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First Teaser Trailer Shows Sam, A Bike, And A Bunch Of Baddies

Croteam has revealed a teaser trailer for its upcoming Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass, which shows the titular character and a bunch of his closest friends.

There's not too much to the clip, but it's fun to see Sam again, as well as one of those creepy headless guys with bombs for hands. We won't have to wait too long for additional information – Croteam says more information, including the official announcement for the game, will be coming at E3, during Devolver Digital's press conference. 

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Your body is a temple in this open-world survival title

With numerous survival and battle royale titles swarming the video game market, developer Gamepires aims to stand on top using realism with their upcoming Steam Early Access game, SCUM. 

As a prisoner on a TV show, the ultimate objective is to win their freedom by surviving against zombie-like creatures with or against up to 64 other contestants on a 12 kilometer island. The focus to achieving that goal is mastering the human body and its complexities through the “most advanced human body simulation in the world,” creative director Tomislav Pongrac claims. The inspiration for the simulation comes from the team’s research while playing myriad survival titles. They realized that, aside from weapons players discover, differences were merely cosmetic. “You can’t call yourself a survival game if you don’t simulate the real world in some way,” says Gamespire CTO Andrej Levenski.

A chip on the back of your character’s head tracks numerous physical stats, from  respiratory rate to blood volume and calorie consumption, all of which are determined by attributes customized during character creation. Exercising and watching what and how much you eat are the king factors in your success – much like real life. In turn, poor choices result in stat reductions. For example, if you charge into battle and lose a tooth,  that hole in your mouth can affect your ability to eat, which causes a domino effect in stat reductions due to starvation. Hunger depletes attributes such as strength, which governs things like hand-to-hand blows as well as steadiness with a rifle. Players can also get sick if they loiter in the rain too long and don’t have water-resistant gear, and contract diseases from fighting animals.

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“In real life, we are all slightly different depending on what we have learned and what we are capable to perform,” says Pongrac. “In SCUM, all players will be different, regarding their knowledge and capabilities, and we found it much better and more realistic than classes which can be found in some games. In those games, you can create a sniper, a heavy guy, a medic, etc. while in SCUM you will be able to create a character who was a medic before he has been cast on the island, but they also can have a knowledge of using rifles, martial arts, or any other skill you find important. It provides players with almost endless possibilities.”

Upon death, players respawn as a clone of their character, who is created by the TEC1 corporation, the runners of the TV show. Your character maintains all of their attributes thanks to the chip tracking their stats, but the equipment you respawn with depends on a fame system determined by points with different tiers. The more renowned you are, the more equipment you can respawn with, at the cost of spending more points.  Pongrac describes it as “in-game monetization.” Respawning, however, subtracts points and makes you less popular with viewers. “We wanted to create a system that will allow players to continuously upgrade their characters and not to go mad when hundreds of hours invested in gameplay go to waste,” says Pongrac. “There will be no permadeath in the game, but we will make sure that players who try to survive are rewarded while all others who play recklessly are punished in a certain way. There are more things related to the fame system, from sponsor gifts, optional coupons for healing, food, and gear, along with how fame will be distributed within teams, but we will save that for later.”

Despite these numerous systems, Gamepires says SCUM also appeals. A randomized character option that assigns sporadic stats allows players to quickly jump into multiplayer modes that range from team deathmatch to battle royale. “[These types of events are great] because players can rotate faster and try some top gear from the game,” says Levenski. “You can do your regular survival things like hunting, crafting, and cooking, and when events are ready just join in … Your character stats and abilities from survival mode still count in those type of events, so you better join when your character is in good shape.”

If players want to focus on surviving without narrative intrusion, they can ignore plot points and discover the secrets of the show at will. “SCUM provides different gameplay mechanics depending on what players want to do,” says Pongrac. “We like to compare it to the onion. You can peel it layer by layer, or just take a big bite, whatever makes you happy.” 

Though SCUM is ambitious in scope, these factors seem to meld well for what looks like a distinction the survival genre desperately needs. You’ll have the chance to try SCUM when it hits Steam Early Access in the second quarter this year. For more on survival games, check out our hands-on thoughts on SCUM, the latest trailer for State of Decay 2, and our Subnautica review.

Taking The Circuit By Storm

The rise to the top always starts with a first step, and for those aiming for number one in the rankings in Tennis World Tour, you're going to have to methodically work your way through tournaments across the globe.

Developer Breakpoint (who worked on the Top Spin series) has released a new video for the game (coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 22) outlining how players construct their schedule in the game's career mode.

Your player's schedule is more than just a menu of dates, however, as managing it well is crucial to maximizing your earnings, avoiding fatigue, and growing as a player.

For more on the game's career mode, check out this rundown from the Sports Desk column.

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Sora Journeys To Classic Kingdom

A new Kingdom Hearts III trailer dropped today showing off some of the minigames that will be playable in the game, specifically focusing on a bizarre handheld system in Sora's possession that recalls the old days of LCD games.

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The trailer dropped during then KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dandelion Meeting in Anaheim, a fan event for the Kingdom Hearts mobile game, Kingdom Hearts Union χ (read as Cross). The short trailer really only gives a small look at the game's minigames, but it is interesting to see any more of the decidedly elusive game.

Kingdom Hearts III was first announced in 2013 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The MMO Sequel Is Headed To The West

Nexon has announced its long-awaited MMO sequel, MapleStory 2, is finally headed to the West.

Originally released in Korea in 2015 and in China last year, MapleStory 2 improves on the original's 2D sprites and playing field by turning them 3D. You can split your time between dungeon-crawling and facing monsters, or idly build up your house after exploring the world.

Though Nexon did not announce a release date, players can sign up for a closed beta until May 6. The beta will run from May 9-16.

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Choosing Your Own Path In The Abyss

Underworld Ascendant is a game that, for better or worse, has the chains of history shackled to it. The new immersive sim from OtherSide Entertainment is a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, a 1992 game by many of the same developers who were more than happy to explain that it is often considered the first ever first-person action game. With that kind of precedent, the kind of pressure Underworld Ascendant is under starts to take form, though the game definitely seems willing and able to hold that weight.

To say the gameplay in Underworld Ascendant is player-authored might be selling it short. When we talked to OtherSide Entertainment cofounder and immersive sim luminary Paul Neurath earlier this year, he emphasized a desire to take the immersive sim genre further beyond its limitations. Circumventing limitations is the underlying foundation of the genre, after all.

In Underworld Ascendant, players have free reign to seek out solutions however they see fit using whatever is at their disposal. Using what is appropriately titled the Improvisation Engine, players can use and manipulate their environment to solve puzzles, cross gaps, defeat enemies, and generally just tackle any issue in front of them they may need or want to overcome.

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One example in the first dungeon is using water to put out fire. The game imparts the knowledge of this mechanic early on by simply telling you that water, in any of its forms, can be used to put out the various bits of fire around you, from candles to torches to objects set ablaze. It is up to the player to figure out how to apply this knowledge to progress. An immediate option to use water arrows to douse hanging lanterns around an enemy skeleton, befuddling them before sneaking in for the kill. Another might be to set fire to a nearby wooden block as a distraction and then put it out to sneak past. Or the player could just not engage with the mechanic at all until they absolutely need to use it.

The game's narrative is similarly influenced by player behavior. Rival factions vie for your attention and are offended by a lack of it. The player's actions have consequences that ripple across the land and choosing how best to navigate between often contrary options can drastically affect the world.

Still, experimentation sits at the heart of the game and courses through all aspects. The overall structure of Underworld Ascendant has players taking quests, gaining skills, and having helpful eureka moments that can't be quantified within a skill tree. You only need to learn that wooden doors are flammable once before it becomes a core part of your mental toolset for solving puzzles.

The immersive sim genre is one that trades in the currency of stories and experiences, acting as a playground for experimentation for players to tell each other how they overcame various obstacles using unlikely tools. Underworld Ascendant seems to be seeking to do more with its world than merely telling players to have at it, however, and is trying to be a game that uses its variety and openness to encourage repalyability. OtherSide wants players to find their stories of creative puzzle solving and then try to create more stories on top of that.

Underworld Ascendant has a lot of history to live up to, but the far more interesting question is whether the game will live up to its own potential. While we'll know for sure when the game releases later this year on PC, it is making a strong argument for meeting that lofty goal already.

Siegfried Comes Swinging In Soulcalibur VI

Soulcalibur VI is marching towards a release this year (PS4, Xbox One, and PC), and Bandai Namco has just announced another combatant for its roster – Siegfried, who wields his massive zweihander Requiem in this gameplay trailer.

While you don't get to see the game's destructible armor in the trailer below, you can witness Siegfried's super in action.

To see more of the Soulcalibur VI's gameplay in action, check out this New Gameplay Today footage with our hands-on time with the fighter.

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Seeing Alien Planets Through The Eyes Of A Robot Bounty Hunter

From its inception, one of virtual reality’s best video game applications has been the action of firing a gun. Gunheart, which is currently playable in early access, has not stumbled into some unknown fun mechanic of virtual reality, but it is trying to create a version that offers a compelling reason to fire a gun, and to do it over and over.

You are a bounty hunter tasked with clearing assorted work sites on various alien planets of their alien bug problem. You do this by making your way through levels and shooting the bugs alongside up to two other players. Structurally, Gunheart has a lot in common with Destiny. You work your way through the site with random cooperative players (or friends), get paid, return to the hub location, The Bent Horizon, exchange your earnings for upgrades and new guns, and repeat the process. A story is present to add some context to why you are shooting alien bugs, but the main thrust to keep playing is going to be the upgrades.

The shooting feels good, if somewhat familiar to other VR shooters, but it does have a few wrinkles that I quickly noticed and enjoyed. Reloading certain weapons requires two actions: pressing the reload button and flicking your wrist in order to reset the gun. The action is a satisfying one, especially when a bunch of alien bugs have you pinned down and you need to quickly reload. Flicking your wrist to reload your gun and firing off a last-second shotgun blast feels good.

The alternate weapons are also equipped in a novel way. You typically hold two weapons, one in each hand, but when you want to use your powerful chain gun, or bow and arrow, you bring the two guns together in front of you, and they automatically transform. I especially liked the bow and arrow weapon as bringing your hands together in this way is already the natural way you would hold your hands to fire off an arrow, and pulling back and letting one fly feels right.

Some of the familiar VR qualms are present with Gunheart, as well as some not-so-familiar oddities. The best way to make your way through the levels without succumbing to motion sickness is to warp everywhere. This action still feels odd, and it also affects the general balance. It’s hard to feel overwhelmed by the alien menace when it’s easy to turn around and hit the warp button a few times to get out of danger. The look of the player is also odd, and the way other players are represented in-game is similarly strange. You and others play as robots wearing scarves around their necks, and when you see other players, they are seated in floating chairs zipping around the level. It doesn’t change the way the game is played, but it does look strange.

Gunheart has a lot going for it in the crowded VR shooter space. It doesn’t feel hugely innovative or new, but it also doesn’t feel like a shallow VR tech demo. Developer Drifter Entertainment has missed its self-imposed deadline to take the game out of early access six months after its initial release, but even in this early-access state, Gunheart feels like a fully-featured shooter and is worth keeping an eye on, especially if you’re a fan of Destiny’s loop of perfecting familiar encounters to acquire new weapons and gear.

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We played Gunheart using an Oculus Rift and a pair of Touch controllers, but the game is also available on Vive.

Take On The World With The Heart Of The Cards

As part of the King Knight DLC for Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games announced the King of Cards expansion, a brand new campaign centered around becoming card royalty.

For the expansion, Yacht Club Games has created an entirely new card game that functions similarly to Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad card game called Jouster. Cards representing Shovel Knight's many monsters make up your hand with arrows pointing in assigned directions on them. The cards are laid down in lit up center squares with the objective being to slide a card onto a gem on the board. Cards can be shoved by other cards in your hand by lining up arrows from the shover with sides with no arrows on the shovee, eventually getting to the gem.

King Knight is introduced to the card game, then walks forward into a Jouster hall with multiple opponents ready to play. He has to defeat every enemy in the area before he can take on the Black Knight below in his quest to become King.

The default deck probably won't get you very far, but Shovel Knight's merchant resides in a treasure chest in the basement below, and he's selling random cards for King Knight to buy. Since he's King Knight and part of the Order of No Quarter, he's more than happy to cheat, and consumable cheats can also be purchased from the merchant to just do things like destroy the entire enemy hand.

Yacht Club Games explained to us that King of Cards basically doubles the content of the King Knight DLC expansion, offering an entire campaign of characters, stages, and bosses similar in content to the main game and other two DLC campaigns, in addition to the platforming campaign already announced.

Both parts of the King Knight expansion are scheduled to be released in the first half of 2018.

Funky Kong's Wild Ride

At PAX East 2018, we got hands on with the Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, one of Nintendo's Wii U to Switch ports in the system's second year.

The big new addition, and emblazoned on the front of the new version's box, is the introduction of Donkey Kong's relative Funky Kong to the playable character list. Unlike previous characters like Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky, Funky supplants Donkey Kong as the main playable character and has his own skills to get through the game's levels.

The gorilla with sunglasses and a surfboard has a much easier time through the game for new players who find Tropical Freeze a little frustrating their first time through. Funky can double jump, basically emulating Dixie Kong's hair twirl but without needing her as a partner. While Cranky could bounce on spikes, Funky makes them completely moot by jumping and standing on them. Funky also hovers, much like Diddy's jetpack, making the incredibly safe jumps even safer. Finally, Funky can move fast in the same way Donkey Kong can infinitely roll, but without the need for a partner Kong.

For players who don't necessarily want an easy mode, however, Funky offers a few other advantages. Because of these extra skills, Funky Kong is a speedrunner's dream. The character basically breaks the game's level design and tears through areas far faster than Donkey Kong and any individual partner could do. For players who enjoy the time trial aspects of Tropical Freeze, Funky Kong is likely to dominate leaderboards. 

When players are using Funky Kong, his role as shopkeeper is taken up by Squawks the parrot, who does his best Funky impression in his stead.

The main improvement to the Switch version is much faster load times. The game on the Wii U suffered from extremely lengthy loads, while the Switch game seems to come in around half the time.

Whether Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze on Switch will be worth an extra purchase for previous owners has yet to be revealed, but fun with Funky can be had even for players who have already gone through the game.

A Surprising Journey Through Time And Space

Outer Wilds' initial impression is rather mundane and even a little disappointing when you first sit down with it. The pitch for the game, space exploration governed and oppressed by time ticking down to a universal restart every few minutes, feels almost wasted at the outset. I played the demo at PAX East, however, and came away feeling far more intrigued by the game than its initial moments disguised.

The game starts with your character, an alien of some sort, getting ready to use an amateur garage-built rocket to get off their podunk planet and see the universe. Before I could set off, though, I needed launch codes from the forest village's observatory as a cranky old alien in a rocking chair sternly informed me. Along the way, some alien children might ask the player character to play hide and seek with them to tutorialize the game's radio frequency receiver, or fly drones with someone to learn how to fly the ship, both of which I did and neither of which were particularly fun. Regardless, I got the codes, returned to the ship, strapped in, and took off.

This slow start drained me of enthusiasm for Outer Wilds quickly. I did not realize the game would soon make me feel foolish for thinking that.

In space, while attempting to grapple with the controls, I accidentally got a little too close to the sun. I ended up with a bit more than a suntan as I accidentally thrust my ship into the burning star and died. A loading screen separated the next scene, a respawn at the same campsite with the same old alien, hoping that the game saved after I got the codes and not before. To check, I decided to just go ahead and get in the ship and see if it let me. I groaned as the alien told me I needed the codes to launch into space, only to be surprised at his surprise that I already knew them.

My character didn't respawn. They went back in time.

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My next journey was to a planet-sized comet hurtling through space, covered in a hazy green mist and swirling tornadoes just off the ocean cliffs. The landing process, which involved loading up landing cameras to figure out where I could actually set my ship, let me park precariously on the edge of a rocky outcrop on a mountain. I unbuckled my seat belt, stepped outside, and immediately died.

Whoops. Probably poisonous.

I respawned again and looked up at the sky and saw the comet I was just on flying overhead. A sparkling object fell from the sky into the village. As I raced toward it, presuming it would be something that lets me figure out how to survive the poison, the demo ended, and I was left bewildered and fascinated.

The Majora's Mask-like atmosphere and mechanics feel like intentional nods and inspirations and made me desirous to see far more of the game. It is hard to say if the core gameplay loop of Outer Wilds will hold up or if there is a deeper narrative beneath its concept, but I definitely want to find out more after playing the demo.

Outer Wilds is scheduled for release on PC in 2018.

Manage Not Just Your Riders, But Your Emotions Too

Neo Cab is a game from Chance Agency (whose staff has worked on games like Firewatch) that's billed as an "emotional survival game," touching upon themes like the gig economy, technology, and human connection. Taking influence from ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber, Neo Cab puts you in the shoes of a driver who must manage both their emotions and riders.

You play as Lina, a young woman who is a newcomer to the city of Los Ojos. In the not-too-distant future, she's one of the last remaining cab drivers since most have been replaced by robots. She's empathetic and knows when to speak up or when to bite her tongue depending on who gets in her car. This insight is helped by an item she wears that helps track her emotional status. When rude customers make her angry or sad, this item will flash a certain color to let her know. This way, she can keep her emotions in check so that she can be level-headed and careful with how she interacts with riders.

Outside of conversations with riders and your resulting emotional health, you also have to manage your finances and reputation in order to progress.

Rather than describing it as a cyberpunk game, creative lead Patrick Ewing tells The Verge that he sees the game as "now punk," since it takes its inspiration from today's technology. Instead of trying to send a message through the game that technology is harmful, Ewing hopes that it instead has us contemplate the "human cost that exists within these systems."

Neo Cab is still in early development and it doesn't have a release date just yet. It plans to launch on PC through Steam and itch.io. You can learn more by heading to Chance Agency's development blog.

[Source: The Verge]

Become Acquainted With 1918 London In This Dark And Gritty Trailer

We're just a couple months away from the release of Vampyr, an RPG about vampires in 1918 London. A new trailer was recently revealed, giving us another glimpse at protagonist Jonathan Reid's plight and the world he inhabits.

Set as World War I comes to a close and around the time of the Spanish Flu, Britain is ravaged with death and overcome with hopelessness. In Vampyr, these dark times give vampires the opportunity to kill to their heart's desire without much of the city noticing. Playing as Reid, you are a vampire yourself, and one of the biggest challenges you face is morality. You need to satisfy your thirst for blood, but as a doctor, you often don't want to kill unless absolutely necessary. 

You can view the trailer below.

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Vampyr launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 5.

The Nazi-Killing Action Game On The Go

At PAX East, Nintendo gave us hands-on time with the Switch version of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, last year's story-heavy action showcase from Bethesda.

The demo we played started about half an hour into the game, where protagonist BJ Blaskowicz obtains the ability to start moving around in the game's action sequences. The first area had Fergus Reid, BJ's partner-in-arms from the army through the resistance, imploring BJ to take back the resistance U-boat from Nazi clutches. 

On first glance, the game looks like the PC version on lower settings. It makes a lot of the same compromises that Doom made on the Switch last year, lowering resolution and depth of field to run at a consistent albeit decidedly lower framerate. When just walking around, this is not terribly noticeable, but getting close to walls or character models like Fergus bring you back to the reality that you're playing a game where the baseline was PlayStation 4 and Xbox One now crammed on to a Switch.

That said, the game still plays like Wolfenstein II, for better or for worse. The introduction to the game still has BJ stealthing around and taking out Nazi officers before they can raise an alarm or, more likely, simply going in guns blazing and hope for the best. Both strategies function the same on Switch as they do on other consoles, though the system's slightly larger deadzone on its analog sticks makes fine adjustments harder. While we did not get a chance to try the motion controls out, the slight wrist movements involved there should compensate adequately to help make more accurate shots.

We also asked whether the game still features the ill-fitting cover of We're Not Gonna Take It. The Nintendo representatives could not confirm or deny, but did say the game is identical content-wise to its brethren. 

There's still no word when Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will launch for the Switch, but all indications are that it will come out this year. For people looking to take Wolfenstein's brutal kills and story on the go, the Switch version should function fine, just with a lot of the expected compromises.

Bring On The Slow Survival Jams

During PAX East 2018, State of Decay developers Undead Labs unleashed a new trailer for the game showing off different aspects of the zombie survival sim.

The somber trailer plays slow music over the gameplay and management mechanics of the game, showing off leader mechanics, shooting, even zombie tossing. At one point, the player character stuns a large zombie by shooting it in the head a number of times before running at it and swinging around its neck to stab it in the back of the head.

You can check out the new trailer below.

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State of Decay 2 launches May 22 on PC and Xbox One, with an early access period beginning for preorder customers on May 18.