For five years, Gearbox has made a specialty alternate resounding success and abject failure. If the Texan studio has risen to its advantage in 2009 and 2012 with two episodes of the Borderlands series, italso proved at the same time we could not so far trust him completely. With Duke Nukem Forever (2011) and Aliens Colonial Marines (2013), Gearbox has indeed managed to develop both the performance of the worst titles of the last decade. If we follow this implacable logic, the next game designed by the company led by Randy Pitchford should be worth a look. In this case, it is called Battleborn and is not expected before 2015.
With Battleborn, so we are before the new IP of Gearbox Software. One that is supposed to take over from Borderlands. Moreover, the game is developed by a large part of the teams that worked on the successful series of Texan studio. Even if they do not play very much in the same court, a number of parallels can also be drawn between the two titles. Still Battleborn that is today the biggest project of the company led by Randy Pitchford. Inevitably, the ambitions are high.
Always beware of fungi that meeting!
Just like Borderlands, Battleborn do not actually belong to a particular genre. It’s more of a pungent hybrid game ideas right and left. Weapons, to knock enemies, a view in first person more classical, one might well think by far that this is a simple FPS. But it is not. The game also has in its mechanical progression of elements borrowed from MOBA. To clarify the nature of the title, you have to put in mind that it is clearly oriented multiplayer.
To date, the US studio has revealed that there would be a competitive game with different modes and games involving two teams of five players and another cooperative in which you will live an adventure with a beginning, middle, and an end. All with four friends, online or via split screen. It is this last aspect of the game that Gearbox had chosen to dwell in the presentation to which we attended. Know that there will not like in most games a story provided in one piece. This will be more of a succession of scenarios, missions, spanning twenty to thirty minutes each time.
Something tells me the trouble begins.
Contiguous, so the story missions form the cooperative venture. Within each, there are several successive aims to fulfill. For example, when one played before by the developers of Gearbox, they had to go to a specific place, eliminate enemies who chased them, defending a site and finally destroy a kind of enormous robotic grasshopper acted as boss. Many steps through which you are guided by various characters who intervene regularly to chat with you via small thumbnails displaying their face. Gameplay perspective, the originality of the title lies in the fact that as you progress in a MOBA. That is to say that you will take 15 levels within each mission. And you go back to “zero” in the next scenario.
Of course, each course taken is accompanied by a decision to make about how you want your character to evolve. In the form of a double helix DNA molecule so, the game offers a choice of two capacities. So you can change the path taken during each mission. Gearbox’s will is to propose an increase picked up, as if they built the hero of an RPG in half an hour. To be complete about the progression, you must know that player profile also wins him experience on his side. This will include unlock new paths of development for his character.
A slightly lopsided fight?
Specifically, during a party, Battleborn presents itself as a relatively conventional FPS. Each character has basic attacks and various active and passive abilities. Added to all this own special power to each protagonist of the story. Montana, kind of slow but extremely powerful tank, for example, can pop off to shorten the travel time while absorbing maximum damage over a period of time. In Battleborn, there are five factions all with a different approach to combat. History has it that they are waging a fierce battle for control of Solus, the last star has not succumbed to the attacks of Varelsi. Hence the competitive side of the game. But they also fight together against this evil people. What justifies this time the cooperative aspect.
These five factions thus present a different face. The Jennerit are the finest fighters in the game. They place the power and honor above all else. The Peacemakers are similar to military wishing them protect Solus. The Eldrid, imitations of the Elves, are for their attention to the nature and balance of the universe. Within the Rogues, we find all the mercenaries come from diverse backgrounds. Finally, the Last Light Consortium brings together very manipulative AI. Or, more specifically, robots focused on profit. Each faction has several heroes with features, capabilities and various weapons (bows for Eldrid, for Jennerit swords, guns of all kinds for others).
Note that this visual is presented as a screen, not an artwork …
“ The game appears to have some potential ”
Battleborn features a cartoon visual style. Enjoy it or not obviously falls within a matter of taste. From our side, we find it rather successful overall. The character design is also neat. We appreciate that each of them is entitled to his own personality. At that rate, the game plays the card of humor. The heroes speak no evil, often telling jokes or throw rubbish. However, the environments – a lush forest and a sort of futuristic city – have not convinced us. It appeared empty, as unfinished. Maybe it was because Battleborn is still at an early stage of its development? We hope to be honest.
Battleborn is not expected before 2015, it is still far from final turn we saw before our eyes and we unfortunately could not try. At this stage, the game appears in any case to have some potential. This strange mixture between FPS and MOBA has arguments to seduce the public. Starting with its formula, original, and its multiplayer approach, in tune with the times. The visual style, friendly if not completely new, or humor, omnipresent, were added to the list of positives. We still expect to keep ourselves the joystick to get a real opinion on the game of Gearbox.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Ha, spring. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, the couples form a new Assassin’s Creed Ubisoft were announced … had no reason not to meddle again in the feast of massive year-end outflows, and suspense was hardly the appointment leaks from the month of December. Once is not the custom, it is not the Montreal studio that is leading the project, but cousins of Quebec, who welcomed us into their premises to introduce the heroes, the city, but also Long gameplay sequence of this episode now known as Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
Forget the subtitle Victory, Ubisoft Quebec has chosen to opt for a more descriptive nickname for the time, evoking both the notion of class struggle, the industrial revolution but also the birth of organized crime in London. You will have made the connection by yourself, London is the homeland of this new episode that crosses a first step for the series, that of entry in a modern era to exotic architecture for regulars franchise. We are in 1868.
Landing in old London
Just over 70 years between the time of this episode from the previous, and the gap is visible at first glance. The Victorian aesthetic blends with yellowish colors to form a set that smells of steam and metal. The subway is built in an adjacent lane, a building façade reminds us of the old neighborhoods present in London and the streets are much wider to accommodate a large population but also coaches. If the scenery is probably weaker because of the temporal proximity, artistic leg Ubisoft is once again the desire to fly and prancing on the roofs of the city becomes urgent.
Technically, the result is slightly higher than that of the Unity episode that proved convincing from the visual point of view, but less comfortable in terms of performance. We nevertheless note that this pre-alpha version was not running on a PC boosted hormone but a PlayStation 4 devkit visible to all. François Pelland (Executive Director of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, former member of the Montreal team of Assassin’s Creed III) will soon confirm the information of “It’s a PS4 release, no tricks” that speaks volumes about the Ubisoft and will avoid repeating the mistakes of the past on his game presentations.
Jacob and Evie Frye, twins and executioners
Badly perceived last year, the absence of heroines among the characters of the coop is filled this year with the presence of Evie Frye, first woman to occupy the role of main character in a major episode of the series. Assassin of her condition, the young woman did not disclose her attire during this presentation instead of her twin brother, Jacob Frye, with whom she will share the main role in this adventure on the banks of the Thames. Born in 1847, it is not from London but from the town of Crawley. So discover the English capital at the same time before turning in a sticky way to its more brutal character, that of organized crime.
The handover between the two heroes is made conventionally with a switch like that introduced by GTA V for the missions of the open world, and the use of a predefined character for specific story arcs. While it is too early to comment on Evie we have, Jacob quickly labeled us with a certain charisma, born of the mixture between English class (top hat, golden beak cane) and face bumpkin but evoking a young Hugh Jackman would be barely out of adolescence.
Assassin’s Creed has always adapted its displacement system (and the gameplay in general) to the open world that was rebuilt to stick to the spirit of the time. The presence of procedures and wider streets here has pushed developers to turn what could be a simple visual element in gameplay mechanism: yes, you can fly, drive carriages, you engage in chases with them but also fight on the roof of the latter. If the last feature was not yet sufficiently advanced to be presented to us, we could witness a chase sequence that, let’s be honest, did not fully convinced us.
We have not been able to judge joystick in hand collisions feelings, but spectators as the result proved too rough and the permanent clashing with the surrounding carriages transformed the sequence ersatz Destruction Derby with a little less horsepower under the cover. The idea to add transport is much more interesting contrast to the series and should avoid the systematic use of fast travel, especially as the surface of the city according to the developers is 30% that of Assassin’s Creed Unity with no less than 7 districts: Whitechapel, The City, The Strand, Thames, Southwark, Lambeth and Westminster.
Chains of Jacob
Another innovation already more convincing is the addition of a grab which our two heroes move from one roof to another without having to mingle with the common people: again, two features emerge from this rope an upward rally to grab a roof with haste (the animation is very similar to grapple Batman Arkham matter) or the creation of a rope bridge to link two roofs or a trap for a enemy coming quietly slip over his head. During a brief discussion after the presentation, François Pelland has also confirmed us that this last feature could be used anywhere in the city from the time that we did not try to make it fit into the void. The idea is there only remains to see if it will manage to mingle with efficiency, the level design proposed by the title of this presentation, was the case.
In general, the hero of the gear has been redesigned to stick to the time that saw gangs and street fighting. Like Gangs of New York? Visually, one of the proposed sequence was closing and offered a fight sequence in the street with your faithful acolytes behind you, facing a cutthroat band led by a tough opponent. The confrontation was with the three lighthouses arms of Jacob, his fists, his gun and kukri, short curved blade such that it is possible to swing directly into the skull of an opponent who was passing by.
Originally seen as spiritual warriors (and drug addicts, but forget this detail) the false Jedi tunes, the Assassins are here passed to the other side of the law, a surprising choice by Ubisoft but justified in the context of the time. Still determined to impose peace through order and control, the Templars were indeed at this moment in history, won the game by managing to establish an imperial system in which they master each train. Assassins have no other choice but to join the criminal movements of the time and manage their own gang to retake the city from the hands of the Templars. The return of these features that accentuated the notion of brotherhood is not displeasing to us, and we are already curious to see how the idea of the team of developers from Quebec manages to mix criminal brotherhood of Assassins and atmosphere.
Quid of multi?
Still spend a few lines to large absent from this presentation, multiplayer modes in cooperation or competition and especially the meta-history of the present. If the competitive multi definitely seems left out, the non-renewal of his appeared cooperative dimension there is only one year is a little surprise. Questioned by us, Francois Pelland confirmed that this episode would focus exclusively on the solo mode, a first in the series since … Assassin’s Creed II. As for the history of this which made us embody our own role in Black Flag, Rogue and Unity, it should surely make a comeback but, despite some unsuccessful attempts grubbing information to our interlocutor, it took us to face facts: Ubisoft wants to keep some secrets about its new baby and it will be a little more patient to learn more about it. Appointment is made for E3, where the editor will certainly not likely to present us a new facet of his Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
Forget the bloody and filthy streets of revolutionary Paris, Assassin’s Creed enters the modern age with a stopover in a dark Victorian London and governed by criminal organizations. Grapple with its free use evoking Batman, between which the two heroes can switch at will and the arrival of vehicles, Syndicate is inspired by the best recipes of the competition to improve the Assassin’s Creed. The first approach is satisfactory for the moment with a significant tweaking infiltration and fighting, unreleased gameplay mechanics or on the back that open the scope of the character and atmosphere always with onions, served by more a technique that seems more controlled than on the previous album. We still lack a little oil in the wheels chases for the machine is operating at full and further details on the character of Evie and Assassins management system, but for a first, the result is compelling.
4. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
E3 2015 has enabled us to approach the new installment of the series Uncharted, Uncharted: A Thief’s End. If it was only the projected demo at the Sony conference, it was nevertheless talking about its long version that will, admittedly, literally amazed the audience. Story of something to inspire movies.
If you attended the Sony conference, you did not miss the amazing demo of Uncharted 4, which, after a somewhat slow start, seems to have agreed all action lovers. So the next installment, which will be in line with previous episodes, will take full advantage of the power of the PlayStation 4 to bring Hollywood action sequences and more open environments. That at least is what came out of this presentation.
The luxury is space
The demo of Uncharted 4 set the tone from the start by displaying a bustling city life but above all to become Nathan Drake’s playground. And the least we can say is that we should not wait long to see the capabilities of the Sony console highlighted by the talent of Naughty Dog teams. Indeed, having made its way from a packed crowd, our adventurer has not quickly dealt with hordes of enemies whose sole objective of the day seemed to us to be futile.
This preamble, therefore, was for developers to maximize on what has been the strength of the series namely gunfights and exotic environments. Needless to say, these two points, the overall impression proved excellent. In fact, between effective cover system, more than ever destructible scenery and classy finish-moves, this first skirmish set the tone. Then ensued a crazy chase through the streets of Madagascar during which we could actually see that A Thief’s End will opt for more open environments offering players a larger size print.
There is no question here of open world but rather allow to delve further into the adventure through deep sets winner in every sense. Printing reinforced in the long version of the demo during which Nathan, after having taken a scaffold and then coming straight after drinking the cup, quickly recovering up continuing to be hunted by a heavily armed SUV.
The sequence then took on monumental proportions swinging our hero on the back of a truck surrounded by bad-guys on motorcycles and other vehicles. We voluntarily go on the cartoonish side of certain ideas (meaning that two bullets on a simple car detonated to propel three meters high) since the very accentuated precisely the cinematic inspiration of the game taking on the appearance of blockbuster boosted hormone. And this is not the ending sequence, very Crash Bandicootesque in the soul, that will make me say otherwise as this passage (involving Nathan perched on a motorbike pursued by the mentioned SUV) was mastered at the level of intensity. Certainly, all proved to be scripted, the player, relegated to the role of armed passenger in a uzi, just rust out before the iron monster following us closely, but no denying the effectiveness of staging reinforced by various seeming ideas from a God of War.
“ More than ever destructible scenery ”
In the end, this sequence lost in originality, it gained in intensity thanks to the solid fundamentals and a mastery of some cinematic language. And for those who are wondering, 30 fps does nothing but minimize the dynamism of the sequence which should reflect an adventure briskly. That, at least, is what we hope very warmly.
Not shocking that the first three episodes have struggled to do since 2007, Uncharted 4 nevertheless seems to want to take full advantage of the PS4 to propose an episode resolutely turned towards the cinema. Never letting the player blowing, the sequence presented in this E3 has reassured us on the technical quality of the implementation and on the potential of this new segment is highly prone to develop what already was the strength of the other segments propelling while in the firmament of the best action games of the moment. Knowing that there is still one year for Naughty Dog to complete its baby, both say they will prove very confident in watching for any information in this exclusive PS4.