Puck yeah! — EA Sports announces NHL ’20

Summer’s approaching, and you know what that means — The annual sports simulations are being announced one after another. And for those of you to love to play some puck, today is a day to be happy because the folks at EA Sports are cleaning up the ice and gearing up for NHL ’20.

On the rink itself, this new iteration of EA’s hockey franchise promises more than 45 new shot animations, new goaltender AI, and a new animation system that aims to make the skaters’ actions more seamless. Whether you think these improvements are very subtle or very noticable is entirely your call.

It’s been since the NHL series has drastically changed the broadcast package, but they’re doing so this year with a new HUD, commentary team, and highlights system. It doesn’t look like the NBC license has been renewed, but I could very well be wrong.

Hockey Ultimate Team this year features many new players as well as the Squad Battles from the FIFA franchise. In these offline matches, you’ll be facing not only current NHL players, but also musicians, athletes from other sports, etc. Sounds like HUT will be just as fun as ever, provided you can handle its microtransaction system.

World of CHEL is receiving tons of new content like new weekly challenges, equipment, clothing, and even new outdoor rinks set in a wide variety of environments. The Ones mode will now be playable in local multiplayer, which will make for some fun parties if you’ve got a couple of friends willing to lace ’em up (Hope you’ve got pizza and Pepsi on standby!). There’s one more update to CHEL this year, and probably the most controversial one so far…A battle royale mode for 81 players. Yes, a battle royale in a sports game…What a bandwagon this has become.

NHL ’20 may not be hitting the ice for another three months, but it seems they’ve already got a loaded locker room of new features (Yes, that includes the battle royale mode). EA may hit the crossbar sometimes, but I have full confidence that this new hockey game will be a one-timer worthy of the highlight reel.

Preston’s View on the Ups and Downs of Each E3 2019 Press Conference

Another Gaming Christmas (a.k.a. E3) has come and gone, and a hefty number of new games and expansions were shown off to the numerous attendees. Out of all the companies that showed up to the party, only seven of the biggest publishers hosted press conferences to announce their lineups. Now that the convention has concluded, the time has come for me to tell you my opinion on the pros and cons of each individual conference. You are more than welcome to tell me your own views, whether they compare to or contrast with mine.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Electronic Arts’ catalog, but I found this to be a slightly underwhelming edition of EA Play. The star of the show, in my book, was the demonstration of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. So far, I really like the combat and parkour-like platforming. And from what I’ve seen in the cutscenes, the plot will not disappoint. EA is really trying to prove that you don’t need the Battlefront name just to be a good Star Wars game. The new editions of FIFA and Madden NFL were displayed, the former of which has a mode that is akin to FIFA Street. Everything else about EA Play was simply updates/expansions for Battlefield V, The Sims 4, and Apex Legends. It wasn’t a terrible conference by any means, but I feel like EA could’ve brought more things to the table, like the latest game in the Need for Speed franchise.

Microsoft’s press conference was well above average this year, with the star of their show being the Project Scarlett console. This mean piece of machinery promises super-short load times, 8K resolution, and 120 frames per second. The first confirmed launch title for this new console is none other than Halo Infinite, which isn’t really a surprise to me. Microsoft’s current console, the Xbox One, is receiving a new remote play functionality similar to that of the PlayStation family. There’s even a new controller coming called the Elite Series 2, which has a 40-hour battery life, a charging dock, and Bluetooth compatibility. PC gamers will be happy to know that the Xbox Game Pass will soon finally be arriving to Windows computers. To close this paragraph, I’ll list all of the other games and updates that were displayed at this conference:

  • The Lego Speed Champions pack for Forza Horizon 4
  • Cyberpunk 2077, starring Keanu Reeves
  • Gears 5
  • Elden Ring
  • Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Psychonauts 2, developed by the newly-acquired Double Fine
  • The Battletoads reboot
  • The Outerworlds
  • A reboot of Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  • Bleeding Edge
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • A game based on The Blair Witch Project
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
  • Tales of Arise
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Borderlands 3
  • State of Decay 2: Heartland
  • Spiritfare
  • Wasteland 3
  • Dying Light 2
  • Way to the Woods
  • Gears Pop
  • The Legend of Wright
  • 12 Minutes
  • Crossfire X

As you can see, Microsoft had an absolute butt-ton of games on display this year. I applaud them for their lineup, and I can’t wait to hear more about Scarlett.

Bethesda didn’t have anything mind-blowing to share, but they had a truckload of updates for their current games and trailers for their upcoming titles. We even witnessed announcements for the beginnings of new IP’s — An action game called Ghostwire: Tokyo, and a firearm-filled game called Deathloop. And finally, Bethesda announced their streaming service called Orion, which sounds like a competitor to Google’s Stadia. All aboard the streaming bandwagon! The remainder of Bethesda’s presentation included…

  • Doom Eternal
  • Fallout 76, which is soon getting NPC’s and a 52-player battle royale mode
  • The Nintendo Switch port of Elder Scrolls: Blades
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • The Elder Scrolls VI
  • Commander Keen mobile game
  • “Rise of the Ghosts” expansion for Rage 2
  • Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot VR game
  • “Scalebreaker” DLC for The Elder Scrolls Online
  • “Moons of Elsweyr” expansion for The Elder Scrolls Legends

I’m not an enormous Bethesda fan, but I can’t complain about their conference this year, even if they didn’t announce any new IP’s. As long as the games are good, it’s a win-win for everybody.

Indie game giant Devolver Digital had a thin catalog to show off (Kind of like EA), but that doesn’t mean their conference was bad. Before I list the individual pieces of software they showed off, I should mention they now have an 8-in-1 self-rip-off compilation called Devolver Bootleg. Never thought such a collection would be a thing, but Devolver’s proved me wrong. Now that that’s out of the way, here are the other titles and expansions they displayed:

  • Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout
  • An arcade light-gun game called Enter the Gungeon: House of the Undead
  • Carrion
  • “Picnic Panic” DLC for The Messenger
  • My Friend Pedro

I never delved into Devolver Digital’s catalog, but there’s always the chance I’ll give one of their games a shot. Hopefully some of you readers are happy with their lineup.

Next up to the plate was Ubisoft, and their flagship announcement was that of Uplay Plus, which costs $14.99 per month and rivals subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia Pro. If I had a shot of Pepsi for each company that’s jumping on the streaming bandwagon…Anyway, here are the games and expansions that the French publisher had at their show:

  • Watch Dogs Legion, which takes place in London and allows you to recruit and take control of nearby players
  • Upcoming episodes for The Division 2, along with the announcement of The Division on Netflix
  • A zombie-filled shooter game called Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Quarantine
  • Roller Champions, a game that depicts a futuristic version of roller derby (I’m actually really intrigued about this one)
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint (Did I mention a cute doggo appeared on stage?)
  • An action game called Gods & Monsters

Ubisoft doesn’t need Assassin’s Creed or FarCry in order to have a good E3 conference, and they proved that this year with ease.

The RPG-loving folks at Square Enix took their turn next, and delivered a pretty stellar press conference this year. It may have been mostly about Final Fantasy, but there was nothing wrong with that and they had a fine amount of other software to talk about. I’m definitely curious about the racing game they’re publishing (No surprise considering how many racing games I’ve reviewed here, right?), Circuit Superstars. I’ve written an entire article recapping this conference, so feel free to read that one for my full analysis on it. https://silversoulgaming.com/2019/06/11/squaring-off-a-recap-of-square-enixs-e3-2019-press-conference/

Last but the furthest thing from least, Nintendo stepped onto the stage and put on what was probably the best conference of E3 2019. There were no 3DS games to be found, but plenty of games for the Switch. The Big N’s lineup at this presentation included…

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which has been delayed to March 2020
  • Hero from Dragon Quest and Banjo-Kazooie coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in development
  • Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Which I am absolutely amped up for)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which has a dungeon-maker mode
  • Resident Evil 5 and 6
  • No More Heroes 3
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Panzer Dragoon remake
  • Contra Rogue Corps
  • Contra Anniversary Collection
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy
  • Alien: Isolation
  • Astral Chain
  • Pokemon Sword and Shield, which work with the Poke Ball Plus
  • Daemon x Machina
  • Trials of Mana, which is a Seiken Denetsu 3 remake
  • Cadence of Hyrule
  • Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (So pumped this series is coming to Switch!)

With an incredible press conference like this, I can see why a blue puppet named Arlo claimed that Nintendo is back. They are indeed back to being relevant again, and they ain’t budging!

It wasn’t quite perfect, but I really didn’t have much to criticize about this year’s E3. The remainder of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 are going to be packed to the grim with some enthralling games and services, even if it seems like the whole streaming-subscription thing is going to be a rapidly-spreading infection (Not that game-streaming is stupid or anything like that). This is probably the most challenging article I’ve written, but all’s well that ends well (No smoke from my keyboard, don’t worry about it). Hope y’all enjoyed E3 2019 as much as I did!

Linda Hamilton To Voice Sarah Connors in Gears 5 Terminator DLC

Last night on The Gameinformer Show podcast, Coalition studio head Rod Ferguson offered a few more details on the Terminator DLC coming to Gears 5.

The DLC pack will be called the Terminator Dark Fate Pack and will at least feature skins for multiplayer. It features a T-800, with a light added to its chest to work for multiplayer, and Sarah Connors. Linda Hamilton from the film series will be voicing the character. She is returning to the role for the Dark Fate film as well.

Microsoft’s conference only provided a brief glimpse at the T-800 character and not much else. Hopefully, we learn even more before the game’s September 10, 2019 release. For more on Microsoft and the many other trailers debuted at their conference check here.

Bathe in the Fires of Radiation- Thoughts on Fallout 76 Nuclear Winter

Bethesda announced a while back that they were planning new content for Fallout 76 over the course of the year, and announced at E3 that they were putting a new mode in Fallout 76. Enter Nuclear Winter- a battle royale mode of the game to see who can become Overseer of Vault 51. Was this something that the fans asked for? No. Was this a good move on Bethesda’s part? That remains to be seen.

What will draw people in?

One thing that Bethesda did was make the game free to play for anyone from June 10-17. This is a way to get people to play the game, and the addition of a battle royale mode is to bring in a new group of players besides those already playing.

Now, generally battle royale players are only in it for the action, so what would bring them into the Adventure mode of Fallout 76?

The first thing Bethesda did was that you have to create your character in Adventure mode and leave Vault 76 before you can queue for Nuclear Winter. This lets players get a grasp on the controls and gameplay of the core game before going against the challenges of the new mode. You use the same character in Nuclear Winter that you use in Adventure mode, so any S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points you have carry over.

The second thing they did is one of the mechanics of Nuclear Winter is special perk cards. All of them that I’ve seen so far are max rank cards, however you need the right number of perk points in that attribute to use that card. For example: First Aid requires 6 Intelligence points to equip. If you have 6 points in Intelligence in Adventure mode, you can use it. But if you create a fresh character, you only have one point in each attribute in this mode, so you can only equip cards worth one point. Therefore, if you want to equip better cards, you have to play Adventure mode and level up, gaining more S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points.

So why are we all here at Vault 51?

The premise of the mode is that you’re one of the candidates who is vying to becoming the next Overseer of Vault 51. The Vault has been transformed around this unusual style of electing an Overseer, and the residents fight for their lives in the Appalachian Wasteland to be the last man standing. Fun fact: you can actually find the door to Vault 51 in Adventure mode, but you can’t go inside it. What about the giant ring of fire? According to a terminal in Vault 51, the fire storms were caused by the nuclear strikes happening around the area. Seems fitting.

While you’re waiting for the match to start, you can explore Vault 51. However, some parts are locked behind restrictions. Nuclear Winter runs off a ranking system called Overseer Rank. The higher your rank, the better rewards you get, and the more lore you can learn about how this Vault and competition came to be. Items like terminals, corridors, and even holotapes are locked behind level restrictions. Personally, I don’t like this feature because I want to learn the lore as I go, no matter how much I play. I think the reason Bethesda probably did this is to get people to keep playing and get higher ranks in order to fulfill their curiosity.

Fight for your rewards

Now for the battle

When you first enter the mode, you have the option to fill your team with random people if you’re not already in a party of 4, or play solo. Once the timer runs out, the map comes up on the screen and you pick your deployment spot. This isn’t your typical jump out of an airship deployment, you spawn at the location you pick. There are spots that are better than others for loot, but so far it seems that there aren’t specific hot zones where people consistently land every match. This is probably because people are still learning where the good loot spawns.

Keep an eye out for these, and listen for the Best crates’ beeping

Once you’ve spawned, grab a gun and some armor so you can defend yourself. Once you’re armed and armored, move towards the next zone, as in any other BR game. After a timer runs out, the ring of fire begins to close. Stay within the ring, or you’ll take periodic damage to your health, as well as radiation. The longer you stay outside the ring, the faster you die because you can’t heal from radiation in this mode, yet.

Oh yeah, one other thing I forgot to mention- you can launch nukes in this mode. Find 4 nuclear codes plus the nuclear briefcase, and launch a nuke wherever you want. Nuke codes can be found on enemies, in loot crates, and via terminals.

Outside of this, it’s your typical BR game- kill enemies (including AI enemies like ghouls, mirelurks, and Scorchbeasts), loot their bodies for better guns and armor, and survive till the end. But what happens if you’re on a team and you win? Well, everyone on the team becomes Overseer. To me, this defeats the purpose of the battle. I think that if you’re in a team and make top spot, you should have to battle your teammates until there is only one standing. That would fit this mode better because only one person would be Overseer.

So what’s the verdict?

It’s a battle royale at its core, but it still holds the Fallout feel that I love. A couple things that people should know though:

  • Power Armor is the best armor in the mode, but it barely beats out Marine Armor, and you’re not a walking tank like in Adventure mode. Don’t get careless when you find some.
  • Guns spawn at max level and with random modifications
    • The .50 caliber machine gun is the best gun that I’ve found for this mode
    • Automatic guns seem to rule the mode, but snipers are always around too
  • Keep an eye on your surroundings, especially the high ground.
  • Higher cost perk cards give better abilities, and cards from different classes can provide bonuses to the same types of things, such as rifles, explosives, etc.

Overall, I was having a lot of fun in this mode, even though I’m still bad at battle royale games in general. I feel like I have a better grasp on it since I’ve spent a lot of time in Adventure mode, as compared to something like Apex Legends or Fortnite where you have to play the battle royale portion in order to learn the map.

With the free trial until the 17th on PC, Xbox, and PS4, go ahead and give the game a shot. If you don’t like it, uninstall it. If you do like it, spend some time in Adventure mode, learn about the world and the items you can get, and gain some levels so you have an advantage with perks in Nuclear Winter. Fallout 76 didn’t start out with the best launch, but Bethesda is continuing to push free content and updates to improve the game. I still have fun with this, and the community on Twitch for the game is really awesome.

Have you own thoughts on the mode, or Fallout 76 in general? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

-V

New Details About Keanu Reeves’ Role in Cyberpunk 2077

After the exciting news Keanu Reeves was in Cyberpunk 2077, new details have emerged on his role within the game.

Often celebrity cameos in video games are one-off roles or brief cameos, but it sounds like Reeves’ role will be much bigger. His character Johnny Silverhand is reportedly with your character for most of the game. PC Gamer reports Johnny is a “digital ghost” according to Pawel Sasko, lead quest designer. He can talk to your character often, even during the character creation screen. He comes from a chip found in the protagonist’s head early in the game.

Gamespot adds that your relationship with Johnny Silverhand is an important one to the game. “…he is absolutely throughout the whole game from beginning almost to the end..” Sasko notes in their article. It’s surprising that what many probably assumed would be cool side character is an integral part of the story.

Silverhand is actually a character from the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game which inspired the game. Presumed dead in the lore, here seems to have found a way to preserve himself digitally.

We’ll find out how when Cyberpunk 2077 releases on April 16, 2020 and you can preorder the game here. Check out the Cyberpunk 2077 E3 trailer below and catch a glimpse of Johnny at the end.

Bethesda’s E3 2019 Press Conference Recap

Bethesda’s E3 press conference may have been a day ago, but we’ve got you covered with a quick recap so you don’t miss anything.

The Main Stuff

The first game they went over was Fallout 76 and the upcoming content for the much maligned game. The newest DLC, called The Wastelanders, will feature the return of human NPC’s to the game with new questlines. This DLC arrives in the Fall but there’s a battle royale mode, called Nuclear Winter, coming to the game as well. Nuclear Winter will be available to test this week as a part of the game’s free week from June 10 – 17.

Ghostwire Tokyo was then announced from developer Tango Gameworks, the studio behind The Evil Within series. A trailer didn’t reveal an gameplay but was an intriguing set up for the world. People are disappearing and a character with a bow seems to be fighting them. The game’s creative director Ikumi Nakamura was clearly excited to show off the game and is one of the highlights of the conference.

The Elder Scrolls online revealed a new cinematic trailer for the Elsweyr expansion and that more info would come at QuakeCon. They announced they have added more server capacity to accomodate players. The Elder Scrolls Legends will also be getting an update called the Moons of Elsweyr.

The next new game revealed is a revival of Commander Keen for mobile. From the same studio behind ESO, this game features Billy and Billie as they build inventions to progress in the story and has a battle mode as well. It seems like an odd way to revive a series, but we’ll know more when it releases.

In Wolfenstein news, a new trailer dropped for Wolfenstein: Youngblood and looks like more Wolfenstein but with a friend, which is fine in my book. Wolfenstein Cyperpilot was also announced as a VR game set in the same universe.

Arkane Lyon also announced a new game titled Deathloop and released a stylish trailer. There was no gameplay in the trailer but the game takes place in a place called Black Reef where the inhabitants live in a “time of madness”. Check out the trailer here.

Doom Eternal of course was a big part of the conference and got an extended gameplay demo as well as a release date. The game is coming on November 22, 2019 and has a collectors edition that comes with a helmet. Battlemode, the games multiplayer component will feature a slayer versus 2 human controlled demons.

Bethesda also revealed Orion, their own streaming technology designed to “optimize game engines for performance in a cloud environment”. They demonstrated the tech by streaming Doom 2016 to a phone onstage. Check out more info and the full reveal in this video.

Extras

  • Rage 2 is getting new vehicles, including a motorcycle and mech, as well as cheat codes and weekly updates. Story DLC is coming as well called Rise of the Ghosts.
  • The Elder Scrolls Blades, the mobile game, is coming to the Switch this fall.
  • Todd Howard mentioned that Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are still in development.
  • Bethesda seems shifting a lot of the info normally revealed at E3 to Quakecon, especially for Doom Eternal. They may be trying to distance themselves from E3 like Sony.

Squaring Off — A Recap of Square Enix’s E3 2019 Press Conference

If you’re an adamant RPG fan, chances are you’ve been full of anticipation for Square Enix’s press conference at E3 2019.  Whether it was remasters, games based on licensed properties, or DLC, the Shinjuku-based publisher hit a lot of home runs at this year’s edition of North America’s biggest gaming trade show.  Ready for a discussion about it? If you keep scrolling, that means you are.

It would be an unpardonable sin if Square Enix didn’t talk about the highly-anticipated remake of Final Fantasy VII, and they made sure to give us some good info about it.  Something that really stuck out was the news that the game would be on two Blu-Ray discs instead of just one, which is a small reminder of the fact that the original PS1 version was on three discs.  We also learned that the battle system will be either a hybrid or Kingdom Hearts system, depending on your preference.  We have been waiting for this remake for an ultra-long time, and the wait ends on March 3.  But this isn’t the only news from the Final Fantasy universe — We are also getting the Shadowbringers pack for Final Fantasy XIV Online, a mobile game called War of the Visions, and remakes of Final Fantasy VIII and Crystal Chronicles.  Things are really looking up for Square Enix’s flagship franchise.

The team at Crystal Dynamics has been working diligently on a new Avengers game, and although it ain’t releasing until May 15 next year, we got some good updates about it.  Along with four-player co-op and always-free DLC, the game will have a star-studded voice cast that includes Nolan North and Troy Baker.  I’ve always liked Marvel Comics games, so I’m hoping this one delivers the goods.

You don’t hear much about driving games from Square Enix, but they are indeed publishing one called Circuit Superstars.  The top-down racing may remind you of the Micro Machines games.  I’ve got confidence this charming racer will provide hours of driving-game hilarity.

OK OK, stop shouting in my face, I’ll talk about Kingdom Hearts now! This winter, Kingdom Hearts 3 is  getting an expansion called Re:Mind.  With this pack, you get to play as Riku, Roxas, and Aqua, and you even get to unlock Sora’s Oathkeeper form.  Not much more to be said, but it should be an awesome piece of DLC for this extremely popular series.

The other pieces of Square Enix’s presentation included…

  • Outriders, a co-op shooter from the makers of Bulletstorm
  • Oninaki, an action-RPG from Tokyo RPG Factory
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • The Last Remnant Remastered now on Switch
  • A pair of SaGa games — Romancing SaGa and SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions

It’s important to come to E3 with a bang, and Square Enix brought plenty of bang this year.  Even if you’re not a fan of RPG’s like this company mainly dabbles in, I do recommend you pay attention to their 2019/20 roster of releases.