Daybreak’s zombie-filled survival game H1Z1 is out of early access, and it’s launched with a surprise. Auto Royale mode is a motorized take on the popular genre. But is it any good? Join Leo, Reiner, and me as we try to solve this mystery.

In Auto Royale, teams of four ride in a car together, picking up power-ups and trying to scour the ever-shrinking map for enemy teams. Reiner is on the sticks keyboard and mouse this episode, and he divides his time riding shotgun and taking the wheel. As you’ll see, it’s a lonely stretch of road.

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Cevat Yerli, co-founder of Crysis, FarCry, and The Hunt: Showdown developer Crytek, has stepped down as CEO of the company, staying on as a “Strategic Shareholder” at the company.

His two co-founding brothers, Avni and Faruk Yerli, will replace him as joint-CEOs. The company did not announce any additional changes to its company structure, and maintained that none of its current projects would be impacted by the change.

“With the company in a strong position, now is the ideal time to recognize the existing leadership’s excellent achievements over these past two years and formally transition executive leadership to Avni and Faruk,” Yerli said. “I have every confidence that the company will continue to shine under the guidance of Avni, Faruk, and the rest of the leadership team.”

[Source: Crytek]

 

Our Take
“Strategic Shareholder” sounds like a neat job.

Metro has always been a single-player narrative-driven experience, but the games’ universe does seem like it’s ripe for expansion into other genres and modes. The claustrophobic setting and the emphasis on firefights against both bandits and monsters make it seem like a great co-op experience could be crafted for that universe. During our visit to the 4A Games, we asked them if the team had considered creating a multiplayer Metro experience.

“I don’t think we can say [multiplayer] is something that isn’t interesting from a technical standpoint,” executive producer Jon Bloch says. “But our focus for Metro has always been a story-driven experience, y’know, filling the shoes of someone living in [Metro’s] environment and going on this journey.”

During our interview, Bloch mentioned that 4A had toyed around with a prototype for co-op but weren’t satisfied with the results. “This is the sort of thing that is its own beast. You gotta spend just as much time working on it as you do the main game.”

“Multiplayer is possible, yes,” creative director Andriy Prokhorov adds, “But to do it only for the sake of having multiplayer? We’re not interested. If you do it, it should be something really unique. We have an idea but….we are not doing it right now.”

So it sounds like multiplayer isn’t off the table for the Metro series, but you shouldn’t expect it for Exodus.

For more on Metro Exodus, be sure to check out our coverage by clicking on the banner below.

The artillery is a smouldering heap, devastated by giant kaiju’s claw swipe. The pilot inside, a good soldier, is gone. But the loss wasn’t for nothing. I watch as the round timer at the top of the screen hits zero, and the giant bugs terrorizing humanity, known as the Vek, descend back into the earth once more, leaving these vulnerable cities untouched. A breeze of relief blows through my chest.

We did it. No civilians died.

The relief is my only celebration. I click the exit battle button and move onto the next mission, trying hard not to think about the loss of my pilot.

Into The Breach is a game that combines the mech vs kaiju battlegrounds of Pacific Rim and Neon Evangelion Genesis with chess. And like most strategy games, Into The Breach is constantly forcing you to weigh the scales when it comes to the tactical value of units around the map. Is it worthwhile for you to throw your mech and its pilot in harm’s way to protect a city (essentially a unit of health for you, the tactician) or a possible upgrade that’s just landed on the battlefield in the form of a pod, or should you preserve your unit’s health to help against the overwhelming enemy force that’s popping up all over the map? On paper, this does not sound particularly special. Most turn-based strategy games function on this foundation of making value choices that affect how many strategies are open to you each turn, with each choice you make having one of the following consequences:

1. You lose strategic options and your enemy gains some
2. You gain strategic options and your enemy loses some
3. Nobody loses anything, both sides gain options
4. You win
5. You lose

So if all tactics game more or less play out this way, what is it that makes Into The Breach so satisfying and interesting? For me, it’s how developer Subset Games uses the theme of collateral damage to make your losses hit harder than in other strategy games. Every time one of your cities takes a hit in Into The Breach, not only do you lose a chunk of your game’s health bar, but you’re also told precisely how many civilians die from that monster’s attack with an explosion of numbers. It makes a crushing blow that much worse, especially as little text blurbs erupt from the cities around the map as the match begins with cries of, “The Rift Walkers will help us!” and, “We’re doomed.”

All tactics games eventually boil down to a simple question: What losses are bearable? Into The Breach suffuses that with emotional depth, prompting you not to take the fight to the enemy in typical fisticuffs style but instead make you think in terms of diversion and enemy placement. Your goals aren’t about destroying your enemy but instead about keeping them at bay and protecting countless innocents that are depending on you. These goals eventually return to that universal question I brought up earlier. What sacrifices are you willing to make to protect those people? Your mechs and the pilots inside them? The valuable upgrades inside the pods that land on the battlefield? Do you sacrifice completing an optional objective that could give you powerful weaponry far down the road so you can protect a few hundred lives?

Decisions, large and small, have consequences that reverberate throughout the entire game. The leaders of the islands you’re trying to protect will pop up every now and then to remind you of your successes and failures, like how a train transporting supplies was destroyed so now people will starve as a result of your failure. On the other hand, saving that train might have meant sacrificing something more valuable, so there’s no single correct answer, really.

Into The Breach becomes not just a game about tactical dilemmas but one of ethical dilemmas, one that’s made even more heartwrenching by the slowly-dripping realization that you can’t save everyone. There will be moments that happen on the battlefield where you will have to choose between one city or the other, and there’s no reason for it. It won’t be because you made a bad choice. It’ll happen because of luck of the draw. Some players may find that frustrating and deeply unfair (luckily Into The Breach is structured in such a way you can make health back relatively easy) but I find it makes my position as a tactician more interesting. I’m not some all-powerful demigod who can save the day Ender’s Game style 100% of the time. Those bad luck instances really drive home the desperation of these battles, making them feel more vivid and emotionally engaging.

Into The Breach diverts its gaze from the typical power fantasy of dominating enemies on a map that comes along with the genre, and instead puts its stake in preventing as much collateral damage as possible. It’s a wise gambit, one that makes Into The Breach stand out in a genre that’s filled with brilliant games. I can’t wait to see what comes next from Subset Games, a developer that’s building a name for tinkering and mutating genres to make bold and exciting experiences.

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.

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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
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Episode 2
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Episode 3: The Co-op Episode With Special Guest Suriel Vazquez
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Episode 4
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Episode 5
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For more on Kirby Star Allies, head here.