Nintendo Labo VR hands-on preview – virtual cardboard reality

The add-ons all attach to the front of the goggles but the Starter Set also comes with 64 mini-games.
The first one we played involved controlling a 4×4 truck as it jumped over ramps and knocked over giant building blocks. It’s not really a game as such but the VR effect is much better than you’d expect, a sentiment we could hear being echoed by the dozen or so other journos at the preview event. There’s not much of a 3D effect, and the view gets quite blurry when you move your head quickly, but in terms of resolution and immersion it’s much better than we would’ve ever imagined from the Switch.

None of the other mini-games we tried were very much more complex, but there was a version of Breakout, a UFO catcher game, and a variety of shooting ranges involving everything from arrows to boomerangs. The Starter Set also comes with a little extra attachment in the form of a pinwheel-like device that you blow into. You can’t see that with the goggles on though, so as you huff and puff in the real world in the game it looks like you’re blow up balloons and moving sails.

Although their various gimmicks are fun for a few minutes we were ready to dismiss the mini-games as trivial tech demos until it was pointed out that all of them can be edited and reprogrammed via the Garage feature that is common to all Labo kits. Previous ones have already featured a simple programming system – not a language exactly but a series of flow charts and logical constructs – but the one in Labo VR is much more involved and seems to allow you to create relatively complex games.

That means you can create a proper race track and rules for the truck or a fully-featured first person shooter, which not only adds greatly to the creative potential of Labo (which is, after all, aimed primarily at kids) but also its educational value.

If you want more complex, ready-made games that’s what the larger add-ons are for. As with previous Toy-Cons, they can take a long time to build and after doing so you have to insert the Joy-Cons into them to take advantage of their various abilities. With the blaster you stick the right one in the barrel for aiming and the left one is used to activate a bullet time effect. The game itself is an on-rails shooter with multiple levels, with the one we played featuring aliens invading a city.

This involved much more complex backgrounds than any of the mini-games but the impression of being there is still very impressive as you aim the blaster with surprising accuracy, looking straight up to shoot flying enemies and spinning around 360°. It’s essentially a VR lightgun game, complete with explosive barrels, a rudimentary physics engine, and boss battles. As simple as it was we had a lot of fun with it and loved the shotgun-like pump action effect (which works via a rubber band) when you go to charge the shot.

There’s also a separate competitive multiplayer game which is basically Hungry Hippos crossed with a shooting gallery. A bunch of hippos are lounging in a pool and you have to tempt them into your side by shooting fruit into their mouths. You take your shots in turn with a friend and can choose to steal their hippos or try for a group shot by aiming at a palm tree full of pineapples. It’s simple stuff, and we couldn’t really see ourselves wanting to play it more than once or twice, but it’s another effective demonstration of the blaster’s accuracy.

We weren’t allowed to use the other add-ons but they were at the preview event for us to touch and hold, along with a video of how they work that you can see at the top of this article.

The weird-looking elephant mask is especially clever as it’s got a bunch of light sensors on the front so that you can use a 3D paint package that we were promised was exceptionally accurate. It also works with a puzzle game that has you rolling marbles about on platforms you can rotate with the trunk.

The bird (whose eye is formed by the analogue stick from one of the Joy-Cons) seemed to be a fairly expansive flight simulator, with a variety of birds including a pterodactyl. Apparently, you can also extend the wings with additional bits of cardboard.

The bird comes with the wind panel, which does exactly what it says on the tin: you press down on it like a car accelerator and then the flap at the top makes a gust of air. This can be used in conjunction with the bird game but there’s also a platformer where you’re controlling a frog – so that every time you jump you get a blast of air at your feet. Which makes Labo VR the first home video game to feature 4D physical effects, just like a theme park… except made out of cardboard.

Unfortunately, the camera isn’t used for Pokémon Snap 2, but instead some sort of underwater photography game. The second game is a return to the virtual pet house from the original Variety Kit, that lets you interact with the little critter close-up.

If you’ve got kids, and especially if you think they’ll get some mileage out of playing around with the Garage features, then we’d have to say all the sets seem remarkably good value for money.

Whether the goggles will be used with existing games Nintendo weren’t saying, but as their first experiment in VR (or second if you count the Virtual Boy) this was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from them. Which is to say it was completely different to anything anyone else is doing and full of unique ideas and unlikely twists on familiar concepts.

What, if anything, it means for the future of Labo or Nintendo VR we couldn’t say but we had a lot of fun playing around with it and can’t wait to get a go on the other add-ons.

Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £69.99 (all-in-one set), £34.99 (Starter Set), £16.99 each (Expansion Set 1 and 2)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Release Date: 12th April 2019
Age Rating: 7

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Daily Deals: Buy a Nintendo Switch, Get NBA 2K19 for Free

Welcome to IGN’s Daily Deals, your source for the best deals on the stuff you actually want to buy. If you buy something through this post, IGN may get a share of the sale. For more, read our Terms of Use.

We bring you the best deals we’ve found today on video games, hardware, electronics, and a bunch of random stuff too.Check them out here or like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get the latest deals.

The best Nintendo Switch console deal of 2019 started last week and surprisingly, it’s still live (although it should be expiring any day now) . Choose between a neon or gray Switch along with one of five games (and they’re good games, too – New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Party, and Mario Tennis Aces), a random Mario enamel pin, and a Paw Patrol-themed Switch carrying case all from $328.53, depending on the game you choose.

  • Get it with Super Mario Odyssey at Walmart for $328.53
  • Get it with Mario Tennis Aces for $329.82
  • Get it with Super Mario Party for $333.86
  • Get it with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for $336.83
  • Get it with New Super Mario Bros U for $337.88

If you’re looking for the ultimate beast in gaming monitors, the Alienware AW3418DW should be tops on your list. Specs include a 34″ 3440×1440 curved IPS panel display with super wide viewing angles and 99% sRGB coverage, 4ms response time, NVIDIA G-SYNC compatibility, up to 120Hz refresh rate, and RGB lighting. You should see the Dell gift card in your cart. The gift card carries a 90-day expiration date and can be used on practically anything at Dell.com.

  • Get it at Dell for $799.99

This sponsored deal is brought to you by Ubisoft.

Ubisoft is offering Far Cry: New Dawn, which includes Far Cry 5 and Far Cry: New Dawn Deluxe Edition, for only $40 (normally $100). The Deluxe Edition gets you the Hurk Legacy and Knight Skin Packs, RAT4 Rocket Launcher, and M133M Shotgun. Far Cry 5 was an excellent sandbox FPS adventure game, and New Dawn follows suit with its own standalone campaign.

  • Get it at the Ubisoft Store for $40

1-Year Playstation Plus Membership for $44.99

PS Plus membership discounts only happen a few times a year so grab this deal when you can. This membership gives lets you play games online, plus you’ll get the best discounts at the Playstation Store (for example, during the currently running The Great Indoors Sale), as well as new free games every month. This month, for example, gives you Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and The Witness (rated 10/10 “Masterpiece” here at IGN).

  • Get it at Walmart for $44.99
  • Also on Amazon

If you haven’t already jumped onto the bandwagon, here’s your chance. Kingdom Hearts 3 is $15 off today. This game definitely deserves a spot in your PS4 library and this deal definitely won’t last.

  • Get it for PS4 on Amazon for $44.99

After plunking down $300 on a Nintendo Switch, you might find it hard to spend more money on accessories. Unfortunately, the Switch only comes with 32GB of onboard storage, which is inadequate if you hope to build out any kind of digital library. Fortunately, you can increase your storage capacity 9-fold for only $40. For most people, a 256GB card is all you’ll ever need to hold every single one of your games.

The Samsung EVO Select is a faster memory card than the other memory card (SanDisk Ultra) we like to push. This is a U3 card as opposed to the U1 spec of the SanDisk Ultra, which means that the Samsung EVO has a faster minimum sustained write speed.

  • Get the 256GB model on Amazon for $39.99
  • Get the 128GB model for $19.99

Not only are you getting a $100 discount on the Xbox One X, you’re getting 2 titles (Fallout 76 and your choice of Kingdom Hearts 3 or The Division 2) plus a pair of Fatal1ty by Monster FXM 200 headphones for free.

  • Get it at Walmart for $399.99

Save $21, or 37% off the cost of the Xbox controller. You can also use it as a PC gamepad if you have Bluetooth. If not, you can just buy a cheap Bluetooth adapter. This controller is, in my opinion, still the best wireless PC controller.

  • Get it on Amazon for $38.06

Use code “SAVE17”

The G7 is Dell’s top of the line non-Alienware gaming laptop. This model features a 6-core processor, GeForce GTX 1060 video card with the full 6GB of VRAM, and a 15.6″ 1080p IPS display, all packed in a <1″ thin chassis.

  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $1294.79

Save 30% off the regular price of $100. This is a great controller for streaming, but it’s not just limited to that. I’m not a streamer and I find plenty of uses for the Stream Deck since it can be programmed to do just about anything in any app on your computer.

  • Get it on Amazon for $69.95

This sponsored deal is brought to you by ESPN.

Sign up for a 7-Day ESPN+ Trial and Watch Tomorrow Night’s UFC Fight Night Nashville Featuring Stephen Thompson vs Anthony Pettis

Sign up for a free 7-day trial to ESPN+ and you can watch tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night live at 5pm PST/8PM EST. In addition to exclusive live access to 20 Fight Night events, over 100 other UFC fights will also be viewable. You’ll also get access to live MLB, NHL, and MLS, college football and basketball, tennis, and golf games. If you’re considering staying subscribed to ESPN+ after the trial, membership costs are $4.99 per month or $49.99 for the year.

  • Sign up for a free trial to ESPN+

The Arctis 7 currently sells for $150 elsewhere. This is IGN Deals’ best selling gaming headset and for good reason. We rated it a 9.8/10 here at IGN and I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I think this is the best headset you can get at this price range. You’ll need to sign up for a (free) SteelSeries membership.

  • Get it at SteelSeries for $103.99

This deal is even less expensive per month than buying the 12-month membership for $59.99. In addition to being able to play multiplayer games like Fortnite, PUBG, Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 4, Overwatch, and more, Xbox Live Gold gives you free games every month and weekly discounts on video games at the Xbox store. Once you buy the 3 month membership, the additional 3 months should automatically be added to your account.

  • Get it at Walmart for $24.99
  • Also on Amazon

This was by far IGN Deal’s best selling gaming chair in 2018 (we even bought a few ourselves). If you’re tired of sitting in an old patio chair while you game, or you just want to upgrade your normal desk chair, this racing-style chair has solid reviews and is available at close to its lowest price ever.

  • Get it from Amazon for $68.11

Use coupon code: “SAVE17”

We reviewed the new Alienware m15 and highly recommend it. The m15 is the new 2019 successor to the Alienware laptop lineup. It’s thinner and lighter, weighing in starting at 4.8lbs. Despite the weight loss, the Alienware m15 still retains the no-expense-spared premium construction of its predecessor. It also features an advanced cooling system so the laptop never gets too hot to the touch. This deal pairs the m15 with the capable GeForce GTX 1060 video card.

  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $1128.79

Use coupon code: “SAVE17”

Score an RTX 2080 equipped Alienware desktop for $1427.59 following the instructions below. Stock specs include an Intel Core i5-8400 6-core processor, 8GB of memory, and 1TB HDD. The only recommendation I’d make is to add in your own SSD. SSDs are much cheaper than they used to be and it doesn’t void your warranty.

If you’ve got deep pockets, you can upgrade to the RTX 2080 Ti instead. This is the only way you’ll be able to get a brand new, fully warrantied pre-built RTX 2080 Ti configuration for under $2K.

  • Use code: “SAVE17” to get the RTX 2080 config at Dell for $1427.59
  • Use code: “SAVE17” to get the RTX 2080 Ti config for $1884.09

Use coupon code: “SAVE17”

This deal is back and some monitors are lower in price than before. There’s no doubt that Dell makes some of the best gaming monitors on the market. The monitors listed below are designed for maximum gaming fidelity. That means you’ll be getting a tear-free, lag-free, and stutter-free experience for when you’re going head to head in a game like Apex Legends or Fortnite and every millisecond of response time counts. Dell’s 17% off code starts today and and won’t last more than a few days.

  • Dell S2719DGF 27″ 2560×1440 1ms 144Hz FreeSync Monitor
  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $331.99
  • Alienware AW2518HF 25″ 1920×1080 1ms 240Hz FreeSync Monitor
  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $290.49
  • Dell S2417DG 24″ 2560×1440 1ms 144Hz G-SYNC Monitor
  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $331.99
  • Alienware AW2518H 25″ 1920×1080 1ms 240Hz G-SYNC Monitor
  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $439.89
  • Dell S2716DG 27″ 2560×1440 1ms 144Hz G-SYNC Monitor
  • Use code “SAVE17” to get it at Dell for $473.09

Yes, you’re getting an RTX 2070 equipped desktop for just under $1K. According to our RTX 2070 review, this card is more powerful than the GTX 1080. The Ryzen 7 1700 is simply the prior generation model of the Ryzen 7 2700 and has 95% of its gaming prowess, plus it still boasts 8 cores under its hood. You also get 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD, and a “mini” chassis size.

  • Get it at Walmart for $999.99

According to our GTX 1660 Ti review, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is close in performance to the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti or the RTX 2060. Combine that with the latest generation AMD Ryzen 5 6-core processor, 8GB RAM, and 500GB SSD, and you have yourself a killer rig for less than $800.

  • Get it at Walmart for $759.99
  • Get it with Ryzen 7 1700 and GTX 1660 Ti for $849.99
  • Get it with Ryzen 7 1700 and RTX 2060 for $889.99
  • Get it with Ryzen 5 2600 and RTX 2060 for $899.99
  • Get an Intel Core i5-9400F GTX 1660 Ti config for $850

This game isn’t far off (release date is 3/29), and here’s your chance to preorder this game at a 14% discount. This is a really cute side scrolling platformer that reminds me very much of Yoshi’s Woolly World.

  • Preorder it for $51.99 with Amazon Prime

Dell has kicked off this week with a selection of 12 Vizio, Sony, Samsung, and LG TVs. They’ve discounted several well-rated current model TVs the way they always do – with a 90-day gift card that can be used on practically anything at Dell.com, including consoles, monitors, VR headsets, games, video cards, computers, and more.

4K Smart HDTVs:

  • 43″ LG 43UK6090 4K Smart HDTV + $50 Gift Card for $270
  • 49″ LG 49UK6300 4K Smart HDTV + $100 Gift Card for $399
  • 49″ Sony XBR49X800E 4K Smart HDTV + $200 Gift Card for $748
  • 50″ Vizio V505-G9 4K Smart HDTV + $100 Gift Card for $330
  • 55″ Sony KD55X750 4K Smart HDTV + $200 Gift Card for $750
  • 70″ LG 70UK6570 4K Smart HDTV + $200 Gift Card for $899
  • 70″ Sony XBR70X830F 4K Smart HDTV + $350 Gift Card for $1600
  • 75″ Vizio E75-F2 4K Smart HDTV + $350 Gift Card for $1180
  • 75″ LG 75UK6190 4K Smart HDTV + $200 Gift Card for $1100
  • 86″ LG 86UK6570 4K Smart HDTV + $250 Gift Card for $2297

Premium 4K Smart HDTVs with Full HDR Capability:

  • 55″ Vizio P55RED-F1 4K HDR Smart HDTV + $200 Gift Card for $710
  • 55″ LG OLED55B8PUA 4K OLED HDTV + $150 Gift Card for $1497
  • 65″ LG Signature OLED65G7P 4K  HDTV + $300 Gift Card for $2599

The most popular tablet on the market is currently 24% off. In fact, it’s even cheaper than what we saw on Black Friday. The newest 6th generation Apple iPad boasts a 9.7″ Retina display, A10 Fusion 64-bit processor, dual cameras, 10-hour battery life, and Apple Pen support.

  • Get it at Walmart for $329 with Free 2-Day Shipping
  • Also on Amazon
  • 32GB model is $249.99

This is the lowest price we’ve seen on a brand new iPad Pro. This particular model normally sells for $650 so you’re saving $150. The deal was previously only available in-store at select Microcenter locations, but Amazon has decided to price match it.

  • Get it on Amazon for $499.99
  • Get the 256GB model for $629.99

Eric Song is IGN’s deal curator and spends 25% of his pay on stuff he posts.

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has the original’s lead writer and vibe

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines never had a chance. Released in 2004 in the same window as Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, it sold fewer than 100,000 copies at launch. Most of its development team was laid off shortly afterward. But over the past 15 years, the PC role-playing game based on the popular White Wolf tabletop franchise has become something of a cult classic. Fans and critics hold up its ambitious story and emphasis on player freedom as evidence that Bloodlines arrived ahead of its time.

Now, under a new publisher and developer, Bloodlines is getting a second chance with an official sequel, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Judging from a meaty demo showing during the 2019 Game Developers Conference, the original’s many fans have reason to be hopeful.

Paradox Interactive acquired White Wolf and the rights to the Vampire universe from CCP in 2015. Now the publisher and developer, best known for its collection of high-concept strategy games, has tapped a relatively new Seattle-based studio to build a sequel. Called Hardsuit Labs, the team is best known for its free-to-play shooter Blacklight: Retribution. It has brought on Bloodline’s lead writer, Brian Mitsoda, along with game writer and critic Cara Ellison.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/SYvWfDxhm_s?rel=0

During our demo, Mitsoda underscored that Bloodlines 2 will capture the tone of the original: a mix of noir, personal drama, political intrigue, and humor. The latter features heavily in the demo with a young hermit named Dale Talley, who introduces our character to the game’s world and the life of a vampire. His lighthearted pragmatism elevates the usual exposition dump that starts most games into a fun, surprising conversation — and a helpful primer for somebody new to the franchise.

Bloodlines 2 is set, fittingly, in Seattle. (The game’s internal code name was Project Frasier.) Our character — whom we can identify and specialize however we see fit — is a Thin-blood, a human with new or relatively weak vampire powers. The character is one of many “bloods” to be “born” from an incident called a mass Embrace. A band of rogue vampires converted a crowd of humans in public (including our character), breaking the Masquerade and igniting feuds among the city’s many vampire factions.

The Masquerade, for folks new to the series’ lore, is the first and most important rule of vampire life: to not reveal one’s true powers, strength, and vampiric habits to humans. In the fiction and in the game, breaking the Masquerade gets the attention of rival vampires and faction leaders, who will do their best to cut off our character’s head.

Of course, the rules are a good deal more complicated and fluid than that, which is why our pal Dale has opted to stay safe with the confines of his apartment, living off blood bags and obscure ’90s television reruns. While he stays out of the power struggle, our character won’t take that approach.

Hardsuit Labs/Paradox Interactive

When we finally make our way to the surface, we’re met with the bright, colorful glow of the Ferris wheel on one of Seattle’s commercial piers. It’s impressive just how beautiful a video game of this scope can be, despite coming from a team that, compared to the mega-studios producing franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, is modestly sized. Sure, developers like Hardsuit Labs now have access to more and easier tools than they would have in the past, but I suspect that what truly elevates this game is its art direction.

Bloodlines 2’s story blends horror and noir, like its predecessor did, but its visual style doesn’t rely exclusively on the expressionistic shadows of classic noir or the neon signs of its contemporaries. Instead, it’s full of a variety of lighting techniques, each suffusing rooms and outdoor spaces with different moods. An urban square central to the story has the soft glow of retro lampposts. A Brutalist parking garage exterior is softened by pink neon. The apartment of a recluse has the harsh fluorescent lighting that reveals every stain and fleck of dust that has accumulated over the years. And throughout the world sit Christmas trees and holiday lights, giving scenes an almost trippy splash of color.

To be clear, though, this game is deeply pulling from noir storytelling. As a blood, we don’t know much of anything about the world of vampires, while most characters we meet seem to know a good deal about us. So it’s up to our character to set into the night, leaving behind poor Dale, to get some answers.

As in the original Bloodlines, personal choice is the core of the game. We can kill our enemies, or sneak about using our powers. Ellison explains that we can maximize our seduction abilities and seduce our way through much of the game. We must feed on blood to survive, but even then, we can nibble, leaving our victims alive, albeit drained.

Blood has flavors depending on the emotion of the victim. They might feel rage, joy, delirium, or some other sensation, and by tapping into their veins, we get a bit of that emotion, getting a passive buff. We can even develop a taste for specific flavors of blood, which unlock additional perks that can be equipped like loadouts.

Hardsuit Labs/Paradox Interactive

We didn’t get to learn too much about our character in the demo, or from conversations with the game’s creators. Understandably, they’re keeping story specifics hush for now. But Mitsoda and Ellison did expand on the macro and micro directions in which they’re taking the narrative. On a top level, our character’s journey will take them across Seattle, a city once known for its music culture and progressive ideals that’s been overtaken in recent years by big tech companies and billionaires.

Mitsoda said the game’s factions will capture the conflicting wants and needs of the city’s community, both new and old. And Ellison spoke about the more personal level of the story, focusing on the many other Thin-bloods we will meet, people who are struggling to align their new life as a vampire with the domestic challenges and responsibilities of their recent time as humans. These people may still have spouses, kids, and obligations, and the city’s rapid change may affect them both directly and indirectly in unexpected ways. Ellison said it’s the creators’ chance to “explore the space of vampire puberty.” Our character enters vampirehood with the help of Dale and a place to live, but other Thin-bloods aren’t so lucky.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is set for release in the first quarter of 2020, so it’s early to make any real judgments. But the short demo we were shown has tremendous promise, and while it looks like a game from the present, it echoes its ambitious predecessor from the mid-2000s. Asked if the team had considered designing any elements of the game for Twitch and streamers, the project’s creative director, Ka’ai Cluney, stated with confidence that “at no point was Twitch considered in the design.” It’s totally fine, he continued, if players stream the game, and great if they share their unique experiences. But Bloodlines 2 is a game about players making their own choices, imagining their own backstory, and taking their own path.

Maybe this time, the audience will be ready and eager for such an idea.

We’ll have more info on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 in the coming months, including an interview between team members and our resident Vampire: The Masquerade expert, Charlie Hall.

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GDC 2019: Long-delayed PSVR Game 'Golem' to Reemerge at PAX East Next Week

We weren’t certain the PSVR title Golem would ever see the light of day after its lengthy delay. It wasn’t until the studio assured us late last year that yes, the game was still in production well after its prospective March 16th, 2018 launch date had come and gone. Now it appears PAX East-goers will get a fresh whack at the game, which was unveiled way back in 2015.

Sony today announced via its PS blog that seven PSVR titles are heading to PAX East in Boston next week, one of which is the long-overdue adventure game Golem from Highwire Games, an indie studio consisting of former Bungie veterans Marty O’Donnell and Jaime Griesemer, and a team of established industry devs.

After its March 2018 delay, the studio announced the game was pushed back indefinitely back in August as Highwire wanted to ensure they could “release a polished VR experience that we are proud of […].”

“Things are still proceeding; we want Golem to be the game we envisioned and we’re taking the time we need to get it there,” a Highwire spokesperson told Road to VR late last year. “[We’re] not going to talk release timing until we are absolutely sure about it this time.”

We still aren’t exactly sure what sort of game Golem is shaping up to be. From our 2016 hands-on and previous talks with Highwire, it seems the studio’s PSVR title involves the ability to jump between various avatars—ranging in size from dolls to giants—as they explore the world around and go mano a mano with some pretty nasty looking rock golems.

In case you’re attending, here’s the seven titles Sony is trotting out at PAX East:

  • Ghost Giant
  • Golem
  • Falcon Age
  • Jupiter & Mars
  • Space Channel 5 VR Kinda Funky News Flash!
  • Trover Saves the Universe
  • Vacation Simulator

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ArmZ VR is a Giant Mech Wave Shooter Coming to Steam Early Access Next Week

There have been a number of mech-based virtual reality (VR) shooters appear for gamers with Vox Machinae and  Archangel: Hellfire two of the best. Today, indie development studio Televisor has revealed its giant robot-based shooter,  ArmZ VR, which is coming to Steam Early Access next week.

ArmZ VR puts you in some sort of David Cronenberg like world where there has been another world war but this time things didn’t end so well. Humanity is restricted to giant walled in cities which must defend themselves from hordes of horrifying human-machine hybrids that roam the wastelands in between. As a survivor living in one of these cities you need to protect, and luckily you have the tools to do so, massive remotely controlled war machines called ARMZ.

A no holds barred wave shooter, in ArmZ VR you have two choices, all guns blazing or something a little more tactile. Equipped with mini-guns you can lay waste to the battlefield in a hail of bullets and bloodshed. Or how about switching things up with those arms and smash, grab, crush and generally pulverise anything that gets close. Or you can equip the harpoon to eliminate enemies at a distance.

And you’ll need all those weapons and more because you’ll have to deal with heavily-armoured Guards with shields and hammers at their disposal, to flying, bomb-throwing Jumpers. You’ll also need to have eyes in the back of your head as this is a 360-degree battlefield, perfect for standing or seated gameplay.

For Early Access ArmZ VR will consist of six playable single-player levels, a couple of different enemy types, and four powerful weapons. Televisor plans on fully releasing the title in the first half of 2019 if everything goes well, with more maps, enemies and weapons to be added in due course.

ArmZ VR will debut on Steam Early Access for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift next Thursday 28th March retailing for $14.99 USD. Check out the first trailer below, and for further updates keep reading VRFocus.

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Dead and Buried II Will Offer Cross-Platform Play Between Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S

The original Dead and Buried, developed by Oculus Studios in collaboration with Gunfire Games was to showcase the Oculus Touch controllers, offered to players as a multiplayer freebie. With Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest soon to arrive, its no surprise that Oculus Studios would announce a new version of the shooter, Dead and Buried II.

Still keeping with the wild west theme, the new multiplayer shooter will feature competitive modes where players can fight each other in locations such as an old saloon and a train depot. While for those that like to team up with friends, there’s a co-op mode where up to four players can battle waves for nasty creatures. Or if that all sounds a bit hectic and you just want to brush up on your gun skills there’s always the target range for some high-scoring fun.

Anyone who’s played the original will be at home with Dead and Buried II. The scenery still plays an important part in keep players alive, so long as they remember to duck and lean to take cover, rather than standing there for all to see and shoot at. And there’s going to be plenty of shooting, with classic western six-shooters, shotguns, rifles and even a little dynamite for the right situation.

Once again, built specifically for Oculus Touch whether that’s with Oculus Quest or Oculus Rift S, Dead and Buried II supports cross-platform gameplay between both devices. With a release date of ‘Spring 2019’ Dead and Buried II is going to be a launch title for both headsets by the looks of it.

Oculus certainly stole the show at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 yesterday with the reveal of the Oculus Rift S. A tethered, PC-based design which will retail for $399 USD, the device will include Oculus Insight, Oculus inside-out tracking technology, improved resolution and optics, improved comfort and more.

Oculus also has Dead and Buried Arena in the works, a location-based entertainment (LBE) version for arcades. VRFocus will continue its coverage of Oculus, reporting back with the latest updates.

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Review: Dick Wilde 2

When it comes to shooting stuff in virtual reality (VR) gamers have got no end of choice, with an array of first-person shooters (FPS) on offer. The older titles tended to be fairly stationary, with enemies coming to you while more modern VR shooters tend to employ a variety of movement systems. One of the main reasons the early wave shooters kept you still was for comfort, developers wanted to encourage consumers to the technology not make them barf. Bolverk Games’ Dick Wilde was a good example of a simple yet effective wave shooter. Now with Dick Wilde 2 out this week, can the studio still find a niche for this style of FPS in 2019?

There’s plenty to like about Dick Wilde 2, with its cheeky demeanour and light-hearted comedy stylings. The title doesn’t take itself seriously with the southern drawl of Mr Wilde sometimes serious yet never boring or grating to hear.

Right from the start, you can tell Bolverk Games aimed higher and further than the previous outing, with three stages split down into 11 levels apiece. Six are for the main single-player campaign while four are gun trials which you need to complete to unlock Dick’s arsenal of weapons. Lastly, there’s a singular boss level, to take on the might of the swamp creatures.

Thankfully, in Dick Wilde 2 you’re no longer stationary. You’re now stuck to a raft instead! This is certainly a happy middle ground between the original title and more modern FPS experiences. You’ve got no direct control of the raft so this is an on-rails shooter, meaning most players should find the videogame a very comfortable experience. It’s not very dynamic, but Bolverk Games has tried to mix things up by including multiple routes across a lot of the levels, unlocked by attaining keys – normally from the golden fish that occasionally leap from the water.

The selection of weapons has now vastly improved over the original, with the selection split between four options: pistol, automatic, shotgun and energy. Unlike the first title where the guns had dual settings, all the weapons here don’t, but you can mix and match depending on which ones you’ve unlocked in the trials and how much money you’ve collected during the levels.

The multiple routes aside, most of the levels tend to be fairly similar with enemies either trying to shoot you or bite your face off. Whilst trying to stay alive killing all these lively swamp critters you’ll also need to destroy various debris littering the river which can damage your raft. This is where you can rack up the cash needed to buy the guns and additional upgrades for your character and the raft.

The only trouble is that while Dick Wilde 2 can be entertaining it still feels very much like it’s going through the motions. More content doesn’t necessarily mean better content. There are plenty of hours to kill in the single-player campaign, and the addition of a multiplayer co-op feature definitely helps to improve things by bringing a mate along. Actually, because of that feature, Dick Wilde 2 seems like it would be far more suited to an arcade, rather than at home. Each individual level is short enough that you could get several in during a 15-minute window.

Dick Wilde 2 was never going to be a standout experience but for fans of the original, there’s enough new content to be worth a look. Those new to VR will also enjoy the title, as the gameplay is kept to purely shooting stuff. But for those VR gamers who have owned their headset for a good couple of years, Dick Wilde 2 won’t suffice, only scratching the surface of what VR can do.

  • Verdict
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    Cyberpunk 2077 And One Other CD Projekt Red Game Will Release by 2021

    The release window for CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 has narrowed slightly, with the studio confirming the release of two AAA games by 2021.

    GamesRadar+ reports that the news comes via a forum post in which the developer states that both Cyberpunk 2077 and a new, unannounced title will debut within the next two years.

    The game lost its head writer earlier this year, when Sebastian Stepien – who was also one of three creative directors for The Witcher 3 – left CD Projekt to join Blizzard.

    Cyberpunk 2077 has been in development since 2012, with the studio going full pelt after the release of The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone expansion.

    Given what we’ve seen of the game so far, it’s possible we may see a release before 2021, but we’ll hopefully find out more at E3 2019.

    As for the unannounced AAA title, CD Projekt has said it will “probably” return to the world of The Witcher, but that fans shouldn’t expect The Witcher 4. We may find ourselves back in that universe, or have another brand new RPG to delve into.

    You can keep up with everything we know so far about Cyberpunk 2077 right here.

    Shabana is a freelance writer who enjoys JRPGs, wine, and not finishing games. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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    Overwatch May Feature a Pick and Ban System in the Future

    Blizzard has considered the possibility of a pick and ban system for Overwatch, should the character roster become too unwieldy.

    Talking at a Q&A attended by GameSpot, lead hero designer Geoff Goodman said, “We talk a decent amount about [rotating heroes]–that, and what’s paired a lot with it is hero bans, hero picks, things like that because they’re both kind of related to roster size.”

    Pick and ban systems are most commonly used by MOBAs such as League of Legends and Dota 2, but are applicable for any game sporting a selection of heroes with special abilities. Such a system allows opposing teams to ban certain characters from being picked at the start of a match, which is handy for denying a hard counter to a character your team plans to play. The system is typically only used for ranked/competitive matches. In the world of shooters, this system has most recently been adopted by Rainbow Six Siege.

    If such a concept makes you worried, there’s no need to engage the fear switches immediately; this is all hypothetical. “We don’t have any plans about that right now,” Goodman explained. “Right now we don’t feel like we’re at the point where we have enough heroes where that seems to make sense. But if we reach a point that it just feels like too many then yeah, we might do something like that.”

    With the addition of Baptiste this week, Overwatch currently boasts a roster of 30 playable characters. Blizzard has no plans to cease development of new characters, and the studio has already discussed that it has several new heroes in production.

    While the current roster is perfectly manageable, it’s not hard to envision a time for Overwatch when it sports a MOBA-like number of characters. In that situation, it’s very arguable that a method to narrow hero selection is required. It’s promising to know that Blizzard is aware of the path Overwatch is travelling, and that it will hopefully be ready to deploy something akin to a pick and ban system when the time is right, rather than too late.

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    Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 Brings The Cult RPG Series To The Modern Age

    After many teases on social media, Paradox Interactive and Hardsuit Labs have finally revealed Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, the sequel to the original 2004 RPG. With Bloodlines 2, releasing in 2020 for PC and consoles, several key members from the former studio Troika Games, along with some new blood at Hardsuit Labs, are looking to pick up where the bleak yet off-the-wall original left off. Just before its reveal, we had the chance to get an early look, while also speaking with Bloodlines 2 lead narrative designer Brian Mitsoda and senior writer Cara Ellison about the making of the sequel.

    As an adaptation of the table-top game series from White Wolf Publishing, the first Bloodlines focused on the shadowy underworld of Vampire society in modern-day Los Angeles. Starting out as a newly converted vampire, you were drawn into centuries-long quarrels amongst elite vampires, all the while coming to grips with your new and unusual circumstances. While much of the first game hasn’t aged too well, its in-depth role-playing and social gameplay are enduring achievements. Showing shades of immersive-sims like Deus Ex and System Shock, it possessed an impressive amount of complexity with how you could use your vampiric abilities to navigate the complex web of conspiracies within the secret society.

    The game’s original developers, Troika Games, drafted up concepts for a follow-up, however, low sales and a lack of projects after Bloodlines’ launch forced the closure of the studio. In the years since its release, a dedicated online community has kept the game active, slowly turning the obscure PC RPG into an underground hit.

    Showing similar shades to the original game, the new protagonist of Bloodlines 2 is suddenly thrust into their new life as a vampire. Taking place in the city of Seattle, the new fledgling faces a tribunal held by the Camarilla–the union of different vampire factions. Recalling their final moments alive, and subsequent rebirth at the hands of another vampire, the meeting comes under attack, forcing you to make a quick exit. From here, you’ll slowly work your way up the Vampire hierarchy, dealing with returning factions like the Tremere, and embrace your newfound life as a creature of the night.

    For the sequel, the developers expressed that they wanted to maintain the same level of agency and detail from the previous game, while also focusing more on the strange and lesser-known details of living a new life as a vampire. This on-boarding process, as seen in the opening of the game, also highlights the new abilities that come with being a Vampire. In addition to taking on different disciplines, you’ll also have a suite of vampire skills to use, such as levitation, telekinesis, and even a mist-form–allowing you to pass through objects. Eventually, you’ll be able to unlock access to higher-end abilities, like conjuring up sharp objects made of blood and slowing down time to easily evade enemies.

    During the demo, Mitsoda–who served as the lead writer on the original game–talked about bringing the series back after 15 years, and how they wanted to make it accessible for fans and newcomers.

    “There’s something exciting about the player discovering this world that is right under our noses,” said Mitsoda as he elaborated on the world building of the game. “A big part of what we wanted to do with Bloodlines 2 is to make sure that people who are fans of the first one will immediately feel like, “This is Bloodlines. This feels like Bloodlines.” Then the people who are coming into it fresh are going to going to have the same feelings of what is this all about? I’m a vampire. What do I do now? So, we want people to go out there with the expectations of they don’t know anything now, but they’re going to be discovering everything that’s going on in Seattle.

    Just like in Bloodlines 1, you’ll be able to freely explore various open hubs and far away locations while tackling missions with other key-characters. In addition to exploring locations like Pioneer Square, Pier 55, and other areas of downtown Seattle, you’ll follow leads into the city’s underground ruins. These sections are said to be inspired by the real-life locations that were paved over after intense fires during 1889, and the ruins house a number secrets pertaining to the lost history of Seattle, and how vampires played a part in it.

    According to the developers, Bloodlines 2 will shed light on the various vampire cultures and their power structures. Just like in the original game, the sequel also leans heavy on socializing. You’re often pushed into high-pressure situations with humans and vampires alike, where you’ll need to make a choice that could compromise relationships. Siding with one faction can put you at odds with another. However, you’re totally free to break away from a side at anytime. These social situations can also highlight the mundanity of living life as a Vampire. Shortly after making it back to your apartment, you encounter a fellow vampire named Dale, who volunteers to be your information broker and to help with your transition. It was an oddly relaxed conversation–especially considering this came after surviving several attacks from humans and other undead.

    While explaining their approach to balancing the absurdity of vampirism with the more grotesque aspects of being undead, senior writer Cara Ellison spoke about what it was like working on the game’s tone, and how humor is a bit of a coping mechanism for the vampires in Bloodlines.

    “I’m kind of in charge of looking at the game as almost like vampire puberty, like where it’s a transition from leaving humanity behind,” Ellison said. “I think you might be surprised at how funny it is to be a vampire, in a weird way. It’s quite a dark game, but we manage to show it as an absurd existence, and you might encounter some people who were weathering their situation in an interesting or maybe in a slightly dark and humorous way. That really connects to me, because I’m British. Everything bad is funny to us, like Brexit is weirdly funny. […]There’s a lot of complexity in there to explore. It’s pretty fun to write.”

    Since you’re a vampire, handling your business and exploring the city–even in the evening–can be a challenge. This is where the series’ signature Masquerade gameplay comes in. According to series lore, The Masquerade is a code of conduct that vampires must follow in order to prevent exposing their existence to humanity. Though you are a vampire, you still look normal enough to pass as human while in public. However, when you use your supernatural powers in front of unsuspecting humans, you’ll break the Masquerade and draw attention to yourself and to the larger vampire society. Police and common criminals can still pose a threat, however, and causing too much havoc will alert elite vampires that will hunt you down.

    Bloodlines 2 carries over the complexity of the original game, allowing you to overcome obstacles and events in different ways by using your vampiric skills or social charms–like seduction, for instance. However, there will come a time where you’ll need to defend yourself, which includes several conventional weapons and supernatural abilities. In one section taking place in a back ally in Pioneer Square, there’s an opportunity to break up an attempted mugging. While watching this bit of gameplay, we saw the main character use several of these skills one after another. First, they used their heightened senses to highlight the key targets, and took advantage of their heightened physicality to make high-jumps across the roofs to get into position and perform a series of takedowns on the unsuspecting muggers.

    Though you’ll have plenty of tools to use, melee combat will have a larger focus, which the developers stated is something they wanted to improve from the original. During combat, you’ll be able to launch pre-emptive strikes against human enemies, and even counter their attack with instant-kills that will drain their blood. Blood is a resource that you’ll constantly need to keep track of, powering your various abilities. While it’s not possible to do a no-kill run through the game–you still have to feed after all–the developers stated that you can play as a “humane” vampire to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

    How you advance your character can set the tone for what’s to come. This even comes into play by the type of human blood you feed on. If targets are angry, especially during a combat encounter, then you’ll feed on blood filled with anger resonance. If they’re frightened, then they’ll be highlighted with the fear resonance. Feeding on a specific type of blood for too long will have you favor a particular type, opening up access to certain skills. But if you choose to forego your humanity, and kill indiscriminately for too long, your character will dip further into the vampiric-side. According to the developers, if this happens, your character’s social skills will be affected, making certain situations–like socializing or going out in public–more difficult, but inversely, you can acquire more vampiric abilities as a result.

    Some of my favorite moments from the previous game where seeing just how far you could push social or combat situations in your favor. Though often times they didn’t work out in ways that I intended, I ended appreciating the events that occurred, most of which was very odd. From this early look, Bloodlines 2 looks to be a faithful restart for the series, keeping up the adaptive, and incredibly bizarre storytelling. It’ll be interesting to see what passes for strange in the eyes of the developers, fifteen years after the original game’s release.

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