It seems Luigi is bringing more than time trials with him in
a new update for Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo of Australia originally had a link that went to
the update’s page and announced it’s available to download February 23, but it
has since been taken down. However, Twitter user Nibellion still has the original link
and saved a few pictures
that reveal new costumes for Mario. Additions to the
plumber’s wardrobe include a swanky suit, a “Hawaiian” shirt boasting Shine
Sprites from Super Mario Sunshine, and knight armor.

 

Luigi’s Balloon World is a competitive balloon-finding challenge
mode. Players will have 30 seconds to hide a balloon. After that, players have
the same amount of time to find that balloon. New filters for the game’s photo
mode will be added as well.

[Source:
Nintendo of Australia and Nibellion on Twitter]

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the games made me into the diehard RPG fan I am today. After going down memory lane, I realized how entertaining and refreshing it was to look at my RPG history, so I decided this column would reflect that. I challenged myself to come up with the RPG that was most formative and memorable for me from each console and handheld generation. Now for a caveat: these may not be the games I consider the best of each generation, just the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a gamer. I started with the SNES era because that’s when my love for RPGs began. I hope you’ll share your picks and reasoning in the comments, too. 

Console

Fourth Generation (SNES/Genesis era): Secret of Mana
If you’ve been reading my work, this probably isn’t a big surprise, but I know some of you will gasp at me selecting it over Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI. These may be stronger games, but Secret of Mana is what made me truly fall in love with the genre. It was the first time I really cared about a story, and I reveled in its challenging boss battles. Secret of Mana impressed me for its creativity, especially the vibrant world full of unique (and sometimes adorable) baddies. The music constantly replays in my mind, and few memories burn brighter than finally watching the credits roll.

Fifth Generation (PS1/Saturn/N64 era): Final Fantasy VII
This may seem like an easy pick, but it’s difficult to slight Valkyrie Profile and Suikoden II. However, if I’m being honest about the game I played the most and blew my mind, it’d be Final Fantasy VII. The cinematics just changed everything for me. The realistic presentation was new to the genre, and I like that this entry delved more into science fiction. It really was a turning point for RPGs, and it’s another story that still sticks with me today.

Sixth Generation (PS2/Xbox/GameCube/Dreamcast era): Persona 3
When Persona 3 launched, there was really nothing like it. So many RPGs hit in this era, but you could say there was an issue with quantity over quality. This darker entry just blew the competition out of the water. It made smart changes to the established formula by adding social links and making you manage your day-to-day life. Throw in persona fusion, and I was hooked. I loved the message behind social links – a simple act of kindness can go a long way in helping someone. Persona 3 embodied life’s hardships, emphasizing working with others to get through it, culminating in one hell of an ending. Persona 4 may have tweaked the formula, but Persona 3 laid down a new foundation and made the bigger impression on me. 

Seventh Generation (PS3/Xbox 360/Wii era): The Mass Effect Trilogy 
Fantastic characters, interesting choices, and great world-building made the Mass Effect trilogy trump most other games for me. If I had to pick the best game, I’d go with the second entry, just because those loyalty missions stuck with me and really meant something. I’ll never forget how empowering it felt to play as Commander Shepard bolstered by the attachment I still feel to this day for the characters around me, especially Garrus and Mordin. The story about saving the world was emotional, but BioWare also injected lighthearted moments, like Tali’s drunken antics and Shepard’s awful dancing. In the end, it felt like I got to know my crew that were willing to risk their lives with my Shep for the betterment of the galaxy. Saying goodbye to Commander Shepard and those characters was one of my hardest moments in gaming, a testament to the powerful writing

Eighth Generation (PS4/Xbox One/Wii U/Switch era): The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
No RPG has raised the bar quite like The Witcher 3. Watching my choices ripple across a massive world was so satisfying. I love how CD Projekt Red doesn’t make anything predictable; you never know how your decisions will come back to haunt or benefit you. The sheer scope of the game is one thing, but the overall quality of everything it offered is even more impressive. CD Projekt Red crafted some of the best sidequests I’ve ever experienced, making me want to engage each of them. I felt this entry really rounded out Geralt by letting us see his concern for Ciri, who is like a daughter to him. Yennefer and Triss both have interesting arcs and are strong characters in their own right. From vicious battles to impressive storytelling, The Witcher 3 was that game that just kept giving me everything I love about RPGs.

Handheld

First Generation: (Game Boy/Game Boy Color/Game Gear era): Pokémon Yellow
I may have fallen off the series a bit, but I still have fond memories of getting into the popular franchise with Pokémon Yellow. I’m not surprised that the engaging loop of “catching them all” is still around so fervently today. This is when I became buddies with Pikachu and strived to be the “very best like no one ever was.” Grinding my way from Pallet Town to get all of the gym badges remains one of the fondest memories in my RPG history. 

Second Generation: (Game Boy Advance era): Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
I’ve always been a fan of strategy/RPGs, even if they weren’t always the most popular games. From Fire Emblem to Disgaea, I take delight in really thinking through every situation and making the best moves. Although not a direct sequel to the PS1 game, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance still featured its great gameplay along with some tweaks that gave me a reason to load it up whenever I was on-the-go. Tactics Advance didn’t trump its predecessor’s story, but having an expansive job system alongside five playable races gave you plenty of ways to tweak your clan how you wanted. It set my mind ablaze with possibilities. 

Third Generation: (Nintendo DS/PSP era): Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
It was difficult to not choose a Kingdom Hearts game for my sixth generation pick; but all is well because the PSP entry, Birth By Sleep, is one of my favorites. With an emotional narrative about friendship and sacrifice, this prequel showcased the events that set Sora’s journey into motion. It introduced Aqua, one of my most adored Kingdom Hearts characters, and featured more customization in its combat via the Command Deck system. Using the deck, you installed a wide catalogue of action and magic commands, while a melding mechanic let you create even more powerful variants. Depending on which abilities you used, you’d enter a Command Style, which strengthened your attacks and gave you a powerful finishing move. I also loved locking onto enemies and finishing them off in one flashy attack with the Shotlock system. Birth By Sleep also told a captivating story through each perspective of the three leads, and felt like a worthwhile prequel with quality on-par with its console predecessors.

Fourth Generation: (Nintendo 3DS/ PlayStation Vita Era): Fire Emblem: Awakening
I’ve been a Fire Emblem fan for a long time and nothing made me happier than seeing the series return with Awakening. What I didn’t expect? Awakening to be the franchise’s saving grace and increase its fanfare. Smart tweaks to combat and the relationship system bolstered the already-great gameplay. There was something about watching characters bond on and off the battlefield that was so exciting, and surviving missions with just a small slice of health was an adrenaline rush, especially if you played with permadeath on. This is, in my opinion, the best Fire Emblem entry to date.

Don’t forget to share your picks below! I’m excited to read your selections. 

New Gameplay Today – Photographs

Over the past few years, Luca Redwood has carved out a niche with his puzzle games 10000000 and You Must Build a Boat. His latest game weaves more of a narrative between the puzzling and, as Kyle, Leo, and I learned, it’s also a colossal bummer – in a good way. Check out our latest NGT episode for a lengthy look at Photographs.

Photographs tells several encapsulated stories, and each one has its own unique gameplay mechanics. In today’s episode, Kyle walks us through the story of an elderly alchemist and his granddaughter. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t end well for anyone. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Photographs is coming to mobile and PC later this year. For more on Photographs, you can head here to read an in-depth interview with its creator.

The two heads of Sledgehammer Games, the studio behind the incredibly successful Call of Duty: WWII, are stepping away from the studio they founded to work on other games with parent company Activision.

Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield founded Sledgehammer in 2009 after leaving Visceral Games and creating the first Dead Space. The pair joined Activision as one of the three studios participating in the company’s Call of Duty three year cycle, helping to co-develop Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward, make Advanced Warfare themselves, and create Call of Duty: WWII last year.

The two are leaving just after WWII became the best selling game of 2017 despite having only released in the last part of the year. Aaron Halon, the senior development director at Sledgehammer, will be promoted to head the studio following their departure.

Condrey and Schofield are not leaving Activision as a whole, merely stepping away from Sledgehammer to work on other projects.

“Activision has offered me the opportunity to focus my energy on something I’m very passionate about,” Schofeld wrote, “exploring new game ideas for the company. It’s something I just couldn’t pass up.”

Condrey echoed a similar sentiment in a statement. “On a personal level, I’m deeply grateful to the men and women who have poured their passion into the pursuit of excellence with us. I’m proud of what we accomplished together, it has been the greatest experience of my professional life. I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of my career with Activision. I couldn’t be more excited for the future of Sledgehammer Games and look forward to seeing Aaron lead the studio to new heights.”

Activision has not talked much about 2018’s Call of Duty game, but has confirmed Treyarch will be developing it.

We got a chance to talk with Condrey and Schofield, as well as new studio head Aaron Halon, back in 2014 about the growth of the studio while they were developing Advanced Warfare. Check it out below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[Source: Kotaku]

 

Our Take
Considering their pedigree, and presuming Activision is offering them carte blanche, any new project from Condrey and Schofield (or even the two separately) is worth being excited about. Hopefully Sledgehammer continues to thrive while developers get new opportunities to work on whatever ideas they have.

While PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ second map, the desert-themed Miramar, was much-anticipated when it released last last year, the developers are already promising a third map relatively soon.

In a Steam update from PUBG Corp. today, the developers of one of the world’s most popular shooters explained why the development roadmap had slowed down so dramatically in the early part of the year.

“Early this year, development of some of the major features and systems was delayed as our focus shifted towards tightening our anti-cheat effort,” reads the post. This is not entirely dissimilar to what Blizzard has said about Overwatch, stating that policing toxicity puts content updates on the backburner

The major bit of news from the post, however, is a reference to a timeframe for the third map for the game. 

In March, the team will reveal what you can expect from us in the first half of 2018 in terms of our development and new content plans which, by the way, include a new map,” the developers wrote. While frequent updates are commonplace for the game and fans are used to it, a roadmap is traditionally used for most service games to let fans know what’s coming.

This timeframe puts the third map anywhere between now and the end of June, but delays are always possible even for the best laid plans. It is worth noting that this is only in reference to the PC version of Battlegrounds and not the Xbox One version, which goes along a different upgrade path.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds came out of Early Access in late December, just a few weeks after releasing on Xbox One.

[Source: Steam Community]

 

Our Take
I feel like I’m just getting used to Miramar, so I don’t mind if they take their time on a third map. Hopefully it is fairly different from either of the first two maps.

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie is on track to hit the end of next year, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie, which is specifically scheduled for November 15, 2019, is reported to be a mix of live-action and CGI. Rumors have long swirled around the production, suggesting it will be about Sonic in the real world alongside humans, which echoes the game series itself since 1999’s Sonic Adventure.

Hollywood Reporter mentions that studio Paramount has tapped Jeff Fowler as director, who is making his directorial debut with the film.

There are no other details at this time, but Sega has reportedly been interested in a movie version of their blue hedgehog for a long time, and it seems that the company’s dream is finally coming to fruition.

[Source: Hollywood Reporter]

The new game+ mode for Assassin’s Creed Origins went live today, allowing players to bring a number of things with them forward into a new playthrough of the game.

Players who finish Bayek’s adventure the first time around can start again with their abilities, outfits, experience, inventory items, and level all completely intact. It should make it considerably easier to get those pesky assassination targets whenever you want.

Not everything carries over, though. Anything that had a progress requirement the first time around still has one, including DLC. Maps and things like Senu’s perception level are also reset. Additionally, enemy levels jump from the difficulty you were on to the next tier up; if you were playing on normal, you move up to hard; if you’re on hard, you move up to Nightmare, which is where you max out. Enemy scaling is on by default but can be turned off.

According to Ubisoft’s FAQ on the mode, a mysterious reward awaits players at the end, but they’re not saying what it is.

The update comes today, along with the new Discovery Mode, which you can see us playing here. The next update for the game is scheduled next week, on February 27, which adds a quest to prepare players for the second and final expansion, The Curse of the Pharaohs, on March 6.

March’s Games With Gold titles have been announced for Xbox Live Gold members, with Superhot and its bullet-time gameplay the standout.

Trials of the Blood Dragon leads things off in March on Xbox One, followed by Superhot from March 16 to April 15.

On Xbox 360, meanwhile, Brave: The Video Game runs from March 1 through March 15, with Quantum Conundrum free for paid members until the end of the month. Both of these 360 titles are backwards compatible on Xbox One.

[Source: Microsoft] 

Publisher Perfect World and developer Cryptic Studios today announced a partnership with the company Mixed Dimensions, with the goal of introducing custom 3D-printed Star Trek starship collectibles to the community of fans. The resulting 12” collectible ships are made of resin, and can be ordered in three tiers: a single-color version, a primed model ready for your painting at home, or a hand-painted version painted by the artists at Mixed Dimensions.

Players will be able to design their own ship in Star Trek Online, and then upload their design to the Mixed Dimensions GamePrint website for printing. The functionality will also allow fans to order completed models that represent 20 of Star Trek Online’s most popular ships. 

No pricing has been announced, but Star Trek fans and Star Trek Online players can look forward to the 3D-printed ships to launch sometime in March. 

Star Trek Online is currently free-to-play on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

We got a first look at examples of some of the printed ships, which you can check out below. The example ship shown is the Pathfinder, a long range science vessel within the game.


In-Game Screenshot


Primed For Painting


Painted Top


Painted underside

Metal Gear Survive is out today on PS4, and Xbox One (and will launch sometime tomorrow on PC), but you likely haven’t seen many reviews of the game around, from us or other outlets.

This is because servers for the game weren’t live until this morning (in fact, PS4 users had to wait a couple of hours until after the game released before the servers were fully operational), and Konami did not have pre-release servers set up for reviewers. In short, we’re just starting to play the game now, so until we’ve had chance to sink enough time into the single-player and multiplayer modes, we’re holding off on a review.

Until the review is ready, you can look forward to some early impressions from a few of us here at Game Informer on this week’s episode of The Game Informer Show.