Capcom officially unveiled Devil May Cry 5 at E3, but the company was light on the details surrounding the stylish action series’ big return. Now, fans are getting their questions answered thanks to a demo on the Gamescom show floor.

The demo encompasses several different environments and encounters, as well as a big boss fight. We played the whole thing (“we” meaning Suriel Vazquez), and then we talked about the footage (“we” meaning Leo Vader and Joe Juba) in this edition of New Gameplay Today.  

If you want perspective from the person who was actually playing the demo, you should read Suriel’s full hands-on impressions. Otherwise, check out the video to see the entire demo and hear a mixture of insight and speculation from those of us who wish we were playing it ourselves.

From Software’s biggest legacy is Bloodborne and Dark Souls. Fans of the studio’s brutal-but-deliberate combat are always eager to learn about its next project. At E3, the studio revealed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a stealth action game about a shinobi’s quest for revenge. Sekiro introduces a lot of new mechanics and systems that haven’t been seen in the Souls series before, but after getting hands-on time at Gamescom we’re convinced From Software fans will find a lot of love in this new adventure.

With Sekiro, From Software was heavily inspired by the late 16th century Sengoku period Japan. The environments are filled with pagoda-like structures and grass-camouflaged samurai. However, this world is also filled with every kind of nightmare from Japanese myth, and I was overcome repeatedly by headless warriors, giant snakes, and chain-clad giants.

This lone shinobi’s arm has been stolen. In its place are any number of unique prosthetics, which are actually more useful than an arm in battle (good riddance). One prosthetic is called the loaded axe, and this basically functions as a heavy attack that breaks through shields. Another prosthetic fires off a steady stream of shurikens. When I followed this attack up with a traditional katana slash, the shinobi dashes toward his target, so this combo is a great way to close big gaps between opponents.

However, one of my favorite arm tools was a fire rod that produces a shotgun blast of flame. When I performed a katana combo with this prosthetic, it set my sword ablaze, which increased my damage output for a short while. From Software said the final game will feature an even wider variety of prosthetic weapons players will be able to unlock and rotate through as they progress.

As expected, most enemies have a health bar, but they also have a “posture” bar that slowly fills as you attack or deflect their attacks. This posture bar represents their defense, and when it fills, you can perform a powerful attack that will kill a lot of smaller foes and chip off a block of health from bosses. Of course, you also have a posture bar, and when that fills, you are incredibly vulnerable.

I died several times after losing my posture, but as the title says, shadows die twice. When you die, you can choose to resurrect yourself and get the drop on enemies that don’t expect a dead man to jump on their backs. Naturally, you only have a limited number of resurections, but will earn more as you kill enemies.

One of the biggest changes from the Souls series is a stealth mechanic, but I found this a welcome addition. Sekiro is still primarily an action game where players must commit to deliberate and well-timed attacks, but this stealth mechanic is a tool that allows you to thin the herd before engaging bigger enemies that are hard to sneak up on. Once I learned the demo’s layout, I found it easy to sneak up on most of my foes and take them out with a satisfying slash, but From Software says that players might not want to leave too many foes untouched, because killing enemies ties into the game’s progression system, which the studio will detail at a later date.

Sekiro’s feudal Japanese setting, mix of prosthetic weapons, and stealthily action set it apart from From Software’s previous work. Some Dark Souls’ fans might worry that Sekiro strays too far from their beloved formula, but every second of my demo felt as tense and engrossing as From Software’s previous work. Sekiro is a bold new thing, and that’s great.

The Just Cause series has never been known for subtlety, but it’s tossing all restraint through the window for its fourth entry. We were wowed by Just Cause 4’s E3 showing, and that enthusiasm has only grown after playing a portion of that E3 demo at Gamescom. Here are five of our biggest takeaways.

1. Getting around is more intuitive than ever

Rico gets around, thanks in part to his skills with a wingsuit, parachute, and wrist-mounted grappling hook. After getting some practice in Just Cause 3, players were able to string together these three abilities seamlessly, propelling Rico along at an impressive clip. It’s been a while since I played that game, but getting back in the groove in Just Cause 4 took all of two minutes. Shifting from chute to wingsuit, then back again feels really, really good. During the demo, I kept hearing about how there were new vehicles with fun little gimmicks, such as a truck with a ramp-shaped attachment that you could stunt off. Sorry. Once I mastered traversal in Just Cause 3, I only drove when I had to. Seeing how well flight controls are in the sequel, I don’t see that changing.

2. Having multiple tether loadouts is a godsend

Just Cause 4’s sandbox is getting way bigger, thanks to Rico’s enhanced tethers and grappling-hook device. He can use it to string objects together, attach balloons to things, or fire propulsive flares to stuff and send it sailing. You can create your own recipes using mods, too. For example, you can set it up so balloons follow Rico instead of simply soaring into the sky. It looked a little overwhelming at the E3 demo seeing the dev swap between three different tether types, but it became second nature after a couple of minutes. Once I saw what each type did, I started seeing the game world as a series of opportunities. It was easy to tether one passing car to another, mount balloons to one of the vehicles, and then send it skyward, with just a few presses of the D-pad.

3. The tornado is no joke

The tornado has been a big part of the pre-release coverage, and for good reason. It’s a tornado. It tears through the world, ruining everything in its path – including enemy bases, traffic, and, as I learned, Rico. I tried flying close to it in my wingsuit, and it didn’t take much effort. It’s a tornado, after all. Its job is to pull stuff inside. I was able to break free of its windy influence, but just barely. It took a lot of diving to accelerate enough to pull away. 

4. It encourages creativity

I’m not suggesting Just Cause 4 should be used in classrooms, but it did open my brain a little once I got used to its new tools. Our demo started with some experimentation on a bridge, where we all dinked around for 10 minutes or so. It was an absolute riot. Rico has so many different ways of interacting with the world, and the game’s physics rewarded nearly all of my dumb ideas. I put boosters on a car and drove off the bridge, but because I wasn’t particularly careful about their placement I found myself whirling in an absurdly tight circle. Fortunately, I was able to dive out and grapple back up to safely before it careened into a cliff. I put balloons on people, waited a few seconds and then popped them, and then tried to have the bodies fall on me (don’t judge). I wasn’t successful, but I’m going to try again the next chance I get.

5. This game has the potential of being a huge time sink

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway for me was that this game might end up monopolizing a lot of my free time if I let it. I love open worlds and in-game destruction, which is in part why Just Cause has been such a satisfying time over the years. Now, more than ever, the world looks to be as much of a participant in the improvised mayhem as the player. And if I can’t find the time to fully devote my life to the game, there are bound to be some insanely great (or just insane) YouTube moments starting on December 4. 

Avalanche Studios’ output appears to be snowballing. In addition to housing the teams that are creating Rage 2 and Just Cause 4, the Swedish developer is working on a self-published game called Generation Zero. The game was announced at E3, and we were impressed with its first showing – as weird as its premise may seem. It features a mysterious robot uprising and environments largely barren of humanity. And, as a kicker, it just so happens to be set in an alternate version of Sweden in the ‘80s. At Gamescom, the studio let us get our hands on Generation Zero to see how we fared against the mechanical threats.

The demo drops me and a co-op partner in a home inside a small rural village. The mission is simple: head to a bomb shelter in a nearby village, and perhaps find some fellow survivors. After foraging around for ammo and supplies, we head out into the darkness. The game is running on Avalanche’s proprietary in-house Apex Engine, and it looks great – and oppressive. The woods are thick, and the fog and rain combine to make every step feel tense. As it turns out, that tension is earned: A pair of robotic sentries called seekers hover over some nearby brush, and I nearly walk into their range. Fortunately, my partner tells me to hang back. Seekers can draw in robotic support, but when they’re isolated they aren’t particularly dangerous. We take the duo out with our pistols, and forage their remains for gear. 

I’m lucky, and find an EMP cell in one pile of ruined scrap. It comes in handy a short while later, when we encounter dog-like runner robots patrolling a cluster of buildings. The EMP works as you’d expect, detonating with a nice flash and temporarily shutting down the runners’ systems. From there, my partner and I unload on the stunned beasts as quickly as we can before their bodies spring back to life. We’re mostly successful, but I manage to completely overlook a straggler on the side. It rushes toward us while we’re looting the remains of the others, knocking me to the ground. I’m able to restore my health with a medkit, but I’m rattled. 

We continue toward our waypoint, picking up better weapons in abandoned cars and boxes along the way. I end up with a nice shotgun and a rocket launcher. Weapons have multiple ammo types, and I’m told the rocket launcher has some exotic projectiles of its own. Unfortunately, I have to make do with a boring old massive explosion – particularly helpful against clusters of runners. During the demo I also learn the value of using items like flares and fireworks to attract or disorient my foes, manipulating them and making it easier to take them out with a well-thrown grenade. 

The bomb shelter turns out to be a bust, but a computer terminal has a clue: some survivors are heading toward a farm for some kind of last stand against the robots. Sounds like a party. We load up on gear and make our way to the farm. The party is cut short by the introduction of the ticks. These small enemies like to jump, and are an overall nuisance. They’re particularly effective when near other robotic types, since you have to take them out quickly before diverting your attention toward the more conventionally dangerous enemies. Ignore the ticks, and they’ll essentially hassle you to death with smaller wounds. 

On the other side of the robot spectrum, the demo ends with an encounter from a tank. This shambling titan takes potshots from a distance, and its armor makes it a truly difficult foe. I’m able to make several successful shots with my rockets before the demo ends. Don’t worry, tank; you’ll get yours eventually.

Avalanche says players will learn more about the robot apocalypse, but that portion of it will be hidden behind optional missions you may or may not encounter in the open world. Along the way, players will be able to outfit their character in true ‘80s style. My hero sported a backward cap and a thick, gold dookie chain, but that’s just the start. You’ll be able to find more cosmetics as you explore – loud patterns and tragic haircuts are apparently plentiful. Best of all, Avalanche says there won’t be microtransations, so you’ll have to earn the right to look so gleefully corny.

 

Gamescom, the massive annual video game expo currently happening in Cologne, Germany, revealed its show winners today. You can find the list of winners below.

Best PS4 game: Spider-Man
Best Xbox One game: Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Best Nintendo game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Best PC Game: Anno 1800
Best Mobile Game: Shadowgun War Games
Best Action Game: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Best Add-on/DLC: Destiny 2: Forsaken
Best Casual Game: Team Sonic Racing
Best Family Game: Super Mario Party
Best Puzzle/Skill Game: Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Best Racing Game: Forza Horizon 4
Best Role Playing Game: Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Best Simulation Game: Farming Simulator 19
Best Social/Online Game: Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII
Best Sports Game: FIFA 19
Best Strategy Game: Total War: Three Kingdoms

For more from Gamescom, check out the website www.gameinformer.com for all kinds of previews and coverage from the show! Here’s a story about Devil May Cry 5; here’s one about Resident Evil 2; we even have one about Life is Strange 2! Enjoy!

[via gamesindustry.biz]

During E3, we had a chance to speak with Hidetaka Miyazaki, the mastermind responsible for Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and more broken controllers than anyone (probably). Miyazaki and From Software unveiled Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at E3, a ninja-themed twist on the studio’s brutally precise concoctions. We took the opportunity to probe Miyazaki’s mind about what makes Sekiro such an intriguing departure for the storied studio.

*This interview originally appeared in Game Informer Australia issue 104

When did From Software begin work on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice?
Around the time DLC on Bloodborne was wrapping up. That was when initial talks began. We don’t really have teams on projects at From. We don’t have a Bloodborne team and a Dark Souls team. But some members of the Bloodborne staff will be working on Sekiro, but also a lot of people from other projects as well.

I’d love to know more about the initial concept and how these ideas came to exist…
So, the keywords when we first set about planning this game were obviously “Japanese inspired,” “Japanese aesthetic,” and “ninja.” We wanted to make a game based on ninja; that was the main keyword. That was the impetus for the whole project.

Well, that, and some new ideas for game design. For instance, using three-dimensional movement and using a lot of mobility to traverse the map, that fit nicely with the ninja concept. And also this ability to use everything – to use a variety of skills and techniques that you have to command mastery of – that fit together really nicely with this whole concept.

And, of course, you may have noticed some similarities with Tenchu. That was actually another key word around the genesis of the project. We didn’t want it to be a direct continuation of the series or an imitation of what other companies have done with the series. We wanted to do something new, but Tenchu was a keyword and an inspiration.

In terms of the setting and the world design, the main periods in which ninja operated in in Japan were the Edo and the Sengoku periods. One of the two reasons we chose Sengoku over Edo was because it’s a period filled with war, filled with violence. It was the age of warring states in Japan. It was full of bloody battles and conflict. And this fit really nicely with the ninja aesthetic and with the kind of game that we wanted to make.

The second reason we chose Sengoku was because Edo is generally considered the early modern period of Japan, while Sengoku is more medieval. And from this medieval background we were able to take motifs and ideas from this ancient Japanese mysticism, a timeline of beauty, and incorporate that into the world design.

There’s a supernatural element to this world. We’ve seen monsters. Is that an unusual occurrence in this universe, or is this typically a supernatural, monster-filled world?
In general, it is a world based on reality, based on some real elements of the Sengoku period. But we don’t want to ground it too much in reality; we want to give it our own spin, as we have done with previous titles. You will find the supernatural elements if you look hard enough in the world. We don’t want to give too much away, but there is this unknown side to the world that our ninja protagonist can explore, but the regular folk will not know about.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice just scored a March 22, 2019 release date

A key part of your level design is one-way paths you can’t mantle back up, where you commit to the risk/reward of a route. With the added mobility, is that an element of your game design that needs to be left behind?
This wasn’t something we consciously left behind… But a big part of Sekiro’s design is this ninja concept and allowing freedom of mobility and traversal of 3D open spaces.

When we’ve made the maps for Dark Souls and Bloodborne in the past, we’ve prided ourselves on those 3D spaces; very open and vertical maps where you have to use ladders and stairs to go up and down. Through making these games over the years, we’ve been confined to ladders and stairs, and it’s a one-way system as you pointed out.

Now we’re finally able to freely traverse these maps as a ninja. This is something that I personally wanted to do. It feels like a big stress relief, like I’m able to experiment a lot more.

Is the world interconnected in the same way as a Soulsborne game?
As with previous titles, there are a couple of exceptions, but in general it is all connected sequences… We feel that this time it’s hard to specifically refer to an older title [for comparison]. Rather than saying it’s a linear one-track game, there are branching paths. While the maps are seamlessly connected, there is a level of freedom in the order that you can approach these sequences.

Is there an equivalent to the Soulsborne bonfires or lamps?
Yes. We do have an equivalent of the bonfire. We call it the Sculptor’s Idol. It’s a four-handed statue. The old man, the sculptor in the trailer, is the one carving the statues.

These “Sculptor’s Idols” are Sekiro’s bonfire/lamp equivalent

Death is a key theme in your work. How does Sekiro rethink that philosophy? What is Sekiro’s approach to death?
We have a mechanic called resurrection. One thing we thought about in designing this ninja protagonist was that you’re constantly in fear of death. You are not a knight suited in armour. You are exposed, you are vulnerable, and you are constantly at death’s door. Any mistake could be your last.

This fear of death, and this sense of risk is something we wanted to maintain from our previous titles. But it was working a little bit too well with this new ninja concept! You were dying a lot, and you were having to start, go back and redo. And this was just spoiling the flow, tension and tempo of the game. So in order to maintain that sense of trepidation and that fear of death, but while at the same time improving the rhythm between combat encounters, we introduced the resurrection system.

And then we founded this idea of resurrection fitted very nicely with the ninja motifs: this is a cold-hearted warrior who can utilise even his own death as a strategy in battle.

One thing we want to make clear is that resurrection is not intended to make the game easier. We’re going to be very conscious of that as we continue to tweak and balance it. It will have its own restrictions. It will have its own death penalties and costs associated with it. We still want the player to fear death; we don’t want to numb the player to death.

Can you give us an example of how you can use your own death to your strategic advantage in combat?
So the easiest to understand would probably be the example we’ve given in the trailer, where you do actually in fact die. Your enemies turn their backs on you and they think that they
have triumphed over you, and they ignore you, and then you can resurrect and get back up and then ambush them.

Something else we could consider, something we’re playing with at the moment, is the idea of ending your own life in some way in order to reset the situation if you’re really in a tight spot. For example, through the use of poison, or some other concoction, you could potentially reset the situation and create that strategic advantage yourself.

From Software has always had a subtler approach to storytelling. Is that continuing in Sekiro, or is it a more overtly told tale?
We have this fixed protagonist, and we are concentrating on him as a character. He is the core of the story. Him and the characters that revolve around him. At least from the outset, we feel that core plot will initially be easier to understand. But our general approach towards storytelling, towards narrative, has not changed. We want users to explore and find these fragments and piece together the rich story, and to find the depth as a reward for themselves. We want it to be a player-driven experience, rather than a story-driven experience.

Can you explain how Sekiro’s combat system differs to the Soulsborne systems we are familiar with?
Sekiro is not a continuation of the Soulsborne series, so we have created a brand-new combat system specifically for this game. Two keywords when designing the system were “intensity” and “dynamism.” The intensity comes from the clash of steel between katanas. This constant clang, clang, clang, between yourself and your foe that creates this intensity in the constant fear of death.

And the second, the dynamism, comes from the ability to jump and reposition yourself in combat, and also from the new grappling attack. Another idea that spawned from that and from our ninja protagonist is this “anything goes” philosophy, where the ninja is able to incorporate anything into his arsenal and utilise it according to the situation.

So you have to grapple to use mobility, and to get around the map, and to get a jump on your foes, and you can use stealth to circumnavigate the combat area and take out a few grunts before you engage. You can go head on from the start, or you can use the shinobi prosthetic tools to blind your foes or create some sort of advantage before engaging.

We didn’t want this to be a stealth-focused game. We didn’t want the player to constantly be sneaking around in the shadows and clinging to walls. But we did find that along with the grappling hook and the mobility it was something that we wanted to explore and to experiment with.

Has the increased player mobility necessitated a change in the way you design your boss encounters?
Our approach to bosses in general hasn’t changed. They still represent the climax of a section. We hope the added mobility and the utility of the shinobi character can add even more ways to approach these bosses. Each one will have their own kink, their own weakness, and it will be up to the player to figure out what that is, and to most effectively utilise the environment, utilise every tool in their arsenal to figure out a way to take them out.

We think this time we will have a greater variety of bosses, with a greater variety of strategies for the user to figure out.

This is probably a dangerous question to ask in a room full of Activision employees, but why have you partnered with Activision for this game?
[Laughs] We’ll leave the business side out of it, but I want to talk primarily as a director first of all. There are a couple of reasons.

We take our project proposals to certain publishers… you know we need publishers overseas to promote our games and to support us. We took it to Activision, and they were extremely supportive of the initial idea right away. They were very interested and it really resonated with them.

The other reason is they were able to fully support our ideas. They gave us 100-percent creative control. They gave the highest respect to our vision, and within that they were able to offer advice and feedback on various aspects of the game. But ultimately we have that creative control, and we’re able to use that advice how we see fit. We really enjoyed the fact that they were offering a sense of support from the start.

Also, the fact is that both from From Software and Activision had a history of publishing the Tenchu games. So there was this strange little quirky relationship there, and I thought it would be interesting to explore that again.

 

Claire just wants to find her brother. It has been two months since the events of the original Resident Evil. S.T.A.R.S. member and zombie survivalist Chris Redfield has gone missing. Since Chris isn’t answering his voice mails, Claire takes a break from college homework, and hops on a motorcycle to head over to Racoon City. Unfortunately, she’s not the only newcomer in town, and she quickly discovers the streets are overrun with undead.

During Capcom’s big showcase at E3, we got hands-on time with Leon’s campaign. Both Leon and Claire have their own campaigns, which feature unique characters and environments, but there is some overlap between their journeys. For example, Claire will tour the police station like Leon, but her journey will diverge from his in other places. At Gamescom, we got a chance to see what kind of mess Claire will get into when Leon isn’t around.

Our demo begins a few hours into the game, after Claire makes her way through the police station’s main structure and into a series of secret back rooms. At this point she encounters a young girl named Sherry. Those who played the original Resident Evil 2 (that still sounds weird) might remember Sherry is the daughter of William and Annette Birkin, two scientists who’s work helped pioneer the t-Virus that ultimately spawned the zombie outbreak. When Claire encounters Sherry, she’s hiding behind a pile of debris and she doesn’t want to come out. Claire offers to protect Sherry. Unfortunately, someone else is also interested in Sherry: a mutated giant named William Birkin.

Sherry’s father performed some gnarly experiments on himself that turned him into a gruesome freak who’s skin can withstand more than a couple hits from a napalm-spewing grenade launcher. Fortunately, Claire is packing a miniature arsenal that includes a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver, and that grenade launcher Billy laughed off.

 

My encounter with this beast – called G in the original game – wears on my nerves and the surrounding environment. We battle throughout a maintenance room full of twisting pipes and tight walkways. Some of the pipe burst under the onslaught and the room slowly fills with smoke. Given the tight corridors, I occasionally have to run and hide to reload and gain my bearings, so I rarely know which corner G will jump out from. Thankfully, Resident Evil 2’s action feels good. The controls are relatively precise and smooth, and the aiming reticle hones in on your target the longer you take to line up your shot. Sadly, I rarely had that level of patience during this tense firefight.

After burning through most of my health and ammo, I finally take down G and pull Sherry to safety. Our union doesn’t last long. A overweight cop (presumably Brian Irons) walks into the room, points and gun at Claire, and abducts our new ward.

We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the final game to rescue Sherry (again). Leon’s demo from E3 featured a lot of exploration and puzzles. This demo largely focused on Resident Evil 2’s action, and it was nice to better idea of how it works and feels.

Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 remake will hit the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on January 25.

With Soulcalibur VI launching later this year, fans are wondering which of their favorite characters might be returning for this soft reboot. While mainstays like Sophitia and Mitsurugi were never in doubt, Soulcalibur VI has not had many major returning villains yet with characters like Cervantes still MIA. The villainous aspect at least is being addressed with the reintroduction of Tira through a new trailer today.

Tira is the first announced DLC character for the game, which itself does not come out for two months. While she is part of the season pass, she will also be available as standalone DLC later, though Bandai Namco’s wording seems to imply that preordering the season pass is the only way to get her early. The Soulcalibur community is fairly split on whether announcing the DLC before the entire roster for the game has even been revealed is alright or not, but Tekken brand manager Mark Julio argues that it’s an extra incentive to reward players who purchase early.

Bandai Namco also revealed the Libra of Soul story mode, which involves the series’ divisive but unique create-a-character mode. Players create their own fighter and work their way through the ranks of other warriors both from the game and designed by other players to get to the top of the mode. You can check out the trailer for it below.

The mode is separate from the other Soulcalibur VI story mode, which uses interstitial art and dialogue to tell the story of how everything returned back in time.

Soulcalibur VI is releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 19.

The critically acclaimed Dark Souls series is already playable on modern platforms, but Bandai Namco is gathering the three titles’ definitive editions and DLC for a special three-disc steelbook set.

Dark Souls Trilogy gathers Dark Souls Remastered, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, and Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades. In addition to the base games, all the DLC is included.

Dark Souls Remastered released earlier this year on PS4 and Xbox One and delivers the first adventure in 60 frames per second and dedicated servers for online multiplayer. You can read our review here. You can read our review for Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin here. For our review of Dark Souls III, head here.

Check out some shots of the steelbook below.

 

Dark Souls Trilogy launches on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 19 and will set you back $79.99.

The latest trailer for Jump Force, care of Gamescom, adds a ton of new heroes and stages, and teases that, “a new hero rises.”

Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z, Sanji and Marshall D. Teach from One Piece, and characters from Hunter x Hunter all appear in the trailer, alongside a collection of stages like the one seen above which places the statue of liberty on Namek. At the very end, we also see a character wearing Luffy’s straw hat. I have my money on a custom character, but I suppose we will have to wait and see.

For more on Jump Force, head here. Jump Force launches some time next year.