A Quiet Place Review: The Sound Of Silence

Get Out, It Follows, The Witch. These are modern horror films we still talk about because of a standout premise. A Quiet Place joins these ranks with a strong hook of its own: everyday noise as something to fear. It’s a harsh, scary film that pulls no punches and makes excellent use of sound.

A Quiet Place has a simple setup, where the rules are clearly established: The world is overrun by blind monsters that track you by sound only. This leads to an hour and a half of pure tension. Common things like a toy that makes noise or a dropped bottle of pills can lead to disaster, and not just when the creatures are in the next room. It’s a smart concept that keeps your eyes and ears focused throughout the film.

In a typical horror film, you have the baseline noise–dialogue, music, background action–punctuated by the volume spike of a scare. With A Quiet Place, it’s the range in between, the innocuous everyday sounds that would be harmless in any other movie, that keep the tension flowing.

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The Abbott family is the center of attention, composed of mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), father Lee (John Krasinski), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmons), and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). These names are never actually said aloud in the movie, and it doesn’t matter. In fact, there is a miniscule amount of spoken dialogue throughout the entire thing, making those few verbal moments more intimate. The family dynamics are clear from the opening scene, and that familial warmth from everyone makes you care about them as one unit. Their performances come together to forge a believable family in a hellish world, where simply getting through the day is a silent struggle.

Krasinski pulls double duty as the film’s director, and he was able to coax out great moments from his cast. Most notable is Simmons, a deaf actress who taught her co-stars American Sign Language. This spotlights a method of communication not often seen in movies, but her performance goes far beyond hand motions, with a face that moves between expressions of happiness, sadness, and fear. She portrays a girl whose heart is also in emotional pain, largely over finding her place in this post-apocalyptic world. She thinks about the future, how best to protect her family, and how these things are made harder because of her disability. It’s far from the stereotypical moody teenager.

The Abbotts’ way of life is also clearly established early on. They walk on sand to hide their footsteps, sign to each other with ASL, and find ways to cook and clean while minimizing their audio footprint. But even during these would-be normal moments, the threat of making a sound is ever present. It adds a layer of unease to what would otherwise be dry scenes, especially in the opening act. That time is also spent foreshadowing setpieces and objects that later factor into the action in significant ways. A conversation between a father and son beside a river illustrates that you can speak aloud in this world, but only when another natural sound is louder than the one you make. The movie sets a strong tone of danger at all times, with rare moments of peace or joy.

Once the setup is complete, the plot takes a basic “survive the night” turn as a monster invades the family farm. The Abbots silently fight for safety, though there doesn’t seem to be any deeper meaning to the action beyond getting out alive. That said, the movie is not afraid to constantly ramp up the danger. Brief moments of respite for the Abbotts are quickly undone, either by a monster creeping into the scene or someone making accidental sound, from the opening to the credits. Watching Blunt deliver a baby while the monsters stalk about the house is harrowing.

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The smart use of sound also leads to a few pleasant moments. At one point, Krasinski and Blunt dance to a song played through her iPod’s headphones, the only time music is heard in the entire film. The tone overall is pessimistic, but these few moments of happiness help you empathize with the Abbotts even more. They’re complemented by cinematography that uses equally warm colors, and a few striking reds during particular moments of tension.

A Quiet Place does its job well: It clearly establishes ground rules, continually ups the danger, and makes dynamic use of all types of sound. Any hope of progress or safety in this world can be crushed by a dropped object or even the soft crying of a baby. There are precious few seconds where the Abbotts–and you as the viewer–can relax. While it certainly doesn’t shy away from trying to make you jump, it’s the sonic nature of the scares and unending threat of everyday actions that make this film stand tall.

The Good The Bad
Constant threat of sound keeps you on the edge of your seat Pretty basic “survive the night” plot
Fantastic sound design
Thoroughly explores its premise
Strong performances

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/a-quiet-place-review-the-sound-of-silence/1100-6457843/

Dying Light Takes A Cue From PUBG And Fortnite, Adds In New Battle Royale Mode

In the three years since its release, Techland has continually been churning out content for Dying Light. In addition to a number of quality-of-life updates and tweaks to the gameplay, the open-world zombie survival game has also seen a number of new modes–including The Following DLC campaign and additional multiplayer options. And now, the developers are riding the wave of interest for battle royale with their own take on the familiar every-man-for-themselves game type. While at GDC 2018, we got to go hands-on with the upcoming DLC Bad Blood–launching later this year–which pits several players in a race against time–and the zombie hordes–to acquire enough resources and make it out of Harran alive.

In Bad Blood, six players are dropped into random locations around the map in a race to acquire enough samples from several elite infected. From the starting point, you’ll have to find weapons and support items as you go. Every player starts on an even playing field as they maneuver through the streets and rooftops of the ruined city. As you take down these special zombies, you’ll be able to collect samples and potentially level up your character–boosting their health, agility, and attack power. Of course, other players have similar goals, and they may find that attacking you while you’re being swarmed by infected is the smart thing to do. As in traditional battle royale fashion, you only have one life to live, so you’ll have to make the right choices and play smart.

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While this mode may initially come off a bit gimmicky, the actual experience is surprisingly tense. Bad Blood is a constant race for resources, with the virus samples being the most valuable. In a some cases, encountering another player felt like the last thing you wanted to happen, resulting in a mad dash to evade them. The end-game portion which focuses on booking it to the helicopter is a where things get really hectic. The player with the most samples will have to reach the evac site and wait for the chopper to land, which paints a large target on their back. Only the player with the required amount of samples can make it out alive, and some players may forge quick alliances to try and take down the lead player–only for it to quickly fall apart as they scramble to scavenge the samples to make it out alive.

Battle royale has been one of the most talked about topics for the last year, with many people wondering what games would benefit from such a mode. In the case of Dying Light, it makes some rather clever choices with how it incorporated BR into its current strengths of survival and action gameplay. With Dying Light still going strong, and with the developers experimenting with adding even more players into the battle royale mix, Bad Blood looks to be a refreshing change of pace for players looking to dive back the game, which has only gotten better with age.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/dying-light-takes-a-cue-from-pubg-and-fortnite-add/1100-6457713/

’80s Nostalgia Gets Strange And Out Of Control In Pixel Ripped 1989

With many games paying homage to the nostalgia-ripe 2D-era of the ’80s and ’90s, Pixel Ripped 1989 seems like it could get lost in the crowd. But when it comes to reliving a bygone era, this strange yet surprisingly relatable throwback goes about things a bit differently, offering one of the most impressive and self-aware VR experiences in quite some time. During GDC 2018, we had the chance to go hands-on with the game ahead of its Oculus, HTC Vive, and PS VR release on May 22, while also speaking with creator Ana Ribeiro about its rather lengthy development.

“I started this as my final project in university for the master’s degree program, and it was at a university more well-known for movies and stuff [National Film and Television School], and then when I put it on Oculus share, it got a lot of press,” said Ribeiro. “People seemed to have liked it. It was more of a proof of concept to try and get a job, but then I decided to work on this game and get it a full release. It’s been four years altogether. This is the dream. It actually has a lot of my life experiences in the game. I used to be a bad student, throwing paperballs, playing games in the background–it’s all from a really personal place. “

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Set in the late ’80s, you’re placed in the shoes of rebellious grade-school student Nicola, who loves to spend time on her handheld game system. Her favorite videogame is the action-platformer game Pixel Ripped, starring the blaster-wielding and platform-jumping Dot. When the evil Cyblin Lord’s ambitions go beyond the realm of the videogame, he escapes into the real world, bringing familiar enemies along with him. To stop the main baddie, Nicola must guide Dot through increasingly difficult stages where she’ll shoot monsters and other baddies–all while avoiding the gaze of her overbearing teacher and other distractions around the school.

As a game within a game, you’ll be tasked with alternating between two different mechanics. In the world of Nicola’s handheld, Dot controls in familiar style to a Mega Man game, where she’ll blast enemies while traversing dangerous jumps and sketchy platforms to make it to the end boss. Of course, playing your videogame in the middle of class is asking for trouble, and Nicola’s teacher becomes extremely angry when she catches you looking down at your game. In order to low-key get your game on and help Dot, you’ll have to cause distractions around the classroom. Using spitballs, you can cause a ruckus to distract the teacher to keep your focus on the game.

Of course, many of these familiar tropes are mechanics wrapped up within the VR medium, which is what makes this particular game so interesting. What Pixel Ripped 1989 does well is center on the relatable experience of keeping your head buried within the game–while still trying to be aware of the real world around you. Balancing twitch-based platforming action when playing on Nicola’s handheld system with perspective-focused controls that challenge your peripheral vision, it leads to some rather tense and humorous moments where you’re trying to make a dangerous jump in Nicola’s game, only to be caught by the teacher in the classroom at the worst possible moment. Eventually, there are moments in the levels where the ‘game’ will spill out, bringing together the two parallel game mechanics as you guide Dot through virtual constructs scattered around the classroom–all the while using Nicola’s spitballs to open up pathways for the character.

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In terms of mechanics, Pixel Ripped 1989 is a relatively simple game, but it makes some rather clever choices in how it presents those familiar and relatable actions in the VR experience. One of the most striking aspects of Pixel Ripped 1989 is its vibrant style, and the sort of exuberance that comes from being sucked into a good game. Going all in with the retro-80s aesthetic, the game features heavy doses of old-school charm with neon lights and chrome decals.

Pixel Ripped 1989 replicates much of the same escapist joy that came from playing videogames as a kid, while recontextualizing it as a different kind of VR experience. It’s about what it’s like being engrossed in a game–even feeling like your success in it can have consequences in the real world. For its creator, she aims to have Pixel Ripped 1989 be the start of a series of retro-themed games that focus on different eras of gaming, while also showing different experiences of the characters that play them.

“After four years I never get tired of this game. I always have fun working on it. Previously, I had some problems sticking to things, like working longer on things, but surprisingly after all this time, I’m not tired of it. I’m happy to do four more episodes of this game–this is first set in 1989–but after the success of this release, we’ll do a Pixel Ripped 1978 set in the early arcade era with Atari graphics, 1983 will be arcades, 1985 would be the Mega-Drive, and then 1995 would be about the N64 era. We’ll try to reference all the different eras of games.”

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/80s-nostalgia-gets-strange-and-out-of-control-in-p/1100-6457691/

Free Xbox One Games With Gold Titles Available Early

The Witness and Cars 2 are available to download for Xbox Live Gold members right now, a day earlier than each month’s typical release. You won’t be able to grab them from the Games with Gold Hub today, but a quick search in the store shows that both titles are available for free now.

The Witness will be up for grabs until May 1 and Cars 2 will see the end of its rotation on April 15. Download The Witness here, and Cars 2 here. Xbox has not commented on why both were marked down early.

But just because the next round of games are up now, it doesn’t mean March’s final batch has been cut short. Today is the final day to pick up Trials of the Blood Dragon and Quantum Conundrum on Xbox One.

April 2018 Games With Gold

Xbox One

  • The Witness (April 1-30)
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (April 16-May 15)

Xbox 360 (playable on Xbox One)

  • Cars 2 (April 1-15)
  • Dead Space 2 (April 16-30)

For even more Xbox One deals, be sure to check out the Xbox Spring Sale. This year’s seasonal sale has big savings on Rocket League, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Star Wars Battlefront II, Call of Duty WWII, and more.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/free-xbox-one-games-with-gold-titles-available-ear/1100-6457844/

Every Ready Player One Easter Egg And Reference We Could Remember

We get that reference.

Ready Player One spoilers here!

Ready Player One is a blast to watch, and a large part of that is the endless flood of references and Easter eggs with which the movie assaults your every sense. These span movies, TV, books, video games, and music, from the 1970s up through the 1990s–and to the present day, which goes beyond what even the original book referenced.

The movie just hit theaters, so it will be a while before we can get it at home and start poring over every frame. But in the meantime, we sent as many GameSpot staffers as we could spare to the theater and asked them to note down every reference, Easter egg, and in-joke we could spot in Ready Player One.

Here are the results. This won’t be comprehensive, but we tried our best. Oh, and for your benefit, we’re skipping most of the really obvious ones, like Gundam, The Shining, and the Iron Giant. You’re welcome.

When you’re done here, don’t forget to read our Ready Player One review, find out why it’s a great movie, check out our analysis of the ending, and read our interviews with the cast and the creators.

Battletoads fight in the big battle scene

Battletoads was released on NES in 1991.

A squad of Master Chiefs (and other Halo characters) fight in the battle too

Artemis uses the Lancer from Gears of War

Wade buys the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python’s Holy Grail

Although he fails to count to three when he throws it.

Parzival uses the SPNKR rocket launcher from Halo

Parzival briefly changes into Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” outfit

He even does the dance.

Tracer from Overwatch appears several times

Chun-Li from Street Fighter is there too

And Lara Croft from Tomb Raider

Aech has a tiny Battlestar Galactica in her workshop

And the Valley Forge from Silent Running

Silent Running was a 1972 sci-fi film.

Wade lists Goldeneye as Halliday’s favorite shooter

Although it’s a little strange for the movie, since the N64 game didn’t come out until 1997, later than most of the other things Halliday loved.

Artemis uses an Alien chest-burster glove to scare Parzival

Artemis uses a Madballs grenade in the final battle

Madballs were a toy in the ’80s and even had a TV show at one point.

Halliday’s jacket pin is the electronic Simon game

Aech tosses Wade a murderous Chucky from Child’s Play

And its many sequels.

There’s a Back to the Future hoverboard in Aech’s apartment

There’s a “Save Ferris” logo in Aech’s apartment too

From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Samantha is wearing a Joy Division shirt when Wade meets her IRL

Joy Division is a post-punk band popular in the ’70s and ’80s.

Daito sports a Mortal Kombat sticker

Halliday has an Etch A Sketch on his desk at the end

The Magic Etch A Sketch was a toy you used to draw things that your siblings would periodically erase because they were jerks.

Halliday’s desk also has slides for a View-Master

These things were always pointless.

There’s a Beastmaster poster in Halliday’s room too

Beastmaster was a 1982 fantasy movie.

There are also Space Invaders decals on the wall

Is that Speed Racer in the first key challenge?

And the van from A-Team?

AND the 1960s Batmobile?!?!

It pops up later in the race as well.

That’s also totally Ryu from Street Fighter

Aech drives Bigfoot, the original monster truck

That looks like Deathstroke in the club scene

And that might be Deadshot

Joker and Harley Quinn are in the club scene too

Maybe the Distracted Globe was having DC night?

And Blanka from Street Fighter

Artemis’s bike is Kaneda’s bike from Akira

Akira is a 1988 anime film widely considered a classic.

The dance scene is a tribute to Saturday Night Fever

An iconic 1977 film about disco.

Parzival’s boombox is an homage to the 1989 movie Say Anything

Starring John Cusack.

Hello Kitty appears in The Oasis

Along with Badtz-Maru, the penguin, and other friends.

Halliday’s “funeral” is Star Trek themed

That’s El Dragon from Battleborn

Gearbox’s 2016 shooter.

Parzival uses the Hadoken move from Street Fighter

In his showdown with Sorrento.

Halliday and Young Halliday wear Space Invaders t-shirts

Paramount’s rebooted Ninja Turtles appear in final battle

Freddy Krueger is in the battle where we meet Aech

Christine from Stephen King’s Christine is in the race

Greatest American Hero logo on Parzival’s headset

A comedic superhero series that ran on ABC for three seasons in the earl ’80s.

Goro from Mortal Kombat is Artemis’s disguise

Duke Nukem in the Doom World

Right next to Freddy Krueger.

The Serenity is the ship that drops off the Gundam

During the final battle.

Iron Giant gives a thumbs up while descending into lava

Just like the end of Terminator 2.

A Chocobo appears in the final battle

It’s not clear if anyone from the Final Fantasy series is riding it.

The Winnebago from Spaceballs is in Aech’s garage

And there’s even more in the garage…

A Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica (The ’70s TV series)

A ED-209 enforcement droid from Robocop

Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Swordfish II from Cowboy Bebop

An EVA Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Zemeckis Cube

The cube used to turn back time 60 seconds was named after Robert Zemeckis.

Goldie Wilson campaign poster in Aech’s den

Goldie Wilson was running for mayor of Hill Valley in Back to the Future.

Art3mis uses the pulse rifle from Aliens

Can be seen in the nightclub scene. Also, the Art3mis action figure comes with it.

A copy of Schindler’s Ark is in Wade’s room

Spielberg directed the film adaptation, titled Schindler’s List.

StarCraft Space Marine

Wade’s aunt’s boyfriend, Rick, wears this skin in The Oasis.

The DeLorean has KITT’s grill

The talking car from the TV series Knight Rider.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/every-ready-player-one-easter-egg-and-reference-we/2900-1916/

Nier, Psychonauts, And Other Devs Share What Games They Admire Most

These past few years have yielded an amazing roster of games that we personally love. With so many fantastic experiences out there, we began to grow curious over what games developers particularly enjoy. During our time spent at this year’s GDC, we had the opportunity to interview a wide variety of game developers and key figures in the industry, so we decided to ask what current game they find inspiring and admire the most, and why.

As you’ll see from the responses below, the games each developer adores might not come as a surprise to you, especially if you’re familiar with their work or tastes. Others had some surprising picks that you probably wouldn’t expect. What current games do you admire the most? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out feature detailing the 25 best games you might’ve not heard of that we saw at GDC 2018.

Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, Directors of Cuphead

Jared Moldenhauer (left) and Chad Moldenhauer (right)
Jared Moldenhauer (left) and Chad Moldenhauer (right)

Jared Moldenhauer: I have a library of 100+ games that I’m working towards currently. But one of the earlier games that I chose and found very rewarding was Hollow Knight. It’s an interesting and challenging Metroidvania. And the visuals and the universe that they created, and the feeling within all the characters; I was happy playing every minute of it.

Chad Moldenhauer: I recently started and really enjoy The Witness. I was looking forward to that for a long time!

Yoshinori Terasawa, Danganronpa Series Producer

Yoshinori Terasawa: I love the Persona series. I adore the sense of personality that those games have. I really like how cool and stylish they are.

Rami Ismail, Producer of Nuclear Throne

Rami Ismail: So many games have really sparked me. Games that really stand out to me are Engare and Farsh, by Mahdi Bahrami, both games based on this Iranian heritage. I was very impressed by This War of Mine, which gives a unique perspective on war. Just seeing that tremendous shift in perspective translated into a game that is so powerful and poignant, that reminds me that there is so much more out there.

Tom Kaczmarczyk, Producer of Superhot

Tom Kaczmarczyk: Our game director [Piotr Iwanicki] who actually came up with the idea, he often cites an indie flash game called, Time4Cat, as one of the inspirations, because it did have the same sort of time automation mechanic. For me, I love Hotline Miami because of its action sequences. A lot of what we pick up come from action movies, and from the way people design cinematic experiences where you fall into a certain archetype of a situation, and you immediately understand what’s going on.

Tim Schafer, Founder of Double Fine (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend)

Tim Schafer
Tim Schafer

Tim Schafer: Lately, a game that really made a big effect on me–it sounds really cliché–but Breath of the Wild was a huge thing. I just loved it. Everyone loves something different about games, there’s no one game that’s perfect for everybody, but it made me realize that my number one thing is exploration. I’m constantly exploring and surprised and I just love it and I play it all the time. I also love Loot Rascals, which is a great roguelike, and I’ve recently been playing Persona 5, which is just amazing. Amazing style and tone, it’s so polished.

Jason Roberts, Director of Gorogoa

Jason Roberts: In 2017, I was a big fan of Inside and Night in the Woods; those were big games for me. I’m big on tone, mood, atmosphere. These are important to me. And I love those games. And I also, this year, I think Florence and any game from Annapurna are just very carefully, precisely created with tone and atmosphere. That’s what I value.

Dean Ayala, Hearthstone Senior Game Designer + Dave Kozack, Hearthstone Lead Narrative Designer

Dean Ayala: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It’s a roguelike released back in 1997. A lot of the Hearthstone design team plays it. It’s super old-school.

Dave Kozack: It has been in continuous development; it’s one of those community projects. That’s why the name, Stone Soup. But we played a lot of rogue-likes while we were working on Dungeon Run, and that was one of our favorites. It’s just something we keep coming back to as a team. It’s a lot of fun.

Ian Dallas, Creative Director of What Remains Of Edith Finch

Ian Dallas
Ian Dallas

Ian Dallas: For me, the last game that affected me emotionally in a strong way was Universal Paperclips. A game about clicking on buttons and manufacturing paperclips that I just found myself lost in for 8 hours. It was really like a troubling emotional experience, and it’s amazing that it comes out of just text on a webpage. It reaffirms the power of video games and the way that they can teach you things about yourself and about the world that you couldn’t really internalize in any other way.

Chelsea Hash, Technical Artist of What Remains Of Edith Finch

Chelsea Hash: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Their commitment to the multimedia format and drawing from different rendering styles to support their vision was something that I was glad to be able to experience, something that was willing to think outside the box.

Damon Baker, Nintendo Publisher and Developer Relations

Damon Baker: I can’t choose one game. It is like choosing my favorite child! There are so many different types of experiences. Most recently I am working my way through Night in the Woods. I haven’t been able to play that previously, and having a lot of flights lately has given me more flexibility to get through a lot of indie content. Of course, I totally enjoyed Celeste. I vowed not to use assist mode on that game at all and beat it; but it took me 1800 deaths or something to get through it, but it was a beautiful game.

Matt Thornson, Director of Celeste

Matt Thornson: I’ve been really enjoying my time with Into the Breach. It’s amazing!

Victor Kislyi, Wargaming CEO (World of Tanks)

Victor Kislyi: Civilization. All of them, because I started playing from Civ I. Now, believe it or not, before playing World of Tanks last night I was playing Civilization and I was playing on the plane on my way here. Civ 6 is amazing, and it was my MBA. I’m a physicist by education but, playing Civilization, all those layers, economy, exploration, politics, military, science, religion–your brain is trained to juggle those multiple layers like almost instantly, or at least very, very correctly. And, that’s a good analogy with business, people, finance, media, failures, exploration, etc., etc. I think Civilization, as a concept, as a game, actually, is more valuable to humanity than Mona Lisa.

Yoko Taro, Director of Nier: Automata

Yoko Taro: I think that Grand Theft Auto IV and Super Mario Bros. are two big games that influenced me when making Nier. But with games from the past–not modern games–I felt more freedom or challenge as a player. Let’s say we have a black background with a white dot on it and let’s call it the space. I feel like that really creates freedom, especially in terms freedom of imagination, and challenging the dev team to create a world without really being able to express that world visually. In that sense, I feel that in the past, game developers were trying to create a new frontier. They were trying to expand the world, expand the universe of gaming industry.

Yoko Taro (left) and Takahira Taura (right)
Yoko Taro (left) and Takahira Taura (right)

Now that the game industry has matured pretty much now, a lot of people actually go for a more safe game. They try to make all the consumers happy with that one game. I think that that actually limits to what they can do and I feel that no one is really trying to expand that arena or expand that world anymore. I am a little bit sad about that.

Takahisa Taura, Designer Of Nier: Automata + Metal Gear Rising

Takahisa Taura: When The Witcher 3 came out, we all played it and had fun with it, but we also looked at it to see what would we do if we created a game like this. We were using The Witcher 3 as a learning experience on how to create an RPG. I think that’s where it all started. Well, that’s where we came from, so it wasn’t too difficult of a task to create a JRPG.”

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/nier-psychonauts-and-other-devs-share-what-games-t/1100-6457827/

Why Ready Player One’s Virtual Video Game Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Like the unbelievably popular book on which it’s based, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One sends viewers to the incredibile virtual world of The Oasis. It’s a VR paradise in which anything is possible, you can go anywhere, and everyone is welcome. Unfortunately, it makes no sense within the movie.

The Oasis is a beautiful fantasy, but it falls apart when you stop to think about it. Unlike Ernest Cline’s book, the film doesn’t have the time to delve into the specific rules for the virtual world. It leaves some of them deliberately vague to make room for plot twists and exciting action set pieces–like whether you can harm other players anywhere in the Oasis, or just in certain areas. The movie repeats other rules–like how progression and death within the Oasis work–as if they’re gospel, then ignores them in multiple scenes.

None of this should prevent you from enjoying Spielberg’s Ready Player One adaptation for what it is: A super fun homage to all the nerdy stuff we love. But since we also love picking those things apart, let’s explore a few reasons why Ready Player One‘s Oasis doesn’t work as a video game.

Movement makes no sense

This one should be fairly obvious, even to a casual viewer: The ways that players move within The Oasis don’t really work.

The movie does just enough to try to explain this that you might not notice right away. Wade has an omni-directional treadmill in his junkyard hideout, and you see those throughout the movie. Sometimes, he sits in a chair while he plays, presumably to mimic sitting in a car and other similar activities. Other players, like IOI executive Nolan Sorrento, have big, expensive-looking rigs that look like they might be able to move in more complex ways (not that we ever see that), while Aech’s van has wires that players can hang from.

Oasis players without these advantages apparently just run around on the street with their headsets on, as we see toward the end of the movie. Besides being incredibly dangerous, that just doesn’t make sense. Players are fighting on a huge battlefield in the movie’s climax; are they actually running that entire length, throwing punches and roundhouse kicks, while out in the streets of Columbus, Ohio? How does the Oasis detect your movement if you’re just dashing around on the asphalt in sneakers?

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In that same battle scene, Aech tosses Wade a murderous Chucky doll to unleash on their enemies. We only see this in the real world, where actress Lena Waithe literally balls up her hands and mimes an underhand toss in Wade’s direction. Only, in The Oasis, Aech is currently inhabiting the Iron Giant (more on that later), and Parzival is driving his DeLorean through the carnage. Did the Iron Giant just stop what it was doing in the game to physically toss a Chucky doll into Parzival’s car? There’s a reason we only see that little gesture play out in the van, and not in the game.

It gets even worse when you think about a scene like the dance club, where Parzival and Artemis go to hunt down the second clue. They spend half the scene twirling gracefully through the air, spinning and kicking like mermaid ballerinas. But as we can see when our view returns to the real world, Wade is still sitting placidly in the chair in the back of his van. Are they using pre-programmed dance move macros? Either way, the movie doesn’t bother to establish that.

Death and progression make no sense

This is a big one, as it’s one of those rules the movie repeats over and over again, yet also breaks constantly. When your avatar dies in The Oasis, you lose everything you have–all your money, loot, equipment, and items. The movie’s version of The Oasis kind of has a leveling system, as it does refer to the levels of certain magic artifacts, like the level 99 artifact The Orb of Osuvox. But it never refers to characters’ levels, so we have to assume that your gear is the only method of progression that exists.

But besides the most hardcore, niche games in existence, that’s not how video games work, and if that’s how The Oasis worked, it wouldn’t be so popular. People definitely wouldn’t be investing their life savings into upgrades or equipment that they might lose permanently the next time they log in. Most actual video games have a way to store things you earn, and purchases you make–especially expensive ones–are tied to your account so you can’t lose them.

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Well, doesn’t The Oasis have ways to store things? It must, since we see multiple environments–like Aech’s workshop and virtual home–where she has everything from furniture, clothes, and posters to vehicles and half-finished projects stored. And yet, an experienced player like TJ Miller’s character I-R0k is carrying “ten years’ worth of s***” on him at all times, as he laments in the climactic scene, before being decimated by the Cataclyst.

If there was a way to store things, surely I-R0k would have used it; so then what’s going on with Aech’s stuff? It makes zero sense, and it’s even worse when you consider the next point.

Combat makes no sense

In the book, there are PvP zones–player-vs.-player areas where you can attack other people’s avatars–and non-combat zones where you can’t, like the virtual school Wade attends. Like those VR schools, the idea that there are some places in The Oasis where you’re safe from being attacked is completely left out of the movie.

I can see why they’d choose this route. The movie tries to establish only the most basic and simple rules for this game world, and leaves everything else up to the imagination. And this creates opportunities for narrative drama, like when IOI’s sixers ambush Parzival and Artemis inside the Distracted Globe, a nightclub that, in a realistic game, would be a non-PvP social space.

But that also makes the previous point–that you lose everything your character has when you die–seem even more nonsensical. If any random player could walk up to you at any place and at any time in The Oasis, pull out a gun, shoot you in the head, and steal all your stuff, the entire virtual world would be a bloodbath that makes Planet Doom look like a merry-go-round. There’d be nowhere safe.

If a place like the Distracted Globe actually existed in The Oasis, it would have to be a non-combat safe zone, or it would be impossible for players to relax and have a good time there. But the movie establishes explicitly that the Distracted Globe, like Planet Doom and the rest of The Oasis, is indeed a PvP zone (unless IOI can somehow cheat and break the game’s rules, in which case, why would they need to do any of this at all?). And that doesn’t make any sense.

The Economy makes no sense

Aech being a superstar on The Oasis’s “mod boards” is a cute little character detail that establishes that she’s handy and resourceful, setting up her later use of her custom-built Iron Giant. But I have to ask: How does The Oasis’s economy work? Because it seems like it doesn’t work at all, if you look at it logically.

In the scene where Parzival and Aech go shopping after Parzival’s first big win, we can see that Tracer from Overwatch is a purchasable skin within The Oasis. We see her zipping around in several other shots, so presumably more than one player is running around with a purchased Tracer costume on. You have to assume Blizzard is making money off those sales, since they own Overwatch and by extension Tracer.

So why is Parzival so amazed when Sorrento tells him that IOI owns the Millennium Falcon? We don’t see any visual Star Wars junk in Ready Player One for real world licensing reasons, but if something like that existed within The Oasis, wouldn’t anyone be able to buy it? Why would that be impressive?

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Maybe it’s just prohibitively expensive, so few people can afford to own one. OK, so where does Aech’s game mod workshop fit in? Games that support modding don’t typically mesh well with microtransaction-driven in-game economies.

If Aech builds and sells a custom Iron Giant, or the Galactica, or The Valley Forge from Silent Running, do the rights holders get a cut? Why doesn’t Aech just build everyone in The High Five a custom Millennium Falcon, with Ghostbusters decals and the dashboard from Knight Rider, that transforms into a Gundam suit and lasts indefinitely? Why would an artifact that lets you turn into a giant robot for two measly minutes, like the one Daito uses in the final battle, even be special if you can just build your own Iron Giant and run around in it forever (or at least until Mecha Godzilla owns you too hard)? It doesn’t make sense.

The Easter Egg hunt makes no sense

Lastly, the entire hunt for the Easter Egg makes virtually no sense. This is an interesting one, because the version in the book–incredibly obscure puzzles hidden in remote corners of The Oasis where you’d never think to look–arguably makes more sense, even if the movie’s high octane race and recreation of The Shining are more exciting.

When building his ultimate Easter egg hunt, Halliday would have known how gamers operate when faced with a challenge. Therefore, he would have known that any puzzle with a solution as simple as “drive the wrong way on the race track” would have been solved on day one.

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You can even ignore the fact that IOI has teams of researchers supposedly poring over every second of Halliday’s life, and that the clue Parzival discovers–Halliday literally saying “put the pedal to the metal and go backward as fast as possible”–is way, way too obvious for them to have all missed it. Just look at the lengths gamers in the real world have gone to solve massive, game-spanning puzzles like Destiny’s Outbreak Prime, the Trials Evolution riddle, or Spelunky’s infamously elusive depths. And that was without the fate of “the world’s most important economic resource,” as Sorrento calls it, hanging in the balance.

As soon as it became clear that getting past King Kong was impossible, the thousands or even millions of players hunting for the first key would have simply brute-forced the solution by trying every possible variation of every action that could be taken during the race. Driving the wrong way is way too easy to have taken five years to discover. It doesn’t make any sense.

But that’s OK

I have way more questions about how The Oasis actually works. Like, how can Ogden Morrow be the curator? When the hunt started, there must have been thousands or millions of players clamoring to access the Halliday journals, despite the fact that they’re virtually empty by the time the movie takes place. One man dressed up as a robot butler couldn’t possibly handle all their requests. Does Ogg just slip into the character whenever Wade comes around? Maybe, but the movie doesn’t feel like muddying up that emotional reveal at the end with things like “details.”

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What about Parzival’s climactic live broadcast to everyone in the entire Oasis? We see that every player has a floating droid companion that can take selfies for them. Does Wade’s have special abilities? Because if not, and every player has the option to broadcast a live video to the entire Oasis at any time, then this virtual world would be constantly flooded with spam and trolling and none of it would function. If Wade somehow gained this ability through his fame or wealth, the movie never explains it.

I could go on and on. The more closely you examine this movie, the less sense it makes. But the strangest thing of all is that I ultimately don’t care. Ready Player One‘s virtual video game world was designed to be as simple and accessible as possible, not to please nitpicking gamers, but to appeal to the widest audience it can. Ultimately, Ready Player One is a blast, and no amount of nitpicking can change that–not that that will stop us.

What were your biggest gripes with The Oasis or Ready Player One as a whole? Let us know in the comments below.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/why-ready-player-ones-virtual-video-game-just-does/1100-6457770/

25 Coolest Upcoming Games You Probably Haven’t Heard Of From GDC

Coming out sooner than you think.

The annual Game Developers Conference is where you want to be in order to place your finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the games industry. Unlike E3, PAX, or Gamescom, GDC is a far more low-key show, where indies and AAA developers behind the latest and greatest mingle together to figure out what could be next for the gaming world. While the conference doesn’t focus on the spectacle that other shows do, it’s still a great place to check out some upcoming games that may not be as well known as others.

In this gallery, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting games we’ve played during GDC 2018. After exploring the GDC show floor and the conference’s surrounding events, which includes Double Fine’s Day of the Devs and an assortment of indie games from the The MiX event–we’ve narrowed things to some of the most evocative and exciting games we played during GDC 2018. Here are 25 games coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch–which are expected to see release this year, or early 2019.

60 Parsecs | PC

Surviving in the cold reaches of outer space with minimal resources can be tough–but it’s even worse when you’re leading a group of survivors who can barely stand each other. As a spiritual sequel to the post-apocalyptic survival game 60 Seconds, the space journey in 60 Parsecs takes things to the next level by having your reluctant crew of astronauts struggle to survive in the isolated depths of the final frontier. When you’re not worrying about dwindling supplies affecting your crew’s morale, you’ll have to contend with mysterious alien factions looking to interact with your crew–either through possession or by bringing your junker spaceship to their home planet.

Despite the bleak premise, 60 Parsecs is largely humorous in its tone and pokes fun at the many tropes and cliches of cheesy ’60s sci-fi. It’s a game about choices, where even deciding to stay put and repair your ship could lead to drastic consequences–or a happy accident where you’ll come into contact with peaceful aliens giving you valuable resources. Expected for release sometime in 2018 for PC, 60 Parsecs is a survival game that will make you appreciate the smaller victories you’ll have along your journey. | Alessandro Fillari

Away: Journey To The Unexpected | PC, PS4, Switch

Lovingly referred to as “anime Skyrim” by its developers, Away: Journey To The Unexpected largely lives up to its name. Right from the anime-inspired opening credits, you’ll know exactly the type of idealistic and upbeat vibe the game is going for. You play as a young boy who finds himself in a magical land after exploring his grandparents’ basement and then gets caught up in an epic quest to save the world. While this type of adventure may seem familiar, Away presents it in a particular way that makes it anything but.

While the lead character is smart and resourceful, he’s still a young boy with only a stick to defend himself with. Thankfully, he’ll encounter many different characters–such as an old wizard with a pair of cracked glasses and a sentiment tree creature–who can join his party and tackle many of the more challenging battles and puzzles that their young leader cannot. One of the more striking aspects of Away is its unique visual style. With all characters and monsters rendered in 2D, within a fully 3D environment, it exudes a rather rich and vibrant cartoonish-vibe that bolsters the upbeat nature of the game.

Launching in 2018 on PC, PS4, and Switch, Away: Journey To The Unexpected looks be a rather fun dive into a bizarre and colorful world where all it takes to expand your party is to reach out and grab a friend. | Alessandro Fillari

Bad North | PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch

Bad North is an endearing real-time tactics rogue-lite where you defend an island kingdom against a swarms of Viking invaders. To combat these foes, you command units of adorably tiny soldiers, each with their own unique tactical strengths and weaknesses. Bad North juxtaposes a cute minimalist visual style with mature bloody conflict, which is charming all on its own. However, what really pulls you into the experience are its mechanics, which are accessible, yet difficult to master. Situating units and executing attack formations is quick and simple, utilizing a rock, paper, scissors-like unit dynamic that’s easy to pick up and form strategies with.

As a roguelite, there are some punishing aspects to the game. For instance, when the leader of a unit dies, all the upgrades they’ve accumulated up to that point are lost. While this sounds excessive, it never dampens the experience or makes it overtly punishing, as the game encourages you to play multiple times in order to improve and better hone your skills.

If you’ve ever had interest in real-time tactics games but were always too afraid to try them, then Bad North should be a proper fit for you. And for genre veterans, there’s more than enough depth in Bad North’s mechanics that make it well worth playing when it releases sometime this summer. | Matt Espineli

Bard’s Tale 4 | PC

Mentioning The Bard’s Tale may conjure up images of the snarky comedy game from the mid-2000s, but developer IinXile’s second attempt at the franchise (third if you count the VR offshoot The Mage’s Tale) attempts to be much more faithful to the spirit of the original hardcore RPG series.

It adds the modern trappings of updated graphics and first-person exploration, though the developers say that there’ll be an option for grid-based movement and that some maps will be faithful, one-to-one re-creations of previous games’ dungeons. But Bard’s Tale 4 is otherwise a party-focused RPG adventure with a few unique additions. A playable GDC demo included the puzzle-upgrading system for some special weapons, spiritually similar to some of Destiny’s special weapons. You can earn helpful upgrades after solving arcane clues and completing specific tasks like slotting in specific gems or killing specific enemies using that weapon with it. And the combat is the big change for the series; turn-based battles play out in a limited grid-based system where your party can move around to gain attack advantages or to stay out of harm’s way.

And as a Bard game, there’s plenty of drinking and carousing. You’ll be able to craft a party full of hard-drinking musicians who gain powerful buffs from their alcoholic libations.

The Bard’s Tale is set for release on PC sometime in 2018. | Justin Haywald

Blazing Chrome | PC

Joymasher has dedicated years to developing retro games that recall some of the best titles of the 8- and 16-bit eras. Its latest work in progress, Blazing Chrome, mixes elements from Contra, Turrican, and Metal Slug. These homages–specific weapons, enemies, and interactive objects–are immediately recognizable and guaranteed to trigger feelings of nostalgia. More than just look the part, Blazing Chrome features satisfying controls and epic setpieces, the likes of which made games like Contra 3: The Alien Wars such beloved classics in the first place. We only had the opportunity to play a single level, but it was everything we hoped for after watching the game’s trailer, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the rest. | Peter Brown

Desert Child | PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch

It’s hard out there for a young man on a desert planet with nothing but a rundown hoverbike and some change in his pocket. As a racing game with some light RPG mechanics, Desert Child puts you in the shoes of a drifter who has to earn enough scratch to keep his bike floating and fill his belly with a bowl of savory ramen. In order to make ends-meet, you’ll have to compete in a number of races against rivals looking to make a payday.

Created by Oscar Brittain, the upcoming Desert Child blends fast-paced racing and shoot-em-up action with moments of calm that make you appreciate what you have. Despite the lead character’s low funds, sitting down for a bowl of ramen and or simply lounging around on your hoverbike after races–win or lose–feel like victories in their own right. Desert Child oozes an infectious and uniquely cool style that uses a rather interesting implementation of rotoscope animation that recalls classic adventure games like Flashback or Out Of This World. Expected to launch sometime in 2018, Desert Child’s tale of a vagabond trying to stay chill is one you should keep an eye on. | Alessandro Fillari

Doctor Who | PC, Mobile

The inimitable Peter Capaldi may have taken his last turn as the doctor, but the tales of his exploits live on through Doctor Who Infinity. The game tells its story through comic book style cutscenes that feature actors from the show, headlined by Michelle Gomez as Missy. Capaldi isn’t a part of the project, though his lines are humorously filled in by Missy, though the game does feature a new central villain played by Bella Ramsey (Game of Throne’s diminutive standout Lyanna Mormont).

The story will play out over a series of five episodes that will release throughout 2018, and each will feature a different writing and art team. However, the core story will focus on the most recent round of featured characters: Missy, the twelfth Doctor, and companion Bill Potts along with support from Osgood, Nardole, and other series mainstays.

Following developer Tiny Rebel Games’ success on Doctor Who: Legacy, you’ll advance the story by solving Puzzles & Dragons-style gameplay quandaries. However, a brief demo for the game revealed a few new mechanics to that puzzle formula that change up the gameplay and will introduce an intriguing new set of challenges that go beyond simple matching.

The first episode is due out soon, but no firm release date has been set. | Justin Haywald

Evasion | PC

Whether it’s fighting against space aliens or zombies, VR first-person shooters tend to cover similar ground–making for a “been there, done that” feel when booting up your VR device. However, the upcoming Evasion–launching on Oculus and HTC Vive this year–expands upon what people expect from VR shooters, offering one of the most substantial VR-exclusive games in sometime.

Focusing on class-based shooting and squad gameplay with full range of movement with Oculus and Vive touch controls–Evasion pits multiple characters against waves of enemies as they tackle objectives and take out large bosses at the end of each stage. While other VR shooters go for a slower pace, Evasion ratchets up the speed by turning the action and movement into a quasi-shoot-em-up, where evading your enemies and getting off a quick shot is key.

Launching later this year, Evasion offers some surprisingly intense action and a sizable amount of content to dive into for fans looking for the next VR action game. | Alessandro Fillari

Lumines Remastered | Switch

If you owned a PSP, you undoubtedly had Lumines. In a stark library for Sony’s ill-fated system, Lumines was a shining light of hypnotic rhythm heaven. The Nintendo Switch definitely doesn’t suffer from the same dearth of content, but the introduction of Lumines is like a welcome reunion with an old friend; finally, you’ll be able to take an amazing musical journey with you once again.

Lumines Remastered is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC as well, and those will undoubtedly be excellent versions as well, but the portability of the Switch makes it feel like the primary platform. That and the fact that you can sync up to eight joy-cons together with the game for a full-on buzzing sensory experience with the game. I only hope they sell Joy-Con compatible straps with the Switch version. | Justin Haywald

The Messenger | PC, PS4, Switch

Retro 2D throwbacks are all the rage in today’s age. Often referencing the classics such as Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, and Ghost and Ghouls–many games seek to reach those same heights, but few go beyond emulating the same style and tone of games from the 2D era. The Messenger–coming to PC, PS4, and Switch–balances its affection for gaming’s past, while also crafting a game that pokes fun at the many tropes and challenges of the 8- and 16-bit eras.

Taking on the role of a young ninja, he quickly finds himself caught up in a grander conflict, forcing him to move between two vastly different versions of his reality, one 8-bit and the other 16-bit. While this may seem like a gimmick that’s a bit passé, it’s also tied to The Messenger’s broader Metroidvania design, where you’ll have to shift between the two realms while traveling through the interconnected world.

Coming later in 2018, The Messenger’s focus on challenging action and platforming have many callbacks to the classics. But in blending together a humorous story that feels like a loving sendup to the era, it looks to have a style all its own that manages to show off a cool new way to experience multiple eras of gaming. | Alessandro Fillari

Minit | PC, PS4, Xbox One

How much can you get done in a minute? In the aptly named Minit, you die every 60 seconds, starting over at your house each time. With the top-down adventure gameplay of the original Legend of Zelda and a low-fi, black-and-white art style, Minit puts a spin on classic games with an interesting concept inspired by the cartoon Adventure Time (where each episode is largely standalone and a fresh start for the characters). To help you progress, you get to keep the items you collect through each minute-long playthrough.

One minute, you might talk to someone who wants you to kill some nearby crabs; the next, you’ve already died once, found the crabs, and killed them for a reward. Slow-talking NPCs and getting lost will hinder your progress, but part of Minit’s charm is learning just how much you can do in an incredibly short time.

Minit is developed by a collaboration between Kitty Calis, who most recently worked on Horizon Zero Dawn; Jan Willem Nijman, co-founder of Vambleer; Jukio Kallio, a freelance composer; and Dominik Johann, art director of Crows Crows Crows. | Kallie Plagge

Mosaic | PC, PS4, Xbox One

First shown at GDC this year, Mosaic is a story-driven game about the mundane parts of modern life. Developer Killbrite Studio showed off 10 minutes of the game featuring a person commuting to their job at a generic corporation, though the full game is planned to be a series of vignettes. A significant part of Mosaic’s storytelling is done through your in-game smartphone–with it, you can check Orwellian emails about tardiness demerits and play a clicker game as you stand idly on an escalator. (The clicker game even comes complete with microtransactions using in-game money.) The smartphone is an antidote to the game’s focus on repetitive, everyday actions; just like real life, you can pull it out during the boring parts of your day.

Mosaic takes inspiration from games like Inside, and the team also cites Thirty Flights of Loving and Kentucky Route Zero as recent favorites. Killbrite Studio previously made Among the Sleep, a first-person horror game starring a toddler, and The Plan, a game about the struggles of being a fly. | Kallie Plagge

Mothergunship | PC, PS4

If there’s one thing you can say about the roguelike FPS Mothergunship, it’s that it loves its guns. Before you know it, you’ll be armed with several machine guns and grenade launchers, which the game offers up rather generously. But once you dive a bit further in, you’ll see the game’s rather complex crafting system–allowing you to place connectors and modifiers onto your guns–you’ll discover the game’s true passion for weapons. In your fight against alien invaders, you’re going to need more than just two guns to fight back against the legion of giant bosses and countless minions.

As a roguelike experience, each run will give you a random assortment of guns to use to take down your enemies. Once you acquire enough resources, you’ll be able to craft and combine new guns, allowing you to place shotguns, machines guns, and grenade launchers–in that order–on one hand, with the other using flamethrowers and rockets launchers simultaneously. It’s a gloriously stupid system, and the game lets you run with it.

Mothergunship’s greatest strength–aside from its vast arsenal–is that it’s remarkably self-aware of how ridiculous it is. And with its release in 2018, players will be able to experience what it’s like wielding 5 or more weapons at once–all the while dodging oversized projectiles from minions and baddies in increasing difficult runs. | Alessandro Fillari

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden | PC, PS4, Xbox One

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an upcoming tactical turn-based strategy game developed by Bearded Ladies Consulting, a studio comprised of individuals who previously worked on Hitman and Payday. Based on the popular Swedish-made tabletop RPG franchise of the same name, the game puts you in control of a party of mutated humans struggling to survive the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic world. While the game bears similarity to the critically acclaimed XCOM franchise, don’t let that fool you. Mutant Year Zero brings its own unique twists to the formula with an emphasis on stealth, freeform ability customization, and exploration across a large interconnected world.

One of the most compelling aspects of the game is the ability to sneak around enemies in real-time, allowing you to position your group of mutants in more advantageous position before launching into turn-based combat. This small addition gives the formula a nice spin, offering you more strategic control in your approach and a deeper sense of connection to each skirmish.

Mutant Year Zero’s world and characters are also particularly striking; humanoid pigs and ducks walk alongside mutated humans across its devastated, yet mysterious post-apocalyptic world. At first glance, it’s difficult not to be thrown off by its over-the-top ’80s-era sci-fi tabletop RPG aesthetics, but that’s largely what makes the game so intriguing when you see what it’s attempting to do mechanically. It takes the turn-based tactical RPG, plays with its most well-established mechanics, and then houses it within a bizarre and striking retro post-apocalyptic world. If you’re a fan of XCOM and tactical stealth games, then Mutant Year Zero should be at the top of your watchlist this year. | Matt Espineli

Noita | PC

Noita, named after the Finnish word for “witch,” is a 2D rogue-lite where every pixel is simulated. That means you can burn, explode, or melt most environments; set fire to wood and watch it crumble, or soak yourself in blood to avoid catching fire yourself.

You play as a wizard who possesses a floaty sort of jump as well as different magic staffs. Between levels, you get a chance to upgrade your spells. Each level is procedurally generated, and death is permanent, so learning as you go is paramount.

We played a build of Noita using a controller, which made it incredibly difficult; developer Nolla Games is focused only on a PC release currently. But burning or exploding your way through levels is impressive to watch and satisfying to execute, making this a game to keep an eye on. | Kallie Plagge

Pathfinder: Kingmaker | PC

Games like Divinity: Original Sin II and Pillars of Eternity show that there’s a passionate audience for old-school adventure games. But for players looking for a game that follows the Pathfinder ruleset, Pathfinder: Kingmaker looks to fill that niche.

For casual players looking for a general single-player RPG experience, Kingmaker will have streamlined systems that allow you to quickly make character upgrade decisions whether you’re familiar with the Pathfinder ruleset or not. But if you’re looking to create your own character, or just want to make very specific character upgrade choices, the game will have some of the more recent Pathfinder role-playing game rule additions.

The developer, Owlcat Games, hopes to have the game out on PC in 2018. And the team is exploring the potential for bringing the experience to console as well. | Justin Haywald

Pool Panic | Switch, PC

“The world’s least realistic pool simulator” is an accurate descriptor for Pool Panic. In this animatedly goofy game from Adult Swim, you knock around an anthropomorphic cue ball to try and hit other balls into assorted gaping holes. But those other balls don’t always want to go willingingly into the black unknown. Sometimes they’re hiding in porta-potties. Or maybe you have to knock around a grill to scatter hamburgers on the ground and summon squirrely-looking balls from trees. And sometimes the balls are bears that will actively rush at you and try to knock you into the hole instead.

There’s no limit to the strokes you can take to accomplish your goal of hitting every ball in the hole in this physics puzzler, but the game does track of how many hits it takes you to finish each puzzle as well as whether you scratch. So if you’re an overachiever, you can go for the high score. Or you can do what I did and just indiscriminately hit balls with reckless abandon until they all fall in. Pool Party lets you make your own weird fun. | Justin Haywald

Rune | PC

Developer Human Head is resurrecting the Rune franchise, and it’s shaping up to be an intense, violent exploration of Norse mythology. Formerly Rune: Ragnarok (now just Rune), the focus of the game is still on the apocalypse, but there will be a heightened emphasis on multiplayer both co-op and competitive. Story paths will let you put your allegiance behind the main pantheon of gods–including the instigator of Ragnarok himself, Loki–but the focus of Rune’s GDC demo was the combat. The game encourages you to take weapons from your enemies and try out different combat styles. And of course it wouldn’t be Rune if you couldn’t rip off your opponent’s arm and use it to bludgeon him with.

Rune includes ample sailing as well, allowing you to get to your destination in the northern wastes a little more quickly when you have to cross a body of water (and making sure you don’t succumb to the frostbite of the game’s icy waters). But one thing that was pointed out in the demo is that the 3km x 3km map is meant to prioritize density of experience over having a wide but empty world.

Rune is set for release sometime in 2018, and we’ll be keep a close eye on it as it approaches launch. | Justin Haywald

Shadows Awakening | PC, PS4, Xbox One

In this Diablo-style action RPG, you take on the role of a demon named The Devourer, who resurrects a fallen warrior in order to continue their quest for more power. While most action-RPG games focus on a single character, Shadows: Awakening–in an interesting twist–focuses on your entire party, which is led by the The Devourer. In addition to fighting enemies in the mortal realm, you’ll also travel to the shadow realm and fight specters as the demonic leader.

Blending together more adventure-like puzzle-solving and storytelling with its action-RPG gameplay, Shadows: Awakened focuses on letting players define their experience, with aspects of the world reacting to it. Set for release in 2018, this isometric action-RPG is one you’ll want to keep an eye out for later this year. | Alessandro Fillari

Spartan Fist | PC

Spartan Fist is a game that focuses on letting you punch stuff. It’s really that simple. Playing as a former detective caught up in a gladiatorial-style competition, you’ll have to make it through several randomly generated levels through a maze-like coliseum, where the crowd awaits bloodshed from your ridiculously overpowered fists. Instead of swords and spears, you’ll pick up a variety of different gauntlets for each fist, offering unique modifiers for your fighter.

Coming in 2018, Spartan Fist keeps things simple. Just punch bad guys hard enough, and they’ll explode. The crowd goes wild, and you’ll continue on to the next fight. What more could you want? | Alessandro Fillari

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes | Switch

Travis Strikes Again takes the No More Heroes series in a very different direction. While thematically it retains the vulgar excitement of the previous games, the latest version promises to stretch the action across a variety of different gaming genres. The demo for GDC focused on a top-down beat-em-up that showcased frenetic, arcade-style combat, but it retains the series signature elements like shaking the controller to power-up your blade and saving by sitting on a toilet.

Eclectic and energetic, even by developer Suda 51’s standards, Travis Strikes Again is likely to be divisive for the change from No More Heroes’ previous third-person, cel-shaded style, but thematically, the game feels like a natural fit series for the series’ edgy humor. You can see the GDC demo in from start to climatic mini-boss finish right here. | Justin Haywald

Untitled Goose Game | PC

Geese are notorious assholes. In Untitled Goose Game, you get to play as a huge jerk of a goose whose entire purpose in life is to cause mischief. You start with a goose to-do list that includes things like “get the groundskeeper wet” and “get into the garden,” and most things involve tricking a human man and running amok.

Developer House House says Super Mario 64 was one of its early inspirations for Untitled Goose Game–it looked to Mario as an example of a 3D protagonist with distinct personality and character. And the titular untitled goose definitely makes a big comedic impact without saying anything (though you can press X to honk). So far, it’s looking like a fun, funny adventure in being a little bit of a dick. | Kallie Plagge


What if a golf sim were pretty much everything except actual golf? What the Golf is a cheeky anti-golf game where each level plays by its own rules. It basically works like a golf game in that you aim, charge the shot, and fire, but it otherwise doesn’t behave the way you’d expect. Sometimes the club goes flying instead of the ball, sometimes there are portals, and there are even a few levels that parody Superhot and its time-bending mechanics. No matter what, though, it’s a lot of fun.

Like the game itself, developer Triband has a sarcastic and lighthearted sense of humor. When we asked what their favorite golf games were, members of the team listed Quake, XCOM, and Hatoful Boyfriend–though they said they had played Golf Story. | Kallie Plagge

The World Next Door | PC

Anime-inspired visual novel/puzzle game The World Next Door is still in its early stages, but developer Rose City Games has shown off a short demo that’s left us intrigued. It stars Jun, a human girl who’s been taken to the realm of the monsters. Humans can only live a dozen or so days in the monster world, so of course Jun gets trapped there. She and her new monster friends have to figure out how to save her before she dies, and they also get into some fights along the way.

The World Next Door combines stylish visual novel storytelling and art with real-time puzzle battle gameplay. While we only got a small taste, co-founder of Rose City Games Corey Warning says the team is inspired by the narrative styles of Pyre and Banner Saga. This is also the first game published by anime and manga company Viz Media, so we’re keeping it on our radar. | Kallie Plagge

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning | PS4, PC

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is the latest game from the creators of the cult favorite Danganronpa series. At first glance, Zanki Zero bears visible similarities to Danganronpa; it features an ensemble cast, pixel art in its menus, and purposefully flat environment textures. But unlike those games, Zanki Zero is a survival-RPG with a light dose of old school first-person dungeon crawling.

The game puts you in control of a group of eight people–each representing one of the seven deadly sins, albeit with the exception of one–who have awakened from a deep sleep only to find Earth in ruins. Before long, they figure out that they age incredibly fast and are only capable of living up to 13 days. However, a mysterious arcade machine allows them to come back to life after perishing. This throws the group onto a journey to solve the mystery behind their accelerated aging as well as what happened to the world.

Age plays a key factor to the story and moment-to-moment gameplay, as your characters steadily grow older as time progresses. It even affects the abilities of your characters. For example, a character who is a child can only carry so many items and cannot brandish a weapon. As a result of your group’s accelerated aging, characters are expected to die often, and depending on how they die, they may earn new ability bonuses when revived.

Aside from Zanki Zero’s aging mechanic, one of the most fascinating aspects of the game is the intrigue of its story and characters. As to be expected from a game from the creators of Danganronpa, there’s a host of secrets lurking in the darkness of each character’s psyche. We only played a brief demo of the game, and we already have so many questions concerning the state of the world and its characters. Suffice to say, we can’t wait to uncover Zanki Zero’s myriad secrets. The game currently has no confirmed release date, but it’s expected to release on PS4 and PC. | Matt Espineli

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/25-coolest-upcoming-games-you-probably-havent-hear/2900-1917/

WWE’s Urban Legends: Are They True or False?

There are a lot of WWE rumors, especially around Wrestlemania each year. It’s good to keep fans a little off-balance and a little curious. Not knowing the how, why, and what allows fans to suspend their disbelief about the onscreen action. Rumors elevate their subjects and make men into superheroes and otherworldly monsters.

Here are some of the most persistent urban legends in professional wrestling. Some of them are false, which is a relief. And some of them are true, which is terrifying.

If you’re looking for more WWE awesomeness, make sure to check in with our Wrestlemania coverage, including rumors leading up to the event. We have a full match card for your to check out as well as our predictions for the upcoming event. And come back on Sunday, April 8 for live coverage of Wrestlemania 34.

The Ultimate Warrior Was An Impostor

From 1987 to 1992, the Ultimate Warrior ran roughshod over the WWE locker room. An intense, muscle bound man, Warrior would squash most of his opponents in under five minutes, if not less. And he was largely seen as the inheritor of Hulk Hogan’s throne. But due to a combination of A) being difficult to work with and B) the ongoing WWE steroid investigation, Warrior left the company in 1992.

When he returned to WWE in 1996, he had golden blonde, wavy hair and a slimmer figure, which spurred rumors that this new Ultimate Warrior was an impostor, and that the old, original one was either dead or otherwise unavailable. Of course, this wasn’t true; it’s always been the same man since the very beginning.

Is this urban legend true? No

Mr. Fuji Once Cooked A Co-Worker’s Dog

Most WWE fans probably know Mr. Fuji from his management stints; he cheated for both Demolition and Yokozuna, and he guided the latter to the WWE Championship. But before that, Fuji was a tag team specialist who fought in multiple territories, including WWE, in the 1970’s.

Fuji was also known for his “pranks”‘ which were often times sick and sadistic. His most infamous, legendary one was when he cooked and fed a dog to his fellow wrestlers. Multiple wrestlers have different accounts of what actually happened. Roddy Piper recalled that Fuji pulled this stunt on Toru Tanaka. Hulk Hogan recalled that Tor Kamata was the victim, and he ate a cat, not a dog.

Mr. Fuji recalls that he pulled the prank with assistance from Don Muraco, and they targeted Billy White Wolfe and Skandor Akbar (Fuji’s memory is hazy on this). At the end of the meal (teriyaki dog, according to Fuji), Muraco revealed the dog’s severed head, which caused Wolfe and Akbar to throw up.

Is this urban legend true? Yes

Andre The Giant Once Drank Over 100 Beers In One Sitting

Andre the Giant was a walking urban legend–the Eighth Wonder of the World. Everything was exaggerated about him; his height, for example, was cited in various publications as 7’4, or 7’5, or even 7’7. When you’re a massive giant in the pre-internet era, you can get away with a little fibbing.

But all of Andre’s colleagues seem to be united on one point: his drinking prowess. According to multiple people, Andre the Giant could drink over 100 beers in a single sitting. And there’s so many witnesses who claim to have seen this, firsthand, that it’s probably true.

According to Hulk Hogan, Andre drank 108 beers while waiting with him at an airport. At a WWE Legends roundtable which included Dusty Rhodes and Michael Hayes, Andre’s colleagues told multiple Andre drinking tales: Once, Andre drank 156 beers in a single sitting. Pat Patterson also recalled a time that a drunk Andre fell asleep in a hotel lobby. Because none of the wrestlers could move him, Patterson took Andre’s keys and wristwatch for safekeeping, and they left Andre lying there until morning. Indeed, the truth can be stranger than fiction.

Is this urban legend true? Yes

Joey Styles Punched JBL Backstage

Yes, we’re talking about JBL again. Only this time, WWE’s resident frat boy gets his comeuppance. On WWE’s tour to Iraq in 2008, JBL was mercilessly hazing newcomer Joey Styles, WWE’s new director of digital content and the former commentator for ECW. And Styles, who weighs over 100 pounds less than JBL, punched his tormentor, leaving JBL with a cut and a black eye.

This might be easily dismissed as wishful thinking, but multiple eyewitnesses have confirmed it. RVD told this story on a podcast, and Simon Dean heard the story secondhand from Triple H himself.

Is this urban legend true? Yes

The WrestleMania III Attendance Figure Is A Lie

It’s a heavily touted figure, especially when Mania season rolls around. WrestleMania III–the one with the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant main event–broke the indoor attendance record, with 93,173 fans.

Or did it? According to longtime wrestling journalist David Meltzer, who spoke with promoter Zane Bresloff, the actual figure was closer to 78,000 fans, WWE had misrepresented the attendance figure to break the record.

WWE, of course, denies this. And several months later, the Pope also drew over 93,000 people, so it is possible that that the Pontiac Silverdome could physically hold that many people. But without first-hand, concrete documentation, we’ll probably never know the truth for sure.

Is this urban legend true? Unknown, but most likely not

Two Different Wrestlers Portrayed Kane

This was nearly identical to the Ultimate Warrior urban legend, only this time, it concerned Kane. Somehow, word got around that two different people played Kane full-time: one while he was masked and the other after he was unmasked. Conspiracy theorists analyzed the two Kanes’ contrasting body types to support their supposition.

And as with Warrior’s rumor, this is not true, at all. Aside from short-lived exceptions, which were exposed as impostors or inferiors in their respective storylines, Kane has always been performed by one man, Glenn Jacobs. And as for the differing body type? Jacobs aged! No one can be expected to maintain the same build and the same musculature over a 20-year career.

But fans did have reason to distrust wrestlers with masks and makeup on their faces. Vince McMahon owned the legal rights to gimmicks, which meant he could replace the performers if he wanted to. Doink the Clown, for example, was originally performed by Matt Osborne, and Ray Apollo replaced Osborne in 1993.

Is this urban legend true? No

Ric Flair Had 25 World Title Reigns

According to WWE, Ric Flair and John Cena are tied for the record number of world title reigns: 16 reigns apiece. Many Cena storylines are built around this premise; all he needs is one more title reign to be the winningest champion in wrestling history.

But according to wrestling statisticians, this doesn’t hold up. There’s a Reddit thread that has an excellent summary of this conundrum; including his NWA, WCW, and WWE title reigns, Flair actually has 19 world titles. Add in six more world title reigns from smaller, less prestigious promotions, and that brings the total to 25.

So whenever Cena does ‘break the record’ and clinch his 17th world title reign? He’s actually got a ways to go before he can call himself the greatest. To be the man, you gotta beat the man. WOOOOOOO!!

Is this urban legend true? Yes

Wrestling Is Fake

We’re only half-kidding with this last one. But it’s getting old. How many times do we have to deal with this refrain from endless haters: “You know it’s fake, right?

First of all: It’s not fake. It hurts when you toss yourself off the roof of a steel cage, even if you brace your fall. And a punch to the face, delivered at 30% power, is still a punch to the face. Let’s put a finer point on it than “fake.”

Professional wrestling is scripted and pre-determined; it’s a postmodern, theatrical presentation. And everyone is in on it. No one, outside of the young children, thinks this is legitimate competition, and no adult has thought that way since the late ’80s. Of course, fans suspend their disbelief. But we know that none of it is real.

Well, except for the Undertaker’s urn. That’s real.

Is this urban legend true? Mixture of yes and no

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/wwes-urban-legends-are-they-true-or-false/2900-1915/