Beyond Good & Evil 2’s Gameplay, Explained

If you haven’t been following the development of Beyond Good & Evil 2 closely–from its rumored existence, through to its official reveal at E3 2017, and its presence at Ubisoft’s press conference during E3 2018–it’s possible that your current feelings toward it carry some confusion. With a strong emphasis on community involvement with the Space Monkey and Hitrecord initiatives, and only brief glimpses at incredibly early tech demos, the question at the forefront of your mind is likely: What kind of game is Beyond Good & Evil 2, exactly?

Well, we think we have a pretty good idea. In a behind-closed-doors presentation at E3 2018, key developers from Ubisoft Montpellier showed us a live demo of the game, played in co-op, and it was surprising how many of the game’s systems were there, and how much there was to see.

The demo began in an underground temple, where we were introduced to the combat system. Every character in Beyond Good & Evil 2 will be equipped with a melee weapon (in this case, swords), a gun, an energy shield, a jetpack, and each one of these tools can have their behavior and abilities modified with Augments. We saw examples of a pushback ability, and a dome that could be fired to slow down anyone within it. Damage boosting and healing augments were also mentioned.

You also have a high-tech spyglass that can be used to survey your environment and get information on world objects and enemies, in what could be a nod to the camera mechanics in the original game. Planning encounters by using the spyglass was stressed as something that was particularly important, because of the fact that enemies have the access and capacity to use the same equipment, augments, and abilities as the player, which creates the danger of not necessarily knowing what you might be up against at first glance.

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We watched our co-op duo explore and sneak around the temple separately before coming together to assault a squad of security guards, defending a group of scientists performing experiments on live monkey hybrids. After some quick surveillance, they engaged using a variety of gunplay and melee attacks. The melee mechanics in this early demo didn’t seem to have the impact you see in other third-person games, but there was a variety of different combat maneuvers were shown, including using slowdown domes to isolate enemies, precision shooting, using the jetpack to maneuver around the battlefield achieve better flanking positions, and using pushback-augmented weapons to break shields.

When the dust had settled, one of the players scanned the monkey still alive on an operating table, learning a bit about its backstory in the process. It was mentioned that characters like this would be recruitable for your space pirate crew. You’d also hypothetically also have the opportunity to break out prisoners from a police station and recruit them, among other options. However, what you’ll be able to actually do with your crew was not discussed.

The co-op players then exited the underground temple and boarded their vehicles–one in a single-pilot space fighter, one on a flying motorcycle–and flew out into the city of Ganesha City, an incredibly large urban hub filled with Indian architecture and neon lights–a mash of old and new, rich and poor, and populated with flying vehicles and NPCs. The players went their separate ways, and the motorcycle rider eventually got off and flew around on her jetpack, giving us a tour of the city by scanning buildings to discover their purpose–shops, police stations, a bank. The other player eventually got into a scrap with local police, engaging in a dogfight against multiple ships, and the original motorcycle rider hopped into her own starfighter and joined in.

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But before engaging, they took a moment to show off starfighter customization. In a menu, they swapped out individual modules of their ship’s makeup (like cabins, wings, engines), as well as weapons and cosmetic finishes. Cosmetic ship customization will be one of the avenues where the community can submit custom art to be used within the game through Hitrecord, along with billboard spots on structures. They’ll also be able to contribute and music to the in-world radio programs.

Dogfighting looked like an arcade-style experience, with the space fighters we saw having access to two weapons: in this case, a machine gun and lock-on missiles. These weapons, we were told, can also be modified via the same kind of augments are regular weapons. We saw the two players perform barrel-rolls and loops to juke and destroy police ships high in the sky, so high that you could make out the curvature of the planet.

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And then, they did something I wasn’t entirely expecting them to do. The players pointed their planes upwards and hit their hyperspeed. Looking behind them, we saw the city and its population getting smaller and smaller as they continued into the stratosphere. We looked over the horizon and saw other cities in the distance. They flew so high that we could see entire continent masses, Ganesha City now a dot on the map, and eventually reached another vehicle: A mothership owned by one of the players, a kind of giant, space battleship. One of the players left her starfighter and used her jetpack to fly around, protected by a clear spacesuit that materialized over her body like the one seen in the E3 2018 trailer.

This was all seamless, and my mind immediately went to compare it to No Man’s Sky, that is, if No Man’s Sky’s planets were filled with dense, populated cities with complex interiors. They brought up the map screen and noted that it was simply a real-time rendering of the existing game world from a fixed camera angle, and as they zoomed in and out of the continent we were directly above, we could see icons pop up representing additional cities, quests, points of interest, and undiscovered mysteries across the huge land masses.

As they zoomed out and rotated the globe, they pointed out an enormous geoglyph of a monkey burned into a nearby continent, mentioning that uncovering these mysteries would be a significant part of the game. We also panned over to take a look at the other half of the planet–a meteor-ravaged wasteland which is a significant part of the game’s world narrative, involving hybrid beings and slave labor.

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But then, they kept zooming out. The screen changed from the view of the continent to a view of the planet. From a view of the planet to a view including neighboring planets, and it didn’t stop. We zoomed out to see the entire subsystem, and they eventually stopped when the map screen had a view of the entire local solar system, filled with planets, their moons, and presumably, all the game content that comes with that. The players hopped back in their starfighters, flew off into the infinite space, and the demo ended.

When asked what progression might look like–what you actually do in Beyond Good & Evil 2–the developers seemed to have a clear idea. It’s naturally a very non-linear experience, and you can likely make some good assumptions by looking at Ubisoft’s current direction with their open-world games. Ubisoft Montpellier said one of the major goals is to create a strong throughline to explore and discover more about the game’s story. The cinematic trailers we’ve seen so far follow the journey of a space crew (featuring Pey’j from the original game, as well as a younger version of Jade as their adversary), searching for a place at the ends of the universe called the Moksha Gate. Beyond Good & Evil 2 will see you creating your own customizable character, building up your own crew, and going on an adventure to try and reach it.

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The Ubisoft team also explained that there would be plenty of opportunities for those that just want to fly around the galaxy and be the best space pirate. You’ll be able to take on a number of side activities that make you stronger, which might not necessarily be in service of the main narrative at all. Finally, the developers mentioned that one of their priorities was to create a fun co-op experience, as well as give the player complete freedom, so you would feel like a true pirate in a world created to be your oyster.

When asked about the game’s development progress, Ubisoft spoke about how when building this kind of all-encompassing, open-world, and systemic game, you need to build entire layers of foundational mechanics, and need to iterate on almost all of them at the same time, lest they begin to affect one another in negative, game-breaking ways. As such, all mechanical components of Beyond Good & Evil 2 are roughly at the same development level, they said.

The demo of Beyond Good & Evil 2 was impressive on a technical level despite being an incredibly early build–visually, it was certainly a lot plainer than the brief, but more detailed snippets of gameplay we saw at Ubisoft’s E3 2018 press conference. But it was surprising to witness working co-op play, the ability to explore a seamless universe with no visible loading, as well as functioning combat and vehicle mechanics. It was certainly much, much more than we were expecting to see, and we’re now feeling much more positive about the prospects of what Beyond Good & Evil 2 could be.

Beyond Good & Evil 2 currently has no announced release date.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Goes Full RPG With Choice And Consequence, And It’s Better For It

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is three years in the making; Ubisoft Quebec conceived this entry into the long-running franchise as the team wrapped up development for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate back in 2015. Ubisoft Montreal was in the process of transforming the series with Origins (that released in 2017) which gave the Quebec studio a foundation to further evolve Assassin’s Creed into a full-fledged RPG the team envisioned. It’s not just about the inclusion of branching dialogue or seemingly arbitrary choices during quests, though. Consequence is at the heart of making the journey through Ancient Greece something more than just another historical fiction.

During a visit to Ubisoft Quebec’s studio, I had the opportunity to spend around five hours with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, starting at a point deep into the story. Many of its features jumped out immediately, like choosing to play as the female protagonist Kassandra through the entire game. Regardless, I’m a mercenary on the search for lost family members in the midst of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. Docked ashore the Delos Islands following a storm, I’m immediately posed with conversation options with my shipmate Barnabas. At first, it’s striking to see this in an Assassin’s Creed game, but considering Odyssey’s full RPG approach, having agency in what I say to others is to be expected. While I could tease out more information or evoke different responses, words can have a much larger impact in certain situations.

The ability to steer your own course was abundantly clear when I could affect the rebellion on the Delos Islands. Would I endorse a brute force approach suggested by Thelatas or devise a more subtle, strategic plan with Kyra? Thelatas offers naval combat missions while Kyra points out enemy camps where you destroy weapons and supplies to weaken them. Siding with either ally on how take down the unjust ruler Podarkes would lead to liberation, but in this case, it’s about changing the journey, not the destination. You won’t be able to go through both missions in the same playthrough.

Decision-making in Odyssey is taken a step further when factoring consequences. A side-quest given by the philosopher Socrates tasked me with handling a prisoner situation. This particular prisoner could aid the rebellion, but he’s known to be dangerous and unhinged. I could straight up kill him, save him, or just ignore the quest altogether. So, as a dedicated paragon all throughout Mass Effect, I’m willing to give others a second chance. Little did I know that saving him would impact the conclusion to the main quest line. After taking down Podarkes, the Delos Islands erupted in celebration. However, the man I saved went rogue and assassinated an ally that he believed to be a threat to maintaining independence. It was an unforeseen consequence, but I quickly realized that Assassin’s Creed is now asking us to think twice, watch our backs, or anticipate the effects of our actions.

Of course, the demo was just a small slice of a much larger open world, and if Odyssey can weave all the variables into a cohesive RPG experience, it’s easy to see the game stand with some of the genre’s best, which have also served as inspiration for the new approach. Director Scott Phillips said it himself; The Witcher 3, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout are among his favorite games, and stated “that’s what we wanted to push Assassin’s Creed as a franchise into: more choice for the player.”

Everything that’s new is layered on top of the foundation Assassin’s Creed Origins built. Franchise staples still permeate the game like climbing up to vantage points for synchronizations, stealth assassinations, and a modern day tie-in story. Genre trends such as weakening an enemy presence in specifically mapped zones to take control runs core to the game. Traversal holds Odyssey back from feeling fluid, though. Unintentionally leaping off building and scaling walls in the wrong direction happens more often than you’d hope. Hand-to-hand combat, in particular, is similar to Origins in feel, cumbersome targeting system in all. It’s somewhat sluggish, but stays varied through different weapon types. However, Odyssey stands on its own with the number of abilities available in combat.

The skill tree gives players access to many more options this time around. Yes, the Spartan kick is thrilling to use for launching enemies off cliffs or into the sea during ship combat, but comes in clutch when you just want to create more distance. A shield rip makes defensive enemies less irritating and much more manageable. The multi-arrow show helps tack on more damage per shot, which was really useful when fighting a burly bear with a whole lot of HP. These skills are easy to access because of how they’re seamlessly mapped to the face buttons when you either hold the left trigger or left bumper. That’s eight skills at your disposal at any time.

Trekking the open deserts of Origins wasn’t the most exciting part of the game. Odyssey replaces that with the dangerous waters between Greece’s collection of islands. In a similar vein as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, ship combat plays a large role. Fire arrow barrages, waves of javelins, or full-speed naval rams tear enemy ships, and hopping aboard to finish off the last of an enemy crew yields useful loot. It makes all the in-between more interesting and the game feels full.

The initial impression is that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey makes meaningful strides for the franchise by going all in on being an RPG, and it seems to be better for it. By looking at the genres frontrunners, Ubisoft adopts the web of choice and consequence for the first time in franchise history while building on established mechanics. It’s a bold move for a series that traditionally tells you a story; soon you’ll be telling your own.

E3 2018: Dying Light 2 Features A More Varied And Dynamic Open-World

Dying Light 2 really ups the stakes when it comes to traversing a lawless open world where danger lurks around every corner. With the original Dying Light offering a clever blend of parkour exploration and brutal combat of a zombie-survival game, the follow up to Techland’s stellar open-world game plans to focus on offering its players more freedom in movement, while letting them decide the fate of one of humanity’s last stable cities. Revealed at the Microsoft Press Conference, the sequel plans to maintain the momentum gained by the original’s post-launch success, while offering a more reactive and living world to explore.

During E3 2018, we had the chance to see an extended demo presentation of Dying Light 2 in action, showcasing its broader scope and focus on a more ambitious, adaptive narrative. Sticking with many of the core features of the original game, such as freeform parkour traversal, melee combat, and gradual character growth, the sequel goes a bit further by making some tough choices in a far more dire and bleak circumstance.

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Taking place 15 years after the events of the original game, the viral outbreak has spread across the world, causing mass societal collapse. Set in one of Europe’s last remaining cities, you’ll take on the role of an urban explorer who will traverse the expansive city while butting heads with the many factions vying for control. While the main character can go it alone and play each side against one another, there will come a time where you’ll have to choose a side to better your situation. But as one faction gains control of areas of the city, you’ll gradually see the impact of your previous decision, for better or worse.

Referred to as a “modern dark age” by the developers, the last vestiges of humanity stay within the walls of the city with sparse resources and poor infrastructure. To make matters worse, several dens of infected remain, and zombies walk the streets in long abandoned districts of town. With electrical technology being a luxury, and firearms being few and far between, you’ll have to rely on jerry-rigged close-range weapons and quick feet to stay on top of things. While the original game featured a largely standard storyline, the sequel offers a more interactive approach to storytelling. With Chris Avellone serving as narrative director, who’s past works including CRPG classics like Baldur’s Gate and the Fallout series, the player has a say regarding the direction of the story, and the impact it has on the world.

During the demo, we saw the player come into conflict with a group of bandits who have managed to take control of one of the town’s few water towers. Tasked by the neutral good faction known as the Peacekeepers, the main character had to make their way to deal with the situation. In this section, which was a pivotal moment for this particular district in town, we got to see more of the expanded melee and parkour gameplay. The new setting of the European metropolis is much larger than than the original game’s multiple areas, which required the devs to come up with a more expanded traversal system. In Dying Light 2, you’ll be able to slide under fences, use ropes swings, and round corners much easier while jumping over the rooftops of the city. There looks to be a far more freeform style of locomotion and platforming, which is impressive as the original game had some solid traversal mechanics. There are also a set of new platforming puzzle sequences that put you in more precarious situations.

Eventually, the player confronts the gang leader who controls the water tower. During important character interactions, you’ll be presented with several dialog options that can decide where you want things to go. In this case, the developers chose the more noble option and fought the gang leader and his henchmen. Melee combat has also seen an overhaul, with enemy AI and their tactics proving to be more cunning and resilient–using several parries and dodges to gang up on the protagonist. Action looks just as brutal as the original game, and there’s a focus on mixing up your parkour and combat skills to chain together attacks–such as using a hanging pipe to swing off and land a kick on an enemy.

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After this sequence, the Peacekeepers gain control of the district and its water tower, turning the district into a safer place for citizens. While this seems like the “good” choice for a better community–and in some ways it is as there’s running water for all citizens–the Peacekeepers also keep their territories under an iron fist. Any form of dissent or pushback from the populace will result in public punishment, or even execution. The developers also took the time show a different path for players in this situation. Choosing to side with the gang leader instead, the player becomes to the silent partner for the gang, collecting tribute as the bandits charge money for clean water from the depressed citizens.

Dying Light 2 looks to advance upon many of the core pillars of the original, while also adding in a surprisingly dense, and varied approach to its core story. While you can expect to find many of the pulse-pounding action sequences, and fast-paced traversal mechanics, there’s definitely a more thoughtful approach to how it asks players to tackle the story. With the game being four-times larger than the original, Dying Light 2 could be a major upgrade from the original, and that in itself is a major accomplishment.

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For more info on Dying Light 2, and all other games we had the chance to see during E3 2018, be sure to visit GameSpot’s E3 Hub page.

E3 2018’s Highs, Lows, And Biggest Games

After a week of big announcements, reveals, and trailers, E3 2018 has come to a close. Every big press conference is over, and we’ve finally seen everything we possibly can across the weeklong event. There was more than enough to get excited about, but at the same time, there were some moments that were lacking.

In this feature we go over our favorite parts of E3 2018, a few of the things we wish some of the companies could’ve done differently, and a handful of the biggest games. This is the spot for an analysis of the major things from the show, where we discuss what went well and what went wrong.

Some of the biggest moments stemmed from high-profile game reveals; others came from the companies pushing for better representation. But where there were amazing highs, there were some debilitating lows. A selection of well-known upcoming games were missing, and some poor logistical decisions lead to stilted press conferences.

Despite all this, there was plenty of exciting news from many of the biggest companies at this year’s E3. To get more information about all of announcements, check out all of the news from the press conference, all of the best trailers, and a list of all the new games announced. Otherwise, be sure to keep checking back for all of GameSpot’s remaining E3 coverage.

What were some of your favorite moments at E3? What do you think could’ve gone better? And what about your most anticipated games? Let us know in the comments below.

Highlight: CD Projekt Red Proves Cyberpunk 2077 Has Been Worth The Wait

CD Projekt teased Cyberpunk 2077 six years ago, and for six years we have waited for the Witcher studio to share any info on the game. It wouldn’t budge, and for many of us Cyperpunk began to feel more like an idea than a project that’s made significant progress. Witcher 3 arrived in the meantime and blew the industry and consumers away with its gorgeous and occasionally haunting world–success that actually made Cyberpunk followers even more anxious to find out more about the talented studio’s next project.

So it was that this would be the year that our questions get answered. The public still hasn’t had a chance to see what Cyperpunk really is, but the press who saw the demo at E3 are all in agreement: Cyberpunk is shaping up to be a phenomenal game that may set a new benchmark for AAA game design. It’s rare that a game can live up to the wildest imaginations of the most excited minds, and yet it surpasses them in many ways through incredible depth and attention to detail. Its world is raw and thoroughly advanced. It is dangerous and beautiful, and you can’t help but wonder about every little detail that pops up. There’s no looking back for CD Projekt Red, and we cannot wait until everyone gets a chance to see why this has been the most talked about game of the show. — Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

Highlight: Queer Characters Took Center Stage

While queer game characters are nothing new, they’re still rare–and it’s even more rare to see them featured front and center in a game’s marketing. But this year, several of the E3 press conferences included explicitly queer characters in gameplay and trailers for big games. For many people, this is a hugely important gesture that makes gaming seem like a more welcoming and inclusive place.

Perhaps the biggest was the gameplay reveal for The Last of Us Part II. We learned that Ellie is queer in The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC, but it was another thing entirely to see her kiss a woman on Sony’s E3 stage. The moment is tender, intimate, and most importantly, sincere–it’s a perfect transition into the brutality of the combat that comes after, rounding out our first real look at who Ellie has become.

On Ubisoft’s stage, we saw Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s female playable character, Kassandra, able to flirt and romance another female character (and maybe flirting a bit with her). And at the beginning of the week, EA showed a trailer for Battlefield V that might includes two women embracing and saying “I love you”–not necessarily queer, but a reasonable enough guess given that they look nothing alike. These are more subtle examples than The Last of Us, but it points to a trend of more AAA games expanding their target demographics and the kinds of people their characters represent. Seeing that at an event as big as E3 just makes it even better. — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor

Highlight: Death Stranding Still Makes No Sense

Kojima Productions finally provided a better look of the gameplay of Death Stranding but, importantly, did so without revealing too much. Thus far, very little is clear about Death Stranding. Between the babies giving thumbs up, floating ghost-like entities, and dead whales, it’s been difficult to actually get a grasp on what the story is about. The gameplay reveal creates a similar air of mystery, with Norman Reedus’s character hauling around a corpse. There’s strange footsteps appearing on the floor, and ghostly apparitions floating in air. All the while, Reedus carefully sneaks around, with his overactive shoulder-mounted robotic arm incessantly yapping like a dog sensing danger. In typical Kojima Productions fashion, the Death Stranding gameplay trailer created as many questions as it provided answers for, which, if you’re a fan of the studio, is very exciting. — Tamoor Hussain, Editor

Needs Improvement: Square Enix’s Press Conference Fell Short

Square Enix has plenty of interesting games in the works, and Microsoft featured four of them during its showcase just prior to the official start of E3. We got looks at Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Kingdom Hearts 3, Just Cause 4, and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Surely, I thought, Square Enix would use its own E3 presentation to share new information on those games as well as the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake or the intriguing Front Mission reboot teased at last year’s Tokyo Game Show, Left Alive. What Square Enix went with was about 30 minutes of trailers, including the same four mentioned above.

There were a couple of interesting new announcements, to be fair, including a new Platinum Games project titled Babylon’s Fall, but for such a short press conference to be dominated by repeat content was a huge letdown. Square Enix could have easily distributed the meager bits of news that appeared during its presentation to Microsoft or Sony’s shows and not even bothered with its own. Rather than use E3 as a platform to excite its fanbase, Square Enix potentially dinged its reputation by posturing and building up anticipation that it never stood a chance of satisfying in the first place. — Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

Needs Improvement: The Break During Sony’s Press Conference Was Too Long

Sony surprised people when it announced that its E3 2018 press conference was going to primarily focus on four of its latest games. The show started off great with an incredibly tense gameplay demonstration of Naughty Dog’s highly-anticipated The Last of Us: Part II in a Church theater. While you think Sony would build off the momentum of this reveal, it instead brought the show to a complete stop, taking nearly 15 minutes to transport people from the church theater to a completely different theater nearby. All the while Sid Shuman and Shawn Layden attempted to fill in the void with insubstantial discussion and banter.

Luckily, the rest of the show turned out better with a solid string of trailers and gameplay reveals, but the damage had already been done. It’s a small gripe, but I can’t help but be curious as to why Sony decided to use two theater venues instead of one. — Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

Needs Improvement: No Metroid Prime 4 Or Pokemon Switch

I didn’t expect Nintendo to drop release dates for Metroid Prime 4 or Switch’s Pokemon RPG, but how could the company not even acknowledge either game? We got no trailers or screenshots. We didn’t even get name drops. It’s like both games don’t even exist.

Not hearing anything about Metroid Prime 4 is especially disappointing after Nintendo’s tease at last year’s E3. You’d think that would be the company’s way of letting players know that the title is currently being worked on and almost ready to talk about. And yet you’d be wrong.

Now I’m worried Metroid Prime 4 is still early in development, and my dream of a 2019 release date is a far-fetched fantasy. I also really wanted to know what Prime 4’s official name was going to be, and whether the game would connect the events of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid II: Return of Samus or finally continue Samus’s story after Metroid Fusion’s cliffhanger.

Hearing nothing in regards to Nintendo’s new Pokemon RPG is slightly understandable, if for no other reason that doing so would probably have stolen some of Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu’s thunder. — Jordan Ramee, Associate Editor

Biggest Games: Anthem

“While playing Anthem, I had to repeatedly remind myself that I was playing a BioWare game. It’s the first new IP from the veteran RPG developer in a decade, and although it falls into that particular style of role-playing and third-person shooter hybrid the studio honed with the Mass Effect franchise, this is the hardest it has leaned into that concept. With Anthem, we’re seeing a major shift in what BioWare is capable of. Although it still exhibits some of the studio’s role-playing pedigree, it’s the vast online open-world that sets Anthem apart.

In the vein of Bungie’s Destiny and Ubisoft’s The Division, Anthem is a shared-world online shooter focusing on groups of players taking on new challenges and chasing new loot. But in familiar BioWare fashion, your particular Freelancer will make important narrative choices throughout the game’s main campaign, altering their relationships with allies and other factions. While this sounds pretty standard, this is all housed within an online world where other players are making similar or conflicting choices in their own story.

As of now, we only know what the story is about in the broad sense: humans on a hostile alien planet, a powerful ancient presence of some form, and major world-altering events. While BioWare wasn’t ready to share just how those choices will be reflected in the game for others to see, it did say they’ll be surfaced in some form. With that said, the general narrative feels much more of a nebulous concept right now, and I am intrigued to see how the developer will be able to inject that familiar BioWare-style storytelling into Anthem.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Anthem.

Biggest Games: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

“Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is three years in the making; Ubisoft Quebec conceived this entry into the long-running franchise as the team wrapped up development for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate back in 2015. Ubisoft Montreal was in the process of transforming the series with Origins (that released in 2017) which gave the Quebec studio a foundation to further evolve Assassin’s Creed into a full-fledged RPG the team envisioned. It’s not just about the inclusion of branching dialogue or seemingly arbitrary choices during quests, though. Consequence is at the heart of making the journey through Ancient Greece something more than just another historical fiction.

During a visit to Ubisoft Quebec’s studio, I had the opportunity to spend around five hours with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, starting at a point deep into the story. Many of its features jumped out immediately, like choosing to play as the female protagonist Kassandra through the entire game–regardless, I’m a mercenary on the search for lost family members in the midst of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. Docked ashore the Delos Islands following a storm, I’m immediately posed with conversation options with my shipmate Barnabas. At first, it’s striking to see this in an Assassin’s Creed game, but considering Odyssey’s full RPG approach, having agency in what I say to others is to be expected. While I could tease out more information or evoke different responses, words can have a much larger impact in certain situations.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Biggest Games: Control

“Remedy’s reputation as a developer of great action games with compelling stories has never quite faded; even Quantum Break, despite some complications, had many redeeming qualities that its biggest detractors (like me) couldn’t ignore. Chief among them was the combat system, which gave you control over time itself, allowing you to slickly thwart swarms of enemies in unusual and flashy ways. These same qualities are echoed in the announcement trailer for Remedy’s next game, Control, but what you won’t find in that video is the mind-bending series of events I saw during a private gameplay demo at E3.

I’m looking forward to games like Cyberpunk and Death Stranding as much as most people, but Control has quickly become my most anticipated game at the show. Circling back to combat, Control gives off similar vibes to Quantum Break, but a key difference lies in the sort of powers at your fingertips. The two abilities we saw allowed the main character, Jesse Faden, to grab objects strewn around the environment and hurl them at enemies, or bring them close to create a temporary shield. Performing these moves results in chaos as other objects get caught in the crossfire, making each encounter look messy (in a good way.) An eye-catching flurry of special effects helps complete the chaotic spectacle. These are just two of many powers Jesse will acquire throughout her harrowing journey.” — Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

For our full impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Control.

Biggest Games: Cyberpunk 2077

“CD Projekt Red’s next game, Cyberpunk 2077, is a massive departure from the developer’s previous efforts on The Witcher series. Instead of lush forests, picturesque fields, and towering mountains, the devs are creating a world set in the concrete jungle of Northern California in the distant future. Unlike a lot of fiction focusing on a darker future, Cyberpunk 2077 aspires to move away from grimdark and towards a more exuberant but equally cynical vision for a future where capitalism and technology has run amok.

Inspired and influenced by the original Cyberpunk 2020 pen and paper RPG, 2077 extrapolates many of the themes and iconography while capitalizing on the developer’s skillset for crafting dense and visually rich environments. We saw a near hour-long gameplay demo behind closed doors at E3 2018, showcasing many of the game’s systems and locales, and came out impressed by the scope of CD Projekt Red’s ambitious project.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For our full impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Cyberpunk 2077.

Biggest Games: Dying Light 2

“Dying Light 2 really ups the stakes when it comes to traversing a lawless open-world where danger lurk around every corner. With the original Dying Light offering a clever blend of parkour exploration and brutal combat of a zombie-survival game, the follow up to Techland’s stellar open-world game plans to focus more on offering its players more freedom in movement, while letting them decide the fate of one of humanity’s last stable cities. Revealed at the Microsoft Press Conference, the sequel plans to maintain the momentum that the developers have had with the original’s post-launch success, while offering a more reactive and living world to explore.

During E3 2018, we had the chance to see an extended demo presentation of the game in action, showcasing its broader scope and focus on a more ambitious, adaptive narrative. Stick with many of the core features of the original game, such as freeform parkour traversal, melee combat, and other gradual characters growth–the sequel goes a bit further by making some tough choices in a far more dire and bleak circumstance.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For our full impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Dying Light 2.

Biggest Games: Fallout 76

Fallout 76 is the latest entry in the tenured post-apocalyptic RPG franchise. It’s the earliest game in the Fallout timeline, and it features major online components. From its recent trailers alone, the game has already captured the attention of the series’ most ravenous fans. We’re already imagining what sort of fights and awkward encounters we’ll get into with others during our post-apocalyptic jaunt through the American wasteland.

Biggest Games: Ghost Of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is the latest game by developer Sucker Punch Productions, the studio responsible for Infamous and Sly Cooper. The game is set on the island of Tsushima during the Mongol invasions of Japan in 1294. You play as a lone samurai turned vengeful assassin–likely fighting to drive out the Mongol army from Japan.

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Ghost of Tsushima.

Biggest Games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

“We’ve known that a new Super Smash Bros. game has been in development, and during the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was revealed. It’s an original Smash game built specifically for the Nintendo Switch, and it features every single character that has ever been included in a Smash game.

We got hands on with the E3 2018 demo of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate shortly after viewing the Direct. It’s a build that features a limited character and stage selection, but it gave us a good feel for how new game feels to play.” — Justin Haywald, Managing Editor & Edmond Tran, Editor/Video Producer

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Biggest Games: The Last of Us: Part II

“Sony debuted gameplay for The Last of Us Part II during its E3 2018 press conference. What Sony and developer Naughty Dog showed is just as gruesome as the previous trailer for the sequel; on top of a man getting eviscerated, we see Ellie perform a number of brutal takedowns and kills. It’s definitely a lot to take in all at once, and it’s also cinematic–it can be hard to tell what’s pure combat and what’s a cutscene-like transition.

While at E3 2018, we had a chance to speak to co-directors Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau about the game. They gave us insight into what exactly we’re seeing in the trailer in terms of combat, and as it turns out, much of what looks cinematic–Ellie’s perfectly timed dodges and pulling an arrow out of her shoulder–is actually within your control. That looks to be a key component in framing and shaping the intense violence in The Last of Us Part II, as well as something that can add greatly to Ellie as a character.” — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of The Last of Us Part II.

Biggest Games: Resident Evil 2 Remake

“Resident Evil 2’s upcoming remake rides a fine line between new and old. When it triggers nostalgic memories with its familiar characters and locales, it instantly makes you uneasy with its new retelling of classic events.

My time with the demo began in the main hall of the Raccoon City Police Department as Leon S. Kennedy–who’s just as strong willed and naive as we remember. He’s no longer the invincible superhero that latter entries transformed him into; he’s desperate and vulnerable. These qualities should come as no surprise to fans of the original version, but the remake really leans into them, making your time spent as the rookie cop all the more tense and dire. And with higher-quality voice performances, Leon’s circumstances feel grounded and believable.

It helps that the Resident Evil 4-style, third-person over-the-shoulder camera provides a far more intimate view than the original’s fixed camera angles. The remake faithfully recreates the original RPD’s narrow halls and pathways; its floor layout is nearly identical. The third-person perspective plays well with the labyrinthian police department, making exploration feel unsettling and claustrophobic; gone are the door-opening loading screens.” — Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Biggest Games: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

“Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and many more of From Software’s games contain incredibly detailed worlds, with incredibly deep combat and an incredible number of deaths. You see, as impressive as From’s previous games have been, I’m not particularly good at playing them. I’m one of those people you tell to “git gud.” I play each of From’s games for eight or so hours, get sick of dying, and give up.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice might be the game to break that rule. Death is no longer a barrier which must be overcome. It’s no longer simply a “learning experience.” Death and immediate resurrection is now a mechanic. From Software says you can use death to your advantage–fooling your enemies into a false sense of security before coming back to life and sneaking up on them using the game’s light stealth mechanics. Perfect for those who–like me–are fed up of dying. From is staying coy, however, on the exact mechanics of the resurrection ability. It says you’ll only be able to use it a limited number of times, and that “in no way does [resurrection] make the game easy.”

Sekiro also speeds up the From formula, even moreso than Bloodborne did. Your main character–for now, simply named the Shinobi–is more agile than that of Soulsborne. He has a proper jump, which can be utilized in combat. He has a grappling hook, which can be used to gain a vantage point over the enemy. And his prosthetic limb can be customized to wield a shuriken, which you can use to propel yourself towards an enemy in a flash.” — Oscar Dayus, Staff Writer

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Biggest Games: Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

“When you’re looking at Tom Clancy’s The Division in the broader sense, the game has shown considerable growth since its launch. After several expansions adding in new events and areas to explore, along with many updates tweaking the power grind and endgame content, Ubisoft’s shared world action-RPG title slowly evolved into the game that many fans wanted when it was first released. And with The Division 2, the same developers at Massive Entertainment and Red Storm are looking to maintain that momentum with the series’ next outing.

Set seven months after the initial outbreak of the Black Friday virus, The Division 2 will bring the online action-RPG to Washington D.C, which has also been decimated by mass panic, and opportunistic new factions looking to take advantage of the power vacuum. Unlike Manhattan’s snow-covered wasteland from the original game, D.C. is far more lawless, made worse by an an immense heatwave driving more people to desperation. With the Division agency having gone silent, the remaining agents in the field have to reclaim control of the city. Prior to the official announcement at the Microsoft Press Conference, we got the play a short section of the game, while speaking with creative director Terry Spier about their continued sights on trying to keep things interesting for the long term.

When looking at the CG trailer, it’s clear that the sense of scale, along with the stakes, have dialed up significantly. The Division 2, like its predecessor, will focus on building up your unique agent’s resources as they acquire new weapons while taking on the multiple enemy factions that have taken hold of the city. Washington D.C., is about 20 percent bigger than Manhattan, which is almost a 1-to-1 recreation of the city. The developers wanted to offer a greater level of variety in the locations you’ll explore, which includes more residential areas and the nearby forests outside the capital.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of The Division 2.

E3 2018’s Biggest Surprises


The Biggest Surprises of E3

E3 is the one time of year all eyes are on the games industry, from media and investors to fans. That makes it the perfect place for publishers to drop their biggest bombshells. This year was no exception, thanks to some curveballs from the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo, Bethesda, and more–from revivals of long-dormant franchises to new games we never saw coming.

EA kicked off the week’s festivities with its EA Play event, which delivered both a game release and the promise of more Star Wars to come. Microsoft followed with first-mover advantage, offering several big announcements of its own along with big debuts from third-parties. Bethesda dropped one of the biggest names in its stable of franchises, and Nintendo wowed with the sheer level of content included in this year’s tent-pole title.

Some of the surprises this year came from unexpected places. Microsoft announced a series of unexpected acquisitions, and Cyberpunk 2077 offered a twist ending to one of the major press conferences. EA and Bethesda both proved that just dropping a title can be enough to excite eager fans.

Check out the gallery for all of the biggest surprises from E3 2018, and catch up with which games are coming this year.

Smash Bros. Ultimate Has EVERYONE

We knew Super Smash Bros. for Switch would be the showpiece for Nintendo. But the roster was an open question, which meant that when Nintendo announced the newly-dubbed Smash Bros. Ultimate would feature every character to ever appear in the series came as a shock.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Roster Has All Previous Characters

Resident Evil 2 Remake Coming

After the success of the Resident Evil remake, another one based on the fan-favorite Resident Evil 2 seemed inevitable. But like the zombie lumbering right behind you, it’s closer than you think. Resident Evil 2 will release for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on January 25, 2019.

Resident Evil 2 Release Date Confirmed

Cyberpunk Hacks the Planet

Cyberpunk 2077 has been in development for a long time, and many were hoping this would be the year we finally heard more about it. It was, but CD Projekt Red chose a notably unique way to show it off. When Xbox head Phil Spencer appeared to be wrapping up the Microsoft conference, Cyberpunk broke in by “hacking” into the conference to show off its trailer–with a few Easter eggs to boot.

Cyberpunk 2077 Trailer Provides Our First Good Look

Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield Are On the Way

Sometimes it’s enough just to know a game is on the way. After years of speculating and hoping for Elder Scrolls 6, Bethesda confirmed it’s in development (or at least pre-production) with a brief teaser-trailer. Not only that, it confirmed long-standing rumors of another RPG, Starfield.

Elder Scrolls 6 is Officially On the Way

Respawn Will Make You a Jedi

In one of the more casual moments of any press conference, Respawn dropped some details about its upcoming Star Wars game via a brief sit-down with studio head Vince Zampella. At the EA Play conference, Zampella revealed that his studio’s game is called Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, and will feature a story set in the dark times when Jedi were being hunted.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Revealed as the New Game from Titanfall Dev

Halo Infinite Gets a Mysterious Teaser

For one of its marquee franchises, Microsoft spent precious little time announcing Halo Infinite. The short teaser trailer showed lots of beautiful flora and fauna, and one glimpse of Master Chief, before pulling back and announcing the title. It left us with all sorts of questions, some of which have been answered, but it was an undoubtedly dramatic way to drop the title.

Halo Infinite Revealed

Devil May Cry 5 is a Wild Ride

Reviving a dormant franchise is one surefire way to make an impact at E3. To that end, Capcom debuted Devil May Cry 5, the first numbered sequel in 10 years. It was notable not just for the announcement, but for outright ignoring the existence of DmC: Devil May Cry, the 2013 reboot.

Devil May Cry 5 Confirmed

A Trio of Gears of War Games

Microsoft’s other big shooter franchise, Gears of War, got not just one but three announcements this year. It began with a fake-out teasing Gears Pop, a mobile game featuring the Funko figurines of the same name. The announcements then moved onto Gears Tactics, a turn-based PC strategy game. Finally, The Coalition acknowledged the real meat (so to speak) of the presentation: Gears 5, a proper sequel starring Kait in the lead role.

Gears 5 Revealed

Elder Scrolls Blades Brings Tamriel to Mobile

A vague tease for Elder Scrolls 6 wasn’t the only card Bethesda had up its sleeve. The studio also announced Elder Scrolls Blades, an entirely mobile game coming later this year.

New Elder Scrolls Game, Blades, Announced But It’s Not What You Expect

Do You Have Battletoads?

Microsoft has been teasing its acquisition of Battletoads for years, even putting the amphibians their own strange spot in Killer Instinct. This year the company finally acknowledged a proper Battletoads is on the way, with all the 1990s ‘tude you’ve come to expect.

New Battletoads Game Announced for Xbox One

Unravel 2 Announced, And Released

Unravel was a charming little platformer that we didn’t expect would necessarily ever get a sequel. EA pulled a one-two punch of surprises by not only announced Unravel 2 at its showcase, but pairing it with the announcement that it was already available.

EA’s Beautiful New Platformer Unravel 2 Announced, And It’s Out Right Now

Microsoft Quintuples Down on Acquisitions

Microsoft has been criticized recently for a lack of first-party games. This year Microsoft addressed that in bold fashion, using time at its press conference to announce five new studio acquisitions: The Initiative, Undead Labs, Playground Games, Compulsion Games, and Ninja Theory.

After Criticism of Lack of Xbox One Games, Microsoft Creates New Studio And Buys Four Others

The Incredibles 2 Spoiler Talk

After 14 long years Pixar’s sequel to The Incredibles is finally here… “The Incredibles 2”! Mike Rougeau and Chris Hayner chat up what makes The Incredibles 2 such a worthy successor, and just how much fun the film is in this Spoiler Review and chat. How does “The Incredibles 2” stack up to other Pixar movies? Find out here!

Hereditary’s Ending Explained By The People Who Made It

Hereditary one hell of a horror movie, but it’s also a family drama that explores how tragedy and grief can twist people into unrecognizable shapes. Much of the film is spent developing the relationships between the characters, which makes the ending–where the story finally descends into utter, terrifying chaos–a little jarring.

Whether or not you liked Hereditary’s ending, there’s no denying that it’s sparked conversation among viewers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t read any further, because there are spoilers ahead!

Hereditary ends with Milly Shapiro’s Charlie, Gabriel Byrne’s Steve, and Toni Collette’s Annie all extremely dead, expended pawns in grandma’s demonic scheme to use Alex Wolff’s character Peter to summon a King of Hell, Paimon, into waking life. A full on demon summoning is probably not where most people expected this movie to go, and that’s no accident, according to Hereditary director Ari Aster.

“I’ve set up this patient, dark family drama, and then it just goes off the rails,” he described during a recent interview with GameSpot.

There were plenty of hints throughout the movie that this was how things would go. Obviously the grandmother was into some messed up stuff, and many viewers probably got cult vibes long before the big reveal. And Ann Dowd’s character Joan was clearly sinister in the way she deliberately inserted herself into the Grahams’ life through Annie. By the end, the movie even gets into a surprising amount of detail about the demon king, Paimon, that the cult worships.

“It’s interesting, because when you talk about the ending, it’s easy for it to sound a little kitschy, when you talk about it and you don’t see the rest of the movie, that’s so grounded,” Alex Wolff told GameSpot. But he added that he thinks it works both literally and metaphorically in the context of the whole film.

According to both Wolff and Milly Shapiro, the character Charlie is Paimon. She was born a demon. She’s not a person who’s been possessed–although she’s certainly a pawn–but a literal, physical manifestation of Paimon. That explains why she’s so strange, why grandma obsessively fawned over her, and why she has to die for the demon to enter a male host and the ritual to be completed (as you may have noticed, the cult’s symbol was etched into the phone pole that killed her, implying the cult had some influence over the events).

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But Paimon/Charlie certainly isn’t the villain of the movie, and Paimon actually appears to be an unknowing participant in the cult’s scheme. Charlie doesn’t know what she is.

“She never knew anything different from how she is,” Shapiro told GameSpot. “With possession usually, there is a person trapped in there, but there never really was anything but [Paimon] for Charlie.”

“She is a demon,” Wolff succinctly explained. “But I feel like it’s so interesting–Ari took the approach that she’s not necessarily evil. She’s actually scared, and she’s just in this circumstance. She’s born this way, and she doesn’t feel connected to the rest of the world. And I think it’s kind of a sick, twisted, true analogy about being on the outside and having a mental disorder.”

There are hints throughout the movie that the demon king needs a male body to successfully use as a vessel. It’s outright stated at one point, but another example is Annie’s brother, who died before the movie’s events and allegedly suffered from schizophrenia. There’s one theory that he was actually the grandmother’s previous, failed attempt to summon Paimon. But at the end of Hereditary, there’s no failure–Charlie’s spirit, which was actually Paimon, enters Peter’s body, and the ritual is complete.

“He becomes Charlie, that’s the end, is that Charlie is Paimon,” Wolff said. “Really I believe, yeah, in a literal sense, he’s possessed by Paimon, which is Charlie, and he switches and becomes Charlie. And that’s the end of the movie.”

Aster confirmed that the ending is meant to be viewed literally, not simply as a metaphor for mental deterioration or as some sort of delusion on the characters’ part. “It is literal,” he said. “Nobody likes the ‘It was all a dream’ thing.”

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That said, there are of course more subtle, metaphorical meanings to it as well. “In a more emotional sense, I believe that it’s almost like each member of the family’s psyche deteriorates, and the end for me is Peter’s psyche deteriorating, and everything smashing to a thousand little pieces and it being unfixable,” Wolff said.

“I believe you should always interpret things as exactly what you’re seeing, but it kind of doesn’t matter, because whatever it is, it turns into f***ing chaos, and that’s what it is,” he continued. “Whatever’s actually happening, the feeling is the hyperbole of absolute anarchy and the depths of guilt and the depths of trauma in a family, and feeling like you’re cursed.”

“For me, that ending is very much about how trauma can completely transform a person, and not necessarily for the better,” Aster explained. “When I was first pitching the film, I was describing it as a family tragedy that curdles into a nightmare, in the same way that life can feel like a nightmare when disaster is striking.”

“I wanted to make a film that collapsed under the weight of what these people are going through,” he continued. “It starts to split apart at the seams. I wanted the ending, even as it’s going crazy, to still feel like it was absolutely rooted in what these people were suffering through.”

Shapiro said she finds the ending extra interesting because it essentially switches to the cult’s point of view. For them, it’s a happy ending, while for the Graham family, “it’s absolute despair.”

“I think the thing that makes it so relatable is everyone has felt like they were cursed or had bad thing after bad thing happen, and no matter what the family does, it doesn’t stop,” she said. “They don’t really know what they’re getting themselves into, and they don’t know how to stop it, because there isn’t really a way. It’s something that was planned before they were born, and it’s something that was always going to happen.”

Hereditary is in theaters now. Read GameSpot’s full Hereditary review here, and find out why an hour of the movie wound up on the cutting room floor.

Pokemon Go June 2018 Community Day Takes Place This Weekend

The next Pokemon Go Community Day is right around the corner. The event takes place this Saturday, June 16, giving players another chance to capture rare Pokemon and earn some extra bonuses.

As Niantic previously revealed, the featured Pokemon in this month’s Community Day is Larvitar. The Rock-type monster will spawn much more frequently than normal during the event hours, and if past Community Days are any indication, players will also have a chance to encounter Shiny variants of the Pokemon.

Any Larvitar that evolves into Tyranitar before the Community Day ends will also learn a special event-exclusive move, which Niantic recently revealed is the Rock-type attack Smack Down. This also applies to Larvitar that were captured prior to the Community Day; however, the Pokemon will only learn Smack Down if it evolves during the event hours.

On top of increased Larvitar spawns, players who participate in the Community Day will earn triple the normal amount of XP for capturing Pokemon. Additionally, any Lure Modules that are activated during the event will last for three hours, rather than the usual 30 minutes.

As is typically the case, June’s Community Day will be held during a specific window of time rather than at a particular location. The event runs for three hours and kicks off at different times depending on where you live. You can find the Community Day schedule for each major region below.

North America

  • 11 AM – 2 PM PT
  • 2 PM – 5 PM ET

Europe and Africa

  • 10 AM – 1 PM BST

Asia-Pacific

  • 12 PM – 3 PM JST

On top of the new Community Day, Pokemon Go players can still participate in the ongoing Water Festival event, which runs until June 21. During the Water Festival, Water-type Pokemon such as Magikarp and Wailmer spawn more frequently, while 2km Eggs will hatch into Totodile, Mudkip, Corphish, and other Water-types.

The Legendary Water Pokemon Kyogre has also returned temporarily as part of the Water Festival. As before, the Pokemon can be found as a Raid Battle at Gyms, and this time, Niantic teases that players may have a chance to encounter its Shiny form.