I’m not going to mince words here: Metal Gear Survive has issues. That’s probably what many Metal Gear fans were expecting, considering that the project is the first entry after Konami’s acrimonious split with series creator Hideo Kojima. But even apart from all of that drama, Metal Gear Survive fails to entertain as a survival experience. If Konami wants to salvage this title and turn it into something players can enjoy, here are five big changes that might turn it around.

1. Less eating and drinking
Managing hunger and thirst (among other resources) is a core component of many games in this genre. That Metal Gear Survive makes you balance these demands isn’t a problem. However, the aggressive pace at which your hunger and thirst deplete means that you spend too much time worrying about food and water. Getting excited about an expedition into the unknown is tough when you never feel like you have the freedom to explore, or the breathing room to enjoy the items you collect. I’m not even suggesting removing these restrictions entirely, but they are too oppressive in their current form. If Konami made tweaks that allowed you to devote less effort to keeping your hunger and thirst under control, you could have more fun with the upgrades, base-building, and other parts of the experience.

2. No more drip-feeding
Metal Gear Survive has a bunch of interlocking systems, but introduces them way too slowly. Why deliberately prevent players from accessing the full complement of features that make the experience interesting? For instance, Metal Gear Survive has different classes with different abilities you can invest in. The only problem: You are stuck with just one class until you finish a short series missions after beating the campaign. Other parts of the game suffer from this clumsy pacing too. Rescuing and recruiting new staff members, generating your own food, and base-building are all fun, but you shouldn’t have to play the game for 20+ hours before you start getting a taste of the good parts. Make the road to these things shorter and less of a slog, and you’d have a game that comes closer to realizing its potential.

3. Don’t hold multiplayer hostage
Prior to its release, Konami placed a huge emphasis on Metal Gear Survive’s multiplayer. It’s what I played at E3 last year, at a time when the company only vaguely alluded to the presence of any single-player content at all. That’s why I felt tricked when I first started playing Metal Gear Survive after its release. I had to play for almost two hours before any multiplayer opened up. When it did, I was hilariously under-leveled, and had to be carried by my teammates for several matches until I reached a point when I could actually contribute. Beyond that hurdle, the game also has an issue with the breadth of content. The modes and maps are disappointingly sparse, even when you have them all unlocked – which only happens after you reach the final stretch of the single-player campaign. Multiplayer (and the various options associated with it) needs to be separated further from the solo content. If people want to play co-op, they should be able to do that freely without clearing various arbitrary hurdles in the story mode.

4. Ditch (or at least fix) microtransactions
I had hoped that Konami would take a more sensible (or at least less exploitative) approach to microtransactions after the FOB debacle in The Phantom Pain. That did not happen; Metal Gear Survive’s implementation of premium currency is sinister and awful in a variety of ways. The worst is how the core gameplay drives players into a frustrating loop of hunger and thirst management (see above). This throttling of progress leaves you thinking, “Wow, this sucks. I wish I didn’t have to deal with this.” The game’s response? “You don’t have to…just spend some real money on this boost!”

This also comes into play in the late-game as you wait for new waves of zombies to attack your base; the wait between waves can take up to an entire real-time day… but not if you pay to speed up that timer. You also need to use premium currency to get additional character slots beyond your first. Of course, you can’t buy the number of coins that you actually want to achieve your goal; you have to buy them in pre-set packages that inevitably leave some small and practically useless amounts unused and wasted. Here’s the bottom line: The whole structure bears a striking resemblance to the slimiest free-to-play mobile games, except in this case, you’ve paid $40 for the base game already.

5. Offline play
If you’re not online, you can’t play Metal Gear Survive at all in any game mode. It doesn’t matter if you are only interested in the single-player campaign; the whole game requires an always-on connection. Why? Obviously, you need to be online to use the cooperative multiplayer, but the solo experience gains nothing from this restriction, so why make us put up with the extra complication?

Sony has
announced PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita games will no longer be part of its monthly roster of free PlayStation Plus titles.

But don’t fret. Any
PS3 and Vita freebies previously downloaded from PS Plus can be re-downloaded
any time after the update, which goes live March 8, 2019. Sony simply will
no longer include new games from those platforms in future lineups. Members can also
still use game saves among other PS Plus perks on PS3 and Vita following the update.

Sony says this
update stems from “the increasingly vast number of PS4s in homes around the world.” PS Plus each month typically releases two games each from PS4, PS3, and Vita,
each platform of which sometimes has cross buy. Sony in a
statement to Polygon
says the PS3 and Vita games won’t be replaced by more PS4
titles. PS Plus will instead only release the usual two free PS4 games.

Check out
the free PS Plus games for March here.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

 

Our Take
It’s certainly understandable why Sony wants people to ditch the old and focus more on the new, especially with the PS4s critical and commercial success that it absolutely deserves. However, not substituting the four PS3 and Vita games with one, maybe two more PS4 titles each month devalues PS Plus. The free games are arguably the best part about being a member. Perhaps if there’s enough fan demand Sony will compensate with more PS4 titles. If not, they need to have more desirable games on their PS Plus horizon to keep people on the hook.

Hironobu Sakaguchi, commonly known as the father of the Final Fantasy series, will be doing a four-part stream of Final Fantasy VI on March 1.

In conjunction with Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, Sakaguchi will be streaming the game on Youtube and Japanese video site NicoNico. The first episode will have a guest appearance by Kazuko Shibuya, the pixel artist on Final Fantasy VI, to join Sakaguchi in his quest to topple the Empire and save the world from ruin.

Sakaguchi directed the Final Fantasy series up through Final Fantasy V, then becoming the producer for the series as a whole until Final Fantasy IX. After that, Sakaguchi took on a more broad role in Square, overseeing games like Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story, and Kingdom Hearts. After he spearheaded and directed Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which was a box-office bomb, Sakaguchi resigned from Square and founded Mistwalker, the studio behind games like Lost Odyssey and Terra Battle.

Final Fantasy VI was released in the west as Final Fantasy III, but has since been referred to in every modern incarnation as the corrected VI.

[Source: Gematsu]

 

Our Take
It probably won’t do me much good in Japanese, but I’m really hopeful someone subtitles this so we can hear Sakaguchi’s insights into what I think is the best Final Fantasy game.

Final Fantasy XV is coming to PC on March 6, and the bonuses keep rolling in. Those who pick up the PC edition before May 1 will be treated to a Sims 4 pack, which includes two very unique superhero outfits, the Llama Suit and Plumbob. You can see them in action in the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

This pack comes in addition to the Half-Life pack, which allows you to dress Noctis up as Gordon Freeman and fight enemies with a crowbar.

March starts tomorrow, and with it comes a new lineup of games available for PlayStation Plus subscribers. This month’s lineup is headlined by Bloodborne, a dark and dreary action RPG that’s one of PlayStation’s best exclusives, and Ratchet & Clank, which is much better than the film and helps breathe new life into the iconic PlayStation characters.

Here’s the rest of March’s PlayStation Plus offerings:

  • Legend of Kay, PS3
  • Mighty No. 9, PS3 (Cross Buy with PS4)
  • Claire: Extended Cut, PS Vita (Cross Buy with PS4)
  • Bombing Busters, PS Vita (Cross Buy with PS4)

Fans of Dungeon Defenders II will also be able to receive an exclusive PlayStation Plus pack starting on March 13 through April 10, which will include four Shadow Costumes, one million in gold, five Campaign Shard Packs, five Defender Packs, and a Ninja Gato Pet. Every other game that’s listed on March’s PlayStation Plus lineup will be available next week.

Kirby’s Switch debut is only a few weeks away, so we decided to take an extended, detailed look at the game. To do that, however, it was requested that we keep our looks to three minutes each, with the option to showcase up to 15 minutes for footage from the game prior to its release on March 16. So we decided to do exactly that.

Join Jeff Cork, Leo Vader, a special guest I refuse to spoil here, and me for a look at Kirby Star Allies across five bite-sized episodes.

Episode 1
(Please visit the site to view this media)

Episode 2
(Please visit the site to view this media)

Episode 3: The Co-op Episode With Special Guest Suriel Vazquez
(Please visit the site to view this media)

Episode 4
(Please visit the site to view this media)

Episode 5
(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more on Kirby Star Allies, head here.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph was a warm-hearted exploration of heroism and retro gaming, and the upcoming sequel appears to be raising the stakes even higher. How? By taking the arcade heroes Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz online, of course. The studio has released a new trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, which provides a slice of how they fare in this technologically advanced world.

Check out the clip below to see the pair interact with spam, clickbait, eBay, tablet gaming, and more.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 is coming to theaters on November 21. 

David Jaffe's Studio Shuts Down

The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency has shut its doors, a month after the Drawn to Death developer announced it was laying off the majority of its staff. Studio founder David Jaffe broke the news in a tweet this morning, in which he also said the studio was looking to unload a variety of Twisted Metal and God of War props to people who live near the studio.

Drawn to Death was the studio’s sole release, and the stylish shooter was widely panned by critics. A few days earlier, Jaffe tweeted that the team had been working on a PlayStation VR Iron Man game on its own, with plans to eventually pitch it to Marvel. Unfortunately, that didn’t come to fruition.

[Source: David Jaffe] 

 

Our Take
I wasn’t a huge fan of Drawn to Death, either, but it’s still disappointing when a studio shuts down.

Killer7 Coming To Let It Die

PS4 title Let it Die from Japanese developer Grasshopper Manufacture is hosting GameCube/PS2 game Killer7 (shown) in a team-up celebrating the studio’s 20th anniversary.

Details are scarce at the moment, other than the “collaboration,” as the developer puts it, is happening this spring.

[Source: Grasshopper Manufacture] 

 

Our Take 
I assume the game will be tacked on to Let it Die via the main menu, but it would be sweet if Killer7 were somehow accessible within the game of Let it Die itself.

Wandering through the countryside, you hear whispers of devastation, unemployment, and dust storms that ravage people’s homes. Other moments bring you courage in your tired journey, as you listen to a worker’s hopeful song or watch hundreds of butterflies flutter overhead. Whether they’re tragic, surreal, or humorous, each of these occasions are just as captivating as the next as you watch them grow into fantastical tales told around a campfire.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is an adventure game about sharing stories. After striking a deal with the devil, you’re cursed to walk the lands of Depression-era America as a skeleton and collect the tales of its people. Both melancholy and thoughtful, Where The Water Tastes Like Wine paints a fascinating historical picture embellished by folklore, where the population is caught in dire times that cloud the American Dream. 

You spend your time walking from state to state visiting small villages and big cities that bustle with life. You can hitchhike or take a train to make travel easier, but this is still a slow-paced experience. That isn’t a bad thing; the pacing is a perfect thematic fit, and it makes for a pensive experience that slowly provides twists and turns with every intriguing discovery. You visit rural areas often, finding interactive short stories in old mills, farms, and winding paths. Each takes only a minute or two to complete, telling you a strange tale about a camera that brings death to those it photographs or a simple story about a boy and the bond he shares with his dog.

Every short story you encounter is told with a beautiful illustration, and a gruff narrator helps build the scene. These stories present themselves as tiny text adventures, and as you continue to venture out, they become embellished as word spreads. It’s always amusing to see what form an original story takes next and how much further it is from the truth, as though you’re playing a game of broken telephone. For example, two men mistaking themselves for brothers later becomes ludicrously misunderstood as eight identical men from eight different mothers falsely believing that they’re siblings. 

You also have agency in these tales, and a story’s direction can change its tone completely. Helping a man find his lost glasses but choosing to steal his wallet in the process, for example, can turn an optimistic story dismal.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The tone of these narratives becomes important when you encounter other travelers and sit by a nighttime campfire with them. This is the crux of Where The Water Taste Like Wine’s gameplay. Your collected stories act as currency in a series of interactions that progressively unfold through different chapters. This is a compelling concept that requires both keen planning and insight. You equip specific stories beforehand, and then during conversation, you choose them from a selection of tarot cards that have themed categories like authority and family. 

Every character wants something different, which brings a welcome variety. A young homeless boy abandoned by his family loves action-filled anecdotes, whereas a somber coal miner may prefer a lighter tale to remind him that hope still exists. My only gripe with these tales is that you can’t listen to the vignettes again once they’re completed, and with over 200 to collect, I sometimes forgot a story’s message or tone. 

These fireside interactions, however, make up my favorite moments. The goal is to get characters to open up so that you can collect their stories too. They begin to trust you if you tell them the tales they wish to hear. In their ending chapters, characters’ illustrations evolve into something symbolic, such as a priest struggling with his faith seen trapped in an angel’s headlock. Others, like an African-American Pullman porter facing an identity crisis, is obscured behind crooked branches that hold white masks. I curiously awaited these transformations, eagerly wondering how these gorgeous artworks would portray a person’s plight in a creative way.

Though much of Where The Water Taste Like Wine’s focus is storytelling, it also has some light survival mechanics. If you’re not careful, you can meet an untimely death by overexerting yourself or letting your health get too low. Certain stories may physically injure you, and hopping a train without paying can leave you beaten by a cop. Accessing train stations in big cities requires cash, which you can acquire from odd jobs or sometimes by luck. Managing these needs and funds is a small but engaging addition, immersing you into the world and adding bigger stakes to decision-making.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is a surprisingly beefy adventure game, offering over 20 hours of content and a treasure trove of stories that never cease to entertain. I laughed, reminisced about my own life, and enjoyed meeting the colorful cast of characters who opened up to me as time went on. Whether I was reminding travelers of their worth or offering an ear so they could share their sorrows, I felt as though I brought them peace in an almost spiritual fashion. Like a Grim Reaper collecting souls, I instead collected the essence of short stories, to help others struggling with demons find their way. It makes for not just a captivating experience, but an empowering one I won’t soon forget.