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Updated: 42 min 41 sec ago

Sega Mega Drive Mini review: the best retro console yet?

1 hour 28 min ago

The Sega Mega Drive - or Genesis, as it was known in North America - is quite rightly revered as one of the greatest consoles of all time, with a spectacular library of brilliant titles that still hold up today. And as a celebration of the machine and its games, Sega's new Mega Drive Mini pulls out all of the stops: the miniaturised rendition of the hardware outstrips similar efforts from Nintendo and Sony, the library of games is larger and brilliantly selected, while the emulation itself is delivered by none other than M2 - acknowledged masters of bringing the games of yesteryear to the hardware of today.

Sega's 16-bit masterpiece first arrived in the late 80s and while it got off to a slow start, it would eventually go on to challenge market leader Nintendo, with the Super NES vs Mega Drive seeing the first skirmishes in the now never-ending console war. This was a time when bringing the arcade experience to the home was still something companies were fighting for. The Mega Drive delivered highly impressive results here across its lifespan, but similar to Nintendo, it was actually the first-party games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage among many others that elevated Sega to the next level.

After falling in love with the system, I've never stopped playing it or collecting for it and yet, for many people, it's been decades since they last held the iconic game pad. This is why form factor is crucial for a mini console - you want to channel that nostalgia with hardware that looks and crucially feels just right. In this regard, Sega has taken the mini console to a whole new level of authenticity to the point where every button and panel on the system works in some fashion - it truly looks and feels like a tiny version of the original console.

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Categories: Video Games

Battlewake combines Assassin's Creed: Black Flag's ship-to-ship combat with Sea of Thieves' fantasy aesthetics

1 hour 28 min ago

If you've ever played Sea of Thieves or Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, you'll feel right at home with Battlewake, the newest nautical number from VR developer, Survios.

As I discovered when I played the PSVR build for this week's episode of Ian's VR Corner, Battlewake feels like someone has plundered the ship-to-ship combat sections from Ubisoft's swashbuckler simulator and skinned them with Rare's colourful, cartoony corsairs.

You'd think that mixing VR induced motion sickness with potential sea sickness would be a recipe for naval nausea, but thankfully, Battlewake is a surprisingly comfortable experience. The game can be played with the DualShock, but I opted for twin Move controllers, which had me gripping the ship's wheel to fire my guns and cannons with one hand, whilst grabbing the anchor with the other to perform evasive manoeuvres on the high seas.

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Categories: Video Games

Here's when you'll be able to play the Nioh 2 open beta

2 hours 5 min ago

If you're itching to lay your hands on the next Nioh game sooner rather than later, I have good news - Team Ninja has confirmed an open beta for the upcoming action RPG will launch in early November on PlayStation 4.

"Yokai hunters, ready to face the Dark Realm?" teases PlayStation on Twitter. "Play the Nioh 2 Open Beta starting November 1 to 10, available at PS Store."

While Team Ninja also showcased new Nioh 2 gameplay at Tokyo Game Show, producer Fumihiko Yasuda reportedly confirmed in a behind-closed-doors TGS presentation hosted by Sony Interactive Entertainment that while there'll be new multiplayer modes, there won't be an easy setting - and the difficulty will stack the more players you have to help you out.

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Categories: Video Games

Borderlands 3: what's up with console frame-rates?

2 hours 56 min ago

How well does Borderlands 3 perform on the current generation consoles? Digital Foundry coverage of the new Gearbox hit will be somewhat staggered since 2K failed to provide review code, but we do now have some idea of what the developer targeted and delivered on the enhanced consoles - Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro. The initial verdict? There are some puzzling technical decisions in place and clear performance issues that need work, but gameplay is golden.

What is interesting about the Pro and X releases is where there is parity and where there is not. Gearbox sets out with the best of intentions here, offering users of both machines the chance to choose between resolution and performance in the settings menu. In terms of pixel counts at least, Pro and X are a match: the resolution mode aims to maximise the return from 4K displays, offering up a 3200x1800 presentation, which looks good owing to Unreal Engine 4's anti-aliasing - not to mention the core art style. Frame-rate is capped at 30fps here, in contrast to the performance mode, which aims to deliver 60fps and does so by dropping internal resolution down to 1080p on both machines.

Curiously though, there are some differences in the visual feature set and remarkably, PlayStation 4 Pro delivers a slightly richer experience. Side by side with Xbox One X, it's clear that it's the Pro that offers improved anisotropic filtering on ground textures - and it's also apparent that aspects like foliage density are a cut above on the Pro. It's a surprising set-up but the working theory we have for now (backed up by some other multi-platform releases we've seen) is that aspects of the base Xbox One version persist into the X version - we'll check this out in our follow-up on how Borderlands 3 runs on the vanilla consoles.

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Categories: Video Games

Discord to remove free game library next month

4 hours 26 min ago

Discord is pulling the free games library for its subscription service, Nitro, next month.

Introduced only a year ago, the Nitro Games catalogue gave subscribers the chance to play a number of games, such as Super Meat Boy, SOMA, and Limbo, without additional charge. However, it turns out so few subscribers used the service, Discord has now decided to pull the service altogether.

"We learned a lot from all of you over the last year," Discord's Nelly told followers on the official Discord blog (thanks, Engadget). "Through your valuable feedback, it became clear that while we and some of you love these games, the truth is the vast majority of Nitro subscribers didn't play them.

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Categories: Video Games

Arcade perfect: charting the often tortured journey of old school ports

7 hours 28 min ago

Until recently, I'd never stopped to think about all the eccentric conversions that made up so much of my early gaming life. And yet they're everywhere - you can't talk about console history without dwelling on the arcade ports that propped up the back catalogues of the NES, SNES, Mega Drive - indeed, any piece of hardware you care to name.

And these things are fascinating, sometimes falling well short of the mark, sometimes coming up with ingenious solutions to squeeze an all-singing, all-dancing arcade game down on to more humble machinery, and sometimes - just sometimes - earning the mantle 'arcade perfect'.

David L. Craddock, a prolific author and historian, has recently compiled a fascinating account of the history of arcade ports in Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room - which is out right now. It's a brilliantly detailed read, allowing us to hear first-hand reports on the trials and tricks of those who were often tasked with the impossible. I got to have a quick chat with David for an oversight on the book, and some of the stories contained within (and, of course, if you want to read them in full you'll have to pick a copy up for yourself).

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Categories: Video Games

Stare at Norman Reedus' groin in Death Stranding and he'll punch you in the face

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 17:25

There's a new 30 minute Death Stranding gameplay video fresh from Tokyo Game Show - and this time it revolves around Norman Reedus' character, Sam, and his safe house..

The video, below, from the GamersPrey YouTube channel, begins with a blood transfusion, and Sam waking up in his room. He looks dirty from, presumably, an away mission. It doesn't look like you control Sam directly, here, rather some other entity that interacts with him. Sam can perform a variety of actions, such as clapping and raising his arms as you move the camera about. He'll tap his feet as if bored. He'll encourage you to move to certain areas by pointing.

As superstar video game developer Hideo Kojima narrates in Japanese, we see what happens if you repeatedly zoom in on Sam's groin. At first, he covers his privates with his hands. Zoom again and he pleads with you to move on. Keep doing it, and he'll eventually close his legs and - the final straw, it seems - punch the camera in the face.

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Categories: Video Games

Smash Bros. will stick to video game characters, Sakurai says

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 15:39

The Smash Bros. games have a lot of characters, and many of them are lifted from outside the world of Nintendo. But that doesn't mean characters from outside the world of video games will make an appearance in the ultra popular brawler.

At the Tokyo Game Show this week, Smash development chief Masahiro Sakurai took to the stage to accept an award for Switch game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and in doing so said non-video game characters were off limits for the famous franchise.

"I get all these kinds of requests from abroad like, 'Where is my beloved Iron Man?' or 'Where is my beloved Goku?' " Sakurai said, as reported by Twitter user naruki, translated by Twitter user PushDustIn and verified by IGN.

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Categories: Video Games

Borderlands 3 is suffering from a raft of technical issues at launch

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 15:03

Borderlands 3 came out this week, and players are reporting a raft of technical issues with the game.

On console, Gearbox's looter shooter suffers from framerate problems. Specifically, players are reporting a stutter in the PlayStation 4 Pro's performance mode, which is supposed to give you a 60fps experience. But this stutter appears widespread across platforms and modes.

There's a lot of lag, too, particularly when playing split-screen couch co-op and one player goes into their ECHOdevice during heavy combat.

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Categories: Video Games

Unravelling the mysteries of Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 15:00

Zach, can you hear me?

It's me, Ian.

If you can hear my voice, could you respond?

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Categories: Video Games

The making of Gears 5: how the Coalition hit 60fps - and improved visual quality

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 13:10

The importance of the triple-A first-party blockbuster can't be understated - a spectacular amount of time, money and effort is concentrated into creating experiences that push console hardware to its limits. And in turn, the technological innovations found in these titles are often shared with the development community, improving the technical quality of titles across the board. It's a rising tide that floats all boats, if you like. So it is with Gears 5 from the Coalition - an outstanding release that redefines expectations from Xbox One hardware, while at the same time delivering what we (and many others!) believe is one of the greatest PC ports of the generation.

In this deep dive technical interview with The Coalition's technical art director Colin Penty and studio technical director Mike Rayner, we discuss how the team further iterated and customised key features of the Unreal Engine 4 technology while at the same time integrating the latest and greatest innovations from Epic back into their game. We also discover how the studio's intent in doubling frame-rate from 30fps to 60fps brought about a range of changes that didn't compromise visual quality as such, but rather improved it over Gears of War 4.

And then there's the discussion on the importance of native rendering resolution up against dynamic resolution and image reconstruction techniques. Alongside the kind of work we're seeing in titles like the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare from Infinity Ward, The Coalition implements a flexible approach to rendering resolution to achieve 60 frames per second, evolving and improving from the work carried out in Gears of War 4. But how is this done - and are we nearing the end of the pixel-counting era in terms of using a set figure (or range of figures) to get some idea of overall image quality?

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Categories: Video Games

Infinity Ward will turn on the minimap in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta today

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 12:55

Infinity Ward will turn on the minimap in the ongoing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta today as players continue to debate its absence from the game.

The lack of a minimap has been perhaps the most contentious design decision Infinity Ward has made with its Modern Warfare soft reboot. Critics say its omission encourages camping, while its supporters say it promotes tactical play.

Currently, you can trigger a minimap via the Personal Radar Killstreak (three kills). This summons an escort drone that enables the radar for the owner and pings nearby enemies. The UAV Killstreak (four kills) summons a UAV recon ship that enables a minimap for all allies and reveals enemy locations.

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Categories: Video Games

There's no Asura's Wrath 2, but Street Fighter 5 has an Asura costume as DLC

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 12:03

Ah, Asura's Wrath. How I miss you so. Your over-the-top, QTE-fuelled combat lives long in the memory. I close my eyes and I see a planet-sized man press his finger down on Asura, the demigod's six arms a flurry of punches. You were deeply flawed, but remarkable, a true last-gen diamond in the rough.

While Capcom seems unlikely to return to the wonderful world of Asura's Wrath any time soon, it lives on in the form of Street Fighter 5 costume DLC. This week the company announced an upcoming Asura's costume for Kage (the evil Ryu-esque character), due out via Extra Battle 27th September.

Kage really does look the part as Asura, but the costume is of course no substitute for a brand new Asura's Wrath game (Asura's Wrath was one of Eurogamer's games of 2012), or even a guest appearance by the character in another Capcom game.

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Categories: Video Games

Brian Blessed is perfect as Gotrek Gurnisson in Total War: Warhammer 2

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 11:30

Brian Blessed is Gotrek Gurnisson in Total War: Warhammer 2 - and as you'd expect, the booming British bearded Thespian holds nothing back.

82-year-old national treasure Blessed, famous for his roles in the likes of I, Claudius, Blackadder and Flash Gordon, was recruited by Creative Assembly to do his thing for Gotrek, the legendary Dward Slayer from the Warhammer tabletop game and soon-to-be-released DLC for the video game.

In the video, below, Blessed is in typically rambunctious form, belting out his lines while dishing out life philosophy ("I am 50 per cent actor, and 50 per cent adventurer!")

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Categories: Video Games

Final Fantasy 7 Remake has a "classic" mode that makes the combat like the original's

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 10:49

Final Fantasy 7 Remake has a "classic mode" that makes the combat play like that of the original game.

As revealed on-stage at the Tokyo Game Show, Final Fantasy 7 Remake's classic mode recreates the combat mechanic of the original Final Fantasy 7, in which you'd wait until the ATB Gauge filled up then selected a move to initiate an attack.

As a reminder, here's a clip of Final Fantasy 7's combat:

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Categories: Video Games

Astral Chain is a game with many influences, yet it feels so fresh

Sat, 14/09/2019 - 09:00

One of the many words that games really need their own version of is syncretism. Syncretism, as far as I understand it, is the word for the convergence, or attempted convergence, of different religions, bringing all the points of similarity and all the contradictions together into one bubbling religious stew. Actually, stew is the wrong analogy for what this is, I suspect. Rather, it makes me think of the stately movement of continents, old shorelines removed by collisions while new landscapes become visible over time.

And of course, it makes me think of video games - particularly the open-world video games that Ubisoft is so gifted at producing, each one incorporating ideas from other games, each one expanding, refining, slowly codifying a new kind of every-game in which the map is scattered with icons and is unlocked by climbing towers, in which skill trees flare characters in a range of different but familiar directions, while running from the cops is always a matter of moving outside of a circle of visibility.

This video game syncretism can be extremely pleasant to play, but it is generally perceived as a bad thing. I've certainly had that moment over the last few years when I've been mowing my way through an open-world, chomping from icon to icon in a heady sort of trance, and I've realised that I've forgotten the specifics of what I'm playing. Do I climb towers here or do I ascend every now and then in a balloon? Do I have a grapple hook or do I have that Arkham-style combat-dance to look forward to?

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Categories: Video Games

Bleak medieval "single-player co-op" adventure A Plague Tale gets free trial version

Fri, 13/09/2019 - 21:47

Developer Asobo Studio's well-received 14th century "single-player co-op" adventure, A Plague Tale: Innocence, has just launched a free trial version featuring the game's full first chapter - and it's available to download now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

A Plague Tale, which originally released back in May, follows the frequently bleak journey of Amicia and her sickly 5-year-old brother Hugo, children of a nobleman, forced to flee their castle home to escape the Inquisition. What follows is an enormously atmospheric, if somewhat rough-around-the edges, adventure through fog-shrouded, plague-ridden France.

When Eurogamer contributor Edwin Evans-Thirlwell reviewed A Plague Tale earlier this year, he was critical of the game's frequent dalliances with dull, unrefined stealth. Thankfully, A Plague Tale shines considerably brighter in its environmental puzzling, and that, when combined with its wonderfully rich atmosphere and affectingly well-wrought central relationship, Edwin reckoned, helps it rise above those stodgier elements.

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Categories: Video Games

Does Control's September update really improve performance?

Fri, 13/09/2019 - 20:46

Remedy Entertainment's Control is a seriously impressive game and a stunning technological achievement with just one major Achilles Heel - immensely variable console performance, to the point where day one code could drop to a minimum of 10 frames per second in trouble spots on PlayStation 4. The September update released on PS4 consoles a couple of days ago, promising "improved general frame-rate performance through optimisation made to multiple systems and content" - and the good news is that the game is significantly better and we are one step towards a much more consistent console experience.

Let's be clear here though - we're still nowhere near a locked 30 frames per second, especially on the base PlayStation 4, the console that has the most problems in smoothly rendering the game. However, just as Remedy says, the general level of performance via Patch 1.03 is higher than it was and when the frame-rate does drop hard, the game seems to recover more quickly. In short, the dips aren't quite as bad as they were and the hit doesn't last as long. Bearing in mind that Control only launched a couple of weeks ago, getting this level of improvement to users so quickly is impressive.

There's still a long way to go, but the improvement is palpable - especially so on the PlayStation 4 Pro. This version of the game was already in fairly decent shape when it launched, hampered only by issues in the most physics-heavy of scenes. We chose a scene from the beginning of the third chapter - the Atrium - as a focal point for testing, since this seemed to be a perfect storm of enemy count, environmental destruction and sometimes catastrophic performance issues. Re-running this test several times on the Pro, stutter was much less evident - and it took running through the initial stages of the level 'gathering up' enemies and taking them out in a confined space with lots of environmental objects in play to tank performance. In general play though, the improvement is clear to see.

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Cat Quest 2 prepares for September launch on PC with new gameplay footage

Fri, 13/09/2019 - 19:44

Cat Quest 2, developer The Gentlebros' much-expanded casual action-RPG sequel, is out soon, and, in preparation for its 24th September PC launch, there's a fresh batch of gameplay video.

The original Cat Quest - which arrived on PC, Switch, PS4, and mobile in 2017 - was an absolutely delightful surprise, successfully distilling all the usual genre tropes down into a breezy but thoroughly entertaining feline RPG - replete with exploration, questing, dungeon crawling, and engagingly twitchy real-time combat. I loved every minute of its ridiculously charming, pun-filled adventure.

Cat Quest 2 retains the same casual-friendly core, but mixes things up with a range of new features - not least of which is playable dogs. There's also an entirely new kingdom to explore in the form of the Lupus Empire, and it promises to introduce much more environmental diversity compared to the original's rather same-y green hues - with new biomes including vast deserts, mountainous regions, and auburn meadows.

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Don't Starve dev's avoid-the-floor parkour platformer Hot Lava is out next week

Fri, 13/09/2019 - 18:03

Don't Starve developer Klei Entertainment's avoid-the-floor parkour platformer Hot Lava will be springing across the upholstery and out onto Steam next Thursday, 19th September.

Hot Lava, as you've no doubt already guessed, takes inspiration from the classic children's game in which players must scramble across a makeshift obstacle course consisting of home furnishing/priceless nicknacks/pets in order to reach a designated end-point, all while avoiding stepping on the ground. Because it is lava and therefore death.

Of course, in Klei's video game reimagining, the floor actually is lava (or toxic waste or bottomless pits), and touching it will most definitely lead to death.

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Categories: Video Games