The Gears of War franchise may be 10 years old, but this fourth title is only the second to make its way to PC. Third-person shooters in general have never had as big of a following on PCs as they have on console. Gears of War, it seems, has become something of a gold standard of third-person shooters for play with dual-shock controllers. We’re here to give it a pass on the keyboard and mouse.
There are good reasons for the success of the franchise. With a controller, the dual thumbsticks of an Xbox controller suit maneuvering through cover and “locking” to walls. Then there's the trademark thickness of the characters; even normal humans stand out against other games. Against a backdrop of superfluous gore and chainsaw-guns, the Lancer, Gears of War 4 has established itself as one of the meatiest, most visceral shooters on the market.
One of the perennial remarks about the Gears of War franchise has always been the game's character design. Every male character seems have a jaw like a brick, or Robert Z’Dar, and the armor looks built of heavy metals. Now, the Gears of War franchise is five majors titles in, with novel, comic, and board game adaptations. The odd, not-entirely-human look of the characters has become a dedicated part of the franchise, and GoW4 remains true to that aesthetic. The Coalition may have taken over development from Epic, but they’ve also come a long way in design from the first Gears of War. One of the characters in this game -- Del -- even appears to have a neck. As with all the previous titles, females characters still look pretty human. 25 years older, Marcus Fenix still looks more like a bicep drawn by Rob Liefeld than a human.
Torn Banner's Mirage: Arcane Warfare made its inaugural press tour at GDC a few weeks ago, but we weren't allowed to play it until last weekend's PAX East. Previewing a mechanically deep game from a show floor environment is always difficult – you've got a few minutes to figure out the controls, and it's normally just enough to get a good “base feeling” for the heart of the game. That's it, though, and there's little to be learned in the form of combat or mechanics intricacies.
We previewed Mirage: Arcane Warfare gameplay at PAX East in a full multiplayer match, managing to play each class at least once between the two of us. One class remained locked, but the rest were open to play.
BetaDwarf's launch of Forced, its co-operative action brawler of critical acclaim, established a sound foundation for the indie studio. It's easy to get trapped in the role of perpetually attempting to recreate the success of previous launches – we've all seen it – and BetaDwarf is working hard to avoid becoming “type-cast” as a maker of co-op arcade-brawlers. But it's risky to build a new IP – so BetaDwarf's taken a rare, but logical path: Build upon the franchise IP with a deviation from the core genre mechanics, netting a new type of game with familiar characters.
Forced: Showdown gameplay takes the primordial composition of “Forced” to build upon the playful, action-driven arena mechanics, but switches a few ingredients. For one, co-operartive play is gone; Showdown is all about single-player arena-crawling. Cards have also been added – like playing cards in a CCG, but simplified. Cards are dealt (and can be mulliganed) at the beginning of each major arena match, adding ancillary mechanics that deepen the pool of strategies. Companions, another add-on, have effectively replaced Spirit Mentor Balfus and add a more brute-force means of supporting the player.
We'll have a full review of Showdown online shortly, but for now, we're giving away twenty keys for the game. We're also handing-out two mechanical keyboards, five jerseys, and five 'swag bags,' thanks to supporting system integrator iBUYPOWER (makers of the Revolt 2 SFF PC).
The first FORCED was an invigorated revisit to the era of Gauntlet, developed before the release of 2014's Gauntlet action RPG. We gave the game high praise in our review, remarking that it was among the best co-operative games available on the market. Through today, FORCED has sold in excess of 300,000 copies – profound success for a relatively new development company.
Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios are two months away from releasing their shooter-action hybrid, “Evolve.” Leading into this, the developers hosted an event at their local San Francisco offices, rolling out a series of announcements in the process. We were able to attend the media event and get hands-on with the title.
The news includes a new game mode, a third playable monster, and an open beta announcement. Evolve will feature a single-player experience called “Evacuation” that will allow for local cooperative and online cooperative & PVP play. Turtle Rock also announced the third available Monster upon launch: the Wraith.
Evolve will enter open beta on Xbox Live January 15-19, with limited testing for PC and Playstation 4 users, too.
F2P online games publisher Aeria Games today announced that F.E.A.R. Online has received a Steam release date of October 17. FEAR Online is a follow-up to the existing FEAR franchise – one of the best-known horror shooters (though not particularly scary when compared to the likes of Amnesia) – and ships in the free-to-play variety.
Kickstarter projects have flooded the market over the past few years. Multi-million dollar success of titles like Star Citizen have only furthered the torrential downpour of indie titles hoping to realize their game-making dreams. Saturation to such an extent, of course, also brings with it a great burden on consumers when seeking out new titles. Not everyone can deliver, as we've learned, and some projects never even make it to market.
Skara - The Blade Remains stands as one of the newest additions to Kickstarter, but its arrival isn't without towing force from Unreal Engine 4. What was once a multi-million dollar engine is now available at $20/mo. (with royalties) for developers, and now that the engine has been out for a few months, we're starting to see impending indie games utilizing it.
You'll find our Skara - The Blade Remains preview and unedited gameplay footage below, along with further analysis of mechanics.
Bethesda announced ‘Battlecry’ yesterday, its upcoming free-to-play melee action game. Battlecry is being developed by the studio of the same name for PC and supports up to 32-player matches.
Battlecry pits up to 16 players against one another on each side for bloody multiplayer combat featuring swords, axes, laser crossbows, and hand-to-hand combat. It mixes a few themes and art styles to form a unique blend of medieval, post-apocalyptic, B-movie, and more historically-based visuals.
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