Today, Rockstar Games released a new trailer that shows a first look into the gameplay of the upcoming sequel to their critically acclaimed popular western saga, Red Dead Redemption 2.
Founded in 1986, FromSoftware has crafted some truly iconic experiences. From Armored Core to the Souls series, there is no denying the impact From has had on gaming and the art form of interactive media. Their unique style of storytelling amidst haunting locations has made them an undeniable tour-de-force in the current generation of consoles.
Far Cry has, in the past, been a series about chaos and mayhem in exotic lands—at least from a Western perspective. From the plains of Africa in Far Cry 2 to a remote tropical island in Far Cry 3, Ubisoft has built a formula for Far Cry based on these locations. However, for the fifth instalment, they are doing something new by taking the series to North America and tackling the real world concept of cults and the extreme factions of religion in the United States.
It’s only natural that when a successful consoles come out there is an abundance of peripherals and add-ons that come in tow. I mean, we’ve got a plethora of VR and Mixed Reality offerings from Sony and Microsoft.
It has been more than four years since the release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and it still continues to top the MMORPG charts for number of players, ranking above World of Warcraft, according to various reports. And those numbers keep growing. According to a report from Square Enix, as of August 2017, a month after the release of their second full expansion, Stormblood, including two new playable characters, the Red Mage and the Samurai, and access to a free trial of the game that would allow players to enjoy all content up to level 35, the community of players peaked at over 10 million worldwide.
But what keeps the community of this game growing?
Ever since it was first announced during the Xbox Press Conference at E3 2015, Cuphead has ranked high on everyone’s “games to watch” list. Who could blame them—a small studio that promised to create a game by hand-drawing every frame using techniques similar to that of cartoons from the 1930s?
Toys”R”Us, Inc. announced yesterday that it and several of its subsidiaries in the United States have voluntarily filed for assistance under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. In addition, its Canadian Subsidiary intends to seek similar protection under the Companies’ Creditors Agreement Act (CCAA).
According to a statement issued by Dave Brandon, Chairman and Cheif Exectuive Officer of Toys”R”Us, Inc., the company and its investors intend to work “with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt” that remains in their books.
Brandon continues to state that this action “will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business, continue to improve the customer experience in our physical stores and online, and strengthen our competitive position in an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing retail marketplace worldwide. We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us brands live on for many generations.”
During these proceedings, the physical Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us stores will remain open and operational. Purchases will also continue through their online stores at www.toysrus.com and www.babiesrus.com. Toys”R”Us, Inc. intends to honour their company loyalty programs, including its Rewards”R”Us, Geoffrey’s Birthday List, and Babies”R”Us Registry throughout the proceedings. Toys”
According to Bandon:
“As the holiday season ramps up, our physical and web stores are open for business, and our team members around the world look forward to continuing to put huge smiles on children’s faces. We thank our vendors for their ongoing support through this important season and beyond. We also appreciate the strong support our investors have provided over time and the constructive role they are playing in this process that will allow us to create a brighter future for our company. And as importantly, we thank our team members in advance for their hard work and dedication to serving the millions of customers who will shop with us this holiday.”
In order to facilitate continued operations, Toys”R”Us, Inc. has filed motions with the bankruptcy court that will allow the comany, under the supervsion of the courts, to have the authroity to continue to pay vendors and suppliers, employee wadges and benefits, and honour customer programs as usual. As well, various lenders, including a JPMorgan-led bank syndicate have pledged a commitment of an over $3.0 Billion loan in the form of Debtor-in-Possession Financing to Toys”R”Us, Inc.
Customers requiring addition information, may visit the Toy”R”Us, Inc. restructuring website at www.toysrusinc.com/restructuring, or call the Company’s toll-free Information Hotline at (844) 794-3476.
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Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Lisa Mior’s interview with President and CEO of GungHo, Kazuki Morishita, and her preview of Ace Combat 7 for PSVR!
Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!
Earlier today, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission blocked access for Malaysian players to steampowered.com, due to allegations that “the website violates the National law(s).”
Like every little girl that grew up in the eighties, I wanted to be a Top Gun fighter pilot, and I probably would have been, if not for my crippling fear of heights and my inability to operate a moving vehicle. Since that was never in the cards for me, I found myself gravitating to games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat, and Ace Combat. Although none of these actually filled the void, I thought they did the trick well enough. Or at least I did until I got my hands on Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown for PSVR.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown puts its players in the pilot’s seat of one of a selection of aircraft, including the F-14D Super Tomcat, F-15C Eagle, F-22A Raptor, MiG-29A Fulcrum, A-10A Thunderbolt II, and Su-35 Flanker-E. Players take to the skies to engage in some intense dog-fighting action in the Stragereal universe familiar to fans of the franchise. The Osean Federation has built its space elevator in the Kingdom of Erusea. The story follows a brave pilot of Erusea named Trigger as he and the kingdom of Erusea try to repel this obvious violation of its sovereignty.
After 20 years of developing this franchise, the development team at Project and Bandai Namco have refined the pillars of combat and story that made Ace Combat the series it has become. And as expected, the latest console technology has yielded highly detailed environments, authentic aircraft, and now, weather elements that drastically affect gameplay.
In a short presentation by Bandai Namco at Gamescom 2017, I saw gameplay that showcased rain, icing, and cloud effects. During rain and stormy weather, players will experience intense turbulence and reduced visibility. As players enter higher altitudes with sub-zero temperatures after passing through a rainstorm, ice will begin to form on the wings, drastically changing their aerodynamics, making the controls sluggish and causing your performance – and your plane – to drop. Although the particular build I played didn’t exhibit ice or storm scenarios, I couldn’t imagine a more terrifying VR experience than suddenly losing control of your tens of thousands of feet up and suddenly plummeting to your death.
What I did get to check out were the cloud effects offered in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. As my pilot (and through him, me) boarded our aircraft and waited for our turn in the queue to take off from the aircraft carrier, I was able to get a full view of the landscape surrounding me: a stunning ocean, with misty islands off in the distance under the cover of a late afternoon sky smattered with fluffy pockets of clouds. As I took off, it didn’t take me long to pick up some enemies on my radar. I started my pursuit and, as is typical with my not-so-stealthy combat style, quickly had the tables turned on me, forcing me to beat a hasty retreat. I took my fighter up into the clouds in the hopes that I would be a little less sitting duck and a little more sky-fighter ninja-like. Hanging there in the centre of the cloud, my windows were absolutely useless – I couldn’t see a thing around me. But then again, neither could my enemy. I took that opportunity to gain altitude and become death from above, laying waste to my prey-turned-predator. It was a very satisfying experience, I must say. I can see a lot of potential for developing an attack strategy that uses the cloud effects, though that would mean some dangers to look out for as well, such as flying through a storm cloud or through low lying clouds that shroud dangerous ground hazards.
Now when you tackle the issue of playing a game in VR, there are a number of things you have to consider: is the gameplay a nauseous ride of gastrointestinal turmoil that will leave you heaving for the next 48 hours? How immersive is the world? Will your field of vision sometimes become so overwhelmed by the environment and the interface that you lose track of the goals you need to achieve? From the relatively short amount of time I spent with this latest Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown build, I can say that as long as your helmet is synched up correctly, your gameplay experience is very comfortable. But the key phrase here is “synched up correctly”. For my first couple of takeoffs, I was a little outside of the mapped regions. Even so, It was still easy to follow the enemy and lock on to them. I was still able to get a full 360-degree view of the game as well, including my pilot-VR-body (although at one point I was a little too far forward and found myself sitting on the headless pilot’s lap, which was an uncomfortable experience for a number of reasons). As for the VR stomach-churning factor, I personally didn’t find any problems with it, as the cockpit itself was stable enough that the movement around me felt as natural as looking through the window of a moving vehicle. That being said, it might be a completely different experience for someone who typically has trouble with that kind of motion while playing anything in VR.
I think the fact that Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is coming to PSVR holds a lot of potential to grow the audience of the franchise. Although it will be available sans-VR on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam, the fact that this particular experience on PSVR is so immersive and easy to play, with responsive controls and auto-lock aiming, means that newcomers who might not be all that interested in a flight simulator can, at the very least, get behind the fact that they can be Maverick for a little while. We’ll have to wait to wait until 2018 to see if the final product lives up to its potential.
Update: Edited for realistic flying height, grounded in reality.
GungHo Online Entertainment has made a mark for themselves worldwide for well over a decade. As publishers of games that have permeated the online game market and have long standing communities of players, they know a thing or two about what it takes to keep a game going. Their latest free-to-play game, Let it Die, which was released last December, currently has over one million players, hacking and slashing their way through the game’s colossal tower, fending off death by enemies, and other players at every turn, under the familial supervision of the literal personification of Death (he wears 3D-movie glasses and rides a skateboard). To say this game is hard is an understatement. And as a free-to-play title, there is the ominous m-word (that’s right – *whispers* microtransactions), looming over its audience. Despite all of this, the audience continues to grow and returning players keep coming back for more other-worldly punishment.
As much as this can be attributed to the years of experience GungHo has had in the free-to-play and online market, even more of it comes from the fact that the company likes to publish and develop games that are fun and well maintained for both returning players and newcomers alike. Recently CGMagazine had the opportunity to speak with President and CEO of GungHo, Kazuki Morishita, about that philosophy, the future of Let it Die, and GungHo Online Entertainment.
CGMagazine: Since its release last December, Let it Die has seen a lot of success and has built an enthusiastic community of players. What impact has the players’ response and feedback had on the development of the game?
Kazuki Morishita: For the most part, the response has been quite very positive in regards to the game. We have and continue to get a lot of feedback from our users especially the very passionate users, and we’ve been collecting that and taking a look at it and we do our part to [improve] what we do. Especially when it comes to game balancing and fixes that they request. We’ve taken a look at a lot of them and prioritize them. We have implemented a lot of fixes and balancing based off of their opinions and feedback and we feel that we’ve got a pretty good system of communication with our users.
CGMagazine: So I guess it’s that user feedback that’s really driving a lot of all the updates that come out and events and things that are happening.
Kazuki Morishita: It’s not so much the new content as we do have a roadmap of what we are planning to do. It doesn’t have that as much. But it might affect how we plan to go forward with the content we’ve been planning. So that is definitely one thing that is there. We are always taking a look at what people are saying moving forward.
CGMagazine: So what should new users and current users expect in the future for Let it Die?
Kazuki Morishita: In regards to those who haven’t played [Let it Die], what they can look forward to is a low barrier to entry. It’s free-to-play, so come on in! And if you’re a gamer then we really would like you to come and try and see what we have in store for you. If you come in without being really prepared you’ll be in for something. By something, I mean a lot of pain.
And for our current users who have been playing the game. We’ve been providing new content for them with constant updates on a regular basis since launch. We are continually going to be adding new content for them to enjoy. We have a huge update coming at the end of the month which is going to prove to be quite a challenge. So for those users that have been playing, and have been adamant at collecting everything that they can and getting their gear up to speed with strength, they can find that there’s a lot of great stuff waiting for them based off the game.
So [current players] continue to have things to do and enjoy with new challenges to challenge themselves, along with the new players who haven’t played yet. We feel that we have a really good and healthy cycle prepared for new users as well as our veteran users, our loyal users that are continuing to play to this day. While the ultimate enemy, the biggest challenge that players will face will be other players.
So new users [will find that the current uses] are going to prove to be some, if not the most difficult obstacles. They’ll have to overcome, or somehow evade them. And just because there’s an enemy in front of you doesn’t mean you have to beat them. There’s a strategy to this game, and one of the strategies is to run to fight another day.
But if you have been done through by someone, then we hope that you build up your stats a bit and get him back. This is a fun system that we have in the in the game. You know where it’s possible to do what we call “giant killing”.
CGMagazine: So with that system, you can still be a casual player and be able to like at least develop your skills enough to be able to get further along in the game, and get that revenge that you’re talking about.
Kazuki Morishita: Very much so. If you’re focusing on building and crafting, most definitely. Although, I don’t know if casual users are going to come to us just because it’s free-to-play as much. I mean it is free-to-play, the barrier to entry is low but just because it’s free-to-play doesn’t mean it’s a casual game.
Kazuki Morishita: This game was made for gamers so the users that are sticking with us are pretty hardcore, they really get into it; get into the deep, down, and dirty parts of Let it Die.
CGMagazine: So the new content that’s coming available, can they expect new levels, new areas, and different equipment, things like that?
Kazuki Morishita: All of those. So yeah, and more floors to the tower will be added for the first time since launch.
CGMagazine: Oh great!
Kazuki Morishita: We are bringing new enemies with new weapons, new equipment, and new armour. But every month we’ve been adding new sets of armour and weapons.
CGMagazine: Yes. So I guess maintaining the property and catering to your users is a really high priority for GungHo.
Kazuki Morishita: Remember, we said it is a top priority to take care of our current users. But we are also always looking to get new users. So you know we have our booth in the front there [at E3] and we launched some T.V. commercials in North America. It’s always great to get the word out; to get the image out. That’s how we’re trying to bring in new players. We’ve seen in the last six months that we had our hardcore users and our current users and new players coming in constantly. And we’ve been careful to maintain the balance of the game. New players who are starting off new can participate with the higher level players because of a number of things we’ve prepared for them. And there is still a healthy system for both current and new players to enjoy the game. And beat the crap out of each other.
CGMagazine: (Laughs) You really want them to beat the crap out of each other!
Kazuki Morishita: (Laughs) Yes.
CGMagazine: So in addition to Let it Die, GungHo has started to bring a lot of properties to North America. How has that experience been?
Kazuki Morishita: So we’ve been picking our way to the North American market. Of course, there is a lot of potential. We’ve been trying to see how we can approach this potential. And the number of users that have to begin to recognize the GungHo name continues to grow.
It still may be a little small, but it’s growing for sure. With what we have brought over, we’re expecting to grow even further. Of course, we want to expand on a global scale. We would like to start making most of our initiatives to be global centric. At least, a “global first” development style, I can say, in comparison to “Japan first”.
CGMagazine: How do you how do you plan to demonstrate that “global first” tenant within your games to attract those users?
Kazuki Morishita: In regards to core game concepts and core game design, we feel that the basic, most forward part of the game is gameplay. These elements are quite universal. Pick any country, go anywhere and it is going to be the same. What it ultimately comes down to is the world setting, the characters, and the design. Through that aspect, we would like to see people start focusing more on our styles, so we can be more appealing to a universal global audience.
Moving forward we would like to start releasing games globally, worldwide at the same time, instead of Japan first and then the west. Even if we are not able to do so entirely global, we are probably going to focus on the western market for the first release and then, if necessary, release Japan later.
CGMagazine: Now most games that GungHo has released in North America are free-to-play. The attitude that North America has towards free-to-play is very different than that of other parts of the world. As GungHo continues to bring more IPs to North America, have there been any challenges or lessons that you have learned about free-to-play games geared towards a North American audience?
Kazuki Morishita: We’ve demonstrated, a lot of the time, to not make a game that is “pay-to-win”. We know that “pay-to-win”, at least in the North American market, is quite frowned upon. But to be honest I really don’t like it either. With Puzzle & Dragons, there are of course many points [where players can make in game purchases]. But for the most part, we’ve made it so that it’s not “pay-to-win” in order for the game to really come together work well. That’s important for achievement anyway. It has to be skill based.
Kazuki Morishita: That’s very important, so of course, it’s a good way to get a good balance of not only luck but also user skill. There’s always going to be elements of both, but we really want to try and get a really good balance. If we were to say the balance between skill and luck, it would probably be 70% skill and 30% luck. So I guess, rather than something that we’ve learned, it’s something that we’ve been aware of and have made sure that we are aware of in process of developing. In regards to Let it Die, we haven’t been told that it plays as if it’s “pay-to-win”, which means the direction we’re going was indeed the right one.
CGMagazine: So what new games can North American audiences expect from GungHo in the future?
Kazuki Morishita: So we’re currently trying to grow our current IPs and have them also blossom into other things. At the same time , hile we’re doing that, we’re creating new IPs as well. So it’s definitely something to look forward to.
The interview was edited for grammar and accuracy.
CGMagazine is giving away more movies, this time Kong: Skull Island!