Am I “good” at games? I don’t know.
I’m 30 years old: I’ve been playing video games for 25 of those years, give or take, and covering games professionally for just over six years. I spent two weeks this year completing Mega Man 1 through 4. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Spelunky. Whether I’m “good” at games is up for debate; I love challenging games. Despite this, I’ve never loved the divisive, feverishly adored/hated Souls games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2). Their challenges felt too great to overcome, their systems too inscrutable, their technical issues too great in number. They felt frustrating instead of challenging.
Bloodborne — the latest entry in the series and the first without a “Souls” moniker attached — changes that. This is a game I love to hate. But I mostly just love it.
Really quickly, for those of you who don’t know what kind of game Bloodborne is:
- It’s a third-person action game.
- You play as an avatar of your creation made at the start of the game.
- The game’s narrative is largely unimportant; its setting is not. Bloodborne is set in a monster-filled version of Victorian England (a fictitious town named Yharnam).
- Each enemy, however weak, can easily kill you. Bloodborne (and the rest of the Souls games) demand careful planning and strategy with every single fight.
- It’s a game of exploration; specifically, it’s a game of exploring one massive, interconnected world.
So, what makes Bloodborne different from previous series entries? It’s not nearly as much of a dick as previous games. Yeah. Really.
I’m not trying to be flip — that’s a totally serious statement. While previous games punished players incessantly with compounding measures, Bloodborne encourages you to keep trying. That is a crucial difference in game design, and one that should make the PlayStation 4 exclusive appealing to a much larger audience than other Souls games.
Death in previous Souls games imbued status effects on your character — namely, lower overall health. That’s to say, “Each time you died, you started your next life with slightly less health than before.” Oh, and all the (terribly hard) enemies reappear after each death. If you got frustrated in your last attempt at an area and tried rushing through it on subsequent attempts, you were likely to die again. And quickly. That actually remains the case in Bloodborne — no rushing! But if you do rush, the worst that happens is you have to start the area over from your last save point (that is a punishment unto itself: save points are represented by in-game lamps placed throughout the world).
I used the word “inscrutable” earlier in reference to the systems of previous games. Bloodborne is, by contrast, concise and easily understood.
Your character wields a large sawblade melee weapon that transforms into a longer version of itself (which takes a bit more time to swing). He or She has a firearm in their other hand, and you use weapons by pushing the shoulder buttons and triggers. Simple!
There are a handful of “origins” to choose from at the start of the game. These are tied to your characters stats (seen below) — just seven boxes to dump points into (stuff like strength and vitality). Again, simple! I’ve been pushing mine into strength, vitality and stamina. Bloodborne demands offense far more often than defense, so I’ve spec’d up my character to be the stone-cold killer he needs to be.
There is only one currency in Bloodborne, which is used both for items (new weapons, armor, ammo, etc.) and for leveling up your character. Hilariously, the currency is called “Blood Echoes” (the replacement for “souls” in previous series entries). Everything in Bloodborne has the word “blood” in it. It’s charming and gross and silly, like so much of Bloodborne‘s themes. It’s the Uglydolls of video games.
You get these “blood echoes” from killing enemies. Should you die in battle, a blood stain remains on the ground, holding your precious money until you return to that spot. In a messed up twist, sometimes the very enemies you were fighting gank your money. Revenge is a must; not just because it feels good, but because that’s the only way to get your money back. Messed up! But, again, thankfully simple!
Maybe don’t fight the electric beast first thing
Every game in this series, from Demon’s Souls through to Bloodborne, is about understanding and mastery. Mastery isn’t just about knowing the levels and the enemies, but knowing your own character’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing when to fight and when to run. Knowing when not to go into a certain part of the world just as much as knowing when you should.
In the first part of Bloodborne, you’ve got two main pathways to go: toward two different bosses. One is hard, but beatable. The other is nigh impossible in the early stages of character development.
Again, maybe I’m not very good at games.
This is “the hunt.” Bloodborne says you’re a hunter, destroying the beasts that plague Yharnam. A hunter who should know better than to shoot a grizzly with a Derringer.
Instead of pushing me down, Bloodborne forces me to play smarter. And it doesn’t make me feel like a jerk when I don’t. I don’t know if I’m good enough for Bloodborne, but I’m trying to be.
Axiom Verge — a grotesque and intoxicating new action game for PlayStation 4 due out next week — wears its heart on its sleeve. From the aliens wandering its creepy interconnected halls to the variety of unusual tools you find exploring its twisted world, creator Tom Happ’s game explicitly calls back to Nintendo’s Metroid. Rather than lose its identity in an homage mishmash, Axiom Verge actually uses that inspiration to build a demanding game that feels as new as it does eerie. We’ll dig into its deep parts and interview Happ himself on today’s stream!
Starting at 3PM ET on Engadget.com/gaming, Twitch.tv/joystiq and right here in this post, we’ll be playing the first two hours of Axiom Verge for your viewing pleasure. Then creator Tom Happ will join us at 4PM to discuss the game and the thorny business of making a successor to Metroid.
Enjoy the stream? Follow us on Twitch to know when we go live!
[We’re playing a digital copy of Axiom Verge on PS4 streamed through an Elgato Capture HD via OBS at 720p.]
Yes, developers are still rehashing popular last-generation games in an attempt to pad out a thin current-gen catalog — meet God of War III Remastered, a PlayStation 4 overhaul of the classic deity-slaying PS3 title. Sony Santa Monica isn’t being too specific about what’s new, but it’s promising prettier, “silky smooth” 1080p brawling (here’s hoping that means 60 frames per second) and a new photo mode that lets you capture vicious kills or scenic vistas. The PS4 refresh arrives on July 14th in the US, and July 17th in the UK. It won’t make up for the Uncharted 4 delay, but it’ll give you something fun (if not strictly new) to play during the usual summer game drought.
Source: PlayStation Blog
It’s been an awfully long wait, but finally Sony is prepared to launch its video game streaming service outside of North America. A private beta for PlayStation Now is headed to the UK, and curious gamers can register their interest right now. To gain access later this Spring, you’ll need to own both a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Plus membership. Otherwise, the selection criteria is rather ambiguous — you’ll just have to fill out the survey and hope your responses chime with the ideal player base Sony is looking for.
A range of PlayStation 3 titles will be available in the private beta, including The Last of Us, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and God of War Ascension. Access for beta testers will be free of charge, and Sony is recommending a connection speed of 5mbps or higher. PlayStation Now hasn’t had the biggest impact in the US, and it’s unclear if that’ll change in the UK. Pricing has been a major hang-up, so it’ll be interesting to see how Sony approaches both individual rentals and its Netflix-style subscription model in Britain.
Source: PlayStation Now
Standby for Titanfall, PlayStation 4 owners. The crumbs from the game’s first birthday cake are just starting to get crunchy, and developer Respawn Entertainment’s dropped news that there’s a sequel in the works. What’s more, it’s shedding Windows and Xbox exclusivity according to IGN. “It’ll be multiplatform,” the studio’s CEO Vince Zampella said. COO Dusty Welch said that the decision to release the initial game only on Microsoft platforms was a business decision above anything else, with Zampella adding that making the game wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. All that to say, Microsoft did a lot of financial heavy lifting for Titanfall — much like it did for the original Mass Effect. Any of the game’s cloud-reliance shouldn’t be lost in the transition to non-Redmond platforms either considering that PS4 developers can offload processing tasks to remote servers as well.
What else? Well, the game still doesn’t have an official name, for one, and it’s still really early in terms of development. That means there aren’t any meaty details to share just yet, but Zampella was candid about how the first game’s multiplayer-only campaign turned out and how that’d affect the sequel:
“I mean it obviously prohibits a certain group of people playing the game, and as content creators you want to get into as many peoples’s hands as possible. We put some single-player elements in there though, and tried to mix it up. Maybe we could have mixed things up a bit better because some people blew right by it and didn’t even see it because there was so much action happening around it.
It’s tough, because if you hit people over the head with it it becomes intrusive, and there are people who don’t want or care about it. Where does the needle fall? I think it takes a while to figure that out and we haven’t figured it out yet.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean a full-on single-player campaign is in the works, but it sounds like one is at least being considered. The studio is also thinking about taking a page from Evolve‘s playbook and making the sequel’s DLC free so as not to divide the player population among haves and have-nots. Given that all of the first game’s downloadable content is available for the low, low price of $0 now, that seems a pretty likely move.
Nintendo’s digital store is beefing up with some top-notch independent titles in the coming months, and the company showed off a few familiar games during a presentation at GDC 2015. We’re talking games headed to the Wii U eShop that have already launched on other platforms, including Klei Entertainment’s Tim Burton-esque survival game, Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants, Young Horses’ PS4 launch title Octodad: Dadliest Catch and the beautiful, educational platformer Never Alone from Upper One Games. Our list below includes the freshly announced Wii U games and a bit of information about each one, so you can make platform decisions in peace.
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch (summer): A game for the paternal cephalopod in all of us. Octodad is funny and super silly, best played with a group of friends watching as you attempt to control the titular character’s flailing limbs. It’s already on PS4 and PC, but now that the game is coming to Wii U, Young Horses founder Phil Tibitoski is already brainstorming more places for Octodad to infiltrate.
Now to convince everyone he should be in Smash Bros.
– Phil Tibitoski (@PTibz) March 4, 2015
- Don’t Starve: Giant Edition (spring): The title is a good start, but there’s so much more to Klei Entertainment’s quirky survival game. This is specifically the Giant version, which is sold as a separate expansion on other platforms — and the Wii U version will follow suit, Klei clarified for us. That means Don’t Starve is coming to Wii U, and the Giant expansion is along for the ride, for an additional (but generally worthwhile) price. We checked it out briefly on Wii U and found the second screen made for a handy map.
- Never Alone (June): It’s tricky to create an educational game that allows its audience to enjoy the larger message and gameplay in equal measure, but Never Alone does so beautifully. The game tells a legend of the Iñupiat, a native Alaska tribe, and puts players in the shoes of a young girl and her fox as they brave snow, ice, animals and monsters while attempting to save her village. Gameplay includes discovering short documentaries about the Iñupiat, and these films will be viewable on the Wii U gamepad, while the game continues running on the main screen, Upper One Games said.
- Swords & Soldiers 2 (May): The second installment of Ronimo Games’ strategy franchise is exclusive to Wii U, and it’s a treat to play locally — one person gets the Wii U gamepad and the other controls the entire main screen. Rest assured that the gamepad’s touch controls are intuitive, though players can turn them off and play with buttons, too. Studio founder Jasper Koning is aware that, as a Wii U game, Swords & Soldiers 2‘s install market is limited: “Chances of it becoming a million-seller are very low,” he said. But, he noted that it’s easier to stand out on the Wii U eShop than on a platform like Steam, which has nearly 4,000 games and more added each day.
- Race the Sun (Q2): Race the Sun is a minimalistic, addictive, twitchy kind of flying game where you try to out-fly the sun. Yeah, it’s hard (and it’s a bunch of fun). This one comes from tiny studio Flippfly, and it got its start in the gaming market through Steam’s user-voted system, Greenlight, back when that was just taking off.
Don’t miss out on all the latest from GDC 2015! Follow along at our events page right here.
Sony’s PlayStation 4-powered virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, has new specs and a slightly different look (seen above). Okay, it doesn’t look that different. What’s new? For one, the screen resolution is improved: it’s now 1920 x RGB x 1080. The refresh rate is doubled from last year at 120 Hz, and the new 5.7-inch screen also has a higher field of view (nearly 100-degrees). Oh right! It’s got a new, bigger screen at 5.7-inches! But you already guessed that. Further upping the specs is lower latency, now under 18 milliseconds.
Most importantly, the unit will launch at retail in “the first half of 2016.” That’s…kinda soon? Almost?
Price? No, no price yet. A new name? Nope, this thing is still called Project Morpheus. Sony’s announcements today were all about a new model of Morpheus. Let’s dig in on the news then. How about a review of those specs for starters?
First things first, there’s a new screen and it’s 5.7-inches. It’s an OLED, and the specs specifically are 1920 x RGB x 1080. Wait, what? The long and short is that the screen has a higher resolution than last year’s model. It will help reduce the “screen door” effect that many VR headsets suffer from, in so many words.
The screen is afforded “super low latency” (sub-18 ms) by way of improvements Sony’s made to the software across the past year, and the field of view has been expanded to “nearly” 100-degrees. And the design has changed a bit as well: it’s now got nine LED sensors on the outside, making it way more glowey blue than before, but also offering more points of articulation to be measured by the corresponding PlayStation 4 camera.
Sony also showed off a handful of new demos, which we’re going to go and try right now. Stay tuned!
Don’t miss out on all the latest from GDC 2015! Follow along at our events page right here.
The very conceit of PlayStation 4’s Share Play feature is futuristic as all get-out, but it has a dark side too. Take 5th grader Henry Kramer’s recent Destiny woes for example. After virtually passing his DualShock 4 to another player to access a glitch that Kramer hoped would quickly boost his characters, the other party urged him to go grab something from another room as a distraction, according to Eurogamer. Twitch viewers (Kramer was streaming at the time) watched as the nefarious user proceeded to delete two of his three characters: a nearly maxed out level 31 Warlock and a level 26 Titan, but it wasn’t until Kramer came back that he saw the damage done. You can hear him crying upon his realization in the video linked here, and, well, it’s hard to not be affected by it at least a little bit.
Developer Bungie won’t transfer any high-level gear to Kramer’s account, despite petitions from the game’s community, but in an effort to spread the word, made the video that Kramer’s mom sent in part of last Friday’s weekly update. Sadly, because Kramer knowingly gave control of his account to the troll, no wrongdoing had occurred. To Bungie’s credit, Kramer’s mom says that members of the Destiny development team have offered to play with him to make the leveling process a bit faster. What’s more, the team says it “has plans to make regrettable deletions less permanent,” as it works on new features for the game.
And the person that did the deleting? Game Informer contacted the account owner and the story isn’t as cut and dried as you might think. Turns out that the troll wasn’t the account owner himself, but a visitor. Twenty-three year-old “Adam” was in a pretty serious car accident not that long ago and as such, he’s been at home recovering and has a lot of friends passing through to spend time with him. The jerk that deleted Kramer’s save files was one such pal, but Adam says because of the amount of painkillers he’s on, he sleeps a lot while people are over and he can’t pinpoint exactly who did it.
The team says it “has plans to make regrettable deletions less permanent,” as it works on new features for the game.
So, there are a few takeaways from this. One, this could’ve been prevented with the safety measures available for kids’ PlayStation Network accounts (those that prevent Twitch streaming and limit messaging, for instance). Secondly, don’t let strangers jump into your game sessions with Share Play. Perhaps most importantly though, follow Wheaton’s Law to the letter: Don’t be a dick.
This afternoon — as we do every Tuesday and Thursday — Joystiq X Engadget Streams is taking a trip back through Greek mythology with Alien Trap Games’ Apotheon on PS4. Already available on PC, it’s one of the free games this month for PlayStation Plus subscribers and brings 2D action that’s more than a little similar to the old Metroid and Castlevania games. For a fresh twist, it’s got this pottery-art graphic style and a unique combat system. Your hosts today are Edgar Alvarez and Richard Lawler, so tune into Twitch.tv/joystiq between 3PM and 5PM ET as we give it a try.
[We’re playing a digital copy of Apotheon on Playstation 4, streamed on an Elgato Game Capture HD with Open Broadcaster Software at 720p. The game itself is much, much prettier.]
Think that downloadable game content is normally a waste? Sony will soon give you a good reason to splurge on those virtual goods. It’s launching PlayStation Heroes, a PlayStation 4 app that encourages you to contribute to charities like Make-A-Wish, the USO and the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Pay between $1 and $15 to buy a dynamic game theme (or $20 for a four-theme bundle) and you’ll not only donate to a good cause, but get one or more chances at playing games with a superstar. In March, you could win a shot at partnering with snowboarder Shaun White in Destiny; other celebs in future months will range from Snoop Dogg to Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig. Heroes won’t go live until February 24th, but you can pre-order the app now to get ready.
Source: PlayStation Blog