After a bug-ridden and messy launch, Kingdom Come Deliverance developer Warhorse game has been busy patching things up. Their latest patch should hopefully plug a number of holes, but also comes with some new hairstyles.

For most players, the most welcome news in the 1.4 patch is the fixing of “200 major bugs,” which should hopefully make wandering around medieval Bohemia a little less grueling and chaotic. In addition to all of those, issues with the “House of God” and “Mightier than the Sword” quests have been resolved, as has an issue with the Rattay archery not working on advanced difficulty.

The patch also has a couple of Easter-related inclusions. First, it adds “Real Easter Eggs,” which includes a special golden egg (the benefits and prize attached to the golden egg were left vague) and an Easter-themed “Pomlázka,” weapon. Second, the patch “revives” a number of NPCs who were killed by physics glitches, tying into Easter’s resurrection theme.

Other additions include new hairstyles for protagonist Henry (along with new hair and beard “mechanics”) as well as “Unarmed mercy” kills, which should give players more options with solving quests. Finally, a new HD texture and audio pack should give those with powerful PCs reason to rejoice.

Warhorse did not nail down an exact date for the patch, saying only that they’re shooting for “sometime next week…. hopefully.”

[Source: Warhorse Games on Steam]

 

Our Take
It’s a bittersweet feeling to see a patch that fixes 200 major bugs. Of course you want those things to be fixed, but that they had to be fixed in the first place is disappointing. Still, it’s a good step forward, and hopefully the start of more to come.

Keeping in line with what Shadow Of The Colossus did in February, God Of War director Cory Barlog has announced that PS4 Pro players will be able to play the game in performance mode. When asked, Barlog did not specify that the game would play in 60 FPS but simply said that it would be “smooth.”

He did confirm that the performance mode was for the Pro only with a tweet:

For more on God Of War be sure to check out our series catch up.

[Source: Twitter]

Our Take
More performance customization options are always a good thing. Bring ’em on.

Lindsay Lohan has been accusing Rockstar of taking her likeness and using it for Grand Theft Auto V for a number of years now, but it appears she might be at the end of a long legal journey with a dismissal.

The suit was originally filed shortly after the game’s 2013 release when the actress from Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, and a whole lot more alleged that Rockstar had invaded her privacy by using her likeness without her permission. She filed a lawsuit against Take-Two and Rockstar over the character of Lacey Jonas, which Lohan said was based on her, in New York.

Lohan’s suit was dismissed by a panel of five judges, who ruled that, even if the character resembled Lohan, it was not used for a purpose of advertising to make people think Lohan was in or marketing the game. Lohan’s lawyers appealed, which has also now also been dismissed by the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

The Court of Appeals acknowledged that video game depictions do constitute portraits under the state’s publicity laws, those depictions don’t appear in Grand Theft Auto V.

“We conclude a computer generated image may constitute a portrait within the meaning of that law,” wrote the court. “We also conclude, however, that the subject images are not recognizable as plaintiff, and that the amended complaint, which contains four causes of action for violation of privacy pursuant to Civil Rights Law §§ 50 and 51, was properly dismissed.”

This most likely puts an end to the legal battle between Lohan and Rockstar with few avenues left to pursue her case.

[Source: Gamasutra]

 

Our Take
I always thought it looked a bit like Lohan, but not enough that it’s actionable. I wonder if this empowers Rockstar to not worry about celebrity likenesses with their future games or convinces them to back away from anything remotely similar.

One of the most significant first-person shooters of the last two decades is now playable on Xbox One without buying a remastered version.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the last time the series has attached a number before the colon, is confirmed backwards compatible by Major Nelson on Twitter today. One of the most popular first-person shooters of last generation, Modern Warfare charted a middle ground between the fast-paced shooters of the 1990s and the slower shooters that had defined the series so far.

As always, all you have to do is pop in the Xbox 360 disc in your Xbox One for the console to start downloading a copy of the game. If you have the game digitally already, you can find it ready to download, or just straight up buy the game now. As a backwards compatible game, its player pool is pulled from the Xbox 360 version of the game and not the recent remaster with some changes to the multiplayer.

 

Our Take
Regardless of what you think about the direction the series took after Modern Warfare, it’s impossible to deny its impact. A lot of people swear by Modern Warfare being the best one and should be able to find a new playerbase again.

In January 2017, 20th Century Fox formed FoxNext, a new division to head up the company’s video game, virtual reality, and theme park initiatives. From an upcoming shooter based in the Alien cinematic universe to a recent adventure game with the Planet of the Apes license, FoxNext has worked with multiple development studios to create games using the IPs that Fox controls. The latest game to launch under the FoxNext banner is Marvel Strike Force, a turn-based strategy game centered on assembling the various characters across the Marvel universe to take on a multidimensional threat.

I spoke with FoxNext Games’ vice president and general manager Amir Rahimi about what it’s like to work with Marvel, as well as FoxNext’s initiatives as a whole. You can check out our discussion below.

FoxNext is Fox’s big push into the video game space. The benefit of this is that you have Marvel, Alien, and all these different properties. What was the big-picture goal for Fox when establishing FoxNext?
The way that they talked to me about it, and the vision as I understand it, is they are really sincere about owning the future of storytelling. They’ve clearly mastered that across film and television, and they want to take that into the interactive space. What I love about Fox as a company is that they’re so mature when it comes to their thinking about creatives. They really understand that the creative people are at the center of these endeavors; you don’t always get that at other companies. A lot of times, it’s really technology-focused or really business-focused. These guys let creators be creative and innovate. I really, really love that.

What they define as interactive storytelling is really broad and they leave that up to us as the creatives to determine what that means. For our San Francisco studio Fogbank, it means something much closer to what Fox does. They’re going to be doing some interesting narrative games. For us down in L.A., it means giving players the tools and empowering the players to fulfill a fantasy and tell their own stories through deep, meaningful interactions. So we really focus on the social. We love creating a game where all the drama comes from interactions between the players.

How does the team determine which properties to pursue for a game?
Again, the coolest thing about being with Fox is that it’s not a top-down thing; they really let us decide. We handle it from a couple of different directions. One, we look at the expertise of our team and the passions of our team, and we try to figure out what gameplay patterns we would be best at. Like, our creative director on Marvel, Jason Bender, was one of the lead designers on the Diablo III console version, and was a senior designer on the game proper.

We’ve always loved turn-based strategy games, so we’ve been prototyping a turn-based strategy game for many years now. When we have a sense of what the mechanics, we look across media to see if there is a property that fits it like a glove. If there isn’t, we’ll create our own IP. In this case, there’s no better universe in the world than Marvel for a turn-based strategy game that’s about collecting a roster of heroes and using them. It’s just ideal. It’s perfect. At the time, we were Kabam, we had relationships with Marvel, so we had an in and we were able to get the license.

With Avatar, it was kind of a similar calculus. We have a long history of doing real-time strategy games; a long time ago, we were the Command & Conquer team at EA. We made several Command & Conquer and Lord of the Rings RTSs. Talking to the folks at Lightstorm and seeing what they have in store for their sequels, we were super inspired. All of us, hearing about what they have in store, we just envisioned the perfect strategy game.

What I love about Fox is they don’t even care if we use IP; they really want to innovate and do what’s best for our industry. If we would have pitched new IPs, they would have been fine with it. Although, it helps when you’re working on their most important franchise in Avatar, and one of their most important franchises in Marvel.

Do you have any interactions with the creative teams behind the film properties?
We do. Our primary contact is a guy by the name of Bill Rosemann [Marvel Games executive creative director], who is just a freaking legend. Having a drink with that guy and just asking him about the Marvel universe is so fun and so entertaining. We get almost everything we need from him and the Marvel Games team.

Avatar hasn’t had very many games, but IPs like Alien and Marvel have had a million different games based on them. How do you differentiate your games from the experiences that have already been presented?
We have some really awesome innovations in Marvel. The way that we’ve chosen to innovate when it comes to this particular Marvel game is through a few different vectors. One is the combat, and the interactions you have in combat. We’re delivering a degree of cinematic action and quality that I don’t think has ever been done before in a mobile game. There’s been a lot of squad-based games out there, but not a lot of them actually let you team up your guys. It’s like, one guy attacks, the other guy attacks, and they go back and forth like that. We’re doing some really cool stuff with team-ups. You can team up in many different ways, and if you have iconic pairs of characters, you can pull of things like you see in your favorite Marvel movies.

Fox has the license for a particular corner of the Marvel universe. Have there been any problems with getting any of the characters under the Disney umbrella?
No. In fact, the struggle was the other way around! We have the Marvel license, so we have the access to all the great Marvel characters. We didn’t have the X-Men. We’ve now managed to get the X-Men. Not all Marvel games get that; it’s actually kind of hard these days.

Not even Marvel vs. Capcom got it in the latest game.
Right. So, the team is so incredibly fired up about having the X-Men. Some of the most popular characters in the entire universe. We’re already hard at work on the X-Men. It’s kind of recent that we got this, but we’ve pushed to get Wolverine in for launch.

If you’re under Fox, what was the roadblock to get the Fox properties like the X-Men in your game?
There was definitely no resistance from Fox. Fox obviously wants us to have that license. There wasn’t any undue resistance from Marvel. It’s just their policy that they don’t give both licenses to people, and we didn’t have the X-Men. So we had to make a case for the X-Men. I don’t know what factors went into ultimately granting us the X-Men from their side, but as far as I can tell, they probably wanted us to some extent to prove ourselves and get a game up that’s worthy of having the entire universe. We worked closely with those guys, and they’ve been pretty happy with what we’ve done here. They’re seeing our metrics in beta, and they’re pretty impressed. If I had to guess, that probably greased the skids in some respects.

What about the other licenses like Spider-Man being under Sony or The Hulk still technically having ties to Universal?
Those didn’t impact us. Hulk and Spidey were both part of the original deal. It was just the X-Men and the Fantastic Four that are carved out. I don’t believe they’re giving the Fantastic Four to anybody.

It seems like Marvel is kind of being protective of them lately. Fantastic Four has had kind of a rough run in film as of late, so that makes sense.
It probably factors in, right? We have access now, with the X-Men, to hundreds of characters.

Does the X-Men license loop in Deadpool?
It sure does. And with Deadpool 2 coming, we are going to do something really big for that.

We’ve seen in the past, entertainment companies not known for their work in the game industry like Disney dip their toe in with gaming, or even go all-in with gaming, then suddenly change their minds. What is preventing Fox from doing that with this initiative?
Ultimately, obviously, it’s not up to me if this is them dipping their toe. I don’t believe it is. I think that Fox looks at the future of entertainment and really believes that interactive is such a critical part of it. I think they’re going to give us every opportunity to succeed. I think the thing that would probably cause them to remove their toe from the water would be if we don’t deliver. By “we” I don’t just mean this one game; we have a really compelling portfolio that we’re building and I think that they’re going to give us a run at it and really support us in doing that. If we can’t execute, I wouldn’t expect them to, at least with us, keep their toe in the water.

Marvel is on one end of the spectrum where they have a million different characters and enemy types and hero types, but Alien has always just had a couple of enemy types to take on. How does the team behind the announced Alien shooter work within those constructs to make a compelling game while only having a few enemy types from the source material?
I don’t manage that game directly, so I can’t really speak for their creative vision behind it, but the way that we try to look at each different IP out there is that you have to tap into what’s special about it. We would never – again speaking just for my studio in L.A. – we would never take a license like Alien and try to do a game that’s heavily dependent on creating a huge roster of unique characters. It just wouldn’t fit. It goes back to that thing of “Does it fit like a glove with what you’re building, or not?” The way that I look at Alien is that it’s much more of an intense survival, maybe a little horror, and you want to immerse players in that world, and again, give them the tools to fulfill that fantasy. You only need the few characters and enemy types that you see in that world to create something compelling.

I know you said that with FoxNext, not everything needs to be an IP, but do you have a dream IP that you’d love to tackle after Marvel?
Marvel for most people in the studio is a dream come true. For most people in the industry, I would think it is. Avatar… I just adore that world, and it’s going to come back in such a big way. It’s hard to look past those two, but, man… yeah, I can’t. To be honest, I would love to do another Marvel game. We’re starting to think about what we’re doing in the future, and it’s been so fun partnering with those guys that I’d love to pick a different genre and do something else with them.

The Marvel license is so fun because you can get away with so much within that universe. You can do whatever you want, as long as you stay true to the characters. As long as Spider-Man is always Spider-Man and you’re not giving him, like, a grappling hook – something that would be so anti to what he’s about…

Going around, killing people left and right.
[Laughs] Right! Definitely. Don’t give him a sniper rifle or something stupid like that!

As long as you stay true to the core of the characters, you can do so much in that world. That’s been so freeing to have that.

Are there any stories you’re trying to tell in Marvel Strike Force that fold into events in the comics or movies?
Yes, certainly. The big villain is a guy named Ultimus, who hasn’t been touched by the MCU at all. He’s a pretty compelling nemesis because he is an Eternal, the same way that Thanos is. He’s sort of the same species as Thanos, but just a different race. He’s part of the Kree, and as far as I understand, he’s one of the few characters who beat up Thor in two out of the three battles they fought. He’s incredibly powerful… about as powerful as Thanos is, but he’s someone who hasn’t been seen to this point in the MCU. So he’s kind of someone we can have a sense of uniqueness to our game.

The overall premise is that he’s been going from dimension to dimension mind-controlling heroes. So he’s been building an army of mind-controlled Hulks and Spider-Mans and Wolverines, and he’s raising that army to take over the universe. He’s now at what is considered the Nexus Earth. This Earth is sort of the key to every other Earth that exists. You, as a commander of an elite unit of S.H.I.E.L.D. called Strike, are tasked with recruiting heroes to prevent him from taking over this Earth that would basically unlock his ability to rule the entire universe.

Are there any concerns with doing the multiverse? That can get real complicated real quick.
What’s great about that is what it all just really boils down to for the super casual player is that it’s a beautiful conceit for why you might be controlling a Hulk who is fighting another Hulk. You’ll see red eyes on the guys who are mind-controlled and that’s all they really need to understand. Then, through the campaign, we tell the story. For people who really want it, they can dive real deep into the multiverse thing and have as much as they want.

Marvel Strike Force is currently available to download on iOS and Android.

Welcome back to The Game Informer Show! On this episode, Ben Hanson, Jeff Cork, Dan Tack, and Jeff Marchiafava talk about our review of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5. Ben Reeves then joins the podcast to talk about the bizarre Nintendo 3DS game Detective Pikachu. After that, we dive deep on our time playing the new park building sim Jurassic World Evolution from Frontier Developments. We’re also joined by Jeff Goldblum himself to talk about reprising his role as Ian Malcom in the game… really, like he’s on the show. We also interview Jurassic World Evolution’s writer John Zuur Platten (who worked on games like The Chronicles of Riddick) and the game’s director Michael Brooks and lead designer Andrew Fletcher.

You can watch the video below, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, or listen to episode 392 on SoundCloud. Also, be sure to send your questions to podcast@gameinformer.com for a chance to have them answered on the show and win a prize by becoming Email of the Week!

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Our thanks to the talented Super Marcato Bros. for The Game Informer Show’s intro song. You can hear more of their original tunes and awesome video game music podcast at their website.

To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below…

6:20 – Far Cry 5
29:30 – Detective Pikachu
35:05 – Jurassic World Evolution impressions
47:40 – Jeff Goldblum interview
56:15 – Community emails
1:48:55 – John Zuur Platten on writing Jurassic World Evolution
2:00:45 – Jurassic World Evolution’s director and designer
2:20:47 – Jeff Goldblum outtakes

Titan Comics, the publisher that takes licenses properties and adapts them for comics, has announced an adaptation of Dontnod and Square-Enix’s Life is Strange.

There aren’t a ton of details, as Titan has not announced either the writer or artist for the adaptation yet. They have said it brings back familiar characters and returns to the setting of Arcadia Bay, specifically Blackwell Academy, so it is likely to be a straight adaptation of Dontnod’s original game. It’s possible that it will incorporate some of the illuminated backstory from Before the Storm, as well.

Titan has also produced comics based on Wolfenstein, Bloodborne, Tekken, and The Evil Within.

[Source: GameSpot]

 

Our Take
Titan adaptations can be hit or miss, but most of that comes down to the writer and illustrator they have for the project. Hopefully as a narrative game, Life is Strange works a lot better for an adaptation.

The Online Slump Continues

The boo-birds come out when perennial all-stars are ice cold in the opening months of the season. Fans believe these players didn’t take care of themselves in the offseason, and treated spring training like a vacation. In reality, April’s frigid weather and windy conditions impact player abilities and limit the flight of the ball. As the weather heats up, so do these players.

MLB The Show 18 is the video game equivalent of the slow starter. Online performance issues have become an unwanted annualized feature – so much so that Sony made online infrastructure a central focus of development this year. In previous years, Sony has patched up or stabilized the online experience as the season progressed. This year, the development team didn’t want the online experience to start out cold, but achieving this goal meant difficult cuts.

In prioritizing new technology, Sony was forced to remove online franchise from this year’s game. Offline season mode is also oddly absent. These are two huge avenues of play that delivered different experiences for people – whether it’s shortening up a season for a breezier path to the playoffs or spending significant time battling friends for the pennant. Both are gone.

Did the cuts pay off? As of this writing, MLB The Show 18’s online performance has not improved over previous years. It may even be worse. Along with intermittent latency issues on the field, which can lead to players running past balls or pitches accidentally served up as meat, all online avenues of play are subject to inexplicable loss of progress. A productive morning of playing Battle Royale ended with my experience points and Stubs disappearing, never to return. On another day, I couldn’t locate some cards I purchased with Stubs, and wasn’t reimbursed for them. Servers are also occasionally down during peak hours, and not just for maintenance.

Stability isn’t the only frustrating element of online. As much as I love seeing legendary players like Vida Blue taking on Babe Ruth, the means to obtaining these players is comical. To unlock the best version of Jackie Robinson, I need to get Chase Utley’s program souvenir, another program that isn’t even in the game yet and is listed as “coming soon,” exchange dozens of hats and jerseys, tally 10 hits with a different version of Jackie Robinson ONLY on April 15, and/or perform a bunch of other crazy tasks. Getting immortal or diamond-rank players in The Show has always been a lengthy process, but it’s out of control this year.

Opening a pack of cards to find hats, jerseys, bobble heads, and other unwanted things just strips away the chance of getting a player you can actually use in play. The images on the cards are also showing age. Tommy La Stella is pictured on the Braves, a team he hasn’t played for since 2014. Many players just have silhouettes as images.

The Show’s troubles are mostly contained to just the online component. As usual, Sony has refined the action on the field, which is better than ever this year. New ball physics lead to a wider variety of hits and bounces, and players react to situations in more realistic ways – such as a batter holding up in the batter’s box for a brief second to see if a ball is slicing foul, or a catcher pouncing on a squibber or blocking a ball in the dirt. Catchers get out of stance much faster and can’t be exploited as easily. Fielders are more aware of the runners and apply more authentic tags, depending on how the runner moves. Opponent A.I. is also much savvier, using more shifts and deploying different bullpen and hitting strategies for specific situations. I lost a game to a suicide squeeze in the ninth inning.

The flow of the game is also enhanced with a wider variety of shots of fans, the stadium, coaches, and players. Full-motion replays also add to the broadcast presentation, even though Mark DeRosa’s color commentary is frequently repeated or too generalized.

The control you have over the action is largely unchanged, but you get a better insight into what went wrong with your swing through the redesigned feedback system. The revamped ball physics lead to more hit types and player reactions, but I saw an unusual number of balls bobbled and dropped.

Road to the Show received the most tweaks in terms of how progress is logged. You can no longer create a player capable of reaching level 99 in every category. You must now select an archetype, which has strengths and weaknesses that are capped in specific categories. It makes more sense to hone those skills, and I love the move away from assigning experience points. All gains and losses come on the field and through training. Players get called up quicker if they are tearing it up; my Road the Show player from last year (who toiled in AA ball with a .400-plus average) was immediately called up to the majors when I loaded him up. That’s awesome.

Franchise mode is improved, not from additions, but the streamlining of menus and tasks. All aspects of managing a team are broken up into phases that cover the draft, trades, mid-season play, and more. All of these areas feature shortcuts and can be turned to manual or auto with just a click of a button. Sony also added Retro mode as a style of play for Franchise, which is a bit odd given the arcade framework works against the simulation stats to a degree, but it is fun to compete in a throwback game from time to time. CPU trade logic and roster management looked spot on; it’s nice to see cold players getting benched for a game here and there. That’s a touch I never expected to see.

Load times for all avenues of play are better, and the play on the field is once again a showpiece of iteration, but the online aspect of the game – where Sony is focusing the most for additions – remains unpredictable at best and completely broken at its worst. As the season goes along, the experience will hopefully get better, but for the hardcore baseball fans that purchased the game early, it can be a nightmare.

Pikachu was never intended to be the face of Pokémon, but thanks to the popular show, the adorable little electric mouse became the default mascot for the franchise. This critter also wiggled his way into my heart; despite the hundreds of unique pocket monsters Game Freak has created over the years, Pikachu remains one of my favorite travel companions. But none of our adventures have ever looked like this. This version of Pikachu wears an adorable deerstalker hat, talks in a gruff voice, and has the attitude of a noir detective. Somehow, this odd combination makes Pikachu more endearing than ever. The coffee-obsessed sourpuss is a welcome companion during an otherwise-average adventure.

You take on the role of Tim Goodman, the son of an acclaimed detective who was investigating a rash of violent Pokémon outbursts across Ryme City. After Tim’s father goes missing, Tim partners up with Pikachu and the new gumshoes hunt for clues that lead them to the bottom of the disappearance. The larger mystery is surprisingly serious, but I was rarely invested in the overall narrative – and you can see the main twist coming a mile away.

Fortunately, the shenanigans I got into with Pikachu along the way were far more memorable than the overarching story. I liked watching Tim and Pikachu bond over their love for black coffee, and laughed when Tim mistook Detective Pikachu for a “normal,” non-talking Pikachu. The title character also has a lot of lovable personality quirks – he can’t resist sweets and gets excited when he hears his own echo in a cave. I found it endlessly charming to watch one of the most adorable characters in gaming talk like a gruff, middle-aged man while pacing the room with his hand on his chin. At any point in the game, you can touch Pikachu’s portrait on the 3DS’s touchscreen to see what Pikachu is thinking, and I often spammed that button because I was fascinated to see what he would do next.

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The fact that Pikachu is so engrossing is fortunate, because the actual puzzles leave a lot to be desired. Each chapter contains its own mini-mystery that might have Tim and Pikachu recovering a missing neckless, saving a stranded Pokémon, and investigating the nefarious inner workings of a chemical research company. During each mystery, you gather clues by talking to bystanders and examining your environment. Once you’ve collected all the clues for each area, you interact with an incredibly simple matching game where you pair the mystery with a solution and then back up your claim with the supporting evidence you’ve gathered.

Finding these solutions requires no thought or effort; even if you didn’t pay attention when talking to people, selecting the correct answers is easy thanks to brief summaries in your notes. Pikachu also holds your hand through this process and nudges you in the right direction. Even when you make a wrong guess, he tells you to try again, so failing is impossible. This makes the stakes incredibly low, and as a result, provides little satisfaction when you arrive at the solution.

Despite its title, Detective Pikachu isn’t for people who like a good mystery. Its larger narrative isn’t sophisticated, and I felt like I was just going through the motions to solve the smaller mysteries along the way. Even so, Pikachu made a delightful Watson to my Holmes, full of genuine charm and laughs. I enjoyed exploring this Pokémon-filled world with a surly Pikachu so much that I almost didn’t care how we filled our time.

There are practically no limits to what you can do in Far Cry 5’s Arcade mode, and users are already proving that with all sorts of out-of-the-box levels, including an uncannily identical model of the Baker’s mansion from Resident Evil 7 by user “wim_buytaert” on PlayStation 4.

All of the assets and ambiance are spot on with this faithful recreation. This makes the mod certainly more deserving than the rating it currently holds, and while you can’t explore the inside of the mansion, we wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking they booted up Capcom’s latest survival horror hit from last year. You can watch the tour emulating the introduction to Resident Evil 7 below.

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For more on Far Cry 5, read our review.

[Source: “TheRedTieGuy” via YouTube]