Sukeban Games has announced that its cyberpunk bartending sim, VA-11 HALL-A, will arrive on PlayStation 4 and Switch early in 2019.

Developed by Ysbryd Games and originally released on PC in 2016, VA-11 HALL-A made its way to Vita last year, but hadn’t hit major consoles as of yet. To see what our own Joe Juba thought of the PC version, check out our review.

 

Our Take
I haven’t played VA-11 HALL-A but I’ve heard nothing but good things, so I guess I’m waiting until early next year to play it on Switch!

Shenmue III publisher Deep Silver has announced that the game is being delayed until an unspecified date in 2019. The Yu Suzuki title was originally scheduled to come out in 2017, before its release was moved to later this year.

In a short statement creator said: “To all of our backers, we are very sorry for the delay. After much discussion with our partners, Deep Silver, we have concluded that extending the release will allow us to deliver Shenmue III at its best. We promise to use this time to improve the quality of Shenmue III.”

Back when the game was delayed into 2018, Suzuki said the team was using new tech to improve the game. In the fall of last year, a trailer for the title received criticism for showing characters with static facial expressions, which prompted the developer to put out a Kickstarter update showing that the characters’ faces in the game can indeed emote. Whether the new delay is related to the new tech or the faces or anything specific is unknown.

Shenmue III isn’t the only Deep Silver-published title to be delayed recently – the company also just announced that Metro Exodus will release in the first quarter of 2019.

[Source: Deep Silver and Shenmue III Kickstarter] 

 

Our Take 
Given the development challenges the game has already faced, taking more time with the title is not bad.

THQ Nordic, which recently acquired Metro Exodus publisher Deep Silver and its parent company Koch Media, announced in their earnings report today that Metro Exodus has been pushed to Q1 2019.

The title was originally expected to release in the third quarter of this year, putting it around games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. Though THQ Nordic did not expound on the reasons for the delay, Q1 2019 is thus far a less crowded time for the game to release.

We took a deep dive on Metro Exodus just a little while ago, so you can see what one of the most exciting games coming out of last year’s E3 has been shaping up since.

 

Our Take
Whatever the reason for the delay, the new release plan will likely serve the game a lot better. The game will only benefit from the extra time.

While People Can Fly announced their partnership with Square Enix last year, the Polish developer announced a studio expansion today for its AAA shooter.

The developer is expanding into the United Kingdom in hopes of picking up talent in the area that isn’t keen on moving all the way to Poland to work on the new game. The new studio brings the developer count for the Painkiller developer up to 150, presumably most if not all working on the previously announced Square Enix title.

People Can Fly was purchased by Epic Games in 2015, having worked on titles like Gears of War: Judgment under the company while being rebranded as Epic Games Poland. In 2014, the studio announced that they had bought themselves back from Epic and were taking on their old name and logo.

[Source: PCGamer]

 

Our Take
I was quite the fan of Bulletstorm, so I hope whatever People Can Fly is working on maintains their standards of taking the FPS genre not too seriously but very, very aggressively.

It’s been a rocky few years for the Vita, but it seems Sony is closing the coffin on the system’s software future.

Per a message received and reported on by Kotaku, Sony told developers today that they are shutting down production of physical Vita games. While it was unlikely any new games would be released on the system in the future, it also means that reprints on older games aren’t going to happen.

According to Kotaku’s story, Sony intends to keep the PSN store of Vita games up, but the existing Vita carts out there right now are the last ones out there. If you ever wanted a physical copy of Danganronpa or Persona 4 Golden, you might want to get one before they become rare.

The Vita was released in 2011, with a western release in America a few months later, for a price competitive with its major competition, the 3DS. Sony was eventually undercut by Nintendo, which slashed the price of its own handheld, and the Vita lost mindshare and momentum in the handheld race. The system managed to find a lot of success with certain types of titles and indie games, but high prices for proprietary storage and Sony’s reluctance to place internal developer resources on the system ultimately defined its quiet life until the end.

Fans of the Vita are adamant that no system has ever quite fit that same niche and will likely remember it fondly as a game with unique titles that weren’t adequately represented elsewhere.

[Source: Kotaku]

 

Our Take
I am surprised Sony is only now ending cart production, but I would guess there’s no rush for a successor system to move over manufacturing lines. The PlayStation 4 is such a success that the Vita likely does not weigh heavily on anyone’s mind.

The developers behind Mafia III have expanded with a new studio in the UK.

Hangar 13 has announced that they have opened a studio in Brighton lead by Nick Baynes, former director of Disney racing games Split/Second and Pure at Black Rock Studio. The Brighton studio is coordinating with Hangar 13’s California and Czech Republic studios while working on a still unannounced AAA title.

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome Nick and the Brighton team into our growing Hangar 13 family,” said Haden Blackman, global studio head of Hangar 13. 

It is unknown when Take Two intends to reveal Hangar 13’s new project.

 

Our Take
One of the fundamental problems with Mafia III was that it too quickly relied on repetitive mission design for content, so scaling up to multiple studios might help that.

Remember that contest from yesterday where we gave away a Pickle Rick statue to Minneapolis entrant? Well, Adult Swim has given Game Informer the go ahead to give away a special one-of-a-kind Pickle Rick statue to a lucky local fan in the Indianapolis area this time.

With Rick And Morty Season 3 releasing on blu-ray and DVD today on May 15, Adult Swim is celebrating the occasion with a handmade Pickle Rick statue that isn’t available at retail. Whoever wins this will have one of the only ones in the world that no other Rick and Morty fan can buy. Take a look at some pictures of it with different lighting below.

To win, just comment on the post below. We’ll pick a winner at random from the comments by next Tuesday, May 22, at 12:00 PM CT. We’ll shoot you a message at your Game Informer account and get the details for you to get your statue. This contest is only open for local fans, however, so if you’re not in the Indianapolis area, it probably doesn’t make sense to enter.

If you are in the area, comment below and make sure you enter before it’s too late. Not in either of the -apolis cities? We might have good news for you tomorrow.

No purchase necessary. Only open to U.S. Residents 13 years of age or older. Only one entry per person. One winner will be picked at random.

Rather abruptly, a website for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has appeared with an accompanying Facebook post announcing a 2021 release.

The website, which you can find here, is sparse on information beyond the title, a year of 2021, and an email address which had not responded to us yet at the time of writing. A separate Facebook post from Sergiy Grygorovych also appeared at the same time announcing the website launch.

Grygorovych is the founder of GSC Game World, the original developers of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. GSC Game World announced in the late 2000s that they were porting the series over to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but decided to move resources instead over to the creation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 to make its 2012 release date. In December 2011, GSC Game World closed its doors for mysterious reasons, with the former S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 devs forming Vostok games. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was officially cancelled a few weeks later for, according to a Facebook post, problems getting the investors and rights holders to agree.

Now it seems like GSC Game World has returned to the series and is resuming or restarting development of the game. We have contacted the parties involved to try and trace back where exactly this game is coming from, but have yet to hear back. In the meantime, you should trace the lineage of the first title in the series, Shadow of Chernobyl, through our deep dive into the title here.

 

Our Take
I am kind of baffled by this announcement, but I’m definitely eager to find out more. The far off release date makes it sound like whatever this is just started development, so I doubt we’ll find out for a while.

In the wake Boss Key Productions closing their doors after Lawbreaks and Radical Heights failing to take off, head honcho Cliff Bleszinski has begun tweeting out some of the Boss Key games that didn’t see the light of day.

The first game, codenamed “DragonFlies,” would have featured samurais riding dragons and fighting zombies. Bleszinski described the game’s aesthetic as “feudalpunk,” and said it would have done “for dragon riding what Halo did for vehicles.” Players would also have found and hatched dragon eggs, then raised the babies.

The second game was planned to be a VR title. Codenamed “Rover,” the game would have pitted five teams of five against each other using giant “Zoid looking walkers.” Teams would have likely been in charge of a single machine, with different players operating different systems and having to leave to quickly repair mechs due to the toxic air on the planet.

The last game Bleszinski showed was also a VR title, planned to be a spiritual successor to Toobin. He describes the game as “Mario Kart on water with animals in VR.”

These ideas were a group effort, according to Bleszinski. He also offered up a quick thought that offered a bit of insight into how developers pitch publishers on their ideas, and the potential pitfalls that come with that process.

 

Our Take
While these ideas sound great, games are made or broken in the development process, so it’s hard to know how the final projects would have turned out. Still, samurais riding dragons are cool, and it’s always disappointing to see ideas with potential get snuffed out.

As a smaller expansion in both size and price, my expectations for Warmind were modest, in keeping with similar prior expansions with the scope of a few new missions and locations to explore. And while the campaign missions are all too brief, there’s nonetheless a lot here for hobbyist players to enjoy. This isn’t the expansion that fully resolves Destiny 2’s flagging long-term engagement problem, but it admirably moves many aspects of play in the right direction, and offers abundant reasons for faithful players to log in on a day-to-day basis. 

The conclusion of Destiny 2’s core game brought a shift in the status quo for humanity’s Guardians, and Warmind continues the story trend begun with Curse of Osiris, offering follow-through on that moment. The Traveler’s awakening has stirred two sleeping giants in the polar ice caps of Mars, and dire consequences are promised if we don’t confront the threat at hand. Warmind’s story missions are fun to play through, but the ambitious scope of the narrative doesn’t have the time it needs to establish credibility or drama; almost as soon as the threat is introduced, I’ve shot it, it’s dead, and there’s no reason to care anymore. 

That’s why I was happily surprised that so much fiction, context, and secrets lurked in the post-campaign loop. Warmind applies the philosophy that served The Taken King expansion of the original game so well, embedding hidden weapons, cryptic caches, and nuggets of lore across the Mars landscape, helping exploration to feel meaningful and mysterious. That new exotic Sparrow vehicle is far more memorable because of the scattered data fragments that led to its discovery, and the details hinted about its creator. On a broader level, the Hellas Basin of Mars is a superb new destination, juxtaposing impressive ice caverns against a massive research facility, with lots of nooks and crannies to uncover.

Warmind goes to great pains to encourage long-term daily and weekly investment from its players, but the full progression system needs a more dramatic overhaul to be at its best. In particular, rewards are not currently commensurate with the effort involved in achieving them, especially in some particularly challenging (if mostly enjoyable) content like heroic strikes. Across the game, several methods of boosting character power have been tweaked or eliminated, leading to a painfully tedious grind. Endgame activities like the new Spire of Stars raid lair and Escalation Protocol have been tuned to be extremely challenging – a good or bad thing depending on your level of commitment – but there’s no doubt that the pool of potential players for those activities is smaller than it could be as a result.

The Escalation Protocol wave-based PvE event is the clearest example of a smart idea that isn’t reaching its potential. These big public space fights can be thrilling, but the absence of meaningful matchmaking or grouping options mean it’s rare that a full team is even present to confront the challenge, and the event is often failed almost as soon as it has begun. As more people reach higher power levels this should improve, but once again, some of Destiny 2’s best content is being obscured by an unwillingness to embrace structured grouping of varied sizes. 

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The Crucible is in a comparatively good place right now, with strong balance between weapon types and subclasses. The variety of game types expanded over the course of last season through Rumble and 6v6 Iron Banner, and along with the addition of a couple of strong new maps with Warmind, the variety in playspaces and activities is at a high point. A dual ranking system rewards both consistent play (valor) and skill (glory), though the latter may make the higher-tier competitive playlist even more insular and unfriendly to those who are wanting to give it a shot. The return of private matches is excellent news, even if it was a bit confounding that it wasn’t included in the base game last fall. 

Contentious issues around the prevalence of team-shooting, weapon slot structure, and time-to-kill are still hot topics among the vocal upper echelon of Destiny 2’s community; these are serious issues, but I’m also sensitive to the developer seeking a middle ground between addressing those complaints, and maintaining an environment that isn’t punishing for the average player.  It’s safe to say that we’re looking at a work-in-progress as the Crucible continues to be revised.

New weapons and armor are always exciting, but the real star of the show this time is the newly reinvigorated exotic weapons. While a few stinkers remain, many of the exotic weapons finally feel epic and powerful. I face a genuinely difficult choice as I weigh the merits of the black hole-slinging Graviton Lance or the explosive Sunshot hand cannon, and that’s the way it should be. 

While I’m not ever going to be a fan of the microtransactions, Warmind does a better job of telegraphing the nature of these mostly cosmetic rewards, and offering increased opportunities to find some of them from activities. In a game that is currently suffering from a dearth of fun rewards for day-to-day play, that practice should be increased; public events, world chests, patrols, strikes, and Crucible matches would be improved with a higher chance of some of these appealing cosmetics in the loot pool. 

Warmind effectively rounds out Destiny 2’s first year, and represents a franchise in a strange period of transition. The game seeks to maintain some of its successful new features, like better destinations and clan integration, even as it simultaneously tries to recapture some of the magic and investment that characterized its predecessor. The weapon is aiming at the right target, and now it just needs to hit that precision shot.