Gears Of War 4 Valentine's Day Update Adds Two Maps And Torque Bow Tag

Today The Coalition revealed an upcoming update for Gears Of War 4’s multiplayer component. The update includes a Valentine’s day event that includes “daily Valentine’s themed bounties” as well as two new maps and the return of fan favorite mode, Torque Bow Tag.

You can get the lowdown on the two maps, Impact Dark and War Machine, here:

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Gears of War 4 scored a 9.25, with reviewer Andrew Reiner saying “Even with a new studio leading the development charge, Gears of War 4 is a return to form for the series, and is a continual delight.”

Beta Test Gears Of War 4 Valentine’s Day Update Adds Two Maps And Torque Bow Tag

March Cover Reveal – The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

This year brings the release of a new Nintendo console and a new Zelda game. Both are momentous occasions in the video game world, and we haven’t seen the two overlap in this way since the launch of the Wii and Twilight Princess more than a decade ago. With the Switch, Nintendo hopes to merge the worlds of mobile and console gaming in an innovative way. We spent lots of time with the new hardware to see how it aims to accomplish this goal.

Early impressions for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild showed an impressive and surprising new direction for the series, and our extended time with the game only cemented that opinion. We experienced more of the game than anyone outside of Nintendo, playing through a dungeon in its entirety, exploring the sprawling open world of Hyrule for hours, discovering Shrines, appreciating the wildlife, and fighting surprisingly powerful monsters (including the dungeon boss, Wind Blight Ganon, and a Guardian). We may have not lived through our battle with the Guardian, but we can tell you about it. Finally, we spoke extensively with longtime Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma as well as Zelda’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto about Breath of the Wild and the larger Zelda franchise.

Breath of the Wild releases for Switch and Wii U on March 3. To learn more about our planned month of online coverage leading up the game’s release, take a look at our coverage trailer below or watch and share it on YouTube.

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This is more than a future of Nintendo and Zelda issue, however. We outline the 25 games we’re looking forward to in 2017, teach you how to break into the competitive world of professional gaming, and ask Square Enix to reflect on the long-awaited release of Final Fantasy XV. We also traveled to ZeniMax Online studios to learn all about recreating Morrowind exactly as players remember for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Print subscribers can watch for their issue to arrive in the coming weeks, but you can read the full digital issue now on PC/Mac, iOS, Android, and Google Play. You can also get the latest issue through third-party apps on Nook, Kindle, and Zinio starting tomorrow. To switch your print subscription to digital, click here, or to create a new subscription to the digital edition, click here.

We’re excited about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and are eager to see if the Nintendo Switch can make console gaming a mobile experience. You can look forward to more online features throughout the month to see how Breath of the Wild truly re-examines the Zelda formula, learn everything we know about the new dungeons, find out what’s in store for the future of 2D Zelda games, and read about Aonuma’s personal favorite Zelda games, among many other Breath of the Wild-focused features. Click the banner below to visit our hub, and be sure to check back regularly.

Beta Test March Cover Reveal – The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Nintendo Switch Is Getting FIFA 18

When EA announced that it is bringing the FIFA franchise to the Nintendo Switch this year, the fact that Patrick Söderlund, executive vice president at EA, simply called it “EA Sports FIFA on Nintendo Switch” was conspicuous. Gamers wondered if the “custom-built” title would be the same as the ones set to appear on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Recently, EA chief competition officer Peter Moore, shed a sliver of additional light on the Switch product by calling it “FIFA 18.”

“Well, as we have said, we are custom-building a FIFA version for the Nintendo Switch,” Moore told Gamereactor at a Paris event. “It will be FIFA 18, and it will obviously be later this year when FIFA 18 comes out.”

EA’s nomenclature gives the impression that the Switch version will be in line with the others. Gamereactor specifically asked Moore whether FIFA 18 on Switch has the same feature set as those on the PS4 and Xbox One, but he only reiterated that FIFA 18 on Switch was custom. The company has not announced any features for any of the versions of FIFA 18, other than that The Journey story mode would return.

Moore’s comment also implies that the Switch edition of the game will come out at the same time as the others (traditionally in September), but that is also inference.

[Source: Gamereactor]

 

Our Take
This is a reassuring step, but I still would like to see the game’s full feature set to know it’s not lagging behind the other versions.

Beta Test Nintendo Switch Is Getting FIFA 18

Our 5 Biggest Impressions From Playing Rime

Rime, an adventure game that centers around puzzle solving and exploration, was first revealed back in 2013. Since then, we’ve heard very little about the game and it left the spotlight until recently. With developer Tequila Works reaquiring the rights from Sony last year, and with new publishers on board, Rime is back and inching towards a May release.

We recently got a chance to play an extended demo, where we traversed through an island with varying landscapes filled with secrets and puzzles. Rime is minimalist and reminiscent of Ico and Journey, telling a vague, abstract story about a young boy who washes up on the shore of a mysterious island.

In the video below, features editor Kim Wallace and I talk about our thoughts and I share five stand-out qualities that impressed me from Rime.

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Rime releases this May for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Beta Test Our 5 Biggest Impressions From Playing Rime

Streamer Beats Resident Evil 7 On Hardest Difficulty During Intense Knife-Only Speedrun

Speedruns aren’t usually something I care about but even this one made my head spin a bit. YouTuber Quizzle has beaten Resident Evil 7 with only a knife on Madhouse difficulty, which is impressive enough on its own, until you see that he did it in less than four hours, which is just ridiculous.

By sake of comparison, it took me seven hours and the other editors who have played the game in the 7-10 range as well, on normal difficulty with weapons. HLTB (How Long To Beat) has most of the user-submitted times clocking in around 8-9 hours. You can watch the whole thing right here. Spoilers, of course.

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Be sure to check out our review of the game as well as this piece on how RE7 properly reinvents the series.

Beta Test Streamer Beats Resident Evil 7 On Hardest Difficulty During Intense Knife-Only Speedrun

Reader Discussion – Do Difficult Games Intimidate You?

Nioh comes out tomorrow. I’m about 20 hours into it and agree with reviewer Dan Tack’s assessment that it’s quite good. It’s also ridiculously difficult, far harder than any Souls game. I honestly haven’t played an action game this difficult since the days of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.

But that’s also kind of the reason I love it? I really dig feeling like I have to fight for my victories, tooth and nail, overcoming insurmountable odds any way I can. I get why some people don’t though. So which camp do you fall into and why?

Let us know in the comments below.

Beta Test Reader Discussion – Do Difficult Games Intimidate You?

Wildlands Sitrep – The Pros And Cons Of The Ghost Recon Closed Beta

Five years since Ubisoft Paris first began its development, we finally got extended hands-on time with the next entry in the Ghost Recon series. Set in a sprawling open world and supporting up to four-player co-op, Wildlands is a drastic departure for the tactical series. Javy Gwaltney, Ben Reeves, and I all spent some time with the game over the weekend, combining our forces to eradicate the Santa Blanca cartel from one of the less protected regions of Bolivia.

Bertz: I played a small segment of the game at this past E3, but this was my first exposure to the rhythm of the game – seeing how the more involved missions intersect with the open-world environment and its myriad activities. I expected to see a lot of analogs to Far Cry, and they are certainly present. Players cripple the local powers that be by taking down enemy bases and gradually cede control to a rebel group. Side activities can help fortify the rebellion’s efforts, and at the same time grant your squad new abilities like being able to call in a vehicle or mortar strike.

Those elements feel pulled right out of Far Cry 4, but the game Wildlands most reminds me of is Mercenaries 2, the open-world, third-person shooter developed by Pandemic. Both games are set in South America, and revolve around a small military team gradually taking control of the country and giving it to an opposition group. They provide the player a variety of vehicles to travel around the map, and focus the action on micro-skirmishes.

What were your first impressions?

Javy: I got to play an earlier version of the beta’s content last month at a preview event, and I think my biggest surprise was just how willing I was to dive back into those same missions and make my character all over again.

During the preview event I spent a lot of time running into camps with my A.I. teammates and that was fine. Gun battles are fun and your squadmates are competent enough to hold their own (even if their idle chatter is terrible). But the difference between playing with A.I. and human players on your team is night and day. Things become much more tense. Constantly updating others as you proceed with your plan is super important especially, as is often the case, when your plan falls apart and all four of you have to scramble to come up with a new one as bullets fly over your head.

Ben: I never played Mercenaries 2, but I’m a big fan of the direction that Ubisoft has taken the Far Cry series, so this game immediately resonated with me even though I’ve never played a Ghost Recon game before. I like the level of freedom at hand. For awhile, I was shooting up an enemy camp while our fellow editor Kyle Hilliard was in a completely different area. However, the game does seem best when you play it as a team. At one point I was sneaking up on an enemy when he turned around. I was a sitting duck, and I thought he was definitely going to see me then alert the whole base. Fortunately, Kyle took him out a few seconds before he spotted me. This really seems like a game that you could have a blast with when playing with friends. Did you guys run into any situations like that where you were able to tactically approach an enemy stronghold? Some of the later areas seem like they require solid team communication.

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Bertz: The game does give you some tactical tools, but it’s more shallow on gadgets than most Ghost Recon games or even other Tom Clancy games like The Division. The drone is effective at scouting out an area and marking enemies, and you can eventually upgrade it to use it as an explosive. You can also use binoculars for surveying the land. If you’re playing solo, you can upgrade the synchronized shot skill to essentially take out four enemies at once, just like you could in Future Soldier. Helping the rebels grants other upgrades that allow you to create diversions, bring a rebel squad to the fight, or call in a mortar strike on a position. But the big question mark for me at this point is are any of these tools even necessary for most firefights? The way the game is currently balanced, it’s pretty easy for four players to clear a camp going guns blazing even on the hardest difficulty once you have your bearings and a firm grasp of the controls.

What could be improved?

Bertz: The minimap has a heatmap of sorts indicating when you stumble on enemy positions, so you are never really caught off-guard or constantly dreading being spotted. That tension was integral to the early Ghost Recon games. You can’t turn this off and keep the minimap, so you either have to live with the convenience or turn off the minimap altogether. Enemies rarely attempt to flank, and carelessly run between cover points for easy kills. I guess this makes narrative sense when you’re fighting a bunch of low-level drug cartel grunts, but I expected more of a fight from the more organized UNIDAD force. The closed beta featured an early region in the game, so it’s possible the strategy could get more important the deeper you get into Bolivia.

Right now the game isn’t tuned to demand tactics, which opens up the action for a more mainstream audience, but I’d love to see a difficulty setting tuned for people who want a pure Ghost Recon experience, too.

Javy: Yeah, I agree. I think there’s a lot of room for superficial tactics, like choosing stealth or going loud with bullets, but I’d really like some tactical gadgets. The drones are cool and remind me of Splinter Cell: Blacklist in how you can tag foes for you and your squad to see, but I really wished they had borrowed a bit more from Blacklist too. I’d love to have some sticky noisemakers or an RC Car lined with explosives. It’d also be nice to have some non-lethal options beyond just running up and smacking a guy with the butt of your gun, like a tranquilizer or stun gun.

As far as difficulty goes, It’d be nice to have a hardcore mode that gets back to the fundamental “glass cannon” difficulty of the original Ghost Recon games, where one shot means you’re pretty much dead, so you have to plan your moves carefully. Luckily, that seems like something Ubisoft could add in at some point post-release. One can hope, anyway.

Ben: I think that’s all valid. I’d also like to see the vehicle handling get tweaked. Most trucks feel a little floaty or arcadey. On the one hand, the cars are very responsive, and I had fun barreling straight down the side of a mountain on a motorcycle, but vehicles also don’t feel realistic at all. I always felt a little pulled out of the action when I was driving because my tires never felt like they were gripping the road.

Another complaint is that I don’t think the game does a great job indicating when you are going to be seen. There were a few times that an enemy spotted me and alerted the whole camp, but I didn’t get a sense for where he came from and the game offers little warning before you are spotted. Maybe I just need to level up a bit, but I never felt like I had enough tools for dealing with difficult stealth situations. Did you guys notice this too, or do you have any other minor gripes that you hope get fixed before the final release?

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Bertz: I didn’t have a problem with knowing when I was being spotted when playing with the HUD fully activated because of the threat indicators, but the degree to which the entire camp knows exactly where you are is a little abrupt.  I think you’re right about stealth being the inferior choice, too, and Javy’s suggestions would be welcome.

The closed beta had a lot of minor technical hiccups, too. We had some sessions drop, and the audio kept cutting in and out on me. I’m sure Ubisoft is aware of those shortcomings and working to correct them in time for the March launch. But two other audio problems I encountered will be much harder to fix. One, the gunfire and explosions sound really weak and don’t have the impact of a lot of modern shooters. Two, that terrible DJ always joking about cocaine should be unceremoniously ripped from the game. Far Cry had the wannabe comedian too, and they are more grating than entertaining. I know everyone wants to be Rockstar, but it’s such a weird thematic fit for this game and is a pretty sh—y portrayal of Bolivians.

Are we excited?

Bertz: Gripes aside, I’m eager to play more of Wildlands. It seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun playing cooperatively, and hopefully Ubisoft makes some changes to make the game a little more hardcore for the minority of Ghost Recon super fans who want a challenge.

Javy: Yeah, after about eight hours with Wildlands, I’m really excited to play the final version. There are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out, and I wished there were more tactical devices available to your character besides the drone, but the gameplay loop of infiltration planning and execution is really satisfying to me.

Ben: I think it’s unanimous then, because I’m also really excited for the final thing. Honestly, I’m a little surprised too, because I went into the beta not knowing what to expect. I’m not a Ghost Recon fan, but when I heard that it was a little like Far Cry meets Metal Gear Solid V, I felt like I should check it out. I’m glad I did. The game’s open world is exciting to explore, the basic gunplay feels tight, and I’m excited to pump my experience points into that leveling system. I’m already rounding up friends to play this with when it comes out.

Were you in the closed beta as well? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Beta Test Wildlands Sitrep – The Pros And Cons Of The Ghost Recon Closed Beta

Skilled Overwatch Player Proves Sombra Can Compete In Video

It’s generally accepted knowledge in the Overwatch competitive scene that Sombra is not a viable main. While the hacker may have stolen the show upon her arrival with her tricky moves including teleportation and invisibility, a lot of players see her more as a liability to a team trying to win in competitive due to her reliance on stealth to be successful in the online shooter. 

YouTuber Bunsen disproves that stereotype in a new video of his, which shows him being viciously attacked for choosing the character in a series of matches, only to be congratulated on playing so well and upending everyone’s expectations when the matches end. It’s an uplifting multiplayer success story, but be advised there is strong language in the video. Keep it classy, team chat. 

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For details on Overwatch’s Year of the Rooster event, which is going on now, you can click here.

[Source: Bunsen’s YouTube via Kotaku]

Beta Test Skilled Overwatch Player Proves Sombra Can Compete In Video

Final Fantasy VII's Cloud And Sephiroth Recreated As Snow Sculptures

Final Fantasy VII Remake may be some time away, but two of the title’s most recognizable characters have already been remade… As snow sculptures, that is.

Attendees of Japan’s 68th Sapporo Snow Festival have been flocking to the giant work depicting Cloud and Sephiroth locked in combat. Floods of tweet from festival-goers calling the piece “too cool” and “amazing,” as well as live TV news coverage, have brought huge crowds to the annual celebration. With an FF-themed video projected onto the sculpture itself, it’s easy to see how these two video game icons have stolen the snow show.

The sculptures will eventually melt away, but they show that the love fans have for FFVII will never truly fade away.

[Source: Kotaku]

Beta Test Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud And Sephiroth Recreated As Snow Sculptures

Rainbow 6 Siege Dev Diary Details Year 2 Improvements

Rainbow Six: Siege has been out in the wild since December 2015, but Ubisoft is continuing to support the popular tactical shooter with a slew of new content and updates for Year 2, as detailed in a new developer diary.

Siege is getting new Operators throughout the year, and the old Operators are also being revamped, rebalanced, and even remodeled. Additionally, the old, slow matchmaking system is being thrown out and replaced with a new one-step system, which should allow players to hop into matches much more quickly. Perhaps most importantly, the metagame is being reworked, with the addition of loot drops which should, ideally, reduce the grind and hasten players’ access to premium Operators.

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The first taste of Year 2 content comes in the form of the “Velvet Shell” update, releasing tomorrow, February 7. The patch contains two new Operators and one new map.This patch will revamp the game’s menu system to streamline the experience for players eager to jump straight into the action.

For more on the Velvet Shell update, check out the full patch notes here, and for more on Rainbow: Six Siege, check out GI’s rundown of the upcoming Year 2 expansions here.

[Source: Ubisoft]

Beta Test Rainbow 6 Siege Dev Diary Details Year 2 Improvements