Square Enix has announced preorder bonuses for the upcoming Dragon Quest XI on PlayStation 4, depending on where you preorder the game.

For GameStop in the United States, or EBGames in Canada, players who preorder get the following items:

  • The “Elevating Vest” – A snazzy waistcoat that awards the
    wearer with extra experience every time they win a battle; and
  • Three“Seeds of Skill” – A nifty nut that confers an extra
    skill point upon anyone who eats it (consumed upon use).

Meanwhile, preordering Amazon gets you a different kind of vest.

  • “Arriviste’s Vest” – A glitzy gold waistcoat that awards
    the wearer with extra money every time a battle is won; and
  • Three “Seeds of Skill” – A nifty nut that confers an extra
    skill point upon anyone who eats it (consumed upon use).

The choice there is whether you’re getting experience or extra gold. Consider it an in-vest-ment in your future. The effects of both items is relatively minuscule – each vest only gets you an extra ten percent of the total up to 75 gold or 15 experience points. So total winnings from a battle being 800 gold would only net you 75 extra gold.

Dragon Quest XI releases on PlayStation 4 and Steam on September 4. A Switch version is coming down the line much later and the 3DS version is not coming to North American shores at all.

The incredibly charming animated shorts centered around Sonic Mania has added a second episode online.

Sonic Mania Adventures, a decidedly confusing but appropriate brand name, had a first episode a few weeks ago where Sonic found out Eggman was searching for the chaos emeralds, as he tends to do. In the second episode, Sonic finds Tails along the way and then just dashes off on his own without his fox buddy in tow.

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The animated shorts are written and directed by Tyson Hesse, who was behind Sonic Mania’s animated trailers, intro, and some fairly well known comedic Sonic fan comics.

AO International Tennis from Big Ant Studios released in Australia earlier this year (as simply AO Tennis) to less-than-stellar reviews. The game seemed to be rushed out to capitalize on the Australian Open grand-slam tournament, with the developer promising modes and content after release. While I can’t speak to all the changes that have been made for the upcoming international release on May 8, looking at the game’s official forum, updates have been occurring, including the addition of a tutorial mode. I recently got some hands-on time with a pre-release copy of AO International Tennis, and found a positive aspect of the game amidst the changes.

Many gamers will like the title’s customization options, which allow players to make and share the creations of tennis legends (like the Boris Becker I downloaded, in the video below), as well as make-your-own career-mode players and stadiums.

I, however, like the title’s groundstrokes – specifically the stroke meter. Now, AO International Tennis at the moment is far from perfect. Players can warp into animations, the drop shot is overpowered, the net game is erratic, and higher difficulties and doubles play can be simply too hard to play. In the latter case, there are numerous shots that come back too fast or are at unplayable angles.

Despite these flaws, I liked getting into volleys due to the way the game makes you time your strokes to a color-coded shot meter. The face buttons (there’s also a right analog swing option) naturally correspond to shot types like a flat or topspin shot, but getting a nice, bright green indicator telling you that you’ve timed your shot or serve right is what feels satisfying.

It’s usually not difficult in the game to get your player in a good position and return the ball back to sustain a volley, but ending the point on a down-the-line rocket or a well-placed shot is harder to do. That’s what makes getting the timing down fun. Your shot timing changes when you have to get off a quick ball or chase one down just to stay alive, and while it’s not hard to place a ball near the line, it can be to put one just on it. Thus, flirting with unforced errors – odd as it may sound – is why I liked playing AO International Tennis, flaws and all. Because while an almost-green shot will stay safely inbounds, it’s the perfectly green one that will hit the line and possibly be unreturnable by your opponent.

There’s also variance due to your player’s overall skills, which feels good as your created career player (you can also start with a licensed star with static abilities) gets better and better.

You can check out the game in the video I put together below, which shows off everything from customization and your career to various gameplay sequences – including some of the higher difficulty encountered in singles and doubles play.

I hope developer Big Ant continues to work on the title before and after release, because it’s not without its merits.

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Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below. 
Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato

 

PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2019 RUMORED LEAK INDICATES MORE LICENSES 

Konami may have just dropped the Champions League license, but the company is definitely not turning away from the series. A rumored leak from Sony’s Hong Kong online PlayStation store seems to indicate that the franchise is, in fact, picking up more official licenses.

A post at Evo-Web has a picture of the store page (which has since been taken down) along with details such as an August 30 release date and a description that listed a “huge addition of licensed leagues” for the game. The series currently has league licenses such as the top two French leagues and the Dutch Eredivisie, as well as team licenses for individual clubs like Barcelona and Liverpool, and national teams. If the page information is correct, at a minimum players will get a chance to see more official leagues. Some screens with the leak show off current MyClub legend David Beckham and Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho, so these licenses should return for PES 2019.

Currently any unlicensed teams or leagues can be imported and/or edited on the PS4 and PC.

Rival EA has an exclusive partnership with the popular English Premier League that runs through next season, and I fully expect this to be renewed. However, Konami’s practice of signing other leagues and splashy deals with individual clubs and teams will clearly continue. Getting Germany’s Bundesliga (which doesn’t appear to be exclusive to EA) or Italy’s Serie A (which also isn’t) would be a nice prize for PES.

The leaked product page also mentions Master League career-mode changes such as the inclusion of the pre-season International Champions Cup (which Konami signed last year) and an “in-depth transfer system.” Elsewhere in the game, MyClub is reportedly getting an overhaul, players are getting 11 new skill traits and visible stamina, and more.

Check out the rumored details and more screens over at Evo-Web

 

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

Free World Cup Update For FIFA 18 Announced 

Konami Celebrates 100 Million PES Users With MyClub Gifts & Chance To Meet Philippe Coutinho 

MXGP Pro Release Date is July 10 

Laser League Coming May 10 

New UFC 3 Update Adds Fighters & Tweaks 
Fellow editor Brian Shea called ’em. See what other fighters he suggests should be added.

GT Sport Update Adds GT League Events, Dragon Trail Layout & More 

In the nearly two years since Pokémon Go released, developer Niantic has continually evolved the experience. Doctor PoGo, a hardcore player who sat next to Niantic CEO John Hanke on a flight, claims Pokémon Go is on its way to its next stage of evolution.

According to Doctor PoGo, Niantic is working on several changes, including the addition of Gen IV Pokémon and a new PvP system. In addition, die-hard players will delight in a new level cap beyond the current cap of 40. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to submit a Poké Stop for consideration in the game, that ability is also on the horizon, which could help players outside of major cities and parks to enjoy the game more. Hanke also reportedly told Doctor PoGo that Niantic will be cracking down on cheaters and spoofers even harder than before.

Perhaps the most unexpected news is that Niantic is going to try its hand at Pokémon Go Fest once again. You may remember last year’s Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, which was such a disaster that Niantic issued refunds, gave attendees $100 in in-game currency, and reportedly settled a lawsuit stemming from the event to the tune of $1.5 million.

Doctor PoGo says he recognized Hanke and chose to sit next to him and that the two spoke the entire flight. He posted a video of him sitting next to Hanke, which you can see below. While Doctor PoGo didn’t share anything in that video, it did verify that he indeed sat next to Hanke on his flight.

Next, the Pokémon Go YouTube community latched onto Doctor PoGo’s information. Doctor PoGo endorsed the summary of prominent YouTuber Mystic7. You can view Mystic7’s video summary here.

We reached out to Niantic for comment, but did not hear back as of this writing. We will update the story if the developer provides a statement or response.

[Source: Doctor PoGo on Twitter, Reversal on Twitter, Mystic7 on YouTube via Pokémon Go Hub]

 

Our Take
As with all reports, you should obviously take this with a grain of salt. However, with a video of Doctor PoGo sitting next to John Hanke, it’s feasible that this conversation occurred. No timetable was given for any of the mentioned updates, so we’ll have to wait and see how Niantic rolls it all out if this is indeed legitimate information. Now we just need to get someone on a plane with Hanke to ask him about trading.

In an interview with Kotaku, director of the latest (and many say greatest) God of War game Cory Barlog was asked about his future plans for the series.

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier asked Barlog about future games in a longer interview on the site. “So how much of the future game plan do you have mapped out in your head?”

“Five games,” Barlog replied.

So that’s 25 years?” Schreier asked, referring to the PlayStation 4 God of War taking five years to develop. “Is that what you’re prepared for?”

No. I want to figure out how to make these things faster, man.” Barlog then explains how he hopes and plans to make these games faster from here on out, hopefully not taking 25 years to complete.

You can find the full interview here, but warning that it starts off spoilery and only gets more spoilery from there. God of War was released on April 20 exclusively on the PlayStation 4. Check out our review of the game here and the first episode of the God of War Game Club here.

[Source: Kotaku]

 

Our Take
I am not sure I am down for five more God of War games, but I’m also not sure I take Barlog’s statement at face value. It’s definitely easy to want to make five more games, but practically speaking it is a lot harder to do. We’ll see what Barlog accomplishes, though, as he definitely caught me by surprise this time.

Last month, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger was pulled from Steam, after the licensing and publishing rights were transferred from the game’s original publisher, Ubisoft, to its developer, Techland. Well, it’s back.

Techland tweeted the news this morning, along with word that it’s temporarily priced at 33-percent off, at $9.99.

We just got word from Rockstar that the developer will be dropping a new trailer for its hotly anticipated western game Wednesday, May 2. No details about what’s in the new Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer, but the press release explicitly mentions the October release date so, if nothing else, it looks like another delay isn’t in the cards:

On Wednesday, May 2nd at 11AM Eastern, the latest trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 will be available at rockstargames.com and the official Rockstar Games YouTube channel.
 
Red Dead Redemption 2 will be available worldwide for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems on October 26, 2018.

Check back Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern for the trailer.

For more on Red Dead Redemption 2, here’s our breakdown of the last trailer.

A World Cup trophy has alluded Lionel Messi up to this point, but you can make this the year in the free World Cup update to FIFA 18 (PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch versions), coming on May 29.

The additional content includes playing as the 32 officially qualified countries in an online tournament or friendlies, a custom tournament mode that allows you to play as non-qualified countries such as the USA or Italy, kick-off play, and the World Cup’s inclusion in Ultimate Team mode. The latter includes a revised, dynamic chemistry system between players related to what happens in the real-world tournament, and World Cup Icon players.

Of course, the gameplay is wrapped in the event’s trappings such as the 12 official stadiums in Russia, the official World Cup ball, cinematic scenes, and more.

The inclusion of the tournament in an existing title marks a change from previous years when EA put out a separate game commemorating the World Cup.

The World Cup is also coming to FIFA Mobile for a limited time starting on June 6.

World Cup group play begins on June 14.

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Today Disney released a new behind the scenes featurette for Solo: A Star Wars Story where Donald Glover, Ron Howard. Emilia Clarke, and others talk about how excited they are for the movie.

The interviews themselves are probably a little boring. However, for some reason, intercut between all these interviews is mostly new footage of the movie that hasn’t been in previous trailers, including some nice scenes where Han jokes with Chewie and Lando.

You can watch the whole thing here:

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For more on Solo, check out this past week’s Sci-fi Weekly.

Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War opened this weekend and, shocker, it’s doing incrediblely well both critically and at the box office. In fact, according to estimates from box office trackers like Box Office Mojo, the movie has already grossed $250,000,000.

If that estimate is true, and it likely is, that means that Infinity War has beat out the record set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Guess it’s a great time to be in the super hero business, huh?

For more on Avengers: Infinity War, be sure to check out our spoilerific group discussion of the movie:

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