Viz Media, primarily known for its prominent work in the
anime and manga spaces, recently announced its foray into the gaming world. Its
partnership with Rose City Games begins with a supernatural narrative action-puzzler called The World Next Door.

You play as Jun, a teen girl in a parallel world that houses
magical creatures. After visiting the realm, she becomes trapped when a plan
backfires. The group of characters from that realm reveal to her that humans
cannot survive longer than a few days in that realm, and the quest to find a
way out begins.

The segment I played had me interacting with a colorful cast
of demons and other creatures who live in this parallel world. As I ready
for battle, I interact with them through choice-driven, often humorous dialogue. From choosing
how to react to bad news or a new challenge, to deciding whether I should
accept a beer from one of these creatures, how I react affects my relationships
with these characters.

These bonds can have effects within the combat gameplay,
which mashes up real-time action with a match-three puzzle game. The arena is
littered with different colored tiles. As you move Jun around, you press a
button to bind with the tile. Once bound, you can swap that tile with any other
tile on the board with a press of a button. Once three or more of the same tile
are connected, you can press a button to activate their power. Each color tile
delivers different attacks; the yellow tiles send a stunning shock that hits
every nearby character, green set up a healing effect, purple casts a void
area-of-effect spell, and red blasts fireballs.

The more tiles are matched up upon activation, the stronger
the spell. In addition, since the characters are running around on the board,
you have to be strategic with when you activate these spells; the attacks are
easily dodged by a skilled player or A.I. If you have a strong
relationship with a character in your party, that character may assist you in
some way during battle. I didn’t see that mechanic in action, but I like how
your narrative choices can influence the combat mechanics.

I enjoyed my time with The World Next Door. It seems to
capture the anime spirit that Viz is so synonymous with, while combining
distinct genres in unique ways. I’m excited to learn more
about The World Next Door, as my short hands-on demo was hardly enough to fully
understand the scope of what this game is trying to accomplish. The
title is currently set to launch on PC with an unspecified release window.

Games with giant robots have long been associated with fast, chaotic gameplay and Michael Bay-esque explosions, but developer Harebrained Schemes is aiming for a more thought-provoking, tactical angle to robot-on-robot battles in Battletech.

In 3025, humanity is divided among noble houses. You play as the commander of a mech mercenary outfit that assists a mutinied ruler in taking back her throne. Players have the option to either assist the ruler as an act of kindness or fight for profit. Harebrained has not clarified if taking one path will affect the story, or perhaps change how to undertake scenarios – both in managing your during and outside fights – with less coin in the pocket.

Confusing Battletech’s story trailer for a new MechWarrior entry is understandable, especially since the robots themselves are called MechWarriors, but the game ditches third-person shooting, real-time gameplay for turn-based combat, which publisher Paradox Interactive says is the first of its kind in 20 years. Battles seem akin to Valkyria Chronicles but with a more overhead approach. With turns, players maneuver various mechs, each of which possess their own perks, in environments and decide how to best attack enemies.

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Battletech jets onto PC, Mac, and Linux April 24 for $39.99. Pre-order on Steam or the game’s website.

Darkstalkers may not have any new games on the horizon, but some costumes from the series are coming to Street Fighter V.

Fans of Lilith and Donovan will find their costumes on Juri and Urien respectively. Menat gets the strangest costume piece based on Khaibit, an assistant to Anakris that occasionally shows up during his special moves.

The three costumes are the newest in Capcom’s crossover-happy costume strategy for Street Fighter V. Unlike the other ones, like Captain Commando or Monster Hunter armor, these sets are for purchase, not for earning through the Fight Money-controlled special battle. For fans who miss out on the special costume parts when they’re scheduled, this might be a relief.

The costumes launch April 3 for $3.99 each on PlayStation 4 and Steam.

[Source: Capcom-Unity]

 

Our Take
Khaibit is such a weird choice for Menat and it makes me wonder if they just went that route because she already has a “Sexy Mummy” costume and this was the easiest thing to do.

Sea of Thieves, thus far Microsoft’s highest profile release on their Game Pass service, is currently not functioning for players who are trying to play the game through the digital service.

When trying to launch Sea of Thieves, players who access the game through Game Pass are instead asked if they’re sure they own the game, and are then told to make sure the disc is in the tray or that they are signed in to Xbox Live. This does not really apply to Game Pass owners, leaving people scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong.

The Sea of Thieves twitter, retweeted by Xbox Support, has acknowledged the issue.

Game Pass is a digital library that allows subscribers to pick from games and download them to their Xbox One harddrive, The service increased in value when Microsoft announced that all their first party titles would launch on the service with Sea of Thieves being the first headlining game.

It is likely this will be fixed and is just a problem with the update, but at the moment, a lot if not all Sea of Thieves owners via Game Pass are unable to access the game. We reached out to Microsoft for comment, but have not heard back as of the time of publishing.

 

Our Take
There are bound to be problems with any new service, but this one is certainly on the worse end. Hopefully it doesn’t last too long, as this is a subscription service and people can get annoyed when they are paying for something and it simply isn’t working.

The Darkness II, a first-person shooter adapted from the comic-book series of the same name, is free to download on Humble through tomorrow.

This sequel follows Jackie Estacado, the don of a crime family. After suddenly getting attacked by an organization called the Brotherhood, Estacado uses his powers, known as the Darkness, to solve the mystery and settle the score with his attackers. The game also boasts four-player co-op, in which each player has their own Darkness abilities.

Andrew Reiner in his review of The Darkness II says the game “is more of a rebirth for the series than the sequel it’s trying to be. The action is mindless and fevered … I found it to be an interesting journey, mostly just to see how different it is from the original, and also to see how a demonic superhero can be whipped by a dead woman.”

[Source: VG 24/7]

Square Enix has announced it is starting a new internal studio called Luminous Productions, which will be headed by Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata (in its COO and head of studio roles).

The studio features some of the members of the game’s creative team, and it plans to focus on triple-A titles through new intellectual properties as well as “other entertainment content.”

Luminous Productions has not announced its first projects, for which it is currently hiring for at its website.

[Source: Square Enix] 

 

Our Take 
In these days of constant remasters, re-releases, and reboots, it’s always great to hear that a major studio wants to create something new.

Games that give players creation tools can breed all sorts of creativity. We’ve seen this in Garry’s Mod, Minecraft, and more. Even PlayStation has shown interest by publishing Media Molecule’s Dreams, a sandbox game all about creating your own worlds.

E-Line Media, the developer behind 2014 platformer Never Alone, noticed the trend and has announced its own iteration. Named The Endless Mission, this creation-centric sandbox game gives you all the development tools you need to create a game from the ground up. You don’t have to worry about coding, unless you want to. E-Line Media teamed up with Endless Interactive’s Matt Dalio, who builds software for developers. E-Line Media and Endless then created a stripped-down toolset that’s accessible to anyone, even for those who have never developed a game before. 

The Endless Mission aims to be a community-driven game where you can share and explore worlds created by others too. All of these worlds can be found in the main hub area called The Terminal, which takes the form of a crisp, futuristic station with hallways leading to different experiences.

“Right from the beginning, we’re setting up this austere space that’s really representative of the raw code potential upon which you’re going to build your game creations,” says creative director Brenden Sewell. “Like an airport terminal has gates that take you to different destinations, this terminal will be filled with game worlds that both we’ve created as well as for celebrating the entities our community will create.”

The team plans for The Endless Mission to have a narrative focus as well, which helps it stand out from other sandbox games. The story mode is being written by Sleep Deprivation Lab, a production company that has writers who have worked on Red Dead Redemption and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

When it launches in early access on Steam, The Endless Mission will have three playable worlds that take the form of different genres. These templates include a Banjo Kazooie-like 3D platformer, a kart racer, and a real-time strategy game. These three worlds will each have unique content. For example, the 3D platformer will be packed with quests, activities, and boss fights. The worlds can then be shaped by the player with modding tools. You can mix-and-match different assets and environments from these genres to build your own unique experience, or you can start completely from scratch and import your own art and assets from external programs.

“We intentionally chose these three genres to be as distinct as possible from one another, both in terms of mechanics and visuals,” Sewell says. “It’s important because having a further distance between the visuals and the mechanics of these games really is filling out the palette that players can have access to when they’re constructing their own variances.”

When adjusting and modding these worlds, you have access to surface-level tools such as sliders. For example, if you wanted to give your avatar or character the ability to jump higher, all you have to do is interact with the slider. E-Line Media wants to give players the ability to build on these worlds in unique ways by experimenting. For example, you can grab the minimap from the RTS game and instead bring it over to a platfomer you’re creating. Similar to the concept of Rocket League, which mashes up car combat with soccer, E-Line Media hopes players will build creative mash-ups.

However, Sewell believes that The Endless Mission isn’t just for creating games – it’s a creation tool that can be used for many different reasons. “It’s not just about creating games. You can create machinima, individual assets, and mix-and-match the assets we provide,” Sewell says. 

The Endless Mission’s official release is TBA, but it launches on Steam Early Access in August.

Blizzard has announced the 2018 Overwatch World Cup, comprised of teams from the top 24 countries around the world including host nations the U.S., France, South Korea, and Thailand.

Qualification has begun and runs through April 28 (the end of Competitive Season 9), with the top 20 countries based on tracked average SR invited to the Cup.

Players can qualify for a spot on their country’s 12-person roster via tryouts (June 1 through July 5), seven of whom will be selected to travel to live events by Blizzard and a national committee.

For more on the process, including how to get a spot on your country’s committee, click on the official blog entry on the Cup below.

[Source: Blizzard]

The Strong Museum has revealed the dozen finalists for its World Video Game Hall of Fame class of 2018. The finalists include some of the biggest names from gaming history, including Tomb Raider, Spacewar!, and Metroid. For the first time, the public can vote on their favorite games on the list, too. 

This year’s finalists provide a nice slice of gaming history, showing the diversity in genre, subject matter, and platforms that video games have enjoyed over the decades. You’re bound to recognize a few of them, too:

  • Asteroids
  • Call of Duty
  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Half-Life
  • John Madden Football
  • King’s Quest
  • Metroid
  • Minecraft
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Spacewar!
  • Tomb Raider

If you’d like to weigh in on the finalists, you can cast your ballot once per day here from March 27 through April 4. The three games that get the most public votes will be used as a special “Player’s Choice” ballot, which will be cast along with the other 27 ballots from members of the Hall of Fame’s advisory committee. 

Winners will be revealed at a ceremony at The Strong on May 3, joining historic releases including last year’s inductees Pokémon Red and Green, Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong, and Halo: Combat Evolved.

 

Our Take
The best thing about the Hall of Fame’s relative youth is that they’re still sorting through the best of the best. It’ll be interesting to see what they’re considering for induction 25 years from now.

Today Robot Entertainment, the Texas-based developer behind the Orcs Must Die series as well as Hero Academy, announced that it has laid off more than 30 people. The studio’s CEO, Patrick Hudson, said that the reason for the layoff was “to make a strategic shift to focus on a single internal game project..”

You can read the full statement right here:

Robot Entertainment grew significantly while developing Orcs Must Die! Unchained. In January, we released Hero Academy 2 on mobile devices. And over the past 18 months, our studio has had two teams working on different projects.

Today, the company is making a strategic shift to focus on a single internal game project. Unfortunately, that means we need to resize our team to fit only one project. We’ve made the very difficult decision to let go of over 30 of our very talented and dedicated developers.

Our short-term focus is on helping these great people find new opportunities. If your company is looking for talented game designers, programmers, artists, marketers, producers, and/or QA testers, please reach out to us at recruiting@robotentertainment.com.

The coming days will be difficult as we say goodbye to friends and colleagues. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them all.

Robot will continue to operate Hero Academy 2 and Orcs Must Die! Unchained. And we will announce a new game soon. We are excited about the games we will make, and we look forward to sharing more about our future plans.

Robot Entertainment recently launched its last game, a fantasy mobile title called Hero Academy 2, in January.

[Source: Robot Entertainment]


Our Take
Layoffs are commonplace in this industry but that doesn’t make them any less cruel or heartbreaking. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to those let go from Robot Entertainment today.