No, this isn't an exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn snap. It's one of, ahem, bongmaster00's level 180+ pets in ARK: Survival Evolved - that's some dedication right there!
PTC Hetty found and shared a Microwave Mug Pizza recipe courtesy of Bigger Boulder Baking - THIS IS AN ACTUAL THING! That said, after buying former WWE commentator JR's collection of sauces, I could do with some crusts for dipping bah gawd.
Having taken a food break, lets talk games! ImmaturityRules picked up Street Fighter V and pretty much summed up the current experience succinctly:
It's in a bit of a state at the moment, unfortunately.
The gameplay is pretty barebones, with most of the usual features "coming soon".
A real shame considering the strength of the gameplay.
DE4N MUFC confirmed what we already speculated - Uplay's transition to Ubisoft Club makes it no less of a pain to work with. Falling victim to compatibility issues, as many do, he requested Ubisoft delete his old account, only for them to delete the active one and its contents. Ouch.
Onto happier things. PTC l1am posted an Unravel thread to share his gushing review with you folks, and his sentiments were echoed for the most part. Plasma wing and PTC Hetty find it "a fantastically charming game" and "really brilliant" respectively, whilst also acknowledging some "rage inducing" frustrations. It required "a little patience and admittedly a lot of swearing" for Plas to overcome some of the trickier parts, but if you've ever played online with the Yorkshireman, you'll know it doesn't take much to have him swearing like a trooper.
Take his (Xing Tian) failed tower dive at the end of this SMITE clip. Just be glad you can't hear what me and Metalrodent could in our Xbox Live party.
Whilst I've been playing SMITE with Plas and Metalrodent, PTC Decent Jam held a community gaming night on The Division's open beta, which saw a healthy turn out - keep an eye peeled for the resultant video soon.
We're home to a talented bunch. Moderator Max returned from university baring good news:
Uni life update:
Congratulations on all fronts! We also extend the same congratulations to MrkDhn10, who's been accepted for a master's degree on Classics and Philosophy!
On the other hand, some members seem to be running a sort of dodgy Pokémon breeding front, trading the poor pups for fixed wins on Street Fighter V (provided they can connect). I'll be keeping a moderator's eye on these happenings...
Last week's scale modelling inclusion spawned a models thread, in which Metalrodent revealed his tank obsession now expands beyond the virtual in World of Tanks.
Meanwhile, Heavyarms_Kai shared more Gundam models, coming in both badass and cute, cuddly flavours.
Somebody remind me to share my Play Arts Kai Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance at some point.
Leaving the bosom of our cosy PTC forums, we'll be venturing out into the uncharted wilds of social media now. Following the HTC Vive pricing reveal earlier this week, Twitter user @JerrodS32 was unmoved by the steep $800 price point.
It certainly does look impressive.
Jerrod enjoyed the previous community round-up so much that he joined the forum both to interact with everyone, and in the hope that he'd feature in a future round-up. Well, we like to make dreams come true.
Check back next Friday for more community shenanigans. If YOU want to feature, it's simple, click those three lines in the top left of your screen - yes, those - and select Forum from the list to be whisked away and get involved. You can also follow our social profiles by clicking the respective icon on the bottom right of the page. Easy.
See you next week!
There are always a lot of good games coming out, whether it’s the latest instalment in a franchise you know and love, or an intriguing new spin on an old idea, vying for your attention. The biggest deal for me this year though is Remedy Studio’s Quantum Break, and with the news that it’s just gone gold, it’s high time you started getting excited about it too.
The way it all works, as explained by charismatic Studio Head Sam Lake, is that the game sections follow one side of the story, while the live-action parts focus on the other. Since you play Jack Joyce fighting against the shady sounding Monarch Solutions, you’d assume they are just Generic Evil Company #3453, but with Gillan’s role being described as ‘friend-turned-enemy’, hopefully there will be more depth to it, which will be explored in the TV show element, and the TV element will change based on your choices in-game.
...Quantum Break looks like it has some interesting mechanics to play with, being centred around the concept of manipulating time
I know what you’re thinking: ‘I remember a game trying to tie-in a TV show element before, what was it called again? Oh, that’s right, Defiance, I wasn't mad about it...’ You’d be right, and though the game and its SyFy TV show weren’t that well-received critically, that doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the idea. In fact some of the moments where the two pieces overlapped was enough to raise a smile with minimal effort, here the TV show is entirely incorporated into the game, so there’s no issue of battling for ratings or dealing with network executives to worry about.
The real strength of a game though, is the actual game, and Quantum Break looks like it has some interesting mechanics to play with, being centred around the concept of manipulating time - particularly in combat, but also hopefully with some puzzle elements too. Being able to freeze enemies in place in a time bubble while you pummel them with bullets, or sprint across an area while they are stuck in place fills me with excitement, similar to the time-bending antics of Max Payne. This is no accident of course, in that Payne was created by the very same studio, and reportedly the game builds on that very same world-building engine, albeit an incredibly re-tooled version.
While it isn’t everything, the next big thing that gets me excited is the style. The way sound reacts to the manipulation of time and everything we have seen about the game to date makes it a compelling experience to jump into as well.
Whether the game will be the smash hit the Microsoft arguably needs from one of its (console) exclusive IPs remains to be seen (the game is out on 5 April), but, like a few other titles we’ve seen here and there, there’s plenty about this title which points to it adding up to more than the sum of its parts.
Micro-transactions are a part of gaming now, whether we like it or not; that much is clear. But is there a point where it gets a bit too much? Chris and Emily discuss the arguments for and against them - but what do you think? Let us know on the forum.
This is the acceptable face of micro-transactions. If a game’s essentially free, then throwing some money the developer's way both ensures that they can feel justified in the approach, and can keep the game fresh with new content. It's when you've already forked out for a full-priced title that it can seem a mite greedy.
It’s uncertain where subscriptions fall; Head Writer Sam sees them as a sort of forced micro-transaction. For example, a Final Fantasy XIV subscription would cost you a whopping £100 over a ten month period, whereas that same amount spent on Neverwinter would make you a total badass, and you wouldn’t need to spend a penny more thereafter. To keep playing Final Fantasy XIV, you’d have to keep up with that £10 a month sub. Emily sees things differently, as you’ll discover in due course.
...we've now come to accept DLC, even welcome it, as long it's not of the micro variety
My take on subscriptions is similar to Sam’s, although if you know you’re going to put a lot of hours into something I see no problem in paying upfront. I renew my Xbox Live Gold subscription every year, for example, even if I’m currently slogging through some massive single player RPG. The fact that we console owners already pay a fee for multiplayer privileges is possibly why subscriptions aren’t looked on too favourably. It would have to be something pretty special to charm me into paying a monthly sub. Of course, not having to cough up for DLC is a definite plus point.
Destiny's The Taken King DLC could set you back as much as a new game, but it's packed with content and most seem to believe it's good value for money. Now look at the horse armour pack for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It only cost pennies and almost everyone agreed that it was a bit naff. In both cases the pricing appears to be a fair reflection of the content. The only difference is that we've now come to accept DLC, even welcome it, as long it's not of the micro variety.
Understandably balance can be an issue, especially in a competitive multiplayer title. If a game feels 'pay-to-win' many will avoid it, but more and more often we're seeing only cosmetic items offered for real world cash, like costumes, weapon skins and, you guessed it, horse armour.
Even then, most games offer an in-game currency system that’ll allow you to earn items without spending a bean. Paying in these situations is basically just using a fast-forward button for people who don't have as much free time and still want to experience all aspects of a game.
I say leave ‘em to it.
I've bought micro-transactions in the past (no, not the horse armour) and will continue to do so as long as I feel the price is right. Sometimes even when it isn’t I’m compelled to offer something as a thank you gesture to a developer that’s spent countless hours of their time crafting a product I enjoy.
Ultimately, I think micro-transactions serve the same purpose as kickstarter projects, or early access releases. They let the creators know that you like the idea and want to see more, as well as giving them the funding to continue. Vote with your wallet, as they say.
Think about that the next time you laugh at a completely ridiculous armoured horse.
Ok, I'm going to start by saying I had the Horse Armour in Oblivion. My horse rocked that bad boy like Beyoncé in the Single Ladies video. Then, I'm going to go on to say that in some circumstances, I can see why developers include micro-transactions, and the benefit of them. However – for the most part I think they’re a pointless addition to console gaming that represents nothing but greed, impatience and in some cases, the gullibility, of human nature.
Perhaps that’s overly harsh, you think. Maybe even offensive, though that’s not my intention – I've fallen prey to it myself before. My biggest gripe is with games I've already paid good money for. I'm talking the likes of Destiny, Mass Effect 3 and more recently, Tales of Zestiria, which I'm going to use to make my point.
I would rather pay a £30-£40 price tag and/or a small monthly sub to help the devs with upkeep
Part of the fun of games, for me, is the learning curve. When games like Zestiria introduce paid bonuses like ‘instantly gain 10 levels’ that you can pay real money for, it defeats the object of it. I could part with a few quid and breeze through most of the game being massively over-levelled. Similarly, if I can use real money to buy the best weapons early on in the game, what’s the point in exploring to find and collect more? The game renders its own systems obsolete.
On the subject of MMOs and other free to plays, I only have experience of Neverwinter (entirely free to play) and Final Fantasy XIV (which I paid for initially, and has a monthly sub fee). In Neverwinter, I can (and did, before the expansions appeared) get through the entire game parting with no money in the process. As much as I wouldn’t describe it as pay-to-win, however, I would say unless I’m willing to put silly amounts of time into farming Astral Diamonds, or to just pay out for them, it is ‘pay-or-get-left-behind’ when you get to the higher levels of 60+. I need a silly-high gear score to do late-level Epic Dungeons, which is really difficult to attain, and in a group my lowly basic horse mount means I get left behind within a few seconds and miss bits of the mission.
Actually, I would rather pay a £30-£40 price tag and/or a small monthly sub to help the devs with upkeep, and have items readily available and equal opportunity to everyone else in the game without having to spend 60+ hours a week playing it. Also, on a side note, pricing up some of the items in the store on Neverwinter, the prices run up to nearly £100.
Now, take Final Fantasy XIV. I paid around £25 for a digital copy of the initial game and the Heavensward expansion. With that I could play for 30 days, at which point I needed a subscription to carry on playing. The sum total of that is around £10 per month. In game, the only extras you can pay for are essentially pay to look different – costumes that were available in past events, and different mounts. The only difference between those things is the appearance. I have no disadvantage to anyone else of my level for not having bought them. If I want to craft something, I can just do it. I don’t have to ‘wait 6 hours or use X amount of currency to fast-track’ that item. To me, this method is highly preferable to waiting hours for things to finish, or to getting my arse kicked in PvP because I refuse to part with more money. I would also point out, that the servers on the game I pay monthly for are much more reliable than the free-to-plays I've encountered.
There is of course a happier medium with games like Elder Scrolls Online, which you need to pay for initially but has no sub fee, following much backlash when they considered porting the PC system over to consoles. Whilst it therefore has some of the issues I found in Neverwinter with transactions in game, it doesn't suffer quite as badly for it.
Now, where did I leave my armoured horse…
Thanks to Metalrodent for the header image, undoubtedly taken to portray Jill Valentine's struggle for survival in Resident Evil Remastered. Lost, alone, desperate, and... "looking hawt". Well, I guess we'll start as we mean to go on.
Which is your favourite pose? I'm partial to the first, it's quite emotive.
Meanwhile, I've been partaking in PTC Xbox Game Nights on SMITE with Plasma wing (sabre wing2) and Metalrodent - a (sometimes) dream team threesome.
You win some:
You lose some:
Yes, that is a level 13 Xing Tian soloing our Titan. If you have no idea what that means, just know it's embarrassing.
So moving swiftly on, Editor James "Decent Jam" Parry has outed himself as a bit of a bugger. I can confirm he's partially responsible for the extinction of the dodo, as evidenced in this Ark: Survival Evolved Game Preview snap.
I can only assume he coerced ninjadan8988 into joining in, we are dealing with a man that would kill you for beating him in a mountain bike race, after all.
Yikes. Remind me never to miss a deadline.
Final Fantasy XIV has seen a player influx thanks to being "adorable", "cute" and "sexy" apparently. I'll leave you to decide which is which amongst Features Editor PTC Hetty and Heavyarms_Kai's screenshots.
I'm definitely unsure on the sexy one...
That about wraps-up the antics for this week. If you fancy featuring in a future edition, it couldn't be more simple, just be an active member of the community and share your screenshots, game clips, stories, opinions and more!
Thanks to everyone that contributed this week, as well as each and every reader for making Pass the Controller a friendly corner of the internet.
2016 is looking pretty good for our pastime of choice, Far Cry Primal, Crackdown 3, Star Fox Zeros and Uncharted 4 are all on their way this year, however, there is one franchise and specifically its iconic character I feel has been overlooked for some time in the game department, a character that hasn’t been given the attention he deserves – Judge Dredd.
For starters, the Judges’ weapon is pretty much the perfect shooter tool as it’s multiple guns all rolled into one. The Lawgiver could really help the flow of battles with its multi-fire modes negating the need for the frenzied cycling of weapons to deal with the different types of enemy in front of you. Rapid fire for cannon fodder, armour piercing for tougher enemies and high-ex for room clearing are just a few examples of what the multifaceted weapon could be used for.
On Xbox One, the Lawgiver could even be operated with (whisper it) Kinect. Ever since Microsoft started selling their consoles minus the peripheral it hasn’t seen much use in games today, but the much maligned peripheral could be put to excellent use in any Dredd game by allowing you to select your ammo of choice by calling out to your Lawgiver, much like the Judges themselves do. Using Kinect this way is an idea that’s already been touched upon before in other games such as Skyrim, when Bethesda allowed you to live out your Dragonborn fantasies by calling out the game’s ‘Shouts’ to activate them.
While warbling in an ancient dragon tongue might not be for some, who wouldn’t enjoy standing before a host of enemies and growling the words ‘Rapid Fire’ in their best Dredd impersonation and having the Lawgiver bleep back in response.
There’s also plenty of locations in Dredd’s universe that would all make excellent settings, but I would most like to see Mega City One, the vast and crime ridden home of humanity, brought to life.
During my search for a decent Dredd title to play from the past, I managed to pick up a copy of Judge Dredd: Dredd VS Death for the GameCube. What I played was fairly enjoyable, but limited in what it could achieve. The supposedly densely populated city looked a bit sparse and sprites were often repeated next to each other, shattering the illusion of a bustling metropolis.
While Rebellion (Sniper Elite, Aliens Vs Predator), the developers of that game, were of course limited by the capabilities of tech back in the early 2000’s, what today’s machines are capable of means that a decent sized, and well populated Mega City One could probably be achieved.
I’m not asking for an actual 1-1 replica of the city to be remade in which to explore, but we only have to look at GTA V, Arkham Knight, The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 4 to see that this generation of consoles and PCs could make a decent go at recreating a sizeable in game world.
There’s a wealth of characters and lore in place that could be used in game, with rival international Mega Cities, psychics, mutants, Cursed Earth, block wars, lunar bases...
Obviously the core aspect of any Dredd game would have to be action and taking the law to the lawless with a hefty dose of violence, and as Bezza points out, creating a large open world for the sake of it can be detrimental to a game, but a bit of exploration could go a long way to making you feel like an actual Judge patrolling the mean streets. A free to roam city could also make use of Dredd’s bike, the Lawmaster, and allow you to pick up side quests or stamp out crime where it’s found or by receiving optional missions on the fly over the comms.
As for the plot of any game, the world of the Judges is rich with potential storylines and even though it was a great story, it doesn’t have to be a run of the mill cop vs crime lord event the 2012 movie Dredd focused on.
The comics I’ve been flipping through have so far featured a vast array of sci-fi tales such as robot revolutions, a blackmail scheme run by maniacal surgeons cloning wealthy citizens and a Judge who was unaware he was carrying the homicidal conscious of a disgraced and believed dead former Judge deep within his own psyche. Certainly not something you’d expect to see on Midsummer Murders.
There’s a wealth of characters and lore in place that could be used in game, with rival international Mega Cities, psychics, mutants, Cursed Earth, block wars, lunar bases and even the supernatural stars of Dredd VS Death, the Dark Judges, who originally hailed from a parallel dimension. Not to mention the franchise cross-overs the series has seen during the past with both Alien and Predator making appearances in Dredd’s world, characters who happen to be the stars of Rebellion’s AVP games. Did someone say DLC?
At the moment Dredd seems to have been limited to making appearances on mobile games, with 2012’s Dredd Vs Zombies the latest title to feature the Judge, which seems a bit of a disservice to the character.
It would appear that the ball is firmly in Rebellion’s court with regards any future Judge Dredd game after they purchased the home of Dredd and the IP, 2000 AD comics, sixteen years ago. There were apparently plans in place to make a tie-in for the movie back in 2012, but due to commitments to other titles it never happened, unfortunately.
Seeing as that game never came about and it’s now been thirteen years since we last had a proper, fully fledged Judge Dredd gaming experience, I would say it’s certainly about time we had a drokking new one.
Do you agree that Judge Dredd deserves another taste of gaming glory? What would you like to see in any potential game? Are there any other characters or franchises that have been overlooked for too long that you would like to see brought to life on consoles and PC?
Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
The recent outage of PSN and the subsequent backlash on social media brought something to my attention – games, and gamers, have become far too reliant on the online services we use to partake in our hobby.
Monetary compensation, I’m assuming is what they mean; but let’s be reasonable and break that down for a second. Based on the price of a 12-month subscription via the PSN Store at £39.99 (and that’s a maximum - it can be picked up considerably cheaper elsewhere), if the service goes down and you can’t use it for even as much as 24 hours, you’ve lost mere pennies. Around 10p, actually. It wouldn’t even be worth compensating, would it? That’s like buying a chocolate bar, finding it broken in the wrapper and then asking for all your money back. Yes, most of my analogies do involve food.
Let's be realistic here, the real issue is that Netflix won't work
The real issue the whole scenario raises, though, isn’t one of entitlement, as annoying as I obviously find it. It’s actually whether games and the systems we choose to play them on have become so reliant on an online connection and service, that it seems they’re fast becoming unplayable without one. Personally, I was barely affected when I played while the network was down – I’m a social leper so friends and playing online aren’t an issue - although it was mildly annoying completing a game and not being able to synch the Trophies to see what I had left to do; but not so much I felt the need to berate Sony over it on social media.
However, certain games were completely unplayable during the period when PSN was not functioning properly, and that’s where the situation starts to get a bit more complex – service outages and DDoS attacks aside, not everyone actually has access to a decent internet connection, if any at all. When the Xbox One was announced, Microsoft were made out to be the devil incarnate for the apparent suggestion that the console wouldn’t work without an internet connection – yet there is little to no backlash against the developers bringing out games that you can’t play unless you connect first. Is the inability to play those particular games really the fault of Sony, or should the hate be directed at people making games that require an online connection?
It appears, however, that Sony intend to extend subscriptions of both PS+ and PS Now for those who were affected by the downtime anyway – so all those moaners should be quite content. Or not. Probably not. Besides, let’s be realistic, the biggest issue here is that if Netflix won’t work how am I supposed to put Paw Patrol on for a tantrum-throwing three-year-old? Forget the 10p worth of service I’ve lost; what’s left of my sanity is at stake.
Have you got it yet? It's not that cryptic, you'll kick yourself to be honest; Valve. Yes, Valve, creators of everybody's favourite mute Gordon Freeman in the Half Life series, everybody's favourite psychopathic robot killing machine AI thingymabob GladOS in Portal, and everybody's favourite zombie killing documentary Left 4 Dead.
Okay, maybe people love Steam and its PC dominance, sales and simplicity. But that’s a lot of money made, money that can be spent on hiring some staff who like to work rather than have Nerf fights or whatever.
Let’s have a look at the goods then shall we? As previously mentioned I haven’t had any experience with the popular Counter Strike and Team Fortress games, so we’ll forget they exist.
With Left 4 Dead, however, I have a lot of experience, specifically the second game whose downloadable content includes all of the first games maps and characters. A simple game, L4D2 essentially has you fighting zombies on your way from A to B. The magic lies in the AI director however, a system that changes the game’s enemy resistance, locations and supplies based on your playstyle. Healing friends and sticking together means a more lenient level with more supplies, trying to hoof it alone and you have any number of obstacles hindering progress up to the frantic crescendos that end the levels, creating timeless stories for you and your mates about your antics. L4D2 is probably the most replayable and fun game going.
Arguably the most ingenious puzzle game created, Portal got an audience thanks to an inclusion in the Valve compilation The Orange Box, which everyone bought for Half Life 2. Again a simple concept, the game has you create an in hole and an out hole to progress through obstacles in cleverly designed levels, the brilliance was in the depth of gameplay which included making you think about momentum and cleverly placing portals whilst mid portalling, this is all whilst a homicidal AI guides your progress. By the time the second game came along, the variations on gameplay including magic goo and a brilliantly funny script meant you were dreaming about portals and begging for more.
Half Life is the game that put Valve on the map and most likely on your computer thanks to Steam. It can be described as a first person shooter with puzzle elements and a barmy story about aliens doing stuff, I don't really know it's just a lot of fun, okay? Both the first and second games were examples of what computers could do, maxing out most systems on release thanks to crafty new game engines. Not only that but in terms of gameplay, it showed how sequels could improve and expand whilst pleasing fans and holding the core gameplay, which is stellar and holds up today along with the graphics. The popularity even made Valve release two expansions, Episode One and Episode Two. Of course, there were three promised and more than 10 years later we're still waiting. Perhaps the next entry will be simply Episode Three?
I think one of the major problems is the expectation. Half Life 1 and 2 showed what was possible with computer games, perhaps the reason a third episode or a sequel hasn't arisen is due to them not being able to push things further? Maybe the rumoured Source 3 engine isn't up to snuff? Doubtful. It is much more likely Valve just want to deliver the experience everybody wants, or expects. That level of expectation must be daunting for all three franchises, especially Half Life which doesn't have the benefit of a flourishing modding scene adding new levels frequently like Portal 2 and L4D2 enjoy. In any case, the silence regarding any new games in so many years is simply frustrating but I'm sure that if something is in the pipeline it will be worth the wait.
The only problem is that the silence makes us think maybe there isn't anything in there. They've had time to do their entire primary school maths again anyway, twice. Hopefully they won’t leave it another five years and make it - ironically - three times.
We talk to GalaxyTrail’s Stephen DiDuro about new game Freedom Planet, being an independent developer, Gunstar Heroes, sequels and siding with Eggman (Dr. Robotnik to many of us).
Can you tell us about your team at GalaxyTrail?
GalaxyTrail began with just me, but shortly after I started working on Freedom Planet I made the decision to put together a team of artists, designers and voice actors to help me. It was the best decision I ever made and I don't feel Freedom Planet would have been nearly as successful without them. To that effect, we're essentially a multinational team spread across the globe, mostly in the United States, Canada and Australia. Our main office is based in New York.
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market?
This is a fantastic time for indie developers, with more tools than ever at our disposal and more ways to self publish our games, but with that ease of development comes a flooded market. I think building a game is actually the easy part: the hard part is selling it. Marketing a game requires a completely different set of skills, and even then there's no guarantee that it will catch on.
Despite the difficulties, I think it's worth it to get your game out there since there's a good chance it will eventually reach its audience. Nothing says that your game needs to be an overnight success, and as the industry changes and gamers look for different experiences, they often stumble on older titles that were previously overlooked. The recent rise in visual novels is an example of that. In the case of Freedom Planet, we were a slow burner for over a year before we reached success with our Wii U release.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Try not to invest, haha. Indie mega-hits like Minecraft and most recently Undertale have come completely out of nowhere and were impossible to predict.
Personally I feel like consistency is an undervalued quality in the game industry. There's so much focus on innovation and people who try new things that the developers who iterate and expand on existing concepts are frequently overlooked. They play a very important role in the development of games. I feel that when you're just starting out, you'll stand a better chance of finding a team or company to work with if you pick your strongest skills and present yourself that way instead of presenting yourself as a catch-all "game designer". On the other hand, if you start your own team and look for people to help build your game, you'll see what I mean.
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
People might assume that my answer would be Sonic, but I actually don't consider myself much of a Sonic fan. (Eggman all the way, muahahaha.) I'm more of a fan of the concept of fast-paced platforming that franchises like Sonic, Mario and Mega Man are known for.
It's really hard for me to pinpoint a single game here; a lot of my values as a player and a developer stem from several different games that I consider to be technical masterpieces, but of course I have a special place in my heart for platformers. Mega Man games on the NES taught me the value of teaching a player the rules of a game through clever level design. Mario games taught me the importance of pacing and sticking with a tried-and-true formula. Sonic games taught me about iconic character design that stands out from the crowd. Treasure games like Gunstar Heroes taught me to go absolutely nuts with my action sequences and boss battles. Ratchet and Clank taught me that games can have Saturday morning cartoon-styled cutscenes and still be enjoyable.
...Personally I feel like consistency is an undervalued thing in the games industry. There's so much focus on innovation and people that try new things that the developers who iterate and expand on existing concepts are frequently overlooked...
What are your hopes and plans for Freedom Planet looking into the future?
As your might know, our team recently announced Freedom Planet 2. My biggest dream at the moment for the Freedom Planet series is to establish an identity for it that's distinctive from its sources of inspiration, and I feel like the sequel will give us that chance. It will have the same basic game-play as the first game but on a more ambitious scale with higher-res sprites, fluid animation, a higher stage count, crazier boss fights and more customization features.
As a developer, I'm also fascinated with story in video games, and I'd like to pursue a method of storytelling for Freedom Planet that perfectly compliments its game-play. The story is the single biggest thing about the original Freedom Planet that I feel could use refinement.
What's next for GalaxyTrail?
Freedoms. Freedoms in planet form. Although honestly, I have some ideas for games of other genres I'd like to try someday. I've always wanted to make a 3D racing game and I think that's something I'd love to explore in the future when I have more experience with Unity. A simulation game like the ones Maxis used to make in the 90s might be fun too.
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Does PC count? I'd totally take that on a desert island with power and keep building games while I wait for someone to rescue me. The years would fly by, and I'd be the first game developer to build a game from start to finish on a desert island with natural electricity.
Thanks to Stephen at GalaxyTrail for answering our questions. Freedom Planet is available now on Wii U and PC - keep your eyes on PTC for our upcoming review. As always, tell us your thoughts on the forum.
The journey of The Division (or, Tom Clancy’s The Division, to give it it’s overly-long full title) hasn’t been easy. The game was announced at E3 back in 2013 to a lot of hype and excitement, but has been shown an increasing amount of skepticism ever since - so what’s it like now?
The premise of a city overtaken by an unknown disease might not be the most original story this year, but it does serve as an impressive, and relatable setting for the third-person shooter.
It isn’t described as a shooter though, but as a classless RPG, so is it? Well there are three skill trees which you can progress through, with only a handful available in the pre-release gameplay we’ve experienced so far, which you can reset to adjust your character for different experiences - playing with friends as opposed to playing alone, for example.
Despite being an online-only title, the game, in theory, is completely playable by yourself. In reality though, the content at the disposal of solo players will feel extremely limited compared to those going around in a group, making their own fun.
When you try to answer the question of what The Division is, the easiest comparison is Destiny, but with the difference in pace it feels like an unfair one.
The story missions themselves, which challenge you to complete objectives to build up your central base with security, medical and technological upgrades (which offer additional skills, and perks, the latter of which we’ve yet to be allowed to mess around with), in theory making the overall game easier.
One of the biggest selling points, outlined in the most recent trailers for the game, is the seamless experience when shifting between areas and game types. Thankfully the experience so far does hold up, with only the odd drop in framerate when moving into an action-packed ‘no respawn’ zone, for example. Being forced to slow down when entering your base does bring back memories of the slow walk from Gears of War, but really it’s only a few seconds you feel restricted.
the gameplay definitely holds up to what could still be considered the industry-standard for the genre. Movement feels fluid, and plenty of button prompts and lines on screen make traversing the map easy (but you can turn them off if you find them distracting). Weapons feel quite basic at the moment, with only a few available making it difficult to feel a real difference, or the impact of mods, which give bonuses to things like reload time, stability and optics.
The ever-present HUD (which can also be hidden) gives the game a very familiar feel to Splinter Cell Conviction, which created a lasting impression by projecting objectives and other information directly onto the map itself. Here it’s more subtle, with the aforementioned button prompts highlighting areas of cover and different options while an orange arrowed line leads you to your next objective like a strange, futuristic ski lift.
When you try to answer the question of what The Division is, the easiest comparison is Destiny, but with the difference in pace it feels like an unfair one. Missions are scattered around the map, ranging from to encounters with AI enemies to more interesting side missions, which hint at elements of detective work through the digital reconstruction of past events, alluding to some of the more memorable moments of the Arkham series - though it remains to be seen if that potential is taken and run with once more content becomes available.
At the moment the biggest frustration is not having enough icons to investigate on the map, even the nearest side missions can send you to places half a kilometre away, and though that isn’t much in reality, it feels like too far when you’re trotting over there on foot and have to go half way around a block to get to an alleyway on the other side.
The Dark Zone, the game’s designated Player vs Player area, feels like little more than an area for destructive elements to group together at present, with even less to explore and uncover, though perhaps this is due to content being held back for the game itself, but it seems strange to offer such an underwhelming amount of content in what is held up as one of the game’s core features.
When deciding whether to shell out on the game, it will largely depend on how much you enjoy the style of something like stablemate franchise Assassin’s Creed. The map will be something covered in dots to explore and you’ll find yourself being constantly distracted by something on the way to something else. The overall objective is clear - to restore New York City to glory - but whether there will be enough constructed narrative woven in to hold your attention will depend on what style of storytelling you prefer. There’s an awful lot of detail put into the world, though perhaps not as much as in the original reveal, but so far it doesn’t seem narratively driven, more that items have been put in to populate an area and make it look ‘lived in’.
The Division has had three chances to exceed our expectations and so far has only succeeded in meeting them, whether this will change on or post release (the game has already confirmed three major expansions) remains to be seen, but for now, stay frosty.