So, what are you playing?

by: Randy -

Google Stadia's game list has doubled in size since its announcement in March. Louis Vuitton put out an endless runner game inspired by his artistic director's fall-winter 2019 fashion show. And a new study finds that video gaming is linked to increased happiness ("It's a good pastime"), while social media is linked to depressive symptoms ("Makes them feel bad about themselves.")

So, what are you playing?

Kinsey Danzis
I’m playing the wedding planning game. Very realistic simulation. Stressful. Fun. 10/10. Some might say the VR is too realistic. 

For real, though, I’m not doing a ton of playing this week. My fiancee is playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, though, and while she plays I sit near her and dutifully play the role of “Hint Button.” She used the Hint Button a lot during the Water Temple. And at Lon Lon Ranch. Fun fact: the Hint Button has a secondary function called “Do This Part For Me,” which is primarily used when she knows exactly how to solve the puzzle, but the mechanics keep getting in her face and bodyblocking her, at which point she’ll plaintively hold the 3DS out to me and say “Kinsey...? Do you love me?”

Yes, I do love you. Enough to tackle that godforsaken Water Temple with you.

Dave Gamble
Quite predictably, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Hitman might be the name of the game I was trying to play, but the reality for me was more like The Dying Simulator, with me in the role of He Who Will Do the Dying. I had to find another game involving stealth, sniping, and a sedate, plodding, and utterly inept enemy. I found it buried way down in my seldom-used pile: Iron Wolf VR

Well, not the inept enemy part.

Iron Wolf is one of those games that I bought in early Early Access, loved like a long-lost dog, and promptly forgot about for two years. Even two years ago it was an amazing effort—everything about it just felt right. Two years of development later, it is even more spectacular. There is now room for a fifth online player, a far more complex engine room, which now includes the need/ability to manage power distribution, replace blown fuses when you get it wrong, and a snorkel for running the Diesel engines to charge the batteries while still under water. There is also a new 2nd defensive deck gun and a big artillery gun for sinking ships not worthy of a torpedo, and numerous improvements in torpedo targeting and overall damage control.

My problem with it is that while it can be played single player, it seems like it would be infinitely better with at least one other human aboard. To that end, I managed to get my daughter and Rift-enabled son-in-law over “to play video games.” The obvious ulterior motive was to get the son-in-law excited about the game with the hope that he would want to form a crew.

Mission accomplished. Now if only it was as easy to sink a destroyer-protected convoy.

Randy Kalista
I'm traversing the Griftlands, knee-deep in the Kenny Rogers lifestyle, of sorts. Griftlands is a card battler (know when to hold 'em) with love-hate character relationships (know when to fold 'em), a complex swirl of tactical choices (know when to walk away), and a whole pit of early access difficulty spikes (know when to run). My only previous experience with card battlers was the Hearthstone beta during a three-month stint of unemployment back in, what, 2014? Hadn't touched a card game since.

Until Griftlands. I like Griftlands. I like its broken-down cyberpunk. I like its Star Wars-ian breadth of species. I like its Pyre-esque overworld map and its face-to-face JRPG encounters. I have two card sets. One is verbal sparring. The other is melee combat. Some encounters call for one, some encounters call for the other. I can parlay before a duel, or get aggressive about receiving a higher payout. Can't solve everything with swords, now, can I? It's neat. Though it's hard to know when I'm doing something wrong. Card #1: "The next card you play doubles your composure." I play it. Card #2: "Gain 3 composure." I play it. Wait, why didn't my card's composure double from 3 to 6? I don't know? I guess I'm the dummy here? I can be easily intimidated once a card gets any more complicated than "Stab for 4 damage." But I'll figure it out.

Klei is aiming for updates every two weeks on Griftlands. Only one of three campaigns is available so far. But it's not like I whipped through this first one yet. I only survived three of the five days marking the first campaign. But the game is made for replayability. All of my rando encounters, aside from the story beats, have been kept fresh. I want to get back to Total War: Three Kingdoms. And Metro Exodus. But running Sal through the Feud in Griftland's Murder Bay is all I can gamble on for now.

John Yan
I’m mad at 7 Days to Die. My backpack had so much stuff from day four. I had a goal. My goal was to build a base at the trader’s before the first Blood Moon horde attack. I was well on my way. Found the tools to do it. Everything was around me to make it happen, and to make it happen quickly. I had a working forge and a chem station—at level one! And then...I died. My backpack glitched and disappeared. Gone. I want my stuff back. And I’m mad at 7 Days to Die.

This video essay dissects what games can do to make talking fun

by: Nicholas -

The collective image that may pop into many people's heads when they think of video games will be a gun. Heck, the two best-selling games of 2018 were chock full of bullets and blood. 

But if one is to explore the depth of just a few games, then it's clear that there are more gameplay solutions than the player just shooting their way out of a problem. 

Take for instance, Game Maker's Toolkit's latest video on this very topic. In a video that spans AAA titles from Fallout: New Vegas and L.A. Noire to lesser known titles such as Alpha Protocol, he proposes solutions that make gameplay dialogue options more challenging in order to "talk around a character".

In this method of gameplay, Game Maker's Toolkit states that it tests the players social and logic skills, providing "an actual alternative" to combat. 

It's a great exploration of multiple games' usage of various gameplay modes, and a great suggestion on how to innovate contemporary gameplay. Watch below.

Darksiders III DLC Keepers of the Void is out now

by: Nicholas -

Wow, it's been a little over half a year since I last wrote about Darksiders III. I could have sworn it wasn't even out yet!

Well dear reader, if you're anything like me, then it may also come as a surprise to you that Darksiders III DLC - Keepers of the Void, is out now for all platforms. 

In the trailer for the DLC, which you can watch below, it looks like it'll be packing a good mix of dungeons, puzzles, and new enemies. 

The DLC is out now.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer universe to be unveiled August 1

by: Kinsey -
Hard to believe it's already so close to August, but the month is coming whether or not we're ready for it—and with it, the big reveal for the multiplayer universe of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Direct from the press release: "As players enlist in the heart-racing Modern Warfare story, multiplayer continues the experience as players head online into the ultimate playground for the global balance of power. Featuring unified progression across modes, Modern Warfare seeks to unite the community with plans to support cross-play across platforms and the removal of the traditional season pass in order to deliver a greater mix of more free maps, content and community events post-launch."
Tune in to on August 1 for the full reveal of the Modern Warfare Multiplayer Universe and to see more upcoming gameplay. The game itself is scheduled for global release on October 25 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Captain Price unlock available in Black Ops 4 with preorder of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

by: Kinsey -

Doesn't matter the version, folks. If you preorder any version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you immediately unlock the classic version of Captain Price as a playable character in Blackout. The character will be available on all copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. If you had already preordered a copy of Modern Warfare, never fear; you'll be retroactively given the character.

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Rebel Galaxy Outlaw gets an August launch date

by: Randy -

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw made my Most Anticipated Games of 2019 list, with a bullet. After a year-long wait since its reveal, Developer Double Damage announced this morning that the space sim launches on August 13. That's less than a month away. My Wing Commander: Privateer feels are bringing a tear to my broken-down-Americana eye.

This video PSA comes from a squid-looking character named Sandar D'Truz, who's sort of become the face of the Rebel Galaxy series. The original Rebel Galaxy plus this prequel, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, makes a series, right? Two in a row. Sorry, Sandar's sense of humor is a bit tryhard. That's kind of his thing. But any news about Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is good news. If you're wondering why this space sim gets me, here's a three-hour whiskey-tinged gameplay video to play on your second monitor at work.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw launches on PC with a one-year exclusive on the Epic Game Store on August 13. Steam (and other PC storefronts) will get the game in August of next year.

Introducing Lucky99, the Racer for Wreckfest

by: Rob -

It's got some cinematics, it's got some racing action, it builds in a slow burn and crescendos into the sweet dulcet of Johnny Cash's God's Gonna Cut You Down, the Lucky99 trailer for Wreckfest is certainly a hype-inducing set piece and well worth a minute of your time. 

Wreckfest will be available in standard or deluxe version. The digital deluxe contains the Season Pass, which will grant access to 20 new cars, 20 special roof decorations and additional car customizations like armor and rims; as well as a 24-hour head start into the game on August 26th before the regular release on the 27th. Either include a pre-order bonus of the Bandit Ripper V8 racer, and all players of the game will receive regular free updates in addition to the paid season pass content.

Dr. Who VR game releases trailer, reveals little, teases much

by: Rob -

It is a teaser trailer after all...

While the video below doesn't reveal much, upcoming events promise to uncover more. First of all, the game, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, will be playable at the BBC America booth at the San Diego Comic-Con this year (booth #4129). As a fully featured production of BBC Studios, this playable event will give fans a chance to co-pilot the TARDIS with the Doctor, voiced by current star headlining the TV show, Jodie Whittaker herself. Players will have a chance to explore every nook and cranny of the TARDIS and travel across space and time to a number of locations. 

The 10 Tiny Details You May Have Missed in the Elder Scrolls V series is great and you should watch it

by: Randy -

He probably never thought it would go this far. But YouTuber EpicNate has become one of the most prominent historians on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

EpicNate started his YouTube channel seven years ago assembling gameplay tips and tricks for Call of Duty games. Each one managed to pick up a few hundred views, with the occasional video spiking into the thousands. His Minecraft videos did even better. Tens of thousands better. Then one day he posted a video on "How to be IMMUNE to Radiation in Fallout 4." Boom. Hundreds of thousands of views. 

Two years ago, EpicNate started making lists of things people might've missed in their playthrough of Skyrim. At that point, Skyrim was already five years old. The remastered Skyrim Special Edition had been out for several months, too. As fast as the video game industry moves, talking about details folks had missed in Skyrim was starting to move out of spoiler territory. The game is so massive that even if you had noticed EpicNate's details during your playthrough, there was a reasonable chance you'd already forgotten them, or simply let them get buried in your memory as an endless number of other quests continued to pile onto your saved game.

EpicNate's 10 Tiny Details series exploded. The series started raking in viewers. Not thousands. Not tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands. Even people like me that had sunk hundreds of hours into the game already were hungry for these 10 tiny details. Mostly, at least in my case, for the aforementioned reason that there was just too much to see and do in Skyrim that there was no way to keep it all front of mind. Yes, the game was only five years old, but watching EpicNate comb through places I'd been and talking about NPCs I'd met was almost triggering a nostalgia for Skyrim. Nostalgia for a game I was still actively playing myself. 

EpicNate's video-making work ethic, even as he's held down day jobs, is admirable. In two years he's made over 250 videos about Skyrim alone, and not just his 10 Tiny Details series. His various series, which also show some love to Bethesda's Fallout 4, cover mysteries, mods, and even Things You (Probably) Didn't Know You Could Do videos.

To celebrate specifically hitting his 50th 10 Tiny Details video, right along with his 500,000th subscriber, EpicNate make The Top Ten 10 Tiny Details You May Have Missed in the Elders Scrolls 5 (see below). Keep up the good work, EpicNate. My nine-year-old daughter has veritably grown up playing Skyrim and, in more recent years, listening to EpicNate's increasingly radio deejay voice affectations connect the dots regarding her time running around good ol' Skyrim.

Super Monkey Ball returns this fall

by: Nathan -

Well this is exciting news. Super Monkey Ball is a fantastic game where you have to rotate the field of play in order to guide the monkey balls to the exit or watch as the poor, innocent monkeys fall to their deaths. It was fun and addictive and it's coming back this fall with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. 

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD will feature updated graphics, optimized controls for each console, a new Decathalon agme mode and online leader boards. 

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD launches on October 29th 2019 for Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One for $39.99. A PC release on Steam is planned for the Winter of 2019.