After dozens of hours in the rough-and-tumble Commonwealth, the coast of Maine sounds like the perfect place for a sojourn in Fallout 4. Enjoy a boat ride; meet new people; solve a mystery with your best synthetic friend--what's not to love?
Who am I kidding: Far Harbor is just as overrun with radiation, desperate factions, and mutated creatures as Fallout 4's main stage. Along its rocky shores and in its foggy woods lie odd characters and rewarding side quests, along with a bounty of new gear to acquire. Visiting Far Harbor is an excellent way to extend your enjoyment of Fallout 4's brand of combat and casual role-playing, but it doesn't succeed in all of its attempts to build on the foundation of the base game's story.
In many ways, Far Harbor seems like a trip down memory lane. You once again set out in search of a missing child, and ultimately discover a society in the throes of a complicated conflict. The crazed Children of Atom worship radiation, taking refuge in the dense irradiated fog that covers the island. They are at odds with the citizens of Far Harbor: the seafaring town reduced to the only swath of land not overrun by fog. Elsewhere, synths who want to live in peace and isolation watch from the sidelines, though as you soon discover, a murky past brings their motivations into question.
Shortly after you arrive on the island and help defend townsfolk from invading monsters, you're whisked away to the synth refuge in Acadia. Not long after, you're guided to The Children of Atom's sanctuary, called The Nucleus. Unless you deviate into side quests right away, you'll have met most of Far Harbor's big players in less than an hour, and these meetings deliver a rapid-fire procession of seemingly major events and revelations. Unfortunately, this eagerness backfires.
Far Harbour isn't shy about asking you to join a murderous group of religious extremists, or attempting to make you question your own identity. While these moments have potential, they aren't given the time and space they need to spur a meaningful response. The biggest twist of all is so mired in logical inconsistencies that it practically feels like a joke. After the dozens of hours it took to form a position on the various players and problems in the main campaign, the abrupt propositions in Far Harbor feel cheap, to say nothing of how familiar the narrative's themes are at this stage in the game.
The biggest risk Far Harbor takes is a trip into the memory banks of a synth, where you use Fallout 4's settlement-building toolset to recompile broken pieces of data. With a limited number of items at your disposal, you have to redirect lasers to break down barriers and place armaments of your own to defend the flow of information from cannon-toting viruses, all while trying your best not to walk into pitfalls. These sequences are visually distinct and put your abilities as a craftsman to practical use, but they come off as a half-baked puzzle game concocted to drum up variety. Up to the last puzzle, the solutions are easy to identify and execute. The final test, on the other hand, is sprawling and requires tedious exploration, made worse by the limited amount of resources you have to build bridges to and from the maps' various islands of data.
As I dug my heels in and meticulously worked for a solution to the final puzzle, I yearned for adventure. For all the baggage in Far Harbor, it successfully upholds Fallout's tradition of combat, driven by odd requests from locals or by your own lust for loot. New weapons like the harpoon gun empower you to take on new creatures that are fast, resilient, and challenging enough to test seasoned survivors. The only hiccup that gets in the way comes from the fog that permeates Far Harbor, at least on PlayStation 4 and PC at launch--these versions suffer from optimization issues, with the PS4 version suffering the worst during fog-laced combat. The fog and the light that sneaks through it creates a great visual effect, but it's a shame that it comes at the cost of performance.
For its new locations and weapons, the turbulent waters of Maine are a satisfying compliment to Fallout 4. But where Far Harbor succeeds in delivering more of the same great gameplay and oddball characters that made the main campaign such a joy, it can't muster an interesting story. It over-confidently asserts twists and conundrums, without doing enough to earn your investment in the outcome of your decisions. If a moving story is what you're after, steer your ship back to the shores of the Commonwealth.
There are new ways to traverse the mountains in Poppermost Productions winter sports game Snow. Thanks to an update to the open beta, both snowboards and snowmobiles are available in game.
This will be the largest update for the game since it’s release in January 2016, when we took a look at the original open beta launch trailer that focused on skiing. The update trailer showcases the use of both snowboards and snowmobiles, hoping to add some freedom to the game allowing players to now travel up the mountain with the use of the snowmobiles and try out snowboards on the way down.
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Snow is currently in open beta as a free-to-play title on PC through Steam Early Access, however a beta test for Playstation 4 is expected later this year. Support for Playstation VR and Oculus Rift is also in development.
Life Is Strange developer Dontnod Entertainment has released new screenshots for its upcoming game, Vampyr. In them, main character Dr. Jonathan Reid, a doctor recently turned vampire, can be seen both attacking an unsuspecting victim and tending to the needs of an ailing citizen in a 1918 London stricken by the Spanish Flu epidemic.
In Vampyr, Reid is conflicted between the Hippocratic Oath he took as a doctor and the bloodthirst that comes along with his recent transformation. Players will have to choose who to kill and who to spare, with Dontnod claiming that these decisions will impact the story.
Dontnod announced Vampyr last June, and revealed its first screenshots back in February. It's expected to release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2017.
Deep Silver and Tequila Works announced that Deadlight: Director's Cut was coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in June, and a new trailer shows off what you can expect to see from the 2D zombie-survival game. Most notably, you can learn a bit more about the game's new Survival Arena Mode.
The game is coming June 21 for $19.99. It includes remastered visuals, new weapons, and interactive defenses that can be pushed or blasted apart with gunfire. PS4 and Xbox One players can also access the Nightmare difficulty setting, which was previously only available on PC.
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You probably won't survive this survival mode, since the enemies will keep coming forever. Good luck, for what it's worth.
Activision has once again enlisted the help of Platinum Games for one of its licensed titles. Platinum didn’t hit the mark with The Legend of Korra, but things turned around with Transformers: Devastation.
Today we’ll find out where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan lands. Heavily influenced by IDW’s recent Turtles comics, players can team up in four-player online co-op.
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The trailer above features familiar enemies, including Shredder, Rocksteady, Bebop, and Krang. Die-hard fans will also recognize Wingnut, Karai, and Armaggon.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is out today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
Iam Setsuna has captured a lot of buzz since its reveal, where Tokyo RPG Factory noted it was inspired by classic RPGs, ranging from Chrono Trigger to earlier Final Fantasy games. After getting some hands-on time, it’s easy to see that influence and feel nostalgic, but I am Setsuna also immerses you with its beautiful music and tragic story. The more I played it, the more I was drawn to the world.
I am Setsuna starts off simple: As a young mercenary named Endir, you help defeat the monsters invading the land. As you search a snowy forest to serene piano music, you come across a vicious bear holding a woman hostage. During the encounter the classical piano score revs up its intensity.
The active-time battle system is reminiscent of Chrono Trigger, right down to combo attacks that you can unlock once more members enter your party. For now, it’s just a matter of waiting for my bar to charge to unleash attacks, as they’re on a cooldown before I can use them again. Edir can also use tech attacks to hit multiple enemies at once. This comes in handy for the pesky penguins I face after I defeat the bear and save the girl. There are no random encounters, but being in the vicinity of an enemy will trigger combat.
Edir comes back from rescuing the woman to an interesting proposition. He’s told about an 18-year-old girl and a ritual called the “village of sacrifice” where once every 10 years a sacrifice is chosen. He’s told to kill this young woman, who’s set to be the offering before she goes to the Last Land to fulfill her destiny. After tracking her down, you find out her name is Setsuna and she’s warm and friendly. Endir begins to raise his sword, but villagers storm in, coming to her aid and capturing him.
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Endir may be imprisoned, but his chance to prove himself comes soon enough: monsters are attacking Setsuna’s village. Setsuna refuses to leave Endir to die, coming in to free him from the magic that’s restraining him. She has an immediate trust in him, even though moments ago he tried to kill her. Her friend, Aeterna, isn’t as trusting, but they don’t have time to waste and decide enlist Endir.
This is where battles get more interesting, as I now have a three-member party. Combo attacks are extremely powerful, such as X-strike, which lets Endir and Aeterna team-up and attack the enemy in an X shape for deadly damage. The battle system also offers an interesting decision: you can build up your SP points by not attacking when your bar is full and store up to three turns. This allows you to unleash a charged attack or tech with timed button presses. Positioning also matters, and some of your attacks can knock enemies back. More importantly, characters all have unique perks. For instance, Aeterna can deal two hits to one enemy, while Endir can target multiple enemies at once.
I’ve only scratched the surface of I am Setsuna, but so far it’s promising. I can’t wait to see how deep the battle system goes, and the soundtrack stands out as it drives so much of emotions associated with each experience. Most importantly, the story is already haunting me. Will Endir really let Setsuna die?
The Star Ocean franchise has been around for 20 years, but we haven’t seen a new entry since 2009’s The Last Hope. The absence almost makes the series feel like a relic from the past at this point. Thankfully, Square Enix and tri-Ace are giving the series a much needed upgrade. From crafting to combat, Star Ocean always stood out for its fun and complex systems. After spending a few hours with the latest entry that’s still the case.
The story begins in typical RPG fashion: the main character, Fidel, and his childhood friend, Miki, must deal with enemy soldiers invading their village after an unexpected war breaks out. Fidel vows to do everything in his power to protect his homeland. Soon enough, Fidel realizes the war is bigger than he thought, affecting not just his hometown, but all of Resulia. Things only get more complicated when he runs into an amnesiac child who has magical powers he’s never seen before. Determined to find answers and keep the world he knows and loves safe, Fidel and Miki venture to find answers and help the mysterious child.
While the narrative has plenty of threads typical of the genre, it should be interesting to see how it all pans out. Star Ocean has had some crazy plot twists over the years, so I’m hoping the story and characters get more interesting along the way.
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The best features of Integrity and Faithfulness so far are the battle system and progression system. The action battles are fun, allowing you to dole out weak and strong attacks along with specials. You can cancel attacks with its rock-paper-scissors system. For instance, weak attacks can interrupt strong attacks, strong attacks can break an enemy’s guard, and guarding can stop weak attacks and initiate counterattacks. Battles flow well, and you can swap between characters at any time to build up your combos. A reserve rush fills a gauge to different levels and allows you activate a charged special attack for deadly damage – an essential for tough boss battles.
Every character has a slew of roles, and they can equip up to four at once. These allow you to build characters to your play style and liking. For instance, I assigned Miki to healing and defensive roles, while Fidel learned skills to aid in melee combat. Assigning roles also gives each character perks, such as raising their attack power, allowing them to take more actions, or letting them guard more often. You can even increase their damage for certain enemies. The role system looks to be one of the most promising innovations; they can be leveled up and you can set different roles that play off each other well. It gave me a behind-the-scenes way to control the tide of battle.
With Integrity and Faithlessness’s release date right in view, seeing the game in action was reassuring. Hopefully, tri-Ace can find ways to make all these deep systems exciting throughout the whole trek.
Hitman Go is an excellent example of a game that takes core elements from a franchise and turns them into something wholly different, while feeling through and through like it belongs. As you solve its puzzles, you feel like you're making your way towards an assassination target, completely undetected. It's marvelous how a simple and engaging puzzle game can be nothing like its precursor yet maintain a similar spirit. It's something that carries over to virtual reality but isn't helped by it--instead, it makes a poor case for why you should play it in VR at all.
Hitman Go is presented like a board game, where you move an Agent 47 piece around the board, trying not to get caught in an enemy piece's path. You eliminate enemies like you would pieces in chess while making your way to the marked destination. Each level has three objectives: one is always to slip past the level's enemies and make it to the end, while the other two can be anything from completing it within a certain number of turns, grabbing an inconveniently placed briefcase, or making it through without killing anyone. Cleaning up every objective often requires you to play through the level more than once, and although not every level is as good as the last, figuring out the solutions is enjoyable enough in most of the levels to make them worth visiting a second or third time.
Hitman Go also does a great job of introducing new concepts as it progresses. New tools that help you get through Agent 47's covert operations--such as sniper rifles and Agent 47's signature Silverballers--are brought in, but you'll also go up against new enemies, typically right when you think you've got everything figured out. By taking what you've already learned about an enemy and throwing in a new variation with a different set of behaviors, Hitman Go remains engaging throughout.
Unfortunately, VR doesn't add anything of import to playing Go in VR. You're sat inside a bland room where the lighting changes on occasion--hardly an interesting addition or reason to play Go in VR. It's kind of cool being able to get a closer look at certain levels, but it's in no way impressive. With movement based on your perspective, controls can sometimes be finicky and frustrating, too. You control your piece with the left stick, moving it in the desired direction to slide Agent 47 across the board. However, as you move your piece away from its original position, the directions will change if your perspective stays the same. Moving your piece up now requires you to move the stick diagonally, as that's how it now appears to you. You can change your perspective by moving your head or sliding the board around with the right stick, but pushing up on the left stick and watching Agent 47 stand still makes the game feel unresponsive. On top of that, there were times when I felt a little bit motion sick after rotating the board close to myself. It was never anything major, but it was definitely noticeable.
Virtual reality requires a commitment: you need to put aside time to put the headset on and cut yourself off from the world. Unfortunately, Hitman Go VR doesn't provide enough of an escape to make it worth the extra hassle. It's also a game that works better in short bursts, and VR headsets aren't always the quickest and most convenient things to jump in and out of. And no matter what device you play it on, whether it be on PC with an Oculus Rift or an Android phone with Gear VR, you have a device that can play the non-VR version of the game, which is almost the exact same experience. Additionally, Hitman Go VR doesn't offer a non-VR option--if you buy this version, the only place you'll be playing it in is virtual reality.
Hitman Go VR feels unnecessary. It's an excellent puzzle game, but it's already available on a bunch of different platforms where it plays very well; the non-VR versions will be enough to enjoy everything Hitman Go has to offer. Solving its puzzles is as satisfying and enjoyable as eliminating a target without getting detected, but the VR version shouldn't be your first choice to experience them.