Replay – God Of War III

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is on our cover this month and it’s a game that is being directed by Stig Asmussen. Before joining the Star Wars universe, Asmussen worked on another franchise that took place a long time ago when he directed God of War III.

This week on Replay Andrew Reiner, Suriel Vazquez, Leo Vader, and I try to recover from E3 by reminiscing about the final entry in the God of War trilogy and talk about its connections to Jedi: Fallen Order.

This past week at E3 2019, I caught up with Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma to talk about the upcoming Link’s Awakening remake, the newly announced Breath of the Wild sequel, and plenty of other topics.

During a small portion of the interview, I bring up how his career has progressed over the two decades he’s been creating Zelda titles. According to Aonuma, the early days required him to roll up his sleeves and do much of the work himself. “One thing that definitely has changed is that in the beginning, I had to create a bunch of things on my own, but now I have a great team with great people with different skills to help me create things together,” he says.

When asked about his collaboration with other Nintendo producers like Shigeru Miyamoto or Takashi Tezuka, Aonuma focuses on the notion of collaborating with Miyamoto. “It’s very interesting that you bring up Mr. Miyamoto,” he says with a chuckle. “I’ve never thought of it as collaborating with him! Now that you’ve phrased it that way, I think, ‘Oh, working with Mr. Miyamoto is a collaboration.’ That’s kind of exciting!”

For more from my discussion with Aonuma, you can learn how the dungeon creation mechanics work in Link’s Awakening. You can also see everything we learned about the Breath of the Wild sequel, or learn about Aonuma’s philosophy on remaking and remastering Zelda games. To see Aonuma collaborate with Miyamoto in a rapid-fire questions video, head here.

It’s finally over! Video games are cool and all, but sometimes you just have to take a break. With another E3 come and gone, it’s time to kick back, relax, and not think about video games. Except for those of us who are still playing video games. What are you all playing? Let us know!

Jeff Cork – E3 is kind of an all-consuming time for gaming, so I’m going to carve out a nice chunk of time for doing literally anything else other than playing video games. Lawns don’t mow themselves, or at least they don’t until I teach my kids how to use the mower. Hey! That’s really boring! Moving on, I am playing something for review, and I’ve been having a good time with it so far. I can’t be specific right now, but take solace in the fact that an upcoming entertainment product is fun. What a time to be alive!

Emma Welch-Murphy (@EmmaMcmurphy) – This weekend we all finally get time off! We all had to come into the office over the passed weekend for E3 and after 12 days of gaming coverage, it’s finally over. I have a lot of freelance writing to get done but sleeping in is what i’m looking forward to most.

Joseph Stanichar (@JosephStanichar) – And that’s E3 in the bag! It was definitely busy, but I was surprised by how… not on fire everything was? Anyway, I have 18 hours at work this weekend, but when not doing that, I think I may give streaming a go! I’m considering playing Resident Evil 4 for the first time! Follow me on Twitter for news on when that starts.

Leo Vader (@leovader) – Gonna try and get adjusted to life in a post-E3 world! I’ll be keeping up with my Red Dead dailies and trying the new Rainbow Six ops. Thanks so much to everyone who tuned into our coverage, it was a super fun week! 

Matthew Kato (@MattKato) – I’d like to play the Madden 20 beta, get some games in before it shuts down on Sunday. In the meantime maybe I’ll also finish Observation. I don’t mind it in small doses, maybe it’s because I’m a crap space station robot, and/or maybe I don’t want the gameplay to overstay its welcome. Either way, I’m enjoying it.

Brian Shea (@BrianPShea) – I’m so very tired right now. I’m probably going to play Overwatch.

Kyle Hilliard (@KyleMHilliard) – I didn’t attend E3 in person this year, but it’s still a crazy week, even remotely, so I am looking forward to some rest. I am excited to try out Cadence of Hyrule and continue my journey in Days Gone, but otherwise I’ll probably mow the lawn and clean the litter box. You know – fun grown-up stuff that makes you feel alive.

Ben Hanson (@yozetty) –  Hey, E3 is done! Wow, that flew by. This weekend I hope to play some board games and hopefully some Cadence of Hyrule. Oh, and catch up on a ton of E3 coverage from other outlets.

Blake Woog (@woog_blake) – I wonder how many games I’m going to say I’ll play over the course of all of these Weekend Warriors that I’ll never get to… I’m probably going to add to that list right now! If I don’t end up painting a deck, I’ll probably try to slog through Cuphead on Switch, and I’m hoping to start learning to speedrun, because I like video games and hate my hands. 

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: November 22, 2019
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Building on the success of the fantastic 2016 Doom reboot, Doom Eternal has a lot riding on its shoulders. The shooter that put the genre on the map has restored its sterling reputation, and fans have lofty expectations for where the series can go next. 

At E3 we played an extended combat sequence that confirmed Doom Eternal is shaping up quite well. Afterward, we sat down with creative director Hugo Martin and executive producer Marty Stratton to talk about the changes we noticed in the demo. 

Demons Are Your One-Stop Resource Shop

Doom Eternal still has ammo, health, and other power-ups littered around the battle arenas, but these supplies won’t be enough to mow through the entire pack of bloodthirsty demons barreling down on your position. To make it through the fight, you need to take resupplies directly from enemies by killing them in various ways similar to the way you received a generous drop of ammo after using the chainsaw to slice apart an enemy. 

“We felt like ultimately, [using the chainsaw] was so much more satisfying than just overfilling the levels with resources everywhere so you’re tripping over them,” says creative director Hugo Martin. “We decided to steer into it with this one and say, “That felt really good. What else can we do to kind of allow you to take what you need when you need it from the bad guys that you’re killing?”

Chainsawing enemies still procures a healthy ammo resupply, but now you have three other techniques for collecting specific drops. Glory kills reward health, using the flame belch shoulder attachment to burn enemies yields armor, and stringing together glory kills powers up your Blood Punch super, a new rune-activated skill that lets you take down an enemy with one brutal punch.

The Corruption Meter Tracks Your Level Progress

Doom Eternal’s levels are packed with collectibles, secrets, power-ups, and demons. To give players a clearer sense of if they’ve seen everything they need to see, and shot every demon that needs to be shot, id added a new corruption meter in the upper righthand portion of the screen. 

“We think of the player like an exterminator – you’re cleaning out this facility full of cockroaches,” Martin says. “There are still some tucked in closets but you want to kill everything that was in that level before you leave to get all your combat points. Your current demonic corruption meter is an indicator at a quick glance.”

Explaining The Neon U.I. Overhaul

One of the more controversial new elements to Doom Eternal is the bright neon user interface, which pops off the screen much more so than the one used in Doom. When I asked Martin about it, he said they are still iterating to get it right, but they felt it was essential to make these elements more visible when you’re flying around the arena in the middle of a dozen demons. 

“Doom is not trying to be an immersive game; it’s not trying to be a cinematic game,” Martin says. “It’s a video game with the capital V that’s dripping with demon blood. Because it’s really fast, we’re putting a lot of pressure on the player. It’s speed chess. You’ve got to make decisions really fast. If I’m driving around a race car 200 miles an hour, I need all the signage and the game to be big and bold. Otherwise, I’m going to get killed. We want death to be a result of the player making a mistake and not the game screwing them. If stuff is subtle, it’s the game screwing me… It’s like in this game, I’m in a race car. Dude, if you have something to tell me, tell me loud and tell me fast. That’s really why we do everything with the glowing one-ups, the floating question marks, and the huge health packs.” 

Martin encourages players to experience the game before knocking the U.I. too hard because it is a functional decision, not an aesthetic one.

Slayer Gates Replace Rune Trials

The Doom reboot featured 12 unique trials players had to complete to receive equippable upgrades to the Doomslayer. These aren’t returning in Doom Eternal. Instead, id introduces Slayer Gates, secret, giant arena encounters. “They are really f–king hard, but they give you a lot of resources,” Martin says. 

To open a Slayer Gate, you first need to find a key somewhere in the level. 

Doom Eternal Rewards Exploration

Doom 2016 featured several collectibles like trophy figurines, data logs that fleshed out the backstory, Argent Shards for upgrading your base stats, and even hidden places themed like classic Doom maps. The studio doubles down on this concept in Doom Eternal.

“We are busting our ass to make sure that every aspect of the game has real meaning for the player,” Martin says. If you see like a ledge down there, leading to a little tunnel, you’re like, ‘I bet you there’s something down there.’ When you go in there, it’s going to be worth your time.” 

The Rune Lineup Includes Old Favorites And Powerful New Options

Just because Rune Trials are gone doesn’t mean runes are a thing of the past. The Praetor Suit still includes several slots that allow the Doom Slayer to equip runes that impart a variety of skill bonuses, and you can find runes by exploring the environment. Many popular options return for Doom Eternal, like the Blood Fueled rune that speeds up your movement after performing a glory kill. Id Software also designed some new ones it is excited about. 

“There’s one called Target Strike. It’s awesome,” Stratton says. “When you use mods, it slows time. It’s really cool when you’re doing things like using the scope on the HAR. Using the meat hook with it is fantastic.” 

This power is especially helpful when trying to do specific damage to a demon, like shooting the turret mounted on top of the Arachnotron or the guns on the Mancubus.

Traversal Plays A Bigger Role

The Doom Slayer has a lot more agility this time around thanks to some new tools that build on the double jump. The meat hook allows him to swing from enemies like a grappling hook, the new gloves let him scale particular walls, and the dash button helps him cross wide expanses. With all these new traversal mechanics at players’ disposal, id is making much more diverse and vertical environments that require some platforming skill to navigate. 

“This time around, I think level design takes a big step up,” Martins says. “We got criticized that [Doom 2016] was just too many arenas and hallways.”

The E3 demo had a major focus on wall climbing, but Stratton says they have many different ways to mix up the traversal from level to level. One might require you to bust chains to open levels, where another has you punching moving blocks to give you access to new areas. It almost sounds like a Mario game with bloodshed mixed in between platforming sections, but Martin insists it will still feel like Doom. 

“We can knock your socks off with a killer arena, But we can’t have like killer arena then another killer arena – there’s only so much you can take.  We gauge it from a pacing perspective, kind of like a piece of music. The arena is like a guitar solo, yeah, so let’s do something else for a second. But it’s always combat. It’s always aggression.”

No RTX Ray Tracing Support At Launch

Ray tracing is the cutting edge visual tech on the PC scene right now. This new tool allows developers to make lighting systems where the light behaves as it does in real life, bouncing and reflecting accurately off many different types of surfaces. Graphics-intensive games like Battlefield V and Metro Exodus have already added support for the technology, and id Software plans to do the same for Doom Eternal – just not at launch.

We’ve spent some time with that, but it is not at the top of our priority list,” Stratton says. “Finishing the game, we want it to run flawlessly at 60 frames per second in 4k and we also have our streaming initiatives both with Google and the Orion stuff. Making it unbelievable with ray tracing is definitely up there [on the to-do list], but we’re getting the game done first and foremost.”

No Arcade At Launch, Either

The popular arcade mode, which id Software added to Doom via a free update last time around, added a lot of replayability to the campaign, so it would have made sense for id to include it in Doom Eternal. No such luck just yet. 

“We’re not shipping with arcade mode, but there’ll be a lot of challenges,” Stratton says. “But you’ll have a whole track of things that you can do to earn XP. We’ll probably talk a lot more about that stuff at Quakecon.”

Though Arcade mode may not be in the plans right now, id has an aggressive plan for supporting the game post-launch. “When you look at Doom 2016 and look at the number of people that still play the game today, it’s mind-blowing,” Stratton says. “This time, we’re really going to support it, we’re going to give players new ways to play, fun ways to play, new challenges, new content, and keep them engaged. Engaged when they play the campaign right off the bat, and engaged long term as well. It’s a big focus for us.”

No Mod Support… Yet

Doom has always been associated with the mod scene, but last year’s attempt to appease creators with the rigid Snap Map system fell flat. Id is rightfully moving away from Snap Map with Doom Eternal, but the game isn’t quite ready to integrate mod support. However, that doesn’t mean id isn’t thinking about it.

“We’ve actually done things technically that are getting us closer to doing mod support, but it won’t be immediate,” Stratton says. “I think longer term. We made technical decisions years ago that we’re still moving away from, and they’re getting us closer to those kinds of things.” 

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The fate of Conan O’Brien’s recurring video game segment was called into question with the recent reformat of his show, but a recent episode confirms that it is still a thing, and O’Brien still doesn’t seem to know much about video games, but in a way that’s entertaining. In the latest episode, O’Brien is joined by Billy Eichner for a few rounds of the upcoming Crash Team Racing remake. You can watch the video above.

For more on Conan O’Brien’s video game-related shenanigans, you can read this interview with O’Brien’s cohort, Aaron Bleyaert, where he talks about his favorite video games of all time.

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The Dota 2 mod Auto Chess ushered in a new genre, giving players a chance to show off their strategic superiority in draft-based battles. Drodo Studio appears to be moving away from Steam, bringing a standalone version of its game to mobile and an upcoming Epic Games Store release. Fear not, though, Valve faithful. The studio has created its own version of the game, Dota Underlords. Today, we play through a match and see what it has to offer.

Underlords is still in pre-beta (available now to Dota 2 battle-pass holders), but it’s easy to see why people are so into the genre. There’s a lot of strategy at play here, as Dan Tack shows us in today’s episode. Dan breaks down the big concepts of the genre and also explains what Valve is bringing along, too, so you’re set whether you’ve been enjoying the Auto Chess Dota mod or are completely new to the experience.  

Skull & Bones

We learned a ton about a lot of games at this year’s E3. A Breath of the Wild sequel was announced, Keanu Reeves will follow you around in Cyberpunk 2077, and Watch Dogs Legion lets you play as old ladies, among other highlights, reveals, and demonstrations. With so many games presented, it begs the question: What didn’t we see at E3 2019? 

For more on E3, check out our <a href=”E3″>″>E3 2019 comprehensive page. 

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In an update trailer for the upcoming Japanese release of Persona 5 Royal, developer Atlus showed off some updates to palaces and battles to make the Phantom Thieves even more stylish. While the video is in Japanese, there is enough information in what is shown to cast educated speculation on some of the game’s changes.

The trailer shows off a number of combat updates, including purchasing bullets and customizing guns to use elemental effects in battle. In the base game, bullets could inflict status effects, like despair or fear. Now bullets will be capable of striking with elemental effects that were previously attached exclusively to player skills, like electricity or fire.

Another update is Joker’s use of the grappling hook. While the hook was shown off in Joker’s Smash Bros. appearance, fans had yet to see it in the actual game. Now, in the trailer, you can see the grappling hook being used for palace traversal, dodging traps and crossing gaps, but it can also be used to start a battle from a distance. If you see an enemy walking around in the palace, you can grapple yourself right to it, leading to a quick battle in your favor. 

There is also speculation in the comments section of the trailer that bullets will automatically refill after each battle instead of after the player leaves the palace, but it is hard to verify without a direct translation. 

The trailer also shows off a new collectable item in the palaces, a skull, that can be combined with other skulls you can collect to create an accessory. The accessory seems to be able to grant the character who has it equipped the ability to use a skill they had previously not learned. In the trailer, Ryuji Sakamoto, typically an offensive character, is shown using a healing skill, one he does not learn through typical leveling. 

While these all seem like fun and interesting changes to spice up traversal and combat, we will have to wait for an English translation (or the game’s Western release sometime in 2020) to see if this speculation is correct. 

For more on Persona 5 Royal, check out the E3 English trailer.

No Man’s Sky was a game that became infamous for undelivered promises way before Anthem did. But even after all this time and harsh criticisms, the developers did not give up hope and worked hard to make the game into what they knew it could be. The community is very happy with what the game has become and the thought of it getting better moving forward is beyond what they could have hoped for.

Besides just kind words sent Hello Games’ way through social media, the fans wanted to go above and beyond just like the developers have. So how do they go about it? By buying ad space on a billboard outside of Hello Games’ office.

A lot of people lost hope in the game, but looking at the success it has brought back to itself so far through updates, it is hard not to get tempted to give it another look.

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If you’ve played one Lego game, you’ve played them all. As much as I love the Lego games, I usually know what I’m in for when they boot up. That all changes with The Skywalker Saga. TT Games has completely rebuilt its engine and reimagined its classic Lego formula, and the results speak for themselves. (Actually, results can’t speak, so I’ll do that for them. The results say: This game rules.)

One of the biggest changes for this new Lego game is the camera, which now sits behind the shoulders of each character. The game looks great, the worlds are highly detailed, and the Lego characters have a nice fluid animation.

The Skywalker Saga not only looks different, it plays different. Have you heard of combos? Because TT Games has. Now characters can perform a series of attack combos. Of course, you can still button mash your way through most encounters, but you’ll also have more attack options in combat. The behind-the-shoulder camera also highlights the new shooting mechanics, which are now more precise and feel more like a third-person shooter (think of an adorable Gears of War).

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The entire game includes all nine episodes of the main Star Wars franchise – from The Phantom Menace to The Rise of Skywalker. Our E3 demo jumped into Return of the Jedi, but players can tackle each movie in any order. Once you jump into a movie, you’ll have the freedom to tackle objectives at your own pace. During the demo we watched the Millennium Falcon fly through outer space. During these open-ended sequences, players might randomly encounter roving bands of enemy fighters, and we watch a capital ship warp into view. If you avoid this combat, you can fly to a variety of planets within the Star Wars universe (at least 20 will be fully explorable in the final game). We watched the Millennium Falcon touched down on Tatooine. However, even when you’re planet side you’ll have multiple docking stations to choose from.

This sense of freedom extends to the ground-based levels. Once you’ve landed on Tatooine, you’re free to explore the space at your own pace, find hidden bricks, or complete various story missions. We watch Luke talk with a droid and use C-3PO to translate the droid speak. Each hero still has character-specific powers that might come in handy from time to time. We also saw familiar sights from the films, such as Tosche Station, Jabba’s sail barge, and the Sarlacc pit.

I haven’t been excited for a Star Wars game in years, but The Skywalker Saga definitely caught my eye. The game looks to appeal to long-time Star Wars fans, but also looks unique enough that newcomers could have a good time.