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Solar Ash Review – Ash Wins-day

Solar Ash is built like a skatepark in a lucid dream. The ground you skate across looks and acts like an ocean-sized mattress pad–blue and bumpy and bouncing as you pass. Floating islands are connected by grind pipes, which only emerge after you transport glowing spores from one mushroom to another. Red, bulging eyeballs act as the locks on gates made of black ooze, which you slash to gain passage. Much of what you see in Solar Ash makes little sense, but you move through it so quickly, the boss battles you fight are so exhilarating, and the puzzles you solve to reach them are so satisfying, that the dream logic of this world’s construction feels like the necessarily slight distance to keep the good times rolling as you move from Point A to Point B.

The second game from Heart Machine, the developer of 2016 indie gem Hyper Light Drifter, retains that game’s color palette–expect plenty of pastel blues, pinks, and purples, with the occasional threatening red–but changes just about everything else. Hyper Light Drifter was a blisteringly difficult Zelda-like which presented its glitching neon overworld from a top-down 2D perspective. Solar Ash, meanwhile, is a 3D action-platformer in which you traverse its world on some futuristic version of inline skates, cutting up enemies with ease. Solar Ash presents its dreamlike world and asks you to explore it by jumping, skating, and grinding along pipes. What the two games share is a structure that, while fairly open, is constantly funneling you toward show-stopping boss battles. In Hyper Light Drifter, that open-ended structure applied to the entire map, with four sections that could be tackled in any order. Solar Ash adopts a more traditional linear structure, unveiling six increasingly wide levels one at a time. In each, you must hunt down multiple puzzles that, upon completion, let loose a massive boss. In each, there are plenty of audio logs and armor pieces waiting to be found if you take some time to explore.

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Now Playing: Solar Ash Video Review

As you set out on this quest, you take control of Rei, a “Voidrunner” who has traveled into the “Ultravoid”–a massive, world-destroying black hole–in an attempt to activate the “Starseed,” a device the Voidrunners have created in an attempt to destroy the Ultravoid. When she arrives, her home planet is in the Ultravoid’s grasp, but Rei hopes that if she can restore power to the Starseed, she can save her home planet. The game sets up too many Proper Nouns early on–all those terms are hurled at you by way of an introductory slide–and it struggles to communicate what exactly the stakes are and why we should care. But the basics are simple enough and will be familiar to the denizens of an Earth currently staring down the barrel of climate emergency: The planet is in imminent danger, the people in charge have squandered every opportunity to fix the problem, and, though it may be futile, our hopeful character is trying to do what she can to undo the damage the ruling classes have done. Where Rei’s path diverges from climate change efforts in our world is that her quest involves fighting screen-filling boss monsters called “Anomalies.”

This is the heart of Solar Ash and where it takes clear inspiration from Shadow of the Colossus. Maybe too clear, honestly. There’s a bird-like Anomaly that soars above the map, a sword-wielding Anomaly that drags its skyscraper-sized blade along the ground, and a serpent Anomaly that flies just above your head. All of this will be familiar for fans of Team Ico’s melancholic boss rush, but Solar Ash trades in that game’s challenging sense of clumsily climbing up a living, hostile creature in favor of fights that feel like playing a 3D Sonic level on a monster the size of a city block.

Each is covered in black ooze that will become lava-hot after a short amount of time. To delay that moment, you need to skate across the beast, slashing at flashing pin markers as you go, which will create more pins down the line, which you must hit in time, and so on. Each boss takes three hits to go down and, while these battles aren’t nearly as difficult as any of the boss fights in Hyper Light Drifter, they will push you to learn the patterns and get a solid handle on the controls. That can be frustrating at first. It sucks to fail repeatedly and feel unsure about how to improve. But the exhilarating sense of speed, and the cinematic grandeur of your actions playing out atop a creature that towers over the world below–a world that you just explored thoroughly in order to reach this moment–is impressive.

The process of puzzle-solving in that lower world similarly pushes you to learn and put to use a firm understanding of the space. Before you can fight each Anomaly, you need to take out multiple oozy eyes scattered around the world below. These platforming puzzles require the same kind of timing as the boss fights: You hit a pin to start the trial, then must make it through the obstacles before time runs out. The solution isn’t always obvious, and figuring out how to use the tools at your disposal in concert with the specific mechanics of each level makes these puzzles consistently satisfying to solve.

No Caption Provided

Gallery

In one level, for example, the ground is covered in acidic slime. Once you touch it, a green meter appears on screen. You have until it turns red to reach dry land, and must wait for the meter to disappear before entering the slime again. A subsequent level ups the ante with instakill magma. These aren’t new mechanics–games have been doing “the floor is lava” since practically the dawn of the medium–but, implemented here it makes for compelling puzzles that ask the player to constantly think about the construction of the space they’re inhabiting in order to successfully navigate it.

There’s a reason this space is so dreamily built–Solar Ash takes place inside a massive black hole, after all–but the game is at its best when it isn’t treating those reasons as if they matter all that much. The late game leans a little too heavily into the story, including swapping out the strong boss battles in favor of a binary choice in the game’s climactic moments. But, most of the time, that story is where it belongs: in the background. And, thankfully, Solar Ash has some gorgeous backgrounds.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Stardew Valley, Halo Infinite, And More Join Xbox Game Pass This Month

Happy Holidays, Xbox fans. Once again, a bevy of prominent titles are joining the Game Pass catalog. We’ve got some classic, recent-popular, and day-one titles coming this month. So, get ready for your very own Xbox-themed winter wonderland and check out what’s going to be on offer and what’ll be leaving below:

Games Joining Game Pass (December 2-14)

  • Aliens: Fireteam Elite (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 14
  • Stardew Valley (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 2
  • Halo Infinite (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 8
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Console and PC) – December 2
  • Among Us (Console) – December 14
  • Archvale (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 2
  • Lawn Mowing Simulator (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 2
  • Rubber Bandits (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 2
  • Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 2
  • Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 7
  • One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 (Cloud, Console, and PC) – December 9
  • ANVIL (Console and PC) – December 2

DLC

  • Sea of Thieves: Season Five – December 2
  • Minecraft Caves & Cliffs Update: Part II – Available Now
  • Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition Mexican Civilization DLC – Available Now

Games Leaving Game Pass (December 15)

  • The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (Console and PC)
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Guacamelee! 2 (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Beholder (Cloud and Console)
  • Wilmot’s Warehouse (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Unto The End (Cloud, Console, and PC)

For more info, head to the official Xbox post here


Which new Game Pass games stick out to you the most? Of course, I’m excited for Halo Infinite, but I might hop into Final Fantasy XIII-2 for old time’s sake.

The Biggest Upcoming PlayStation Games – GameSpot

Sony has a long history of fantastic exclusive games on its consoles, dating back all the way to the original PlayStation with games like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII. That has continued for decades, and looking ahead 2022 and beyond, there are a bunch of exciting exclusive or console-exclusive games coming to PS4 and PS5. Not only that, but there are many, many big-name multiplatform games on the way for Sony’s console in the time ahead. We’re rounding up some of our most-anticipated PlayStation games to look forward to next year and beyond.

Assassin’s Creed Infinity

One of gaming’s most popular and enduring franchises, Assassin’s Creed, is poised to grow in a big way with a new project currently known as Assassin’s Creed Infinity. Described as a “huge game” with some live-service functionality, Infinity–or whatever final name Ubisoft decides to give it–will have all the elements of the series that fans love, according to Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot. Infinity will reportedly feature multiple settings. The multiple-games-in-one-package would be a massive departure from the norm for Ubisoft and the Assassin’s Creed series, which normally features a single historical setting (as well as a modern-day element). Get comfortable, though, as Assassin’s Creed Infinity is not expected to launch until 2024 at the soonest for PlayStation 5.

Babylon’s Fall

Babylon's Fall
Babylon’s Fall

An online action game from Platinum Games and Nier producer Yosuke Saito, Babylon’s Fall isn’t what we were expecting–the initial teasers didn’t suggest it would be online–but the Medieval fantasy setting and flashy combat both look like they’ll deliver. It’s relatively new territory for Platinum, which is best known for single-player action games like Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, though it still seems to be playing to the studio’s hack-and-slash strengths. Babylon’s Fall will be available across PS4, PS5, and PC.

New BioWare Games

Esteemed RPG developer BioWare has multiple games in development, including new Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, and they are two of our most anticipated games for PS5. Very little is known about either, but recent teaser art for the next Mass Effect released on N7 Day teases the return of the Geth. As for Dragon Age, the fourth game in the main series is confirmed to be set in Tevinter, but we don’t know much else about it. With The Game Awards coming up soon, we hope to see some new footage soon.

The Callisto Protocol

From the minds that made Dead Space comes The Callisto Protocol. A horror game set in the PUBG universe, The Callisto Protocol is a third-person horror game from Glen Schofield’s new team at Striking Distance Studios. It’s in development for PS5 and it’s one of our most anticipated upcoming games. The game is set in the future on Jupiter’s moon, Callisto. You play as a prisoner who must fight against horrible alien creatures set upon you by the warden. We haven’t seen or learned much about the game, but it sounds very spooky.

Dead Space Remake

2008’s scary and unsettling sci-fi game Dead Space is getting new life at EA, with Motive Studios bringing the game back with a remake of sorts that’s scheduled for release in 2022 on PlayStation 5. The first entry in the series since Dead Space 3, the remake takes advantage of the power of the PS5 to offer one seamless experience with no loading screens. The game aims to stay faithful to the original, which follows a man named Isaac on an abandoned space station overrun with alien enemies, while also removing things that didn’t work and giving Isaac a voice. Several developers who worked on the original game, including art director Mike Yazijan, have returned for the remake, which is probably good news for its prospects.

Diablo IV

Blizzard’s Diablo IV is one of our most anticipated games of the coming years, and it’s on the way to PlayStation 5. The popular dungeon-crawler promises to up the ante with an open-world approach, the first time in the franchise’s history that it’s going with that style. The game is also putting more of a focus on PvP this time around, which is exciting to think about. However, it must be noted that developer Blizzard has been in the news lately over issues with its corporate culture and management, all the way to the top with reports that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick knew about and covered up instances of sexual harassment at the company.

Elden Ring

No doubt one of 2022’s most anticipated games is Elden Ring for PlayStation 5. From the developers who made Bloodborne and Dark Souls comes another dark fantasy RPG. Directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki with a story molded in part by George R.R. Martin, Elden Ring calls upon players to explore a vast open world and vanquish enemies in their pursuit to restore the Elden Ring. Like FromSoftware’s past games, Elden Ring’s combat mechanics seem to be challenging but ultimately rewarding based on early previews of the 2022 game.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Part 2

Image from Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
Image from Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

The original Final Fantasy VII was a massive game, and rather than remake the entire thing at once, Square Enix opted to release Final Fantasy VII Remake in smaller chapters. The first of these was released for PS4 back in 2020, with a PS5 upgrade releasing this past June. It’s unclear when the game’s next chapter will be out, but given some of the revelations at the end of the first part–it appears there could be some major story differences compared to the original version–it’s one of the most-anticipated upcoming PlayStation games. Given how far away it seems to be, it’ll likely skip PS4 and be a PS5 exclusive.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

An expansion rather than a full game–but an important one nonetheless–Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is the upcoming chapter for one of the world’s biggest MMORPGs, and one that has received even more favorable attention since some players and streamers began abandoning World of Warcraft. The expansion includes the new Sage and Reaper jobs, a new playable race, several new areas and dungeons, new raids, and a new PvP mode. It’s another impressive-looking chapter in a game’s story that began with a disastrous launch and subsequent rebirth, but the game’s A Realm Reborn era has been going on for long enough that it’s easy to forget the earlier trainwreck even existed.

Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy XVI

A return to a more medieval and fantasy-based setting after the modern Final Fantasy XV, the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI looks like it will lean heavily, and intentionally, into some of the tropes of the genre–its setting is described as “A Land Blessed in the Light of the Mothercrystals,” for crying out loud. However, it builds on this with a complex world made of several different factions and characters, and with the power of the PS5, it looks to be one of the most stunning games released on the system. It will have an action-oriented combat system once again, and it appears Devil May Cry 5 designer Ryota Suzuki is serving as battle director on the project, which should give everyone confidence.

Forspoken

Forspoken
Forspoken

A new console-exclusive action-adventure game from Square Enix, Forspoken sees protagonist Frey Holland transported from our world into a fantasy realm called Athia, where she’s given the power to soar through the air and cast powerful spells. It looks like a cross between the movement in a game like Marvel’s Spider-Man with a much more magical move-set, and given the fidelity of the trailers and the high-speed action we’ve seen thus far, it makes sense that the game will be only available on PS5 and PC. But Square Enix is certainly hoping for the game to be more than a tech demo for the system, as is the new internal studio Luminous Productions.

GhostWire: Tokyo

GhostWire: Tokyo
GhostWire: Tokyo

GhostWire: Tokyo is one of the most exciting upcoming games for PS5, as it’s a completely new experience for studio Tango Gameworks. The company, now owned by Microsoft but honoring an earlier timed exclusivity agreement, developed both The Evil Within games previously, but GhostWire is not a survival-horror game. Instead, it’s a paranormal action-adventure with spooky elements, played from a first-person perspective with a combat flow that resembles something like Dishonored. It remains to be seen if that combat can mesh with investigating supernatural occurrences, but Tango Gameworks has a knack for world-building and has already shown great improvement since the original The Evil Within launched.

Gotham Knights

WB’s action game Gotham Knights was among the many 2021 games to get pushed to 2022, and it’s also one of our most anticipated upcoming games for PlayStation 5. The game brings together Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, and Red Hood in what looks to be an ambitious open-world crime caper where players fight against iconic DC villains to protect Gotham in Batman’s absence. Batman is believed to be dead, so the Bat-family rises up together to save the day.

Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V is set to grow once again with the release of a new version of the game for PlayStation 5 in 2022. Originally expected to launch in 2021, the game was pushed to March 2022 to give Rockstar’s development teams more time to get the game in shape. And that point is an important one, given how GTA The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition launched in rough shape in November. Rockstar will not want to repeat that with its biggest game ever. GTA 5 for PS5 will have faster loading times and better-looking graphics powered by the PS5. What’s more, PS5 owners with a PS Plus membership can download the new standalone edition of GTA Online for free at launch for the first three months.

God of War: Ragnarok

God of War: Ragnarok
God of War: Ragnarok

The 2018 soft-reboot for God of War, which continued the story but radically overhauled the gameplay, was one of the best PS4 games. Sony’s Santa Monica Studio is certainly looking to match that quality with God of War: Ragnarok, a game that will wrap up the Norse storyline. We’ve only seen a glimpse of gameplay thus far, which will continue the brutal and more weighty attacks compared to the earlier games, and Kratos’ son Atreus will play a major role once again. Will Kratos be able to defeat Thor, the god of thunder, or will the once-disgraced demi-god finally be destroyed? Well, probably not, but we won’t know for sure until the game releases in 2022 on PS4 and PS5.

Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo 7
Gran Turismo 7

The Gran Turismo series has, for the most part, stuck to what it has done best over the years: highly realistic racing on tracks. That’s not changing with Gran Turismo 7, but it will be getting some big enhancements to help it feel like a modern racing simulator that can compete with the Forza series. A much more complex time and weather system will be detailed right down to the aerosol particles formed during storms, and you’ll be able to tweak your cars right down to the tiniest of changes. The campaign mode also returns, as does Gran Turismo Sport’s livery editor, and you’ll be sent all over the world for a diverse selection of races.

Horizon: Forbidden West

Horizon: Forbidden West
Horizon: Forbidden West

The long-awaited sequel to Guerrilla’s hit game Horizon: Zero Dawn was planned to release in 2021, but it is now arriving in 2022. Given the high bar set by its predecessor, that might be for the best. Horizon: Forbidden West, as the name suggests, see Aloy venturing into the western United States as she continues her journey of survival and discovery in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by dinosaur-like robots. Stealth, acrobatic traversal, and bow combat are at the heart of the franchise, and all look to be making their return in full force for the sequel. We’ll also likely get some more answers regarding some of the game’s more intriguing sci-fi questions. Five years is a long time to wait.

Hogwarts Legacy

The Harry Potter film series celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and the popular magical franchise is not slowing down. A big new open-world game called Hogwarts Legacy is coming in 2022 for PS5. An open-world action-adventure game, Hogwarts Legacy is set in the 1800s at the famous magical school. Players select a house and choose to be a witch or a wizard and then go on a grand adventure of magic and mystery. J.K. Rowling, the author of the books who has been criticized for her comments around sexual identity and gender, is not involved.

KOTOR Remake

A remake of BioWare’s fan-favorite Star Wars RPG, Knights of the Old Republic, is in the works for PlayStation 5 and PC from developer Aspyr Media. The original KOTOR is considered by many to be one of the best Star Wars games of all time, so it has big, big shoes to fill. Set long before the events of The Phantom Menace, KOTOR has players exploring the galaxy as the Sith try to take down the Republic. Aspyr is an established Star Wars developer already, having put out the recent ports of Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars: Republic Commando. Here’s to hoping the KOTOR remake can live up to the hype and rekindle the spirit of the original that fans loved so much.

Midnight Suns

After making a name for itself with the XCOM series, developer Firaxis Games is making a Marvel game next with Midnight Suns for PS5. The tactical turn-based game features famous Marvel characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Wolverine. It appears Midnight Suns borrows from the Fire Emblem series, with players able to build relationships as they take on the role of a new Marvel hero named The Hunter. Players use ability cards on each turn and work together with teammates to take down enemies.

Overwatch 2

Overwatch marked a big new step for Blizzard in pushing into the competitive FPS space, and the sequel aims to push things forward with PvP and PvE modes, as well as new heroes and maps. In another exciting development, Overwatch 1 and 2 will share heroes and maps, while any cosmetics you might have bought or earned will move with you to the sequel if you upgrade on PlayStation 5. One of the biggest PvP changes that we know about so far is that teams will now be 5v5 instead of 6v6. Like Diablo 4, Overwatch 2 has been delayed due in part to the pandemic, while development has no doubt been affected in some way by the workplace culture issues at Activision Blizzard.

Project 007

Hitman developer IO Interactive is making a James Bond game, and it’s one of our most anticipated upcoming titles overall. Developed in partnership with film studio MGM, Project 007 tells an original origin story for the British superspy and is on the way to PS5. It’s intriguing to think about the story it might tell given not much is known about 007’s early days; at least that’s ground that hasn’t been covered substantially in the films. IO has a proven track record, with its latest release, Hitman 3, standing as the pinnacle of the series in some people’s eyes. Here’s to hoping we get to see and learn more about Project 007 in the new year.

Rainbow Six Extraction

Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege has been and continues to be a massive success for the company, and it’s looking to build on that momentum with a new game, Rainbow Six Extraction, which is releasing on PS5 in January 2022. The game has various features and elements borrowed from Rainbow Six Siege, but Ubisoft maintains that Extraction and Siege are different enough so they can appeal to different audiences. Most notably, Extraction focuses on players fighting against AI-controlled alien enemies. The game carries a budget price, $40, and comes with “Buddy Pass” tokens that let you play with friends for up to 14 days across platforms.

Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2

After years of waiting for a Spider-Man game that could match the inexplicably good movie tie-in game Spider-Man 2, Insomniac Games finally delivered with 2018’s Spider-Man. A full sequel, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, is now in the works for a planned 2023 release, and it looks to take the series in a slightly darker direction. It will include both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, and the PS5-exclusive game will feature Venom as one of its villains. You can expect lots of high-flying web-swinging and ridiculous visual fidelity, and if it’s anything like the previous game, there will be a great photo mode to show off your favorite moments. We’re just hoping for another suit that lets you keep at least one cat in the backpack.

Ubisoft’s Star Wars

After 10 years, Electronic Arts no longer has the exclusive license for Star Wars games on console, and one of the new upcoming projects is an open-world Star Wars game from Ubisoft for PlayStation 5. Specifically, the team responsible for The Division is making the new Star Wars game. Unfortunately, we have basically nothing to go on, though we do know the game is powered by The Division’s Snowdrop engine and is described as a “story-driven” game. The Division’s Julian Gerighty is the creative director for the untitled new Star Wars game, which doesn’t have a release date yet.

Stray

Stray
Stray

Speaking of cats, Stray is one of the most exciting games coming to PlayStation, and the console-exclusive (on PS4 and PS5) game really couldn’t get any more adorable if it tried. Playing as a cat trying to survive in a hostile world with clear cyberpunk influences, you’ll get to finally know what it’s like to be a cat. That means knocking stuff off ledges, sneaking and working your way into hiding spots, and using your kitty wits to keep yourself out of danger. It doesn’t have a firm release date yet, so you may need to take a few catnaps before it arrives, but it will be a glorious day when it does.

Stranger of Paradise

Square Enix returns to its popular Final Fantasy series with a spin-off called Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin for PlayStation 5. Developed by Team Ninja, the game seems to inject a more Nioh-like gameplay formula into the Final Fantasy dynamic. Square Enix says the game will feel different but that it also has “the blood of Final Fantasy [running] through its veins.” The real-time combat game lets players make use of multiple job types and use magic attacks, too. Given Team Ninja’s history with the Ninja Gaiden series, we’re excited to see how the Japanese studio’s history and skills are applied in the context of Final Fantasy.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

From Batman: Arkham developer Rocksteady comes Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, the studio’s first new game since 2015’s Arkham Knight. The PS5 game features members of the Suicide Squad you may remember from the films and comics, including Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark. As the game’s name suggests, the Suicide Squad is on a mission to kill members of the Justice League. It’s a 1-4 player co-op game, though you can play single-player and have companions be played by AI and switch between them. Intriguingly, Rocksteady’s Sefton Hill has said some of the narrative threads from the Arkham trilogy will carry forward to the new game, but the specifics are unclear.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

Gearbox’s Borderlands series is getting another spinoff with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands in March 2022 for PlayStation 5. The game features the voices of Andy Samberg, Wanda Sykes, Will Arnett, and Ashly Burch, who returns to voice Tiny Tina herself. The game is described as an “epic high fantasy take on the looter shooter genre,” with players shooting, slashing, and casting magical spells to defeat the villainous dragon lord. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands features co-op for up to four players, as well as endgame content that can be played over and over again.

Uncharted: Legacy Of Thieves Collection

While fans wait for the next all-new entry in the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog is bringing back its famous action-adventure series with a new compilation bundle for PS5. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection bundles together Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy with remastered graphics and an improved frame rate on Sony’s new console. Those games looked and performed fantastically on PS4, but we’re still waiting to see how they are improved upon for PS5. At the very least, it should help make the wait for a possible Uncharted 5 a little easier to manage.

Wolverine

Wolverine
Wolverine

Perhaps the upcoming PlayStation game we know the least about, Wolverine is in development at Insomniac Games. It appears to be early days for the project, which was announced via a CG trailer earlier this fall, but we know very little about the project. Presumably, it will be an action-adventure game, as well, likely with a greater emphasis on Wolverine’s claws and healing factor, but it could also be a more brutal game than Spider-Man given the direction Logan took the character in film. We’ll have to wait and see, and it’s not clear yet when we’ll actually get our first look at Wolverine gameplay or a better understanding of what the gameplay will be.

New US Congress Bill Could Ban Bots Used To Purchase Consoles

A new bill introduced to Congress could automatically ban bots often used by resellers to buy consoles such as the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. 

This news comes by way of Video Games Chronicle, which reports that the bill, dubbed the “Stopping Grinch Bots Act,” was introduced by Representative Paul Tonko, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senator Ben Ray Luján. In a statement about the recently-introduced bill, Tonko said that “Grinch bots” are forcing Americans to pay exorbitant prices for gifts this holiday season. 

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Only second to sneakers, a market that’s been heavily influenced by bots for years, consoles are likely what bots are targeting most this season. With the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles still fresh, it’s been more challenging than ever to nab one of these new-gen consoles at MSRP. That’s because the second these consoles go live, would-be buyers must beat out bots that automatically place the consoles in someone’s cart and check out. 

It’s not easy beating bots, and while some customers have found success, the lengths people must go to secure a console at MSRP can be ridiculous. Bots are the main problem behind the struggle, and if this new bill is passed, the use of bots on online retail sites would be banned. 

“At a time when families should be able to spend time with their loved ones, digital ‘Grinch bots’ are forcing Americans to scour online sites in the hopes of finding an affordable gift or paying exorbitant prices for a single toy,” Tonko said. “These bots don’t just squeeze consumers, they pose a problem for small businesses, local retailers, and other entrepreneurs trying to ensure they have the best items in stock for the customers.” 

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“Our Grinch Bots Act works to level the playing field and prevent scalpers from sucking hardworking parents dry this holiday season. I urge my colleagues to join me in passing this legislation immediately to stop these Grinch bots from stealing the holidays.”

Schumer said the average holiday shopper can’t compete with the speed of bots, something anyone who’s tried to buy a new-gen console as of late is likely aware of, and that this bill would thwart these “Grinch bots” from stealing the holidays.  

Sadly, considering the time it can sometimes take to pass a bill in Congress, especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a good chance this bill won’t be passed before the holiday shopping season is over. However, it’s still a welcome bill despite that, as it seems that buying a new-gen console at MSRP will continue to remain a challenge in the new year.  

It doesn’t help that the actual stock of new-gen consoles remains low due to an ongoing chip shortage as well. Analysts expect this shortage to continue into 2022, too. 

[Source: Video Games Chronicle]


Have you been battling bots this holiday season? Do you welcome new legislation like this? Let us know in the comments below!

Halo Infinite: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Subscribers To Get Monthly Multiplayer Bonuses

Halo Infinite’s multiplayer has been out for a couple of weeks now, and besides some issues with battle pass progression, it’s been widely received as a great comeback for the series. Starting next week, it’s going to get even better for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. 

That’s because Microsoft has announced that Ultimate members will get monthly multiplayer bonuses. The first bundle will go live on December 8. 

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“It’s an awesome time for Perks because we’re excited to reveal that Ultimate members will be locked in to get monthly Halo Infinite multiplayer bonuses, starting with your first bundle on December 8,” an Xbox Wire blog post announcing this month’s upcoming Game Pass additions reads. “Don’t forget to claim this and more in the Perks gallery on your Xbox console, Xbox App on Windows PC, and Xbox Game Pass mobile app.” 

This month’s bonus is the “Pass Tense” MA40 AR Bundle, and it comes with an exclusive “Pass Tense” MA40 Assault Rifle coating, as the bundle’s name would suggest, along with four 2XP Boosts and four Challenge Swaps. You can check out the bundle above, which includes a look at the new AR coating. 

While waiting for this bundle to go live next week, check out this post detailing everything available in the Halo Infinite multiplayer shop this week. Then read about how 343 Industries has updated multiplayer progression to give players increased XP in the first six matches of a given day. This new bundle goes live the same day Halo Infinite’s campaign launches, and to get prepared for that, check out this recently-released Halo Infinite campaign trailer.   


Are you excited about these monthly Halo Infinite multiplayer bundles for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers? Let us know in the comments below!

How to turn Vanilla Experiments on in Minecraft – VG247

Minecraft Vanilla Experiments let you tinker with future features long before they’re officially added.

New Sons Of The Forest Trailer Is Terrifyingly Brutal, Spring 2022 Release Announced

I loved The Forest. My small team of survivors committed a little under forty hours building fortifications around the crash zone, scouring for food and rare weapons in sprawling underground caverns, and keeping cannibals and, later, grotesque mutants at bay. The sequel, Sons of the Forest, got two trailers earlier this year, highlighting a newfound emphasis on storytelling. An unnamed NPC – specifically, a nonvolatile mutant – is slated to be the player’s companion. But beyond montages and short action sequences, previous Sons of the Forest footage inspired more questions than answers.

A new trailer (seen below) continues that exciting, albeit frustrating, tradition of narrative vagueness. However, this time around, we finally got a release date set for Spring 2022. 

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As you can expect, Sons of the Forests’ mechanics build upon the survival horror systems from the first game. Collecting materials to craft makeshift shelters and hunting equipment has returned. The eating mechanic – most notable when the player character kills a turtle and eats its raw meat (damn!) – is back as well. And, of course, once you venture into dense forests or descend into pitch-black caves, horrifying enemies await. New variants of mutants with fleshy bristles and conjoined torsos will require new weapons to be bested – shotguns, stun batons, and more will aid you in the open world. 

Javy Gwaltney also enjoyed The Forest, awarding it a 9 in his Game Informer review and concluding with:

“Perhaps the highest praise I can give The Forest is just how natural the game ties together. A lot of emergent storytelling games often end up having a novelty that overstays its welcome by the end … The Forest is a triumph, both for the survival genre as well as gruesome horror. It gives players just the right amount of freedom to enjoy the challenge of this hellish nightmare.”

Sons of the Forest launches on May 20, 2022, for PC. If you haven’t played the first game yet, I’d highly recommend it, and be sure to read Javy’s 30 Wacky And Gross Things You Can Do In The Forest piece while you’re at it!

Big Brain Academy: Brain Vs. Brain Review

In the heyday of the DS and 3DS, Nintendo dedicated itself to a “blue ocean” strategy of attracting a wider audience than traditional gamers. Headlining this effort were games like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy, puzzle games targeted toward non-gamers that promised regular mental exercises to stay sharp and enhance your focus. More than a decade later, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain recenters itself around Nintendo’s new strategic priority: social features and competition. And while the puzzles in Brain vs. Brain work just as well as ever, the competition aspect is an awkward fit that runs counter to a game series that has always been friendly and non-judgmental.

The main appeal of these brain-training games has always been to run your own race. Chipping away at daily exercises with Big Brain Academy’s fictional Dr. Lobe lets you see the progression of slow, steady improvement as you sharpen your mental acuity. In previous games, over the course of a week or a month or even several months, the improvement would get more consistent and you could see yourself getting smarter, or at least better at these particular gamified skills. Brain vs. Brain is centered around competition, and feels a little less approachable for it.

That’s not to say the game itself shames you. Dr. Lobe is as positive and encouraging as ever, always couching weak spots in gentle terms and nudging you to spend some more time practicing any fields where you didn’t excel. But when you create a puzzle game ostensibly about measuring intelligence, and then pit a player against both friends and a worldwide gaming audience, it’s going to be fertile ground for planting self-doubt.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain measures your competency in five categories–Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize–each consisting of four exercises. The lines between those categories can be fuzzy. The Shadow Shift game, which has you pick out silhouetted shapes, is grouped in the Visualize category when it could easily fit into Identify, for example. Each exercise ramps up the difficulty as you complete phases of it on a timer, adding both more elements and complexities to those elements. By the time you reach the top few ranks, you may need to sit and think for several moments. Some exercises become downright inscrutable, at least in the final few seconds you have remaining on the clock.

Your single-player options are limited to Practice, an unlockable Super Practice mode that starts the exercises on a higher difficulty level, and the holistic Test function. The Test is meant to show your aptitude across all five categories by serving them up one at a time, resulting in a pentagon-shaped spider chart with sharper spikes in the fields where you excelled. The idea is to give an easy visualization of where you’re doing best and where you could stand to improve, and it does that well. When I first started I was extremely lopsided toward Memorize and away from Compute, which squared with my own understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. After some practice I made the graph roughly more symmetrical, which is ultimately the goal–to brush up on weaker spots so you’re well-balanced across the disciplines.

That said, it’s not an exact science. The Test function plucks one of each category’s exercises at random, and after practicing there were still some exercises that I just didn’t connect with very well. Even within a category I felt comfortable with, there would inevitably be an exercise I struggled with. If one of these weaker exercises happened to be the one that came up during a Test, it would throw off my entire score, and the test would be a wash. Similarly, some games are especially brutal at burning your clock, which can impact your score. The higher levels of Fast Focus, a game that slowly reveals a picture to you, take so long to reveal anything even potentially recognizable that it can be maddening watching the time tick away.

You can brush up on these skills in Practice mode by taking on one event at a time. That helped, but sometimes I would find myself frustrated by the timer suddenly pulling the plug on an exercise. Some of the more advanced exercises take more time to think through, and by the time I reached one I wouldn’t have enough time to invest in it before it abruptly ended. The Get In Shape puzzles, for instance, have you build increasingly complex shapes out of small parts, and I would have liked the opportunity to take some of the advanced puzzles at my own pace. In those moments it didn’t feel like I was really building my skills. Rather, I was just racing to give myself time to even attempt to build more advanced skills. Super Practice helps by starting you at a higher difficulty level, which also makes it easier to rack up higher scores.

The main competitive mode in the Solo menu is Ghost Clash, which pits you against ghost versions of your friends, other profiles on the same Switch, or strangers across the world. Finishing the exercise first gets you more points, and the first to 100 points wins the clash. It’s not quite a head-to-head competition, but it reproduces the basic effect well. Another method of competing with friends is checking your Ranking, which shows your Solo scores across both the Test and each individual exercise. A local Party mode lets you compete against other players, and includes some decent equalizing features such as a special “Sprout Mode” intended for younger players. Still, a lot of the games require some fundamental math skills, so very small kids would likely be lost. On the whole the in-person competitive modes seem aimed at leveling the playing field in a way that the online modes aren’t.

One odd-duck element to this is the use of touch controls versus a traditional controller. Big Brain Academy has its roots on the Nintendo DS, which came with a dedicated stylus. Brain vs. Brain maintains this element and lets you use touch controls, and in my experience that actually seems to be a big competitive advantage over a controller. But the Switch never feels totally natural as a touchscreen device, both because of its oblong shape and the fact that it doesn’t come with its own stylus. Plus, it’s just strange to have a competitive game where handheld players have such a huge competitive advantage based on the touch-based control scheme.

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Your reward across all of the single-player modes is coins, which unlock outfit options for each 10 coins you gather. Longer events like a full Test or competing across all the categories in Ghost Clash nets you more coins, but the progress is still slow-going and will take a regular playing regimen to actually unlock everything. Like the other brain-training games, this is obviously meant to be a daily habit. The outfit options aren’t all that compelling in themselves, but I did get a little smile out of seeing my avatar dressed in a deerstalker cap and fancy vest.

It’s never been totally clear to me if brain-training games like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy are actually exercising your brain or simply improving your skills at these particular exercises. The takeaway of these games may be that there isn’t actually a clear distinction between getting smarter and getting experience. Most of the time I just had to remember to slow down and approach the exercises cautiously to improve my score, which feels like a lesson in patience and focus as much as the ability to compute or analyze on a dime.

Big Brain Academy, and the entire brain-training sub-genre of puzzle games, were never as medically precise as they purported to be. But they were always about the fulfillment of self-improvement, not bragging rights. Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain, thanks to its new competition hooks, feels just a little bit coarser. It’s still plenty of fun in small doses, and the exercises are well-made and for the most part ramp up nicely. Just don’t take it too seriously, and whatever the leaderboards say, remember to run your own race.

Ghostrunner: Story-Driven Project_Hel DLC Announced, Launching January

Next year, a new story-driven DLC is coming to first-person cyberpunk action-platformer, Ghostrunner, and it’s called Project_Hel. 

IGN revealed the news yesterday after developer 505 Games teased the “Ultimate DLC” last week. It turns out that “Ultimate DLC” was Project_Hel, the upcoming story-driven DLC where players will control Hel, one of the bosses from the game. Project_Hel will go live in January, but before that, some players will have the chance to go hands-on with it during a private beta held sometime before the DLC’s launch. 

Hel will be a “combat-oriented character designed to appeal to ‘new players and veterans,’ and will feature her own ability progression system,” according to IGN. The story of Project_Hel will take place over six new missions that task Hel with descending from Dharma Tower, a locale heavily featured in the base game. Alongside new missions, Project_Hel will include new enemies, new bosses, and six new songs from Daniel Deluxe. 

505 Games told IGN that it was initially planned as a smaller DLC before becoming a “full-blown Ghostrunner experience.” It will hit PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Amazon Luna on January 27. It will cost $14.99.

The studio also revealed that a new Holiday Pack would hit the game on December 7, and it’s a free cosmetics pack that includes holiday swords with matching gloves and more. 

While waiting for Project_Hel to launch in January, read about how native PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of Ghostrunner launched back in September. Then, check out this flashy neon pack that launched back in August alongside new assist options and a roguelike wave mode. Read about how 505 Games has already confirmed Ghostrunner 2 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC after that.  

[Source: IGN]


Are you excited about Ghostrunner’s Project_Hel DLC? Let us know in the comments below!

Top 3 Most Popular Fortnite Skins at the Moment – VGR.com

Epic Games has released more than 1,000 skins to Fortnite Battle Royale in the past four years. Some of them have turned out to be the most popular Fortnite skins of all time. On the other side, some of them are rarely seen in the game as their popularity is quite low.

With Chapter 2 ending in just a few days, we have the list of the most popular Fortnite skins at the moment. These are the skins that are used frequently by players and they will most likely remain popular for many years to come. Popular dataminer Lucas7yoshi shared this interesting information with the community, so let’s check out who’s on the list!

Kakashi is one of the most popular Fortnite skins

Kakashi Hatake is ranked third on the list. This anime outfit was released just two weeks ago, yet it’s become extremely popular. It arrived as a part of the Naruto collaboration and has become an instant hit.

Kakashi is one of the most popular Fortnite skins.
Kakashi is one of the most popular Fortnite skins.

Fortnite players use Kakashi 2.83 percent of the time, which is simply incredible! In all fairness, he definitely is one of the best-looking skins in the game. On top of that, this anime character was extremely popular even before Fortnite, so it’s not surprising that he ranks this high.

Charlotte is on the list as well

Charlotte is another skin that was recently released. She came to the game with the Chapter 2 – Season 8 Battle Pass and has become very popular. Even before the season was released, many Fortnite players were hyped about her as she was shown in the Season 8 teasers.

Fortnite players use Charlotte 3.57 percent of the time.
Fortnite players use Charlotte 3.57 percent of the time.

Players can unlock Charlotte on the first page of the current Battle Pass. Furthermore, she can be found at Pleasant Park as an NPC. This outfit has seven different styles and each one is amazing. Considering that many players like simple skins, we can expect Charlotte to stay on the list for a long time.

Aura’s popularity is still high

Epic Games first released Aura back in May 2019. Despite being out for two and a half years, this outfit is right at the top of the list of the most popular Fortnite skins. Aura has a bad reputation as most players who use her are considered “sweats” or “tryhards.”

Aura is on top of the list of the most popular Fortnite skins.
Despite being out for more than two years, Aura is on top of the list of the most popular Fortnite skins.

According to the dataminer, nearly five percent of Fortnite players use Aura, which is very impressive!

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