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E3 2017: Our 3 Favorite Things from the Microsoft Presser

The first of the big three took the state at E3 on Sunday afternoon, and Microsoft’s presser left us with a few things to get excited about this fall and beyond. Of course we new we would see the Scorpio (now dubbed the Xbox One X), and most of the other announcements were leaked ahead of time as well. But that doesn’t make them any less sweet. Here are our three favorite things from the Microsoft presser:

 

Crackdown 3–My all-time favorite series gets a new installment, and as icing on the cake, Terry Crews is in it. I have been waiting for this game for seven years now, and it looks like it has captured the core of what makes Crackdown great. Now if we can just get Crackdown and Crackdown 2 on the backwards compatibility list…

 

State of Decay 2–Despite rave reviews, I never got around to playing the first State of Decay. That won’t be the case this time around.

 

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds–The Twitch sensation is coming to Xbox One, and it should be a mega-hit there as well.

 

Honorable Mention: Xbox One X

I’ll be honest, I could give a crap about the Xbox One X (or the PS4 Pro, for that matter). I don’t have a 4K TV, and I think the current gen of games look just fine. And $499 is way too much ($399 was the magic price point, and it will be there within a year of launch). BUT, if these half-measures by Microsoft and Sony will extend the life of this console generation, then I am all for it. And it wild rive the price of the original model down, so yay for that, too.

Those are the things we’re most excited about from Microsoft’s E3 presser. Stay tuned for our takeaways from the Bethesda, Sony, Ubi and Nintendo pressers over the next few days!

EA E3

E3 2017: Our 3 Favorite Things from the EA Presser

EA kicked things off for the Electronic Entertainment Expo this past Saturday, and while much of what they showed was expected, there were a few pleasant surprises to be had. Here are the three things we were most excited about from the EA presser:

 

Need for Speed: Payback–The latest entry in the NFS franchise feels like Burnout Paradise meets The Fast and the Furious.

 

A Way Out–A split-screen, co-op prison break game from the team behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

 

Star Wars: Battlefront II–We knew this was coming, but it sure looks awesome.

Those were are three favorite things from the EA presser. What are you most excited about? Stay tuned for our top three from the Microsoft, Bethesda, Sony and Nintendo pressers!

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Games We’re Excited About: JUNE 2017

June isn’t as packed with big releases as some of the last few months have been, but it definitely still packs a punch (get it?), as we’re getting two hotly anticipated fighting games this month. June also sees a major expansion for an MMO and a remaster of a beloved PlayStation classic.

 

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Tekken 7 (PS4, PC, Xbox One)–June 6
Our favorite fighting game series is back on console this month, as Heihachi and crew bring the pain. If you want to know why we’re so excited about this one, check out the Tekken 7 tournament finals from this past weekend’s Combo Breaker 17.

Our only complaint is that Armor King won’t be in this one, as he’s always been Brian’s favorite chracter. Guess he’ll have to start practicing with Kuma.

 

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The Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind (Mac, PS4, PC, Xbox One)–June 6
Morrowind comes to ESO this month in a huge expansion for the MMO. Thirty hours of gameplay and a new character class are just some of what Morrorwind has to offer. If you loved Elder Scrolls 3, now’s the time to jump into ESO.

 

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ARMS (Nintendo Switch)–June 16
ARMS feels like the next Splatoon–a game many dismissed when it was first announced but went on to become a huge fan favorite. ARMS is a fighter where characters use extendable arms with unique abilities to battle up close or across entire arenas. Characters can swap out different combinations of arms, so there is a ton of options for customization. Nintendo seems determined to push for this one to have a competitive scene as well, so it should be an interesting summer for ARMS.

 

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Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)–June 30
There was a time when Crash was mentioned in the same breath as Mario and Sonic. Granted, that time was brief, but it existed nonetheless, and the early Crash games were a blast. The trilogy features the first three Crash games, and will feature updated sounds and individuals, controls and a new save system.

Those are the games we’re excited about for June 2017. What’s on your list of games to pick up for this month?

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The Combo Breaker 17 TEKKEN 7 Finals Were Amazing

With the exception of a short love affair with Super Street Fighter 2 on the SNES, the only fighting game series I have really gotten into over the years has been Tekken. Tekken 2 on the original PlayStation is without a doubt my favorite fighting game of all time, and the one I’ve spent the most time with. I’ve dabbled with the other games in the series, but have never gotten lost in one like I did with Tekken 2.

But man, after watching the Tekken 7 tournament at Combo Breaker 17 Saturday night, not only did I pre-order Tekken 7 for PS4, I ended up buying a fight stick as well. That tournament provided an amazing market showcase for the game, and the level of competition was great. The top eight overall were just outstanding matches, and the finals between Saint and JDCR were amazing.

Needless to say, I’ll be doing some Tekken 7 videos for our YouTube page, as I try and get these old tired reflexes back into fighting shape. You can watch the finals from yesterday’s Tekken 7 tournament in the player above.

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Please Don’t Go, Mass Effect

Sigh.

As you’ve probably seen across various gaming news sites by now, it seems that the Mass Effect franchise is going to be hiatus for a bit (you can read the USGamer story here and the Kotaku story here).

In some ways, this is not terribly surprising. Andromeda’s Metacritic scores current sit at 70 (PS4), 73 (PC) and 77 (Xbox One). Surely that’s not what EA was anticipating when they forced the game to be shipped before it was ready (EA’s fiscal year ended March 31). And it’s really inarguable that the game wasn’t ready. It’s received multiple post-release patches to address a variety of issues, from facial animations to bugs to stability issues and more.

But I can’t help feeling like the decision to put the franchise on hold was driven by the absolute savaging the game has received on social media. Spending any time in the Twitterverse in the first few weeks after release, you would have thought that Mass effect Andromeda was not only the worst game of all time, but that it had destroyed the ability of the people who played it to ever enjoy a video game again.

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The reaction was ridiculous, and it became more so, as the piling-on continued until there was essentially nothing Bioware could do to escape the narrative that Andromeda was an awful game that was a total failure.

It’s really sad, because the Mass Effect universe is one I have invested hundreds of hours in, through the games, comics, novels and more. I spent a good deal of time covering and discussing the original trilogy on Co-Op Critics, my own blog and for Comic Book Resources as well. And I was so excited for a whole new series of games set in the ME universe. My first dozen-plus hours with ME: Andromeda have been great overall. Sure, I see the lack of polish, but as the first game in a new series, I feel like the criticism of it has been completely overblown. I can only imagine if the Twitterverse had been at full force when the original Mass Effect came out. The issues with AI, the glitches, the Mako–I mean can you imagine? But at the time, reason prevailed, and despite its flaws, Mass Effect was given credit where credit was due. I don’t feel like that’s been the case with Andromeda at all.

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Instead, the vitriol directed at the developers and the tidal wave of negativity on social media has helped put the series on ice. I’m just hoping that once the fervor dies down, EA and Bioware will regroup and come up with a plan for moving the series forward. Because there is so much potential for storytelling in the Mass Effect universe, and it would be a shame if this is the end of it.

In case you want to take a trip in the wayback machine, here’s some of my previous stuff on the Mass Effect series:

2008 Interview with Mass Effect Lead Writer Drew Karpyshyn

Interview with Mass Effect 2 Lead Writer Mac Walters and artist Omar Francia about Mass Effect: Redemption comic*

Interview with comic writer John Jackson Miller and artist Omar Francia about Mass Effect Redemption comic*

Blog: My Mass Effect Experience–Part 1

Blog: My Mass Effect Experience–Part 2

Co-Op Critics Podcast: Mass Effect 1-2

Co-Op Critics Podcast: Mass Effect 3

*Due to the way CBR now archives old posts, a lot of the images are no longer embedded, but the content of the interviews is still there.

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Games We’re Excited About: May 2017

Like April before it, this month has a good mix of both new games and re-releases of beloved favorites. Sim games, builders, fighters and first-person action games make up this month’s list, ensuring a little something for everyone.

 

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Prey (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – May 5
Eleven years after Prey landed on the PC and Xbox 360, we are finally getting the sequel-turned re-imagining of the franchise. We’re actually fine with the wait, because Prey looks like it may finally be the spiritual successor to the Dead Space franchise we’ve been waiting for. The game takes place on a space station that served as a prison for aliens that had attached the Earth.

 

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Birthdays: The Beginning (PS4, PC) – May 9

From Yasuhiro Wada, the creator of harvest Moon, comes this sandbox game about building a world filled with life. The game allows players to switch between managing the topographical and atmospheric conditions to more of a zoomed-in style of managing the moment to moment evolution of their world.

 

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Minecraft: Switch Edition (Switch) – May 11

Do we really need another version of Minecraft on yet another device? Um, absolutely. Because we’re talking about the Switch, and not only does the Switch edition get the Nintendo skin pack the WiiU version had, but it’s going to be 13 times bigger than the WiiU version. It will also run at 60fps, and you can transfer worlds from your WiiU to the Switch version.

 

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Injustice 2 (PS4, Xbox One) – May 16

2013’s Injustice was an impressive entry into the fighting genre. The game pitted darker versions of DC’s most beloved characters against one another against the backdrop of a world where Superman went bad. Not only was the game successful, but it spawned multiple comic series set in that world. The second game picks up where the first left off and will not only feature a campaign and the usual game modes, but will introduce a “multiverse” mode where battle take place across alternate worlds.

 

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Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers (Switch) – May 26

This updated version of Super Street Fighter II Turbo will feature both classic and updated graphics, as well as a remixed soundtrack. All original seventeen fighters are on the Switch version, as well as two additional characters–Violent Ken and Evil Ryu. The Final Challengers will support all Switch control styles, and will feature both local and online multiplayer. There’s also a first-person wave-based mode called  “Way of the Hado.”

Those are the games we’re excited about for May 2017. What’s on your list of games to pick up for this month?

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Games We’re Excited About: April 2017

March was a huge month for games and games hardware, with the launch of the Switch and the arrival of tentpole releases like Zelda, Horizon and Mass Effect. And while April can’t possibly live up to last month, there are some great games in the queue, including some updated ports and one of the year’s biggest RPGs.

 

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Persona 5 (PS4)–April 4
While I (Brian) did not play Persona 4, I have very fond memories of the over 100 hours I spent with Persona 3. Persona’s blend of story, combat and relationship management make it stand out from the rest of the pack. And Persona 5 looks super slick. The story for this latest installment takes place in Tokyo and involves students using their persona powers to travel to an alternate dimension here they must remove corruption from the hearts of adults.

 

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Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition (PS4, Xbox One, PC)– April 7
When Bulletstorm came out in 2011, we had an absolute blast with its over the top action and low-brow humor. But it was the combat mechanics that made it great–a Scorpion-like energy leash that could pull enemies in for brutal kills, and a reward system that gave you points for creatively destroying enemies. It was like Gears of War on two pots of coffee. This remastered edition includes better visuals, new maps, DLC and gives players the ability to play as Duke Nukem. Bring it.

You can also hear Dan and Brian wax poetic about their love for Bulletstorm in an old episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast right here.

 

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Stardew Valley: Collector’s Edition (PS4, Xbox One)–April 11
We’ve been playing Stardew Valley for a year now on PC, so we know what a treat console gamers are in for this month. This Harvest Moon-inspired gem has you managing a farm you inherited from your grandfather. Farming, fishing, crafting, cooking, fighting monsters and managing relationships are all part of what makes Stardew Valley so great. The soundtrack is amazing, too.

 

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch) – April 28
Mario Kart 8 was already amazing on the WiiU, and now it’s coming to Nintendo’s new console with a bevy of extra stuff. All the DLC from the WiiU version, new tracks, new tracks, new vehicles and more. Zelda may have carried the launch of the Switch, but Mario Kart 8 will keep people playing through the summer.

Those are the games we’re excited about for April. What’s on your “to buy” list? Let us know in the comments!

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I Pre-Ordered The Nintendo Switch–Did You?

Hey gang, Brian here. We are just over two weeks away from the launch of the Nintendo Switch. And the closer we get to launch the more I keep hearing people argue about whether or not it’s worth pre-ordering, or if people should wait until there are more games out for the system, or the price drops, or some bundles arrive.

I pre-ordered mine the day the went up. Why? Because there was never a doubt for me that I would be getting the new Nintendo console. I bought the WiiU, the Wii, the New 3DS Xl, the 3DS, the DS (a few times), and a slew of GameBoy models over the years. I got the NES for Christmas the year it came out, and the original GameBoy as well. In fact,the only time I wasn’t an avid Nintendo player was during the N64 and early GameCube eras (when I was mainly gaming on the Genesis, Dreamcast and Playstation).

I am a fan of Nintendo, and one of the things I love about them the most is how they don’t follow what Sony and Microsoft do. The Switch is nothing like the PS4 or Xbox One, and I love that. To me, it’s more an evolution of what they were trying to do with the Wii, and as a PS Vita owner, it seems like a better and more versatile version of the PS Vita.

So, it was a no-brainer for em to order the Switch. I’ll play Zelda at launch, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up some classic games (or even more recent Wii or WiiU games I missed) through the eShop. The Switch isn’t my only console, so it doesn’t need to have everything for me.

Now don’t get me wrong–Nintendo has done plenty to screw up this launch, as they usually do. The launch lineup is weak, the accessories are way too expensive, the streaming features aren’t available at launch, and we still have little idea what the online service is actually going to look like. Nintendo has a way of shooting themselves in the foot and making things more complicated than they need to be. The launch of the Switch appears to be no different.

But that won’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of the Switch when I get it on March 3rd.

I hope the Switch is a huge success for Nintendo. A healthy Nintendo is good for the games industry. What I’d love to see more than anything is for them to phase out the 3DS and truly move forward with one platform. There are tons of 3DS games that never really used the second screen anyway and could become eShop games for the Switch. And of course, the DS and GameBoy libraries should be available for the Switch as well. The Switch could bring it all together.

It probably won’t, because this is Nintendo. But I will still love them, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the Switch.

So–did you pre-order the Switch?

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Resident Evil 7 Is Stuffed With Easter Eggs, And Not Just for Series Fans

I played through the the first hour of Resident Evil 7 smiling from ear to ear. Not because the game wasn’t scary–it’s constant sense of impending doom is nerve-fraying at times.

What had me downright giddy was the both the amount and quality of Easter eggs for horror fans from the very opening moment of Resident Evil 7. I’m not even talking about RE Easter eggs, I’m talking horror movies and games in general. Here are just a few of the ones I noticed:

-As the game opens we see MC Ethan Winters driving to Louisiana in a scene that evokes both Evil Dead and The Shining. The car is most definitely a nod to the Delta 88 from the Evil Dead movies, and the shot of him driving immediately reminded me of The Shining.

-While walking through the woods, Ethan gets his first glimpse of Jack Baker, in a scene that brings to mind the “monster at the end” scene from Episode 3 of True Detective. In fact, the whole opening area of the game feels very much inspired by True Detective, and I suspect that influence will be felt throughout the game.

-The entire guest house you start the game in looks like the sloth set from Se7en.

-Ethan watches a VHS tape of a couple paranormal investigators checking out the house, and there is a basement scene that features a note-perfect Blair Witch reference.

-The entire basement segment of the guest house features direct nods to Evil Dead, and the floating corpse Ethan encounters is designed exactly like a deadite (I think it looks just like Scotty).

-There are several hallway shots that are homages to P.T., and once scene with a ringing phone that is an almost direct shot for shot scene from P.T.

-In addition to the True Detective vibe, there is a distinct Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe in the design as well. Mia’s design feels very influenced by the 2003 remake. And the family of RE7 is a nod to the TCM franchise as well, in my opinion.

-And that’s just in the first hour. The game itself is super creepy and builds tension right from the outset, and the Easter eggs are just making me love it even more. I can’t wait to get further into it.

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GAMES WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT: FEBRUARY 2017

2017 has started off with a bang, as January already brought us one of the biggest releases of the year in Resident Evil 7. February is up to the challenge though, as it also has one of the most anticipated games of the year, which is one of a couple big PS4 exclusives.

 

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Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World (3DS)–February 3
As if Woolly Yoshi wasn’t adorable enough on his own, Poochy came along to add even more cute to this updated port of the WiiU game. In addition to sporting a better framerate than Yoshi’s Woolly World on WiiU, the 3DS version has an additional runner mode called Poochy Gold Rush.

 

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Nioh (PS4)–February 9

Dark Souls meets Onimusha. If that doesn’t get you excited to play this game, we don’t know what to tell you. After playing some of the beta over the past few months, this game feels like it has just enough Souls DNA to satisfy fans of that series, and the setting of a monster-infested 1600s Japan makes it feel different enough from the Souls series to stand on its own.

 

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For Honor (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Knights versus Vikings versus Samurai–a medieval royal rumble. For Honor has been described as a shooter with swords, and features competitive multiplayer modes where the focus is on brutal melee combat as opposed to ranged battle.

 

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Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)–February 28
From the developers of Killzone comes the PS4’s most anticipated game of the year. Horizon: ZD is an action roleplaying game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world run by machines. Players take on the role of Aloy, a hunter who can use melee, ranged and stealth attacks to defeat the robotic enemies of the land and scavenge them for materials that can be used for craft, or even turn some of the machines into allies by hacking them.

So, February looks like a pretty good month to be a PS4 owner, although there is a little something for everyone in there. March is shaping up to be a monster month as well, as the Nintendo Switch will be launching alongside another huge game–The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So far, 2017 is a great year for gaming.