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A tweet from the Fallout Twitter account shared the image above, which shows that a variety of festive items, including turkeys and pilgrim attire, have been added to Fallout Shelter. People on Reddit are also talking about the update, which should be available now for the game's iOS and Android versions.
Bethesda is making holiday-themed updates for Fallout Shelter something of a regular thing. In October, the developer launched a Halloween update for the game that introduced cobwebs, costumes, and cauldrons. We'd expect a Christmas/New Year's update will follow next.
This update, like others before it and the game itself, is free. Bethesda makes money from the game through the sale of in-game lunchboxes. In the two weeks following the game's release in June, it generated more than $5.1 million in revenue from iOS alone, according to one research firm.
Fallout 4, meanwhile, launched on November 10 and was a big, big hit. The first of the game's patches are slated to arrive this week.
Spotted by Designntrend, the end of this week's Halo 5 livestream (at about 2 hours, 2 minutes) features a blink-and-you'll-miss-it video that teases December's DLC. It looks like players have new weapons, weapon skins, and armor to look forward to, as well as what appears to be a Forge map set in Space.
One of the new weapons looks like the M41 Rocket Launcher, while it also appears players are getting the Mark IV helmet and some black and gold weapon skins. We grabbed some screens from the video, which you can see in the image gallery below.
The first major update for Halo 5 was Battle of Shadow and Light, which launched this week. It added the Big Team Battle mode, four new maps, and dozens of new Req packs. It is the first of numerous free updates that 343 plans to release for Halo 5 over the game's lifespan.
Halo 5 launches for Xbox One on October 27 and made $400 million at launch, representing a new Halo franchise record.
What else can you spot in the video? Let us know in the comments below.
"Background music is on that list," Ybarra said on the latest Inner Circle podcast. "Windows 10 will help us as we think about what's the right away to deliver that. And we want to do it in a way that surprises fans."
The Xbox One adopted Windows 10 as its underlying operating system with the release of the New Xbox One Experience earlier this month. This has led to various efficiency improvements and sets the console up to be more flexible in the future, Microsoft has said.
Ybarra added Microsoft is thinking about Xbox One background music functionality in a similar way to screenshots, another much-requested feature that was eventually delivered. About screenshots, Ybarra said, "We could have released something that was medium-quality." However, the company also wanted to "surprise" users and waited until it could offer a more robust experience, complete with .PNG file support.
"As we look at background music and we figure out where where does it fit and what's the technical solution that makes sense, we want to make sure it's something that pleases everybody," Ybarra said. "And certainly it's on the list; certainly we're looking at it, and it's something we'd all like to have as well."
Xbox One owners can currently use the Xbox Music app to listen to music while playing a game, but only with Snap. This takes up a portion of the screen, making it a less-than-ideal solution. There is clearly demand for a better alternative. On the Xbox Feedback site, more than 21,000 people have voted for "Play Music From Apps Without Snap (Background Music)."
Also in the interview, Ybarra talked about the struggles of the new achievement challenge rewards system. He acknowledged that usage was "pretty low" for these time-based challenges, which he admitted might be because they were hard to discover. As such, he said, "We certainly want to look at that" to see how it can be improved in the future. These challenges do not earn gamerscore but give players the ability to unlock other forms of bonuses, like avatar items. How they will be overhauled in the future remains to be seen.
Microsoft doesn't have any major feature updates for Xbox One planned for December. That's because the company is instead focusing on keeping Xbox Live and other network services up and running during the busy holiday month. February is the goal for when the next update will go out.
"Merc City is a show that will follow the Mercs and Bounty Hunters of the Riddick Universe," he said. The show will be produced by a new TV subsidiary of Diesel's own One Race Films production company.
Concerning the new Riddick movie, Diesel said director David Twohy will start writing Furia in December.
The name Furia suggests the movie will involve the Furyans. Riddick the character is one of the only surviving members of the Furyans. The TV show Merc City also sounds like it has some strong potential.
2013's Riddick was the most recent entry in the series; it generated more than $98 million in worldwide box office receipts. Diesel's other upcoming projects includeFurious 8 and XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.
As for Riddick games, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was released in 2004 for the original Xbox and PC, while sequel Assault on Dark Athena launched in 2009 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. A mobile game called Riddick: The Merc Files was released in 2013.
No new games in the series have been announced.
Here's a roundup the week's biggest stories and some you might have missed.
Square Enix this week announced that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has been pushed back six months, shifting from February 2016 to August 2016. Talking about the delay, the developer said, "We won't compromise on quality." [Full story]
EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said this week during a briefing with analysts that the company is planning more Star Wars Battlefront games. Maybe the sequel will have a campaign? [Full story]
Bethesda's RPG Fallout 4 is a big, big game. And as AAA developers go, Bethesda is on the smaller side. So it's no big surprise that the game has some glitches and hiccups. Those are going to be fixed through future patches, which will come first to PC and then console, Bethesda announced this week [full story]
Before Far Cry 2 designer Clint Hocking decided to return to Ubisoft, he was offered "lots of money" to work at other studios, the veteran designer said during a speaking engagement this week. Get the full story at GamesIndustry International.
The music video for Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" has been remade in Grand Theft Auto V. You can watch the video here on YouTube, but note that it contains some mature themes.
Three years after launch, PC MMO Guild Wars 2 has introduced its first raid. It's called Spirit Vale, and it will be released across three different wings. Get all the details here.
New songs are now available to play in Guitar Hero Live, including the hard-rocking, fast-paced "Toxicity" from System of a Down. See all the new tracks here.
Black Friday is nearly here. If you're looking to pick up new Skylanders toys, you're in luck, as Activision has announced a suite of Skylanders deals for the one-day shopping bonanza. Not only that, but a massive Skylanders balloon will again float above the streets of Manhattan for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Get all the details here on Activision's blog.
The upcoming Warcraft movie will "right the wrongs" of video game movies, according to director Duncan Jones. That's a bold statement, indeed. We'll all find out how it works out next summer when the film finally comes to theaters. Get the full story here at The Guardian.
GamesIndustry International attended the Montreal International Games Summit this week and has a good report on a talk that EA's Jade Raymond and Amy Hennig gave. The report covers their work on the new Star Wars game, starting a studio, and more. Read it here.
Fallout 4 players continue to make character models based on famous people. The latest examples are Walter White from Breaking Bad, comedian Louis C.K., Kanye West, and Taylor Swift. See them all here.
iam8bit and developer ArenaNet have announced two special edition Guild Wars 2 items: the Quaggan sweater and the adorable Quaggan Plushie. They are both now available to pre-order from iam8bit's website.
If Fallout 4 were released for the N64, the cartridge might have looked something like this.
This Lego version of the Halo UNSC Infinity ship took three years to build. And my goodness, the results are stunning. Read more about it here at Brothers-Brick.
VentureBeat has an excellent, in-depth interview feature about storytelling in games, featuring insight from veteran developers Amy Hennig and Jade Raymond. They don't give much away about their new Star Wars game, but it's a great read all the same. Read the full story here.
Epic Games continues to tease its upcoming PC game Paragon, this week releasing a short teaser video for the game's latest playable hero, Sparrow. Check out the video here, while Paragon is due to launch in 2016.
The Slingshot App, a polling app that allows users to vote and poll their friends on any two things, has released the results of its Call of Duty vs. Halo faceoff. Check out the results in the image above.
You can download the app on iTunes right now.
The filmmakers-turned-game developers at La Cosa Studios have released a new trailer for their upcoming PlayStation 4 game Klaus. The game aims to combined "highly precise platforming" and puzzles, tied together with an "evocative" story. Check out the trailer above.
While it seems to be a game that's designed for RPG fans first and foremost, a lot of Undertale's jokes have universal appeal. A pair of comically incompetent skeletons regularly spout puns and jokes while attempting--and failing--to halt your progress, and the social ineptitude exhibited by one character when they try to express their feelings for another is a regular source of laughter. With clever characterization and unexpected responses to actions we've been conditioned to view as predictable, Undertale elicits laughter and delight with ease."Take the ferry for 3 gold."
You're encouraged to stop and engage with NPCs rather than charge through the story, and you should, because the varied and entertaining cast of monsters reveal valuable information about the wider world. This quality isn't unique, but here, it leads to unusual exchanges that are filled with great quips, simultaneously poking fun at games and human nature alike. The script tip-toes into parody, but an air of earnest thought lifts it above mere mockery. Silly as it can be, Undertale delivers poignant observations that challenge the status-quo.
It's also the sort of experience that encourages you to come back for a second or third round. This is especially true because, over the course of roughly five hours, you make a lot of decisions that impact the world around you. The importance of choice is often felt during combat, which lets you pick between fighting or talking your way out of conflict.Sometimes the secret to winning is a little bit of love.
Trying to pacify opponents is a far more rewarding experience than simply fighting, and its a process that's unique to each type of enemy. To earn their favor, you have to analyse an enemy's behavior and figure out the right course of action. In one scenario, you can attempt to befriend a violent dog, in another, you might want to cheer up a ghost with low self-esteem; your success will depend on your ability to empathize and react. Navigating social puzzles is a refreshing change of pace for what seems like traditional combat, and the variety of distinct, entertaining enemies you engage with helps stave off a problem that's all-too-common in other RPGs: repetitive random encounters.
Because not all enemies are easily wooed, you eventually need to defend yourself regardless if you intend to fight or not. Undertale handles this with a quirky mechanic that feels out of place at first, but it eventually grows on you because it makes combat engaging and unpredictable in a good way. Enemy attacks appear as waves of projectiles that fly within a square pen, and as they fly by, you have to steer a small heart icon out of their flightpath to avoid taking damage. It's an unusual mechanic, but it's simple to understand and rewarding in the sense that it lets your reflexes-rather than statistics or dice rolls--dictate the outcome of a fight.
The variety of distinct, entertaining enemies you engage with helps stave off a problem that's all-too-common in other RPGs: repetitive random encounters.
Even within combat, Undertale layers on the humor. Sometimes you're dodging bullets, but you also need to watch out for frogs, arms with flexing biceps, and even the tears of a depressed opponent. Linking the shape, size, and behavior of projectiles with enemies' personalities keeps things challenging, and opens the door for even more laughs as you fend off absurd attacks.Hey, what are friends for?
It would be a crime not to mention Undertale's soundtrack, which is loaded with beautiful bit-based melodies that blend perfectly with the action on-screen. Each boss gets its own theme song, which do a great job of enhancing their particular personality. These tracks in particular bring energy and vigor, putting you on the edge of your seat as you try to fight or befriend your opponent. Outside of battle, tracks set the appropriate mood, too, from the quirky jingle in Temmie Village, to somber melodies that build tension near the end of the game. Regardless of its retro style, Undertale's soundtrack has timeless appeal and is great at evoking emotions.
Without spoiling the many ways it will screw with your expectations, it isn't possible to truly capture how wonderful Undertale is. You wouldn't know it with a passing glance, but it's one of the most progressive and innovative RPGs to come in a long time, breaking down tradition for the sake of invention, with great success.
Everything starts with the campaign, which is intended to tie up the bulky story of the game's three races: the human-inspired Terrans, the insectoid Zerg, and the hyper-advanced Protoss. These three factions have been at odds in an almost-constant war for quite some time. But as these things go, a new, more potent threat has emerged: Amon. He comes from an ancient race of beings that created both the Zerg and Protoss. He wants to unite all life by morphing them into chimeric hybrids through cross-breeding and extreme genetic engineering. His experiments and the corrupted minds of many of his followers are the focus of Legacy of the Void's story mode. With the help of old guard Protoss heroes Zeratul and Artanis, your goal is to dismantle Amon's massive armies and prevent his twisted vision of “perfection” from taking over the galaxy.Legacy of the Void's missions use a series of unusual objectives, often with some additional challenge or complication to mix up the usual "build up base then attack" model of strategy game play.
The whole adventure is riddled with familiar scenarios and, at times, is pretty goofy, but the game's voice cast sells their roles with such gravitas and conviction that it comes off as admirable camp instead a long list of eye-rolling clichés. Massive strategic battles often end with grand speeches about fighting for a cause, and Artanis and Zeratul consistently stand against teeming hordes of foes only to conquer them through braggadocio and strength of will. Their continued success and eventual victory is always assured, but it comes with such bombast that the adventure is endearing more often than not.
Structurally, the campaign also helps reinforce the idea that you're fighting a losing war against an overwhelming force. In many missions, you are outnumbered by enormous margins, and each mission plays faster than those in previous games in the series. After fights, you're often treated to beautiful, well-acted (albeit not terribly well-written) cut scenes that give detailed form to game's battlefields.
While most of the single-player missions are excellent, they're not quite as diverse as they were in 2010's Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Most still come down to conquering specific points, protecting key areas, or holding out against an onslaught of foes for a set amount of time. What's included here is still more interesting than the missions from the last Starcraft II release, Heart of the Swarm. But it is disappointing that Blizzard, for all its tenacious attention to detail, didn't change up the proceedings a bit more. Where the characteristic Blizzard craftsmanship does come into play, though, is the revamped multiplayer modes.
What's included here is still more interesting than the missions from the last Starcraft II release, Heart of the Swarm.
Anyone who's been playing strategy games for a while can often provide a pretty consistent list of grievances against the genre. In games with others, the first two or three minutes (or longer) are very important, but they're largely the same match to match. That, combined with longer skirmishes in general, leads to frustrations about openers for lots of people. If Legacy of the Void makes one critical change, it is that players now start with many more resource gatherers, and the abilities of each race's starting base have been tweaked slightly to smooth out that opening and help people get to the meat of the game faster.
This makes the game a bit less forgiving for new players, but it evens out a problem that has plagued the series and strategy games in general for decades. To balance out the abrasiveness-for-new-players problem, Legacy of the Void adds a new mode named after one of the game's most iconic units: Archon.
Archon mode puts two players together and has them share one base, one pool of resources, e.t.c. The hope here is twofold. Those not familiar with Starcraft's hulking and often merciless competitive multiplayer modes can have an experienced player show off different pieces of the game and guide them through a match. On the higher level, though, it opens up two elements of play: macro- and micromanagement. Hypothetically, this should allow two experienced players to handle a lot more than they normally could. One can focus on maintaining the economy, gathering resources, and keeping up with upgrades and research, while the other can focus on the minute, precise movements necessary for optimal troop management. This lowers the total skill ceiling for multiplayer matches in general and helps players specialize.Like the previous two Starcraft II games, you'll be able to change up your units for missions, refocusing their abilities to meet specific objectives.
In my experience, Archon handily succeeds at both. I've helped guide newbies to keep them from feeling lost or overwhelmed by the nuance and complexity inherent in competitive Starcraft, and I've worked with friends to take on much better players than any of us could handle otherwise. I've always been great at keeping supplies running smoothly, but I'm rubbish when it comes to directing individual soldiers, so having someone else take up that load helped me focus on not only what I was good at but also the parts of the game I enjoy most.
New units and subtler changes to the multiplayer game are also surprisingly valuable additions to Starcraft's stable of warriors. The Protoss get Adepts, ranged masters who can teleport, bypassing stationary defenses. Like the Terrans' Reaper--added previously in Wings of Liberty--the Adept are intended to harass fortified positions and disrupt your opponents' plans. Disruptors fill another key role in the grand Protoss line-up. They are walking bombs for clearing tight clusters of foes--much like the Zerg Baneling.
Those looking for some resolution to the conflicts that started way back in 1998 will almost certainly come away satisfied.
Terrans, for their part, get Cyclones and Liberators, new medium-armored ground and air units with automated turrets to target foes. Zerg get the Ravager, an evolution of the Roach. They are slow but effective artillery. Finally, the Zerg Lurker from Starcraft: Brood War also makes its long-awaited return. Each of these units has held up over months of beta play-testing, and they offer valuable additions to new strategies or new threats that players will need to cope with. The only problem I've seen so far is that after steadily adding new units and features for the past 17 years, Starcraft is getting a little big for itself, and there's often too much to manage--a complaint Blizzard seems to have predicted with the Archon mode. Surely, plenty of people can handle the new, larger game, but I struggled with higher-level play when I didn't have a friend along to help.
It's hard to say whether this suite of changes will help keep Starcraft II abreast of more popular eSports competitors, such as League of Legends or Dota 2, but it's clear that Blizzard's trying to offer something to everyone. High-end players get the additional challenge of managing or adapting to six new units and compensating for one of the biggest changes competitive play has yet seen--faster match openings and splitting macro- and micromanagement with Archon mode. Newbies have plenty of new ways to acclimate themselves to the most refined version of Blizzard's classic strategy series yet.
Those looking for some resolution to the conflicts that started way back in 1998 will almost certainly come away satisfied, even if Starcraft's writing has become comically weighty in recent years. Legacy of the Void doesn't quite manage the brilliance of Wings of Liberty, but it's a worthy note to leave the franchise on.
Fallout 4 is a massive game filled with all sorts of quests and activities. But if you're playing it on the PC, it's also a game packed with crazy cheats that can change up gameplay in plenty of fun and over-the-top ways. Join us as we take a look at the top cheats you can use and how you can trigger them!
To activate specific cheats, you need to type their phrases into the game's console command screen, which you can bring up by pressing the tilde key ( ~ ) located under the escape key on your keyboard.
To use a recently entered command, press the up key on the console screen and it will bring up the last command you entered.
: God Mode grants your character the god-like abilities of unlimited ammo, unlimited Action Points, and invincibility. For the sake of your survival, this is an essential command to enter before trying out others.
: setgs fJumpHeighMin
: This command gives your character superhuman level jumping abilities. Keep in mind that you're going to want to activate this command in conjunction with God Mode, seeing as not having it on will likely result in an instant death from fall damage. A good value to start with this cheat is 500.
: player.setav speedmult
: Have you ever wondered what it would be like being the Flash in the wastelands of Fallout 4? Look no further, this command grants your character super speed. To be on the safe side, we suggest starting out with 1000 for this command.
: player.set level
: If you're tired of leveling up the normal way, you can enter in this command to increase your character level to whatever you want. Keep in mind, this command won't work if you enter a level lower than your current one.
*In addition you can follow with
: This command lets you spawn specific enemies onto the field. Unlike other commands in this gallery, this one requires you to also enter the unique hexadecimal ID of what you want to spawn in. For example, if you want to spawn a Deathclaw, you need to type "placeatme FF0015A9." Unfortunately, we do not have a list of every hexadecimal ID value in the game, but you can find them online on the Fallout 4 wikis.
*In addition you can follow with
: You can use this command to spawn specific items into you inventory. Like the spawn enemies command, this one also requires you to know unique hexadecimal IDs. Luckily, you can find a full list of every item ID in the game in this list compiled by the community.
: This command increases or decreases the size of your character or desired target by the indicated number. To properly activate it, simply highlight your intended target while in the console command menu and then enter the command.
: This command turns off all collision detection in the game, letting you walk through walls and objects in the game as much as you please.
: If you ever find yourself glitched out somewhere you can't escape while using these different commands, you can enter this command to travel to a specific location. However, like the previous command that spawns items or enemies, this one requires a specific ID. You can also find these online, but here's a couple to get you by:
: coc qasmoke
: This command takes you to a secret room that houses every item and power armor. Additionally, you can find every workbench in this room. It's important to note that you cannot fast travel out of this room once you enter it.
: If you're about to die in battle, you can use this command to turn off the enemy's combat AI. Simply type it in to make all enemies drop what they're doing and stop fighting you.
: If you want to kill everything in the surrounding area, type in this command to do just that. However, it's worth noting this command will not kill companions or important characters, instead putting them in a standard critical state.
: You can use this command to change your character's sex on the fly. Now you no longer need to start the game over again if you want to pick the opposite sex!
There is, for example, no tutorial mode. There's a rudimentary text tutorial buried so deep in one corner of the main menu that you can't even navigate to it using the Pro Controller, but it's too superficial to prove truly useful. You can easily hit random buttons and figure things out as you go (this is a light, arcadey take on tennis, after all), but eventually, you're going to run up against an AI opponent who crushes you with maneuvers that require a bit more technique. I got destroyed by an embarrassing number of near-unreturnable Ultimate Smashes before I finally figured out how to reliably execute them myself, rather than simply mashing what I assumed was the appropriate button.Need some extra help racking up wins in Knockout Challenge? Grab an Amiibo of any character already in the game to add a helping hand.
Throwing players in the deep end and asking them to learn through experimentation isn't an unforgivable sin, but it did lead to plenty of early frustration that could have easily been avoided. Given the time gap between games, even franchise fans like myself need a way to brush up, and new mechanics like jump shots deserve more than a random load screen tip. Generally speaking, games are more fun when you understand how to play them effectively.
Unfortunately, basic instruction isn't the only thing missing from Ultra Smash; it also lacks any kind of tournament or career modes. Instead, the game offers only Knockout Challenge, which pits players against every single character one by one, with ever-escalating difficulty. This structure creates a compelling sense of progress, but the mode as a whole yields little reward. Once you make it to 15 consecutive knockouts, you're presented with a congratulatory menu screen and the "Star" version of the character you guided to victory--though Star Peach, for example, doesn't look or play any differently from regular Peach. The journey can be challenging, even fun, but after a single trip through the Knockout gauntlet, there's little motivation to grind through again with other characters.The GamePad serves only as a second screen here, but that's invaluable during local multiplayer.
That leaves only three main modes, all of which are essentially quickplay variations: Mega Battle, Standard Classic Tennis, and Simple Classic Tennis. Mega Battle includes everything the game can throw at you: Mega Mushrooms that gigantify your character, "chance shots" that power up your returns when you execute the correct type of shot from specific glowing spots that appear on the court, and jump shots, which add extra speed and bounce height to the ball. Standard tennis removes the mushrooms, and Simple tennis removes all three power-ups. If you're just looking for some quick tennis action, these three modes provide an adequate fix with minimal hassle. If you were hoping for something more substantial, however, Ultra Smash can't help.
In fact, Ultra Smash doesn't even contain the goofy party modes that gave earlier Mario Tennis games both whimsy and variety. Old favorites like Item Battle and Ring Shot--which added some novel twists to the basic gameplay--are simply gone, leaving us with only Mega Ball Rally, which plays identically to the quick-play modes with the exception of its perpetually shrinking ball. It makes for a decent diversion, but because it's so similar to the game's other modes, it ultimately adds little to the overall experience.
Even the character roster--though respectably large and packed with all the usual suspects--doesn't create meaningful gameplay variety. While characters in past games possessed unique "power shots," Ultra Smash's 16 competitors play largely the same. Sure, Bowser is noticeably slower than Yoshi and Walugi has better reach than Toad, and those differences did prove noticeable enough that I had to adjust my strategy. But these adjustments were never severe enough to make the core gameplay feel fundamentally different. As with the game’s modes, the character options are adequate, but in no way exciting, inventive, or memorable.
As with the game’s modes, the character options are adequate, but in no way exciting, inventive, or memorable.
Thankfully, local and online multiplayer stop Ultra Smash from sliding too far into mediocrity. The opponent AI is serviceable--providing a reasonable challenge that'll keep you engaged long enough to hone your skills--but nothing beats yelling in your buddy's face when you counter his sneaky drop shot with an earth-shattering smash. Playing with friends allows the underlying mechanics to deliver those dramatic moments you expect from an intense, high-energy sports game, and thankfully, there's just enough nuance for competition to feel legitimate. You gradually figure out you can counter slices with topspin, deliver jump shots by reaching the ball at the peak of its arc, and crowd the net to force your opponent out of position. As a result, the action is not only fast and fun, it also evokes the "just one more match" competitiveness.
In keeping with the rest of the game, Ultra Smash's online component is pretty bare-bones, offering only Mega Battle, Standard, and Simple game types with no option to choose a court or play multiple matches against the same opponent. However, the net-code held up fine during my time playing online, so at least you can enjoy all the basics without worrying too much about your internet connection. Local multiplayer is a bit more robust, allowing you to choose any of the eight unlockable court types while throwing Mega Ball Rally back into the mix as well. Plus, as I mentioned, you get to yell in people's faces--which is always a plus.
Unfortunately, you may find yourself yelling at the game just as often. For example, you're given almost no warning before Mega Mushrooms wear off and your character shrinks. If you happen to be chasing a ball when that happens, you'll miss your shot simply due to bad luck. Chance shots can also seem confusing and unfair at times. You have no way to conjure a chance shot; they simply appear randomly around the court. Needless to say, it's a little frustrating to have no control over a something that can decide a match--though at least the game seems to use chance shots to level the playing field when matches start to become lopsided. The worst moments, however, are those annoying instances when a ball bounces straight over your head because you simply couldn't tell how high it bounced. It's pretty hard not to feel cheated when that happens.
Considered as a whole, Ultra Smash does just enough to get by. At moments it shines and at others it frustrates, but mostly it just coasts. Without substantial content to drive longevity, you may end up switching back to Mario Kart sooner than later, but if you're playing online--or better yet, with your friends at home--you'll likely overcome the game's frustrations and squeeze a solid few hours of fun out of its fast-paced, power-up-driven action.
In Episode Six, The Ice Dragon, it's time to pay the piper and suffer the consequences of all these choices. And although this episode leans a little too heavily on some odd elements that feel out of character for the Game of Thrones universe, the climax of the Forresters' story brews a perfect mix of anxiety, heartbreak, and a smidge of genuine horror.
We open on our scattered heroes in their direst hour. Gared, with Sylvi and a wounded Cotter in tow, finally finds the North Grove, and it's nothing like he imagined. Mira is straddling the line between continuing the fight to save her family and abandoning the endeavor to save herself from disgrace and other awful punishments. Back at Ironrath, the remaining Forresters are rallying for a showdown against the Whitehills but are struggling to find a way to beat them without endangering their captive little brother, Ryon.Look at this bear!
It's apparent the moment the episode opens that the end is nigh for our friends in House Forrester, and that everything you've made them do in the name of the family will come down to one final struggle. Depending on the choices you've had each individual character make, Episode Six is either a perilous minefield of ugly choices, or it offers more breathing room for you to manipulate circumstances in your favor. For example, Mira's tale of currying favor and keeping her loyalties finally comes to its heartbreaking head; if you've stood by Margaery she may stand by you too, but Sera is another story. Being a good friend could cost you your own safety--or your honesty and openness could win you a strong ally. Where her story goes is entirely dependent on how you've had Mira play the social circles in King's Landing, and the tiniest decisions she's made in the past can either come back to bite her or save her skin.
The same is true for all other members of House Forrester as our journey with them comes to a close. A major decision you had to make at the end of the previous episode completely alters the chain of events for the finale. Depending on that choice, you'll have a different set of options for staving off the Whitehills' invasion of Ironrath, down to the place, time, and allies you have when the final conflict starts. These diverging paths result in two entirely different episodes--one more focused on stealth and cunning, the other a little more tailored to brute-forcing your way--and it's worth going back and playing twice to see how both decisions play out.Someone's overcompensating...
In fact, if you're one of those players who needs to replay narrative-driven games to see all possible outcomes, The Ice Dragon may give you a headache. In addition to the two differing experiences dictated by the final moment of Episode Five, there are at least a dozen different branching routes to get to the end of the episode. I played through the episode four separate times, taking several stops to rewind to specific moments to see things unfold differently. It's a lot to unpack, and having so much variety in the finale has allowed the series--which has had its highs and disappointing lows--to end on a deeply emotionally note.
Without getting into spoilers, here's just a small description of how deep the rabbit hole of decision goes in The Ice Dragon: Depending on who is in charge at Ironrath, your plan of attack against the Whitehills changes. On several occasions, you're tempted to call off your plans. And if you do, you could endanger someone dear to you. But if you stick to the plan, you may lose someone else. And even if everything goes according to the plan, there's still the chance that something you've done episodes prior will result in something terrible happening to someone else. It's a nasty web of tension and grief that grants the series its perfect tragic ending, in true Game of Thrones style.Mistakes were made.
In other instances, small, seemingly unimportant decisions made at the beginning of the episodes can mean life and death for others, or whether or not you get your way. Being cocky to a potential new ally could cost you their respect. Allowing someone you love to stay near the front lines of battle could result in a terrible end of them later--and if you sent them away beforehand, they may be angry, but at least they'll be safe. It's a delicate balancing act, and the tension these decisions create has a lasting effect This episode is very good at making you second-guess yourself.
There are also some terribly gross moments that, in typical Telltale fashion, you'll be pressing buttons to complete yourself. If you thought helping Clementine stitch up her own arm was terrible, The Ice Dragon presents a particularly gruesome situation that trumps DIY stitches by miles. It's a gut-wrenching moment on both an emotional and physical level, and you never see it coming.
This episode's unpredictability is a first for Telltale's series. In previous episodes, you always had at least some sense of where things were going. You had a feeling Mira would have to choose between Tyrion and Cersei, and Margaery would be mad either way. You knew Asher would screw up his mission for Daenerys. You saw Talia's descent into a vengeful young woman coming. But The Ice Dragon throws no fewer than three plot twists at you, and it does so in moments that catch you entirely off guard. They are well-placed and well-executed, making the finale the most uneasy and traumatic episode in the series.
Like episodes before it, The Ice Dragon treads ground familiar to those who watch Game of Thrones. We go to The Wall and to King's Landing, see Ramsay Bolton's cruelty and Cersei Lannister's cunning firsthand. We meet Wildlings and the Night's Watch, pit fighters and slave traders. We see all these things in the source material; they all appear in the stories of the Starks. In the game, it felt as though we were watching the same story played out with a different cast. But Telltale's Game of Thrones takes some surprising turns in its later episodes, and although the Forresters' tale isn't as grand as the Starks', it does capture the desperation of one family to protect their honor and each other, no matter what the cost.Keeping my fingers crossed for the Beskha/Rodrick buddy cop spin-off.
However, The Ice Dragon introduces more magical elements into the series--elements that feel like they would be more at home in Harry Potter than Game of Thrones. They feel a little too deus ex machina, and just a tad too fantastical to not roll your eyes at. I recognize that Game of Thrones contains its fair share of the eerie, including snow zombies and women birthing shadow creatures, but the show never presents the supernatural as something that's just hanging around waiting to be utilized. There are no overt magic spells or magical people, and their presentation has always been spooky rather than spectacle. But in Telltale's game, the circumstances and characters connected to these elements are shocking and a little sad, but the magic bits feel so out of place it's hard to invest in that part of the plot.
In the end, Telltale's Game of Thrones succeeds in telling a violent, sad story that feels very much at home in the world of Westeros. By the finale, the danger feels real and your choices feel like they have mattered. At times the episodes pass over ground well-trodden by the original series and the game feels more like an adaptation of the source material than a standalone story, but the introduction of several unpredictable plot twists makes up for the predictability of its earlier episodes. Telltale's Game of Thrones delivers grand battles and unavoidable heartbreak, and despite some out-of-place or overused elements from the source material, it's a journey in Westeros worth having.
But Battlefront lacks the longevity that makes its source material great. It offers initial engagement, and for the first 10 hours, it swept me through its harrowing firefights at a rapid pace. But then the cracks began to show. In the end, Battlefront feels more like an homage to Star Wars than a substantial Star Wars game in itself.
And yet, what a beautiful homage this is: dynamic lighting, vivid textures, windswept forests--developer DICE has crafted a nuanced, detailed world begging for a closer look, enveloping you at every turn. Rain glistens on drooping leaves. Icy crystals extend from cavern walls. You can even see clouds of dust billow across Tatooine's arid scenery.
This is all stunning, of course, but it's Battlefront's sound design that truly reels you in. The ambient wildlife surrounds you and explosions carry through bunker walls, even as the pitter patter of rain strikes ferns in the wind. It speaks volumes that I considered turning the ubiquitous soundtrack off at times, just to hear the detail in Battlefront's world.Luke's force push is best used against groups.
Beneath all this grandeur, however, are shallow experiences. Maps look fantastic, yes, but they lack focused design. Endor's undergrowth lends cosmetic appeal, but not much cover. Hoth's barren fields impart a sense of distance, but few creative sight lines.
There are exceptions in some of Battlefront's locales, however--Tatooine's blend of exterior and interior environments, for instance, creates engaging battles from one match to the next. By darting into a nearby bunker, I avoided AT-ST fire. This also allowed me to flank a trio of enemy soldiers at a nearby capture point, and with a barrage of grenade launcher rounds, I cleared them out. Battlefront's best maps encourage these tactics across its various game modes.
And make no mistake, there's an abundance of game modes here. Star Wars Battlefront offers nine competitive variants, each of them distinct, for better or worse.
There's the spectacular Heroes vs. Villains, which plays out exactly how it sounds: as if a box of Star Wars action figures came to life and, unsure of what to do next, resorted to violence. There's Droid Run, a unique variation of zone control in which the zones shift locations throughout the match. And then there's Walker Assault.
Battlefront feels more like an homage to Star Wars than a substantial Star Wars game in itself.
This is Battlefront at its best. Walker Assault offers more emergent gameplay moments and, in contrast to much of the game's combat elsewhere, it lends the sense of a bigger objective. Imperials escort--and rebels attempt to destroy--AT-ATs as they march toward the base at the end of a path. That dichotomy between objectives means a different experience for both sides, and with numerous offensive and defensive options, battles unfold with surprising variety.
My favorite match took place on Endor. As a member of the Imperial team, I prioritized speed over anything else, sprinting along pathways toward Rebel uplink stations. If they captured enough of these, they would call more Y-wings in for bombing runs against our quadrupedal machine. So of course, I wanted to protect those stations.
But as the game progressed, and both sides adapted to the other's strategy, things changed. The Rebels made better use of their defensive turrets and whittled away at the AT-AT's health during bombing runs. So I began sniping from Ewok tree structures above the battle, focusing my aim on enemies operating laser turrets. In the end, we still lost--a well timed orbital strike brought our offensive juggernaut to its knees--but the battle remained engaging throughout. Walker Assault is the embodiment of innovative game modes.This battle isn't canonical at all.
I also spent a lot of time with Survival, Battlefront's version of a wave-based cooperative option. And despite this idea being beaten to death in the last two console generations, Survival offers a welcome respite from Battlefront's competitive modes. Working with one other teammate against Stormtroopers, AT-STs, Imperial probe droids, as we collect power-ups through Hoth's Rebel base, or Sullust's hangar bay, grants a compelling teamwork experience.
However, just as many of Battlefront's modes feel uninspired, or even poorly designed. Blast and Cargo are slight variations on team deathmatch and capture the flag, respectively, and are only exciting for several matches. After that, I had seen what felt like every possible scenario take place. Hero Hunt--in which a team of soldiers hunts down a Jedi, Sith, or bounty hunter--is imbalanced to the point of being frustrating. I grew tired of firing endless blaster rounds at Boba Fett right before he killed me with a wrist rocket--over, and over, and over. Battlefront has a depth of game modes, but only a few have much depth.
Every so often, outlandish events bring life to proceedings. There are cases when Luke Skywalker cuts through an AT-ST, or an errant rocket collides with an unlucky TIE Fighter. I've seen Emperor Palpatine corkscrew into a group of Rebels. I also watched a crafty Rebel heave a grenade at an AT-ST as she jetpack jumped over it. I was too amazed to even shoot her. Battlefront excels when it places me in this Star Wars fantasy world, where Leia squares off with Darth Vader, or Han Solo shoulder charges a low-flying TIE Interceptor.
If nothing else, Star Wars Battlefront is an exercise in pure spectacle, laid out in all of its neon glory.
But these moments don't feel as novel after Battlefront's early hours. This traces back to one root cause: Battlefront's combat can be monotonous. By and large, it consists of medium range gunfights where opponents hold the trigger for two seconds and hope they're the one left standing. Getting shot from a distance, on the other hand, often meant sprinting in another direction, rather than seeking nearby cover and planning a counterattack. There's not much thought in modes outside of Walker Assault, and I seldom felt as if I was impacting battles, or as if my skill played any wider purpose.
Vehicle combat, however, does offer some variety. Although X-Wings, snowspeeders, TIE Interceptors and the Millennium Falcon all feel great, with intuitive controls and fluid maneuvers, they don't always play a huge part in combat. Airborne vehicles fly too fast over maps that are too small in comparison, so strafing runs are often futile. However, snowspeeders are essential in Walker Assault, as their tow cables can bring down the four-legged behemoths if used right. AT-STs can also turn the tide at crucial capture points across larger maps. I wish more vehicles followed suit.Fighter Squadron is an entirely vehicle-based mode.
In a further attempt to encourage extended playtime, DICE does implement a progression system in its multiplayer, with everything from character skins to blaster variations, ion grenades to homing missile launchers. Some grenades do more damage to vehicles, while certain sniper rifles fire more accurate shots.
Aside from a few standout items such as the jump jet--which lets you leap across the map and into the fray--these unlocks don't change how you play in the long run. Trait cards, which grant you perks like radar masking or explosive damage resistance, are the most valuable options, and acquiring them felt worthwhile.They changed how I thought about my equipment loadouts: how they played into the current game mode, how they would help me in the long run, and how I might consider maps in a different way. Approaching Trait cards in the progression list offered me more incentive to play. They're gems in an otherwise bland array of abilities.
If nothing else, Star Wars Battlefront is an exercise in pure spectacle, laid out in all of its neon glory. I can't help but smile when the Boba Fett guns down three fighters in a row from his Slave I ship, or a snowspeeder careens past with flames trailing in its wake. The first 10 hours are packed with these moments, and it's worth playing just to watch them unfold.
But Battlefront doesn't go much deeper than its ambitious surface appeal. It front loads its best content, only to fade in quality as the hours roll by. Star Wars Battlefront's skin is beautiful, but its legs are shaking, and threaten to buckle with time.