Hunter’s Arena: Legends Preview – Mystical Royale

The battle royale genre may be beaten to a pulp with a seemingly perpetual stream of new releases, but apparently there’s room for more. This year, we’re going to witness an interesting showdown between two new games, each one with its own merits in this battle for the last game standing: Hunter’s Arena: Legends and Pearl Abyss’ Shadow Arena.

Hunter’s Arena: Legends is the first game by Korean outfit Mantisco, a PC exclusive crafted with the always reliable Unreal Engine 4. A closed alpha in late 2019 showed the game’s promising mix of action RPG and battle royale mechanics, and a recent closed beta revealed the progress made by the development team in the meantime. What it may lack in originality, it more than makes up for in sheer energy and ambition, not to mention its killer looks.

Hunters Arena Legends Preview City

Hunter’s Arena: Legends Preview | Run to the Forest, Run

The standard battle royale game modes show up for Hunter’s Arena: Legends. You have your solo and trio options where 60 players battle for supremacy, and a free for all mode limited to four Legends is also under development. However, the unusual addition of a tag match is a welcome departure from the tried-and-test modes, adding an unexpected beat’em up flavor to the game. Think of it as a sort of Street Fighter or Virtua Fighter mode, where you pick two warriors and step into a confined arena in a frantic tag team match.

Starting with the basics, you must pick one character among the available selection of Legends. During the closed beta we had a decent range of fighters, most of them focusing on melee, but a couple favored long-range combat and a single character was versed on mid-range action. The cast is considerably diverse and resourceful, drawing inspiration from different sources but mostly from fantasy and eastern mythology. The ensemble is appealing enough, with a massive panda galloping at high speed or a cute young girl named Dara who prefers to fly everywhere instead of running.

The action RPG side of Hunter’s Arena: Legends is going to take your character through several levels of abilities and skills. There is a huge mastery tree that you unlock as you gain levels, strengthening aspects such as weapon attack and health, among many others. This is the touted RPG progression system of the game, one that is bolstered by your performance in the battlefield.

The beginning of each match sees the gates of a small city sitting in the middle of the forest open, letting all players out into the wild in a frantic rush for the grind. You must make the most of the meager seconds of forced peace to hunt down monsters, getting as far as possible from other players so that you don’t turn into an appetizing first target. Eliminating creatures, hunting bosses, and raiding dungeons are activities that will earn you experience points and levels, improving your stats and providing you with valuable points to distribute among many skills. The more you farm and stay alive, the stronger you will be when the circle shrinks and only a handful of players are fighting to be the one left standing.

Hunters Arena Legends Preview Dara

The combat system isn’t extremely in-depth but provides enough opportunities for combos, cancels, and swift comebacks. I’m not a great fan of using the same button for attacking and defending, but I quickly grasped the concept and understood the intention of the whole high risk/high reward intention. Timing is crucial, as you find an opening in your rival’s attack pattern and counterattack with relentless force, breaking his guard.

While there are a few intricate strategies and skillful combos to use when you are playing solo, it’s when you are a part of a three-man squad that Hunter’s Arena: Legends truly shines. Organizing a group that covers all the basics (melee, mid-range, and long-range) and meticulously sticking to the plan, relying on strength by numbers and never straying from the winning path is how the game lives to its full potential. Several new strategies that you had only dreamed of open up for combat, as each team member dutifully performs his assigned role on the battlefield.

The vast arena has thousands of monsters waiting for your blade or other weapon of choice and has different activities and resources at your disposal. When you are playing trios, death is not the end; there are shrines where your teammates can revive you. Wild horses patiently wait for your command to use them for fast travel, and you can even take a friend along with you for the ride. Some points in the map provide gliders for you to journey long distances and quickly get closer to a boss that just spawned, for example.

If you prefer to partake in a more intimate kind of brawl, the tag match is there for you. You pick a pair of fighters that you deem complementary and enter a picturesque arena where they will fight another duo. The battles are one on one, putting forward the skill and timing that you have hopefully learned in the battle royale mode.

Hunters Arena Legends Preview Tag Mode

Hunter’s Arena: Legends Preview | Little Time for Sightseeing

The least that can be said about Hunter’s Arena: Legends graphics is that they are gorgeous. The environment is diverse and extremely beautiful, gifted with a realism and attention to detail that puts many current games to shame. From lush forests to the stunning river or the arid regions, there is always this realistic style to the settings that sits particularly well with the fantastical characters. The way that the leaves are blown by your attacks in the arena is remarkable, and the weather effects are impressive, more specifically the thunderstorm and the puddles that ensue. A day and night cycle provides a nice change of style, adding a sense of the passing of time as you see the legends counter steadily diminish.

Each one of the legends is thoroughly detailed, with incredible attention to the hairworks and the cloth that softly waves as you move. Running is a gentle process that begins with a cool animation and suddenly you are zooming around the battlefield in Sonic the Hedgehog fashion.

In other words, Hunter’s Arena: Legends has the style and seemingly the core mechanics as well. Each character feels unique, with a set of skills that paves the way for intense cooperation, and a huge mastery assortment to keep you invested for some time as you strengthen your character.

Hunters Arena Legends Preview Character Selection

South Korea isn’t particularly known for its battle royale games, but Hunter’s Arena: Legends seems poised to carve a spot, possibly alongside Shadow Arena. There’s no shortage of ambition in this title, with a hint of fan service here and there to catch a specific crowd, but overall it is a strong offering that cuts no corners in order to provide a rich and compelling battle royale experience. In the end, the success or failure of this game may rest upon its pricing, an unfair but oh so true examination based on the multitude of similar games that have fallen by the wayside. Mantisco clearly has the skills, now let’s hope it has the marketing talent to put forward as well.

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Path of Exile Marches On To Delirium

It’s been six and a half years since Path of Exile initially launched, creating a fascinating adventure that picked up many fans over the years. In fact, this past year alone has seen excessive growth for the game, with just over 500 million hours played. This year should be no exception, as Delirium is set to enter the picture.

Set to release this March for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, this new expansion promises to be one of the biggest yet. With its addition, both action combat and customization options will be pushed beyond their usual boundaries.

That said, when we spoke to Grinding Gear Games’ Chris Wilson, he explained that the story wasn’t going to be let out of the bag, so to speak. According to him, he prefers to let players “experience it on launch day,” in order to go in without knowing what the surprises really are.

Now, let’s take a look at the different aspects of the gameplay, and how they come together with this new Path of Exile expansion.

Path of Exile Delirium

Looking Into a Mirror of Delirium

Ever hear of Alice Through the Looking Glass? Well, in Path of Exile you come across the Mirror of Delirium. When you first come across it, you’ll discover a reflection of yourself within it. Now, if you touch the Mirror or go through it, you end up entering the state of Delirium for a short while. And here’s where things get really interesting.

As you cross over into the Mirror, you’ll begin to notice some changes to the environment. Namely, with a mist that gathers around you. This is put in place to heighten fears, as the state of Delirium is made to basically bring your greatest fears to life. (No, not cookies that want to eat you — we’re talking real monsters.)

You’ll have to deal with original foes that you’d normally come across in Path of Exile. But, on top of that, you’ll also have to face off against new ones that specifically strike you in a state of Delirium. As a result, the screen fills up rather quickly with these foes, and you’ll have your work cut out for you.

As you go further into the mist, the monsters will actually begin to pile up further. But, in return, you’ll also be able to access additional mods the further you go. These, in turn, will boost your combat and assist you with taking down your foes. The deeper you go, the more risk you take; but also the more rewarding these mods become.

Now, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the larger beasts in the game, which appear as you manifest yourself even deeper into the Delirium. They utilize powerful telegraphed attacks. They can be somewhat easy to avoid unless you’re surrounded; and if they hit you, they’ll do a significant amount of damage. You’ll also want to watch out for both normal and Delirium monsters with mods, which gives them various kinds of both debuff-on-hit effects and on-death mechanics.

You’ll also have to contend with bosses when you deal with Delirium. As expected, they become even tougher than before, and sometimes even contort depending on where you face them. For example, you come across one called the Brine King in act six. He’s capable of not only doing punishing damage, but also opening up his back, revealing an all new Delirium Horror.

Delirium can also have effects with items that have previously popped up in Path of Exile. These include Ambush Strongboxes, Betrayal Encounters, Incursion and Beach. So you’ll want to prepare accordingly for when you come across them. They’ll prove to be extremely difficult. However, you’ll also reap better rewards by getting through them; so they’re worth the effort.

Path of exile Delirium

Controlling the Fear

What’s neat about how Path of Exile: Delirium seeps into other elements of the game (and its rewards) is that you still maintain control when it comes to combat. Those of you familiar with Breach should get an idea of what’s in store with Path of Exile’s latest addition, since it feels like a larger version of that. The stacking of content really piles on the difficulty, instead of sitting apart like a separate segment within the game.

And the difficulty changes in Delirium as well, ranging to areas like Delve or Metamorph. This keeps things interesting, compared to how Breach usually stays the same. As you fight your way in this state, you become better with your character and see more reflected growth. And not just in the mods, mind you. The more you build, the better you get rewarded for your efforts.

There are specific Delirium items depending where you visit within the level. These include currency items, rare armor pieces and map items, among others. If you rack up enough of a kill count with the monsters, you’ll see these rewards. But as you get one, the progress goes back to zero and you’ll have to start all over again as you attempt to build them back up. It’s a give and take, really.

You can also find Delirium encounters when it comes to end-game maps, so keep an eye out for those as well. You’ll also want to keep an eye open for Orbs of Delirium. You can apply these to certain maps, increasing the density of the area, pushing up the difficulty and reward scale. What’s more, you can see the reward theme clearly for each Orb.

The goal of being able to apply Orbs of Delirium and tweaking each map is to challenge the community, particularly the most skilled Path of Exile players. Wilson explained that the team encourages this, if only to see just how much players will push themselves when it comes to tackling these outrageous new challenges. But, again, you’ll pick up Currency Items, Delirium rewards and more as you do so.

And these can add up to even more challenges. Some Orbs of Delirium will actually drop Simulacrum Splinters. With these, you can form the Simulacrum and create a special new end-game challenge just waiting in the wings. What that is yet, Wilson isn’t saying. Again, it’s all about surprising players on day one.

There are also cluster jewels. With these, you can actually increase the power of your skill tree. Simply place them in the necessary external sockets of the tree, and new passive skill clusters will open up, with even more slots to put jewels. These offer the most significant change to characters for Path of Exile since Ascendancy classes first came around way back in 2016. You can also reroll jewels, in case you want to find one that’s ideal for your character.

The Jewels of the Exile

Wilson then went on to provide a few examples. First up are fire resistance passives, as well as minor passives (with additional properties) and notable passives, which can create additional sockets. Once you get to the larger clusters, you’ll start to really open up what the minor passives can do for you, doing some modding in the process. The more you progress your tree, the more it can really open up when it comes to potential.

Eventually, you’ll reach the Keystone passive known as the Hollow Palm Technique. This opens up a new play style in the game, in this case being an unarmed monk-style combat. This is excellent for those that want to give melee strikes a try, as this character is quite powerful, based on what we’ve seen thus far.

Wilson explained that “The more winding the path you take to get to the socket, the more powerful the result is.” Considering the immense size of the skill tree overall (you’re going to be a while, newcomers), there are all sorts of possibilities. And that’s before you even get to unlocking the new play style within the game.

Necessary Improvements

As part of the expansion, Wilson then broke down how there will be touch-ups to Conquerors of the Atlas. He explained that the Atlas changes introduced in December’s Conquerors of the Atlas expansion were big hits with fans, but weren’t quite perfect. Improvements have been made since that time, with a variety of little patches that fixed everything from Conqueror spawning to scaling the difficulty and rewards to the proper level, depending on the chosen variation.

But there are more to come with this addition. This includes changing the Conqueror spawning to be more “deterministic,” according to Wilson. This introduces a new user interface element with a breakdown of how many maps are left to be completed before you take on the boss.

Other things include the addition of a Sextant 3:1 trade-up vendor recipe, perfect for those that are into concoction; as well as additional incentives for those that tackle higher Awakening levels. Again, you’ll want to be primed and ready for this, but you’ll be promptly rewarded for doing so.

There are also improvements coming with the Vaal Side Areas, first introduced in the previous expansion. They will now spawn more as rare, with a number of modifiers in tow. What’s more, there will also be extra boss life/defenses, along with extra rewards and giving monsters greater densities. So, yeah, your work will be cut out for you.

In addition, the Metamorph challenge league, initially introduced last December as part of Conquerors of the Atlas, will also become part of the core game. That way, you’ll have better access to the content when you’re good and ready for it.

Path of exile Delirium

Skill Up and New Items

Skills will be introduced with Delirium, namely with the Blade Blast and Kinect Bolt. Let’s take a look at each one.

With the Blade Blast, you’re actually able to leave blades behind. What’s more, you can actually use other skills to interact with them. For instance, one modification and suddenly your blades will be able to explode, creating additional damage for any enemies within their blast radius. You can also trigger this blast via Cast on Crit, or setting up the Unleash + Spell Cascade support gems to create more explosions, as well as rain-like “blade falls” on opponents. Set up a number of these and you’ll do significant damage via chaining. You can also tune these with the Animated Weapon skill.

Next up is the Kinect Bolt. It’s a wand skill that lets you send a forking bolt towards enemies, doing physical damage with the help of your wand. Level it up properly enough, and you’ll be able to combo it into shots, and use support gems such as Barrage. Two additional skills are also set for reveal, but they’ll be shown off closer to release.

Delirium will also come with 13 new items, including four that are equipment that can become a cosmetic set together. A Skin Transfer can get this done for you, so that you look like the main antagonist you come across in the expansion. You can also use Perfidy as a melee-focused body armor, providing yourself additional protection.

You can also acquire the Algor Mortis UNique Gloves to open up additional cold/lighting build opportunities, along with Sap, which creates an alternate lighting ailment. You won’t give up Shock to use this either, so that’s extremely helpful.

You can also create “chilling areas” with a combination of freezing storm and lightning, which can leave the enemies literally out in the cold. And, finally, you’ll find the other nine items within the game with help from special Delirium jewels.

In short, there’s a lot that this expansion will unpack, setting the tone for Path of Exile updates to come in the months ahead. While Wilson didn’t detail that far ahead, he did promise that the new expansion will have a lot to offer. It’s set to hit PC first on March 13, and then arrive a week later, March 20, on consoles. It’ll be free of charge to players, so don’t miss out on the fun.

If you need a better idea of what kind of madness awaits with Path of Exile: Delirium, scope out the launch trailer below. We’ll see you in mirror-land!

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Legends of Runeterra Preview – Overwhelming the Competition

Could Riot Games be too late to the party with its take on the digital card game? Legends of Runeterra by and large missed the peak of the genre, which hit its stride with the release of Blizzard’s Hearthstone in 2014. Being bolstered by the unwavering League of Legends star power may not be enough to achieve its lofty goal; is there time to make up for the delay and convince players that Legends of Runeterra is the TCG they have been waiting for?

The answer to this last question is a resounding yes. Riot Games’ mediocre timing may turn out to be Legends of Runeterra’s greatest strength, as they didn’t have to enter a colossal and potentially destructive clash with Hearthstone. This also served another purpose, which was to see where Magic: The Gathering Arena would fit as a potential big-name competitor. The jury is out on this as well, declaring that the latest MTG card game poses no massive threat.

Legends of Runeterra Preview Card Combat

The World in Your Deck | Legends of Runeterra Preview

Riot Games clearly took a long, hard look at the competition and settled for what makes a first-rate digital card game. Legends of Runeterra is a fun game to watch, with a crisp and clean starting board with exactly the right amount of bells and whistles to look good without encumbering the screen. This is the kind of game that is likely to appeal to those who have stayed away from CCGs until now, since everything about it seems poised for perfection. League of Legends fans are in for a treat, as the Champions that they know and love come to life in new and innovative ways, often with a little bit of clever showboating, and they are joined by several new characters. It may be far from original, but this is fan service at its best.

Sure, there are some balance issues that the betas will hopefully iron out, and the in-game menus look simple but are somewhat bland and overcomplicated, when they should go straight to the point – why do I have to go to Collections to delete a deck, instead of having that option in Play as well?

When you and a challenger are facing each other over the board, the slightly warped perspective may take some getting used to, but a few minutes should do the trick. Furthermore, the way that the Legends of Runeterra decks are portrayed is beyond criticism, with crispy clean design and perfectly visible stats that never get into the way of your strategy. I would like to be able to instantly see the attack and health points for the cards that I’m holding, but this is a minor concern that can also be directed at Hearthstone.

Legends of Runeterra Preview Fast Spell

The cornerstone of Legends of Runeterra is the use of Champions, faces that you know and love from the MOBA. Prepare yourself to meet Jinx, Braum, Darius, Zed, Lux, Lucian, and others, coming from six regions of Runeterra: Shadow Isles, Ionia, Piltover & Zaun, Demacia, Noxus, and Freljord. You can have up to six Champion cards in your 40-card deck, with the rest being comprised of follower and spell cards. Champions should always be your focus in every match, as they come with valuable stats; furthermore, they can level up by fulfilling a special condition, turning them into devastating gamechangers – for Jinx, having a empty hand is the requirement, while Braum levels up by taking 10 damage. Never ignore Champion cards, as their damage dealing ability and resourcefulness is vital in the hands of a skilled player.

The catch is that Legends of Runeterra gives you a myriad of choices and tactical options, and them callously slaps you on the wrist for being greedy. All those beautiful units and spells are yours for the taking, but under one very succinct condition – you are limited to choosing cards from two regions, and no more than that. Experimenting with Champions and spells is going to take a long time, as every opponent that you face seems to take a different yet effective approach to decks. When you begin to feel comfortable with your selection, another rival comes by and obliterates the masterful strategy that you thought would be effective against every single player in the world. Matches are mostly about skill, but luck also plays a small role in the outcome as the right cards are drawn in the nick of time, especially the all-important fast spells that can turn the tide of a clash.

Legends of Runeterra Preview Decks

Elusive Is as Elusive Does | Legends of Runeterra Preview

Ignore the tutorials at your own peril. They may seem intimidating and a couple of them may even stump you, but this is where you’ll get useful info that is otherwise coming at the cost of many defeats. Besides, this is where you earn your first significant set of cards, getting closer to a proper deck. Legends of Runeterra seems fairly generous with its reward track, handing card after card during the tutorial, but also as you face other players. However, there’s a catch – you can only have one active region reward track. This means that the sooner you settle for a consistent and reliable deck, the better you’re going to be at earning new cards from your two preferred regions.

Your goal is to destroy the enemy Nexus using your cards to hit it, providing they aren’t blocked by rival cards. Such a simple approach develops into several layers of complexity, as you learn to deal with the intricacies of card effects such as Overwhelm and Elusive. The latter is particularly worrying, as these cards can only be blocked by another Elusive unit, paving the way for some unflinching Nexus takedowns in case you are not duly prepared.

Legends of Runeterra Preview Burst Spell

While it has a lot of catching up to do in terms of player base and content to properly rival Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra seems to be on the right path. This is a game that is both entertaining to play and to watch, sporting an ambitious competitive tone while remaining within reach for those who have never tried a digital card game before. Riot Games is determined to prove that there’s more to it than League of Legends, and Legends of Runeterra is just the first of many cards that it has up its sleeve.

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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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Hordes.io Preview – New .io on the Block

Hordes.io is the latest block party aiming to become all the rage. This is an MMORPG undressed of all the superfluous aspects of the genre, sticking to the basics and immediacy that make it a must for PvP fans. Furthermore, it’s awfully cute, with its quaint World of Warcraft meets Minecraft looks. Every time that I see a block do a flip, nostalgia reminds me that there may be a bit of Dizzy in this game as well, minus the eggs. If fortune continues smiling upon Hordes.io, we may be about to witness the coining of the Block versus Block term.

A one-man project created by a developer simply known as Dek, Hordes.io can become addictive thanks to its simplicity and focus, traits that some players may mistakenly confuse for lack of depth. Io games are renowned for their virtuous and persuasive design, often resulting in unabashed attention grabbers, with Agar.io and Slither.io being two of the prime examples.

Simplicity is what makes Hordes.io tick. This is an MMO that even someone who is only remotely familiar with the genre can pick up and play in minutes, with no unnecessary bells and whistles to hinder the experience. Just as it happens with other .io games, Hordes.io has a gameplay loop that is refreshingly simple and compelling, but inherently repetitive – that shortcoming can be said of most games in the genre. However, it is a work in progress and the developer has big plans to add more features, turning it into more like a full-fledged MMORPG, while never letting the freshness of a .io game out of sight.

Hordes.io Base

War of the Blocks | Hordes.io Preview

In pure MMO fashion, your adventure in Hordes.io begins with the class selection. There isn’t much to sink your teeth into right now, but the four options should cover the basic needs of any MMORPG enthusiast. Warriors are the tanks that will keep the enemy busy, as Archers strike from a safe distance. Meanwhile, Mages deliver heavy AoE damage and other magic skills that hinder their foes, while the Shaman class provides support to the group by means of heals, buffs, and debuffs. You have probably spotted your favorite playstyle in there, but that doesn’t mean that other class variations won’t be added as development progresses.

The village is your sanctuary, the place that you and other players frequently return to in order to get some rest from the endless skirmish. Hordes.io is an MMORPG with no old-fashioned quests, as odd as that may sound, although the developer has admitted that he will add quests to give players some much-needed relief between battles. However, quests shouldn’t stray too far from the essence of the game, as the plan is to create simple kill quests to make players level up faster and give them an additional reason to return to base.

When your backpack is overflowing with spoils of war, your best bet is to use the Conjurer’s Recall skill to teleport back to base. Head over to the Trader and sell any goods that you don’t need, or make the best of the player-driven economy of the game by chatting with the Merchant NPC. Besides purchasing items from other players, you can set your price, post your item, and wait for the in-game currency to come rolling in. Well, that depends on the rarity of the item and whether the price is reasonable or not, but I won’t be the one to crush your virtual entrepreneur dreams.

Hordes.io Close Up

There are a couple of other NPCs that you should resort to. The Blacksmith is the man… I mean, the block for all your gear upgrading needs, as long as you have the coins and runes to make it happen. The higher the item level, the riskier it is to upgrade it, but every MMORPG fan knows by now that this is a necessary evil. The Sage is willing to lend you a hand in case you need to respec those character stat points and take a different approach to your progress.

Every character level that you gain gives you stat points to allocate in various attributes. The consensus is that since Hordes.io is mostly a PvP-based MMORPG, you should focus on areas that will pave the way for faster returns. One way to do so is by boosting the attributes that help you eliminate PvE mobs in a speedier way, leading to better loot and an improved leveling speed. Here’s our Hordes.io tip for you: get those Strength and Dexterity stats up to interesting values, and then slowly but surely focus on the rest of them.

The way that you learn skills in Hordes.io is a mix between leveling up to unlock new skills, finding skill books, or purchasing them from the Trader. Skill books come in different levels as well, which means that if you find the Swift Shot Level 3 book but you haven’t learned Level 2 yet, you can’t learn this one right away.

Despite the substantial mention of PvP combat as the focus of Hordes.io, this is a game that also offers PvE combat, as you may have correctly inferred by the hints above. It is by destroying blocky worms and other AI-controlled creeps that you earn most of your loot and coins, leveling up to a point where you won’t be crushed when you stumble across another player in a PvP area. There are many locations in the map where you can fight massive bosses for greater rewards, in a continuous and familiar progression system that is going to give you many additional options when you are forced into a PvP showdown. Believe me, that is going to happen quite often, and every death is going to cost you a few coins.

Hordes.io Party Rush

Block Party | Hordes.io Preview

Hordes.io truly shines when dozens of players engage in furious battles, with a myriad of visual effects and spells bringing color to the screen. Either against stronger PvE creatures or in an epic clash between rival clans, the game feels alive and exciting, with a player base that many big-budget MMORPGs would kill for. Besides, it comes with a feature that may sound ridiculous to even mention, but it deserves praise from every player with a keen eye for detail and a decent knowledge of the inner workings of MMO games: here, you don’t just ghostly traverse other players or enemies, your character has an actual physical space to it. This feature works correctly for most of the time, and I can already imagine the intense clan contests to see which team manages to make the higher block tower.

Before speaking about clans, you should know that it’s extremely simple to join a party in Hordes.io, even during this open beta stage. The game automatically pairs you with other players of a similar level, and you can easily spot your teammates using the mini map, showing you the places where the action is hot. Joining a party in this game may be optional in theory, but it is a straight up requirement if you want to go anywhere. Furthermore, it’s the best way to level up, since you’re not going to make a dent on those bigger monsters all by yourself, and the stronger creatures are where the better loot drops can be found.

Clans are the real deal and where the meat of Hordes.io lies, in case you have big plans for your blocky avatar. You must be invited for a clan or, in alternative, create your own clan, but for this you’ll need a large amount of coins. If you want to increase your chances of being invited, you need to work on your Fame score, as this is often used as a gauge for clan leaders to scrutinize potential new members. Fame is increased based on your number of PvP kills, and it also acts as a screaming signpost for other players in search of the greatest threats to challenge.

Hordes.io Outnumbered PvP

For those fearing the interference of pay-to-win mechanics, the Hordes.io open beta seems adamant in proving that this is a fair and leveled battlefield. You can purchase Elixir to contribute to the development of the project while getting some perks in return, such as extra bag slots and additional stash storage. You also remove ads with your payment, which can be a monthly or yearly spend, roughly varying between $7 and $60 respectively, although you need to pay a bit more due to the set package prices.

At risk of jumping into conclusions, Hordes.io is far more than a promising game – it is destined to be successful. It dares to tackle a very different genre from other .io games and does so with finesse, delivering a simple but addictive experience that is hard to put down. As you may recall, that is the heart and soul of a fantastic .io game, and while Hordes.io has plenty of room to grow, it is already an expansive and fun game that no PvP fan can miss.

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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 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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