Graveyard Keeper DLC Stranger Sins Releases

Graveyard Keeper’s brand new DLC, Stranger Sins, releases today adding several hours of content and a bar to run.

The game’s Steam page promises 4 to 8 more hours of game-play, the ability to run your own tavern, new quests and character from NPC’s, background story from 200 years ago and more. Lazy Bear Games and tinyBuild’s game is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch and the DLC is out on all platforms starting today.

Read our review of the original PC release here, and expect our review of the Stranger Sins DLC soon!

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Sony Announces Next Console Called PlayStation 5 and Details Controller Changes

Sony has confirmed its next generation console will be called the PlayStation 5 and discussed some controller changes as well.

Sony confirmed the PS5 name and release date before Holiday 2020 on its own blog. It also detailed two big changes for the controller in the form of haptic feedback to simulate different gameplay experiences. The other change called adaptive triggers, allows developers to program resistance into the L2 and R2 triggers to react differently to things like driving off-road or pulling a bowstring.

The most detail was released in a Wired article this morning which went a little more into the console hardware itself. Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan discussed ray tracing, the solid state drive, and more details on the controller.

The PS5 UI will allow players to preview multiplayer and single player content before starting the game and to download and even delete each part separately. The Wired article also mentions the controller has an improved speaker and a USB Type-C connector. The controller was apparently identical to a PS4 controller (minus the details mentioned above) but I’m hoping the controller will get a cosmetic and ergonomic overhaul before the PS5 launches.

Check out the Wired article above for more details on the controller batter, a discussion with a developer from Bluepoint Games (of last years Shadow of the Colossus remake), and a little more info on what the SSD means for the PlayStation 5.

Sony Cross-Play Available to All Games

In yesterday’s Wired article announcing the price drop of PlayStation Now, an interesting bit at the end apparently also announced cross-play is available to all games.

While the focus of the article was the big changes that came to PS Now, like God of War and other major first party games now available on the service, cross-play is discussed at the end. Wired states that “PS4’s cross-play efforts have officially moved out of the beta stage”, strangely with no announcement from Sony.

While cross-play on PS4 has been available for Fortnite and Rocket League for a while this means any game can theoretically do it. PUBG immediately took advantage of the end of the beta and announced the update was live yesterday. With Call of Duty Modern Warfare offering the feature at launch it’s likely many other games will start to add it soon.

As for the PS Now change, the service is available for $59.99 a year now, down from $99.99 previously. The monthly version is down from $20 to $9.99. The previously mentioned God of War, Infamous: Second Son, Uncharted 4, and GTA V were all also made available to download or stream.

Pokemon Sword and Shield Add Autosaving

Gameinformer reported yesterday that the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield games will feature autosaving.

It will be the first time in the franchise’s 20-plus year history players don’t have to pause the game to save. During an interview with game director Shigeru Ohmori, it was only mentioned for the open-world Wild Area, but later clarified it can be used throughout the entire game

But for anyone who feels like that takes away from the Pokemon experience, it’s optional. You can decide for yourself which you’ll want to go with when the game releases next month on November 15.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Beta Impressions

This weekend’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare Beta included all consoles finally and gave us an idea of how cross-play will work in the franchise. I had previously played the PS4 only alpha and beta and also gave this weekends new Ground Wars mode a spin to see how it feels.

I should start off by saying while I’ve always enjoyed Call of Duty games, I’ve never been a huge fan myself. I did buy last years Black Ops 4, but apart from the free games offered on PS Plus (Black Ops 3 and MW Remastered) I’ve never really played that much apart from at friends’ houses. Still, COD multiplayer has always been fun and frantic even for a rookie such as myself.

Gun Fight

During the alpha and both betas I’ve played mostly Gun Fight, a 2v2 mode where every 2 rounds each team is given a new gun with random mods. Usually this means a standard gun with maybe a new scope or extended mag, but sometimes results in monstrosities like a shotgun with a sniper scope. Every round is timed and every person has one life. If one team isn’t dead by the end of the round, a flag is planted in the middle that each side can try and capture to win.

This mode is fast, tense, and honestly my favorite mode. It’s refreshing to play on even ground with everyone else in the match. Obviously someone who is more skilled has an advantage, but even a someone like me who doesn’t have much of a background in COD games can pull off a win. Forcing everyone to have the same loadout allows newer players to know what they’re up against while still letting pro players flex their FPS muscles.

Ground War

Just this weekend Infinity Ward added a new mode called Ground War to the rotation. It’s a 32v32 mode with a huge map and vehicles including ATV’s, tanks, and helicopters. The objective is to capture several points scattered throughout the map and hold them to rack up points while fending off the opposing team.

Unfortunately this is my least favorite mode. The idea is neat and at least isn’t another tacked-on battle royale mode, but it’s mostly a mess. Spawning is horrible. Whether I spawned on someone in my squad or one of our controlled points, I was often immediately murdered without even getting to look around. I also found it difficult to tell friend from foe and other players knew that. Someone would sneak into our base and stand at the back shooting everyone while we all frantically searched for where the attacker was.

Also the map is a waste. Apart from well defined zones, it’s environment is forgettable and mostly unused. At least 90% of the fighting occurs in the central buildings and 3 main control points, essentially making it a standard COD match, just with too many players. The vehicles handle well but apart from the tank only offer a quicker way to get to the centralized fighting. Getting caught in the open is a guaranteed death sentence because snipers (already far to prevalent in COD multiplayer in my opinion) are rampant.

Classic Modes

In its more standard modes Modern Warfare excels though. For years the franchise has been the gold standard for online multiplayer and this re-imagining looks to keep that reputation. Granted I ran into an issue where I could only play one match and then had to restart the game to get into another, the few matches of Domination I played felt good.

The only significant change is in how the game feels. You can hear and feel every action with the gun whether it’s firing, switching, or just reloading thanks to top notch sound design and animation. It’s hard to describe but the guns feel heavy, meaty even. Reloading is harsh and maybe even violent but serves to make the guns feel different from past titles. I think it’s part of why Gun Fight feels so good to me. It showcases how versatile the guns are in modification, and how tactile the moment to moment game-play is.

Technical Stuff

To get even more technical, cross-play is active for the last few days of the beta now. While I seemed to mostly be paired with other PS4 players I did participate in a party of both Xbox and PS4 players and it still played well. We couldn’t make a chat party though which is unfortunate but understandable. You can opt out of cross-play but not controller types which I’m not a fan of. That might be available in the full game, but playing against mouse and keyboard was not an experience I recommend.

Final Thoughts

To finish up, I do wish the beta was available longer so I could play more, which is really what’s important. There are amazing parts of it that I love, like Gun Fight, but the addition of Ground War is a waste I think. That being said, I do think the mode will have it’s fans. It’s not completely broken and there is fun to be had. At one point I got into a turret on the tank and when the driver parked up on a hill I was able to rain fire down on unsuspecting players from a distance. The I got taken out by a sniper and my fun was over before it ever really began.

Still, if you’re a fan of Call of Duty and especially the Modern Warfare series I think this game will be perfect for you. They’ve kept what’s great about COD while adding the right amount of new things and details to keep the series relevant and exciting. Hopefully you’ve had the chance to play the beta before it ends on September 23, but if not you can pick up the game on October 25.

Control Review

Control is a game where saying “expect the unexpected” isn’t just a cliché. While parts of Control play like other games in the action-adventure genre, taken as a whole it’s easy to see Remedy really let its freak flag fly for this one. In a good way.

Control picks up right in the middle of an attack on the Federal Bureau of Control, or the FBC, by a supernatural force called the Hiss. Jesse Faden, the protagonist, inadvertently becomes the Director of the FBC and it doesn’t slowdown from there. Eventually getting supernatural and telekinetic powers, Jesse becomes a powerhouse and makes you feel like almost like a Jedi with all the things you can throw.

The story unfolds across several sections of the Bureau as Jesse fights the Hiss and helps out the beleaguered employees of the FBC. The characters themselves are nothing special (apart from an increasingly odd janitor who says you’re his assistant) but help show off how great the game looks. It’s a lot of grey but Remedy splashes color across everything giving what could have been a mundane office space a signature style all its own. Flashing lights, streaks of blood and supernatural mold combine to make the environment stand out.

The gun-play and abilities combine to make action frantic but fun. You never quite feel in control (no pun intended) but you’re never out of moves. If you gun needs a second to recharge, throw some fire extinguishers and desks at foes to knock them back. If you feel overwhelmed by the action, you can literally pull the ground up to block projectiles while you figure out your next move. You’re never without a trick up your sleeve and as a result the combat will leave you hoping for more enemies to throw things at.

That beings said there are a few enemies in the game that can feel a little overpowered, namely the bosses. I tried to do several side missions as I progressed but abandoned them after throwing myself at the bosses a few dozen times. It’s not helped by the frequent frame-rate issues that emerge when too much is happening, but the precision required to survive is sometimes expert level even at the beginning. Still, returning to the bosses with more upgrades and powers proves to balance the playing field quite a bit, it’s just not clear when you hit that point.

But if you just stick to the story you won’t have too much of an issue progressing. Most enemy encounters are just waves of Hiss infected foes that require strategy but aren’t mini-boss level difficulty. Often the story tasks you with mild platforming or puzzle solving too which helps break up the pace to keep things interesting. Also, read everything. There’s always a document, audio file or paranormal phone call that teases at the much larger world outside the Bureau.

Overall, I loved Control. The atmosphere, game play, and absolutely bonkers story are amazing, even with the rough edges. Jesse’s story is a fascinating one that I hope we get much more of in the future, especially because I know it can always get weirder.

Update on the Update

When Control released many praised a lot of the things I did above, but also noted some technical issues. We already reported on that (link above) and I definitely ran into some serious frame-rate problems playing on my base PS4. Slowdowns were generally during combat or right after loading, but it was bad enough to make me stop for a bit. I still beat the game and enjoyed it but about a week after the game released Remedy released a patch.

The patch helped the frame-rate a lot; but not completely. Combat occasionally still slows down (especially with explosions) but it’s not as much now. Also, the map loads immediately whereas before it would take sometimes around 20 seconds to load and be useful. Remedy has released a road map for new content and hopefully more patches are coming to.

Nintendo Direct Recap

Today’s Nintendo Direct was chock full of announcements and new details about many upcoming games and had a few surprises as well.

The switch version of Overwatch that’s been rumored for a few days was the first thing Nintendo showed and is releasing on October 15. The trailer also showed of motion controls for some of the heroes as well.

Nintendo then jumped straight into Luigi’s Mansion 3 details showing off some new levels of the haunted hotel and a new multiplayer mode which pits a team of Luigi’s and Gooigi’s against each other.

The first surprise release was a free-to-play Kirby game called Super Kirby Clash which will be available today. Also releasing today is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s third fighter Banjo Kazooie which was detailed in a separate video after the Direct.

The fourth DLC character was announced during the Direct though. He is Terry Bogard from the series Fatal Fury and will release in November. Along with the Terry announcement Nintendo revealed there will be more paid DLC characters coming to Ultimate after the fighter pass finishes.

Pokemon developer Game Freak also has a new game coming to Switch called Little Town Hero which is coming out October 16. It’s available for pre-purchase today and seems to be a turn based fighting game that draws inspiration from Pokemon.

Speaking of Pokemon, the stream went over 4 new details for Sword and Shield. Character customization returns but now will have more depth and options allowing you to accessorize and even choose makeup. You can also set up a Pokemon camp in the wild and play with your Pokemon, experiment with curry recipes and visit other trainers’ camps. Two new Pokemon were detailed; Polteageist is a teapot shaped ghost type and Cramorant is a duck-looking water-flying type.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nintendo announced a few new IP’s, revealed new remakes, detailed already announced ones, and introduced new SNES games coming to the online subscription. They also announced a smorgasbord of new ports including a classic Star Wars game, Doom 64 and an Assassin’s Creed collection including Rogue and Black Flag.

The final announcement was Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, a remake of the Wii title coming in 2020. For more details on that as well as things like a Tetris 99 update, The Witcher 3 port, and Animal Crossing New Horizons, check out the video below.