved scouting: 
RG: “We have gone in and redone the entire scouting process. We’re bringing a lot more information to light, and we’re bringing that to light in what I feel is a much more clear and concise way. Plus, we’re giving a lot more agency to the players to sort of customize how they want to target players.”

Improvements to tournaments: 
Players now have the ability to mix-and-match the game’s teams (including historic ones or from different leagues) to create whatever tournaments they want as well as fiddle with the competitions overall structure. Tournaments can even be dropped into your regular season similar to English soccer’s FA Cup.

Improved in-game decisions and roster management: 
OOTP Baseball 19 includes some playoff options such as your starting being taken out and putting in your closer really early. Grisham also mentions doing double switches in a smarter amount of time.

On new implementing possible new MLB rules such as a pitch clock: 
Heinsohn says that the studio is looking to add any potential rule changes for the season “that make sense from a gameplay perspective.”

What did you want to address with the re-worked ratings module?  
MH: “The rating system is now by default one that calculates the player ratings relative to league average. In the past the ratings were absolute values, so if you played a 1910 league in the dead-ball era, no player had a high power rating and most looked alike. Now, you can see who the best in the league are because the individual HR ratings are based on the league average HR rating, and a 80/80 is three standard deviations better than average, if I recall correctly.”
The ratings and overall performance of one player in particular – Angel’s Japanese wonder Shohei Ohtani – is also being watched. Ohtani first has to play his first regular season game before he can be added to the rosters. “Then we’ll have to monitor his performance and potentially adjust ratings based upon the real-world success (or lack thereof) that he has,” says Grisham. “Also, we’re going to have to see how he is used in games. Will he pinch hit? Will he be assigned a specific pitching role or will he be used in different situations? All these things will be monitored and then we’ll make adjustments as we can.”

In general, are certain player ratings weighted more than others? 
RG: “Well that comes down to era and importance. So, one of the cool things about our game is if you’re playing in the 1920s it is different than if you’re playing 2018. So a lot of it comes down to the era. If you’re playing in 2018 right now, chances are that you’re probably going to have more success if you build a bullpen with five or six guys who are throwing a 102 mph. But that’s the blueprint for success in 2018, but it’s not guaranteeing success. It’s not like we make major changes every year. ‘Oh, home runs were way up, therefore let’s jack everything up.’ It’s not that. But you definitely want to know what kind of an era are we playing in. Are we playing in a pitcher-dominated era? Are we playing in a hitter-dominated era? And based upon that, certain aspects of certain player ratings will be more or less important. But again, it’s not like a cheat code where it’s like, ‘If it’s this year, you load up on this and you win.’ There’s a couple of million variables under the covers that dictate a lot of stuff.”

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Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

THE TICKER 
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week 

Gran Turismo Sport Adds More Single-Player Content, Track & Cars 

Madden Predicts Another Pats Super Bowl Victory 

Former UFC Fighter Ronda Rousey Staying In UFC 3 Despite Joining WWE 

Five Early Takeaways From UFC 3 

EA & ESPN Team Up For Madden Esports Broadcasts 

FIFA 18 PC Patch Addresses Scoring Exploit & More 
This includes FUT Weekend League issues such as time of day and top 100 players avoiding playing each other.

Sony & Nike Partner For PlayStation-Themed Shoes 

Deep Silver Publishing Dakar 18 Racing Title In 2018 
The cross-country rally game hits the PS4, Xbox One, and PC this year.

Ride-Along At Charlotte’s Roval In NASCAR Heat 2