The makers of Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry have debuted a virtual assistant named Sam that will help you find info on Ubisoft games. 

The Ubisoft Club mobile app now has a new virtual assistant, which lets players talk to a A.I. assistant much like they use other services like Siri and Cortana. For example, you can ask Sam how much time you’ve spent playing certain Ubisoft games, see what your friends are up to, and ask for personalized tips about things to do in games you’ve been playing.

Sam goes into beta in Canada starting today, and should roll out to other countries soon. Check out the video below for more info.

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[Source: Eurogamer]

Our Take
I can’t imagine that I’ll actually spend a lot of time talking to Sam, but its neat to see more uses for virtual assistant. I’m mostly disappointed that this computer isn’t using Sam Fisher’s voice.

Join Game Informer editors today as they explore early game Monster Hunter: World content. With launch coming up later this week, dive in with us! Ask questions, get into the mix, and enjoy shattering horns, slicing tails, and picking up delicious herbs. 

The action begins at 2 PM CT!

You can click the banner below to watch the stream on Twitch, or just tune in here using the embedded video below.

With 2017 completely behind us, the time for looking back on what a fantastic year it was for gaming is over. Now, it’s time to look ahead at what the rest of 2018 holds. While we’ve already shared our overall 20 Most Anticipated Games of 2018, this list focuses on the upcoming games we’re most excited about for Xbox One. Xbox’s first-party support hasn’t been stellar as of late, but Xbox One owners still have plenty to look forward to. In addition to what looks like a strong year of third-party multiplatform titles, we’ll also see a few promising titles that are coming exclusively to Xbox One and PC. This list was debated by the Game Informer staff, and put together with Xbox gamers in mind. Our picks may (and probably will) change as more games get announced and some of the titles on this list get delayed out of 2018, but as of now, here are the games we’re most excited to play on Xbox One in 2018.

For more of our most anticipated games of 2018, check out the following lists:

10. Sea of Thieves
Release: March 20
Platform: Xbox One, PC
Rare’s open-world pirate game lets players live out their swashbuckling fantasies in ways no other game has before. Rare has been fine-tuning the gameplay and the world by working closely with its community, and the game has been better each time we’ve checked it out. Sea of Thieves looks to be a lighthearted adventure that can be played with friends day after day. By allowing players to join up with friends to complete mission in a massive, gorgeous world, it could very well become one of the go-to titles for Xbox One players when it launches in March.

9. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Release: TBA
Platform: Xbox One, PC
2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful side-scrolling action title that pleased fans of Metroid and Castlevania. During Microsoft’s 2017 E3 press conference, the game’s sequel was announced through a stunningly somber teaser trailer. We don’t know much about Ori and the Will of Wisps just yet, but we’re hopeful it carries on the legacy of the first title by delivering rewarding exploration and brutally difficult platforming sequences.

8. Metro Exodus
Release: Fall
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
third installment in 4A Games’ post-apocalyptic FPS series, Metro
Exodus has Russian protagonist Artyom setting out for greener (and
hopefully less radioactive) pastures. This time around players can
expect to battle Metro’s horrific monsters in more open sandbox
environments, in addition to the linear and claustrophobic tunnels that
the series is known for. Metro Exodus also boasts dynamic weather and a
day-night cycle, which should make the survival-oriented action all the
more immersive. Players can start stocking up on ammo and air filters
sometime this fall.

7. A Way Out
Release: March 23
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
by Josef Fares – whose previous work includes Brothers: A Tale of Two
Sons – A Way Out follows the adventure of two convicts who escape from
prison and remain on the lam. The unique twist to this prison break is
that the entire game is built around split-screen co-op, and must be
played with another player, either locally or online. This means that
while one player is engaged in a certain task, they will always see the
progress their partner is making in a separate window. For example,
while one player distracts a guard, the other player might hunt around
for a tool to aid their escape. We’re still not sure if players can keep
their attention split throughout an entire game, but we’re excited to
see how this oddball take on co-op actually plays.

6. Valkyria Chronicles 4
Release: 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
a gorgeous watercolor art style, memorable characters, and intriguing
mix of real-time action and tactical gameplay, Valkyria Chronicles has
long been a cult favorite in the G.I. offices.
That’s why we’re so happy to see that Sega is finally bringing the
series back to consoles after two PSP sequels. In addition to a new
grenadier class, Valkyria Chronicles 4 features an all-new cast of
characters and a more grounded setting that harkens back to the original
game. Given the missteps of the recent Valkyria Revolution spin-off, we’re ready for a return to form.

5. Far Cry 5
Release: March 27
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
may not be the most exotic location in Far Cry’s history, but it does
offer an enticing perk: a co-op companion. For the first time in series
history, players can play the entirety of Far Cry 5 with a friend, which
should make all the flying, shooting, and exploding even more fun. A
wide-open map allows players to take on Far Cry 5’s town-occupying cult
anyway they see fit – provided it includes copious amounts of mayhem.

4. State of Decay 2
Release: 2018
Platform: Xbox One, PC
original State of Decay was ripe with technical problems, but we loved
the tense atmosphere of this particular brand of zombie survival horror.
Fortunately, Undead Labs’ second outing looks more polished.
Additionally, you now can be team up with up to three other players as
you gather resources, shore up your base of operations, and fend off
endless waves of the undead. However, State of Decay 2 still features
permadeath, so don’t expect this outing to be any less tense.

3. Anthem
Release: 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Mass Effect may currently be in cryosleep,
but that doesn’t make us any less excited for BioWare’s new sci-fi
series. Up to four players can rocket around Anthem’s expansive open
world in jet-propelled exosuits, and the E3 demo showed off plenty of
gorgeous locations, deadly weapons, and strange alien creatures. EA
clearly hopes that Anthem will be its answer to Destiny, and while we
have many unanswered questions, we can’t wait to learn more about the
game in the coming year.

2. Kingdom Hearts III
Release: 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
might star Donald Duck and Goofy, but Kingdom Hearts III is serious
business. Fans have been waiting over 10 years for the next numbered
sequel in Square Enix’s action RPG series, which promises more party
members from Disney’s ever-expanding cast of characters, bigger worlds
to explore, and new weapon transformations for Sora’s iconic Keyblade.
All that plus the long-anticipated ending to Xehanort’s story arc has
G.I.’s Kingdom Hearts fans jumping up and down in anticipation.

1. Red Dead Redemption 2
Release: 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
We still don’t know a whole lot about Red Dead Redemption 2; Rockstar has only released two trailers
for the game since its announcement in 2016. However, those
all-too-brief glimpses promise players the kind of meticulously crafted
open-world experience that only Rockstar can provide. In addition to
exploring the vast American frontier, we’re particularly excited to see
how Rockstar translates the GTA Online formula to the Wild West; we’re
guessing pistol duels at high-noon, backroom poker games, and high-speed
train robberies are only the beginning of what Rockstar has in store.

Atari announced a crowdfunding campaign to bring a new RollerCoaster Tycoon game to the Switch.

The campaign promises a new game in the rollercoaster management simulation series to be developed by creators of the free-to-play mobile game, RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. What makes this particular campaign notable is that Atari is positioning it as an investment campaign, with investors receiving a revenue share.

Atari also promises that investors into the game get backer updates and possibly future information about Atari projects, fairly standard crowdfunding fair.

The publisher is seeking an ultimate goal of $1.07 million, but the flexible nature of the campaign make it so $10,000 will allow the project to go forward. The minimum investment is $250, however, so fans will have to front the cash to make a return. The campaign has launched from the crowdfunding site Start Engine and will end in 90 days.

[Source: RollerCoaster Tycoon Switch Campaign]


Our Take
The minimum bid makes this a difficult bite for fans, but I can see a number of investors who only tangentially care about the game getting in there.

For a lot of people, the new year brings the opportunity to build a new PC from separate parts, taking advantage of usual sale prices after the holiday season. This year, however, people looking for graphics cards are being met with either sold out signs or massively inflated prices, which Nvidia is none too happy about.

The reason for this is that graphics cards, such as Nvidia’s GTX 1080 or AMD’s RX 780, are being popularly used by cryptocurrency miners as what is basically the engine that drives the mining apparatus. The computational power in GPUs is well-suited to the task of mining for cryptocurrency, leading to miners buying multiple cards at high prices under the assumption that it’s simply the cost of doing business. After all, if you’re using them to make money, you need to spend some, too.

This problem has grown exponentially in the last month as the price of Bitcoin has fluctuated, going as high as $19,000 per individual bitcoin. This has lead to a gold rush among miners and a headache among people looking to buy GPUs for gaming.

According to PCPartsPicker, the prices for GPUs have skyrocketed in the last couple of months. In June 2017, an Nvidia GTX 1060 averaged about $285. Today, the average cost is around $460 for the exact same card a year and a half after release. In a vacuum, higher prices and multiple purchases from customers buying lots of cards to creating mining rigs is a good thing for them, especially at an inflated price for older cards that might have trouble selling past their prime in different circumstances.

Nvidia, however, has different priorities than merely the top dollar for the card itself. The company is asking retailers to, however they can, prioritize selling to gamers instead of cryptocurrency miners.

“Gamers come first for Nvidia,” said Boris Böhles, Nvidia’s German region PR manager in an interview with the German website ComputerBase. “All activities around our GeForce products are for our core audience. We recommend our trading partners make arrangements to ensure that gamers’ needs are still met in the current climate.”

It is unclear exactly what retailers can do to curb miners from monopolizing GPU sales. Retailers have tried imposing limits on the number of GPUs customers can buy at once, but Google is filled with results of cryptocurrency mining message boards figuring out ways to circumvent the limits. Even then, the wait period usually maxes out at 48 hours, so miners generally just waited. All this assumes that retailers are even eager to end this boom.

For Nvidia’s part, while their GPUs flying off shelves is an immediate good thing, the long term desire to integrate the Nvidia brand into their home is not being met. A miner who hooks up eight cards to a mining rig does not use the GeForce experience to tailor their game, they do not buy G-Sync monitors to prevent vertical tearing, they do not stream using Nvidia tools. 

It is a problem without an easy solution, one that will inevitably frustrate some group or another. The only other thing for sure is that prices probably won’t return to normal for at least a while yet.

As RPGs evolve and adopt more modern complexity, it’s refreshing to revisit the classics mechanics that helped make the genre what it is. Like I Am Setsuna (the previous title from developer Tokyo RPG Factory), Lost Sphear tries to capture the 16-bit era, paying homage to classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy. However, just like its predecessor, it fails to offer much beyond nostalgia. Lost Sphear feels like a journey I’ve taken before; it is a bland return to yesteryear without the novelty. 

Lost Sphear places you in a world that’s disappearing bit by bit. Protagonist Kanata possesses the ability to restore the world’s memories. This puts him on a journey to discover why he has these powers and what they mean, and save the world along the way. The plot has its share of predictable moments, and the majority of the twists are visible from miles away. Intriguing developments don’t happen until late in the story, which is also when the characters finally start growing beyond their archetypes, like the childhood best friend and the hard-headed loner. 

With boring and excessively drawn-out dialogue, Lost Sphear makes it challenging for players to stay invested. This is especially apparent in the ending, which is drawn out over several fetch quests and bosses, not to mention an epilogue that takes hours to finish despite the fact your quest is apparently complete. Once the game focused more on the world’s origins and evolution, I became more interested, but it’s too little, too late.

Since Lost Sphear’s storytelling is nothing special, combat and customizing your characters’ skills are the key attractions. The ATB system from I Am Setsuna has improved, allowing control over character placement. You can now line your heroes up to target multiple enemies in a single strike. Better yet, you can also use movement to space out your party members so they’re not all caught in deadly AOE attacks. The momentum gauge returns, allowing you to power up your attacks when a blue flash hits the screen. You also eventually get access to Vulcosuits – powerful mechs that add interesting strategy to battle. The limited points available to use Vulcosuits make you plan when it’s best to bust them out, especially since they can’t be restored without sleeping at an inn or using a rare item. 

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Building your party members’ abilities offers a great amount of depth, and my favorite part of Lost Sphear. Depending on your collected memories (items you find while you fight enemies and explore), you can trade for new skills, counters, and momentum perks to equip on your characters. These have effects like activating a follow-up attack after using a skill, restoring HP, and increasing your defense. By restoring parts of the vanishing land with artifacts, you also get powered up, from increasing critical hit rates to speeding up ATB charge rates.  

Taking advantage of all these tools is essential, as battles get downright vicious later in the game. Enemies frequently use instant death attacks, resurrection potions, and self-destruct abilities. These fights are flat-out frustrating because you might kill a boss without knowing it has a destruct ability that can wipe your entire party. Or maybe you begin a fight and your foe wipes half your party with its initial strike, something you can’t prepare for. I expect a challenge from end-game enemies in RPGs, but these battles often feel unfair, and simply grinding levels doesn’t solve the problem.

While I reveled in proving myself in battles, the same can’t be said for the exploration. I dreaded its repetition, specifically the backtracking, which is baffling given Lost Sphear’s short length of about 25 hours. You visit the same places and fight the same baddies multiple times. You can also expect to spend more time running errands and searching for things than making meaningful progress. This is compounded by vague directions and a lack of quest markers; finding my next destination became a challenge itself, adding frustration to an already-tedious element.

Lost Sphear has some good ideas and mechanics working together when it comes to battle, but everything else falls short and feels dull. The reused dungeons, backtracking, and slow-paced story don’t give me much to fight for, even if the end does come together in an interesting way. Sadly, the tedious grind through a milquetoast adventure is sour for far too long before coming together.  

Ben Hanson has been raving about the game Subnautica for a while now. “It’s like Minecraft and what we wish No Man’s Sky had been,” is not a direct quote, but it’s close enough. Fine. Hanson wins. Leo Vader and I sat down with him to learn what, exactly, he finds so fascinating about this sci-fi underwater survival game.

There’s a lot to cover in this one, and Hanson does a great job of hitting all of the high points. Leo explores the undersea world, getting a little cocky (and oxygen deprived), and also manages to craft a coveted piece of gear way earlier than Hanson managed in his playthrough. Leo truly has a gift.

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Subnautica is currently available on Steam and Xbox Game Preview.

The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency, a studio founded by Twisted Metal and God of War creator David Jaffe, is suffering layoffs due to a cancelled project.

Jaffe posted the news on his Twitter today, saying that a project cancellation has forced the studio to layoff the vast majority of the gaming division. It is unknown what project the studio was working on at the time.

The studio was founded in 2013 after Jaffe left Twisted Metal developer Eat Sleep Play. He announced the new studio alongside a PlayStation 4-exclusive shooter, Drawn to Death, a stylized multiplayer game designed to resemble a teenager’s doodles in a notebook. The game was critically panned and failed to make much of an impact in sales. 

Our sincerest condolences go out to everyone who lost their job today.

The touch-screen interface on mobile devices poses a unique design challenge to game makers: How do you make a compelling interactive experience with only one input? Some mobile games get around this problem by awkwardly emulating a controller layout on the screen, while others keep the action so simple that the gameplay suffers. Fireproof Games’ The Room series is a rare breed that finds balance; it constructs compelling puzzles around a limited interface. You only need one or two fingers to solve most of The Room: Old Sin’s challenges, but these creative puzzles (along with a haunting atmosphere) engage your whole brain.

Like previous The Room games, Old Sins is a massive puzzle box that asks you to slowly manipulate intricate clockwork gadgets. Most of the puzzles in Old Sins are solved by pushing, pulling, or twisting these objects, but Fireproof combines and remixes these actions in a wide variety of unique ways. I marveled as a miniature bell twisted into a cog in my hands. I stared in wonder at a small mechanical train that came to life after I’d assembled its missing pieces. And I threw my fist in the air triumphantly after repairing an old radio, then deciphered the meaning of its warbled audio. Throughout my adventure, I never felt like I was doing the same thing twice. Old Sins features nice balance between simple and complex puzzles, and the solutions are never frustrating.

The last few Room games expand on this simple puzzle box concept by adding multiple rooms and a greater variety of objects to interact with. Old Sins steps back from that; you spend the entire game investigating an elaborate dollhouse mansion. One of the handiest tools in your inventory is a mystical eyepiece that allows you to see invisible writing and other clues, and this eyepiece also allows you to shrink down and explore each room of the dollhouse as if it were full-sized. I appreciate how this structure allows Old Sins to cleverly return to the series’ roots of pulling apart one big puzzle box while also providing a wider variety of backdrops.

Several puzzles are cleverly spread across multiple rooms. For example, after I got the water working in the kitchen, that water was piped out into the garden, which led to a whole new set of puzzles that eventually ended when I brought an ornate fountain back to life.

At other times, matching items in your inventory with the environment makes Old Sins feel more like a traditional adventure game. Objects you acquire usually have a logical use somewhere else in the house. The base of a model pagoda matches an indentation on a display cabinet, for example. However, I occasionally wondered where to go next. In those cases, Old Sins clue system always subtly nudged me back on the right track without spoiling any puzzle solution.

Old Sin’s puzzles are wrapped around a mystery involving a researcher named Mr. Edward Lockwood who becomes absorbed with his experiments on a strange substance called the null, which seems capable of unleashing an otherworldly horror upon the world. Through scattered notes, I slowly pieced together Old Sins’ thin narrative about Edward’s obsession with the null and the strain it put on his marriage. This story functions like a rubber band collecting all Old Sins’ puzzles, but I was never excited to find another note from Edward, and I didn’t care about going deeper into his disappearance. Over the course of four games, Fireproof has teased a larger narrative for the Room series, but Old Sins fails to expand on that universe in any meaningful way.

In many respects, Fireproof Games offers more of the same with The Room: Old Sins. However, the original concept is so strong that I can’t complain about getting more, especially since the puzzles continue to feel fresh and interesting. In a market churning out free-to-play loot-box grinds, this meaty mobile experience is refreshing.

The odd name of “BigGoose” tied to a character like Mercy has turned Benjamin Isohanni into one of Overwatch League’s most popular players. Isohanni,  who hails from Finland, mainlines support for the Los Angeles Gladiators. After two weeks of play, the Gladiators are 2 and 2 on the season, sitting in second place behind the undefeated Seoul Dynasty. Isohanni’s play has been exceptional up to this point, dazzling the crowd at times with perfectly timed resurrections and offensive outbursts.

I talked to Isohanni about the early days of Overwatch League, the Gladiator’s daily schedule, and the origin of his in-game name. He also sheds light on what he thinks of the current state of the competitions, and why he thinks we may see the playing field give Seoul a run for their money as time goes on.

How were you brought into Overwatch League? Can you walk me through the process up until the contract is signed?

The coach that represented the Gladiators contacted me, and said he was interested in having me try out for the team. We discussed it a bit, and then the second time we talked – maybe a week later – we did the tryouts. I performed very well for about two hours. I was playing from Europe, and the servers were in America, so was there a ping factor that had to be taken into account. Overall, I guess they were happy with the performance. They probably didn’t pay much attention to the mechanics because of the ping – which is a big thing in Overwatch – but that’s pretty much how it went.

How many people were in the tryouts? That had to be somewhat nerve-racking knowing you are competing for a job against other players.

I’m fairly sure it was a small group, at least four people. That’s all I know.

Where does your esports background begin? What other games did you play professionally?

The first game I competed in was League of Legends. I was on an amateur team that played in Europe. This was around season two or three. We played well, and my team managed to get into the LCS Promotion Tournament. For roster reasons we couldn’t participate in the actual tournament, which was quite unfortunate. Around that time I kind of knew I was good at games, and wanted to pursue an esports career, but also having a fallback plan if it doesn’t work out. That was my first experience with esports, and then Overwatch came.

Were you playing Overwatch on day one? Did you try to compete right when it caught fire?

No. I didn’t pick it up until around season one and ranked came out. I was like “Oh, I’ll just play this since I have nothing else to do.” I played with a couple of friends and noticed I had a lot of fun playing with them. Later on, my friends stopped playing, but I knew I was pretty good at this game, so I continued improving. Once I felt I was good enough to succeed at a certain level, I decided I would join a team or build one.

What were you ranked in Competitive mode when you were playing the game outside of the league?

I don’t play ranked now, given there isn’t much time outside of the evenings. The maximum rank people can reach is 5,000, but it’s almost impossible to get there, since the higher you go the less points you get. If I recall correctly, one person in Korea achieved this [GyoMin “Evermore” Koo], but he used a strategy that isn’t really favored upon. At the moment I’m 4,200. I will play some more when I have time.

Where did the name BigGoose come from?

I was playing League of Legends with my friends, and they were suddenly calling me BigGoose, and I was like “What do you mean? I don’t get it.” Later on, I realized if you change one letter in my last name and translate it to English it is basically BigGoose.

Mercy is the character we see you using the most in the league. Who else do you enjoy playing as?

It’s mainly Lúcio and Mercy. It’s 90-percent Mercy right now because she’s really good and Xen is just better than Lúcio in many ways. Those are my two main heroes.

Blizzard keeps changing Mercy. That has to be difficult for creating strategies for league play. The other team isn’t the only one attacking you. Blizzard is too.

I am actually really happy with the upcoming Mercy changes. I started playing support about six months ago. I got picked up by a team before Overwatch League to play support for them. This was back when Lúcio was played 90 or 100 percent of the time. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would miss playing Lúcio so much.

Will the Mercy changes come into the league midseason?

I’m pretty sure Blizzard has final say on the patches, but it would make sense to have the patches introduced in new [season] stages so no team gets an unfair advantage. If there’s a huge meta shift, and someone figures it out and the other players don’t mid-stage, that wouldn’t be good. That could make or break a team.

What do you think of the league so far?

I think it’s amazing. We’re kind of blessed to be able to play at such a high skill level. It’s unbelievable, and all thanks to Blizzard and the fans to be given this opportunity.

Seoul Dynasty appears to be the team to beat right now. What do you have to do to take those guys down?

have a bit of an advantage for playing together as a team for such a
long period of time. Other teams have just recently formed two months or
so ago. I think the gap between the teams is going to reduce
drastically when we get further into the league. There will definitely
be closer games between all of the teams as time goes on.

Are you in a situation where you are on a team with new players, or have you been played with some of them before?

I knew the other support player [Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara]. He was on the other team I was on before called Team Gigantti. We both picked up around the same time. I guess the reason we got picked up here is because we won the European championship. Aside from that, I haven’t played with anyone else before.

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Does the entire team live together?

Some of the teams in the league live in single apartments. Others live in houses with multiple players under the same roof. For us, we have two houses. We have a player house and a staff house. Most of the players live in the player house with a coach. The rest of the players live in the staff house with a few staff members.

When the team is put together, they have certain players in mind, like you being a healer. How long did it take for chemistry and routine to gel?

Routine is kind of based on when you are scrimmaging. Most teams scrim at the same time, so it comes together quick, but you just have to specialize in one role or you won’t be that good. You have to focus on one.

You practice for six hours a day six days a week. Can you walk me through your daily schedule?

We usually start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. We do that six days a week. On Monday through Friday we usually have a workout in the morning. After that, we shower, eat, get to the practice area around noon, and play for two hours. We then have a break for one hour, and then play two more hours. Another one-hour break, and then we end with another two-hour scrim.

Do you watch film of the other teams to size up their strategies? Is that something your coach walks you through?

Definitely. There are certain things certain teams do, which are very noticeable. You practice against most of these teams every week, so everyone kind of knows what you might be doing. You can throw a curveball and use a different strategy in the game.

Do you always practice against other teams in the league?

Every Overwatch League team plays against another Overwatch League team. Our scrims are against another team for two hours. Some teams have 12 people on the roster, so they can in theory have 6 versus 6. I think it’s probably better to play against another team though.

As the season progresses, are there windows for player trades or a draft to bring in new talent?

I’m not sure about trades, but I believe there’s a midseason signing. I think it starts in stage two, if I remember correctly. You can sign another player outside of Overwatch League for a period of time, like two months or something like that. You can add players that way. Once you have your roster locked, you can’t add any players after that.