dreams early access

Dreams Hitting PlayStation Creator Early Access this Spring

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Media Molecule’s genre-defying creation game Dreams will launch on Sony’s Creator Early Access program this Spring, on PlayStation 4. Dreams Early Access will be available through the PlayStation Store for $29.99.

“As you may know, our small team has been working on Dreams for a long time,” writes Siobhan Reddy, studio director, Media Molecule. “We have so many ambitions for Dreams and the beta reminded us that Dreams only truly comes to life in the hands of you all – the community. […] We have decided to go live and release Dreams into Early Access on PlayStation 4 this spring!”

The Early Access version will include all of the features and tools that Media Molecule have used to make content in Dreams. It will also feature “fun, deep interactive tutorials catering for all skill sets and levels, and Media Molecule-crafted arcade games ready to play and remix,” writes Reddy.

Early Access will allow the developers to get feedback from the community, as well as being their live service of supporting the ongoing creation game.

Although it’s being sold for a price, the Dreams Early Access will be limited to those who register at the website. Though registration is not a guarantee. Media Molecule encourages creators to register and start populating the game with new content. The Early Access will be completely open to streaming and video capture.

Dreams has been in development for a number of years, by the makers of Little Big Planet. It was first announced during the Sony E3 2015 press conference. Dreams promises a robust creation system that allows players to create multiple genres and art styles. It also supports cooperative multiplayer.

Dreams will hit Early Access exclusively on PlayStation 4 this Spring. The game is not yet rated.

final assault

PAX South 2019 Preview: Wage Tabletop VR Warfare in Final Assault

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While once prolific in the 90s, real time strategy games have ebbed in recent years. Controlling multiple units while managing resources, maintaining map awareness, and researching new weapons of war is a daunting task when armed with a mouse and keyboard, and nigh impossible anywhere else.

Yet I was blown away by how well Phaser Lock Interactive’s VR real time strategy game, Final Assault, captured all the fun of a real time strategy game while streamlining all the messy bits, creating an immersive virtual tabletop wargame.

At PAX South 2019 I was able to get some hands-on time (and heads-in for VR) with the 1v1 PvP mode for Final Assault, on the Hill-512 map.

I was immediately pleased with the aesthetic and size of the battlefield. Final Assault smartly keeps the World War 2 battlefield small and intimate so you don’t have to spend any time jogging around your living room or slowly pulling yourself across the contested war zone.

The cardboard and plastic art style is very reminiscent of the classic Army Men toy soldiers, or popular miniature wargames like Memoir ’44, giving the entire game an enjoyable tabletop vibe. Several times during the demo I was so distracted by the detail of the units, animations, and buildings that I fell behind in troop deployment.

“We used train sets as references. It’s amazing how detailed those train sets can get,” says Michael Daubert, CEO, Phaser Lock Interactive. “We wanted to make it a compelling and beautiful environment. It helps as well with performance and being able to build big environments and run at 90 frames per second.”

“One of the things I like about our maps is that if you look off into the distance, it doesn’t look like you’re in a fake world. I feel like I could go look and see what’s on the other side of those hills,” says Todd Bailey, Creative Director.

final assault

 

There are no resources to mange nor fog of war to worry about. A single currency level gradually ticks up, creating quick decisions on which units to buy, or to wait and unlock more advance units. Supply boxes will periodically air drop onto the map, granting a quick boost of money to whoever gets there first.

“Originally we created an entire RTS game, and it was crazy. There was way too many buttons, but when we took that out, you were waiting too long for stuff to build up. When you’re in VR you want to get into the action as quick as possible,” says Daubert. “What we did is focus more on the combat itself. We took away base building and tech trees. I wanted to focus on the faster gameplay of what an RTS can be. We’ve created a happy medium between RTS and MOBA that gets the player in as quickly as possible without the mental fatigue of trying to manage everything.”

A console-based strategy game is going to live and die by its control scheme. Final Assault’s drop-and-drag system worked perfectly to quickly get units out on the battlefield and into the fight.

The clipboard UI looks and feels great. I hold my tech tree catalog in one hand and simply grab the unit I want, like a biplane or tank, and plop it onto the map. Final Assault uses the lane-based combat of MOBAs to provide an easy way of handling multiple units. If a unit is dropped into one of the main lanes on a map, they’ll automatically follow it, engaging enemy forces along the way.

Infantry will constantly spawn and push the lane, creating a constant tug-of-war. It’s up to me to purchase and deploy the right units, and set them up in strategic places. Bombers can soften up tanks, while anti-air guns will help prevent an aerial ambush, and artillery can bombard fortifications from afar.

final assault

The demo ended as I deployed my Axis forces’ ultimate weapon – a V-2 rocket. I watched in gleeful satisfaction as it physically launched from my base and soared toward my opponent’s to the warning sounds of klaxons.

I came away really impressed with how quickly I was able to grasp the controls and flow of the lane-based warfare, despite having very little VR  experience. Final Assault already looks and plays great, and is shaping up to be a worthy competitive experience for any VR general.

Final Assault is coming to Steam Early Access on February 12, with a full launch later this April on Oculus and Vive. It will launch later this Summer on PlayStation VR and support cross-platform play. The final game will feature a single player campaign as well as online multiplayer PvP with 14 maps at launch, and more factions to arrive as post-launch DLC. It’s rated E10+.

darwin project

Survive With a Buddy in New Duo Mode for Darwin Project

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Indie Canadian developer Scavengers Studio has officially added two player co-op to their Battle Royale survival game, Darwin Project. Darwin Project is still in Early Access on Steam and Xbox Games Preview. Duo Mode has been added to PC, but still forthcoming on Xbox.

Darwin Project has seen a number of updates since its Early Access launch last month. Most recently is skill-based matchmaking, which should hopefully make for higher quality matches and not pit newbies against veterans.

“Players just starting out in the arena should still have a fighting chance, especially on Steam where some inmates have been practicing since the Closed Alpha days and have reached brutal levels of skill,” writes Simon Darveau, creative director, in a blog post. “It’s important for us that Darwin Project be as welcoming as possible, and to motivate new players to continue improving and refining their techniques, we want to avoid placing them in the same match as highly experienced players when possible.”

The update is live on both PC and Xbox, and Scavengers Studio explains it’s an algorithm system that will improve over time.

The special egg hunt Easter event is also going on this week, ending Friday, April 6. Players can find decorated eggs scattered around the arena. Collect enough and they can unlock frighteningly garish egg and rabbit-themed hats.

Darwin Project launched in March via Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview. It features a 10-person arena, with a Show Director helping or hindering players, and unique live-streaming integration. It’s due to officially launch later this year.

my time at portia

Farm Sim My Time at Portia Update Adds Livestock

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My Time at Portia is a Stardew Valley-like farming sim, in 3D. It’s currently available via Steam Early Access, and recently saw a major update by Chinese developer Pathea Games and publisher Team17. My Time at Portia is due to launch later this year on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch.

The new update adds livestock, which I’d think would be a pretty high priority for a farming sim. Players can now raise sheep, chicken ducks, and cows, harvesting eggs and milk and breeding them. Horse riding has also been added, including romantic horse rides with your favorite NPCs.

Note that you can only rent horses right now. The ability to raise and ride your own horse will be added in a future update.

A museum has also been added to Portia, along with a new story mission. Complete the mission to open the museum, and get paid to donate relics.

More new features include a new dungeon in the desert region, stargazing dating mini-game, and two new shops.

A limited demo of My Time at Portia has recently been added to Steam. Unfortunately any progress made in the demo does not carry over should you purchase the full game.

My Time at Portia released on Steam Early Access earlier this year.