monster hunter: world

Monster Hunter: World Tips and Guide for New Players

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Monster Hunter: World may be the most accessible game in the series (read our review) but it’s still a tricky game to jump into, particularly if you’re completely new to the Monster Hunter series. We’ve compiled some helpful tips and explained some important mechanics to help start novice hunters on the right path to hunting and slaying.

No Level, All Gear

In Monster Hunter: World your progression is tied directly to your gear, as well as a single Hunter Rank number. This number could be considered your level, just without all the normal RPG benefits of stat increases and abilities. Your HR determines how difficult of a mission you can accept, as well as unlocking new areas, quests, and facilities in Astera. Every quest has an HR requirement, and you can never join one that’s above your HR. Keep that in mind when playing multiplayer.

Playing through Assigned Quests, or main story missions, will naturally raise your HR level.

Since your power comes directly from your gear, forging new weapons and armor is not only paramount to your success, it’s the primary method of essentially leveling up. See below for more tips on weapons and armor, but in general you should be stopping by the Workshop frequently and gathering what you need to forge the best equipment available to you.

monster hunter: world

The Easiest Starter Weapons

You begin with the basic iron version of all 14 weapon types, which is both very handy and incredibly overwhelming. Stick with the Sword and Shield at first for a solid baseline into standard melee combat, including both blocking and dodging.

From there you can experiment with the Great Sword and Hammer for slower but weightier attacks, the Dual Blades if you want to zip around quickly, or the Bow if you want to attack from range. There’s no wrong answer and much of your personal enjoyment will come from finding that right weapon set that works for you.

The weapons I would gently discourage completely new players away from initially are the very slow Lance and Gunlance, the Bowguns for micromanaging tons of different ammo, the Hunting Horn for its musical mini-game, and the Insect Glaive for adding a whole new dimension of buffs, kinsect customization, and aerial attacks.

Before heading out to the field with a new weapon, go to your room on the first floor and speak to your housecat Palico to transport to the Training Area. Here you can easily switch your equipment to test out new weapons. Basic combos will also be helpfully displayed right on the screen, similar to the training modes of fighting games. Experiment and discover what you enjoy.

Gather Your Party

Monster Hunter: World automatically populates online sessions, but you’ll need to select Join Quest from a quest board (or your handler) to actually join a multiplayer hunt – or Post a Quest and hope someone joins.

SOS flares are a useful way to find a greater search of online matches, provided the person in the hunt has fired a flare seeking help. You can do the same thing during any quest or Expedition after the first Great Jagras hunt in the main story.

monster hunter: world

If you’re wanting to play consistently with friends, the best method is to set up a Squad. Squads are Monster Hunter’s version of guilds. Create a Squad, then use the Invite a Friend option from the Start menu to invite them into your session, then invite them to your squad. From then on whenever you play in Squad Sessions, you’ll be playing a private server with your friends, and can easily join each other’s quests.

Expeditions, Investigations, and You

There are several different kinds of quests and missions in Monster Hunter: World. Most involve hunting a specific monster or group of monsters within set parameters, such as a limited number of faints and a varying time limit.

There are four options when you go to the quest board, and a fifth option for free roaming. We’ve explained them below.

Assigned Quests: These are the main story missions. You’ll need to complete them to progress your Hunter Rank. Since they feature cutscenes they are a hassle to play in multiplayer, since no one can join a mission if one player still has cutscenes to watch. A reminder should pop up once you can use an SOS flare, which is a sign that others can join.

Optional Quests: These are organized by Hunter Rank (represented by stars). You’ll unlock more as you complete the Assigned Quests. Optional Quests include standard hunts and captures, as well as gathering missions that can unlock new Canteen ingredients. You can also unlock Optional Quests by talking to people with the familiar yellow exclamation (!) above their heads in Astera.

Investigations: You can register Investigations at the Resource Center. Investigations are unlocked by battling, hunting, and tracking monsters. They’re designed to repeat multiple times and provide bonus rewards in addition to whatever you carve and find during the hunt. They’re also perfect for multiplayer outings, and soon you’ll be drowning in dozens of options. Pay close attention to the parameters; some allow only a single faint or a breezy 15 minute window, though increased challenges come with better rewards.

Events: Event Quests are unique quests provided by Capcom for a limited time. They often involve battling monsters within the arena, and can come with their own unique rewards.

Expeditions: Expeditions isn’t an option in the quest board. Instead you simply open up your map while in town, go to the World Map view, and select an area to explore. This lets you hunt in a zone without any set goals or time limits. It’s useful for gathering materials without worrying about the clock, though you can certainly hunt monsters as well. There’s also a few NPCs scattered around the zones you can talk to who offer special Bounties to complete. Remember to turn them in at the Resource Center.

Bounty Hunter

With the Resource Center (Tradeyard, near the entrance) you can Manage Investigations (see above) and Register Bounties. Bounties are like errands that you’re always working toward, no matter if you’re on a main quest or free roaming in an Expedition. You can register up to six bounties at any time, and they range from completing quests to hunting certain monsters to gathering certain types of materials.

Remember to check the Resource Center between quests for rewards and always have the max number of bounties registered. Bounties are a great way to earn Armor Spheres for upgrading your armor (see below).

Wear the Best Gear

You’ll be unlocking new armor sets at a rapid clip in the early game, as each new monster adds new armor pieces. The most important stat to look for is just boring old defense. You won’t need to worry about Elemental Resistances until a bit later in the game, when monsters start spewing poison or breathing fire.

monster hunter: world

Every piece of armor can be upgraded using Armor Spheres. These items are given as rewards for completing Investigations and Bounties. Go to the Workshop and Select Upgrade, and use the Armor Spheres to boost the defense stat of your various armor pieces. Each piece can only be boosted a set number of times, providing a natural ceiling for the set. This is motivation to keep crafting better armor!

Keep Your Blade Sharp

Eleven of the 14 weapons are melee weapons, and they need to be periodically sharpened. Weapon sharpness is represented by a small bar below your stamina in the upper left corner. As you strike a foe your weapon dulls, and the bar drops from green to yellow to red. You’ll do less damage and begin to see your weapon bounce off the monster’s hide with an insulting CLANG.

You need to use your Whetstone item (which is always equipped, like the fishing rod) and spend a few seconds sharpening. Since this leaves you completely vulnerable, it’s best to do it when the monster is retreating to a new area, or when it’s tied up with your Palico or other hunters.

Note that weapons are not created equal when it comes to their sharpness gauge. Typically Metal weapons will stay sharp longer (more green bar) than Bone weapons.

Affinity = Crit Chance

There’s a lot of things that aren’t well explained in Monster Hunter: World, and Affinity is one of them. You’ll find Affinity as a percentage stat on every weapon. It’s your chance to critically hit, doing increased damage. If it’s negative it means there’s a chance you could do reduced damage. A 20% positive Affinity means one in five hits should do increased damage.

Don’t neglect the Affinity percentage, and make sure to factor it when comparing weapons. Faster weapons, like the Dual Blades, greatly benefit from a high Affinity rating as you’ll be landing that boosted damage more often. Slower weapons like Hammers may prefer higher raw damage coupled with a negative Affinity, finding the trade-off more than acceptable.

Research Points

Research Points are earned when gathering materials, examining monster tracks, breaking body parts, and slaying and capturing monsters. Basically everything you do in the wild nets research points. They’re added to a currency-like pool you can use to forge Palico equipment as well as purchase meals at the Canteen.

Each monster also has its own Research Level, which you can view at the Ecological Research (the giant stack of books at the Tradeyard entrance, near the Resource Center). You have to actually visit the Ecological Research to apply any earned points, so make stopping there part of your routine in town. The points will unlock new information about monsters in your Hunter’s Notes (see below) as well as make tracking them via Scoutflies much easier. At level 3 the monster will show up on your minimap when you’re tracking it!

monster hunter: world

Know Thy Enemy

A good hunter gathers as much information about their prey as they can. On the pause menu you can access your Hunter’s Notes and look up detailed information of all the monsters you’ve encountered.

You’ll unlock additional information the more you hunt a monster, including its specific weak points (usually the head and tail) as well as any elemental and status weaknesses and resistances. If you’re hunting a specific monster it can be useful (and eventually, critical) to bring along the right weapon, though you needn’t really worry about it too much in the beginning. The most important information is knowing which body parts of the monster to target for extra damage.

Never Hunt on an Empty Stomach

Eating meals is usually not an important part of an action game, but it’s incredibly helpful in Monster Hunter: World.

In your home base of Astera you’ll find the Canteen on the third floor, manned (catted?) by a team of Palico cooks. You can pay either with money or research points, and you should have plenty of both.

Meals can boost your health, stamina, and provide useful buffs. It’s even more critical to eat when playing solo or with one other hunter, as your Palico receives several buffs as well (which in turn have a chance of buffing you).

monster hunter: world

Certain Optional Quests can unlock new ingredients at the Canteen, which you can use to customize your meals to create the perfect combination of stat boosts and buffs.

The effects of a meal last until you complete a quest, or until you faint. You can always eat a meal at campsites out in the world as well, just head over to the little oven near the tent.

Obey Your Thirst

Potions and Mega-Potions will be your primary means of health recovery. Gather Herbs and Honey and keep well-stocked at all times. Eventually you’ll unlock the Palico Vigorwasp Spray for a quick heal, and the Health Booster item for healing over time.

Later you can craft Mega-Nutrients to add to your max health, Energy Drinks to boost your stamina (and stave off Sleep effects), and Armorskin to boost your defense. Check the ingredients you need by opening your Crafting Menu from the Start Menu and when checking your Item Box next to the quest boards in Astera, or at any campsite. You can set items to auto-craft whenever you have the ingredients.

Note that like the meals, any potion effects you have will disappear if you faint.

Dino-Rider

It’s easiest with the aerial-fighting Insect Glaive but every hunter can attempt to land on the back of a monster to mount it. Use the terrain and items like the Glider Mantle to land on a monster’s back.

If you manage to mount a monster you will enter into a quick-time mini-game as you repeatedly slash at it with your carving knife while it attempts to throw you off. If you stay on you’ll eventually pull out your weapon and deal a massive blow. It’s a challenging, but rewarding maneuver to master in any battle.

 

dauntless

PAX South Preview: Dauntless is Part Destiny, Part Monster Hunter

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Dauntless either has terrible timing or brilliant timing. Indie developer Phoenix Labs had one of the largest booth at PAX South to show off their free-to-play monster hunting game. The booth lie in the shadow of the even larger Capcom booth, whose gigantic Rathalos statue beckoned people to play one of the biggest releases of the year: Monster Hunter: World. Dauntless offers a much more streamlined – and more importantly free alternative to the niche hunting genre.

“We’re big fans of the hunting genre,” said Reid Buckmaster, combat designer for Dauntless. “We wanted to bring together elements of games we all enjoyed to build the ultimate co-op game that we at the studio always wanted to play. We’re using elements from Monster Hunter, but also gameplay loops from Destiny.”

After several crashes on the demo PC I finally loaded up into a mission with a group of three other hunters, called slayers. Four weapon loadouts were available, and I chose the war pike.

Dauntless uses an easy to understand combo system with two attack buttons, as well as a special attack that varies depending on the weapon. My war pike could focus a laser beam, while the dual blades could either be hurled to close the distance, or used to vault away from a monster to avoid danger.

Combos are quickly accessible from the pause menu, teaching me basic strategies for getting the most out of my weapon – button mashing only gets you so far.

“We want to push players to switch between the weapon types,” said Buckmaster. “Players should want to feel like they have a main weapon, but be able to quickly switch out depending on their party composition or the encounter.” There are five weapons currently available: sword, hammer, axe, dual blades, and the war pike. A sixth weapon is being planned for open beta.

The four of us landed on a floating island to begin our hunt. The islands are relatively small zones and contain a number of gatherable resources and plants, which can then be used to craft potions and items back in the hub town of Ramsgate.

As in Monster Hunter we were given a time limit to hunt the monster. “We’re shooting for an average hunt time of about 15 minutes,” said Buckmaster. “If you have the right gear and really know your way around, you could finish one as quickly as five minutes.”

We stuck together and soon found our prey: Skarn. Skarn was a large four-legged dinosaur monster equipped with giant plates of rocky armor. It could knock the armor off and use it as a weapon, or slam the ground and cause rocky spires to jut out and impale us. The four of us surrounded it and began hacking it up, getting knocked around in the process. A big part of the strategy is learning to read a behemoth’s attack patterns and weaknesses, and a live demo on the show floor isn’t the ideal way to tackle it.

dauntless

Skarn retreated to a different area, giving us some breathing room to apply healing before chasing after it. There were some glowing blue outcroppings on the ground we could activate for an additional healing font. We also came equipped with several healing potions. If someone went down we could revive them, provided someone else distracted the monster away.

Sadly the behemoth ended us before we could take it down, though we gave it a valiant effort. Monsters scale with the number of players, and Skarn represented a Tier 2 behemoth. Normally it would not be the first monster you face.

Skarn is one of 18 behemoths currently available in the closed beta, spread out over five different difficulty tiers. The starter monsters at Tier 1 are easier versions of other behemoths, while a few later behemoths repeat the base monster designs but with different coloring and attack patterns.

Fighting behemoths is more than just trying to kill them. Targeting specific body parts and destroying them will nullify some of the monster’s attacks, as well as rewarding you with that body part. Body parts are used to craft more powerful weapons and armor, which in turn allow you to hunt more dangerous prey.

Dauntless is currently in closed beta, with an open beta arriving this summer on PC. Since it’s going to be free to play, Phoenix Labs admits that the open beta will essentially be a soft launch. “For open beta we’ll have the outline of our campaign,” said Buckmaster. “The goal is to have a full story campaign with voice acting and cutscenes. It’s not unlike Destiny where the 10-15 hour campaign shows you the ropes and gets you into the universe. Beyond that you’re grinding out for better stuff and going for the top accolades.”

dauntless

Phoenix Labs promises the game will remain free to play, with no pay-to-win elements. “We are very firmly against pay-to-win type mechanics,” said Buckmaster. “You won’t be able to purchase anything that will affect your gameplay. The only things available to purchase will be cosmetics, like designs for flares and armor.”

Dauntless is planned for a PC launch initially, but Phoenix Labs are eyeing console releases for the future, though no consoles have yet been announced.

Can Dauntless survive now that many hunting fans are knee deep into the recently released behemoth of the genre, Monster Hunter: World? “The hunting genre has been pretty niche and sometimes difficult to get new players into,” said Buckmaster. “That’s something we wanted to do focus on with Dauntless – having a really inviting game that has depth, but easy enough to jump into and start hitting buttons.”

Lightseekers trading card game

PAX South Preview: Lightseekers Trading Card Game

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The future of the toys to life genre may look bleak, but PlayFusion has a few cards up their sleeves to remain optimistic. Their Lightseekers cross-media brand had a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, and began releasing last year. But it’s the collectible trading card game I checked out at PAX South 2018.

The Lightseekers Trading Card Game is no mere tie-in or side project, this is a fun, full-fledged card game with unique mechanics and 386 cards, each of which becomes an augmented reality card when scanned into the Lightseekers mobile game.

“Lightseekers is a really fun game that’s easy to learn and difficult to master,” said Willie Wilkov, Chief Marketing Officer for PlayFusion. Wilkov was kind enough to run through a full demo of the game for me at PAX, surrounded by an ongoing Lightseekers cash-prize tournament and numerous play stations.

The card game, like the digital game, revolves around heroes – the Lightseekers. Every deck must contain a single hero, which is set in front of each player. This hero provides the player’s health bar, a unique Hearthstone-like ability, and determines which type of cards you can play. I played with the Mountain Starter Deck and the hero Dolo the Mighty. Each hero has access to three elements, which in total make up each of the six Orders. Mountain has Fire, Earth, and Crystal.

Each deck is made up of five combo cards and 30 action, buff, or item cards. Combo cards are more powerful, but require a certain combination of elements in your hand. For example, to play my Stream of Tantos combo, I’d need to also have Fire, Earth, and Crystal cards in my hand. I spend those cards by shuffling them back into my deck and play the combo.

Action cards simply do their action, and can be played up to twice a turn depending on the hero’s preferred element. This is in stark contrast to many CCG’s which often involve summoning creatures to battle one another. In Lightseekers it’s the heroes themselves doing the battling, and each player is playing cards to do instant damage, heal, or defend against incoming damage.

The bulk of the strategy seems to be about timing. The main way to draw cards is to not play cards, so there are odd times of both players passing back and forth as they build up their hands, hoping to unleash a powerful combo while setting up defenses.

Healing and damage mitigation were quite prevalent in both my Mountain deck and Wilkov’s Nature deck, causing our health to fluctuate back and forth during the relatively quick match. Not having to worry about multiple creatures on the board with individual health bars help streamline the entire experience and made Lightseekers feel unique.

The other unique factor were the nifty rotating buff cards. “There’s a rotating buff mechanic where the cards at the start of your turn rotate 90 degrees, changing the value of the cards,” said Wilkov. “A lot of players really like that and it’s where a large part of the strategy comes into play.” Buffs are cards are placed in front of you with ongoing effects. Most have numbers in their corners, and they’re designed to rotate at the beginning of each of your turns, possibly changing how effective the card is, or setting up some cool traps.

I played a Prism Cannon, which rotated on my next several turns. It did damage according to the number at its current rotation, but this was a patient trap. The first three numbers were ‘X’, doing nothing, but at the fourth rotation it would blast my opponent for eight damage, provided they didn’t find a way to get rid of it first.

The rotating buffs mesh well with the idea of planning for big turns. At that same time my Prism Cannon went off, I had a second buff, the Colossi Ritual Site, rotate from its ‘X’ position to ‘3’, increasing all damage I dealt by that amount. It boosted my Prism Cannon’s damage from 8 to 11, perfect timing!

Every card is also imprinted with a unique digital code, represented by dots on the border. “You can scan and use these cards in the action-adventure roleplaying game,” said Wilkov. “Each card grants rewards and abilities in the game. It’s a blend of the physical and the digital.” The Lightseekers mobile game (iOS, Android, Amazon) is a rudimentary free-to-play action-RPG. Most cards activate temporary buffs, abilities, or allies, while combo cards unlock permanent new skills for your heroes.

Lightseekers looks like it’s designed for standard one-on-one battles, but it actually scales for multiple people. “We’ve played in the office with up to seven players,” said Wilkov. The multiplayer rules (and the cards themselves) specifically make separate reference to targets and enemies, and uses a system of gaining victory points for eliminating your personal targets.

Each of the six orders are available as a starter deck, containing one hero, 5 combo cards, 30 action cards, and a booster pack, as well as a tuckbox for storing cards. Each booster pack includes nine cards, and always contains one hero card, one rare, and two uncommons.

I was given the Intro Pack, which contained starter versions of the Storm and Tech Orders, two fold-out paper battle mats, and a booster pack. The battle mats are a nice way to keep things organized, even though Lightseekers is already very light on card clutter given only the buffs and items remain on the board.

I have played a lot of collectible card games, and many that were aimed at a younger crowd. It’s not hard to see the instant appeal of Lightseekers. The artwork is solid, the rules straightforward, and rotating cards to access different variations is a neat system. You can build entire deck strategies around combo cards, though pulling too many from booster packs can be annoying since you can only ever include five in your deck.

I can see Lightseekers filling a nice mid-tier void somewhere between Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering. I hope it can succeed among the always competitive marketplace of collectible card games.

pax south 2018

The 20 Most Exciting Indie Games from PAX South 2018

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | One Comment

As one of the smaller Penny Arcade Expos, PAX South remains a great destination for indie designers and publishers. This year Capcom dominated the showfloor with Monster Hunter: World, but bigger indie publishers like 1C, TinyBuild, Annapurna, Devolver Digital, and Crytivo also drew large crowds. Microsoft’s Mixer booth proved a popular destination, with the Hunger Games-like Battle Royale Darwin Project letting onlookers vote to help, or hinder, the players.

Here are the 20 most exciting indie games we saw at PAX South 2018.

Children of Morta

Developer: Dead Mage
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Release: 2018

“Basically Children of Morta is a hack and slash roguelike story-driven experience,” said Rufus Kubica, Community Manager at publisher 11 bit Studios. We jumped right into some cooperative dungeon crawling within the beautifully pixelated, randomly generated world of Mount Morta.

I played as the spellcasting daughter who could blast fireballs and unleash tornadoes, while the fighter-dad could slam swords down all around him. Combat was a bit faster and more dynamic than a Diablo. The full game will have six family members to choose from for up to two players to adventure together.

Crossing Souls

Developer: Fourattic
Platforms: PC, PS4
Release: February 13

Stop what you’re doing and watch the above trailer. Crossing Souls is dripping with cool animated style (complete with VHS scan lines!) and 80s pop culture. The real world 80s RPG setting reminded me of Earthbound, but with a much more active action-RPG combat system. I played through the very beginning, where our blue-haired hero wakes up at home and learns how to swing a bat by practicing with this dad in the backyard. Eventually you’ll control five characters, each with specific abilities that can be used to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

Darwin Project

Developer: Scavengers Studio
Platforms: PC, XBO
Release: 2018 (End of March for Early Access)

You like the explosive new Battle Royale genre but think it could use a bit more Hunger Games viewer participation? Look no further than The Darwin Project.

The Microsoft Mixer booth was constantly drawing a crowd thanks to this game. Ten players are dropped into a snowy warzone where they must scavenge for supplies and upgrades. A game master has full control of the arena, such as being able to bestow buffs on crowd favorites or nuke entire zones that the audience has voted on. Given the popularity of other Battle Royale games, I can see this being a huge release for Microsoft later this year. A limited time open beta is coming this weekend.

Dauntless

Developer: Phoenix Labs
Platforms: PC
Release: 2018

I saw Dauntless at last year’s PAX South, and it’s making my list again this year. The free-to-play Monster Hunter-lite is much more impressive this time around. Controls instantly felt intuitive, and it was fun immediately jumping into a hunt with three other players.

We battled Skarn, a rocky lizard monster who could slough off his rocky scales to slam into us or call up spikes of rock to impale us. My war pike had several different combos I could unleash using the light and heavy attacks, and I had to coordinate with my team to draw it away while we could revive each other when the going got rough. We ultimately fell short of slaying the monster but I hope to try again during the beta period. Open beta should be available later this summer.

Deep Sky Derelicts

Developer: Snowhound Games
Platforms: PC
Release: March 2018 (Available now via Steam Early Access)

Deep Sky Derelicts is Darkest Dungeon in space. Create a team of badasses and go on missions to loot derelict spaceships, along with a fantastic synthwave soundtrack and comic book panel-animations.

The spaceships act as dungeon crawls, and combat shifts to a turn-based system. Deep Sky Derelict’s unique twist is that each weapon and item you equip grants a selection of cards. Each character has a personal deck they use to attack enemies, shield allies, or apply buffs and debuffs. I want to play a lot more of this game.

Evolution: The Video Game

Developer: North Star Games
Platforms: PC, iOS, Android
Release: Spring 2018

The digital version of Evolution had just reached infancy at last year’s PAX South. This year I could see the fruits of their labor. The video game version is instantly familiar to veterans of the excellent tabletop game: create species, customize them with traits, and keep them well fed to earn victory points. The visuals and animation go above and beyond what I usually see in digital board game ports. Evolution is coming soon to PC, iOS, and Android and will feature cross-platform play and asynchronous multiplayer.

Frostpunk

Developer: 11 bit Studios
Platforms: PC
Release: 2018

From the creators of This War of Mine comes another stark, human look at survival with Frostpunk. The world has ended, blanketed in unforgiving snow and frost. I had control of the last city, whose hub was represented by a giant reactor core that harnesses geothermal energy from deep within the Earth. From there I had to carefully expand outward, building houses and collecting resources for my survivors.

Unlike many city-builders Frostpunk is concerned with the day-to-day lives of your citizens. As in This War of Mine numerous random events will pop up, forcing you to choose how to lead your people. I could enact child labor laws for safe work, and later down the road enact even stricter and more dystopian ordinances, all in the name of survival.

Guns of Icarus Alliance

Developer: Muse Games
Platforms: PC, PS4
Release: March 31 (Released last year on PC)

Guns of Icarus Alliance released last year on PC as a stand-alone expansion, adding new PvE elements to the team-based airship action. The build at PAX South was showing off the new PlayStation 4 version, which will have full cross-platform play and voice chat with the PC version.

One of the developers manned the wheel of our ship and shouted out incoming enemy airships as I and a handful of others ran around our flying steampunk zeppelin putting out fires, repairing guns, and firing on would be attackers. The level of coordination and teamwork required to succeed felt nicely challenging and fun.

Laser League

Developer: Roll7
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Release: Early 2018

I had lots of hands-on time with Laser League during a private press meeting with 505 Games. Laser League is the clever combination of Tron’s light cycles with arena sports. Several different class roles are available, each with special abilities including stuns, cloaking, and attack. The arena is full of rotating beams of light that must be touched to change them to your team’s color – rendering them deadly to your opponents. It’s an intuitive system that rewards teamwork and quick decision-making, like any good sports match.

Last Encounter

Developer: Exordium Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Release: Q2 2018

Twin stick space shooters are a dime in dozen, but Last Encounter’s four player local co-op is immediately exciting and fun. Within seconds of jumping in we were flying around firing our lasers and avoiding enemies. Each level was filled with dangerous hazards with keys to collect at the end, opening the way to a major boss battle against a giant ship that spawned smaller ships. Weapons and power-ups gave it a nice arcade-like feel, and the difficulty was mitigated by being able to resuscitate your downed allies.

Light Fall

Developer: Bishop Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Release: March 2018

Light Fall comes from a long line of mysterious side-scrolling platformers. What sets it apart is the ability to create your own platforms. As I controlled the shadowy protagonist, I could create a platform underneath me simply by pressing the jump button again, up to four times. When I later ran into lasers blocking my path, I pressed a different button to summon a moveable platform above me, letting me block the lasers while I skirted underneath. I particularly enjoyed the richly-voiced old man owl who accompanies you from level to level.

The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

Developer: Fantasy Flight Interactive
Platforms: PC
Release: 2018

Fantasy Flight Games are one of the premiere board game developers, and now they’re bringing one of their best card games to digital form. The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game looks similar to Hearthstone, but it’s actually entirely cooperative. It’s designed for solo or up to two players to choose three heroes and battle against Sauron’s gathering forces during the early days of the adventure.

The ‘Living Card Game’ means it does not rely on random booster packs. Instead you purchase expansion packs knowing exactly which cards they will include. That is very appealing in an era where we’re being smothered in loot boxes.

The Messenger

Developer: Sabotage Studio
Platforms: PC, unannounced consoles
Release: 2018

The Messenger was one of the most impressive games I saw at the show floor. On the surface it looks like yet another retro-inspired, pixelated platformer, complete with Ninja Gaiden-style protagonist. Dig slightly deeper and you’ll discover a killer chiptune soundtrack, delightfully funny dialogue, perfect controls and level design, and a well-structured world that actually evolves from 8-bit into 16-bit, then into full on Metroidvania. The Messenger could absolutely be the next Shovel Knight in pitch-perfect retro gameplay.

Moonlighter

Developer: Digital Sun Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Release: 2018

What if Link only adventured at night, and ran a shop during the day? That’s the question posed by Digital Sun Games in Moonlighter. The dungeon crawling portions was an exact recreation of old school top-down Legend of Zelda. As I gathered treasure my backpack would fill up, prompting me to return to town to put the goods on display. There’s a deep economy system where you have full control over setting prices for each object, noting what sells and how happy your clients are. Make money, purchase better gear, and make it farther into the dungeon. Capitalism, ho!

Omensight

Developer: Spearhead Games
Platforms: PC
Release: 2018

From the developers of story-driven action-RPG Stories: Path of Destinies comes another story-driven action-RPG in Omensight. The level design and combat felt very similar as I used mystical abilities to grab foes from afar and create a time-slowing bubble.

I traversed a temple level with my rat-woman ally, but when we reached the end I had to make a choice with how to deal with the bird priest. One choice sided with her as we took on the priest in a boss fight, while the other let me side with the priest, skipping the fight but also losing her friendship. The full game will feature numerous choices and paths as you discover how to prevent the end of the world.

Phantom Doctrine

Developer: CreativeForge Games
Platforms: PC
Release: 2018

It’s the 1980s and we’re knee-deep in spy warfare during the Cold War era. Phantom Doctrine most closely resembles XCOM with its turn-based tactical combat, but it’s all the other systems that make it interesting, from using your spies to distract guards (provided they know the language of the locals) to capturing and brainwashing enemy spies and turning them to your side with a trigger phrase.

Phantom Doctrine uses all the best bits of all your favorite spy movies, including the classic corkboard string-and-thumbtack walls where you try to decipher clues to uncover hidden plots and secrets. All these systems have the potential of buckling under their weight, but from what I played I’m confident CreativeForge Games has a firm grasp on how to create a memorable spy game.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platforms: PC
Release: 2018

Obsidian remains one of the best RPG developers around. To say I’m excited for the sequel to my personal game of the year three years ago is an understatement. Pillars of Eternity 2 is looking fantastic, taking the tactical RPG into the pirate-filled archipelago of the Deadfire. Everything is getting nice little tweaks and facelifts, from the UI to combat. Now you can program your entire party Final Fantasy 12-style, letting you show off your skill as a tactician as you chase after a giant runaway god-statue.

Sleep Tight

Developer: We Are Fuzzy
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release: 2018

Sleep Tight has a noticeably kid-friendly aesthetic and theme – you’re a kid who must protect his bedroom from incoming monsters. It’s one part tower defense and one part twin stick shooter as I used my earn star power to craft super-soaker weapons and walls made of couch cushions. Don’t let its cute graphics fool you, Sleep Tight is still a challenge as you’re tasked with surviving as many nights as you can.

The Swords of Ditto

Developer: OneBitBeyond
Platforms: PC, PS4
Release: Early 2018

Swords of Ditto had one of the loveliest, brightest art styles of all the games I saw. The animations are equally gorgeous as my randomly generated character woke up on a beach to grab the sword and continue the 16-bit Zelda-like adventure. The catch? Dying is permanent, generating a new hero with different weapons each time. But your progress through the world is saved, creating an interesting rogue-like Zelda experience.

Wattam

Developer: Funomena
Platforms: PC, PS4
Release: Early 2018

Wattam has suffered through development hell to emerge as a quirky, fun little adventure puzzle game coming this year. It’s from the creator of Katamari Damacy, and feels very similar in theme as you discover the world around you through the various goofy anthropomorphic objects and characters. Analog controls, cheery music, and bright smiles help sell this as a good-feeling, light-hearted puzzle game.

Kingdom Hearts III

Pixelkin’s 30 Most Anticipated Games of 2018

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We’ve seen lots of exciting new game announcements throughout 2017, with the inevitable disappointment when we saw ‘2018’ as the date. The new year will bring us our first full year with the Nintendo Switch, including several new game entries for Kirby, Yoshi, and even Metroid.

Several big console games have been in development for years and made last year’s most anticipated list, including Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Spider-Man, and Detroit: Become Human. There’s all new games like Anthem and Sea of Thieves and remasters of classics in Shadow of the Colossus and Secret of Mana. And is this the year we’ll finally see the incredibly long awaited sequel that is Kingdom Hearts III?

Here are our 30 most anticipated games of 2018!

 

For Younger Kids:

 

Dreams

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: 2018

What is Dreams? It’s by Media Molecule, the fine folks who developed the LittleBigPlanet series. Dreams looks to build on that user-generated concept, providing even more creative freedom through multiple styles, genres, and gameplay conventions.

Kingdom Hearts III

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: 2018

Kingdom Hearts fans have been waiting for an official third entry for over a decade. This year should finally see the release of Kingdom Hearts 3, which will again feature the unique and beloved mashup between Square Enix and Disney.

Kirby Star Allies

Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Date: 2018

A new Kirby game was announced for the Nintendo Switch during E3, later titled Kirby Star Allies. The 2D platformer will feature four player co-op, and each character will possess Kirby’s signature power-copying abilities.

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Date: March 23, 2018

Beloved anime film company Studio Ghibli isn’t directly involved with sequel Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom, but it still possess that same beautiful art style and story-telling that make this JRPG series so memorable.

Sea of Thieves

Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Date: March 20, 2018

One of the few Xbox One exclusives (and Win 10 PC) coming in 2018, Sea of Thieves features cooperative and competitive multiplayer within a colorful, goofy world of pirate ships and buried treasure.

Secret of Mana HD

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Date: February 15, 2018

Secret of Mana was recently featured as one of the games included on the SNES Classic Edition, and the classic RPG still holds up well today. The HD remaster will feature all new 3D graphics and some modernized improvements to gameplay.

Spelunky 2

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Date: 2018

Spelunky 2 was a surprise announcement at the Sony’s conference at the Paris Games Week. All we know about it is from this trailer, which doesn’t show any gameplay but hints that we’ll be playing as the protagonist’s daughter this time around.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Date: Fall 2018

The toys-to-life genre did not have a good year in 2017, and the future looks bleak. One of the few new games on the horizon is Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Starlink features buildable, modular starship figures that attach directly to the controller.

Yoshi for Nintendo Switch

Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Date: 2018

A new untitled Yoshi game coming to Switch was announced at Nintendo’s E3 conference. It looks similar to Yoshi’s Woolly World, but features more of a paper/cardboard aesthetic, letting you manipulate the world. It will also include two player co-op.

 

 

For Older Kids and Teens:

 

Anthem

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: Fall 2018

With cooperative sci-fi action, Anthem looks a lot like EA’s answer to Destiny 2. It’s actually being developed by RPG veterans BioWare. Hopefully it’ll end up better than Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Fe

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Date: Early 2018

Fe is a 3D adventure-platformer, and the first product of EA Originals, EA’s collaboration with indie developers. Fe emphasis exploration, discovery, and puzzle-solving within a striking forest world of shadows and contrasting colors.

Jurassic World Evolution

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: Summer 2018

The correct answer to the question, “What is the best Jurassic Park game?” is 2003’s Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis. Jurassic World Evolution, developed by the makers of Planet Coaster, looks to provide more great dinosaur theme park sim action.

Lost Sphear

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Date: January 23, 2018

Tokyo RPG Factory’s followup to 2016’s I Am Setsuna is Lost Sphear, which features more solid retro-inspired Japanese RPG goodness.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: 2018

Insomniac has been working on this big-budget Spider-Man game for awhile. Instead of being tied to any of the films, it will feature an open world design in New York City with an older, more experienced Peter Parker.

Metroid Prime 4

Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Date: 2018?

We saw only the slightest of logo teases at the tail end of Nintendo’s E3 press conference for Metroid Prime 4. There’s little chance we’ll actually see it in 2018, but any news about more Metroid is good news.

Monster Hunter: World

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: January 26, 2018 (PC version not yet dated)

With a big home console release and four player online co-op, Monster Hunter: World is posed to be the first game in the series to transcend the obtuse and challenging gameplay and welcome a wider audience.

 

Project Octopath Traveler

Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Date: 2018

Weird tentative title aside, Project Octopath Traveler features a gorgeous “HD-2D” style and gameplay inspired from classic 16-bit RPGs. It’s created by the same team at Square Enix who made the Bravely Default series.

Shadow of the Colossus

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: February 6, 2018

One of the biggest cult-classics from the PS2 era is finally getting an HD remake for PlayStation 4 next year. All the visual assets have been rebuilt for Shadow of the Colossus, but it will retain the same monster-scaling gameplay and poignant story.

Skull & Bones

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: Fall 2018

If Sea of Thieves looks a bit too cartoony and goofy, Skull & Bones may suit your pirate needs. We don’t know much more than the initial E3 announcement, but it will feature multiplayer co-op, and utilize the widely loved naval combat from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Surviving Mars

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: 2018

Paradox Interactive is making some of the best strategy sim games of the modern era. Surviving Mars will be upon the success of Cities: Skylines while adding the challenge of colonizing the red planet.

 

For Mature Teens and Parents:

 

A Way Out

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: March 23, 2018

A Way Out is a much more mature offering from the developer of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. It features a purely cooperative experience as two players control a pair of convicts who need to work together to break out of prison.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Date: 2018

Castlevania auteur Koji Igarashi made headlines by raising over $5 million on Kickstarter for this new 2D Castlevania-like. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night looks utterly fantastic, and will hopefully cement Igarashi as the rightful master of the “Iga-vania” genre.

Days Gone

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: 2018

Sony has been showing Days Gone, an open-world zombie game, for years, and it looks more impressive each time. We should be able to explore the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest sometime this year.

Detroit: Become Human

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: 2018

Detroit: Become Human‘s advanced facial features and animations make for harrowing trailers as players navigate complex dramatic moments involving androids in a near-future world.

Far Cry 5

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: March 27, 2018

The Far Cry series typically drops players into remote, exotic, war-torn locations around the world (or in the past or future). Far Cry 5 sends players into the uncomfortable evils reflected deep in the rural American heartland. I’m sure it will be completely free of controversy.

God of War

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: 2018

The eighth God of War game will drop the numbering scheme and add a new sidekick for Kratos, his own son Atreus. Added RPG elements make for a fairly big departure for the action series, as well as the new focus on Norse mythology and monsters rather than Greek.

Metro Exodus

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: 2018

The third game in the survival horror Metro series, Metro Exodus, looks far more expansive, letting you explore more of the surface world of a post-apocalyptic Russia gripped by nuclear winter.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: Spring 2018

Rockstar Games doesn’t release a new game very often, but when they do, it’s a gigantic event. The very long-awaited sequel to 2010’s open world western, Red Dead Redemption 2 was initially teased with a 2017 release date. We still don’t know much about it other than it’s a prequel and will undoubtedly be hugely successful.

State of Decay 2

Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Date: 2018

Everyone asked for one feature after playing State of Decay: what about multiplayer? Undead Labs have listened, and State of Decay 2 will combine the excellent sim-action zombie game with cooperative multiplayer.

We Happy Few

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Date: April 13, 2018

We Happy Few is a BioShock-like immersive sim, set within a drug-addled British city in the 60s. As one of several playable characters, you’ll need to blend in with the citizens of the bombed-out city, who wear creepy masks and take a hallucinogenic drug called Joy.