Review: Outward (PS4)

outward PS4 bxFor the record, I wanted to dislike Outward ($39.99) less than 15 minutes in after nearly dying during the tutorial thanks to an near-invincible enemy guard whose health never seemed to drop past a certain point and kept regenerating far too quickly to be reasonable. During my digital near-death experience, I ran away to recover, only to return and find he’d just *poof!* simply disappeared from the spot where he and the other guard I’d dispatched were placed. I recall my eyebrow arching up and letting out a “Great.” before resuming play with the hope things would go more upward before I got too far outward. Fortunately, they did (well, for the most part).

There were a few other issues with the game, such as items randomly vanishing from the bag I was carrying, my character or an enemy getting stuck in certain parts of the map when doing certain actions, and a few textures that could have used a bit more polish, among other things. I decided after a random death that had me unable to locate my bag when I resumed, to stop playing for a bit and move onto a few other games while I held out for a patches to correct these issues. That waiting turned out to be a good thing. Over the last few updates the game became much better and is now a solid recommend for those who want something fresh and furiously challenging. There are still a few pesky bits, but I’ll get to those later.

That said, prepare for a completely punishing game experience that combines fantasy RPG, survival game and simulation elements with a very welcome two player split screen mode and the option to play online with a friend or total stranger. In fact, preparation for every obstacle the game will throw your way is a huge part of surviving, to the point where you’ll be playing this with a keener eye to (at least) staying alive for as long as possible. Once you’re out in the open world of Aurai, your brain needs to go into invisible mommy mode before you get busy with that questing, so get ready to take *everything* under consideration. Do you have your traps prepared? Got enough clean water? What are you wearing for the weather? Did you pack your lunch? Clearly, this isn’t a game for those who don’t like to be reminded that rote carelessness other RPGs let you get away with won’t be rewarded by anything but an easier demise in this game.

Still, even after you get used to the preparation aspects, expect death to come calling regularly like early morning doorbell-ringing proselytizers cheerily chatting on about the end of the world the moment you poke your head outside. Oh wait – hold on a sec… someone’s at the door… What, so early in the day for this? Gyaaaaah.

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Outward: Out Now, Expect Toughness Ahead

Outward boxIf you think most modern RPG are either too easy or rely too much on guiding the player almost nearly everywhere, developer Nine Dots Studio and publisher Deep Silver have a game that will be right up your alley. OUTWARD places you in the shoes of a normal adventure-bound type who’s out to pay off a debt in a dangerous land where you’ll need to be wholly prepared for every single encounter.

This mixture of survival game, action RPG and adventure seems to be geared for co-op play either offline or with a friend online, but stubborn ol’ me will have at it solo at least until I locate a reliable friend who also has a copy of this so we can hop in and play together. I’m expecting the experience will make for a fun and hard as hell trip into the brave new world of Aurai (which looks quite lovely rendered in Unity), and if the trailer below is any indication, I also think the game will gather a pretty loyal fan base as word of mouth spreads.

We’re going to get in some play time with this one soon and report back a few impressions. When it comes to combat and general gameplay, I tend to be overly cautious when I play a new RPG as playing every one the same way tends to not work out at all. So I’ll try hard to not die (too much) as I learn the ropes. Back in bit with some wordier words on what’s looking like a completely challenging game.

-GW

 

OUTWARD: Here Comes The Harder Working Hero Type

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Nice hat you have there, friend. Er, just don’t go and lose your head in that coming battle.

While it’s not set for a release until March 26, 2019 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, developer Nine Dots Studio and publisher Deep Silver are getting the word out that OUTWARD is going to be quite a special RPG worth playing multiple times. As you’ll see from that trailer right below, the game aims to combine fantasy elements, survival simulation and what looks to be a fairly challenging game world full of many things that want your chosen character pushing up daisies at every opportunity.

 

 

Your character is going to be a standard non-hero type who needs to make their way through the game’s unforgiving sandbox world that continually auto-saves progress (meaning you can’t sneakily replay an old save file when you get waylaid by some big bad whatever). Here’s a very brief rundown on what to expect in the final product:

Key Features

Survive in the wilds as you explore a vast and harsh land
Play solo or cooperatively, split-screen locally or online
Ritualistic, step-by-step approach to spellcasting
Constant auto-saving means you must live with your decisions
Encounter dynamic defeat scenarios
A unique experience with every playthrough

The game will also ship with two-player split-screen or online modes so you can share the pain with a pal on the couch or at a distance. SO far, so good, I say. Of course, the proof will be in that tasty-looking pudding (or: the game does look really nice from what I’ve seen).

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Now that I think about it, March is kind of right around the corner, so getting the good word out now will be a huge key to this game’s success. My fingers are crossed for some hands-on time with this one, as if everything it attempts can be pulled off, genre fans will have a whole new obsession that’s got what could be endless replay value when all is said and done.

-GW

Metro Redux: Your “Shut Up And BUY IT” Game of the Week

For starters, calling either of the Metro games a mere “shooter” does both them and developer 4A Games a HUGE injustice. Metro Redux is one of those increasing rare birds, a solo-player focused game that doesn’t rely on crammed in multiplayer modes or a MP-only focus that leaves solo offline players high and dry and spending their money elsewhere for a great story with gameplay to match.  No, this isn’t some “dudebro” run ‘n gun adrenaline fest at ALL, but a bleak, cerebral, mostly methodically paced game where you need to keep a good eye on your ammo supply and whatever you can scrounge for in the demolished environments you’re trying to survive in. The setting is gloomy, but the game, looks absolutely spectacular on PC or console.

Granted, the games didn’t look “bad” on either the Xbox 360 (Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light) and PS3 (Metro: Last Light). But the increased power means the dev team greatly improved on the visuals and performance, making both games even more incredible experiences. Anyway, enough babbling from this end. Go out and grab this one and dive into that post-apocalyptic Soviet setting before it actually happens. Ha and ha? Hmmm… damn crazy real world we’re in is making these games less fun sometimes, grrrr…

Dead Island 2 “Sunshine & Slaughter” Trailer: Not For The Squeamish (Unless Gore Makes You Giddy)…

Hey, I did warn you up there in the title, right. Last chance to hold out for a less violent post in 3… 2… (oops):

I kind of slipped and fell in a pool of blood (not my own, thankfully), but didn’t crack my own skull open because I fell on top of a freshly decapitated zombie. Ewww. Um… anyone know how to get some rather stinky blood and brains out of a pair of jeans and a T-shirt? Well, the shirt IS black, so I guess I can get away with tossing it in the laundry pile. As for the jeans? Well, they USED to be jet black many years ago, but have faded to a comfortable black/grey blend. I guess a new dye job is in the works for them once I put them through the wash with that T, huh? Anyway, Dead Island 2 is going to be a “lock up the kids!” game for sure, so you can get a head start on that NOW by finding a nice closet space for the little ones (make sure to measure them and add a few inches, as they’ll most likely grow a bit before the game is released).

Oddly enough, now I’m a bit hungry and even more interesting is I’m having gnocchi with a nice red wine/meat sauce for dinner. What can I say? I made that sauce last night and had no idea I’d be reminded of it while watching a bunch of undead get mutilated in a game trailer. Two more hours ’til dinner… shut up, stomach with that growling!

Risen 3: Titan Lords Update: “Back to the Roots” Means A Very Strong Tree, I’d Say…

 

If this excellent video preview is any indication, fans of the first Gothic and Risen games will be pleased to see developer Piranha Bytes (and I love the way the announcer pronounces that in the video!) is taking Risen 3: Titan Lords back to the look and feel of those two games. This is another one of those games I’ve been dying to play because warts and all, I liked the Gothic games and Risen, warts and all. Granted, the pirate focus and the not so hot-looking PS3 version of Risen 2 was a bit disappointing to many fans. But it looks as if Deep Silver will have a nice little gem of a game when this ships out August 15, 2014 for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. I do hope this one’s in stock as a physical release, as I hate large games as download-only titles. Eh, I’ll poke my big head into a game shop around here and ask, as I don’t think Deep Silver will shoot over a review copy…

Sacred 3 Launch Trailer: Faster, Hackier and Slashier It Is. But Is That A Good Thing?

I really liked the first two Sacred games for their massive open worlds, lengthy main quests and plenty of side quests, so this more action-heavy and multiplayer focus Sacred 3 has is a bit jarring. Granted, developer keen games has made a nice-looking game here and it will be played for sure. I’m just hoping the game can be enjoyed as a decent RPG experience and isn’t just a kill/loot/rinse & repeat thing that some will despise and doom to the bargain bin before the year is out. That and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is on the way and will probably consign this game to a “play it later” fate for some DIII fans who only have time for ONE deep dungeon crawling experience. Anyway, this is out now in Europe and a few other spots – the North American version should hit retail and download channels on August 5th. I’ll give it a fair shake just to see how it stacks up to previous entries while also gauging it on its own merits. The game certainly looks as if it’ll be fun at the end of the day…

E3 2014: Risen 3: Titan Lords Trailer: One For The Fans Who Appreciate The ERPG…

 
Here in the west, I’s bet most gamers only know developer Piranha Bytes’ Risen series from the two console ports, which weren’t great because on the visual front, they distilled a game made for a decent 3D card down into a somewhat mushy-looking mess with some interesting gameplay elements and quests of decent length and challenge. As with other European-made RPG series such as Two Worlds and to some extent the Gothic games, Risen seems to sell well enough overseas on PC to garner more installments and I believe the console versions of these games do well in Europe as well. Here in North America where some are a LOT more picky about visuals and take some elements of their games too seriously, the combination of so-so looks, comedy bits that may seem out of place and perhaps simplified for game pad control schemes seem to turn some gamers off, leaving these titles to find a more niche audience.

Now, I’m a fan of the Risen games on console, warts and all, but I can see why some aren’t exactly jumping off their seats at this announcement trailer. On the good side, at least Deep Silver isn’t calling this CGI trailer a “gameplay” trailer at all. Now, I want to see how this looks in action on whatever it’s coming to so I can pick it up and play it whenever it’s released. Which, by the way will be August 12, 2014 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The pirate theme from Risen 2 is gone and the more familiar “medieval” fantasy look is back, so that’s a fine start. Not that I don’t like the whole pirate themed RPG thing, mind you…

E3 2014: Dead Island 2 Trailer: Summer Never Dies. But Your Character Might Not Make It…

DI_2_BIG 
While definitely a wee bit on the gory side, this trailer for Dead Island 2 is also quite hilarious and worth a view for the punchline at the end. The game is coming in spring 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC from publisher Deep Silver and one of my favorite developers, Yager (Spec Ops: The Line, Dreadnought). DI2 will be powered by Unreal Engine 4 and given Yager’s expertise in programming, I’m crossing my fingers for a visceral experience featuring highly destructible environments, plenty of mayhem and some grim laughs Dead Island is known for along with any new elements the team adds in. We’ll see what’s what as more info and movies pour out, of course. But I know Yager will give fans of this franchise a nice jolt or three when they finally wrap this one up with a bloody bow next year…

Homefront: The Revolution Trailer: Crytek Finishes The Fight (Maybe)…

Homefront_TR_logoWarts and all, I rather liked defunct publisher THQ’s Homefront for what it was. original (and also defunct) developer KAOS Studios cooked up an interesting alternate future where some very well-armed North Korea soldiers managed to overrun America and you played as one of a group of resistance fighters trying to drive them away. It was a LOT more serious than either Red Dawn movie, but the campaign was a wee bit on the brief side thanks in part to multiplayer modes I felt took too much away from the story.

Anyway, now that new publisher Deep Silver and seasoned developer Crytek are on the case, Homefront: The Revolution is coming in 2015 to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and I guess we’ll see how the gameplay reveal is at E3 this year, as this trailer looks okay but a bit generic in its storytelling. I do believe those may be in-engine visuals, as if there’s anything Crytek is well-known and respected for, it’s making some mighty amazing looking games using their proprietary tech.

I guess we’ll see how well this plays soon enough and whether it separates itself from other shooters in such a supremely packed market full of them. My fingers are crossed for the moment…