Saints Row IV is set to be big, bonkers and silly beyond words, which is fine by us. We've fired the black hole cannon. We've grilled Volition's design director. To get the final world on the next guilty pleasure, we sat down with Associate Producer Kate Nelson at a recent preview event to discuss Volition's overall vision for Saints Row IV, how it evolved from a DLC pack and whether it can please fans left disappointed by Saints Row: The Third.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Kate. I've just played through Saints Row IV's introduction, which lampoons practically every military shooter ever made. Would it be fair to say that you feel games are taking themselves too seriously these days?
Kate Nelson (Volition): [laughs] There's room for all types of genres or directions, I think. In a lot of ways, I would like to see some less serious games, but for now Saints Row has a really good place. We're in a really good spot, because we do like to inject humour into our games!
Dealspwn: There's certainly plenty of laughs. So, we've come from the crack house to the oval office. And we have superpowers now. Was this escalation just natural progression for you guys?
Kate Nelson: We wanted to make sure to keep the momentum that we had in [Saints Row: The Third]. For a while we were thinking, “oh my gosh, how are we going to possibly top where we left off in Saints Row: The Third because of the over-the-top nature that it had and because you're a celebrity?” To use your words, the natural progression for us was, “okay, you're the President of the United States.” You'd think that would be the most interesting part of where Saints Row IV went, but we were like, “no! Alien abductions! No, wait, simulated world!”
We started pushing ourselves because we really liked the mechanics that superpowers brought, we really liked the gameplay we were getting there. It's so fun, and it did fit the universe, but we had to make sure that it's within an environment that still made sense logically. Like an alien abduction simulation.Click here to read more...
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Skylanders makes millions. Serious millions. So it was only a matter of time before other companies decided to get into toy/video game hybrids and names don’t come much bigger than Disney. When we learned that the biggest name in animated movies was stepping into the fray, we knew things were about to get interesting in the war for a spot under Christmas trees.
Like Skylanders, Disney Infinity is going to sell toys that are placed on a docking device (the Infinity Base) which makes them appear in-game. These characters will be sold in ‘Play Sets’ based around specific film franchises. These sets will include a couple of toy characters along with single-player stages/missions based around that film. Pirates of the Caribbean, Monster’s University, The Incredibles, The Lone Ranger and so on.
In addition to standard single-player modes, Disney Infinity will offer a Toy Box mode which gives players free reign to create their own adventures and that’s what Disney invited us down to try out. As a fan of creating my own stages in Little Big Planet and ModNation Racers, I was keen to see how this compared.Click here to read more...
PayDay 2 is looking utterly ridiculous ahead of its August release; a madcap crime spree boasting randomised missions and rampant cooperative shenanigans that never play out the same way. Having enjoyed a lengthy hands-on preview with the latest production build, I was keen to explore just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Luckily Andreas Hallpenninger, an Overkill Software QA agent, was on hand for a chat about dynamic missions, DLC and customisation.
Note that Hallpenninger was unable to comprehensively address a handful of questions due to his Quality Assurance role, but I referred them onto Overkill Software developers who replied promptly via email. These instances have been clearly highlighted.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Andreas. First things first, what were the major lessons that you took away from the original PayDay that informed the sequel?
Andreas Hallpenninger (Overkill QA): First of all, we wanted to add stealth. People wanted to be able to stealth through missions, or at least they want options. In PayDay: The Heist, when you entered the bank, you put on your mask and your only option was to kill the bank manager, take his keycard and just wait for SWAT to arrive. Now you have the option to approach in different ways. We don't want to force players into any one style, it's entirely up to you.
Also, in PayDay: The Heist, money didn't matter at all. You robbed a bank, you got your money but you couldn't spend it on anything! So we wanted to make it more of an RPG robbery game, that's why we added the inventory system where you can customise your masks, customise your weapons and all that. The economy system was a key new addition.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (version tested)
Developer: Overkill Software
Publisher: 505 Games
It's possible to play PayDay 2 stealthily. Quietly. Subtly. Taking feedback from the original game, Overkill have ensured that each of its 26-odd heists start with a lengthy casing section that lets you plan your caper, place useful supplies and eyeball on-site security. Hopping onto the latest production build with three other journalists at a recent preview event, I studied a relatively lightly-staffed inner city bank before concocting a foolproof master plan: pick the locks, go in quietly, drill into the vault and exit before anyone knew we were even there. In, out, easy money, we thought.
"I give you one minute," Overkill director David Goldfarb ominously intoned as we donned our lurid customised masks.
It turns out that this was a vote of confidence rather than an embarrassing put-down. No sooner had we entered the bank than a civilian screamed, causing the cashier to raise the alarm. All hell quickly broke loose in an orgy of gunfire, tear gas, howled threats and a desperate run back to the getaway van as SWAT teams and Snipers rained fire down on the street, and my small private army of stockholm syndrome-suffering security guards covered our escape. PayDay 2 is one of the most unpredictable and randomised shooters you'll ever play - and if the latest build is anything to go by, it could well be one of the most exciting cooperative games of 2013.Click here to read more...
In the last of our half-time roundtables, we cast our eyes ahead to Christmas and chat about some of our opinions regarding the next generation of video games consoles and, if we had to choose, which way we'd go at the current time.
I think it’s fairly obvious that, at this point, Sony are riding the momentum of E3 into a very strong psychological lead for next-gen sales. Even after the come down from the high that was this year’s press conferences (much sugar was consumed that evening, and that crash at 5am… ugh) I feel that, despite the fact Microsoft have backtracked a number of their policies (in the most bizarre manner, I might add) the Playstation 4 is still the most likely to get my money at the end of the year.
The Xbone certainly had a strong line-up of games on show, perhaps even stronger than the PS4’s when you focus on exclusives (although you need to forget about Ryse. Yay for Quick Time Events!) but you just know that, in the long run, Sony will be bringing a breath of well-made exclusives that will cater for all tastes, and that is what is the most attractive prospect right now with or without the support for indie development and distribution.
That said, if I don’t get a next-gen console in the next twelve months I probably won’t be too disappointed. After all, I have a backlog of games that still need clearing (some of which are from 2011!) and my PC gaming experience is stronger than ever. Basically, if I get my hands on an Oculus Rift there’s a good chance you won’t see me for months as I’ll be living a virtual life in Skyrim, catching butterflies and fish. WITH MY BARE HANDS.
Or not. Whatever.Click here to read more...
We love our readership, especially when people get stuck into an opinion piece that we've written, or are picking apart reviews and interviews, sharing their thoughts. In fact, ever since we started amassing a few vocal regulars (thanks folks!) we've put out feelers regarding the notion of a semi-regular Community Corner column. If you've had a reaction to a happening in this fair industry of ours, or maybe want to wax lyrical about a recent game, or have been ruminating on an aspect of gaming or gamer culture with a fresh, unique perspective... we want to hear from you!
This week's column comes courtesy of DivideByZero, who delivers an insightful and incisive take on the state of Kickstarter from a gamer's perspective.
Having started to write a review some time ago, of Kickstarter as a mechanism for funding the creation of games… I deleted it when I got up to many thousands of words and realised I had barely touched the tip of the iceberg.
Crowd funding is big… it’s HUGE… it’s very much here now and it could well be The Future.
I personally feel it has a place at the moment due to the lack of Next-gen causing all the middle ground to have collapsed. More and more we are only seeing AAA+ and indie titles with middle ground developers struggling and going under. Enter the Kickstarter, allowing smaller developers to fill that middle ground.
It’s such a simple idea. Someone wants to make a thing but a publisher doesn’t have the balls to back it… if there is enough demand from the public (and they are willing to pay for it), then it can happen anyway.
And that is where the simplicity ends and all the rules change.
Click here to read more...
We're only halfway through 2013, and there's still so much to come. There are two new consoles for starters, and next-gen beckons with more power, more potential, and more promise than ever before. But so many of our most anticipated shouts for the next six months have turned out to be current-gen titles. There's life in the old systems yet, and developers at the heights of their powers are looking to make the most of it...
There's so much to look forward to still in 2013, and Ubisoft hold many of the key properties I'm interested in for the second half of 2013. I need Watch Dogs in my life if it's anywhere close to being as systemic as Ubi Montreal want us to believe; I want to see if the Assassin's Creed franchise can make a comeback with Black Flag, which looks like the modern equivalent of Sid Meier's Pirates! that I've always wanted; and the, of course, the the magnificence off Rayman Legends, which by rights should have been rescuing the Wii U by now.
To be honest, the Wii U would have run away with this crown had all of the games mentioned at E3 been releasing this year. But there are still games for that system that I really do want, The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Sonic: Lost World, and Super Mario 3D World to name a few. But worth slapping down upwards of £200 for a new console, and then further emptying my wallet for a hard drive? Erm, no.
So, hello, Beyond. There aren't a huge number of next-gen launch titles that I'm enormously excited for, and this current generation still has so much to give (take a bow GTA V as well), and thus one of my most anticipated titles comes in the form of Quantic Dream's follow-up to Heavy Rain. I love story-driven games, and Beyond: Two Souls looks like it has a little more for the player to actually do than Heavy Rain ever did. I'm looking forward to seeing where Quantic Dream take the poltergeist mechanic that they've created in Aidan, and, of course, Willem Dafoe.Click here to read more...
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
I do love a good dungeon crawler, and we've been spoilt in recent years. Torchlight and its fantastic sequel showed Diablo how to get it done properly, Magicka gave players an over-the-top and comedic take on the genre, and titles such as Path Of Exile continue to look very promising, but with so many such games appearing it would take something a little different to stand out from the pack. The folks at Ubisoft Montreal might have the answer in their upcoming title The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot for two reasons - firstly, it blends two genres together to provide an almost unending amount of levels to conquer, and secondly, it's all Free To Play.
The premise of The Mighty Quest is simple enough – players run through a series of castle to attain masses of gold and lifeforce, two types of currency, and picking up gear with which to kit out their characters. This involves slaying hordes of enemies, avoiding deviously placed traps, and defeating whatever boss lies in front of the castle heart chamber where the loot chests are housed. Should the player do all of this within a certain time limit, a share of the bountiful loot is theirs, but should they fail on reach it in time they will find prize locked away to a chorus of boos (although when I fail they're all clearly saying boo-urns.)Click here to read more...
Click here to read more...
It's time to grab your sword and snab some swag as Dealspwn Playthrough begins its look into The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot - the upcoming Free-to-Play dungeon crawler meets castle builder title from Ubisoft. Carl provides commentary as he guides his warrior on his first steps towards fame and riches, ending with a showdown with the aptly named Count Snottingham. See all the action for yourself after the jump.
It's important to note that some of favourite gaming moments might not necessarily coincide with our shouts for the best games of 2013, but here are a few occurrences and happenings that have proven truly memorable from the past six months, from in-game action to juicy bits of news that have gotten us all flustered, these are our favourite gaming moments of 2013 so far...
A selection of my highlights include Naughty dog giving us PS4-standard visuals throughout The Last of Us, enjoying the co-op platforming delights of Battleblock Theater with my girlfriend (mainly because I got to push her into spike pits) and finally getting involved with The Walking Dead and Journey thanks to having the privilege of reviewing the retail editions.
As a PlayStation regular, I’ve been fairly amused throughout 2013 at how good the PS4 has been looking while Microsoft have been doing their level best to become Bastards of the Year. It was also great to see EA drop the Online Pass meaning we could rent their games and try out the multiplayer without an extra charge. It was perfectly timed with them releasing Fuse too, which has ‘fun for a rental’ written all over it.
Best news though? It has to be the reveal of a new Mirror’s Edge game. It’s going to be at least 2014 until we see it, but the brief reveal trailer was just what I’ve been craving for years. The original was one of the bravest titles in years and I can only applaud EA for giving DICE the green light to make another game. I think they should go ahead and give it a name though as the prequel nature of the game means it won’t be called Mirror’s Edge 2.
I’m hoping for some tighter controls for Faith, a similar distaste for guns and a more open game world this time to use as a parkour playground. What I really want is for it to be awesome and successful in order to give movement in FPS games the vital boot up the arse it needs. I’m not putting much stock in Titanfall or Dying Light to get the free-running feel right to be honest. I’ll be taking the leap with Faith once again. Come join us.Click here to read more...
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Ubisoft recently loosed us on the latest production build of Splinter Cell: Blacklist for three hours, which we subsequently chronicled in our extensive Splinter Cell: Blacklist hands-on preview. However, we were also able to squeeze into the skintight bodysuits and hulking armour of the Spies vs Mercs multiplayer mode, set to make a welcome return in Sam's latest outing.
It's all in the name. Throughout a number of rounds, a team of stealthy operatives are tasked with hacking consoles in labyrinthine facilities; striking from the darkness and using vents or lofty ledges to advantage. In their way stands a force of mercenary gunslingers armed with body armour and military-grade weaponry, whose job is to make the spies' lives as miserable and short as humanly possible. The asymmetric gameplay remains broadly similar to its debut in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, but Blacklist makes a few interesting tweaks to the formula. Not limited to a wealth of new customisation options that let you engage on your terms.
From what I played, Spies vs Mercs is still as tense, tactical and panic attack-inducingly hectic as ever... if perhaps in need of a little spit and polish.Click here to read more...
Free To Play aren't dirty words any more. In sharp contrast to troublesome social gaming and throwaway apps, we've now got a wealth of fantastic games on multiple platforms, most of which boast sensational production values and gameplay that rivals the biggest AAA blockbusters out there.
Though the Steam sale is looming over our wallets like the sword of Newellcles, you can easily spend the entire summer playing any number of great games without paying a single penny. To that end, here's a list of some of the most outstanding F2P games out there, along with reasons why you can save some serious money over the coming months.
Honourable mentions: Marathon Trilogy (Aleph One), Smite, Wonderputt, Battlestar Galactica, Tyrian 2000, Blacklight Retribution, Tribes Ascend, Super Monday Night Combat, SWTOR, D&D Online, Reprisal, Fallen London, Neptune's Pride, all the iOS and Android stuff (more Mobot's territory, really)
Cryptic's new D&D-flavoured MMO may be rather linear and lacking in deep class builds, but its fun action-oriented combat and wealth of free content makes it a perfect summer fling. Better yet, Neverwinter is easy to digest and understand, meaning that genre newcomers can use it to test the waters and decide whether MMORPGs are right for them without having to pay up front or monthly.
We'll have a full review very soon.Click here to read more...
Hot damn, this year's had some fine titles already. It's a testament to the strength of the output over the last six months, that no two choices here are the same. Do stay tuned for our rundown of the top ten games of the year so far in our democratically-sourced list later in the week, but in the meantime, here are our personal shouts for the best games of the year thus far...
The first half of 2013 has seen any number of great games hit home consoles and the PC, but for my money, the best game of 2013 released on the Nintendo 3DS. Fire Emblem: Awakening may not have the clout of BioShock Infinite or The Last Of Us, yet it delivers perhaps the most exquisite gaming experience of many a long year.
The tactics and tough decisions are as solid as you'd expect from the venerable series, but Awakening upped the ante with a tragic yet uplifting storyline and a cast of truly unforgettable characters. Over the course of the massive campaign, you'll laugh along with your newfound friends, shed a tear when they die in combat, and punch the air with delight as they fall in love right there on the battlefield. Dynamically. Through gameplay. Eventually, their offspring joins your army, building an emotional attachment that makes permanent deaths all the more difficult to bear. Sure, the strategy was top-notch, but the glorious happy highs and stomach-churning emotional lows made Fire Emblem Awakening something truly special and unique.
I will be very surprised if it doesn't become my overall game of the year all told once December rolls around. Your move, 2013.Click here to read more...
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Sam's back and the stakes have never been higher. On the trail of a mysterious well-equipped terrorist cell known only as the Engineers, who plan to force the American government to withdraw troops from foriegn countries with heinous attacks across the globe, Fisher becomes the leader of his own mobile strike team. Bringing CIA agent Isaac Briggs, tech specialist Charlie Cole and longtime 'ally' Anna Grímsdóttir into the fold, his aptly-named Fourth Echelon is all that stands in the way of total anarchy, able to strike at any impending threat with impunity.
However, the stakes have also never been higher for Ubisoft Toronto. The newly-formed studio have promised us nothing less than the "biggest Splinter Cell ever," a game that thrives on providing variety and value alongside stealthy thrills and strategic depth. They've had to weather some horrible misleading trailers and controversy surrounding the departure of Michael Ironside, but having been loosed on the latest production build for just shy of three hours, I can report that Blacklist is probably on course to deliver on its promise.
Most games autocratically make the choice between stealth or action, non-lethal or murderous, singleplayer or multiplayer and night or day for you, but Blacklist attempts to tie everything together and put the decision in your hands. Are you a stealthy ghost, a predatory panther or an assault specialist? What mission do you want to take on, and in what order? How will you spend your war chest? Want to bring a friend? This time, gameplay is the fifth freedom. Blacklist is your game, played your way... most of the time.Click here to read more...
Holy Half Time, Batman! The PWNCAST is back! That's right, the original Dealspwn podcast returns for a special appearance as we take stock of the first half of 2013, reflecting upon some of the best games that we've witnessed over the past six months. Not only that, we take a look at the platform landscape and try to determine who's had the most successful year thus far, before attempting to come up with three highlights each for 2013 so far.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be a few instances of strong language.
Click the banner at the top to play the file, or right click and select 'Save Link As' to download the file onto your hard drive.
Firefall, the massively multiplayer class-based shooter from Red 5, entered open beta last week, so naturally we've quickly fired up our oversized jet boots and boosted into the action. The cel-shaded world full of dangerous critters and rampaging squads of nightmarish cyborgs is now available to explore and conquer, with anyone able to sign up for free and get involved. PvE and PvE are fully supported, featuring plenty to see and do (and kill) without having to spend a single penny.
Our resident MMO specialist Carl, will likely be taking a closer look at the juicy details following an in-depth exploration of the closed beta ... but as a relative newcomer to the franchise, I'm taking the opportunity to discuss my three main initial observations of Firefall from a new player's perspective.
Red 5's effort is definitely fun and engaging, but its reliance on an outrageously convoluted crafting system could well become a major sticking point.
A basic observation, but it needs to be made. Despite having many features in common with MMORPGs, Red 5 have consistently reminded us that Firefall is a fast-paced shooter first and foremost; an accessible team-based experience built around airborne combat and moment-to-moment cooperation. Forget tab targeting, because you'll primarily interact with Firefall's world via the barrel of a pleasingly oversized gun.Click here to read more...
Three cheers for democracy! We'll be revealing our ow, individual, personal shouts for the best games of the year thus far enext week, along with a few other roundtable pieces reflecting on 2013: Part One, but today we thought we'd put our heads together to come up with a fair and reasoned list to determine a top ten of sorts using an intricate voting system that ensured every nomination was counted and ranked fairly.
So here it is, the Dealspwn Top Ten Games of 2013 So Far. Everyone's top shout was different, and the top of the table was excruciatingly close. Anyway, enough babbling, check it out for yourselves, and let us know if we missed anything!
What we said: We've over-used the phrase "rough diamond" in years past, but now we have a new definition of the term. State Of Decay delivers one of the most authentic, compelling and enjoyable zombie experiences of recent years, and all for an eminently affordable budget price. Indeed, you'll completely forget that we're all supposed to be bored of zombies by now. Outstanding.
What we say: The Behemoth are back with a typically technically brilliant title. They've nailed the SHMUP and beat 'em up genres wwith Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, and BattleBlock Theater is a fantastic run at old-school platform. Brimming with personality, and tremendous fun whether in solo or co-op modes, Battleblock is fantastically bonkers and ludicrously enjoyable.Click here to read more...
The folks over at Carbine Studios have made no secret of their goal to make their upcoming MMORPG WildStar truly stand out from the rest of the genre. We’ve seen it with their artstyle, we’ve seen it with their approach to community, but this week they wanted to hammer home the fact that this also applies to their gameplay mechanics at a basic level. We had already seen how movement was an important part of achieving this, but today’s DevSpeak video, which focused on Aiming, ensured that we got the message – that the fighting in WildStar is truly dynamic and fluid when compared to its peers.
Ahead of the release of the latest DevSpeak video, I was able to chat with Lead Combat Designer Chris Lynch and Class Team Lead Hugh Shelton about how Aiming, otherwise known as "freeform targeting" by the team, is a core part of the WildStar experience, how it combines with movement and telegraphs and how the system was originally conceived and developed. After all, back when the game was first in the design stages, WildStar was yet another Tab-targetting MMO, but as Chris and Hugh explain, their belief and persistence in delivering something better changed the game for the better.
The origins of the Aiming system come from another mechanic – telegraphs. For those not in the know, these decals are placed on the ground to indicate where an ability will land once it is performed, providing the player with an easy way of identifying what is happening during combat. Here’s the thing though – originally, these telegraphs were just for enemy creature abilities. “It felt really, really good on the creatures but at the time we were still on a tab-target, single target MMO, and it didn’t really jive that well with how our telegraphs felt” said Lynch, explaining that after a few class designers and effect artists came up to him with the idea of taking this mechanic and putting it on player abilities, he gave them a weekend to come up with something. Come the following Monday, Lynch finally saw the fruits of their labour and instantly saw the potential.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Vivid Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Real Boxing became an overnight success on iOS and Android. Vivid Games' Unreal-powered punch 'em up was quickly showered in critical praise and user recommendations when it released last year, despite a few bugs, offering an immediately accessible and brutally fun take on boxing with deep character progression. Now, however, Sony has reached out to Vivid in order to get yet another cracking indie game onto the PlayStation Vita.
For starters, an expanded version of the mobile original version is included in its entirety, complete with its simple touchscreen controls, extensive career mode, character customisation, training and online options. Players create an avatar out of a wide selection of cosmetic features (I favour a ridiculous moustache myself) and gradually work their way up the ladder to fame and fortune, learn new skills and improve their avatar over time in a training gym. The Vita hardware allows for a wealth of increased detail and improved fidelity on the graphical side of things, already looking gorgeous on that luscious OLED screen thanks in part to extensive motion capture - a rarity in most handheld games. An entirely new arena, more fighters to battle against, a retooled economy and extra cosmetic features bulk out the content offering.
So far, so good, but Vivid's main focus has been squarely aimed at gameplay. Real Boxing turns into a completely different beast when you switch from the casual touchscreen mode to the brand new Vita controls. At the risk of going a pun too far, it punches up the boxing experience immeasurably, and becomes a totally different game.
Click here to read more...
Jon gave his verdict on XBLA Shooter Scourge Outbreak yesterday (which you should most certainly read) but if you are still curious as to how it plays, today's episode of Dealspwn Playthrough is just for you. Watch in slack-jawed amazement as Jon and Carl don the Ambrosia Armour of Echo Squad, dive about with reckless abandon, shoot bad guys in the face and hold A to sprint. For total reasons.
Go on - put the Third-Person-ness in your face by hitting the jump. We play it so you don't have to. No thanks necessary, citizen. It's our job.Click here to read more...