Making Stealth Fun: Blizzard Talks The Creation Of Sombra

Sombra is in the public test realm on PC, which means she’ll soon be hacking her way into both console and PC releases quite soon. But how did Sombra come to be? How did Blizzard come up with a way to make a stealth hero fun but not unbelievably frustrating for the opponents? We found the answers to these questions and much much more (Did you know Genji used to have stealth, was melee only, and could execute downed players?) in a chat with principal game designer Geoff Goodman at BlizzCon 2016.

GI: Tell me about Sombra. What was the inspiration behind her?

Goodman: She was a tricky one. She was probably the hardest character to make over time. We thought we had this great idea going into it, “Oh, we want to do this stealth character!” That’s what we started with, and “Let’s do a character that’s not so lethal, maybe she can hack people.” Actually, she originally started by hacking, it was like a damage-reducing debuff on people. And it didn’t have a cooldown, the idea was you could hack everybody and try to lower all their damage. It ended up just not feeling super visceral, it wasn’t super great. So, the basic idea of the whole thing though was like, we want this infiltrator character that uses stealth, because that’s the core, that’s what we’re trying to hit, because we know stealth is this awesome fantasy. I mean, I love playing stealth characters in every game, it’s fun. So we always want to do it, so it’s this trick of “how do we get this in our game in a way that doesn’t break it?” [laughs] So, a lot of iteration. We got all of the hacker vibes and that was great, because that allowed, on the gameplay side, to do all these kinds of nice not necessarily lethal abilities that utilize her position behind enemy lines in ways that are less frustrating than just dying instantly.

So do you think you’ve alleviated those concerns with a stealth character being frustrating for other players to deal with? 

I think so. I mean, I think, as I mentioned before, we had tried stealth before on Genji originally. He was this lethal sword – he only had a sword back then. It wasn’t his ultimate. We tried it as, it’s almost like a situation where you were invisible, you go behind somebody…he had this move, it was actually kind of fun, it was this move where you get up behind somebody and stun them, and they would fall down. And then you’d do this slow stab motion down. And if you didn’t get shot or moved off, I think it was in three seconds, you just killed them outright. 

So it was kind of cool because you could try to find people that were not with their team and everything, but ultimately that’s just frustrating. That’s just like, that’s never going to be fun, right? So when we went back to stealth, we’re not going to make that mistake again. So I think really this time, she definitely can get those kills, and she can help her team by doing that, but she has all these other tools that are just so useful. And this is the first time we’ve done an ability, other than maybe you can argue Junkrat’s trap disables some abilities, but she disables all abilities. So it’s super powerful in a lot of situations.

Do you find, a lot of times players can get frustrated with disables, anything that makes them not able to play. Is that a concern with Sombra at all? 

It definitely was, originally. In fact, we first had that concern when we were working on Ana, we were putting in the sleep dart thing, super cool, it was just like ugh, we’re really gonna put a long sleep in the game? And I’m like well, luckily we have awesome tools and we can prototype things really easily. So with Ana I just threw it in and was like, let’s just play with it and the way it’s tuned. It’s very difficult to pull off a lot of times, it’s difficult to keep them there. So that actually worked out really well for us. And then coming onto Sombra, we were like, well, let’s try this ability too, prototype that, see how it feels. And again, on a lot of characters, it doesn’t disable their weapon – it’s not that big of a hit. If I disable 76’s abilities, he can still just shoot me. Most characters, it doesn’t feel as debilitating. But there are definitely sometimes where you catch a Mercy diving in to res her team or something, she gets hacked on the way in, she’s like “Oh no! I hadn’t, ah, my plans are foiled!” It’s a lot of fun.

So tell me about her kit. How does Sombra play in the perfect world? I’m a pro Sombra player, what am I doing?

The biggest thing is, you want to position yourself, try to get behind the enemy lines, but not necessarily where you’re going to get caught and killed by yourself. You want to stay safe. You can do a lot of things just from that position alone. If you’re on voice, you can give intel on where people are of course, that’s easy. But if you hack somebody, and this is another interesting thing about hacking, it reveals their health bar all the time. Normally in the game, the way our health bar system works is if you shoot an enemy, their health bar shows up for a limited time while they’ve taken damage. But she just reveals it all the time, it lasts for I think a minute right now. And it also reveals their ultimate status. So in a way, she’s kind of stealing information, and so your whole team can see, “Oh, that Mercy’s got her ultimate, I can see it, so we have to play around that.” It’s kind of a cool way to, not only is it a really powerful gameplay effect, but also helps reinforce her kit, her lore, her background and everything, getting information for your team. And also, her gun’s pretty good. She can actually kill people, and especially she has an ability to see targets that are lower health, so she can seek out the vulnerable targets, she can jump down and take those guys out. Especially, you know, if you have a Widow or Hanzo on your team that can wing somebody in the back lines, hopefully near where you are, and they run away to get health, and you’re “gotcha.”

So what does the hack actually do? It doesn’t reduce damage anymore, it just shuts their abilities down?

Right. The hack disables your abilities – like anything you have an icon for on your bar, it disables those. You’ll actually see, the abilities will turn red and not work any more. But any left click or right click, like it doesn’t disable Mercy’s wing or ability to heal or damage buff or anything like that. So it’s kind of asymmetric, intentionally. So if I disable 76 or Widowmaker, it’s not super great, but if I disable Reinhardt or Genji or Tracer, it’s amazing. So a lot of times, you’re going to maybe want to pick her against certain comps, or maybe in situations where there’s this one Genji that’s just driving you guys crazy – which is common.

 So if you hack someone, can the other players on my team like, you know they see the health bar, so does that mean they can see them through walls from across the map?

You can’t see them through walls, no. You’re still going to need a Widowmaker or Hanzo for that. But being able to see their health status even if you haven’t shot them yet, when someone has low health, you can jump after them or something. It’s a good advantage.

So what’s my big play? Walk me through a situation where I’m Sombra capturing a point. 

Sure. In a normal play – if you don’t have your ultimate, because the ultimate is a whole different story – but your first goal should be to try to get the position that you want. So you want to try to get behind people, where they’re not expecting you to be. Sort of in the same way that Reaper tries to get in flanking position where’s he’s kind of hiding. Although she can literally turn invisible, so it’s a lot easier for her. And then you kind of have some decisions. Hacking enemy health packs, especially near and around where they’re trying to use them, the larger health packs. If your team is injuring somebody and they run back for the health pack and it’s not there, or it’s hacked which means they can’t pick it up anymore if she hacks it, that’s really powerful. 

You could also in turn, if you want to hack health packs that your team is using, more towards them, because it actually makes them respawn a lot faster. So you can decide if you want to use your hack for that. The hack on those health packs lasts for a minute, so it actually lasts for quite a while. So you could hack multiple – you could play that game if you feel like that’s important for the situation you’re in. But nine times out of ten what you’re going to try to do is make a big set-up play for your team. So, let’s say that the enemy is Reinhardt, which is also a really commonly-used character right now. He’s guarding in the front, and his team has got 76s or Hanzos behind him, shooting through. And maybe you have a Reinhardt, and both teams are kind of damaging each others’ barriers, trying to bring that down. If she just gets one hack on that Reinhardt, the shield just comes down, he can’t use it any more, everyone just gets the full damage. And their team is now scattering, and maybe some are injured, and she can use her ability to maybe pick off some of those targets. And of course, if she has her EMP, that’s an almost whole other thing. Because she can just – in that same situation, if she uses her EMP right there, they’re all shut down. Because all their abilities are shut off for six seconds, any shields or barriers are destroyed. So it doesn’t kill somebody, like Reapers can just jump down kill a lot of people. But it does, like it’s this big alley-oop for your whole team.

What’s the range on that? Does she have to kind of center herself in the middle of the enemy team in order to pull it off?

Yes. It centers around her, but it is quite large. I don’t remember the exact radius, I think it’s a 10 meter radius right now. And it’s big enough where you can hit pretty much everybody in a battle that you’re trying to hit, but it’s not big enough that you can do it from safety. You usually have to jump in the middle of where you want to do it. The nice thing is, she has the translocator beacon. So ideally you throw that down somewhere safe first, jump down, hopefully off somewhere high, or stealth in, throw the EMP off and immediately get out of there. Because, again, their guns still work! They’re still just going to try to kill you. You have to be careful.

So you tackled the stealth problem then with Sombra. Are there any other character archetypes that you’ve been trying to make work, that just aren’t meshing well?

Hmm, that’s a good question. Well, one thing that we are looking at all the time is sort of…as I mentioned before, Reinhardt’s picked quite often. Originally we felt like there was a lack of healers, so we introduced Ana. We’re sort of feeling like maybe…you know, we have a lot of tanks in the game, but we don’t really have anybody who’s within the same relative design space as Reinhardt is, where he’s charging in front with his shield, trying to block damage, soak damage, a lot of raw damage. So I feel like there’s an avenue there that maybe we can explore for another character. That’s more of like a raw gameplay concept. There’s a lot of other cool character designs, I mean, the concept guys are just drawing all the time. Can’t stop them, even if you tried.

So they have a lot of awesome concepts that, sometimes we’ll just look at something and like, “We just made that character, that is super cool.” Or we’ll do something out of the story that would be a cool character. So, it changes.

So is Sombra a “villain” in this story? I mean, there are less villains in the Overwatch universe than there are heroes right now, yeah? So are there plans to bring parity to that, is that the way it’s supposed to be? 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be fully even, but we do want to introduce more characters. You know, you have a character like Reaper, who is obviously evil, but he’s very focused on the thing that he’s…he wants to destroy Overwatch and everything about it. So like, you kind of get it, like I get what you’re all about, it’s your thing. Sombra’s a little more nuanced. She’s definitely evil in the sense that she’s kind of only out for herself. So she’s working with Talon, but it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s in the same space as Widow and Reaper. They’re just, “We’re all about Talon. We’re the company men for Talon.” And she’s like, “Talon’s really working out for me right now, maybe it won’t be in a month, and maybe I can backstab them.” As you saw in that video, she’s working with Talon, but at the same time she’s kind of got her own agenda, and kind of backstabbing them in the same way. So she’s all about herself.

With 3v3 and 1v1 maps coming online, you’re not going to balance things around those maps, right? So are you concerned that some characters may become the ultimate 1v1 character that everyone’s picking? 

Well for the 1v1, it’s a mirror duel, at least what we’re showing here. We have other options we can try later. But the mirror one is interesting because, if the character is balanced at least you’re playing it against itself. And we have tried…Originally we were like, let’s throw everything in there and play it a lot and see what feels kind of broken or doesn’t really work. Like we though, hmm, Symmetra might not work here, this is going to be kind of weird, because you lock on the beams and it’s like a map race, whoever wins. But actually we were playing it and we were super surprised because Symmetra’s super fun. It’s a totally different game. So you’re playing it like, if you just run at the enemy Symmetra and try to left click her, she’s probably got a turret somewhere, so she gets to win because she gets the turret damage. So what you do is, she puts down a turret, the enemy, and you move up and you put down a turret. And then you don’t want to pursue each other. You try to right click their turrets, they’re trying to build. It’s almost like a Starcraft bunker rush, where you’re pushing toward their territory and taking over. So we found a lot of times it’s just worked out really fun. If we ever do a mode that’s like, you can pick whatever you want, that may be more challenging at that point, and we might have to adjust it there. But it’s been significantly fun internally. We’ve played a lot.

So for the Sombra reveal you sort of whipped the fanbase up into a frenzy with the ARG. Are there plans to do that again for another hero rollout, or was that sort of a Sombra/hacker-specific kind of thing? 

We don’t have any plans right now. It was a fun way to interact with the community. I think we definitely learned some lessons with it. I think sometimes the community, you know, didn’t like certain aspects of it. So we’re definitely responding to that – we understand. If we do another one, we’ll take a lot of feedback into account. But by and large I think it was very successful. It was a lot of fun to sort of interact with the community in a new way with a game that isn’t just like, “here’s more content for the game directly.” It’s like, “oh, here’s more of the world that’s kind of interesting.” And obviously it works really well with a character like Sombra, who’s all about hacking and the world of computers, so it was great.

Are there any problems trying to get players to play support roles? 

Sometimes. I mean, that was a big concern especially before Ana. I think the introduction of Ana not only helped us because she’s a healer, but she’s specifically as you probably noticed, she has much more of a what we call a skill cap. She’s harder to…she’s not just like, all about positioning. Mercy’s all about positioning and being careful about where you are relative to your team and everything. So I think that’s going to be a large part of it, is introducing more characters that speak to more people, that may even…like supports. We’ve got a lot of people who originally were like, “Oh, I don’t play support.” And then they played Ana and were like, “Oh, this is actually really fun. I didn’t think I liked support but I actually like this character.” So I feel like that’s a big success. I think we’ll re-evaluate, and you know, we’re going to be coming out with new characters hopefully for a while, so we keep playing the game. So we’ll keep that in mind and try to keep people interested.

So is there any incentive to get into the arcade and play these new maps?

Ah, yeah, loot boxes! We have a counter on the top that shows you, you have to play, I believe it’s three games, and then you get a loot box. But what’s nice about the arcade is it’s not like, oh, if you played a mystery hero, you get a box. And then you play this other thing, you get a box. No, it’s all one large pool, and you can play anything you want in the arcade and it counts as a notch for loot boxes. So you can jump around, you can play in the brawl playlist, or in the mystery duel if you want it, it’s a lot of fun. And that way, there’s so much more variety there now that I think it really speaks to a lot of people. Plus, who doesn’t love loot boxes?

Right. That’s what we all want more of, right? 

[laughs] Exactly.

Beta Test Making Stealth Fun: Blizzard Talks The Creation Of Sombra

The Last Of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4 Get PS4 Pro Support

Two of Naughty Dog’s most acclaimed games are a whole lot prettier on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us Remastered have a day-one patch that adds graphical improvements. The PlayStation Blog detailed exactly what this patch adds to the experience. Both games will support HDR, which should give more brightness to the vibrant colors.

The most impressive upgrade is The Last of Us, which allows you to play at 30 frames per second at 2160p or at 60 for 1800p. Either of these will be downgraded to 1080p according to your TV, but should still look fairly amazing.
 

Uncharted 4 doesn’t get quite the same upgrade, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. The story mode can be played at 1440p and the multiplayer can finally be played at 1080p.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

 

Our Take
Naughty Dog has a reputation of combining amazing stories with impressive graphics, so it’s great to see them updating their older games to take advantage of new hardware. This should add value to anyone who owns all the necessary equipment to enjoy it, but it might be a few years before many people can see these enhancements

Beta Test The Last Of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4 Get PS4 Pro Support

PlayStation Experience To Hold Invitational Call Of Duty Tournament

This year’s PlayStation Experience should be home to a number of announcements and looks at upcoming Sony games, but it’s also growing into something a bit larger.

The PlayStation Experience will host the first invitational LAN tournament for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to coincide with a number of announcements regarding the next year of the Call of Duty World League. The eight-team tournament invitees are:

  • Evil Geniuses
  • Faze Clan
  • Luminosity Gaming
  • Orbit
  • Renegades
  • Rise Nation
  • Splyce
  • Team Elevate

In addition to the tournament, the World League team will make a number of announcements regarding “season structure, game updates, and key events.”

 

Our Take
The PlayStation Experience seems to be getting more packed every year. Between the press conference, this, and the Capcom Cup finals all taking place there, I have to imagine the event will become less of a press thing and more of a fan gathering over the next few years.

Beta Test PlayStation Experience To Hold Invitational Call Of Duty Tournament

The Rock's Rampage Movie Coming In April 2018

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s upcoming movie based on the Rampage games has a release date. According to Warner Bros., the movie will be hitting theaters on April 20, 2018.

In case you just went, “Wait, what?!” you should check out our earlier story on the project. In short, they’re making a movie based on that old arcade game, which starred a trio of supersized monsters. 

We’ll have to reserve judgment until we get the answers to two important questions:

1) Will there be a scene in which the monsters breathe fire after eating dynamite?
2) If a monster is defeated, will it shrink down to a naked person and then sidle off the screen, modestly covering their secret parts with their hands?

You have two years to get this right, Hollywood. Don’t blow it.

[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]

Beta Test The Rock’s Rampage Movie Coming In April 2018

A Look At The Epic Costumes From Blizzcon 2016

Last week was Blizzard’s annual Blizzcon convention, and fans were out in full force, dressed as their favorite Overwatch, Diablo, and Warcraft characters. Catch some of the highlights, thanks to Sneaky Zebra, in the video below. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more coverage from Blizzcon 2016 check out our coverage hub, which includes all of last weekend’s biggest Blizzard news.

Beta Test A Look At The Epic Costumes From Blizzcon 2016

The Action Heats Up In New The Last Guardian Trailer

Fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have been waiting a long time to play The Last Guardian. It’s hard to believe that we’re less than a month away from the game’s actual release. However, the debut of a more action-packed trailer is certainly a sign that we’ll be playing the game soon. Check out The Last Guardian’s newest trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The Last Guardian hits the PlayStation 4 on December 6. For more on this high profile release, watch us play 20 minutes of the game here, or read our interview with creator Shuhei Yoshida.

Beta Test The Action Heats Up In New The Last Guardian Trailer

Where Credit Is Due – Video Game Credits That Innovate

You just conquered the last boss or finished off a trilogy. Besides
your initial excitement and maybe an achievement or trophy, what is
left? Most likely a plain, black screen scrolling through the names of
hundreds of talented people. A standard credit scroll makes sense for
movies, but it doesn’t make as much sense in video games. As games
mature and embrace what makes them unique, credits need to evolve to
reflect the interactivity that makes them special (while still giving
proper recognition to creators). Here are lessons that the industry
needs to learn about end-game credits from games that got it right.

Make The Credits An Extension Of The Game

Awesome Non-Interactive Credits
MadWorld extends its humor to its credits by allowing its announcers – comedian Greg Proops and voice actor John DiMaggio – to riff on the development team as the main character drives down a highway decorated in billboards of developer names.

Portal’s infamous Still Alive song also matches the game’s humor along with being a fitting – if temporary – send-off for the villain GLaDOS.

Shadow of the Colossus uses the finality of credits as a way to force the player to reflect on what they’ve done. The slain colossi it scrolls through are reminders of the horrific deeds you’ve done throughout your journey.

Devil May Cry 3 and 4
marry their gameplay to scrolling names in the most appropriate way.
After a climactic final boss fight and short, calm ending cutscene,
demons pour into an arena and the names start to scroll. Mixing combat
and credits is both respectful to the hard-working team and perfectly
emblematic of the game’s relentless action. Devil May Cry 3 and 4’s
credits maintain the tempo of the rest of the game and take full
advantage of the interactivity of the medium. Bayonetta replicates this formula, replacing hard rock with sexy jazz.

Katamari Damacy and Flower
both directly channel their gameplay systems during the credits.
Katamari Damacy lets the player roll up all the countries on Earth into a
ball, while Flower strings together collectible petals to guide you
from name to name. Using the game’s mechanics means the credits are
essentially a short, bonus stage that entertains the player like any
other normal level.

Directly interacting with the names is another possible avenue, which
a few games have explored. Instead of only being serenaded by their
delightful soundtracks, Rayman Origins and New Super Mario Bros. Wii let players treat the thousands of names like destructible platforms, free to be jumped on or butt-stomped. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U also takes this approach by letting fighters directly combat the names as they speed by. Noby Noby Boy
even lets players eat and poop out every letter of the credits. While
very basic examples, they place their mechanics into the credits, albeit
with no goal other than to goof around.

Turn The Credits Into A Mini-Game

Some games turn the credits into a different genre altogether. Vanquish and Super Smash Bros. Melee flip the script and turn the credits into an on-rails shooting mini-game where the targets are the names of the creative team. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
turns the credits in an odd bike-riding mini-game where the player can
jump around and collect golden letters to unlock a hidden shoot ‘em up
mode. While gameplay consistency is noteworthy in titles like Devil May
Cry 3 and Flower, these one-off mini-games work because of their
interactivity in addition to their novelty. Surprising the player with
something completely different from the main game is a good change of
pace and an alternate way to add playability into the credits.

Think Outside The Box

More Awesome Non-Interactive Credits
Batman: Arkham City

plays Joker’s voicemails during the credits as he creepily sings for
Batman. It’s deeply unsettling and plays brilliantly off the shocking
ending.

God Hand’s
goofy credit sequence plays the corniest song with stiff background
dancers that have the rhythm and coordination of most suburban dads.
It’s stupid, memorable, funny, and catchy in the most endearing ways.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
shows what Zelda was doing while Link was on his adventure in a series
of dialogue-free cutscenes that play during the closing credits.

This could be just the beginning. The aforementioned games have interacted with credits in some capacity, but games like Chrono Trigger, The Stanley Parable, and Ratchet and Clank
explore possible avenues for the next step in interactive credits.
After unlocking the most difficult ending, Chrono Trigger lets you walk
around and chat with the pixelated representations of the development
staff. Although not technically during the credits, Stanley Parable and
some of the Ratchet and Clank games allow you to wander around a museum
and check out fragments of the game during its development along with
cut content and explanations from the team.

Both approaches sow seeds of interacting with the developers directly
and seeing how games are made and who did what. Imagine walking around a
virtual Naughty Dog as Joel in The Last of Us and going into different
sections of the office to meet the staff and hear about or see what
their involvement was. It’s a little like what Doom
did during its fantastic credits by juxtaposing individual names next
to stills of what they worked on, albeit more interactive. This process
is exponentially more involved but fully exercises the unique strengths
of games.

Lacking an inventive or interactive credits sequence doesn’t
automatically mean a game isn’t creative or fun. There are classic games
with boring credit sequences like Bioshock and not-so-classic games with excellent credit sequences like Double Dragon: Neon,
which features the game’s antagonist falling to his death and singing
for the duration of the scroll. But it’s time for more games to use the
defining aspects of the medium for something as universal as credits.
It’s the part of the game that pays respect to its creators so it deserves more attention.

Beta Test Where Credit Is Due – Video Game Credits That Innovate

GI Show – Mass Effect Impressions, Blizzcon, NES Classic

Welcome back to The Game Informer Show podcast! It’s a shorter show this week, since Ben Hanson is still recovering from Extra Life 2016‘s draining endurance run. It might be shorter than normal, but this week’s episode features Joe Juba and Ben Hanson sharing exclusive impressions of visiting BioWare Montreal to see and play a ton of Mass Effect Andromeda. After that fun chat, we talk about what it was like on the ground floor of Blizzcon 2016 with Dan Tack and what makes Overwatch’s new Sombra character so unique. Then we talk to Suriel Vazquez about his glowing review of Owlboy and Joe Juba about the pros and cons of the NES Classic Edition. We hope you enjoy the show, be sure to tell a friend if you think they’d enjoy this exclusive Mass Effect conversation!

Due to technical nonsense, the video version of this podcast won’t be available until Friday morning. You can subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, or listen to episode 322 on SoundCloud. Also, be sure to send your questions to podcast@gameinformer.com for a chance to have them answered on the show and win a prize by becoming Email of the Week!

To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below…

4:20 – Mass Effect Andromeda impressions
35:02 – Blizzcon 2016 impressions
39:20 – Overwatch’s Sombra
46:50 – Owlboy
53:30 – NES Classic Edition
58:50 – Community emails 

Beta Test GI Show – Mass Effect Impressions, Blizzcon, NES Classic

Meet Your Mass Effect Andromeda Squadmates: Liam And Peebee

BioWare has always had a knack for creating memorable characters, and the Mass Effect series has continually provided plentiful personalities to grow attached to. From the ultimate best friend Garrus to Mordin, the singing salarian seeking redemption, Mass Effect has allowed us to build a camaraderie with our squadmates through one-on-one chats and party banter. Mass Effect Andromeda starts a new chapter for the franchise and with it comes a younger, less experienced cast trying to find their way as outsiders in a new galaxy. “I think [the younger cast] provides a new energy and allows you to have a slightly lighter tone,” says creative director Mac Walters. 

While characters are more likely to joke and play around, it doesn’t mean the journey isn’t full of epic moments and intense decisions. After all, these characters are bold enough to take this 600 year one-way to journey to Andromeda. Things are bound to get serious and chaotic at certain points, but Walters says having a cast with a more of a “leap before you think” mindset made the most sense for a story like this. As with past games, expect tension between characters as they all have different perspectives and goals. During our cover story visit to BioWare’s offices, we were introduced to two unique personalities joining your crew: Liam and Peebee. While BioWare wants to keep details under wraps about the characters’ reasons for getting involved with the Andromeda initiative, we were able to get an idea of their personalities and skills. Here’s what what they bring to the table.

Liam 

Liam is a former police officer who arrives in Andromeda aboard the Hyperion. He’s part of the Pathfinder team and helps with security. “Liam is the youthful, enthusiastic, and in some cases, the idealistic follower that you get,” Walter says. While he takes his duties seriously, he tends to have a lighter tone. He may try to add levity to situations by being upbeat, he also wears his heart on his sleeve and gets fired up easily. For instance, in an introduction scene we saw during our visit, he’s quick to show his anger and react when things go south while the team is out exploring. That doesn’t mean he’s not there for Ryder though and doesn’t support the decisions that must be made by Ryder in these dire moments. “He’s got Ryder’s back,” Walters says. Liam is also very hopeful for the new future of humanity. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens if other characters challenge him on that.

Peebee

Peebee, an asari, is a lone wolf and adventurer at heart. She came to Andromeda aboard the Nexus, but true to her character, quickly went off adventuring on her own. She doesn’t come as part of the Pathfinder team like Liam. “You find her in the course of your adventures,” Walters says. Peebee is particularly interested in all of the alien technology and things that can be found in Andromeda, constantly looking for clues and things she can study. “

While she’s super smart, she isn’t so keen on formalities or social niceties, which can make her come off as very blunt and forward. “Her mind goes quickly as does her mouth,” Walters says laughing. “It’s hard keeping up with her.” In fact when she meets you, she just goes up and tackles Ryder. Just because she’s an asari don’t expect her to be anything like Liara. “She’s very bubbly; Liara was very serious,” Walters says. “Peebee will buck the norm at any given time. She’s not about rules or culture or anything like that. She’s not even about teams or teamwork.” We’re guessing that’s going to lead to some conflicts among the party. So what drives her to join Ryder? She sees you as someone who can lead her to finding out more about the galaxy’s mysteries. “Her role in this is helping you find out more about this alien technology,” Walters says. 

As with all the cast members, BioWare wanted to make sure everyone felt fresh and unique from past characters. The team even cut a squadmate later in development because they felt too much of a cross between past favorites. “Sometimes writers focus on the quirks or specific nuances of the character [thinking] that’s what’s going to make this character interesting,” Walters says. “Honestly, it’s a combination of a whole bunch of things, and what I say is rather than trying to make a really unique or memorable character through your writing, take a character who’s relatable and put them in a really unique situation and see how they react. That’s actually how I think you get the most interesting character development happening.” 

What are you most hoping for from the cast of Andromeda? Let us know in the comments below. 

Also be sure to keep checking back at our hub for updates on Mass Effect Andromeda. 

Beta Test Meet Your Mass Effect Andromeda Squadmates: Liam And Peebee

NPD: Xbox One Remains Top-Selling Console For Fourth Month In A Row

According to Microsoft, this month’s NPD reports that the Xbox One was the best-selling console for the month of October in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. This is the fourth month in a row that it has beaten the PlayStation 4 in the U.S. and the second month in a row that it has beaten its rival console from Sony in both the U.K. and Australia.

Though the full NPD numbers aren’t released yet, Microsoft has released a statement claiming the highest numbers for this month. The statement cites new game launches like Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1 as contributing factors to the sales, as well as exceptionally strong Xbox Live numbers. Microsoft is reporting that the number of multiplayer gamers on Xbox Live has increased 52 percent over last year. Microsoft also says that Gears of War 4 was the highest-selling platform-exclusive title in the U.S. and U.K. last month, while Forza Horizon 3 has become the best-selling and highest-rated racing game of 2016.

 

Our Take
After a slow start for the Xbox One when compared to PlayStation 4, Microsoft is on fire lately. The strong catalog of exclusive titles like the aforementioned Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 undoubtedly helped, but it will be interesting to see how the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro affects Microsoft’s current streak of coming out on top when the final report for the month of October hits.

Beta Test NPD: Xbox One Remains Top-Selling Console For Fourth Month In A Row