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Three Reasons You Should Play Titanfall 2

I love Titanfall 2, and I’m going to spend the next thousand words or so telling you why that is in the hopes that you’ll buy it and show support for these types of efforts from the industry.
A couple things to get out of the way first:
1) This is not a review. Reviews require professionalism and objectivity–two things I’m rarely accused of. Our Damien Chambers did a great job of reviewing the game back in November, and I’m not here to contradict him.
2) Neither EA or Respawn is paying me for this (although, if you’re reading this, guys, I’m open to it. Call me.).
Unfortunately, EA decided to release Titanfall 2 between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, two of the biggest games of 2016, shooter or not. As most anyone could have predicted, this led to Titanfall 2 getting robbed of the attention and sales that it deserved. (That’s also why you’re probably not paying attention to the best shooter of 2016.)
When Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall dropped in 2014, it sold like gangbusters. People, including yours truly, were willing to pay full price for a multiplayer-only game, based on the promise that it held. And, for a while, it was great. The fast-paced, mobile, vertical combat was innovative on its own, and the addition of Titans made the experience truly unique, as players alternated between wall-running gunfights and giant mech battles. The magic, however, soon faded. The game’s thin veneer of a plot held a lot of cool sci-fi ideas, but none of them were fleshed out enough to make an impact. The high skill ceiling of combat, while ostensibly a good thing, also made it difficult for newer players to get their feet wet without being slaughtered. Additionally, paid DLC containing new maps and modes segmented the player base into those who were willing to shell out more cash to stay deep in multiplayer and those who were not. The game was a flash in the pan, lacking the staying power to become a multiplayer fixture à la Call of Duty, and also lacking a real campaign to connect story-focused players to the universe. The game sold well, but it didn’t look like it was building a franchise.
Enter Titanfall 2, a masterclass in how to make a sequel. The game improved on its predecessor in nearly every way, and its campaign was, by and large, its best asset. There are lots of great reasons to check it out, but below are the three biggest reasons why you should be playing Titanfall 2.

1. Level Design

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In Titanfall, pilots have Jump Kits, which allow them to do things like run on walls, double jump, and fall from great heights. They clearly lend themselves to platforming, and Respawn takes full advantage of that. Levels balance between platforming puzzles and combat. Staying alive on higher difficulties involves heavy use of the walls and your mobility, so you need to get used to aiming while jumping/sliding/wall-running.
Respawn definitely could have gotten away with skimping on the campaign, including lots of shooting, a few wall-runs over chasms, and some titan battles for good measure. Instead, we got to see what happens when studios let their level designers go nuts. Each level feels distinct, with a unique theme or device that separates it from the rest. All the levels use the pillars or mobility, gunplay, and titans to their fullest, but they also play with a creative idea before moving on to the next one. For example, the mission “Into the Abyss” has you descending into the depths of a hostile assembly plant. What exactly is being assembled is revealed to you as you contend with both enemy soldiers and a factory so dangerous no sane inspector would ever step foot in it. One part of the stage alters your perspective almost entirely while asking you to perform challenging pilot maneuvers as the mission’s boss taunts you over the intercom.
The following mission, “Effect and Cause,” is a shining example of creativity. The level takes a device that is not entirely unique, but makes use of it to absolute perfection. I don’t want to spoil the mission’s conceit and rob it of its impact, but had Titanfall 2 been given an opportunity to garner a higher profile, we might just be putting it up there in the annals of iconic FPS stages, alongside Half-Life 2‘s Ravenholm and Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up.” When I finished the game, I started back up again, just so I could relive these missions and appreciate the real excellence in level design.

2. No Season Pass

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Despite our protests, it’s pretty much become standard practice for AAA releases to come with a season pass, essentially a pre-purchase of all future DLC for a lower price. This can be interpreted, in some cases rightfully so, as studios withholding pieces of a game and forcing players to pay for the rest if they want the full experience. We know that, with multiplayer games, paid map packs can divide the player base and damage a game’s longevity as the number of players with access to all the game’s multiplayer content is slashed with each map pack released.
Respawn has bucked the trend and elected to have all post-launch DLC for Titanfall 2 be absolutely free. This is a great move, as well as an impressive one considering that the game was published by EA. Even if the game weren’t the absolute bombshell that it is and was just a natural progression of the first, I would still show it support for electing not to try to bilk players out of as much money as possible.

3. BT-7274

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Video games have a long history of lovable robot companions. Knights of the Old Republic’s HK-47. Clank from Ratchet and Clank. Legion from the Mass Effect series. We’ve connected with these characters over the years, and they’ve shown us that humanity is about more than flesh and bones. BT-7274, your titan during the game’s campaign, certainly deserves a place among them. This is another area where Respawn could have taken a conventional route, but decided to make things special instead.
The player and BT are thrust together at the game’s outset, and from then on it’s you two against the world. Throughout the campaign, BT is both your guide and your friend, providing instructions and objectives, but also cracking jokes, both wittingly and unwittingly, and saving your life on multiple occasions. Pilots and Titans are supposed to have a sort of symbiotic relationship. Over the course of the game, you can feel that connection build naturally as you progress through gauntlet after gauntlet with your robot buddy.
A mainstay of the FPS genre is the theme of a single man performing extraordinary heroics in the face of incredible odds. In Titanfall 2, BT is just as much of a hero as the player, probably more so. If, for no other reason, you should play Titanfall 2 to experience BT’s companionship. The intriguing sci-fi premise, exciting story, fast-paced multiplayer, excellent music and sound design, innovative combat–they’re all just a bonus.

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Gaming PC PS4 Reviews Xbox One

Review: Battlefield 1 (Xbox One)

battlefieldcoverartDeveloper: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Rating: M
Price: $59.99
I vividly remember gruesome images of trench foot and mustard gas victims that our teacher showed us while studying World War 1 during my high school years in history class. I found WW1 to be one of the most intriguing pieces of history I have ever studied. This is because World War 2 was commonly depicted in movies like Saving Private Ryan and games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty at the time, and the first World War is an event that no one ever really talked about. It is for that very same reason I was excited to hear that EA DICE was making Battlefield 1.
Making a video game like this is a bold move during a time where we have the Call of Duty franchise launching into space and soldiers jumping into mech robots with Titanfall 2. EA DICE took a shot in the dark this year—and their aim is on point.

 

 

Content Guide

Along with the realism we have come to expect from the franchise, there is plenty of violence in a game that intends to emulate one of the most horrific wars of all time. Players will be using artillery, automatic weapons, explosives, and close range combat to kill enemies in singleplayer and online competitive modes. Splashes of blood can be seen and cries of pain can be heard when enemies are shot, and characters can also be engulfed in flames when attacked with a flamethrower. Players can either kill or be killed by slashing or bashing enemies with close ranged weapons; some weapons include bayonets that can be used to charge and stab enemies. There is a particular scene that does show corpses on a war-torn battlefield. Both minor and extreme swear words are also used by characters across multiple points in the campaign and online battles.
Flying the biplanes was the most fun I had out of all six war stories.
Flying the biplanes was the most fun I had out of all six war stories.

Review

Players have grown accustomed to the standard 6-8 hour campaigns that tends to come with the first-person shooters we play each year. The developers decided to take a different approach with Battlefield 1: the campaign tells a series of stories rather than one. These “War Stories” tell six different stories from the eyes of six different soldiers, each of them specializing in different skills and who are located in different parts of the world. They only come with a handful of missions for each, which helps keep things short and sweet rather than long and drawn out. One of my favorites is called “Friends in High Places,” where I spent  a lot of time flying a biplane while taking out bombers and zeppelins.
The biggest problem I had with the campaign are the stealth segments. These moments can be rewarding when they are pulled off correctly, though the proper mechanics that should accompany a stealth game are not present. I was especially driven to frustration multiple times during a mission in the “Nothing Is Written” storyline; when being spotted by an enemy I would have the whole unit at my back as if they all magically knew where I was located. There is no alert system whatsoever—just a relentless assault until I was finally subdued. Despite this segment, the campaign is a solid experience.
Another great moment was when I stormed the castles of Italy as an armored shock trooper.
Another great moment was when I stormed the castles of Italy as an armored shock trooper.
Singleplayer has become a side note these days; people come to this franchise for the multiplayer. We get the standard handful of modes such as the signature Conquest, along with a few others like Domination, Team Deathmatch, and a few more. New to the franchise is the Operations mode, which works much like the Turning Point mode in Star Wars: Battlefront. Players will either be pushing or defending against different sectors of the map through control points, the full operation takes place across multiple maps too. Operations are a slightly longer time commitment than the standard, but there is much excitement to be had when your team is successful in achieving the objective after all of that hard work.
Soldier classes make a return this year as well, and they feel more unique due to the change of setting and era. The available classes are in pretty obvious form with Assault, Medic, Support, and Scout. I personally enjoy destroying vehicles and artillery as the assault class, though it can be difficult to move out in the open with all of the other long range weapons out there. Gamers love to open digital mystery boxes these days, so Battlepacks have also made a return for you to customize your favorite class with weapon cosmetics and other goodies. Don’t like something you received in one of these packs? You can convert that item into Scrap, which can be used to purchase more Battlepacks.
Medals are personal side goals that grant large amounts of experience when completed
Medals are personal side goals that grant large amounts of experience when completed
EA DICE has created some stunning visuals in the last couple generations, even outside of the franchise with games like Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Battlefront. They have put a certain spirit into each location, from the gritty dark tone of trench warfare to the mountains of Italy, and all the way to the vast desert of Arabia. I spent much of my time either running through war torn streets and fields or admiring the beautiful vistas while shooting down planes with an AA gun atop a massive zeppelin. As mentioned in the content guide, the developers also successfully captured the level of violence that World War 1 was known for.
Arabia is a much more beautiful and majestic environment compared to the other war torn locations
Arabia is a much more beautiful and majestic environment compared to the other war torn locations
The Battlefield franchise has a special spot in my heart. In middle school I spent hours at a cyber cafe with a friend playing many PC games— Battlefield 1942 was one of those.  Battlefield 1 does not only return to its own roots, it returns to the roots of all military shooters of the early 2000’s. It turns back the clock while the industry is saturated with shooters that are now heading in the sci-fi direction. The developers have stayed true to the impact that this war had on the world, though things do still fall on the movie-like side of action. Numerous times I was fed with information on events and other things that related to the war, I was just as much educated as I was entertained.

 

 

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Gaming News

E3 2016: Microsoft

e3 2016 microsoft

Content Warning; The Press Conference below may included footage containing violence, sexuality, drug use, and/or crude language. Please view with discretion.
Microsoft began the proceedings for Day Two of E3 2016. At Microsoft’s press conference players can expect to hear more about Halo Wars 2 and Gears of War 4 which were both revealed at last year’s E3.
To begin their E3 2016 press conference Microsoft opened the show with an official reveal of the Xbox One S, a slimmer version of the Xbox One with at 2TB HDD and 4K support. Next, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer appeared on stage to speak more about the Xbox One S, and more variety in upcoming games and exclusives.
Following Spencer’s introduction, Rod Ferguson, Co-Creator and Creative Director at the Coalition took to the stage to introduce Xbox Play anywhere. A feature that allows cross play and cross buy between Xbox One and Windows 10. Ferguson then showed a gameplay demo of the co-op campaign in Gears of War 4. Microsoft also revealed a Gears 4 themed Xbox One Elite Controller.
Next, Rukari Austin, Community Manager on Killer Instinct revealed new characters coming up in Season 3 for the popular exclusive fighter. General Raam of Gears of War fame will be the next fighter for Killer Instinct Season 3.
After the Killer Instinct roster addition, Microsoft showed a teaser trailer for the next installment in the Forza franchise, Forza Horizon 3. Ralph Fulton of Playground Games then appeared to show the world gameplay premiere of Forza Horizon 3. The onstage demo featured a sample of the Xbox Anywhere cross platform play between PC and Xbox One consoles. Forza Horizon 3 launches exclusively on Xbox One and Windows 10 on September 27th.
Following the Forza Horizon 3 premiere gameplay, players got a new look at upcoming Xbox exclusive ReCore. The trailer showed a mixture of cinematics and gameplay which looks to mix third person action with some platforming and shooter elements as well.
Next, Hajime Tabata, Director at Square Enix, revealed the first gameplay demo for upcoming Final Fantasy 15. The demo offered a look at the fast, fluid battle gameplay of Final Fantasy 15. The trailer also revealed that Final Fantasy 15 will launch on September 30th.
After the Final Fantasy 15 demo, a trailer was shown for the upcoming Underground expansion for The Division. Feature new gear, new environments, and a  new raid there is a lot of new content for The Division players to look forward to.
Patrick Bach, General Manage of DICE then came on stage to reveal more on Battlefield 1. EA Access members will be cable to play the game early starting October 13th. Bach then once again played the trailer for Battlefield 1 that premiered at yesterday’s EA Play event.
Mike Ybarra, Head of Platform Engineering, then appeared on stage to introduce new features coming to Xbox One this Summer. The features include background music, Cortana support on Xbox One, and support for additional languages. Three additional features will also be coming this Fall. Clubs is the first feature that allows communities of like-minded gamers to come together on Xbox Live. Looking for Group is a new feature that allows players to find friends to play with in popular games like The Division or Destiny. The last feature coming in the Fall is Arena. A new tournament platform for competitive gaming. EA will also be bringing their biggest sports titles to the upcoming Arena app.
Next, Lydia Winter and Saxs Pearson from the Minecraft team introduced cross platform play between ios, Android, PC, and Xbox One platforms. They then showed off a demo of how this cross platform play will allow players on mobile, PC, and Xbox to connect and play together. John Carmack from the Oculus team also appeared to show off the VR capability coming to Minecraft via the Oculus Rift VR Headset. Texture packs for Mobile devices and Windows 10 will also be coming today for Minecraft players. Add Ons will come to PC and mobile this year and Xbox One next year.
After the Minecraft reveal Microsoft revealed fully customizable controllers via the Xbox Design Lab at Xbox.com. From here, the presentation launched into a trailer for upcoming indie game, Inside which will release later this month on June 29th.
Director of [email protected] Chris Charla, then took to the stage to reveal that Limbo will be available for free to all players on Xbox One starting today. He then played a sizzle reel of all upcoming ID @Xbox games set to release on Xbox One soon. Highlights include Cuphead, Yooka Laylee, and the Hunger Games-like The Culling. Next, Guilaume Provost came on stage to show off We Happy Few which will launch on Xbox One Game Preview next month on July 26th. Damien Monnier, Lead Designer at CD Projekt RED then introduced for the first time, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. Gwent will have cross play between PC and Xbox One. The game will feature a single player campaign as well as online multiplayer. Players can register for the beta at PlayGwent.com which will arrive first on Xbox One and PC this September.
Following the [email protected] reveals, Microsoft revealed a trailer for Tekken 7. Featuring Akuma from Street Fighter the game will transition from cinematics to fighting gameplay in the game’s story mode. It was also revealed that all Xbox Live Gold Members will get a free copy of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 via Backward Compatibility during E3.
Next, came the reveal of  the previously leaked Dead Rising 4 featuring the return of series protagonist Frank West. Dead Rising 4 will launch  Holiday 2016 exclusively for Xbox One and Windows 10.
After Dead Rising 4, Shannon Loftis of Microsoft Studios Publishing, re-affirmed Microsoft’s commitment to bringing new experiences to Xbox gamers. Loftis also introduced a new gameplay demo for Scalebound via Game Director of Platinum Game Hideki Kamiya. The demo featured the biggest boss fight Platinum has ever crafted and showed some of the game’s co-op gameplay. Scalebound will also be part of Xbox Play Anywhere which allows cross platform saves and gameplay between Windows 10 and Xbox One. Scalebound will launch in 2017.
Next, Microsoft showed a new trailer for upcoming Rare developed titled, Sea Of Thieves. Studio Head oat Rare Craig Duncan then took the stage to reveal world premiere gameplay footage and details on Sea Of Thieves. The game features open world, co-op gameplay which allows for open ended stories that are crafted by players and their experiences. It also appears that players can get drunk on Grog in the game.
Following Sea Of Thieves, Microsoft revealed another Xbox One/Windows 10 exclusive in the form of a sequel to State of Decay, State of Decay 2, which will finally feature online co-op. Another exclusive to Windows 10 and Xbox One followed the State of Decay 2 reveal as players were introduced to a new cinematic trailer for Halo  Wars 2. The multiplayer beta for Halo Wars 2 starts today and will continue through June 20th. Dan Ayoub, Studio Head of Strategy Games at 343 Industries revealed that Halo Wars 2 will launch February 21st, 2017. A gameplay trailer was also shown which featured epic battles between the UNSC Marines and Covenant forces.
Phil Spencer then returned to the stage to close the show with a video that shows how the new version of the Xbox One was developed and the upcoming Project Scorpio Xbox One which will launch in Holiday 2017. He also confirmed that all Xbox One games will be playable on Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Project Scorpio.  A sizzle reel was then shown of all of the upcoming Xbox One gaming experiences that are coming this year and in 2017. 

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E3 2016: EA Play

e32016 ea play
Content Warning: The following footage may contain violence, sexuality, drug use, and/or language. Please view at your discretion.
At Electronic Arts’ EA Play Event for E3 2016, the prolific publisher opted not to host an official E3 press conference event this year but instead hosted their own press event today off the show floor, marking E3’s official start today on June 12th..
To open this year’s show, Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts spoke about how EA is doing things differently this year with EA Play before letting Peter Moore, Chief Competition Officer at EA, speak for a bit on the EA Play event going on simultaneously in London. After confirming that fans would be able to view an hour of live streamed Battlefield 1 gameplay one after after the show’s conclusion, Wilson introduced Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment, who confirmed that Titanfall 2 would be the first time the franchise will be  available on PS4. Zampella then showed a highlight reel of multiplayer gameplay footage from Titanfall 2. While it was leaked before the beginning of EA Play 2016, Zampella then revealed the trailer for the single player campaign for Titanfall 2. This time around it seems there will be an emotional connection, and perhaps even a friendship, between pilots and the mechanized Titans, who can now speak and sound like Transformers.
Following Titanfall, EA moved into a reveal montage of its upcoming sports title, Madden NFL 17. New additions this year include a Franchise mode with new ways to enjoy the popular Madden gameplay. EA went on to explain the addition of weekly tournaments and competitions that will be coming to their sports titles. These come in the form of Challenger Events, Premier Events, and EA Major Events. To provide more details on these upcoming Events, Moore introduced two of the best Madden players, Eric “Problem” Wright and Zack “Serious Moe” Lane to share the story of their rise to fame as professional Madden competitors. The two will be competing for the title of Madden Champion out of a total pool of eight of the top Madden players. Next year will see a prize pool of $1,000,000 for the Madden 17 Championship Series.
Aaryn Flynn, General Manager of Bioware was the next presenter to take the stage to provide more details on Mass Effect: Andromeda. Flynn confirmed that Andromeda will run on the Frostbite Engine. Flynn then played a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Mass Effect: Andromeda. While not an official trailer, the video did reveal snippets of Andromeda gameplay and some of the new enemies, squadmates, and planets players will encounter in the game.
After the Mass Effect reveal, Wilson returned to the stage to announce that EA Play 2016 will include playable demos of upcoming game updates and DLC including the upcoming expansion for Star Wars: Battlefront. Wilson also introduced Play to Give, playing games at during EA Play this week and completing challenges will unlock donations that will go towards one of five charities.
Following Wilson’s announcement, Moore returned to the stage to reveal new details on FIFA 17. Introduced by Alex Hunter, EA launched into a trailer for FIFA 17 which appears to have a subtitle of The Journey and a more cinematic career mode that chronicles Hunter’s journey from rookie to FIFA All-Star. EA has also completely overhauled the gameplay and AI for an entirely new FIFA gaming experience.
Next up for the EA Play presenters was Patrick Soderlund, Executive Vice President of EA Studios who announced a new series called EA Originals. EA Originals is a new initiative to embrace and promote new and interesting gaming experiences from smaller indie developers. Soderlund then introduced developer Zoink and the first EA Originals game, Fe. Fe is about our relationship and interactions with nature and how we are linked to it. There is musical them to the game where you learn songs to free the forest from the Silent Ones, the game’s antagonists. Fe’s presentation concluded with a trailer for the game showing off its unique artstyle and gameplay.
Following Fe’s reveal, EA moved into the Star Wars segment of their presentation which was introduced by Jade Raymond, General Managed at Motive Studios. Raymond and her studio are currently working with DICE on development of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 which will include contented from The Force Awakens. Raymond then confirmed two new action adventure Star Wars games currently in development at Visceral and Respawn.
After the Star Wars presentation, EA returned to the stage to show off a new trailer for Battlefield 1. With a disclaimer stating that the trailer is In-Game footage, it appeared to reveal a little snippet of the campaign for Battlefield 1. Following the initial reveal, DICE revealed that two teams would be competing during the 1 hour livestream of multiplayer gameplay for Battlefield 1. Guests for DICE’s presentation Zac Efron and Jamie Foxx will each lead one of the two teams during the livestream. DICE then revealed that the game will have an open beta this Summer before launching on October 21st. To close out the Battlefield 1 presentation and the EA Play 2016 show, DICE revealed the full cinematic trailer for Battlefield 1.

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