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Games We’re Excited About: January 2017

Ah, January–the dead month. As much as year-long game releases have spread the love out over most of the year now, January is still a pretty quiet month for releases. But there’s usually one big release stuck somewhere in the month, and this year it’s a brand new Resident Evil game. But it’s not the only one we’re excited about this month. Here’s our short but sweet list:

 

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Road Redemption (PS4, Xbox One)–January 15

Remember Road Rash, the motorcycle racing/brawler hybrid from the SEGA Genesis? Well, developers Pixel Dash Studios and EQ Games do, and they’ve created a spiritual successor that builds on the gameplay of the original. While Road Rash featured melee combat, Road Redemption is adding in firearms as well. I feel like it’s time for another vehicle combat game, and I have super fond memories of the original Road Rash.

 

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard–January 24 (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Is this the one? The game that finally returns the Resident Evil franchise to its former horror-filled glory? Over the past several years, the only RE game I’ve played that came close to capturing the old magic was the first Revelations game for the DS. But everything we’ve seen so far from RE7 looks absolutely terrifying. I don’t think I’m ready for the VR version yet, but I cannot wait to play it on the big screen, with my headphones on and the lights turned off. Bring it.

 

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Hitman: The Complete First Season (PS4, Xbox One, PC)–January 31
I’ll admit it—I’ve never been a real big fan of the Hitman series. But the latest iteration and the episodic way in which it rolled out has received such critical acclaim, that I need to see what the fuss is all about. This collections features all the locations and episodes from the first season, and Ubisoft is boasting that it contains over 100 hours of gameplay.

There may not be much coming out this month, there’s enough. And we still have a ton of games to catch up on from last year and before (not to mention everything we grabbed during the Steam Winter Sale). What are you excited about in January? let us know in the comments below!

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Games We’re Excited About: December 2016

December is usually a month that is either barren, or a month in which games are sent out to die. This year, it’s neither of those things. in fact, December is shaping up to be a pretty great month for game releases, including some platform exclusives and one of the most anticipated games of the decade. Here are the games we’re excited about for December:

 

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Super Mario Maker 3DS (3DS) – December 2
A handheld version of the WiiU masterpiece that won several game of the year awards last year? Yes, please. Super Mario Maker lets you create your own Mario levels using assets from several of the franchise’s most popular games. The only drawback of the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker is that you won’t be able to upload created levels and share them online. You will however be able to share them through StreetPass, which certainly fits within the 3DS approach to playing locally together.

 

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Dead Rising 4 (PC, XBox One) – December 6
Frank West returns as the main character for the latest entry into the zombie-killing franchise. Dead Rising 4 is ditching the time restrictions of previous games in order to allow players to explore the world more. More time for picture taking, we guess? Selfies are a big part of the game, and we all know how long it can take to get one just right.

 

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The Last Guardian (PS4) – December 6
Yes, it’s really happening. One week after getting a new final Fantasy, we are getting the game that has been in development for almost ten years. But troubled development aside, we can’t wait to dive into a fantastical world and experience the latest story by the geniuses who brought us Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

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Super Mario Run (iOS) – December 15
Mario. On a phone.
Announced during an Apple press conference, this runner will have Mario blazing through at least six worlds and three game modes, including one in which you compete against friends.
Brian is a little bummed this isn’t coming to Android devices just yet, but he’ll get over it when he’s playing on his iPad.

 

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The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (All Platforms)–December 20
The third season of Telltale’s series will once again start Clementine, but it’s a few years later and she’s a teenager now, although it will be told through the eyes of Javier, a new character. The season will consist of five episodes, but release dates for the reamining four have yet to be revealed.

 

So, there’s a little something for everyone this month, and some great stocking stuffers to go with new consoles this holiday. We’re still about five months behind on our backlog, so we’ll be playing 2016 releases well into the New Year.

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GAMES WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT: NOVEMBER 2016

It’s here, it’s here! November is here!
That’s right kiddies, the big month for game releases is upon us, and there are some blockbusters coming this month. There’s also some smaller games we’re pumped about too, so without further ado, here’s our list of games we’re excited about this month:

 

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Owlboy (PC) – November 1st
After being in development for nine-plus, the gorgeous retro metroidvania game by D-Pad Studio is finally arriving this month.The story involved  a young boy names Otus who must save his village from pirates. The game’s mechanics are inspired by Super Mario 3 and Kid Icarus.

 

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Xbox One, PS4, PC) – November 4
SPAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCEEE! That is where infinite warfare happens–at least for this year’s installment of the CoD franchise. Ship combat and a new zombie mode will accompany all the usual bells and whistles. No matter how tired you think the franchise might be, CoD’s multiplayer is always top-notch, and this year shouldn’t be any different.

 

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Dishonored 2 (Xbox One, PS4, PC) – November 11
I’ll be honest, I missed out on Dishonored the first time around, but I’ve since picked it up and have been enjoying it. I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll finish the first one before diving into the sequel, so I will probably wait ta bit before picking up Dishonored 2. But I’m still excited for it.

 

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Killing Floor 2 (PS4, PC) – November 18
I’ve watched the Killing Floor series from afar over he past few years as it continued to gain popularity on the PC. The horde-based cooperative shooter began as a mod and ended up as a full-fledged retail release in 2009. Killing Floor 2 Now it’s coming to consoles, and I can’t wait to get my hand my hands on it.

 

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Final Fantasy XV (Xbox One, PS4) – November 29
Early word on the latest installment of this legendary franchise has been good. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t spent much time with the last couple Final Fantasy games. But I started with the series on NES and have so many memories of playing Final Fantasy VII on my original PlayStation that I will always have a soft spot for FF. Will this be the one that brings me back? We’ll see.

That’s our list of November releases we’re looking forward to. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments.

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Overwatch has Become My Shooter of Choice

After playing a couple promising levels of Battlefield 1’s single-player campaign, I decided to jump over to multiplayer. While I hadn’t played a lot of Battlefield 4’s competitive modes, I’ve always been a fan of Battlefield and I spent quite a bit of time with Battlefield: Hardline’s multiplayer. I’ve never been great at it (I’m just not that good of a shooter player), but I always enjoyed the class-based system of Battlefield and the fact that I could be rewarded for playing support characters. I came to prefer it over Call of Duty and halo, primarily for that reason.
But then Overwatch came along. And much like Dark Souls did with RPGs for awhile, Overwatch has kind of ruined other shooters for me right now.

It took me about three matches of Battlefield 1 multiplayer to get sick of the meat grinder that involved me spawning and being sniped or destroyed by an explosion within thirty seconds, only to rise and repeat for the duration. And even though I was in a squad, the tendency of a lot of players to lone wolf in the giant maps of battlefield means my support activities (healing, providing ammo) can rarely be maximized.

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And so, it was back to Overwatch, where I am consistently rewarded for doing my job, and I can tangibly see the results of my contributions to the team. Whether I’m throwing up ice walls with Mei, keeping my teammates upright with Lucio, or making choke points impassable with Symmetra (who I am still learning), I get a lot of satisfaction in every match. Even in a loss it’s easy to understand what went wrong and how I might have done something differently.

Not that other shooters don’t reinforce team play. But with Overwatch, it’s woven into the DNA of the game so much that if you’re not interested in team play, the game really isn’t for you. Sure, there are some classes that are more lone wolf than others, but succeeding in Overwatch means that each person has to fulfill their role. And I love that.

Notice I haven’t even talked about the aesthetics of Overwatch, or the leveling and loot system. That because for me, all of those things are secondary to the core gameplay loop–work as a team, fulfill your role, be successful. I actually think the loot system is kind of broken, as the higher you level, the more frustrating it is to unlock items that you could care less about (sprays, skins for characters you never use, voice lines, etc.). It’s my one real grip about the game. But the moment to moment gameplay is so well crafted, I really don’t even care that much.

When From’s Souls series arrived, it took a while before I could enjoy other RPGs again without constantly comparing them to Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. I find myself in a similar place now with Overwatch. Battlefield 1 is not enough to pull me away, and I don’t think Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will be, either. And with Overwatch’s new character Sombra being announced this week, the game just keeps giving players reasons to be excited about it. I don’t see me putting Overwatch down anytime soon.

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Games We’re Excited About: October 2016

Last generation, October was a month packed with AAA releases every single week–arguably the biggest month of the gaming year in terms of releases. But over the past few years, that has changed dramatically. There’s still plenty to be excited about this month though, with a variety of new games and re-releases that we can’t wait to dive into. here’s our list:

 

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Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 &2 (PS4, Xbox One)–October 4th

I grew up on Atari (yes, I am old)–it was my first console, and along with arcades laid the foundation for my lifelong love of video games. Being able to play Adventure, Asteroids, Maze Craze, Dodge ‘Em, Combat and the rest of this 100-game collection on Xbox one and PS4 is going to be awesome. Each volume costs $20, but that’s a small price to pay for my childhood.

 

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Dragon Quest Builders (PS4, Vita)–October 11th

Minecraft meets Dragon Quest? Yes, please. This game has the potential to be absolutely huge, especially if there are enough RPG hooks in it, which is the one area Minecraft is a bit lacking in.

 

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Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)–October 11th

Set 25 years after Gears 3, the next entry in the series focuses on J.D. Fenis, the son of Marcus and Anya.

 

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PlayStation VR–October 13th

I’m not hugely excited about VR, but when I do dive into it, I’ll be getting the PSVR. I’m already in the PlayStation ecosystem, and I’m really dying to play that until Dawn VR game.

 

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Battlefield 1 (Xbox one, PS4, PC)–October 21st

After playing a bit of the beta for this one, we could not be more excited. Horses vs. tanks, gigantic maps, stunning visuals and the buttery-smooth gameplay of Battlefield? Bring it on!

 

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Civilization VI (PC)–October 21st

The last Civ game I really got into was Civilization: Revolution, but I think I’m ready to step up to the big leagues with Civ VI.

 

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (Xbox one, PS4, PC)–October 28th

Confession time–I didn’t play Skyrim last generation. I know, right? I put over 300 hours into Oblivion on both PS3 and Xbox 360, but could not find the time to really get into Skyrim. So, I am beyond excited to have a new version for this gen. I will be all over this game.

 

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Titanfall 2 (Xbox One, PS4, PC)–October 28th

I dabbled in Titanfall, but the lack of a single-player campaign meant that it never hooked me. Respawn has corrected that misstep with Titanfall 2, and as a result, I’m actually excited for it. The multiplayer was great the first time around, so I’ve no doubt that will continue to be the case.

That’s our list of October releases we’re looking forward to. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments.

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PS4 Pro Reveal–Good for Gamers, Bad for Sony

playstation-4-pro-vertical-product-shot-01-us-07sep16The big PlayStation Meeting event yesterday was pretty much a disaster for Sony, and one that didn’t need to happen. If you missed the press event (and you did not miss much), you can read the details over on the PlayStation blog.

My takeaway from the PS4 Pro reveal was that if you don’t own a 4K TV, there is literally no reason for you to even care about the new version of the console. That, and the fact that Sony is leaving it up to developers to take advantage of the PS4 Pro’s additional capabilities to me means that there will be a whole lof of devs that don’t even bother (see Kinect, Move, the WiiU tablet, etc.).

Sony did a lousy job of messaging the PS4 Pro, and actually gave Microsoft the opportunity to cut the legs out from under them immediately following the PlayStation event:


So, if you’re interested in 4K gaming, you can grab the Xbox One S for $100 cheaper than the PS4 Pro will be when it launches November 10th. If you’re interested in 4K gaming and are planning on getting the PSVR, then your best option is the Pro.

I feel like this is a completely unnecessary error on Sony’s part. There is absolutely no reason for them to be launching the PS4 Pro right now. They are winning the console war. They have their VR headset coming out in October, and it will be compatible with existing PS4s. The only good reason to reveal the Pro would have been if it had the PSVR capability built in and you didn’t need the external box that comes with PSVR. But that’s not the case. Sony is saying PSVR will be “better” with PS Pro, but with the exception of improved visuals, what exactly does that mean? Any way you cut it, the PS4 Pro seems unnecessary, especially from the company that is already winning the console war. The slim reveal would have been just fine. The PS4 is already great. I love mine and do most of my gaming on it.

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So why is this actually good for gamers, then? Because the PS4 Pro is not going to fracture the PlayStation user base like it could have, any more than the Xbox One S did to that user base. Both of these consoles are mainly graphical improvements over the originals, similar to one PC gamer having a slightly better graphics card than another. At the end of the day, unless you are a 4K TV owner and care about such things, there is not much reason to care. And, if you’ve been waiting on getting a PS4, you now have more options. If I was just jumping in, I would be keeping my eye out for a price drop or some sweet bundles on the original models, as stores get rid of their existing stock to make way for the slim.

Now the Scorpio? That’s a whole different story, and that’s much closer to an Xbox 1.5 from what we’ve seen so far. That will have the potential to split Microsoft’s user base, and they should be watching everything that happens in wake of this PS4 fiasco. The difference for Microsoft is that they are behind, so they need to shake things up.

Sony did not. We’ll see if this comes back to bite them.

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The More Info That leaks About The Nintendo NX, The More Excited I Get For It

Over at Let’s Play Video Games today, Laura Dale provided some updates to information that has been leaking on the upcoming Nintendo NX (you can read that article here).

So, we’ve been hearing for a while now that it would be a tablet-like unit with detachable controllers, but eh first diagrams that leaked had me questioning how that was going to work for local multiplayer. In those early concept images, both of the detachable controls had an analog stick, but one had buttons while the other had a D-pad.

In the most recent info though, it’s not being reported that the D-pad will be split (like the PS4 D-pad), meaning there is a distinct button for each direction. This makes a lot of sense, as it means that the four direction buttons can double as face buttons, making both detachable controllers able to function in the same way.

This seems like a super small detail, but I’m really excited about it.

So, it looks like the NX will be region-free, will use cartridges and will be able to hook up to your TV for big screen gaming. As a mobile device it can be used for either single-layer gaming or local multiplayer.

Most importantly, this looks to finally be the fusion of Nintendo’s handheld and TV consoles that I have been wanting for years. I can’t wait until we hear some definitive news from Nintendo in September!!

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Madden 17–First Impressions

CiSa-2LWsAA09q7I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought a Madden game. My peak Madden-playing time was during the SEGA Genesis era, and during that time I bought and played Madden every single year. But when I got a PlayStation, I moved over to NFL Gameday, and later the 2K series, before dropping out of most sports games altogether. Couch co-op is just not something I really have with my friends anymore (we are spread out across the country), and many of my gaming friends now are not into sports games at all.

And yet, I bought Madden 17.

I’m still not sure why, but I think it was a mix of two things–the fact that my fantasy football draft was this past weekend, and the fact that I actually had the money to buy the game (which is a rare occurrence these days). I’d also heard some good things about this year’s iteration, so I decided to grab it.

And you know what? Madden 17 makes a pretty great first impression.

You literally start the game late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game between Redskins and the Rams. You’re thrown right into the action, and while it’s a bit scripted, the success or failure of your comeback attempt is completely up to you. I stalled out on the one yardline as time expired, and I lost. But it was a great way to get introduced to this year’s Madden.

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After that, the game asks you what level you want to start playing at. The Rookie level is for those completely new to Madden, and the Pro level is for those who’ve played sports games, but aren’t Madden experts. All-Pro and All-Madden are for the folks who are very well-versed in Madden games.

I chose Pro, and dove into the very robust tutorial system, which is actually pretty fun. In addition to doing the usual offensive and defensive drills, you can test your skill in the Gauntlet, a survival-style mode where you have to complete challenges to keep going. If you fail a certain amount of times, you’re done. The game keeps track of what your personal best is, so it makes you want to keep coming back to best your score. This is a really smart way of incentivising practice, and I already spent more time in it than any previous tutorial mode in a sports game.

So, my first impression of Madden 17 is that it’s very welcoming to both new and old players, and offers a fun way to learn both the basics and more advanced systems of the game. I’ll be writing more about my experience with the game when I jump into season mode soon.

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Games We’re Excited About: September 2016

September is weird this year.

Usually we anticipate September as the beginning of the big games release season. But September 2016 will be known more for hardware news than game releases, as we expect concrete news on both the PlayStation Neo and the Nintendo NX. On the game release front, there are more remasters we’re looking forward to than new releases, but one collection in particular is more than enough to carry us through to October. Here’s what we’re excited about:

 

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BioShock: The Collection (Xbox One, PS4, PC)–September 13th

The Bioshock series is easily one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and I can’t wait to jump into this remastered collection. And it’s great to see Bioshock 2 included, because it’s a fantastic game, even if it wasn’t developed by Irrational. In some ways, I think it’s even better than its predecessor. Now I’m just waiting on Dead Space to get the same treatment and our desert island game collection will be complete.

 

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Dead Rising Triple Pack (Xbox one, PS4, PC)–September 13th/September 27th

As much as I tried to get into the Dead Rising games in the past, it was their clunky control schemes that put me off. But this bundle with Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2 and DR2: Off the Record has me wanting to give the series another go. As a huge Romero fan, the mall setting of the first one is a real draw for me.

 

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ReCore (Xbox one, PC)–September 13th

An adventure game made by the creators behind the Metroid Prime and Mega Man? Yes, please. ReCore centers around Joule, a girl who wakes up from cryosleep to find the Earth is a wasteland.

 

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Adr1ft (Xbox one)–September 16th

In this game you take on the role of an astronaut marooned in space after the destruction of a space station. You have to try and repair an escape ship while finding clues about what happened to the station, as you have no memory of what occurred. This game feels like it could have a SOMA vibe to it, and that alone makes it worth checking out for me.

 

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Destiny: Rise of Iron (Xbox one, PS4)–September 20th

To be honest, I fell out of love with Destiny a while ago. Once my friends had gotten many levels ahead of me, the game became a lot less fun, and the gameplay loop had long since lost its luster for me. But I had a lot of fun with Destiny originally, and anytime new content is released, it’s something I’m going to check out.

 

So, that’s our list of September releases we’re looking forward to. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments.

 

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No Man’s Sky–First Impressions

I spent about an hour and a half with Hellos Games’ No Man’s Sky last night, and the experience has been kicking around my brain since I put the controller down. In some ways it’s the game I hoped it would be, and in others it’s something entirely different. But it’s absolutely fascinating, and I can already tell I will be losing days of my life to this game over the next several months, at least.

No Man’s Sky throws you right into the deep end to begin with–you awaken after having crash landed on a random planet, and you must find resources to repair your ship and keep yourself alive. And that’s the first thing that kind of surprised me about the game–there’s a really big survival element to it. The resource management (which you have to do for your suit and your ship) was interesting, and I had to make a few difficult decisions fairly early on as far as what to keep and what to discard.

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In addition to managing your resources, there are robotic enemies that you encounter early on, and it’s the one part of the game I didn’t enjoy at all. These Sentinel bots roam around the planet, and if you draw their attention, they attack. Fight back, and your wanted level goes up (like GTA and Saints Row), and then things get ugly. So, I found myself regularly on the run from them, and I died to them about five minutes into the game. I finally figured out that mining a lot of resources in a particular area can draw them to you, so I was more careful, but for me it added a layer of tension that I was not looking for.

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The interface is very reminiscent to the one in Destiny, which actually helped me acclimate to it without much of a problem. I did have to increase the look sensitivity right away, as I felt very sluggish on the default setting. There isn’t a lot of hand-holding being done by the game either, and you can pretty much completely go it alone if you decline an early offer for guidance. That’s what I did, and while I got confused at times, I’m glad I just sort of went with it.

Because exploring in No Man’s Sky is amazing.

The scope of this game is mind-boggling. The planet that I’m on has enough resources, outposts, crashed ships and other secrets that I could probably spend a dozen hours in just this one place. It’s huge. To think that there are an almost infinite number of them out there that I could do the same with is just crazy. I actually jumped into an underground cavern at one point to avoid a Sentinel, and wandered around for a solid 25 minutes before I found the surface again. I honestly thought at one point I was trapped. And when I did come out, I stumbled upon an outpost and met a trader where I was able to upgrade my Multi-Tool and trade a bunch of the resources I collected.

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I also found a distress signal for a crashed ship that I was able to track down and then claim as my own.  And now that I have a ship and it’s repaired, I can explore the rest of this planet before I head out into open space.

So far, No Man’s Sky feels pretty epic. You can expect plenty of gameplay videos on both the Co-Op Critics and Let’s Play Quietly YouTube pages over the next several weeks.