It’s that magical time of year when E3 predictions and rumors are flying fast. We here at Game Informer wanted to take a different path, so associate editor Suriel Vazquez traveled to Eye of Horus in Minneapolis, Minnesota to get a better idea of what to expect from the show from a tarot card session. Just in case there’s any confusion, this was a real tarot card session that cost us $65. But it was worth it.

Watch the video below to see Suriel Vazquez receive the answers he seeks with a little help from the mystical realm.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Tune in to Game Informer’s E3 coverage right here and get ready for press conferences with our commentary, nightly episodes of The Game Informer Show, and a ton of gameplay impressions.

Microsoft has announced the Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games they’re releasing to Gold members for free in the month of June, including Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed.

The headlining game, Assassin’s Creed, was the third game in the sidescrolling Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series, preceded by India and China. Players take the role of the assassin Nikolai Orelov during Russia’s October Revolution to try and unravel a templar plot. The other Xbox One game is less of a free game and more of a down payment, as Xbox Live Gold subscribers will get a Gold bundle for the free-to-play MOBA Smite which includes currency and characters.

Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed for the Xbox 360 joins in on the fun. The kart (and boat and plane) racing game is compared favorably to popular rival Mario Kart 8 quite favorably by more than a few people and can be played online through the Xbox One backwards compatibility. You can also download Lego Indiana Jones 2, if you’re feeling the need for bricks and also hate snakes.

[Source: Microsoft]

 

Our Take
Considering Sega teased a Sonic Racing game at SXSW, I wonder if releasing Sonic Racing Transformed now is their way of whetting people’s appetites.

Sony announced a new blue and gold PS4 design via the PlayStation Blog. The Days of Play Limited Edition PS4 features a bold blue shell with gold symbols adorning the top of the console and the included Dualshock 4’s touchpad.

The design comes in celebration of Sony’s Days of Play 2018 event, which runs from June 8-18. Throughout the event, Sony is discounting several games such as God Of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn, as well as a few hardware bundles, controllers, and the 12-month PlayStation Plus bundle. A full list of deals can be found on the PlayStation Blog post.

The limited edition PS4 console has a 1TB hard drive and will retail for $299.99 beginning June 8.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

 

Our Take
This thing is…gross. The blue isn’t too bad, but paired with the gold, it’s nasty.

Developer EA Tiburon just announced Madden 19’s release date (August 10) and first features, which is a great launching pad to air some of our hopes and dreams for the franchise.

In our recent conversation, new senior producer Carlos Guerrero, said that Madden 19 was a “much more balanced offering,” giving us hope that all aspects of the game – including the recently neglected Franchise mode – get improvements and new features.

Matt Bertz and I put this wishlist together covering most of the game’s bases, offering many possibilities for this year and beyond.

GAMEPLAY 

  • It’s good to hear that this in Madden 19 runners push their linemen ahead instead of just running into them, and this, in conjunction with the one-cut system should make navigating the line of scrimmage easier for running backs. Similarly, we’d like to see action behind the line of scrimmage feel more smooth. Taking a handoff and accelerating afterwords (including using speed boost) feels like you’re moving in slow motion, with tackles behind the line of scrimmage feeling pre-determined.
  • The circumstances that trigger sacks need to be cleaned up, taking out those produced by awkward animations and situations that QBs should otherwise easily get out of. In real-life, quarterbacks have different levels of pocket awareness, which could perhaps come into play here. In the end, there should be fewer sacks from simply bumping into another player.
  • QBs’ actions with the ball while in the pocket need to be clarified. In Madden 18 there are too many times when they improbably get off a pass when you’d expect a fumble or sack.
  • Magnet catches are still noticeable in Madden 18 – particularly on the lower gameplay styles like Arcade.
  • A.I. QBs need to become smarter and show more variance in their play and stat lines. In previous games there were only two kinds of A.I. QBs – those who could barely read a defense and those who could pick you apart too easily. There need to be more QBs somewhere in the middle. They also need to conform to their real-life play styles like dink-and-dunkers vs. those who like to bomb it downfield. Each QB’s overall risk tolerance and what kinds of throws they can and can’t make could also be molded.
  • Man-to-man coverage needs to be a more viable option than in Madden 18 versus zone coverage depending on the situation.
  • Offensive linemen on the perimeter need to pick up or at least get a hand on defenders passing in front of them instead of blindly ignoring them at times.
  • Coaching challenges for ref calls need to work – they haven’t in years. This ranges from the game properly recognizing the spot of the ball or if a player’s feet are inbounds, for instance, as well as letting you call the appropriate challenge to begin with.

LONGSHOT 

  • We liked a lot of things about the mode so there’s not a ton to change, but I would like to see more of a mix of gameplay styles, from quick-time events, regular Madden gameplay, and more. On the whole, regular gameplay should be the predominant flavor.
  • Last year’s scouting report was a behind-the-scenes element, so seeing it surfaced more with a progression system for Devin (we assume this new Longshot simply takes place after last year’s, with Devin now in the NFL) would be a nice way to invest more in the character beyond just the story.
  • Like my criticisms of FIFA’s The Journey story mode, I’d like to see more NFL league, team, player, and fanbase flavor so you really feel like you’re part of a team going through the ups and downs of the NFL season and not just one man in his own head.
  • Add key branching points to the story that lead players down meaningful paths of differentiation.

CONNECTED FRANCHISE MODE 

  • We’re curious how the new player progression system based on positional archetypes and team schemes are balanced. Will it allow for all-around great players? What skills and attributes will these archetypes highlight? How will they handle potential and regression? The new progression system should be more about making the most of the players on your roster and not just a way to limit how gamers apply XP points. Similarly, the positional archetypes will hopefully allow you to find mid- and lower-level free agents and draftees that can grow and thrive in your team’s particular schemes.
  • We’d love to see coordinators become important parts of your franchises’ gameplans, offseason moves, and player development. This should include a coaching carousel during the playoffs where teams not in the playoffs vie for the hot coordinators and head coaching candidates.
  • More contract perimeters like restricted free agents, transition tags, the fifth-year contract option, front-loading, incentives, and more should be tools by which you can entice free agents and finesse the cap.
  • The draft needs to be overhauled to give it more juice. Pre-draft misinformation, news of other teams’ needs and potential moves, media mock drafts, player visits, further personalization of draft picks (like college stats, personal stories, etc.), and much more can put you in the draft mood well before draft day. Your scouting can take into account all this information, making it your scouts’ info on players vaguer, but also more intriguing.
  • On draft day, trade logic and options need to be re-worked so it’s not just an instantaneous yes/no situation. Getting on the phone with other GMs and going back and forth trying to hash out a deal as the clock ticks should be fun part of the draft that could be spun off into its own segment.
  • Free agency should utilize the not-so-secret negotiations before actual free agency opens up, consist of multiple waves (like veterans dropping later), and not be so concrete in its information. Like the draft, a little vagueness can spur our imagination in a big way. We’d love to see a system similar to NCAA Football’s old recruiting system come into play where you only have a certain number of hours to allocate toward wooing unrestricted free agents. Do you spend all your money and time on wining and dining a game changing player, or do you spread your resources to address multiple needs in the early days of free agency instead?
  • Player morale could touch on weekly performance, contract negotiations, and scheme fit. Players’ personalities in general could also come into play in these ways, with some players more or less willing to go to teams with winning or losing reputations.
  • Mid-season trades need to be more prominent, reflecting their recent rise in the league itself.

MADDEN ULTIMATE TEAM 

  • It’s great that EA has announced that training cards are a way to progress players, and it could be like last year’s Power-Ups, that this will be for certain cards and sets. Hopefully, it doesn’t cost more than its worth like Power-Ups, however. Team tokens also need to be not as cost-prohibitive.
  • There should be fewer non-auctionable/tradable (NAT) cards.
  • Thresholds like zone coverage need to be blurred so they aren’t activated so harshly. This would make cards just under the threshold still valuable and not blow up the market for cards meeting previous thresholds.
  • We’d like more diversity of cards right out of the gate so that we don’t come up against the same rosters with the same legends in the beginning.
  • Do away with contracts. They don’t mean anything anymore.
  • Put in a practice mode so we can see how our cards play out in the game before we take them into live action.
  • We’d like a way to access the auction house via a browser. This, provided of course, that EA could make it secure and cut out bots that run auto transactions.
  • Like FIFA, a compare button to instantly see what your card is worth in the auction house would be great. Also like FIFA, it would be cool to see what you originally paid for a card. This goes along with having stats for cards in general.
  • Being able to equip your players with classic uniforms, helmets, facemasks, and all manner of equipment items would blow up.
  • A minor quality-of-life improvement would be to be able to add players to sets directly from your lineup page. It would also be nice if, when adding cards to sets, if all ineligible cards where automatically removed or not selectable.
  • Packs and items bought in the store only with points (which are bought with real money) should be eliminated. Everything should be purchasable with coins as well even if, as a tradeoff, some packs/items cost a lot of coins.
  • Who gets a card and when needs to be spread out better so you don’t have too many versions of one player and not enough of somebody else.

    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.

     

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

    GT Sport Gets Major Update 
    The famous Circuit de la Sarthe, nine cars, and three GT League events added.

    Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Adds 7 Full League Licenses, 2 More On the Way 
    Includes an exclusive license for the Russian Premier Liga.

    Madden 19 Release Date, Hall of Fame Edition Cover Star, Pre-Order Bonuses & First Features Announced 

    New Madden & NBA Live Leadership Discuss Franchises’ Futures 

    First Gameplay Look at F1 2018’s Monaco Track 

    Football Tactics & Glory Dev Diary 
    For my hands-on impressions, check out this previous Sports Desk entry 

    FIFA 18’s World Cup Free Update Predicts The World Cup Results 

    Following in the footsteps of its other classic RPGs, Square Enix is bringing Valkyrie Profile to iOS and Android with new features to improve the playing experience. 

    Originally released in 1999 for the original PlayStation, the turn-based RPG has a story based in Norse mythology and a variety of endings based on players’ choices. The mobile version is subtitled Lenneth, like the 2006 PSP re-release, and this port boasts autosaving, auto-battling, and new touchscreen user-interface.You can watch us play the game on Replay here.

    The game is available now for $15.99 on iOS and Android.

     

    Our Take
    Hopefully Lenneth will avoid the ghastly changes that have plagued recent re-releases like Chrono Trigger. If so, mobile is probably the best platform to play this sprawling RPG. 

    Black Clover: Quartet Knights is getting a North American release this September on PC and PlayStation 4. The 4v4 multiplayer brawler is going to have an original story set in the Black Clover universe and a dedicated story mode. The multiplayer allows players to select their Magic Knights and choose their strategies. Different members of your team can be set to attack, defend or provide support, allowing for a number of different options and styles of play.

    Black Clover: Quartet Knights releases September 14 on PlayStation 4 and PC.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

     

    Our Take:
    I assume this is good news for Black Clover fans, as I have no experience with the anime. It is always good to see more games getting North American releases, though, as I originally got into Demon’s Souls seeing the Japanese version before it came to the states.

    Despite his long slumber, Mega Man has a history synonymous
    with gaming. With Mega Man 11, the blue bomber is attempting the kind of
    revival fraught with the same kind of dangers that dozens of other series have
    tried before with few coming out the other end successful. Mega Man’s newest adventure,
    however, might be more well-equipped for a grand return than any of his former
    contemporaries.

    We got a chance to play the newest build of Mega Man 11,
    which features BlockMan’s Egyptian/Aztec fusion-themed level and FuseMan’s newly
    playable electric bugaloo around a power plant. Mega Man traverses these
    environments with his usual repertoire of running, jumping, sliding, and
    holding in the charge button the entire time.

    The newest tool for Mega Man to use, however, is the Gear
    system. Dr. Wily has an epiphany of the gear ability system in his advanced
    age, recalling that he pioneered the technology with Dr. Light when they were
    both young. The gears can slow down time, power up a fighting robot, or combine
    both for a last-ditch effort in battle. Wily decides to power up his current
    set of robot masters with the gear system and Mega Man insists that he also
    receives the upgrade from Dr. Light to fight off these powered-up enemies.

    Using the shoulder buttons, Mega Man can activate the Speed Gear, which slows down time, or the Power Gear, which powers up his Mega Buster
    and gives him two full charge shots at its strongest charge. Both abilities are
    set on a cooldown, meaning you can’t just walk through a level with time permanently
    slowed down. Activating either buys you a few seconds to take advantage of the
    gear until you stop using it or it runs out, requiring a full cooldown to zero before
    it can be used again.

    Mega Man can also build up a charge through the level that
    allows him to combine both gears as a desperation move, slowing down time and
    giving his Mega Buster an extra bit of oomph. The super fighting robot better
    have defeated the boss with this ultimate attack, though, or he’ll overheat and
    be unable to charge shots for a limited time.

    The gears are not an easy button as I initially feared they
    would be. It allows the designers to be a bit more devilish with the design of
    optional challenges. An E-Tank in Block Man’s stage requires platforming off a falling
    block to reach, which is doable for those with fast reaction times, but made
    just a bit easier using the Speed Gear. The Gears alone won’t make anyone look
    like a speedrunner, but they provide a little smoothing out of some of Mega Man’s
    hard edges.

    The robot masters also have this same technology and use it
    to add different phases to the boss fight. BlockMan uses the Power Gear to assemble
    a block-filled mech that looks like something akin to Mega Man’s monstrous
    rival the Yellow Devil. The gears end up making the boss feel fresher than when
    they simply bounced around the stage hitting you with projectiles, as classic
    as that formula may be.

    FuseMan’s stage revisits a trope well-worn in Mega Man’s long
    history, an electric-themed stage littered with traps around Mega Man’s feet. Fuses
    shoot electric beams as you go through the stage, invoking a Mario-style level
    design of introducing a stage obstacle and iterating on its use over the level.
    Before too long, Mega Man is avoiding moving electric beams while platforming up
    a vertical corridor and avoiding the exposed flooring.

    As someone who has grown up alongside the Mega Man series
    and counts its games as some of my favorites, I was initially fairly worried about
    whether the eleventh game could successfully channel the spirit of its predecessors.
    After having played it, I am confident that the final product feels like Mega Man,
    and the developers understand just how difficult to define that feel can be.
    The blue bomber is modernizing, which in itself can be a game of inches, but he
    has not lost his robotic soul in the process.

    Mega Man 11 releases on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and
    PC on October 2.

    World Seeker is an open world One Piece game, and it looks like it may be taking cues from the Batman: Arkham games.

    Along with being able to swing and leap through the game’s open city world, the gameplay trailer also shows Luffy activating a detective vision-like ability to look through walls and see enemies. The trailer also shows off a healthy collection of Luffy’s combat abilities, many taken directly from the manga/anime.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    One Piece: World Seeker is coming later this year.

    Bethesda tweeted a test pattern this morning with the hashtag #PleaseStandBy that is pretty clearly a Fallout tease. Outside of being the familiar Fallout test pattern, with the Native America head on top, there is not much else that can be inferred form the simple tease. Presumably, it is something Bethesda will expand more on at E3.

    For our review of Fallout 4, head here.

     

    Our Take
    The pie in the sky hope is that Bethesda will announce Fallout 5 at E3, or maybe a New Vagas-like sequel to Fallout 4, but there are plenty of other things this could be teasing. It might be a big Fallout 4 expansion, or maybe a port to Switch of Fallout 3 or 4, or maybe something entirely new. Bethesda likes those Switch ports, after all. Whatever it is ultimately teasing, we should know in just a few short weeks.

    Last month Madmind Studio, the developers behind Agony (the survival-horror game set in hell) made headlines last month when it revealed that it planned to skirt around an Adults Only rating for PC by uploading an uncensored patch after the game’s release. This was intended to be a compromise for Madmind to offer players uncensored content on at least one platform given that AO-rated games aren’t released on console. The announcement sparked a debate about the effectiveness of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and whether or not such a move undermined the ESRB.

    The answer seems to be somewhat moot, given that Madmind announced that it will not be releasing the patch due to “legal issues,” per the statement on the game’s Steam forums:

    Secondly, due to legal issues, we are not going to be able to release the Adult Only patch. However, that content does not affect the game in any significant way because the deleted material that was supposed to be added in the latest version of the patch is from two endings (out of seven) and some scenes that may be unlocked only after the end of the game. We are going to publish a comparison video on May 30th, 2018 so you will not miss out on anything.

    Please bear in mind that leaving this content uncensored would result in the game being banned and us, Madmind Studio, being sued. That would simply lead to the studio being closed. Obviously, we don’t want this to happen and we hope that you understand it.

    You can read the whole (NSFW) announcement right here.

    Agony is out later today on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

     

    Our Take
    More than anything, this seems like an embarrassment for Madmind. I wonder if the developer hadn’t announced its plans to release an uncensored patch and just did it quietly, if the ESRB or anyone else would have cared. It seems likely that a modder will simply stick the removed bits back in anyway at some point. In the end, this all feels like a chance for the ESRB to showcase some questionable flex when it comes to regulating content in the digital space.