We Happy Few
If you made a sauce of two parts Bioshock to one part Alice: Madness Returns, then poured it over a bed of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, you’d have We Happy Few. The game takes place in England in a village called Wellington Wells where everyone takes medication called Joy to be happy all the time. They can instinctively sense people who aren’t on it and are incredibly violent toward them. You play, of course, someone who’s gone off his Joy. The game features an interesting story and points you toward your goals, but everything between point A and point B is procedurally generated. So you may only have to go a mile away, but everything in that mile changes every time you play.
The game features a large degree of freedom, allowing you to explore buildings and sneak about, or be rowdy and really wreck everyone’s day with a pipe wrench. The more happy, outgoing, and well dressed you are, the harder it is to detect you’re off your Joy. But the second you do something to tip them off, god damn you’d better run. They are not screwing around in Wellington Wells.
The game is still a bit rough around the edges, but it’s coming along beautifully. There’s even a basic needs function where you need to drink, eat, and sleep just to keep going, which adds to the strategy of how long to stay out, when, and what to do.
We Happy Few is coming to Xbox One and PC June of this year.
MOBAs have really taken off in the past few years, with the clear victors being DOTA and League of Legends. The concept has been wildly successful, but rarely iterated on effectively. Paragon hopes to do that.
Instead of having a top down view of the map, you play as a third person hero attacking and capturing bases. The mechanics, power ups, and design are no different than most MOBAs — each team has bases that can be captured, minions spawn from the bases, you try to take the last base to win. The over the shoulder perspective is interesting and makes it feel less like a MOBA and more like a team shooter.
That being said, the biggest problem Paragon has is how long it takes to play a game. League’s average game length is just over half an hour. This length is great — just long enough to fit in around 2 matches an hour. If you have an awful team or just can’t get it done, it’s over and you’re in another game relatively quickly. A match in Paragon, on the other hand, took 45-50 minutes in my experience. Not only was this painfully long to wait for at a demo, but if your team is dragging you down, that’s an extra 15-20 minutes of agony when you know you won’t win.
The improved mechanics are interesting and succeed in making it feel less like every other MOBA, but that average match length has to come down if it wants to take on League and DOTA.
Paragon will be out later this year for PC and PS4.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force
Nintendo has a lot of great series, Metroid Prime being one of the most incredible. Those three games are intensely satisfying, intriguing and took the series to a whole new level. When Nintendo announced Metroid Prime: Federation Force, everyone was a little wary. No Samus, on the 3DS, featuring Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass level graphics. But it’s a Prime title, maybe it’ll surprise with quality.
Nope. Sure doesn’t.
You know Warframe? How you and your friends take on baddies, explore spaceships, fight stuff then escape? Okay take out the wall running, downgrade the graphics, make the aiming mechanic halfway broken, and put it on a console without another thumb stick so you really can’t aim the camera properly and that’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Playing this game is an exercise in frustration as the game on a whole is slow, it has the “can’t aim up” problems that FPS games on the DS had before and never overcame, and overall feels like a cheap imitation of a Metroid game, let alone a Prime game.
If this game had come out under the name “Space Marines: Explore ‘n Shoot” and was marketed at 8-12 year olds with an accompanying cartoon show, it would make total sense to be mediocre. But it’s a Metroid game and it’s a horrible trick to deny gamers a proper game and rather give them what appears to be a mostly finished game that had some Metroid skins plastered on it.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is out August 16th of this year for Nintendo 3DS, though after this preview, you probably don’t care.
Sometimes, all it takes is good art to get you sucked into a game, and if there’s any game that can do that, it’s Jenny LeClue. You take control of Jenny, a bespectacled detective that you honestly don’t learn much about in the demo. It’s a relatively standard point and click adventure game where you snoop for clues and try to solve a mystery. The demo has you sneaking about someone’s house trying to find some intel. The demo was only 10 minutes, which is a shame because that was just enough time to get to the main puzzle in the demo and stop playing.
Though we couldn’t play much at the show, we’re going to play the demo online and you should too.
Jenny LeClue is out later this year for PC, PS4, iOS, and Android.
Continuing the trend of visually beautiful games is Hob, a third person top down puzzle platformer. The game seems to have a story and character development, but it’s definitely slow building. The game features no dialog, no voice acting, and no text, just interacting with the environment. It’s a bold choice that doesn’t always pay off. For the duration of the demo, it was totally okay and had the effect of making the demo even more interesting and intriguing, but it may get old for a whole game. That being said, with the visual style of the game, there’s a good chance you’d be too busy looking at the environment to notice the lack of text.
Hob is coming soon to PS4 and PC.
I Am Setsuna
When Square Enix announced Tokyo RPG Factory as a dedicated developer for JRPGs, it was pretty exciting. Their first title, I Am Setsuna, was available for demo and so far, the game looks promising.
It has all the elements you’d expect from a JRPG — world map traversal with locations to explore, Chrono Trigger style enemies on the field that transition into battle, and tons of NPCs to interact with. That being said, the game is definitely rough around the edges. Tokyo RPG Factory really puts a statement out there and parts of this game just doesn’t live up to that. The music is okay, but not great. The demo showed off almost nothing comprehensible of the story, the battle mechanics weren’t terrifically interesting, just standard turn based combat, and the environments were kind of bland. It could just be that this doesn’t show well (most RPGs with the exception of Ni No Kuni don’t), and maybe the company’s name got the expectations up a bit too high, but this seems like a B+ RPG.
When the game fully releases in July of this year, we’ll see whether or not it was just PAX that made it look less good than it is, but at the moment, consider our excitement tempered.
I Am Setsuna is out July 19th for PS4, PS Vita, and PC.
Dead By Daylight
Ever wanted to be the villain of an 80s slasher flick, but aren’t quite sure how to skin people? Dead By Daylight has you covered. It’s a 4v1 multiplayer experience where players try to turn on power 5 power generators on a map while avoiding a serial killer. They don’t have any weapons, but have the classic tools of all slasher victims — pushing things in the way of the killer and hiding. The killer’s objective is to hang all four of the other players on meathooks and let them slowly die. The players can wiggle out of the meathook and crawl about, so the killer has to be on his toes trying to catch, keep track of players. The game is still early in development, so there’s limited maps and mechanics, but the core concept is really intense and competitive.
LawBreakers is a new team role-based FPS multiplayer game from Nexon. In the demo we played, players had to capture a battery, charge it in their base, then deposit it there. It’s an interesting twist on capture the flag since the other team can choose to let you charge the battery up, but before you capture it, steal it from you with a well timed rush.
The game currently only has 4 classes, but the classes aren’t the main focus. It’s more about the gravity-defying elements in which different parts of the map have different effects, allowing you to perform different moves at different times. It’s very similar to Overwatch, if more focused due to its smaller character roster. That being said, it lacks a lot of the charm that Overwatch has strictly because of its lack of relatable or interesting characters. The game is still very fun, especially when you have a good team going, but the mark of a good competitive multiplayer game is if you’re having fun when your team is awful, and I’m not quite sure this delivers on that. It’s still in development and I’m sure they’ll have more to offer on full release, but for now, it seems it has to bake a little longer.
Shadow Warrior 2
If Borderlands is your kind of game and you don’t care much about multiplayer, you should be paying attention to Shadow Warrior 2. In the game you take control of a modern day ninja fighting a bevy of monsters across randomly generated maps for missions.
Not unlike Borderlands, Shadow Warrior 2 is about loot and plenty of it. In each map, you’ll find randomly generated weapons of varying quality. The weapons themselves are nice, but what sets this game apart is the customization of each weapon. You can add status effects and elemental properties to every weapon. You can also switch them out on the fly, meaning you’re not married to one element on a weapon at all. You can also dual wield almost any weapon, which just further increases the crazy amount of customizability.
From the demo, it looks like there’s a serviceable story, but the real focus here is the loot. If you’re a fan of loot grind games and feeling really awesome, Shadow Warrior 2 should be on your radar.
Shadow Warrior 2 is out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC later this year.
Supergiant Games has the habit of knocking things out of the park. Bastion and Transistor were both incredibly well received and as it tradition, Supergiant announced a new title right before PAX East. Pyre has the same level of lore and high caliber writing that you’ve come to expect from the indie studio, but the gameplay has changed rather drastically. It’s split between a point/click adventure/survival game ala Oregon Trail and a competitive 3v3 capture the flag game.
Between battles, you’ll interact with the crew of travelers you’ve been lumped into and find out more about the world. Each night, you can teach the crew, try to learn more about the world, or gather resources for your journey. Your three cohorts all have different stories and presumably different ways of interacting with you based on your choices.
When it’s time to battle, you control your allies on the battlefield. The game is to get a ball in your opponent’s goal and depending on the character who does it, you get more or less points. You can eliminate your opponents temporarily by touching them with your aura, a circle of light around each of your teammates. Your aura goes away when you hold the ball, meaning passing is essential to strategy. It’s a simple game, but one that requires strategy and quick thinking.
Pyre will be coming to PC and PS4 sometimes in 2017
Everyone remembers their days of hacking on Windows XP, right? No? Well Mainlining can give you that quintessential early millennium experience as you play an MI5 agent hacking criminals to gather evidence for prosecution. The whole game takes place on your computer as if it were running a pixelated version of Windows XP, complete with startup sounds and blue/green taskbar. The challenge you’re presented with is a screen name that you need to tie to a person, a crime, and a location. There’s clues on how to go about doing that on the computer, but for the most part, you’re just trying stuff out and hoping it works. There’s no location switching, pictures of you, or anything like that. Just an OS, you, and a chat program. The strict adherence to the idea that you’re just a guy on a computer is carried throughout. Even when you type, there’s a subtle key clicking sound which really adds to the atmosphere. It’s a really interesting, immersive title that should definitely be on your watch list.
Twitch is becoming a huge part of gamer culture and we’re finally starting to see games that play into that. Streamline was built from the ground up with streaming in mind. At its core, it’s a 1v12 game in which one hunter tries to eliminate 12 players. The other players have no weapons, but can stun. The objective for the runners is to score as many points before dying as possible and the hunter is to eliminate all players.
Then there’s the viewer mechanics. First off, stream viewers can bet on who will win the round and even play bingo against other viewers. Then comes the in-game curve balls. The viewers can vote for different game mechanics to put in the game to trip everyone up. Like reverse hunger games. For instance, the floor can be turned to lava, time slowed down, everyone has to crab walk everywhere. It’s awesome.
The game is well into development and looks like an absolute blast to play on stream.
Another Spring, another PAX East in the bag, and 2016 was a good one. Here’s some of the interesting stuff that happened this year:
A New Borderlands Game Confirmed / Detailed
Although we heard a new Borderlands game was in the works earlier this year, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed today that the game was in development. Details are still light as the project doesn’t sound too far along, but the art director from both Borderlands 2 and Battleborn, Scott Kester, will be on board for the new game. He also hinted at the possibility of references to Taletell’s Tales from the Borderlands series.
For more details, get a magnifying glass because Pitchford also said an upcoming DLC for Battleborn will feature some easter eggs for the upcoming game. No word on a release date, art assets, or any of that, but the confirmation that it’s under active development is exciting!
Warcraft Movie Not Strict on Lore
The Warcraft movie has been very closely watched by fans of the series since its first announcement. More details about the story of the movie were revealed at PAX East as director Duncan Jones says the movie will veer off from the game’s lore in certain situations. The choices were to “make for a better movie.”
Being ever conscious of the importance of the IP he’s playing with, Robert Kazinsky, who plays Ogrim, says had these changes not been made, the movie could have been fated to suffer the same fate of the 1993 flop Super Mario Bros. This delicate handling of the IP was reinforced by Jones as he said previous versions of the script had fundamental flaws.
“I really wanted to know what the film was going to be like,” Duncan said. “So I managed to get a sneaky look at the script and I was like ‘Ohh, it’s good, but there’s something really wrong with it.’ And it was the fact that it was human heroes against Orc villains. To me, that was fundamental misstep.”
The movie will be out June 10th of this year.
Overwatch Uber Truck Has Accident
Like most game companies, promotion is a big part of PAX East. From simple games tournaments to extravagant parties, video game companies love to do cool stuff to promote their games at PAX. This year, Overwatch and Uber teamed up to offer rides to people in Overwatch branded vehicles driven by people in awesome costumes.
Unfortunately, this promotion hit a bit of a snag when one of the drivers (and of all things, the huge truck) ended up getting in to a fender bender near the con. Randy Pitchford posted this photo of the almost non-event aftermath:
Everyone was okay, nobody was hurt, but that didn’t stop rumors of “Overwatch truck kills pedestrian” from circling around the con. Everything’s cool, though, no need to worry.
Be sure to keep checking for the rest of the week as we’ll be posting interviews, previews, and other stuff from PAX East 2016!
Good Morning Kids!
It’s April, which means that PAX East 2016 is right around the corner! Sub Cultured will be descending upon Boston from April 22nd through the 24th like a pack of geeky vultures, bringing you all of the latest the gaming world has to offer. The sprawling floor of that massive convention center will have everything from consoles to tabletop to PC.
Of course there will be the big time “huge-booth” studios that will be in attendance like Blizzard, Square-Enix and Bethesda. But the great thing about PAX events is that it’s not just the big guys that get spotlight. The Indie Showcase will be featuring some more bite-sized offerings for your mobile devices, and the Indie Megabooth is boasting 87 games so far from 83 indie developers. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of creative things these devs come up with – there’s a PAX mainstay Dragon Fin Soup, a horror mystery in Night Cry, and crossdressing and social manipulation as themes in Ladykiller in a Bind.
… Yeah. And that’s only 3 out of the 87.
If the trend of gaming shows I’ve been to holds up and combines with recent developments in hardware, I’m expecting to see a lot of VR demos. The Gear VR is a device becoming more mainstream because of its affordability and and the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are granting new higher-powered VR platforms for development.
Make sure to keep up with Sub Cultured during PAX East to keep up with all the PAX East happenings – and if you’re there or see us on the floor give us a shout!