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The 5 main changes needed for ‘Star Wars Battlefront II’

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Publisher Electronic Arts last week officially confirmed the existence of a Star Wars Battlefront sequel. A first look at the suitably named Star Wars Battlefront II is planned to take place during Star Wars Celebration on April 15. It’s here that fans will get a glimpse at what to expect from the game as a reveal trailer is set to drop at the event.

That being said, there is still just less than two weeks until these first details are revealed, leaving fans with nothing to do but speculate what could be. It seems only appropriate then, to look at the game’s predecessor and discuss what developer DICE can bring to the sequel. The following is therefore a list of five changes needed so that fans get the Battlefront game they wanted the first time around.

Explore the Eras

The first game’s focus on the original trilogy arguably cashed in on the nostalgia-driven hype surrounding The Force Awakens. Although this proved to be popular for mass market appeal, it was something of a safe bet given that many gamers (both hardcore and casual) would be coming off the back of a movie which fueled their excitement for Star Wars once more. In practice however, drawing from those first three movies for source material limited the game to exploring just a handful of planets, battles, and characters from the Star Wars universe. Whilst the frozen ice caves of Hoth, the Ewok inhabited Endor, and the desert wastelands of Tatooine are all part and parcel of Star Wars, the wider universe offers so much more potential beyond those locales.

Whilst there was content from both The Force Awakens and Rogue One in the form of added DLC content, neither fully embraced those movies to their full potential. There is so much more to draw from those two movies as well as other Star Wars canon. The sequel shouldn’t be locked into only featuring content that ties into an upcoming movie premiere. Rather it should look to embrace other eras such as the prequel trilogy, the Rebels TV show, as well as a renewed focus on those new and upcoming movies. Together, each of these different time periods would offer a refreshing change up for players allowing for a wider variety of vehicles, characters, and locations. In short, embracing these eras ensures that the sequel can appeal to every generation of Star Wars fans, so they can choose the time period preferable to them–which can only be a good thing.

Ground to Space combat

This is a feature that Battlefront fans have been yearning for ever since the leaked Battlefront III gameplay footage from the now defunct Free Radical. This was of course before EA got their hands on the Star Wars license and rebooted the series with a game that arguably didn’t live up to the vision that Free Radical had in mind. In what would have been the third entry in the original series, the leaked gameplay showed seamless ground to space combat without a loading screen in sight.

If the rebooted sequel is going to include any of the ideas shown from that leaked footage, then ground to space combat has got to be high on the list. If early signs are anything to go by however, the recently released Rogue One expansion to DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront could indicate their intention to include such a feature. This amounts to the game mode infiltration, where players fight to destroy a shield generator in space before landing on Scarif to continue the fight on the ground. Unfortunately, this transition is separated by loading screens where each phase occurs in isolation. This means that players can’t freely roam from space to ground or vice versa without the game’s say-so. Nevertheless, the fact this was eventually included in the first game after the base game’s initial reception could hint at DICE’s plans to flesh out this game mode even further for the sequel. This would be a huge step up from the first game and would widen scope of the sequel to bring it even closer to the battles that play out in the movies.

Single Player Campaign

It’s no secret that the single player offerings in Star Wars Battlefront were massively disappointing for players looking for something besides multiplayer. The battles and survival game modes were wave based and severely lacked any lasting appeal. In fact, the disappointment wasn’t just limited to fans; even Star Wars’ own John Boyega reached out to DICE questioning its lack of a story driven narrative. He managed to bag himself a trip to EA’s UK office and hopefully pointed them in the right direction from a narrative standpoint. If anything was going to encourage them to feature a campaign in the sequel, then an actor from the movies the game is based on should do it. EA has since confirmed the inclusion of a single player campaign for the sequel–but what form this will take is still unclear.

Perhaps the sequel should look to DICE’s own Battlefield 1 for inspiration on how to incorporate a campaign that spans across multiple locations and time periods. Squeezing the wide array of characters and events from the Star Wars universe into one all-encompassing narrative is perhaps too big of an ask. Instead, adopting Battlefield 1’s war stories narrative template would allow the campaign to jump between different events in the Star Wars timeline. This in turn would allow DICE to do each story justice without the need to thread them together–they would stand as serviceable stories in their own right.

Vehicle spawns and hero unlocks

The current system of accessing both vehicles and playable heroes via powerups scattered around the map comes with its own set of problems. The main one being that they randomly drop, so there’s no real way of knowing for sure if you’ll be able to find one of these infamous tokens. There’s also the likelihood of being shot just as you find one which makes their inclusion even more frustrating. Reverting back to set locations for vehicle spawns on maps and rewarding certain players the chance to play as a hero would be less of a frustration. The latter would also take less time than frantically running around a map looking for the next pickup. Sitting in spawn queues and dashing for the next available vehicle can be frustrating in its own right, but at least they’re predictable and frequent enough to be less so.

Free content updates (No Season Pass)

The main criticism with the base version of Star Wars Battlefront was its lack of content at launch. There were just a 6 playable heroes, 12 maps and 10 game modes upon initial release, the latter having modes more popular than others. EA proceeded to address this, to the delight of many fans–until they learned of the infamous season pass. EA outlined their plans to effectively charge the price of the full game again for four content drops featuring new heroes and locations from the original trilogy as well as the new movies. This inevitably didn’t sit well with fans and spawned much of the negative backlash over the first game. Whilst EA did offer some free content in the form of a map set on the planet Jakku from The Force Awakens, the better more substantial content was locked behind the season pass.

For Star Wars Battlefront II then, EA should look to release a game that feels complete and which has enough content for long lasting appeal. For any additional content, players should be rewarded for buying the full game in the first place with free updates which expand on the existing game rather than splitting the player-base. The latter is what the first game suffered from, as EA essentially split its online community by the have and the have-nots when it came to the season pass. This therefore weakened the Star Wars Battlefront online community and hurt the longevity of its player base.

From Kent, England, Ben is a keen trophy hunter with a passion for all things PlayStation. His game of choice is an open world RPG, having a particular fondness for games such as Skyrim and The Witcher 3. Ultimately though, he'll play anything with an interesting story and/or fun gameplay. When it comes to movies, his go-to is Star Wars - just don't ask him to pick a favourite!

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‘KartRider: Drift’ is Gorgeous But in Need of Fine-Tuning

KartRider: Drift is Microsoft’s new exclusive racer coming in 2020. Here are hands-on beta impressions from behind the wheel.

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KartRider: Drift had the odds stacked against it from the outset. Though the KartRider series has been immensely popular in China and Korea for more than a decade, its brand recognition in the West has been largely nonexistent. Thus, when it was showcased at Microsoft’s XO19 event in November, many dismissed the game as a generic Mario Kart clone. In reality, not only is KartRider is one of the longest-running competitive racing games in the world, but its closed beta weekend proved that Nexon is taking the impending Western release very seriously.

Push to Start

Beta players were given access to three modes: online matchmaking, solo time trials, and the garage for character and kart customization. The online interface is simple and intuitive; with a press of the “X” button players can toggle between Solo, Duo, and Squad (four-player) races across Item Mode (featuring traditional kart racer items) and Speed Mode (no items). Switching between different configurations is a snap and, thanks to KartRacer already being such a massive game in the East, I rarely had to wait more than 20 seconds to get thrown into a match. Creating private parties and inviting friends to race is also an option.

Although maps took a while to load, performance was consistently smooth once races actually began. It’s here where Nexon’s investment in Unreal Engine 4 really shines; the tracks are simply a joy to look at. Each manage to pop with personality despite not being based on recognizable IP like Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing. Of the nine tracks available during the beta only two stuck out as being a bit samey. Each of the drivers also benefit from colorful, distinct designs and fully customizable win/loss animations. The only portion of the presentation that didn’t impress was the music, which was quite catchy at first, but looped endlessly irrespective of the track.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the actual course design, which is largely serviceable but also initially frustrating. For instance, a forest-themed track features logs that stick up from the ground and stop racers in their tracks. This wouldn’t be too egregious, but the logs are so large that only tiny spaces on either side remain. Nearly half of my races on this map were marred by traffic jams caused by a couple of these choke points. Another map features a jump that must be hit at just the right time to not collide with a building and cost players the entire race.

Even maps that don’t demand unreasonable precision from new players suffer from jarringly sharp edges that make it easy to get stuck on corners. This is only exacerbated by a finicky drift mechanic that takes hours of experimentation and countless losses to nail down. While growing more competent at cornering eventually felt rewarding and worthwhile, the high skill threshold here feels like it’s at odds with KartRider: Drift’s framing as an accessible, beginner-friendly experience. These aren’t necessarily design flaws, but they seem like missteps in a game that’s trying to appeal to as many newcomers as possible.

kartrider drift

Tantalizing Customization

While KartRider: Drift’s core mechanics might aggravate the casual players it’s trying to reach, its customization options are some of the most appealing I’ve seen in any kart racer. Players can choose from a range of skins, emotes, kart types, and wheels to fully deck out their characters. Be it the aggressively adorable Bunny Buggy or skins that turn characters into little baseball and football players, it’s tough not to fall in love with the clean, cutesy charm on display here.

One potential worry is that since the game will be completely free-to-play, it’ll follow the route of relying on premium skins and emotes to generate revenue. There was no store or lootbox-esque system implemented in the beta build, but it’s clear from the “Epic” and “Rare” tags on items that premium customization will surely be a major focus. Considering players gain experience and level up the more races they compete in, there’s hope that at least some items might be unlockables to encourage higher attachment rates.

KartRacer: Drift is an unusual Microsoft exclusive, and yet it’s clear that Nexon has poured a tremendous amount of care and resources into it over the years. Having crossplay with PC this early on was crucial and ensures a built-in online community of millions from the get-go. It remains to be seen if the team makes any track design tweaks or alters the hyper-touchy drift, but what’s already here is at least worth giving a whirl when it releases for free sometime in 2020.

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The Best Reveals of Indie World December 2019

From long-awaited sequels to unexpected crossovers to some surprising shadow drops, there was something for everyone in the latest Indie World showcase.

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Indie World

It’s been a banner year for independent games, and Nintendo has closed it out with a new Indie World presentation. From long awaited sequels to unexpected crossovers to some surprising shadow drops, there was something for everyone in this showcase. We’ve rounded up a few of the very best reveals below.

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The show started off strong with the reveal of Sports Story, a sequel to 2017’s much loved, golf-obsessed RPG Golf Story. Whereas the first game focused solely on the noble sport of golf, the sequel has a much broader scope, integrating a variety of new sports like tennis, baseball, and soccer, to name only a few. On top of that, the gameplay is expanding with plenty of new elements, including dungeons to explore, espionage missions to sneak through, and numerous memorable characters to interact with. Just like its predecessor, Sports Story will be a Switch exclusive when it launches in mid-2020.

Some of the best indies can be immensely stylish experiences, and such games were well represented throughout this showcase. The first one shown was Gleamlight, a 2D action game created by developers who worked on the recent Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It puts players in control of a sentient sword, tasked with exploring a mysterious world made of stained glass. It leaves players to their own devices, with no UI or dialogue to tell its somber story. Like so many other games in this presentation, it will release in early 2020.

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Another eye-catching title was Liberated, which describes itself as “a playable graphic novel.” Literally taking place across the panels and pages of a cyberpunk comic book, Liberated features a mixture of stealth-based gunplay and action platforming, along with a dystopian story told from numerous perspectives. It will be a timed Switch console exclusive when it launches next year.

Indie World

Not all games were so serious or artistic – some were decidedly sillier. One such game was SkateBIRD, which, as the title implies, is all about controlling cute little birds on skateboards. This intrepid athletes will spend their time “grinding on bendy straws, kickflipping over staplers or carving lines through a park held together by sticky tape,” and if that doesn’t sound like a good time, I don’t know what does. These little birdies won’t take flight until late 2020.

Indie World

To get even sillier, imagine the bizarre bird-based dating simulator Hatoful Boyfriend set to an Ace Attorney soundtrack. As bizarre as that sounds, that’s exactly what Murder by the Numbers is. This murder mystery visual novel blends detective work with pixelated puzzling, featuring characters designed by Hatoful Boyfriend creator Hato Moa and music by Ace Attorney composer Masakazu Sugimori. Releasing early next year, this unusual mashup will be a timed Switch exclusive at launch.

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Procedural generation can feel like a tired trope in indie games. However, SuperMash, which describes itself as “the game that makes games,” looks like it should be a unique take on that style with its inventive genre-mashing style. Players will be able to mash distinct genres together – such as JRPG and platformer – to randomly created entirely new gameplay styles. It has plenty of unique mashing potential, releasing in May next year on Switch.

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It’s seemingly impossible for Nintendo to hold a presentation without a shadow drop or two, and that holds true with this Indie World showcase. The free-to-play multiplayer hit Dauntless was revealed to include exclusive weapons and armor in the Switch version, which also features full cross-play support. Likewise, the deluxe version of the philosophical puzzler The Talos Principle was announced for Nintendo’s hybrid wonder, featuring all the immersive mind teasers and world design that made the game such a hit when it launched years ago. Unlike most other titles in this showcase, you won’t need to wait until next year to play these – instead, they’re both available for download now.

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The presentation opened with a sequel to a fan-favorite indie, and fittingly enough, that’s also how it closed, with the announcement of Axiom Verge 2. Details are currently scarce, but this new title will return to the sci-fi universe of the original 2015 Metroidvania hit, including “completely new characters, abilities, and gameplay.” We’re sure to learn more about this mysterious new sequel ahead of its release in Fall 2020.

These are only a few of the most exciting reveals from Indie World. For everything announced, you can see the full presentation below.

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Most Important Games of the Decade: ‘The Walking Dead’

A look back at one of the most critically acclaimed narrative based point and click story games of the decade: Telltale’s The Walking Dead.

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The story-based video game has been around for a long time but there has been a spike in popularity in them in the last decade. One of the most influential and critically acclaimed narrative games is the 2012 game Telltale’s The Walking Dead, which initiated a tidal wave of choice-based games that still continues today.

Lee Everett, the protagonist of the first season of The Walking Dead Game.

Telltale Games was created in 2004 and had a significant library of games established — including games based on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park — before the release of The Walking Dead. It was the zombie point and click adventure that shot them to triple A game studio status though. The game took on similar mechanics to their other games but introduced a more cinematic style. Player choice is a key element in regard to dialogue choices and important decisions within the story. These shape the player character, Lee Everett, and change his personality to suit the play style. This was one of the most endearing features of the game, allowing players to experience scenarios slightly differently depending on your choice.

The Walking Dead

Lee and his ward Clementine had a strong connection that led to a lot of the emotional moments in the story.

The depth of the characters and dark nature of the narrative are the best aspects of the game. The player takes on the role of Lee as he is on his way to jail at the dawn of the zombie apocalypse. After a car accident leaves him stranded, he stumbles upon a little girl named Clementine. Lee becomes her protector as they and a group of survivors try to survive in the walker-infested world. This simple story of a man with a troubled past attempting to protect a little girl at the end of the world is incredibly engaging and it is difficult not to get emotionally attached to both Lee and Clementine. The system wherein certain characters will remember Lee’s words or actions is also a nice feature that can guilt trip you over your choices, particularly if you see the words “Clementine Will Remember That”. Lee is an interesting and complex character whose attitude and personality can change depending on player choice and Clementine is a loveable child who doesn’t fall into the “annoying kid” stereotype in most games. Both became beloved video game characters who set a precedent for likeable protagonists in gaming.

The Walking Dead

The cast of characters in The Walking Dead’s first season all had their complexities.

The legacy of Telltale Games and The Walking Dead still continues within the gaming community. Telltales unfortunate downfall in September 2018 was a great loss to story-based gaming but many have been influenced by Telltale’s work since. Dontnod adapted the episodic formula for their Life is Strange games, another fantastic narrative series. Others who had previously worked for Telltale helped bring other great story games to life. The co-writers of the first season of The Walking Dead game set up the company that created the 2016 game Firewatch, for example. More writers of the series launched Night School Studios, responsible for Oxenfree (2016) and Afterparty (2019). The Walking Dead catapulted Telltale Games to stardom, leading them to take on a slew of projects — possibly leading to their downfall. Despite this, the game has carved out a place for itself in history as one of the best point and click narrative adventure games that established a trend of games that encourage strong storytelling and complex characters.

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