Something strange is once again brewing in the neighborhood, but don’t worry – somebody already called Jason Reitman to handle it. In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, the director announced that he is working on a new Ghostbusters movie, which will continue the story of the original two films.

Jason Reitman has directed a number of movies over the years including Thank You For Smoking, Juno, and last year’s The Front Runner. In this case, however, his most significant tie to the franchise is his father, Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two Ghostbusters films and will produce the new one as well.

Jason Reitman isn’t saying yet if Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, or Ernie Hudson will be returning in the new movie, but told Entertainment Weekly, “We have a lot of wonderful surprises and new characters for the audience to meet.”

Reitman also praised the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot in the interview, while making it clear fans shouldn’t expect any cameos from the new crew. “I have so much respect for what [director] Paul [Feig] created with those brilliant actresses, and would love to see more stories from them. However, this new movie will follow the trajectory of the original film.”

The new Ghostbusters is currently slated for release next summer from Sony Pictures.

[Source: Entertainment Weekly]

Ronda Rousey has become somewhat of a household name over the years, between her meteoric rise in the UFC and her recent stint as a professional wrestler in the WWE. The mixed martial artist is well known beyond just her ability to beat down opponents, making her a pretty natural fit for being the face of a fighting game. It looks like Rousey will get her chance with the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11.

In a tweet posted last night, Rousey links to an Instagram picture of her holding an invitation for the Mortal Kombat 11 reveal taking place January 17 in Los Angeles, seemingly confirming her involvement.

A rumor from late last year posted on reddit suggested that Rousey would be voicing Sonya Blade, the tough-as-nails special forces officer present in every significant Mortal Kombat game. Rousey’s tweet likely confirms all other aspects of the rumor, though it was pretty safe to assume based on the fact that the original posting featured the game’s box art a month before it was officially revealed.

Rousey wouldn’t be the first celebrity to voice Sonya Blade, as MKX cast Battlestar Galactica actress Tricia Helfer as the character. Rousey makes for a much more controversial choice, however, as she tends to speak her mind and openly engage in conspiracy theories about mass shootings being faked by the government. It is assumed that she will not be the only celebrity voice in Mortal Kombat 11, but no others have tipped their hands yet.

Mortal Kombat 11’s reveal event takes place on January 17 at 10:30 a.m. PST on Netherrealm’s Twitch channel. The game itself will be released April 23 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Get ready to head to Washington, agents. Ubisoft just announced the start date for The Division 2’s private beta and it’s real soon.

The private beta starts on February 7 and runs through February 10. Ubisoft says that players can access the beta by pre-ordering the game at participating retailers. The publisher also clarifies that players “who register at thedivisiongame.com/beta will be invited to join as space allows.”

For more on The Division 2, head here.

Bandai Namco has announced that it will begin work on a new Dragon Ball Z action/RPG game in 2019. No further details have been given, but the year is young.

The company also teased Dragon Ball FighterZ news with the announcement that a fighter from Universe 11 is coming to the game (Jiren or Toppa, perhaps?), and this will be revealed at the World Tour Finals at the end of the month.

[Source: Bandai Namco]

Hitman developer IO Interactive has announced that it has opened a new studio in Malmö, Sweden called IOI Malmö that will work on Hitman content as well as new, unannounced projects not related to the assassination simulator.

“This will expand our muscles for creating brand-new and exciting endeavours, new universes, [and] new franchises,” reads a statement on the IO Interactive website.

The studio is already up and running and is currently hiring.

[Source: IO Interactive]

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Release: February 15, 2019
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

With the February 15 release date fast approaching, Metro Exodus has already gone gold and developer 4A Games is in the fine-tuning stage of development. Deep Silver recently swung past GI headquarters to give us one last look at the game before we begin our final evaluations. 

This latest build brings us to a dusty desert region we only saw glimpses of during our cover story visit to 4A Games’ Malta studio last year. Artyom and the Spartan Rangers accompanying him are far away from the Moscow subway tunnels they once called home, and from the looks of it, they are worse for the wear. 

I journeyed through this dangerous region for several hours, by far our most expansive hands-on time with the promising title thus far. Here’s what you need to know.

Click here to watch embedded video

The Countryside Is As Unforgiving As The Metro

This mission starts with the Spartans in dire straits. The Aurora locomotive that serves as the group’s home and your hub has burned through all the coal, leaving them to burn any available fuel. To make matters worse, its water tank is also dangerously empty, and many passengers are suffering from hunger, dehydration, and sickness. 

This desert is no convalescence resort, so Artyom is assigned four critical tasks – find some water reservoirs, steal some gasoline, and look for the nearby communications bunker that may have maps the Spartans can use to find a hospitable area free from radioactive fallout. 

Just because the mission takes place outside, however, doesn’t mean Artyom now has an abundance of resources. Like the underground tunnels of the previous two games, attrition still plays a central role in Metro Exodus. With the new sandbox-style world design, you’re free to wander in any direction, and exploring can yield some nice attachment upgrades. But you’ll also probably burn through a lot more ammo defending yourself, which could put you in a disadvantageous position during the more focused firefights. Expect to desperately scavenge resources and constantly deconstruct ammo for guns you aren’t currently using so you can fill enough magazines to get you through your next armed encounter. Sometimes, it’s smarter to stick to the shadows and conserve those bullets. 

The Wide Open Areas Still Have Frightful Moments 

When 4A Games announced its plans to leave the underground and head into the open Russian countryside with Metro Exodus, I had concerns. Namely, could the studio still pull off pulse-quickening moments in wide open spaces? Thus far, this quality hasn’t been lost in translation. 

When I first set off on-foot in this desert region, I headed toward a set of ruins off the path from my next objective. Rounding a corner into the rubble left from a building, I was immediately taken aback when it looked like the wall started to move toward me. That was no wall. Apparently, the hunched “humanimals” roaming the irradiated wastelands have developed camouflage skills, because the ones in this region blend in perfectly with the tan backdrop. Fighting off one of these new beasts is easy enough, but they can call for backup. If you’re not careful, you can be quickly overwhelmed. 

Humanimals aren’t the only horrors haunting this region. Mutated snakes slither through the sands and can catch you off-guard in otherwise deserted areas. The winged demons hover above and occasionally swoop down to grab you (or beat the hell out of your vehicle) if you’re spotted. Occasionally, sandstorms whip through the region as well, dramatically diminishing visibility and making it much harder to identify threats from afar. 

The Interiors Are Suffocating And Dangerous 

Though these sandbox regions have lots of open space, 4A Games includes large, detailed underground areas as well where it can inject that classic claustrophobic Metro tension. Artyom journeys to this Caspian region to find an invaluable set of maps in a nearby bunker. Enlisting the help of a local lady who owes him a favor after repelling a bandit advance on the lighthouse she calls home, Artyom gains access to the abandoned facility. 

Down here, Artyom has to deal with a lot of familiar problems – radiation zones that require he equip his facemask, dimly lit corridors, packs of lurkers and spiderbugs roaming the area ready to swarm on first sight, and dilapidated rooms that give these mutant threats the ability to emerge and attack from all directions. The dread that hangs in this underground complex feels like classic Metro. After locating and packing up the maps, the sporadic firefights leave Artyom short on ammo. The mission ends in a dramatic sprint back to the elevator while being overwhelmed by enemies.

The Game Reacts Dynamically To Your Actions

With Metro Exodus allowing players to chart their own path through the sandbox spaces, 4A Games had to design a mission structure that accommodates this newfound freedom. I saw these systems on display during my playthrough. When I showed no intentions of going to the first objective, after I journeyed far enough in another direction eventually Artyom’s handlers call over the radio to suggest he head to another nearby place of interest. But in doing so, I missed a set-piece moment where a sandstorm engulfs a communication tower and Artyom gains access to his first vehicle. Going off the beaten path doesn’t punish the player, however. I eventually gain access to a vehicle by other means. 

After I successfully recouped the map, I could have continued to find the water and fuel supplies, but instead I headed back to the train to see what my compatriots were up to. After chatting with some of the people and crafting more bullets at the workbench, a dynamic firefight broke out right outside the train against a local faction threatened by our presence. 

The Sandboxes Have A Lot Of Diversity

Desert regions are rarely the standout setting in video games – they are frequently barren and uninteresting because by their very natures, the developers don’t have a lot to work with. That’s not the case in Metro Exodus. I journeyed to most of the corners of the map and found it to be surprisingly diverse thanks to its proximity to the former shores of the Caspian sea. While most of the map is arid, you still see the infrastructure of a docking region, with a lighthouse, large crane, and several beached shipping vessels where the regional power keeps its prisoners. A change in altitude along the western part of the map gives way to an interesting cave system, and on the other side of the map you can find some gear in the air tower and hangers-on an abandoned airfield. 

We felt the same way about the thawing river region and densely wooded territory we saw in previous game demonstrations, each of which had multiple alluring points of interest.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                       

Artyom’s Lack of Agility Can Hinder You

Maybe it’s because he’s spent most of his life in the tunnels of Moscow. Maybe it’s because he lugs a backpack of heavy gear with him everywhere he goes. Whatever the reason, Artyom is not a limber man. Throughout my playthrough, I was surprised by how slowly he vaulted and climbed and how difficult it was for him to maneuver through tight places. Don’t expect to be moving quickly between different vertical planes. This is important to remember during firefights, where you can leave yourself mortally exposed if you make your move at the wrong time. 

To learn more about Metro Exodus, check out all the details we discovered about the game in our cover story hub.

Publisher: Grasshopper Manufacture
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Release: January 18, 2019
Rating: Mature
Reviewed on: Switch

Although Goichi Suda has had his name on most of developer Grasshopper Manufacture’s output, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is billed as his return to the director’s chair for the first time since the original No More Heroes. Travis Strikes Again is smaller in scope than most recent Grasshopper titles, but it’s a confident return to the wilder side that made the studio famous, in both its rough edges and its willingness to venture into strange places.

Travis Touchdown is looking for the six mysterious Death Balls, a collection of game cartridges for an obscenely rare and deadly console called the Death Drive Mark II. The Death Balls are said to grant one wish to whoever collects and beats them all, and Bad Man, whose daughter Travis killed in the first No More Heroes, hopes to revive her. As Travis and Bad Man team up to descend into the world of each Death Drive game, they find the games corrupted by bugs and taken over by Juvenile, an eccentric game developer with a sordid history. The plot functions more as a vehicle for cool moments than anything else, but those moments are pulled off with aplomb.

While the setup implies each game will be vastly different, they all use the same hack-and-slash combat as their base. Fights move quickly, with a mix of crowd-controlling fodder enemies and zeroing in on stronger enemies that require a little more finesse to take down. Early encounters are a bit mindless as you learn how to maneuver and execute different attacks, but later encounters required me to think more critically about how I approached them. 

Click here to watch embedded video

You also find a number of equippable skills that let you tailor Travis or Bad Man to your liking, adding an interesting layer to combat. While I wound up with a couple of staples, I regularly came up with combos I thought were unbeatable (like dropping a time-slowing field to set up a guided laser that took a few seconds to fire), only to swap them out after facing a boss or fight that kept me on my toes. It’s not as intricate or engaging as other action games, but each level introduces just enough twists to keep things fun, even as the enemy and combat encounters taper off near the end. 

You can also play the entire game in co-op to make things easier, but unfortunately my partner and I kept finding ourselves offscreen since the view doesn’t zoom out to keep up with the action.

What makes Travis Strikes Again shine, however, is how it brims with style, and how it uses its combat as a jumping off point for some cool aesthetic touches and setpieces. In one game, you fight through waves of enemies in order to get parts for a motorcycle, which you then use to compete in drift races with vector-graphics. Another pays homage to the original Resident Evil, with a mansion foyer acting as a central hub. And without spoiling too much, things only get weirder and more referential from there.

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Between levels, you learn how Travis acquires each new Death Ball by reading through a retro visual novel, which has its own share of references and surprises. You can also explore Travis’ trailer, reading blog entries about the different kinds of ramen you eat throughout the game, buying and wearing different T-shirts (most of which feature logos for various indie games like Undertale, Hyper Light Drifter, and Hotline Miami), and reading short magazine spreads with fun write-ups of every game and a few cheat codes, both real and fake. Although these segments are relatively minor, they made for a great distraction and doubled as a change of pace from the combat.

Travis Strikes Again finds a good balance between fun, approachable action and reveling in Suda51 and Grasshopper’s signature style. It’s not the most intricate action game out there, but the simple combat works well as a vessel for several one-off moments that elevate it above its simple premise. It’s more of a prelude than a main event, but both on its own and as sign of things to come, Travis Strikes again is a promising return to form. 

Score: 8.25

Summary: Travis Strikes Again is smaller in scope than its predecessors, but no less weird and surprising.

Concept: Return to the world of No More Heroes in a side story that’s smaller in scope and offers a different flavor of weird

Graphics: Characters, bosses, and levels have a lightly cel-shaded style that looks dated, but the stylistic trappings that permeate the game more than make up for them

Sound: Some neat remixes of the No More Heroes theme are the highlight of the soundtrack, which mostly sticks to standard synth and boom-bap loops

Playability: Combat is fairly simple and can occasionally be frustrating, but the emphasis on crowd control and skill combos keeps things interesting for most of the campaign

Entertainment: Travis Strikes Again returns to the more stylish tendencies of early Grasshopper Manufacture, with decent combat elevated by a strong sense of style and writing

Replay: Moderately low

The unnamed Star Wars game that was rebooted in 2017 alongside the closure of EA’s Visceral studio has seemingly once again been cancelled, according to a report from Kotaku. The open world game was intended to be EA’s next big Star Wars project, but seemingly was unable to come together.

When Visceral closed, EA moved the project to EA Motive, which had been working with Visceral on the game during development. The title was reportedly going through a number of changes from director Amy Hennig’s original design and story, but EA never publicly showed the rebooted version. EA Motive eventually opened a Vancouver office, sharing space with EA Vancouver until the two merged. After installing a new studio head in Samantha Ryan, Jade Raymond left the studio.

Kotaku also reports that the next game from EA Vancouver might also be a Star Wars game, but it would be years away even if were. In May 2013, Electronic Arts signed a ten year exclusivity deal for non-LEGO console and PC Star Wars titles, of which five years have passed. In that time, EA has released Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II. They have also announced Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from Titanfall developer Respawn scheduled to be released this year.

[Source: Kotaku]

Publisher: Elastic Games
Developer: Elastic Games
Release: December 18, 2018
Rating: Not rated
Reviewed on: PC

Horror fans have had a number of asymmetrical multiplayer games to choose from in the past few years, from the procedurally generated killing fields of Dead By Daylight to the iconic Camp Crystal Lake in Friday The 13th. Last Year: The Nightmare (launching exclusively on Discord) joins the fray with tense and stylish five-versus-one matches that faithfully capture the gory kills and cat-and-mouse chases the genre revels in. Unfortunately, Last Year isn’t just late to the party – it’s also underdressed, lacking the depth and variety of content necessary to keep players coming back for the long haul.

Like the other titles of its ilk, Last Year is built on a simple premise: Five students are trapped inside their school by a maniacal killer, and must escape or die trying. Reaching the exit requires the endangered teens to first accomplish a few basic objectives on each map, such as finding gas canisters to fuel a generator or retrieving computer disks to operate an electronic door. They can also increase their chances of success by barricading doors, rescuing killed allies from the closets they respawn in (a mechanic taken straight from Left 4 Dead), and using scavenged scrap to craft class-specific items, such as smoke bombs, flamethrowers, and the almighty football helmet, giving them a little extra incentive to explore and prepare.

The students can’t dillydally, since the pursuing psychopaths have their own tricks. In addition to a character-specific ability such as snagging victims with a throwable hook or smashing through walls like a murderous Kool-Aid Man, each killer can also lay out beartraps, rig crafting materials with poisonous gas, and teleport to new locations when the survivors aren’t looking. This makes the lone player controlling the killer a much more powerful and deadly predator than the students he or she is stalking.

While not particularly original, Last Year’s core formula is still exciting, occasionally delivering genre-perfect jump scares, like when the Slasher shatters through a skylight and plants his axe in a target’s head, or when the Strangler ropes a victim down into a dark vent for a Pennywise-inspired instakill. Each map also ends with its own unique dash to freedom, setting up exciting escapes and heroic sacrifices as the clock runs down. These final races to the exit always provide a satisfying thrill, assuming the survivors live long enough to see them. 

Unfortunately, surviving comes with quite the learning curve. Last Year features no tutorial or ability to practice with the characters, so you’re forced to learn on the job during your first several matches. In addition to getting a handle on the unique ability and crafting items of the different classes, knowing the routes, bottlenecks, and shortcuts of each map is also vitally important. As such, newcomers are a serious drag on experienced teams, which isn’t fun for anyone. The same is doubly true for playing as the killer. Expect to serve up lopsided victories to well-coordinated teams as you learn when and where to engage players and how best to use your abilities. Playing as the solo player in five-versus-one games is always a stressful affair, and Last Year’s total lack of onboarding doesn’t help.

While Last Year’s learning curve can be overcome with time, you will likely have grown tired of the game’s limited content by the time you get good. Last Year currently only features one mode, three maps, and three monsters to choose from, allowing you to see and do pretty much everything in an afternoon. The complete lack of progression (outside of some rudimentary leaderboards) also leaves little incentive to keep coming back. Like with many multiplayer games, Elastic Games plans to provide a steady stream of content updates to players, but the game is starting well behind contemporaries like Dead By Daylight and Friday The 13th.

Playing as the survivors is heavily dependent on communicating and coordinating with your team to stay ahead of the attacker. Being on mic is a virtual necessity; you can’t just forgo voice chat entirely and expect to fare well. The random strangers I was paired up with (and forced to listen to) had a huge impact on my enjoyment from match to match. Landing on a friendly team makes all the difference for newcomers, but is far from guaranteed given how small the playerbase is at this point, which isn’t exactly a great sign for the game’s future in its own right. Muting offensive players is an easy enough option, but unless you’re the killer, you are handicapping yourself more than most games every time you silence a teammate – even if they really deserve it. 

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                       

In addition to a crazed killer, players must also currently face a number of bugs and balancing issues. In one match, I crafted a helmet only to have it hover directly in front of my face, completely obscuring my view for the remainder of the match (which didn’t last long, as I blindly walked off some scaffolding a few minutes later). Balancing issues like the overpowered taser and the uphill battle killers face on the library level are common topics of complaint in group chat, as are connection problems and lag. So far, updates have been sparse since launch, which raises serious questions about whether the small developer can deliver on the loftier promise of providing new maps, killers, game modes, and more as part of its “evergreen content strategy.”

Every match of Last Year begins with a cutscene of the students poring over a blueprint of their escape, a rudimentary roadmap of the adventure to come. At this point, that feels like the development stage Last Year is currently at. The core gameplay offers moments of undeniable excitement, but without more depth, variety, and some sense of progression, Last Year won’t survive long against the competition.

Click here to watch embedded video

Score: 7

Summary: Last Year’s five-versus-one matches deliver plenty of thrills, but the game needs more content to keep players coming back.

Concept: Give horror fans another chance to live out their slasher-film fantasies in five-versus-one multiplayer matches

Graphics: Last Year looks great thanks to a strong, exaggerated art style that brings the schoolyard environments and humorous character archetypes to life

Sound: The purposely campy voicework is well done. All of the killers sound appropriately demented in their own ways

Playability: The control scheme is simple enough, but you need plenty of practice to be competitive

Entertainment: Last Year’s core gameplay is solid, but the thrills are short-lived due to a lack of content

Replay: Moderately Low

During a livestream today, Bethesda revealed the newest expansion to The Elder Scrolls Online, bringing players to Elsweyr for the first time since The Elder Scrolls: Arena in 1994. The expansion comes with what Bethesda is calling the Season of the Dragon, pitting Tamriel’s warriors against the series’ dragon without the powers of a dragonborn on their side.

The Season of the Dragon is the title given to 2019’s year of Elder Scrolls Online content, including the announced Wrathstone dungeon pack, a new Necromancer job class, and the unannounced dungeon packs for later this year. Elsweyr alone accounts for 30 hours of story content.

Check out the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded video

Elsweyr can be played from the beginning by new players without any need to jump into older content. Similarly, existing players can start fresh in Elsweyr as a Necromancer. Players are tasked with defending the Khajit-born region from the dragon swarm lead by Kaalgrontiid. You can’t rely on fus roh dah when there’s no dragonborn to be found, so swords and shields will have to do.

Elsweyr launches for all versions of Elder Scrolls Online on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 4.