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E3 2018 PC Gaming Show Wrap Up: Quality and Quantity

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E3 2018 has been a bit of a roller coaster (to say the least). Whether it was EA’s embarrassingly out of touch presentation or Devolver’s insane performances, E3 has been a series of one extreme after another. By the time PC Gaming Show rolled around I wasn’t sure what to expect. Color me surprised when hosts day9 and Frankie led a conference that was fun, informative, and (most of all) human. The PC Gaming Show boasted a lineup that led the audience through neon synth and dreary eldritch horrors.

While AAA titles may be the face of gaming, there’s no doubt that indies are its heart.

“Satisfactory” (Coffeestained Studios)

Somewhere between Factorio and MinecraftSatisfactory promises a factory-management game of grand proportions. Where similar games have tackled the base-building aspect of the genre, very few have approached it from the production side of things. Production lines, alien lifeforms, and buggies for you and your friends are just some of the things awaiting you on this expansive world. Get the thinky-planny part of your brain ready, because Satisfactory is ready to scratch that base-building itch.

“Neo Cab” (Chance Agency)

The last few years have seen a trend of coll neon blue tones in games and cinema, but I’m far from complaining. The effervescent synth glows of the 80s are well and alive in the modern era and for good reason. Its ability to set a tone is incredible, and Neo Cab is cashing in hard on that appeal. A heavy bass rumbles as electronic beeps blip into the nighttime cityscape. You, a cab driver, explore the world through your diverse clientele. While the themes may be ones we’ve seen before, Neo Cab‘s distinct flavor may be enough to set it apart.

“Mavericks” (Automaton Games)

You know them. You probably don’t love them. They’re Battle Royale games. Ever since PUBG and Fortnite exploded onto the scene, game developers everywhere have been clamoring for a piece of the BR pie. Mavericks is no exception. While the game ostensibly looks and feels like another PUBGMavericks sets itself apart in one distinct way: game size. In lieu of the 100 player maximum that’s become the standard for BR games, Mavericks promises games with upwards of 1000 concurrent players. That’s definitely a tall order, but one intriguing enough for the BR fatigue to wear off just a little.

“Star Control: Origins” (Stardock)

Without saying as much, Star Control: Origins screams “mobile game”. From its flat art style to low-res bare bones gameplay, Star Control does not promise much. Gameplay seems to be something along the lines of Spore, where you expand your specie’s influence across the stars. How exactly you’re to do that is unclear, but what we’ve seen so far leaves little to the imagination.

Stardock asserts that the whole universe of Star Control will be constantly running at all times. Ostensibly, the game is meant to function as a space simulator of sorts, regardless of wherever or whatever the player is doing. Whether that’s a clever mechanic or a tired gimmick remains to be seen.

“The Forgotten City” (Modern Storyteller)

Originally a mod for SkyrimThe Forgotten City is now a standalone game in which players must explore a mysterious Ancient Roman city. A group of 26 explorers are trapped here and doomed to die, and it’s up to you to figure out how to get yourselves out. Fortunately, within the city lies a mysterious portal that allows you to reset Groundhog Day-style and try your best to prevent that from happening. The mystery lies in the exploration, and thankfully there looks to be ample amounts of both.

“Hunt: Showdown” (Crytek)

Despite being in Early Access, Hunt: Showdown boasts an impressive amount of polish. A strange mix of Left 4 Dead, Dying Light, and Battle Royale games has resulted in a hunt-or-be-hunted deathmatch in a Southern turn-of-the-century swamp. As the game chugs along in development, Crytek has dropped a minute-long teaser of goodies to come.

“Archangel” (Skydance Interactive)

Another title currently in Early Access, Archangel: Hellfire dropped a teaser that also promises more upcoming content. Strap into your mech and get ready for high-octane VR action (for those of you that have VR headsets…).

“The Sinking City” (Frogwares Studio)

For all of the influence that Lovecraft’s work has had on modern horror, there’s depressingly little in the way of proper Lovecraftian narratives. In steps The Sinking City, a game reminiscent of the 2005 classic Call of Cthulhu. As a proper period piece, The Sinking City puts players in the role of a detective who’s in way over his head. Fight back the encroaching tentacles of insanity as you delve deep into the terrors of what lies beneath.

“Warframe” (Digital Extremes)

Now in its fifth year, Warframe has revealed a new expansion dubbed “The Sacrifice”. Where Destiny 2 may be on unsure footing, Warframe has never had a more solid playerbase. If this expansion continues in the trend of its previous installments, the game is sure to be around for a good deal longer.

SEGA

It’s 2018 and Japanese games have never been hotter in the US market. With big hitters like Valkyria ChroniclesYakuzaShenmue, and more coming to PC, SEGA is delivering where it counts. While they’ve got some newer titles coming down the pipeline (e.g. Shining Resonance and Valkyria Chronicles 4), it’s encouraging to see that they’re focusing on what they do best: making games and getting them to their players. You may not be rolling with the console dogs anymore SEGA, but you’re still a winner in our hearts.

“Maneater” (Blindside Interactive)

YOU’RE A SHARK. WHY? FUCK IT, THAT’S WHY. In self-proclaimed SharkPG, Maneater puts players in the bloody role of a fucking shark whose goal it is to terrorize humankind. Because he’s a fucking sharkManeater has no illusions about what it is, but that’s all the better. Sometimes, it’s fun to just let loose and get stupid with it.

“Killing Floor 2” (Tripwire Interactive)

Another in the list of games-getting-content, Killing Floor 2 is unabashedly violent and campy. Some might say excessively so, but those people wrong. “The Summer Sideshow: Treacherous Skies” brings a bloody good steampunk time to the world of KF2. Pick up your Doomstick and get ready: it’s about to get messy.

“Bravery Network Online” (Gloam Collective)

What do you get when you mix cartoons, Pokemon, and stylishly rad aesthetic? Bravery Network Online! BNO will be focusing on online battles, so Pokemon Showdown fans keep an eye out for this one.

“Morningstar” (Metkis)

Morningstar is a self-described “post-cyberpunk” farming sim, where computers are the soil and data are the crops. That probably made things even more confusing but hey, a little mystery is part of the fun, right?

“Overwhelm” (Ruari O’Sullivan)

Despite the gorgeously stylized cover art, Overwhelm is a starkly simplistic 2D run-and-gun platformer. The unique gimmick here is that as you progress and defeat bosses, the enemies around you get powered up (instead of the other way around). Drenched in a blood red color palette, Overwhelm looks to be as oppressive as its name.

“Jurassic World Evolution” (Frontier Development)

Games… uh… Find a way onto your hard drive. Releasing tomorrow, Jurassic World Evolution puts you at the helm of your very own Jurassic Park. Build, research, and expand your base of operations as you bring creatures from the murky depths of history out into the modern era. Evolution is sure to capture the fantasy (or nightmare) of managing a dino-park. Players must quickly respond to emergency threats, such as power failures, unpredictable weather, and unruly dinosaurs.

And of course, along for the ride is the ever luminous Jeff Goldblum.

“Stormland” (Insomniac)

Now that VR has settled into the gaming world, big name developers are starting to explore what the technology has to offer. Developed by Insomniac Games, Stormland looks to be somewhere between hardcore parkour and combat Wall-E. Players take on the role of robots as they explore a lush, overgrown world riddled with technology. Insomniac’s excellent track record with platformers show that the understand level design. With games like Edge of Nowhere they’ve certainly begun experimenting with the VR platform. However, it remains to be seen just how these veteran developers will push the boundaries of what we know as fun.

“Sable” (Shedworks)

From the moment I glimpsed this game I had become entranced. The muted, cel-shaded palette, the fluid motion, and nostalgic fantasy plunged me into a world that I desperately wanted to explore. Inspired by the likes of Journey and Studio Ghibli, Sable promises free-roaming exploration gameplay in a gorgeous post-apocalyptic setting. With music by Japanese BreakfastSable hopes to transport its players to another world of wonder.

“Star Citizen” (Cloud Imperium Games)

The only definitive thing we can say about Star Citizen at this point is that it certainly looks great. One can’t help but wonder if Cloud Imperium would benefit from showing less, a la CD Projekt Red. Well it’s definitely a game and it’s definitely in space. More to come soon?

“Genesis: Alpha One” (Radiation Blue)

Gamers may joke about the prevalence of Battle Royale games, but space building sims certainly outnumber them by a hefty margin. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it’s hard to stand out in a crowd. Genesis: Alpha One promises to be different by way of adding roguelike mechanics to the mix of base building. Hopefully that will be enough to set it apart.

“Don’t Starve” (Klei Entertainment)

Don’t Starve‘s third DLC expansion, “Hamlet”, is set to release December 2018. The past two, “Reign of Giants” and “Shipwrecked”, introduced a bevy of seasons, monsters, and locations to the already hefty game. “Hamlet” looks to do much the same and expand into a curious world of shops, jungles, and what’s sure to be creepy-crawlies out for your eyes.

“Overkill’s The Walking Dead” (Overkill)

It’s honestly surprising that it took this long for The Walking Dead to get a proper zombie FPS, but here we are. Described as a “4-player co-op” game, Overkill’s The Walking Dead (clever title) may be along the lines of Left 4 Dead and Vermintide. Which begs the question: What exactly does this bring to the table?

“Two Point Hospital” (Two Point Studios)

Despite a rocky start with malfunctioning mics, a bit of dry wit saved the day. Rather appropriate, as Two Point Hospital takes on the sim genre with its own brand of darkly dry humor. Patients of all ailments come to you seeking help, whether it’s their depressing Turtle Head or raging monobrow. It’ll be interesting to see how the humor plays into it and whether or not it fades into the background as gameplay progresses.

“Ooblets” (Glumberland)

Indies have a reputation for the cute and simplistic. While the obvious answer as to why that is may be “it’s easy”, it’s also incredibly fun.  Y’know, fun? That thing where you just enjoy something because it’s appealing? Ooblets oozes that sense of cute fun, with bright visuals, poppy music, and what’s sure to be comfy-cozy gameplay.

“Anno 1800” (Blue Byte Studio)

I’m far from the demographic for this game, but you’ve gotta give credit where credit is due: Blue Byte Studios knows the deep strategy genre. However, with the advent of Anno 1800 they’ve put out an open call to the playerbase to help make the game even better. As soon as I have dozens of hours to dump into a game, I’ll get right on that.

“Rapture Rejects” (tinyBuild)

What would the PC Gaming Show be without another Battle Royale game. Thankfully, tinyBuild has a good sense of humor about it all and takes the piss out of the genre with a hilarious preview for their upcoming title, Rapture Rejects. Rampant debauchery abounds in this top-down free-for-all Battle Royale where everybody’s gone to the rapture. Except you. You were an asshole. Go shoot somebody now. Asshole.


While some segments consisted of games that were previously announced, like Realm Royale, Just Cause 4, and Hitman 2, the PC Gaming Show still managed to impress. Even with the Battle Royale and sim/management games taking up a good chunk, there were still more than a few standout titles that were just plain weird. Between the PC Gaming Show, Devolver, and other indie devs smattered throughout E3, it’s safe to say it’s not just the big boys anymore. Indies are here to stay.

Kyle grew up with a controller in one hand and a book in the other. He would've put something else in a third hand, but science isn't quite there yet. In the meantime, he makes do with watching things like television, film, and anime. He can be found posting ramblings on liketherogue.tumblr.com or trying to hop on the social media bandwagon @LikeTheRogue

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Best Video Game Soundtracks 2019

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Best Video Game Soundtracks 2019

Awesome Mixtape Vol. 5

It’s that time once again in which I bring to you my awesome mixtape featuring the best tracks from the best video game soundtracks of the year. Last year, my mixtape featured tracks from Triple-A titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and indie darlings like Celeste. In 2017, my picks for best soundtracks included tracks from some of my favorite games including Cuphead, Breath of the Wild and Into the Woods, to name just a few. Well, 2019 has been another banner year for the industry and as always, the games were blessed with an astounding selection of musical scores— some would argue the soundtracks were even better than the actual games at times. As always, it wasn’t easy deciding which songs to include and what to leave out— and as always, I’ve also mixed in some audio clips from various cut scenes while trying to keep it spoiler-free. Feel free to share this link and let me know if you think I’ve missed any great soundtracks in the comments below.

Best Video Game Soundtracks 2019 Playlist

Death Stranding clip
Death Stranding
: Low Roar – “I’ll Keep Coming”
Life Is Strange 2 clip
Life is Strange 2: Seyr – “Colour To Colour”
Life is Strange 2: Jonathan Morali – “Into the Woods”
Life Is Strange 2 clip
Sayonara Wild Hearts: Daniel Olsen – “Sayonara Wild Heart”
Sayonara Wild Hearts: Daniel Olsen – “Wild Hearts Never Die”
Death Stranding: CHVRCHES – “Death Stranding”
Afterparty clip
Untitled Goose Game – Dan Golding – “Title and Credits”
Afterparty: scntfc – “Hades Gonna Hate”
Afterparty: scntfc – “Schoolyard Strangler”
Untitled Goose Game – Dan Golding – “The Garden”
Octopath Traveler: Yasunori Nishiki – Main Theme
Octopath Traveler: Yasunori Nishiki – Cyrus the Scholar
Kingdom Hearts 3 clip
Fire Emblem Three Houses clip
Fire Emblem Three Houses: Yuka Tsujiyoko, Hirokazu Tanaka – “Main Theme”
Fire Emblem Three Houses: Yuka Tsujiyoko, Hirokazu Tanaka – “Blue Skies and a Battle”
Devil May Cry 5 clip
Devil May Cry 5: Kota Suzuki – “Urizen Boss Battle Music”
Untitled Goose Game – Dan Golding – “The Garden”
FAR: Lone Sails: Joel Schoch – “Colored Engine”
Days Gone: Nathan Whitehead— “Soldier’s Eye”
Death Stranding: Low Roar – “Easy Way Out”
Death Stranding clip
Death Stranding: Low Roar – “Easy Way Out”
Metro Exodus: Alexey Omelchuk – “Main Theme”
Resident Evil 2 Remake clip
Resident Evil 2 Remake: Masami Ueda, Shusaku Uchiyama, Shun Nishigaki – “Mr.X Theme Music (T-103)”
Sayonara Wild Hearts: Daniel Olsen – “Begin Again”
Life is Strange 2: Lincoln Grounds, Pat Reyford – “Morning Good Morning”
Life is Strange 2: Sufjan Stevens – “Death With Dignity”
Luigi’s Mansion 3 clip
Luigi’s Mansion 3: Koji Kondo – “Main Theme”
Ape Out: Matt Boch – “Intro”
Deltarune: Toby Fox – “Field of Hopes and Dreams”
Return of the Obra Dinn: Lucas Pope – “Loose Cargo”
“Star Wars: Imperial March” Hip Hop Remix
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order: John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra
Death Stranding: Silent Poets – “Asylum for The Feeling”
Catherine: Full Body: Shoji Meguro – “Tomorrow”
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: Koji Kondo – “Marin’s Ballad of the Windfish”
Metro Exodus – Alexey Omelchuk: “Teardrops”
Sekiro: Yuka Kitamura – “Ashina Reservoir”
Return of the Obra Dinn: Lucas Pope – “The Doom”
Medley: Eye of Death / Wild Hearts Never Die / Dragon Heart / Clair De Lune

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‘New Super Lucky’s Tale’ is Polished, Pleasing Platforming

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Streamlined, focused, and tons of fun, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a fantastic reworking for the Switch that absolutely nails the lighter side of Nintendo-style 3D platforming. Tight controls and a nearly flawless camera support running and jumping challenges which more often than not emphasize creativity over complexity, and it’s all set against a colorful, pun-filled, charming world full of quirky characters and light satire. Though the experience is not as epic or razzle-dazzle as something like Super Mario Odyssey, developer Playful has wisely trimmed the collect-a-thon fat that so many others in the genre employ in order to pad play time. The result lasts long enough to satisfy, yet also instills a fervent desire to see more adventures from its fearless, furry hero.

New Super Lucky's Tale carnival

In the fine tradition of its gaming ancestors dating back to the N64 days, the basics of New Super Lucky’s Tale revolve around acquiring arbitrary objects sprinkled through various stages in order to unlock doors and move on to the next area. This time it’s pages from the mystical Book of Ages, which contains the power to travel between worlds, and is the endgame of an nefarious cat sorcerer named Jinx and his gang of cartoonish thugs, the Kitty Litter. As part of a secret organization sworn to defending this kiddie-friendly Necronomicon knockoff, it’s up to Lucky to track down as many of these clover-embossed pages as he possibly can, and hopefully complete the book before his nemesis can get his claws on it.

It’s doubtful that the story will be what compels most players to keep going, and to that end, New Super Lucky’s Tale‘s simple setup also fits right in with its genre brethren. Still, Lucky is an amiable and upbeat fox to follow around, and Playful does an excellent job of surrounding him with a cast of gibberish-spouting weirdo goofballs that includes hayseed grub worms, supremely zen Yetis, loyal rock golems, and slick carny ghosts. Though their dialogue does little to drive any sort of narrative, it is endlessly amusing and often witty in its cheesy wordplay. In other words, the writing has a very Nintendo-like feel in its eccentricities that adds to the overall fun.

New Super Lucky's Tale factory

Those jokes would be less endearing without fantastic gameplay, but New Super Lucky’s Tale delivers some of the best running and jumping this side of Mario. Though this fabulous fox can’t quite match the plumber’s precision, Lucky does feel extremely responsive, and has a nice sense of weight and momentum that never feels out of control. He also comes out of the den with a well-rounded moveset, including a nifty double jump, a swishy tail (a la Mario’s spin punch), and the ability to burrow under ground. These moves can be chained together to create a satisfying flow both when exploring 3D stages and side-scrolling ones alike, and will surely inspire players to use them in creative ways in order to access seemingly out-of-reach spots.

And they’ll have to if they want to find all four pages hidden in each stage. New Super Lucky’s Tale requires a bare minimum of these leaflets to be found (and simply beating the stage merits one as a reward), but it’s in rooting around those nooks and crannies where much of the fun lies, and it gives the developer a chance to squeeze every ounce out of the unique mixture of environments they’ve created. From the assorted carnival games of a haunted amusement park to a beach party dance-off, there are a surprising amount of different things for Lucky (and players) to do here, with hardly any two stages ever feeling alike. One 3D level might task Lucky with casually exploring a farm as he gathers up the members of country jug band, while a side-scrolling obstacle course sees him dodging canon fire from an airship piloted by a feline Napolean. Some stages have a platforming bent, while others emphasize searching out secrets tucked away in mini puzzles.

New Super Lucky's Tale farm

It’s an absolutely delightful mix, and that sheer variety keeps New Super Lucky’s Tale fresh all the way through to the epic battle with fat cat Jinx himself. And though platforming veterans might find the overall challenge a bit too much on the friendly side, a few of the later bosses and and bonus stages may make that 100% goal a little tougher than it at first seems. And yet, it’s hard not to want to go back to incomplete stages or that block-pushing puzzle that stumped the first time around; the brisk pace and clever design will likely compel many players to find every scrap of paper out there.

No, Lucky isn’t the second coming of Mario, but there are few 3D platformers that offer such a polished, concise, joyful experience as New Super Lucky’s Tale. It may have taken a couple of efforts to get there (and for those who have played the original Super Lucky’s Tale, levels and bosses have been reworked here), but Playful has nailed a balance between creativity and efficiency that begs for more. 

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How Do ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield’s’ Max Raid Battles Measure Up?

Max Raid Battles are one of Pokemon Sword and Shield’s premier new features. Do they live up to their full potential? Let’s find out.

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max raid battles

One of the most heavily promoted new features of Pokémon Sword and Shield have been their Max Raid Battles. These gargantuan fights are both a key part of the online experience and likely the first taste most players will get of Dynamaxed Pokémon in-game. So, how’d this take on Pokémon Go’s raid system pan out in the series’ first mainline entry on console?

Well, on the plus side, getting into the thick of a raid is super straightforward. After the opening hour or two, players are introduced to the Wild Area and can access Max Raid Battles straight away by walking up to a pillar of red light on the field. From there you can invite others, challenge the raid with NPCs, and choose which Pokémon you want to use.

Real Friends Raid Together

Playing with friends online, though, is a bit more convoluted. There’s no “Invite Friends” option to be seen. Instead, all social features are handled through the Y-comm (literally accessed by pressing the Y button). It’s here that players can Link Trade, Link Battle, exchange player cards, and more.

After actively connecting to the internet–which has to be done each play session and each time the Switch is put into sleep mode–it’s up to the host of the match to find a portal and send an invitation to everyone. A notification will pop for friends on the side of the screen, and then it’s up to everyone to join the match directly through the Y-comm interface.

If players want real people to fill in any remaining slots (all raids are four-person affairs), they’ll need to join before the room fills up. Setting a Link Code avoids this hassle by creating a room but, unlike Salmon Run in Splatoon 2, only computer players can fill remaining spots after friends finish joining this way.

After some experimenting and fudding about, my buddy and I were able to hop into matches fairly quickly without much issue. Nonetheless, it’s hard to shake the feeling that creating friend lobbies is only such a headache because it had to be tied to the Y-comm. Pair this with the fact that battling while waiting for a friend to create a room can cause the notification not to pop, and getting a group together is a bit more painful than it should be.

Max Raid Battle Rundown

The raids themselves are a surprisingly engaging twist on the classic Pokémon battle formula. Groups of four challengers work together to take on a Dynamaxed raid boss. Each raid boss has a different star rating, and even the 1-star battles are no joke the first few times around. These boss Pokémon are merciless, and regularly one-shot lower leveled ‘mons with ease.

To combat these monstrous foes, one random trainer in every group is granted the ability to Dynamax their chosen Pokémon and lead the charge. The Dynamaxed Pokémon gets the benefit of having extra-powerful moves and increased HP, though it’s rather disappointing that there only seems to be one Max Move per move type (one Grass move, one Dark move, and so on). Each of these has a secondary effect on the battlefield; some trigger sandstorms, others trigger a health regeneration field that heals everyone a bit each turn. Regular moves with type advantages deal a significant chunk of damage, but it’s Max Moves that can truly turn the tide of battle.

If one of the group’s Pokémon faints, that trainer has to sit out for a turn before it automatically gets revived (a smart design choice to keep all trainers actively involved). However, the fainting of each Pokémon triggers the storm above to become more and more vicious. After four faints or ten turns, everyone is booted out of the raid sans rewards.

max raid battles

The Fruits of Victory

Two of the easiest ways to better your odds are 1) Choose a Pokémon with a type advantage going into battle, and 2) Manage who Dynamaxes when. Each trainer’s Dynamax meter grows periodically and, though only one trainer can use it at a time, multiple players can activate it over the course of a raid. It also seems like each raid’s star rating is tied directly to the raid boss’ level, so bringing a generally powerful Pokémon to a lower-level raid is another viable strategy for success.

Aside from the chance to capture the raid boss itself (and some Pokémon are Max Raid Battle-exclusive), winning a raid nets players some very worthwhile rewards. These include everything from EXP candies and berries to nuggets and TMs. It’s not so much of a haul that it hurts the overall balance of the game, but there’s enough to make getting a few friends together and grinding raids for a couple of hours worth it.

max raid battles

Though Max Raid Battles are just a small part of the overall Sword and Shield package, they’ve ended up being a rather fun take on Pokémon’s traditional multiplayer offerings. For as unnecessarily complicated as playing with friends is, there are also a few cool ideas here, like being able to join a raid from anywhere on the map as long as the host is at the raid pillar. There’s some good fun to be had here if you prefer to battle alongside your friends instead of against them.

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