Lego Sculptor Recreates Wall-Merged Link From A Link Between Worlds

Lego sculptor Hans Demol has skillfully recreated one of our favorite green-capped video game characters completely out of Lego blocks.

In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Link has the ability to merge himself into walls, becoming completely flat. Demol’s creation mimics that look by arranging the pieces to fit Link into his own personal Lego frame. The total piece includes 250 rows of 80 plates. 

Check out a closer look at the mosaic, as well as some other Lego creations by Demol on his Flickr.

Beta Test Lego Sculptor Recreates Wall-Merged Link From A Link Between Worlds

Criterion's Star Wars Battlefront VR Mission Will Be Rogue One-Themed

EA had previously announced Criterion was working on a Battlefront VR X-Wing Mission and had revealed it would be free to anyone who’d bought the game on PlayStation 4, but was otherwise sparse on details.

Today the company announced the mission will be Rogue One-themed. Over on the EA blog, the company interviewed Criterion producer James Svensson about what it’s been like to work on the mission, how it became a movie tie-in, and some of the specifics of working with VR.

You can read more about Star Wars Battlefront: VR X-Wing Mission by checking out our E3 2016 preview here. We will have hands-on impressions of the mission later this week from Gamescom.

Beta Test Criterion’s Star Wars Battlefront VR Mission Will Be Rogue One-Themed

A Look At 20 Minutes of New Gears of War Gameplay

My chainsaw revs, chewing through what feels like a never-ending tide of Swarm. These are just Juvies, though. Small, fast, and fodder for my Lancer Mk. 3. They’re plentiful, but not smart enough to steer clear of my whirring death machine.

At Gamescom, we had a chance to check out 20 uninterrupted minutes of Gears of War 4. The segment sees JD, Kait, and Del fighting through the Swarm in an abandoned COG fort, uncovering new enemy types.

This takes place in the first quarter of the game, and introduces Juvies (enemies that are similar to Locust Wretches) mutating into other forms. Instead of springing from emergence holes, Juvies burrow into nests and explode out as Drones.

These larger enemies are similar to Locust Drones, picking up weapons and diving behind cover. They also pop out of gooey red pods that are scattered about, clinging to walls and ceilings. They can be dropped to the ground by firing at the tethers for improvised, destructible cover.

In typical Gears of War style, combat segments are separated with banter that helps set the stage and advance the story. In the demo, our heroes are on the trail of a Snatcher which has kidnapped a comrade named Oscar. If JD and friends don’t catch up and free him, he’ll be turned into a gibbering Swarm Juvie after gestating in one of the pods. 

The team tracks the Snatcher to a tram yard, where one final encounter takes place. The segment concludes with a pitched battle with a new enemy type called Pouncers. These dog-like creatures fling barbed quills from their tails and can also pin allies to the ground. During the demo, Kait was beset by one, but firing into the creature’s pulsating orange form freed her.

In addition to giving us a chance to get messy with Gears of War 4, Microsoft has released footage of the game running at 4K. You can see some of what we played in the video below.

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Gears of War 4 will be out for Xbox One and Windows 10 on October 11. For more, check out our coverage hub from April 2016.

Beta Test A Look At 20 Minutes of New Gears of War Gameplay

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Arriving In North America September 6

XSEED revealed an official North American release date for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II. The RPG will be arriving on western shores on September 6.

The game will be available on both PlayStation 3 and Vita. It’s priced at $39.99 and will be available later in the Fall for European players. It originally released in Japan in 2014. 

Cross-save functionality between both available platforms will be supported, with save data from the original title The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel offering special in-game bonus stats and extra items. The sequel takes place one month after the conclusion of the first and utilizes the same turn-based combat as its predecessor. 

The third game in the series, Trails in the Sky The Third has been announced for a 2017 western release as well, but we have no details on specifically when or what platforms it will be hosted on.

Beta Test The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Arriving In North America September 6

Hands-On With Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness

Set in the year 2112, Psycho-Pass presents a unique vision of a dystopian future where everything about a person’s mental state can be revealed via public scanning technology. This makes it easy to find and track the troublemakers before things get out of hand. A subject’s criminal latency is determined by their hue, or the darkness of the color represented in their scan’s results. The plot of the anime first aired in 2014, and follows a group of criminal investigators using this tech to keep the world safe.

Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a new visual novel based off the anime coming next month that tasks players with identifying potential criminals and making decisions to bring them down. The game is set between the show’s two seasons and offers the choice of following two brand new characters in the Psycho-Pass universe. Players can assume the role of Nadeshiko, a woman suffering from amnesia, or Takuma, a man searching for his lost lover.  Recently, I got hands-on time with the title to see how it’s shaping up.

At the opening, you choose which of the two previously-mentioned characters to experience the story as, leading to slight differences in how events play out. For example, when I chose Nadeshiko many of the superior officers made comments about my looks and were less inclined to trust my judgement. Takuma is less level-headed and prone to making emotionally charged decisions. Each character allows players to interact with the narrative in different ways, promising a different buildup and ending for each playthrough.

Mandatory Happiness deals with a villain who aims to make everyone in the world happy. It sounds like a strange set-up at first, but the first few cases reveal the twisted situations this character is capable of creating. He tracks down lonely, hurt people who may be prone to criminal activity and preys on their deepest desires. As an investigator in this world, you have to go to some desperate lengths to stop his plans.

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The first case seems innocent enough at first, with a concerned mother reporting that her daughter ran off with a high school classmate. Like many visual novels, you may find yourself forced to weigh troubling options with little time for deliberation. One of the first tough decisions I was presented with was to ask neighbors for more information about the students’ relationship, or rush headfirst into tracking their last known location. I chased the two down, only to realize there was something else going on that I hadn’t discovered, leading to bloody consequences.  I immediately regretted my choices regarding the case, and felt like I had failed at my job.

The game has little puzzle interaction or investigation. So don’t expect anything like the Ace Attorney or Zero Escape series as almost all of the gameplay comes from dialogue interactions. You don’t have to be a die-hard fan of the anime series to enjoy this mystery, though it does make the initial jargon-heavy dump of information at the beginning easier to comprehend. At any given moment, you can access a running log of important names and items that will help you keep up with the fast-moving plot.

Presentation is the strongest aspect of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness. Each character, including nearly everyone from the show’s first season, is animated with a wide variety of expressions. The cases are well thought-out and puzzling, with on-screen dialogue to help you understand the inner thoughts of your avatar. The cyberpunk influences of the universe and twisted narrative should put it on the radar of anyone looking for a compelling interactive story. 

Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness hits PlayStation 4 and Vita on September 16.

Beta Test Hands-On With Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness

How H.P. Lovecraft’s Horror Crafted A Subgenre Of Video Games

While Howard Phillips Lovecraft was alive, his work was relatively unknown. It wasn’t until after his death that readers came to admire the rich, self-contained universe of cosmic horror he had created. Inspired by his home town of Providence, Rhode Island, his short stories were typically set near the sea, and introduced readers to eldritch abominations like Cthulhu.

The recurring narrative of Lovecraft’s work was twisted, with each story building on the world he previously established. His writing often felt like a journalistic account of characters investigating the unknown, faced with unspeakable terror. The creations of H.P. Lovecraft’s mind fundamentally changed an entire genre of fiction, and his influence remains a strong presence in the world of horror games.

Though it was often bleak, Lovecraft’s view on the world informed the aspects that made his horror so distinct. The attitude in some of his writing is xenophobic and condescending to other races and nationalities – a point for which he’s been rightfully criticized over the years – and he was possessed by a degree of nihilism, expressed in contempt for many of his contemporaries and colleagues. This fueled the distinctive cosmic indifference fear of others and outside forces that can be used to summarize many of his stories. In the shadow of alien gods, why should the human race really matter?

Lovecraft’s style is not simply denoted by the presence of an otherworldly being that renders humanity worthless. Games inspired by the author tend to feature cults, abandoned mansions, and the loss of sanity. Eternal Darkness and Alone in the Dark both tell stories falling in line with his established style. The realm of Apocrypha in Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC borrows heavily from Lovecraft lore, as do the Warcraft franchise’s old gods C’Thun and Yogg-Saron. His creations are so constantly referenced by developers that the phrase “Lovecraftian Games” earned its own tag on Steam.

Though Lovecraft has been referenced heavily in the past, there are more games on the way that will imagine his work in new ways. We spoke to a number of developers who have worked on games inspired by Lovecraft about the unique challenges and stories that come within the Lovecrafitan genre.

Weird Tales
Rather than freely take from certain characteristics of his established universe, some developers have chosen to outright adapt a number of published works. Infograme’s early adventures on DOS and Linux platforms, Prisoner of Ice and Shadow of the Comet, were so similar to certain Lovecraft novellas that “Call of Cthulhu” was later added to their titles. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth fully reimagined one of Lovecraft’s most beloved short stories as a first-person shooter. Two ill-fated sequels would have further explored the Cthulhu mythos, but were cancelled when Headfirst Productions went bankrupt.

With so many games citing the author as an inspiration, the challenge to tell new stories based on Lovecraft’s mythos is a daunting task. Thomas Grip, co-founder of Frictional Games, remains particularly wary of how exploited certain elements and creatures have become, but feels the author’s work as a source of influence is far from exhausted.

A screenshot from Thomas Grip’s Fiend.

Discovering books by Lovecraft at a local library inspired Grip to stylize his own stories as told through strange diary entries and letters. In his very first project, a top-down survival horror game called Fiend, entities from the Cthulhu mythos appear by name. Frictional continues to make horror games, like Amnesia and SOMA, in line with the same atmosphere. Lovecraft is such a prominent inspiration for the developer that all of their games are made in the HPL, an engine named after the author.

“When I was making my own horror game back in 1999, I just scrapped the story I had going and did an homage to Lovecraft instead,” Grip says. “Since then, Lovecraft has been very important for [our] upcoming games, especially the way he structures his stories, with notes and diaries making up the bulk of the writing, along with this layered mystery that is to be uncovered.”

The mystery to which he refers is what Grip admires most about Lovecraft’s writing. He believes the way fear builds in the reader’s mind when confronted with the unknown helps make the stories so appealing to a wide audience.

“Lovecraft lets us ponder the insignificance of our existence in a safer space,” he explains. “The monsters are obviously not real, but the feelings they provide certainly are.”

Read on to find out how Edge of Nowhere makes Lovecraftian horror work in virtual reality.


Beta Test How H.P. Lovecraft’s Horror Crafted A Subgenre Of Video Games

Leap Of Faith Explored In Latest Video For Assassin's Creed Movie

The Assassin’s Creed movie adaptation has a lot of fan expectations riding on it. The latest behind-the-scenes video for the film shows us how one of the most iconic elements of the game will come to life in theaters on December 21, 2016.

A key gameplay element in every Assassin’s Creed games, the Leap of Faith involves perching oneself atop the highest point overlooking a sweeping city, then diving off acrobatically. This moment will be recreated in the film, and a stunt man in the video makes the incredible jump to bring authenticity to the scene. Get a feel for how the filming of this jump was pulled off below.

This jump was one of the highest free falls performed by any stuntman in over 35 years, at a height of 90 feet. Assassin’s Creed is expected to hit theaters on December 21, 2016.

Beta Test Leap Of Faith Explored In Latest Video For Assassin’s Creed Movie

Learn Key Strategies In Latest Trailer For Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is bringing with it the largest roster of enemy demons in the series to date. To achieve victory when the game launches on September 20, familiarize yourself with the battle tactics using some recently-released footage.

The trailer (which you can watch below) lays out five steps proven to help players defeat demons in the upcoming RPG. Tricks like striking first will be second nature to experts of the series, but Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse will introduce new buffs, skills and partners to master.

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For more on the game’s story, revisit the very first trailer. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse launches for 3DS on September 20.

Beta Test Learn Key Strategies In Latest Trailer For Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Xbox One S FIFA 17 Bundles Announced

At Gamescom Microsoft has announced two Xbox One S/FIFA 17 bundles (500GB or 1TB hard drives), complete with a few FIFA Ultimate Team extras.

Both bundles come out in U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand beginning on September 22 for $299 (500GB) or $349 (1TB) (prices vary per region), and include a download of FIFA 17, three Ultimate Loan legends, and one month of EA Acesss. The 1TB version also comes with an Ultimate Team rare player pack.

[Source: Xbox Wire]


Our Take
This isn’t the first time that Xbox and FIFA have teamed up, although I’m not sure it’s going to be a gamechanger for Microsoft in particular given PlayStation’s historical dominance on the continent.

Beta Test Xbox One S FIFA 17 Bundles Announced

Mafia III Heist Trailer Almost Goes Off Without A Hitch

When you try to pull a heist of the local branch of the Federal Reserve, it’s not just a simple smash and grab. And if you do get that money, there’s also the matter of dividing it up. The latest Mafia III trailer to celebrate this week’s Gamescom convention in Germany, shows you that in a job of this magnitude, there’s always bound to be some problems.

You need help for a job of this size, and the higher up the help, the more complicated things get.

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Mafia III is slated to release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 7.

For more on some of the game’s characters, check out the trailers for ClayVitoCassandra and Thomas. Also check out stories from our cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.

Beta Test Mafia III Heist Trailer Almost Goes Off Without A Hitch