One of my favorite times of the year is spending the week seeing some really skilled gamers quickly run through various games. Today at 12:30 EST, Summer Games Done Quick 2018 kicks off in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
You can see the schedule of events here and the final game will end on Sunday, July 1st at around 1AM EST. Some of the games I'm looking forward to is Borderlands The Pre-Sequel done in 2 hours and 20 minutes, Prey in 50 minutes, and DOOM in 50 minutes.
Sometimes on weekend mornings, I like to dig into new games that are going to be released in the coming week, seeking out a bit of info on the history of the title and some detail on the coming release. This morning, I decided to try to check into Esper, a cool-looking PS VR puzzle-room title that is scheduled to release on Friday, 6-29. I was a little bewildered that I could not find any info on the coming release. No pricing, no PS VR trailer, no mention of the release on developer CoatSink’s website. Very mysterious.
I was able to find out some stuff about the game itself. Originally released on March 3, 2015 (!) as a very early Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR title, Esper has been generally respected as a quality pioneer in the now-popular “room-puzzle” VR genre (think I Expect You to Die, or Statik). The player character is a burgeoning telekinetic in the 1970s (dig the wallpaper!), being tested by the government to determine the extent of their skills. As such, players are put through a series of challenges, manipulating objects through a variety of obstacles, using the power of their mind (or, you know, a move controller).
Esper was successful enough to receive a sequel in December of 2015, and eventually both games were bundled together as “The Esper Collection”, currently retailing for $9.99 at Oculus.com.
I don’t know if the release on Friday is the Esper Collection, or the first title standing alone. And after a bit of Googling, I’m pretty comfortable declaring that outside of CoatSink and PlayStation, no one has the scoop on this release yet, and neither of those companies are talking. What I can say is that both titles seem to be very well respected in the VR space, garnering very positive reviews from a number of outlets. Unless someone out there reading is psychic and wants to share, we will have to wait for Friday for more details!
In this case the rose is Team Rose - one of three divulged teams heading for the track in Team Sonic Racing (Team Sonic and Team Dark). This announced to help commemorate Sonic's 27th birthday celebration. Team Rose consists of:
To pre-order the physical edition of Team Sonic Racing, please visit www.teamsonicracing.com. Details of digital pre-order will be available at a later date.
In the weekly news roundup Bungie produces for all things Destiny, the real news is in the details to changes to some Exotic Armor. The blog post itself goes on to describe Dead Orbit's victory in last week's Faction Rally, announces Iron Banner for this week, some housekeeping around deleting old forum threads and even Halo videos from 2008, a bit of bug fixes, and some media treats; but the meat is that Exotic Armor.
The armor will drop with Update 1.2.3, the next planned update to the game. Hunters are seeing Lucky Raspberry's perk of instantly recharging your grenade become a little less random and a little more useful, St0mp-EE5 have been tweaked to better effect strafe and triple jump where it was only really augmenting the high jump before, and Young Ahamkara's Spine further buffing tripmines.
Titans ACD/0 Feedback Fence are proccing Fury Conductor on hits instead of kills and will stack melee resistance, Doomfang Pauldrons are going to have more impact on the super, and Dunemarchers are getting reduced time to activate with greater effect once it does.
Not to be left out, Warlocks are seeing their Crown of Tempests getting their stacks reduced while keeping the effects, Karnstein Armlets have removed melee effects but proc and insta-heal on melee kills, and Starfire Protocol adds a grenade buff to empowering rifts.
Full details on each of the armors are available after the "Read more" link.
Here’s a fun one: Rainbow Skies, the sequel to 2012’s PS3 and Vita hit RPG Rainbow Moon, is releasing on June 26th after at least six years in development.
Following the successful release of Rainbow Moon (that game still haunts the Vita version of the PlayStation Store with its 500 DLC offerings), the team at SideQuest Studios got to work on Rainbow Skies, and have been heads down on it ever since. During the dev time, the team of five (five!) managed to create versions for PS4, Vita, and PS4, which they are selling altogether through the magic of cross-buy. You can also flip your save between systems with cross-save, which - if you have the right gadgets to use it - is an awesome feature.
In addition to the multiple versions, SideQuest Studios also localized the game into five different languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian), added a new battle rank system (sort of a sliding difficulty), and threw in a bunch of endgame content and side activities, all while creating a 40 hour main storyline and literally hundreds of hours of side quests (they are SideQuest Studios, after all). The game will run at 60 FPS, even on the Vita.
Like Rainbow Moon, Skies is a tactics-based RPG, though according to Marcus Pukropski, the CEO of SideQuest Studios in a post on the PlayStation Blog, the gameplay has been “tweaked in almost every aspect.” The game certainly looks tweaked. That trailer is very nice looking, hinting at a deep experience with a surprising amount of fun content.
“At SideQuest Studios and publisher eastasiasoft, we have put all our creative energy into Rainbow Skies, which we believe both fans of the series and newcomers will appreciate and love. From the outset, we set ourselves high targets and goals so that we could to deliver the best indie RPG experience possible. We have implemented some exciting new features which were not part of our original concept, such as a deep in-game awards system that tracks trophy and general awards progress,” writes Pukropski.
No word yet on pricing (the game is not listed in the PlayStation Store yet), so your guess is as good as mine. An even better question is whether this game will be as focused on microtransactions as the last. While there was nothing on offer that could not be gained through grinding, gold and EXP were (and still are) readily available in the PlayStation Store for players that wanted to skip past slow parts of Rainbow Moon. We won't see until Tuesday whether Rainbow Skies carries this dynamic forward, but I'm hoping that SideQuest Studios has either reined this in, or eliminated it entirely.
Rainbow Skies will be available this Tuesday, June 26th on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita, with one purchase snagging you all three version.
This week marks the release of the latest game in the Mario Tennis series with Mario Tennis Aces on the Nintendo Switch. Aside from the usual Mario Tennis fun, a few new mechanics are included as well as an Adventure Mode where you take on a variety of missions and even boss battles. However, while online play is enabled, for some reason you can't play online with friends as of the time of this post, or at least it's not working on my end and I've seen online where others are having the same issues. That being said though I have checked out Adventure Mode and I'm really enjoying it so far.
A new version of Minecraft is available for the Switch and will let players discover a ton of new community creations in the Minecraft Store and let you share the fun with friends on the phone, Windows 10, or other consoles. If you currently own Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition, you'll be upgraded to the new version for free by downloading it on the eShop.
Next week will see the release of a couple of big games. First up is Lumines Remastered on the Nintendo Switch. This is an HD remaster of the original Lumines game and features easy-to-play gameplay along with some house, trance, and techno music. Lumines Remastered will be released on June 26th along with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA. In the latest game in the Ys series, Adol is shipwrecked on a cursed island and must form a village with the other shipwrecked passengers and explore some mysterious ruins. I've recently gotten into the Ys series so if the current Steam sale doesn't drain my wallet, this month of Switch release might.
[The Witcher 3]
So, what are you playing?
After E3, Cyberpunk 2077 hype has me diving back into The Witcher 3 and just soaking in everything that game has to offer. The Division will probably pull me back in this weekend with the offer of shields to grind for in preparation for The Division 2. I'm also trying to squeeze in time to finish the Moonlighter story, but that might get backlogged as I'll be spending a decent amount of time playing and relaxing with Bus Simulator 2018 for my review. In the wake of E3, I'm actively stressing myself out as by backlog continues to grow with games I need to play or finish before their successors' release in the next year.
Now that my Retropie is rebuilt (mostly) I'll be checking out Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel for the Game Boy Color. Everyone I've asked has said it's an unsung classic and an astonishing achievement on such limited hardware. I also got my brother Super Mario Odyssey for his birthday, so I might fire up my copy to hunt down some more elusive power moons.
My fiancee got on a pirate kick recently, so it's Sea of Thieves for us both. We've been roaming around the seas in our terrible little sloop, affectionately named the Bucket, and digging up chests for the Gold Hoarders. During the evenings we both have off from work, our living room is filled with pirate voices, pirate jokes, and pirate names. I will say that since the release hype has long petered out, it's a much more pleasant experience, since I'm more in the mood for exploring/treasure hunting/sailing with my fiancee than I am hardcore PvP.
In other news, I've just received some hardware from HyperX to review, and I've got a horror 2D platformer on the table called Dream Alone as well, so expect word about those within a few weeks!
It’s one of those weeks when gaming takes a seat way in the back of the room, although rainy days are in the forecast so I might be able to fit some sessions in. If so, it’s back the the amazing DCS F-18. It’s in DCS’s version of early access and therefore is not fully completed, but even with only a portion of the technology available it is still the most complex study-level military flight sim I’ve ever encountered. It’s fascinating stuff indeed. Much of its complexity is hidden by 1980’s era human interfaces, which makes it all more approachable for low time pilots, but the vast amount that there is to learn is still daunting. All of which is moot, of course, because I still can’t get the thing safely landed on the aircraft carrier. Challenging indeed!
While I try to wrap my roller-coaster-like feelings about Conan Exiles into a final review, I have been spending some hours playing around with Sky Noon, a new Early Access title that can best be described as "3-D Smash Bros. with Cowboys." I'll be getting a preview put together in the next week or so, but spoiler alert: it's really fun.
I have also been playing Star Wars Battlefront II a ridiculous amount. Now that EA was forced to eat crow and just unlock everything for everyone, this game is an amazing good time. The production values are stellar, and each mode feels like it would have been its own standalone title just a generation or two ago. I don't engage with FPS games very much, so I'm not used to getting so much content in one package. Is this what buying a Call of Duty title is like? What a value!
I've gotten a bit hooked on Call of Duty: WWII's new Infected mode lately. The game starts with 12 players who are armed with a shotgun, sub-machine gun, a gas grenade and two mines. After 15 seconds, one of the players is randomly turned into a zombie and must infect the other players by killing them with an axe. Each converted player then works together to convert the rest of the players. It's a ton of fun and most of the levels in the game work surprisingly well for this new mode.
With all of the noise around Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 last week I've decided to start a replay of The Witcher 3. It's amazing how far the game has come since I last played it two years ago, and I'm digging the improved graphics from playing on a PS4 Pro.
I'm working on a spoiler-free preview of The Banner Saga 3, conclusion to the best Viking Oregon Trail Apocalypse series ever made. I'm apprehensive about this trilogy coming to a close, but simultaneously anxious to see what Stoic Studio does next. They're occupying a top spot on my Most Anticipated list for next year's E3.
Also, since I'm an idiot and didn't visit How Long to Beat before I clicked the buy button, I'm now the proud owner of Horizon Zero Dawn - Complete Edition. That's 80+ completionist hours I need to find laying around somewhere. But my daughter has been stoked about Aloy since her E3 2015 debut. Wow, my kid was only five back then.
Destiny 2 is fully back in the rotation. I’ll do my weeklies for the rewards and probably hop in a raid but I’ll be concentrating a little more on God of War this weekend. I’m also aiming to immerse myself in the Vive titles that have been sitting in my Steam Library just waiting for a nice weekend with no responsibilities. And that weekend is this one. So, Space Pirate Trainer and Fallout 4 VR should find themselves on the menu as well.
My stats say that I have played 28 hours and 25 minutes of Fallout Shelter since June 12 (and I'm writing this on June 19), and I don't see myself stopping except for exercise and other work/family/book reading duties—in other words, fitting it into an agreeable time slot.
I usually have one or two games a season that I play habitually until I beat it, and it looks like Fallout Shelter is the one. As I've said before, I'm really surprised that I'm so into a mobile title.
But in other gaming news, Unravel 2 made me cry a little bit, and that's a good thing.
Well, I just finished my review for Jurassic World: Revolution and can say that I do not endorse this park. I really had a hard time squeezing in enough hours to get the full perspective due to how boring, tedious and annoying the game was. I can't even come up with a good reason for the name itself as there is no evolution use, mention, or anything in the game. It needs to be dropped by a fat, scheming computer tech and lost in the muck forever. See the full review on GN towards the end of the month.
In lighter news, I have finished South Park: the Fractured But Whole and am ready to go through again. It has a ton more replay value than the first game and just enough differing paths to make a second run worth while. A review will be posted on GN soon.
Lastly, I will be starting Yet Another Zombie Defense HD and think it will be as fun as it looks. As a top-down shooter with a team-up multiplayer setup, the game should be a hoot. More to follow in the coming week.
7 Days. To Die.
Deals with Gold, of course. This week, Diablo III: The Eternal Collection and Euro Fishing are both having massive sales.
The Eternal Collection features Diablo III, the Reaper of Souls expansion set and the Rise of the Necromancer pack for just $30 or half-off.
Euro Fishing has six different packs and add-on from just $5.50 and include Waldsee, Bergsee, Foundry Dock and Manor Farm Lake.
These two and a few others are available now in the Deals With Gold section.
There are only two things preventing me from buying Codemasters F1 2018, when it releases, and those two things are the letters 'V' and 'R' - having three excellent VR-capable racers already in hand, I am loath to part with $60 (presumed) for anything that won't bring anywhere nearly the same visceral excitement I get from the fully immersive alternatives. Until the F1 series gets VR-ified, I just can't bring myself to do it.
That having been said, I am a huge fan of Formula 1 racing. I have been watching it for decades. There are a lot of reasons, but one of them is that Formula 1 prides itself on being a dynamic racing series in both technological advancement and changes to any given year's list of tracks. It's ever evolving.
The French Grand Prix is this weekend, but I won't be able to do my almost-mandatory practice laps on any of my sims; the Codemasters F1 series is the only one I know of that keeps up with the annual changes in the rules,cars, and tracks, albeit with a fairly lengthy lag - it wouldn't have helped me this year anyway. There was no French Grand Prix last year, but even this year's is too early in the season to make it into the sim. It's at a track named Circuit Paul Ricard. I can't get that track for either iRacing or PC2, so I'm out of luck. I really do enjoy the races far better when I have experience on the track, so it's a bit of a downer.
All things being equal, I could just decide that the lesser immersion of playing flat would be worth the trade-off and I should go ahead and prepare for next year, but there are other constraints on my appetite for a non-VR title. Without VR, for example, I would have to retrieve my 48" racing monitor from the basement where it has been gathering dust since the day my Rift arrived; in addition to the far superior immersion factor, VR also benefits from having a far smaller footprint in my already crowded play room.
Still, it's nice to at least have a video.
Microsoft also stated they are no longer working with Reagent Games and is now working with Sumo Digital. Crackdown 3 was also going to use Cloudgine, a cloud based processing system to process the destructive elements of the game. Cloudgine was acquired by Epic though in January and Microsoft isn't specifying which cloud computing service they are using for Crackdown 3. Cloudgine was co-founded by the founder of Reagant so they are pretty closely tied together.
So where does this leave Crackdown 3? Microsoft showed the trailer at E3, but that's about it. We'll see if they hit their latest release date again, but I wouldn't be surprised if we hear another delay or even a cancellation of it.
I was hoping Crackdown 3 would be a return to form of the original one as I was a big fan of the first game, but the more I read about its problems, the less I'm looking forward to it.