risk of rain 2

Risk of Rain 2 Shows Incredible Promise in Early Access

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I lived through the initial 3D gaming era of the mid to late 90s. Whether for better or worse, most games made the awkward, ugly transition from pixels to polygons. And for every Mario 64 there was, well, a Sonic 3D.

Thankfully we’re far removed from those days. But rarely do we see a series so completely, and effectively transform from 2D to 3D, as I’ve seen in Risk of Rain 2. The sequel was announced and released via Steam Early Access during the Gearbox panel at PAX East, and it’s already fantastic.

The core gameplay of Risk of Rain 2 is almost completely unchanged from the 2013 original. Players select a class and battle through increasingly difficult levels, becoming stronger and gaining new equipment. You battle through alien planets and creatures, while the world continues to throw more and tougher enemies at you. The hallmark of the game was the excellent four player co-op, with the on-screen action reaching truly ridiculous heights of chaos.

The first Risk of Rain was a pixelated 2D adventure.

Roguelike dungeon crawl isn’t exactly a groundbreaking concept. Indie games have been mining that genre for years. But Risk of Rain’s rapid pace and tight shooter-platforming combat made it an easy game to pick up and get sucked into. And I still listen to the most excellent soundtrack to this day.

The systems worked so well that the designers smartly took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the sequel. Instead they made one literally world-altering change, creating full 3D levels with Risk of Rain 2.

Clear Skies

Like the original, Risk of Rain 2 plops me down onto an alien world with no pretext or story. The only unlocked class at the beginning is the Commando, who is armed with a pair of rapidly firing, never depleting guns. I don’t even need to reload. The Commando is armed with three other abilities that operate on a simple cooldown system: a rolling dodge, a penetrating laser blast, and a volley of shots that can stun enemies.

Hostile creatures begin to spawn around me, including fire-ball hurtling lizardfolk, flying fire wisps, and laser-firing stone golems. The goal of each level is to find and activate a teleporter, which spawns an immense and chaotic boss fight. Before then I need to earn money by killing enemies and spend it to open chests scattered around the level.

risk of rain 2

You’ll find a lot of useful items in each level.

Items are completely randomized and almost always provide passive boosts, such as increased critical strikes, firing missiles at nearby enemies, adding additional jumps, or increasing shields. Occasionally I’ll find a special orange item that adds a new ability on a lengthy cooldown, like a massive heal or a huge missile strike.

Collecting these items while defeating foes and leveling up is critical, and needs to be done as quickly as possible. As soon as I spawn into a level the timer begins to tick up, filling a bar from Easy to Medium and Hard, and far, far beyond into hilariously terrifying difficulty levels. As the difficulty reaches new thresholds, harder enemies being to spawn, and in greater numbers.

Time is the biggest enemy. Thankfully getting around each level remains snappy and fun. The 3D worlds are not randomly generated, but that’s probably for the best. Currently there are only a handful of layouts available, including a swamp, desert, and snowy landscape, and they’re generally small enough to memorize once I begin to wander. Most levels offer high vantage points to look out and see the rest of the area, with plentiful jump pads to get around. Given that chests and shrines can be generated in any number of areas, exploring each nook and cranny is both necessary and rewarding.

risk of rain 2

Massive bosses tower over you.

Risk of Rain 2’s other big improvement is modern multiplayer support. No more having to mess around with port forwarding as with the original game. Risk of Rain 2 uses Steam’s friends list to quickly invite players and jump into multiplayer sessions. You can also play online with random allies, for better or for worse. But surviving the never-ending onslaught with friends, as with most games, makes everything exponentially better.

Many of the game’s systems are kept purposefully obtuse. I find out the hard way that the 3D printer requires a random item of my own in order to use it, while the Shrine of the Mountain spawns an extra boss to fight at the end. I had to look up what the hell Lunar Coins are used for, and delved into a myriad of interesting secrets, including how to unlock one of the other character classes.

The primary faults lie with the limited content, particularly with enemy types and levels. Currently Risk of Rain 2 features only about half the content that developer Hopoo Games plans on launching with, after an estimated year-long Early Access period.

Risk of Rain 2 is the perfect genre to take advantage of Early Access. The framework and gameplay are already fun, while more bosses, enemies, and levels will be a very welcome addition. For now I’m still having a blast unlocking new classes and trying completely new play styles. It’s giving me fond memories of the original game while representing the perfect transition into an all new dimension.

PSN Name

You Can Finally Change Your PSN Name, and The First Time is Free

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After years and years of being stuck with the same goofy or embarrassing name you chose as your PSN online ID, Sony has finally added the ability to change your user name. There are a few caveats but everyone can change their name once for free. After that it’ll cost you.

Here are the step-by-step instructions to changing your PSN online ID:

PlayStation 4:

  • Step 1: From your PS4 go to [Settings].
  • Step 2: Select [Account Management] > [Account Information] > [Profile] > [Online ID].
  • Step 3: Enter an Online ID of your choice or choose from one of the suggestions.
  • Step 4: Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the change.

Web browser:

  • Step 1: Sign in to your  and select PSN Profile in the menu.
  • Step 2: Select the Edit button that’s next to your Online ID.
  • Step 3: Enter an Online ID of your choice or choose from one of the suggestions.
  • Step 4: Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the change.

The first name change is free. After that each additional name change will cost $9.99, or $4.99 each for PlayStation Plus Members. When changing your name you have the option of displaying your old name in your profile for 30 days, so friends can notice the change. Your old ID is not released back into the system, and remains only available to you, and reverting back to an old name is free.

The biggest caveat with the name change is that not every game supports it. All non-remastered games released after April 2018 should support ID changes without issue. The keyword here is ‘should’ as Sony apparently found at least one game where that wasn’t the case.

Older games were developed before Sony planned on supporting this feature, and may run into problems. Sony has divided them into two categories: Games with Issues Identified, and Games with Criticial Issues. Critical Issues include loss of save data and trophies, while the former category could might mean having to redo your game settings and re-linking accounts.


Roblox Achieves 90 Million Active Monthly Users

Posted by | Mobile, News, PC, Xbox One | No Comments

Fortnite, Minecraft, and most recently, Apex Legends are getting a lot of buzz surrounding their popularity. Meanwhile Roblox is quietly becoming one of the most actively played games on the market. This week the Roblox Corporation has announced that Roblox has surpassed 90 million active monthly users.

This is a major increase from the 70 million reported users as of September 2018. The company cites the addition of French and German language support and expansion into European markets.

“Roblox is where anyone can unleash their creativity and have fun with their friends, no matter where they live,” said Chris Misner, President, Roblox International. “By bringing top games and resources to French and German audiences, we’re uniting the next generation through a truly global platform for play.”

“Roblox’s commitment to supporting multiple languages helps us connect with new markets and expand our business,” said BlockfaceSteve, founder of Blockface Evolution Studio and creator of popular Roblox game Heists 2. “Supporting everyone, everywhere continues to get easier and provides us a great opportunity to become truly global providers of world-class gameplay experiences.”

As one of the most popular games for young kids and teens, Roblox is committed to online safety and parental resources. The company recently hired Elisabeth Secker from the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body in Germany as part of their Trust and Safety Advisory Board.

“We are excited to welcome Roblox as a new member to the USK and I’m honored to join the company’s Trust & Safety Advisory Board,” said Elisabeth Secker, Managing Director of the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK). “We are happy to support Roblox in their efforts to make their platform not only safe, but also to empower kids, teens, and parents with the skills they need to create positive online experiences.”

Roblox is available on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon, Xbox One, and VR (Oculus Rift and HTC Vive).

nintendo switch online

Twitch Prime (and Amazon Prime) Subscribers Get Free 12 Months of Nintendo Switch Online

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If you’re a Twitch Prime subscriber you can get a year’s worth of Nintendo Switch Online for free, thanks to a new deal between Nintendo and Twitch parent company Amazon. If you don’t have Twitch Prime there’s a good chance you have Amazon Prime, which includes a Twitch Prime membership. Simply create a Twitch account if you don’t already have one and link it to Amazon Prime, then sign-up with Nintendo.

The catch is you can only initially claim three months of Nintendo Switch Online for free. After that you’ll need to return to the website and claim the other nine months. The 3-month free membership must be claimed by September 24. The 9-month membership can be redeemed 60-days after the first claim, and must be redeemed by January 22, 2020.

Existing Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can take advantage of this year to add more time to their membership. However, the deal only works for individual plans, not family plans. Members are also limited to a maximum 36-months of subscription time, so you can only buy ahead so much.

If you cancel your Prime membership you’ll still gain the benefit of the free Nintendo Switch Online claims, though you’ll need to be an active Prime subscriber for 60-days to get the 9-month offer.

Nintendo Switch Online launched last year as Nintendo’s premium online service. It’s required to play Nintendo Switch games online, such as Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Nintendo Switch Online also includes backup cloud saves, smartphone app integration, and access to digital NES games. A single Nintendo Switch Online subscription normally costs $3.99 per month, $7.99 for 90 days, or $19.99 for 12 months.


Wargroove Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Tactical strategy games have seen a resurgence in recent years, with excellent reboots and sequels for series like XCOM and Fire Emblem. But it’s pixel-perfect indie studio Chucklefish that has taken up the mantle of re-imagining the Advance War series (which had inspired Fire Emblem’s initial localization outside Japan).

Indie games have long filled the void of classic genres and gameplay styles left behind by bigger studios. Wargroove is the perfect example of an indie studio rebooting a beloved series while infusing their own story, with several modern improvements and an astonishing amount of content.

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