Red Dead Redemption 2: Explaining Guarma, Its Most Bizarre Chapter

Rockstar has delivered some of the most compelling and unforgettable interactive experiences in gaming. While Grand Theft Auto V may still be the highest-grossing entertainment product of all time, Red Dead Redemption 2 remains the developer’s magnum opus. By serving as both a worthy prequel to the first game and the harrowing history of the Van der Linde gang, this action-packed and emotional thrill-ride of a Western still continues to leave fans speechless.

The best proof of this is witnessed in one of the most unexpected divergences in the game’s narrative. Though every section may have its own momentous experience, Chapter 5 is itself a mindblowing segue and departure from the ongoing events of Red Dead Redemption 2. Forget Tahiti, Arthur and the boys instead get some much-needed sunshine and a small taste for revolution on an island getaway known as Guarma.

Following a Saint Denis bank heist gone array and a tropical storm that shipwrecks him off the coast of Cuba, Arthur awakens on an island paradise stranded far, far away from the American midwest. Soon thereafter, he and the surviving Van der Linde gang are thrust into a political revolution on the island, wherein rum and sugar reign supreme. In order to get back to America and rejoin the rest of the gang, Arthur, Dutch, Bill, Javier, and Micah must assist the plantation rebels, led by Hercule Fontaine, in thwarting the Cuban Navy’s presence on the island.

This is one of the many examples of what Red Dead does better than GTA V: displaying real-world stakes and consequences that the player must now overcome for the sake of survival. It’s also where the true colors of the gang’s leader, Dutch Van der Linde, are laid bare in all their darkness. With persistent fear and paranoia gnawing at his soul, in addition to the pressure of leading a gang now spread across the western hemisphere, Dutch must come to grips with the failures he has perpetuated. And, like all sociopaths, he points his finger elsewhere, blaming John Marston for their predicament, which only highlights the true menace lurking within.

One of the most eye-opening conversations occurs on the island, mere moments before Dutch strangles an elderly woman in cold blood. Dutch and Arthur exchange the following words:

“Dutch: I will do whatever it takes for us to survive.

Arthur: I guess that’s what I’m afraid of…”

Many argue that the Gurama section is masterful in both a storytelling and gameplay perspective, given that it both surprises the player and perfectly encapsulates Red Dead’s main themes: isolation, revolt, and brutal survival. Cut off from the world they know and love, both literally and figuratively, in the form of a dawning new age and on an island in the middle of nowhere, the Van der Linde gang must saddle up to a completely new set of ideals and must fight someone else’s war rather than their own.

This heartbreaking change of pace in Red Dead Redemption 2 is also often criticized for its upending of the less-story centric gameplay mechanics, such as horseback riding and hunting. Still, while Chapter 5 may be devoid of the arsenal players had been acquiring long before the shipwreck, it stands testament to the mechanics of pure survival. Chapter 5, akin to John’s traversal into Mexico in the original Red Dead Redemption, is not just a change of scenery but a challenge for both the character and the player alike.

While it may have its detractors, Guarma’s introduction in Red Dead Redemption 2 is a much-needed escape, one that propels Van der Linde’s faults to the forefront of Arthur’s attention and also does well by drawing the player free from the western landscape. This middle-ground is the game’s punctuation point, the moment in the narrative where every player knew the story wasn’t going to end in happily-ever-after. Fontaine’s insurrection serves as the perfect parallel to Dutch’s inability to adapt to the law-abiding age, and while players may not get to see what eventually happens to the revolutionists, much like the Van der Linde gang itself, they most certainly crumbled under Cuban Naval bombardment.

After all, there are no happy endings on the Red Dead frontier.

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Control’s first big expansion is a throwback to the Xbox 360 era of shooters

As I muscled through The Foundation, the first substantial campaign expansion to 2019’s best shooter, Control, my mind shuffled through a list of all the other things I could be doing. Vacuuming the living room. Organizing my office. Washing the dishes. Playing Doom Eternal or Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

I adored the core campaign of Control, a graphical showpiece that spliced Twin Peaks with cosmic horror. So why couldn’t I get excited about more of what worked in the past?

Control was Metroid trapped inside a Christopher Nolan film. I would gleefully get lost in the brutalism-meets-origami architecture of its New York City office building, the Oldest House. After so many shooters that sent me on tidy, straight paths, I savored the sense of disorientation. It jelled with the game’s weirdness. Where other shooters felt restrictive, forcing me to hide behind barriers and land perfect headshots, Control felt expressive. I flew through the environments, weaponizing pieces of the world to clear a room of ghouls.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=MNZ_dJ8ELZs%3Frel%3D0

I had been so anticipating The Foundation that I burned hours in the game’s Expeditions mode, slaughtering hundreds of the same enemies, grinding for upgrades so I’d be ready for whatever monsters lurked beneath the Oldest House. I wanted to be prepared.

[Ed. note: This review contains spoilers for the story of Control.]

The Foundation continues where Control’s campaign left off. Jesse has shut down the connection between the Hiss realm and the Oldest House, and embraced her role as the director of the Federal Bureau of Control. Something big has cracked in the very roots of the facility, and now the astral plane — with its big, white, open spaces crowded with obelisks and inverted pyramids — is seeping into our dimension.

Related

Control review: a technical marvel, and an artistic achievement

At its best, this means a bathroom door opens into a white, endless void. At its worst, and most often, this means wandering through similar caverns covered in trillions of pounds of crimson sand. Gone are the gleefully disorienting quests that sent you up, down, and around the mazelike architecture of the Oldest House.

The Foundation spans a series of point-A-to-point-B missions in which you kill everything in a linear path, eventually collecting one of the four MacGuffins necessary to unlock the final boss fight. Sometimes this means slowly working your way up a freight elevator, while other times it means platforming through the astral plane. If your favorite bits of Control were the combat, this may be enough! If you cared more about the story and the scene-setting? Well, your mind may begin to wander toward all the chores you could be doing, or the better games you could be playing.

Image: Remedy Entertainment/505 Games

The new quests are too linear and too repetitive, hampered by the addition of two new abilities. You quickly unlock the power to terraform platforms and destroy walls. But you can only terraform platforms in specific areas and can only destroy specific walls. Where the gravity-bending abilities of the core campaign allow for creatively weaponizing the entirety of a room, the new abilities mostly exist to gate off parts of the map. Want to get to that area up high? You’ll need to unlock terraforming. Want to get that resource box covered in emerald stone? Time to unlock the destruction ability.

Both of the new powers have limited combat purposes, too. You can use terraforming to trigger spike traps, and you can shoot the ground so that it collapses into deadly pits. But again, there’s no freedom. Only specific areas can become traps, and only colorfully marked plots of earth can become pits. Waiting for a clumsy enemy to walk into a trap doesn’t mesh with Control’s energetic, free-flowing fights.

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Why Control looks so much better on PC

Every so often, The Foundation produces a spark of what made the original campaign so memorable. One side quest has you carry a television through a series of dark corridors. There’s nothing special about the enemies or the environment itself, but the world being lit by the soft glow of the television is unsettling, and technically impressive.

One firefight takes place in a huge, square room with dozens of offices looming over a lobby in the center. The combat isn’t especially fun — you’re surrounded by enemies without clear cover — but it looks incredible. These moments are rare, though.

I remain optimistic about the next story expansion, dubbed AWE. Remedy has proven many times that it produces some of the most inventive shooters and action games out there. The Foundation isn’t the studio’s greatest work, but it’s hardly a miserable experience. This expansion reminded me of the Xbox 360 era of midtier shooters: not bad, but not ambitious. Playable, but also — and sadly — forgettable.

The Foundation expansion for Control is now available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, and will be released June 25 on Xbox One. The add-on was reviewed using a final “retail” PS4 download code provided by 505 Games. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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HTC Vive Cosmos Elite And External Tracker Review: Still Not Enough

Here’s what we think of the new-and-sort-of-improved HTC Vive Cosmos Elite and/or Cosmos External Tracking Faceplate.

Last year HTC released yet another entry in its line of VR headsets named the HTC Vive Cosmos. Now, the company revamped it with a new model that includes an external tracking option and debuted an add-on to the original to enable the same new feature.

I’ve written reviews of lots of VR headsets over the last four years, but I can definitely say I’ve never reviewed a situation quite like this. Never mind the fact that HTC already offers a confusing number of different VR headsets (such as the HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, HTC Vive Pro Eye, HTC Vive Focus, HTC Vive Cosmos, and even more), the Cosmos is also the first modular VR headset I’ve seen, adding yet more variations. This should be a key feature of the Cosmos, but right now it just adds to the confusion.

Since we already had an external tracking faceplate sent to us for the original Cosmos, and already had the original Cosmos from our review last year, HTC just told us to review them together as the Vive Cosmos Elite because it’s essentially the same thing.

Read Or Watch Our Original Vive Cosmos Review!

So, after reading this review you might still have a lot of questions, such as: How is the comfort? How are the lenses? What are the specs? How is Vive Origin? What about Viveport? All of those questions and more I already answered in my original Vive Cosmos review. You should read that review as well to get the full picture here. The only thing that doesn’t apply is all of the commentary from that review on its inside-out tracking and new Cosmos controllers — the rest is identical.

Read the original Vive Cosmos review here for our full analysis.

What Is The Vive Cosmos Elite?

The Vive Cosmos Elite is, literally, identical to the HTC Vive Cosmos other than the fact that it uses external tracking via lighthouse base stations (like the original Vive headsets, the Index, and Pimax headsets) rather than the camera-based inside-out tracking that is built onto the front of the original Cosmos, Windows MR headsets, Oculus Rift S, and Oculus Quest. When you buy a Cosmos Elite, you’re buying a Cosmos, but they’ve switched the front faceplate to the external tracking instead of the inside out tracking on the original. And changed the color to black. That’s it.

The specifications are exactly the same as the Vive Cosmos otherwise. The Cosmos features a 1440 x 1700 pixel per eye display (compared to 1080 x 1200 pixels per eye in the original Vive and 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye in both the Vive Pro and Valve Index) which gives it a sharp image. However, the sweet spot of the lenses feels incredibly small in the Cosmos unit we received for review, meaning if you move your eyes very much inside the headset things can look blurry. The Index on the other hand has a large sweet spot and wide field of view.

The refresh rate is 90 Hz for the Cosmos with a claimed 110 degree field of view, meaning that on paper it’s got a solid foundation. Compared to the original HTC Vive especially, it’s a good upgrade.

For $899 you get the Vive Cosmos Elite headset, two base stations for opposite corners of your room to enable roomscale tracking, and two Vive wand controllers just like the original Vive controllers that released over four years ago. Or, HTC recently announced, you can get just the headset itself without base stations and controllers for $549 — an option created for those looking to upgrade from the original Vive or switch from the Vive Pro.

What Is The Vive Cosmos External Tracking Faceplate?

Simply put, the External Tracking Faceplate is an add-on you will be able purchase (for $199 startin April 30th, 2020) for an existing HTC Vive Cosmos that allows it to be tracked by SteamVR lighthouse base stations.  The idea is that you should have the flexibility of switching face plates to have either inside-out tracking, plus new Cosmos controllers, or external tracking with Vive wands or Index “knuckles” controllers. It’s the only VR headset on the market with that sort of adaptability.

It’s a bit of a bummer that the new Cosmos controllers don’t include some sort of add-on to enable external tracking as well. Instead, if you decide to use the external tracking face plate, your new Cosmos controllers are useless. You’d need to switch to Vive wands or Index controllers (we recommend Index controllers if possible.)

Comparing To The Original Vive Cosmos

Using a Cosmos with external tracking (aka a Cosmos Elite) is a vastly superior experience to the original Cosmos inside-out system.

Compared to the Oculus platform, where Insight tracking via Rift S and Quest is extremely comparable in quality to the Rift camera external tracking format, the Cosmos camera-based tracking was a disappointment. It performed poorly in low-light conditions and can lose track of controllers quickly if they’re out of view from your headset. Make no mistake: SteamVR powered by lighthouse base stations is, without a doubt, still the best VR tracking platform on the market from a pure quality and accuracy perspective. They’ve patched the inside-out system to be a bit better now, but it’s still not as good as SteamVR tracking.

But purchasing a VR headset is about much more than just the tracking quality. In virtually all other aspects such as the platform, the comfort, the lens quality, the controllers, and the price, the Cosmos + external tracking and/or Cosmos Elite are hard to justify.

Previously, I found it difficult to recommend a Vive Cosmos to anyone. At $699 it was just too hard of a sell given the way it stacked up against the significantly lower price of $399 for the Oculus Rift S. Coming in at $899, the Cosmos Elite is once again an extremely hard sell compared to the superior Valve Index full package that’s just $100 more at $999. There is a cheaper version of the Cosmos slated to release in the future, called the HTC Vive Cosmos Play, but there’s no word on when exactly.

However, as of the time of this writing, no Valve Index products are expected to arrive to new buyers sooner than 8 weeks from April 1st, 2020, at the earliest. That means June, 2020 as a best-case scenario if you bought something this week.

As a result, if you currently have an original HTC Vive, I could certainly see how the Vive Cosmos Elite headset by itself is an attractive prospect. It costs $50 more than just a Valve Index headset, but you get a slightly higher resolution display plus the potential to eventually purchase an inside-out tracking face plate and new Cosmos controllers if you decide to swap into an inside-out ecosystem instead of using base stations.

Note: Currently HTC does not offer an inside-out tracking add-on to purchase for the Cosmos Elite, they only have plans to offer an external tracking add-on starting April 30th to purchase for the original Cosmos. But, it stands to reason, the inside-out face plate may become available for purchase individually in the future to allow for the inverse upgrade path.

Vive Cosmos Elite/External Tracking Faceplate Review Final Verdict

I said all of this in my original HTC Vive Cosmos review and it all still applies today for the Cosmos Elite: “Technically speaking the Cosmos is far from a bad device. The resolution is very near the top of the market, it features a comfortable halo strap design…and comes with a great value in its Viveport Infinity subscription. But it’s just too little too late.”

The one major caveat here now is that, if you currently have a first generation HTC Vive and are looking to upgrade the headset and don’t mind using Vive wands (or have Index controllers / plan on getting Index controllers), and also don’t want to wait on an Index, then the Vive Cosmos Elite headset by itself for $549 isn’t a bad purchase. Especially considering the possibility of being able to switch to inside-out in the future if you’d prefer. Plus, wireless is already possible on Cosmos — it’s not yet on Index. All that said, if you’re in that specific original Vive owner group and don’t need wireless yet and have the patience to wait an extra month for shipment, we’d certainly recommend paying $50 less for the Index headset on its own.

Final Score:     3/5 Stars | Pretty Good

You can read more about our five-star scoring policy here.

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is available for $899 as a full package including two Vive wand controllers and two lighthouse base stations for tracking, or as a headset only for $549. Check out the official website for more details.

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Splatoon: Nintendo, Please Bring Back Splatfest

As we all sit in isolation and play video games, we’re all wondering one thing: how in the world does Nintendo have the audacity to force ARMS into relevancy in 2020?

It’s absurd, we know this, it shouldn’t be relevant, but here we are now, this is the world that we live in. It’s a shame, but if Nintendo is going to attempt to make ARMS relevant, they can easily do the same with a franchise that actually deserves it, Splatoon. 

This is the perfect time for Nintendo to bring back Splatfests, the contests in Splatoon in which fans get to fight over any random topic (SpongeBob vs. Patrick, flight vs. invisibility, etc.) and splat to claim the win. Quarantine is a perfect time for us to fight over silly little issues in Splatoon 2! It just makes sense.

Sure, ARMS was kicked (pun intended) back into relevancy due to a fighter making the leap (okay I’m done I promise) to Smash Bros., but there’s no reason that we can’t get a free weekend for new fans to jump in and a Splatfest to bring older fans back into the fold as well. What is better to take our minds off of COVID-19 than a fight over peanut butter or jelly in which we use ink squirted by squids who are kids to decide the winner?

The Switch is as big as its ever been. You cannot find it literally anywhere (sounds familiar) and Animal Crossing is everywhere right now. This is the perfect time to give Splatoon 2 a free weekend, there’s an entirely new player base there to discover the game than when it first released. Besides that, Splatoon 2 is a fantastic game, and there’s never a bad time to give it a few moments in the spotlight.

Splatfests are just what we need right now. A free weekend in Splatoon is what we need right now. Let’s be real, no one picked up ARMS again, and no new fans got into it. It just… why would you? Splatoon, on the other hand, is begging for a little bit of promo. The game is great, and the new audience that this would expose it to is worth a free weekend. Throw in a Splatfest, everyone wins.

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How To Get Into Esports During Coronavirus Quarantine

2020 has brought an unprecedented change to virtually all of our lives, particularly because of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has shifted the way we interact socially and go about our day-to-day lives.

Everything has changed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. School has been cancelled, sports have either been cancelled or postponed, and people are essentially stuck inside their houses as we all wait out for this entire thing to be over, which could be a while. While there are a plethora of entertainment options out there, some might be interested in getting into esports and now, more than ever, is a perfect time to become familiar with what the esports scene has to offer.

Esports has consistently asked to be taken seriously alongside more of the traditional sports out there. While the esports scene is steadily working on breaking into the main-stream, this is an important moment for esports as they have one advantage over traditional sports – the ability to continue competition online.

Some of the biggest leagues in esports have successfully made the transition to an online format which allows fans (and newcomers) the opportunity to still see their favorite teams and players compete. This is even extending to cross-overs between esports and traditional sports such as NASCAR drivers taking to the virtual track and NBA players set to compete in NBA 2K.

Some of the best esports leagues in the world continued their season online, including a variety of leagues within esports biggest scene, League of Legends.  These include the League of Legends Championship Series and League of Legends Championship Korea.  The ESL Pro Leagues, Flashpoint, and others continue for CS:GO as well, another premier esport. The Overwatch League also came back after a two-week hiatus, but the verdict is still out on when the Call of Duty League will return.

For newcomers to the esports scene, the vast amount of leagues and various games can feel overwhelming, so it might be good to watch a variety of different esports to determine which is the best for you. For those interested in fast-paced, complex team-based games, the Overwatch League might be the ticket. Compared to Overwatch, CS:GO and League of Legends are relatively slow-paced with bouts of incredible action that hit all the right beats, but also relies on team-play for success.

For those looking for something closer to traditional sports, Rocket League has become quite popular over the past couple of years as teams compete in a giant arena where players drive cars while trying to get the ball in their opponents’ goal. It’s essentially soccer with cars. Don’t forget about the fighting game scene with popular titles like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Super Smash Bros. There are vast amount of titles available to watch in any esports scene, and sampling a handful of different esports might help determine what you want to invest time in going forward.

The majority of these games broadcast on Twitch, a popular video-game streaming platform, while the Overwatch League and some others are also available to watch on YouTube. For those interested in the League of Legends and CS:GO scenes, it should be as easy as searching for the specific names of the various leagues directly on Twitch.

It might feel overwhelming when getting into esports for the first time, but there really is no going wrong when deciding on what scenes to get into or casually browse. With the state of the world as it is at the moment, now is the perfect time to ease into the world of esports and maybe just discover something to love along the way.

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DOOM Eternal’s Lore & Backstory, Explained

Doom Eternal is a game for most players to switch off and kill demons in creative and brutal ways. While many players just want action, others will appreciate the rich history behind the game.

The backstory is a tale of various alien creatures and entities coming together, which culminates in the events of Doom Eternal. To understand the story of Doom Eternal, you have to understand the chain of events and that led to Doom Slayer returning to fight his biggest battle yet.

Makyrs And Urdak

The Makyrs were an advanced race of long-lived creatures who share a collective consciousness. They lived on a planet called Urdak that exists in a different dimension. While they lived for many years, they would eventually degrade, leading to a rebirth or reincarnation called the Transfiguration. The Makyrs were led by the Khan Makyr, who they are incapable of disobeying and who gets replaced every 1000 years at the Transfiguration. After the disappearance of their diety, The Father, they could no longer do the Transfiguration. The Khan could not be replaced, and the Makyrs were doomed to eventually die out.

Argenta And The Night Sentinals

The Argenta were a race of space warriors from the planet Argent D’Nur. They had a warrior culture, with the Sentinals as the most revered of their knights. This race caught the attention of the Makyrs, who were impressed with their battle prowess. The Makyrs got worshipped as gods by the Sentinals, and in return, the Sentinals got access to Makyr technology which allowed them to overrun more worlds. Despite the partnership, the Makyrs predicted that a Sentinal would one day destroy them so every Sentinal warrior had to go through a machine called the Divinity Machine to ensure they were pure.

Doom Guy Arrives On Argent D’Nur

One day a portal opened on Argent D’Nur, and the Doom Guy came through. He was filled with rage from his previous experiences and spoke of the monsters he’d faced. Doom Guy was made to battle it out against other prisoners in the arena and thanks to his incredible skills, eventually became a Night Sentinal. Not long after, demons started appearing and Doom Guy, together with the Makyrs and Sentinals teamed up to fight the demons in “The Unholy Wars.”

Argent Energy

The war went badly for the Sentinals and the Makyrs, even with Doom Guy fighting for them. The magic used by the demons was too strong and they didn’t know how to combat it. After studying captured demons, they discovered a new type of energy that could give them the edge in battle. They decided to use this new “Argent Energy” to fight back against the demons, as well as in their daily lives.

The Rise of Doom Slayer

In the battle against the Demons, the city of Taras Nabad experienced heavy losses and in the end, only Doom Guy and a handful of Sentinals were left. Before the end, A Makyr called Samur took Doom Guy to the Divinity Machine and a transformation occurred. He became much stronger, more powerful and gained superhuman ability to become the Doom Slayer. With the Doom Slayer on their side, the Sentinals started winning the war and took the fight into hell itself.

The Civil War

In hell, they learned that Argent Energy came from the souls of people who were killed by the demons. The Sentinals found out that the Makyrs betrayed them and made a secret agreement with the forces of hell to allow the production of Argent Energy. The Argent Energy could be used to extend the Khan Maker’s life and keep the other Makyrs alive forever.  By this time most of the Argent population couldn’t give up the new Argent Energy that was so useful. The war ended because of the deal made between the Khan and the Demons. The demons would create Argent Energy for both Argent D’Nur and Urdak, and in return, the Makyrs would give them access to any worlds they wished.  Doom Slayer and the few Sentinals and Priest left wouldn’t stand for it, and the civil war began.

Aftermath

The war went on for years until the rebels came up with a plan. They would go into hell and destroy the power source of the Argent Energy. When they arrived in hell, they were ambushed and slaughtered. The priest had betrayed them and the Sentinal commander Valen also betrayed them in order to get his own son released from hell. Everyone got killed, except for Doom Slayer, who was stuck in hell. He spent the next few years killing demons and becoming a legend in hell. Since they couldn’t kill him, they set a trap.  They managed to separate him from his gear and lock him in a sarcophagus, where he stayed until the opening scene of Doom 2016.

Doom 2016

In Doom 2016, the UAC corporation finds a way to open portals to hell and find the sarcophagus and learn about the Sentinals and Argent Energy. The head of the company,  Dr. Samuel Hayden, decides to use the energy to help Earth. The plan goes awry and the demons start invading Mars. Doom Slayer gets revived and manages to defeat the demons using the Crubible, a powerful Sentinal sword. Once the battle is over, Hayden captures  Doom Slayer and takes the Crucible sword. He then transports Doom Slayer to an unknown location.

Doom Eternal

Many years pass, and the Khan Makyr needs more Ardent Energy to prevent the Transfiguration. She opens portals on Earth for the demons to come through and billions are killed. Fortunately, Doom Slayer comes back using a Sentinal spaceship called the Fortress of Doom. Doom Slayer then gets back to business to stop the invasion and kill those responsible.

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Gears Tactics Might Have What It Takes To Compete With XCOM

Gears Tactics was announced at E3 2018 alongside Gears 5 and the Funko-branded Gears Pop! It almost seemed like a joke to pull the Gears franchise in so many disparate directions, but the more we’ve seen of Gears Tactics, the less we’re laughing. Not only is Microsoft taking this entry into tactical strategy very seriously, Gears Tactics looks like it could be something special.

Gears Tactics draws the obvious comparisons to other turn-based strategy games, such as XCOM. Co-developed by The Coalition and Splash Damage, this fast-paced, turn-based strategy game lets players plan coordinated strikes for a whole team of warriors as they try to find the best line of attack without sacrificing too much cover.

“When we were thinking about how to expand the Gears of War universe, we locked in on this idea of a tactics game, because we have some common areas in the fact that Gears has squads and cover is important,” says design director Tyler Bielman. “But it was important that we do our version of a tactics game, so we made a lot of effort to pace up the game. You have as much time as you want on your turn to figure out your strategies and where you want to go, but everything else is faster. We wanted it to feel a lot more intense than traditional tactics games.”

During an extended demo, we got a taste for Gear Tactics’ faster pace and watched a handful of soldiers face off against a squad of Locust grunts. Unlike many strategy games, the heroes in Gears Tactics don’t move along a grid. Instead, players are free to move around the battlefield however they like. This opens up new strategies as players now have a greater level of flexibility to create flanking routes around their enemies. At the same time, it’s still very important to grab cover and find lines of sight that give your heroes a higher percent chance to hit their targets.

Another big change to combat is how Gears Tactics approaches its action system. Traditionally, strategy games allow players to move each hero once per turn before attacking. Gears Tactics, on the other hand, gives each hero three action points to use each turn, and players can choose to mix and match their movements or attacks however they like. Meaning, a hero left on the outskirts of a combat zone can use all three action points to make a mad dash across the battlefield. Alternatively, a character who is well positioned could use all three actions to attack. The heavy gunner class actually has an ability that makes each successive attack more deadly, as long as they don’t move between shots. Another neat trick is placing a character with three actions into overwatch, so when enemies move into their field of view, your soldier attacks up to three times.

The final piece to Gears Tactics strategy puzzle is the execution system. After dishing out a set amount of damage to an enemy, it might fall into an execution state. Enemies in an execution state crawl slowly along the ground and pose little threat, but they can be revived by their companions. On the other hand, if your heroes get within melee range of these downed foes, they can perform an execution. These brutal melee attacks not only remove those enemies from the board completely, but they also give the rest of your companions an additional action point to use during that turn. Players who find good ways to push deeper into the battlefield may be able to chain executions together to keep their turn rolling for a long time.

“To counter all that freedom, we serve up a lot of enemies,” Bielman explains. “Our average enemy per encounter count is pretty high. You are facing a lot of different types of enemies, some that create fronts and are defensive, some that will snipe you from afar, and some that will actually rush you and try to push you out of cover. The whole combination makes the game feel like Gears of War, just kind of boiled down to its essence. It’s about flanking and it’s about cover and it’s about combinations of tactical moves.”

Players have five different classes to choose from and each class has over 30 different skills to learn as they level up over the course of the game. Gears Tactics doesn’t feature any top-level base building mechanics similar to XCOM, but you are rewarded with better equipment after each level, and additional gear is scattered throughout the levels. All of these weapons can be modded, and players can also visually customize each piece of gear with a variety of paints and visual patterns.

The story for Gears Tactics is set 12 years before the first Gears of War and follows  defiant COG soldier Gabe Diaz, who just happens to be the father of Kait Diaz, featured in Gears 4 and 5. Gabe’s squad is ultimately tasked with assassinating a Locus scientist named Ukkon. However, Ukkon isn’t some pencil pusher, he’s an elite member of the Locust Council and one of the geneticists responsible for breeding some of the nastiest monsters in the entire Horde. 

“He’s the monster that makes monsters,” Bielman says. “In Gears games, we have these big bosses. We’ve got Brumaks and we’ve got Corpsers. If you’ve never seen a Brumak, it’s basically a big dinosaur with rocket launchers strapped to it. You’d think, ‘Wow, who would actually do that? Who would put rocket launchers on a dinosaur?’ That’s Ukkon. So Gabe’s team needs to find him and shut him down before he improves the Locust army any further.”

Based on everything we’ve seen, Gears Tactics looks like it should be a fun ride for Gears of War diehards. However, strategy fans who have never played a Gears game before might also want to give this a try. Despite the recent coronavirus outbreak, Gears Tactics is still set to launch on April 28 for PCs and will be available from day one for Xbox Game Pass owners (you still have to play on PC). An Xbox version is in the works and will release at a later date.











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If The Mario Rumors Are True, We Won’t Be Getting Breath Of The Wild 2 This Year

Recently, notable rumors regarding Nintendo’s plans for Super Mario’s 35th anniversary have been making the rounds. If accurate, it’s going to be a fantastic year for the iconic video game character. However, if Mario is indeed getting a lot of content in 2020, this could indicate the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild won’t be releasing this year. Some have speculated Breath of the Wild 2 could release later this year, but that might not be the case if Mario takes center stage.

What Are The Mario Rumors?

Both VGC and Eurogamer have sources saying Nintendo has big game plans for Mario. The year 2020 celebrates the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. Nintendo will reportedly celebrate with new and old games. According to the reports, most of Mario’s catalog will be receiving remasters on Switch, along with a new Paper Mario installment. Not only that, but there are “several other Mario titles” on the way.

Eurogamer’s sources indicate Super Mario Galaxy will be remastered. Also, those sources state Super Mario 3D World is getting the deluxe treatment. Altogether, the implications of these reports are massive. Remasters of Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64 would make headlines, as an example. Plus, it’s not known what these “several” other Mario games are. If this rumor is accurate, a lot of Mario is on the way.

What Does This Mean For Breath Of The Wild 2?

Breath of the Wild’s sequel was announced during E3 2019. Since then, little has been shared regarding development progress. There was no confirmation it would release this year, but a 2020 arrival did make sense. Sony and Microsoft are releasing their next generation consoles this year, so Nintendo needs something grand to not get left behind. Breath of the Wild’s sequel would have fit the bill.

However, if Nintendo is set on releasing so many Mario titles this year, it’s hard to picture a massive release like Breath of the Wild 2. Yes, remasters would technically be older games. But, HD remasters of Sunshine and Galaxy would be big deals. Plus, that’s not even considering the unnamed Mario games and the new Paper Mario. While it’s true Nintendo released Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild in 2017, this is different. Nintendo would likely put its largest emphasis on Super Mario’s 35th anniversary, with other notable games being titles that don’t conflict, like a potential release of Bayonetta 3.

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Lies Beneath Out Today for Oculus Quest, 10min Gameplay Video Inside

Now is most certainly the season for new titles on Oculus Quest with Down the Rabbit Hole, The Room VR: A Dark Matter and Covert arriving. For those who like their virtual reality (VR) experiences with a few more scares and gore, Drifter Entertainment has now released Lies Beneath for the standalone headset.

With an eye-catching visual style similar to that of vintage comic books and some nasty looking monsters Lies Beneath tells the tale of Mae, a college student returning to the sleepy town of Slumber, Alaska with her father. An accident occurs and they become separated, so Mae needs must fight to save her father, encountering the terrifying townsfolk and creepy creatures infecting her hometown.

Only revealed a few weeks ago, Lies Beneath offers players a heart-pounding experience where they can use an assortment of weapons to survive. From ranged weapons including shotguns and pistols to knives and spears for close combat, players will be able to dual wield their arsenal for maximum damage. Like any good horror Lies Beneath can get a little dark and creepy so players also come equipped with a lighter to illuminate those corners – plus it comes in useful when lighting checkpoint lanterns and fires which can heal.

If you want to delve a little deeper into the narrative Drifter Entertainment has created two pseudo websites dedicated to Slumber. The first is a tourist style ‘Visit Slumber, Alaska‘ site with a nice version about its history while the second takes a far darker turn by the Slumber Historical Society.

Available now on the Oculus Store for Oculus Quest, retailing for £22.99 GBP, take a look at VRFocus’ initial gameplay video ahead of our review. Lies Beneath will also be coming to Oculus Rift shortly, scheduled to arrive on 14th April. For all the latest Oculus Quest news and reviews, keep reading VRFocus.

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The Room VR: A Dark Matter Review – An Atmospheric Powerhouse

In 2012, a group of ex-Criterion developers who had worked on the Burnout series formed Fireproof Games. They released The Room, a moody puzzler that had players manipulating a virtual puzzle box with a nearly endless supply of hidden compartments. The Room was a mobile hit and spawned several sequels that took full advantage of mobile’s touch interface. With A Dark Matter, Fireproof takes its series into the bold new world of virtual reality, and the series’ puzzle mechanics translate perfectly to this medium.

Despite a name implying otherwise, The Room games have grown far beyond a single room. During your journey in A Dark Matter, you visit the storehouses of an Egyptian museum, a desolate cathedral, and a witch’s hovel. In each area, you discover strange contraptions and puzzle boxes, all of which you can physically manipulate in a variety of ways. The VR controls are intuitive and approachable since you can simply reach out and grab things with touch controllers, and I loved working out how each machine operated with my bare hands. After tinkering with a series of pullies, I lifted the lid off a sarcophagus and staggered back in delight and horror. In another area, I matched the symbols in a spell book and added ingredients to a boiling cauldron, then watched in wonder as the pot summoned forth a magic mirror.

A Dark Matter’s puzzles are full of supernatural spectacle, but the underlying logic is easy to follow. However, knowing exactly where to go next can be challenging, because you can easily overlook interactive objects if you’re not careful. Fortunately, Fireproof’s hint system is only a button press away. I called on these hints to nudge me in the right direction a handful of times, but I never felt like they ruined the puzzle solutions. However, successive hints do spell out exactly what you need to do if you get completely stuck.

At the beginning of A Dark Matter, players assume the role of a police inspector tasked with investigating a number of missing person cases spread across Victorian England. However, as you dive deeper into these cases, you uncover a supernatural plot that involves a Cthulhu-like entity and an ancient Egyptian burial ground. This story doesn’t go much deeper than the initial interesting premise, and it leaves you with some disappointingly unresolved mysteries, but I still enjoyed the ride.

What A Dark Matter lacks in plot development, it makes up for in atmosphere. Even when playing The Room games on my iPad, I would occasionally feel the need to look over my shoulder. A Dark Matter takes the series’ ghostly environments to a whole new level. It isn’t a traditional horror game; you don’t have to worry about getting attacked by monsters, but the atmosphere is unnerving. During several moments, I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone else was watching me. I even hesitated to move down a darkened hall because I wasn’t ready to face the unknown. A lot of this enhanced atmosphere is due to the inherent immersion provided by VR, but A Dark Matter’s atmosphere is also incredibly affecting and exhilarating in its own right, and almost worth the price of admission alone.

I always make time to play new installments of The Room on mobile, so I was curious to see how well that formula translates to virtual reality. Thankfully, it is a perfect fit for VR, and the series’ barebone narrative makes this is a great chance for newcomers to jump onboard. The puzzle-box gameplay is great for VR, and Fireproof’s moody environments should delight fans of atmospheric horror. In some ways, A Dark Matter is the culmination of everything Fireproof has done on mobile, but I also hope that it is a new beginning for the series in VR.







With A Dark Matter, Fireproof takes its mobile series into the bold new world of virtual reality, and the haunting journey translates perfectly.

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