Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot was brilliant, but it wasn't really Tomb Raider, was it? Our heroine schizophrenically flipped between helpless and murderous at the drop of a cutscene, there was a distinct lack of tombs to raid (not to mention Keeley Hawes) and the whole gritty thing took itself far too seriously to take seriously. Grit. Grit happened.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider may have dominated the Gamescom headlines for all the wrong reasons, so thankfully the other Crystal Dynamics studio are quietly beavering away at a follow-up to Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light, which can never be accused of taking anything seriously. Lara Croft And The Temple Of Osiris may be a puzzly shooty platformy cooperative romp for four players, not a purebred action platformer like its predecessors, but it feels like the Tomb Raider titles of old.
Because, quite simply, it's bringing the fun back to the franchise. Along with a billion spike pits, hot pants, loads of priceless ancient Egyptian superweapons and massive arguments after griefing your mates and stealing their gems. It's ridiculous, frequently stupid and absolutely ruddy brilliant. Tell your butler to fetch your dual pistols and let's take a closer look.Click here to read more...
As explained in our hands-on preview earlier today, World of Speed looks to mix things up in the racing genre by putting an emphasis on teamwork during a race. To find out more, Carl spoke to Andy Tudor of Slightly Mad Studios to learn more about how it will achieve this in the online gaming space.
If you haven't already, be sure to check out our hands-on preview article for World of Speed.
Slightly Mad Studios are a little busy these days. Made up of developers responsible for bringing some of the better racing tiles of recent memory, the team is currently working of Project CARS for current-gen consoles, but that is not all they’re cooking up. They also happen to be working on World of Speed – an online team-based racing title for PC that will be completely free, and I got hands-on with it at this year’s Gamescom.
Unlike most racing games where being the first across the finish line is the main aim, WoS introduces objectives into each race to mix things up. These range from hitting several long drifts, to achieving perfect corners, to slip-streaming another car for a specific period of time, all over the course of the race. The thing is, the developers were quick to point out that no one racer could effectively complete all the objectives in a single competitive race, and so this is where the team aspect comes into play.Click here to read more...
"It's just beyond our imagination," said Sony Worldwide Studios boss, Shuhei Yoshida, speaking about the PS4's success. Over 10 million sales thus far, and counting.
"We are so happy. But I for one am a bit nervous because we do not completely understand what's happening. You need to understand why your products are selling well so you can plan for the future, right?"
It's a humble statement at first glance, but looking back at what's gone on over the past year or so, it's no surprise really that Sony have managed to extend a strong lead at the start of this new generation. Sony's message has remained so resolute, their communication never wavering for a second. Every step of the way they've delivered when it counts, not necessarily with perfect execution but, crucially, with more poise and appeal than their competition.
There was parity at the start of this generation -- unlike last-gen, neither Sony nor Microsoft had much of a jump on the other in terms of timing -- but being prepared counts for much, and having a solid strategy is invaluable.
So I don't believe you, Mr Yoshida, when you suggest that your company doesn't quite understand the recent success. To me, at least, it looks like a plan well executed. Here's why...
Staying on message
This has defined everything. #4thePlayers -- a motto much more than a social media hashtag, it underpins the entire philosophy behind the PS4. This isn't an all-in-one media centre, it's not one box to rule them all, it's a games console. Yoshida told Eurogamer that there was some trepidation over really focussing on games. "It defied the conventional thinking. Lots of people thought the dedicated game hardware might not be needed going forward, but still lots of people are very excited."Click here to read more...
Blood Bowl 2 is bringing more than snazzy 3D graphics to the experience. Packing a new transfer system, revamped race-specific AI, deep campaign designed in close collaboration with Games Workshop, retooled economy, streamlined mechanics and more, it's clear that the ambitious sequel plans to be bigger in every way. Perhaps even a major eSport.
After attending a presentation at Gamescom, I naturally had to know more, so thankfully the lead designer was on hand to explain all of Blood Bowl 2's new features and how they've been carefully designed from the ground up in line with player feedback.
Can Evolve truly make 4 v 1 multiplayer fun? Why the delay? What are the DLC plans? How tough was it to balance? What features were cut? Why can't we play it yet?!
Evolve has attracted a huge number of questions over the last few months, and thankfully, we've now got plenty of answers thanks to Turtle Rock producer Denby Grace. If you're excited, concerned or just suitably intrigued by the upcoming new-gen shooter, this is the interview you need.
Super Smash Bros may feel most at home on a big screen, but it's 3DS counterpart is no slouch either. Containing unique levels, 60FPS visuals and intuitive controls, there's every chance that it's going to be a portable powerhouse.
You can watch me play several local multiplayer games of it above, brought to you in glorious ShakyCam™. The footage is entirely unedited, so you'll get to enjoy my banter, listen to me meeting new friends and witness how terrible I am at it.
Which version of Super Smash Bros are you looking forward to most?
After getting hands-on with the Alpha build and seeing how the gameplay had changed, Carl sat down with game director Bernd Diemer and producer Jan Eric Lauble to chat about Dead Island 2. Topics include how the seemless multiplayer will work, why the team went with a less serious approach compared to its predecessor, and what sort of weapon combinations we can expect to find in the open world zombie slaying title.
Then Toby the Dealspwny appears and hijacks the interview. Just because he could.
Be sure to check out our hands-on impressions for Dead Island 2 from this year's Gamescom.
I really wanted to like the first Dead Island. I really did. It hit all the right boxes in terms on concept – 4-player co-op with a huge world to explore, customisable weapons to find and upgrade, varied enemies to kill – but it was all undone by a hugely inconsistent tone and some of the worst voice acting in recent years. As such I didn’t get very far into the game despite multiple tries to play through it, and I made sure to give Riptide a wide birth as well.
So it came as a welcome surprise when the Dead Island 2 announcement trailer caught my attention with a new, less serious tone that looked to inject some fun into the series. “This is exactly what happened last time, Carl, and the game didn’t live up to the hype,” I told myself, but after getting hands on with the game at this year’s Gamescom I’m far more optimistic that the handover of development from Techland to Yager Development (makers of the criminally underrated Spec Ops: The Line… if we ignore that multiplayer) will make it a win-win situation for both Deep Silver and consumers.Click here to read more...
Some pretty grim things have been going on the Dyrwood. A betrothed noblewoman passing through the village on the way to the altar has gone missing. There's a orlan woman holed up in the pub who's apparently guilty of murdering a bunch of babies. Soldiers are clashing with townsfolk and an all out class war is brewing in the streets and in downed flagons of ale.
Oh, and if that wasn't enough, the place is surrounded by bandits and brigands and ogres and a dragon who's gone and burned the face off of the potions merchant.
Into the thick of this omnishambles we stride -- a fiery, horn-topped Godlike Cipher, and a band of nondescript party members -- determined to fix things. I like to try and be honest, I'm a bit of a smartypants at times, and I do like a clever quip here and there. One of the best things about the early parts of the beta, and the conversation options is that you can construct your character's personality through interaction. Will you be reasonable or quick to temper? A cruel mercenary or an honest hero with genuine good will? You can turn off all of the character highlights if you want to make decisions based simply on the writing and the lines of dialogue, and you can choose to have the options unavailable to your particular character build vanish so you don't know what you're missing.
It all depends what sort of role-playing experience you want to have.
Apparently mine involves terribly accented voices performed by yours truly. Pressures of the "record" button and all that jazz. In any case, here's a little walkthrough of what to expect in the first half hour of the Pillars of Eternity backer beta.
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot certainly was impressive. And gritty. So very, very gritty.
Thankfully the other Crystal Dynamics team is still making Tomb Raider games based on a confident Lara fighting crazy bad guys, dodging ludicrously silly traps and absolutely loving it; all voiced by the inestimable Keeley Hawes.
In effect, then, Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light feels more like the Tomb Raider games of old, even if it's an isometric puzzly shooter for up to four players. Keen to know more, I interviewed Crystal Dynamics producer Robert Siwiak to learn about the new gameplay elements, economy, story and whether we'd see more ridiculous crossover characters this time around.
Nintendo don't often make much of Gamescom. In the past, they've actually been fairly rubbish at noticing Europe is even here to be honest, in spite of Iwata highlighting the issue several times over the past few years.
But they turned up to this year's show with a host of playable games to demo to the public, and behind closed doors they didn't bother with flashy presentations or snooze-inducing, heavily-scripted developer walkthroughs where you watch someone else play the game, instead they just let people play and let the games speak for themselves.
Letting the games speak for themselves could well be Nintendo's motto. They've never been the best when it comes to corporate communication or getting the word out (the mind-bending originality of the Wii, and that console's aggressive Ant-and-Dec-fronted marketing aside) but their games shine when placed in the perfect environment. It's a shame in some ways that it's only after you've picked up a Wii U and played some of the exceptional titles on offer that the console's essential nature reveals itself.
Thankfully, over 300,000 people had the chance to do just that at this year's show.
Jon and I have both gone hands-on with a number of Nintendo's upcoming titles now, so we thought we'd have a little chat about some of the highlights for the Japanese company from this year's show.Click for our Nintendo @ Gamescom discussion >>
I spend an inordinate amount of time creating characters for RPGs. For my first runthrough of any game where you can stamp your personality on proceedings, I always like to play naturally, making decisions that I would make, immersing myself in roles close to my heart depending on whatever I'm feeling at that time. I tend towards offensively capable builds, mixing melee stylings with a bit of magic wherever possible.
I pore over stats and attribute screens, deliberating over single points, trying to give myself wiggle room as a conversationalist. Lockpicking and trap setting nearly always come in second to having the gift of the gab. Talking my way into and out of situations has always been something I've revelled in here in the real world, small wonder that I like my avatars to be able to do the same.
Thankfully, Pillars of Eternity is stuffed with options when it comes to character creation, if the beta is anything to go by. Choosing between the two sexes is straightforward enough, but then there are six races, each with a few sub-races from which to choose too, then you need to choose between the eleven classes on offer, knowing that all of them are relatively flexible when it comes to the next stage: Attributes. The beta dishes out plenty of points, and there's no wrong way to build a character, but that almost makes it worse. The paralysis of choice and all that.
What I love already about Pillars is that there are options here in character creation that barely have any mechanical impact whatsoever, things like determining your cultural background and your place in the world. Chatting with Josh Sawyer, the game's Project Lead, a few weeks ago, it became clear that these sections are almost entirely included to give players a chance to role play in a deeper fashion, fleshing out the backstories and origins of their characters, and creating a deeper, richer narrative that really roots characters in the lore of the game and the world that Obsidian have created.Have an in-depth gander at character creation in Pillars of Eternity >>
No, really: pretty much everything.
After showing us the latest build of Disney Infinity 2.0, producer Jason Moffitt was on hand to dish the details on the Guardians Of The Galaxy playset, new figures, new characters, new features, new toybox tools and even the possibility of Star Wars coming to the franchise. If you've already sampled our hands-on preview and developer walkthrough, it's high time you armed yourself with all the intel you'll need for the upcoming September release.
Disney Infinity 2.0 has big plans. The original may have been relatively successful, attracting millions of players and holding its own against the established might of Skylanders, but arguably lacked a little bit of pizazz and a sense of the epic. Thankfully, few franchises can bring the epic quite as comprehensively as Marvel comics, which is now neatly under Disney's purview.
Let the crossover commence! Rocket Raccoon, meet Thor, Stich and Donald Duck.
Avalanche Software brought two new Infinity 2.0 playsets along to Gamescom this year, showing off the new Avengers and Guardians Of The Galaxy campaigns. Both the gameplay and the figures have received a serious upgrade. On the collectibles front, the new line of toys are much more solid and sturdy than their predecessors; feeling impressively weighty and hard-wearing. The new Venom and Hulk figurines are utterly enormous, almost twice the volume of previous figures, while the level of detail is seriously impressive when it comes to the new Rocket Raccoon and Stich models. Shame they'll be standalone, really, as opposed to included in the starter packs.Click here to read more...
As associate producer of the Disney Infinity franchise, John Day certainly knows his stuff. So he made the perfect guide to chaperone us around the latest build of Disney Infinity 2.0, showing off the new characters and combat to expect in the Spider-Man playset, alongside brand new automation and building features to use in Toybox Mode.
In effect, he does whatever a spider can. Stick around for more Disney Infinity 2.0 coverage this afternoon, including a hands-on preview and interview!
It's so cute!
Having spent three days rebounding between interviews and hands-on appointments at Gamescom 2014, slaughtering foes in Bloodborne, shredding opponents to bits with dual miniguns in Advanced Warfare and burning down half of London in The Order: 1886, I desperately needed to find a way to relax. The pay-what-you-want masseuses in the business area didn't even get a look-in, because once again, it's Nintendo to the rescue.
Yoshi's Woolly World is custom designed to be the most adorable thing you've ever seen. Taking inspiration from Kirby's Epic Yarn and more real-life wool than you can shake a knitting needle at, it's a colourful world of soft fuzzy floors, warm cuddly walls and bouncing balls of string. Everything is soft, huggable and so cute that you could probably weaponise it with devastating results. A Yarn Bomb of sorts, I suppose, that would paralyse potential threats by making them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
However, Yoshi's Woolly World is also no slouch when it comes to gameplay, and a far cry from the disappointing 3DS rehash we saw earlier this year. It's not just a ploy to flog a new range of plush knitted toys, but actually, I'd probably buy one.Click here to read more...
Are you ready to witness some sweet Smash skills? Prepared for a masterclass in high-level play? Then you've come to the wrong place, friend, as I've returned from Gamescom 2014 with footage of me being a total and complete button masher. I strongly suspect that the rep let me win.
However, you'll also get to watch new footage of Marth and advanced character Roselia in action, alongside some of the new Wii U-exclusive stages. Apologies for the resolution, though, which I had to massively ding due to battery life concerns.
Hohokum is another one of those arty games that's going to polarise people. Some will hold it up as an example of unconventional interactive entertainment and proof that games can and are art. Others will passionately argue that it isn't even a game. There will be those that miss the point completely, some for whom this really isn't their thing. Equally, there will be others that pronounce Hohokum to be one of the best things to be seen all year.
I like the way it encourages a genuine spirit of "play" in a manner that's rather unique.
It's a combination of beautiful, striking art from Richard Hogg, various aural dreamscapes that soothe and relax, and fluid mechanics that aren't explained outright, instead encouraging you to discover little cartoonish vignettes through direct interaction as well as poring over the scenery with your eyes.
It's quite possibly the bubble bath of gaming.
The review's on its way.
How come Claptrap can navigate stairs in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel? Why the hell does he need oxygen? What's the most badass, awesome thing in a game overflowing with badassery and awesomesauce?
Carl catches up with Gearbox's James Lopez and 2K Australia's Joel Eschler at this year's Gamescom to find out, and get the lowdown on the latest addition to the playable roster for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.