Nintendo Switch Weekly Recap: Nintendo Labo X Mario Kart 8, And Nintendo Europe Sees New Leadership

As we’re heading into the thick of summer, this week’s Nintendo Switch news is particularly light. We got a few more details on games that are to come, but few new releases and updates. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t see any interesting headlines.

Mario Kart 8 and Nintendo Labo‘s toy-cons are now compatible. Instead of all those bulky, plastic gaming accessories you’ll never know what to do with after this generation, recycling is now an option. The Switch might also see more Monster Hunter titles outside of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, but they might not be the one you’re looking for. Nintendo is also under new leadership in Europe. There are also plenty of deals to keep an eye on this week, so be sure to scroll down and take a peek.

Forthcoming Releases

Cardboard-Themed Nintendo Switch Up For Grabs

Pokemon Quest Out For Free On Mobile (Android / iOS)

Mega Man Undoes One Of Its Weirdest Choices With New X Collection

Mario Kart 8 For Switch Can Now Be Played With A Nintendo Labo Toy-Con

Check Out 6 Cool Indie Games From E3 2018 For PS4, Switch, Xbox One, And PC

Nintendo Switch Could Get More Monster Hunter Games, But Not The One You Want

Updates and DLC

With Fortnite Playground Issues Ongoing, 50v50 Replaces Another LTM

Betas and Events

Popular MOBA Arena Of Valor Gets An Upgrade On Nintendo Switch, Closed Beta Now Live


The Best Nintendo Switch Deals On The US Eshop

Excellent Nintendo Switch And 3DS Deals On The US Eshop

Save Big On GTA, Fallout, More At Best Buy This Week In The US


PUBG Developer Drops Fortnite Lawsuit

As Nintendo’s New CEO Takes Over, Europe Gets New Leadership

from GameSpot

PS4 Weekly Recap: Sony Comments On Cross-Play And Get PS Now With PS Plus Bonus

Summer is here, and we’re looking a loads of news for PS4 this week. This week was lighter than others in terms of new games, but we did see updates for competitive shooters Overwatch, Fortnite, and PS4’s exclusive H1Z1, and more regarding cross-play on the platform.

Sony Interactive America president and CEO Shawn Layden spoke at a Gamelab conference in Spain about PlayStation’s legacy. Eurogamer popped the will we see cross-play on PS4 question–the short answer is Sony is listening, but it’s not a yes, and not a no. Don’t get too excited for Playground mode in Fortnite just yet. As of right now, it’s been shut down due to bugs and replaced with 50 versus 50 in the limited time mode. Life is Strange Season 2 got a release date for episode one, and it’s teaser episode, The Adventures of Captain Spirit, is out now. As for deals to keep an eye on, there’s a free game to play this weekend with PS Plus, and you can grab PS Now as a PS Plus bonus. Keep scrolling for more headlines and all the details.

Forthcoming Releases

Another Spider-Man PS4 Villain Potentially Leaked

Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 Release Date Unveiled

Red Dead Redemption 2 Might Be Coming To PC As Well

Resident Evil 2 Remake Is Frightening In New Ways, But It’s Familiar

Mega Man Undoes One Of Its Weirdest Choices With New X Collection

Anthem Executive Producer Spills Plenty Of New Details About The Game

Check Out 6 Cool Indie Games From E3 2018 For PS4, Switch, Xbox One, And PC

Free Life Is Strange Teaser Game, The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit, Out Now

Updates and DLC

GTA 5 Online Adding Nightclubs In July Update

Fortnite Shopping Carts Are Back In Time For Week 9 Challenges

PS4’s H1Z1: Battle Royale Proving To Be Popular; New Update Out Now

With Fortnite Playground Issues Ongoing, 50v50 Replaces Another LTM

New Overwatch Update Makes Post-Matches Friendlier; Full Patch Notes Released

New Overwatch Hero Is Not What You Expect (It’s A Hamster In A Rolling Death Ball)

Betas and Events

Play EA’s New Game For Free On PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Free PS4 Game This Weekend With PS Plus Subscription

PlayStation Network

PS4’s Free PS Plus Games For July 2018 Revealed

New PS Plus Bonus Gets You PS4’s PlayStation Now For Cheap

Last Chance: PS4’s Free PS Plus Games For June Won’t Be Free Much Longer


Great PS4 Deals For PS Plus Members

New GameStop Sale In The US: PS4, Xbox One Deals

Save Big On GTA, Fallout, More At Best Buy This Week In The US


PUBG Developer Drops Fortnite Lawsuit

New Drake Album Has A Final Fantasy Reference

Sony Addresses PlayStation Cross-Play Controversy

Uncharted Creator Left EA After Star Wars Game Shake-Up

Mass Effect Andromeda Dev On Whether It Got A “Fair Shake”

Overwatch’s Sombra Updates Could Be Huge, If They Happen

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Director Discusses Story Details And RPG Inspirations

from GameSpot

Xbox One Weekly Recap: Big Titles In July’s Game Pass, Forza Horizon 4 Leaks

Xbox One is headed into summer with a bang. Not only are three huge RPGs hitting Games Pass this coming month, but one of it’s exclusive titles may have had a major leak.

Games Pass, or Xbox One’s “Netflix of games,” will see nine new titles in July, including The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Warhammer: Vermintide 2. Overwatch has a brand new hero, a space hamster in a death ball, Hammond. Gears 5 had a new character and gun teased this week, and Forza Horizon 4’s full car list might have leaked. If you’ve been looking forward to Playground mode in Fortnite, don’t get your hopes up quite yet. The limited time mode has been replaced with 50 versus 50 for the time being due to bugs. Rare wants to give the fans what they want, and Sea of Thieves has a new update. Today is the last day for June’s Games with Gold titles, so grab them and the other deals while you still can. Keep scrolling down for the rest of this week’s headlines, and all the deals available now.

Forthcoming Releases

Gears 5 Teases New Character And New Gun

Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 Release Date Unveiled

Forza Horizon 4’s Full Car List Seems To Have Leaked

Red Dead Redemption 2 Might Be Coming To PC As Well

Resident Evil 2 Remake Is Frightening In New Ways, But It’s Familiar

Mega Man Undoes One Of Its Weirdest Choices With New X Collection

Anthem Executive Producer Spills Plenty Of New Details About The Game

Check Out 6 Cool Indie Games From E3 2018 For PS4, Switch, Xbox One, And PC

Free Life Is Strange Teaser Game, The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit, Out Now

Updates and DLC

GTA 5 Online Adding Nightclubs In July Update

Fortnite Shopping Carts Are Back In Time For Week 9 Challenges

State Of Decay 2’s First DLC Pack Out Now On Xbox One And PC

Sea of Thieves Update Adds Explosive Skeletons; Full Patch Notes Released

With Fortnite Playground Issues Ongoing, 50v50 Replaces Another LTM

New Overwatch Update Makes Post-Matches Friendlier; Full Patch Notes Released

New Overwatch Hero Is Not What You Expect (It’s A Hamster In A Rolling Death Ball)

Betas and Events

Play EA’s New Game For Free On PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Xbox Live

Xbox One Adds 3 Backwards Compatible Games

Xbox One’s Free Games With Gold For July 2018 Revealed

Last Chance: Games With Gold Xbox One Titles For June Still Available

Elder Scrolls 4, Fallout 3, And Vermintide 2 Join Xbox One’s Games Pass In July


New GameStop Sale In The US: PS4, Xbox One Deals

Best Xbox One Games On Sale This Week, Plus Free DLC

Save Big On GTA, Fallout, More At Best Buy This Week In The US


PUBG Developer Drops Fortnite Lawsuit

New Drake Album Has A Final Fantasy Reference

Rare Aims To Give Sea Of Thieves Fans What They Want

Uncharted Creator Left EA After Star Wars Game Shake-Up

State Of Decay 2 Was The US’s Best-Selling Game Of May 2018

Mass Effect Andromeda Dev On Whether It Got A “Fair Shake”

Overwatch’s Sombra Updates Could Be Huge, If They Happen

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Director Discusses Story Details And RPG Inspirations

from GameSpot

11 Things That Would Make Fortnite: Battle Royale Even Better

What Would Make Fortnite Better?

Fortnite: Battle Royale is a household name at this point; whether you keep up with the world of games or pay no mind to the industry, you’ve likely heard the name Fortnite (or Fork Knife). Rarely do we see a game explode to this level of popularity, but developer Epic Games struck at the right time with its version of the last-person-standing game mode. Players scavenge a huge map for not only weapons and health items, but also raw materials to build structures. Fortnite finds inspiration from the likes of Minecraft and throws construction into the mix, so even if you get caught in the middle of a field, you’re not a sitting duck as long as you have the necessary resources and wit to put a protective fort together.

Tens of millions of people have played Fortnite, and for good reason: it’s a great game. It’s a ton of fun to outlast and eliminate enemy squads with a group of friends or by yourself. In our Fortnite: Battle Royale review, we stated, “Although a few shortcomings in the map design eventually surface and fatigue in looting can set in, Fortnite rarely fails at challenging you in unexpected ways, resulting in something more than just another typical last-person-standing shooter.”

Epic has been committed to adding new features to keep the game fresh and players interested. Seasons also include thematic shifts that lead into sweet-looking skins and changes to the actual map layout. Weekly challenges provide different objectives to complete aside from winning matches. We’ve even had The Avengers villain Thanos make a guest appearance as a playable character with a slew of unique abilities. However, there are still some aspects of the game that can be improved. With Epic so responsive to feedback, we compiled a list of changes we’d like to see come to Fortnite: Battle Royale.

What would you like to change about Fortnite? Are there additions, modes, or tweaks you’d want to see done to the game? Let us know in comments below.

Introduce A New Map

Ten months since its launch, Fornite: Battle Royale still only has one map. PUBG comparatively got its second map after only nine months. Epic has done an amazing job filling the current map with entertaining activities on a consistent basis, as well as imbuing it with narrative significance thanks to big community events. While I’d love to see more of this, I can’t help but wish there was a new map to play on.

I’m hoping Epic takes a different approach from the biome-focused maps that PUBG has been introducing to the battle royale formula, and do something wacky. Maybe the next map will have us fighting on a giant island floating in the sky, or in some over-the-top The Running Man-esque arena. Whatever approach the studio ends up taking, it ought to introduce it sooner than later. | Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

Make Some Timed Modes Permanent

Teams of 20, 50v50, snipers only, and explosives only have been incredibly fun modes to play, especially because of how they change up the traditional battle royale formula. These have been nice changes of pace after getting your fill of Victory Royales, and perhaps Epic should considering keeping one or two of these modes around permanently. Part of the allure could definitely be tied to the fact that they’re available for a limited time, but popping into a Blitz mode match works extremely well if you can’t dedicate time for a full match or if you’re itching for faster action. The rotation of modes is understandable, but keeping the best ones around makes sense. | Michael Higham, Associate Editor

Find A Way To Stop Challenges From Interfering With Regular Matches

Fortnite is far from the first game to introduce supplementary objectives to spice up gameplay, but it’s likely the most popular to do so. But, as with those previous games to do it–Team Fortress 2 comes to mind–they continue to have an artificial impact on the way matches play out. And for as much as I enjoy having those challenges available to me to guide what I do in any match, I’m not crazy about the way they impact a given round.

Challenges in Fortnite task you with any number of things to do. Some of these are no different from what you’d do in a given match, like open chests in a certain area. Others require you to collect specific objects in certain locations, while others still ask you to deal damage or obtain kills with certain weapons. With any of these, it’s basically tasking you with doing something you wouldn’t necessarily choose to do. These challenges are done in public games where other players are simply trying to play and win.

Jump into a team-based match, as is my preference, and there’s no guarantee that your teammates will actually care about winning–they might be more concerned with kicking a soccer ball into a goal. Even something as innocuous as racking up damage with a pistol can hurt your chances at a Victory Royale if someone opts to use a crappy handgun instead of the high-powered rifle they grabbed when they rushed to open a chest they needed.

One solution for all of this is to play solo or with friends, but that’s simply not ideal. Instead, I’d like Epic to find some way to prevent players with a way to opt out of challenges. Whether that’s a specific playlist for those looking for a more competitive experience or something else entirely, I’d like to play the game and have the satisfaction of doing well without having to wonder if it’s only because my opponent was more concerned with finding a vending machine than attacking me. | Chris Pereira, News Editor

Changing Up The Weekly Challenges To Be More Varied

While challenges can interfere with the true goal of a victory royale, there’s no doubt they’ve helped keep gameplay fresh. Weekly challenges have been a wonderful way to encourage players to use items and weapons they wouldn’t use otherwise or approach matches in different ways. Over time however, challenges have started to be a little too same-y which has taken some of the magic away from these activities. It might be a tough ask, but perhaps situational challenges like getting a kill with less than 20 health, sniper kills from a five-story structure you built yourself, or getting multiple kills within a minute of landing are just some interesting ways to change things up. Admittedly, we’d want Fortnite to have new challenges that wouldn’t encroach on how the game should be played, but we do want to see a bit more variety. | Michael Higham, Associate Editor

Have Bigger Challenges To Work Toward

Going off of the previous point about have varied weekly challenges, an intriguing idea could be to have larger, more time-consuming challenges to work toward. These could be timed to a month, or achievements that exist indefinitely. Maybe bigger challenges can simply consist of 20 victory royales within the span of a month, or racking up an accumulative kill count when there’s only last 10 players left in a match. Of course, there would be incentives like battle stars and additional XP, or perhaps exclusive cosmetics for achieving the bigger tasks. These would also be conducive to team victory to get ahead of players that might ignore the overall match to complete the challenges. Season 4’s Blockbuster and Carbide challenges were sort of a step in the right direction for establishing long-term objectives, and it’d be nice to see Epic take that a step further. | Michael Higham, Associate Editor

Take The Best From Save The World

Fortnite’s Save The World mode has a lot of great ideas that could add tons of personality and new tactics to Battle Royale. I’d start by bringing in abilities as pickups such as Mantis Leap, War Cry, Teddy, Base, and Shockwave. These abilities would let lucky players leap higher, buff team damage, deploy a machine gun-wielding teddy turret, reinforce structures, and demolish structures. It’s a system that would give more meaning to fortifications and counter shotgun rush tactics. They would also give more power to people who just want to build and support the team. The base game also has some hilarious ideas like monster chests that will chase players across the map if they don’t pay attention to the warning signs. | Aaron Sampson, Senior Video Producer

Quality-Of-Life Adjustments

There are a couple of very important quality-of-life improvements I’d love to have. For starting players, a sandbox test range where they can practice is already inbound. I’d love the option to have a squad leader be able to eject the entire squad from the battle bus rather than individual deployments where teams can end up spread apart. Most importantly I really, really, really want macros and preset shapes that I can customize from the main menu. I’d like to be able to drop common structures such as a ramp plus wall with a single button press or chose to have my stairs always be double stairs. One of the reasons the skill gap can be so high at the end of matches is due to the number of buttons people have to press to build. By lowering the difficulty of building, players can have more fun. | Aaron Sampson, Senior Video Producer

Expand The Mobility That The Shopping Cart And Jet Pack Introduced

The shopping cart and jetpack introduced a new element to Fortnite that made the game more mobile and more entertaining. Those who have mastered these features have taken creativity in the game to a whole new level with fresh and dynamic ways to build and eliminate other players. I’ve seen players hop on carts, build a ramp, ride down, and eliminate players mid-flight. I’ve used the jetpack in various ways to creatively eliminate an opponent. These are situations and features that made the game even more fun than it already could be.

Expanding these new features to potentially include using the row boats on the lakes or hiding keys to cars and trucks in chests randomly across the map can expand the already creative world that is Fortnite. Imagine filling your squad up in a truck and driving down Dusty Divot, eliminating players left and right. Allowing players to utilize the row boats on Loot Lake could create mini Pirates of the Caribbean-esque battles with players fighting for the Victory Royale glory instead of the treasures of the Isle of Tortuga.

Although the idea of using the rowboats or the vehicles on the map might be far-fetched, the possibilities of expanding mobility are endless and the potential clips I’ll see on my news feeds have me drooling with enthusiasm. | Nasser Al-Rayess, Intern

More Customization For Outfits

Fortnite does cosmetics extremely well. So many bright, colorful, and silly outfits make the game even more fun to play, and they neatly fit into the lighthearted nature of Fortnite. And because of the third-person perspective, you can always see your sweet fits. One thing that could make outfits more fun is customization options for individual outfits. The country-themed gear during the Winter Olympics was a neat addition, and Fortnite took the next step by offering customizable jerseys for the World Cup. More instances of tinkering with the smaller details of cosmetics seems like a minor thing, but it’d let players get creative with their avatars even further for an added touch of personalization. Adjusting color accents to clothes or choosing from text presets for outfits might be a sensible change. | Michael Higham, Associate Editor

Add Weapon Skins

Fortnite’s weapons are varied and fun to use, but I do find myself wishing they looked flashier. Custom skins could be what the game’s weapons need to get that extra dose of style. After all, games like PUBG and Destiny 2 have experienced massive success with their weapon skins. And for good reason; you can never have too much player-driven customization in a competitive multiplayer game, where giving players the freedom to visually express themselves is paramount. Fortnite is well-suited for weapon skins and a sensible next step for additional cosmetics that would help support the long-term interest of its player base. | Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

First-Person Mode, Maybe?

It would be great if Fortnite had a first-person-mode–much like PUBG’s first-person update back in August last year. While more of a gimmick than anything else, the perspective’s introduction to PUBG made for a fascinating addition to what was already a pretty tense game. Of course, Fortnite is more fast-paced in nature and it has building mechanics, but the limitation of sight that a first-person mode introduces could easily add a whole new layer of complexity to the game–if implemented correctly. The mode would admittedly divide the player base, and there would need to a separate playlist for it, but I’d love to have the option at least. | Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

from GameSpot

Battle Royale Games Explained: PUBG, Fortnite, And What Could Be The Next Big Hit

With the rapid and tremendous success of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, other developers plan to jump into the battle royale craze to find their next big hit. Bringing together dozens of players into an intense fight to determine who’s number one, it’s steadily become one of the hottest game modes in some time–with both PUBG and Fortnite having comfortable spots on Twitch’s top streamed games. But as the sub-genre continues to make strides with online communities, with even celebrities joining in on the fun, many are wondering where the burgeoning game-mode can go from here.

In order to understand where the battle royale arms race is going next, it’s important to start back from the beginning of the trend. To break down how we got to this point–from its early days as a player mod paying homage to popular films, to the juggernaut that it is today–here’s our explainer on all thing battle royale, and what could be next for players.

What Is Battle Royale?

Battle Royale (2000) -- Takeshi Kitano explains 'BR' to the class.
Battle Royale (2000) — Takeshi Kitano explains ‘BR’ to the class.

To put it simply, battle royale is a large scale free-for-all deathmatch with the goal to be the last player alive. With only one life to live, you’ll have to find any weapon you can–crowbars and frying pans included, depending on the game–while keeping focused as you stay one step ahead of the competition. Though most games that tackle the battle royale game type have their own gimmicks, the basic framework of a match is always the same: One big map, a large pool of players, randomized gear to find, and a slowly shrinking battle arena to force combatants into more tense confrontations. While players can expect some exciting encounters that can be satisfying in their own right, those are all moot if you don’t reach the true goal. If you’re not the last one standing, then you didn’t win.

The origins and framework of the game type can be traced back to the cult-classic Japanese novel and film adaptation titled Battle Royale. Written by Koushun Takami, the story is set in a dystopian-future Japan where the government stages an annual ‘Battle Royale’ competition to keep the populace in check, while also stifling the growing unrest of the country’s youth. A group of junior-high school students are transported to an abandoned island 10km in size, outfitted with bomb collars to prevent escape, and are forced to compete in a battle to the death with whatever items they can find. In order to push for more confrontations, forbidden zones gradually spring up across the island, forcing combatants closer together.

Despite the morbid premise, Battle Royale has a hyper-stylized approach to its portrayal of violence–often coupling schooltime drama with powderkeg situations out of a Quentin Tarantino film. Many of the film’s more intense moments are a result of poor judgement, lack of equipment, or a general misplaced faith in the combatant’s abilities–which usually make up the most common player deaths in battle royale games. Though the film was successful, even finding a passionate audience in the west, another novel and film series with a similar premise known as The Hunger Games found greater popularity. At the time of its release, many fans were inspired to implement their own take on the premise in their favorite games via player mods.

How Did Battle Royale Games Get Their Start?

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PC gaming is where online multiplayer and unique game modes first found their footing, which would go on to influence countless other games–PC and console alike–in the coming years. On the surface, battle royale functions like a traditional game of multiplayer deathmatch, which found popularity within PC online multiplayer games during the ’90s. With modding for PC games eventually becoming more accessible thanks to freely available developer tools and resourceful players, online communities were able to craft different types of experiences–even in titles that you would least expect. For instance, games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends started out as fan mods for Half-Life and WarCraft III–which were popular enough to warrant a response from the core developers themselves.

In an interview with GameSpot, Brendan Greene, the creator of PUBG, stated that player mods have had an immense impact on the state of gaming.

“The five biggest games in the last twenty years have come from mods,” said Greene. “League [of Legends], CS: GO, Dota [2], they’re all from mods, and I think it’s because modding gives a freedom to take those risks and do something that people aren’t asking for, but is something you want to play. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a battle royale game that I wanted to play, and I think that freedom to create whatever you want is an advantage that modding gives people.”

Around the time of the release of The Hunger Games during the the early 2010s, Minecraft became a popular game with players of all ages for its then-unmatched creation tools and worldbuilding. Focusing on the exploration of a procedurally generated world where you can craft items, build houses, collect resources, and battle creatures that lurk around, its creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson rapidly found success after videos and social media impressions of the game went viral. As Minecraft grew in scope, its creation tools expanded further–allowing the community to include their own unique assets and scenarios into the game. Latching onto the popularity of The Hunger Games films, an older subset of players eventually made competitive focused mods known as Hunger Games–now called Survival Games. Just like in the film, players were forced into a death-battle against others–which was a change of pace from the game’s usually mellow vibe.

Another game that also found a foothold in online multiplayer circles was a peculiar title known as DayZ, which started out as a custom mod for the tactical military shooter Arma II. DayZ creator Dean Hall wanted to make an online shooter and quasi-social experiment set within a bleak and relentless environment where resources were limited, and spontaneous alliances formed with others could fall apart at any moment. Also, there were zombies–lots of them. Eventually, DayZ was released as a standalone game, with Hall even joining the Arma devs at Bohemia Interactive soon after. As the open-world zombie shooter grew, its community began to experiment with new mods for the game. One such player in the online Arma community–going by the name PlayerUnknown–eventually released the DayZ Battle Royale mod in 2013. Not long after, other developers began to see potential in the budding popularity for the new free-for-all game mode.

H1Z1: From Zombies To Battle Royale

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As the popularity of the Arma modding scene grew to include the City Life RPG and Invasion 1944 mods, the core games also saw increased success–with many players purchasing the game just so they could experience the community creations. Upon the release of Arma 3, PlayerUnknown–real name Brendan Greene–put out another mod that advanced his concept further, known as PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale. Soon after, he was approached by Sony Online Entertainment to work on a new title that would eventually become H1Z1. As a response to the massive success of DayZ, the developers created their own open-world zombie shooter focusing on survival against the odds. However, the developers wanted to include an official battle royale mode of Greene’s design to complement the core game. Known as King of the Kill, 100 players would compete against each other to reach the top spot. The studio not only believed it would boost its player base, but also saw it as a potential esports hit.

Unfortunately, several setbacks kept the game in early access longer than expected. In 2015, Sony sold off the Sony Online Entertainment studio, which had both H1Z1 and a new EverQuest MMO in active development. While the MMO would later be shelved, the studio–rebranded as DayBreak Game Company–continued work on its online shooter. After a year of work as an independent studio, the developers split H1Z1 into two distinct modes, Just Survive and King of the Kill, which came in response to growing players trends in-game. While the original survival game with zombies–now known as H1Z1: Just Survive–had a following, the battle royale mode became more popular, prompting a pivot from the developers. These changes, along with other adjustments to the base game, resulted in some creative differences with Brendan Greene and the team, and the modder-turned-developer decided to part ways with DayBreak.

Today, H1Z1 still has an active community, even setting up several esports events for the top players to compete for cash prizes. Now out of early access and in open-beta on PS4, H1Z1 has been showing steady growth over the years, even featuring a number of experimental modes like Auto-Royale–a vehicle focused free-for-all–that switch up traditional gameplay. However, Brendan Greene’s departure from DayBreak ended up paving the way for a game-changer in the battle royale sub-genre.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner: The Rise Of PUBG

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After Greene left DayBreak, he was approached by producer Chang-Han Kim from South Korean developer Bluehole to collaborate on a new game centering around the battle royale experience. In keeping with the formula he created for the Arma mod, and sticking with his online community name, they started work on the game which would eventually become PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Taking on the role of creative director for his first standalone title, Greene would work extensively with Bluehole on the game–which he believed would be the truest form of battle royale he had envisioned during his time making mods.

In the original version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a large group of players are brought to an 8x8km island known as Erangel–an abandoned Soviet Union military base–to fight it out and determine the last man standing. Players are transported to the island via cargo plane and can drop out and skydive to a spot of their choosing. Surrounding the players is an encroaching blue energy field, which gradually closed in around the island–forcing more players into conflict in the process. When the final player gets the last kill, they’re greeted with the now infamous congratulatory message, “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.”

During the pre-launch periods, player count was estimated to have reached over 80,000 players, giving the game substantial momentum heading into its official release. With its growing fanbase, which began referring to the game as PUBG, Battlegrounds eventually launched on March 19, 2017 in early access on PC. It quickly reached the top spot of Steam’s best-sellers list, and shortly after its launch, the developers also landed a timed console exclusive deal with Microsoft for Xbox One. In September 2017, after several million copies of the game were sold, Bluehole rebranded the core development team working on the game as PUBG Corporation, with Chang-Han Kim acting as CEO.

By the end of 2017, PUBG was a massive success, with a peak player count in December reaching over 3 million active users on Steam. Battlegrounds would go on to break several records on Steam, even taking in a higher monthly revenue than both Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive during its first month. As of March 2018, PUBG sold over 40 million copies across all platforms and even received a free-to-play mobile version. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was one of the most talked about titles of 2017–even earning Game of the Year nominations from several press outlets. During its first year, PUBG Corporation released two full maps for the game, with another map that’s smaller in scale–the 4×4 map Savage–currently in beta. Moreover, the developers are also experimenting with a more traditional deathmatch mode offering more diversity in content, while also supporting the Xbox One release–which recently hit over 5 million players.

Seeing the success PUBG had, many other developers began to shift their focus to align with the popularity of the genre–even if it meant retooling their existing games into something entirely different.

The Rebirth Of Fortnite

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Revealed in 2011, Epic Games’ Fortnite was a passion project for many of its core developers, which included Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski. As a Horde-mode zombie-shooter with a focus on base building, Fortnite was primarily about surviving against increasingly challenging waves of enemies. With co-op play in mind, the original mode–now known as Save The World–took players across several maps leveling up their characters and acquiring new loot. Though the developers were excited about its potential, the development of the game was rather troubled, with the team having issues nailing the core gameplay and mechanics. After several years of retooling and refining its gameplay systems, Fortnite was released in early access on July 25, 2017 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

The timing of Fortnite’s launch coincided with the growing popularity of PUBG, which the developers were also playing at the time. During a GDC 2018 talk about their unorthodox approach to launching the game, Ed Zobrist–head of publishing for Epic Games–stated that they quickly wanted to come up with an alternate mode to complement Fortnite’s main campaign. By shifting Unreal Tournament’s development team to focus on Fortnite: Battle Royale, they were able to release the new game mode on September 26, 2017–two months after the base game’s early access launch. To offer the game to as many players as they could, the new mode was free-to-play, while the PVE content was only playable by purchasing the base package of the game for early access–which will eventually be available for free to all players once it leaves early access. This decision would go on to change Fortnite in a drastic way.

In Fortnite: Battle Royale, the general pace is quicker, and with a smaller map, engagements with other players are quite common. Featuring a more stylized design and aesthetic, the general feel and shooting mechanics are more arcade-like when compared to PUBG’s realistic shooting-style, in keeping with its roots in military-style action games. Instead of a cargo plane, players are brought to the island by a flying party bus, with music thumping in the background as players descend onto the island. From here, players can get into the same sorts of engagement you’d expect from battle royale games. However, the big difference between Fortnite and PUBG is the inclusion of the building mechanic.

Just like in the Save The World mode, players can break down objects in the environment for resources to build structures, such as walls and staircases. This allows players to create defensive structures to shield themselves from attacks or reach places around the map that are impossible on-foot. While you can get through much of a game without having to build, the final battles within the top 20 showcase the speed and complexity of building. A basic understanding of structure creation, and the dexterity required to keep up with others, becomes a must for survival toward the end of matches.

Though Fortnite saw a massive influx of new players during its first few months, Battle Royale hit its stride during early 2018. In many ways, Fortnite is a more accessible game when compared to its direct competitor, PUBG. Not only in terms of aesthetics and content, which feature a more stylized and cartoony art style, but also in that it’s a free-to-play game–which is in contrast to PUBG’s $29.99 price tag. Fortnite’s approach to microtransactions have also earned some praise. With the Battle Pass and V-Bucks (premium currency), you can gain access to skins and other cosmetics that don’t impact gameplay. Over the course of leveling up and unlocking new tiers, you can upgrade certain skins–giving them them new looks in the process. You’re never locked out of the core experience with Fortnite: Battle Royale. Though each season requires players to purchase a new pass to unlock the next set of challenges and unlockables, it’s never forced upon players. Epic has also been quick to address feedback concerning aspects of the game, along with adding in a plethora of new content–making the game feel like it’s in constant growth.

Currently, Fortnite: Battle Royale is one of the most popular games in the world, with many in-jokes and references invading real-life. Its mobile release also saw huge success, finding a dedicated audience of players that seek to take its style of battle royale on-the-go. Along with professional athletes performing victory dances and actions based on the game, famous rap artist Drake spent several hours playing with popular Twitch streamer N1nja, with the likes of Travis Scott and former MegaUpload owner KimDotCom joining in their game. And in another bizarre case, Epic collaborated with Marvel Entertainment to launch an Avengers: Infinity War tie-in event where players can pick up the Infinity Gauntlet and take control of Thanos himself. To say Fortnite has found new success with its pivot to battle royale would be a massive understatement. The grand majority of players in Fornite are there for the PvP mode, viewing it as the main game over the PvE mode–which is something that’s tucked away behind a (temporary) paywall.

What was once a game that struggled to piece itself together over the years, it’s now become a game that many seek to imitate. And because of the sudden and monumental success that Fortnite had with its pivot, it’s now open season on the sub-genre, with other developers attempting to find their own fortune with the concept.

The Future of Battle Royale, And The New Competition

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With the battle royale sub-genre offering players a chance to test their mettle against a large player pool, not many games can offer that same type of thrills and satisfaction when making a good run of it. But just in 2018, we’ve seen several games looking to chase the same hype surrounding the game mode, including The Darwin Project, S.O.S., Paladins: Battlegrounds, and Radical Heights–which recently saw the closing of developer Boss Key Productions. In a stranger case, the developers behind the loot-oriented action-RPG game Path of Exile included a free April Fools update featuring a new battle royale game mode, which ended up being surprise hit according to their developer blog. Though it only took a day for the creators to make, over 27,000 games were played in its first 31 hours online. Due to the surprise success, the developers are looking to implement the mode as a part of their seasonal content.

In May, Treyarch and Activision revealed the long-rumored battle royale mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 titled Blackout, which aims to celebrate the history of the sub-series while offering the largest-scale combat the franchise has seen yet. Shortly after, EA and DICE revealed Battlefield V, and at E3 2018, unveiled their own plans to take on the battle royale sub-genre. The developers shared their thoughts on the growing craze, stating that it would be a good fit for the Battlefield series. Whether any of the upcoming games will see the same monumental success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Fortnite remains to be seen, but still, there’s definitely a drive from developers to experiment and create something a bit different with their existing games.

There’s a solid chance that battle royale will likely be a normalized game mode for many online shooters moving forward. One thing is for certain–the landscape of the battle royale sub-genre will look very different by year’s end. With so many battle royale games on the way, and with Fornite’s spot becoming more secure by the day, other developers will seek to introduce another battle royale hit to shift the paradigm once again. For PUBG’s Greene, he welcomes the coming changes and titles adopting the game type, while all adding in their own unique take on it.

“That’s what I always thought of the mode when I first invented it, in that it could be that [basic] mode eventually like capture the flag or king of the hill–it’s that type of game mode, and I think it’s flexible enough to be that,” said Greene. “It’s great to see the genre grow in the way it has. There’s [a lot of] new and interesting spins coming out, like The Darwin Project just released the Director Mode, so it’s so great to see those different takes on a very simple concept.”

For more on the future of the battle royale genre, be sure to check back with GameSpot to learn all about the newest games looking to jump into the fray.

from GameSpot

Best Mobile Games of 2018 (So Far) For Android, iPhone, And iOS

Best Mobile Games of 2018 (So Far) For Android, iPhone, And iOS

Sometimes, the best kinds of games are the ones you can play away from your television or monitor, the kinds of games you can play on the couch horizontally while bingeing a television show, or while you’re waiting for a friend. But we’re not talking about your Nintendo 3DS or Switch here–sometimes you need something smaller, a game for when you’re standing shoulder to shoulder on the bus to work, something portable enough you can play with one hand to help you kill your long commute time.

That’s right: mobile games. Hey wait! Come back, it’ll be good I promise! Despite the kinds of games you might be thinking of featuring birds, clans, candy, farms, or some monstrous hybrid of them all, there are actually a lot of great new games coming out to the App Store and the Google Play that are definitely worth checking out on your phone or tablet.

Mobile platforms have always been home to super interesting games that take risks, whether it be due to the unique form factor, control methods, or just because. But if you like blockbuster games, 2018 has been a good year, one where the most popular video games on consoles and PCs, Fortnite and PUBG, have mobile ports that are actually really playable and feature cross-play between platforms.

This article collects some of the best new mobile games the GameSpot staff have been enjoying this year. It’s by no means a definitive list–there are a lot of games out there, and we’re only halfway through the year. We’ll be updating it as we discover more games we love.

If there’s a game you’ve been spending tons of time playing on your phone this year, recommend it to us in the comments! We’ll check it out and throw it in the list if we love it too.

PUBG Mobile (Free) iOS, Android

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds put battle royale-style games on the map when it exploded in popularity on PC, and surprisingly it’s made the transition to mobile platforms quite nicely. Sure, you don’t have anywhere near the same precision when it comes to aiming or positioning yourself during intense firefights, but the spirit of the game is still alive on phones. It’s also impressive how few compromises were made for this version; map size, map features, player count, and all the weapons of the original game are all here. If you’re out of the loop, PUBG plays closer to a tactical shooter than Fortnite, so if you still want to scratch that last-player-standing itch but want to focus on shooting rather than building towers and walls to protect yourself, this will be more of your jam. Of course, your mileage will vary with touch controls for shooters, but PUBG mobile is as good as it gets. | Michael Higham, Associate Editor

Cinco Paus ($4.99), iOS

If you have any interest in roguelike games and haven’t heard of Michael Brough, then you need to pay attention to this slide. Brough’s games, 868-HACK, Imbroglio, and now Cinco Paus are single-screen grid-based roguelike that don’t look like much at first glance. But scrape through the surface and you’ll find really interesting and engaging experiments with the genre’s signature mechanics.

Cinco Paus plays with the idea of the random item pickups you often find when playing a roguelike–the first time you get something, you typically have no idea what effects, good or bad, they might have on your run. In these games, you’ll eventually get a grasp of what kinds of items you want to hang on to and which to avoid.

Not so in Cinco Paus. It’s a dungeon crawler where you play a wizard with access to five magical wands that can be used once per level. Each has myriad effects, which are randomized in every new run and obscured until the activation conditions are met. But even once revealed, they’re marked with unclear hieroglyphics, and did I mention this game is entirely in Portuguese with no way to change it? It’s a continuously tense game of “what the hell is this going to do?”

Cinco Paus is deep, engaging, smart, and can played with one hand while you’re standing on the train. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer

Florence | ($3.99) iOS, Android

Florence is a story about love told with the utmost care. A masterclass in the act of “show, don’t tell’,” Florence abandons conventional dialogue and uses unique albeit simple puzzle mechanics and interactive narrative elements to convey the highs and lows of an intimate relationship. The mundanities of brushing teeth or packing belongings may not seem exciting in the context of a video game, but there’s something wonderful about stepping into someone else’s shoes at a pivotal moment in their life and watching events unfold for better or worse.

Florence boasts beautiful artwork and a heart-wrenching story that strives to honestly retell the experiences of first love, family struggles, and the things you learn about yourself in your 20s. While this is Florence’s story, the themes are highly relatable, and metaphorical mechanics such as pulling large speech bubbles into place to replicate the ease of having a conversation with a kindred spirit are cleverly executed to elicit empathy.

By the same token, the repetition of this mechanic later in the relationship in a rougher period when words don’t come easily and pieces are more difficult to fit together is as painful as it is if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation. Florence’s expert expression of its themes and characters well and truly tore my heart out and gave me plenty to think about as another 20-something plodding my way through life and love. It’s an experience that should not be missed. | Jess McDonell, Host/Producer

Fortnite | (Free) iOS, Android

Fortnite: Battle Royale’s mobile edition is a surprisingly adept adaptation of the hugely popular PC and console game. It’s the same map and the same 100-player battles, so the strategies you’ve learned translate nicely, though not perfectly. The game, of course, doesn’t look as good, and it’s not as easy to see movement in the distance on a smaller screen. You will also notice some performance issues at times. A nice addition, however, is an indicator that shows you the direction of gunfire, which helps when you have to play silently. That could be handy if you’re playing on the bus or in a car with no headphones.

The controls take some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from the high-precision PC version, but it won’t take you long to get the hang of things. Also nice is that any purchases you’ve made on console or PC come with you on mobile. Additionally, Epic updates all versions of the game at the same time (mostly) so when a new item like the Port-a-Fort comes to console/PC, it’s also released on mobile.

It’s not the best version of Fortnite, but for those who want to play whenever and wherever, the mobile edition is worth checking out. You can get Fortnite for free now on iOS; an Android version is coming later. The game requires iOS 11 and works on iPhone SE, 6S, 7, 8, and X, as well as iPad Mini 4, Air 2, and Pro. It won’t work on anything older than those devices. | Eddie Makuch, Associate Editor

Killing Time At Lightspeed ($2.99) iOS

What do you do when you’re killing time on public transport? Scroll through your social media feeds, message your friends, or read a few news articles here and there?

Well, what do you think you might do in the future when you’re killing time on an intergalactic flight? Probably the same thing, right? But what happens when the delay between messages gets longer and longer, and the passage of time between Earth and wherever the hell you are becomes more disparate? Minutes might pass for you, but years might pass back home.

Killing Time At Lightspeed explores these ideas in a narrative told through fictional social media platforms and messaging programs. How will the relationship with your friends change over time, as the time that passes between each message becomes greater and greater? How can one message thread rapidly change the course of a person’s life, and how will you be remembered by those you’ve left behind?

It’s a fascinating concept and story made all the more resonant by using the mundane methods of communication we now take for granted. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer

Pocket Run Pool (Free) iOS

Zach Gage is one of my favorite game designers, and I’ll play anything he has a hand in. With his iOS games, he has a trend of taking a much-loved “traditional” game and then changing or adding one new mechanic that turns it completely on its head, making you think about it in a whole new light and making it that much more fun to play. I’ve spent way too much time playing Flipflop Solitare (solitaire where you can stack cards up and down) and Really Bad Chess (chess with completely randomized pieces).

This year, he released Pocket Run Pool, an arcade pool game that has all the satisfaction of using perfect geometry to line up shots, swiping to use your cue, and the amazing clack of pool balls. But the twist is that pool is now a game of score chasing, where each hole contains a different multiplier that rotates every time you sink a ball. And you HAVE to sink a ball each turn, or else you’ll lose one of three lives.

It sounds pedestrian on paper, but it’s brilliant in practice, and Pocket Run embodies that dangerous one-more-turn kind of loop that has sucked up a ton of my time trying to score a perfect game, making risky trick shots in order to try and get every ball in the “x10” pocket. There are perpetual PvP tournaments to participate in as well as weekly challenges and high-stakes modifier games. Whether you only play it for a minute or an hour at a time, Pocket Run is one of the best things I’ve downloaded to my phone this year. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor, Senior Video Producer

Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 (Free) iOS, Android

Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat entry since it’s not officially out yet, but I had a chance to play in the closed beta, had a damn good time with it, and am looking forward to playing more.

Most people are likely to have heard of the Persona series. But Shin Megami Tensei, the challenging, 30-year-old demon-fighting RPG that it’s based on now has a mobile spinoff. But don’t be skeptical! Liberation Dx2 is a free-to-play game but impressively features all the elements you would expect from a console version of Shin Megami Tensei: You’ve got the full roster of demons, a turn-based RPG battle system that relies on exploiting elemental weaknesses, the ability to Talk to demons to recruit them, a robust fusion system, and distinctly SMT narrative.

And there’s more! There’s a first-person dungeon-crawling mode, a variety of challenge dungeons, a PVP mode, and a mobile-friendly auto-quest feature for easy grinding–everyone’s favorite part of SMT games. In my experience, you’ll start to feel the limits of the free-to-play model once you start to fuse really high-level demons, but you don’t necessarily need them to tackle one of the many activities available to you.

There’s currently no official release date for the English version. You can get the Japanese version from the links below, and we’ll update this article when we know more. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer

Pokemon Quest (Free) iOS, Android

Do you like Pokemon, but don’t like wandering around outside or turn-based battles? Well then Pokemon Quest might be the game for you! Featuring charming voxel art, Quest is a breezy dungeon-crawler RPG where you befriend and build a team of three Pokemon in order to go on adventures, beat the living crap out of wild Pokemon in real time (with or without your orders to execute special moves), and collect loot. That loot can be used to buff your Pokemon as they level up and earn more equipment slots.

Collecting new Pokemon works slightly differently in this game too–you use ingredients you pick up during expeditions to cook meals at your home base, and certain combinations will attract certain kinds of Pokemon. It’s a pleasant little game to distract you when you’re on the go, or something you can even play as an idle clicker if that’s your jam. It’s not as deep as an actual Pokemon RPG, but there’s something nice about seeing your cute little cub team completely mow down a horde of Oddish. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer

Pokemon Go | (Free) iOS, Android

Pokemon Go will likely never again reach the height of popularity it experienced during those first few weeks back in 2016, but if you haven’t opened the app since then, you’ll be surprised how much the game has improved.

With a revamped gym system, challenging multiplayer raids, legendary, rare, and shiny Pokemon everywhere, daily and weekly quests, regular special events and rewarding community days, and the just-added friends list and Pokemon trading features, Pokemon Go is more fun now than it’s ever been.

Most of these features aren’t perfect, but if even so, it’s hard not to enjoy walking around outside and getting a little sun now and then. | Michael Rougeau, Senior Entertainment Editor

from GameSpot

21 Stellar Games You Probably Missed Out On From E3 2018

The underdogs of E3 2018

E3 2018 was packed with some fantastic games that immediately captured the attention of many. Whether it was CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, EA’s blowout of Anthem and Battlefield V content, Sony’s impressive demos for Ghost of Tsushima and Spider-Man, or the reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s massive roster–there was definitely a lot to take in, leaving little room to properly digest some of the more lesser-known games. We at GameSpot explored the E3 show floor and its surrounding events, playing a number of different games coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

In this gallery, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting games from E3 2018 that didn’t get enough attention, many of which are releasing sooner than you think. In addition to experiencing the likes of Annapurna Interactive’s Ashen and Donut County, Avalanche Studios’ Generation Zero, and the recently announced Killer Queen Black for Switch at E3 convention center, we also saw many games from the Indie Mix event. At these smaller events, many indie developers, like Double Fine Entertainment and Team17, show off their upcoming games.

In many cases, all you need to stand out is a creative idea and the skillset to see it through, and these games made their presence known alongside the most talked-about games of E3 2018. While many of these games possess that familiar indie charm, they each have their own particular hook to them. Some focus on quirky adventures that have retro-inspired aesthetics and gameplay, while others go for a more somber or action-oriented experience. Here are 21 games you may have missed out on during the gaming industry’s big show.

For more info on some of the most noteworthy games of E3 2018, be sure to visit GameSpot’s E3 hub page for all of our content on this year’s show and to see what’s coming up next in gaming.

Ashen (PC, Xbox One)

After playing through From Software’s Soulsborne titles, I developed an incessant itch for more video games that promise challenging combat and use a stamina system to weigh the risks of attacking or defending. Ashen is just the scratch I needed.

In Ashen, players take on the role of a faceless warrior who’s looking for a home but finds death instead. Dying isn’t the end, though, as this hero is resurrected each time they’re killed. Good thing too, because you’ll face off against some fierce enemies and challenging bosses on your journey. The second-to-last boss crushed me almost immediately on my first attempt. I got him to half health in a follow-up fight that lasted nearly 10 minutes before he killed me again.

Ashen’s story is focused on forging connections, both with NPCs and other players. Plenty of NPC humans dot the snaking map, each offering opportunities to pursue either professional or personal relationships. Several of these characters come with their own fascinating questlines, too. Players can also enter others’ games, but it’s always to assist, not to invade. Certain areas of Ashen’s world can only be reached with a companion, so jolly cooperation is vital to discovering every hidden secret. | Jordan Ramee

Arca’s Path (PC, and PS4)

There is a definite gap in the market for relaxing video games. There are some, of course–Rymdkapsel, Journey, and Monument Valley are three that come to mind for me–but they’re still few and far between. Arca’s Path aims to change that; it’s a VR-only pseudo-platformer, and the main emotion it evoked inside me was pure relaxation.

No controller is used in Arca’s Path outside of your own head; you simply stare at where you want your ball to roll to, and it moves in that direction. Simple obstacles such as ramps and narrow gaps stand in your way, but they’re there more for visual variety than for any meaningful challenge. A zen soundtrack and beautiful shapes and colors make this slow-paced game as soothing as it is attractive, and I look forward to playing more. No release date has yet been announced, but we know it’s coming to PSVR, Oculus Rift, and Steam VR. | Oscar Dayus

Donut County (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Donut County is a solo project from developer Ben Esposito, who worked on What Remains of Edith Finch and The Unfinished Swan. It has a different tone from some of his previous work–Donut County is full of smartly used internet humor and stars a cheeky, morally gray raccoon whose favorite app wreaks havoc on a town.

Thanks to this app, you’re able to control a hole in the ground that grows as you get more to fall inside of it. You start small with grass and pebbles and work your way up to cars, buildings, and even mountains, all while solving puzzles so you can get everything in the area into the hole. Each level shows how different objects or characters ended up underground, and they’re broken up by funny scenes of those characters arguing about the events in the present.

Playing as a hole sounds really silly, but in practice it’s meditative and relaxing. It’s essentially a game about cleaning up a bunch of garbage, at least from a gameplay standpoint, but thematically it’s about consequence and becoming aware of how your actions affect other people. I played an hour of the Donut County at E3, and I can’t wait to play it all the way through and see how everything comes together. | Kallie Plagge

The Endless Mission (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Developer E-Line Media entered the public eye with Never Alone, a contemplative puzzle-platformer inspired by Alaska Native culture. The studio’s latest project, however, is something radically different. The Endless Mission is a sandbox creation game that bears more similarities to Media Molecule’s enigmatic Dreams than to E-Line’s previous effort, and its ambitious premise makes it one of the most intriguing games we got to see at E3.

Broadly speaking, The Endless Mission allows players to mash together elements of different genres to create new experiences. For instance, players can take the avatar from a 3D platformer and insert it into a racing game, then use that avatar to race on foot against the other vehicles. What’s especially neat is that combining these disparate elements will cause other aspects of the game to change accordingly, so that regardless of which elements and genres you mash up, the game will still be playable. In the aforementioned example, adding an avatar to a racing game causes boxcars to appear around the course, which players can hop between to reach the finish line.

That’s only one of the possible combinations afforded by The Endless Mission. The game puts a suite of different genres, elements, and other tools at players’ disposal, with even more planned for the title as development progresses. Those who are so inclined will even be able to tinker with the code, although no coding experience is necessary to make use of its tools. The Endless Mission enters Early Access on Steam this fall, with a full release planned for next year. | Kevin Knezevic

Generation Zero (PC, Xbox One)

Avalanche Studios’ Generation Zero wants you to feel outmatched and equally unnerved in its large open world. Set in an isolated region in rural Sweden during the late 1980s, you find many of the residents dead or missing, and the only things left are swarms of killer robots that lurk in the dense forests and fog. In this open-world survival game set during the early period of the robopocalypse, you and your group of survivors will have to scrape together resources from buildings and fallen enemies in order to stand a chance against the machines in the area.

The many items you’ll find include weapons, clothing options, support items, and even scavenged robot parts that can boost your weapons’ effectiveness. You’ll initially encounter small runner bots, but over time, your group will come across bigger threats lurking throughout the world–which includes giant robot walkers that stand several stories tall. While you can play solo, the developers recommended playing through the game with friends, as many of the high-end challenges look to be quite overwhelming.

Coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2019, Generation Zero seems to be an open-world survival game of a different flavor, focusing more on mystery and the errieness of its setting, which is definitely a welcome change of pace. With an atmosphere that recalls moments from Black Mirror’s Metal Head episode, exploring what’s left of the land will be just as challenging as trying to survive in it. | Alessandro Fillari

GTFO (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

GTFO handles a lot like Rainbow Six Siege, albeit with a horrifying twist. Each member of the squad outfits themselves with both a primary and secondary firearm, as well as a custom tool and melee weapon. Then, the elevator drops your team off at the mission location, where you can practically feel the tension in the air. It’s really dark and eerily quiet, except for the occasional gurgle reminding your squad that they’re not alone.

GTFO never holds your hand as you and your team desperately try to escape its monster-infested corridors. The creatures hunt by sound, so running and gunning is a terrible idea. To keep the horde off your back, you’ll have to be stealthy.

You’ll still die a lot, though. Both health and ammo are incredibly scarce, and mistakes are swiftly punished. The custom tools, ranging from explosive trip wires to a glue gun that can slow down enemies or plug breached doors, offer plenty of creative ways of handling the threats in front of you, but solid teamwork is ultimately the best weapon in your arsenal. Be sure to grab three friends you can trust. | Jordan Ramee

Indivisible (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)

The next project from the studio behind Skullgirls is shaping up to be a lovely new take on the classic Metroidvania genre. Titled Indivisible, the game follows the story of Ajna. She and her father live just outside a quiet little town, but when mysterious powers awaken within her, she must embark on a journey to discover the truth behind them.

Indivisible combines Metroid-style exploration with the combat system of cult classic RPG Valkyrie Profile. The combination sounds simple on paper, but Lab Zero Games tackles the formula with skill and finesse. Battles sport the nuance and complexity of a fighting game; each character in your party features their own unique attack and abilities, which you need to control quickly and efficiently. During my brief hands-on time with the game, it was a lot to take in. But when I got a knack for how to input and link together combos, I was instantly enamored by the possibilities.

Before I played Indivisible, I had my eyes on it mostly because of its beautiful art style. But now that I’ve played it, I’m very excited to jump back in to explore its world and unlock the full potential of the devastating attack chains packed into its combat system. | Matt Espineli

KIDS (Mobile, PC)

Discussion of “games as art” has become trite to the point of comedy, but clearly some games are more overtly reminiscent of other art forms than others. KIDS, from Swiss developer Playables, wears its arthouse minimalism on its sleeve.

The monochromatic palette is striking, consisting of white silhouettes with black outlines on a white background. Interactivity is relatively subtle and minimalist as well. In one vignette, touching one of the figures may make them move. In another, it could make them point their finger at another anonymous figure. It feels like KIDS would be at home in as an interactive piece in a gallery space. The simple mechanics are used to illustrate different group dynamics: following a leader, shifting blame, being part of a mob. Every vignette shown so far ends the same way: the group plunges itself, lemming-like, into a pit.

A mobile release promises a tactile feeling to manipulating the mannequins, but the point comes across well enough on PC as well. This is bound to be the sort of game that inspires debate over “games versus experiences,” given its linear interactivity and lack of a fail-state. Whatever it is, KIDS invites exploration and curiosity. | Steve Watts

Killer Queen Black (Switch)

Beneath its retro-style visuals and deceptively simple premise, Killer Queen Black is an intense and fast-paced game of strategy and coordination. A remake of the Killer Queen arcade game, Black has undergone a few notable changes in its move to Switch and PC, particularly in the number of players it supports (4v4 rather than 5v5 as in the arcade), but the competitive essence of the original remains very much intact.

Each contest in Killer Queen Black pits the two teams against each other with three ways to win. You can either collect enough orbs to fill up your team’s hive, eliminate the opposing team’s queen three times, or ride the snail that’s slowly crawling along the bottom of the arena from one end of the screen to the other to secure a victory. On paper, each of the victory conditions sounds simple enough to complete, but it’s much more difficult in practice with both teams vying to achieve the same goals.

As such, success in Killer Queen Black hinges upon planning and coordination between the entire team. For example, two players can act as decoys, collecting orbs while another tries to stealthily ride the snail to victory. Alternatively, players can take a more offensive approach and focus on eliminating the opposing queen, although that leaves open the possibility the other team could fill up their hive. With both local and online multiplayer support, Killer Queen Black looks like it’ll make for a hectic party game when it releases early next year. | Kevin Knezevic

Knights And Bikes (PC)

Whether played solo or co-op, Knights and Bikes puts players in the role of two pre-teen girls, Nessa and Demelza, who are adventuring across a British isle during the 1980s. The only town on the island has seen better days, but the girls don’t notice until the economic downturn begins to affect Nessa’s family. They’ll need to be brave to save the town. They’ll need bikes too.

Every aspect of this Secret of Mana-like RPG, from the gameplay to the story, is seen through the eyes of two adorable kids. Nessa splashes muddy puddles with a malicious glee, reimagining her rain boots as powerful weapons that send troublesome enemies scurrying away. Demelza attaches real value to the pieces of trash, squirming bugs, and random knick knacks she and Nessa collect, so she’s very confused as to why the shopkeeper would prefer actual money when the girls try to buy a new bike.

I love how Knights and Bikes does such a phenomenal job at capturing what it’s like to be a kid who’s dealing with the injustices encountered while growing up. Although both Nessa and Demelza initially face their ever-more adult situation with ingenuity and wide-eyed-wonder, I immediately recognized the slow creep of reality beginning to warp their childlike innocence. It’s a bittersweet part of life that all adults can remember to some extent. | Jordan Ramee

Ninjala (Switch)

Coming to Nintendo Switch, this game is going to find an audience with the same crowd that was enraptured by the colorful aesthetic of Splatoon 2. Ninjala is a goofy multiplayer-focused arena brawler where bubble gum-chewing ninjas fight it out in the streets of Tokyo with baseball bats. It’s bizarre, hectic, absolutely absurd, and insanely fun.

Players choose one of eight different teenage ninjas, grab their weapon of choice, and head into the arena. Only the baseball bat was available when I played, but GungHo Online Entertainment promises a few of the other greyed-out options will be added by launch.

In the eight-person Battle Royale mode, players blow up the bubble gum they’re chewing to various sizes before utilizing it to run up walls or float to the ground. Players need to reach inside the bubbles they blow to acquire their weapon. Doing so pops the bubble. The weapon’s size depends on how large the bubble was before it popped. Players score points by attacking others and can earn extra points by charging up and delivering a massive knockout strike. Regardless of whether the attack connects or not, once you swing, your weapon is lost and you’ll need to blow another bubble to get a replacement. To keep enemy ninjas from escaping while charging your attack, you can spit out your bubble gum to temporarily trap other players where they stand. Matches end in just a few minutes so it’s easy to just jump into one more round. | Jordan Ramee

Ooblets (PC, Xbox One)

While Harvest Moon has continued ever-onward and Story of Seasons was a valiant attempt to rekindle the magic, it was Stardew Valley that really showcased the modern viability of the candy-coated farming life sim. Enter Ooblets, an adorable entry in the newly revitalized genre that blends in elements of Pokemon for good measure. It’s an altogether sweet and endearing combination that will be hard to pass up.

While the loop of a farming sim is mercantile–buying seeds to sell crops to buy more seeds–Ooblets brings your plants to life as tiny companions with their own strengths and weaknesses. Other plant types make nourishment or special items for your fledgling creatures, and you can take them into battle. But this game is cute as a button in every aspect, so combat is handled through a dance competition. All of this is wrapped up in a charming art style and with cheeky writing. Ooblets is due on PC and Xbox One this year, and it’s going to be a real life-eater–especially if it ever comes to Nintendo Switch. | Steve Watts

Pode (Switch)

Pode is a beautiful, soothing, adorable puzzle game about a rock helping an alien star find its way home. You can control both characters at once in single-player or play the whole game in co-op, helping the two characters interact in order to make your way through the gorgeous world.

“Pode” in Norwegian refers to the act of two plants joining together to become one; it’s also a cute word used by Norwegian families when talking to or about their children. The two meanings tell you everything you need to know about this game’s wholesome nature. It also contains an exquisite soundtrack from Journey and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate composer Austin Wintory.

From what I played, Pode is shaping up to be a gorgeous and heartfelt experience, and I can’t wait to play the full game on Nintendo Switch. | Oscar Dayus

Satisfactory (PC)

The next game from the creators of Goat Simulator is nothing like that wacky, over-the-top game. You play as an engineer who goes out into the world to find resources to create “Project Assembly,” which is a machine with a “mysterious purpose.” Satisfactory is a factory-building simulator presented from a first-person perspective, which is different in the building sim genre. The game bears visual similarities to No Man’s Sky, but there is no procedural generation. There is just one big, big planet that is 30 square kilometers, and there is also multiplayer support and combat as well, which is new and unexpected for the building sim space. It’s cool and exciting to see developers known for one thing do something completely unexpected. The game will launch with an alpha period, though no dates or details have been announced yet. | Eddie Makuch

Shadows: Awakening (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

At first glance, Shadows: Awakening can look like a traditional isometric single-player RPG, but it has some incredibly interesting gameplay dynamics that take it to the next level. You play as a demon who takes control of the souls of long-dead heroes. While you command those heroes to explore and battle in the land of the living, your demon who possesses them lives in the shadow world–you can instantly switch between the two parallel universes, something that’s necessary to win certain battles, solve puzzles, and get the best loot.

Shadows: Awakening takes a lot of the fun and appeal of multiplayer online battle arena games and brings it to a single-player, story-driven RPG with real-time party combat. There are tons of characters to play, more than 120 skills with which to customize your party’s abilities, and 70 locations to explore. The developers say they want to inspire adventure, encouraging players to explore both the land of the living and the shadow realm (and using the two together) to find the best loot and discover the secrets of the world they’ve created. It’s an exciting prospect to see a party-based RPG of this scale with real-time combat, all in a single-player experience. | Patrick Faller

Strange Brigade (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Strange Brigade is a co-op third-person shooter from Sniper Elite developer Rebellion. Set in 1930s Egypt, it has you raiding tombs and mowing down supernatural creatures–ghouls, zombies, and more gruesome monsters–using both standard-issue guns and an array of more inventive abilities. Slain enemies drop blue soul-like orbs that you collect to power your magical amulet, which can be equipped with deadly flamethrower and electricity powers. There’s also numerous traps to trigger, such as spinning blades and spike pits, to aid you in your fight.

Strange Brigade lacks the polish of a AAA title, but there’s something satisfying about being able to fry a dozen enemies in one go, and the game’s bright, vaguely steampunky aesthetic and irreverent script help it stand out. It’s coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 28, and I can’t wait to see more. | Oscar Dayus

Transference (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Transference is a new game from Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood’s film company SpectreVision and Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft. A deeply unsettling game made for VR (but also playable on standard platforms), Transference tells the story of a father who uploads his consciousness and that of his wife and son to the cloud. Something goes wrong and the data gets corrupted. Things get weird from there. The game lets you play from each family member’s perspective. What’s most interesting is that you might start the game questioning one of the character’s motivations and mindset, but when you play as the others, you begin to feel empathy for their situation. And this messes with your head in some surprising ways. Transference launches this fall for VR platforms, as well as Xbox One, PS4, and PC. | Eddie Makuch

Tunic (PC, Xbox One)

Tunic‘s appearance during Microsoft’s Xbox press conference at E3 2018 tells you everything you need to know about this adorable adventure game. In a beautiful isometric world that evokes the best of The Legend of Zelda, you control a courageous fox on a grand adventure.

I was immediately drawn in by Tunic’s astoundingly cute art style and graphics, not to mention its nostalgia-inducing soundtrack. But after playing it, I feel confident that it’s going to deliver on the gameplay front as well. Tunic feels like classic Zelda, with a touch of things more modern, like the maneuverability of Hyper Light Drifter and the playfulness of Fez. Just look at the cryptic, unreadable text in the E3 trailer–whatever language that is, it’s present within the game as well, and it makes actions as simple as picking up a sword feel fun and mysterious.

In development by Andrew Shouldice and presented by Finji, Tunic is set for an exclusive release on Xbox One and Windows PC. And it’s one I can’t wait to check out again. | Mike Rougeau

What The Golf? (PC)

Right from the beginning, you discover that What The Golf? isn’t really about playing golf. In the opening level, where you line up a putt on the green, the character–not the ball–is immediately flung from their shooting position towards the goal. You move onto the next stage right after. Referred to as an “anti-golf game for people who hate golf” by its developers, What The Golf? is a bizarre yet oddly endearing take on the idea of golf, but heavily recontextualized throughout stages that take a very loose and sometimes very literal approach to what golfing is.

What The Golf? is, as strange as this sounds, a puzzle-golf game designed through the whimsical and stylized lense of Katamari Damacy. Whether driving a golf club down the fairway, guiding a soccer ball past a group of rowdy kids, or even relocating an entire house to another space, your goal is to simply get the object to the goal post. In stranger cases, you’re controlling a mound of dirt and transporting it into a large hole in the shape of the number one–a literal hole in one–or controlling a character in a platforming game. And just when you think it couldn’t get any weirder, it tosses in stages parodying other games like Super Mario Bros., Portal, and even Superhot–complete with time-bending gunplay.

Playing What The Golf? had me repeatedly scratching my head, but always in a good way. The stranger it got, the more I respected how far it went with its weirdness. Expected to release later this year on PC, this quirky and always bizarre puzzle-golfing game never ceased to surprise me with just how far off the deep end it went. | Alessandro Fillari

Where Cards Fall (Mobile, PC)

Where Cards Fall is an isometric puzzler that takes its title both figuratively and literally. The game ostensibly revolves around manipulating and resizing stacks of cards to create platforms that can be traversed, but beneath the surface, it tells the coming-of-age story of a high schooler coping with the pressures and uncertainty of adolescence.

While the aforementioned cards are primarily used to navigate through the game’s levels, they aren’t simply a means of solving puzzles; they also form the buildings that in-game characters live in. Splay a stack out long enough and it’ll pop up into a house that you can enter. We only got a glimpse of this in our brief hands-on time with the game, but it’s a novel concept that is expanded upon as players create different types of buildings and interact with their occupants.

The underlying gameplay in Where Cards Fall is also clever and satisfying. It begins simply enough, tasking you with moving a stack and expanding it until it’s large enough to allow you to cross a gap, but it quickly introduces additional stacks that you must expand, jump on, and rearrange as you work your way through a level. Where Cards Fall doesn’t yet have a release date, but the game is coming to iOS devices, PC via Steam, and Apple TV. | Kevin Knezevic

World War Z (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Licensed video games might not be as popular or as prevalent as they once were, but Saber Interactive’s zombie game based on the Brad Pitt movie World War Z looks promising. The four-player co-op game is set in the universe of the film but does not follow the film’s story. Instead, it tells an entirely new narrative featuring four survivors who must band together to survive waves of zombies in a variety of environments, including the New York City train line and lush jungles. I played a 20-minute demo of one of the chapters and found the shooting tight and responsive. Additionally, the brutal melee attacks–I had a firefighter’s axe–are a good way to clear out zombies when you get surrounded. And it feels satisfying. World War Z is due out in early 2019 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. | Eddie Makuch

from GameSpot