Roller Champions – A Brutal Adrenaline Rush on Roller Skates

Some movies are best left forgotten, but others seem so avant-garde that it almost feels like there was some sorcery involved. Rollerball is one such perfect example, a movie where a brutal futuristic sport took center stage – and I don’t mean the dreadful remake, but the 1975 original which was jam-packed with timely social commentary.

Amidst a barrage of Tom Clancy games, Roller Champions was one of the most surprising announcements from Ubisoft at E3 2019. I’ll eat my shorts if the designers didn’t take inspiration from Rollerball in any way, seeing that the similarities are too deliberate to refute.

But as they usually say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and considering the grand scheme of things, we do need more futuristic sports games. After all, even Rocket League gets tiring after a while.

Roller Champions Preview High Speed Chase

Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Roller Champions is the kind of game that may deceive you and tempt you to discard it as micro-transaction ridden, pay-to-win garbage. I understand where you’re coming from and it will take a few matches to properly tune your mind into it. In less than an hour you should have a clearer view of the whole picture and that view will probably include the words “thrilling” and “fun.” You will probably want to throw a “#$%#!” in there as well, but that is all part of the healthy. no-holds-barred competitive spirit of Roller Champions.

The E3 2019 reveal came with a demo that was as barebones as they come in terms of content, but it was more than enough to show how the game will play. In that respect, it was fairly finetuned, with the bulk of the work surely falling upon the physics department. The skating feel had to be just right, and it mostly is, with a convincing sense of speed as you ride up walls and dodge rival players, with many falls and hilarity ensuing.

The core mechanics look simple enough, but you’ll soon find that this is a sport where skill and teamwork are of utmost importance. It’s not a simple matter of skating in an oval arena, you must rely on your teammates to clear the way for a successful goal attempt. There are many variables coming into play, one of them called pumping.

Roller Champions Preview Acrobatic Takedown

Pumping is a maneuver where the skater gains speed by bending the knees, something that would instantly make this Daenerys’ favorite sport. You only use it when going downhill, picking up speed until it’s time to start skating again. Pursuing your opponent from behind will take advantage of their draft, gaining speed to ultimately dash and barge onto them, sending the unlucky fellow in a spectacular spin.

When you have the ball, you can press a button to perform a daring last-second dodge that will leave your opponent befuddled. Jumping is another option to potentially avoid the incoming burst of fists and elbows.

Scoring a goal is a matter of throwing the ball through the hoop. It’s not as easy as it sounds since you must consider timing and aiming to successfully throw the ball, not to mention the vicious rival skaters trying to barge you off the track. But this comes with an interesting mechanic that is going to affect the outcome of every match – your goals are worth a different number of points according to the amount of laps your team completes before scoring. You can make a full lap in any direction but losing the ball to an opponent will reset the neon lap counters. A one-lap goal is worth one point, a two-lap goal is worth three points, while a three-lap goal earns you five points. Since the first team reaching five points wins, there is a significant risk/reward factor at play that you mustn’t ignore.

Roller Champions Preview Going For the Goal

If You Win It, They Will Come

Roller Champions puts a clever cosmetic spin to the XP system. Your performance in the arena will be rated according to goals, victories and other factors, increasing your fans, a.k.a. experience points. This will serve to unlock new gear, outfits, animations, customization items and even stuff for your fanbase, such as new celebration and outfits. It would be amazing if you could customize the crowd chants in any way, but that would lead us into dangerous territory that no publisher is willing to risk.

Sadly, the demo didn’t have any of the customization options unlocked. There was no way to mess around with your character – you couldn’t even pick a skater, in fact – and I can only guess what kind of options we’ll get. Hopefully Ubisoft won’t neglect this aspect since it is one of the areas that could make or break a free-to-play game – let’s have enough content to fiddle with without bumping into paywalls at every corner.

The Roller Champions demo featured two arenas set in Acapulco and Mexico. The sunny Acapulco arena feels cheerful and relaxed, but I preferred the Mexico indoor arena by a long margin. It’s best suited to the violent nature of the sport, the lighting is also tighter, and the overall mood is that this is in a more advanced shape graphically speaking.

Roller Champions Preview Mexico Arena Skating

Speaking of graphics, Roller Champions starts with a stylish intro that sadly doesn’t find proper correlation with the actual in-game models. The different personalities are patent, but these champions need a more refined art style, one that will make you hesitant when it comes to choosing one skater. I didn’t notice any specific stats differences between them such as speed or acceleration, but I’m willing to bet that this will happen when unlocks come into play, hopefully in a way that won’t break the game balance.

I’m convinced that many gamers scoffed when Ubisoft announced Roller Champions at E3 2019. I was one of them, rolling my eyes as I thought that this mix of Rollerball and Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe seemed too derivative and bland to stand a chance. 

Mea culpa, then, as I learned the basics during the first few matches and suddenly, I was having a lot of fun pumping and dodging, delighted by the sheer speed and acrobatic take downs. I felt the adrenaline rush and I can see it earning a decent fanbase capable of turning it into serious eSports material. I just love a good underdog story and Roller Champions has all the makings of one.

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Homophobic Slur Found in The Division 2, Ubisoft Issues Apology

Ubisoft has been forced to apologize after a homophobic slur found in The Division 2 started causing controversy online. The slur is leetspeak found on a piece of street art found in the game with a cop eating a donut. His badge number FA6607. Ubisoft hasn’t tried to make any excuses for the slur being in the game and have in fact apologized and said that it should have been caught by its review process before making it into the game.

“It’s been brought to our attention that a piece of street art in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 contained offensive content. We removed the image from the game via a patch on Thursday, April 11,” Ubisoft said in a statement. “We apologize that this image slipped through our content review processes, and we are currently reviewing them in order to avoid this kind of oversight from occurring in the future.” 

The statement doesn’t make it clear if Ubisoft will be investigating how the slur got into the game in the first place which could be quite a difficult task to complete. Instead, it looks like they’re hoping to just move on from the event. It has raised the question though, are there any other hidden slurs in the game that will be uncovered as time goes on? In fact, there is someone out there who has been collecting text errors they find in The Division 2 and putting them in an imgur folder you can enjoy. We’ve embedded the folder below so you can take a look at some of the things they’ve found, including the offensive street art. The number of errors and the oddness of them has led many to believe that little text items like this were actually outsourced.

The Division 2 – Spell check fails and other funny bits!

 

Source: PCGamer

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10 Studios That Would Make Your Dream MMORPG

The MMORPG genre is far from dead, but it could surely use a boost from a top player in the industry. Can you imagine if the masterminds behind the Witcher franchise decided to make an MMORPG? Just how splendid that would be.

This thought alone led me to ponder on other studios that could potentially deliver your dream MMORPG. I chose to leave some renowned developers out of the equation as they clearly need a respite to reflect on their recent blunders. Who exactly, I hear you ask?

Bethesda, to begin with. The mess of a game that is Fallout 76 didn’t do any favors to its reputation, so they need the time to realign their focus – The Elder Scrolls fans are watching. BioWare also seems to be stuck in a rut following the lackluster releases of Mass Effect: Andromeda and the highly anticipated and equally unfulfilling Anthem. Finally, Destiny 2 is clearly showing that many players are getting tired of Bungie’s microtransaction-laden sci-fi worlds and the studio needs to move on to more rewarding and fair experiences.

Without further delay, here are ten studios that wouldn’t let you down – hopefully.

CDProjekt (The Witcher Franchise, Cyberpunk 2077)

Dream MMORPG Studios CDProjekt

The storytelling gurus at CDProjekt delivered three of the best RPGs ever made but are yet to prove themselves outside of Geralt de Rivia’s universe. Cyberpunk 2077 is its first stab at another setting, trading medieval fantasy for grim futuristic sci-fi. Here is a studio that doesn’t shy away from a challenge and is known for pouring its heart into each game. CDProjekt deserves extra honors for its crusade against DRM technology and the belief that players should feel compelled to buy a game for its sheer value, instead of pirating it.

The Witcher series has all the trappings of an MMORPG. Great lore, captivating characters, exciting combat and large regions to explore. CDProjekt could probably build on this to create a massively multiplayer world and considering that it owns the rights to video games based on The Witcher novels, there is no shortage of potential or visible blockades along the way – except when Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski realizes he needs more money.

Or they could go for something completely original instead, no strings attached. No matter CDProjekt’s decision, it’s a proven fact that they value their players and would go the extra mile to create something utterly memorable.

Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto Franchise, Red Dead Franchise, Bully…)

Dream MMORPG Studios Rockstar Games

No matter what Rockstar sets out to do, Rockstar achieves – even if it means putting its staff through excruciating long hours. That’s the ugly side of the video game industry, sadly not as unusual as it should be.

But back to the matter at hand. Rockstar Games is a huge publisher with several subsidiaries with proven track records. Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead are its two major franchises, where they show their skills both in single-player and multiplayer. There is no doubt that they would work wonders in an MMO environment…

… “But isn’t that a thing already with GTA Online and Red Dead Online?,” the observant crowd asks. Well, you ingeniously inquisitive fellows, the answer is both yes and no. These online modes for the popular franchises may be robust and excitingly entertaining, but I want to see Rockstar doing something bigger and bolder. Not just multiplayer revisions of the original gameplay, but something supporting way more than 32 players. An entirely new IP, featuring the same open world ideas from the above-mentioned games but with a more elaborate, story-based approach to the game world.

It would be an interesting challenge to tackle, and I’m convinced that Rockstar would be successful. Business as usual.

Ubisoft (Far Cry Franchise, Assassin’s Creed Franchise…)

Dream MMORPG Studios Ubisoft

Currently, Ubisoft is synonym with Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, but the French company has a lot more under its sleeve. The Division 2, for example, is just one of several games that happily dabble with online gameplay, but is it a true MMORPG? I wouldn’t say so. Oddly enough, there isn’t a single full-fledged story-driven MMORPG anywhere to be seen in Ubisoft’s enviable backlog.

Ubisoft’s experience with rich open world settings would be invaluable when it comes to building a vast and diverse map for an MMORPG. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey shows a developer with several great ideas and a brilliant grasp on art direction, storytelling and combat system. The Assassin’s Creed franchise is a potential candidate for a massively multiplayer release, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ubisoft using its expertise and resources with an original IP.

Epic Games (Fortnite Battle Royale, Gears of War…)

Dream MMORPG Studios Epic Games

The overwhelming success of Fortnite Battle Royale coupled with the industry-leading Unreal Engine are the two main drivers of Epic Games’ unstoppable growth. The failure of third-person MOBA Paragon wasn’t enough to deter the studio, and it was convinced that Fortnite would come out of development hell and convince the masses. It did, but the “help” of a rival to steer it in the right direction was essential: PUBG introduced it the wondrous world of Battle Royale.

For a studio that was founded in 1991 and enjoyed several successes over the years, Epic Games is sitting at the top of its game. They could easily design a traditional third-person MMORPG as they have the resources – mainly the engine –, the know-how and the financial freedom. They are proven masters of every visual style, so they could go for a sci-fi fantasy theme enriched with realistic features (as seen in Paragon) or choose a laid-back cartoon approach (Fortnite). While it is early days for fully-fledged Unreal Engine 4 MMORPGs (Nexon’s Project BBQ, Blade & Soul’s Vision update, NCsoft’s Project TL…), Epic Games could easily stand out from the competition with its expertise with the engine.

Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile)

Dream MMORPG Studios Grinding Gear Games

Is Path of Exile an MMORPG or is it not? That’s a discussion that could go on for days, but the general opinion is that it is an ‘online action RPG.’ Rightfully acclaimed as one of the best examples of the Diablo school of hack and slash, Grinding Gear Games’ title could work as a great prelude to an MMORPG.

Grim and gloomy just as Diablo is – or was? –, Path of Exile could serve as the stepping stone for an isometric MMORPG in the style of Lost Ark. With open world areas and world bosses for dozens of players to cooperate, along with the traditional instanced dungeons, it’s not like GGG’s first and only game strays too far from MMORPG territory. Their updates are renowned for being huge and going in the direction of player requests and aren’t afraid of drastically changing something that doesn’t feel right – as they did with the Fall of Oriath expansion, completely altering the campaign structure.

The big question here is if it would be worthwhile developing a second game that fundamentally would borrow many mechanics from Path of Exile. Perhaps going for a different, less grisly theme would be the best choice?

Digital Extremes (Warframe)

Dream MMORPG Studios Digital Extremes

Through perseverance and unshakeable belief in its original vision, Digital Extremes managed to surpass everyone’s expectations and showed a thing or two to many publishers of little faith. Warframe went from being a niche game to a behemoth of an online action RPG.

It’s this perseverance and long-term vision that would ultimately set them apart from other developers. Ironically, it was absent from hero shooter The Amazing Eternals, but realizing early on that something isn’t going to take off may be a positive as well.

Digital Extremes is absolutely at ease with sci-fi and fast-paced movement, so it would be the perfect candidate for a frantic action combat MMORPG. They are no strangers to open world MMO gameplay as well, with Warframe’s updates Plains of Eidolon and Fortuna showing that they can hold their own in this department.

The only downside would probably be that this hypothetical MMORPG would be, just as Warframe, in open beta for all eternity and beyond. But we all can live with that, right?

Riot Games (League of Legends)

Dream MMORPG Studios Riot Games

Riot Games must step up its game soon or risk seeing the fountain of riches that is League of Legends eventually dry out. How fun would it be to see Runeterra becoming the stage for an MMORPG? It’s not as crazy as it sounds either; it was Riot Games’ co-founder Marc Merrill that came up with the thought and fans reacted accordingly.

Of course, this is nothing but speculation. While Riot Games is said to be “experimenting a lot of stuff,” and considering the implications of going head-to-head with World of Warcraft, nothing is set in stone.

However, it should happen. League of Legends has some terrific characters and intricate lore that could work nicely in an MMORPG. The colorful cartoon aesthetic feels just right for a third-person perspective, and it goes without saying that the League of Legends player base would jump at the thought of seeing its favorite world expanding. This MMORPG must be made while the MOBA remains at its best, so that gives them… two to three years?

KOG Studio (Grand Chase, Elsword, KurtzPel…)

Dream MMORPG Studios KOG Studio

KOG Studio is something of a weird case. While an expert in online games, the South Korean studio still hasn’t dipped its feet in traditional MMORPG territory. Grand Chase and Elsword are acclaimed MMO games but they are action games at heart and couldn’t be further from the likes of World of Warcraft or EverQuest.

Nonetheless, Elsword is considered a 2.5D action MMORPG, which means that it includes core mechanics such as guilds, PvP and item trading. KOG’s latest game, KurtzPel, switches to a third-person perspective but is a focused PvP brawler experience with boss raid PvE gameplay tacked on.

So why do I reckon that KOG could deliver an outstanding MMORPG? Because they have years of experience in online games, a couple of successful titles under its belt, and a mastery of action gameplay. The cherry on top is the combat system developed for KurtzPel, which would work impeccably in an MMORPG. The same thing goes for the beautiful anime graphics.

I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old curmudgeon, but adding hub towns with proper quests to KurtzPel would be a great place to start. Follow it with complete dungeons, let it cook for a couple of years and we would get a stunning anime MMORPG. Sadly, KurtzPel isn’t going to be that game, but KOG may eventually get to it in the future.

DevCAT (Vindictus, Mabinogi, Dragon Hound, Ascendant One…)

Dream MMORPG Studios DevCAT

For many of you, the name DevCAT may not ring a bell, but what about Mabinogi and Vindictus? Now that tells you something, doesn’t it? The South Korean studio is behind these classic MMORPGs, with Vindictus being one of the best examples in action combat before TERA or Black Desert Online showed up to the party. This game is live and getting updates up to this day, further proof that DevCAT stands by its work.

A sequel to Vindictus is long overdue and was once in development, but it felt more like an arena brawler spin-off than a proper follow-up. It ended up being canceled, with DevCAT moving on to other games. The monster-hunting online game Dragon Hound is one of its upcoming titles and a very promising one, and DevCAT is also reimagining Mabinogi for mobile devices, and it looks terribly cute. DevCAT’s catalog shows that it is a studio capable of tackling any challenge, from MMORPGs to MOBAs and even card games.

DevCAT should consider updating Vindictus to the current generation, just as Neople is doing with Dungeon Fighter Online’s sequel (codename Project BBQ). A third-person, brutal action combat MMORPG mixing Vindictus’ varied character selection with an open world like Black Desert Online could be a pleasant recipe. Nexon just needs to give them the go-ahead and we’ll all be happy.

SEGA (Yakuza, Phantasy Star Online 2…)

Dream MMORPG Studios SEGA

I’m not even going to bother with Phantasy Star Online 2 anymore. I gave up on the promised western release a long time ago, but SEGA could at least be so kind as to officially confirm that this version is dead and buried, something that they didn’t even worry about telling their fans. We need some sort of closure on this subject, guys!

SEGA is no stranger to MMORPGs, as you can see, so it’s peculiar to realize that it has all but abandoned the genre. A new Phantasy Star Online game would result in millions of joyful players worldwide, but I wouldn’t rule out something based on the Yakuza franchise as well. This prolific series is acclaimed for its open world and story, as well as for the abundance of mini-games and entertaining side-quests. Aren’t those some of the fundamentals of a full-fledged MMORPG?

Between a new Phantasy Star Online and a Yakuza MMORPG, the choice is far from easy. Recently we were fooled into thinking that the latter one was happening, but Yakuza Online turned out to be a mobile card game. In your face, expectations!

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MMO Money: A Week of Lawsuits and Nintendo Being Awesome

Lawsuits abound this week in the online gaming world with both Activision Blizzard and Epic Games the focus of new lawsuits. Meanwhile, Nintendo gives us a much-needed breath of fresh air with how they treat gamers and their employees. Bidding for Nexon is set to begin in April with the list of bidders reduced to just 5. Find all of this and more in this week’s MMO Money.

 

Nexon Shortlists Five Bidders for the Company

There has been quite a lot of interest in Nexon recently from major companies around the world including Disney, EA, Comcast, Tencent, and many others. But, Nexon has now lowered that list to just 5 bidders. Those five include Tencent and Kakao Corp. along with three private equity firms, Bain Capital, MBK Partners, and an unidentified firm. Quite significantly Netmarble isn’t included in this list. Netmarble had been putting together a consortium of Korean firms to bid together, believing that selling to an overseas company will damage the local games industry. In fact, this may be why we don’t see any Western-based interests in the shortlist. Bidding for the 98.64% share of Nexon that is expected to be worth as much as $13.3 billion is expected to begin in early April.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Nintendo Asks Mobile Partners to Stop Players From Spending So Much

In a time when it seems like all game companies are after is your money Nintendo comes out and gives you a little bit of faith in the industry once more. The company is concerned with its self-image and has asked some of its mobile game development partners to adjust the microtransactions in their games so players are less likely to overspend. A source at CyberAgent, who owns the developers of Dragalia Lost told the Wall Street Journal, “Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game. If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”

This also comes less than a week after a recruitment page for Nintendo shed some light on what it’s like working for the company. The average salary is ¥9.03 million, that’s $80,000, employees can potentially get bonuses in June and December plus a pay increase every April. The average workday at Nintendo is seven hours and forty-five minutes long. As if all of that doesn’t already sound amazing full-time employees stay at the company for an average of 13.5 years. Anyone familiar with the games industry in the West will know that developers tend not to stay in one company for very long. If you’re interested in knowing more about that check out this article from Polygon.

From a personal point of view both of these pieces of news make me more likely to look at Nintendo games and support what they’re doing. Their views and the way they treat their employees is a breath of fresh air in the games industry today.

 

Source: Wall Street Journal, Games Industry

 

 

Vivendi Sells Remaining Ubisoft Shares

Ubisoft Joins Forces With Horror Movie Studio

Its been almost a year since Vivendi announced it was going to stop trying to acquire Ubisoft and finally the remaining shares it had in the company have been sold. The remaining shares it had was about 5% of the company, €429 million.

At one point in time, Vivendi owned a 27.3% stake in the company and though its attempts to own the company completely failed they did bring in about €2 billion, a capital gain of €1.2 billion. Though they failed to achieve their original goal you can hardly call the entire thing a failure. I’d love to fail my way to €2 billion, that’s about $2.2 billion USD. Vivendi has stated that they will honor their agreement and not buy shares in Ubisoft for at least 5 years.

Vivendi had previously owned Activision Blizzard but it sold the company to an investment group led by Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly for $8.2 billion. That deal pushed Vivendi out of the games industry for 3 years until it bought its way back in with a hostile takeover of Gameloft.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

A New Law firm is Encouraging Shareholders to Sue Activision Blizzard Over Bungie Split

Another law firm is inviting shareholders to join in a class action lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, accusing the company of misleading shareholders over the end of its partnership with Bungie. The firm’s loss submission form makes the following claims:

Activision failed to disclose that “the termination of Activision Blizzard and Bungie’s partnership… was imminent”

That this termination “would foreseeably have a significant negative impact on Activision Blizzard’s revenues.”

And as a result “Activision Blizzard’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all times.”

Activision Blizzard previously said that the split from Bungie was because Destiny 2 failed to meet financial expectations. But in a recent SEC filing, the company recognized $164 million in revenue from Destiny for 2018 as a result of the split.

This comes at a time when shareholders for Activision Blizzard aren’t too happy with the company. They’ve had to warn investors that cutting hundreds of jobs (800 in total) may damage the company. They even went so far as to say there can be “no assurance that our business will be more efficient or effective” than it was before this new strategy.

Why can’t you be more like Nintendo?

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Man Sues Epic Games Over Predatory Loot Boxes

While we’re on the topic of lawsuits we should mention that Epic Games is being sued, yet again. This time though it isn’t because they used a dance in their game, instead it’s over allegations that Epic Games has engaged in predatory schemes with loot boxes in Fortnite. They allege that Epic intentionally designed Save the World to hinder player’s progress if they didn’t spend real money. They also say that Epic has “made a fortune on in-game purchases, preying in large part on minors who are especially susceptible to such predatory tactics.” The lawsuit accuses Epic of violating California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law.

What the lawsuit doesn’t mention though is that since January Epic Games now shows the contents of loot llamas in Save the World before they’re purchased with V-Bucks. So it is possible that the lawsuit won’t go anywhere since they’ve already made changes to the areas that the lawsuit covers.

 

Source: Games Industry

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The Division 2 Open Beta Weekend Coming This Week

If you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on Division 2 yet you’ll be getting the opportunity very soon as there is going to be a Division 2 open beta weekend for all platforms. Even better, it is going to take place this weekend! March 1-4.

If you have had the chance to play The Division 2 thanks to their private tests there will still be something new for you to try out this weekend, so it is well worth logging in this weekend.

During the open beta weekend, players will have access to three main mission on Normal and Hard modes. Two of them will be familiar to those who took part in the private tests, Grand Washington Hotel and Jefferson Trade Center. The third one is new to this test, the Viewpoint Museum.

Along with a new main mission, there are a few other new additions. To begin with, the level cap will be raised to level 8. Capitol Ruins will also be introduced as another Skirmish PvP map. The skill Chem Launcher will be introduced with two variants; Riot Roam and Explosive Vapor. There will also be two new Settlement Projects and 5 side missions to tackle.

Finally, players who finish Jefferson Trade Center will get the opportunity to see The Division 2’s end game content. Once the Jefferson Trade Center has been completed three level 30 characters will be unlocked along with an end game mission. The mission begins as soon as one of those level 30 characters is logged in.

The open beta won’t be under NDA, so expect to see some people streaming it this weekend if you can’t get logged in. The development team also stressed in the announcement that the version of the game in the beta isn’t final and elements are subject to change. Check out the open beta trailer below.

 

Source: Official Site

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The Division 2 Interview: Keith Evans Discusses Game Design

As you’ve seen from both our highly detailed hands-on with the game, as well as with our breakdown of the recently confirmed Endgame content, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 has a lot going for it.

Some of you have managed to see that for yourself with the private beta that took place earlier this month. But if you missed out, don’t worry, players. Another beta, this one open to the public, will be held in early March, just a couple of weeks before the game’s release.

That said, we were looking to get more context behind the game, including why Washington D.C. was the choice this time around, compared to where the original Division took place in Manhattan. So, we sat down with one of the best folks for the job, Red Storm Entertainment senior lead designer Keith Evans, about what to expect this time around.

The Division 2 Interview

After working on the first game, Evans had a pretty good idea of what the team wanted this time around. And the feedback from the fans certainly helped that along.

Evans explained, “We took (the feedback) pretty seriously. We’ve had a very open conversation with our community for the whole post-launch, I would say. There was a lot of anticipation for the first game, a lot of really engaged members of the community. So, it’s both this thing where we’ve had this post-launch game for three years, and we’ve done a lot of things, we’ve added a lot to the game, and being able to talk to the community about what they’ve liked, what they didn’t like, what was most important to them that really enriched the game experience for them, we’ve tried to double down on those things for the sequel.

So, (the) Endgame(content) being a huge part on day one, adding post-launch content for free that doesn’t fracture the community, those are big focuses that came directly out of conversations with the community for sure.”

From there, we discussed the design choices for The Division 2 this time around. Rather than sticking with the somewhat murky setting that the first game has, Red Storm, alongside Massive Entertainment, opted for a much brighter, while still somewhat dismal, setting within Washington, D.C. This time around, you get a much clearer view of what’s happening, while at the same time having to focus on some dangerous opposition.

When talking about this design choice, Evans said, “I think we all loved building New York, right? It’s a really iconic city. But, it is very ‘samey’ throughout the city, right? You’re in a concrete jungle.

So a big part of this game was going to a place that allowed us more diversity within the environment, and allowed us to build a different type of places to explore, combat arenas, and let us adapt the A.I. to more open spaces, and having you actually fight in very natural environments in parks, on hills, taking cover in trees. Those are places we knew we wanted to push the sequel, to make it feel like the true sequel we knew we wanted to build, but also to actually be able to deliver different experiences. And I think that you really see that in the combat, specifically.”

However, that world didn’t come easy to build, as Evans and company had to double down to bring it to life. “At the start of it, Manhattan was very, very accurate,” he said. “But we took little liberties around the space, and this time (in Washington), it was a huge part of The Division, creating these realistic environments and then projecting time and story and devastation onto them, so now we’re starting from a place of actual satellite imagery, and starting from like a true 1:1 (scenario).”

He continued, “So now you’ll see that everything in Washington, D.C. is exactly as it should be, and we were able to kind of put on top of that this seven months’ worth of decay, the kind that really makes it more interesting.”

And then we talked about stuff that was going to be added to the game following its launch next month, including the Dark Zones that pop up, along with eight-player supported Raids, and the long-awaited portion of PvP content. We asked Evans if there was any sort of challenge in adding this ever changing content to the game.

He explained, “It was something we planned from the get-go. There’s been a team that’s been dedicated to this living world system that we’re showing with the hands-on demo, the whole development process. And I think that it’s honestly, there are a lot of things that are being tweaked and refined and made better for the sequel.

But I think the most obvious and hugest improvement from the first game is this living world, because every time you log in, every time you…say, you’ve played 100 hours and you’re in the Endgame content, just walking through this living world now, because it’s an actual simulation, because it’s unpredictable, it’s going to be feeding you gameplay and new experiences. And it just makes the world so much more replayable than the first game. It really pushes it to the next level.”

Then we talked about what could be unlocked within the game, including a variety of new gear to equip your soldier with; as well as the possibilities of finding new squad mates to team up with, should your current buddies not be around. “It’s not a series of random events,” Evans noted. “That’s something that The Division 2 players will discover over time. The choices they’re making in the world, what they’re choosing to engage in, the control points they’re taking back, the civilians they’re saving, that actually has this ripple effect on the overall simulation.

So if you’re spending a lot of time on the west side of the map, and that area’s really locked down, that section’s gonna flourish, and they’re going to have more resources, and then maybe they go trade with the other settlement. And now, all of a sudden, there are civilians out in the world with viable resources, and they can get hijacked by one of the enemy factions. So all of those things are really layered on top.”

The Division 2 Interview

It’s best not to take on this world on your own, as we learned trying to overtake an enemy stronghold without sufficient backup from fellow Division agents. Evans suggested, “Not advised. Those are for a little later in the campaign. But eventually…that’s a huge part of this game, though. There’s such a power climb throughout that 1-30 (leveling up). The Division network is weakened at the start of the game, and there are a lot of new tools that you’re building. As you progress through the campaign, and you unlock all the skills and all the mods, and you start to get gear with tons of talents and attributes- that RPG really reveals itself.”

“You go from what is a really solid and fun cover shooter to something really deep and interesting with the RPG,” he added. It’s nice to see that kind of evolution can keep players hooked, even with the high challenge that comes with Endgame later on.

Then came a crucial decision with the game’s design, one that would make up for one of the flaws that hindered the first Division– the post-launch content. Ubisoft has already made it clear that the first year of DLC for The Division 2 will be free of charge to everyone, so that all players can be on the same page. We asked Evans what led to this decision.

“I can tell you exactly what led to it,” he said. “In the first game’s post-launch, we had a Season Pass in the beginning, and I think we added, honestly, a lot of really cool updates and really cool game modes. But, there were all of these paid expansions that started splitting the community up, which is unfortunate.

And then, as we went into year 2 (of content for the original Division), we were done with our Season Pass, and we had to kind of re-evaluate what we were going to do, and that was the first time that we did huge, free content drops. And the way that the community responded to that, and what it did for the health of the game, was something that we knew we wanted to push forward.

This time (with The Division 2), there’s going to be a lot of content and drops throughout the year, really close after launch. We’re going to drop the 8-player raids once players have had time to gear up, but that’s kind of just the start. And we’ll have three large episodes that are going to add main zones and story, main missions, along with…we’re going to constantly be supporting the organized PvP with additional modes and maps.”

There’s just going to be a ton of new content, and it’s free, so the community can just play it together.”

Finally, we circled back around to locations for the Division series, and how Washington, D.C. was such a key choice this time around, compared to Manhattan. But we couldn’t help but wonder something. If Evans could pick a potential location for a third chapter in The Division series (hypothetically- don’t go typing up these “Confirmed, confirmed!” rumors on social media), where would he want it to take place?

“That’s an incredibly hard question,” laughed Evans. “I think that, as we decided on D.C. this time for the obvious reasons, the stakes of the story, all the diversity…but we looked at other cities, right? We looked at other places. And some of the conversations circled around Seattle, which we’ve talked about, we’ve done some concept art on.”

The Division 2 Interview

“There’s just so many places we can take this story, this universe…so it’s really open for anything.”

And of course, with Red Storm involved, I had to make a mention of Las Vegas, where we saw the Rainbow Six series set up shop for a while. “Yeah, Vegas!” Evans concluded.

For now, though, players will be able to venture into Washington D.C. for The Division 2’s open beta, which begins on March 1 and concludes on March 4. More information about the beta will be available in the weeks ahead.

The full release of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 won’t be far behind, as the game will arrive on March 15 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

(Thanks to Ubisoft for accommodating me during this interview!)

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The Division 2 Endgame: What You Need To Know

By now, you’ve probably seen our impressions for The Division 2, which sums up a better experience (from what we’ve played, anyhow) over the original, with a number of improvements made by the team at Massive Entertainment. However, the main game is just the beginning, as the devs, alongside Ubisoft, have a new component that will keep players coming back for more long after they concluded the original story.

This comes in the form of Endgame, a new mode that opens up following the conclusion of the main missions and one that continues to be on an “always-evolving” set-up. That should solve the doldrums that plagued the first game for some, while at the same time presenting some new terrain to cover alongside your squad. But be prepared for a fight as this Endgame content does not come easy.

The Division 2 Endgame

Based upon what we’ve played, Endgame bumps things up a few notches. You’ll no longer be facing soldiers that go down after a few shots. Rather, they’ve toughened up quite a bit, to the point that you’ll need to take them down with a great deal of ammunition.

Not only that, but enemy forces also bump up quite a bit. As we mentioned in the hands-on, there are multiple that come out of certain doorways on each level, so you’ll need to plan with your team accordingly before they strike. This includes having them in positions where they not only leave a dent in these forces, but are also close by just in case you get injured and require a boost to get back into the fight. Remember, the less members you have to work with you, the longer you’ll have to wait for them to revive and run back to your position. So bringing them back more immediately does make a difference.

Along with enemy agents that pile up, you’ll also have to deal with specialty types. These include agents that dish out exploding drones on you. These are a threat not only because they cause damage, but if one hits the cover you’re hiding behind, they’ll jar you out into the open and leave you vulnerable.

Then there are those “robot dogs” we previously mentioned. These come stomping around the map and force you to work together quickly to shoot them down. Otherwise, they’ll rain gunfire on you like it’s going out of style, making them worse than the common soldiers.

Heavies also show up on occasion, and they usually pile up behind soldiers. This, on top of other threats that are introduced in the mode, shows that Massive isn’t fooling around when it comes to getting the most out of your prolonged gameplay time.

However, this isn’t something you’re just going to be thrown into. Not only are you required to finish up the main glut of missions that The Division 2 provided, you’ll have to be properly leveled up, around level 30, as well. By that point, you’ll have earned enough skill to contend with this level of enemy, along with some additional gear that will prove useful.

These include drones that you can send out to face off against the enemy, as well as healing factors to save a downed ally you can’t reach right away. There’s also a turret that can provide automatic fire from points in the level, but be advised that it can’t hit everything from its range, so you’ll need to find the proper placement to get the most out of it.

The Division 2 Endgame

Then we get the three new Specialists that will be available once Endgame is reached.

First up is Survivalist. With this soldier, you’ll be able to utilize traps and status effects in a defensive manner, waiting for enemies to fall into them. They’ll also utilize a special crossbow as their signature weapon, which can cut through environments and hit enemies with utmost precision.

Next up is the Sharpshooter, and sniper fans will have a field day with this character. Provided they can find the right kind of spot to do damage from, this Specialist can pick off foes from a distance, perfect for aiding those who are a little closer in battle.

Finally, there’s the demolitionist. Let’s say that you’re not necessarily a stealth sort of player. No problem. With this explosive agent, you’ll be able to set up a big bang and do a lot of damage in clusters, thanks in part to the grenade launcher that you’ll be wielding.

Each of these specialists, along with the ones that you’ll be using throughout the game, help bump things up a notch. It’s best to figure out who’s going to play what before you jump into a match, just so you suit up players that are in the best spot for them. After all, it helps to have a skilled sniper player fit into that position.

Once Endgame opens up, you’ll face an all new level of challenge that you’ll need to be prepared for. However, other content will open up as well, combined with the stuff that will be added to the game post-launch, including the eight-player Raids, the enhanced Dark Zones and much, much more.

Co-op activities, for example, will be a great way for players to bond together. This is where the most challenge will take place, as you’ll be required to run through them as a group, both in interior and exterior environments. Here, you’ll need to focus on the battles that lie ahead, while conserving ammunition for the tougher skirmishes. Make sure you’re properly leveled here.

Massive will also be introducing some form of PvP to the game. This will enable you to compete against others, while at the same time unlocking some new gear that will do you a world of good. We didn’t get much of a chance to try out this mode during our hands-on with the game, but it’s sure to be a component enjoyed by a great deal of you.

Clans will also play a factor within the game. Again, it hasn’t been fully tested just yet, but the forthcoming beta this weekend should give you the opportunity to see what it’s all about, promising “new ways” to connect with fellow players.

The Division 2 Endgame

We’re not sure to what extent the forthcoming DLC will extend Endgame, but more than likely it’ll be in the form of additional missions, as well as expansions that will add on to the map.

These Expansions will likely take the form of Dark Zones, though there’s the chance we could see others that tie in with the game’s story as well. They’ll provide a new challenge to overcome, even if you believe you’ve mastered the main part of the game with “no sweat,” as some would say.

Plus, the promise of new gear will get you set up with ease for the challenges to come, as we’re likely to see some powerhouse weapons join the fray. The assault rifles and other weapons we had available with our hands-on experience proved to be more than capable of wiping out the strongest of foes, except when they started stacking up. That’s where your teammates are quite useful.

We could also see the bumping-up of skills that are available within the game. The assault drone, for example, is great for providing a secondary layer of firepower; the Chem Launcher shoots explosive vapors and corrosive acids that can do more damage than conventional weaponry; the Hive shoots out miniature drones that can cover a small area and drop a huge dose of explosive firepower; and the Seeker Mine will devastate opponents, even though that aren’t expecting a rolling grenade to come their way. With Endgame, we’re likely to see these pushed up several notches, along with other effects that will help you stand your ground when you need it the most.

Again, our hands-on time with the mode was brief, but it told us exactly what we needed to hear with two crucial points.

The first is that The Division 2 is looking to extend its reach beyond a mode that some folks may find conventional, challenging even the most hardened of players when they least expect it. Then comes the second point, in which it’ll help players bond better together in the heat of combat, rather than running off by themselves and likely getting gunned down as a result. Here, it’s all about working together or being ripped to shreds. We prefer the former.

You’ll get a chance to check out what The Division 2has to offer with the beta that’s unfolding over the next few days. However, if you didn’t pre-order, you won’t have to wait too much longer for what the game has on deck, as it drops on March 15thfor Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Just be prepared for battle. Again, the main mode of The Division 2 will serve you a hearty meal, but Endgame will probably be the toughest, and most delicious, dessert you’ll ever chew down. Savor the flavor!

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The Division 2 Hands-On: Taking Back the Country

When the original Tom Clancy’s The Division released back in 2016, it created a lofty new chapter for Ubisoft, one in which players could interact across Manhattan following virus fallout that literally tore the country apart.

However, like its title suggests, Divisionleft people somewhat…divided. Its “Games As a Service” model served several gamers that didn’t mind earning their keep alongside their crew. But its design also annoyed several, to the point that they left just as things were beginning to pick up in game.

Overall, there was a lot to like, but also quite a bit that could have been done without. And it sounds like the developers at Massive Entertainment may have learned from their mistakes, based upon our hands-on time with The Division 2. With the beta literally just hours away from happening, we wanted to talk about what we experienced in the game thus far- as well as what lies ahead if you do manage to take the country back.

The Division 2 Hands On

The game takes place in Washington D.C. this time around, just seven months after the events that occurred in New York in the original game. You portray a Division operative that decides to change locale upon receiving a distress call. And your first stop is rather ironic, to say the least; you’re asked to go to the White House, where a group known as the Black Tusks, with their own ideals, have seemingly set up shop.

After cleaning house and getting accustomed with The Division 2’s combat controls (more on that in a second), you begin to reclaim control from these rival factions, beginning with a stop at a local stronghold, where a faction leader’s daughter has been taken. Working alongside a team of fellow operatives, it’s your job to slowly work your way through the enemy regime, working as a team to stay in one piece as you come to the main objective, where a fierce baddie and his armada of soldiers await.

Before we get to the missions, though, let’s talk about the base of operations. After taking care of the enemies residing by the White House, you’ll see a number of perk options available to you within the base, and watch as they open up by completing missions within the area. As you make progress, so does your settlement, and more things open up to you, including new supplementary weapons and other things to help your soldier improve.

Along with completing main missions within the game, you can also trek around Washington and take on roaming factions or prepare to take down a stronghold if you’re cunning enough. Before you do, however, you’ll need to keep a couple of things in mind.

First, enemies are a lot more organic in terms of behavior in The Division 2. They won’t stand around and wait to be bullet sponges. They’ll find cover and take aim at you; don’t be surprised if they call in back up.

That brings us back to the team dynamic. They will help you to your fullest in The Division 2, and you can also call for assistance when needed. In the midst of taking over a stronghold, this is the best thing you can do. The reason for this is because the enemies are tough in these places. If you try to roam in and just take over a base, you’ll likely meet your fate very quickly.

We learned this the hard way after attempting to take over a stronghold. After we thought we had cleared out a majority of the enemies in the base, five more showed up, guns blazing, to remind us just how fierce they really are. So, yeah, plan ahead, rookie.

The Division 2 Hands On

That brings us back to the combat within the game, which I feel is a slight improvement over what the original The Division offered. The cover system seems to work a little more smoothly here, even though there are times that your scramble will turn more into a roll as you attempt to avoid gunfire. All the same, you’ll find it easier to “find a shady spot,” as it were, and fire back at enemies that are trying to destroy you.

What’s more, the variance of guns within the game is pretty nice, and you can always unlock new ones to help you turn the tide. Secondary tools, like drones and auto-turrets that fire within a certain range, are helpful as well. And it never hurts to take control with a manual turret when you get the chance, which you’ll want to take advantage of when it comes to larger enemies such as a heavy gunner that’s going to take a whole lot of ammunition to bring down.

You can also choose how you want your arsenal to play out, with a number of specializations to choose from. The survivalist, sharpshooter and demolitionist eventually become available (it takes a little bit of leveling up, but they’re worth it), each with special loadouts that can help turn the tide with the right team on hand.

The game is no easy run-and-gun affair. As I mentioned, the AI is a little more balanced here and won’t be waiting to go down easily. Fortunately, communication with the team went smoothly during our hands-on session, so it’s good to plan ahead, find a way to charge forward, and eventually take back control. Don’t rush- sometimes the right strategy can come from something on the fly, instead of simply running in and hoping for the best. This is no time to, er, divide.

As for the way the story plays out, the early hours seem to follow a pretty solid blueprint, as you help others that are devoted to your cause. It’s not exactly over-the-top storytelling, but it fits the Division motif, and it’ll get you prepared accordingly for the battles that lie ahead. I would’ve liked to have seen more personality from your Division member in the early going, but things will likely pick up as you meet more potential members that can help you out in a time of need.

The Division 2 Hands On

One real noticeable change I noticed between the original game and The Division 2is its setting. Whereas the first Division was dark and gloomy, making it hard to get around sometimes, The Division 2 paints a much brighter picture.

Don’t get me wrong; things are still bleak in this timeline, and roaming soldiers won’t hesitate to ruin your day, but Massive Entertainment has done its homework, presenting a much brighter sequel that makes it somewhat easier to get around. The open world is a lot more visible this time around, so you can actually see landmarks that stand out, such as the National Air and Space Museum, where one of the missions takes place.

And it’s not just the open world that impresses, either. The Division 2 also has a wow factor when it comes to its interior settings. There was one battle inside a planetarium that was nothing short of fantastic, as you basically had to use the environment to your advantage to overcome enemies. The White House also looks great, joining other locations that have been surprisingly well converted into planning areas for your next move.

And all this is done with very little loading within the game itself. There’s the start-up, of course; when you start a new mission, it can take a few seconds. However, I was surprised how much better the game seems to run compared to the first. Again, that’s Massive Entertainment, doing its fair share of homework to present a better experience (at least, based on what we’ve seen thus far.)

There’s also sharp animation on the characters themselves. The human soldiers look great; I was surprised how fun these automated threats can come across. For instance, one stage has you facing off against what appears to be large robot dogs, walking around and firing away at anything that moves. They actually take quite a bit to bring down, so proceed with caution. Oh, and watch out for drones too. They’re terrible, especially when they ram into cover and jar you out into the open.

There are some things that might annoy players when it comes to The Division 2. For instance, factions appearing through doorways in groups that can pose a real hassle when your squad is exhausted from the last battle. This is especially true with the game’s Endgame mode, as they just keep on coming. We’ll discuss that in more detail in a follow-up piece.

But there’s something that feels pretty good about how The Division 2 has content to spare this time around- and it’ll come at zero cost. The developers at Massive have put together a fun little model in which the first year of downloadable content for the game will be free. We’re not sure what’s going to happen after that, or if it’ll convert to a “games-as-a-service” model following that point, but this is an excellent start that will keep players on the same page, rather than having someone fall behind because they don’t have expansion A or add-on B.

Again, the variety of content you’ll find within the open world is staggering thus far. Whether it’s taking down roaming factions, helping fellow Division members take back a crucial point on the map, or overtaking a stronghold loaded to the hilt with enemy soldiers, you’ll find a lot to do here.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test out the online matchmaking with the game, since most of our team-ups were arranged with private servers in the event space. I’m sure this weekend’s forthcoming beta will provide such a test, and get Ubisoft ready for the wave of players that will be entering the game come mid-March. If they can have it running up to speed like the original game did, we’re golden.

As for that future content, well, we know about some future content that’s coming our way. That includes the return of Dark Zones, which will pose a challenge for certain players, as well as eight player Raids, which will tie in with the overall Endgame. Again, we’ll tackle that in more detail shortly, because, boy, are you going to have your hands full with it.

We enjoyed our time with The Division 2 (thanks to Ubisoft for flying me down to check it out), and chances are a lot of other players will be on board once they jump in for themselves over the next few days. It’ll be easy to notice what changes were made to make it more of a draw over the original, whether it’s within the visual design or the better range of missions or the smoother flow of combat. Don’t forget about the team dynamics, as well as how things will open up within your base and settlement as you complete more of the required content by their leaders. Take the time and you’ll see your investment come back in spades.

The Division 2 Hands On

You can check out The Division 2beta from February 7-11 if you’ve pre-ordered the game; it’ll open up in the U.S. around 4 AM EDT on the 7th and conclude around 11 AM EDT on the 11th. That should give you more than enough time to see what it’s about, between its main content and its Endgame, if you manage to get to that point.

As for other players that didn’t pre-order the game or are waiting to see what it’s about, well, you’re going to miss out. I know some have mixed feelings about how the original Tom Clancy’s The Division underwhelmed you, but with the sequel, it really does feel like Massive Entertainment is trying to make right. It’s trying to abide by the rules that worked so well in the first game but also opening things up so players can have more fun. There are likely to be those that still hold judgment in some spots, but we assure you that the team is going for the gold this time around.

If you can’t get into the beta, you can check out Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 when it launches on March 15 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with For Honor: Marching Fire

Last year I was present at E3 for For Honor’s coming out. As a digital murderer, I’m usually bored with raw combat, especially in non-persistent, lobby-based games. However, what I saw from Ubisoft gave me hope. I admittedly didn’t buy the game at launch due to some personal issues at the time, but I’ve been following the news and still feel like it’s added to the online multiplayer sphere: simple combat design with deep mastery, fun gameplay, and yes, avatar gender and ethnic flexibility that still brings in people of other cultures to help respect the team’s modifications. It may not be important to everyone, but at the very least, the base game had well designed combat.

The Marching Fire update takes that and goes further. While it’s cool that we have the new Wu Lin faction and four new classes, what MMO fans might really enjoy is the new Breach mode, which plays like an action-oriented Alterac Valley, after the World of Warcraft devs streamlined it. And honestly, AV is still the PvP experience I use as a baseline for decent MMO PvP scenarios. While I enjoyed my hands-on with the new mode, I also got to sit down with Ubisoft Montreal’s Creative Director Roman Campos-Oriola to talk about cultural influences, bugs, and balance.

For Honor Marching Fire

Shaolin Viking Showdown

People around the internet have complained about the game’s inauthentic take on history and gender. Black vikings? Female knights that can stand toe-to-toe with a man? “Where’s the realism?” they ask. Campos-Oriola responds by asking how many times you find Samurai fighting vikings. It’s all fantasy anyway. The question is how to present it in a way players can enjoy, and enjoy they are. While dark corners of the internet may be brooding about their perceived loss of exclusive main roles in game stories, the people actually playing For Honor are actually pushing for more flexibility. When certain classes are restricted for a certain gender, the team does it for story purposes, but fans want Ubisoft to nix that. It’s something Campos-Oriola doesn’t say will happen, but he understands that players are passionate about wanting more freedom. Perhaps if people push hard enough, we can get stories for the other genders currently locked out of some of the class fun.

But story is important in For Honor. It’s not just lore but dictates how the characters come into being. The Wu Lin aren’t joining the fray because the team wanted a Chinese faction but instead because they picked out certain weapons and looked through various martial arts to see where it would fit the best. Once chosen, the team not only got cultural experts to help them tell the story, but practitioners and stunt people familiar with the martial arts to help Ubisoft build enough immersion that the game feels grounded despite obvious fantasy influences. Just the same, what’s refreshing to me about the series is that it’s still simple combat mostly grounded in reality. All melee, no frostbolts or darkflames whizzing by.

That being said, the game isn’t perfect. Some of you may recall that the game’s first tournament had an embarrassing exploit still in it that the champ used to win. While Ubisoft made the bug more difficult to execute, some of them still remain. The difficulty to execute them makes Campos-Oriola unfazed by their existence, but acknowledged that, yes, bugs do slip in, despite having internal and external people helping the team quash bugs, including fans. Some bugs are bound to slip by, but many more are caught.

Balancing the classes, of course, is another priority that fans sometimes have trouble appreciating. Campos-Oriola noted that there’s essentially two types of balance. One is actual balance, like with the Peacekeeper. It’s not just the developers thinking, “Oh, this is broken,” but looking at damage numbers, player statistic data, the meta, the pro scene, etc. As it’s been said, the Peacekeeper was overpowered, but it was also a one trick pony, in that most of its kit was useless compared to the overpowered aspects. Balancing that gives Peacekeeper players more tools and also makes the class less predictable to fight against, which is hopefully more fun to play against too.

Then there’s the perception of balance. Many people have asked Campos-Oriola when they’re going to revamp the Lawbringer, but in fact, it’s already one of the most balanced characters. This is a bit harder because you need to change people’s perception of the class. Hopefully, balancing the actual broken classes, like the Peacekeeper, helps make balanced characters, like the Lawbringer, stand out more.

Campos-Oriola couldn’t hint at any possible future factions, but I felt like he expected this question and didn’t want to give me too many details. We certainly won’t find out until Marching Fire’s been out for awhile.

For Honor Marching Fire

Into the Breach

While I certainly enjoyed talking shop with Campos-Oriola, it’d be a mistake to not address the hands-on demo I had with the Breach PvP mode that Marching Fire brings to For Honor. I had quite a few demos this year, but I don’t think my fellow press or demo guides were more enthusiastic about any other match I played this year.

The demo started off fairly basic. I was allowed to practice a bit with several characters on the roster, including the new Tiandi and Shaolin Monk classes. The Tiandi I played was the standard soldier class. I’m no For Honor veteran, but it very much felt like a default character, which isn’t necessarily bad. The Shaolin Monk, however, was quick, able to weave about a bit, though it’s power attack still felt slow and left me wide open. When it came time for our Breach, I went with the monk in hopes that it would be more useful for doing objectives.

Think of Alterac Valley. Now cut it in half and make one side attacking and the other defending their keep. The defenders have infinite lives, the attackers only have so many. The objective for the defenders is to use up the attackers’ lives, while the attackers need to breach the castle and kill the enemy lord.

I started the match on defense, manning the ramparts. I had several NPCs helping me, and enemy NPCs came in to attack. It kind of felt like Dynasty Warriors on hard mode, in that the enemy NPCs fell easily enough, but they could do some real damage if I wasn’t careful. This always was significantly more obvious when a player assisted them. For those unfamiliar with the series, you choose to attack or defend high, left, or right. If both of you choose the same area (high) for example, you can’t damage each other. A blocked attack leaves you open, so you need to figure out where to attack your enemy and when to do it so as to not get blocked and leave yourself wide open. Is simple sounding but is rather difficult, especially given combos, nearby NPCs, and possibly having to fight multiple people at once.

While I was trying to repel the invaders, my teammates were down on the ground floor trying to destroy the enemy battering rams. Of course, they’re also guarded by NPCs and players. Our guide tried to help coordinate us a bit, but my main issue was I simply didn’t know how to find the healing station for a while, and that was good, since coordination mattered. Going into even a 2v1 fight is quite dangerous, as I learned a few times when I got to my ally just when multiple enemies had finished them off.

After losing the outer walls, we fell back to ours lord in classic Alterac Valley fashion. We needed to keep our lord alive and make sure they died enough for the match to end. While this sounds simple, at this point, we had another big issue: we didn’t have the environmental advantage to stop our enemies from resurrecting their dead anymore. Revived characters don’t count as a death against the attackers, so not only did we have to kill them, we had to make sure they didn’t revive their allies, which is difficult when you’re also trying to guard your faction NPC.

No moment better highlighted this than when I got caught unaware while trying to revive my teammates behind a not-so-secret piece of cover. As the last man standing, my death gave the enemy a window of opportunity to really hit our lord hard. Except that, well, we’d already chipped away enough damage that our lord was able to finish them off. Both teams and the demo guides were floored, as it hadn’t happened in previous demos. It was a tense moment, but also one where we’d made a good dent in their available lives.

We rode that small victory through several more waves of attacks. By staying near our lord, we were able to intercept the enemies quickly and wear them down so the lord could finish them off. The enemy zerg attacked, racking up their own deaths. It took them a few waves to reorganize and come in as a group again, but we were within two full wipes of winning the game. Everyone was hungry for a victory. Both teams were trying to make use of cover, NPC allies, healing stations, revives, everything. We had no discernible way to heal our lord, and visually he looked wounded without even needing to look at his health bar.

In the end, there was a final stand. A lot of people on both sides died. When the match ended, it took everyone a few seconds to process what had happened: our lord fell. We’d taken many of them out, but they’d won by a hair. Everyone, on both sides, both press and Ubisoft employees, cheered. It was a fun match for everyone involved

I can’t promise that everyone’s match will be so thrilling, but the game’s combat already felt, well, fair. Breach, however, is a familiar kind of PvP for MMO players, and combined with For Honor’s basic gameplay combines into something that feels accessible, deep, and familiar all at once. If you haven’t bought the game yet, you may want to consider trying it out when the new update arrives later this year.

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The Division Movie To Be Helmed By Deadpool 2 Director David Leitch

Ubisoft’s The Division movie has secured David Leitch as its Director, a stuntman-turned-director responsible for Deadpool 2 and John Wick. He joins Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain, who have both been with the movie from the beginning, and takes over from Stephen Gaghan, more famous for geopolitical themes.

The Division Movie To Be Helmed By Deadpool 2 Director David Leitch

David Leitch is also on board to direct the Fast and Furious spinoff that stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham, so it’s safe to say he’s got a pretty solid background in action movies. It is said that this movie will be shot first before Leitch moves on to prepare The Division at some point in 2019, with his producing partner, Kelly McCormick set to produce alongside Leitch under their 8711 banner.

The Division has had a rocky existence though has made vast improvements since its launch and has not only managed to reach 20 million players but is also getting a sequel, which we should hopefully hear more from at E3 in June. Meanwhile, Gyllenhaal and Chastain have remained persistent in ensuring that The Division movie stays true to the tone of the video game it bases itself on. Overall, it’s certainly a big enough franchise with a fascinating setting that could make for a fantastic movie.

Our Thoughts

We shall most definitely be keeping an eye on The Division movie. We’ve always had a soft spot for the game and its setting, despite the tumultuous launch, and the crew behind it thus far are incredibly promising. However, this won’t be Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ first rodeo and we shall most definitely be playing the “wait and see” game.

Source: Variety

 

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