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    How Tales of Arise Reboots the Classic RPG Series

    April 22, 2021

    When Tales of Arise was first unveiled back in 2019, fans wondered if Bandai Namco was creating an open world reboot of the cult RPG series. It’s certainly the fashionable move among Japanese games these days, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring being just two examples. But while producer Yusuke Tomizawa says that a reboot is “correct description for this title,” it’s closer to the original games than you might think. The comedic skits are returning, series stalwart Motoi Sakuraba will once again be handling the soundtrack, and the combat will resemble previous games in the franchise. In that vein it’s probably more appropriate to call it a “refresh” than a reboot; an opportunity to relieve the franchise fatigue that had crept in after eight games in nine years, bump up the presentation, and expand beyond the cult fanbase that has formed around the series. Tales of Arise will mark the series’ debut on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (Tomizawa couldn’t comment one way or the other on the possibility of a Switch release), overhauling the previously creaky graphics with the help of Unreal Engine 4. It will also feature a fully-orchestrated soundtrack, lending Sakuraba’s soundtrack a sense of prestige. It will attempt to bridge the gap between the old and the new, dragging the sometimes formulaic series into a new era. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/21/tales-of-arise-exclusive-environment-trailer-ign-first”] “We wanted to really send a message to the international players and fans that with this release, we are going to really push forward and push the envelope and the whole concept of the game,” Tomizawa tells IGN. “The visuals, the aesthetics, and all of those things are evolving but we also keep a lot of the things that everybody has known and loved over the years. So it’s both a reboot in a sense that we want former Tales fans to come back to this game, as well as attract new players with these stunning new graphics, visuals, the aesthetics and all that good stuff.” “Stunning” might be too strong an adjective for Tales of Arise’s graphics, but they are certainly a dramatic improvement over the previous games in the series, which for years relied on the same graphics engine. The impression it conveys is that Tales is, well, a Tales game, replete with exaggerated anime flourishes that should go over well with fans. While we’ve yet to get a full hands-on with the new game, it’s easily the best looking entry in the series to date. The Tales series will also benefit from taking some time off. Up until recently, Namco Bandai had been pushing Tales games out on almost an annual basis, making the series feel stales at times. Tales of Arise represents the largest gap ever between Tales releases, the last major release being 2016’s Tales of Berseria. Even before the pandemic, it was delayed due to what Tomizawa referred to as “a lot of quality issues,” as well as the desire to launch on next-generation consoles. The extra work seems to have paid off, giving Tales of Arise a sense of polish that the series has lacked of late. Tales of Arise Screenshot 4 04212021 The same can be said for the combat, which has received a “huge overhaul,” Tomizawa says. While it retains the arena-based battle system of previous games, it will “really improve on the player input and feedback loop of the game and how the controls feel.” It will include an evasion and countering system similar to the one in Tales of Graces, which Tomizawa refers to as “very highly rated” for its combat, as well as the ability to actively switch between party members, which has its own “unique, interesting mechanics.” We still haven’t really seen the combat in action, but the new Tales of Arise trailer suggests that it will put a big emphasis on colorful super attacks. One thing it will not have, however, is multiplayer. With few exceptions, the ability for multiple players to control characters has been a key feature going all the way back to the original Tales of Destiny, so its removal is a fairly big deal for the series. Asked about the decision to cut multiplayer from Tales of Arise, Tomizawa says, “So this game is really a standalone game where one person really enjoys the drama and the overall story of the game, we don’t really have any plans currently for a multiplayer mode. But on the other side, we did put a lot of focus on how the characters work together and how they cooperate in the battle and how that plays out in game mechanics.” As it turns out, the combat comes up a lot when talking about Tales of Arise. This probably should come as a surprise given Tomizawa’s history with God Eater, a Monster Hunter competitor known for its fast-paced combat. Tomizawa talks a lot about a desire to keep a strong focus on the intensity of the combat, which is one reason that Tales of Arise will once shift to combat arenas instead of staying on the field. It will also be relatively linear in its progression, though Tomizawa promises that it will feature “a bunch of side quests” as well as sub-routes and detours. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/21/tales-of-arise-official-release-date-trailer”] It’s interesting to imagine what could have been. According to Tomizawa, the team actually did experiment with an open world version of Tales of Arise, but ultimately decided to stick with a more linear format. “We actually did debate whether to go with an open world concept or a linear concept. This was something in the early stages we really had a back and forth debate about. We actually ran tests simulating both situations and ultimately, we came to the decision that, as we mentioned, for reasons that we want the players to focus, we went with the linear option,” Tomizawa explains. “We thought this was the best way for players to really enjoy what Tales of Arise is all about. Again, the story, character development, all that good stuff, we thought that was the best way to deliver that gameplay to the player.” Well, not every RPG needs to be open world, especially given the comparisons it would inevitably invite to the extremely successful Genshin Impact. But if the Tales series does indeed want to reach a more international audience, some form of open-ended exploration is probably needed. But in the meantime, a focused experience is certainly welcome, especially if Tales of Arise manages to improve on the drab, hallway-like dungeons from previous games. If Tales of Arise does manage to garner a new audience, it can credit the decision to shift to PC and next-gen consoles, its improved graphics, and the fact that anime is just generally in vogue these days. Genshin Impact, Persona 5, and even Atelier Ryza have shown how successful an anime RPG can be in the five years since Tales of Berseria’s release. The time is ripe for Tales of Arise to guide the venerable series into the future. We’ll know soon enough whether it’s successful. Tales of Arise launches on September 10 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, and PC. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Kat Bailey is a Senior Editor at IGN. She is known for caring far too much about RPGs.

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    Returnal: The Final Preview

    April 22, 2021

    After a few hours in PS5 exclusive Returnal’s first two areas I can already feel the signature Housemarque hooks sinking into me. But whether you’ve ever played a game from the Resogun developers before, Returnal’s heart-racing combat sequences against ever-threatening enemies are great to be in control of, and just as thrilling when finding yourself on the back foot. The time loop nature of Returnal has kept the experience fresh so far by introducing new weapons, enemy types, and scraps of story at every turn. Simply put, I’m getting the same feelings that IGN’s 2020 Game of the Year Hades evoked in me during its early hours, and that can’t be a bad thing. Just like Supergiant did with its pantheon of Greek Gods, Housemarque displays a clear love for its inspirations, evident from Returnal’s first frame, as you half-expect an Imperial Star Destroyer to pass by the slowly panning stars in the sky. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/22/returnal-the-first-17-minutes-of-ps5-gameplay-4k-60fps”] From that moment on, though, it’s easy to spot which sci-fi series has stamped the most impact on Returnal. Love for the Alien films is as clear as those stars in the sky of Returnal’s opening, whether that be the xeno-like creatures you fight, glowing green console screens, or Promethean architecture that registers high on the H.R. Giger counter. The first area I explored is a dark, wet unwelcome part of Atropos (incidentally the same name as one of the Greek goddesses of fate and destiny), an alien planet littered with ruins and echoes of a lost civilization. It’s hard not to think of James Cameron’s action-packed sequel Aliens when here, and that’s in no small part thanks to our protagonist, Selene. As a space pilot who can’t escape the planet she’s crash landed on, no matter how many times she dies, it’s your job to find out what’s really going on here. To do that, you’ll have to battle through waves and waves of enemies, bosses and light platforming sections in order to discover (or escape) your fate. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Housemarque%20is%20insistent%20on%20bringing%20recognisable%20elements%20from%20ours%20into%20this%20thoroughly%20alien%20world.”] I won’t say too much about the story just yet, not only because it’s best left to discover yourself, but also because even after 3 to 4 hours of time in-game, it remains largely a mystery as to what is going on on Atropos. I’ve encountered audio logs from who knows how many of Selene’s previous time loops – Returnal quickly makes it clear that the first loop you play is not Selene’s first go at it – I’ve seen flash frames of astronauts and wheat fields, and most confusingly so far, I’ve spent time in a P.T-like suburban home in the middle of an alien planet clearing. It’s moments like this that have given me welcome memories of 2019’s Control, but whereas Remedy was more interested in bringing the alien and weird into our world, Housemarque is insistent on bringing recognisable elements from ours into this thoroughly alien world. [widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=returnal-game-awards-trailer-screenshots&captions=true”]

    Housemarque of Hades

    Finding the familiar in the wholly unfamiliar is a running theme so far in Returnal. The second biome you enter is in stark contrast to the first and consists of red-sanded desert with elements from the 1994 Stargate movie that I have a bizarrely good memory of despite only seeing it once at the age of 7. Anyway, there’s no Kurt Russell, but Selene must’ve had a hurt muscle or two along the way as this area, especially towards the end, pushes the difficulty up a bit. On the whole Returnal is challenging, but from what I’ve experienced it’s not overly punishing. My first run lasted around 90 minutes and took me all the way to the second biome, Crimson Wastes, after defeating the first boss, and only ended once I came up against a threatening new enemy I hadn’t yet encountered. I wouldn’t say I had to play outstandingly well to reach that point but had picked up a couple of useful abilities and items along the way that made life easier, such as the ability to create shockwaves of damage every time I jumped. But all in all I haven’t played enough loops yet to know just how lucky I got. From this early point, though, the challenge feels about right, difficult but not unfair, and having reached the second area’s boss recently I can tell it’s not going to be the relative cakewalk that the first felt. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Despite%20all%20of%20the%20artistic%20inspirations%20on%20show%2C%20Returnal%20is%20still%20very%20much%20a%20Housemarque%20game.”] Despite all of the artistic inspirations on show, Returnal is still very much a Housemarque game. While not a twin-stick arcade shooter, and instead opting for a third-person trigger pull shooting style, the DNA of favourites such as Super Stardust HD and Resogun remains. Not only in the variety of weapons you wield, but in the enemy design. Alien creatures will fire spiral patterns of projectiles your way that need to be danced around and dashed out of the way of, while lines of neon death-spheres require a well-timed jump to avoid. It’s like playing a dynamic, fully 3D version of Space Invaders albeit with you, ironically, playing the invader of this space in this case. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/returnal-hostiles-trailer”] Enemies may have fun flurries of attacks up their sleeves, but Selene also has a highly enjoyable arsenal of weapons to play with. They feel great to shoot with, and at first appear to be fairly standard guns; a semi-automatic pistol, carbine rifle, shotgun and so on. But it’s the alternate fire options on them that really make them fun. These range from shield bursting beams to homing rockets that, despite being on a short cooldown, really take Returnal’s combat to the next level. They’re also the best use of the PS5 DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers that I’ve experienced yet, with a soft push of L2 allowing you to aim-down-sights, but a full press of the trigger activating your alt-fire option.

    It’s this sort of bullet-hell pedigree and heritage that Housemarque made its name with, combined with the studio bringing story to the forefront like never before that has me so excited to play more Returnal and see where on Atropos it’s going. Early on, it appears to be combining the satisfying loop of action and discovery that Hades offered with every new run married with a striking space-marine aesthetic. The inspirations and influences are clear to see, but Returnal is still very much a Housemarque game at its core, and that’s what has me wanting to play and indeed die, again and again. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Simon Cardy still thinks that Returnal is not a great name for what is shaping up to be a great game. Find him over on Twitter at @CardySimon.

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    The Creator of 1080 Snowboarding Is Making a New VR Snowboarding Game

    April 21, 2021

    The creators of 1080 Snowboarding on the Nintendo 64 are back with a new snowboarding game for the modern era. This time, you can shred the slopes in VR with Carve Snowboarding, announced today for the Oculus Quest. Carve Snowboarding is being developed by 1080 creator Giles Goddard and Japanese studio Chuhai Labs. The press release says this is a modern take on the Nintendo 64 classic, and there’s a new trailer you can check out below. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/21/carve-snowboarding-gameplay-trailer”] Customize your runs with different boards, gloves, and a soundtrack featuring over 60 songs from indie artists. There are also two modes: Freestyle or Time Attack with a rank system to compete with your friends. While there are some lingering questions like how a snowboarding game can actually work in VR, the trailer shows off tricks you can perform like grinding on rails or doing sick jumps. You can also pet a dog at some point. If you’re feeling nostalgic you can read IGN’s review of 1080 Snowboarding here which we awarded an 8.6 and Editor’s Choice. Carve Snowboarding will be released on the Oculus Quest this summer. Other highlights from today’s event include a deeper dive into Resident Evil 4 VR, which is both a faithful port and expanded VR adaptation of the survival horror classic. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor.

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    Resident Evil 4 VR Gameplay and Graphic Changes Revealed

    April 21, 2021

    Oculus announced a slew of new details regarding Resident Evil 4 VR, including details about graphical upgrades, gameplay changes, and more.

    Originally announced during Capcom’s Resident Evil Village showcase, Oculus revealed new details during its gaming showcase live stream today.

    [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/21/resident-evil-4-vr-gameplay-reveal-showcase”]

    While we already knew that Resident Evil 4 VR would feature a first-person perspective, along with touch controls that let you handle weapons, items, and puzzles, chief among the new updates are a few key graphical improvements.

    Resident Evil 4 VR will also run at a higher framerate than the original’s 30fps. Oculus didn’t specify a specific framerate, but the Oculus Quest 2 can reach upwards of 70fps, depending on the game. Oculus also implied that RE4 VR will be the full game and that no content has been cut to accommodate the restructured presentation.

    [widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=resident-evil-4-vr-gameplay-screenshots&captions=true”]

    Movement options include the ability to move in first-person using the analog stick or using a teleport function that shows Leon running ahead of his position before cutting to your new view. RE4 VR also supports room-scale VR, which will be helpful when cowering in a corner against chainsaw Las Plagas.

    If you’d prefer to give your knees a break, you can also play RE4 VR in seated mode.

    [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/15/resident-evil-4-vr-announced”]

    While the core systems of Resident Evil 4’s gameplay return, Capcom and Armature Studios have uprezzed textures and art in the game to better accommodate the up-close view. More than 4,500 textures have either been repainted or had their resolution increased.

    Other changes to Resident Evil 4 VR include:

    • Enemy behavior has been rebalanced to better accommodate the new gameplay.

    • Other gameplay changes include the ability to grab alternate weapons off of your body rather than entering a menu. Weapons and items have been “re-engineered” to be physical objects you can interact with, in the environment. The inventory menu is now an interactable screen that pops up in front of your face but still looks very much like the original grid.

    • You can now dual-wield weapons with your hands.

    • Cutscenes will be left intact in their original format, and character animations will remain untouched, albeit updated to Unreal Engine 4.

    • Yes, you can type on the typewriter.

    Oculus’s executive producer Ruth Bram said that the game has been in development for “a couple of years” in collaboration between Capcom, Oculus, and Armature Studios.

    The original survival horror classic debuted on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2005, 16 years ago, featuring RE2’s Leon Kennedy on a mission to save the President’s daughter from a monstrous cult in rural Europe. Resident Evil 4 is widely regarded as one of the most popular games in the Resident Evil franchise.

    Resident Evil 4 VR is due out on Oculus Quest 2 “later this year.”

    [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/shambler for IGN.

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    Gearbox Criticizes Texas Anti-Transgender Bill

    April 21, 2021

    A proposed Texas bill banning transgender youth from participating in sports is “bad for business,” Gearbox Entertainment testified yesterday before the Texas Committee on Public Education. Gearbox Director of Institutional Partnerships David Najjab told lawmakers that bills and others like it targeting transgender youth will make “Texas appear unfriendly and unwelcome.” He argued that such bills stand to hurt Gearbox’s efforts to recruit top game development talent to the state. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/05/borderlands-the-movie-gets-an-official-synopsis”] “[Game development] requires an educated workforce of a certain type. It makes us look bad. It sullies us and makes it hard to recruit,” Najjab said. “Our game companies are in competition worldwide. We sell more to Asia than we do in the U.S. We bring a lot of money to Texas. We’re headquartered here. Don’t drive us to where we have to start expanding outside of Texas and outside of the country. We want to keep doing business here.” Gearbox’s opposition comes amid a recent wave of bills targeting transgender youth in states like Arkansas, Florida, and Texas. Similar bills will also impact healthcare for transgender youth by banning doctors from prescribing blockers that delay the onset of puberty. Asked for a statement, a Gearbox representative said that Najjab’s testimony “can stand alone.” The studio also highlighted its previous opposition to a proposed bill targeting which bathrooms trans people could use. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford wrote to Texas Governor Greg Abbott on the issue, saying that discriminatory bills would “only increase the challenges that we face in attracting top talent to Texas.” [widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=every-ign-borderlands-review&captions=true”] “We are in a battle for globally competitive talent, and our ability to successfully recruit and retain our future workforce is critical to our long-term economic prosperity. We already face stiff competition with employers in places such as California. Discriminatory laws will only increase the challenges that we face in attracting top talent to Texas,” Pitchford wrote in the letter to Abbott. Gearbox has been based in Texas since its inception in 1999, relocating to a new facility in Frisco, Texas in 2014. It most recently published Godfall as a next-gen launch title, with Homeworld 3 set to launch in 2022. A Borderlands movie is also under development. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN.

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    400 million Call of Duty games have been sold since October 2003

    April 21, 2021

    That’s quite a figure.

    Activision has announced a big milestone for the Call of Duty franchise.

    Watch on YouTube

    According to the company, the franchise as a whole has sold 400 million Call of Duty premium games since the first game was released back in October 2003.

    In the news bulletin, the company also reiterated the number of Warzone players has reached 100 million.

    The firm also provided some interesting stats for Warzone.

    Since its release, 26.4 billion parachutes have been deployed, 28.8 billion matches have been played, 8.1 billion teammates have been revived, and 8.33 billion players have fought in the Gulag.

    News of the milestones comes ahead of  Warzone Season 3 which is due to kick off tomorrow.

    In Season 3, you can expect a new map, new and rebalanced weapons, new operators, and more. Zombies fans will also see some bonus content.

    The Warzone Season 3 update is available to download from today at 9pm PT / 12am ET April 22 / 5am BST (April 22).

    The post 400 million Call of Duty games have been sold since October 2003 appeared first on VG247.

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    Jeff Kaplan Was Vital

    April 21, 2021

    Jeff Kaplan served as, until his recent departure, the Vice President of Blizzard Entertainment. But for Overwatch fans not tuned into Activision-Blizzard’s corporate hierarchy, he may most humbly be known as “Jeff from the Overwatch team.” That’s how he introduced himself at the start of every Developer Update video, a greeting that downplayed his status as Game Director, and emphasized that Overwatch was a team effort. But while he didn’t shout them from the rooftops, his achievements speak for themselves: Jeff Kaplan was, for 19 years, one of Blizzard Entertainment’s most vital and important innovators. Blizzard recruited Kaplan in May 2002 specifically to help it expand into a whole new genre: the MMORPG. Back at the start of the millennium, the studio’s experience was predominantly in the real-time strategy space, and the team lacked the expertise to help inform the company’s next venture. And so Rob Pardo, one of Blizzard’s lead designers, looked to the most obvious place to find an MMO expert: an MMO itself. At the head of EverQuest’s prominent Legacy Of Steel guild, he found exactly the kind of person Blizzard was looking for: a player named Tigole, a passionate (see: outspoken) and well-known member of the game’s community. Outside of EverQuest, he was known as Jeff Kaplan. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2021/04/20/jeff-kaplan-overwatch-2-director-leaves-blizzard”] Pardo invited Kaplan to a series of lunches. “With hindsight, what I didn’t realize at the time was that those guys were interviewing me for a role with World of Warcraft,” Kaplan recalled during an interview with Game Informer. Six months later, Kaplan joined the World of Warcraft team, helping design quests for what would eventually become the genre-defining MMORPG. A significant part of the reason behind World of Warcraft’s success was its approach to questing, something Kaplan helped shape. Previous MMOs, like EverQuest, had very few scripted quests and were largely freeform, player-directed games. But Kaplan, along with his design partner Pat Nagle, forged World of Warcraft’s questing system as a near-constant supply of hand-crafted missions. Player testing only reinforced the need for numerous quests. “Our old estimates for how many quests we thought we were going to do versus how many quests we ended up doing were radically off,” Kaplan told Edge. And so the world of Azeroth was designed that it would always have new stories for you to explore, even if that was just killing six rats for a farmer. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=By%202008%20Kaplan%20was%20World%20of%20Warcraft%E2%80%99s%20Game%20Director%2C%20leading%20the%20charge%20on%20one%20of%20the%20series%E2%80%99%20landmark%20expansions.”]This approach helped make World of Warcraft significantly more accessible to MMO newcomers. Unsurprisingly (at least in hindsight), his efforts were part of its colossal success. After several promotions, by 2008 he became World of Warcraft’s Game Director, leading the charge on what is still to this day considered one of the series’ landmark expansions, Wrath of the Lich King. With a focus on story (entwining the player’s story with that of legendary antagonist Arthas), Kaplan ensured that WoW’s second expansion was a vital part of not just Blizzard’s MMO, but the entire Warcraft mythos. Kaplan left World of Warcraft behind the day after Wrath of the Lich King shipped. His new calling was, naturally, Lead Game Designer on a new MMO that was in the works. He was the guy Blizzard employed for his MMO expertise, afterall. This new project was going to be the most ambitious thing Blizzard ever made, and its working title reflected that: Titan. But Titan would never see the success that World of Warcraft did. In fact, Titan infamously would never see the light of day. In the desperate struggle to make something – anything – from the ashes of Titan’s design, Kaplan came up with what is, undoubtedly, his greatest achievement at Blizzard: Overwatch. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2017/04/14/jeff-kaplan-critiques-igns-overwatch-team”] Kaplan was enamoured with the class designs and RPG abilities that fellow designer Geoff Goodman had created for Titan. “I started thinking about a more tightly scoped game using that Geoff Goodman concept of dozens of classes with abilities,” he explained to Edge. Kaplan envisioned a game in which these faceless classes became playable heroes with names and backstories. But rather than an MMO, this would be a PvP shooter. “Team Fortress 2 was just mega in my mind,” Kaplan told Game Informer while discussing Overwatch’s genesis. “There was such inspiration from that, so as we were rolling off of Titan and we were coming up with ideas that we as a team were super passionate about, we really chased our hearts more than anything else.” Kaplan’s vision was embraced by the team, which led to them pitching it to Activision. “They were super polite and super nice to us, but you could sense this undercurrent of, ‘Oh god, of all things, what are you idiots doing?’” Kaplan recounted to Edge. But while perhaps another shooter alongside Call of Duty was not part of Activision’s original plan, Kaplan says the character designs won over CEO Bobby Kotick. “What that bought us was that we had until March to put together a core combat demo of the game,” said Kaplan. A successful demo led to full development, and Overwatch would eventually be revealed at BlizzCon in 2014. Its fresh new world and innovative rethinking of MMO and MOBA-style class abilities as shooter mechanics quickly won the hearts of fans. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Kaplan’s%20Developer%20Update%20videos%20are%20the%20gold%20standard%20example%20of%20direct%20transparency%20with%20a%20game%E2%80%99s%20player%20base.”]As Overwatch’s Game Director, Jeff Kaplan became something of a community celebrity. Following in the footsteps of Hearthstone’s Game Director, Ben Brode, Kaplan made himself the face of Overwatch. His friendly, mild-mannered personality was endearing, and he was soon lovingly known as ‘Papa Jeff’ by the community. Kaplan has always taken this in his stride, ever happy to join in on a meme, even going as far as to sit by a fire in near-silence for an eight-hour festive livestream just for the fun of it. But it was really Kaplan’s innovative approach to communication that made him such an effective face for Overwatch. His Developer Update videos are, to this day, the gold standard example of direct transparency with a game’s player base. On a semi-regular basis, Kaplan would explain in clear detail the changes coming to Overwatch, and why those changes were being made. He used straightforward language, so the updates felt like a friend talking with you, rather than a marketing team talking at you. All this made it easy to understand the thinking behind Overwatch’s many alterations, and invited players to feel like they were part of the decision-making. There’s perhaps no better example of this than Role Queue, the team composition system created after years of back-and-forth debate between players and the Overwatch team. Combined with being ever-present on the Blizzard forums, there was a constant sense that Kaplan cared about Overwatch’s players, or at the very least was actively listening to them. And even in moments when the conversation could become exceptionally heated – the Mercy resurrection rework was a particularly rough time – Kaplan would be there answering questions. It always felt as if players were part of Overwatch’s development. It’s hard to imagine this would be the case without Kaplan’s particular approach, and Blizzard would be ill-advised to abandon the strategy going forward, especially in regards to Overwatch 2. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2017/04/22/overwatchs-jeff-kaplan-responds-to-ign-comments”] No matter what approach the company takes going forward, though, Blizzard won’t be the same place without Jeff Kaplan. But it’s also important to remember that Kaplan never saw himself as the ivory tower leader on his projects. He was always Jeff from the Overwatch team, never Jeffrey Kaplan, Game Director. His Developer Updates would regularly champion his colleagues, be that the design decisions of Aaron Keller, the heroic creations of Geoff Goodman, or the lore drops from Michael Chu. Kaplan was a team player, and, at least as far as outsider perceptions go, seemed to foster that approach among his peers. And as Keller steps up as Game Director, it seems sensible to expect at least some of Kaplan’s spirit to remain. Over 19 years, Jeff Kaplan has been one of Blizzard’s most important voices. Recruited for his passion, his work helped shape one of the core pillars of not just World of Warcraft, but modern MMO design. His strength of vision helped rescue Blizzard’s most notable disaster, and turn it into what is arguably the developer’s most significant mainstream game in Overwatch. And as the head of that project, he refined communication between developers and players in a way few other studios have been able to replicate. He will be missed. But, just like Blizzard superstars Mike Morhaime and Chris Metzen, who also stepped away from the company in recent years, Jeff Kaplan leaves behind him a legacy of hugely successful creativity and innovation that has inspired not just those at Blizzard, but studios all over the world. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer. 

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    AMD RX 6900 XT snatches the GPU overclock record from Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti

    April 21, 2021

    AMD RX 6900 XT snatches the GPU overclock record from Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti

    Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti has reigned as the overclocking king for the past four years with its clock speed ramped up from 1,480MHz to 3,024MHz, but now AMD’s best graphics card has swooped in to steal the crown, with the RX 6900 XT breaking the world record for highest clock speeds.

    Youtuber Der8auer pushed the card with liquid nitrogen cooling from its stock frequency of 1,825MHz all the way up to a record high of 3,225MHz. While other RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT models are limited to artificial maximum clock speeds of 2,800MHz and 3,000MHz respectively, the Powercolor GPU used contains a pre-binned chip with a 4GHz clock limit.

    By simply increasing its voltage, they claim the card could possibly pass the 3.5GHz barrier, too. The Powercolor Liquid Devil Ultimate has its own water block out of the box, which doesn’t hold a candle to liquid nitrogen but can still squeeze a pretty impressive 2889MHz out of the GPU at a temperature of 86 degrees Celcius under full load.

    RELATED LINKS: Best SSD for gaming, How to build a gaming PC, Best gaming CPU

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    Chivalry 2 Beta and Gameplay Preview

    April 21, 2021

    The post Chivalry 2 Beta and Gameplay Preview appeared first on Fextralife.

    With up to 64 players online chopping each others’ heads off and/or beating your opponent to death with a chicken, Chivalry 2 aims to be a fun, thrilling and gory-filled online multiplayer first-person slasher. The multiplayer beta begins on the 23rd (10am PT) of April and ends on the 26th, so let’s dive in and see what Torn Banner Studios has up their sleeves for the second installment into the Chivalry franchise.

    Chivalry 2 Beta and Gameplay Preview

    Chivalry is a game all about the combat, with intense multiplayer action that is nearly non-stop. Players face off in epic battles with limbs flying everywhere, and things get really hectic. But before we get into that, let’s first talk a bit about the story and setting of the game, since yes, Chivalry does have one!

    Chivalry 2 Story & Setting

    The Chivalry games are set in a fictional universe inspired by medieval Hollywood movies and TV shows. I can’t help but think of Kingdom of Heaven, King Arthur, or even Braveheart for that matter when I think of Chivalry. Both Chivalry games are certainly not tied to any historical realism, but instead are attempting to capture the romance of the era, in all its visceral glory.

    The 1st Chivalry told the thrilling story of the Mason Order rebellion led by Malric Terrowin against the ruling elite Agatha Knights. The sequel will be the continuation of that story, 20 years after the events of the first game. Therefore, you’ll be playing as the Order or the Knights. The Mason Order are inspired by strength, merit and dominance and they have zero respect for the weak. They will show no mercy to their opponents. The Agatha Knights are loyal and honorable and they believe that they are the rightful rulers of the land. 

    Chivalry 2 Classes

    Chivalry 2 will feature a four-class system: Knight, Vanguard, Footman, and Archer. There are a variety of playstyles with 12 subclasses ranging from Skirmisher (hybrid melee/ranged fighter) to Poleman (fighter that keeps opponents away with long melee range). Players’ inventories are limited, so you won’t be able to horde weapons, and pickups may be less useful for you than they were for the original owner, so the roles of each class will certainly play a more significant role than its previous game.

    Chivalry 2 Combat

    While the foundation of Chivalry 1 is still intact, combat has been revamped with all new combat moves, a weighty and physical animation system, which creates a more natural combat flow. Going over the basics, slash is the easiest attack to land, while stab gives you the longest range attack, and overhead will deal the most damage. Slash, overhead and stab can be held down for higher damage.

    Heavy attacks are also useful against blocking or multiple opponents as they will continue through an opponents counter. Special attacks are high-risk/reward moves that consume a huge amount of stamina and will give the player the potential for massive damage. Running at full speed can tackle opponents to the ground or launch powerful sprint attacks. 

    One key animation happens when the player turns their hips. Rather than placing the cursor over your enemy, you’ll want to turn your hips during the attack to land your strike as early as possible or turn away to throw off your opponent’s timing. Parrying and reposting are key and timing is everything while in combat. These are not the only things you can do, however, and there will be plenty of other moves you can pull off, including a dropkick.

    Any weapon can be thrown and thrown weapons can be parried. Weapons and many of the objects can be picked up on the battlefield and also be thrown, including chickens, wagon wheels, limbs or even church bells! Should you be struck by any of these flying objects, or any other attacks for that matter, you will certainly need to patch yourself with bandages and keep on fighting.

    Yes, Chivalry 2 is hack-and-slash, but if you run into combat button-mashing or if you spin around frantically, you’ll be without your head in seconds. Newcomers will not need to play the first game in order to get acquainted with the combat, and the good news is that there are tutorials to help get you started. You’ll be able to learn every single technique out there, getting your timing and rhythm down may take you some time though. But that’s ok, that’s all part of the fun of Chivalry!

    Chivalry 2 Gameplay

    The max number of players online is 64, and it gets loud, crazy, hilarious and very intense. You’ll have animated emotes with improved iconic battle cries from the first game, which means you’ll be able to scream, beg for mercy, taunt, cheer and plenty of others which are too numerous to count. Fighting without a limb will certainly bring an influx of emotions, along with the fact that weapons and items will be flying around the battlefield, making the emotes all the more satisfying.

    Team Objective maps are a focal point of Chivalry 2. Team Deathmatch and Free-for-all modes will also return, though Deathmatch is always the best way to get your feet wet. I would still highly recommend playing the tutorials first, but when you are ready, start there for some mayhem you’ll be sure to enjoy.

    Chivalry 2 will clearly be best played with your friends, as there will be plenty of laughing moments when a tomato hits you in the head, a chicken on fire gets tossed your way, a friends’ head gets chopped off right in front of you, or a player starts spamming emotes just to get a laugh/rise out of the other players/opponents.

    Final Thoughts

    All-in-all, Chivalry 2 seems like a very easy game to learn and play with plenty of fast-paced first person action. 64 players online looks like a ton of fun and a game that you and your friends can really enjoy. What I’m not quite sure of is how long will the game hold up? What will keep players coming back for more? Is the game a bit too silly, taking away some of the competitive edge? This remains to be seen, but thankfully, there is a Beta on the way that should help answer a lot of these questions.

    Chivalry 2 Beta and Full Release

    There are no plans for Early Access, so now is the time to go hands-on and jump into the beta on the 23rd of April, which is just a couple of days away now. We are giving away PLENTY OF KEYS, so be sure to check out the giveaway on Twitter for your chance to win access to the Beta if you’d like to play!

    Chivalry 2 releases on June 8th of this year and it’s coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC – with Cross-Play between all platforms. At launch, the PC version will be exclusive to Epic Games store for one year, then it will be available on Steam and other PC platforms.


    If you enjoyed this preview be sure to check out next our Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood: Hands-On Companions Preview and Path Of Exile 2 Gameplay Preview.

    The post Chivalry 2 Beta and Gameplay Preview appeared first on Fextralife.