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Did E3 2016 Prove Whether VR is Really the Future of the Gaming Industry?

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality

In the past, E3 has often boasted the release of new video game consoles, but with no new consoles currently on the market, this year was a bit of a different event. Yes, there were plenty of new games to hear about and look forward to, but what was really the talk of E3 2016 was virtual reality. And yes, it seems that E3 has established that VR is the future of the gaming industry.

Gamers are always looking to try the next big thing. That’s why they’re so quick to buy the newest consoles and invest in the expensive computers made for the gaming experience. Heck, they’ll even pay extra just to be one of the first ones to get a game on the day it’s released.

Therefore, gamers should be psyched about virtual reality becoming more and more popular in the gaming industry.

How Did They Do It?

Well, if you were lucky enough to attend E3 2016, then you saw all of the VR games that are currently in the works. Many of them are big names in the gaming industry. This includes Resident Evil, Batman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Final Fantasy, and Doom.

Virtual reality is so popular because players feel like they are actually part of the game.

Just imagine being inside the Millennium Falcon. Then, pretend that you’re actually battling the zombies in Raccoon City. It’s a more intense gaming scenario, and people love it.

The Future

This year, many people wondered if E3 was even relevant or important to the gaming industry. Furthermore, they wondered if the conference could shine some light on the future. Questions about relevance were due to a number of missing game companies, as the conference focused on hosting larger companies.

Overall, the gaming industry needs companies that will put out high quality games that people love. Competition is high, and stepping into the future of VR may help small businesses/gaming companies in the coming years.

Until these new games and VR systems hit the shelves, there’s really no way to know how the general public will respond. However, it seems that the gaming companies are banking on VR being wildly successful.

It certainly helps that big names like Resident Evil, Fallout, and Final Fantasy are hopping on the bandwagon.

Will you?

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EntertainmentVideo Games

Will Zelda: Breath of the Wild be the Best Zelda Game Yet?

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Gamers of every generation are familiar with Zelda. Since the inception of The Legend Of Zelda in 1986, the universe of Link and the princess Zelda have immersed fantasy game fans in an alternate universe worthy of its perpetual acclaim.

Now, with the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2016 in the rearview mirror, the question is: Will the latest addition to the franchise, the newly-announced Zelda: Breath of the Wild, be the best Zelda game yet?

Who Gets To Decide?

It’s hard to answer that question, especially depending on who you ask. There are the people who never made it past the first game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Then, there are the people who didn’t start foraying into the gaming universe until the last few years. These people wouldn’t even recognize the earlier versions of the game, with their 8-bit sounds and stodgy graphics.

And the hardcore fans are going to say “yes” to practically everything regarding characters in the land of Hyrule. They’re the ones who know about the spin-off games and the failed pinball machine game. Yes, that was a real thing!

But this latest addition (the 17th official one) to the Zelda franchise will be the first to be natively developed in high-def resolution. That’s a huge point in it’s favor. Many other Nintendo games and competing systems have, of course, already reached this point, but this will be a first for this particular Nintendo series.

Gameplay

Gameplay for Breath of the Wild will start with a huge open world, very little hand-holding, and an emphasis on exploration and survival. The game world is said to be at least 10 times larger than that of Twilight Princess, one of the most popular games in the Zelda series, and this allows for a lot more flexibility than Zelda games of the past. Previously, things had to be done in a certain order, but Breath of the Wild will allow complete freedom of exploration, as Link finds his own path to beat Calamity Ganon and his nefarious plans.

The plot in this particular game involves a mysterious voice. That voice tells Link where to start his journey, and why his path is important. However, the rest of the details come out as the game moves forward.

What Newcomers Think

So far, all of the testing and presenting for Breath of the Wild has come back exceptionally positive. The new aspects are intriguing for both new and old players, while the classical sense of time and space, as well as the storyline, are familiar to millions of people around the world who have played before. This gives them a sense of nostalgia, along with the new puzzles to solve.

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Video Games

PAX East 2016: We Happy Few Impressions

we happy few

One of the most interesting, fresh, and original games I played at PAX East called “We Happy Few.” Included here are a few things to know about this psychedelic thriller.

History

Created by Compulsion Games, We Happy Few has a Brave New World inspired premise as well as survival mechanics in a striking artistic style. After Compulsion’s problems with their 2013 release of Contrast, they are working to put We Happy Few in the hands of the masses as quickly as possible. The Compulsion team is gathering feedback and customer response to We Happy Few while still working on the game.

Plot

In alternate history of 1960’s England, this game takes place amidst the fictional town of Wellington Wells. The residents of this town do not want to deal with a traumatic event in their past, so, to cope, they have developed the wonder-drug known as “joy.” All residents of the town are big advocates of this sedative, bliss-inducing drug, but there are a few people, known as “downers” who refuse to partake.

As you enter the game of We Happy Few, you live as a downer, trying to blend in while you look for an escape from this tragically pleasant town. The survival aspect in this game means you are trying to maintain a joy-induced facade without actually consuming the drug. Unfortunately, most consumables in the town are already laced with the drug, so you have to find ways to stay fed and hydrated without overdosing on “joy.“

Psychedelic

Playing with the themes of Stepford Wives and Wayward Pines, We Happy Few offers a modern take on the Brave New World theme. As you try to stay alive and, incidentally, consume joy, your view of the world will begin to change. The higher your intake of joy the more distorted, faded and colorful your world becomes. If you overdose on the drug, you will find yourself awakened in your underground bunker, with a whole day lost and having to start from scratch once again.

Problem-Solving

In addition to the above intriguing elements, We Happy Few contains a great deal of problem-solving and escape tactics. You must scavenge for the necessary tools as well as weapons and possible escape routes. Combat is also a necessary interaction in We Happy Few, but you may want to avoid it as much as possible, as all bodies must be hidden to avoid the involvement of the bobbies.

Conclusion

My playthrough with We Happy Few was awesome; I had a ton of fun moving through the world, crafting and looting new equipment, fighting enemies, and exploring the randomly-generated world. On that note, even though the world was dynamically and randomly generated, it felt like it had been professionally designed. Hats off to Compulsion for succeeding with such automated level design. I can’t wait to see how this game develops and plan to pick it up when it’s available to the public. Stay tuned to Compulsion Games for updates on We Happy Few.

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Video Games

PAX East 2016: Death Squared Impressions

dealth-squared

Go no further than SMG Studio’s Death Squared if you’re looking for a cooperative game to both frustrate your spatial sensibilities and tickle your puzzle-hungry brain. With either 2 or 4 players, the point of the game is to navigate your way out of rooms fraught with pushers, bumpers, cliffsides, and of course, lasers.

When you start the game, your first challenge is to understand how the colors work. If you’re the blue robot (which, by the way, resembles something halfway between a refrigerator and a washing machine), then you aren’t affected by blue conditionals. You block the blue lasers, aren’t affected by the blue spikes, and aren’t pushed around by the blue walls. Same goes for the red robot, and so on.

Gameplay and Strategy

So the gameplay consists of you and your cooperative players trying to figure out how to move, specially and sequentially, in order to get your robot onto your colored target. That’s how you move on to the next level. So it’s essentially a cooperative puzzle with some physical skill required, as well as concentration, memory, and temporal focus.

And the physics are part of the what makes the game interesting as well. The rules of each level have a tendency to shift on you, so you have to relearn them each time. And if you had to pick a feel for how your robots move, you might say they were on something a bit like a gummy oil slick, and there’s some inertia involved in the gameplay as well.

Communication Is the Key

The keys to both winning and having fun are all about cooperation and communication. You and your partners have to observe together, learn together, solve the riddle together, form a plan together, and then shimmy, pixel by pixel and move by move, in order to reach the end goal. One mistake, one missing piece of focus, one forgetful moment, and it’s back to square one of the room.

And whereas some types of players might be ruffled by this necessity of getting along and being able to talk in discrete steps, other types of gamers will find that the cooperative factor is what makes Death Squared, in particular, so much fun to play.

The possibility for expansion on a game like this is infinite as well. Because the physics of play, the types of obstacles, and the ability to constantly create new game levels will always be changeable, there’s lots of room to continue evolving the concept over time.

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Video Games

PAX East 2016: Top 10 Games of Show

pax-east

Perhaps one of the most popular shows in the gaming industry is the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX).. Most recently, the PAX East 2016 festival was held in Boston.

Included here are the 10 best games of the show:

1. Pyre

A party-based RPG, Pyre allows you to lead a band of exiles through the ancient battlegrounds of a massive purgatory. Some of the main benefits of this game are the artistic talent, emotional story, and crazy combat scenarios. Pyre has not yet been released to the public, but you can learn more on their Supergiant game page.

2. A Night In The Woods

For animal lovers everywhere, A Night In The Woods is a game about a talking cat who returns to his hometown. Based on the frequent colloquialism that “you can never go home again,” the cat returns to find everything has changed. Reviewers felt the game was a bit depressing, but

interesting and engaging all the same.

3. Hob

Another popular game on the PAX agenda is called Hob. For lovers of Zelda, Hob gives you a throwback to a Zelda-esque landscape. At its essence, Hob is an adventure game that involves completing tasks to save a failing planet. The color, mystique, and silent protagonist of this game are sure to get gamers everywhere talking.

4. Outlaws 2

For those who love darker, spookier games, Outlaws 2 may be the game of the year. Outlaws 2 allows you to experience a near dark experience, filled with suspense and terror. With interdimensional time travel and fear of the dark, Outlaws 2 is sure to fill the adrenaline junkie with a gamer rush.

5. Cuphead

For those who love a flashback to keeping it old school, Cuphead may be the perfect game. With a revamped edition coming out with more bosses, an easy mode, more content, and additional platform levels, Cuphead has brought a new angle to 2016. Fantastic two-player controls as well as fine-tuned charming graphics make it a travesty that there’s no release date in sight.

6. Dead By Daylight

Another game for those who love suspenseful, horror experiences, Dead by Daylight pairs a one-person killer with four other players attempting to escape. Caution for those who get woozy easily, Dead By Daylight has exceedingly gruesome kill scenes.

7. Headlander

For those who love apocalyptic based games, Headlander may be just the thing for you. Set to release in summer of 2016, Headlander pairs extinct humans with robot overlords. Imagine waking up from a century-long slumber to find your body is not where you placed it and the world looks nothing like it did in the past.

8. Wasted

A humorous take on modern lifestyle changes, Wasted offers you healing junk food and powerful mutating booze. Set in the post-apocalyptic world in space, Wasted offers a completely new lease on battles and puzzle-solving.

9. Seven: Days Long Gone

While isometric RPGs have been living out of the spotlight for awhile, it may be time for them to make a comeback with Seven: Days Long Gone. This RPG takes place in a vibrant environment with elements of cyberpunk and steam. This interesting concept allows parkour and free traversal in the world map.

10. Let It Die

Returning to the darker elements of the gaming world, Let It Die is a hack and slash game with weapon varieties based on character choice. With fast-paced battle interactions, Let It Die keeps you on your toes as your slain enemies return as vengeful ghosts.

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Video Games

PAX East 2016: Pit People Impressions

pit people

The game designers behind The Behemoth have brought out a new facet of their imagination with their work in progress, Pit People. It’s a 2D hex-based concept, with enough intrigue to make it one of the most unique presentations in the Indie world, as well as at PAX East 2016.

Just watching the gameplay, it’s easy to get lost in the details. The number of things that are happening on the screen are enough to make you dizzy, and those visual details are just as important to getting your tactical strategy in order as the details you have to understand implicitly.

And did I mention that Pit People is co-op, and turn-based as well? That’s enough to pique your curiosity.

That’s a lot to handle, but because of the way the controls are set up, as well as which features are either automatic or automated, battles are fast, heady, and complicated in terms of strategy and tactics.

Intrigued yet?

Artistically, there’s a lot of eye-candy for gamers who like the look of what they’re playing. Bright colors, strong lines, and a unique overall style means that you can’t miss the amount of effort that’s gone into the graphics aspect of the game, which complements the intense and cooperative strategizing that must go on during every turn.

And in addition to the play, the co-op option, and the style, there’s a deep narrative that goes along the journey with you as well. Excellent (and amusing) voice acting, absurdity and humor color the overall theme, and the comic relief from the battles is part of what makes the overall process and movement so entertaining. After lengthy competitions of thought and compromise, theatrical cut scenes give your brain a break.

Strategies, Complexities, and Simplicities

Deeper into the construction of the game, players will appreciate things like the abilities that characters onscreen have, positioning and isolation strategies to delve into, and the rules behind spacial attacking (i.e. without explicit positioning, characters will just end up attacking whomever they feel like).

Overall, Pit People is going to take awhile for anyone to completely learn and master, but the payoff is a uniquely immersive journey. Look into other games from “The Behemoth” to get a stronger historical concept of where this particular idea comes from, as there are internal reference to past projects that deepen understanding.

Stay tuned to their homepage and web presence for more updates.

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EntertainmentVideo Games

PAX East 2016: Divinity: Original Sin 2 Impressions

Divinity Original Sin 2

At this year’s PAX East, Larian Studios brought part of their Divinity: Original Sin 2 universe for gamers to try out, specifically showcasing multiplayer combat. The campaign portion of the game promises to be a broad single player or co-op adventure, but for this PAX event the demo focused on PVP single-and multi-player combat scenarios.

Before you read too much into Original Sin 2 though, be sure to check out the original Divinity: Original Sin game so you can appreciate the development going on since the inception of the idea. Currently, this second helping is in its post-Kickstarter development phase, receiving over $2 million in funding from Kickstarter backers.

Especially with the multi-player combat option, it’s vital to understand how action points fit with your turn-based strategies. This particular gameplay feels a lot like chess, and it’s extremely addicting, not to mention satisfying.

Moving On Up In The World

The most intriguing part of the preview was the new vertical aspects of the combat map. There are now different vertical platforms that can be climbed and perched upon, causing things like gravity, vertical distance and placement to affect different characters’ abilities and strengths.

Another new part of the game is the addition of elemental processes. Fire, ice, and other conditionals are part of the new balancing act, and especially with the new vertical mapping, there are a tremendous number of new ways to approach battle strategy and tactics.

From Amateur To Advanced

As with many of the best games of this type, the smart money is on learning how to combine abilities and statistics more efficiently than your opponent, which means that studying these skills and testing them is going to make the difference between an average player and an advanced one.

Even with only 2 players in a PVP battle I competed in, the battle frenzy was nearly instantaneous, with both of us scrambling for high ground and strategic positions. It was a blast to play. I only wish we had been shown progress on the single player campaign, as that’s where the meat of the game is.

In terms of eventual customization options for players, race and origin stories will be part of the immersive experience. Between all of the options from Divinity: Original Sin, and these deeper details that are available in the second installment, the series continues to invite hard core gamers into the folds of this highly entertaining, engaging, and imaginative universe.

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EntertainmentVideo Games

Which VR System is Right For you? A Comparison of Upcoming VR Options

virtual-reality

The conception of a virtual reality is over two-hundred years in the making, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that it finally earned its name. The technology had been growing and evolving throughout the 1990s, but it would be 21st century gaming that would finally help virtual reality make its mark. Gamers everywhere have been dying to get inside the latest consoles, and now a hand full of tech companies, promising state-of-the-art virtual reality innovation, are lining up to take them there. 

Oculus Rift

First out of the gate and now owned by Facebook, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is already becoming a game-changer for the video game environment. The package comes complete with an Xbox controller, a sensor, a remote, and one game, but unfortunately you won’t be able to plug it into your Xbox. For now at least. For added control, users can opt for a pair of touch controllers, design to create a greater hands-on experience. The headset is powerful, which means you will need a high-end computer to handle it. However, if you’re like most serious gamers, who have dreamed of plunging into the virtual world, the prospect of the ultimate thrill ride will be worth the investment. 

Sony VR

Sony’s VR bundle is gearing up to launch gamers into its epic virtual environment, and as you might have expected, it is exclusive to the PlayStation 4. Sony invested extensive research into the design of its virtual reality headset, engineering it to slip on and off with ease, ensuring gamers will forfeit plenty of sleep for the chance to battle demons and blast enemy spacecraft. Sony has boasted an impressively high refresh rate, which means smoother motion and a less frustrating gaming experience. The PlayStation 4 is almost all but equipped to handle the VR headset’s performance requirements, however the company will need to developed new games, specific to the VR’s capabilities, in order to catch the Oculus, which has tons of compatible games already in circulation. 

Samsung VR

One of the most important features for the Samsung VR is the headset’s exclusivity to the Galaxy Smartphone. The setback, for some, is the phone upgrade, since it only works with the Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, and the S6 Edge Plus. However, that means the need for computers and wires, for this Oculus powered headset, have been eradicated. It features a built-in camera that can be switched on and off, but doesn’t track movement like the HTC. You can play games using onboard controls or external game pad (sold separately), watch 360 degree movies, or just enjoy the scenery.  We’ll be testing all three options as soon as they’re released, and providing our opinions of each one. Stay tuned!

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Will Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End be the best in the Nathan Drake Storyline?

uncharted-4

When the first Uncharted hit the shelves, it piqued interest quickly. After the first few minutes played, it resulted in many devoted fans right from the start.

With Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End nearing release, a lot of fans are asking if it will live up to the stellar reputation of the previous three in the series.

Will this be the best storyline for our protaginist Nathan Drake? Let’s start with the trailer.

Our hero Nathan Drake seems to be waking up having washed up on the mysterious island talking to (the not pictured, off screen) Sully. The ominous music, dark mysterious island jungle, and then the hanging cages with skeletons inside seem to promise that fans of the series are in for more of what they loved from the previous games.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End takes place years after the events that shook up Mr. Drake in Uncharted 3. Nathan Drake is retired from the (often very dangerous) world of treasure hunting and was living life peacefully, until Drake’s (surprisingly alive) brother Sam arrives to shake up his world, raving about a pirate colony called Libertatia. He reports that it has riches for the taking, hooking Drake, and dragging him away from the idyllic existence that has been his new normality.

This could very well be the end of Nathan Drake. While we hope not, whatever happens, Naughty Dog has been teasing the possibility that this game is the proverbial nail in the coffin for Nathan Drake, possibly for the entire series. We may not know how his story ends until the final scene, but the very idea raises the stakes considerably for Uncharted fans who have fallen in love with their hero.

Naughty Dog could be pulling the wool over our eyes, although we hope not. In any case, the hype surrounding Uncharted 4 surpasses that of any of the previous games in the series, which speaks to its growing popularity. As long as it delivers the suspense, raises the stakes, and has a storythat keeps us on the edge of our seats, we’re betting it’ll be the best in the series. Maybe that’s hopeful optimism, but count us excited for the continuation (and possibly ending) of Nathan Drake’s story. While we anxiously await its launch, we’ll be replaying through each of the previous games in the series.

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10 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2016

article_post_width_gears-of-war-4

2016 is expected to be a great year for gaming, with several highly anticipated releases throughout the year. Games on all platforms can expect to see some amazing sequels to their favorite games as well as several groundbreaking new titles. Here are 10 games you won’t want to miss this year.

1. Gears of War 4 (Xbox One) – This fan favorite has been re-booted with some creative changes to the gameplay and story. A recent interview announced that Gears of War 4 kicks off a new trilogy.

2. ReCore (Xbox One, PC) – This postapocalyptic action-adventure is set to hit shelves late this year. The trailer teases beautiful gameplay and visuals. 

3. Crackdown 3 (XBox One) – Third person shooter meets sandbox in Crackdown 3. This game promises completely destructible environments and is expected in Q3.

4. Homefront: The Revolution (PC, MAC, Linux, Xbox One, PS4) – This open world FPS has a revolutionary message and a fascinating storyline. 

5. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – Users will play as the familiar protagonist Adam Jensen, and can expect the same high quality, immersive gameplay as the franchise has consistently put out. 

6. Doom (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – Bethesda brings us the newest installment in the Doom series. This release marks the first major installment of the Doom reboot, and is set for a May release. The trailer promises the perfect blend of nostalgic nods to the original gameplay and modern creative changes.

7. The Last Guardian (PS4) – This puzzle-based action adventure has had a rocky development, and was originally slated for release in 2011 on PS3. It was re-announced for PS4 at the 2015 E3 conference with a visually gorgeous trailer, which offered a promising look into the game’s immersive and emotional storyline.

8. No Man’s Sky (PS4, PC) – This game is truly in uncharted territory. No Man’s Sky is an infinite open universe. It boasts a nearly endless pool of planets with unique plant and animal life, offering fans of open-world games a solution to the major downside most of these games face– they simply become boring when you’ve seen it all. With over 18 quintillion unique planets in this game, it elevates open-world gaming to new heights. 

9. Final Fantasy 15 (PS4, Xbox One) – The most recent installment in the Final Fantasy series has been hyped by game enthusiasts, and with promises of optimized framerates and 50+ hours of gameplay, it isn’t hard to see why. The franchise continuously outdoes itself, and it looks like Final Fantasy 15 will continue the pattern.

10. Quantum Break (PC, Xbox One) – Featuring an episodic play style that adapts to players’ choices, the plot of this shooter is centered around a time travel experiment gone awry. Quantum Break offers a unique take on science fiction shooters, combining unique time manipulation abilities with the standard firearm fare.

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