Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Far Cry 6 | New Gameplay Today

Click to watch embedded media
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC, Mac

The Far Cry 6 release date is just around the corner, and we were lucky enough to go hands-on with the upcoming first-person shooter and saw many of the gameplay opportunities that the Island of Yara offers. With its antagonist being played by the famous Giancarlo Esposito, many fans are hopeful that this entry in the Far Cry series will return to form by featuring an unforgettable performance by the game's villain. Join Alex Stadnik, Brian Shea, and our wonderful production director, Margaret Andrews, for another episode of New Gameplay Today, wherein the trio shows off brand new Far Cry 6 gameplay!

Senior editor Brian Shea summarizes his time spent playing Far Cry 6 in his recent preview, saying:

Far Cry 6 starts with a bang from both narrative and action standpoints. I’m curious if Ubisoft can carry forward with these emotional gut-punches without falling victim to the cognitive dissonance for which Far Cry is often known. Hopefully, the enjoyment we get from flying around in our wingsuits, firing over-the-top weapons, and fighting alongside a cute wiener dog named Chorizo doesn’t contrast too harshly with the story of an island in political peril. Only time will tell if Ubisoft can balance these disparate tones, but in my time playing, I had a blast and still felt the weight of the dark narrative beats.

Did you enjoy this early look at Far Cry 6? If so, subscribe to the Game Informer YouTube channel so that you don't miss our full Far Cry 6 review when the game launches this October! If you're interested in seeing the latest footage of upcoming games, be sure to check out other episodes of New Gameplay Today here. As always, leave a comment down below, letting us know if you're excited to play the latest entry in the Far Cry series.

Deathloop Touches On Immersive Features In New Trailer

As we move into the current generation, new features have come into focus that help make games more immersive. Deathloop, slated to arrive on September 14, boasts a number of these aspects. To take advantage of these features requires new hardware, and sadly multiple factors have gone into making current-gen systems difficult to acquire, something that could hopefully be rectified as we head into the next year. That said, a new trailer for Deathloop shows off some of the perks of playing games in this era. Oh, you should also check out our guide to everything Deathloop right here. Why keep talking about it? You can check out the trailer below!

Click here to watch embedded media

Perhaps the most obvious upgrade that games can get from new tech is graphical. Still, we have a whole “generation” to see how developers can take advantage of that, despite having some great-looking titles already available. Adaptive triggers, different for each weapon, are becoming sort of a standard here on the PlayStation 5. This helps every weapon feel distinct from one another and gives them a bit of their own personality. Deathloop further utilizes the adaptive trigger to highlight scenarios like gun jamming, which the player feels on the controller as well. Again, these may be small things on a larger scale, but they lead to more immersive gameplay when taken in aggregate. Haptic feedback for running, sliding, and more helps further enhance that tactile essence.

Deathloop also takes advantage of the controller speaker to alert the player at various times. As you can see, many of these immersion aspects tie in directly to the DualSense controller and all it can do. While I doubt they will make or break the Deathloop experience, they certainly add a bit of depth and texture to the gameplay experience. Anyway, how are you feeling about Deathloop? Are you going to pick it up? Not your thing? Let us know in the comments!

It's 2021 And VVVVVV Is Still Getting Updates

Yes. You read the headline right. Terry Cavanaugh’s 2010 game VVVVVV has received a new update in 2021. It’s been over seven years since the game saw a patch, so why now?

Early last year, Cavanaugh made the source code for VVVVVV public and let people mess around with the game. As a result of opening up the game, update 2.3 features many changes, all of which are linked in Cavanaugh’s blog about the release. While this is an official release for the game, its creator didn’t do most of the work on the newest version but was the gatekeeper for what made it in.

“I’ve personally added very, very little to this update – which is something that I feel maybe a little anxious about! But I’ve been very careful to make sure that every change is something I was happy with, and that none of the changes to the game were doing anything other than making this the best version of the 2010 game,” said Cavanaugh about the project.

While there are a bunch of changes to the game, here’s what stands out to Cavanaugh as key changes:

  • 60-plus FPS support
  • Improved graphical options (Including VSync and an option to give the text a black outline for better visibility)
  • New features in the level editor
  • Hundreds of bug fixes

VVVVVV is a puzzle platformer where cute little smiley guy Captain Veridian navigates a maze-like planet to find his missing crew. Veridian flips the pull of gravity to clear obstacles like pits or deadly spikes, the latter of which spells instant death with the slightest touch. The world is unforgiving, but it's fun finding ideal paths through dangerous rooms. Cavanaugh may be more famous for his work on Super Hexagon or, most recently, Dicey Dungeons, but VVVVVV is one of my favorite indie platformers, and its soundtrack is one of my all-time favorites.

If you haven't tried VVVVVV and enjoy a stiff challenge, check it out, especially with the "best version of the 2010 game" now available. Grab a copy on PlayStation 4, Switch, 3DS, iOS, Android, or PC, but keep in mind the new update is only available through Steam or itch.io. 

Exclusive Shin Megami Tensei V Screenshots Give Us More Glimpses Of The Demons And Characters

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Atlus
Platform: Switch

Since the game's big release date announcement this past JuneGame Informer has been rolling out exclusive previews of Shin Megami Tensei V. The newest entry of the captivating role-playing series has lots to be excited about, so we've been working with the team at Atlus to show off different parts of the game as we get closer and closer to launch. From new looks at the main characters to a primer of the story of the game, we've had you covered in recent months.

Our most recent look at Shin Megami Tensei V focused on the demons and negotiations that take place between them and the main characters. Atlus has passed along even more localized screenshots for this prominent aspect of the game. You can check out the gallery below to see these new, exclusive screenshots.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



On top of that, Atlus sent over some new character art for some of these demons that you'll be fighting, fusing, interacting with, and potentially recruiting to fight alongside you. The game features more than 200 demons across the adventure, featuring classics like Jack Frost, as well as several new creatures designed by Masayuki Doi, who has been with the series since Persona 2: Innocent Sin. You can see the new demon art below.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



Shin Megami Tensei V launches November 12 on Switch. For tons more on the upcoming Atlus RPG, check out our Shin Megami Tensei V hub here. As always, keep your eyes on our site for more info about Shin Megami Tensei V in the lead up to launch.

What is your hype level for Shin Megami Tensei V? Where are you hoping the story goes? What kinds of demons are you looking to recruit or fuse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Story Of Seasons: Pioneers Of Olive Town Heads To PC

Have you ever wanted to play Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town but didn’t have a Switch? On September 15, you’re in luck, as the farming simulation game is headed to Steam on PC. If you can’t get enough of planting crops and taking care of adorable cow-looking things (that may or may not actually be cows), then Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town might satiate that farming desire.

“My journey through Pioneers of Olive Town was full of highs and lows. Things either came too easy, like wooing the townsperson of my choice, or required too much effort, like unlocking some farm facilities,” said Kimberly Wallace in the Game Informer review. “I was impressed with how much there is to do, but it all comes at a cost; I felt like I could never spend time exploring certain aspects, such as creating clothing or getting into cooking, because they require precious time and feel insignificant compared to your other tasks.” In our review, Pioneers of Olive town clocked in at a 7.5, with the analysis distilled down to – The core farming loop is still entertaining, but the rewards aren’t satisfying enough for the investment required to get them. Check out the entire review here.

Click here to watch embedded media

Of course, you’re not just making cheese and farming crops in Story of Seasons. No, today’s farm sims typically also include several neighboring villager interactions, and you can participate in festivals, build up a museum full of collectibles, and work on your relationships with the townsfolk. Hopefully, some of the identified issues on the Switch version, such as load times, stuttering, and framerate issues, are smoothed over in the PC release.

Are you into farming sims? What would you like to see in the next era of farm games? Does Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town heading to PC do anything for you? Let us know in the comments!

Everything We Know About Lost Judgment

Lost Judgment, the next game from Yakuza developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and the second in its Judgment spin-off franchise, is coming out on September 21. We recently went hands-on with the game. You can watch our episode of New Gameplay Today right here. To keep the Judgment train rolling, ahead of the game's release, we're running down everything we know about the game, from its story, themes, gameplay, and setting. 

It's A Direct Sequel to Judgment

Even though it isn't RGG Studio's first spin-off set in the Yakuza world, Judgment made a comparatively huge splash when it was released in 2018. Telling the story of Takayuki Yagami, a disgraced lawyer-turned private eye, the game is set in Kamurocho, the main open-world location from the Yakuza series, but tells its own story aside from that of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. After the events of Judgment, which had Yagami facing an assortment of corruptions within Japan – including false convictions, pharmaceutical conspiracies, and murder – Yagami has returned to his life investigating petty cases around Tokyo's redlight district. But of course, it's not long before he's pulled into a much larger case. 

It All Starts With A Dead Body

(Content warning for sexual assault)

We recently had a chance to play through numerous different levels of Lost Judgment – including its opening. If you want to read the full article, which includes an interview with producer Kazuki Hosokawa, you can find that in the most recent issue of Game Informer In the meantime, here's what we had to say about the game's opening moments:

Lost Judgment opens in Ijincho, Yokohama, the location from Like a Dragon and the latest open world in the overall series. Firefighters are racing to a scene; smoke billows out of an abandoned building, but there are no visible signs of fire, as one firefighter points out. It strikes him as a false alarm or a prank. 

His assumption is not correct.

Once inside, they survey the floor with the smoke, discovering 14 flares arranged in the shape of an arrow pointing in the direction of a large mass covered by a tarp. Flies, hundreds of them, hover around. You can't be sure until one of the firemen musters the courage to remove the tarp, but you have a pretty good idea what lies beneath. It's bad. 

Removing the tarp confirms your worst assumptions – a dead body. But not a fresh corpse. The skin is black with decay. The hands restrained behind the back, mangled and broken. The body has been here a while, maggots and larva making themselves at home in the decomposing hole that was once a nose. The camera slowly pans towards the corpse, and right before you can't take it any longer, the screen cuts to black, and in pipes a familiar voice. 

"In Japan, 99.9 percent of criminal trials end with a guilty verdict," protagonist Takayuki Yagami says, a declaration of Lost Judgment's themes. 

"The reality is, the law is neither as perfect or as fair as it's supposed to be," he says a few moments later. "So I've made it my job to give those without a voice a chance to be heard."

Set in December 2021, Akihiro Ehara is accused of groping a woman on a train. A bystander captures Ehara's attempt to flee on video. It's broadcast by the news, leading to a public outcry for a maximum sentence. However, Ehara brings up the corpse in Yokohama on trial, asking if the court has identified the person. His defense lawyer, Saori Shirosaki, a main character from the first game and one of Yagami's coworkers, asks Yagami to investigate, believing police overlooked important case details. Did Ehara commit two crimes at the same time? If so, how? Was his sexual battery case a cover-up? Or has he gamed Japan's justice system entirely? These are the central questions in Lost Judgment.  

It's Dealing With Heavy Themes Affecting Both Japan And The World

If it wasn't clear in the previous section, Lost Judgment's story centers on some weighty topics, including Japan's actual 99-percent conviction rate, sexual assault, murder, and corruption within Japan's judicial system. Whether or not the game pulls any of this off with grace, we'll have to wait and see. But it is worth noting the game isn't pulling punches when it comes to its sociopolitical themes. And that's the point. 

RGG's games, especially the most recent releases, have never shied from tackling political and social issues within Japan. And where many western studios tend to avoid these topics – or at least talking about them – Hosokawa is open about what RGG is trying to say in Lost Judgment and the purpose of video games as political platforms, telling us, "Whether or not video games are a good medium for dealing with political issues is not a function of the game itself, but rather a function of the relationship between creators and players."

As he sees it, when video games became a dominating force in entertainment, or as they "became as important as novels and movies as a means for meaningful experiences," it was only natural they would adopt narratives true to the real world. The implication seems that Hosokawa views his audience as a mature one who wants to play games that explore themes about society, not shirk away from the thought of video game creators being politically-minded people.

"It’s also probably true that the market has changed from one centered on children and enthusiasts to one that is open and diverse enough to include people with various preferences and ideas," Hosokawa says. "For this reason, I feel that game creators should be strongly encouraged if not required to have a good understanding of and to be cautious about the way they depict certain themes and motifs when considering the diversity of their players."

Yokohama Is Back

While the Yakuza series has featured numerous different open worlds throughout the years, by and large, it's known for its central Kamurocho setting, which takes close inspiration from Japan's real-world Kabukicho entertainment district. Until 2020, when Yakuza: Like a Dragon moved the series to Yokohama with its Ijincho setting. 

While the game also features Kamurocho, Ijincho is making a return for Lost Judgment, but not without some subtle and specific changes. Like a Dragon is a turn-based RPG, and so the large Ijincho map is built with this gameplay in mind. Lost Judgment, however, is a brawler, sticking with the Yakuza series' historical gameplay. When RGG was developing Like a Dragon, Hosokawa says he was already thinking about how the developer would use the map in Lost Judgment. And in fact, numerous changes have been made to Ijincho to serve the game's difference in gameplay that the player might never notice at all. 

Except for one significant change the player can't miss. 

"Ijincho is also a vast city, created on the premise of being an RPG, so we also introduced the skateboard as a means of transportation to make navigating the city feel more comfortable," Hosokawa says. 

While playing Lost Judgment, we took the game's new skateboard for a few joyrides, and for what it is, it works well enough. Don't expect Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, but there is a fun novelty to skateboarding around the city, even if the controls are limited.

Run Back To School

As part of his investigation in Lost Judgment, Yagami has to infiltrate a Yokohama high school undercover. Which, of course, means you also are going back to school. 

Lost Judgment features a fully modeled Japanese high school for you to explore, with its own story beats, minigames, and characters. When we played Lost Judgment, we didn't get too much time with the school, but one level did give us a glimpse at combat within the setting. 

Here's what we had to say:

Our time exploring the school shows a beautifully realized level full of classrooms and courtyards. Our objective is to head to the third floor, though we're stopped by a group of kids connected to the local Chinese gang, the Yokohama Liumang. A fight ensues. Which, Yagami beating the holy hell out of a group of children is a bit of a weird look, but here we are. Combat within the school, specifically in the classrooms, makes great use of the environment; grabbing a student's desk to pummel an enemy is as funny as it is absurd. 

Combat Feels Fantastic

Historically, RGG's games have been beat 'em ups, and it's here that Lost Judgment shines. Combat is instantly fluid and chaining fast combos with heavy and light attacks combined with grapples and throws feels excellent. But with Like A Dragon, the core Yakuza series is now a turn-based RPG, meaning Judgment, the spin-off, is now carrying forward the main games' legacy as a brawler. It's an interesting position for a side series to be in, and Hosokawa says Lost Judgment's combat is a legitimate evolution of RGG's action systems. 

"I would also say the battle system is the most advanced form of RGG Studio's action combat yet," Hosokawa says. 

And There's Also Stealth And Parkour

When we were playing Lost Judgment, we got to see the game's new parkour and stealth systems. Both systems are relatively rudimentary in terms of gameplay. Still, they work well enough, and there's something to be said about how they break up the tried-and-true RGG gameplay, which remained relatively the same for several years. We didn't get a lot of time with either system but enjoyed what little we got to play. 

It's RGG's First Global Release

Historically, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's games have come out in Japan upwards of a year before other territories – or in some cases haven't come out at all outside of their home country. That all changes with Lost Judgment. For the first time in the company's history, it will launch a game worldwide on the same day. Publisher Sega will release Lost Judgment on September 21. It will be available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One. 

What About PC?

Good question! RGG has been bringing its games over to PC in recent years – except for the Judgment series. According to a report from Japanese entertainment site Nikkan Taisu, Johnny & Associates, the talent agency representing Takuya Kimura, the actor lending his face and voice to Yagami in the Judgment series, does not want any of their talents on "a PC platform that is not a game console platform and connects directly to the internet" due to privacy concerns. Due to publisher Sega and Johnny & Associates not reaching an agreement, the entire series will reportedly end after Lost Judgment. However, Sega has yet to say anything official on the matter.

For more on Lost Judgment, make sure to check out the new">https://www.gameinformer.com/cover-reveal/2021/08/26/cover-reveal-marve… issue of Game">https://www.gameinformer.com/cover-reveal/2021/08/26/cover-reveal-marve… Informer, where we had the chance to play through multiple hours of the game and talk in-depth with Hosokawa about the game's development, story, and themes. 

And if you caught the semi-obvious Deftones reference in this piece, sound off in the comments below. 

Tactical Shooter Nine To Five Heads To PC Early Access

Redhill Games’ Nine To Five is now available on Steam Early Access if you’re looking to try out the tactical shooter that shakes up the formula with small, scrappy team fights. If you’re looking for something that feels a lot like the common core of Counterstrike but with smaller teams, more teams in each match, and considerably more intel available before taking action, Nine To Five might be one to take a look at. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Instead of the popular 5v5 or 6v6 formats that make up the standard in most shooter maps, Nine To Five centers on 3v3v3 gameplay, meaning if you’re the last left alive on a team, you can make a quick exit and hope the other two teams tear each other to pieces, leaving you to clean house on a final target. Of course, everything is objective-based, so securing the position fast and taking a critical point can mean a quick win, while the opponents hope that you get into a skirmish first before acting. Decisions, decisions!

Gun modding is a huge part of Nine To Five, and you can tweak the dials on damage, accuracy, range, and a host of other numbers on weapons, letting you play around with bizarre and powerful takes on the core weapons you expect in a tactical shooter. Shotguns, automatic rifles, sniper rifles, and the rest of the standard fare are all available for tweaking and tuning.

Unlike the 3v3v3 mechanics that change up gameplay considerably (for better or worse) than many other shooters occupying the same subgenre, drone usage is a big thing. Players all have drones they can use to scout areas or even set up to overlook a position. Have a great sniper roost with only one entry point? Set up your drone behind you, and you will know exactly when an enemy is on the approach and can swivel around and take them out. However, drones are fragile and easily destroyed, so scout and set up with caution! Also, we all know how boring it can be when you’re dead, and you have to wait around for your allies to complete the match to move on. Well, now you can actively help your teammates while dead by taking control of a drone and doing some more recon! These drones add a highly significant factor to gameplay and can easily be as important as quality aim.

Does the 3v3v3 format interest you? Do you like checking out games in early access or waiting for launch? Let us know in the comments!

Everything We Know About NBA 2K22 So Far

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Visual Concepts
Rating: Everyone
Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Last year, Visual Concepts’ NBA 2K series saw a season of highs and lows, as it made the move to new-gen hardware and tried to keep last-gen users happy. For NBA 2K22, the mission hasn’t changed: a new-gen and current-gen version are both in development with new features to keep players on both hardware invested. “We have two unique experiences again this year,” says executive producer Erick Boenisch. “We made two brand-new games again. That's something that I feel really solid about. It worked really well for us last year; our fans resonated with the different experiences they could play. "

After revealing the main cover athlete Luka Dončić among other special covers, Visual Concepts is finally pulling back the curtain on what to expect from NBA 2K22, providing information drops through Courtside Reports. In addition, we attended a presentation from the Visual Concepts team, where it dished more on new features and answered a few questions. Here’s what we know so far.

This page was updated on 8/31 to give more details on the improved gameplay and The W

Click here to watch embedded media

On-Court Gameplay Improvements

As seen in the trailer above, Visual Concepts is promising more impactful changes on both sides of the game. Last year, Visual Concepts worked on elevating dribbling, allowing you to change up the speed of your dribble and size-up moves. It looks like more improvements to this key area of the game are coming in NBA 2K22 to provide a unique feel and rhythm when sizing up, tighter navigation, and a significantly faster overall pace.

The action should also feel a bit different thanks to some new moves on the court and a new shooting meter. Offensively, the goal is to give players more control over how they score. Post play has also seen some enhancements, including new movement and a new arsenal of back-to-basket moves. New R2/RT fakes allow you to chain multiple fakes together to keep defenders guessing, while new disengage faceup moves, new hop shots/fades/hooks, and a better pull chair mechanic give you more options for success. 

For the shooting game, a new shot meter should change things up; it dynamically expands when players take high-quality shots with skilled shooters, but this will shrink when they're heavily contested, shooting with a less skilled shooter, or fatigued. Shot IQ will matter more in NBA 2K22, forcing you to make good plays and work for open looks. Forcing up bad shots isn't going to work as it has sometimes in the past. If defenders are crowding the shooter and making good shot contests, more bricks and airballs should ensue. 

As you can see, basketball IQ and stick skills will play a bigger role in your success. You can expect precision jump shooting, dunking in traffic, and pulling off alley-oops to be more skill-based alongside new signature moves and combos to break down defenders off the dribble.  Gameplay director Mike Wang said, "If you don't make the right play, then that's going to be on you."

Defensively, a revamped shot contest, stealing, and blocking system bring more realism to the game. For blocks, expect more variety here, such as several new snatch blocks and volleyball spikes. Elite defenders should also make much more of an impact, being able to play suffocating defense on the perimeter. Defensive A.I. is also said to be improved, and you can expect a significant update to the fundamental defensive rotations.  New on-ball defensive positioning logic is also said to give defenders A.I. more consistency in their positioning regardless of their distance from the basket.

Some other tweaks include a new dunk-style creator for more customization. In addition, the badge count has been increased to 80 (see all the new ones below), and new-gen versions will introduce Takeover Perks, which you unlock to strengthen your existing Takeover abilities. You can learn more by reading the recent Courtside Report, which highlighted faster-paced gameplay, tighter and more responsive movement, more skill-based offense, and changes to the player builder.

New Badges

  • Fast Twitch - Ability to get off the floor quicker for standing layups and dunks

  • Grace Under Pressure - Ability to convert standing layups more effectively

  • Limitless Takeoff - Ability to soar from further away on driving dunk attempts

  • Mouse in the House - Ability for bigs to finish over shorter players more efficiently

  • Unstrippable - Ability to secure the ball better when gathering for a layup/dunk in traffic

  • Chef - Ability to knock down Steph-like off-dribble deep 3’s

  • Limitless Spot-up - Ability to hit logo-range 3’s off a catch and shoot

  • Lucky #7 - Boosts your ability to score when shooting early in the clock

  • Mismatch Expert - Ability to successfully shoot over taller defenders on a switch

  • Glue Hands - Ability to make difficult catches and quicker branch out to a shot or dribble

  • Hyperdrive - Boosts the speed and effectiveness of moving dribble moves

  • Quick Chain - Boosts the ability to quickly chain dribble moves together

  • Post Playmaker - Boosts the effectiveness of both shots and moves when playing in the post

  • Triple Threat Juke - Increases the effectiveness of triple threat fakes, jabs, and go moves

  • Ball Stripper - Ability to strip layup and dunk attempts more effectively

  • Hustler - Ability to get to those scrappy 50/50 balls quicker than opponents

  • Menace - Significantly drops the offensive ratings of opponents when you smother them

Seasons Are Going Game-wide

Seasons are back, and they’re expanding. They are going game-wide and will be making their way into other modes beyond MyTeam. Visual Concepts says to expect more content, rewards, and more ways to play. "It's free for all NBA 2K22 gamers; there's no pay, no battle pass, this is all free content," Boenisch confirms. "It's going to be playable in MyTeam on both gens, it's gonna be playable on MyCareer mode on both gens. And also on The W on the next-gen consoles. This brings more constant more rewards, more ways to play for gamers all year long. " 

Seasons run every six weeks, providing new content and rewards each time. Every mode will offer different rewards and ways to claim them during the season. For instance, in MyCareer, you have the chance to gain new apparel and banners for your MyPlayer. Each season will hold its own Grand Prize to chase. In MyCareer Season 1, the Grand Prize is go-karts to use in either the Neighborhood or City. This will let you reach unexplored regions, but you need to reach level 40 to obtain this prize. If you don't quite get there, you can redeem inline skates at level 30.  If you reach level 40 in four different seasons, you then earn "Legend" status. 

As for MyTeam, you earn XP with new and familiar Agendas, while also earning new rewards from Season and Lifetime Agenda Groups. You can reach level 40 in every MyTeam mode, such as Domination, Triple Thtreat, Limited, Unlimited, Draft, etc. The top prize of Season 1? Pink Diamond Carmelo Anthony!  A new fast-paced mode is also set to come this holiday.

The W is also getting some love with Seasons. Going head-to-head with other My Players online will grant you new rewards, such as VC, clothing bundles, badges, nail polish, and more.

And as a bonus, you'll have some new music as you work for your rewards each season. "First Fridays" will add new songs to the game's soundtrack every Friday throughout the season, and Visuals Concepts has inked some big partnerships with musical labels, such as Columbia Records, Def Jam Recordings, Low Profile/Casual Records, Ninja Tune, and Warner Records to get the job done and offer music from both up-and-coming artists and big-names. 

To learn more about Seasons, check out the Courtside Report here.

Drafting Returns For MyTeam

MyTeam fans will also be happy to know one much-requested feature is finally making a return: drafting. "The MyTeam draft mode will have you select an entire lineup," says MyTeam producer John Smith. "And it's going to have a constantly updated pool of players, because as everyone knows, with My Team, that roster and the players that we put out all year long, evolve very much from Season One to Season Two to Season Three and beyond. This is an online mode. And the rewards that you get with your drafted team are for your permanent MyTeam collection."

Smith did tease to expect another new mode outside of drafting to come around this holiday season. And before you ask, yes, just like in 2K21, all your progress will carry over across console generations, so if you do upgrade, you won't lose all your progress. 

The New City (PS5/Xbox Series X/S) and New Neighborhood (PS4, Xbox One)

Last year, new-gen players were introduced to The City and current-gen players had The 2K Beach. The former is getting some much-needed improvements, while the latter get to take to the waters and compete in a community aboard a cruise ship. The cruise ship will dock at exotic destinations throughout each season, with special shoreside events to keep things interesting.  Season 1 takes the cruise ship to the Carribean 

The City has a new layout this year, and Visual Concepts said it made the experience much more lively and interactive, with more NPCs populating the city to make it feel alive. A new quest system is promising more creative content, while also providing new ways to level up and earn rewards. Visual Concepts says it will go into specifics at a later date.

Matchmaking options for The City should give players quicker alternatives for getting into games, with special buildings designated for this feature. Visual Concepts also said these types of sessions will be available for a number of game types and contribute to all MyPlayer progress.

Some other confirmations we received: Affiliations still exist and Visual Concepts said they'll "be bigger than ever." You also won't have to spend games grinding in Rookieville to access The City, as Boenisch confirmed that's a thing of the past.  "Rookieville was a good experiment for us," he said. "I enjoyed it for what it was. But at the end of the day, I didn't feel it added to the game what we set out for it. So there is no Rookieville in 2K22; you start as a fresh-faced kid in The City." 

Visual Concepts said to expect more information in September on both The City and Cruise Ship Neighborhoods. 

The W Is Back For PS5 And Xbox Series X/S

Last year, the new-gen versions of NBA 2K21 introduced The W, which let you create your own WNBA MyPlayer for the first time and build your own path to stardom by playing for one of the league’s 12 teams.  NBA 2K22 is bringing it back with a new badge progression system and giving you more ways to grow your skills with professional WNBA players. 

You can customize your badges freely, allowing you to create unique builds depending on your player’s specialties. Badges come in four categories: finishing, shooting, playmaking, and defense. When you create your MyPlayer, the badges available will appear next to your attributes. By playing games, you’ll earn badge points, and once you earn enough to fill a meter, you can equip or upgrade a badge. 

Visual Concepts said there will be greater rewards and bigger consequences depending on your actions. One decision you'll have is how you spend your off-time. Visual Concepts is adding three playable activities to participate in on these days that will contribute to either bettering your craft, gaining more popularity, or beefing up your bank account. If you partake in scrimmages, which only last one quarter, you have the opportunity to improve your chemistry with teammates. If being a team player is important to you, you’ll want to spend some time here. You also have the option to join practices to work on specific skills, which will only help you earn badges and upgrades for them faster. 

However, if you want to leverage the connections you make around the league, contact workouts let you challenge WNBA superstars, such as Candace Parker, A’ja Wilson, and Nneka Ogwumike to 1-on-1, 2-on-2, or even 3-on-3 games of 21. You start your The W journey with three WNBA contacts, and each player specializes in different skills that will help you improve your badge categories. Earning a W against one of these players boosts your badge progress significantly. And if you lose, you can keep trying until you prove yourself. You also have the option to eventually team up with them for workouts instead of always going head-to-head. 

The W online is also back, with some improvements. You can now team up with friends before hitting matchmaking, so you can take to court together. Playing online also lets you earn season XP, which can go toward rewards, such as adding historic contacts for workouts. This will refresh every season, but it looks like for season one, you get legends from the Houston Comets and New York Liberty to learn from. Exclusive clothing and signature animations will also be available.

MyCareer Is Getting Reenvisioned For New-Gen

A traditional career mode will hit current-gen versions, but Visual Concepts is merging MyCareer with The City for new-gen versions, so your growing career will be reflected in this venue. As your player makes a name for themselves, they can pursue side ventures here, such as entering the fashion world or getting involved in the hip-hop business. You will also watch your home base grow with your ambition and success right in The City.

"What we're doing this year is [we] really tore down the wall between The City and MyCareer; they're one," Boenisch explains. "Your MyCareer takes place in The City. You'll be using the [new] questing engine we made as part of the MyCareer experience. Your house, [it's] going to start off really simple, and as you kind of play along in your career, your house becomes bigger and bigger until you get the penthouse in the sky. But the whole point is, you're living in The City with tons of other people who are on their careers as well. You're just interacting with all of these people, pushing along your objective. "

When asked if we would get an authored, cinematic story like the past, Boenisch had this to say: "The story of MyCareer is it's the narrative of you - the MyPlayer that you create and your journey, from wherever we start you to ultimately where you want to end up. That's different for many people. That's an NBA champion, or that is making it to the NBA, or that is making it to the Hall of Fame. There's so many ways you can choose. But without giving too much away because I do want to talk about this a lot later, that tearing down the wall of MyCareer and The City is you will have these interactions, these cinematics, if you want to call it that, in real-time in The City. As you are going about your story, you're going to visit your agent's house, you're going to the Nike facility to have your negotiations in the environment there. You're moving about your career in The City alongside many, many other players doing the same."

More will be revealed in September about exactly what the storyline entails and how much freedom you have within it.

MyNBA/WNBA (PS5/Xbox Series X/S)

While Visual Concepts wouldn’t elaborate just yet what it has planned, it said to expect the road to building a winning franchise to involve a bigger focus on the staff behind the players. Staffing is going to be just as integral as signing star players to bolster your roster. This includes scouting, training, and coaching. We can expect more details in early September. 

Release Timing

A global launch is set for September 10 on all platforms (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC). You can check out all the different editions and what's in them here.

We will be updating this story as more info is revealed, so you can keep track of it all in one place.

Ghostrunner’s Neon Pack Adds Assist Options And Roguelike Wave Mode

Ghostrunner is a thrilling but brutally difficult action platformer that requires pixel-perfect timing and quick reflexes to survive. Thankfully, things will be a bit easier for those who want to enjoy the ride with a lower skill ceiling, thanks to the arrival of the Neon Pack DLC. The new content bundle, which is available to purchase now for $4.49, adds flashy new swords and two additional gameplay modes, one of which adds some handy assist options to make your ninja parkour adventure less maddening. 

Assist Mode adds handy accessibility options such as shorter cooldown times for special skills, the ability to take one extra hit before dying, and, perhaps the biggest boon, gameplay slowdown. This option decreases the speed of the action by two degrees, “slow” or “slower.” This allows players who have trouble keeping up with Ghostrunner due to physical disability, age, or otherwise to engage with the game at a pace better suited to them.

Click here to watch embedded media

For hardcore players, the roguelike Wave Mode pits them against 20 randomized waves of increasingly challenging enemies. With every wave you complete, you’ll unlock another upgrade to equip to help keep you in the fight. A special prize awaits anyone who can slice their way through all 20 waves. 

Neon Pack also bestows the Neon Night, Afterglow, Luminescence, and Glint swords. These colorful animated blades each come with their own glove set. 

Ghostrunner is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Native PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions are scheduled to release September 28. Meanwhile, Ghostrunner 2 has already been announced for new-gen consoles and PC, though the release window remains a mystery. 

What do you think of the Neon Pack? If you bounced on Ghostrunner due to its difficulty, does the assist mode entice you to give it another go? Let us know in the comments!

Windows 11 With Gaming Enhancements Launches October 5

PC users are no longer left wondering when the next big Windows platform is going to launch. Confirmed today in a blog post, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 11 on October 5. New computers loaded with the redesigned operating system will be released on that day as well, though a free update to Windows 11 will begin rolling out to existing Windows 10 users starting on launch day. But getting your upgrade could take a while.

Microsoft is looking to their last big OS release for guidance on this rollout for existing devices. “The free upgrade to Windows 11 starts on October 5 and will be phased and measured with a focus on quality. Following the tremendous learnings from Windows 10, we want to make sure we’re providing you with the best possible experience,” says Aaron Woodman in his post on the Windows blog. Newer products running Windows 10 will be prioritized, as they are more likely to hit the preferred specifications, which won't be a stretch for recently purchased computers. 

Microsoft plans to have the rollout last through mid-2022, so if your desktop or laptop is more than a couple of years old, you may have to have some patience. Leading up to the release of Windows 11, MS will be rereleasing its PC Health Check app to determine eligibility to upgrade. Those who wish to remain on Windows 10 for the foreseeable future will continue to receive support and updates through October 14, 2025.

So, what does Windows 11 mean for gaming? Microsoft is taking features from the Xbox Series X/S consoles and bringing them to the new OS. Auto HDR will be making an appearance, and DirectX 12 Ultimate, which allows the use of DirectX Raytracing, mesh shaders, and variable rate shading. In layman’s terms, games can look and/or run better using these tools.

Another big deal for PC gaming is the inclusion of support for the DirectStorage API, which will greatly decrease loading times in-game, like what you’d see in the Series X/S. Luckily, DirectStorage will also be available for Windows 10 users, but regardless of your OS, the feature will need specific hardware like solid-state drives to work.

Of course, the Xbox app and Xbox Game Pass – as usual, for a separate subscription fee – will be present in the new OS environment, allowing for the use of Xbox’s community features and the subscription service’s library of games. Streaming games through the Xbox app via Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming at some point, but until then, the service will have to be through the web browser.

Windows 11 will also feature a new look, with the Start menu gravitating to the center of the taskbar. Clicking the Start icon will introduce a dock window with your available apps. It’s rather MacOS in its presentation, so those who are Windows loyalists may be in for some culture shock. Microsoft is tying Teams into the taskbar and will introduce updates to widgets, snapping, and improved accessibility options. Android apps will also be making their debut on PC, and not just for touch screen devices!

While the change from Windows 10 to 11 is a big deal, I don’t see it as being quite as problematic as previous OS transitions. While Windows 11 has a new look, the way it runs behind the scenes will be similar enough to Windows 10 that you shouldn’t have to worry about your current gaming collection suddenly becoming useless. Although there may be individual issues with apps and programs, so if there’s anything you absolutely need to keep up and running, do some research before upgrading.

Click here to watch embedded media

Are you excited about the new version of Windows? Will you be upgrading ASAP, or would you rather wait and see how things shake out? I, for one, love digging into new software and tech, so count me among those diving in immediately.

Hearthstone Unveils New Mercenaries Mode

We first heard about Mercenaries all the way back in February, but today Blizzard has taken a much deeper dive into specifics about the upcoming Hearthstone mode. Mercenaries is essentially a different game but located within the Hearthstone client and universe, living separately in the same space – similar to how the auto battler Battlegrounds shares space with the core digital collectible card game. Hearthstone Mercenaries arrives on October 12.

In Mercenaries, you build up a village and put together a crew of powerful warriors, wizards, and whatever else you like. Most of the characters you can acquire are huge names in the Warcraft universe, ranging from high-profile powerhouses like Tyrande Whisperwind to meme-masters like Milhouse Manastorm. It’s important to reiterate that acquiring, playing, equipping, and both PVE and PVP experiences in Mercenaries are nothing like that of core Hearthstone. This is ostensibly a completely new game. 

Click here to watch embedded media

You must build a team of mercenaries from core archetypes – Fighters, Casters, and Protectors- and choose to slot both abilities and equipment. What do you do with this team? Chase bounties, of course! As you take on a bounty, you face various encounters and other interactive nodes as you work through a map. Yes, this aspect is very similar to how you maneuver through many modern roguelike deckbuilders such as Slay the Spire or Monster Train. Combat is its own beast that requires plenty of strategical noodling as you set things up and watch them happen, hopefully with a result that leaves you the winner. 

Along the way, progression is bolstered by building up your own village, which hosts myriad unlocks. You can check out deep dives into gameplay, village/collection, and a top-level overview on the official site. What do you think of Mercenaries? Is this mode appealing? Do you play Battlegrounds or standard Hearthstone? Let us know in the comments!

Dead Space Early Build Shows Better Lighting, VFX, And Alien Dismemberment

I remember playing Dead Space when it dropped in 2008 and putting my playthrough on pause multiple times because of crippling fear. Necromorph gurgling and low-frequency vespers would fill my ears even when walking down an unoccupied hallway. That level of dread is hard to match and even harder to recreate. And yet Dead Space is back in the spotlight once again. Motive Studios is helming the remake and showcased an early build during today’s livestream event: better lighting, new VFX, and updated necromorph dismemberment technology. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Senior producer Philippe Ducharme and creative director Roman Campos-Oriola took to the virtual podium to facilitate the Dead Space Remake livestream and show what the team has in store for returning and new players. Ducharme began the conversation highlighting the importance of honoring the first game’s legacy; “staying true to the source.” Motive Studios engaged with community members early on for brutal feedback during the conception stages. And even though polished gameplay wasn’t revealed today, we got a quick peek at the Ishimura’s next-gen facelift. The massive cruiser has been recreated using legacy assets amplified with new levels of detail and atmospheric lighting. Ambient fog coats shadowy corridors where necromorphs lie in wait.

Speaking of necromorphs, Ducharme and Campos-Oriola talked about the deeper level of gore coming to the Dead Space Remake. Impalement from Dead Space 2 is back, and layers of bodily membranes can be blasted away by Isaac’s different firearms. For instance, an energy slice from the plasma cutter might first rip an alien’s skin off the bone, giving the player an idea of their chosen weapon's usefulness based on visual feedback. Perhaps an enhanced plasma cuter might sever the bone entirely. Either way, enemy body damage is now implemented, making the action more horrific than it already was; an impressive feat if you played the original version of the game.

Towards the end of the livestream, when asked about narrative expansion, Campos-Oriola responded that the story would remain unchanged because it’s “really iconic... it’s just about being Isaac and going into that hulking spaceship and feeling alone and isolated as you try to survive all these space zombies, finding Nicole, and solving the mystery of the Markers.” Motive Studios wants to resituate Dead Space in its broader universe (e.g., movies, anime, sequel games) in a better way. For more details, watch the stream above.

Does this make you even more excited for the remake? Based on Ducharme and Campos-Oriola’s words, is the team paying homage to the series in all the ways that you’ve ever imagined? Drop your thoughts in the comments section!

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Season 5 Is Here

While Call of Duty: Vanguard may have revitalized Call of Duty conversation over the last few weeks, the content engine rolls on strong for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Warzone. Season 5 is finally here, and with it comes a new Double Agent mode, multiplayer maps, Zombies, and Warzone additions! Let’s break it down.

First, there’s Double Agent mode. Get ready to backstab and betray in this multiplayer party-style experience. Is this Call of Duty’s take on Among Us fever? Not quite, but there’s still plenty of sus to be had. Double Agent features a ten-player lobby in which players take on one of three roles. The titular double agents want to see everyone else dead or blow up explosive sites to see victory. The investigator, well, investigates to try to find the double agents. And the rest of the players are operatives who identify and eliminate the double agents before they win. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Obviously, this type of game mode wouldn’t work well with mini-games and many people standing in a circle accusing each other of being the enemy in a Call of Duty game. Nah, everyone starts with a pistol, and weapons are available all over the map. However, each role has access to different skills and abilities to help them meet their goals. For instance, the investigator can track footprints from a kill location to help identify an enemy or issue a Wanted Order to mark a suspicious player. Yep, you can use voice chat to help identify those wily agents too! I’m sure those conversations will be absolutely chill.

Demolition game mode makes a return. If an investigation isn’t your thing, you can blow up bombsites. Now that’s more like it! Five multiplayer maps head into rotation here as well across the season rollout (not all available at Season launch), including Echelon, Slums, Showroom, Drive-In, and Zoo. Yes, Zoo. You get to battle it out in freaking bear pits, aquariums, and the gift shop. Don’t worry; no animals will be harmed. I hope we get to fight in the penguin areas; those are always the coolest places in any zoo.

Zombies mode is getting a new perk that lets players see enemies, highlighting them with a bright outline perfect for spotting dangerous threats long before they’re chomping your face. A new Outbreak region brings even more variance to the Zombies survival mode (If you’re not familiar with Outbreak, it’s pretty awesome, and yes, it’s a mode within a mode, games are getting very meta these days). Tanks have also been added to Outbreak, so when you really need some extra stopping power, you can mow down an entire legion of zombies with some serious shelling. And if that wasn’t enough, a grapple gun also adds some traversal and speed options for Outbreak players.

And if you aren’t interested in any of that content, Warzone has even more going on. New perks enter the pot with Combat Scout and Tempered. Combat Scout pings enemies and temporarily highlights them, which is a huge edge in combat for the battle royale mode. Tempered lets you get the most out of your armor plates, making them more efficient so that your team will likely have more plates to share so you can go into battle fully prepared. New points of interest and a new Gulag map flesh things out.

Alongside all this, there are new operators, new weapons, and more also on the way. For a full overview of everything hitting in Season 5, check out the official site here. What do you think about Season 5, specifically the Double Agent mode? Let us know in the comments!

The Marvel's Midnight Suns Digital Issue Is Now Live

Marvel's Midnight Suns

If you subscribe to Game Informer's digital edition, you're now able to learn more about the highly anticipated Marvel's Midnight Suns from the strategy masters at Firaxis Games. Following last week's cover reveal, our digital issue is now live to subscribers on web browsersiPad/iPhone, and Android devices. Individual issues will be available for purchase later today. You can download the apps to view the issue by following this link. All of these digital options are included in a standard subscription.

Cover by Ryan Stegman (artist) and Guru-eFX (colorist)

But this issue is so much more than just our cover story! In keeping with the theme of games inspired by the colorful panels of comic creators, various Game Informer editors discuss their favorite comic book and superhero games of all time. Jason Guisao writes an opinion on why Princess Zelda should finally get her own game. We offer a detailed breakdown of Valves' new portable PC device, the Steam Deck. Matt Miller takes an early look at the World of Warcraft-themed Pandemic board game. Meanwhile, Blake Hester goes hands-on with the latest Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio epic, Lost Judgement.

We also have deep-dive on some of the most exciting games on the horizon, including big features on Back 4 Blood and Life is Strange: True Colors. Even beyond our featured previews, you can expect new looks at Far Cry 6, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, NBA 2K22, Halo Infinite, Company of Heroes 3, and plenty more! Top that off with our usual review section, as well as a bevy of other interesting articles and this issue has something for everyone!

If you subscribe digitally on PC or mobile through our standard subscription, you can access the issue now. If you subscribe through our third-party apps, Kindle and Nook, the issue will arrive in your library later this week.

Not a digital subscriber yet? Convert your existing print subscription or start a new subscription here.

CD Projekt Red Hires Cyberpunk 2077 Community Modders

Despite its bumpy launch period, Cybperunk 2077’s fervent modding community has been hard at work buffing Night City’s immersion in positive and controversial ways. Nevertheless, the impact that mods like third-person perspective and cosmetic upgrades for V have raised the eyebrows of developers at CD Projekt Red. According to a post on the Cyberpunk 2077 Modding Community Discord Server (as well as this Reddit screenshot seen here), a few notable modders have been hired to work alongside the folks at CD Projekt Red.

Under developer Yigsoft’s banner, the chosen modders are slated to work on multiple aspects of Cyberpunk 2077’s backend. The post reads as follows, “We will be working on various projects related to the Cyberpunk 2077 backend and the game’s modding support. We are really excited for this, and we really hope we can help to bring Cyberpunk 2077 to the next level!” What these community members turned full-fledged developers will be working on remains to be seen. 

Cyberpunk 2077 has gotten a long list of technical updates since its 2020 launch. The patch notes range from minor bugs to progress-halting issues. Multiplayer and next-gen upgrades are still expected at some point in the future, but details surrounding these anticipated features are scarce. Regardless of this, Cyberpunk 2077 soared to new heights on high-end PCs, earning a 9 when we originally reviewed it. While myriad problems have since been fixed, Cd Projekt Red’s ambitious sandbox wasn’t recieved as well on the base versions of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. I concluded my last-gen review stating:

“Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t optimized for last-gen consoles, and no amount of interesting side activities can remedy that. On PC, the world lives up to its title as the 'City of Dreams.' For Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players, however, their time in Night City is likely a nightmare.”

With community members joining the dev team, what do you hope to see in future Cyberpunk tweaks or content rollouts? Let us know in the comments section!

Photo Adventure Game Toem Gets September Launch Date

Toem is a charming photography-focused game that recently got its due during the Nintendo Indie World Showcase. Those excited to unwind in its cutesy, hand-drawn world and capture photographs will get their chance on September 17.  

The game whisks players to a whimsical land inspired by Scandanavia inhabited by talking balloons, goofy ship captains, and other weird characters designed to make you say “aww.” You’ll use your trusty camera to take photos to solve puzzles while working your way up a mountain to experience an event known as the, you guessed it, Toem. Since your character has an altruistic soul, you also use your camera eye to solve the problems of the area’s native citizens. Check out the trailer for a snapshot of everything that lies in store. 

Click here to watch embedded media

As you’ve likely gathered, Toem is a laid-back experience that encourages players to slow down and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere. To that end, a soundtrack of chill beats helps players melt into the adventure. A roughly 4-hour runtime also positions Toem as a pleasant palette cleanser in between larger releases. If you’re a completionist, though, expect to spend twice as long uncovering all of the game’s secrets. 

Toem was already slated to launch on Switch and PC, but the game has now been confirmed for PlayStation 5. You can pick it up for $19.99 with a 10% discount during launch week. If you’re in the market for other upcoming photography-based games, check our list of the coolest photo-taking games you can play right now and on the horizon. 

Any of you shutterbugs interested in giving Toem a look? Let us know in the comments! 

Far Cry 6 Preview – Stoking The Flames

Far Cry 6

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC, Mac

Ever since its announcement last summer, Far Cry 6 has been one of the most highly anticipated games on the horizon. With a revolution against a murderous dictator on the fictional Caribbean Island of Yara serving as the backdrop, the stakes are high in this latest entry. While everything has looked promising to this point, I was excited to finally get my hands on the new game to see for myself how it’s turning out.

The opening moments of Far Cry 6 feature celebratory tones, but they don’t last long. You play Dani Rojas (who can be male or female), a former soldier looking towards a better life. You’re on the roof of your home having a drink with your friends Alejo and Lita, excited to leave Yara behind. The plan is drinks in Mexico, then dinner in Miami. A commotion on the ground draws your attention as soldiers in President Antón Castillo’s army start shooting civilians. Lita pleads with Alejo not to draw attention, but his hatred for Castillo is too much; he throws his beer at the soldiers, yelling, “F--- Castillo!” Unfortunately, the soldiers spot him and put a bullet in his head. 

Click here to watch embedded media

All hell breaks loose as Lita and Dani make a break for it, evading soldiers and racing to the docks. They board a fishing vessel, but the sense of relief is short-lived as the boat suddenly stops and Castillo walks down the steps. Actor Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian fame plays Castillo. From this scene, he appears to one-up the already sterling roster of menacing antagonists from Far Cry’s history. 

After his bodyguard murders one of the refugees who yells in Castillo’s face, the President turns his attention to a small, hooded child in the back, who turns out to be his son, Diego. Diego was also attempting to escape, and he pleads with his father to let the others go. Castillo doesn’t listen. He whisks his son away, and his forces open fire on the ship. 

Dani awakens on Isla Santuario next to Lita, who is bleeding out on the beach. She hangs on long enough to pass Dani her phone with information on finding rebels on the island. In an emotional moment, Lita dies, and Dani grabs her machete and embarks on the journey to escape from Yara.

Dani soon seeks out the camp in Lita’s phone and finds Clara, the leader of the resistance group Libertad. Dani asks for help getting out, but Clara runs down Libertad’s mission, convincing Dani to stay and fight. Dani’s first mission is to track down a former double agent named Juan Cortez. 

Juan is known for his love of booze but also his resourcefulness and eccentricity. Naturally, I find him at the bar in a small, beachside town. Castillo’s FND military forces are also looking for him, and it turns out the barman sold him out. After Juan pays the bartender back for that favor, he and his pet alligator, Guapo, jump into action, fighting off the soldiers alongside Dani. Guapo likes Dani and becomes the first Amigo – animal companions that fight alongside you – that you add to your roster.

Before heading back to camp, Juan says he wants to make a stop at a recent FND supply drop. Along with Guapo, I take out the soldiers and scavenge the supplies. Once back at camp, I use those supplies to craft two special bullet types for enemies with and without armor, respectively. 

Far Cry 6

Juan then tells me my next mission: Steal uranium from one of Castillo’s forts. On my way there, I encounter a checkpoint that blocks traffic with a spike strip. I decide to take out the soldiers and destroy the FND billboard to claim the checkpoint as my own, which posts guerrilla fighters there instead of Castillo’s forces. Shortly after, I arrive at my destination. 

The fort is full of guards, but I notice multiple ways to approach the situation after scoping it out from a nearby viewpoint. Do I equip my armor-piercing rounds and go in guns blazing? Or do I take a sneakier route to make my approach easier? I see vines on the exterior that I could climb, and there is a way to swim under the fort and enter through the cellar. I could also go to the substation on the cliffside and zipline into the window. I decide to scale the vines and take out the patrolling soldiers one by one. After killing the officer, retrieving the key, and finding the uranium, I head back to Juan at Clara’s camp.

Once back, Juan hands me my first Supremo – an ultimate weapon that operates on a cooldown. The Exterminador is a multi-rocket launcher that locks onto enemies and wipes them from existence; it’s the definition of “overkill” against foot soldiers but is also effective against tanks. Other Supremos you unlock include the Volta, an EMP pulse that knocks enemies over, disables security systems, and hijacks vehicles, and the Médico, which lets you self-revive and heal allies. My personal favorite is El Muro, a revolver with a ton of stopping power that you use with a handheld shield.

Far Cry 6

After blowing up two of Castillo’s ships and escaping Isla Santuario, I land on El Este, where I meet a whole new cast of characters, fight alongside different resistance groups, and open a ton of new missions. Yara seems vast in its explorable area, and I can’t wait to dig into the final product. 

Far Cry 6 starts with a bang from both narrative and action standpoints. I’m curious if Ubisoft can carry forward with these emotional gut-punches without falling victim to the cognitive dissonance for which Far Cry is often known. Hopefully, the enjoyment we get from flying around in our wingsuits, firing over-the-top weapons, and fighting alongside a cute wiener dog named Chorizo doesn’t contrast too harshly with the story of an island in political peril. Only time will tell if Ubisoft can balance these disparate tones, but in my time playing, I had a blast and still felt the weight of the dark narrative beats.

Far Cry 6 comes to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, Luna, and PC on October 7.

The Big Con Is An Easy Mark Worth Scoping Out

Publisher: Skybound
Developer: Mighty Yell
Rating: Teen
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

The Big Con transports players back to the ‘90s when video rental stores dotted the land, tacky bright colors were in like Flynn, and you could unironically describe something as “radical” and be considered, well, pretty rad. The game launches today, and I've found the game's first few chapters to be as enjoyable as drawing that cool "S" symbol over and over again. That's a compliment in case you're a young 'un. That thing is weirdly entertaining to make. 

The game stars Ali, a mischievous though good-hearted teenager who discovers her mom’s video store (which also serves as their home) is in danger of being foreclosed by dubious loan sharks. Saving the store requires repayment to the tune of $97,000. Despite her mother’s resistance, Ali wants to help, and she secretly partners up with Ted, a well-dressed teen and master con artist, who shows her the ins and outs of stealing. That's right; you'll need to con your way to enough money to buy a fancy new car. She’s also got Rad Ghost, a humourous apparition that is the walking distillation of early ‘90s attitude who serves as your hint giver and moral support.  

Click here to watch embedded media

Under the guise of attending band camp, Ali and Ted embark on a cross-country road trip to hunt for increasingly bigger scores. Every stop along the way, whether it be shopping malls or a busy train, serves as a self-contained level, and the goal is to accumulate a certain amount of cash before moving on. As you freely roam around areas, you'll gather items and converse with folks to find out what makes them tick and, most of all, the things they're willing to open their wallets for. 

I'm spending most of my time pickpocketing friends, frenemies, and plenty of colorful strangers. It’s the most basic form of stealing and can be performed on just about anyone. Doing so involves sneaking behind targets and winning a simple mini-game of stopping a moving cursor inside of the colored section of a bar. The harder the pickpocket, the faster the needle, and the more narrow the safe zone is. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll earn more money from tougher robberies. I'm scoring close to $100 or more from easier targets after initially getting single-digit amounts.  Pickpocketing isn't the hardest thing in the world, provided you possess decent reflexes, but it does capture the tense timing of nabbing what isn't yours without detection. Not that I would know anything about that, of course. 

So far, there doesn’t seem to be any apparent moral consequence to flexing those sticky fingers. I kind of hope that remains true because I’ve had no quarrel with stealing a child’s favorite baseball card to sell to a desperate collector or robbing a mother while she strolled peacefully with her newborn. Failing the pickpocket game does get you caught, however, though it only means you can’t attempt to rob them again without wearing a disguise. Paper bags, clown noses, Groucho Marx glasses, and other silly outfits can be found while exploring and allow you to frisk targets who are on to you. You can only get caught three times in total, though, so don’t be afraid to move onto someone else if a target is too tricky to fleece. 

You can make decent money digging through pockets, but the bigger scores come by eavesdropping on folks to learn about their wants and needs, then capitalizing on them. I encountered a desperate father looking to buy a sold-out doll for his whiny daughter and a stock trader willing to pay anything for a hot market tip. Getting what you need generally hasn’t been difficult as long as I explored thoroughly and talked to everyone. To help the stock guy, I feigned interest to a financial expert who was more than happy to regale me with a humorously long diatribe about current market trends. Regurgitating that lecture to the needy gentlemen netted $1000 for the tip. 

The puzzle design has yet to challenge me, and I think I’m okay with that for now. The Big Con has design trappings reminiscent of point-and-click games of old, but I haven’t had to combine items or manually present them in the sometimes annoying “is this what you’re looking for?” kind of way. If you have what someone needs, the game clearly surfaces it through dialogue. This takes away a lot of the frustrating guesswork and obtuse dot-connecting that the genre can be notorious for and allows me to enjoy the goofy writing and weird situations. 

You’ll also pick up random junk in addition to costumes and quest items. Nothing goes to waste in The Big Con, though, thanks to an eccentric collector who tasks you with finding items that match certain themes. For example, he'll want things that remind him of corn or cows. He’ll pay for each correct item, and he’ll also buy all of your remaining junk once you’re ready to move on to the next area. It's a nifty way to make some extra cash, providing further incentive to poke around your surroundings. 

So far, The Big Con has been a charming homage to a decade near and dear to millennials such as myself. It's been a smooth game to sail through since the mechanics and puzzles aren’t the deepest in the world, and while that could be taken as a knock, I’d rather something be simple and make sense than be overly convoluted. That could change as I explore deeper, of course, but for now I'm having a good time soaking in the vibrant presentation and catchy soundtrack. I’m also growing more and more curious if Ali’s altruistic crime spree pays off. Can she rescue the video store? Will she face any consequences whatsoever for her actions? Seriously, what’s really going on with Rad Ghost? You can answer those questions and more right now by picking up The Big Con on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.