11 cool things we discovered in 8 hours of Assassin’s Creed Origins

There’s only a matter of weeks until we’re let loose in the enormous Ancient Egypt of Assassin’s Creed Origins with brand new hooded hero, Bayek. October 27 can’t come soon enough for everyone who has twiddled their thumb sticks for a bonus extra year waiting for a new Creed game. But the question is, was it worth it? So far, the answer is very much yes with Origins offering an incredible RPG unlike anything Assassin’s Creed has ever done before. We got hands on with just a small portion of the map and managed to cause complete chaos in a matter of minutes. Here are 11 cool things we discovered in 8 hours of Assassin’s Creed Origins.

1. You can control time

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Ok, easy, Prince of Persia, not that kind of time control. While Assassin’s Creed has always had a day night cycle as you spend endless hours adventuring across rooftops, Origins lets you speed time along at the press of a button once you’ve unlocked the Dusk and Dawn skill. We are in the Animus after all and Ancient Egypt has a full 24 hour cycle, meaning the world is constantly changing. Night time means guards sleep (making it a perfect time to sneak up on them with a certain mechanical blade), nocturnal animals come out to, errr, ‘play,’ and merchants and traders wander from the marketplaces they’ve been frequenting all day. Whether a quest requires you to follow someone home after a long shift, or you just want the perfect light for yet another pyramid screenshot, this new function adds another layer to an already dangerously compelling world.

2. Everything wants to kill you

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And we mean everything. Lions, hyenas, crocodiles, hippos… Origins’ Egypt is beautifully deadly. The natural predators of land and sea aren’t just eager to eat each other for breakfast, but are more than happy to take a bite or six out of you. While quests are scattered across the world, insta missions pop up when animals get too close to the inhabitants of Egypt so you might find yourself rescuing a poor farmer from a hippo that’s got a little too close for comfort or a fisherman plagued by crocs. Alternatively, you could always ride in the other direction with their screams echoing guiltily in your ears. It’s worth noting that lions in particular are utterly relentless when it comes to the chase, and it’s best to clamber onto your steed for a quick getaway or at least as a good position for firing arrows into Simba’s roaring, tooth-filled mouth. Speaking of, if you want to fire arrows five at a time…

3. Loot is Destiny levels of addictive

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Unlike previous Creed games where you bought weaponry, armed yourself with the most deadly version and stuck to it for the next forty hours, Origins has an incredible selection of deadly tools for the job. This might be the earliest Creed to date in 49BCE but there are more weapons here than you can shake a very pointy stick at. Spears, maces, knives, and dual wielded short swords await. There’s even a selection of bows that would turn Lara Croft green-eyed.

Found in chests or bought from a vendor, each weapon has its own unique attributes. While these perks aren’t changeable, you might find a spear to increase bleed time or a poison tipped blade. Throw in the fact that some loot is Legendary, clearly identified in glowing purple on the gear screen, and every chest opening is another prayer to RNG-sus. There’s also the nice bonus of blacksmith upgrades if you find a weapon you like early on in the game, where you can pay Drachmas to bring your favourite toy up to level. Just like Destiny 2though, you’re going to spend a serious amount of time in the gear screen comparing stats. Even if you don’t normally like numbers, Origins gives everything a damage per second stat that’s going to make you want to open every chest in the game.

4. There are Far Cry-style camps

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Think puzzles but the moving parts are people that fire arrows at you and you know exactly what Origins’ enemy encampments have in store. One of the highlights of the Far Cry games have always been the outposts that you have to take over with stealth or brute force, and Origins has made the most of the Ubisoft family connection and added it’s own forts and buildings that you can infiltrate to score treasure. Almost all of them will have a way to sneak in or sabotage the occupying enemy, even if you might not find it until you’ve gone in all blades blazing and set the place on fire. It’s like crashing a wedding, but with way more death.

5. Egypt is full of brilliant chaos

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Origins loves chaos. It bathes in it. Factions roam across the sands, hippos and lions battle it out, rebels invade camps, regular Egyptians try to exist without being mauled by hyenas,  and that’s all before Bayek comes in. This feels like a world that exists quite happily without the Medjay but throw in our first Assassin and things get even more chaotic. You can of course join in the fight, or unleash wild animals from cages to add some teeth to the equation, or you could just set things on fire. Every arrow Bayek fires can be sent as a flaming version. Just stand next to a fire source as you draw your bow and things will get distinctly more exciting. There’s even a neat trick where you can bring out your pyramid-raiding torch and drop it on the ground. Hello, portable fire source. Bring in the shotgun bow and five flaming arrows will do serious damage.

6. Sailing is amazing

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Luckily for us, the massive Nile (the river is 4,258 miles long, fact fans) gives the development team a chance to repeat the sailing success of Black Flag, minus the sea shanties. Sailing small, intricately detailed boats across the sun-speckled Nile feels so smooth it’s enough to make you give up the Assassin life and become a water taxi. (That DLC idea is a freebie, Ubisoft). The river has its own ecosystem of snapping crocodiles, lurking hippos and traffic, and you’ll meet impressive convoys of soldiers and innocent merchants as you travel around. Our preview confined us to a specific area, but a few side missions hinted at the chance to hunt targets down on the water, and your bow makes it easy to use a commandeered boat as a floating assassin’s perch.

7. There’s one hell of a skill tree

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Assassin’s Creed has never really given you much of a choice of how to play, handing over gradual upgrades as you progress. Syndicate was the beginning of giving you an actual skill tree, but Origins serves up a veritable breakfast buffet of ways to murder your way across Ancient Egypt. Animal taming and booby trapping bodies with poison are just the beginning of what you can spend ability points on. Choose to level up your Hunter or Warrior skills and you can regenerate health while you fight, or even start combat with a half full adrenaline bar for a faster way to reach your overpower skill. If you want to swim more, you can spend points on holding your breath longer, or if you’re savvy with a bow, you can upgrade to get a slow motion bonus when you pull back an arrow. The skill tree screen is an astonishing array of new ways to play that means even though you’ll hit the level cap of 40, there will be plenty of reasons to keep unlocking those precious points.

8. Praise Ra, it’s pretty

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Assassin’s Creed has always been proud of its vistas. Those synch points have been spinning 360 degrees for ten years for very good reason. Whether it’s cities or the Caribbean, the Creed has always been screenshot material. Step in the Xbox One X on processing duties and Ancient Egypt is beautiful on whole new levels.

Remember that feeling you got when Edward took to the sea in Assassin’s Creed Black Flag? As you zoomed out at top speed as your pirates sang sea shanties and the tail of a whale crashed through the waves? Now imagine that feeling with the lush riverbanks of the Nile with the pyramids waiting tantalisingly on the horizon.

Whether you’re on a boat or a camel, every swivel of the camera is screenshot material which is why it’s a good thing you can just take a grab with a press of both sticks. Better clear some space on that hard drive.

9. Combat is fast and furious

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Let’s face it, Assassin’s Creed combat has never really changed. There’s been more satisfying counters – especially with Syndicate’s sword cane, mmmm, head golf – but everyone has always patiently waited around you in a circle until it’s their turn to die. Well, no more queuing. Like a self service machine of death, Origins’ combat is fast, frenetic and dangerous. Archers hang back and aim with murderous accuracy, brutes with shields require a charged attack to destroy their barricade, and, all the while, other foes charge in with swords.

What was once an exercise in QTEs has become a juggling act as you raise your shield with your left bumper, and flick between locked enemies with a press of the right stick. And you’ll constantly change your style too. Depending on your chosen weapons, you’ll have to keep your distance or get up close and personal. Throw in the aforementioned fire arrows and Origins combat is a delightful dance of death. Be warned though, too many enemies of a higher level and you’ll be canopic jar material in no time so keep an eye on the kind of foes you’re up against before charging in.

10. Arts and crafts (and hyenas)

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A few hours in Origins will turn even the biggest PETA supporter into a one person abattoir, hunting down wildlife to craft upgrades for your gear. It starts out small, you just shoot a couple vultures for the feathers, do a hunting side quest for a sad looking tanner, and then boom – you’re like that dentist that went viral for killing lions. It’s Black Flag’s guilt whaling all over again, only now your eagle can act as a kind of animal kingdom double agent, letting you mark your next target on the map to make the killing all the more efficient. It’s almost a relief when you take on something, a charging hippo for instance, that grinds you into the dirt like the scumlord poacher that you are. At least you can justify that you need it all though. Everything requires leather and skins to upgrade. Want a new hidden blade? You know what you have to do. Maybe singing ‘The Circle of Life’ at the same time might help?

11. Hood news, Assassins

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And just as a bonus, and settling the hood up, hood down debate for good, you can choose to have your iconic headwear on or off. A simple setting in the gear menu lets you toggle between looking like a traditional Assassin or a little less conspicuous. While covering your head would be better to avoid sunstroke in the deadly Egyptian heat, Ubi is letting you select whether you want to feel like being stealthy or not. This is clearly a response to the long debates – and even change.org petitions – where fans asked to be able to have Jacob and Evie’s hoods up while they were just wandering the streets and not specifically in stealth mode. Well this time, it turns out that everything is permitted after all.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer breakdown – every revealing detail you might’ve missed

It’s baaaaaack. Red Dead Redemption 2 once again snapped the internet clean in two with its second trailer. This time out, we finally get a look at who we’ll be playing as in the new Wild West epic, and spoiler: it’s not a young John Marston. Instead, the sandbox sequel follows “the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they rob, fight and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America,” according to Rockstar’s Newswire. Read on to find out every little hidden detail from the latest amazing trailer, as we take in classic cowboy action that spans daring train robberies, dazzling prairies, old timey bank heists, and… um, really agitated alligators.

Western wonderland

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The first shot of the new Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer really is a belter. It’s frankly obscene how much detail there is in this one image alone. The sun peaking over prairies on the left; moody storm clouds gathering above; snow-capped mountains to the right. If this scene is any indication of the overall make-up of the final game’s (supposedly leaked) map, Redemption 2 is going to be one of the most visually varied, spectacular sandboxes ever.

Also, note the campfire. These popped up in the first trailer, but now there’s a nearby tent at the site. Perhaps the game lets you pitch one to take shelter from the weather should those storm clouds lead to the sort of torrential downpour GTA 5 loves so much.

Meet Mr. Morgan

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Contrary to months of excited speculation, the open-world Western sequel will not revolve around a young John Marston. Boo! However, the new lead still looks mightily intriguing. Around 18 seconds into the new trailer, we get our first decent look at Red Dead Redemption 2’s main character: Arthur Morgan. Judging by his opening line, it looks like this outlaw is some sort of bounty hunter, tasked with finding people and shaking them down for dollars. “You got some money for me, boy? I’ve seen your name on our ledger.” That “our” bit is important. As we’ll find out a little later in the trailer, Morgan is working with Dutch van der Linde – one of the main antagonists Marston is tasked with killing in the last Red Dead.

Current speculation would have you believe Morgan is played by actor Roger Clark, an American-born thespian who grew up in Ireland and was trained in the UK. His previous credits include parts in the 2014 movie adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and cutely, a 1997 cowboy-centric mini-series called The Wild West. Looking at pictures of Clark on his IMDB, there’s a definite resemblance to Morgan’s character model. Casting a relatively unknown actor would be right up Rockstar’s alley, too – the publisher hasn’t really used famous stars since Samuel L. Jackson in GTA: San Andreas.

Gun for hire

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This shot of Morgan nonchalantly trotting through town on his steed sure brings back memories of riding down Armadillo’s street with John Marston in the first Redemption. As before, horses are hitched to wooden posts when they’re not being ridden. More interesting is the gunsmith store on the left. The shopfront sign reads ‘R.L. Dalton’, with a message below reading ‘Weapons sold. All items bought.’ This seems to hint at a time of poverty, but is also a nod to a real gang of outlaws from the 1890s called the Daltons (naturally). The gang primarily consisted of three brothers, who specialised in bank and train robberies; we’re sure they’d get on famously with Morgan. Most of the gang was wiped out during a failed robbery in Kansas circa 1892.

“I’ll keep her in black”

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Next up, we see Morgan casually threatening a young man whose father has presumably died; it looks like the poor boy’s mother is grieving in a nearby cemetery at the 00:33 mark. Whether this dude is on Arthur’s ledger or not is unclear, yet what does seem certain is that Rockstar’s latest outlaw is kind of a jerk. “Maybe when your mother’s finished mourning your father,” Morgan callously hisses, “I’ll keep her in black… on your behalf.”

Now, John Marston was no saint, but he was consistently sympathetic and usually quite honourable. Arthur, on the other hand, seems to take real pleasure in threatening folk, and his general demeanour seems to be cockier and more confrontational than the original Redemption’s doomed cowboy.

The great train robbery

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Now this is what we’re talking about. It just wouldn’t be a Western without outlaws holding up some poor choo-choo. The trailer briefly shows Morgan and other gang members hiding in a forest, before quickly ambushing a train – forcing it to stop by parking a carriage on the tracks – then pistol-whipping one of its passengers. No wonder Morgan quips, “We’ve got lawmen in three different states after us.” Considering Morgan seems to be backed up by a number of outlaws, could these train robberies act as a take on GTA 5’s sweeping heist missions? The prospect of picking a crew and planning when and where to strike a locomotive is mighty exciting.

Tree of life

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Moments later, we see a fleeting but beautiful shot of three figures riding over the crest of a hill as the sun rises. Slightly in front of them lies a sad-looking tree that appears to have been torn in half by a lightning strike. GTA 5’s dynamic weather system could produce some visually spectacular storms, but downpour or lightning would never physically damage the environment. Could this brief scene indicate that Redemption 2 has more fully fleshed-out weather, where harsh storms can physically transform the environment? It seems ambitious, but it would be one hell of a cool feature if Rockstar could pull it off.

Snow joke

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The fluffy white stuff isn’t something you’d really associate with the original Redemption, but looking at this shot 47 seconds in, the sequel seemingly loves snow. The closest you got to this sort of weather in Marston’s game was some frost-covered hills in the Tall Trees area, but the snow here is up to the horses’ knees. Once again, this points to Red Dead Redemption 2 having a far more visually varied map than the first game.

Point-bank range

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Around 50 seconds into the trailer, we see Morgan holding up a bank manager, seemingly forcing the helpless fellow to open up some safe deposit boxes. Presumably, this robbery doesn’t go off without a hitch, because later on we see Morgan blowing up what look to be the same deposit boxes with explosives. Robbing local banks in the first Redemption could help you line Marston’s pockets, but there was never really a central story mission focused around a big bank robbery. Here’s to hoping the sequel has bank heists on par with GTA 4’s Heat-inspired ‘Three Leaf Clover’ mission.

Making friends

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The scene above sees Morgan conversing with a Native American man, who suggests the outlaw is “going to need an extra gun.” While the latest trailer puts the emphasis very squarely on Arthur – and away from the seven outlaws highlighted in the previous trailer’s final shot – it seems likely you’ll occasionally be accompanied by AI characters. After all, most missions in the first Redemption saw John riding into action with an ally by his side. Seeing as the warrior above gets one of the few speaking parts in the trailer – and also looks to be the furthest figure on the right in previous Rockstar artwork – expect him to be an important player in Red Dead Redemption 2’s story.

Pleased as punch

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Next up, we see Morgan in what looks to be a more industrially advanced town than the one that houses the gunsmith store earlier on in the trailer. Aside from a quick look at a passing steam train, there are brief scenes where Morgan threatens a local man as he pins him to the wall, then a violent shot of the outlaw involved in a brutal fistfight. Said punch-up has attracted quite the crowd, and it wouldn’t surprise us if fighting mini-games cropped up in certain towns. After all, there’s only so much Five Finger Fillet you can play until someone loses a finger.

Argh! Alligators!

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The original Redemption had some kickass wildlife, but it certainly never had alligators roaming the waters of New Austin. Of course, John Marston couldn’t swim, so inserting an underwater menace into the game would’ve been a waste. This time though, Morgan is going to have to get used to getting his spurs wet. Right after that gator chomps down on a poor pig at 1:01, you can see three figures wading through waist-high waters, seemingly surrounded by Bald Cypress trees. This imagery feels like it’s been plucked straight out of a Louisiana bayou, appropriate seeing as the state is considered part of ‘America’s heartland’ – a term Rockstar has mentioned several times in press releases. Of course, Marston’s adventure also flirted with swamps. Remember Thieves’ Landing?

Really Wild West

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Hunting critters then skinning and selling their pelts was one of the original’s Redemption’s most diverting pastimes, and it looks like the sequel is doubling down on the PETA-bothering action. At 1:03 we see Morgan hunting what looks to be a moose in a dense forest using a bow (which weren’t in the original Redemption) in a scene that’s more than a little reminiscent of that one bit from The Last Of Us. Immediately after, there’s a brief shot of an extremely agitated grizzly bear charging through a lake. We hope Redemption 2 has a proper swimming system, otherwise Morgan is going to be an easy meal for Yogi and pals.

Kill Bill

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ittle like the first game’s awesome rancher Bonnie MacFarlane – stabbing a dude in the hand. Said beardy chap would appear to be Bill Williamson: a known member of Dutch’s gang, and the first outlaw John Marston is set to track and kill in Red Dead Redemption. In the next shot, we get a better look at the stab-happy women, as she remarks, “You’re the only one of these fools that I trust.” It’s here that the resemblance to MacFarlane is really striking. Of course, if Redemption 2 really is a prequel to the last game, this probably isn’t Bonnie… though it certainly could be an older family member. Are we looking at Bonnie’s mother?

Stealthy does it

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At 1:11, we see Morgan stabbing someone from behind in a swampy area. GTA 5 briefly flirted with sneaking – admittedly, Franklin knocking Michael’s gardner out in the ‘Repossession’ mission was hardly Metal Gear-worthy – but it looks like Redemption 2 may go one further and introduce stealth takedowns. Killing folk in sneaky style is all the rage in open world games at the moment, so don’t be surprised if Morgan’s adventure features more stealth mechanics than its predecessor.

Dutch courage

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Rockstar leaves the most significant reveal to the end of the trailer, whereby Dutch van der Linde – the Big Bad from the first Redemption – pops up to have a brief chat with Morgan. Redemption 2’s story revolves around the bond between these two men, as they rob their way around the country, and it’s interesting to see there’s clearly a paranoid streak in Dutch at the 1:13 mark. “Do you have my back?”, he asks Morgan, with the outlaw replying, “Always, Dutch.”

In the last game, Marston said his former gang member was once a Robin Hood-like figure, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. However, as Dutch gradually became disillusioned with the increasing capitalism creeping into the Old West, he eventually turned into a bitter, paranoid figure. Earlier points in the trailer suggest Dutch may not have the full backing of the female outlaw, or Bill Williamson, and it seems likely a main narrative thread could revolve around Morgan’s efforts to keep Dutch’s gang together in spite of his partner’s increasing paranoia.

It’s out Spring 2018

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For real this time. The final shot of the trailer confirms that the game is coming to PS4 and Xbox One in Spring of next year. Rockstar initially promised Red Dead Redemption 2 would ship Fall 2017 – which obviously didn’t happen – so fingers crossed that the studio actually honours this new release window. The original Redemption launched back in May 2010, so maybe Rockstar has a thing for releasing epic open-world Westerns in Spring time. If the developer keeps to its word, it looks like none of us will be getting much fresh air next Easter. Hurry up, Spring 2018. You can’t get here soon enough.

Winter is Here: Five Games to Play Until Game of Thrones Returns

After a fantastic seventh season that greatly improved upon the somewhat lacklustre sixth, Game of Thrones is once more on hiatus.

Now that everyone must wait until Summer 2018 (or possibly even as late as 2019) for the next series, OnlySP has decided that the best thing for everyone is to offer a list of the best video games to scratch that Game of Thrones itch as they wait.

Read on for the top five games to fill the time until the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones arrives.

TELLTALE’S GAME OF THRONES

Possibly the most obvious game for this list, Telltale’s Game of Thrones takes the high-risk intrigue and moral conundrums of the show and forces the player make the tough decisions, choosing who lives and who dies with Telltale’s trademark high-stakes gameplay.

Plot-wise, players take control of various members of the Forrester family as they spread throughout the societies of Westeros, interacting with many characters from the TV show and acting behind the scenes of many big events from the series. The aim of the game is obviously to keep the central characters alive for as long as possible, but, given the source material, the members of House Forrester will not be long for this world.

However, as engrossing as this game is, players should expect disappointment. The final episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones was released two years ago and, although fans of the game are holding out for another season, a Telltale representative recently stated that Game of Thrones Season Two will remain “on hold” as the studio develops its other series, including Minecraft: Story ModeBatman, and The Wolf Among Us.

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THE WITCHER 3

For those unfamiliar with The Witcher series, players take the role of Geralt of Rivia, a professional witcher (that is, a magically-enhanced monster hunter), who travels through his war-torn countryside taking quests and solving problems. Imagine playing as a vastly prettier Sandor Clegane as he solves crimes, slaughters a wide variety of monsters, and sleeps with beautiful women.

The game is full of the loaded moral conundrums that make Game of Thrones so thrilling. Geralt will need to figure out how each problem can be solved to everyone’s benefit, but will have to constantly gauge who can be trusted and who must be killed for the greater good. Additionally, the developers have included tastefully high amounts of nudity for players to enjoy, to the extent that Geralt and his lady-love Yennifer are introduced in a bath scene while stark naked.

The Witcher 3 is widely regarded as one of the greatest open-world games in video game history, with over a hundred hours of gameplay to tide fans over until the next season of Game of Thrones. Additionally, the game has two prequels to enjoy, a tie-in card game coming out later this year, and an extensive series of books and short stories that provided the inspiration for the series.

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DISHONORED 2

While players have the option of controlling  skull-masked assassin Corvo Attano in Dishonored 2, perhaps the most Game of Thrones-like thing to do is to take the role of  Empress Emily Kaldwin, a deposed royal who loses everything and must flee her homeland, enacting brutal and colourful assassinations upon those who betrayed her.

Players will not find another game that comes as close to the experience of being Arya Stark, and, like Arya, they will have a useful (though small) sword to cut up enemies and will even gain a modicum of magical powers to assist in their quest. While players will have to wait until Dishonored: Death of the Outsider to steal faces, Dishonored 2 allows the ability to create doubles of Emily to confuse enemies, use ghost hands to tear people’s limbs off, or create a floating crystal to mesmerise targets while the character sneaks up for the kill.

Overall, Dishonored 2 is a very entertaining game that gives players the option to neutralise targets in a variety of ways or kill the same individuals over and over until satisfied that justice is done.

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THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM

Almost no list of fantasy video games can be complete without The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which has been a monolith in the open-world genre since its release in 2011.

Set in the land of Skyrim during a period of civil unrest, players take the role of the Dragonborn, a former prisoner destined to kill—rather than birth—dragons. However, various jobs are also available, including working as a mage, fisherman, assassin, and even a drug dealer, making the protagonist both an integral and dynamic part of Skyrim’s society.

The character is built up from nothing to do almost anything players would want to do in Westeros, as well as be whichever Game of Thronescharacter they want, including taking the Skyrim version of the Iron Throne and becoming the High Queen or King of Skyrim.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a great game that gives players the freedom to become whatever they desire in one of the most beloved fantasy titles of the past decade, especially after the remastered special edition came out in 2016, exponentially improving on the graphics and gameplay.

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CRUSADER KINGS II

Crusader Kings II is the perfect game for people who want to take a bird’s eye view of an empire in a state of constant political conflict. Set within the real world in medieval times, players become a member of an aristocratic family and set out to do whatever they please, as the game does not offer a fixed goal to work towards.

Players may begin plots to kill their fathers, invade enemy countries to get land, or make alliances with other leaders to secure power. Crusader Kings II is a more politically minded version of Age of Empires and allows users to enact their own plot to become the sovereign of their chosen nation.

Furthermore, Crusader Kings II has no end, with players able to hypothetically go on forever as the game engineers conflicts and new characters to throw a spanner into their natural playstyle. In fact, one of the reasons Crusader Kings II is superior to Game of Thrones is that, unlike the television series, the game does not even have a conclusion, nor even a hiatus. Players can keep the game going forever, and will not be left on the edge of their seats for a whole year waiting for the resolution of a cliff-hanger.

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Destiny 2’s New Open-World Activities Break Up The Grind

In a lot of ways, Destiny 2 is a fresh start. Very little from the first game carries over into its sequel, including the gear we all worked so hard to get. Luckily, Destiny 2 makes leveling up and finding loot in the early game more about exploration and less about grinding. There’s a lot more to do on planets than just quick, low-reward Patrols, and that all starts in the European Dead Zone on Earth. We recently had a chance to check out the EDZ, and Destiny 2’s take on free-roam exploration

In Destiny 1, the open-world activities you had access to at any given destination were limited. There were Patrols and Public Events–and maybe a few secrets to find–but things tended to get stale pretty quickly. Exploration has been greatly expanded in Destiny 2, and the first thing I noticed when I touched down in the EDZ was how many ways I had to level up and get new gear. The two most substantial additions are Adventures and Lost Sectors.

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At first, Adventures seem a lot like the standard Patrols. You find them at beacons around the map and opt into them, and then a voice crackles in through your Ghost and gives you an objective. But Adventures are far more robust, closer to the length of a story mission than a Patrol, and they feature a variety of tasks that build upon each other as you approach your goal. They also take you to different areas of the map and often include a healthy bit of backstory. Because of that, it feels like you’re doing something of substance, rather than a series of menial tasks.

One Adventure had me clearing out enemies and destroying signal jammers throughout an area. The jammers were preventing a message from going out to any refugees from the Last City who needed to find other survivors. Though it wasn’t part of the story, it felt more important than just killing a Fallen Leader in some random area of the map with no purpose other than to get XP and a bit of loot. (But, to sweeten the deal, you’ll probably get some good loot for your effort in completing Adventures.)

Lost Sectors are more free-form activities that require a sharper eye to find. They’re marked by symbols in odd spots around the map, and they have you work your way through a mini-dungeon filled with enemies to reach a boss. Beating the boss gets you loot. It’s simple, but it’s enough of an incentive to drive exploration, and some of the Lost Sectors are surprisingly difficult to find. You could wander around the general vicinity of a Lost Sector for a while before finding the entrance tucked away in a gap between rocks, concealing an extensive cave network below.

The EDZ isn’t necessarily bustling with life–there’s one NPC here, Devrim Kay, who exchanges loot and tokens you find around the area for weapons and gear. But Adventures and Lost Sectors add enough context, like more detail about the Fallen or what humanity is doing to survive, to make it an interesting world to explore.

Patrols and Public Events are still available in Destiny 2, but variety is really the key to revitalizing the Destiny formula. When the full game launches for Xbox One and PS4 on September 6, we’ll be able to see the full scope of Destiny 2’s changes.

Xfinity Customers Get Call of Duty: WWII Beta Codes

If you’ve got Comcast Xfinity Internet running to your humble abode, you’ve got the chance to play a game ahead of everyone else. It’s a seemingly strange match up, but Xfinity subscribers will be able to play Call of Duty: World War II‘s beta without having to pre-order the game. Starting today, you can request a code to join the beta here.

Xfinity customers have until August 31 to request their codes, but if you want to check out Call of Duty: WWII on the PlayStation 4, you’ll want to move quicker. The beta for that platform begins on August 25. The Xbox One beta begins on September 1. Both betas will end on September 4. Most people will only be able to participate in said beta after already sinking money into a pre-order. Xfinity customers are lucky to have this chance to try the AAA game without putting any extra money into it.

Supposedly Comcast as a whole is working to expand into the esports and video game industry. They figure partnerships like this will allow the expansion to happen much more easily. It’s interesting, to be sure, and is a great bonus to those subscribers under the Xfinity umbrella. Hard to say if anyone will switch to Comcast just for the chance at future promotions, but maybe that will be true in the future. Depends on where Comcast and Xfinity go from here with their video game team-ups.

 

The Crew 2 Release Date, Pre-Order Bonuses Revealed

As part of Gamescom 2017, Ubisoft today announced the release date and pre-order bonuses for racing game sequel The Crew 2. Starting with the release date, the open-world title comes to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on March 16, 2018.

You may not have to wait that long to play, however, as a beta is coming up ahead of launch. You can register for the beta on The Crew 2’s website here.

In The Crew 2, you can drive around an “open-world USA” that has been “completely reshaped for motorsports.” It’s not just cars that you can drive in the game, as there are also boats and planes for the sequel. There are four main motorsport categories in the game: street racing, off-road, pro, and freestyle, each of which has its own set of “deep” options and “wide selection of vehicle types.”

You can switch between land-, water-, or air-based vehicles on the fly through what Ubisoft calls a “Fast Fav” feature. One example Ubisoft provided is that you could be driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in a car and then switch to a boat to zip across the water. If you catch air off a wave, you could then start flying in a plane.

As for The Crew 2’s pre-order bonuses, these include extra cars, as you might have guessed. Additionally, people who pre-order get to start playing on March 13, three days before the game’s official release date. A Gold edition of The Crew 2 is also on the way, and it includes the game’s season pass and other bonuses, in addition to unlocking on March 13. Below is a rundown of The Crew 2’s pre-order bonuses, and Deluxe and Gold editions.

  • Pre-ordering any version of The Crew 2 gets you the Legendary Motors Pack, which comes with the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Touring Car 2016 and the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 2017.
  • The $70 Deluxe Edition comes with the Legendary Motors Pack and the Motorsports Deluxe Pack, which includes the Ford F-150 Raptor Race Truck 2017, the Abarth 500 2008 Monster Truck Edition, the Pilatus PC-21 aerobatics plane, and three “unique racing outfits” for your character to wear.
  • The Gold Edition unlocks on March 13 and comes with the season pass, the Legendary Motors Pack, and the Motorsports Deluxe Pack. The digital version of the Gold edition costs $100 and the physical version (which also comes with a steelbook) costs $110.

8 Ridiculous Fake Screenshots Developers Used To Fool Gamers

Videogame developers often use touched-up or sometimes completely faked screenshots in reveal trailers or PR assets to try and inflate the perception of their titles quality and make the games look great although they often end up looking like a downgraded version, and in extreme cases, completely different upon release. Here are some poignant examples.

The Witcher 3

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No doubt The Witcher 3 is a wonderful game but they too resorted to some misleading marketing. When you look at the image above, you would find out that the horse shown is definitely not Roach. On the other hand the quality of the image shown is so high that it is impossible for most of the players to achieve at a playable frame rate.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – Freedom Cry

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This image from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – Freedom Cry is actually hilarious. When you look at the pirates closely, you would see that the guy on the far left is pointing, trying to show his mates where the assassin is although they already know. Photoshop much? Or poor A.I much?

Split Second

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Split Second is not the only racing game to be a bullshot culprit as many racing games are guilty of using this tactic. We have no doubt that the game is a good looking one, but the above image looks like it overdosed on filters. This image would be a perfect one to post on Instagram.

Borderlands 2

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The above image was taken in ultra high resolution and the comic styling was added to make their images pop up. Gearbox have also used detailed texture in the entire image irrespective of the distances of the object. This however has made the image look flat rather than caused the objects to pop out.

No Man’s Sky

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This image from No Man’s Sky has no filters but is totally misleading. The giant creatures shown in this image were not actually part of the final game. The creatures shown here are not actually part of the initial game and the vegetation isn”t that tall in the game either.

This is probably one of the examples why No Man’s Sky is Currently under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK.

Far Cry Primal

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The image above shows two absolutely huge Mammoths and all the bloom lighting seems to have been emitted from them. There is no shortage of golden light in the image and the edges are extremely smooth and the figures are perfectly posed. We wish that was how the actual game looked all the time.

The Crew

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Here is another racing game which joins the list. This shot from The Crew is perfectly taken, although unrealistic. We can see four cars aligned perfectly in the frame, all ready to go. We couldn’t just stop spotting the airplane, which is simply a cherry on top.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a good looking game but the position of this image is nonsensical. Two soldiers can be seen firing at a mechanical man while the other is on his way to kick or punch his head. They even tried to focus on the explosion behind the scene, but it turned out insubstantial.

Crysis

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I have no doubt that Crysis is a great game with amazing looks. However, this image doesn’t do justice to the game at all. Just look at that soldier falling on his back after getting lasered by the alien. It would have been better if he flew back, but who knows the laser could have blasted a hole into his chest.

Titanfall 2

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If you have played Titanfall 2, you definitely came across this scene. This scene is awesome but doesn’t actually looks like this. The contrast in this image is super high and there is some kind of a super deep blue-black glow. The color balance in this image is not just right.

 

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier Coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC This Fall

Without giving a prior notice, a very interesting announcement comes, especially if we consider the excellent quality of the basic material that has been exploited to carry out the project. Imaginarium Studios has recently announced Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

This is a narrative game between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes films, second and third chapters of the fortunate movie reboot launched by Ruper Wyatt and carried forward by the future film director of The Batman, Matt Reeves.

We are faced with a fictional production approaching Telltale’s work, exploiting the same motion capture technologies used in the film, which should last about three hours. In Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, we will have the opportunity to use both human characters and monkeys, and any decision will have consequences for the continuation of history.

Each character is completely original and can die or survive according to the choices made. The narrative premise is very simple: a group of monkeys finds themselves forced to venture into controlled areas by humans looking for food. Meanwhile, winter advances and survival is increasingly complicated.

Andy Serkis, Founder of The Imaginarium, stated the following: “We are committed to exploring and expanding next-generation storytelling, and Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier represents an exciting marriage of technology and creativity, all set in a rich universe of which I am very proud.”

Let’s have a look at the trailer of Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier below.

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is expected to release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in the fall of this year.

What do you think of this interesting announcement? Let us know in the comments below.

Hitman Level Free-to-Play

Following news that Hitman developer IO Interactive has gone independent and retained full control of the Hitman IP, the company has now announced that the initial level of the recent, episodic Hitman is now free to download and play in its entirety. The IO Interactive CEO, Hakan Abrak, notes that this is an effort to help expose more people to the game, in hopes that they’ll try it and fall in love with it.

The ICA Facility stage is free on all platforms Hitman is available on – PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. All the content available in that stage is accessible in this download. Free players will be able to play two story missions, two Escalation Contracts, over 40 challenges, and even get the achievements and/or trophies. The player-created Contract Mode missions are also included, all for free.

If players opt to upgrade to the full game after playing the free content, all of their progress will be carried over. IO Interactive has also discounted the full game on each platform, claiming up to 60% off the full price. IO Interactive is definitely taking this rollercoaster of information and using it to its advantage.

 

10 Games with Amazing Weather Effects

High quality weather effects are the icing on the cake when it comes to a compelling experience. For years’ weather has been integral to gameplay, as monsters come out at nightfall, in harsh rains and misty landscapes! All the way back to N64’s Zelda Ocarina of Time, you knew you were in trouble if you were stuck in the fields at night. Below we take a look at 5 games with amazing weather effects that will draw you in to the gaming experience.

Dying Light 

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One of the best games in recent memory to cultivate a convincing weather cycle was Dying Light. Dying Light was a first-person horror game, that sent gamers scavenging to survive, and to stay out of the reach of the infected swarming the cities. During the day, glaring sunlight made the tropical environment feel dry and claustrophobic. However, at night, the game really game into its own. The shear darkness and despair cultivated by the nighttime weather cycle, really drew you into John Crane’s world of stealth and fear (The main protagonist). One particularly memorable sequence sees you have to climb a communications antenna through a violent storm, with a skyline covered in dark clouds with heavy rainfall and relentless lightning.

Skyrim

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When looking at weather in games, you can’t overlook the shear brilliance of Bethesda’s Skyrim, and the icy mountains and glaciers that drew thousands of gamers into the Elder scrolls world. As you travail the treacherous mountains the visual spectacle of the snow accompanied with a powerful score draws you into the harsh landscape. When fighting a dragon on a mountain top, there’s nothing more satisfying that besmirching your opponent upon the mountain side under the fall of snow. The authentic weather cycle accentuates the feeling of shelter when you go into a castle keep.

Witcher 3

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Witcher 3, the next generation RPG game featured some of the most picturesque landscapes we’ve ever seen on console before. The daylight weather cycle is fantastically brilliant, as the sun-beams down over the natural landscape, bringing to life the shear detail of the open world map. At night, the glistening moon is simply stunning. Rather than trying to create an environment of fear for gamers, Witcher 3 simply draws them in to a world of rich and indulgent fantasy.

Battlefield 1

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Nothing has quite characterized our perception of the First World War like all-out trench warfare under a downpour of rain. The studio behind Battlefield 1 have been eager to bring this out, with a dynamic weather system, that affects players speed in rain, and visibility in fog. The weather adds a lot to the experience, as nothing helps you take cover from a sniper more than blanket of fog as gameplay quickly transitions to a closer range. For variety, on maps like the Sinai map, sandstorms will ravage the natural landscape as you try to get your bearings.

Grand Theft Auto V

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As one of the most successful open world franchises of all time, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V caught the wanabe gangsta’s of millions of gamers worldwide. Elaborate bank heists and larger than life characters frequently catch our attention, but we frequently overlook the shear brilliance of the weather. Los Santo’s neon purple sunsets are near breathtaking. Real-time weather effects take us from the sun of the desert to gritty inner city rain in a matter of minutes, in an experience that keeps us coming back for more.

Until Dawn

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This PS4 exclusive horror title brings around the stunning setting upon a mountain. From the snow blizzards to the howling winds, the weather effects are carefully crafted to pull you into the game’s horror, narrative scenario. This masterpiece isn’t just an award winner, but it brings about an atmosphere thanks to the beautiful and amazing weather effects. If you haven’t played this title, be sure to have it on your list if you are a PS4 gamer.

Driveclub

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PS4 fans will be delighted to see another exclusive on this list – sorry Xbox fans. This game is far from perfect, yet, when it comes to weather effects, you’ll struggle to find a game that delivers better. As you race around the tracks, you’ll find rain, wind, snow, thunder and all of the other awesome effects that god likes to provide us humans with. Driveclub is more than worth playing, even if it is to just admire the views – beautiful.

Cities Skylines

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From a god like view to zooming in, Cities Skylines has a weather expansion that dramatically enhances gameplay. Running a city certainly gets more complicated when heavy snow is a regulating force. As the citizens run for the comfort of their homes, your task will be to clear the roads. Not only will the weather create new scenarios for the player, but it looks gorgeous too. Interestingly, Planet Coaster, another business sim, tycoon styled game, has many players desiring weather effects to be added in a future update.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

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Isn’t snow great? Some would probably answer this question by saying no, but for those of us who enjoy the white stuff, Tom Clancy’s The Division is a game that turns New York into a very wintery setting. You’ll almost want to grab your coat as the environments give you the winter chills. Without the weather, Tom Clancy’s The Division wouldn’t be the game it is – the setting really does make it unique, especially since it’s set around the Christmas period.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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Nathan Drake takes his adventure across a variety of terrain, all of which are accompanied by jaw-dropping weather visuals. Rain, snow, wind and thunder all create a dynamic atmosphere. This PS4 exclusive may not have won all of the awards because of the weather, but it’s certainly a nice addition to the engaging gameplay.

This was our top list, but what is yours? Be sure to leave your favorites in the comment section below.