For all the fuss that the three Death Stranding trailers we’ve gotten over the past two years have caused, we’ve received essentially no details on gameplay…until today. In a recent interview Kojima himself, IGN learned some scraps of gameplay information, particularly how the game will deal with player death and failure:

From what Kojima told us, here’s how it sounds — when you’re ready to return to the world of the living, you can get back into your body. However, unlike most games which set you back to a point before you died, Death Stranding acknowledges your defeat, and seems to even embrace it. You’re transported back to the world after your death — like in Dark Souls or roguelikes — where your actions maintain an aura of persistence. The mechanic of “dying” is ubiquitous in video games, but it sounds as though Kojima is implementing systems inspired by purgatory and reincarnation as well.

For more gameplay details, and some of Kojima’s amusing thoughts on fan theories, head over to the article here.

[Source: IGN]


Our Take
Finally! Something tangible. I do like this rogue-like idea of death being a persistent thing in universe and not a game over screen. Kojima’s Sci-fi Souls? Sure. Why not? Gimme.

Designing Mega Man 11's New Look

With Game Informer’s January cover story on Mega Man 11, we’re offering a deep dive on how Capcom is reviving the beloved blue bomber. One of the first priorities for the new team was to sketch out their new approach to Mega Man himself. While visiting Capcom’s headquarters in Osaka, we sat down with Mega Man 11’s art director Yuji Ishihara to talk about his history within the company and the giant task of updating one of gaming’s most iconic characters.

Watch the video below to see Yuji Ishihara sketch and explain his new take on Mega Man.

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Click on the banner below to enter our constantly-updating hub of exclusive features on Mega Man 11.

2018 is going to be a critical and interesting year for sports video games. We’re in the prime of this console generation, so are we going to see the best from the franchises or are companies on auto-pilot? Nobody knows for sure, but here are some key topics for the year that may show us where things are heading.

MICROTRANSACTIONS 
It’s a dirty word these days, but the truth is sports gamers have been more or less comfortably living with microtransactions for years thanks to the various Ultimate Team-type modes most sports titles have these days. So the question becomes whether the existing model will change at all and possibly become more insidious.

Take-Two and Visual Concepts already stirred trouble with NBA 2K18’s aggressive VC requirements and overall MyCareer grind, so it’s crucial that NBA 2K19 offer a smoother progression path. The larger question, however, is which company is going to be the first to step out and possibly take microtransactions in a new direction? Will we see a title in 2018 introduce microtransactions into their GM/Franchise mode, for instance?

GM modes have traditionally been a haven for those who don’t want to wade into the fantasy/consumables modes, and if your GM mode is stale, then you’re probably not offering players much of a lasting alternative to the Ultimate Team-type mode. NBA Live, for instance, needs to build out its franchise mode, and it’ll be interesting to see if its The One player career mode keeps its skill tree separate from its cosmetic player gear crates that can be bought with real money.

Speaking of NBA Live, Madden creative director Rex Dickson said that the football series plans to synk its Connected Franchise Mode with NBA Live’s. He mentioned including live updates into CFM, but will Madden also get a player career mode (with its random gear crates) like NBA Live 18’s The One? And/or will the random crates be used in Madden in some other/extra fashion?

THE MODE WAR
Continuing with the importance of game modes in 2018, the various modes – franchise, fantasy/Ultimate Team, player/MyCareer – all demand some attention and upgrading from year to year, but they don’t always get it from developers. Whether it’s your favorite Ultimate Team mode getting a new wrinkle or a franchise/GM mode taking a needed step forward, odds are not all game modes are going to get the boost they deserve.

It will be interesting to see how each franchise addresses this problem and perhaps signals where its priorities lie. Add in the growing importance of esports and how the competitive landscape affects gameplay changes, as well as the en vogue story modes, and it’s getting to the point where each sports video game year is more likely to cater to a specific set of fans, giving those fans left out in the cold the option of skipping a year. Fans have often asked for the option to pay for different modes a la carte (I’ve argued that this will only stifle innovation), which seems like is happening de facto anyway.

WHERE ARE THE GAMES?
There’s more to a year’s roster of sports games than just the well-known, yearly fall titles. A good year needs options like The Golf Club 2 or racing games like Dirt 4 to also anchor the year, and I’m curious where those come from in 2018. The good news is we’ll see UFC 3 and Tennis World Tour, but off the top of my head, what are we going to get until the fall?

Perhaps the tale of 2018 will be told by lesser-known upcoming titles like Laser League (shown), Super Mega Baseball 2, perhaps something World Cup-related from FIFA, or even a title we haven’t heard about yet. Meanwhile, I can practically guarantee we aren’t going to get the return of Fight Night (that’s the UFC dev team), another MLB-licensed console title, or an EA golf game. And no, NFL 2K and NCAA aren’t coming back, either.

On the racing side, now that the Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport franchises have released – and Dirt 4 and Project Cars 2 also came out in 2017 – the racing genre in 2018 seems a little thin. Codemasters is putting out its arcade racer OnRush and the usual F1 game, and Xbox One fans are getting another Forza Horizon (the two Forza franchises alternate years), but it looks lean for sim-racing fans in particular. On this front, it’ll be interesting to see how developer Polyphony Digital supports GT Sport in 2018. An important December update is in the works, and hopefully that’s just the start.

SWITCH SPORTS
Sports developers – predominately EA Sports – are taking a wait-and-see approach to Nintendo’s hot console, and it remains to be seen if 2018 is the year any of those plans come to fruition. NBA 2K and FIFA will hopefully continue to grow on the system – particularly with Nintendo’s online program debuting, and it would be nice if Switch sports games approached parity and also proliferated. Likewise, it would be great to see more sports series on PC as well.

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

REVIEW ROUND-UP 

Madden NFL 18 
NASCAR Heat 2 
NHL 18 
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 
FIFA 18 
NBA 2K18 
NBA Live 18 
Golf Story 
Project Cars 2 
Forza Motorsport 7
NBA 2K18 (Switch) 
FIFA 18 (Switch)
GT Sport (shown)
Mutant Football League  

 

THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week

Tennis World Tour Highlighted at PSX 
In-game footage shown from an early build, as well as new players and other features announced.

AO Tennis Announced From Big Ant Studios 
It’s the official video game for the Australian Open, but it also features a career mode, customization options, and different court types. No known U.S. release date yet, however.

Dirt 4 Gets Clubs 

Madden Series Has a 30 for 30 Podcast 

Brazilian Soccer Legend Zico Joins PES 2018 MyClub 

The First Stage Of NBA 2K League Qualifying Announced 
Check out the AMA with league managing director Brendan Donohue.

Overkill, the team behind the cooperative heist shoot ’em up Payday, announced back in 2014 that it would be working on a Walking Dead game. We haven’t heard much about it since then, but today we got a first glimpse at one of the characters we’ll be playing as in this four player co-op shooter courtesy of a new trailer. 

The trailer focuses on Aidan, a man living in Washington D.C. and dealing with his daily responsibilities about as well as most of do. The trailer then cuts to Aidan walking around a post-apocalyptic D.C. strewn with “dead” bodies and taking on a group of zombies with a club. He seems to enjoys this a lot more than his life before the zombie apocalypse.

Overkill’s The Walking Dead will feature a mix of first person shooter and survival gameplay, as players work together to fight zombies and humans. The trailer confirms the game’s D.C. setting and a fall 2018 release date.

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For more on Overkill’s The Walking Dead, check out our previous coverage.

Announced at Sony’s annual PlayStation Experience, Firewall: Zero Hour is Sony’s answer to the booming genre of tactical team-based multiplayer shooters with a virtual reality twist.

Firewall follows in the vein of games like Ubisoft’s popular Rainbow Six: Siege, pitting two teams of four players each with contrasting goals against each other in tactical combat. Teams can choose to win a match by stealthily achieving their goals or they can win bloody, seeking out and flushing out enemies toward a grisly end.

The concept is simple: both teams of mercenaries have been hired by anonymous contract holders that either want to steal data or protect their own data. The contract holders act as an eye in the sky for your team and tell you about changing mission objectives or, as I became very used to hearing, express their disappointment in you.

What separates Firewall from the herd, however, is leveraging VR for the gameplay. The game uses the PlayStation VR headset and Aim controller to create an experience that feels a bit more real and tense than other games in the genre. There is no auto-aim or aim-down-sights mechanics because the game wants you to feel like you are physically holding the gun, an experience Sony pushed with their previous VR shooter Farpoint. Similarly, your HUD is on your wrist, which makes checking the map as simple as turning your gun slightly.

My first match was uneventful, my team failed to find the other team until they mysteriously and silently achieved their goal without us realizing it. Aside from accidentally throwing my grenades out due to the button being awkwardly placed on the Aim controller, the match saw little to no weapon use.

My second match, however, began with a bang as both teams met up in the stage’s building mezzanine and engaged in a firefight. The rifle and grenade aiming made total sense at once and I genuinely felt that every missed bullet was my fault. I died, but not before taking someone down with me, and my time rode the confusion to victory.

First Contact Entertainment’s Firewall: Zero Hour can be played with either the Move or a DualShock 4, but is exclusive to PlayStation VR regardless of control method. The game is scheduled for release in 2018.

At the PlayStation Experience today, developer Sucker Punch candidly explained the genesis of Ghost of Tsushima, their new samurai action title.

The panel was made up of creative director Nate Fox, art director Jason Connell, animation director Billy Harper, and associate producer Ryuhei Katami to talk about the game revealed at Paris Games Week. The developers talked about the largest and most important character is the world and introducing the world to players was the hardest part of making the reveal trailer a few months ago.

When asked why Sucker Punch decided to pursue a game about samurais, Nate Fox said, “You do something for a long time, you want to try something different. It’s creatively satisfying to be freaked out.” 

“This was definitely a risk, but one that was so worth taking because we get to write a love letter to one of our favorite genres,” said Billy Harper, with a sense of relief in his voice that the game had been so well-received.

Katami pointed out that they had a team in Japan to make sure the game respects Japanese culture. Sucker Punch took two trips to Japan to take reference photos and explore the region to prepare their own original story for the game. Harper told a story of meeting a government official from Tsushima, to whom he handed his business card as a standard Japanese greeting, only to find his business card and an explanation of why Sucker Punch was there printed in the local paper.

“Can you just print someone’s business card in the paper?” the host asked.

“Thankfully, no, which is why we were able to get it taken out,” said Harper. “We almost revealed everything right there.”

Ghost of Tsushima is for PlayStation 4 and has not had a publicly revealed date.

PSX’s big closing panel this year was an introduction to the cast, both known and unknown, of The Last of Us Part II.

The panel opened with a performance of a new song from The Last of Us Part II, with Joel’s voice actor Troy Baker and Ellie’s voice actress Ashley Johnson singing a soulful song with possibly literal or symbolic lyrics that director Neil Druckmann refused to show his cards on.

Baker, Johnson, Druckmann, and co-writer Halley Rose sat on the panel and talked about their roles in bringing the world a sequel to The Last of Us. Rose, who has written for TV shows like Westworld, pointed out how different video game writing is from TV. Explaining that she came up with an idea to get the characters from one place to another, Druckmann asked her what the fail state for the scenario would be, which Rose didn’t understand at the time.

After some hemming and hawing, Druckmann agreed to tell a story about how Rose was pitching new ideas after she was brought on to the project, and went home on her first day and told her husband “I think I got a character pregnant.”

Druckmann confirmed that Ellie is 19 years old in the game before the panel showed the controversial Paris Games Week trailer once again. The three voice actors for the trailer, Ian Alexander, Victoria Grace, and Laura Bailey joined the panel, with Alexander being introduced as Lev, Grace as Yara, and Laura Bailey as the woman being hanged without a name given.

It was revealed that Yara and Lev are siblings, which prompted Druckmann to blend their faces in the game to have them look a bit more similar. He also confirmed that Yara is 16 and Lev is 13 years old.

The biggest thing Druckmann confirmed is something the internet had already kind of figured out: “A large part of the game takes place in Seattle,” Druckmann told a cheering crowd.

The panel closed with Druckmann suggesting the game is 40-60% complete, a number he admits is kind of vague, and expects to show more of the game at E3 2018 in June.

While we already know quite about Bluepoint’s remake of Shadow of the Colossus, Sony’s latest trailer should offers a great history lesson.

The PSX trailer for the game compares the three versions of Team Ico’s 2005 classic; the original PlayStation 2 game, the 2011 remaster for PlayStation 3, and the PlayStation 4 remake running a PS4 Pro. The difference should be clear to anyone, but it goes to show how much work (and motion blur) has gone into the latest version of the game.

PlayStation Pro players will also be able to tweak the graphics of the remake a bit, choosing between Cinematic (which “emphasizes image quality,” at 30 frames per second) and Performance (which caps the game at 60fps at the cost some image quality).

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Sony has also detailed the contents of the special edition, which will contain a different boxart and Steelbook case, post cards, ingame extras such as an Ancient Bow, Cloak of Fate, and a skin for Wander’s horse Agro, two PS4 themes, An avatar set, a physical map of the game’s world, and some stickers. The special edition will retail for $50 (as opposed to the regular $40).

Heavy Rain is about uncovering the mystery behind the Origami Killer through various perspectives. However, some of the game’s biggest mysterious were left unsolved and unexplored. Until now.

In the latest episode of his Boundary Break seires, Youtuber Shesez looks past the strict parameters Heavy Rain usually sets for players and finds a number of interesting secrets. Just what are the characters doing during the loading screen where the camera centers on a close-up of their face? What happens to Jason in that mall scene to get him so lost? What does one of the game’s intense scenes, where the camera jumps around constantly, look like in the game world? You can find answers to all of those questions below.

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There is an argument that art comes from the immediate desires of the creator, which is a stance that makes sense after checking out Concrete Genie’s art creation. We got to sit down with the developers, Pixelopus, as they showed off how painting the town red worked in the PlayStation 4 game.

In Concrete Genie, the world is truly your canvas, with every wall in the otherwise grey and drag city functioning as an open space for you to place your art. Your main character, Ash, interacts with walls with his magic brush and paints pictures using themed stamps and templates to create moving 2D tableaus. Placing a waterfall on the wall creates a small pool at the bottom of the wall, the sun lights up various other placed objects, and flowers look super pretty.

There is no limit to what you can create – or at least not one the developers have hit yet.

The initial theme Pixelopus showed us, Landscape, focused primarily on the flora and environment that would make up a landscape painting. They confirmed that there are more themes and objects that can be found and unlocked as the player progresses through the game, allowing budding artists to mix and match themes and objects. The themes gets more varied and tonally darker as Ash collects them, reflecting his emotional state in the story.

Environments are not the focus of Ash’s paintings, however, as he also has the ability to give life to creatures. Ash creates creatures to solve puzzles in the game, but they represent his friends at a time where he faces constant bullying. How you draw the creatures (big, small, bipedal, quadraped) affects how they move and their personalities. Even the color you choose when you bring them to life determines how they behave, as well as their elemental affinities for puzzle solving.

Creatures interact with each other and the environment, depending on their personalities. Pixelopus remarked that, when making the trailer for the game, certain creatures unexpectedly photobombed their perfect shots because their AI allowed for that behavior.

The creatures and other parts of the 2D art are still affected by physics, something Pixelopus told us was aided by sister studio Media Molecule after seeing their game. The Dreams developer lended some of their internal physics tech to Pixelopus, which results in an extremely cool look and feel to the paintings.

While they weren’t shown, the developer explained that the paintings are affected by Ash’s bullies in the city, something hinted at by the game’s first trailer. The bullies also affect the various ways the creatures behave, indicating that the friend you spent so long on creating and growing might be in danger if left alone.

Concrete Genie is built on the Unreal Engine and looks completely unlike any other Unreal game out there. The paintings you can make burst with a creativity that is completely unexpected when you first look at the blank canvases around you in a dark city square. I am very eager to get my hands on it.

Concrete Genie is scheduled for 2018 exclusively on the PlayStation 4.