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So, what are you playing?

by: Randy -

Oh, who did we think we were kidding, So What Are You Playing? We can't quit you. I mean, when we did quit you back in February, it was a very different world. A world where video conferencing was still something of a luxury or a business directive, not a social-distancing mandate. A world where avoiding large crowds was antisocial, not an executive order. A world where your local GameStop smelled a little funny and...well, maybe they have a little more time on their hands to spray that disinfectant they should've been spraying this whole time. Don't let video games get in the way of a brisk, lonely walk outside—but don't be afraid of a long gaming session once your live-in loved ones have gotten sufficient quality time with you, too.

So, what are you playing?

Russell Archey
I've been getting back into Digimon World: Cyber Sleuth when streaming, and it's a sign of a good game when I can go for a long time without touching a game, pick it back up where I left off without researching anything, and remember almost everything about what I was doing and how the various mechanics work. Before a couple of weeks ago I hadn't touched the game in almost a year. Beyond that, I've been really enjoying Wandersong a lot more than I thought I would. Not that I thought it was going to be a bad game or anything. I tend to enjoy smaller indie games like that, but this is definitely a lot better than I thought it was going to be. If you have Xbox Live Game Pass, definitely give it a shot.

Eric Hauter
Due to travel restrictions, my son—who lives on the other side of the country—was not able to come home for Spring Break. We have always used PS VR as a means to spend time together, but now that seems more important than usual. Our current game of choice? Vertigo Games' Sky World. We are a family that really enjoys tabletop gaming, and Sky World meets that criteria in spades. For a long time in the early game, it's a turn-based strategy game, with players racing to grab land and pillage it for resources. But when battle is declared, the table flips, and a MOBA-like real-time battle begins. I have gotten a great deal of amusement sending armies of archers and battletanks electronically across the United States to whoop up on my son, though he is learning quickly. It is only a matter of time before he catches on that he needs to upgrade his units. But until then, I will be content spending time with him and ruling Sky World simultaneously.  

Randy Kalista
Call me old fashioned, but when a pandemic strikes, I like to head into outer space. This time I'm using Endless Space 2 for that. It's one I've had sitting on the launch pad for a couple years now, but it's never stuck to me the way Endless Legend did—that's the fantasy-fiction counterpart to Endless Space's science-fantasy schtick. My seeming disinterest in Endless Space 2 had to do with the environment, I'm sure. I can wander forever between oceans and mountains, forests and deserts. But a skybox full of just stars doesn't spark my imagination the same way. But this time I'm really digging into the in-game artwork. Watching my scout ship fly from one blip to the next in a plain ol' spiral galaxy doesn't elevate my heart rate. But sitting on some concept art for the xeno-architecture being built on my planets, or soaking in the very British military uniforms of my vaguely fascist industrial powerhouse of a nation? That's what transforms Endless Space 2 from a "paint the map red" tactical borefest into a Mass Effect-ian space opera.

I might still be overstating it, but the game is at least getting a little bit of that stickiness I'm looking for.

Hopefully we hear back from TaleWorlds Entertainment about getting some Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord early access code. It's been a good 10, 12 years since I've played Mount & Blade. Never kept up with the expansions. But the new one looks like it'll once again put me on the ground as one sad medieval dude at the head of a Total War-sized conflict. Overwhelming odds? Dirt-poor arms and armor? Bring it.

John Yan
Now that I'm done with Half-Life: Alyx, I'm going to jump into some games I have in my back catalog that I started but didn't play for long. First up will be The Outer Worlds. I did pick this up again right before Alyx hit, so it got put by the wayside, but I'm vowing to go through and finish this one up. It's such a fun world and it needs to be played through.

Since I have my VR setup working again, I'll also get some exercise in by playing some Blade & Sorcery. The Star Wars mods look a lot of fun and I'm going to look at giving that a true.

Finally, I've installed a bunch of mods for Skyrim VR so I want to check out how Skyrim looks with all the graphical improvements I have in place.

British Greta Thunberg isn't letting you off the hook in Endzone

by: Randy -

Nothing like a post-apocalyptic city builder to while away the time in quarantine, eh? Endzone – A World Apart even has a name hinting at social distancing, not to mention how things feel all across the U.S. from even a month ago. A World Apart. It's perfect.

Endzone launched into Steam Early Access on April 2. It's a city builder, indeed, but blends in elements of survival, simulation, and strategy. While there's an unforgiving climate and an irradiated environment, there aren't zombies and/or ghouls to deal with. It's just you vs. Mother Nature: you armed with tin roofing and a will to live, she armed with, well, nature, plus the ability to feed you your own medicine, you nuclear waste dump of a civilization you!

The secret, when it comes to surviving through and post- the apocalypse, however, is hope. We'll see how much of this invisible resource plays out in Endzone. Because without hope, then what are we doing this for? 

Endzone takes place 150 years after an eco-terrorist attack pretty much scorched the earth, driving everyone into underground bunkers. This is the reemergence. That puts Endzone's timeline roughly around the original Fallout's timeline and maybe 70 years before Fallout 76—not that that means anything; it's just a fun correlation. 

Reminds me a lot of Banished. That's not a bad thing at all. And don't think for a second that it's a mistake they chose a British Greta Thunberg to lend her accusatorial voice to the narrative.

Stadia announces two new games

by: Eric -

After a strong couple of weeks - with the release of Doom Eternal and the new Free with Pro games - Stadia dropped some surprise game announcements today. Two new co-op (albeit very different) games will be coming to Stadia later this year.

 

Gunsport, a new wild-looking sports game, will be a First on Stadia title. 

"Gunsport is 2v2 volleyball with guns, with five stages, five teams, a story mode, and of course online multiplayer on Stadia. Designed as a mini-esport that encourages teamwork and friendly competition, each team has the same main weapon with which to shoot a single ball into the opposing team’s goals. But under certain conditions, players can activate their team’s unique special weapons and attempt to get ahead or turn the tide."

Features:

  • Customizable rulesets vary the action across versus modes and co-op.
  • Players’ shots take time to recharge, so must be used wisely – team attacks help to charge the special gauge, giving you faster access to your biggest weapons.

Just Shapes & Beats appears to be a rhythm-based shoot 'em up, developed by Berzerk Studio:

"Just Shapes & Beats, the game about shapes, and beats. It’s a new spin on the shoot 'em up genre, adding a layer of cooperation that’s at the core of the game because everything is better with friends. Play alone or with up to four players, local or online, through the game’s Story Mode or Challenge Runs. You do you, man.
 
"If you are as big a fan of music as we are, you’re in for a treat! Every handcrafted stage is orchestrated to the jams of over 40 rad tracks from awesome chiptune and EDM artists."

Tons of additional games are still on the horizon from Stadia this year, including Marvel's Avengers, The Elder Scrolls Online, and SUPERHOT. And don't forget to grab your new Free with Pro games - Stacks On Stacks (On Stacks), Serious Sam - The HD Collection, and Spitlings.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Digital Pre-load starts today

by: Eric -

The Final Fantasy VII Remake release has been handled by Square-Enix as best as it possibly could have been, under the circumstances. With a game as popular and anticipated as FFVII Remake, it would have been understandable for Square-Enix to postpone the release, until the world is functioning correctly again, and we could all get our copies at the same moment.

But Square-Enix opted instead to serve fans as best they could, even if that meant dropping the game early in some parts of the world. Many of my friends in Europe have been posting delighted photos of their copies of Final Fantasy VII Remake arriving in the mail, and so far the word on the game is extremely positive. 

Here in the United States, we haven't been quite that lucky (if anyone is actually "lucky" right now). However, even here, Square-Enix is making moves to help fans out.

Due to the stress on the internet during the Coronavirus crisis, PlayStation has throttled download speeds. The idea is that, across the board, these lowered speeds will put less pressure on the overall internet structure. It seems that everyone on Earth is either on Zoom, Netflix, or both.

It has been known for a while that the client size of Final Fantasy VII Remake is over 100 GB. Left as it was, between the size of the download and the lowered speeds, even digital purchasers might have been a little late to the party. The game would take simply forever to download. 

As a result, Square-Enix is making the early download available to players today, to ensure that we all get the chance to jump right in when the game releases on April 10th. 

“We know that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many people having to stay at home, some of you may be experiencing extra pressure on your internet bandwidth. We wanted to give all our fans some extra time to download the game,” said the game’s producer, Yoshinori Kitase.

After that amazing demo, and the great feedback I'm hearing from the homies in England, I am beyond excited to jump into this game. I have a long history with this series, and I couldn't be more delighted to try the new version of this beloved classic. Read about some of my real-life adventures with the original game here

Some media companies are knocking it out of the park during this crisis. Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime, and many others have done some pretty cool things to make staying at home a little less painful. Time to add Square-Enix to that list. 

Mount & Blade II highlight this week's GeForce NOW releases

by: John -

Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord just came out on Early Access and NVIDIA has announced you can stream it on GeForce NOW. The highly anticipated sequel from TaleWorlds Entertainment, the inclusion of Mount & Blade II on GeForce NOW will let you play the game anywhere you have a good Internet connection. You'll have to wait until Monday before you can access it. But, you can also play the first Mount & Blade as well on the service right now.

Here are the rest of this week's releases:

  • Draganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
  • Dwarrows
  • Jack Orlando: Director's Cut and Knights and Merchants
  • Postal 2
  • Speed Runners
  • The Cycle
  • Tropico 5

If you own Fallout 76 and want a free copy on Steam, link your account before Apirl 12th

by: John -

April 14th will see the release of the Wastelander's DLC for Fallout 76 where we'll finally see NPCs in the game, but we'll also see the game become available on Steam.

What if you already own Fallout 76 and would like to have it on Steam rather than the Bethesda launcher? Well, you're in luck. If you link your Steam account to your Bethesda account before April 12th, you'll get a free Steam key for Fallout 76.

To be honest, I didn't expect this at all. I was really thinking that Bethesda would make you purchase another copy should you want a Steam one. While this is a very limited time offer, it is nice to see Bethesda offer this up anyways. So don't delay, link your account and get your Steam copy of Fallout 76 and you'll be ready to also enjoy some NPC action in a few weeks.

Sea of Thieves Steams ahead on Valve's store

by: John -

Microsoft is pushing more games on different store fronts and today a listing for Sea of Thieves has shown up on Steam. No date though was talked about on when you can get the game here.

What's nice to see is that Sea of Thieves will support crossplay meaning you'll be able to play with friends on the Xbox Live network on both the PC and the console. Everyone wins when people can play together when there are no barriers and I applaud Microsoft's decision to let anyone join in on the fun no matter what platform they are on.

A few of us played the game when it was first launched and we did have some fun even though there wasn't much to do at the time. Now though, there's plenty of more content to sail through and with Steam, we could see a nice uptick of players come to Rare's pirate adventure.

THe Last of Us Part II has been delayed indefinitely

by: John -

In news that wasn't too surprising to me, Sony has gone and announced that The Last of Us Part II has been delayed indefinitely. COVID-19 has caused havok around the world and it was bound to delay events in the gaming world.

The Last of Us Part II went from February 20th to May 29th and now we won't know when it will be released. It's understandable given both the logistics of a release and I think partly of the subject matter. A game with the backdrop on a deadly virus ravaging the world probably should be held back here until things get better.

I know a lot of us has been waiting for the continuing adventures of Ellie (and maybe Joel), but unfortunately, we're going to have to wait longer.

Apex Legends Global Series shifts to online tournaments

by: Carter -

EA would like you to stay home, prop your feet up, and socialize with some Apex Legends

As part of EA’s “Stay & Play” initiative, the Apex Legends Global Series is shifting to online tournaments and giving players the opportunity to earn cash per event.

With the PGL Bucharest Premier Event #2 postponed, the Apex Legends Online Tournament #3 will take place on April 4 and April 6, and players can register now for a chance to earn $100,000, as well as Apex Legends Global Series points. In addition, the Apex Legends Online Tournaments 4, 5, and 6 have also been added to the calendar. Each one will have a prize pool of $100,000 and Apex Legends Global Series points. Details below:

  • Online Tournament #4 - April 18 & 20, with registration starting on April 7 at 10:00 AM PDT here.  

  • Online Tournament #5 - May 2 & 4, with registration starting on April 21 at 10:00 AM PDT here

  • Online Tournament #6 - May 30 & June 1, with registration starting on May 19 at 10:00 AM PDT here

The Finals of each Online Tournament will be broadcasted live on YouTube and on Twitch.

 

Star Trek Online celebrates First Contact Day 2020 starting tomorrow

by: Sean Colleli -

For Star Trek Online, April 5th has become an annual holiday; after all, it's First Contact Day, the first day Vulcans (officially) visited Earth in the Star Trek timeline, in the year 2063. This year Star Trek Online is celebrating from April 2nd to 23rd on PC, and from April 9th to 30th on PS4 and Xbox One. The event closely mirrors the events of the 1996 film Star Trek First Contact, with the Borg yet again traveling back in time to keep the Vulcans and Zefram Cochran from their date with destiny. Captains can enlist the help of 7 of 9 to build a replica of Cochran's famous warp ship the Phoenix, and eventually obtain the event's rare item, a Temporal Vortex Probe. I admit, having the Phoenix in your fleet, even as a museum piece, would be pretty cool, and it's always cool to see Jeri Ryan reprise her role as 7.

I've been tempted to jump into Star Trek Online before, but in the last year or two I've kind of fallen out of love with Star Trek. Discovery has gotten progressively more incoherent and grimdark, and the new Picard series was mostly just downbeat and depressing when it wasn't being tedious and convoluted. The thoughtful social commentary and optimism just aren't there anymore, and since Star Trek Online has been incorporating more Discovery and Picard elements lately, I think I'll stick to watching The Orville and leave First Contact Day to the diehard Trekkies.

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