Broomstick League Preview – Rocket Quidditch

My first matches in Broomstick League didn’t quite turn out as I was expecting. My visions of graciously zipping through the air as I scored goal after goal were cut short, as I helplessly stared at the definitely more skilled rival players. Adding insult to injury, an embarrassing moment resulted in general laughter, as I inadvertently scored an own goal, catching the ball after a rebound and taking it into my own hoop without time to change trajectory. The opposing players laughed, my teammates laughed… I laughed.

I was having a blast, even if I was pretty much worthless during my first two matches. Slowly but surely, I was getting the hang of it, learning how to master the intricate art of the blast, scoring the odd goal now and then. I was coming to terms with the breakneck speed at which everything and everyone moved, and joy was finally overcoming frustration.

And I hate Harry Potter with a passion, so credit where credit is due.

Broomstick League Preview Castle Match

The Wizarding World of You | Broomstick League Preview

There’s no way to start a debate about Broomstick League without addressing the elephant in the room. This is Quidditch for the new generation, a game that draws inspiration from the fictitious sport that Harry Potter and friends entertained us with in several films from the saga. It’s not the first game of the genre – there’s an official adaptation for PS2 – but it tries to spice up the matches with infuriating speed and a sense of freedom that takes a lot of practice to master. Broomstick League is to Quidditch as Temtem is to Pokémon, and that isn’t a bad thing at all – they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

The Broomstick League beta gave us a good taste of the aerial mayhem that this competitive fantasy sports game is going to unleash into the world on March 5, 2020. It seems to possess that undecipherable quality where ostensibly simple ingredients contribute to a delicious dish that you just can’t get enough of, as one Rocket League can vouch for. It’s unclear if Broomstick League has the kind of long-term appeal that will keep players zipping around for years, but first impressions are encouraging.

Your first steps into this wondrous world of brooms, wands, and capes start with the character creation. You can pick from male or female, browse a few faces and hair styles, and select additional embellishments such as trails, taunts, and emblems, among other things. While developer Virtual Basement isn’t shy where it comes to using every trick in the book to make a good-looking game, including volumetric smoke and particle effects, the character faces are beyond ugly. You may choose all you want and combine any kind of hair style with it, but the result is always going to be a face that only a mother can love.

Granted, you won’t be paying much attention to this as everyone whizzes by without giving you the time of day, but when the goal celebration time comes, get ready to stare into the soulless eyes of an emotionless puppet. It’s not pretty, and it doesn’t do the game any favors if one of the plans is to monetize it by selling cosmetic items – there’s a Store option, so I’m guessing that this is indeed going to happen. Give some life to those character models and immersion is going to go up a notch. Since the arenas look really good, especially the one set within a majestic castle, this is an aspect that is deserving of further care.

Broomstick League Preview Sand Arena Scuffle

Of Wands and Brooms | Broomstick League Preview

Playing Broomstick League can be an exhilarating experience when you have a full grasp of the mechanics and play a role in a skilled team. You can play in 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 modes, although I’m yet to judge the appeal of playing solo – the more the merrier sounds like a good motto for this game.

Beyond the apparent simplicity of Broomstick League lies a game with enough depth to separate the men from the boys. Boosting is a natural action that still requires a keen eye on the mana bar, and blinking is an option that has the potential of being a gamechanger if used with perfect timing. However, it is crucial to master the art of the blast spell, which is used to take the ball out of the opponent’s hands or give it a knock at the very last second. You’re not going to excel at this game without a full understanding of the blast mechanic and how to time your actions right.

Eventually, you’ll learn other tricks that will give you the upper hand over novice players. Using physics to your advantage is one of those, as you fly downwards to gain the momentum that will give you a significant speed boost. Dashing is crucial to keep the ball under possession, as you dash sideways and avoid the rival’s blast spell. Last but not least, the ball magnet ability can be challenging until you understand how to make it work properly, pulling the ball from the wands of other players at the very last second.

Broomstick League Preview Snow Arena

Solo plays can be remarkable and praiseworthy, but Broomstick League is all about teamplay. Passing the ball from one player to the other is a surefire way to progress without relying on luck and rebounds, frustrating the opposing team’s attempts to blast the ball from your hands.

However, no amount of advice or tips is going to shape your actions as a player. Ultimately, you must rely on your coordination with team members and your overall strategy in the arena. Taking advantage of vertical play is key, aligning pass after pass to progress without hiccups, and aiming your shot from impossible angles are all tactics that a winning team needs to master.

Broomstick League is a fun time for everyone, even if you’re not a fan of the theme. This is a game of skills and the gap between new and veteran players is testament to the depth that it possesses. With leaderboards, player leveling, and every aspect of stat tracking that you could desire, Broomstick League is shaping up to be a serious offer; the question remaining is if these wizards have enough magic to secure a spot within a very competitive genre.

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Temtem Impressions – Gotta Tame ’Em All

Do you know why they are called stress tests? Because they will stress you out, make you want to tear your hair apart. Well, perhaps the official reason behind these tests is something more elaborate, like getting the servers under severe pressure and to try and break them, like Crema is trying to do in a series of brief Temtem stress tests. Or, as I prefer to call them, Queue Simulator 2020 or Black Screen Reboot Saga. It was all worth it in the end to get these early Temtem impressions though, even if I lost a few strands of hair in the process.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Temtem is destined to become a gigantic hit, you can mark my words. It’s not because it oozes originality or showcases high production values – no, this is an educated guess based on the visible excitement surrounding the imminent release of a true Pokémon MMO game, minus the Pokémon. And no, Pokémon Go doesn’t entirely fit into the desired MMO pattern.

Let’s not sugarcoat it, Temtem is ostensibly inspired by Nintendo’s franchise and barely manages to play it safe as to avoid a cease and desist letter from the fine folks at Nintendo. Because you’re not catching Pokémon here; instead, you’re taming Temtem. You see, you’re not a trainer, you’re a tamer, which makes a whole world of difference, doesn’t it?

But that’s beyond the point, and the point in question here is that Temtem is the game that everyone wishes for a long time. It’s not just another Pokémon clone, it’s a Pokémon MMO and a labor of love by a group of developers who were clever enough to see the opportunity and grab it by the… Pokéballs.

Temtem Impressions Character Creation

Gotta Tame ’Em All | Temtem Preview

Your first step in Temtem is the creation of your in-game avatar, the tamer that you will control. You can choose between male or female, skin color, and one of four idle poses. Next up is the choice of face and hair, followed by top, bottom, and backpack. Don’t expect any sort of groundbreaking character creation system, as there is no option to tweak advanced features such as body parts or add tattoos, but all things considered, it’s a very decent and straight to the point creator. Besides, it gives you a first insight into the awfully cute graphics that power the world of Temtem. It’s a mix between Pokémon Sword and Shield and The Sims 4, albeit in a cleaner, less detailed yet very colorful art style.

Personally, I love it to bits. The interiors are exceptionally cozy and neatly designed, with your standard appliances livening up the place: the flat-screen TV, the comfy sofa, and the kitchen cabinets look very inviting. However, someone should tell aunt Aina not to leave that huge kitchen knife lying around, there are reckless kids running around everywhere, barging into other people’s homes without warning.

Thankfully, the house equipment isn’t there just to look pretty; Temtem comes with a full housing system, allowing you to buy your house at Atoll Row and give it the makeover that you wish for. Although I haven’t progressed enough to try this feature – I was far busier rebooting the game and crossing my fingers –, I can see this aspect becoming extremely popular among tamers everywhere. You can purchase furniture and place it wherever you want to, decorate your walls, and invite your friends over.

Outside, the lovely island of Deniz awaits us, one of the six floating isles that Temtem has for us to explore. Embrace this lush Mediterranean paradise with its sunny beaches, grass, and trees. It’s an idyllic place where water and wind Temtem proliferate, usually hiding deep within the tall grass, waiting for you to come by.

Temtem Impressions Battle Technique

The main character design and animation is as cute as can be, and the Temtem themselves are nothing to be ashamed of either. Early on, you’ll only find small and somewhat cute Temtem, but these will evolve into sophisticated creatures that demand respect, while remaining as your faithful companions in the journey to defeat the evil Team Roc… I mean, Clan Belsoto, who is trying to rule over the Archipelago.

While there is nothing sizable to complain in terms of visuals, I can’t say the same thing about the map design. I’m not very fond of the way that the game funnels you along a mostly linear path, destroying any genuine feeling of exploration that you might be looking for. As an MMO, it should offer more freedom and encourage you and your friends to go out exploring, discovering new and wondrous places at your own pace. Instead, you’re often asked to follow this road and dance to the tune of its makers, in an old-fashioned and arguable design. Besides, it dearly lacks a jump button.

To make myself perfectly clear, you do have the ability to drop off ledges to explore some otherwise inaccessible areas. However, the outcome is that you’re forced to run the same path again to return to your previous location, because you are unable to climb even the smallest ledge. This way, the world becomes narrow and constricted, a feeling that is heightened by the number of players that are traveling around almost in a single file fashion. Hopefully, the other islands offer more and vaster open areas to lessen this odd claustrophobic feel.

Temtem Impressions Tamers Get in Line

Apart from the scripted combats that make the storyline progress, Temtem has a fair share of random encounters. You’re peacefully traversing some tall grass when, suddenly, a hotheaded wild creature decides that it is a beautiful day for a brawl. If you think that it could make a nice addition to your squad, go ahead and use a TemCard to try and capture it.

Tamers can have up to six Temtem in your squad, but you can only use two at a time in battle. Your first tricky decision arrives early on, when you are invited to pick your Temtem among a selection of three: Crystle (Crystal type), Smazee (Melee type), and Houchic (Mental type). At a certain level, your Temtem evolves into a much more fearful creature. The TemPedia available in the game currently displays 141 Temtem, a very reasonable number for a new franchise.

Battles in Temtem may seem as straightforward as they come, with a natural order to creature types and how they affect one another, but there are some underlying tricks that give the upper hand to the best strategists. Combat is turn-based and mostly 2v2, with each Temtem having a set of four techniques to use against their opponents. You can attack or apply various other effects, with every technique costing a certain number of stamina points. While it may look shallow to the inattentive player, there are features such as technique holds and synergies that provide the battles with enough depth to hopefully keep them engrossing for a long time, especially in the competitive scene.

Temtem Impressions Tucan Play That Game

By the end of the four hours of the first stress test, Temtem was finally stable, and I was enjoying my time capturing wild creatures and exploring new parts of the map. Suddenly, the fun came to a halt as the servers were abrutply closed and every tamer was sent packing. It was fun while it lasted, and the substantial amount of stress and frustration was entirely worth it.

With the Temtem Early Access release date set for January 21, 2020, the excitement for this game is peaking. After so many years, we may finally get a real Pokémon MMO; it may be coming under a different guise, but it brings the same amount of charm and crazy creatures as you would expect from such a game.

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Dark Age of Camelot Free-To-Play Impressions 2020

Before World of Warcraft, there was another massive MMORPG capturing the attention of thousands of players worldwide. In 2001, Mythic Entertainment released Dark Age of Camelot, a fantasy MMO with Realm versus Realm combat as its focus, despite offering a PvE experience as well.

I dearly recall the day when the game arrived in my hands. It came in this bulky box that is designed to stand the test of time and looks great in every shelf, even nearly two decades after its release. Try doing that with your digital library of games, will you?

Following Dark Age of Camelot, Mythic released Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in 2008 to a warm welcome. However, it turned out to be its final MMO, having shut down by late 2013. Mythic Entertainment closed soon after, in 2014, but this wasn’t the end of Dark Age of Camelot, with Broadsword picking up on this and Ultima Online, keeping the studio’s legacy alive.

In October 2019, Dark Age of Camelot finally surrendered to the times and added a free-to-play option called Endless Conquest. In a day and age where most games tend to do so after a year or two, this long-running MMO deserves a pat in the back for supporting its paying players for nearly two decades. Alas, a vigorous player base is crucial to keep such a game going, and that is why this move makes perfect sense.

Dark Age of Camelot Free-to-Play Impressions 2020 Castle View

As I booted up the game, it felt like an exquisite time-traveling experience, with everything that it entails. The graphics are acceptably low poly, but it was the font used during character customization that gave the game an antiquated feel. Oddly enough, the start of the game itself brings a cleaner, more eye-friendly font choice, although the UI remains as rudimentary as expected. Clearly conceived in a time when functionality was key and with a few text commands to support this notion, it is the sheer embodiment of pragmatism in detriment of friendliness and style, a challenge that ensuing MMOs eventually decided to tackle.

While you can expect the choice of class archetypes that we’ve grown to know and love, with tanks, healers, spellcasters, and the like, Dark Age of Camelot isn’t very friendly on its approach. That is understandable, since this was early days for the genre and the developers were paving the road for an unpredictable future. Therefore, going with a Sorcerer but failing to find a supporting class such as a Paladin to join you is a death sentence. You need to find a good balance right off the bat because this MMORPG isn’t going to take you by the hand, apologize for its mistakes, or point you in the right direction.

Well, except for the quest markers, a handy feature to have due to the open world nature of the game. Given the slow pace and the now rudimentary mechanics, it would be a burden to explore the realms of Albion, Hybernia, and Midgard without at least some clues. This is a game that is heavy on lore and content, and the expansions that followed only served to increase its scope. In tandem with the Dark Age of Camelot free-to-play release, these expansions are now available for free as well.

Dark Age of Camelot Free-to-Play Impressions 2020 Castle Battle

“XP is shorthand for experience” | Dark Age of Camelot Free-To-Play Impressions

That hint above sounds just like something only a videogames rookie would be thankful for, right? However, shortly after the turn of the century, this was very reasonable advice for a genre that was extremely niche, a notion that was only dispelled with the release of World of Warcraft in 2004. And the rest is history, as they usually say.

But going back to the Sorcerer, my XP… I mean, my experience with this class was ambiguous, to say the least. This is a class that has a penchant for crowd control, but the truth is that there is no crowd to control during the many first hours of questing. Although I did try to dip my feet in Realm vs. Realm combat early on, the battlegrounds were deserted and far from what I was expecting to find – a deafening silence that was made all the more baffling by the slew of idle NPCs. It does make sense, however, as these battlegrounds are divided by levels and the Dark Age of Camelot veterans are surely testing their might on the high-level areas, or in the main RvR zones in New Frontiers.

The issue here is that for a game that is so focused on large-scale guild battles, it’s highly likely that its player base is the equivalent of a very restricted boys club that few new players will be able to enroll for. For that, you would need other players to begin the adventure with you, something that isn’t highly plausible, or at least easily achievable. I did stumble upon a few players and even joined one of them for a couple of quests, but we soon disbanded, never to meet again.

Dark Age of Camelot Free-to-Play Impressions 2020 House

This means that a new player will be forced to venture solo for the majority of quests, with such an unnatural path reflecting on your perception of combat. In hindsight, the tab targeting system was superb for its age, and still holds up today if you’re not too picky. However, the creaks are showing and what was considered fun many years ago now feels like a laborious and tedious task. Thankfully, each class has enough skills for you to experiment with, giving you a feel that you have a wide range of options at your disposal, especially for caster classes.

Dark Age of Camelot has rightfully earned its place in videogaming history. It’s a remarkable achievement, designed in a time when the genre was taking baby steps, with little more than EverQuest to serve as inspiration. It’s a testament to its quality that it remains live after so many years, but the truth is that it’s a harsh and somewhat barren game that is entirely geared toward organized groups of players. Endless Conquest was a great trip down memory lane, but this Dark Age of Camelot free-to-play release ends up being extremely time-consuming and mechanically outdated, and I prefer my realm wars to be more contemporary. So, I guess I’ll wait to see what its spiritual successor Camelot Unchained brings to fans of King Arthur and realm combat.

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Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs – Tactical Warfare in the Skies

Steampunk is a science-fiction subgenre that has seen some of the best games ever created. Bioshock and Dishonored are two of the highlights, but we can travel further back in time to recollect gems such as The Chaos Engine or Arcanum. It’s this same genre that serves as the foundation for Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs, the new game from DiP Online.

Aima Wars is about a raging war between humans and orcs, but this time the fight isn’t confined to the ground. On the contrary, the larger chunk of the battles will take place in the skies, as aircrafts of unique designs and features fight for the supremacy of their faction.

Far from being a cookie-cutter game, Aima Wars is a daring venture into a brave open world. There’s no denying the similarities with the studio’s previous effort, LuckCatchers, but the core gameplay is enhanced and many features that players were asking for were introduced. Aima Wars isn’t an immediately accessible game, despite the tutorial’s best efforts to ease you in. It takes time to learn the ropes and fully grasp the controls and objectives, so make sure that you like your MMO experiences with a deep strategic focus and a somewhat slow pace.

Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs Teleportation Gate

Resource Wars

One thing that immediately struck a chord with me was the eerie, haunting music in this game, both in the main menu and during gameplay. It has this dark, depressing yet soothing tone that just sticks in your mind and stays with you for days. I’ve fired up the game a few times just to listen to the soundtrack.

However, we’re not here to listen to music, no matter how great it sounds; we’re here to wage war and stand our ground for our realm. Before you start the game, you must select the faction that you want to represent. Will you go for the Empire of Humans or the Union of Orcs? There doesn’t seem to be any explicit advantages to each faction, but we wouldn’t exclude the assumption that the races may have inherited their attributes from LuckCatchers. This would mean that Orcs are better at extracting resources, while Humans have the upper hand concerning processing and manufacturing. Your choice also affects the starting region and the specifications of your airships.

Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs Settlement

The first thing that you’ll notice is the scope of the game world is. The sprawling sandbox open world is surely designed to accommodate hundreds of players in massive scale wars. The eventual downside of this ambition is that Aima Wars demands a substantial player base in order to fulfill its potential. You’re going to spend a long time traveling to your destination, but thankfully you can use teleportation gates to save you precious time.

The UI allows you to control your ship’s altitude, speed, and assorted activities such as extracting, landing, or using the shield and glide options. You can control your ship using the mouse, keyboard, or a combination of both, which personally resulted in the most comfortable choice.

One of your objectives in Aima Wars is collecting resources. It’s not by accident that the game is titled like that; aima is one of the resources in short supply that you must gather to upgrade your settlement and subsequently your faction and your ships. The other resources are iron ore, coal, timber, sulpurit, and miphrilite ore. Some of these resources are very scarce, and with both factions trying to get to them, clashes are inevitable.

Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs Glide

Call of Dragons

Unless you have a reasonably developed airship, conflict must be avoided at all costs. During the first hours, your focus should be on extracting resources and shooting down any dragons that you happen to come across. The mythical fire-breathing creatures are largely a breeze to take down, only becoming a threat when they considerably outnumber you. During dragon migration, for example, these are a force to be reckoned with, as you can obverse countless hordes of dragons migrating. If left unprovoked, these creatures should do no harm to your airship or settlement; however, if you decide to engage them, there will be hell to pay. This is a risk versus reward event, where you may substantially increase your currency, but you may end up losing your ship, or worse, your settlement.

With the currency that you earn and the achievements you’ll regularly complete, you can level up and unlock new skills. Far from being optional, these skills are crucial to open up access to better features, destined to improve your ship’s capacities and your settlement’s assortment of possibilities. While the skills aren’t mutually exclusive, the skill tree will make you face some though choices, as it would take weeks or months to unlock them in a balanced way. Instead, you should focus on the route that you aim to achieve, and stick to the plan. You could choose construction as your goal if you want to build new and better airships, or go for the energy skills if you prefer to unlock the full potential of your ships.

Aima Wars Steampunk and Orcs Enemy Base

While you enjoy complete freedom in the way that you wish to tackle objectives and expand your settlement, combat is automated. You can pick the type of weapons for your airship and switch between a selection of cannons, torpedoes, and missile launchers, but otherwise the shooting and aiming is entirely out of your control. This isn’t a downside however, as you’ll be busy controlling the airship’s altitude and shooting range, flanking your enemies, and cooperating with your teammates to take down the opposing forces.

Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs is a very original MMO that starts slow and demands your time and dedication, feeling like a niche game at its core. Unlike other games nowadays where you reach level 20 in five minutes, this is a game where you have to earn your levels, yet it offers you the freedom to go for it as you see fit, removing the shackles that restrict your creativity. It’s only after a few days’ worth of playing that you begin to see some of the elaborate features at work in the game, spotting the ambition under the hood. If its potential will ever be fully realized, that much is in the hands of the developers as much as it is in the hands of the players.

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Warframe Empyrean Update Now Available

For those of you that were looking for more Warframe to play over the holiday season, you’re about to get your wish. During tonight’s broadcast of The Game Awards 2019, Digital Extremes announced that the latest update for the game, Empyrean, has officially gone live.

In this new four-player co-op battleship experience, the Tenno have managed to get their hands on an ancient Orokin technology, along with a deadly weapon — a star-bound battleship. That ties in with the all-new environments that you’ll visit within the game. These include Earth, Saturn and Veil Proxima, so you’d better get ready for travel.

As you journey in the future-tech Railjack battleship, clans will come across the hostile Grineer forces, taking them on in fast-paced, real-time battles. You’ll need to use whatever tactics you can come across in order to stay in one piece.

Along with the planets to visit, players will also be able to upgrade a number of new systems. These include Intrinsics, Avionics, Components and Armaments. Across all of these, they’ll become more powerful, becoming a threat against the Grineer forces that await.

That said, console owners won’t be left out in the cold. While it’ll still be a bit longer before they get their hands on Empyrean, they will be able to enjoy the Rising Tide update, which is available now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Tenno can download this update right off the bat, and begin their research into building the Dry Docks and the Railjacks, in the hopes of being ready for the next confrontation that lies ahead.

 


 

 

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Warframe Empyrean Preview – Ninjas Play Star Wars

With the Warframe Empyrean expansion, Digital Extremes is making a bold move – one more, we could say, after the massive leap forward with the release of the Plains of Eidolon update. From open world to the depths of space, this is where Empyrean is going to take us, spicing up the ninja battles with the intense and frantic space combat that is coming with the expansion’s highlight: Railjack.

At its core, Warframe has always been about an engaging and rewarding co-op experience, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Quite the contrary, in fact, as Railjack pushes the cooperative aspect even further, with a vessel requiring a four-strong team for effective maneuverability and combat. Cooperation is crucial to succeed, with the developer’s vision being fully realized when you have a fully coordinated team at the helm of the ship.

Warframe Empyrean Railjack

Ninjas in Spaceships | Warframe Empyrean Preview

Solo players aren’t locked out of the experience, but the focus is on performing roles within the Railjack and the capability to quickly switch from one area to the other, putting out fires and casting powers, in order to keep the ship intact and the goals clearly in sight. Co-op is pretty much a requirement for everything above the first tier of difficulty, so this isn’t exactly suited for players looking for a solo experience. At least, until a specific feature is released, but more on that later. One thing you should know for sure: there is no PvP coming with Empyrean, despite some sizable player demand.

If you’re a regular Warframe player, by now you may already have your ship built and waiting at the Drydock, your personal space hangar. Railjack customization isn’t a light affair, with colors to choose for the different ship exterior parts, and you can add decals and skins as well. You can baptize your ship as you see fit and the name will be proudly displayed on the side, showing your selected moniker to the other crew members. Worth mentioning is the ability to select the level of wear and tear of your ship, going between a scale of shiny and pristine to “I’ve seen things.”

Warframe Empyrean Railjack Avionics

There are a few aspects of Railjack that deserve highlighting, such as Avionics. These are your basic mods and appear divided into three categories. Battle Avionics are active abilities that can be activated by anyone on a turret, and you can have three of them simultaneously. The Void Hole is described as one of the most impressive Battle mods, enabling you to create a black hole that sucks the enemy ships without hesitation. Integrated Avionics are mods that increase the passive stats of your vessel, such as weapons and other base stats, and you have nine slots for them. Finally, Tactical Avionics are ship interior-focused mods about higher-level battle situation management.

Active power management was an option that was originally planned, but it was cut from the system as it was deemed too complicated for the frantic gameplay. The new system is described as more focused, and you are able to manage it in a more intuitive way via the Avionics menu.

With the Avionic Endo that you earn, you can upgrade your grid ranks to improve a mod that fits into that grid. Similarly, you can choose to upgrade the mod itself, paving the way for a “two-way street of upgrading,” as Community Director Rebecca Ford aptly describes it.

Warframe Empyrean Railjack Repairs

It’s advised that you don’t go to outer space without preloading your ship with the resources that you believe you are going to need. Space combat can be costly, so make sure that you head over to the Payload menu to check which resources you’ll be hauling, as you’ll need them to craft munitions and more.

The Intrinsics are a very important aspect of Railjack. This is a new type of player progression system that isn’t overly dependent on grind or RNG, unlocking interesting special maneuvers for the ship. However, these aren’t bound to the ship, being tied to the Warframe itself, which means that if you join other player’s spacecraft, you’re taking these skills with you.

Intrinsics are divided into Tactical, Piloting, Gunnery, and Engineering categories, with a fifth category, Command, to be released at a later date. This one will allow you to recruit your own NPC crew, lending a hand to players who are more inclined to forfeit collaborative efforts and dive in solo. You have multiple slots to which you can attribute crew members and grant them duties that other players would have to do, such as repairing the ship or putting out fires. An item will allow you to respec these abilities when the Command category releases, so don’t hold back with the earned points.

Warframe Empyrean Railjack Void Hole

If you don’t have a Railjack because you failed to complete the quest or you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry, you won’t be locked out of ship-on-ship action. While you can’t form a crew because you lack the all-important vessel, you can use the “join a crew” option to play a role in someone else’s ship – all you need to do this is have an Archwing. You won’t be the host, but as I have previously mentioned, you’re taking your Intrinsics to other player’s ship, so if you have a nice Gunnery level, for example, it will surely come in handy during those firefights. I can already predict a lot of chat recruiting going on in the backstage.

A free flight mode will let you comfortably explore the fundamentals of your Railjack without the looming pressure of risking your ship during a mission.  When you are ready to launch, a cool cinematic triggers, but those brief seconds will feel interminable after a few gaming sessions. Thankfully, Digital Extremes has confirmed that this cinematic is skippable.

Warframe Empyrean Railjack Archwing

In deep space, Warframe Empyrean brings a new kind of gameplay into the limelight. The mission objectives are determined according to the build of the level and which points of interest were randomized into it, so you may be tasked to destroy 30 fighters and five crewships, for example. While you’ll frenetically run inside the Railjack switching places with other crew members, piloting the ship or blasting away, you can go outside with your Archwing for a host of new activities. You can help by taking down opponent ships, or board them and do massive damage from the inside, collecting resources and escaping in the nick of time. Hijacking ships is another option, if you prefer to do so.

Railjack is a frenetic undertaking and the most intense collaborative version of Warframe yet. It is taking the acclaimed game to the next level, adding to its vast scope while remaining loyal to its foundations, rooted on cooperative play since it first launched in 2013. After Warframe Empyrean, the question that remains is where Digital Extremes is going to take the game next.

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Kartrider: Drift Preview – Chasing Mario Kart

Kartrider: Drift is Nexon’s answer to Mario Kart, Nintendo’s uncontested leader of the kart racer genre. However, this would be belittling the legacy of Crazyracing Kartrider, the 2004 game that kickstarted what we can now rightfully call a full-fledged franchise. The colossal success in Korea and China prompted the studio to take the series to the next stage, with a global release that spares no expenses.

A quick look at Kartrider: Drift’s bullet points shows some intriguing ambition and the determination to go against some of the current tendencies. A PC and Xbox One cross-platform game running on Unreal Engine 4, with no mobile version in sight? To some extent, that is daring in our times. The disappointing lack of a fun free-to-play racing game with high production values also reinforces the notion that Kartrider: Drift may be here to fill that void.

Kartrider Drift Preview Ramp

All is Fair in Kart Racing | Kartrider: Drift Preview

The first Kartrider: Drift closed beta revealed a surprisingly player-friendly game with no cash shop in sight. This will surely make an appearance later, as any game with a free-to-play business model needs to be sustainable, but right now it was nice to browse the available customization options without stumbling upon locked drivers or karts.

There were eight karts available during the beta, most of them based on their real counterparts, but three are animal themed. You have monkey, bunny, and tortoise karts, boasting a much more radical design that adds some interesting diversity to the selection. You can’t just rely on looks, however, as each kart is designed around four characteristics: speed, handling, drift, and boost. While a couple of vehicles seem to be slightly more balanced than the rest, there is no way that you can pick one of them and take the victory for granted.

Kart parts are bound to be a vital mechanic in Kartrider: Drift, with items that are predictably unlocked as you gain experience levels. You can customize your kart with your preferred pieces of different tiers, including the front, side, rear, wheels, and booster. These parts seem purely cosmetic for now, and let’s hope they stay that way. The other aspect of kart customization is a lick of paint, with a few preset spots that you can dye to your liking. In the future there will be custom wraps to add to the kart body, taking personal customization a step further.

Kartrider Drift Preview Drifting Items

Those karts won’t drive themselves, so you must pick a driver to embody your persona. The three measly characters aren’t likely to rock your world, and their design is probably going to be one of the more divisive points of the game – this is no Mario and friends for sure. Dao, the poster boy for the game, looks like an exile from Katamari Damacy, although his alternative baseball skin is a bit more agreeable. Bazzi is a boy wearing a teddy bear costume, and Brodi is a mysterious factory foreman. The graphics and animations are beyond criticism, but the cast lacks charisma, and there is a lot of room for improvement here. Nexon may not have a legacy to rival with Blizzard or Nintendo, but it could add a few guest drivers from some of its famous games, including but not limited to Dungeon Fighter Online, MapleStory, and Vindictus. Either that or add charming characters with a distinct identity that really stands out.

Racing is fun and frantic as it should be. Controls can make or break a game such as this one and thankfully Nexon has mostly nailed the feel of an arcade racer. It’s incredibly simple to drive and use the items, but you need to master the drifting mechanic if you want to reach the finish line ahead of the pack. It requires a delicate balance as you drift to fill your turbo meter, avoiding the track barriers by the skin of your teeth. The technique here is to start drifting as soon as you have triggered the turbo so that you keep that momentum going, but it’s easier said than done. You gain experience not just by winning races or placing on the top spots, you also earn points for actions such as drifting, passes, attacks landed, and attacks blocked. Take more than 10 seconds to finish the race after the winner and you’ll be retired, with your experience taking a hit in the process.

Kartrider Drift Preview Item Attack

Boosts are the central gimmick of the Speed mode, but Kartrider: Drift also comes with the Item mode. These are two separate experiences that you can play solo, in duos, or in squads, but you need to choose one mode over the other. Currently, there is no league mode of sorts to participate in, something that is sorely lacking but is certainly in the works. It is essential to give the game a long-lasting appeal because this kind of multiplayer racing may be fun, but it will only hold your attention for so long.

The Item mode makes the races look and feel akin to Mario Kart, as you randomly collect power-ups in certain locations of the track. You may get a useful booster, but there are quite a few attack and defense items as well. There is a shield to protect you from enemy attacks for a brief time, the mandatory banana to make the rival slip, barriers to make your chasers crash, a magnet to pull yourself closer to a driver in front of you, among others. The items add an element of surprise to the races and the winner isn’t always the best driver, but this mode surely boosts the fun factor in ways that the Speed mode isn’t capable of.

Currently there are nine tracks available, set in diverse environments including forests, glaciers, graveyards, and villages. The track design pulls all the punches in order to keep races frantic, with ramps, shortcuts, and long straight roads to make the most out of the turbo.

Kartrider Drift Preview Race Start

Kartrider: Drift makes good use of Unreal Engine 4, delivering some pleasant sights and colorful tracks. The lighting effects and reflections are top-notch, and the game conveys an accomplished cartoon mood capable of entertaining kids and adults alike.

The closed beta is a nice presentation card for Kartrider: Drift. The core mechanics are in place and it just needs more: more drivers, more tracks, more features to keep you coming back for another race. Nexon seems to be committed to its game and it might as well be – it may be no Mario Kart beater, but it sure is nice to welcome a serious contender to the genre.

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Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview

Grinding Gear Games is in a tough spot right now. Don’t take this the wrong way; the New Zealand-based games developer isn’t going through some drama or afflictive times, quite on the contrary. The tricky issue here is that the first ever ExileCon delivered in spades, and it’s not easy to see how the next edition will manage to live up to such high standards.

The announcement of Path of Exile 2 was the uncontested highlight of the convention. This nearly groundbreaking but probably not quite beast of a game defies description, being some sort of radical hybrid sitting between huge expansion and spectacular sequel. Path of Exile Mobile deserves an honorable mention as well; the earnest and slightly awkward way that Grinding Gear Games’ co-founder and managing director Chris Wilson and his team introduced the game is obvious proof that they are doing this with sheer respect for Path of Exile, instead of pushing for a quick cash grab that would end up damaging the nearly stellar reputation of the franchise.

Franchise. Until a few days ago, it would be a delusion to say something like that about Path of Exile. But now, Grinding Gear Games is finally putting the “S” in games. So is Riot Games, with its recent announcement of a League of Legends fighting game, a FPS, and a few other games. Maybe it’s something in the water.

Before Path of Exile 2, we’re getting a few expansions starting with the massive 3.9 update, officially titled Conquerors of the Atlas. The announcement trailer spawned a mix of excited and shocked reactions, and quite understandably so – after all, it’s not every day that you are your most dangerous threat.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Conqueror

You Versus You | Conquerors of the Atlas Preview

According to Chris Wilson, Conquerors of the Atlas is designed to reinvigorate Path of Exile’s endgame, a couple of years after the War for the Atlas expansion brought the Shaper and the Elder influence mechanics, and the brand-new story follows those events. Admitting that the endgame was getting “a bit stale,” Wilson is adamant that the new expansion is going to change that, adding to the flexibility and bringing some exciting fights and rewards, without compromising what fans love so much about the Atlas gameplay.

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” These famous words uttered by Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight seem like a perfect fit for your role in Conquerors of the Atlas. In the trailer, Zana describes her tale of bravery in face of an overwhelming evil, and how she ended up sealing these threats in the Atlas. The five bosses that you must face can be briefly seen in their human form, and a glimpse of them as the Conquerors reveal their evolved and threatening nature, which is based off real player builds. This is a remarkable way to seamlessly bind lore and grind, in a metagame of sorts that comes as a shocking revelation to all but the most perceptive players – the Exiles are their own worst enemy. You can almost taste the bittersweet irony behind it all.

One of the most noticeable changes is straight up visible when you open the Atlas. You no longer start your quest in the corners, instead starting near the center of the map, and working out your way toward the corners. This is a change that should add more freedom to the way that you choose to explore the regions. The map is divided into eight regions, something that you’ll verify by the yellow borders. In the beginning, there are 19 maps visible to the players, and you must unlock the rest by leveling up regions of the Atlas through defeating Conquerors and earning watchstones, which you can socket to increase the tier of the maps within that region. Fully upgrading a region will reveal more maps and raise each one within to tier 14-16. You can repeatedly target Conquerors in case you want to earn more watchstones and have all eight regions at max level.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Map

With the new expansion, sextants can be applied to watchstones and affect an entire region, instead of a single map as they previously would. This gives you up to four sextants for each region, and you can unsocket watchstones between regions as you wish. Another change is that Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Cartographer sextants now come with unique modifiers.

The support gem plus system is another feature coming with the new expansion. These gems are “very high level, super powerful versions” of the support gems that you can already find in the game. This priceless loot drops from Conquerors and there are around 35 in Conquerors of the Atlas. Wilson talked about a couple of them, Fork Plus and Ancestral Call Plus, proceeding to a short demonstration where chaos ensued, and an appropriate “RIP graphics card” comment stole a legitimate laugh from the audience.

With Conquerors of the Atlas changing the endgame and shifting the focus from the Shaper and Elder, what will happen to those items that you fought so hard for? You can rest assured that these aren’t going away, and Zana’s missions will give you Shaper and Elder guardian maps. The goal here is to keep that part of the content accessible, in case you need an item as a specific part of your build, although the focus isn’t on this system anymore.

Four new influence types named after four of the five Conquerors will provide you with new ways to change your build: Warlord, Hunter, Crusader, and Adjudicator. I feel sorry for the remaining guy, but he’s being left out because his name probably isn’t quite as catchy as the others – maybe he’s called Blayde or something? These mod pools are based on older mods but also include new additions. Conquerors may also drop orbs that enables you to enchant a rare item with a unique modifier.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Conqueror Battle

Previous Path of Exile expansions improved on various aspects of the game. Spellcasting, melee, summoning and mines were topics that deserved exceptional attention from the development team, and the 3.9 update is enhancing bows and ranged attack totems.

Ranged attack totems are now called ballistas, and you can place three of them at once even faster than before. New support gems provide additional ways of shooting arrows, with the artillery ballista shooting fiery arrows up in the air to rain down on enemies, working as a very efficient way to clear spread out enemies. The other support gem is the shrapnel ballista, which fires limited-range projectiles at your foes.

The bow is a popular weapon in more ways than one, and it saw the introduction of new skills and support gems. The Ensnaring Arrow utility skill increases ranged attack damage and restrains movement of the affected targets; the Barrage support is a treasured skill that receives a new gem allowing you to fire several arrows in sequence; finally, the Nova support gem allows you to fire an arrow into the air, which lands at a remote location and splits into a swarm of arrows that lay waste to enemies everywhere. On the other hand, you can say goodbye to the Tornado shot, which was nerfed and was “far too good for far too long”.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Bow

DIY Metamorph | Conquerors of the Atlas Preview

As if drastically changing the endgame and giving the grind a consistent reason that perfectly ties with the existing lore wasn’t enough, there is a new league coming with this update. The Metamorph league is the 28th league in Path of Exile and launches alongside Conquerors of the Atlas on December 13. Another spectacular trailer introduces the new league, ostensibly basking in its ominous atmosphere and the narration of an obsessed and scary persona. It stars a new NPC, Tane Octavius, a master alchemist that was exiled to Wraeclast for killing his teacher and is now vying to use his expertise to find the “the intrinsic darkness.” This, of course, involves a lot of killing.

As you kill monsters in each area, you collect samples from some of the corpses. The samples represent the personification of each creature’s skills, and combining five of them will result in the creation of a metamorph. When you have enough skills, you can summon Tane so that he helps you to create a metamorph. You possess certain control over the genesis of this boss, as you carefully select the five samples that blend into a menacing foe.

The resulting metamorph is a vicious boss that swiftly changes shape and offers a remarkable and unpredictable challenge. The more powerful the metamorph is, the better the rewards, so there is a clear risk/reward factor that you must consider when mixing the samples.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Conqueror Battle 3

In the Metamorph endgame, you can collect samples from map bosses and combine them to form even more lethal metamorphs. The blend of powers, difficulty, and rewards of multiple bosses yields the definitive challenge for league players. The Conquerors of the Atlas expansion brings 16 new items, four exclusive to the Metamorph league, and the rest of them will drop as you defeat the Conquerors.

Conquerors of the Atlas turns Path of Exile’s endgame on its head and is set to deliver a bold and unabashed foundation for what 2020 will bring. With a few expansions yet to release in the lead-up to 4.0, which you know by Path of Exile 2 by now, fighting former Exiles sounds like a way to close the year on a very interesting note.

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Five Things We Want From Diablo IV

Over the weekend, Blizzard finally revealed the latest chapter of its Diablo series with the long-awaited Diablo IV. It was an announcement that was reportedly set for last year, but the company apparently changed their minds at the last minute, opting to speak about Diablo Immortal for mobile instead. This year, though, was all about the sequel.

After presenting a new cinematic trailer, introducing the powerful Lilith into the fold, Blizzard provided a sneak peek into the gameplay. Though it’s still a work in progress, it does look like a promising evolution from Diablo III and its Eternal Collection add-ons.

Even with everything that was revealed over the weekend, there are still a few questions left about the experience that the game will bring. With that, we’ve gathered a few queries that we wouldn’t mind getting answered, though it’ll likely be a bit before Blizzard provides answers. Still, there’s always room for more information to circle around next year, right?

Let’s get started with a good one.

What other classes could come to the world of Diablo IV?

So far, three classes have been revealed for Diablo IV. There’s the Sorceress, who utilizes magical abilities and can combine them together to take down enemies, including lightning, fire and more. There’s the Barbarian, who utilizes a number of weapons to smash enemies, as well as quick, brutal strength to make his attacks count. Finally the Druid, who can not only summon special attacks from the elements (different from the Sorceress), but also transform into powerful animals, such as a bear or a wolf.

These are great classes that show off some of Diablo IV’s diverse gameplay, but it makes us wonder what others Blizzard could have in store for the game. Obviously it’s not saying yet, but keep in mind that it added new classes to Diablo III as time went on, including the Necromancer and Crusader.

So what possibilities are there? A number, actually. Along with the possible return of the Necromancer, there’s also the Paladin, the Amazon and the Monk. And they don’t all have to be entirely action oriented, either. Someone like the Witch Doctor would probably be a greatly balanced character here.

More than likely, we won’t find out who else will join this party until sometime in 2020, as the game gets closer to completion. Blizzard did say it was a long way off, but the idea that the cast can really get “out there” with a number of key additions has us hungry for more.

Will Diablo IV ever shift away to an offline world?

Previous Diablo games usually provided the option to play with others offline, though the appeal of joining an online group is always there. But with Diablo IV, the developers are taking a different route. Though you still have the option to play on your own if you prefer, you’ll need to have a consistent online connection in order to take part in the game’s experience.

Whether this will remain permanent, no one’s for sure. But it sounds like that’s the mantra Blizzard is going for, so others can join in the experience at any time — if you prefer, that is.

During the BlizzCon panel that took place during the show, lead designer Angela Del Priore made it clear why this choice was made.

“We are not going to support an offline mode. But, as I said before, nothing in Diablo IV is going to require partying up. You can play solo and dungeons are private. Campaign quest areas will (also) remain private.”

So that about covers that. It won’t be an option unless Blizzard’s team changes its mind in the future. But at least the ability to play on your own will still be there, so the Diablo world will still be your oyster. Just make sure you have a strong enough connection to keep up with this world, yeah?

How much will the open-world design affect Diablo fans?

In the past, Diablo players usually had to follow a structure with acts in order to make progress within each game. However, the team felt that Diablo IV should come with the changes needed to become more effective. As a result, there’s more of an open-world structure.

The designers call this a “contiguous” open-world, as the five regions within the world will remain fully connected to one another. This time around, the players can explore them however they see fit, having to deal with everything from varying weather effects to exploring the “hundreds” of dungeons that are available within the game.

Players can take on the content any way they see fit, or they can also go through the story in a general manner, which will suit some Diablo fans. It’s nice to have options for those that will tackle it.

For open-world, could it be too much for Diablo fans to bear? The answer is no, as the game is designed to take advantage of it, rather than making it a drag-out affair like some games that call for a grind. There are still towns to visit, which double as social hubs, and world events will pop up, with you (and potentially other players) taking on viable threats that (almost) appear out of nowhere. There’s also PvP, for players who prefer good old-fashioned combat.

So Diablo IV will retain something old, but also something new — which should cover the bases for fans, newcomers and even MMO lovers alike. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how it all unfolds once the game is done with development.

Will the game feature any kind of crossplay support?

Blizzard surprisingly announced that Diablo IV isn’t just coming to the PC front. It’s also coming to consoles, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 confirmed for the time being. That means console and laptop/desktop owners alike will be able to enjoy everything that the game has to offer.

There’s still a question regarding its support of cross-play. After all, more and more titles are doing it now, such as the just-released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as well as other hits like Rocket League. Being able to play with others, regardless of platform, would be a real trip for players. Alas, Blizzard had to let them down lightly. At least, for the moment.

When asked about the possibility, lead lighting artist Sean Murphy explained during the recent BlizzCon panel, “We have nothing to announce with cross-play, but that is a topic we are interested in.”

So the team didn’t entirely brush it off the table, but there’s nothing set yet. More than likely, Blizzard is interested in just getting the game done first, then considering what it’ll do in terms of online support. At the very least, PC owners will be able to connect with one another; and subscribers to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network can do the same with their respective consoles as well.

It’s a big task. Considering that Diablo IV is put together with a massive open-world structure, creating an online universe that caters to all consoles and PC’s, connected together, is a lot to ask. The possibility is there, and the team will likely look into all options before it confirms the best way to go with it.

For now, it never hurts to keep a good, steady friend list of Diablo devotees on hand. Who knows, they’re probably still playing Eternal Collection as you read this.

How will players be able to skill up properly in Diablo IV?

Both skills and talents will play a huge part in the world of Diablo IV, and players can actually decide how these all come together as they gain experience.

First up, each class once again comes with six different skill types. As before with Diablo III, you can actually choose multiple skills of the same type, rather than having to divvy them up into groups based on different types. You can still level up individual skills however you see fit, making them more powerful or potent, depending on how effectively you hit enemies. It’s a pretty sweet way to go, with a number of possibilities depending on class and the abilities you want to rank up.

As for the talent trees for each individual class, they’re huge. With each tier that you unlock, you’re able to acquire one or more talents, diversifying your character’s abilities in a number of ways. For instance, with the Barbarian, you can increase his speed to make him more effective with quick attacks; or try out Concussion and boost damage on certain foes. Those are just two of the options available; and there are less limitations here, as you can choose how you rank up accordingly. No more having to start at the top and whittle away — the choices appear to be much better with Diablo IV.

There are also Legendary items that play a part as well, and though Blizzard didn’t break these down entirely just yet, they sound like they could mix things up even further, keeping leveling up much more interesting and not so much a “grind” to make progress.

It all sounds a bit elaborate, but once you choose a class and really open up what you can do with your character, it’ll make more sense. You’ll be able to build a true bad-ass that might be able to stand up against Lilith in the long run, depending on your choices, obviously.

Bonus Question: Is there a release date?

Now comes the million dollar question — when will players be able to enjoy Diablo IV for themselves? Well, not for some time.

Like the also-announced Overwatch 2, Blizzard didn’t have a specific release date for the newest chapter of the series. They noted that it’s still “currently in development,” though fans that went hands-on with the game were pleased by the progress being made on it so far. So, at the very least, the team is deep in development, indicating that it may be further along than they’re letting on.

The platforms that were confirmed indicates that it may not be too far off for this generation. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC were all confirmed for Diablo IV, and not a word was said about the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Scarlett, both of which will make their way to market sometime in holiday 2020. So we could see the game release in 2020, though that’s not near final.

Regarding the potential of next-gen consoles, executive producer Allen Adham noted, “We don’t have anything specific to announce with regards to next-gen consoles right now, but you bet we have our eye on them.”

Diablo has taken the multi-console release before. Both Diablo III and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls made their way to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, before the experience eventually came to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch with the Eternal Collection. So a possible repeat instance could happen here, with XB1 and PS4 getting ports of the game at first, but then Xbox Scarlett and PS5 getting a “definitive edition” down the road, with all their content included in one convenient package.

So, for the moment, fans are waiting. And they’ll likely continue to do so over the next few months, as development moves on with Diablo IV. But it has made progress; and its announced platforms indicate that it may not be too far off when it comes to release. We’ll just have to wait and see what Blizzard has in mind once the project gets close to completion. Hopefully, it won’t be BlizzCon 2020 when we find out its fate. Fingers crossed.

What questions do you have regarding the next chapter in the Diablo franchise? Let us know!

 

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Metal Revolution Preview: Them Fighting Robots

Back in August, I reviewed a fighting game called Fantasy Strike. It’s an old-school type of brawler from the team at Sirlin Games. Even though it doesn’t quite possess the pizzazz of other top-notch fighting games on the market, such as Dragon Ball FighterZ or Tekken 7, it has its own sense of appeal between its old-school style controls and cast of characters. That same niche was present when I tried out NEXT Studios’ Metal Revolution, which is set to trade paint on consoles and PC sometime next year.

The developers let me dig in for a few matches, and I was quite impressed by what I came across. Let’s break down what makes the game tick so far…

A Unique Batch of Robo-Characters

Like the fan favorite Rising Thunder before it, Metal Revolution thrives with a cast of (mostly) robotic characters, including some that bring entirely unique personas and attack styles to the game.

For instance, there’s Miyamoto Ren, a robot that’s dressed in a 1930’s style hat, shirt and tie. However, he’s built with a very agile frame, and also wields a samurai sword. The combination of his smooth physique and sharp blade provide a combination that some players are sure to love.

Those who prefer something a little on the “big and burly” side may want to see what Ted Graham brings to the table. This robot features a build that’s like a combination of a football player and a knight, complete with a helmet with a grill covering its face. Its large frame makes it slightly slower than the smaller characters, but all the more powerful.

On top of that, there are some other oddball characters that stand out in this group. There’s a Monkey King-style robot that’s quite agile and able to perform devastating maneuvers with its staff, an insect-style bot that can use its arms to carve up the competition with combos, and even a nun. That’s right, a heavily armed nun that doesn’t look like she’ll be sitting down to take confessions anytime soon. Sadly, we weren’t able to see her in action yet, but she probably has an interesting story that’ll intrigue a few fighting fans out there.

Overall, the cast has about ten characters, though there’s a possibility that more will be added to the game, depending on its popularity. These characters bring different weapons and attack methods with them, making each one a treat to perfect. Hopefully, NEXT will give us a taste of what’s to come with a demo before the game’s release.

Characters and Modes For Everyone

With each combatant in Metal Revolution, NEXT Studios maintains a proper balance across six key areas – power, range, health, technique, mobility and energy break. Though some may be lacking in certain areas, they make up for it in others, forcing the player to perfect what they can do in order to properly score a victory with the fight.

Fortunately, the gameplay that this game possesses allows that with ease. A training mode enables the player to learn the ropes with each of the systems, which we’ll break down a little further below. But once they’re set to go, a number of options are available.

For those who  prefer a good solo battle, there’s Arcade Mode. Here, you’ll test out a string of opponents before finally completing your journey. Anyone that plays fighting games should instantly see what this mode is about.

On top of that, there’s also Friend mode and local mode. These two are perfect for offline battles, and a nice feature to dig into when you want to take on a buddy on the couch. Here, you can just hop into a fight and see how you fare against others. There’s also an option to use your precious fighting controllers, if you have a special one you yearn to use.

Then we get to the real thick of the action, which are Metal Revolution’s online offerings. Here, you can choose from a number of available modes and see how you fare against others. There’s Quick Match, which is simply hopping into the next available fight that’s on hand. This is ideal for those that don’t want to worry about ranking or anything like that, and just want a brawl-a-thon, so to speak.

Then there’s Arena. This is probably the most fulfilling mode of the game thus far. It’s a “ranked” mode, so there’s a certain challenge to overcome opponents. However, if you’re game to do so and manage to score a victory, you’ll earn a number of bonuses. NEXT didn’t break these down yet, but more than likely, they’ll be skins or other goodies that you can use over your next fights. No, nothing that will give you a huge advantage – but at the very least, you’ll look cool.

So between the online and offline stuff, Metal Revolution has a whole lot to offer players. Whether more modes will be added as the game goes on isn’t confirmed just yet, but we can totally see NEXT stacking this deck as, again, the game grows within the fighting community.

 

A Combat System You Can Build Upon

Like Fighting Strike before it, Metal Revolution builds upon a very effective fighting system, one that stands out from the Tekkens and Mortal Kombats of the world. Players of all skill sets can dig in and find lots of good stuff here, no matter which character they end up using. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable with a few things.

First, there’s a jump button, but combined with the rest of the control scheme, this actually works in the game’s favor. Instead of having to worry about regulating the move to an analog stick and putting yourself in an odd position, you can simply tap the button and prepare for an incoming attack – or guard, just in case your opponent has something vicious planned once you land.

That leads us to the combat. This is relatively easy to get into, thanks to Metal Revolution’s control scheme. It’s simple to put together combos with your strike moves, no matter your skill set. I was able to chain together a couple of good ones with Miyamoto Ren by the time my second match rolled around. That shows how you can get in right off the bat, even if you’re a player that’s not entirely skilled.

As you dig deeper into Metal Revolution, some cool new systems come into play. For instance, blocking actually goes the extra mile. Rather than just protecting you from incoming hits, you can actually turn it around into a parry and land one of several defensive moves on an opponent. This could turn around the tempo of the match almost instantly, depending if you can catch someone on guard quickly enough.

This is a system that may take a little patience. I was walked through it by one of NEXT’s reps, and I didn’t necessarily “nail” it the first time. However, by my second match, again, I was able to adapt, and soon we were turning reversals on one another back and forth. It’s a terrific game of “give and take,” if you will, and well worth practicing if you’ve got the endurance to stick it out.

Like any good fighting game, Metal Revolution also comes with Ultimates. Here, you can charge up a super attack and, provided you hit your opponent in just the right spot, unleash a devastating finisher that can easily leave them laying. They’re not fatalities, mind you, but they are cool little moves that unfold in a blinding flash, adding some flair to the proceedings. So time these just right and watch the sparks fly. Literally.

Don’t Be Fooled, This Revolution Looks Good

Even though Metal Revolution isn’t quite considered a AAA brawler, like SoulCalibur VI, there’s no question that NEXT Studios is putting together quite an effort with it. As you can see from the trailer below, the robots look impressive when it comes to their animations; and even the backgrounds have a certain flair to them, from an underground robot fighting club  to a cool city scape, where the lights actually dim as you or your opponent land a brutal Ultimate.

There are also some terrific lighting effects that align with the system. For instance, when you’re successfully blocking an opponent, you’ll see a blue glow around your character with each hit that bounces off. However, when you parry, the light suddenly turns green, giving you an indication that it’s time to hit back. These little things can make quite a difference in the heat of combat, so pay close attention. They might just turn the tide for you.

 

What’s On the Horizon

Along with a large cast of characters, strong gameplay system and unlockable goods, NEXT has promised that it will add more battle modes in the future. It hasn’t detailed what these are just yet, but don’t be surprised if variations of other modes from other hit fighting games make their debut.

For that matter, additional skins are in the works, along with more stages for players to check out. It’s up in the air whether or not new characters will join the party. It totally depends how well received the current ones are. Keep in mind these aren’t just pretty robot faces. They all have a fascinating back-story, as players can see how they connect with one another and what drives them to be in this fighting tournament. Tell you what, I want to learn more about that fighting nun.

Robot Fightin’ Stars Next Year

Metal Revolution is still in development over at NEXT, set for an unspecified release sometime in 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The studio will announce when it’s ready to go, but judging by my time with it thus far, they’ve got something decidedly old-school on their hands and there are going to be a lot of people that will get into that.

We’ll check back in as progress is made, but in the meantime, keep an eye on these guys. They’re ready for the Revolution to be televised.

 

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