NEW GAMES

 

Respawn Entertainment®

Star Wars: Fallen Order

Super Deluxe Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

CDProjekt Red®

Cyberpunk 2077

Collector's Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Respawn Entertainment, the studio that brought you such delicious multi-player first person shooters like Titanfall and one of the latest battle-royale games to hit the scene, Apex Legends. Despite a recent drop-off in active players thanks to competition with Fortnite, EA reported the game had between eight and ten million players a week as of July 2019. The success of Apex Legends is actually important to note here because the success of the next video game entry in the Star Wars franchise would hinge on whether or not Respawn can pull off a single- player game, something they’ve only sort-of done in the past with the Titanfall series.

 

Previous single-player Star Wars games involved action over a linear story-line with very limited features and freedom of mobility and judging by the official game-play demo released a few months ago, this appears to be the case again. The demo did not appear to show any kind of player customization, skill tree, or leveling of any kind so basically what you have is a semi-autonomous single-player action-adventure in which the protagonist fights through a series of inter-connected maps with boss encounters sprinkled throughout. The game’s actions are broken up with cinematic cut-scenes that are highly produced with narration provided by Hollywood. Actor’s Cameron Monaghan, Debra Wilson, along with Forrest Whitaker reprising his role as Saw Gerrera, all do a terrific job of portraying some of the classic characters from Star Wars past. Their artistry really adds a dramatic element and character interest to the game that otherwise would be lacking.

 

Thanks to Unreal Engine 4, the galaxy far, far away that Respawn has rendered is complete with extremely detailed textures and fluid dynamism across the entire depth of every scene. Unreal Engine 4 also does something really well, hence why it is so popular with competitive gaming titles, is its ability to handle combat mechanics more conducive with the Metroidvania design style that Respawn wanted for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. No doubt having seen what Unreal Engine 4 is capable of doing with Apex Legends, Respawn set out to design a Star Wars where the focus would be on delicious combat and majestic light-saber wielding which is poignant when you consider the background of the main protagonist.

 

Padawan Cal Kestis is one of the last survivors of Order 66 which makes him a real threat to the Empire. His training and knowledge is from a golden era of Jedi in which the art of the light-saber was mastered and executed. Though technically you are a Padawan, you are just as lethal as your master and mentor Cere, and very well trained in the light-saber arts which you are more than enthusiastic to demonstrate on waves of helpless storm-troopers. This game will defiantly have you channeling your inner Jedi because the skills you get to deploy during combat are both refined and brutal. The hack-and-slash combat is extremely satisfying and a big reason why this game will be appreciated by all Star Wars fans when it is released on November 15th, 2019. No doubt fans will be salivating for more since its release is only a couple weeks after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes out in theaters. This is a core-experience-centric game so there are no plans for DLCs at this time.

Probably the most anticipated video game launch in a decade, Cyberpunk 2077 is a role-playing; action-shooter being developed by CDProjeckt Red and by all accounts is going to smash all kinds of gaming records. Though this may only seem like a foregone conclusion, in reality CDProjekt has been working on this game for the last five years since the highly successful Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was completely implemented. It’s been reported that Cyberpunk 2077 currently has around 500 staff working on the project and will likely cost around 100 million dollars to finish, more than the Witcher 3 including DLC content however CDProjekt RED is highly confident that the high production cost will be worth it to the core game and ultimately make for a much more polished product than what consumers have had to endure as of late from game developers. I think CDProjekt’s self-assurance that Cyberpunk 2077 will surpass The Witcher 3 in sales is right and CDProjekt RED is in a good position right now to finish really strong with this game.

 

As you can imagine there has been a huge amount of chatter on social media about this game and it seems that opinions are mostly positive. CDProjekt RED managed to win over one hundred awards at E3 2018 however the game was criticized for being in first-person instead of third-person which I think is a good point considering all of the character customization options this game has included. CDProjekt RED wanted the game to reflect a high-tech dystopian future in which identity is no longer sacred and where anybody can be anyone at anytime. Inspired by films like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell; Adam Badowski, the visionary behind the game, wanted to visualize cybernetics, robotics augmentation, and human body modification as normalized in a society dominated by corporate factions each with their own Neo-political views. A very ambitious concept for a video game indeed and based on the information already out there, CDProjekt RED is going to pull it off. Still, it would be nice to see your own character in the third person so that body customizations and clothing (or lack thereof) can be shown off. Nevertheless, the video game that everyone has been anticipating for a long time is fast approaching but because technology has always lagged behind this particular video game concept, it really wasn’t until those two live action movies that the audience could finally see and understand a vision of a place where all lines of humanity are blurred and technology is the only true master.

 

As of right now there are two versions of the game planned for consumers. The standard version with the base game and a collector’s edition which includes a lot of swag and the kind of thing I could see as the perfect gift for a collection. After launch the game will be given a multiplayer feature which should be really fun and informative by allowing everyone to engage in a trans-humanist world simultaneously, it’s going to be interesting what people are going to come up with that best describes how they envision themselves in a techno-future world. CDProjeck Red no doubt will support the online version and expand on this brilliant techno-savvy world that is Cyberpunk 2077. Kudos to CDProjekt Red for their accomplishment and to Adam Badowski for seeing his vision through and you can experience that vision when Cyberpunk 2077 comes out on all platforms, including Google Stadia, on April 16th, 2020.

 

Gearbox Software®

Borderlands 3

Super Deluxe Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Ubisoft®

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Steelbook Gold Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

The reviews are out, the play-throughs captured, and the players have responded with general positivity over Gearbox’s latest installment to their long running franchise - Borderlands. This third installment features four new playable characters with amped up abilities and a crap load of weapons to rain destruction. Boasting “over one billion guns” each with its own procedurally generated stats, modifications, and behaviors makes using them such a joy and takes the art of gun play in a shooter to a whole new level. Beyond the sheer variety of options, all the weapons are very well detailed and behave with realistic physics depending on the weapons’ stats. That kind of specificity makes using all the weapons very cerebral, requiring skill and tact from the player to operate.

 

Borderlands in the past has been a game developed using an in-house proprietary game engine however for this latest installment, Gearbox has elected to go with the Unreal Engine 4 which is a universal technology and supported on many platforms. Unreal Engine 4 is wicked fast and responsive for shooters but this was not actually Gearbox’s first time dabbling with Unreal. Well remember the game Battleborn? Unfortunatly for Gearbox they were the unfortunate victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Battleborn, a game which ran on the previous Unreal 3 Engine, had significant drawbacks compared to a similar MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) released at the same time from MMO publishing giant Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzards release of Overwatch which ran on Blizzard’s in-house proprietary game engine was much snappier and technically superior at the time to Unreal 3 which had already become obsolete by the time Battleborn was released to the public. Gamers rejoice because whatever drawbacks Battleborn had, Gearbox learned from that development process and with Unreal Engine 4 on the horizon could finally take advantage of all the next-generation hardware. Gearbox’s “Official Recommended Requirements” for playing Borderlands 3 on a PC is an AMD Ryzen 2nd Gen or Intel equivalent Hazwell quad core or better CPU. For GPU you’ll want and AMD Radeon RX 590 or Nvidia equivalent like a GeForce GTX 1060 and sixteen gigabytes of physical memory (RAM). If you’re lucky enough to meet those requirements, the game will look absolutely stunning however the game does not support Ray Tracing for now but defiantly be on the look-out for a definitive version in the future that does.

 

In this game you finally get to set out beyond Pandora and explore new worlds that are drawn and animated brilliantly. The worlds are populated by larger cities, full of activity, and really depict the Borderlands universe on a much grander scale which is so refreshing to see. The game comes alive and you actually feel you are part of the story as much as you are just playing a role in co-operative mode. As a first-person action adventure, it defiantly makes an impact and is a terrific game to play whether you are with friends or gunning solo. Gearbox by all accounts stuck to the core premise that has always been Borderlands and improved on its architecture and the result is the best Borderlands to date and could very well be the best game of 2019 although the release schedule for the last quarter of this year is stout. So far Gearbox has included a Season Pass for the game but has not announced any DLCs although I think it’s safe to say that the reception to the game thus far has been positive and could position Gearbox to want to further advance the game’s endgame. I think there is a good chance they will so whether you purchased now exclusively on Epic Games or are going to wait for the universal release due approximately six months from now, you will at least be treated to more endgame and more fun.

So if lil’Wayne got an early copy then it must be good right. Well as it turns out, it is. Ghost Recon Breakpoint is the follow-up to the highly praised tactical action-shooter Ghost Recon Wildlands and is the 12th installment to the Ghost Recon franchise. There really has been no competition to the last two Ghost Recon games as far as tactical shooters go. Wildlands was dazzling in its complexity and use of RTS style elements alongside live action while being immersed in a profound landscape of jungles and mountains. There was cover and motion everywhere which really made your tactics that much more important and there was nothing more exhilarating than landing into a hot zone in a mini-bird. Wildlands went beyond just another shooter and delivered an exotic simulator where you could feel and command every aspect of the battle space by land, sea, and air.

 

The Ghost Recon series is what I would characterize as a pseudo-role-playing saga in which the player is locked to a main protagonist but still retain some character customization options like being able to select your gender and face. Breakpoint has gone a step further however by allowing players to select from four different class types. This feature fits terrifically with Ubisoft’s idea of having multi-player integrated into the game allowing players to drop-in and drop-out. Having a full team of four with each player playing a specific class is so fun because you can experience squad based combat tactics as it was intended because Ubisoft partnered with the U.S. military in order to adapt the game as best as possible to real world conditions, environments, personnel, and equipment. Of course doing it all with a little bit of panache because it is a video game after all.

 

Entering the story, you quickly learn all is not what it seems and violence is just the beginning. Obviously stealth has always been a critical combat tactic and an elegant solution for dispatching your enemies quickly. However sometimes you just want to see fireworks and Breakpoint will happily oblige which makes it slightly different from its predecessor that was more tied to staying quiet unless provoked. If I had to choose a game to compare this with I would say Farcry 5 because of the story which does lend itself to the open-world that has been packed full of roaming enemies and contact is always imminent. You can be less tactful and a more vicious with the trigger and I think that makes for a fantastic action-packed thriller of a video game.

 

Early accounts of the game have been favorable and the combat mechanics were demonstrated as having been an improvement from Wildlands and is a bolder implementation of the AnvilNext 2.0 engine that has served Ubisoft game developers very well for that past five years but Breakpoint could also mark the end of an era and perhaps soon, the beginning of the next Anvil. Ubisoft has already announced two DLC chapters to be released following the game’s launch on October 4th, 2019. Still, continue to look for further support and add-ons like gear and skins. I can defiantly see a lil’Wayne mod coming out in the future.

 

Infinity Ward®

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Reboot Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Obsidian®

The Outer Worlds

Standard Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

The next installment of Infinity Ward’s long running first-person shooter drama will represent the 16th installment in the Call of Duty franchise. This installment also marks the soft reboot of the Modern Warfare sub-series that has been one of the most popular among the franchise. The very first Modern Warfare was so heavily awarded that Infinity Ward released a re-master of the game on its 10 year anniversary. At the time, the game was a game changer and for the first time people got to experience a modern first person shooter. Built on Infinity Ward’s own engine, the game performed very well with enhanced graphics and cinematic scenes that blew you away. The shooting was superb and combat felt fluid with realistic ballistic effects and gun physics that really completes the immersion you feel while in the fight. The game did receive a little criticism for the A.I. which did seem more passive than engaging and some felt enemies were not responding as they should based on your movements and actions, though this all may be over-analyzing what is essentially a straight-up arcade first-person shooter and better believe you will be doing a lot of shooting in this game, especially in the harder modes, as you face enemies around every corner. The point-and-shoot mantra of the arcade style is now brought to the controller and mouse and that I think is what a lot of people found appealing and enjoyable about the game regardless of its A.I. limitations.

 

Fast forward almost two decades since the first Modern Warfare was introduced and what we have is a highly elevated re-introduction to the art of modern combat on a battlefield that Infinity Ward has envisioned. The realism factor has been increased significantly requiring players to assess targets, watch backgrounds, and make impactful decisions in the heat of the moment that could potentially change the course of a battle. This latest installment of Modern Warfare has been criticized however for shading the medium between the realism of war and shall we say a more theatrical interpretation. Regardless, there’s something about the Call of Duty series in general that’s really gripping and gut-wrenching because as a soldier you do have to carry out orders but doing so may cost you the lives of you and your men, albeit these type of command decisions are removed from the player in a way since they are passive and usually happen as part of a cinematic cut-scene. The stories are linear but the player’s progression through the story can happen through many vantage points during different scenarios, each with its own pre-determined outcome.

 

Basically, Modern Warfare is the ultimate War Drama and entertainment that is designed to shock but also to get the juices flowing. The game plays more intuitively and draws more of an emotional response than some of its competitors like EA DICE’s Battlefield series which tends to be more hardware-centric. Publisher Activision have already announced there will be no season pass required for post-launch DLCs enabling Infinity Ward to release free content at will to players. This is undoubtedly good news in terms of support for the cross-platform multi-player which will be included as part of the game. This is important news considering Modern Warfare is likely to become the next eSports game of choice. Otherwise, it is a highly desirable game for anyone looking for a first-rate shooter with an entertaining single-player campaign mode. You can pick up Modern Warfare on October 25th, 2019.

The Outer Worlds from Obsidian Entertainment is targeted to be the next great hope for RPGs after a tumultuous year of showings by major RPG titles and by all accounts it’s going to do what the others could not and that is actually be an RPG. There’s nothing pseudo about this game and that in-of-itself is what makes this game so refreshing and brave in this era of expendability and short-term gains. In a world where even game developers are trying to innovate for the sake of innovation, Obsidian actually did something revolting…they made an actual video game, with an actual story, and didn’t have to compromise on the combat.

 

If you haven’t seen the trailers or game-play releases on YouTube you’ll defiantly want to check them out because they show a game that’s very similar to another famous RPG franchise – Bethesda’s Fallout series. Well you’re not imagining things if you thought the same and that’s because the two men who created the Fallout series are the same men behind the game. Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky would bring their considerable RPG expertise to the game and add the direction that a game of this scope needs. Obsidian did actually develop Fallout: New Vegas which is still considered by some to be the best Fallout in the series despite not being a very sophisticated shooter. This time however, Obsidian has the power of Unreal Engine 4 which they have pushed to the max by using more complex blueprints, real-time global illumination, and robust game logic to handle a crap ton of A.I. Like with the Fallout series, you have the option of partnering with companions for squad-based action so it’s important that the A.I. work as intended. How smart the companion A.I. is remains to be seen however early game-play reveals indicate enemy A.I. works as intended but could still receive a little polishing before launch. The open-world environment looks terrific and there is a distinct styling that separates it from any other RPG. Throughout the open world there are areas where you can expect crowds of NPCs, quest-givers, markets and crafting stations where you can get a full character make-over.

 

So did Obsidian get the combat right in the Outer Worlds? Well Obsidian, not known for shooters, got it right. Shooting behaves extremely well. It’s fluid, responsive, and what you would expect from an Unreal 4 engine build. Some however have criticized the melee for behaving more loose and unrefined with only basic attack animations, making it seem like a game of whack-a-mole rather than a fighting engagement. On the whole, combat is designed very well with an easy to use weapon rotation, quick select, and the most important feature: being able to fire and reload while on the move. The cover system could have been a little more enhanced I think with abilities like being able to peak around corners, sliding, and perhaps even one-action cover-to-cover, but I think for anyone who is already familiar with the Fallout series will not likely find this to be a big deal, mostly because Obsidian has introduced a slow-motion targeting system similar to the V.A.T.S. system in Fallout.

 

Obsidian will no doubt release downloadable content after launch but there is no word yet as to exactly what that will be but players can potentially expect a content creation system similar to Bethesda’s Creation Club allowing them to create custom content, cheats, and add-ons. For consumers wanting to download the game, Obsidian has announced that the game will be an Epic Store and Microsoft exclusive at least for the first year until which time it will be ported to other online marketplaces like Steam. Of course you can always pick up the physical copy for PS4 and Xbox One, when the game is released on October25th, 2019. It’s going to be a wild ride for Obsidian and for fans that have been waiting too long for a success story within the RPG segment.

 

2019